How to Prepare for a Photoshoot

I had a really fun dance and fitness photo shoot this past weekend with Elizabeth Thuvanuti of Dance Cardio Plus. Elizabeth is a former dancer who is combining hip hop and dance for a cardio workout with toning exercises in a club-like environment.. sounds like fun right! She’ll be on Class Pass starting next week and will have a new website up the following week (we’ll share all the links on social media!).

Rachel Neville fitness photograph Elizabeth Thuvanuti

Elizabeth Thuvanuti, Cardio Dance Plus Photo by Rachel Neville.  Find Dance Cardio Plus on Instagram

One of the things she mentioned when we were finished shooting is that she had googled how/what to prepare for a fitness photoshoot and very little information came up. The only info that she really found was geared toward bodybuilders who diet down and do the drastic ‘don’t eat or drink for 12-14 hours prior to a shoot and then just minutes before the fitness photoshoot, drink some sugar to make your veins and muscles cut more’.

Yes, by the way, I’ve seen and shot that, it does, indeed, work. However, if you are reading this and/or are a client of mine, I seriously don’t want you to do that. Unless you are a body builder. Or super muscle bound and that’s your thing.

So here is my 2 cents as a fitness photographer on how to prepare for a fitness photoshoot.  Note that it’s slightly different if you are a yoga or pilates instructor fitness trainer, fitness teacher, or a dancer.  Each of the tips below gives the insight you need to get the fitness photos you want, within your area of expertise.

1) Sleep well the night before.

No matter what. If that means you have to go to bed at 8pm because you have to be on a plane the morning of the shoot, do it. You really need 100% of your energy for photoshoots, in all areas: physically, emotionally and spiritually/mentally.  Coming into the photoshoot with less than 100% is not helpful. We all know the benefits of a good night’s sleep, I won’t flog a dead horse here, but just do this.

2) Watch what you eat the day of the photo shoot and the day prior.

You want to makes sure to fuel your body for serious output (especially when you shoot with me!), but at the same time we don’t want hard to digest food sitting in your gut while during your photo shoot.

pushups fitness women rachel neville

If you have a tendency to bloat, don’t eat those trigger foods for 1 or 2 days before you come into the photo studio. Do not go carb-less..  You need complex carbohydrates for energy and I want you to bring all of your energy to the photo shoot.  Just be smart about the carbs you eat and balance them out with easy-to-digest foods.

3) Prepare everything that you need to bring in advance, at least the day before.

Not much saps a person’s energy and puts them in a bad mood more than the anxiety of being late or having forgotten a key item.

We want to make sure that you have everything that you need in your suitcase or bag so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had clients come having forgotten a hairbrush or lipstick (yes, happens so often even with my photoshoot checklist that  we have a stock of all those things at my studio).

red tank v neck white trim fitness

Preparing in advance for your photoshoot will save you anxiety and stress on the morning of the shoot, allowing your mood and energy level to be optimum for the pictures.

4) Do the things that put you in a good head space the day of the photo shoot

This could mean taking a walk along the water or going to your favorite yoga class… whatever works for you. If you are a dancer, I suggest taking only a barre class, not a full class because we want all of your energy at the shoot.

Dance Cardio Plus Elizabeth Thuvanuti

5) Put your best face forward, especially if you are taking head shots.

Use a mask or exfoliating facial scrub with essential oils the night prior to your photo shoot.

6) Schedule any kind of beauty treatments in advance.

If you are having your eyebrows or any facial hair worked on before your photoshoot, make sure to do it a few days before you come into the studio so any redness has time to calm down.


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