Photoshoot Prep

A working guide on preparing for a fitness shoot:

1. Body Hair

You may not have noticed, but almost all fitness models are completely lacking in body hair. There’s no

sexism here – both guys and girls look better hairless for a fitness shoot! Body hair can at best hide your

muscle definition, but at worst can make you look dirty and will put people off.

Shaving is the easiest option and you can do it yourself, although it will go stubbly fairly quickly so ideally

do this the day before (not on the day to avoid any shaving marks or redness!). If wet shaving, use a good

shaving oil and a post shave balm, to reduce irritation.

Waxing is a better option for a longer-lasting effect, but is generally more expensive if done properly by a

professional. Girls, you should know what works best for you already!

2. Facial Hair

Guys, make sure your facial hair is neat and presentable. Clean-shaved is a good approachable look,

although a beard may work for a wilder and savage appearance.

Also make sure to trim other unsightly facial hair including nose hair, eyebrows and ear hair, if you have

any. Even though Photoshop can sort out these areas; you will save a load of hassle and potentially money

by reducing the amount of editing required.

3. Tanning

A tan makes you look radiant and healthy, with the bonus of adding clarity and definition to your muscles.

The camera washes you out and makes you look paler than usual, so go a shade darker than you think


Do not tan the day before the shoot!

There are many different methods of tanning, but from experience a professional spray tan is by far and

away the easiest, quickest and safest option.

Tanning naturally outdoors is great if you live somewhere sunny and you have the time, but getting an even

tan is actually very difficult, and too much exposure to the sun is not healthy in the long run. In addition to

a tan, a thin coat of baby oil or moisturizer can help make skin look radiant and enhance definition.

4. Hair and Makeup

Make sure you get a hair cut. If you’re a guy, shorter hair will make you look bigger and more muscular.

Ensure you have a neat hairline and no gross neck hair!

Girls, how you have your hair will determine whether you look glamorous, sporty or plain unkempt. You

may not need a full haircut, but a trim & style can work wonders. Check out current fitness models for

inspiration. The Hair and makeup artist will style the day of the shoot.

Make sure you turn up at the shoot with clean hair, a clean face and a clean body! If your hair and skin are

dirty and greasy it will show up in the photos and be plain unpleasant for everyone else involved. If

makeup is being provided for the shoot, make sure you turn up makeup free.

If not, then take care of your makeup yourself and get ready as if you were going out for the evening.

Apply more than you would for daytime use – studio lighting will reduce the effect of any makeup you

apply! But don’t go overboard, subtle and light is ideal.

5. Spots

Spots can be a nightmare. They can spring up on you at the last minute leaving angry red blotches that can

ruin a photo. Avoid getting too sweaty in the few days running up to the photoshoot, try and stay as stress

free as possible and keep your skin clean.

If you are unlucky enough to get a spot at the last minute, try this tip that I’ve found to work wonders when

you’re in a pinch. Get a couple of aspirin tablets {baking soda works] and crush them up in a small bowl.

Add a dash of water and mix into a paste. Use a cotton pad to apply this mixture onto the spot and the area

around it and leave for 15 minutes. Wash off the paste and it should significantly reduce the redness and

swelling. You can repeat this process a couple of times for maximum effect.

Toothpaste applied to the spot also works the night before; Victoria Secret models use this trick.

6. Teeth

This may seem obvious, but make sure your teeth are clean, especially if you have eaten beforehand. Food

stuck in your teeth is really obvious and off-putting, and can be a pain to edit out afterwards.

7. Planning Photos

The phrase “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail” comes to mind here. Creating a full shot list can make a huge

difference to the success of your photoshoot – especially if these are shots for you and not for the


Create a shot list detailing every photo you want. Think about what you want to achieve from your

photoshoot, whether that may be attracting customers as a personal trainer, increasing sales as a clothing

brand or simply getting some shots to show off your physique.

Think about what you are trying to achieve with each photo individually and how these shots will work

together. For example, you might want a to get a nice range of shots to show off your physique so you may

plan to do some front shots, side shots, head shots, back shots and then get more creative when you have

the basics sorted!

Use your shot list on the day and tick off each shot you want as you go. This professional approach means

that you will get everything you wanted, as it can be easy to forget what shots you planned during a hectic


8. Peak Week Diet

Diet is especially important before a photoshoot, so much so that a whole article could be written on the

subject. However, here are some key tips for the week before the shoot that should help you look your best.

If you have been cutting prior to the photoshoot, begin to ramp up your calories back towards maintenance

in the weeks running up to the shoot. Carb loading can also be used to make sure you look bigger and more

muscular. This can be achieved by either front loading (eating a large amount of carbohydrates at the

beginning of the week and reducing this in the days up to the shoot) or back loading (slowly increasing

your carb intake daily in the week before the shoot).

You can experiment with water depletion, but this can be risky. Not only is it unhealthy, but if you get it

wrong you can look far worse than if you just followed your regular diet. We have experimented with a

mild approach, which had good effects. This involved increasing water intake over the week prior to the

shoot, reducing it on the day before, and then sipping water only when thirsty during the shoot.

Do not make any huge changes to your diet, as it is far more likely to have a negative outcome than a

positive one. Your body may be shocked by sudden changes, and may make you look worse as a result.

9. What to Eat on the Day of

In terms of diet, try to consume some low-fiber carbs a couple of hours before the shoot is due to start. This

will make you look full and muscular without bloating. Half a small pizza eaten two hours before the shoot

should do the trick. Many also recommend a 6-inch turkey sub sandwich.

A candy bar or sugary snack 10-15 minutes before has also been recommended by many bodybuilding

competitors, as this will keep you energetic, keep your muscles full and fend off hunger whilst keeping you

from bloating – try a Snickers or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

If the shoot is all day, then you will want to keep yourself from going hungry without ending up getting

bloated. Rice cakes with peanut butter are a great low-volume snack that will help you stay energetic while

looking your best.

10. Getting your Pump on!

If you’re doing a fitness photoshoot, then pumping up should be a no-brainer. It might seem contrived, but

getting a good pump in your muscles before and during the shoot can transform your body from looking

small and soft to muscular and defined.

Bodyweight exercises can be useful, but bring along a small 10lb (15kg) pair of dumbbells if possible to

make sure you can work all muscle groups. Stick to high reps (15-30 reps), take short rests and get a good

burn in your muscles. Keep the weight light to ensure you don’t injure or exhaust yourself and don’t train

so hard that you get really sweaty; as this can ruin your grooming unless that is the look you are going for.

11. Wardrobe

Select colors that are flattering to your shape. Black tends to absorb light and isn’t as faltering in some

cases, so don’t bring all black, but pack a few items. Bright colors are ideal for fitness as they are much

more inviting and showcase your form better.

If items are new, try them on at least once before the day of the shoot; Remove all tags if clothing is new.

Try to avoid large company logos on your outfit, unless the shoot is for said Company.

Don’t bring ragged, worn out clothing, it makes retouching more difficult and doesn’t look as good

wrinkled in the photos.

To summarize…

Here are the key points for a successful photoshoot:

1. Make sure you are well-groomed

2. Plan every photo and know its purpose

3. Do not make any drastic changes to your diet in the last week

4. On the day, avoid getting bloated by skipping on fibrous foods and not eating too much

5. Pump up to get your body looking its best


1. -No HIIT or intense workout the day before the shoot or day of. Don’t need to hurt yourself


2. -I do NOT recommend drugs, diuretics or water pills etc.

3. -Dandelion root tea at night is a great natural diuretic if water retention is a concern

4. -Epsom salt baths the 2 days before the shoot, the last one is before tanning

5. -Preparation H (weird, right?) can be used the night or two before (after baths) over problem areas

(i.e. – back of legs) to tighten, because of its anti-inflammatory properties.

About the author

Hi! I'm Kevin. Inspired by activities in my daily life, I fell into and began to photograph for the fitness and active lifestyle community. Driven by my love for this unique industry, I strive to create beauty and intrigue in my work.

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