Female Athlete Portraits

aquarian_lightaquarian_light Posts: 135Member
edited February 2013 in General Discussions
Okay, so... it's cold and wintery here in Nebraska and I've been hired by some female clients who are workout/fitness/zoomba instructors and are starting a fitness blog and want some portraits for it. She wants them done outside in 1 week, and in 1 month they have time set for photos in their gym. So, I've been looking and there's not much in the way of inspiration out there for the outdoor bit. I've met with these girls, they're not body builders. They are sleek, but accentuating muscles is not a realistic goal. So any ideas on how to "show off" these girls' fitness program in the middle of winter outside?
I have a d800, with plenty of diffusers and reflectors and speedlights to deal with the sun. Technical is not the issue here, composition has me a bit stumped.

Edit: and these images will be taken in public outdoors, a market/park area. so only on camera lighting and reflectors are to be in use.
Post edited by aquarian_light on
D800E, 24-120 F4 VR, 50mm 1.8G, 85 1.8G, 28mm 3.5, 135mm 3.5
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Comments

  • adamzadamz Posts: 842Moderator
    check out Nike/Adidas/Reebok campaigns for inspiration and have fun. You can also check. individual sports women web pages.
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    Make 'em jump. Even if the pictures are not so good, it's lot of fun for both.

    I really thought, being a Pro means always having ideas? Just kidding.

    :D
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,085Moderator
    You could get them warmed up with a routine then choose the moments they look good during the routine and get them to repeat that while you shoot it. Don't forget you need to make them look good as all ladies like to look good b-(
    Always learning.
  • scoobysmakscoobysmak Posts: 214Member
    My only comment is, if this is to be used for advertisment you might ask if there is something specific they want to advertise. I find that some say." I want pictures of this" but might not help the overall goal of what they need.

    Might give them say styrofoam props that look like huge rocks that weigh over 1000lbs, have them hold it/them above there heads, lol.

    I must agree with spraynpray, ladies always like to look good
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    Love this...I would shoot with a very long lens on a slightly overcast day. Jogging over a hilltop, silhouetted on the horizon, bicycling, for the action shots. And, 400-800mm is great for the biking shots...

    If snow is present, do some shots with the snow, but have the models in workout gear. This requires a very good assistant to hold the warm coat and wrap the model immediately before and after the shots are taken.

    For stills, again, I would use a long lens (over 135mm) and do some with them going up stairs, standing on the stairs, on a trail, utilizing the background bokeh to show off the head shots. Actually, evening shots in the city with workout clothes, shorter lenses wide open and city light bokeh might be fun.

    It is my policy to always clean up any facial blemishes in post. Women do not want wrinkles, pimples, scars, to be obvious. So, minimizing these in post is essential.

    Sounds like a great assignment. Good luck...
    Msmoto, mod
  • shawninoshawnino Posts: 453Member
    At the risk of sounding stupid, I think every great fitness/sport shot (male, female, equine) is about the face. Even in that Brandi Chastain shot on the SI cover, it's not about her sports bra--it's the exhilaration of victory as she screams.

    Why not start by asking them what they want their faces to show: happiness, strain of exertion from exercise, calm, etc. and work the poses from there?
  • aquarian_lightaquarian_light Posts: 135Member
    All great suggestions! The portion of the shoot later on in the gym will be easy. Just posing them with the weights and punching bags... no prob.
    @Msmoto
    our first shoot is to be from 10AM thru 1PM. So harsh mid-day sun. The weather on that day is too far away to depend on forecasts. So, as all of those are great ideas, a couple of which I thought of myself, (such as the city lights) it will have to be for another time. About the best things I've come up with are possibly doing a few body-architecutre shots of them stretching. Find a place to put them in front of the sun, and have them do their stretches as a silhouette with some closeups of various body parts. It'll be cold, and I was thinking of trying to get some shots of the steam from their breath... but other than those two things... they said they didn't want me to make them look like rocky, so at the top of steps is right-out. They don't have bikes, and I don't have a lens that long lol
    D800E, 24-120 F4 VR, 50mm 1.8G, 85 1.8G, 28mm 3.5, 135mm 3.5
  • jjdarlingjjdarling Posts: 59Member
    They might not want the rocky shot, but if you stand at the top of a short staircase with them on the bottom, it's a great way to emphasize the face but still capture the body in a way that looks totally natural. Also, shooting people from higher (especially women emphasizing their fitness) is much more flattering than from below.

    If it's an overcast wintery day, encourage them to wear bright and/or neon clothing, especially if there are lots of people around (who are likely to be wearing natural tones, coats, etc.
    www.jjdarling.com
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    Maybe you could also gently explain to them about the "golden hours" that make everyone and everything look good? If they are paying you they should want the best opportunity.
  • aquarian_lightaquarian_light Posts: 135Member
    @ironheart I did explain them about the "golden hour" but unfortunately, the market we're photographing in only allows photographers with clients between 10 and 11 AM, because the market opens at 11 and they don't want us in the way obviously. They are paying me, but not much. Basically a TFP with a little bit of money for the rights to use the images on their website and for advertising. I don't mind cause I need the portfolio for this kind of thing. Need to broaden up a little bit.
    But anyway...

    @jjdarling Really? from above? from level or just a little bit below to emphasize their height and make them look powerful is the route I was planning. The look they want is strong determination. Like they are so about their fitness that they're going out in the cold and snow just to keep their routine.
    D800E, 24-120 F4 VR, 50mm 1.8G, 85 1.8G, 28mm 3.5, 135mm 3.5
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    Many years ago Richard Avedon did a series on folks in America. As I recall, he used a white sheet overhead, and a white background. The result, some of the most poignant images in history."Richard Avedon Portraits"

    This technique can be used in eliminating the shadows in sunlight.
    Msmoto, mod
  • mikepmikep Posts: 280Member
    hey ms moto

    how comes you specify over 135mm ?

    any particular reason ?

  • Benji2505Benji2505 Posts: 517Member
    Do some close-ups that stress the accentuated muscles. Take a water sprayer for fine water mist, some water sprayed on skin gives fun effects.
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    Shooting in an outdoor venue, if one has to put up with a cluttered background, the longer lenses will give better bokeh and keep the background out of focus.

    Also, athletes are often photographed with telephotos, so this places them into an "athlete" type of photo.

    Now, these are only my initial thoughts. Often, as I discuss these with an art director or just see what there is to work with, I change my mind entirely.
    Msmoto, mod
  • Rx4PhotoRx4Photo Posts: 1,200Member
    edited March 2013
    @ aquarian_light: I'd recommend looking into some of the works of Joel Grimes. He's a phenominal athlete photographer who does composite work with his images. Now, I'm not saying to go the composite route but his posing styles are the "bomb" if I might use a more juvenile term.

    I would ask them how soft or edgy they'd like these photos to be. Perhaps they'd want both. For a softer, more down to earth look I'd mayby look into shooting in a park, maybe with softball or football field lights in the background. I'd probably ask them to wear colorful outfits and in post-processing desaturate the background to the point of almost being B&W so as to accent the subjects. I'd shoot some frames from a lower angle to get a slightly bigger than life look (not that they'll like these, but why not?)

    For something more edgy maybe you could coerce them to do some shots in an "safe" alley somewhere downtown, or in front of some "clean" gaffiti. I'd incorporate a few props in the scenes like jump ropes, resistance bands, a weight or 2, bring a workout type bench so one could pose in a sitting position while others stand around her.

    For implied muscle definition: subtle dodge & burn in post where you can.

    FWIW, my real job is something that's not near as exciting as what I just typed.
    Have Fun.

    Afterthought: for the $64,000 shot this has to be photographed at sunset - if it's cold outside, find an open outside venue, bring a 55 gallon barrel and build a fire inside, bring a couple of "extras" to stand around the fire warming their hands. The athletes will be positioned 30 - 40 feet in front of this scene setting aperture so that the fire huggers are out of focus but still discernable. Use warming gels on your strobes to light the athletes: one holding resistance bands, one with jumprope, one "taking a knee" with a weight in hand, a couple in Zumba type dance poses etc......
    Post edited by Rx4Photo on
    D800 | D7000 | Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 | 24-70mm f/2.8 | 70-200mm f/2.8 | 35mm f/1.8G | 85mm f/1.4G | Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM | Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar ZF.2 | Flash controllers: Phottix Odin TTL

  • MikeGunterMikeGunter Posts: 543Member
    Hi aquarian_light,

    You don't mention how many, but you do mention that they are sleek and fit. Is there a theme for the campaign?

    Is there snow visible in the photo? Is it quite obviously Winter and quite cold? If so, I would go the other direction, have warm up blankets and put the young women in tank tops and shorts and lots of grit.

    Use gold reflectors and/or get the color filter set for the Nikon Flash and use the Amber gel and make your own golden hour and make the ladies tougher than tough - nothing fazes these women - the idea, of course, is "train with us and you'll be the same".

    Logistically, that could be hard to do, don't buy into something you can't do.

    My best,

    Mike
  • aquarian_lightaquarian_light Posts: 135Member
    Hi aquarian_light,

    You don't mention how many, but you do mention that they are sleek and fit. Is there a theme for the campaign?

    Is there snow visible in the photo? Is it quite obviously Winter and quite cold? If so, I would go the other direction, have warm up blankets and put the young women in tank tops and shorts and lots of grit.

    Use gold reflectors and/or get the color filter set for the Nikon Flash and use the Amber gel and make your own golden hour and make the ladies tougher than tough - nothing fazes these women - the idea, of course, is "train with us and you'll be the same".

    Logistically, that could be hard to do, don't buy into something you can't do.

    My best,

    Mike
    There are two of them
    I do have gold reflectors and did plan on using them. I'm actually hoping for a cloudy day so I can control the light a bit more.
    There might be snow. There's snow now, but a week later it could be gone or there could be more. No way to tell. (shoot's on the 9th)
    And the look they're going for is strong and determined. Not necessarily over the top crazy gym rats. But basically getting healthy and staying that way. So there's not gonna be a whole lot of lifting weights shots, not a whole lot of them looking mean or tough, but just sleek, proud of themselves, and focused.

    @Rx4Photo Those are great ideas. Thanks. I'll check him out.
    D800E, 24-120 F4 VR, 50mm 1.8G, 85 1.8G, 28mm 3.5, 135mm 3.5
  • DenverShooterDenverShooter Posts: 345Member
    If you are looking for a program that does a nice job retouching faces and can provide a "touch of youth" Portrait Professional does a really nice job.

    Denver Shooter
  • Rx4PhotoRx4Photo Posts: 1,200Member
    @ Aquarian_Light, any chance of giving us a sample of what you've been able to do here. Perhaps one shot in this thread. Would love to see the result of this "group" effort ;)
    D800 | D7000 | Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 | 24-70mm f/2.8 | 70-200mm f/2.8 | 35mm f/1.8G | 85mm f/1.4G | Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM | Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar ZF.2 | Flash controllers: Phottix Odin TTL

  • proudgeekproudgeek Posts: 1,422Member
    I know I'm late to the party, but what about using the market as a prop? Otherwise it feels weird and random that these zumba instructors are hanging out in a market. I don't know the space or what's there, but think about having them carrying large bags of flour to communicate strength, or on a ladder stacking shelves with outstretched arms to communicate limberness and muscle tone.
  • aquarian_lightaquarian_light Posts: 135Member
    yeah yeah, for sure. heres my links from my FB page; my two favorites from the shoot.
    image
    image

    rest of em can be seen here
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.408804482503582.108508.408766529174044&type=3

    she was a first time model, so working with her was tricky, getting genuine facial expressions was tough. So most of the time I just went for the easy "model face" look. Aka no expression at all. She just wasn't getting the direction. Smiles were totally fake, and getting her to laugh wasn't easy lol Maybe I'm a bad director, maybe she's just not meant to be a model lmao either way I eked out a few good ones.

    Comments on my work are welcome, just go easy on her as a model :-)
    D800E, 24-120 F4 VR, 50mm 1.8G, 85 1.8G, 28mm 3.5, 135mm 3.5
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    edited March 2013
    ...
    I have a d800, with plenty of diffusers and reflectors and speedlights to deal with the sun. Technical is not the issue here, composition has me a bit stumped.

    Edit: and these images will be taken in public outdoors, a market/park area. so only on camera lighting and reflectors are to be in use.
    lower body of first and feet of second model disappear into darkness. For my taste "technical was an issue". Second shot is nice although flashlight is visible and the mixture of three different light sources distracts me. Your black and white interpretation could improve. A nearly overexposed shot with a lot dark areas doesn't get better necessarily in black & white. You did work alone, I guess? So you had a lot to do on the shooting and on the tricky location. Which you integrated very nice in the second shot.

    I'd say you relied a bit too much on your flashlight - I could only do worse, I'm not good with flashes. In this case, a huge reflector and natural light would have been my way to go. And I was misled by my idea of what a "market" is.

    Edit: As for the facebook pics I can't say anything, I'm not on that platform. So I hope, others find there pictures to give you a more positive feedback.
    Post edited by JJ_SO on
  • aquarian_lightaquarian_light Posts: 135Member
    thanks for the comments, but ouch lol gonna need some burn cream....

    on the first one, I almost take offense to that :P The shot is IMO perfectly exposed for the the model and I went and burned in the bricks in post to give me the separation I wanted (since obviously the flash would have spilled onto the bricks as well) and to give me the dark, moody, feel I wanted. Black and white was a decision I made at the time of the shot, not later as a mechanism for "saving" it. I don't tend to try and polish a turd. If its a bad shot it gets trashed and I don't waste my time with it.

    in the second legs disappearing, okay I'll give ya that one, but I'm not seeing any flashlight. The only light I was using in that shot was on my camera. I do see a light in the top corner that is just one of the lights in the market. It was quite tough to balance the very bright sun coming in from the right through the window with my flash, any brighter with the flash and her platinum blonde hair would have started blowing out, and any less power or angling it more down towards her feet, I would have been leaving horrible shadows on her face from the sunlight.

    This shoot wasn't easy. I only had myself and the flash on my hot shoe to work with. no assistant holding reflectors, no lights on stands... And I realize the images won't hold up to scrutiny for the sake of hanging in any gallery, for sure. But for their intended purpose.... And I don't mean to be contrary to your comments, or sound like I'm ignoring them, just detailing a little bit more about what went into these shots. Cause that feedback did sting a little :P
    D800E, 24-120 F4 VR, 50mm 1.8G, 85 1.8G, 28mm 3.5, 135mm 3.5
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    It wasn't posted to sting you.

    I know it's a huge difference to make the best out of a given situation. And then get the results compared to other pictures with maybe much more assistants, better conditions of scenery or models or whatever. And I really hope others will put in more positive comments, but for me... well, I see the difficulties but some of them were avoidable.

    And I sometimes got also really bad feedback, persons don't see what worked, they just see what they miss. Afterwards I took the hard critic and tried to work on it, because they were at least partly right - it's not of interest how hard it was to get the pics on such a level (it could have been a lot worse), but it's of interest if the customer's happy with the results. And the lovely Zoomba-trainer will miss her fancy shoes although you got a great pose, an interesting background and I clearly have no idea, if my imagination of what could have been done would not melt away facing the reality.
  • MikeGunterMikeGunter Posts: 543Member
    Hi all,

    @aquarian_light

    I think you did fine.

    I wouldn't crop at joints - there's a wrist crop in one shot, likely done in camera and it's a good capture and a good shot, so I'd keep it, too, likely the client likes as well - so I see why you keep it.

    The light fall off could be more of a choice if the light were more 'focused' on the center. It would make a more focused photograph and, for me, a better shot. A layer mask in Photoshop to feather the upper half to match the gradient to the lower half would make it better, IMHO.

    But, I think they are fine.

    My best,

    Mike
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