Most aspirant or established bodybuilders take a lot of pictures of themselves during their quest for the perfect body. This is not a sure sign of narcissism though as these photos will be an excellent graphic record of progress during various stages of the process. It makes a lot of sense then to invest in the best photographic equipment one can afford at an early stage and also to spend a bit of time perfecting the techniques needed to take good solo bodybuilding pictures.
These points are often neglected, a fact amply demonstrated by the masses of really bad self taken bodybuilding pictures one sees. Bodybuilding is a sport that's success is judged visually, both on stage and in pictorial form. If, for example, the venue lighting is bad on the day of a contest, contestants are going to have a hard time getting the maximum visual impact across in their routines. They may be seen clearly, but if the lighting is too muted or harsh and not placed correctly, muscle definition may be far less apparent and poses not as effective.
The same principles apply to shooting your own bodybuilding pictures. You are going to be spending a huge amount of time, effort and money on your sport so it is senseless to neglect the photographic component of your equipment. Fortunately it's not necessary to spend thousands on a studio grade setup. Digital cameras are getting better and cheaper each year and it's possible to get an intermediate level digital with good optics and high megapixel sensor for a very reasonable price. The only other critical item in a basic photographic setup is a tripod. Again, really good examples can be had at prices that won't decimate your bank balance.
Let's start by looking at camera choices. This, being the core of your photographic equipment, should be the absolute best example you can afford. In today's environment it doesn't make much sense investing in a film camera (if you can still find one that is). Digitals simply offer so many advantages that they represent the only serious option when considering camera choices. Always try and stay with the big names as optic and component quality is usually better as is the after sales service. Brand names such as Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax, Olympus and Konica Minolta are always safe choices. Kodak, HP, Panasonic and FujiFilm also make decent cameras. One feature that would be a definite plus in a camera is a remote. This will allow for a lot of flexibility when shooting solo bodybuilding pictures.
Photography is making magic with light. Lighting is possibly the most important factor in any photographic genre, and particularly so in taking bodybuilding pictures where muscle definition is so critical in creating visual impact. Again it's not necessary to break the bank. Any fairly intense, directable light source will get the job done. For best results try and get two separate light sources set up at approximately 45° to your pose position and situated behind the point were you are going to set up your camera. Try to avoid using flash unless you have a flash diffuser as flash tends to wash out too much subtle detail. Remember that a high light position will emphasise shadow at the bottom of the muscle structure while a lower position will do the same for the lower abs but also possible detract from your chest.
Your camera should always be placed on a tripod to avoid any blurring that will play havoc with definition in your shots. If you have a portable, full length mirror it helps to place it almost directly behind the camera so that you adjust you poses for maximum effect. Just remember to look directly at the camera again before taking the shot. Keep unnecessary clutter out of the background that can detract from you as the focal point. This is especially true of items that could possibly cause a bout of blushing at a later stage!
Personal preparation for taking bodybuilding pictures should include the following points:
- Body hair should be removed as it detracts from muscle definition in bodybuilding pictures.
- Try to avoid eating for approximately an hour before you take the pictures. A recent meal will distend your stomach and ruin your profile.
- Pump before you shoot, and no, that's not XXX grade movie advice either. A short workout prior to taking the pictures will increase blood flow and muscle volume.
- Skin tone and highlights are essential in showcasing muscle development in bodybuilding pictures. Concentrate on maintaining a good tan and oil up to increase highlights. This will really define your muscle mass.
- Practice good pose. Suck in that gut and keep you back straight or slightly arched back. When applying tension try to make it look effortless and smile! No war faces here.
Once the pictures are taken you can use software to edit the results if you can and are so inclined. Skin blemishes can miraculously disappear and lighting and exposure adjusted to maximize the effect. Superimposing Mel Gibson's face is not on though!
It is impossible to briefly cover all the different techniques and settings that can be applied to get great results in bodybuilding pictures. Experience will quickly teach you how to maximise the results though and if you use the preceding tips you'll soon be able to build a flattering portfolio.