My Gym Fitness Photoshoot
with IFBB Pro Bodybuilder Dorian Haywood
I’ve known Dorian for about 6 years. If you ever follow the sport of bodybuilding you see the consistent progression of each competitors physique and can’t help but have great respect for it. Muscle creation, definition. proportion, maturation all takes time and a lot of patience (years of bulking and leaning) to achieve award winning results. Dorian has been working on his physique for 20 years and being with him in a gym, in his element, shows you what a real pro he is. Dorian is a trainer and chiropractor working out of the “Mile High Mecca” of bodybuilding gyms, Armbrust Pro Gym in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. Luckily I caught him just after he did an IFBB Pro Show the past weekend. This shoot was unique in that I shot Dorian as he did his normal fitness workout for the day. It was an arm and shoulder day so we got some great upper body shots. There was no posing and everything captured was authentic and in the moment. He would sometimes flex and do his routine after a set. As a competitor, I know that this helps us see the areas that need improvement and practicing the posing is always a good idea.
Although I love to shoot at Armbrust Pro Gym, we decided to shoot at my gym, VASA, in Centennial Colorado because we had planned to do a leg workout right after. One of the main benefits of doing a gym photoshoot is that you can fit in a workout after you finish shooting. When doing a gym fitness photoshoot at a place that is more of a “commercial gym” like VASA, you need manager approval and must schedule at a quieter time of the day. Most gyms are quieter from 1pm-3pm on weekdays and 1pm-8pm on Sundays. I tend not to schedule anything Saturdays because it can be a mad house with too many people at any time. If people work during the day and I have no other choices, later in the evening also works (after about 7:30pm).
You want as little people as possible in the gym because you don’t want to have to photoshop them out of the shot or get their permission to be included in the image. If you want to get invited back to shoot at that gym it’s also best to not anger the clientele. Since lighting is crucial, the space that it takes to shoot is pretty big. Even thought I try to not be in the way, shooting is always going to be a distraction. Regardless, I positioned us at one of the ends of the free weight section. I placed one light on either side of Dorian towards the back angled towards the rim of his shoulder (these 2 lights act as the rim around his body and will give some definition to his form). . Another light was placed towards the front of him positioned at about 45% facing him and angled down to hit some of his face and torso.
As I test the lighting, Dorian is doing his workout. He does each set of exercises 4 times. The last set is often the hardest and most dramatic so that’s the one where you will aim to get “THE” shot. Also, during the last set, the athlete’s muscle is already pumped from the previous sets. It’s when you want to capture them at their fullest. This is often how I shoot guys during gym shoots. The situation is slightly different for girls depending on what the girl wants to showcase (lots of pumped hard strong muscle or slightly softer look).
If the lighting is done right, the best part is, there should be very little editing!