How I Shot It: Andrea Physique Session

February 14, 2017

Andrea is a West Michigan physique athlete, and last week she visited Studio 616 for a physique photo session.  I charge $225 for the basic physique session, and I'm doing more and more of them. Bodybuilders (the correct term is "physique athlete")  are great customers - they work very, very hard to look their best, and they like how I make them look like Marvel super heroes with dramatic studio lighting setups.



So what does it take to make an image like the one above?  Quite a bit of gear, planning and experience.  Here's how I shot it:


The Set

Andrea is seated on a 17 foot wide white background sweep cyclorama.  This is a permanent feature of my studio.  Even though is it brilliant white, it goes to deep gray if it is not lit by the studio strobes.  



Speaking of studio strobes, there are two Elinchrom 500 watt strobes with Profoto strip softboxes mounted on C stands.  Booms place them directly over Andrea.  Egg crate grids in the strip boxes keep the light directional.  Note the yellow and black sand bag on the end of the boom.  Very important - these keep the stand and light balanced so they don't fall on the subject, which is a very bad thing.

The big octabox softbox on my right is actually not providing any light for the final exposure.  I have poor eyesight and needed a modeling light to help me focus, and that big octa was the nearest thing.  


I have a big fleet of Nikon gear.  But in the past year, I've fallen in love with the Fuji X system. I started using the system for ambient light, and now I'm using it more and more for studio work.  I love the way Fuji renders color.  This is a new Fuji XT2 with the Fuji 35mm prime lens.  That's an Elinchrom Skyport trigger on top of the Fuji.  The Skyport trigger is nice because I can adjust the strobes from the trigger without raising and lowering those softboxes.  


The Know How

Studio lighting is what gets me excited.  It can be dramatic, it can be soft and flattering, it can be mysterious.  Clients come into my studio and routinely ask me "how did you learn to use all this stuff?". Some of it comes from books; some of it comes from other photographers; but mostly it comes from just using the equipment and learning what it can and can't do.  Do it wrong a couple of thousand times, and eventually you figure out how to get the results you want.  

So to make a shot like this, start with a great looking client.  Then add the right set, a couple of thousand dollars worth of equipment, and someone who knows how to use it to make you look great.  That's a pretty good deal for a couple of hundred bucks :).  


If you are a physique athlete, and you are interested in having a professional photo session that will make you look like a Marvel super hero, send me a note to schedule a no-obligation consultation in my studio.  Keep lifting!





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