Like a lot of things in life, it’s easy to assume we can DIY the “simple” tasks like taking photos, and while that’s definitely possible with some planning and the right equipment, it can end up costing you more than if you’d just have hired a professional. In the following blog post, we’ll give you some tips on DIY-ing your gym photos while also providing some insight on the benefits of hiring a pro.
Planning and Strategy
With certain endeavors, it’s best to just jump right in. However, not with this type of photography. Even if you’re going to hire a professional, you’ll want to do some planning first.
If you already have photos you like on your website, do they highlight the things you want highlighted? If you offer club tours or intro offers, what do those prospective clients visually respond to when they first see your location? Do they fall in love with the pool? Photograph it. Do they like that you offer day care? Photograph it. Do they like how bright and inviting your front desk area is? Photograph it. If you're not sure what really grabs people's attention, the fix is simple: ask around! If you don't personally do the tours or handle intro-offer redemptions, ask the staff members that do.
Speaking of people and what they like to see, did you know people respond more favorably to pictures with people in them? When you’re planning out what photos you’d like to take, keep in mind that you’ll want to feature a few people here and there. Show a class in session, or a trainer working with a client -- just make sure the photos are of a professional quality (whether you take them or not) and don’t feature too many people. After all, you don’t want to make prospective clients think they’ll never be able to use a machine or find a mat cause your location is so crowded. Additionally, if you do plan to show people, consider showing different body types. Don’t intimidate or scare prospective clients, let your photos make them feel welcome.
Tip: Don’t just photograph the inside! In addition to your awesome interior shots, don’t forget to take some photos of the outside. There’s a good chance new clients or prospects don’t know exactly what the exterior of your location looks like. Consider taking some high-quality exterior photos so that they know what to look for when they’re driving to your location. These photos work really well on other services like Google Maps, Foursquare, Yelp, and more. Save the stress for their muscles, not their drive over.
Photography Equipment and Accessories
Obviously, if you’re going to be hiring a professional photographer you can skip this section, though even if you’re a casual photographer in your day-to-day life (aren’t we all?) it may be helpful.
Nowadays, we’re all walking around with powerful cameras in our running shorts or yoga pants: smartphones. The most popular camera in the world is made by Apple. Yes, we are referring to iPhone. In particular, the iPhone 11 Pro which features the most advance -- at the time this blog is being written -- camera systems available for smartphones. It boosts three individual camera lenses on the phone: telephoto, wide-angle, and an ultra wide-angle lens. Not to mention, incredible software that pulls data from all three lenses at once to give you the cleanest and sharpest images possible.
Now, not everyone is going to have an iPhone 11 in their pocket, but if you’ve followed our advice by planning out the photos you’d like to take, you should have a better idea whether a smartphone camera is adequate for what you hope to accomplish. Do you want to feature a very active dance class? Some smartphone cameras won't be able handle the motion. Are all of your photos going to be taken inside? You will need lighting.
Speaking of lighting…
You’ll need it. Unless your gym or studio is full of rich, beautiful natural lighting for hours on end, you’re going to need some lights, or to at least employ some simple lighting techniques.
Lighting Technique 1: You can find some surprisingly reasonable lighting packages on Amazon. Just search “photography lighting” and you’ll see thousands of results.
Lighting Technique 2: “A light, some poster board, and a friend.” This technique is pretty simple and definitely inexpensive. You may even already have the three items needed: 1. Powerful flashlight. 2. White poster board. 3. Someone to hold the light and poster board. The poster board-holding person will simply shine the flashlight onto the poster board so that the light then reflects onto the subject of your photo.
Lighting Technique 3: Hire a professional so this can get done correctly, quickly, and professionally the first time around. Photographers aren’t nearly as expensive as you think! The prices you paid for your wedding or bar/bat mitzvah will not be the prices you pay for a few hours at your business.
Hiring a Professional
Let’s face it, sometimes hiring a pro is just the right thing to do. If you’d like to save yourself some time and maybe even money, consider hiring a professional photographer to come in and knockout your photos.
Benefits: Better quality photos, having access to a professional’s eye, lighting, and some even include free editing and touchup services. Best of all, it’s one less thing for you to have to do.
There are several resources for finding professional photographers in your area. To get started, check out the Professional Photographers of America's “find a photographer” service. You can also use services such as Angie’s List or even Craigslist to find photographers.
If you use a service like PPA or Angie’s List, we encourage you to look at photographer reviews. Do they have experience working in the fitness and wellness industry? Have their former clients left positive reviews? Those are definitely pluses. However, don’t be afraid to take a chance on someone without a huge client list or tons of reviews. As long as they have a nice portfolio, and state that they can achieve what you’re after, they’re going to provide you with high-quality work and they’ll usually be less expensive.
Bonus: If you do hire a professional photographer, you could schedule a staff photo day! Invite all of your staff to your location on a specific day and at a specific time and have the photographer snap photos of each staff member. These photos will be professional and, most importantly, cohesive so they’ll look great on your staff page as well as on any social media platforms.
Anyone can take photos with just a little planning, some lighting, and an understanding of what they want the photos to achieve. However, it will almost always be better to hire a professional photographer for a few hours. Just think of all the time you’ll end up saving with a pro. No lighting, no editing, no touch-ups, and you’ll have the benefit of their professional eye. As we stated earlier, hiring professional photographers is not as expensive as you think. However, we also know that quite a few fitness business owners have that “Ansel Adams” eye and that they’ll do wonderfully taking their own photos DIY style.
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