Do Your Research
During my first national competition the contestants were asked to model, pose and interview for live camera on the busy streets of Las Vegas. I was so naï¶¥ and had no idea who the popular photographers were at the time. I felt uncomfortable when any man approached me in my six - inch heels and bikini, even if they had a business card. I was entirely leery and had heard too many rumors about perverts and weirdoes to take any chances. However because I was so shy and ignorant, I did not follow up or shoot with any of the photographers my first year. This was a detriment to my fitness career.
Now I'm calling many of those photographers, only to discover they are booked. Their success has skyrocketed and they can't schedule me in. A competitor should research photographers prior to any competition. Ask other veterans of the sport, look online, call the director and find out who will be the photographer(s) for the competition. I suggest looking at portfolios and evaluating photographers' work and their reputation. Decide beforehand what will be in your best interest and don't pass up excellent opportunities.
Another aspect which is beneficial to a competitor is be sure to follow through with paperwork and exchange all the information necessary. Most photographers in general have all this prepared, but ask them about their policies, copyrights and publishing, or exposure information.
On the other hand, yes there are occasions where you have to be concerned about the photo pervs who shoot without permission and put you and your name all over the Internet. I haven't had this extreme, but I have experienced people who walk around without any credentials and take photographs. My first encounter of a photo perv was when I was shooting with another photographer and some transient came along. This street friendly fellow was drinking from a brown paper bag in one hand, and trying to take pictures of me with a Kodak disposable camera in the other. Fortunately, nothing negative came of it (from what I know), but one can never be too cautious either. Fitness competitors should be assertive when asking these photo pervs to leave.
Other frustrating times entailed phone calls at home, sometimes at a crazy hour such as 2:00 a.m.! These harassing men would call and claim to be photographers for popular magazines. They would continue the conversation by asking me if I would be willing to pose nude, or partially nude. My reply, "Not as a school teacher in a small, conservative town!" Obviously these late night calls were not authentic. A professional photographer will be just that, professional. He or she should reach you during business hours and approach you like a professional. The same applies for the fitness competitor. Be courteous, punctual and responsible. I believe the photographers talk with one another and share information, just like the competitors. A competitor should remember to build a positive rapport with all contacts in the fitness industry.
Knowing the photographers' tastes and preferences helps with this area. There are photographers who prefer to give poses, suggestions and help with techniques to make the experience smooth and natural. Nevertheless, there are situations where the question of how to pose and what to wear can be tricky. For me, posing felt difficult because I have never really considered myself a "sex symbol" and I haven't spent any time on the catwalk.
Yet, playing in front of the camera was enjoyable. I found several photographers who I feel quite comfortable with, and I also realized that I am at my best if other friends or family are along to make me giggle, smile and unwind. If I try too hard to pose and look a certain way (the sexy, taunting, voluptuous shots) don't really work for me. At times I feel awkward and then it is unbecoming of my personality. It's when I don't try and just have fun that the best photos turn out.
Below is a list of some of the photographers in the Fitness America and Fitness Universe arena. Feel free to peruse their sites.
Photo courtesy of: Tanya Curtiss
Photo courtesy of: Gene X. Hwang, Orange Photography
Photo courtesy of: Carl Thygesen
Photographers From The Fitness America/Universe Arena
Scott Appleby: www.scottappleby.com, www.buffnbeautiful.com
Clay Carson: www.mediagel.com
Eric Freimanis: www.fotoguy.net
Skip Faulkner: http://web8.com/skip
Nancy Georges: www.nancygeorges.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Todd Ganci: www.tganci.com, www.stunningfitnessgirls.com
Gene X. Hwang: www.orangephotography.com, email@example.com
John Lathrop: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thomas Oed: www.impactfoto.com, www.portfolios.com/impacatimagephotography
Rob Sims: http://www.robsimsstudios.com
Carl Thygesen: www.cctphotography.net
Best of luck with your next photo shoot,