A top notch health club facility like South Shore Athletic Club in Cohasset, MA is an inviting, sunlit space filled with all of the latest cardio and weight training equipment. Classes are offered as part of the membership, and massage and personal training are available to members at an additional cost.
For this photography assignment, the goal was to capture images that represent the personal training that is offered. Many people find the notion of personal training intimidating, so it was important to show that their personal training was approachable and enjoyable, in addition to having value.
- Do not interfere with the personal training session.
- Balance the wall of incoming sunlight with fluorescent lighting inside.
- Express value and comfort without words.
Do not interfere with the personal training session.
Be the Invisible Photographer
When I shoot a family portrait, I spend at least a half a day with the family. This is because the first 30 to 60 minutes all awareness is on the camera. I want the camera to become a normal part of the landscape for all involved. This is why I capture a family, a person, a child, a group or a couple in their most natural state.
Knowing that it takes some time to habituate to the presence of a camera, I was sure to meet the individuals training before they began their sessions. Not only did I want them in a natural state, but I was mindful that people paying for their training deserve a session free from distractions.
I used my Canon ZOOM EF 70-200mm 1:2.8 L Series IS II USM lens. This allowed me to be quite far away from the personal trainer and the trainees. And I did not use a flash for the first half of the session.
I worked my way into using an on camera flash bounced from the ceiling so as not to remind them I was there by blinding them with light, and I changed lenses towards the end of the shoot to my Canon ZOOM EF 24-105mm 1:4 L Series IS USM.
My shooting perspective became more obvious and creative towards the end of the training session and this allowed me to get more dramatic perspectives without interfering with their session.
Balance the wall of incoming sunlight with fluorescent lighting inside.
Speedlight and Exposure Settings
Shooting on full Manual (almost alway the case) I used a wide aperture setting, an ISO maximum of 800, and my shutter speed did not go below 200 (they were moving). At first I photographed from both sides of the wall of windows, and then with the windows behind me.
Eventually I switched to the 24-105mm lens and used flash. I used on camera Speedlight bounced from ceiling to battle the harsh light from the sun once the session was well underway. I set the Speedlight for Manual and powered it up to produce adequate lighting. This was useful to balance out the shadows.
Express value and comfort without words.
Watch and Wait
It is hard to capture interactions without people knowing you are there. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of waiting, and also watching. By learning to anticipate how people are interacting you can be ready to shoot the image at just the right time.
By the end of the session, everyone seemed quite used to my being there and enough of the self-consciousness was gone to photograph people in a relaxed state.
The results showed the motivation that the personal trainer, Wally, at South Shore Athletic Club, inspired, some of the training methods in action, and a comfortable relationship.