Male Fitness Portrait Photography Brighton East Sussex

One of the things I’ve realised over the years is this: no matter how much we achieve as photographers, there will always be that feeling that we’re scratching the surface of our craft. This can be an intra or extra-genre phenomenon – for example a portrait photographer may want to expand their offerings into the different subsets of portraiture such as environmental portraiture, boudoir, fine art nudes, newborn photography, wedding photography …. Just as easily we may feel jaded if we’re not pushing the boundaries into entirely new genres such as food photography, macro photography, product photography.

We’re all different, but I know my own character and speaking personally I’m constantly seeking to expand and develop both my skillset and the breadth of services I can offer to my clients. For example, I’m a portrait photographer but in the last few years I’ve developed a very popular pet and animal photography branch of the business which has given me so much variety and satisfaction. I also seek variety within my day-to-day workload and this is why I have never specialised in just one portraiture niche. I have a fairly low boredom threshold and I know that if I only ever photographed one age group or gender I would soon be ready to scream.

I’m pleased that nowadays more men are approaching professional photographers for high-quality imagery which will help them to develop their businesses or personal projects. I think men are wonderful to photograph, they’ve not been subjected to the level of societal pressures which women have always faced when it comes to their looks, their imperfections or the state of their figure. Because of this men of all ages seem to have a natural confidence and are usually relaxed in front of the lens. There are many photographers who specialise in photographing women, but there seem to be relatively few photographers (at least in my experience) who have adopted a specialism in male figure studies.

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When we process or print our photographs we need to control contrast. This is a key part of lighting our subject, but it’s just as important during the development phase. Blocked shadows and blown highlights are unacceptable in figure studies


With that in mind I was delighted when I recently found out that Chris Harper FBIPP had planned an inspirational and fascinating workshop within driving distance of my home, with emphasis on the techniques and requirements of male fitness photography. None of these photographs are created in a studio environment, instead environmental portraits use found locations, which can be anywhere. We used doorways, walls, indeed anything which gave us a pleasing background and the kind of light we needed.

Inspirational workshops should be a key part of any successful or ambitious photographer’s ongoing personal development programme. In that regard some of the seminars I’ve been to have read like a who’s who of the industry – with an audience consisting of established experts and some of the most decorated photographers one can hope to meet. Even though I’m a Fellow of the BIPP and of The Societies (Fellowship is the highest accreditation a photographer can attain, with only a handful of photographers holding this position worldwide) there are still endless new paths to explore. Chris Harper is also the Chief Executive of the the British Institute of Professional Photography, but far from settling into an administrative role Chris has made a point of continuing to be a working photographer.

A small group of us made our way to the beautiful village of Ticehurst on the Sussex/Kent border, coming together in the stunning boutique surroundings of The Bell inn. Chris supplied us with a dazzling subject in the form of Daniel Shoneye. Daniel is a personal trainer and fitness model.


Today’s Tip:

The direction of the light shapes our subject, and this is everything in figure work. Take the time to experiment in different locations. You can use doorways, overhangs, and reflectors to help you control how the light models and reveals skin texture and muscle definition


As many of you know, my days of carrying heavy equipment are long gone and I’m happily (and very successfully) utilising my Micro 4/3 cameras and the excellent lenses which go with them. The photographs below were taken using my workhorse lens, the Pana 35-100 f2.8.

I want to say a huge thank you to Chris for sharing his ethos, methodology and techniques with us. Incidentally, this was a day of two halves – the afternoon was spent with Bella West FBIPP, a renowned authority in natural final art children’s portraiture. I’ll post a separate blog about Bella later this week.