Author Topic: How To Look Better in Stage Pictures  (Read 2837 times)


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How To Look Better in Stage Pictures
« on: October 03, 2018, 07:23:26 PM »
From my friend Simon Lau, who is a photographer, and also shoots stage pictures at various contests with us.  He was just at the IFBB Legions in Long Beach with me, but lives in Toronto.  Each of us has our own style in taking pictures, but this is a good list from Simon.

[Long post, but worth the read if you compete]

Having spent substantial time shooting bodybuilding / fitness stage photos, I thought I'd compile some suggestions for competitors who want to look better in their pics. Please keep in mind the following:

- I'm not the official photographer, so this message is not officially sanctioned by anyone.
- I'm not a judge either, so my tips won't necessarily help you with better placings. But if you look better in photos, probably you'll look better in the eyes of the judges too.
- I'm not a coach, so I can't tell you how to achieve your desired physique.

Now that we have the disclaimers out of the way, here are my suggestions. And for any judges or photographers who have more helpful tips, feel free to add them in the comments.

Whenever you're on stage:

1. Remember your facial expressions. Don't look like you're half-asleep or waiting for the bus. Even though you're depleted and at the end of a long day (or long 20 weeks), do your best to look like you're enjoying what you're doing. And if you really are having fun, let that shine through. This applies particularly to bikini competitors, where your overall presentation may be a deciding factor in your placing. But for any category, you want to look like you can hit the poses with ease and confidence. Often I tell competitors: "If you think you're smiling, you're not smiling. If you know you're smiling, then you're probably just barely cracking a smile. If you feel like a grinning idiot, then definitely you're smiling." For some categories, like bodybuilding, classic physique, and women's physique, maybe you'd rather look menacing or intimidating rather than all smiley-faced. That's OK too, just don't look bored or disinterested.

2. Make eye contact with the judges / audience / photographers. Don't look down at yourself as you're hitting your poses, unless you're doing it no more than once or twice for dramatic effect. If constantly you're looking at yourself as you pose, it gives the impression that either a) you're self-absorbed checking yourself out, or b) you're unsure about your poses and need to check if you're doing them properly. I find that b) tends to be a more common concern among novice competitors. One more thing that applies particularly to women, if you're wearing extra-long lashes and you look down, it looks like your eyes are closed.

During the comparison round:

3. Leave enough space between you and the athletes beside you. We know that everyone wants to be in the centre. But if you crowd toward the centre, overlaping with others will do you a disservice. Judges won't be able to see your entire physique clearly, and the head judge will have to waste time telling the line-up to spread out. Also, you'll have other people's elbows, hands and faces in all of your pics.

During posing routines (bodybuilding, classic physique, women's physique):

4. Pace your posing routine so that it's easy to anticipate when you're at the peak contraction for your pose. If you use well-known music for your posing routine, posing to the rhythm of the music is an easy way to make this happen. There's a balance between taking too long to get into a pose, and going too fast for anyone to see you at peak contraction. If photographers never know when you'll hit your peak contraction on a pose, then you might end up with photos of you not at your best. There's one more thing to be aware of if your posing routine is more dance-oriented. I have seen plenty of wonderful, highly entertaining routines that involve a lot of dancing or non-stop movement. They are a pleasure to watch, but often don't yield a lot of photos that showcase your physique because it's hard to move and flex at the same time.

During fitness routines:

5. Put more of your best moves closer to the centre of the stage. Thankfully I've never seen a fitness competitor actually tumble off the stage, but I've seen some come uncomfortably close to the front edge or the side curtains. Aside from the obvious safety concerns, spending more of your routine closer to the centre also means that more of your photos will be shot from more flattering angles.

During routines and presentation rounds:

6. Understand where the best lighting is on the stage. It's almost always going to be at the centre box, and along the line where you stand during comparisons. That's because the head judge requests that the line be taped on the stage where the lighting is best for the judges to see you. So when you do your presentation round, do no more than 1 pose at the back centre before moving to the box. Remember this for posing routines too. Plenty of times bodybuilders will come directly to the front edge of the stage and hit most-muscular poses for the crowd. If you want to be right at the front to work the crowd, that's fine. Just remember that you might be posing in darkness. Similarly for fitness routines, position your best moves for where you can be seen in good lighting.

7. Include poses beyond the mandatory poses for your category. When you can hit whatever pose you want, don't just show us the exact same poses that you do during comparisons. Whether it's a variation on a side chest pose, or adding a nice transition pose in between quarter turns, adding a few different looks will allow a greater variety of photos. Front double biceps might be your all-time favourite pose, but if you do 8 of them in a 60 second routine, all your photos will start to look the same.


8. Work with a posing coach to help you understand which poses work best for you. Keep in mind that many of the pros at the highest level of competition have a posing coach. Even with a mirror, it's hard for you to know how you look while you're posing. If you think you've invented a great new pose that no one else does, chances are that it doesn't show your best shape. A good posing coach will help you fine tune your poses so that you look your best. And most likely they already know all of these tips.