By Wes Beiko
Shooting fitness/bodybuilding photos is very similar to shooting with regular models. The main difference being in terms of lighting and using shadows to bring out the definition in a model. For instance with this photo:
Our model is lit from above using the gym lights only (note the reflection on the weights). Being lit from directly above creates shadows on the body which helps highlight the various muscle groups. Keeping this rule in mind, when shooting in areas without fixed lighting, I would bounce my flash off the ceiling creating the same effect.
Lastly the number one key to getting your model to look their best is flexing. I left this up to my model Rogan. He would flex for a second or two before I would shoot a burst giving his muscle a moment to "set into place" and not risk any movement. We would see movement if we started shooting as soon as he flexed, this would also create an unnatural look and as if someone was struggling or wincing.
The final key to shooting physique photos is to pose the model off the centre line from your camera. We want to get a much larger view of the model, having them offset backwards creates the effect of making them look much wider compared to other poses. Note in the above photo how his left (our left) shoulder starts closer to the camera, his right however is farther back. This helps us fill the frame more and gives the perception of depth.