Photographers tend to specialize in order to catch a certain market segment. As a result, there are photographers who create their entire business around shooting weddings, others exclusively do boudoir work, still others do family portrait work.
In addition to landscapes, I've been shooting figure figure athletes since starting my photography endeavors after making the Shawshank Redemption-like break from forensics a few years ago. Each segment of the market has its challenges, both from the technical point of view, and from the aspect of dealing with varying personalities effectively to get the best result.
My approach to photographing figure athletes is predicated on the three foundations of a successful endeavor:
1. Service: I make it a point to speak with the client or communicate via e-mails, to determine what they want from the shoot. A client will often have a general idea of some of the photos they want to come away with, but you really need to ask refining questions, explore what they want and provide them with a service that fulfills their wants and needs. To accomplish this, I will always write out a shooting schedule, which is a document that outlines where and when the shoot will take place, terms, approximate timelines for specific venues, and general orientation. I will e-mail this to the client, and discuss any changes they wish to make until the schedule is agreed upon. Prior communications will have established the general clothing and wardrobe aspects, so that I can plan out backgrounds and screens to compliment the clothing choices.
2. Convenience: Its important that the service not only meets the needs of the client, but that the client can walk into the shoot and everything is ready to go. Since my studio is portable, I can shoot outdoors, at a client's residence or at a mutually-agreed upon venue. The client arrives, and we go through the series of venues that were drawn up in the shooting schedule. Once done, there is nothing for the client to do but wait for the finished product (which is usually an archival-grade DVD of the shoot's images after post production in Photo Shop). I will mail the DVD to the recipient, so again, they don't need to drive somewhere to pick up their photos.
3. Building Loyalty: Its important to treat people the way you want to be treated. I make a point of answering questions, calls and e-mails in the quickest fashion possible. If I can't answer a question, I will research it until I do have an answer. If someone expresses an interest in having a session done, I make all the information they need available to them, then I let them be; I don't hound someone who's unsure if they're ready for a session, I don't post images of clients unless I have their permission to do so, and I offer incentives to returning customers.
Key aspects when photographing figure athletes:
So, until the next shoot, stay safe and keep shooting. You'll never get that perfect shot with your camera tucked away in its case.
Chris Kiez, a hardcore photographer since the 80's, learned to take a picture before the age of selfies and cell phone photography, training on mechanical cameras and film. After years of taking photos of all manner of subjects and people, he did over a 10 year stint as a crime scene photographer on two continents. Now, he does portrait and landscape photos, and is currently distressing the world with his relentlessly, excruciatingly boring blogging. To buy what you see on this site, click here!