Anyone for tennis?

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It’s been a while since I’ve shown you a “Fit Guy” shoot – so let’s have another one!

Meet my partner’s tennis coach – if this doesn’t make you take up tennis – nothing will!

It took me some time to persuade Yann to do a shoot, because he had been spotted by Abercrombie & Fitch a few years ago, and done some modelling for them, so he’d experienced what it’s like to hang around for hours on a commercial shoot, and basically preferred teaching tennis!

But he finally gave in and humoured me for a few hours.

I don’t usually plan shoots beforehand, as I like to be freshly inspired on the actual day – so I decided to just go round to his house, check out his clothes, and find some locations. I knew he had a scooter, so decided that would definitely be included.

Bright green limo

I asked Yann to slowly drive backwards and forwards past the car, whilst looking at me. We tried driving closer to the car, further away from the car, and just experimented. I took lots of shots, and this one was my favourite.

I asked Yann to slowly drive backwards and forwards past the car, whilst looking at me. We tried driving closer to the car, further away from the car, and just experimented. I took lots of shots, and this one was my favourite.

What I did not know however was that on the way to Yann’s house I would pass the most amazing bright green limo! WOW! Nothing has stopped me in my tracks quite like that! It was literally parked up on the side of a road, in front of a great house, 200 yards from where Yann lives in Key West. I couldn’t find the owner, so we just took some shots in front of it.

I love experimenting with composition and when I look at a picture, I look for shapes, and the way they work together. I place someone in the shot, and move them around until they fit. None of the positioning below is by accident – I have asked him to sit or stand somewhere, and then moved him until I felt he looked “right”. Don’t be afraid to do this, your subject won’t think you don’t know what you are doing, they will just be really pleased when you take the shot, because they know you will have decided that’s the best place. It shows you are working it out, and thinking about what you are doing, rather than snapping away and hoping for the best. This gives them the confidence to trust you and let you take control of the shoot, which in turn will help to build your confidence too.

The pictures above are a selection of different positions, angles and crops all designed to create variety in the shoot.

The pictures above are a selection of different positions, angles and crops all designed to create variety in the shoot.

I usually tilt my camera but for the centre shot in the bottom row, I kept it perfectly straight – I just love the way the shape of the house, it’s shutters, the car and the palm trees all work together to create an amazing background behind the subject. I asked Yann to keep walking towards me until I thought he worked as a shape within the whole picture – if you understand what I mean!

I cropped the picture square later, because it reminded me of a CD cover.

On the boardwalk

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Next we found a boardwalk, which was in full sunshine. When shooting close ups of people looking at me, I always prefer their face in the shade as it provides a more flattering, soft light. In the picture above, you can see the sunlight splashing all over the background and foreground, but I have positioned Yann so the sun is slightly behind him, enough to keep his face shaded. The reflection was still too bright, so we put his sunglasses on to stop him squinting but I feel they actually enhance this shot – I love the reflection in them, echoing the lines of the fence in the background.

Various compositions created by zooming in and out, and changing the camera angle.

TOP TIP: One trick I often use to stop people squinting in bright sunlight is to get them to close their eyes – then I tell them, “When I say…I want you to open your eyes and look straight at me… now!” So long as you are ready for the split second when they open their eyes, they will not squint and you can get your shot.

Down by the sea

I don't mind him squinting in the sun here, because he is so far away, we can't actually see his eyes.

I don’t mind him squinting in the sun here, because he is so far away, we can’t actually see his eyes.

The sea around Key West is extremely shallow, hence we can stand so far out and get that great background. We haven’t actually walked all the way out – there is a pier to the left hand side of the shot, which he has climbed down from, and is balancing on the rocks. I am on top of the pier shooting down, which keeps the sea in the background. If I had been at the same level as him (in the sea) the background would have been the trees on the beach, rather than the huge expanse of water behind his head.

I have experimented with a range of different compositions, which create a variety of interesting shots. This is all done by moving the camera to include different areas, rather than making the subject move (he would fall off the rocks if he did!).

Avenue of palm trees

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Finally it’s time to smile! This amazing avenue of palm trees makes an incredible backdrop using the 70-200 lens at F2.8. The textures and shapes created by the background being totally out of focus, are just stunning.

Bottom right: Well how else did you expect me to travel around on this shoot?!

Bottom right: Well how else did you expect me to travel around on this shoot?!

Note on the bottom right shot, the reality of the palm avenue – still fantastic – but totally stunning when shot at an angle with the aperture set on F2.8 – study the background and you will see what a difference it makes, getting it out of focus by being on a wider aperture (F4 would be fine too). Tinting the colours makes the background shapes look even stronger. (Sepia, Black & white, and Aged in Lightroom).

Keep on sending your own “fit guy” shots in and I’ll show a selection later! Send max 3 low-res images to¬†[email protected].

Check out my earlier blog for more ideas: The Fit Guy

Tough job, but someone’s got to do it!

Annabel x