Wrap-Up: Outdoor Fitness Photography on location in Palos Verdes with model Sarah Barnes

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Sarah Barnes is an agency-signed model with Sports+Lifestyle Unlimited. She was in need of updating her fitness portfolio with new looks. I setup a session in Palos Verdes at a large city park that offered many structural features to play off of as well as dense lines of trees and open grass fields.

Sarah is extremely fit so I knew I could ask her to do a lot of jumping, bounding and dynamic moves without receiving a blank stare. I wanted to capture a set of images that looked different from most street workout shoots. I wanted to use the unique structural details of the park to produce unexpected looks that might have never been considered viable before.

I couldn’t drag around large strobes and stands in this populated park, so I harnessed natural light with a large foamcore bounce reflector. This worked very well as it so often does. Its simplicity and durability is a great advantage on location. I also love the super soft light it can produce in cases when the subject is very close to it. Sometimes the skin and clothing appear to glow, which is very flattering.

I had scouted this location prior and knew what I wanted to photograph. But the beauty of shooting at an open location like this is the improvisation that is possible. Making creative decisions on the fly based on what I see and what the model is capable of expressing athletically is what makes it so satisfying.

I’ve come to learn that a strong image happens in a small space. When filling the frame and cutting clutter out of the background, the action takes place in a small volume of airspace. The fact that an image is a still moment in time, it doesn’t necessitate a large space like filmmaking does. With that approach understood, I can enter parks and other visually busy environments knowing I can extract the beautiful micro viewpoints from it. On the day of the shoot, I’m actively scanning the surroundings for unique POVs–those otherwise overlooked when taking in the entirety of a space. That’s where the fun and creative challenge lives. That’s what excites me about on-location photography. Combine that with a fit model who brings lots of life to a static backdrop, you come away with exciting imagery. 

A sampling of the images can be seen below. If you’re interested in commissioning my services and want to learn more, contact me.

Session Details:

  • Time: Mid morning
  • Duration: 2hrs
  • Camera: Canon 5D MkII
  • Lens: Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS
  • Speedlight: Flashpoint Zoom Li-on R2

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