Why Take Progress Pictures?
Starting a new fitness journey is always daunting – especially if you’re a complete newbie or if you’ve had a long break from exercise. Taking photos of yourself when you don’t feel all that great about yourself, is probably the last thing you want to do. But trust me, taking pictures at the start of your journey is hands down THE best thing you can do.
Throw Out The Scales
I’m not a fan of taking measurements or obsessing over the number on the scales. In my experience, it can cause unnecessary anxiety and the stress can actually stop you from getting results. It’s much better to take photos as a reference point and instead, focus on how you feel throughout your journey.
Taking note of your energy levels, digestion, skin, mood, strength gains and how your clothes are fitting is a much better measurement of your progress because it forces you to actually connect to your physical body, rather than disconnecting you by putting too much emphasis on a numerical goal with no regard for your wellbeing.
So here are step-by-step instructions on how to take the best progress pictures:
Take Photos Once Every Four Weeks At The Most
Healthy progress is slow progress – especially if your goal is to change your body composition by lifting weights. Chances are, it’ll be very unlikely that you’ll see daily or even weekly changes in your body. If you take daily photos, you’ll be disappointed when you can’t see changes right away. Personally, I recommend taking the first set of progress shots on day one of your new program and then the next set of pictures at the end of your program. Taking progress pictures no more than every four weeks would be the absolute maximum recommended.
Avoid Overly Posing, Flexing And Unnatural Angles
It’s tempting to want to make your initial progress pictures look better than they really are. We’ve all seen the deceivingly clever angles on your favourite fitness influencer’s gym selfies, popping the hips out to one side, sucking the belly in and enlarging the booty tenfold. But for the love of the fitness gods, please don’t do the same!
A natural and relaxed posture will allow you to see your progress more clearly and it will also make your photos more consistent. It’s hard to pose or flex in exactly the same position every time! The goal is to have almost identical poses for comparison between your progress photos so relaxed and natural is always best.
Good Lighting Is A Must
Your phone camera is perfectly fine, you don’t need a fancy camera. But great lighting will make all the difference. If you’re a social media pro, you no doubt have a ring light. But if you don’t have a professional light set up, take your photos in a well lit room during the day with as much natural sunlight as possible. Setting the camera up near a window with you facing the light source is ideal.
Setting Up Your Camera
Every time you take progress photos, make sure that the camera is in the same spot and that you are standing exactly the same distance away from the camera. If you have a tripod, I recommend setting it up in the right position and leaving it in the same position and height until you take your next set of photos. If you don’t have a tripod, you can simply lean your phone against some books on a desk or windowsill.
Tip: to remember your position stand up close to the camera and take how ever many steps backwards until you are in the right position. You are aiming to get your full body into the frame from the top of your head to your feet. Set the camera on selfie view with it set to timer, so you can check you’re in the right position and take shots hands-free. Once you know you’re in the right spot, take note of your exact position in the room and how many steps you are standing away from the camera.
What To Wear
Obviously the aim of taking progress photos is to see the visible changes in your body, so the less you are wearing the better! Ideally you want to wear something that is form-fitting and reveals your arms, stomach and legs. Bikini swimsuit, bra and panties (nothing too racy though!) or gym crop top and shorts is preferable, but just go with whatever feels more comfortable to you. Wear the same thing in all your photos to keep the continuity and only change your outfit if it no longer fits you. Remember, no one has to see these photos unless you want them to!
How To Pose
Each set of progress photos will have three full body views (front, side and back). For the front and back views, simply stand up straight with your natural posture, feet together, relax your shoulders and let your arms hang by your side. For the side view, do exactly the same but raise your arms up and straight out in front of you so your arms do not obstruct the view of your torso.
Morning Photos On An Empty Stomach
To get the best progress pictures, you want to be as consistent as possible. It’s always best to take them on the same day each time and first thing in the morning after you’ve been to the bathroom and before you eat anything. Our abdomens expand throughout the day after eating all our meals and drinking liquids so to avoid a bloated tummy in your photos, morning fasted pictures are best.
Opt For A Clean, Solid Background
A messy bedroom or cluttered shelves in the background of your progress photos can detract from the main focal point – you! It can also distort the lines of your body and not to mention, it just looks ugly, busy and confusing. If you can, always take your photos against a plain coloured wall or in a large open and tidy space.