How to Prepare for a Fitness Photo Shoot

The Photo Studio Glebe; Fashion; James Broadhurst; David Bergwerf
18738ZIM_Melissa Zimmerman

Recently we had the opportunity to photograph Aussie fitness legends Melissa Zimmerman and David Bergwerf. Both Mel Z and Dave rocked up to the studio looking lean as hell. So we decided to ask their tips on preparation for a fitness photo shoot. We’re talking in-grown hairs, sleeping in your tan and the holy grail for a fitness pro!

Dehydration vs Hydration

Alright guys, so what are your opinions on the whole dehydration vs. hydration debate?


Well, when some people hear that you dehydrate yourself for a photo shoot or a competition they turn their nose up to it. But basically they’re missing the bigger picture. The health aspect of dehydrating yourself for a day in comparison to how healthy you really are is a drop in the bucket.

With dehydration, you’re looking to get rid of any water retention. You can do a water load and you can do a water drop. Previously it was about taking as much water out, but these days it’s about putting as much water in.

If you were to give your body 6 litres of water a day, your body would have to get rid of 6 litres of water a day. So the faster you put water in, the faster your body excels water.

The Photo Studio Glebe; Fashion; James Broadhurst; David Bergwerf
18738ZIM_Melissa Zimmerman

Mel Z

In the last week or two of preparing for a fitness photo shoot, I would get as much sleep as I could and as much water as possible, so that my skin is looking fresh and fantastic. This is in moderation of course! So your 4 litres a day.

I would have my last say 3 litres the day before the photo shoot and then I would just have sips throughout the day.


It’s no secret that shaved skin helps highlight muscle definition. But what would you say to someone who has never shaved their body before?


If you’re a man who has never shaved their body before, then shave about 30 days prior to your fitness photo shoot. That will give your body time to grow out any ingrown hairs.

Then shave again about 3 days before the day.


A bad tan is a photographer’s nightmare. It can take literally days to retouch the blotchiness back to normal! What are your tips when it comes to tanning for a fitness photo shoot?

Mel Z

The night before the shoot I would get a really nice deep tan and I would sleep in that tan and wash it off in the morning. That will show a lot of definition if of course you have that definition.

Do not have a tan 2 weeks before! And make sure you use baby oil to get old tan off if you do have it on there.



There are all different ways to get a tan. There’s a good choice of spray tans these days. Where in the past some of them have been very orange, now you can get more of a chocolate colour that looks good under light.

For a competition one of the most mainstream products and the one that I use is called a dream tan, which is kind of like a paste. One trick I use is to use a concealer to cover up any scars or moles before applying the dream tan.

Wardrobe Styling

Mel Z

The most important thing I can say is that whoever wants to build a portfolio in the fitness industry needs to work with a stylist and I’ll tell you why – because what looks great on a girl in a magazine isn’t going to look good on you.

Fitness is all about being energetic, bold and bright and that’s where the colours come in. You want bold colours. Your pinks, your blues, anything that’s bold and bright. The matching booty shorts and crop top always looks fantastic.

Stay away from the brands and make sure your shoes and nice and clean!


Generally when we’re retouching a normal model we try to smooth their skin out. Is this the same for Fitness Models?

Mel Z

Some people are really proud of the veins they’ve got and want to bring out that vascularity in a photo shoot. So for that reason the photographer needs to be very careful what they do and don’t retouch!


In fitness marketing, if you’re looking to get rid of lines you need to get rid of the right lines. You still want to get rid of wrinkles and blotches and what not, but you need to be careful not to lose any muscle definition in the process.

Just say you have a chest muscle or a bicep muscle, that’s seen as just one muscle. But within that muscle there are lots of different fibres and the more you work a muscle the more it breaks apart and the more definition between that muscle you might have. So instead of having one big chunk of muscle you might have a chest muscle which is broken up into all different bits so it looks like a hundred chords rather than just having one big muscle. That’s what it is when you have striation.

Striations are like the holy grail of a fitness person.

The Photo Studio Glebe; Fashion; James Broadhurst; David Bergwerf
The Photo Studio Glebe; Fashion; James Broadhurst; David Bergwerf

Want fitness coaching from the best in the business? Check out Mel Z’s and Dave Berwerf’s websites below.


Gain Experience. Build Confidence. Get Noticed.


Get in Touch ×

Locations ×


308 Montague Rd, West End, 4101

We are located 10 minutes from Brisbane CBD. Onsite parking available.

1300 288 818


2 Hertford St, Fitzroy, 3065

We are located in the heart of Fitzroy between Brunswick St and Smith St. Onsite parking is available when prearranged.

1300 288 818


5 Franklyn Street, Glebe, 2037

We are located in the heart of Glebe just 5 minutes from the Sydney CBD. The easiest parking is in Broadway Shopping Centre directly behind the studio.

1300 288 818

Why do we collect your Birthday?×

If you are under 18 we will need to speak with your parents or legal guardians to arrange your photo shoot.