There’s no better feeling on the day of a photoshoot than knowing you did everything you possibly could to show up looking and feeling your absolute best.
I was a part of a calendar shoot for the Pistons Dancers last weekend, and received a lot of encouragement from you guys to share some of the tips and tricks I did to get ready for it. This is kind of a long one, so I’m going to just jump right into it!
*Disclaimer: Please understand that I do not recommend keeping this strict of a diet and exercise routine up for more than a few week’s time. My personal tips are meant to be used on a short term basis, with an end goal, or photoshoot date in mind. Please, please, please do not use these tricks as part of your every day health and fitness routine!
If you have been following the blog over the summer, then you already know that preparing for something like an audition or a team photoshoot is not something I take lightly. Depending on where I feel my body is at, I take anywhere from two weeks to a month beforehand to get into what I consider to be my best shape.
Once I get into “photoshoot mode” there’s really no coming back. I know what I need to do, I stay focused, and I don’t make any excuses for cheating. While I fully condone diving face first into the occasional slice of pizza or bowl of ice cream on a normal basis, understand that now is just not the time.
If you are the type of person who can’t go out for a fun night with friends without completely breaking these rules, then you might want to lay low for a few weeks. Get comfortable with spending your weekend nights at the gym or on the couch with your pajamas on and going to bed at a reasonable hour.
Believe me, the day you see your photos you will also see that your hard work paid off and it will all be worth it!
Photo Credit: Michael Cairns
How To Look and Feel Your Best at a Photoshoot
Let’s start with the basics… if you have a big shoot (or even a Wedding Day!) coming up, you obviously want to look your best. Who doesn’t? Just know that looking your best is essentially being your best.
Yes, there is a thing called Photoshop, but do you really want to rely on that? If you ask me, that’s cheating and should be saved for the small things like removing a pimple, unfortunate lighting, or a random strand of hair.
I am going to assume that most of you reading this have already gotten into a regular eating and exercise routine. Hopefully it’s a healthy and consistent one! For those of you who aren’t too sure how to get there, here are my best Healthy Eating Tips to start you off on the right track.
Now, let’s get ready for that shoot!
Before the Photoshoot
• Every Day Cardio
My normal weekly fitness routine includes 4-5 trips to the gym and a long run on the weekends. Generally, at least two of those days include taking group fitness classes, which may not include much cardio.
Photo shoot tip numbero uno: DO cardio. Every day for at least 30 minutes.
Still complete your normal weight training and muscle toning workouts, but make cardio your number one focus.
Whether it’s going for a run, completing an elliptical or spinning workout, or taking a kickboxing class, do whatever you need to do to get your heart rate pumping. Strength training alone will not get you your trimmest. Cardio, however, will help get rid of that pesky extra layer of who knows what and gives your muscles that extra push to the surface!
• Chicken, Egg Whites + Vegetables
Exciting menu, right? I know I am not the only one who doesn’t like this rule… but it’s an important one.
Try to center all of your meals around protein and vegetables. A few weeks prior to the shoot, cut out all complex carbs (breads, pastas, crackers) after lunch and get the ones you need from protein bars, fruit, and nuts.
A few days before the shoot, cut out all complex carbs, skip the fruit (loaded with unnecessary sugars), stick to only drinking water, and rely on plain chicken or fish as your meat. When in doubt, think chicken, egg whites and vegetables.
• Light, Healthy Snacks
I have always been a snacker, which makes limiting them during photoshoot prep extremely hard for me. When I feel like I need something to satisfy hunger, I turn to this dried fruit, nut and seed mix I came up with over six years ago!
In this mix (all bought separately, then mixed together at home): unsalted raw almonds, dried cranberries, raisins, golden raisins, and sunflower seeds.
Occasionally I will substitute yogurt covered raisins for variety. Almonds in excess can be fatty, but just a few of them can give you a boost of energy when you need it.
• Get Your (Sunless) Tanning On
As a dancer, I have become closely acquainted with sunless tanning products. Over the years, I have found a handful of rock star products I use in between getting professional spray tans.
Tans aren’t for everyone, but I personally think that a good one only complements what is already there. Even just a hint of color makes me feel slimmer, toner, and helps my muscles become more visible.
From Left to Right: L’Oreal Sublime Luminous Bronzer (Instant Action), California Tan Instant Sunless Spray, Olay Quench Ultra Moisture Lotion with Shea Butter (for a moisturizer to use in between tanning applications), L’Oreal Sublime Bronze Streak Free Tanning Lotion (more gradual than the first one).
• Hair, Nails + Eyebrows
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Basically, don’t show up with a few inches of routes and chipped nails. Fit in a hair appointment the week of, make sure your eyebrows are shaped, and take some time to get your nails done.
I am not a huge fan of acrylics, or spending a lot of money on them so I have turned to press-on nails for years!
My favorite kind is Kiss French Petites or Real Short length, and both retail for around $7-$8 a box. There are several skeptics out there about using press-ons, but I can personally assure you that they are wonderful.
The box includes easy-to-apply instructions, the entire process takes about ten minutes, and they always last at least five days after I put them on. Try adding a clear top coat for extra shine! I would bet money that no one will suspect they weren’t professionally done.
*Tip: If you’re getting a spray tan, be sure to get your nails and toes done first. Tanning product can be easily wiped off of them, and you don’t want to have anyone scrubbing your tan away!
• Test Out Your Makeup
Some sessions (team shoots, photography studios, personal headshots, etc.) will provide professionals to help with your hair and makeup. In the NBA world, we have this luxury on hand, but I have had to do my own for a handful of shoots as well. Either way, I like to come prepared with my own makeup, just in case.
If you know that you will be the one handling your hair and makeup the day of, be sure to do a test run a few days before. Knowing exactly what you are going to do ahead of time saves a lot of unnecessary time and worrying over what the final product will look like. Try to stick to colors you normally use so it feels the most like you.
• Lashes For Days
A lot of women are terrified of wearing and applying false eyelashes. I have been wearing and applying them myself for dance competitions and performances for over fifteen years now. (!!!) I guess you could say they have become like a second skin to me, and now I hardly even notice when they are on.
I wear a variety of brands and styles, but I have found a few favorites I turn to for photoshoots.
This year, the makeup lady at our shoot actually doubled these two up to form one super thick lash! That was the first time I’ve ever done that, band I have to admit that I loved the look.
You can usually find eyelashes at most pharmacy stores like CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, and even a few bigger stores like Wal-Mart and Target. They always have them at beauty supply stores like Ulta and Sally’s Beauty Supply, but the best value I have found is to order them on Amazon! (Don’t forget to also pick up some eyelash glue! I swear by Duo.)
• Know Your Poses
You want to go into a photoshoot feeling like you know what you are doing. It took me a few shoots to get rid of my nerves and actually feel comfortable in front of the camera, and after six season I think I’ve finally got a handful of “go-to” poses to turn to!
What has helped me the most with this is looking at websites, calendars, and other professional shoots to see what kind of poses look good. Once I find a few, I literally go in front of a mirror, practice the poses and memorize them.
My inspiration for this year’s shoot was the most recent Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader’s Calendar Shoot. I even snapped a few photos on my phone of my favorites to have on hand, just in case I got stuck.
Before the day of the shoot, also look in the mirror and see what angles your body look it’s best. It’s amazing what a little tucking under and twisting can do for the profile!
• Epsom Salt Baths
While getting ready for a photoshoot, my muscles often become sore from the extra workouts and I can easily get stressed out from all of the running around and preparations. Not only can taking a hot Epsom salt bath help relax both the mind and the muscles, but it can also get rid of toxins and extra water weight you might be carrying around from drinking so much of it!
Also, if your gym has a Steam Room or Sauna, take advantage of it. Taking ten minutes to unwind and sweat out the rest of those toxins after a good workout feels amazing!
More information on the benefits of Epsom Salt:
– How Epsom Salt Baths Work via Discovery Health
– Epsom Salt Uses & Benefits via SaltWorks
– Healthy Benefits of Epsom Salt Baths via Care2 Healthy Living
• Get Plenty of Rest
Under eye concealer con only cover so much. I often have a hard time falling asleep the night before a shoot, so I force myself to be at home and turn in as early as possible. If I am able to fall asleep at a reasonable hour and get at least 6-8 hours, I like to wake up early to get in a sunrise jog.
Talk about getting your blood flowing and day started on the right foot!
Day Of the Shoot
• Wear Loose Clothing
The last thing you want to worry about is messing up your hair and makeup once you are ready to change into whatever you will be wearing for the shoot. Bring a robe, or wear a zip up jacket or button up shirt to avoid anything going over your head.
• Come Prepared With Beauty + Hair Styling Essentials
Just like the makeup tip above, you want to come prepared with whatever you would normally use to get ready for a nice event: hair tools and products, deodorant, face wipes, Q-tips, chap stick, combs, etc.
Also, it can be helpful to pack a small mirror to be able to see the back of your hair, or even use it to touch up your makeup in between shooting.
I got this one at Rite Aid for under $4 and will also use it during the season at every game.
• Little Extras
There are a few things I am looking past the embarrassment factor to share with you. This is certainly one of them.
Before my very first NBA dancer shoot, I purchased a set of silicon breast enhancers, or what all the girls like to call “chicken cutlets.” They are little silicone cups you can insert into a costume, bra, or swimsuit top to give you a little something extra up top.
I didn’t cut any corners in this department and went straight to Frederick’s of Hollywood to purchase mine. They also sell them at Victoria’s Secret, and for at a much more affordable price at Target and other specialty undergarment stores.
• Clothing and Accessories
For shoots that aren’t going to be styled for you, make sure to bring plenty of options. It can be a pain getting everything together, but you never know what will look best depending on what is going on in the background of your photos.
Photo Credit: Elegant Imagery
For our Engagement Shoot, Scott and I each brought a few outfits and had our photographer help us pick out what to wear.
Photo Credit: Elegant Imagery
I usually bring more than I need, but don’t know exactly what will look best until I arrive the day of.
Try put together complete outfits, rather than just throwing a bunch of articles of clothing together. I accessorize every outfit with coordinating jewelry, but know I can always remove if I feel it’s not needed.
• Loosen Up and Be Confident!
The only way you are going to love your photos is if you can see yourself having fun and showing a genuine smile or facial expression behind them. I can’t tell you how many photos I have hated because I could tell I was a little uptight or still “warming up” to shooting them.
Photo Credit: Michael Cairns
If music helps you, bring along a playlist with some of your favorite songs to help make you feel more at ease. Laugh. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Live in the moment and do whatever feels natural.
Photo Credit: Lauren Watai Photography
Photo Credit: Lauren Watai Photography
Tips Specifically For Bikini or Revealing Shoots
(or… for the crazy photoshoot preppers out there!)
Of course, I am harder on myself when getting ready for calendar shoots, or any type of shoot that I will be showing my stomach.
Photo Credit: Michael Cairns
Here is where the ish gets real, you guys. Ready?
• ONLY Water, Then Drop It
Cut out pop/soda. Cut out lemonade. Cut out drinking alcoholic beverages. Cut out cream and sugar in your coffee. A week to two weeks prior to this type of shoot, stick to drinking water only.
3-4 days before hand, drink as much as you possibly can. Then cut it off as much as you can the day before and day of the shoot.
I know it sounds ridiculous, but this will be a form of detox for your body and get rid of all the “crap” under your skin. Naturally, you will have to go to the restroom more often, which is normal. The day before and of the shoot, you will still be going to the bathroom and won’t be replacing the water source, which will help with muscle definition.
If you feel lightheaded, or dehydrated, drink water… just try to use it sparingly. After the shoot, feel free to chug!
• No Salt, Dairy, Fruit, Fiber or Complex Carbohydrates 72 Prior
We touched on this subject above, but for those who really want to be your leanest, cut out ALL sodium (even found in meats like ham and turkey) 3-4 days before the shoot. Cut out dairy (this is the absolute hardest for me!) and go easy on the fiber to avoid bloating. Cut out ALL carbs. Remember: Plain chicken, egg whites + vegetables.
Once again… after the shoot, feel free to indulge!
• Extra Workouts
I mean, the more the merrier here. This year I actually went a little easier than normal. I didn’t workout the last two days before the shoot because I felt like my body hit it’s peak. I have taken photos where I look “too” in shape before, and didn’t want that. Instead, I focused more on my clean eating and enjoyed a slow jog the day of.
• Red Wine
I still believe in cutting out all alcohol (empty calories) the week leading up to the shoot BUT I have heard that drinking a glass of dry red wine the night before a shoot can help make your muscles pop the next morning. Does it work? I have no idea, but I have tried it before and have to believe it goes right along with Epsom Salt baths.
• Wrap It Up
Okay… I am going to close with the weirdest trick of them all. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Have you heard of body wrapping? Here’s the do it at home version that costs a lot less.
Buy a tube of hemorrhoid cream. Yes, hemorrhoid cream. Rub it over your stomach, on your thighs, under the booty, wherever you would like to tighten skin and minimize cellulite before you go to bed. Then wrap the area(s) in a few layers of plastic (Saran) wrap.
You will look crazy, but after 3 or 4 nights of doing this you will notice a visible difference and tightness in your skin. Promise.
Andddd I think we’ve made it! I hope some of this information has been useful to you in some way, shape or form. If not, then I hope you were at least entertained at the last part.
Good Luck with whatever type of shoot or photo session you are doing!
If you have any specific questions, feel free to email me or ask below in the comments section!