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First thing's first, I am not a professional fitness model (hard to believe, I know - just look at the expression on my face). In fact, I hate being in front of most cameras for whatever purposes, especially family-related.

However, with the fast-moving pace of the fitness industry, I realise that your body is often one of your primary marketing points and this is understandable; plus, as someone with a gen

uine passion for aesthetics and bodybuilding, it is important to have all your hard work acknowledged and captured. Imagine - you've spent hours upon hours working stupid hours to save up money for a Ferrari, giving up your entire social life and putting all your energy towards that shiny red bodywork... only to hide it under a cover in your garage. Nonsense, right?

My point is, you don't have to compete on stage in order to aim for a high level of physical conditioning. For me, photoshoots are like trial runs before I do actually step on stage. They are a chance for me to try myself as a coach - I am required to objectively evaluate my own body for its weaknesses and strengths alike, gauge a starting point and visualise a viable end result; this is already hard enough when you're used to picking at every single imperfection. But I love the process - usually, the two shoots I've done fall somewhere around my birthday, and it's nice to see the yearly progression. December comes, and I begin scheduling - okay, Val, for your twenty-second, you are going to deliver the most developed, conditioned physique you can.

A shoot is just a goal - for example, some people like to get in shape for a vacation, or for a wedding, or for whatever reason; just because there is an individual with a scarily large camera circling you in bright lighting doesn't mean shoots are reserved for ultra thin, ethereal youngsters straight off glossy magazine pages. Anyone can do it, of any size and any background - I always go in just the way I usually, no make-up, sometimes a touch of fake ta

n (if I'm feeling particularly special), but this is not due to a lack of effort. It's just that I am there to let my body shine, so for the most part, I try and muster a somewhat pleasant facial expression as I flex my quads (doesn't always work).

I encourage you to use photoshoots as another means of motivation and accountability - if you are looking to transform your body, but have no 'deadline' or direct 'reason' to start the journey, then make one. Find a photographer you like, set a date, pay the fee. This way, you leave yourself no option but to either step it up, an

d start making movements towards looking the way you want to look in those photos or.... not. And don't get me wrong - if you're happy with the way you are, hats off to you, by all means do a confidence shoot instead, no jaw-dropping transformation needed.

Here are some photographers you may consider depending on location, budget, and desired look:

1. Ben Mark -

As banal as this is going to sound, really lovely guy. Puts you at ease, and does his best to find your better angles. We worked together for my first ever shoot, and he is the one who made me believe that after all my doubts, I did have some decent poses. (Most of the photos on this website are from that shoot).

2. Matt Thomas -

Second ever shoot - this is more what I was going for; grainier, more raw photos. Ben Mark did his job, but I wanted a less refined, polished look. I am not a conventional female in that sense - I wanted the photographs to capture the stereotypically more 'masculine' features such as chest, back and shoulders, and Matt delivered.

3. Matt Marsh -

Next one on my UK photographer list, I will probably save him for my twenty-second birthday in 2023 when I have obtained the delts of dreams but I have had quite a few colleagues and friends work with him and it's been nothing but good things. I have seen his name pop up time and time again in top photographer lists across the UK, and let's just say that he is at the top of the game (and costs accordingly too!). I will get to it!

Hopefully this has given you some inspiration to get booking, or at least mentally place yourself in the camera's eye - think of your ultimate aesthetic ideal, think of the poses you feel most confident in, think of that one exercise at the gym that makes you feel like a boss; now, add in the body you've always wanted and let's make it a reality.

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