What a unique and fascinating industry we have made ourselves a part of. Out of pure curiosity I went back and looked to see when it was that I did my first ever fitness photo shoot. It was in mid 2008. Seven years ago. Back then I could count the number of fitness models in the state on a single hand. Competitions, at best, were small intimate affairs. And the number of print and commercial clientele was quite finite.

Since then I’ve invested myself, my team and all our resources and energy into being one of the best photography resources within the health, fitness and sports industry. And since that shoot seven years ago we have all witnessed an explosion in the health and fitness industry.

Local competitions now reach hundreds and hundreds of competitors, there are now countless numbers of fitness talents, equal number of fitness photographers, an entire bevy of independent fitness-related self-produced publications and a growing list of boutique sized fitness companies ranging from supplements to lifting gear. The next wave of this year going into next will be new fitness-inspired clothing lines for both men and women.

Many of us in this industry have benefitted greatly from this rapid growth and prosperity. However, we are also responsible in some part for all the negative aspects that have come along with it.

We now have competition federations waging war at one another putting both models and photographers into the crosshairs to be victims in a business conflict in which there are endless casualties of collateral damage and no winners. We have amateurs posing as professionals both in the photo and modeling industry charging pennies on the dollar (if anything at all) driving down rates for other professionals. There is a massive level of bad knowledge regarding the importance of quality portfolios and marketing materials over cheap ones. There is a seedy element pushing trashy images, which are damaging the latter career potentials of many. There is rampant thievery of copyrighted images being used by small (and sometimes large) companies in their advertisements without any notice or usage fee being offered to the photographers. Not to mention the ongoing snickering and high school trash talking amongst self-proclaimed professionals about others in the industry.

The fitness industry has gotten fat – pardon the pun. It has gotten fat from all of our greedy nature and the time will come when this fat bubble we’ve created will burst.

However that does not need to happen. We as participants in this industry are all responsible for the welfare of it. It doesn’t matter if you are a model, a photographer, a makeup artist, a personal trainer, a show promoter, a supplement company, a magazine editor or a fitness clothing designer – we are all a part of the future in the health and fitness industry.

The question is where do we as an industry want to steer this ship? Are we headed in the direction that can mutually benefit all? Or are we all out for our own personal gain thus sabotaging the rest of the industry?

We have the opportunity right now, because time is something we do not have, to right this ship. To better our direction. To raise the bar on what we want to be a part of this industry and what needs to be shaved away.

I vote in favor of trimming up the fitness industry.

James Patrick
IG @jpatrickphoto