I recently had the pleasure of photographing Antero right after he competed in his first bodybuilding competition. He wanted to have a photoshoot so he could remember how he looked for the competition. After several emails back and forth we established a date and the type of photos Antero was looking for.
During our email correspondence, Antero, had sent me over photos that best represented what he was looking for. He wanted very contrasty type images with a lot of muscle and vein detail. He also wanted several photos combined into one big one so he could print a poster as well as his body imposed on a fitness magazine. All very doable requests.
We met at his community gym and for a community gym it had top of the line equipment as if it was an LA Fitness or some place. Walking around getting a feel for the place and trying to visualize where to pose him etc. I saw that my biggest challenge was going to be mirrors. Lots and lots of mirrors. Wall to wall and I was thinking of ways to creativity light Antero without have any light reflect of the mirrors. A little challenge is always a good thing to have.
Right before we began to shoot I had Antero do some dumbbell workouts and some additional weight lifting to get the muscles popping. Then I had him lather himself with some baby oil to give me a little extra pop from my strobe lighting. It’s been a while since I’ve been in a gym, but I go by the gym I belong to daily. And by go by I mean I drive by it. While he was working out I was asking how to build muscles they way he did and he told me what he had to eat daily and how often he worked out to get his bodybuilding physique. After his explanation I felt better on how I use my gym membership.
Photographing him in all his bodybuilding poses I could see it was very tiresome for him. A few times he was just exhausted from trying to hold a pose or trying to get a certain muscle to bulge a bit more. Before I started to photograph a new pose etc. he would spend 5 minutes or so in the mirror trying to perfect the pose himself.
We went through a lot of poses and used a lot of dumbbells, barbells and other workout equipment to get the shots he was looking for. A lot of my shots were either 1/2 or 3/4 shots. I used a black background and one strobe to really give me a hard look in the photos. Post production was really a breeze. I bumped up clarity and contrast sliders in Photoshop a lot to get that hard, contrasty look Antero was looking for.
Maybe one day I’ll go into the gym instead of by it. Maybe…