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Evolution and Revolution

I first met Michael Neveux in 1980; we both had photo assignments from Joe Weider to shoot the Mr. America contest in Santa Monica, California. I was a self-taught photographer obsessed with bodybuilding. Mike was a trained photojournalist who shot everything from news to weddings. We shared an immediate bond through our mutual love of bodybuilding.

Mike had a unique vision that transformed the visual expression of bodybuilding forever. Iconic bodybuilding photography is one of the engines of enthusiasm and inspiration that fuel what Arnold called the “want.” Scan your memory—you remember those images. Almost every photographer in our field stands on Mike’s innovative and creative shoulders. His vision was transformative.

As I said, I was self-taught, and Mike furthered my education. I learned a lot about photography on our first trip together, when we went to Australia for the ’80 Mr. Olympia. If we weren’t taking casual and posed photos of the bodybuilders, we were wandering about Bondi Beach, recording every change of light—anything that caught our eye. Mike was always restless, camera in hand and constantly ready for that decisive instant in which an image that has never been seen is captured.

While I had “perfected” contest reportage, I was by no means a professional in the sense that Mike was. It was an amazing week, even without the historic Olympia contest. Today, in addition to his work outside the field, which includes everything from Lexus to lingerie, Mike continues to push the limits of physique photography. You will see more of that with some interesting innovations in the coming issues of IRON MAN.

Rarely do I see images in our world that make me think, “I wish I’d created that.” A lot of what passes for bodybuilding photography today consists of heavily Photoshopped fantasy bodies and bodyparts. David Paul has a singular vision, and his pictures of Iris Kyle are a testament to it. Iris represents the ultimate expression of what women’s bodybuilding has evolved into, and David moves that body and personality to the next level. You may not be a fan of her style of bodybuilding, but there’s no denying that David and Iris have created unique images that stretch the boundaries.

Mike Neveux has produced more iconic photos in the past 30 years than all the rest of the photographers now working in our field. David is forging his own iconic vision, and what you see beginning on page 190 is the start. IM

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