Bodybuilders and other physique athletes spend a lot of time and effort getting their bodies into shape. Anyone who has prepared for a competition or photo shoot knows how much effort is involved to make the physique camera or stage ready. Unfortunately, so much work is spent getting into shape that many bodybuilders don’t take advantage of that peak condition. Usually, all their effort is spent getting ready to compete and, after the contest is over, it’s time to pig out and eat everything that they have been denying themselves for the last few months. After a couple of days of splurging, that physique they worked so hard for is gone.
After I spent several months dieting and training hard for my photo shoot with Ironman Magazine, I took advantage of my peak condition and made several appointments for photo shoots. This was actually something new for me, I have to admit. In the past, I had done photo shoots but it was usually just one photo shoot after a competition and it was normally with one photographer. After the photo shoot was finished, it was time to go eat and my condition was soon a thing of the past.
The new diet I followed this year made it easy to stay on my diet. With the increased carbs, I didn’t have the cravings that I normally had when on a diet. As a result, it was much easier to stay lean. I didn’t want to pig out for weeks like after my typical pre-contest diet. Don’t get me wrong, I would have a couple cheat meals here and there and enjoy some restaurant meals (with dessert, of course) but it was no problem getting back on my regular diet and staying on it after my little binge.
I did my first photo shoot with famed Ironman Magazine photographer Michael Neveux on May 12 in California. I was overjoyed that Mike was happy with my condition because I know he has a very discerning eye and he doesn’t impress easily. At only 190 pounds and with my waist at nearly 32 inches, I knew I had achieved peak condition. Mike and I shot a lot of exercise shots (including chest movements that will be a part of a chest training article coming soon in Ironman Magazine) as well as the cover shot. I was very happy with this photo shoot because I knew I achieved my goal of reaching peak condition.
The day after shooting with Mike, Angela Segovia and I (we are featured on the cover of the September issue of IronMan Magazine) drove from Los Angeles, California to Palm Springs to shoot with Ian Sitren. Ian is a very good photographer who is a frequent contributor to Ironman Magazine also. Angela and I shot with Ian at his home in beautiful Palm Springs. We shot in his backyard on a platform that Ian uses for his photo shoots. I was impressed with Ian’s easy going style of shooting and his photos were very impressive and artistic. In fact, I want to hang a couple of his shots on the wall in my house.
After my California photo shoots, I took a little time off. One month later, however, I was ready for my next shoot. I was traveling back to my hometown of Chicago to attend the NPC Jr. Nationals contest to work for my sponsor Optimum Nutrition. While I was in town, I made an appointment with Tony Mitchell of OAMG. Tony does a different type of photo shoot than what I was used to. It’s more “modeling” type shots and not the typical bodybuilding and working out pictures. I enjoyed this different type of photo shoot and Tony really took some cool pics. My condition for this photo shoot was almost identical for my California photo shoot. My waist was maybe a quarter of an inch bigger but I was still in really good shape.
Before I left for Chicago, my friend Rick Schaff wanted to do a photo shoot with me at our gym in Tampa, Florida. We train at the Powerhouse Gym in downtown Tampa and the owners actually encourage Rick to shoot as many people as possible. Rick is an excellent photographer, one of the best in the business, and he was using a new lighting set-up where he had lights coming at me from two different directions. The result was awesome. Check out the lighting in Rick’s shots. He definitely knows what he is doing!
After this photo shoot, I didn’t have any more photo shoots planned. I knew I was going to Las Vegas to work the Olympia Expo for Optimum Nutrition and American Bodybuilding so I thought I might plan some photo shoots while I was there but that was still about 3 months away. I stayed on my diet during the month of July but I was allowing myself a few restaurant meals now and again. I was still keeping everything under control and not getting too far out of shape but it was also nice to eat some more calories and fill out a little more. My weight at this point was in the high 190’s.
I promoted my second bodybuilding and figure competition in August and I was going to have photographer Don Bersano take pictures of the competitors in my contest. I had seen some of Don’s work on his Facebook page and I was very impressed. Don and I made plans to do a quick photo shoot while I was in Chicago. My schedule was very tight because I have a million things to do in the days leading up to a contest and Don was also very busy but we were able to agree on shooting for a couple of hours on Thursday morning.
Don decided to do a photo shoot in an old, rusty chop shop. It was a very authentic setting and it added to the gritty feel of the black and white photos. I was also impressed with Don’s shots and we got a few really great ones that I loved. I am looking forward to shooting with Don again in the future. My condition for this shoot was not the same as it was for the previous photo shoots. I was definitely a little off with my weight up about 8 pounds more and my waist a good inch bigger than when I did my shoots in May and June.
Right now, I am back on my diet to get ready for Vegas and the Olympia Expo. I am going to do a short video shoot with Wayne Gallasch of GMV Productions. I will also be doing the interviews for Wayne and his crew at the Meet the Olympians event on the Thursday night before the Olympia weekend. I may have some other photo shoots set up by the time that weekend arrives so I plan on being in “Ironman Magazine photo shoot shape” by then. After that, who knows? The bottom line is that I am going to take advantage of this peak condition I am in by shooting with as many talented photographers in the business this year. I’ll keep you up to date on any new photo shoots in the near future.
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