Brian Finke, a photographer that lurks in the darkness has been capturing moments from behind the scenes for over the last 10 yrs at bodybuilding competitions. His photos show us the tedious and at times cut-throat reality of Bodybuilding and what these athletes go through in order to be ready to compete.
At times, the tension peers through the Lens as preparations to go on stage become stressful and competitors become more anxious.
Finke, in 2003, was asked to shoot the Mr. Olympia competition in Las Vegas, where its held yearly and the pressure is even more serious.
As many of you already know, Mr Olympia was created in 1965 for winners of the Mr. Universe competition had another level to compete on.
It all started for Finke here and he couldn’t be stopped. He says, “I had always been taking a lot of sports photos, but I was fascinated by how extreme a sport and lifestyle bodybuilding was.”
“So I continued to explore this subculture, trying to showcase the emotional and quirkier moments both onstage and offstage. The stuff we normally don’t get to see.”
According to Finke and in his years of taking pictures of Bodybuilders, there is not one kind of person that becomes a bodybuilder.
“People come to it from all sorts of places. One woman I photographed used to be a sorority girl in college and became a professional bodybuilder.”
“People come to the sport from different backgrounds, and the reasons why they do it vary.”
Finke noted how lengthy and tedious the Tanning process can be. It has evolved over the years and now Airbrush’s are used on all competitors to allow them to look similar on stage.
The competition is fierce amongst males and female competitors alike – Many think that only the Males bodybuilders are going all-in before and during the competition, but female competitions are just as grueling and cut-throat.
Only think Finke noticed is the level of seriousness is much higher between Amateur compared to Professional bodybuilders and the competition, even though most of Finke’s photos were taken at the homegrown amateur kind.
Finke says this about whether atheletes posed for the camera – “I never asked anyone to pose for the camera; the participants were there to compete and I was there to observe and photograph.”
“When I’m photographing, I feel like I can never make anything up that’s better than what’s naturally happening.”
And here he reveals what it’s like to be backstage with the competitiors, saying, “Once when I was photographing at a competition, the women competitors were backstage pumping up…”
“… There were dumb bells scattered around on the floor and the women were wearing these great high heels – the juxtaposition was badass.”
……“I was crawling around of the floor photographing details – just the high heels and weights – when the contestants started making fun of me, saying I had a foot fetish.”
…..“Whatever, it was a great shot.”
You can imagine how uncomfortable it might’ve been for him crawling around backstage taking photographs of competitors – some people would kill to be in the position, Finke however was just doing his job.