Perfect posing by bodybuilder Dexter Jackson. For a number of years my photographs were used weekly to produce computer wallpapers by Bodybuilding.com.
One of my all time favorite photographs I have shot at Muscle Beach Venice. I was thinking I have shot tens of thousands of photographs at Muscle Beach, but it is likely well into six digits. Bodybuilder Marc-arthur (Moses) Dautree.
Being a professional photographer requires experience and technical expertise.
This was great fun! Click on it to watch. Other Photo Conversations presented by John Cornicello include some of the most well known photographers of our time.
From my photo shoot with fitness trainer Mark Rosenberg. Yes the guy knows what he is doing. You can find him at https://www.instagram.com/markbrosenberg/
Great photo shoot with fitness trainer Mark Rosenberg here in Palm Springs. I worked him pretty hard; a couple of hours trail running in the desert and then to the gym. Outstanding!
A very memorable photo shoot with Sergi Constance. One of my all time favorite photographs I have taken.
Looking forward to going back to doing photo shoots in the gym. Randalene Sergent in a photo shoot we did for Bodybuilding.com and Iron Man Magazine.
Looking forward to getting back to photographing people, fitness, fashion and more. My buddy Ashley in one of our photoshoots. Here after her appearance at the NPC National Figure Competition in Las Vegas. Makeup and hair styling by Natalie Lyle.
This was a big shoot. One of the print advertisements planned for the year for Bodybuilding.com. One of the largest health and fitness retailers in the country and all online. I will only say that ultimately their sales did not reach one billion dollars per year, but it was a reasonable goal.
First I needed to rent a city bus. Went to Regional Transit Service “The Movie Bus People” in Riverside California and picked one out. Arranged for it to be driven to our location, the back parking lot at Gold’s Gym Venice.
Also arranged, a power generator for the lighting. The lighting was all along the length of the right side windows of the bus. Trucks, SUV’s and other vehicles along the left side of the bus to make it look like it was in traffic. Fitness people arranged ahead of time, and I knew if I needed more I could run into Gold’s where I knew many and could hire more. I had someone writing checks on the spot. We had wardrobe on hand for everyone which they got to keep. I had an automobile glass company on standby, if I wanted to pull the front windshield off the bus to get a different angle. Film L.A. delivered my film permit by courier that morning.
It was great fun seeing the early morning start from an empty parking lot, fill up as everything and everyone arrived and went into place. And then see it all leave and at the end of the day and return to an empty parking lot.
Three of the best bodybuilders of all time; Dexter Jackson, Jay Cutler and Phil Heath. One of the many Mr. Olympia’s in Las Vegas I photographed for Bodybuilding.com and many of the bodybuilding and fitness magazines.
Video I shot during a photo shoot for Bodybuilding.com. This was sometime back before 4k or even HD video. One of the all time best professional bodybuilders, Victor Martinez. At Muscle Beach Venice.
A behind the scenes look at a past photo and video shoot for Bodybuilding.com. Here with two of my assistants and makeup artist Victoria Rubell on the left. And obviously a behind the scenes photographer. We are off to the side as the video crew was shooting.
The video was shot to promote BodySpace, the social media for people interested in bodybuilding and fitness. It was designed to be done around my photoshoots which was for print advertising and magazine and online features.
From here on the beach in Marina Del Rey, we moved to the famous Gold’s Gym in Venice for the rest of the shoot.
From my photo shoot with bodybuilder Sergi Constance, here in the desert near Palm Springs California.
A photo shoot that would work in today’s social distancing. Just myself and Sergi in the desert with no one around at all. Also simply done with a Canon 1V camera body, Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens and Kodak Tri-X film. Thanks!
One of a series I did for Bodybuilding.com “BodySpace” social media some time back. “BodySpace Physique Of The Month”, a series I photographed and wrote for Bodybuilding.com and also appearing in Iron Man Magazine monthly for three years.
Do watch this to the end. It will make you “Happy”. The videos like this one were produced around my photoshoots for the magazine feature, online features and print advertising. Thanks!
Coming up on Monday August 31 at 10am PST, very fun to be a guest on John Cornicello’s “Photo Conversations“. It is exciting to be included in an ongoing series that has featured photo industry luminaries such as John Paul Caponigro, Seth Resnick, Kevin Raber, Jack Reznicki, Lee Varis, Michael Newler, Benjamin Von Wong, Jeff Schewe, Jeff Dunas, Mac Holbert, Greg Gorman and more.
It is all free, so please join in and register in advance at https://cornicello.com/zoom It will also be on Facebook Live and YouTube. Thanks!
I sure do miss my gym photo shoots. Maybe we can get back to doing them again before next year. But for now going back in my archives, and I have a lot! Here with my best buddy Natalie Lyle. Makeup and hair styling by her too. Natalie actually started with me some years back right out of makeup school.
I was still shooting film for my gym features long after everyone else went to digital. Here my buddy Jake Sawyer was the subject for me shooting a Leica M7 with Kodak Tri-X film. I love the look of film shot with a Leica and still do.
I did have to go digital to accommodate the need for fast turnaround when I was shooting bodybuilding and fitness competitions. Most of the time the photos were uploaded and online for my client, Bodybuilding.com, by the next morning. More of the photos would then go to the magazines and be in the next print issues. I was shooting 25 – 30 competitions per year all around the country.
Among the things I do best, bodybuilding and fitness photography. And that is where I have been published many thousands of times over around the world. This photo of my friend Travis Ely doing curls from one of our shoots a few years ago.
However this photograph has another point to it that was pivotal for me. This photo was done with what was at the time, the latest Hasselblad digital camera. Although I had been shooting other digital cameras at the time, for shoots like this I was still shooting medium format film. The Hasselblad gave me the colors, skin tone and look that I preferred in film.
For you photographer out there; this was shot with the Hasselblad H4D-40 with the HC80mm lens. No additional lighting, just the overhead gym lighting and natural light coming in from the large front windows. ISO 800, f2.8 and 1/60th second, processed in Hasselblad Phocus. Hasselblad files processed in Phocus create an almost magical perfect result. Thanks!
As many of you know, I was closely associated with Bodybuilding.com for a number of years as their primary photographer shooting shows, features and advertising for them. As well as closely involved in marketing, social media and more. So closely involved that I was often and regularly asked if I owned it. Working with them was joy and the family ownership was great, Ryan and Jeremy DeLuca, and their dad Russ who to this day I count as one of my great friends over the years. I was there when we covered the Olympia for there first time, and they almost threw us out, to when it became the driving force in the entire bodybuilding and fitness industry worldwide.
Now many have been asking me what do I think happened. Bodybuilding.com has been collapsing over the last couple of years and now seems at the door of total collapse. I find it very sad but even more sadly we totally predicted it some time ago. Many of you will remember as we talked about it back then, seeing into the future.
If I were to sum up in one sentence; Bodybuilding.com abandoned all of the things that got them to the top.
Bodybuilding.com once had an incredible reputation and word of mouth identity that translated into hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of sales. The stars of fitness and bodybuilding sung their praises, the athletes all wanted to be a part, the consumers went there for motivation, information, stories, peer to peer relationships and everyone bought everything from them. Prices were the lowest, shipping was fast, customer service beyond reproach.
The online content of Bodybuilding.com was the key. Endless feature stories, articles, workouts, photographs, videos, competition coverage, product reviews. Contributed by stars of the industry, the fan favorites; all of it great, new, exciting and top quality. And everybody was paid for it, and paid well and paid fast. The top athletes loved doing things for Bodybuilding.com. When other companies treated them like just a commodity, Bodybuilding.com paid them well for everything they did, paid all of their expenses and paid fast. Even other companies loved doing business with them, everybody got paid within days. So when it came to recommending where to spend your money, everybody said, Bodybuilding.com. When other companies, vendors were asked for the lowest prices possible, they said yes! Because they got paid now. And the savings were passed on to the customer. And yet Bodybuilding.com was still making a ton of money.
Bodybuilding.com had a presence at almost every bodybuilding and fitness show of any size around the country and many around the world. Something like 300 per year. And they gave out everything from free merchandise to free t-shirts designed specifically for that show. The athletes in those show booths were also paid well. So guess what; they had nothing but good to say too and did their absolute best. And they were again paid fast along with all of their expenses from hotel rooms to food. By the way, at big shows like the Arnold and Olympia, we would give away thousands and thousands of t-shirts.
Every magazine that was somehow related to fitness and bodybuilding around the world had monthly Bodybuilding.com advertising and sometimes features. Even better for some time it was all photographed and sometimes also written by me. Hundreds of magazines, also major sports magazines and even mainstream magazines and major newspapers. Actually Bodybuilding.com made me one of the most viewed bodybuilding and fitness photographers on the planet.
Within a decade of it’s start in a garage, Bodybuilding.com was seen everywhere, all the time by everyone. You would even see homeless people on Venice Beach, Muscle Beach, wearing brand new Bodybuilding.com t-shirts. As my buddy Russ said, they need the shirts and it is still good advertising.
Then it happened, not all at once, but identifiable. Liberty Media bought Bodybuilding.com. Liberty Media is a behemoth owning at the time everything from the Atlanta Braves to the Home Shopping Channel, QVC, the History Channel and more. Back then revenue was $8 billion per year as I recall. Everything remained the same for about a year. But then Liberty started moving in their people as the original Bodybuilding.com management were replaced. And people who did not have their roots in bodybuilding and fitness. Maybe they had a gym membership but that’s it. They were pencil pushers and retailers.
I started hearing from athletes and vendors. Slow payment became the standard, 30 days, 60 days or more. “Could I call someone and see where their check was” was something I would often get asked. “They only want free from me now” “They want me to work the show and not even pay for expenses” “They want to pay me with a coupon on purchases”. Yes that is more of what I heard.
Bodybuilding.com stopped going to shows; “everyone there knows who we are anyway”. Ads, features and stories became mediocre and far from original. Online content which used to be new almost daily went well less than frequent.
My own ending with them came when getting ready for a new year of scheduling for shows and ads and features, I was told my rate was going to be cut to something like 20% of what it had been. I said no and that was it. Actually I went back to them once with a feature and photos and video with a major rock star into fitness. They actually offered me $50… yes $50. The person who had to tell me was an old friend from the company and he expressed how embarrassed he was to carry the message. Anyway it went to a magazine for my usual fees. By the way, after they covered their first major bodybuilding event without me, another insider friend informed me that they found it took a dozen people flown in from the company in Boise to replace everything I did by myself. So much for cost savings.
So there is the collapse of Bodybuilding.com, I can almost remember the day it started. And yes you can chart it from then financially and statistically. Now owned by Expedia. How much do you think they know about bodybuilding and fitness.
People who did not know bodybuilding and fitness were put in charge of relating to people in bodybuilding and fitness. And along the way they left behind all of the things that made Bodybuilding.com work. Will it recover? I doubt it.
I used to photograph and write for Iron Man Magazine before it was sold a few years ago. I hope the photography in the magazine has fared better than the writing.