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.
I have had my share of covers; but this one always remains one of my very favorites. Maybe because of the back story about how it landed the cover and a multi-page feature just before deadline. With my longtime friend, bodybuilder Robert Hatch.
Want to shoot with me or have a photo or ad assignment? Send me a note and Thanks! Ian@SecondFocus.com
One of my favorite photographs that I have ever shot. IFBB professional bodybuilder Tina Chandler after her appearance on stage at the prestigious Olympia in Las Vegas. Here in Palm Springs.
I get asked about what I do to relax when I am not shooting photos and video of gorgeous women for ads and magazine features. Or when I am not shooting bodybuilders and gym workouts. Or when I am not doing photos and videos of aircraft or flying in them. Well I hang out with friends, take some road trips, shop for a new car.
Training tip from IFBB Pro Figure Champion Ava Cowan…
Delts- The love of training them, and that I certainly do!
I prefer to explore all angles, hand positions and planes of motion. My goal is to target every single fiber, front to back equally, creating beautifully developed symmetrical shoulders.
In this exercise, the dumbbell front raise on incline bench, targets the anterior delts.
Incline front raises, using a pronated hand position (palms facing the floor) may be alternated with a semi-supinated (palms facing each other) grip.
-Start this exercise by lying supine on an incline bench set to 45 degrees.Â
-With the elbows slightly bent, raise the dumbbells using your shoulders until your arms are parallel to the floor or slightly higher.Â
-Keep a slight bend in the elbow and raise the weight.Â
-Stay in control of the exercise with a tempo of a count of two up and four on the way down. -Lower the weight under control to a dead stop before repeating.
Rest: 90 seconds
My favorite supplement has always been Iron! Lifted, pushed, pulled, and curled. Typically in as much weight as I could handle. One of the reasons I have always liked Palm Springs Fitness Center as my gym… 150lb dumbbells. Always needed them for one arm back rows.
Pro Bodybuilder and United States Marine Xavisus Gayden from one of our photo shoots. Thanks!
Chatting With Sherri welcomes back photographer; Ian L Sitren!
For many years you have seen my photography featured in much of the fitness industry from magazines to online resources. My photography features, competition coverage and advertising have been a mainstay in such well known places as Iron Man Magazine, Planet Muscle Magazine and Bodybuilding.com.
My advertising work has been seen everywhere from the magazines to major newspapers, wrapping city buses and billboards. All around the world in many languages. Creative paths and opportunities have also sent me in many directions including motion picture still photography. That afforded me one of the highlights of my life, working with Hollywood luminaries Gena Rowlands and Rita Moreno on the motion picture ?Six Dance Lessons In Six Weeks?. The Director of Photography was the very respected and esteemed Vilmos Zsigmond, said to be the greatest Cinematographer who has ever lived. Not yet done with directions…
I am the photographer for the Palm Springs Air Museum. CNN lists it as one of the best Air Museums in the world. It is also a rarity because it is a flying museum. As a little boy I used to build military aircraft models and hang them from the ceiling in my room. Now my photography hast taken me full circle again. I also manage the Air Museum social media so I have great latitude in creating content, photos and video.
Even more diverse is my work in fashion and lifestyle photography. Published from Rome to Los Angeles. Thanks!
From one of my photo shoots with the incredible Doug Brignole. This guy really knows what he is doing! One of the foremost experts on weight training and exercise on the planet. At Palm Springs Fitness Center.
It is not easy to get my attention in the world of bodybuilding and fitness. I have seen so very many. But Jessica Holohan sure did because I knew right away she had put in a lot of hard work and dedication! I had not seen her in a long time so when she showed up for her photo shoot I was totally blown away! Fresh off an NPC Bikini Competition I hardly recognized her. Wow! Outstanding!
He has gone on to stand on the stage of the prestigious Olympia and the Arnold Classic. Xavisus Gayden actually was first seen in bodybuilding magazines from a photo shoot he had with me at Palm Springs Fitness Center a few years back. Now a star in Men’s Physique, he is also to be saluted for being a United States Marine. Outstanding!
One of my favorite photo shoots ever. Spending four days in a gym and evenings poolside photographing Ava Cowan. The best!
There is an actual purpose for all of those mirrors in the gym. Just like IFBB Figure Pro Ava is doing here. Watch your form, the movement of the muscles as you do your lifts. It will get you in touch with actually what is happening and also keep you doing things right.
Ava was here at Palm Springs Fitness Center week doing a photo shoot for a workout magazine series. One of the most respected and admired women in the fitness business. Thanks Ava Cowan!