During a recent photo shoot, a new model asked me several questions regarding my work as an industry photographer, she said, “When a model comes to you, does she know what she wants to look like? And do you help her realize that?”

Well, she wants to look flawlessly gorgeous, of course; we all want to look amazing in our photographs. But she’s got other messages to convey as well. I’ve seen a tremendous amount of insensitivity about what this business is actually about. A lot of people seem to lose sight of the fact that the photography is about the personality of the women. I’m kind of a purist in that sense. I feel that if you’re working as a female bodybuilder in the muscle erotica industry, no one should be allowed to manipulate or control what you’re all about. You should be in charge of what is and what is not okay – as far as portraying yourself and your image. I think that I have the ability to work with these amazing women, to answer questions they might have, and to interpret what I see. I have a good vocabulary to help them create an image – and here we’re talking about commercial ventures. I’m a good listener, a good communicator and I’m very familiar with the vocabulary of women’s bodybuilding. I have no ego about letting go of what I would like to see, because most of the time it’s the same thing the model sees.

The element of spontaneity is really important on a shoot. I’ts part of that good creative energy. The model should be able to come in with some preconceived notions, but then we build upon that and toghther evolve the concept. The first set of factors I figure out while getting to know the model is what’s attractive about the individual, and how her personality is expressed. And that comes from the shot that doesn’t look like the porn pose we’re so familiar with – though, I do that, too. But then there are variations on the theme, and we go off on a tangent – and that’s when it’s the most rewarding.

Most of my models enjoy playing characters and having a narrative to follow, which is another reason I enjoy photographing women bodybuilders. Often there will be a story line to photograph. I respond very well to that. Very often we have fun and they try some poses that maybe aren’t so natural to them. But then there are the nice, relaxed poses that happen.

It’s the theater of photographing women bodybuilders that I find most exciting – when somebody like Denise can rush up to me with a new model and say, “I have this great idea. Do you think we could do a blonde fantasy look? We’re gonna turn her into a space alien, but we also want to shoot her like a cowgirl. What do you think about that? Creating the character when they’re in front of the camera is so rewarding for me.

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