Ten years ago, was the first time I photographed a bodybuilding championship. I was excited about the possibilities these events offered for those who love fitness and photography.
Imagine that a historical event never seen to date is held in Spain. A championship open to all professional athletes, where the top three positions in each category qualify directly for the prestigious Olympia competition. In addition, with the support of IFBB PRO ITALY, IFBB PRO SPAIN, NPC WORLDWIDE and the IFBB Professional League.
We add the global problem of Covid-19 and the organizational difficulty of an international competition of this level.
Although it seems incredible, thanks to promoters Emilio Martínez and Gian Enrico Pica, and under the direction of Barbara Bagnuolo, the event took place in Alicante (Spain).
Emilio Martínez offered me the opportunity to do photographic work and explain with images a show with a multitude of stories from each competitor. There are not many times a photographer has the chance to enjoy an “IFBB Professional League” championship.
It was impossible to refuse.
– The medals are the highlight of the event –
Early in the morning, I arrived at IFA (Institución Ferial Alicantina). Some athletes walked to the back entrance to begin their preparation. As soon as I got the accreditation and the official mask, my camera began capturing moments of an important day in the lives of many athletes.
The medals await their new owners. In the backstage, competitors tint their bodies, resistance bands and bars help warm up the muscle, trainers give last minute advice, mirrors reflect concentrated faces, hair and makeup professionals enhance the beauty of the bodies. In the era of social media, mobile phones capture the experiences of athletes. Content creators, with increasingly sophisticated and professional video equipment, record every movement.
However, backstage the atmosphere is calm and focused. The promoters take calls and make sure that everything functions like a well-oiled machine in the last minutes.
– The promoters working out the last details –
– The last-minute preparations before getting on the platform are essential –
– Backstage the athletes have everything they need to prepare –
The doors open. The public take their seats, with measures that guarantee the safety of all. Billy Garnon takes the mic and introduces the promoters. The team behind the cameras brings the excitement of the event to the homes of friends and families.
– Billy Garnon, amazing with the microphone –
– Gian Enrico Pica next to one of the cameras streaming the event –
MEN´S PHYSIQUE is the first category to go on stage. All athletes look impressive. The stage full of professionals and the large number of public and fans, confirms the success of the event.
Let the pictures tell the story…
– MEN´S PHYSIQUE category gives an idea of the success of the championship –
– Philippe DGL, each competitor has his moment on stage –
– WOMEN´S BODYBUILDING category prepares to go on stage –
– Margita Zámolová shows her physique –
– Pablo Martínez shows each competitor their position on stage –
– Sergi Constance, MEN´S CLASSIC PHYSIQUE –
– Verónica Gallego going over last minute details backstage with the help of Emilio Martínez –
– Bahar Ayra warms up for the finals –
– Billy Garnon and Pablo Martínez make everything flow on stage –
– The work that the public does not see is as important as what happens on the stage –
– Verónica Gallego waits for her moment –
– It is very difficult for a picture to capture the elegance of these movements –
– Judges, promoters, cameras and fans enjoying what happens on stage –
– Pablo Martínez in action –
– Sponsors are essential. A representative from “Darkness” prepares the awards and medals ceremony with Barbara Bagnuolo –
– Youcef Djoudi celebrates his victory in MEN´S PHYSIQUE –
– Companionship and respect are present at all times –
– Claudia Partenza in WOMEN´S BODYBUILDING –
– Margita Zámolová, winner in WOMEN´S BODYBUILDING –
– There is always time for friends and family –
– Mike Sommerfeld, art on stage in the MEN’S CLASSIC PHYSIQUE category –
– David Catena made us vibrate, get excited and enjoy merging music and the show –
– Pavel Szotkowski waiting for the call in the finals of MEN’S CLASSIC PHYSIQUE –
– Posedown! Radoslav Angelov in the MEN’S CLASSIC PHYSIQUE –
– Christian Zagarella, the first classified in MEN´S CLASSIC PHYSIQUE, with Barbara Bagnuolo and Billy Garnon –
– WOMEN´S PHYSIQUE, Barbara Ménage in the foreground –
– Billy Garnon interviewing Anne Mohn after winning WOMEN’S PHYSIQUE –
– Rhea Gayle shows her excitement when hearing her name in WOMEN’S FIGURE –
– The organization makes everything run smoothly –
– Barbara Bagnuolo introduces the afternoon session –
– The commercial area is a meeting point for athletes and fans –
– Giannina Luján alone in front of the public and cameras in the BIKINI category –
– Meanwhile, in the warm-up area someone seems determined to get the victory –
– The judges working hard –
– Steve Benthin in MEN´S 212 –
– Rafael Brandao shows his level in MEN´S BODYBUILDING –
– Marc Hector preparing one of the poses –
– James Hollingshead has everything to win –
– MEN’S BODYBUILDING category on stage –
– Regan Grimes giving the audience a show –
– Kamara Graham flies on stage while Billy Garnon watches –
– Minna Pajulahti has a spectacular performance. Billy Garnon and Emilio Martínez watch in the background –
– Adrianna Kaczmarek is excited to hear her name as a BIKINI winner –
– WOMEN’S FITNESS finalists congratulate each other while Billy Garnon reveals the winner –
– Ángel Calderón makes his appearance in MEN´S 212 –
– It seems that it will be difficult to take away the victory –
– Oleh Kryvyi is not going to make it easy for Calderón –
– Emilio Martínez distributes smiles –
– Final fight in MEN´S 212 –
– Three athletes look to the sky and Barbara Bagnuolo prepares to award second place –
– Ángel Calderón visualizes the medal hanging from Barbara Bagnuolo’s arm –
– Ángel Calderón, winner of MEN´S 212 –
– Rafael Brandao in the MEN´S BODYBUILDING finals –
– Milan Sádek in his posing routine –
– Posedown in MEN´S BODYBUILDING with Regan Grimes –
– Last moments to enjoy on the stage –
– James Hollingshead receives his award from Emilio Martínez –
– James Hollingshead, Barbara Bagnuolo and Emilio Martínez put an end to a spectacular day –
IFA empties quickly. A very special event remains in the memory. I’m very lucky because I will be able to remember the championship in the future thanks to the photographs.
But this is not the whole story. I try to tell you – from my point of view – the secrets of a professional competition. Each athlete lives an intense experience, compared to the small fraction of time that fans see them on stage.
Congratulations to the participants and the organization. Thanks to Emilio Martínez for helping to fulfill those dreams that are so difficult to achieve.