My Thanksgiving weekend was atypical to most given that I traded heaping plates of leftover turkey for a chance to spend a couple days with some of the strictest dieters in the world, and the Ferrigno Legacy Show did not disappoint.
The stage lights of the historic Granada Theatre displayed some of the world’s premier body builders and physique competitors in picturesque Santa Barbara, a true dream of any fitness photographer. Hundreds of walking fitness advertisements gathered along the coast for an entire weekend…photo magic!
Lou Ferrigno’s personal and professional legacy surpasses his accomplishments as an IFBB Pro, which includes Mr. America and Mr. Universe titles. Lou is also known for his acting, motivational speaking, and work as a fitness trainer/consultant.
Fitness Photography at the Ferrigno Legacy Show
The Incredible Hulk himself kicked off the competition then passed the mic to 1991 Arnold Classic Champion Shawn Ray, who finished in the top 3 at the Mr. Olympia contest five times. One by one the competitors took the stage showcasing the months of meticulous dieting and exercise through several distinct poses. (Not to mention passing up on Thanksgiving dinner—the worst!)
Both pre-judging and closing night featured some of the most impressive physique competitors I have ever seen. The Ferrigno Legacy is truly a sports photographer’s dream given the intimate display of dedication on one of the most unique stages in the industry.
The stage lights are built to help the competitors show off their chiseled physiques, but they pose a fun challenge for a fitness photographer. Managing the exposure and color balance (and the 10,000 photos taken!) was the biggest challenge in creating optimal photos for fitness models and bodybuilders.
On The Beach With A Fitness Photographer
Once the champions were crowned I was afforded the opportunity to work with a few select competitors against the gorgeous backdrop of Goleta Beach. While the stage provided a great experience for fitness photography, the beach allowed for a rainy, windy and beautiful setting to pose these fitness athletes. (It’s hard to argue with a physique or bikini competitor who wants to pose on the beach!)
A beautiful pier extended far out into the water, creating unique lines and repetition with the striking coastal scene complimented by the University of California, Santa Barbara in the background. Moody skies with fleeting bursts of sunshine intertwined perfectly with the scene to create some gorgeous images for these fitness competitors.
The photography on the pier was a great portion of the weekend as I put some competitors through stage poses, but we were also able to bring more character and personality with a variety of other poses.
Reaping The Benefits Of Being A Fitness Photographer
Many of the competitors had their first post-show photography session, which is always fun for a fitness photographer. These athletes have their poses mastered, of course, but the challenge is helping them relax and have fun with the photos. Modifying their poses slightly and helping bring out some complimentary facial expressions made the whole beach component go smoothly.
The Ferrigno Legacy Show is an amazing opportunity for everyone involved and I have been very fortunate to meet so many new people each year. It is impossible to attend a prestigious show like this without being inspired to better yourself in many ways.
Any fitness photo shoot or physique competition I attend I am always inspired to reach my personal fitness and nutrition goals. My passion for photography, particularly fitness photography, becomes infectious when I get the opportunity to help an athlete further their career or add to their portfolio. It is the culmination of hard work and dedication being displayed in their photographs, and I am proud to share that moment with so many great people.