My vision for the inaugural fitness shootout in 2003 was to create an event that would capture more than just the physical conditioning everyone works so hard to achieve. My goal was to reach inside people and touch their soul – connect with the very essence of what makes a person tick. I was never disappointed. In fact, I have had many participants share intimate stories of hardships they have overcome where fitness was their outlet. For some, fitness in fact saved their life. Fitness has helped people I have met get past deaths, past heart attacks, through divorce, through domestic violence and more. Think about that for a moment. Some of us take going to the gym for granted. It’s a part of our routine. Many of us take our health for granted. Let’s remember to feel blessed to have the opportunity to train because for some, for more than we realize, the opportunity to step outside and train is a luxury.
Each year I enjoy offering this special event for athletes, models and competitors in Alberta. I offer it four times a year spread throughout the twelve months. The purpose of these events is two fold. First, it gives competitors a little glimpse into what is involved in fitness modeling through a mini shoot that includes professional make-up and posing instruction. Secondly, it allows many people to find an inner beauty and confidence through my experienced eye and that of my assistants. I have witnessed many break down in tears upon seeing the first couple photos. “That’s not me!” is a common expression. Fact is, it is and it’s the start of a healthy climb into confidence and acceptance.
On the weekend of October 3 and 4, I teamed up with Status Fitness Senior Editor Asha Belisle to hold our eleventh Shut Up & Shoot event. Where did this seemingly strange name come from you ask? For the answer to that, we need to turn to our Swedish friend Sven who attends the odd event. As part of the experience, there is a lot of talking and needless to say fun. Sven and myself sometimes get carried away, which always leads Asha to scold us with a deliberate “Shut up and shoot!” – meaning exactly that – stop talking and get back to taking photos. The title caught on and stuck much to my chagrin.
At Shut Up & Shoot 11 I had the opportunity to meet and work with six amazing people. Each was new to fitness modeling but we all had an amazing time and Asha and I captured some great shots at the brand new UFC Gym in Sherwood Park. Everyone we photographed loved the venue and said they would definitely train there any time they were in the vicinity. I want to send out a special thank you to Victor Valimaki for giving us total access.
First up was Cory. The stud is getting ready for his first show - the ABBA's Muscle Beach Fall Classic. Cory had a quiet confidence about him which was easy to sense. I could instantly tell he is a hard worker - someone that is disciplined and able to follow instructions well. At times when I photograph guys, they are quick to grab the heaviest weights possible. Cory was a step ahead and quickly thought the process through and knew that the heavy weights are not always the best for photo shoots. At times, you may have to hold a dumbbell for 30 seconds in a static position. When you are carb depleted, even a 45 pound dumbbell starts to feel heavy. Cory in his wisdom didn't fall for the heaviest weight. Smart guy! We worked through three distinct sets and Cory nailed a strong look in each. Well done Cory. I look forward to seeing you take to the stage on October 10.
Asha’s Comments: Cory is such a positive guy. He works hard no matter what might get in his way and he is always smiling. I'm really excited for his first time on stage!
I first met Krissia when I entered the UFC Gym. She was quietly waiting for make-up to begin. When Krissia stepped into her first set, I was very impressed. She is a beautiful girl that is very photogenic. Beauty doesn't always translate into photogenic, so I was happy that Krissia was easy to photograph with quality results. She took instruction well and tried every pose Asha threw at her. Krissia posses a strong bikini physique and I hope she steps on stage with confidence and shines like I know she's capable of doing. Great working with you Krissia. See you Saturday.
Asha’s Comments: Krissia is a sweet, soft spoken girl with a heart of gold. She has no idea how beautiful she really is and it was so heart warming to see it captured by David this weekend.
I didn't see Kristine come into the gym as I was busy working with Krissia, but the moment I was introduced I knew this lovely lady would be a lot of fun to photograph. Kristine was unabashful and went on to tell me that being goofy is what keeps her young. I have to concur. Kristine definitely has a lot of positive energy and it definitely came to light in front of my lens. Wow! On video and in photos we captured so many lively moments. I know at the Muscle Beach show, Kristine will sparkle on stage and I can't wait to see.
Asha’s Comments: Kristine is a blast! A busy executive, wife and mother of two boys and she still carved out time to pursue her dream of competing. She is an absolutely rock star and I'm so excited to see her own the stage next weekend!
Trang smiles - a lot! You can never smile too much but where things become interesting is when I ask for a seious, more "sexy" look. She gave me about 1/500 of a second and then the smile was back, with an audible giggle. I'm smiling and laughing now as I type this blog. Trang's energy is contagious and she definitely lightened up a dark, cold, snowy day. That's right. It snowed in Sherwood Park on the weekend. Having just returned from the Olympia in Vegas, it was a little bit of a shock to my system so I was glad that everyone I photographed on the weekend were positive and fun to be around. Trang posed very well and moved like she had done this before. She was quite willing to grab the heavier weights which required me to put a hold on such behaviour. I can't have anyone injuring themselves on my watch, especially this close to a show. I know Trang will light up the stage on Saturday and I'm lucky to be front and center to see it.
Asha’s Comments: I have never seen Trang without a smile on her face. I love how she Savors every experience in her life. She doesn't just go through her days. She takes in every moment and really lives her life to the fullest!
Jennipher... that's right... with a "ph" is a real live Wonder Woman barbie doll. She has legs that seem to never end so I was limited to some degree in the angles I could photograph at due to the restrictive size of the backdrop. Needless to say, Jennipher looks great from every angle so I didn't have any reason to lose sleep. She is another beautiful girl that is also photogenic and has the ability to connect with the camera. I often see "unfocused" eyes in photographs and am quite particular about such but never had to worry here. The catch-lights in Jennipher's eyes sparkle and tell a story that goes beyond the obvious. Definitely watch for this tall beauty in the Bikini tall class on the weekend.
Asha’s Comments: Jenny!! Wow! This bombshell has come so far in just a few months. She has overcome unspeakable tragedy in her life. When we met we instantly clicked. I knew we were meant to work together. She has finally discovered who she is and that beauty shines brighter than anything. This girl has a huge future.
Fiona is a strong beautiful girl. Although this was her first shoot and she was somewhat out of her comfort zone she didn't hold back. We photographed three great sets, one of which we feature here and in the video. She confesses that she rarely has time to do up her hair and wear make-up like Gina did but it suited her very well and she nailed every shot. Great work Fiona. I can't wait to see her take to the stage Saturday and wow the audience.
Asha’s Comments: Fiona is the bomb! I am so glad that she decided to do this shoot because now she can see herself how the rest of the world sees her. Beautiful and strong. Inside and out.
SPECIAL THANK YOU
Two people don't get enough praise and I like to deliver it where it is due. A HUGE thank you to Asha Belisle who gives so much of herself to everyone she meets - whether they are a client, a friend, or a stranger. The moment we see each other she has an enormous unforgettable hug that let's me know she really cares. Thank you Asha for being you. I have known you for more than a decade and can truly say that you are a rarity - not only in this industry but in life. Period.
I also want to give a big thank you to our make up artist extraordinaire Gina Cicero of Lady Venom Cosmetics. I have worked with countless artists and Gina is amongst the best. If you are doing a shoot, competing, or getting ready for a night on the town, be sure to connect with Gina. She is well worth the money and should be charging more in my opinion. With Gina, you will be in very capable hands and will be thankful for the quality she provides every time.
Thank you to Rob Belisle for stopping by during the shoot to say hi. Like Asha, I have known Rob for many years and always enjoy visiting and catching up with him. Thanks big guy for stopping by and bringing me a Timmies.
I look forward to meeting many new people in the new year at shows, shoots, and events like this one. We always have a lot of fun and we know you would only add to our experience. Thank you again to everyone that participated this weekend in Sherwood Park. I wish each of you all the best in your show this coming weekend.