I was recently given an assignment to take a self portrait of myself. While that isn't my favorite thing to do (there is a reason I'm BEHIND the camera), it normally isn't that hard either. On this assignment however there was an unexpected twist. I had to take the image without actually appearing in the image. What? That's right, we couldn't appear in the image in any recognizable form. The image is suppose to capture the "essence" of us without actually showing us. Obviously the assignment was given to push us outside of our comfort zone and to think outside of the box. How would you tackle this assignment?
I had the idea for the shoot right away. Some of you may know that I've been doing Crossfit style workouts for about a year now. While I've never had to battle my weight, at 40 years old I wasn't exactly "in shape" either. The Crossfit idea of working out is simple - it's a regimen of constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity in a communal environment that leads to health and fitness. In simple terms that means it is a workout that is different every time, based on your physical condition, done with a group of people who support and build you up.
I've really enjoyed working out at Upstate Elite Fitness and I know that my overall health has improved. Not only has the weight lifting and conditioning really helped my fitness level, but I've actually started eating vegetables. If you know me, you know that is a HUGE change in my diet. I'm a meat and potatoes kind of person and have shunned all things green for the last 40 years. But back to the assignment.....
My concept for the shot was to take an image of a sweat angel after doing a normal workout. For those that are not familiar with that term, a sweat angel is similar to a snow angel, except it's made from sweat instead of snow. It's kind of gross, right? Well after a high intensity workout, the easiest way to recover is to usually lay down somewhere. When you finally get back up, you'll notice a outline of your body made in sweat - a sweat angel is born.
For this shot, I went in early and set up my camera and light. The camera was mounted on a boom stand so that it was directly above the black mat at a height of about 6'. The light is just a single flash strobe located about 20' away. It is on a light stand about 7' high and I used the bare strobe without a light modifier. I wanted the hard light that the strobe would produce to add to the edgy and gritty feel I wanted for the overall shot. The dumbbell wasn't actually used in the workout, but I wanted to add it to help tell the story about how the sweat angel was made.
I went about my workout as normal. It usually consists of a warm up, some sort of weight lifting, and a conditioning workout. This particular day, the conditioning workout was 13 to 1 kettle bell swings @45lbs and burpies. That means I did 13 swings and 13 burpies, then 12 swings and 12 burpies, then 11 swings and burpies, etc, etc, etc. all the way down to 1 swing and 1 burpie in the last round. I finished all 13 rounds in 12 minutes and 43 seconds. Once I finished the workout, I layed on the mat for a couple of minutes to create the sweat angel. Then it was a simple matter of getting up and taking a few pictures of the mat.
If you are interested in learning more about Crossfit, please check out their site at http://www.crossfit.com/cf-info/what-is-crossfit.html
If you are interested in learning more about the people I work out with, please check out the Upstate Elite Fitness facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/uefitness?fref=ts
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