It was a long time coming for this shoot. At least it felt like it. Maybe it was the excitement behind it. I'm always excited about shooting but this one stood out because I witnessed what it took to get to this point.
The shoot took place on June 10th, 2017; approximately 365 days from the day Hamish began his quest for living a healthy life. I remember the first day he came into the gym - round and clearly out of shape. I believe he weighed 230+ lbs.
His primary doctor informed him that if he didn't make some serious changes to his health that in a few years he would may be laying on the death bed that he made for himself. It was THAT serious.
I could sense something in this dude, something about him was different. He wasn't afraid to ask questions and learn from other people, which can be rare inside of a ego-inflated gym. He was dead-ass about doing whatever it took to be a savior to himself.
On top of all that, he was also going through a divorce.
But he had to divorce a lot of things. He had to divorce a lot of the negative habits that were literally on the verge of killing him.
And he did just that...
Seeing him come in every day and work his ass off reminded of what Kevin Eastman shared about Kobe Bryant. When he asked Kobe what does his workouts consist of, Kobe said:
"I don't work out anymore"
Kevin then asked:
"what do you mean you don't workout? All I hear is how you're a madman, the hardest working man in the NBA. You set the standard for workouts. You go on Team USA and every guy comes back a different player because of you".
"Well, I don't workout anymore because...."
"I BLACK OUT"
Hamish. Blacked. Out.
Sometimes you have to blackout in order to see clearly.
If ya'll know me, you would know that I'm a sucker for stories of self-discovery and self-mastery. When we say to ourselves "enough is enough". That cold, primal mentality to seek and destroy whatever is in our path, including ourselves. When motivation is trampled by obsession. When there's no time to think about "can I..." or "should I...". You just do it.
In 12 months he shed somewhere between 60-70 pounds of fat and gained 15-20 pounds of muscle.
You can obviously see the physical change but the change in confidence is just as amazing. Maybe 'change' isn't the best word to use. Sometimes it's just the realization of who we always were.
He hasn't seen his primary doctor since October of 2016. Because he was doing so well leading up to his last visit his doctor told him not to come back until October of 2017. Can you imagine the expression that will without a doubt cover his face?
As for the shoot, the first part of it was me capturing him doing Martial Arts Katas, specifically Goju Ryu. We used olive oil on his skin to darken it and give it that pop. Despite not using any water for the shoot, we used silicone-based lube so that the water wouldn't absorb into his skin giving it that "wet" look. What also helped was that 3 days before the shoot he consumed lots of water to prepare his body for flushing. The day before the shoot he basically eliminated water and sodium in order to "dry out" his body along with a carb-down/carb-up technique known as supercompensation.
The goal of both is to manipulate water and carb intake to look leaner and bigger for a short period of time.
A lot of the photos are in black and white because I wanted to create that legendary, vintage mood which seemed to work since a lot of people are saying they thought he was Bruce Lee at first glance.
We went to a downtown alley for the second half of the shoot where we focused more on actual workouts and captured some model-esque shots. We laughed at the fact that his hair literally didn't move an inch despite all the katas and other movements he was doing during the shoot.
It was an honor taking these photos. It's shoots such as this one that help you realize that photos can be a part of a healing process. They can reveal who we were, who we've become and everything in between. My duty as a photographer is to capture a moment of our reality and convert it into viewable image of interest, beauty and recollection for years to come. It was a chapter of his life that I had the chance to witness, learn from and capture with the click of a shutter.
Hamish, if you're reading this, salute to you. Stick to it and lets do it again next year.