Interviews & Conversations Women I've Shot

An interview with a bodybuilder:
Isobel Van Den Bosch

Bodybuilding SA Isobel Van Den Bosch 03 photographed by Leah HawkerI photographed Isobel at the end of 2013. It was a sort of doubled up shoot with her best friend and fellow body builder Lairen. We shot in two locations based on the selection of reference images the women had sent me in preparation for their shoot; a semi-derelict area in District 6 and Sunset Beach.

I asked Isobel a bit about the shoot experience, fitness and her body since I always find working with specified body types or genres very interesting as it generally goes against the grain of societies beauty ideals…

Bodybuilding SA Isobel Van Den Bosch 04 photographed by Leah Hawker

Why did you want to do a photo shoot of yourself and how have you used the images?

I’ve heard some great things about you and your work from some of my fitness friends. How you manages to capture sex appeal and femininity into your photographs. I normally do a photo shoot one week prior to my competitions but thought it would be a good idea to do one when I’m off season. I wanted to show that you could still be sexy even when you’re not ripped and show ready. Pre comp condition we’re normally at a very low fat percentage. Our bodies are extremely hard, a lot of vascularity and the muscles are very defined. Off season I like to maintain a healthy look and never really balloon to a much bigger size. I might look a bit fuller and softer and the vascularity might be less but the muscle definition is still visible

How was the experience of shooting for you? What were the most memorable things for you about it?

You managed to make us feel so at ease and comfortable in front of the camera You explained the process to us as well as what you planned beforehand. Got us to pose in the way best suited for our bodies and always made sure we were comfortable with the whole situation. It was definitely not a bikini weather day but we had so much fun I completely forgot about the cold weather and ice cold water at the beach.

Bodybuilding SA Isobel Van Den Bosch 05 photographed by Leah Hawker

Isobel (center) on stage during a bodybuilding competition in Vegas earlier in 2013
Isobel (center) on stage during a bodybuilding competition in Vegas earlier in 2013

How do you feel about your body (as a competitor body building competitions)?

I love my body but being in this industry you always see room for improvement – it’s an ongoing process. It’s nerve wrecking to be judged after months of hard work and preparation but in the end the acknowledgment and respect you earn (especially from people who try to lose weight and see you as a role model) make it all worthwhile. I would say my strongest assets are my abdominal muscles and upper body.

Competition day image taken in Vegas this year with Isobel center and Lairen to the right.
Competition day image taken in Vegas backstage this year with Isobel center and Lairen to the right.

How do you feel about your body (as the subject in the images I photographed of you)?

I love it. You managed to capture my sensual and playful side. I’m actually very shy especially in front of the camera. You made me feel at ease especially when it came to some of the poses. I love to feel sexy and you knew exactly how capture it in the photos.

It was an interesting process to work on your images after I photographed you, this was because I know how carefully you work to sculpt the shapes you have achieved.

Considering that you compete in fitness contests with your body how do you feel about your body in terms of beauty and confidence? Society has very particular notions of beauty, -where does body building fit into this and how does it effect the way you feel about yourself? Your confidence?

I love my body. I’ve worked very hard to be where I am today. Not all people might see it as beautiful but in the end, the way I feel about myself and see myself are the only things I consider important. Having a fit body and healthy lifestyle not only helps with the physical aspect but also mentally. After a long stressful day I couldn’t think of anything better than going to the gym and getting rid of all the tension that built up during the course of the day. You also have a lot more confidence when you’re happy with your body. I think to be able to show people that you can look good, live a healthy life but still enjoy it, is important.

Bodybuilding SA Isobel Van Den Bosch 02 photographed by Leah Hawker

Bodybuilding SA Isobel Van Den Bosch 01

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