Interviews & Conversations Women I've Shot

An Interview with a bodybuilder: Lairen Terblanche

Lairen Terblanch Bodybuilder photograph by Leah Hawker 04
I photographed Lairen Terblanche in December 2013, she is to date one of three female fitness competitors I’ve shot so far,- always an always intriguing experience because of the very particular and strong body image they have which is not necessarily in line with that of the stereotype pushed by fashion and advertising of women’s body images.

Here are some images from our shoot which took place at two locations in and around Cape Town and was a shared with her friend and fellow body builder Isobel (more on her later).

Lairen Terblanch Bodybuilder photograph by Leah Hawker 01

Lairen sent me a large number of reference images for her shoot and highlighted a few poses which she found particularly fitting to her sensibilities (the one shown above specifically and the shot shown of her leaning back in the water shown below).
Working with such muscularity proposes some challenges as I’ve become somewhat adjusted to photographing women for quite a specific sensual look which provides a paradox when approaching a body with masculine associated traits.

Lairen Terblanch Bodybuilder photograph by Leah Hawker 05

Lairen Terblanch Bodybuilder photograph by Leah Hawker 03

Lairen first contacted me while I was shooting with Playboy South Africa, her body type was not matched to the brand identity and so she ended up commissioning me privately to photograph her. She was very happy to have her images published here and so I also asked her to answer a few questions to help bring across the way she sees her body…

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

I have always wanted to shoot with the Playboy Photographer and be in Playboy myself to be quite honest. I felt that if I wanted to portray my body in a sexy, yet respectable and classy way, semi naked… that I would want to shoot with someone that has the best experience. I have used the photos on social media and we are enlarging a shot or two for the house

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

Incredible. Exhilarating. Exciting. Fun and at times nervous, lol. memorable in being able to say I shot with the incredible Leah …. and doing it with my best friend in the whole world

Lairen Terblanch Bodybuilder photograph by Leah Hawker 02

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

I LOVE MY BODY, whether its on stage or off stage, in season or off season. I am proud of my body. I want to show woman that muscle can be sexy.

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

Just so proud.

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. Do you feel the images are a true and beautiful reflection of how you look?

yes. yes yes yes. No doubt.

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 do this for me. I don’t do this for anybody else. What is important is that I LIKE me, I LIKE the way I look. and THATS what matters. If I have been doing this for anybody else. I would be deeply disappointed. I lead a fitness lifestyle overall. I love training, competitions are just PART of it but I DONT train to compete. everyone always has an opinion of everyone else. I don’t. As long as you are happy, that’s what matters. I am a woman and I LOVE my muscles. I find it disrespectful to say the least, on how people in general who don’t take care of themselves ONE BIT, get to criticize someone like me who works incredibly hard.

Lairen Terblanch Bodybuilder photograph by Leah Hawker 06

Lairen Terblanch Bodybuilder photograph by Leah Hawker 07

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