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Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Heavy Burden

When photographing a weightlifter, watch for some of the most powerful facial expressions you'll see in any sport. 
Powerlifter strains to lift the barbell during a competition in Tewksbury, Ma. (© Michael Maher, The Lowell (Ma.) Sun).
The Photo:
When I shot powerlifting for the first time, I expected to photograph big, muscular competitors holding barbells over their heads.  What I found, however, was that close-ups of them straining to lift the heavy weight made the best photos.  Therefore, throughout this event, I focused on shooting the athletes as tightly as I could, showing only the bar in their hands, excluding the weights on the end of the bars.  I also concentrated on photographing while they were lifting, not after they were finished with the barbell over their heads.  This lifter had a great expression, and almost seemed to stretch his lower lip over his top as he labored to lift the weights.
3 Tips:
1) Weightlifting does not provide fast-moving action to photograph.
2) The best photos are of the contestant’s face showing the strain or concentration of lifting the heavy load.
3) At times you may want to show the barbell and weights, but other times the facial expression is all you need.