October 2015 | Issue no. 18 | by mark shaiken

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” Jim Rohn.



In athletics, the body is the vehicle to perform, compete, excel, exceed expectations, and eventually win.  What better way to explore physique than to focus on the athletes whose sport is to develop and display physique. In do :: or :: diso Issue No. 7 (October 2014) we explored how to photograph muscles. Cross lighting from above. A year later, do :: or :: diso returns to muscles, using the cross lighting technique to focus a bit more on the trainer and body building athlete – three trainers and competitors – AJ Ellison, Ellie Gundelfinger, and Justin Gonzalez. This is an issue simply to appreciate the human body, sculpted, and consider how to photograph it concentrating on background, pose, and then have a little fun with it as well.



The lighting set up in the studio shots was simple: Speedlights camera left and right up high and at a greater than 45 degree angle from each other, in soft boxes, triggered by Pocket Wizard Flex TT5s, and a naked speedlight on the simple white background. Keep it simple and focus on the body. On the location shot – a bit of the Superman “into a nearby phone booth” concept.  The lighting was three Speedlights in a Foursquare soft box, camera left, again triggered by Pocket Wizard Flex TT5s. In both settings, change your perspective – above, below, to one side or the other of your subjects.  Keep moving.



On location, we used the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts as our background.



I also had the chance to visit with Ellie, a WBFF bikini competitor and NASM certified personal trainer to get a sense of  her path to trainer and competitor. Here is my interview:

do :: or :: diso – When did you first start to lift weights for the purpose of bodybuilding or body sculpting?

Ellie: I have always been an athlete. I played collegiate volleyball and trained for my sport. Not until about 2010 did I start to really get serious about changing my body. I decided I want to step out of my comfort zone and compete with the WBFF. I truly fell in love with the challenge and the changes in my body.


do :: or :: diso – for how many years have you competed either as a bodybuilder or as a fitness competitor?

Ellie: I’ve competed for about 5 years, and have stepped on stage 6 times.

do :: or :: diso – Describe your life path that brought you to competitive professional bodybuilding / fitness.

Ellie: My path all began as a transformation with Hitch Fit [a local mid town Kansas City gym]. Since I was always an athlete I never had to worry about my diet and workouts. Once college ended I realized that my body did not respond as well as it once did. I decided I wanted to completely step out of my comfort zone and compete. What was once just something to try, turned into a true passion. I loved the challenge and progress my body and mind made when I truly applied myself. These events are what led to my career change. I wanted to help people feel the same satisfaction I did when I made the changes. Ever since then I have been working for Hitch Fit. I truly love what I do. Since I have been at Hitch Fit, I have also signed with an amazing supplement company called Magnum Nutraceuticals. I’ve been extremely blessed to be linked with two amazing companies.

do :: or :: diso – Did you play competitive sports in high school and college?

Ellie: I played volleyball in high school as well as with Team KC, a competitive traveling team.  I also played collegiate volleyball for two years with Johnson County Community College.

do :: or :: diso – Can you describe the differences you see in training someone who is interested in competing from someone who you train who has come to you to improve their self image?

Ellie: The beautiful part about being a trainer is that I get to work with every single type of person. It’s an amazing feeling to help someone conquer their goals, or work through a challenge. I love when I get the opportunity to help someone step on stage for the first time. Since competing was the start of my passion, it will always hold a special place in my heart to help others in the same way.


do :: or :: diso –  how old is the youngest and oldest person you have ever trained?

Ellie: So far I’ve had clients that range between 12-65 years old.

After the shoot, we had a little fun in the studio:


Next month: We make eye contact.



Mark Shaiken skyline
mark shaiken :: photography
contact me at: mark@markshaiken.com
or by calling 913.530.6539