In recent years I have had the great pleasure of photographing a number of pole fitness shoots. It is hard work even for the chap with the camera, as I run around the pole keeping pace with the athletes, capturing their skill and motion. Honestly, for a week afterwards my legs feel like I have been doing hundreds of squats and lunges.
This particular day though, was very special. Eve from Butterfly Fitness. in Heeley, Sheffield, contacted me about a forthcoming pole photoshoot with Niki. Niki had spent several years training pole at Butterfly fitness, and she had reached a very high skill level. Sadly, Niki was injured in a car crash driving home from work in the early hours, after a night shift in what was her new job as a paramedic.
The crash left Niki with limited movement and she can no longer speak. But being truly awesome, this photoshoot was not going to be a pity party, but instead a celebration of Niki’s determination and drive. So myself with two carers and two pole instructors, a makeup artist and a collection of Niki’s questionable taste in music, we embarked on a shoot to create some magnificent photos
While Niki was having her make up done by the wonderfully talented Charlotte Crossland, I set up the lights and did some test shots, with the help of Eve and Sasha, both of whom display incredible grace and strength.
For Niki’s first pose, we supported her in sitting on the pole, which Eve and Sasha told me is a fairly easy position to hold; it didn’t look easy to me. I’m thankful they didn’t expect me to attempt it! Next up the team assisted Niki in the Superman move, and my heart in my mouth as I feared that Niki would drop face down on to the floor. But it was a supreme team effort and Niki looked fabulous.
We followed this with some low key and non-stressful shots of Niki looking beautiful as she took a rest and caught her breath. We finished the shoot with Niki sat and leaning back on the pole, and some superb shots including the rest of the team. Niki requested to even have a photo with me. Driving home from this shoot I definitely had that warm glow from having done something wonderful. It was an extraordinary day for all of us and especially for Niki. I know this day will forever be in my top ten favorite photoshoots and a day Niki will remember .
Just one more thing to note: Pole fitness is supremely hard, requires incredible skill, strength, poise and grace. Culturally it has been sidelined as a sleazy activity, mainly by the backwards thinking and the ignorant – Posh Katie Hopkins wannabe Victoria Coren Mitchell and the team from TVs Loose women – I’m looking at you. The pole athletes I have worked with over the years are, in addition to being wonderfully skilled, warm, kind, supportive and dedicated to their sport. Long may I work with them. So long as I don’t have to get on the pole…
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