Professional Photography Session for a Fitness and Bodybuilder in Shibuya, Tokyo

Working as a professional photographer in Tokyo, I receive a lot of requests for portraits. The most uncommon inquiry yet since I live in Japan, came from a bodybuilder competing for Amateur Olympia 2019. He wanted a fitness photoshoot either in the gym or outdoor in an open space around Shibuya. Later on, we have settled for an inspiring outdoor shoot, which was not only perfect for creating stunning images, but also a chance for me to learn about his inspiring life story.

Fitness Female Portrait. Photography outdoors, by the Tokyo Photographer Cristian Bucur

Last time I had photographed a bodybuilder/fitness athlete was in Seoul, South Korea. That time around was my Serbian friend who competed for Asia Grand Prix, Figure Pro Qualifier. I was quite stoked when she contacted me, “You live here in Seoul? I’m here for competition,” as I knew she had moved from Belgrade to New York. The world is so small, right?

As mentioned above, sometime later, here I am in Japan, I had received this e-mail from Mohammed:

“Hi, Cristian,

This is Mohammed.

I am a bodybuilder in Tokyo now; I wonder if you can do a fitness photoshoot session next Sunday, 17 November. Sorry for the short notice.

Thanks,

Mohammed”

Outdoor portrait by the Tokyo Photographer Cristian Bucur
One of the first photos I took of Mohammed.

It was indeed a short notice as I had prior plans, but I can never say no to a photography session in Tokyo, especially with a bodybuilder. Now, my shape probably doesn’t show it (obviously, I am a photographer, after all, living in Japan, a country with a lot of good food 😉 ), but I did a study about bodybuilding in the past. I have trained myself for quite a while, this being the reason why I have a great understanding and respect for this sport and the people doing it. The amount of work and discipline involved is extreme, and many people live their life for it, drastically following daily specific meals, to have proper training, and sleep. And often, endure a lot of pain, because building muscles can’t be done without pain. There is a saying among bodybuilders, “No pain, no gain.”

Outdoor portrait of a bodybuilder showing off his abs, by the Tokyo Photographer Cristian Bucur
Loosening up the tension and showing off his abs.

Moving back to my bodybuilder, he’s one of the most amazing people I had the pleasure to meet. He is a police officer back home in Qatar, passionate about sports in general with kickboxing and bodybuilding at the top of his preferences.

Bodybuilder in shorts smiling during a photoshoot with Cristian Bucur Photographer in Tokyo.
Look at that confident smile!

After a few short e-mails, we decided to meet at Shibuya, where is one of the most known crossings in the whole world. Shortly after meeting him, I have discovered a very passionate bodybuilder, very positive and happy person. On the day of the photoshoot, he had woke up at 6 AM to get ready. Why on Earth would a man wake up at 6 AM for a shoot at 9 AM? Hmm, there is an explanation.

Bodybuilder posing and smiling during a photoshoot with Cristian Bucur Photographer in Tokyo.
That’s right ladies, keep watching.

On the day before Mohammed had been competing in Amateur Olympia 2019 held in Tokyo organized by IFBB Professional League and NPCJ (I don’t quite know what NPCJ stands for) where he won 1st place!!! Well, it wasn’t overall, but for the 90kg category if I’m not mistaken. Still extremely impressive! Because of this, he was artificially tanned by the organizers so he would show off easier his musculature and definition. The cost for this is that it is tough to remove it in a short time, so, there you go, he had to wake up and get ready from 6 AM to rub his entire skin. 🙂

I dare you to imagine how awesome it is to be a professional photographer for such an athlete in a rare moment of top shape competing in Tokyo? Well, first of all, it was terrific; secondly, fantastic.😎 Because Mohammed was in his best form, right after a big competition, his shape was crazy good, and all I had to do was to translate that into amazing photographs. Sounds easy, right? Well, keep reading; at the end of the article, I have embedded a YouTube video I made while editing one of his photographs.

Bodybuilder pose during a photoshoot with Cristian Bucur Photographer in Tokyo.
Look at those guns!

Being tired after the competition, he didn’t have a clear idea of what he wanted from the photography session he had booked. That’s why on our way to the shooting place, which is only a couple of minutes away from Shibuya, I was asking a lot of questions to get to know who he is. I started to take photos of him wearing clothes, but that wasn’t doing justice for all the hard work he’s been doing. Previously I have seen he brought some spare outfits with him, so I asked what else he has. And only then the real fun had begun, and I have installed my softboxes and flashes.

Photograph of the back of a bodybuilder from a photoshoot with Cristian Bucur Photographer in Tokyo.
I wish my back would be as strong as this bodybuilder is, to be easier for me to carry around my photo gear.
Bodybuilder photography by the Tokyo Photographer Cristian Bucur

I worried that the weather on the day might have been a little cold for him to be “naked,” but then… when you are a pack of 90kg of pure muscles, you tend to warm up pretty quickly.

He then took off his shirt and jeans for a more “relaxed outfit,” which brought to light his lean body and muscles. Right there and then, I realized and told him never to cover his muscles for a photography session held after a competition. It’s a no-no, considering all the work and logistics involved to get in such a perfect shape.

Bodybuilder photography by the Tokyo Photographer Cristian Bucur.
This pose is also maintained during bodybuilding and fitness competitions.
Absolutely amazing how flexible this giant bodybuilder is; inspiring.


The rest of the photoshoot went as smoothly as possible, with Mohammed doing his competing poses to show off his muscular body and impress me behind the camera. Above, you can see his great flexibility, too, a chapter at which my body acts worse than a stone. 🙂

He had inspired me so much! I will use the inspiration to become better and better at producing fantastic photographs. If you have a dream, do your best to make it real; the amount of satisfaction you’ll get is priceless. I can say I am living my dream of being a professional photographer, and not anywhere, but in one of the biggest metropolis in the world: Tokyo.


Bodybuilder photography by the Tokyo Photographer Cristian Bucur.
This pose is also maintained during bodybuilding and fitness competitions.
Bodybuilding classic pose performed during competitions.


A few days later, after WahtsApping him some photographs, I got this feedback:

“Wow great editing 🔥🔥🔥

” Like it

Wow, a lot of work !!! Great job 👍

Thanks, bro, nice to meet and work with you.

You are a really talented photographer. 🔥👍

Wow the editing next level 😍😍😍”

Now, here you can see a video I have posted to my YouTube Channel with the workflow I did while editing his photographs. I use these professional photography editing techniques whenever necessary to accomplish the best results for my clients, using both Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop.

This video shows over 30 minutes of editing compressed down to under 5 minutes 🙂

As always, if you need to hire a professional photographer based in Tokyo, all you have to do is to press the contact button below. 

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