This photo was taken by Bill Dobbins at Red Rock State Park, Las Vegas, Nevada in 2003, just a week after my first bodybuilding show. I entitled this post "Reflection", not only because it is appropriate for the photo, but what we all need to do from time to time in our lives. And not just superficial thinking, but deep reflection.
When I reflect upon my life, I think about it as a journey and the many paths I have taken in my life. Each one, ever so carefully chosen. I used to get anxiety about the direction I am going to move in next, and what I want to do. I think it takes maturity and confidence to move forward in life and have the confidence that whatever direction you choose, you do so with courage and zest. Particularly when it comes to change. As much as most humans are creatures of habit, and do not like major lifestyle changes, it is inevitable. Even if that change has perceived negative outcomes, or even glaringly bleak outcomes, one must overcome and even embrace the change. Initially, change is painful and undesired. However, over time, one can become acclimated to the change. And, in the end, it's not so bad after all. Change is the natural course of life, and, in fact, the only thing that is constant in our lives. We are not the same person we were 10 years ago, yesterday, or even five minutes ago. That is why I find it interesting to look back at old photos, my writing, and even reflect back to old thoughts in my life. Have you ever looked back at a photo of yourself or something you wrote, and thought, "What was I thinking back then?" I also like the nostalgic component to these artifacts. And, to know the journey I have taken from where I was to where I am now, and embrace and even fantasize where I will be.
A year before this photo was taken, I did my first photo shoot with Bill, in the desert of New Mexico near my home. I competed in NABBA Figure at that time, a scaled down version of bodybuilding. As Bill peered through his lens at me, he exclaimed in a nonchalant manner, "Amber, why don't you just compete in bodybuilding?" And that was that, I was sold. I replied, "Sure, why not?" Sage advice from the premier womens' physique photographer and world acclaimed leading authority on womens' bodybuilding does not come easily. As I got to know Bill over the years, I learned that he does not lavish anyone with compliments.
So, this photo is symbolic of my journey into the future. When I look into my eyes back in 2003, I see there is desire, and hunger. I remember how eager I was to make my way in the bodybuilding industry, and make my mark. And, it was not to just become the best competitive bodybuilder on stage. It was more about the evolution of my body, mind, and spirit. And what an amazing journey it has been. While I was never uncomfortable in front of a camera lens, particularly someone of Bill's stature, I do remember feeling somewhat awkward about nudity in front of the lens. As I learned more about my body, posing, movement, and body language, I gained more confidence in my posing style. I now know that often times, when a pose feels really strange, that, oddly enough, it turns out to be magnificent on film. It's all about not having fear of what something is going to look like, and having the confidence to contort myself in seemingly strange ways. This was the journey of self discovery for me, and Bill certainly showed me the way and gave me that inspiration.
This bodily contortion also gave me the inner confidence to know that even if something feels awkward, it can be beautiful, in all areas of my life. So, getting out of that comfort zone is important, and not getting stuck in a rut. While there is merit in repetition, routine, and regimes, as this builds consistency and discipline, we also must know how to make minor changes to these things to enhance them to make our lives better.
Since this photo was taken, I talk to Bill from time to time. We reflect on our lives and the paths we have chosen. And, I always thank him for inspiring me to become what I have always dreamed of, and capturing my essence on film in a way that I only fantasized about.