Bill Dobbins, known as one of the world's foremost photographers of female bodybuilders, often compares the supremely sculpted models he shoots to landscapes. "Those who shoot traditional nudes tend to focus on soft, clean lines of the human body," he says. "But with body builders, with the definition they have in their physiques, you have hills and valleys all over. I often will pose them against rocks or a desert background as if they were part of the landscape." Or, in this case, poolscape.
About five years ago, while shooting images of model Suzanna McGee — who he describes as an "Amazonian athlete, bodybuilder and tennis player" — Dobbins saw an opportunity to photograph the human form against a different kind of background. While taking a break from shooting, McGee decided to take a dip in a nearby pool. While she swam laps, Dobbins took some photos of McGee's powerful underwater strokes.
Intrigued by the abstract patterns of refracted light across water and skin, Dobbins began adjusting the digital image to produce different colors. He decided on a triptych of images, with the middle image reversed, because it "just looked good" to him. As with most of his editing choices, Dobbins says his best ideas come to him instantaneously, as if he's "taking dictation."
Normally, he says, he has an idea in his head for each image he creates. "The instant you push the shutter, it has to look right," he says. "If it doesn't look good, you have to change it around until it does."
For most of the last four decades, the Los Angeles-based Dobbins has tried his hand at a number of artistic pursuits, including music, radio production, music videos, acting, writing and editing. In the 1970s, he became involved with the bodybuilding community and began photographing rising stars, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, and doing promotions for Gold's Gym. Later he wrote for Muscle Builder magazine and became founding editor of Flex magazine and president of Weider Communication, which produced magazines and videos about fitness.
For more information about his work, see billdobbinsphotography.com.