I have shot Olympic athletes, NFL stars and the biggest bodybuilders in the world – but few come close to the athleticism of Kate Czepulkowski.
If you have never heard of her, the 24-year-old is a pole dancing world champion.
Nicknamed ‘Bendy Kate’, the moves she can pull off on a pole are absolutely mind-blowing.
Despite only taking up the sport five years ago she went on to win the World Pole Sports and Fitness Championships in London in 2014.
Many people associate pole dancing with stripping – but this is a super-tough competitive sport and Czepulkowski is an athlete at the top of her game.
Muscle & Fitness put together a feature on the gruelling strength and conditioning work she does to master the art of pole dancing.
While her training demands hours of conditioning work with V sit-ups, pull-ups and leg raises on the pole, we wanted to shoot the trademark moves that showcase her world-beating skills.
Unlike shooting bodybuilders or muscle athletes where the gritty shots work, pole is graceful and arty – so I wanted shots that captured that mood.
I envisaged the photographs being really sleek and minimal. I took the images with the background blown-out white to give the shots a dream-like quality and I think it really worked.
Czepulkowski did the rest. I just snapped away as she performed gravity-defying tricks and isometric holds that calisthenics stars like Frank Medrano would be proud of.
The feature ‘Bend It Like Kate’ appeared in Muscle & Fitness magazine in September 2014.
Here are some of the shots I took…