Athletic Brand Photography: Shooting a Contortionist
Athletics: Brand Photography by Angela Cappetta
Athletic and Academic
I shot a contortionist. Her name is Link. She is also a neuroscience PhD candidate at the Yale School of Medicine. I think she’s awesome. Enjoy this shoot of her and take a listen to our Podcast Interview on Down and Dirty Photography with Angela on Spotify.
Link is incredible. When we met for our first shoot, it was peak pandemic and we were all losing our minds. Link and I decided if we were masked and socially distanced, we could pull this off. Furthermore, Link is a PhD student, at the Yale School of Medicine, so she was acutely aware of the precautions we needed to take. We started by shooting the work she was doing around contortion and flexibility. She wore a fun sequined mask and wore a smashing Alo Yoga chartreuse outfit. We chatted about muscle awareness and brain mapping, as one does.
Fast forward eighteen months. Link had progressed tremendously in her training not only as a PhD student but also as a gymnast. Her trainer (see below) has been an integral part of this journey (we discuss this in depth in the podcast episode). We shot Link on a contraption called spinning canes. She is working on her “one arm” handstand.
The body mechanics and strength involved in this procedure is incredible to me.
I’ve always been a “right side up” or “floor” athlete. I have my own fitness practice that takes me in a completely different direction. I enjoy good stretches and being limber. However, I don’t know what it’s like to explore the world as an “upside down” athlete. This shoot and podcast episode helped me to see what this journey is like for another brainy person. Intellectualizing fitness isn’t for everyone. But it is certainly right on brand for this amazing creature.
Link, I adore you! Enjoy her photo shoot and podcast episode.
What the heck are handstand canes, anyway?
So, the calisthenics applied here are using body weight only.
Important to note one last thing! Link’s aforementioned trainer is Serchmaa Byamba. Serchmaa is the Founder of the Mongolian Contortion Center in SanFrancisco, CA. Furthermore, Serchmaa is the Contortion/Acrobatics Master Trainer and Circus Center Artistic Choreographer at the Circus Center at the Mongolian Contortion Center. Get in touch with them directly if you want to sign up for acrobatics lessons.
Says Serchma’s bio: ” Ever since watching a contortion act on Mongolian national TV, Serchmaa has wanted to be a fantastic contortionist. She began training at the Mongolian National Circus from the age of eight (8). Almost every young Mongolian girl’s dream is to practice contortion. This is a lifelong challenge: to become a practicing contortionist. One has to engage in intense three to four (3-4) hours of training daily. Even then, only a few girls will make it into the realm of being a professional performer.
Part of Serchmaa’s story is that she enrolled in Mongolian National Circus Contortion training program.
She worked hard. And she became one of those very few fortunate students to train under the world acclaimed contortion legend Madam Tsend-Ayush. Madam Tsend-Ayush is known for selecting her pupils judiciously. Hers is a strict and discipline course. Serchmaa later recalls it that she had to learn to cry inside.” But she did it! And now Serchmaa runs the most nourishing and elite training camp for acrobatic contortion.