All in a day’s work down under

September 24, 2008


I saw the story of 80-year-old body builder Ray Moon on a tabloid type current affairs TV programme in August. The segment said he was in training for the Victorian Bodybuilding Championships in September, taking place in Melbourne. I thought to myself, what a crazy story!

I got hold of the manager of the gym where Ray trains and he put me in touch. I explained to Ray that I wanted to spend a few days with him and the kind of pictures I wanted to shoot – Ray at home, training, having the famous body builder’s spray-on tan and then competing.

Ray was not having any of it. He said ‘No’ to all of my ideas, except the competition shots, saying my presence would spoil his concentration in the lead-up to the event. ‘No problem’ was my answer, as I felt the story would still be strong enough without the other pictures.

I passed his contact details onto my Sydney-based text colleague Pauline Askin, who would write the story, and off I trudged on September 14th to shoot the pictures.

When I came face-to-face with Ray he was wearing a short terry-towelling bath robe and slippers, sporting coiffed white hair and one of the most remarkable spray-on tans I have ever seen. This is going to be interesting I thought. I asked if I could shoot some shots of him warming-up and he agreed.


I went into the dressing rooms at the venue and was struck by the smell of tanning oils and the sight of men and women who looked nothing like your average human being. I noticed that my own body shape was inversely proportional to the sculpted forms around me backstage.

This is going to be really interesting I thought. After about fifteen minutes photographing Ray and the other competitors in the warm-up area, the organisers shooed me out and the event was underway.

Off I went into the auditorium to find myself a decent spot to shoot from. This wasn’t easy. A lot of the shooting positions would’ve made for very untidy pictures with lots of messy signage in the backgrounds. Ray did not appear on stage for two hours, so whilst waiting I photographed the other events, seeing if there was any change in the lighting and on the lookout for any other unusual or quirky moments to send to our picture clients.

When Ray finally came out to compete in the seniors’ event I was too busy concentrating on getting good, varied pictures of him to really enjoy the spectacle.


The event finished and Ray – the sole competitor in the over-60s section – was declared winner.

As I sneaked backstage to thank him and say goodbye, he was having his official photo taken. Click. I took the photo as well, thinking what a nice picture it would make to end the story.


Once back in the office, having downloaded, edited, captioned and sent a selection of pictures to our global pictures desk in Singapore, I was able to relax, smile to myself and appreciate what a very interesting and successful day it had been.

(A wider selection of images from this assignment can be seen here)

One comment

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This is a great post. Thanks for the tip I got that was bundled into your story, namely if shooting only a segment of a live event, snap some photos beforehand to get in the groove and to be aware of any lighting changes that come up.

Sadly for me, that 80-year-old guy’s body blows mine away.

I think I’ll go take a walk now….

Posted by jdhays | Report as abusive