I’ve been yearning for an adventure lately due to being a little confused about what direction I want to go in life lately (careers, endeavours, new location, etc). So the opportunity came along to join the Legends of Aesthetics group on their trip to Las Vegas for the 2014 Mr. Olympia…of course I hopped on it. I’ve also never been to an expo other than the San Jose Fit Expo and I knew this was one of the top events in this industry. So, thanks to all the guys for having me come along to document the trip. I wanted to do something a little different than what I’ve seen from most companies/brands/people out there in this industry, because all you ever see is the finished product. The glitz and glam. The red carpet. The athletes, the companies, the sports models…all in character with bright big smiles for the fans. But what happens behind the scenes? Sure, everyone nowadays does the whole “youtube” thing and video records the good stuff, but only from a first person perspective of what they want you to see. I figured a lot of people would like to see the other side of all the hard work that goes into these events, from packing up for the trip to the end of all the traveling. So I hope you like the story I had the privilege to tell through pictures. Feel free to kick your feet up, sip on a protein shake, and enjoy!
-4am on Thursday, September 18th, 2014:
I wish I could tell you we all had a full nights sleep prior to starting our journey, but I can’t. We are all pretty much night owls, and when it comes to planning for these big events, there’s always a lot of things that come last minute. The apprehension can make you forget certain things you never wrote down to take/get ready. So we filled up two cars worth of bags, merchandise, booth accessories, and a few dead bodies (not really dead….just more so half-alive and sleep deprived bodies..lol). We were headed from Rocklin, CA which took about 9 hours to drive out to Vegas. …..aaaand we’re off!
A few hours into our journey I woke up from a mild nap and had no clue where we were…but it felt like a farm of some sort. We pulled up for a pit-stop and I wanted to snap a few pictures. Interesting place to say the least, especially when it takes 30 minutes to buy some snacks and the cashiers have no idea how to process a credit card.
*Insert cliche picture of an open desert to express a crazy road trip*
About 5 or 6 hours in here and just passed Barstow. I couldn’t get Tyrese’s voice out of my head.. “I AINT GOIN BACK TO BARSTOW”
Temperature gauge reads 101F. Might as well add a “ML” to the end of that.
Finally made it to Vegas by about 3:30pm(ish?) and stopped at Dennys…because, where else? Snapped a photo of Chris and Kelsie while waiting, and snuck a photo of Jesus himself, or Nick (whichever you prefer). We had to pick up Steve Kleva afterwards and head to the Las Vegas Convention Center right after and set up the booth. Getting closer!
So, at these expo’s everything almost seems like a free-for-all. When you pull up you have no idea where to go exactly to check in, to unload, who to talk to etc. At this one in particular, the convention center had a partnered union of workers who you had to pay to transport your merchandise, equipment, and booth stuff FOR you…unless you wanted to carry everything in yourself. (1) Matt and Lawrence after loading a few boxes in and deciding to just hire the people anyway. We’re all a little tired after only running on 2-3 hours of sleep lol. (2) Things are finally rolling and got most of the booth setup. Steve Kleva is one of the funniest people I know. Its rare that he speaks and whatever he says ISNT funny. And we also forgot a few of Matt’s cut-outs from home and grabbed a few extra of Lavado’s on accident. So there was 3 small Lavado’s, 2 life-size Lavado’s, and 1 small of Matt.
The Convention Center is pretty crazy on the day before the expo. Everyone is hauling gear in, setting up booths, and hanging out. It pretty much sounds like a construction site on steroids…no pun intended. Anyway, here’s a few photos of what it looks like before everything actually gets polished and ready for the public.
The O. (not the main stage, this was the stage at the expo which showcased the physique and bikini categories)
Booth progression. Doesn't the red carpet make a HUGE difference?
On another note, it’s seriously crazy seeing how many companies get together at these expos and ALL bring the hustle. Its cool to say that I’ve personally experienced the Olympia first time, and I’ll definitely be back.
Happy expo day! Many meet & greet photos of matt and chris mingling with fans, followers, and friends. Obviously in most of the photos they were taking the photo with someone else’s camera or phone, but I’ve always liked the idea of capturing what other people don’t. The candid moments are a little too rare nowadays since everyone is capable of taking a selfie by pushing two buttons. Sorry if I didn’t include yours in here if you saw me take the photo..there was way too many to pick through. Enjoy!
Nick slangen dat merch of peaaceeeeeee. He’s always a hard worker at these expos. He works in front sometimes, as well as behind the banner organizing all the merch. He has a system…don’t mess with it.
Since we had a corner booth right next to the stairs, we had the idea of putting the giant cutouts on the staircase to attract a little more attention. As Chris would say…”y0lo.”
So these giant letters looked awesome from the start. While taking this photo, I saw two people try to lean against the “F” and basically knocked it entirely over. You don’t really realize just by looking at it that its made of some sort of foam. That was pretty funny. I really wanted a photo of the letters by themselves, but never had the chance apart from this moment. Not quite the angle I would have chosen, but due to all the people I had to work around and wait to move, this is what I got.
Steve Kleva with Anthony and Kathy of MyOatmeal.com. Anthony and kathy were ever so kind to invite us all out on Thursday night to the best Brazilian steakhouse in Vegas, Fogo de Ciao. HIGHLY recommend you go there. Not to mention, MyOatmeal is one of the coolest ideas out there.
Kaden and Kane Sumabat.
Steve modeling his illusion spandex. ’Nuff said
One last wrap-up shot of the whole group that was there until the end.
The following day I headed down to City Athletic Club for a special shooting session. Basically, every year on the Sunday following Olympia, this gym is the host for most photo/video shoots of athletes either competing or traveling to the O. The whole gym is closed to the public and is filled with photographers, crew helpers, people walking around half-naked posing for photos, etc...you get the idea. (1) As soon as I walked in I noticed Broncolor umbrellas all set-up on a white backdrop, and I instantly knew someone important was here taking photos (broncolor is SUPER expensive for the people that don't know). Little did I know, it was Dustin Snipes. Dustin is someone I recently got into for his sports/portrait photography and he's always doing big time commercial shoots for various companies and magazines, so it was cool to finally meet him in person. (2) I also got to shoot a Rich Piana workout with a few of his buddies for an upcoming video. I may do some more video/photo for him at the LA FitExpo...we'll see.
After lunch that day, a bunch of us decided to go walk around the town and make the best of it. After eating breakfast at Hash House A-Go-Go, we walked into the Mirage and we HAD to take this shot....lol.
-A lot of times weightlifters get the typical stereotype of being stupid and not having brains…this door tested that theory when nobody out of our 9+ group could get it open. As simple as it seems, we finally got the right code after calling the property a few times.
The house we rented for the weekend.
Our weekend ended Monday morning with a buffet breakfast at the "M" hotel and resort. I highly recommend you go there ($16 all you can eat buffet on weekdays).
Once again, I want to give a HUGE thanks to the LOA guys for bring me along on this trip. I had a great time with good people and hopefully took a few shots that you may appreciate.
You can see all the footage we filmed from the weekend at: