Beijing bodybuilders

Beijing bodybuilders by Pierre Alivon

I am a Leica addict photographer and acquire new lenses regularly depending on my projects (and my mood). I settled in Beijing almost one year ago and I am impressed with how attractive the Brand is here. People on the street ask me about my Leica or even open their window in a traffic jam to talk about it. When I ask people if I can take a picture, they see my Leica and instantly say yes. One thing I really appreciate is that the camera is very discreet and people I shoot don’t take it too seriously and remain relaxed. In September, I began to take pictures of Beijing every day. I decided to use my Leica MP 240 as well as the Lenses Summicron 35 mm and Leica wide Super-Elmar-M-ASPH 18 mm. With these two lenses I could get all the scenes that made this amazing city. I went through hot summers, freezing cold winters, snow, heavily polluted days, charming springs, blue skies; and I am just now discovering the thunderstorms of June (and July I guess).

I encountered a lot of people with this project and the Chinese continue to follow up with me as I publish my pictures on WeChat, which is the most popular app that everybody uses here. Sometimes people contact me through WeChat to ask me to shoot some special events. This is how I got called to a bodybuilders contest that took place in Daxing University on June 5. Although I had to wake up very early, I said yes to add something unique to my “A year in Beijing” photography project. I also made a short video to support my project, all of them taken with my Leica MP240:

This contest took place in the outskirts of Beijing (Daxing University) and gathered mainly young men that worked in Fitness clubs in the Beijing area. There were also some schools that presented their students. In fact, you can’t participate in this contest unless you are presented by an official organization. Participants arrive early around 6:30 am in order to prepare for the contest that starts at 9 am and ends at 4 pm. The bodybuilders first put some special brown color on their body to emphasize their muscles and then drank beer immediately, followed by some exercise since the alcohol would help bring more blood to their muscles.

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What is impressive is that their bodies could trick some into thinking they could be a bit aggressive with too much adrenaline, but in reality, you really felt a lot kindness among the bodybuilders.

Some of the rooms were quite small and thanks to my Leica MP240 with Summicron 35 mm and Leica wide Super-Elmar-M-ASPH 18 mm, I could take pictures without embarrassing the bodybuilders. I was welcomed by these bodybuilders who were happy to let me take pictures of them.

These photographs are part of a one year series in Beijing where I took pictures every day to show daily life of Beijingers. This project can be seen on

If you have an interesting idea for a guest post, you can contact me here.

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