Markus Burke is an independent wrestler based in Moncton who travels all over and has built quite a name for himself. I had seen photos of him on Facebook and followed along with his career and was so excited when his wife-to-be, Emily, approached me to do a shoot with him. This guy works his ass off. Being successful as a wrestler, especially in Atlantic Canada, is not an easy task. This guy has incredible hustle. The respect I have for him, his work ethic, and not to mention his awesome look had me extremely pumped for our shoot.
We planned to shoot a look in a suit as well as some in his wrestling gear. I wanted to project the confidence and intensity, that I saw in him, in the photos.
What was really cool to see was that when he put on his wrestling gear, he transformed into “Markus Burke” (which is not his real name). He became a whole other character, a character he has been honing for some time.
If I”m being honest, I felt a little spoiled. Often, as a photographer, you have to work with your subject to bring them to the poses you want and what looks good. With Markus, I didn’t have to say shit.
He gave me everything I wanted and more. He projected this incredible confidence in front of the camera and was able to hit poses with what seemed like very little effort.
The last image shown here (the nude), was completely un-planned beforehand. I had been in the midst of shooting a nude project and his wife-to-be has modelled for it and I think I had mentioned to her how I wanted to shoot some men for it as well. I honestly can’t remember who suggested it, but I’m pretty sure it was her. He seemed a little hesitant at first, who wouldn’t be, and I told him to think about it as we continued shooting. I also guaranteed him that if he didn’t like the photo or didn’t want me to post it, it never had to see the light of day.
Fast forward to Monday of this week and I was kind of surprised to see he had posted the photo on his Facebook wall. I was even more surprised by what he had written. He wrote about how he has struggled with body dysmorphia his whole life. WOW. I would have never known this from our shoot. I am so incredibly humbled that he trusted me to take this image and am so blown away by his openness to share. I have always known how powerful photography is but to be able to give people images and feelings like this is something I feel beyond lucky to be able to do.
A quote from his post: “I’ve worked hard on myself, mental and physical. Getting this picture taken was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Full of doubt and insecurities, I felt like I was that 19 year old kid again. People are afraid to face their fears, not me, not anymore. Facing those fears and insecurities make me a better person.”