Hench AF by Ian Weldon

Ian Weldon

Ian Weldon

We’ve always had a soft-spot for the hard personality of Ian Weldon. Beneath the tough outside, there’s a lot of love inside him, as we all were fortunate enough to witness at Way Up North 2017 in Stockholm.

In particular, we love his art. Yes, he photographs weddings. Spectacularly, we might add.

Yet his style is so distinct, it’s transferable to any setting. So when we recently saw this new project of his – Hench AF – we needed to learn more.

The photos offer a peak behind the curtain of bodybuilding and has turned into the start of a greater project for Ian. Which goes to show: Sometimes you just need to start and what happens next may surprise you.

Without curiosity, what is your motivation?

– Ian Weldon

What’s the gist of this project?

The project is a look behind the scenes of bodybuilding culture.

Did it find you, or did you seek it out based on an idea you had?

In casual conversation with an instructor at the gym I use he mentioned he was training his girlfriend for her first bodybuilding competition. When he said it was being held in a working men’s club in Gateshead, my initial idea was to add to my ongoing project, Down the Club.

Although this will be a longer term project there has already been interest for a more focused story on the perception of female bodybuilders.

Describe how your approach differs between documenting a series like this versus a wedding.

I think that with a wedding the story is already there. No matter how different they seem on the outside, for the most part, they follow the same format. Which in some ways makes it a little easier.

There is a lot more research and relationship building with a project like this and I don’t have luxury of the right to be there, but my approach photographically is still the same. I’m figuring out my relationship to the subject.

What have you learned about yourself so far with this project?

I’m learning about myself, and the world around me, with everything I shoot. If I get to a point where I’m not, then I think I’d be done. This may seem a little strange but I’m a naturally shy person and confidence is something that I have to work hard at.

Shooting this project confirms the fact that it’s ok to be like that, and that with enough determination we can overcome almost anything. Some of the competitors I have spoken to have endured real hardship and illness and through bodybuilding have made a somewhat miraculous recovery. One guy broke his neck a couple of years ago and there he was, on stage, flexing with the best of them.

What have I learned?

That I have a lot to learn.

What is the best-case scenario for this project once it’s complete?

I’m not really starting with a plan, other than to find out about the subject. Some projects fall by the wayside because I can’t really find a story and I lose interest, but there’s a lot more meat on the bones of this one.

I don’t know, maybe in a couple of years there may be a book in it but we’ll have to see how it goes. At best I will have created an interesting document of bodybuilding culture.

The hardest part with a project is often getting started. What advise can you lend to someone considering something along similar lines?

Without curiosity, what is your motivation?

Be curious. I really have no other advice.

Follow Ian’s story via the following

Website | Instagram | Facebook

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