What Does Pain Look Like?

I have to be honest. I’ve been photographing crossfitters for some time now and I never understood why they dropped on the floor as soon as a workout finished.

A few days ago I was introduced to a lovely benchmark exercise on the assault bike, with the suggestive nickname "Pain Test". It consists of going as fast as possible for 3 min, for max Kcal. Needless to say that, despite my ridiculous result, as soon as I dismounted I felt like I was going to collapse and had to sit down for a while!

In CrossFit (and interval training in general), the pain is proportional to the intensity and the intensity is the key to progression. Hence the saying “no pain, no gain”!

Photographically, I’ve always been drawn to the intensity of CrossFit because it adds a lot of drama to the shots. And I find this double journey of shooting and experiencing it more interesting every day!

The CrossFit Games Open - Cátia

Last, but certainly not least, Cátia.

I’m not sure what best characterizes her, a heart of gold or a will of steel, but if you’re one of us who can call her a friend, you have one more thing to be grateful of.

(Also, she looks great in front of the camera, but that’s just an extra.)

Workout 19.5

33-27-21-15-9 reps for time of:

65-lb. thrusters, Chest-to-bar pull-ups

Time cap: 20 minutes

I did my own little workout during this shoot, climbing up and down a stepladder, hauling a 70-200 mm on a Canon 5D Mk IV.

Not that I wanted to punish myself, but in order to "clean up” the background I had to get extreme angles, from above and from below.

The CrossFit Games Open 2019 - Andreia

Andreia is the next one up in my photo series of athletes in the CrossFit Games Open 2019, at AlphaDen CrossFit.

I’m a big fan of this coach's classes! Her "tough love" both in class and in competition (took several no reps from her during the Open!) remind me that training is not just the act of moving the body, but setting and meeting goals, big or small.

And because there’s nothing like teaching by example, when competing she shows that focus, resolve and excellence are not words, but actions.

Specifically, these photos show a wod (workout of the day) where the athletes had to complete the following list of exercises, as fast as possible (up to 10 min):

60 m dumbbell overhead lunge, 50 dumbbell box step-ups, 50 strict handstand push-ups, 60 m handstand walk

The CrossFit Games Open 2019 - Coach T

“What was that?!..."

“That”, was Tiago going by, leaving everyone behind!

Tiago Lousa (Coach T) is an absolute machine when it comes to endurance and speed wods. He is also the engine behind Alpha Den CrossFit, having co-founded it almost 3 years ago and leading it by showing what a true athlete should be.

Over the years, I’ve developed my photography skills just by trying to keep up with him. After “321 GO!” I know there will be no mercy, as he devours the reps, going relentlessly from one exercise to the other, until the word is done. You blink, you missed it!

The CrossFit Games Open 2019 - Phelps

The CrossFit Games Open 2019 is over (the first one that is, because exceptionally there is going to be another later on this year, but that’s not why I’m writing this).

I had the opportunity to shoot a lot of pictures at CrossFit Alpha Den (when I wasn’t doing the wods myself) and ended up with a few small series that I’m really happy with, showcasing athletes that I truly admire. Like my dear friend Nuno “Phelps”, who's the very definition of a CrossFit athlete - focused and competitive, but always ready to support everyone around him.

Nuno is one of the most experienced crossfitters at the box, and a long time athlete before that, with a wealth of knowledge that he is always happy to share.

Vanessa Pereira - The girl behind the athlete


It was a great day, the one I met up with Vanessa for a cup of coffee to discuss “making a few pictures for her”.

Not only did the (5x) triathlon national champion give me total creative freedom, but she also agreed to let me turn this into a longer project, with several sessions in different situations, that would illustrate the girl besides the athlete. An irresistible challenge for me!

Over the next few weeks, expect to see a lot of triathlon photos both here and on my social media. So get ready!


Anatomy of a Photomontage

"How fast do you want to go?”


Step 1: dig up an old (and boring!) photo taken at Marvão (Portugal)

Marvão, Portugal

Step 2: throw it into Photoshop and beat those pixels up until you squeeze the speed out of it!*

As Frederick Van Johnson, host of the This Week in Photo podcast often says “pixels were born to be punished!"

*(in this case, motion blur, noise, contrast, saturation) 

speed road

Step 3: photograph a cool biker


Step 4: join them together and… BAM!

speed bike photomontage (composite)