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    These Photos Perfectly Capture The Extreme, Exhausting Lives Of Amateur Bodybuilders

    Tanning is very important, as are shiny butts.

    Brooklyn-based photographer Brian Finke has been photographing the backstage lives of bodybuilders for 12 years.

    In 2003, he was assigned him to cover the Mr Olympia competition in Las Vegas.

    Invented in 1965, Mr Olympia existed basically so that the winners of the Mr Universe competition had somewhere to go beyond Mr Universe.

    (It’s what the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Pumping Iron is all about – Schwarzenegger’s last competition before retirement, his road to Mr Olympia.)

    That’s how it started. But Finke couldn’t stop.

    He told BuzzFeed: “I had always been taking a lot of sports photos, but I was fascinated by how extreme a sport and lifestyle bodybuilding was.”

    “So I continued to explore this subculture, trying to showcase the emotional and quirkier moments both onstage and offstage. The stuff we normally don’t get to see.”

    According to Finke, there’s no one kind of person that becomes a bodybuilder.

    “People come to it from all sorts of places. One woman I photographed used to be a sorority girl in college and became a professional bodybuilder.”

    "People come to the sport from different backgrounds, and the reasons why they do it vary."

    If you ask Finke what the weirdest thing about bodybuilding is, he’ll tell you the tanning process is intense.

    It’s applied by airbrush and done so that competitors look more alike. It makes the judging process easier.

    There’s no distinction between genders – the male and female competitions are equally fierce – but amateur vs professional are whole different worlds.

    Most of Finke’s photographs were taken at the homegrown amateur kind.

    "I never asked anyone to pose for the camera; the participants were there to compete and I was there to observe and photograph."

    “When I'm photographing, I feel like I can never make anything up that's better than what's naturally happening.”

    “Once when I was photographing at a competition, the women competitors were backstage pumping up..."

    "... There were dumb bells scattered around on the floor and the women were wearing these great high heels – the juxtaposition was badass.”

    “I was crawling around of the floor photographing details – just the high heels and weights – when the contestants started making fun of me, saying I had a foot fetish.

    “Whatever, it was a great shot.”

    You can follow Finke's work on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and his website.