It was a year ago, almost to the day, that I shot Lexi Berriman. A couple of days later I received the news that she had fallen badly after a piece of equipment failed, and had broken her neck. When I heard about the fall and how it happened, I assumed the worst.
On Thursday of last week, I did another shoot with Lexi, again for Beleza Brazil Fitness Wear. It was the same old Lexi, still on the road to being 100% of where she was a year ago, but healthy and very grateful.
The fall had violently severed the ligaments from 3 vertebrae in her neck. The doctors didn’t catch it right away, but a few days later they did. At any point in that time, a fall, car accident, any jarring event, would have instantly ended her life as her spinal column had no support outside of the very developed muscles in her traps and neck.
Once they discovered the ligament tears, she had surgery to repair the damage and had since recovered. Her surgeon and every other medical professional involved in her case said there was no reason, in their experience, that she should be alive. They accredited her good fortune to the muscular development and strength in her body.
This story had a happy ending for Lexi, but the realization of what could have been is not lost. Every day is a gift to her, and she embraces her time with a passion and peace she has never felt before.
Lexi is a CrossFit athlete and coach, and she is an NPC national level figure competitor and a Taekwondo second degree black belt. She is an Elite athlete. That girl that doesn’t dress up and pose like a badass, she is a badass.
I wanted to capture an Elite athlete experience with her and not just her modeling for me. We talked about it, and she immediately put herself in that place. I went to work and started shooting Lexi being Lexi.
As I reflected on the images afterward, I realized that it’s not always during the work, the exercise or the event that make the most telling images. It’s those moments of rest in between, where the athlete’s mind is evaluating, the eyes glazed over in thought, eschewing the embracing of fears, calculating the science, the inner dialogue that sometimes becomes a screaming match and sometimes consoling. These thoughts are inescapably carved into the faces and bodies of these incredible athletes and as a photographer, few things are more compelling.
Shot at City Athletic Club, Las Vegas