The Snatch and the Clean and Jerk

I went to my first weight lifting competition this weekend at the 2008 PWA Championships, to photograph for my friend Chad, who also happens to be the base player in The Bluebellies. I didn’t really think much about what it would be like before I arrived, but just maybe I imagined overly beefy guys with wax jobs and fake tans…. wrong event. This was definitely not that.


Right away, I noticed that there definitely were muscles all around me, but generally everyone looked pretty natural. Also there was an impressive variety of ages, ranging from about 16 and to over 70. To be honest, I had no idea what the lifts were or what they were being judged on, until Chad explained what was going on.


The first lift was The Snatch, where they basically have to go from the floor to over their heads without stopping in-between. It is the hardest lift because this lift “requires coordination, torso (core) stability, and explosive power of the legs to generate the upward momentum required to snatch hundreds of pounds overhead. Tremendous speed is required to get underneath the bar after the second pull,” according to wikipedia. That would explain why there were a lot of mistakes and very upset lifters. The second lift was The Clean and Jerk, also know as the “king of lifts” because the lifters can add more weight. But Chad said it was an easier lift which would explain why there were happier lifters after this round. I guess the judges wanted to break their spirits and then build them up again. Below, Chad is demonstrating how you are supposed to get a very heavy bar with very heavy weights from the ground over your head… you have to jump, of course.


My favorite aspects of the day were the faces the lifters made on their way up… and the outfits. The outfits, which Chad says can only be purchased on-line, are a perfect way to express your patriotism or your spiritual beliefs. Below are my winners: The second place winner for the 2008 PWA Most Photogenic Award goes to… the most expressive face guy who reminded me of Mr. Incredible……and (drum roll please)…. The 2008 PWA Most Photogenic Champion, First Place Award goes to… the Mohawk Guy, with great facial expressions and the Jesus lifting suit.


I can’t wait until June!

About the author paige green

Paige Green is a documentary and portrait photographer, whose storytelling approach to photography frequently addresses issues involving agriculture, land use, and food. Her work is featured in nine books and has been published in Glamour, National Geographic Traveler, New York Times Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, GQ, Country Living, House Beautiful, and Culture. Paige lives in Petaluma, CA with a house full of boys.

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One Comment

  1. Thanks Paige! These are awesome. I posted for people to look through and hopefully buy a bunch.



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