When I took the bodybuilding champ Alina Popa to the southwest desert for photos, her answer was, “Even though I've never been out here, it looks very familiar. Because I've seen this type of landscape in so many Hollywood films since I was a young girl. Especially the westerns. I almost expect Clint Eastwood to ride over the hill at any moment. "
Of course, there are spectacular landscapes in Alina's homeland, Romania. Again something that you see a lot in movies. And she once lived in Switzerland, and there are few places in the world with such spectacular mountains. But the southwestern American desert offers some amazingly exhilarating desert and mountain landscapes, including national parks and famous spots like Big Sur, Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.
There are also some great places a short drive from Los Angeles, and I took Alina the two of me for photo sessions. Fortunately, it wasn't super hot on either of the photo sessions (I was shooting outside when it was 113 ° F). This allowed us to work for longer periods of time without serious complaints.
Bill Dobbins Bill Dobbins Bill Dobbins
As for most of the female bodybuilders I've photographed in the desert, the on-site shoot was no problem for Alina - neither the heat nor the hiking through rough terrain, avoiding prickly cacti or looking for snakes. We also had to get up at 5 a.m. to see the sunrise, but female bodybuilders are usually good at getting up early.
Bill Dobbins Bill Dobbins
I've had models petrified in front of snakes, but in several decades photographing in the desert, I've only seen a snake twice. But I had to use pliers to pull cactus spikes out of my leg. My usual practice is to go ahead and let the model go right behind me to keep her out of trouble. In bushy areas I go in first and I have a staff that I use to make sure there is nothing to worry about in the area.
I also climbed slippery, rocky slopes in a way that I shouldn't have done today, never could or even had one of my models made.
I often take photos where there are sand dunes, but where Alina and I were there weren't any. But there were many granite boulders, steep cliffs of red rocks, lonely areas that resemble lunar landscapes.
Alina Popa has since moved to Phoenix, AZ, where she works with Jake Wood as Vice President of European Operations and Athletes ‘Representative at Wings of Strength. So I'm sure she will get sick of all the desert terrain that she can hope for.
Alina Popa bodybuilding competition story
- 2000 Regional Cup - 2nd (HW)
- 2000 IFBB National Championship - 3rd (HW)
- 2003 IFBB National Championship - 1st (MW)
- 2004 IFBB European Championship - 2nd (HW)
- 2005 Mixed Pairs European Championship - 2nd
- 2005 European Women's Championship - 5th
- 2006 Grand Prix Due Torri - 1st place
- 2007 NABBA Miss Universe - 1st (Miss Physique Class)
- 2008 IFBB Worlds Santa Susanna - 1st (overall and HW)
- 2010 IFBB Woman International - 8.
- 2011 IFBB Ms. International - 3rd
- 2011 IFBB Woman Olympia - 5th
- 2012 IFBB Woman International - 3rd
- 2012 IFBB Woman Olympia - 4th
- 2013 IFBB Woman Olympia - 2nd
- 2014 IFBB Woman Olympia - 2nd
- WOS Rising Phoenix World Championships 2016 - 3rd
- 2018 IFBB Muscle Vodka Tampa Pro - 1st Prize
- 2018 Rising Phoenix World Championships - 1st
Alina Popa statistics
Body weight and body fat
- 2008 - High Season: 165 lb (75 kg) Low Season: 181 lb (82 kg)
- 2008 - high season: 16.3 in (410 mm) low season: 17 in (430 mm)
- 2008 - 47 inches (1,200 mm)
- 2008 - Season: 24.8 in (630 mm) Off season: 26.8 in (680 mm)
- 2008 - 17 in (430 mm)
Best lifts (for reps)
- Squats - 375 pounds (170 kg) x 4-6 reps
- Bench Press - 242 pounds (110 kg) x 4-6 reps
- Biceps curls - 65 pounds (29 kg) per arm x 3 reps
- Deadlift - 308 pounds (140 kg) x 8 reps