« Low Bar Back Squat | Main | Push Press »

Rest Day

Bekka Palmer

We're introducing a new mini-series on the blog today called Behind the Lens, about our intrepid and freakishly talented photographers. Photographs don't grow on trees, and our Flickr account is populated by the art of a number of wonderful CFSBKers. They're so good at shooting us while we sweat that we sometimes even forget they're there! Our first photographer is the lovely Bekka Palmer. See some of her favorite photos and her interview with Kate below.

Behind the Lens: Bekka Palmer

Candid Shots

Where and when were you born? Denver, Colorado on December 28, 1985 at 8:15 a.m.

What is your theme song? Eye of the Tiger

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be? My other dream was to be a C.I.A. agent

Weird fact: Both of my parents are aerospace engineers.

Do you believe forks evolved from spoons? No way! Okay, maybe now that I think about it, but I think a fork is more of an evolution of the knife than the spoon.

Favorite photographer? Do I have to pick just one? How about one living and one not living. My favorite living photographer right now is Lauren Randolph, and my favorite departed photographer is Walker Evans (who has an exhibit at MoMA right now if you are interested).

Longer Exposure

Kate: So, how did you start down the CrossFit journey and how did you find SBK?

Bekka: I started CrossFit almost five years ago when I was living in San Diego. I started watching some videos from CrossFit SoCal and decided I wanted to try it. I was so nervous going in my first time, I think I sat in the car for 15 minutes before getting the nerve to walk in the door. My first few weeks I could barely move a 22 pound bar, but I was hooked. I stayed there for a while and then got really into the CrossFit Endurance program and started coaching for the CrossFit Invictus Endurance team. I was working out probably 8+ times a week including the CrossFit Endurance programming. I loved it and fell into a crowd of ultra marathoners who were all doing it the CrossFit way. I tried one 50k and it was miserable, but also incredibly gratifying. After than I continued running and doing CrossFit, but realized one day I needed to leave San Diego for my career.

I moved to New York and haven’t run more than a mile since.

I had a friend of a friend that was going to SBK when I moved to Brooklyn. Conveniently, I moved just 16 blocks south of the gym so I started at SBK in November 2011. 

Kate: Tell us about your journey with your camera. Do you remember your first photograph? What did you shoot with? 

Bekka: The last time I was at my mom’s house she dragged a bunch of old boxes out of the garage and asked me to go through them and get rid of anything I didn’t want anymore. While I was looking through the boxes I came across two things: my first camera and my first photography project. I was in fifth grade, and was in a special arts program through my elementary school. I don’t think it was the first time I had ever used a camera, but it was definitely the first time someone handed me a camera and basically told me, “This is a tool which can be used to tell stories.” 

The camera was an all-plastic Vivitar, which is currently sitting on my desk.

Kate: What do you shoot with now? 

Bekka: My main camera is a Canon 5D Mark II with a 50mm lens. Occasionally, I’ll bust out my Polaroid for fun, but that film is pretty expensive.

Kate: What's your favorite photo that you've taken?

Bekka: That’s tough, I’m pretty hard on myself, so I’m rarely satisfied with my work, but right now it’s a photo I took during a family reunion last summer on the Gasconade River in Missouri. 

Kate: When your photographs are seen as a whole, I feel like a really clear, crisp, and lovely aesthetic emerges. You’re so excellent at composing your photos in an interesting and fresh way, and at drawing attention to things that most people might overlook. What captures your eye over everything else? 

Bekka: Oh wow, thank you! In my life, I can be focused almost to a fault. If I get my mind set on one thing, I’ll let everything else fall by the wayside to see it through. That probably translates a lot to my photography work. I pick the subject of my photo and everything else just falls away. I think it’s probably about 10% intuition and 90% practice. For every good photo I take there are at least 100 bad ones.

Kate: If you had to spend the rest of your life photographing one thing or one type of scene, what would you choose?

Bekka: I think it would be behind the scenes of film shoots. I did my first behind-the-scenes gig recently and was completely enthralled by the amount of energy and equipment it takes to make a movie. 

Kate: Do you have a philosophical approach to your art, or does it seem more intuitive and organic? Or both?

Bekka: I definitely am the type that shoots with my gut more than with my head. If I overthink something, it never turns out well. Often it’s a game of patience, and it’s more about being there with your camera ready than about planning great shots ahead of time, especially when you’re doing documentary photography. The genuine moments can’t be staged.

Kate: Tell us about your life outside of the gym. How do you spend your days beyond barbells and skulls?

Bekka: Now that I’m freelancing full-time, I spend about 90% of my waking hours working. I have a lot of emails to write, estimates to build and I spend a lot of time writing pitches to companies I really want to work with. I’m also very lucky to have a lot of freelancer friends, so we can sit together and work and it makes it more fun to do the admin side of things. When I’m not working I try to kick back with friends and have a few beers. My sister lives in Northern New Jersey, so I like to head out there and visit with her, my brother-in-law and my nieces.

Another of Bekka's favorite photos. Click the image to learn more about Frank.

Kate: Talk to me about shooting athletes and people who are sweating all over the place and often not looking their conventionally "sexiest." How do you capture CrossFit in your photos? What's the hardest part about shooting athletes?

Bekka: I guess I go into it expecting to get shots that maybe aren’t the most flattering, but the ones where people are making crazy faces are the most genuine. Like, yeah, that 200 pound deadlift was a challenge for that athlete, and it should look that way in the photo. I’m not trying to get fake smiles during difficult movements. However, I do understand that not everyone is into having their most intense faces on the blog, so sometimes after class people will come up to me and ask to see their photos, and if they really hate them I won’t post them. 

The hardest part is catching them at just the right time. If you look at someone who makes their living taking photos of professional athletes, they have four cameras that each can take 15 frames per second. They’ll have them all rigged together so they can push one button when Shaun White is doing some half pipe trick and can grab 60 shots at 4 angles in just 4 seconds. To me that’s kind of cheating, it’s a numbers game, if you take 60 photos you are almost guaranteed to get one good one. For me, since I have a slower camera and only one of them, it’s about having the intuition to wait until the perfect moment.

Kate: What's your favorite event or day that you shot at SBK? 

Bekka: My favorite day so far was Memorial Day Murph last spring. It was a beautiful sunny day, and we had the garage door open. I went in one of the first heats so I had the rest of the day to hang out and take photos. It’s nice to not just be an observer, but be able to participate and take photos at the same time. I really enjoyed the vibe at the gym that day, most people hung out long after their heat to have beers and eat that delicious chicken Fox was grilling. I caught a photo of David sleeping on the wrestling mat that day too, which is a great one for the archive.

Kate: Where can we see more of your work? Can I hire you? 

Bekka: My portfolio is at bekkapalmer.com and I update my photography blog at look.bekkapalmer.com pretty often. You can also follow me on Instagram.* Yes, I’m available for work. Mostly I’m sticking to documentary work, but I enjoy doing portraits or more collaborative projects as well. If you have some idea, but aren’t really sure how to do it, I would love to help!

*She humbly didn't mention it, but Bekka also happens to have over nine million followers on Pinterest. Follow her here.

If you feel inspired, please remember to nominate Coach DO's blog Inside the Affiliate for Breaking Muscle's Top 10 Fitness Blogs contest. Have the best Tuesday ever, CFSBK! 

Reader Comments (23)

Low Bar Back Squat
Performance - 5/3/1 week 1 (TRAINING MAX = 90%)
Add 5-10 lbs to your training max
65% x5
75x5 x5
85x5 x5+

Fitness - 2x10 LP
Add 5-10 lbs

Partner WOD

20 Rounds for time:
10 Push Ups
10 DB Split Clean (5ea)
Alternate rounds with a partner to complete ten rounds each.

Use ~ 45% of BW as Rx for the DBs. Should be able to do 10 UB push ups.

20 Rounds for time:
5 Strict Burpees to a plate
10 Deficit Lunges* (5ea)

Alternate rounds with a partner to complete ten rounds each.

*Deficit Lunges are reverse lunges with feet on the plate, back knee kisses the floor. Be strict on the push up for the burpee to develop some body weight pushing strength.


Pretty pleasseeeee vote for ITA

February 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

Great profile on Bekka! I love her photo of Andrew M. Of course I voted for ITA this morning -clearly too early in the morning as I identified the blog-master as "David Zoo Rios" (thanks for checking my spelling iPhone). So, good luck DZR! Bring it home for "CF So Broke Lint!

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJay

I dunno, I think David Zoo Rios is pretty accurate.

Yesterday's work: 108x2 on push press, WOD Rx (YAY!!!), 1 rep shy of 4 rounds. TOES TO BAR, PEOPLE! I have them! Super excited for the Open now that I do.

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStella

Toast on powerlifting for indefinite time. Spondylolysis. Pretty sure I've had it since my 20s, I know what the pain feels like and I had mri's back then and bulging discs, but they didn't diagnose it back then.

Hat tip to Jeremy for getting me through several linear progressions, a powerlifting meet, wendler work, etc. in shape without this coming up. That's a testament to his professional technique, but even with that, with my older age and poor core strengh, it's finally catching up to me.

I view it as a positive. I caught it without needing back surgery, and maybe it's time to work on things that I hate, and am bad at. Core strength, hip and ankle mobility, some pullups, etc.

I think if I had been doing this stuff with inferior coaches,in some other gym, I would have been under the knife a long time ago.

Time for a new battle plan, happy to have a good miss here.

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJR

6am. Squats: 185x5, 215x5, 245x12. Compares nicely to the 230x10 I did 3 weeks ago and the 245x8 I did 2 weeks ago. Felt solid the whole way and definitely had a few more in the tank. Did tomorrow's performance metcon solo with 45# DBs (47% BW) in 14:04 total time. Steadily improved my time on each round. First round clocked in at 0:46 and the last at 0:34. Big difference was my comfort level with the DB split cleans. They started off feeling awkward and slow and were flowing smoothly by the end. Was aiming to do 1:1 rest, but took a bit more to make the maths easier.

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

Question. Is there anything to do pre or post DU's to help alleviate the multi day below calf area agony? Its always several days to get rid of the pain, attempting to walk up and down stairs is near tear inducing. Thanks!

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNO

NO: Take a parallette down from the wall, and mash the crap out of your calves afterwards. take fish oil. repeat.

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoelW7AM

CFSBK Dog Owners - Can you recommend any hikes, beaches that allow dogs off the leash? We've been to Bear Mt, Fort Tilden beach, Pound Ridge Reservation and a few other spots upstate but it would be great to learn about other options nearby that are convenient for day trips and dog friendly.

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJude

Great interview on a great photog. Bekka takes beautiful candid shots and it's been a real treat to feature her work on the SBK blog. It's always fun to learn more about the people who make CFSBK what it is.

As a side note- the wrestling mat is incredibly easy to fall asleep on.

February 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

10AM class today. am feeling pretty sick with sinus stuff, a bit tired and way congested, but I had an interview earlier nearby so figured why not come in and get the blood flowing.

Strict Press: chose this option over dynamic PP to help get my shoulder stronger while it's still a bit dicey. no pain here.
33x5, 53x5, 63x4+failure on 5th rep. 63x3, 63x3.

WOD amrap 8 min:
15 kb swings USA, 10 PP 53# (kept it nice and light for same reasons above), 5 T2B
Ended up 2 T2B away from 4 full rounds. didn't have much push or extra gas but was happy with my choice to come in and get movin'
hands still recovering from the WOD will pull-ups last thursday so was happy this was low volume. shoulder felt fine, focused on staying active in kip. orb/lax ball mash before and after (rhomboids, ext/int rotators, pec, trap, lat)

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWhit H

Yay Bekka!! A great photographer and someone I'm always happy to see at the gym :)

Yesterday @ 8:30pm
Push Press - 103x2
Workout - 4 rnds w/ 16kg, 65#, t2b

Today @ noon feeling sluggish
LBBS - 157#x7 kinda slow
Workout - 20 rnds of 10 push ups, 25# db split cleans with Dolce in 20:10

Thinking about performing more challenging (heavier?) movements faster in workouts and being less meticulous about it. Let's see where that gets me.

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

Jude this is a great book to pick up "Best Hikes w/Dogs New York City and Beyond": http://www.amazon.com/Best-Hikes-With-Dogs-Beyond/dp/1594850445

This link is good for our New York parks as well: http://www.nynjtc.org/view/parks_ny

About off-leash, there are only a couple places that truly do offer legal off-leash (the book above has a table with them). Technically in Tilden or Bear Mountain you could be cited. I don't think there's much enforcement at all at Tilden...and as far as the other parks, during the off season, I think you can get away with a lot if your dog is mindful of you, the trails are not crowded, and you recall your dog as other hikers cross your path. Sterling Lake at Harriman is an awesome one for a dog hike, and I'd just go through the list above of places where dogs are allowed (most).

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda Mc

@Jude - thanks so much for bringing this up - and thank you Amanda for responding! Great resources here. Can't wait to get my dog up there.

Today was the first official day of the CFSBK Endurance Session. It was a bit brisk out there but it really warmed up after the interval sprints we were running. Had a lot of fun and I'm already being getting some great feedback from Michael on how to improve my running.

I'm pretty happy that my knee isn't hurting as much, the past four days of rest have been really helpful. Happy to be moving again!

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChristian Arca

@Amanda Mc - Thank you!

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJude

Another great Kate Reece write up. Bekka is someone who always smiles. It's infectious, and so I smile as well. Also, she's a great photographer.

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFox

6am class doing yesterday's workout with McDowell

Push-press double: worked up to 145. Moved quickly and felt like I could have gone heavier.

WOD: got 3 rounds plus 8 kettlebell swings. Push presses were the limiting factor. First round unbroken, then 4 - 3 - 3, and 2 - 2 - 2 - 2 - 2. Everything else unbroken.

This my first day back after more than a week off with bronchitis. Felt great to be back.

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlex C

Great piece on Bekka she is super friendly and always smiling love seeing her at CFSBK and her pics are great!!!
Did tomorrow's workout wendler squats rep out 110lbs x9 and partner WOD with the amazing Rachel. I really liked the burpees and plate reverse lunges . This was a great WOD! Although my knees are a bit bruised I think I was coming down hard during the lunges.

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

Yeah, Bekka! Love your art and your answers so much. Even if you did post a photo of me rowing once that doesn't even come close falling in the unconventionally sexy category...

6:30 class with Jess. I was gone this weekend and despite deadlifting on Sunday, I haven't reaaaalllly worked out since Thursday and it felt a bit gnarly. Did Monday's PP at 113# and WOD Rx-ed-ish (with K2E). 3 rounds + 15 swings + 4 PP. Especially after the heavy lifting, my arms were woofed.

BUT, I was able to fully touch my elbows to my knees, and that was a big little victory. I sometimes get really overwhelmed in general by all the things there are to work on, and in the midst of ranting about it a while back, KMo gave me some great and simple advice about just picking a few things to work hard on at once. K2E (and turning it into T2B) is one of my things right now, and it's cool to see how my added attention (and lots of Fox pointers) has made a difference. Go team!

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKate R

Also... even though I have dreams about it and am absurdly attached to it and possibly spend more time than David thinking about it (probably not), I know ITA is not my blog. Nonetheless, I have been so moved by you guys taking the time to write out nominations. They're all so lovely! Thank you, thank you!!

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKate R

6am with Jess and McD. Tomorrow's squat work - 170# x2x10. These have been moving pretty smoothly and will look to add mor weight next week, but they really get my heart rate going. Fun fitness version partner WOD with Jen in 18:21. I was amazed I could actually do strict burpees for the whole WOD!

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

@anybody - is a FB account required to comment/nominate ITA? I'm allergic to FB...

@Nuge - the original, according to the interweb, was written by a band called Fraternity of Man. Who knew?

Love Tuesday nights, and needed it. Wednesday's work - 175x2x10. Arturo saw me just collapsing on the way down on my first set (definitely got gassed by rep 6+), so we talked it through and set 2 was better.

Performance on the Wod, but it would be grandiose to call what I did a "performance." Still it was a lot of fun, and a lot of pushups.

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Nice profile Bekka! and a great WoD today too!

February 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeter H.

I think FB is required unfortunately to vote. Otherwise I would have self nominated already :)

Thanks again to all that have taken the time to nominate us!

February 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>