#Ashgabat 2018

Before I start, if you have stumbled upon this website- these photos may not be used without consent.


One Life. Live it.

Since returning from Ashgabat, I’ve been living at my local Starbucks because I fear if I stay home, I will fall asleep and not finish my work. Jet lag is mighty real and I’m in need of a body reset. Any suggestions on what to do.. please comment below.

Today as I was pulling into the parking lot, a jeep had these words on the back, One Life. Live It. I strongly believe that the Universe, God, Allah, whoever you believe in or don’t, has a way of reminding you how to approach life. And that’s what I am doing. If you’re still reading and I haven’t scared you away, welcome to all my excitement and passion for photographing people.

The 2018 World Weightlifting Championships

The 2018 World Weightlifting Championships was held over 10 days and I scarcely believe I attended and photographed most of it with my homies over at LiftingLife. I’m still in shock and actually cried a little today. The overwhelming joy of being a photographer at this event actually caught up to me. Wow- I was at Worlds- again! I hope it never gets old. But even more overwhelming was the amount of support that came in over the 10 days while I was away.

“Chuck and I are very happy for you and your career. We’re always following your work and get excited when an athlete repost yours. Felt you should know. Ok Bye.” -Claire Weche

Thank you guys for all the messages, checking up to make sure I was safe and just being the coolest supporters a photographer could have.

Before I get started on the photos and my random thoughts- (brutally honest random thoughts.) If this is the first time visiting this space, I need to tell you something about Everyday Lifters. This space was created to tell stories and my own experiences interacting with the sport of weightlifting and athletes. No weightlifting stats here- sorry amigos. Also, I’d like to mention I am not a writer. hahaha, love how I am selling myself?

To Selfie or Not to Selfie

“Viv… DID YOU SEE MAX LANG? pictures please!!!!” Both men and women equally wanted to see more footage of Max.

These were the type of messages coming in.

I rarely ask for selfies with weightlifters. I feel funny doing so because, well… I’m working.

“Viv, it’s not that serious.”

For me it is. I photograph every event as if it’s the Olympics. Somehow I am going to find my way to Tokyo 2020 and I need to practice how to conduct myself. ;-). Also, I’m still so new to the bigger weightlifting community. At times I feel there are an extra set of eyes on me.

However, a few selfie moments did present themselves and so grateful for them.

Photo with Mohamed Ihab Youssef Ahmed Mahmoud:

He came over from his seat to say hi- I nearly died. Actually, it was more like me nervously giggling and saying, “Oh My Gosh!!” x4. He thought it was great and I totally did not play it cool. I reluctantly asked for a photo and he was like YES (nodding his head in complete agreement), in other words.. that’s why I’m here, duh!!. Yep, died again.

Photo with Max Lang:

He’s like family now. I heart the German Team and especially heart Señor Lang. Btw: I need to mention I received more messages wanting to know how Max was doing vs how I was doing. hahaha! It’s all good, I love you guys. As always, he was kind, professional and hair on point.

Photo with Hojamuhammet Toýçyýew and  Aysoltan Toýçyýew:

I was eating dinner alone and they asked to join. uhhhhhh YES!!! of course. Technically I wasn’t working- so I asked for a photo. ;-) Hojamuhammet shared how he eventually “fished” his sister into weightlifting. It was his way of explaining how he convinced her to try it. In addition, he has a younger brother who has started training as well. They could be the strongest family I know.

Photo with Joanna Lochowska:

I missed her session. Blah… So bummed. I missed several of the women’s sessions. It’s just the way my schedule worked out. I reached out to see how it went for her and didn’t go as planned. I very much wanted to reach through my phone and hug her. So when I ran into her at the venue, I was ecstatic! She’s all the way out in Poland and realistically I probably won’t see her again until the next worlds. Selfie? yes!!

TEAM USA

ashgabat-2018-world-weightlifting-championships-photos-by-viviana-podhaiski-weightlifting-photography-33.jpg

I was proud of TEAM USA! Those words are underwhelming compared to how my heart felt watching them compete. However, in the dark parts of social media and trolls, there are many that shit on idea of American Weightlifting. “Americans will never catch up.”

Let me tell you what happened when going through Duabi to get to Ashgabat. Myself and the other woman I was traveling with were shoved and cut on line while trying to go through security. Why? Maybe we were the wrong religion, wrong race, wrong culture, wrong sex? I don’t know for sure. I know one thing- they didn’t expect for me to stand my ground. It was as if, “How dare I?!” That I should know my place as woman? as an American?

For a small moment I didn’t feel free and had to remind myself where I was. On this trip there were subtle reminders of how other countries may not be open to women ever having rights and it infuriated me.

So, to see the Americans lift- it was like.. WOW- women are on the team, they can have tattoos, they can curse, they can date who they choose, they can be of a different race and they are on stage showing this to people. Yes, I cheered a bit louder for them.

Team Germany

This year I had the opportunity to closely photograph the German team. It was a pleasure documenting them and so glad I was part their journey at worlds. Here are a few favorites. Actually I would really like to post them all- but in reality I know you guys don’t have all day. ha!

Seriously guys.. can we please take a look at Jurgen’s awesome smile?

 Move over Max and Jurgen- Sabine has stolen my heart. I received the most messages and questions about the women on the team. People were excited to see women from Germany competing.  Btw: What’s on her socks? I wanted to know what it said. lol

Move over Max and Jurgen- Sabine has stolen my heart. I received the most messages and questions about the women on the team. People were excited to see women from Germany competing.

Btw: What’s on her socks? I wanted to know what it said. lol

Mini Stories Behind the Photos

There are just far too many favorite images and honestly I will be sharing most of them on the Everyday Lifters Instagram account. Here are just a few:

Brock, tending to all the Eleiko equipment. Making sure things were tidy after each session… lining up the plates, over seeing the platforms as if they themselves were athletes. I love to see people at work.

I can’t remember Brock’s last name. As a matter of fact I introduced myself twice to him. Yikes… Yes, I know.. I’m working on remembering the details, like people’s faces. lol

ashgabat-2018-world-weightlifting-championships-photos-by-viviana-podhaiski-weightlifting-photography-11.jpg

A gentleman on the platform…. He’s classy. That’s all I have say here. lol

I just really like this photo of Fernando Reis.

Fernando-Reis-ashgabat-2018-world-weightlifting-championships-photos-by-viviana-podhaiski-weightlifting-photography-20.jpg

A lion has awoken within Jessica Lucero. I saw this same look with Max as well. It’s hard to describe it. After hours of watching weightlifters, I notice the most subtle changes in their step and body posture.

For those that break records and win gold, you can tell by how they approach the platform they have hit these numbers in training.

Then you have those weightlifters that approach the platform with a bold energy about them- but this energy is also layered with a hint of uncertainty.  

Below is what I don’t see often. It’s one of the reasons I’ve always been a big fan of watching Juliana Riotto compete. She has a lot of “this” in what you will see below.

It’s a bite in their stare.. it’s a fight, it’s a storm.

Really, it’s a zero fucks given in their demeanor and they themselves are understanding of it. Nothing is holding them back. Whether or not it translates into their performance is another story. But you don’t see this often.

ashgabat-2018-world-weightlifting-championships-photos-by-viviana-podhaiski-weightlifting-photography-35.jpg
ashgabat-2018-world-weightlifting-championships-photos-by-viviana-podhaiski-weightlifting-photography-42.jpg

Pictured here is Atenery Hernandez Martin. In between some words of encouragement for her teammate there were tears.

ashgabat-2018-world-weightlifting-championships-photos-by-viviana-podhaiski-weightlifting-photography-6.jpg

Literally this happened on my way back to the room one evening.

“You take our picture and we will take one of you.”

ummm.. sure.. lol.

ashgabat-2018-world-weightlifting-championships-photos-by-viviana-podhaiski-weightlifting-photography-13.jpg

Weightlifters, at worlds.. who are dating?

The cutest couple- Sean Brown and Beata Jung

ashgabat-2018-world-weightlifting-championships-photos-by-viviana-podhaiski-weightlifting-photography-12.jpg

Say hello to Mahassen Hala Fattouh. Hala, I just want to say I’m so proud of you. I’ve seen you on the bigger stage a few times and every time you look that much better.

ashgabat-2018-world-weightlifting-championships-photos-by-viviana-podhaiski-weightlifting-photography-45.jpg

Personal Thoughts

Being a Female Sports Photographer

I am female sports photographer. I don’t know how I feel about that title sometimes. I love and hate it. When I am the only woman among the men- at times I feel out of place for no discernible reason. I’d like to mention there was another female photographer present and she was covering the Japanese team. I awkwardly tried to make eye contact just to say— “Hey, I think you’re cool.” No eye contact happened though. It was probably for the better, I would have tried to hug her.

I did have a few strange looks by some of the men, while others were open to the idea of having a woman covering weightlifting. I did find myself answering lots of questions. Why do you shoot weightlifting? Are you a weightlifter? Why do you shoot with this particular lens? Why do you choose this angle? Do your arms get tired? But that’s not the “weird”-

The Weird: On a few occasions I found myself having to explain why I needed to get into the area with the other photographers- even though I had my credentials. Sometimes I get complimented on my smile- once I complimented back and was excused of flirting. One man reminded me that I have to be strong to carry my camera body and lens. Yep dude.. I know how much it weighs. Someone told tell me they didn’t understand my photos since it’s not how weightlifters should be photographed. I wondered if this person checked to see how the other photographers were photographing the event. A small moment of being singled out? Not sure- Either way.. weird.

The Cool: Sarah Robles was excited to see more women working at Worlds this year. More officials, more coaches etc. Getting high fives from the weightlifters after receiving their photos was also the best feeling.

Hey.. Almir came right up to me and shook my hand in the training hall- My hand didn’t crumble under his firm handshake and he knew it wouldn’t. I very much appreciated that. All of it.. very cool!

So if you see me out and about and want to say hi, don’t hesitate. Give me that firm hand shake or bear hug.. a double kiss on the cheek? No problem, just don’t be a mean human or condescending. I won’t be as polite next time around.

 I don’t see myself in this way- like ever. Ryan does an awesome job of documenting my journey as I grow as a photographer. And although sometimes I cringe at seeing myself- I am also soooo much appreciative these photos exist. Thank you Ryan!

I don’t see myself in this way- like ever. Ryan does an awesome job of documenting my journey as I grow as a photographer. And although sometimes I cringe at seeing myself- I am also soooo much appreciative these photos exist. Thank you Ryan!

Creators in Weightlifting

Can we talk All Things Gym for a minute? Owner.. Gregor Winter- Who may change his number if I ask again to interview him. Maybe one day I can bribe him with coffee. ha! Gregor, I’ll also need a portrait of you. Just sayin-

I appreciate artists… all of them. Especially those that are honest and rely on their creative work to live. It’s not an easy place for us- but here we are. He definitely got my attention last year at worlds because I assumed All Things Gym was run by a group of people. Actually, I don’t know if I ever remember seeing the person behind ATG until last year. And there was Gregor- few cameras around his neck and long legs covering most of the training hall.

Gregor is talented beyond videos and not sure if many know/appreciate that. His words are clever and he’s actually a funny dude. He’s honest about his work and openly talks about how he saves for his trips and the challenges he faces as an artist.

ATG: One person with several cameras and all creative ideas come from him! Once again, it was great seeing you Gregor! How about that interview ;-) ?

Gregor-winter-all-things-gym-everyday-lifters-viviana-podhaiski

I have so much more to say… haha But I’m spent and have other things to tend to. Below is a video of some random thoughts while I was working.

What am I up to next? Just back to the gym and working. I’d like to compete more at local events. That’s all! :)

Before you go.. leave a comment and mention where you are in the world! Thanks guys and talk to you soon!