Kevin Horton Discusses His Shocking '93 Dorian Yates Photo Shoot.

In winning his first Olympia title in 1992, Dorian Yates was already well ahead of the pack as far as size was concerned. However, nobody could have imagined the spectacular sight that greeted Kevin Horton when he met the massive Englishman in '93.

Article Summary:
  • Horton discusses the landmark photo series that shook the world.
  • Everyone else was battling for second place, says Horton.
  • Dorian got his ede from his physique and his heart, says Horton.
  • Bodybuilding photos, more so than any other type of imagery, show the human form at its most sublime, serving as inspiration for the many who pursue such extreme shape, size and definition.

    And some of the most impressive bodybuilding photos to date have appeared in first class publications such as FLEX Magazine and Muscle and Fitness, both well served by expert photographer and once long-time contributor Kevin Horton.

    Known for the impact his photos lend - many have become instant classics - and the action they convey - often capturing bodybuilding's elite in their natural training habitat, the hardcore gym - Horton is indirectly responsible for motivating masses of iron adherents to replicate the results ably demonstrated in his photos.

    Simply put: without such photos, much of the inspiration all of us bodybuilders, pro and recreational alike, need to further progress in our chosen sport/activity would be sadly lacking.

    A major objective for bodybuilders these days is the acquisition of extreme muscle mass, since this is what separates the average gym-goer from those with loftier goals, what distinguishes the hardcore bodybuilder from the typical beach body or gym rat.

    And 1993, it could be argued, was the year in which bodybuilding's mass-building trend received its biggest kick-start. Why? Two words: Dorian Yates.

    Dorian Yates Dorian Yates
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    Dorian Yates At The 1994 British Grand Prix.

    In winning his first Olympia title in 1992, Dorian Yates was already well ahead of the pack as far as size was concerned. However, nobody could have imagined the spectacular sight that greeted Kevin Horton, on assignment for FLEX Magazine, a few months later, when he met the massive Englishman during the preparation phase for his first title defense in 1993.

    The result of this meeting was a series of classic black and white gym shots of a significantly more massive Dorian Yates that caused the bodybuilding world to stop in its tracks and question what it was doing wrong.

    Two years after the publication of these monumental pictures, Dorian again posed for Horton's lens, this time displaying a physique harder and heavier than ever before. However, while these '95 pictures were arguably better overall, those '93 shots will be the ones forever associated with Yates' meteoric transformation.

    "How could it be humanly possible to pack on so much mass in such a short period?" was the biggest question to emerge from Horton's landmark photo series (published in '93), of which produced images that re-defined the term freaky size, and arguably changed the pro bodybuilding community's self-imposed criteria for muscular development.

    Dorian Yates
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    How Could It Be Possible To Pack On So
    Much Mass In Such A Short Period?

    Dorian Yates At The 1994 British Grand Prix.

    A new standard had been set and it was time for the rest of the pack to evolve or perish. They evolved and today the bar has been raised even higher by the likes of Jay Cutler and Dennis Wolf.

    So how exactly did this, one of bodybuilding history's more memorable photo series', come to be? What was the response from the pro bodybuilding world at the time of its publication?

    And what impact did they have for bodybuilding and bodybuilders in a general sense? These and many more questions were addressed during my recent conversation with the man responsible for their creation, Kevin Horton.

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    Kevin Horton Interview
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    [ Q ] Hello Kevin. Among the many notable bodybuilding photos you have taken include the 1993 and 1995 Dorian Yates series that show him to be at his best. I understand he is in good shape today still.
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      [ A ] Dorian is in great condition today considering he's an old man now.

    Dorian Yates
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    Dorian Training At Temple Gym In 2004.

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    [ Q ] What impact did the '95 series have compared with the '93 shots?
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      [ A ] I don't know that they had as great an impact because he no longer competes but I'm sure they will certainly add to the numerous online debates about who was the greatest of all time.

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    [ Q ] Recent photos suggest Dorian is back in great shape. Since you are close to the action, what are his motives for getting into this kind of shape, or is it nothing more than to 'get in shape'?
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      [ A ] I think Dorian is now considering a comeback, but in the under 202 class or if the rumors are true, women's figure.

    RELATED POLL
    Do You Think Dorian Yates Should Make A Comeback?

    Yes
    No

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    [ Q ] Very good. I wonder if they will find a suit that can fit him. How would you contrast the 1995 photos of Dorian to the ones you took in '92?

    What differences are shown in his physique, and how, in your opinion, does he look in those more recent ones compared to back in '93?
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      [ A ] I would say that he looks his all time best in these ('95) photos. He would have been a little drier a few weeks later at the Olympia, but that would have been at a loss of the fullness he displayed here.

      In the condition he has in these photos he would still have been in the top three in terms of condition, but as an overall physique he would have destroyed the Yates that actually competed.

      Obviously he's much lighter now than he was when competing, but he's in great shape. I've always thought '95 was his best though. He was heavier and harder than ever before.

    Dorian Yates Dorian Yates
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    He Was Heavier And Harder Than Ever Before.
    Dorian Yates At The 1996 British Grand Prix.

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    [ Q ] Since you took many of Dorian's photos, how would you describe his physical evolution - up and down - from the time he turned pro to the present day? How has his look changed?
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      [ A ] He made phenomenal changes over the years. Obviously he's an old man now so he doesn't look as good.

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    [ Q ] Many feel Dorian's breakthrough year was 1993. What were your initial thoughts upon him first unveiling his new physique for your lens for the '93 series?
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      [ A ] "F*cking hell" were probably the words we all used, then "They don't stand a f*cking chance against that."

    FEATURED VIDEO: DORIAN YATES 1993 PHOTO SHOOT


    Dorian Yates:
    1993 Photo Shoot!

    Check out this video from the famous 1993 photo shoot that Kevin Horton did with Dorian Yates.

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    [ Q ] Was this photo session specifically arranged to show Dorian's incredible transformation, or was this a chance happening?
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      [ A ] I'd shot Dorian the previous year and they appeared in FLEX magazine in 1993.

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    [ Q ] How did the session come about?
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      [ A ] It was a combination of Dorian wanting to have the photos taken and Flex magazine wanting to publish them.

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    [ Q ] To your mind, exactly what impact did those '93 photos have on the bodybuilding world at the time? Did they signify a new trend demanding, among pro bodybuilders at the time, an ultra-massive physique?
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      So just as the few people were present when the photos were taken had been shocked it would have had exactly the same effect on them. At this level the improvements are usually measured by a few pounds of muscle and conditioning.

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    [ Q ] What further impact did these photos have on Dorian's competition at the time of their being published? Is this when bodybuilders began playing the "size game" in your view?
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      [ A ] I think some of them may have thought that putting on size was a way to compete against him, but the only person who could have possibly beaten Dorian at the time was Flex Wheeler and he didn't need extra size to do it, but only needed to match his condition.

    Dorian Yates Dorian Yates
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    Only One Person Could Have Possibly
    Beaten Dorian At The Time.

    Dorian Yates At The 1996 British Grand Prix.

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    [ Q ] Clearly '93 was the year Dorian brought the biggest complete physique ever presented on the Olympia stage, up until the point? How did his transformation affect the pro bodybuilding mentality at that time?

    Flex Wheeler, as you say, did not have to match Dorian in size, but the trend did seem to favor more muscle mass as the years progressed - '93 through to the present day. Was Dorian Yates a flag bearer for the more massive physique?
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      [ A ] There's a saying "A good big 'un, will always beat a good little 'un". People always talk about Dorian's size, but he was also the most symmetrical physique on the stage - prior to the injury. I'll leave the philosopher's to decide if he was aesthetic.

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    [ Q ] Did you expect, at the time of taking them that the '93 photos would have the impact they had?
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      [ A ] I never considered that they would have the longevity that they have had in terms of still being talked about.

    FEATURED VIDEO: DORIAN YATES' 1993 OLYMPIA ROUTINE


    1993 Olympia:
    Dorian Yates' Posing Routine

    Check out a massive Dorian Yates at the 1993 Olympia. This posing routine earned him his 2nd Olympia win.

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    [ Q ] Do you recall any comments made regarding these '93 shots by other professionals you photographed around that time?
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      [ A ] Nobody ever commented on the photos, only Dorian's physique.

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    [ Q ] And what was the general feeling on the pro bodybuilding scene after those '93 photos were released?
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      [ A ] Shall we take up golf?

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    [ Q ] Were those '93 shots in any way staged for impact? Would you have done things differently had you had sufficient time to capture Dorian at this time?
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      [ A ] No staging other than to use the same lighting as we had used previously. It was a single light. I'd have preferred to use more lights, but we had very little time.

    Dorian Yates Dorian Yates
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    Dorian Yates At The 1996 British Grand Prix.

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    [ Q ] How much time did you have to take the '93 shots? And exactly how was the session planned?
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      [ A ] We shot them in about 15-20 minutes and we'd planned to do it the year before.

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    [ Q ] Many say Dorian was so far ahead of the competition at that point ('93). Just how far ahead was he in your opinion?
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      [ A ] Well there was Dorian, and then there was everyone else battling for second place. At that moment there was nobody to touch him.

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    [ Q ] For the record, what did Dorian weigh in those photos and how far out was it from the Mr. Olympia?
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      [ A ] I can't remember those details - though they were noted in FLEX at the time.

    RELATED ARTICLE

    [ Click here to learn more. ]
    Dorian Yates Interview!
    Dorian Yates could be regarded as the kind of competitor who would materialize from nowhere to surprise everyone with an ultra massive physique.
    Author:
    David Robson

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    [ Q ] What was Dorian's attitude on the day of the shoot? Was he eager to show what he had developed?
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      [ A ] He was very laid back, as always. He knew what improvements he'd made, but I do think he still appreciated that we'd be honest in our appraisal. Not that we had much to be critical about.

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    [ Q ] Dorian always looked massive and confident in photos; he presented a stoic look that conveyed an aura of strength and powerfulness. What made Dorian such powerful photographic subject?
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      [ A ] His physique. If he had weighed 180 lbs in those shots, nobody would have been talking about them then, and certainly not now. Technically they (the '93 shots) are terrible photos. Fortunately Dorian made up for it.

    Dorian Yates Dorian Yates
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    Dorian Yates At The 1994 British Grand Prix.

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    [ Q ] How would you describe Dorian's personality as a photographic subject?
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      [ A ] "Miserable". I'm pretty sure that Dorian would have been happy to have never had a photo taken. Everything was about competing for the Mr. Olympia title. Being photographed for the magazines was a chore.

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    [ Q ] Several people have told me that Dorian looked much more massive in person compared to in his photos, something I find amazing as he looked immense in all of his shots.

    It is often said that professional bodybuilders in general look much larger in person compared to in photos. In your experience is this true and, if so, why is this?
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      [ A ] In photos you only have the image to judge whereas in the real world you have other people to compare them to.

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    [ Q ] To achieve the greatest impact in terms of conveying a bodybuilder's size, what are some of the things you would do for each shot?
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      [ A ] It's really all about the lighting. Using it to create the shadows and contrast that will make a two-dimensional flat photograph have depth.

      And tan and a thin coat of posing oil help just as they do during competitions. So, looking back now, the lighting of all those photos was terrible and he had no oil on so thankfully he'd trained hard and dieted well enough to look pretty good in them.

    FEATURED VIDEO: TRAINING IN THE DUNGEON


    Dorian Yates & Leroy Davis:
    Intense Training At Temple Gym!

    Check out this intense training session with Dorian Yates and Leroy Davis at Temple Gym in Birmingham, England!

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    [ Q ] Black and white photography, to my mind, can bring out greater detail in the bodybuilder's physique. Why is this?
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      [ A ] I wouldn't agree that there's greater detail, but by removing the colors you are only dealing with the tonality and contrast of the image.

    Tone & Contrast:

    Tone is a property of a color, or a dimension of a color space, that is defined in a way to reflect the subjective brightness perception of a color for humans.

    Contrast is the difference in visual properties that makes an object (or its representation in an image) distinguishable from other objects and the background.

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    [ Q ] And what effect do tonality and contrast provide exactly?
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      [ A ] Tonality and contrast are what give a two-dimensional photograph the appearance of having depth.

    RELATED ARTICLE

    [ Click here to learn more. ]
    Dorian Yates Interview!
    In this interview Dorian talks about strategies, his thoughts on the current Mr. Olympia contest and much more!
    Author:
    David Robson

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    [ Q ] What would you consider to be some of your better photos to date and what made these so good?
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      [ A ] I enjoyed the more recent work I was doing until I left Flex. Greg Merritt and I were doing features on the athletes as they actually trained rather than "posed " training. I wouldn't say they were good, but they paid the bills.

    Greg Merritt:
    Greg Merritt is the senior writer for FLEX magazine.

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    [ Q ] Who were some of the better physique subjects you worked with and why? What makes a good physique subject?
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      [ A ] Personally I wouldn't use the word "better". Even someone placing 10th in a show is a world-class physique so I've been privileged to work with them.

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    [ Q ] Going back to Dorian, many online debates reiterate that he did not deserve his 1997 Olympia win based on his 'injuries and atrophied arms'. What would you say in response to this? Was he the better man on the day?
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      [ A ] There is no question he was 'overall' the better man on the day. Of course he had a bad arm but that was really only noticeable on the front double biceps pose, which is the one pose all his detractors upload to support their argument.

    RELATED POLL
    Do You Think Dorian Deserved His 1997 Olympia Victory?

    Yes
    No

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    [ Q ] From your perspective, what gave Dorian the edge in the '97 Olympia?
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      [ A ] His physique and his heart. There are not many people who would have even considered stepping on stage in the pain he was in and worrying that his triceps might actually tear off as he hit a pose.