arnold-schwarzenegger

Arnold SchwarzeneggerIt was in 1963 that a young Robert Nailon entered his first bodybuilding competition, Mr. Australia (Junior). This was the culmination of his father's inspiration and his personal displeasure at being a "skinny little kid." Robert quickly excelled at the sport and was considered one of Australia's best-known bodybuilders. But bodybuilding wasn't Robert's only passion. His interest in photography was equally strong. For the benefit of body- building fans, he combined his two passions and his photos were soon being seen
in magazines worldwide.

During his 12 years of competition, Robert both trained with and photographed many of the greats of the bodybuilding world, such as Frank Zane, Larry Scott, Dave Draper, Reg Park and, of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Thus, he has benefited from the wisdom of the best of the best from around the world.

MUSCLE INSIDER sits down with Robert to discuss his career and how he came to be friend and photographer to the greatest bodybuilder of all time.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

QUESTION

What got you interested in Bodybuilding?

ANSWER

My father took me into the gym at 12 years of age. He wanted me to do weight training to build up a bit of muscle to eventually do Amateur wrestling. To start with I did weight training but at that young age I had no co-ordination or strength. I was training Monday-Wednesday-Friday every week. The gym was located in the City of Sydney, I lived in the suburbs, which was half an hour away, and I used to go in after school on those days. I trained there from 12 – 17, I then transferred to a gym in my local Area.


Arnold Schwarzenegger
QUESTION

What was your greatest accomplishment in the sport?

ANSWER

My greatest accomplishment wasn't winning any competitions; it was meeting and training with the stars of the day, like Larry Scott, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco, Serge Nubret, Frank Zane etc. I learnt a lot from these bodybuilders.


QUESTION

How did photography come into the picture for you?

ANSWER

I received my first camera when I was 15, it was a Kodak box brownie, which I constantly used – especially taking posing shots. My next real camera was a Rollie Cord German Camera when I was 17. At that time I also purchased an enlarger to do my own black and white printing. I took a lot of shots of the local bodybuilders who trained in the gym that I did at that time. I gradually upgraded with my cameras to try to improve picture quality.


 

Arnold Schwarzenegger

QUESTION

What is the bodybuilding culture like in Australia and how does it compare to its North American counterpart?

ANSWER

In Bodybuilding, Australia and America were very similar, we got all of the American magazines and the gyms were very similar as well. In the 1950's we had American Health Studios, which were located in the City and the suburbs. So it was virtually the same. Today bodybuilding in Australia has come a long way, like the USA we have our city, state and national titles every year. The winners usually go overseas to compete in the Universe etc.


QUESTION

How did you first meet Arnold Schwarzenegger?

ANSWER

I first met Arnold Schwarzenegger in1972 when he flew into Australia for an exhibition in Queensland. He flew into Sydney Airport, I went out with my girlfriend and movie camera. I didn't know at that point that he had seen photos of me in the English bodybuilding Magazines. When Arnold saw me he said "Hi Robert" and from then on we initiated a friendship, which I hope will last until we are both very old!

 


 

QUESTION

Define the friendship you and Arnold built over the years. Elaborate on the time you spent with him.

ANSWER

I used to write to Arnold all the time, we exchanged many letters over the years on a regular basis. I would always include some humor to give him a laugh. When he came to Australia for exhibitions I would sometimes pick him up at the airport. I would drive him around in my 1971 Corvette (which was hard for him to squeeze into!) we would go to lunch, he would go shopping to buy presents for friends back in the USA, I would show him the sites etc. I invited him over to my house quite a few times for lunch and dinner – my mother would always give him the biggest steaks and a full plate vegetables! Arnold would stay in the local area in a motel and would train at the local gym with me every day.


 

Arnold Schwarzenegger

QUESTION

You and Arnold have sweated and strained together in the gym. What is it like to train with the greatest bodybuilder of all-time?

ANSWER

Back in the 1970's Arnold had won 4-5 Mr. Olympia's, and was the top bodybuilder of the time. We had some hard workouts and not so hard workouts. I remember doing preacher curls and he was only using 45 lb dumbbells. I said "Larry Scott uses 60 lb dumbbells" and he said "well I use 45!" But he put a lot of intensity and slow movement into those curls, which I couldn't get doing my curls and his arms seemed to get bigger with each set.
I knew he could have easily used 60 or more but preferred 45's to start with. He always liked doing heavy squats which I didn't like doing at the time, his workouts were hard and long. I skipped a few exercises, as it was hard to keep up with him.

Back in 1975 on one of his visits a couple of months before the Olympia we were training twice per day.


QUESTION

You are one of a select group of photographers who have gotten to shoot Arnold from his competitive days, including the likes of Gene Mozee, Art Zeller, Al Satterwhite and George Butler to name a few. Aside from your own work, whose photography of Arnold Schwarzenegger do you respect the most and why?

ANSWER

I feel that all photographers are great in their own right, I have always respected Gene Mozee – he took some great shots of Larry Scott and other bodybuilders. Artie Zeller was at the right place at the right time and got the best shots of Arnold, being a bodybuilder he knew what to take.
I never took photographs of Arnold in top shape, I would have liked to. Russ Warner was the photographer I looked up to most, he took a shot of Steve Reeves on a beach which to me was one of the all time great shots of bodybuilding. He took shots of Arnold in his Studio on a white backdrop but I am not sure if he took any of Arnold in contests or outdoors. He said that Arnold was his Biggest in 1971 and 1974 as well as most muscular in 1973 and 1975.


Arnold Schwarzenegger
QUESTION

The 1980 Mr. Olympia in Sydney is no stranger to controversy, what are your thoughts and memories surrounding Arnold's comeback victory? Elaborate as much as possible.

ANSWER

Nobody knew that Arnold was competing in 1980 until the last minute. He was supposed to be MC at the show and then at the last minute said he was going to compete which caused an outrage with all of the other contestants. I was backstage while all of the contestants were pumping up at the pre judging – it was obvious Arnold wasn't in top shape but still looked great anyway.

At the judging I felt he was retaining a little bit of fluid but at the evening show he lost all of it!

Most of the contestants thought they would place 1st in the competition.
I disagree with a lot of the placing's, I was speaking with one bodybuilder in the audience and asked him what he though. He said "of course all eyes go to Arnold because he was tallest and biggest and who could beat him on a side-chest?" which I agree. As far as Arnold Schwarzenegger was concerned he won hands down.

At the end of the show some of the bodybuilders who thought they should have won smashed their trophies backstage and vowed never to come back to Australia again.

Although Arnold wasn't in top shape he still looked good and had the showmanship and at times had the audience in the palm of his hand.

I am happy that he won.


QUESTION

How important was having the Mr. Olympia contest held in Sydney and what was it's impact on the sport down under?

ANSWER

Paul Graham was the promoter of the 1980 Mr Olympia and had promoted many shows before and after the 1980 Olympia and brought out a lot of guest stars from England, Europe and the USA. But the 1980 Mr. Olympia will always be remembered as his top show. Over the years he has bought out men like Dave Draper, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco, Lou Ferrigno, Lee Haney etc etc. (Photo of Paul Graham posing will come with the photos )


Arnold Schwarzenegger
QUESTION

Speaking of the 1980 Olympia, George Butler was in town shooting Arnold as well at that time. How do you photographers arrange to shoot a bodybuilder like Arnold, who is obviously is such high demand for camera time?

ANSWER

Arnold was easy to work with. Many of the photos I took of Arnold were taken in the gym after workouts. I would always have my camera in the car or handy. Other times the press would arrange meetings at certain venues and I would tag along and take my own shots. Unfortunately I didn't take enough!

Because he was on my home ground it was easy to negotiate taking photos, if I had been in the USA at contests it would have been harder.


QUESTION

What is your favourite photo you have taken of Arnold Schwarzenegger and why?

ANSWER

My favorite photo I have taken of Arnold is standing in Coogee Gym (Beach Area) - full length. It is a casual photo holding onto a bench press with bodybuilding photos in the background – a nice casual shot.

Arnolds' favourite shot I took of him is the side on shot at an exhibition in one of the gyms (Narraween Gym Sydney) in 1974 when he looked his biggest.


Arnold Schwarzenegger
QUESTION

My favourite of your Arnold shots was the one with the rugby payers? What is the story behind that legendary photo?

ANSWER

It was a cold winters night in Sydney and the press arranged to have some photos taken with the football team of the day, after the press took all of their photos with the players and Arnold I arranged a few different angles and shots. I though that having Arnold in a football scrum with three or four of the top footballers of the day (some of who are now deceased) would look impressive for a good photo. A lot of people seem to like that shot.


QUESTION

What is your favourite (and hopefully funniest) personal story involving Arnold Schwarzenegger? Elaborate as much as possible.

ANSWER

One year we flew down to Melbourne to the Mr Southern Hemisphere, which was held in 1974. Arnold was the guest star. It was in an old big hall.

During the prejudging we sat at the back of the hall, there was a bar near us serving beer. I said to Arnold "Why don't we have a few beers to loosen up", there were many people asking for autographs as well. We must have had at least 4 beers, the guys name that was running the show was Frank Burwash, Arnold asked me what the name of the guy running the show was, I said as a joke "I think it is Frank Bird Bath or Frank Bird Watch" Arnold said "That is a strange name". When Arnold got on stage to talk he said "I would like to thank Frank Birdbath" and Frank yelled out "BURWASH" and then Arnold corrected himself "I mean Bird Watch".


Arnold Schwarzenegger
QUESTION

Do you and the Austrian oak maintain a relationship today?

ANSWER

I haven't heard from Arnold in a while, he has his own life. Occasionally I send a letter to his office to let him know how I am going. I don't expect a reply as I know he is a very busy man. I am sure we will catch up one day again if I visit the USA or he comes to Australia. I am sure we would have a lot of stories to tell each other.


QUESTION

Your final thoughts on the man?

ANSWER

Nobody thought he would be as successful as he has been away from bodybuilding and promotional work. He has achieved the ultimate goal in winning all of the top competitions, making over 30 movies and his political career. What ever his next step in life is I wish him all the success!

 


 

QUESTION

Tell us about your website, thearnoldcollection.com. What can our readers expect from your site and more importantly, what can they get there?

ANSWER

I am a retired man, as a result I have handed my photographic library and rights to my son Scott. He has constructed the site as a way of selling the photos online to those who see value in them. Currently there are 12 photos of Arnold on the site for sale; there will be more photographs on there as time goes on.

 


Robert NailonRobert Nailon