TateStudio: Now a regular and seasoned part of the photography team for Ultra White Collar Boxing (UWCB) events in the UK. The team are raising money for Cancer Research UK by providing the opportunity for amateurs to get 8 weeks of free training, and put themselves through their paces against an opponent of a similar caliber. It's an honour to be a part of an incredible group of people, who, at the time of writing, have donated over £3.5million to charity.
We have a great group of photographers, led by Matt Cox, that work tirelessly up and down the country each weekend. I can safely say that we all love our job! That being said, this job is not an easy one! I wish I could say that when I do these events, I planned everything out perfectly and positioned the fighters exactly where I wanted them, but it just doesn’t work that way. There are so many variables that are within my control.
First and foremost, you have to get your exposure right. This is a very easy task, but one that people somehow still mess up frequently. Our boxing venues have very inconsistent lighting schemes. I know, however, before I walk into the arena on fight day roughly what I’m going to set my camera to before I even fire a shot. I can usually count on the following being my settings for the night, within about 1/3 of a stop over or under – ISO 3200, 1/500s, f2.8. I set all of my cameras to this exact setting at the start of the night, and tweak from there depending on the venue.
The assignments always require us to shoot every fight. I sometimes wish it could be like pro boxing where people only really care about the main event or the last couple fights. It's likely to take you some time to get your timing right and figure out any focusing issues throughout the night. This is where it would help to have a number of preliminary fights before the “important” fights, but not on the UWCB fight nights!
You need to quickly learn the actions of the fighters in each fight. There are three two-minute rounds in each bout and that's if they go the distance. You need to settle into each fight quickly and work out how each of the fighters likes to box. I find that if one fighter is dominant for a time, I tend to set my focus point on them and wait for them to throw something. Unless of course they were turned away from me, then I would follow their opponent for those few moments. I would then set my sights on the opponent to get images of them afterwards.
Another key to getting your photography right, is the distance. I need to choose when to my 70-200mm lens, my 24-105mm lens, or the wide angle lens for each situation. I tend to shoot more wide angle shots than anything else, and crop the images in post. This does limit me when the boxers are on the opposite side of the ring, but I guess that's when i get my running shoes on and get around there to follow the action! The wide angle lens is also ideal for the ringside shots of the decisions at the end of the fight. I use the long lens to capture audience reactions and candid shots throughout the fights. I use the 24-105mm lens for those well-lit venues that allow me to use it instead of the wide angle to capture most of my images.
Every photographer is different. Every event we do is different, but we get some incredible results, worthy of such a great charity. These are just my settings, my methods and my opinions. I'm just made up to be a part of it!