This was the second time that I had the good fortune to photograph boxer Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin, the undefeated WBO middleweight champion. (I got to touch his belt p.s. its pretty sweet!)
The first time was were I am based out of in Los Angeles but this time it was at his training gym in Brooklyn NY. The world famous Gleasons, (I've actually heard of this place before and I have a very limited boxing knowledge.) The shoot was for an on going section in ESPN The Magazine called Body Shots. Its a page in the magazine where we photograph athletes and the muscles they use to make them some of the best athletes in their sports. I love working on this section. We shoot pretty much every sport you could possibly think of. (Although Im still waiting for the email that we are shooting a badminton star. We shoot about 60% in studios and the other 40% we set up in gyms or practice facilities or hotel ballroom, etc.
For the most part we were shooting in this gym because that is where he trains and he was on a very tight training schedule before his last fight. It definitely worked out great for us because it had the heavy bag we needed for the shot and they were also very open to us taking over half of their sparing area. (oops)
We set up a 10x20FT black background with 2 hi rollers and a 10ft speed rail. We then placed 2 heads on each side with a reflector and grid on it to minimize multiple shadows on the ground. The two heads were acting as 1, each had a lower power and because of this we were able to get a faster flash duration with more power output than with one head. After that, we placed another reflector higher up and pointed it down at the back of Peter’s head and shoulders. (this was the only shadow thanks to the grids on the side)
Then we positioned the main light/beauty dish overhead on a mini boom arm and and a Para 88 as a fill and catch light for the sweat on him in the front.
Directing Peter was easy, I could ask him what punch best shows off each muscle and he can break it down for me so we can figure out the right angle that worked best. The harder part was stopping him in action. He’s very fast so having a quick flash duration was always on my mind when preparing for this shoot. On top of that, I was shooting 1 frame per punch because we decided to shoot with a medium format camera on this section a while back so timing was definitely critical and I had to try my best to get his timing down. This wasn’t as easy as you would think. He did give me 1 tip, he said, “watch my right elbow when it drops.”
Sure sounds easy enough, an undefeated boxing champion tells me to watch his elbow and I'm supposed to know when he’s going to hit. But it actually worked, Eventually after a few shots I was able to catch the positions we needed and we wrapped up.
Timing is obviously very important in sports photography. I always make it a point to talk to every athlete and block out the motion slowly with them so I know how many steps they are taking or what type of move they might make before the key action, that way I can adjust for their timing and catch that pivotal moment.
1 Broncolor White beauty dish
1 Broncolor Para 88
4 P65 Reflectors with 30º grids (2 on each side)
1 P65 Reflector with 40º grid
Lights and packs:
7 Broncolor light heads
4 Broncolor Scoro packs