Boxing shoot – round one!

It was the day of the Royal wedding and rather than partaking in the offer of a Champaign breakfast and joining the nationwide party, I instead ventured in to Manchester to photograph a passionate group of male and female boxers in a location not far from Manchester City football ground. The shoot was initially organised for three reasons – the first to try out a particular lighting technique, the second to create a portfolio of images that had impact and related to sport and finally to shoot something new and interesting for stock.

The team involved in the shoot included two male and two female boxers and my regular make-up artist, Sadaf Saeed. To start with, my aim was to create some strong portraits with minimal make-up effects, so at this stage we held back on the sweat (created with body oil and a water sprayer) and blood effects. These were to come later. First, the two female boxers (Natalie and Ruth who both box for real) took to the ring and posed fantastically with little direction. Neither of the girls had modelled before. Whilst shooting the girls, Sadaf was preparing the two male boxers and we successfully pulled off a production line of images and effects in a relatively short span of time. However, just as we were getting to the action shots we suddenly fell upon a disaster. One of the flash heads was knocked over and smashed to the ground, leaving us working with two flashes rather than three – and three were required for the lighting effect I had planned.

The lighting for the majority of the shoot was created with three Elinchrom flash heads. Two were positioned on either side of the model, positioned slightly behind and fitted with soft boxes. These were pointing directly at the model and set to throw light that was averagely two stops brighter than my key light, providing a fantastic edge light around the model. This lighting technique created a striking three-dimensional effect. The key light was positioned near to my lens and was also fitted with a small soft box. After the accident with the key flash, I was left working with two flash heads at 45 degrees to the model during the later part of the shoot. One flash was positioned behind the model, the other near the camera. The rear flash created backlighting set to around two stops brighter than my key light. An example of this effect can clearly be seen in the image of the model dropping water over her face.

Sadly, we didn’t get time to complete the action shots we had planned, but have decided to continue the shoot on another day, equipped with a third flash head. So keep watching this space to see the results of round two!

Camera – Nikon D700.  Software – Adobe Photoshop CS3 . All images are protected by copyright ©

To view more images from this shoot, see the gallery below.

STOP PRESS – As a result of spending the past few weeks working part-time as a professional photography lecturer, I am planning to to organise private photo training workshops around the Wilmslow area in the next few weeks. Initially, I will be concentrating on photographing people, but I am open to other suggestions. I will only take small groups at a time with a maximum of 8-10 participants. Training will include – using digital SLR’s to their maximum potential, Lighting in studio and outdoors (both natural and flash lighting), creating impact with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom and making money via stock photography. Please respond (and include your email address) if you are interested and I will add your name to my list.

Behind the scenes images are below.


5 Responses to “Boxing shoot – round one!”

  1. Steve says:

    I was trying to illustrate a story for mag layout the other day. It was loosely themed around ‘the battle of the sexes’ in the end we used some very average getty images.

    what would have been really useful would have been a few shots from a posed male vs female boxing match with some of the models in you photos above. its a shame you didn’t take some. they would have made really good stock photos

    • ianthraves says:

      Hi, what a shame I hadn’t shot that concept already. As it happens, we are doing another shoot very soon including that very concept – male/female in combat (so thanks for confirming it’s a good idea), plus we are shooting other action/in combat images, including ‘achievement/winner concepts with the models holding a trophy, etc. Unfortunately, we had an accident with one of the studio flashes during the tail-end of the last shoot, which is why there are only a few action shots right now. Thanks for your comment though!

      • steve says:

        good luck to you sir. its a shame the mag is all done now. but next time. all the getty images were so staid and posed. if you want to create something different make your male vs female boxing match look more realistic with bit of water spray and make up for bruises etc. good luck

  2. […] comments from a magazine editor who happened to stumble upon my blog (see the comments below my last blog entry), I responded by adding in a few more action images to the boxing theme I’ve been shooting […]

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