laughing boxers

Fitness photograph of African American boxer outdoors

I’ve often wondered about advertising or editorial images that show no connection — it’s often like the model is simply there to wear the clothes, or the subject is meant to be a cold statue. Sure a shoot may start off distant between the photographer and the subject, but when looking at images, I want to see a connection, a link, some expression or moment. I want to feel something about the person pictured, ideally something unexpected.

For me shoots progress and change as I spend time with my subject. Just yesterday we were shooting a model in the studio for a project where we had her jumping in the air, hair flying. Looking at the images on the camera, I told her we had it, it was great, but I wanted something more. There was a tension in the way she held her ankles and the outer three fingers on each hand. I turned up the music and asked her to relax, stop thinking about what she was being asked to do, and just jump — “feel it.”

Recently I did images of a boxer with whom I sat down first before the shoot. I asked him where he was from and what he’d done for the summer, where he lived and how long he’d been boxing — I wanted to find some connection, some points to discuss — a way in.  Yes, I wanted tough shadow boxing images, but I wanted to find more — something unexpected to make the image stand out.

After the studio work, we headed to a park setting for the chain link background.  I had to bring him outside into the late sun – the soft focus and flare on the chain link was a great contrast to him going through his exercises. As we neared the end we had progressed through stages that I often see in my shoots — stand-offish/cold, moving toward focusing on the task, until finally something genuine emerges, something unexpected.

There is something great about seeing this ripped tough boxer just crack up with sincere laughter.

outdoor advertising African American listing to music on headphones

outdoor portrait

fitness boxing prep

Studio photograph of a boxer

African American man boxing

African American man boxing

black and white fitness photograph

African American athlete resting after boxing

African American man boxing

Boxer laughing

Fitness photograph of African American boxer

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