In college, I really wanted to be a sports photographer. An 18-yrs-old with a Nikon F3HP, a 300mm F 2.8, and a quick finger. What more did I need? I worked at the Cactus yearbook and the Daily Texan at UT Austin in the early 90s. Working there allowed me to shoot presidents, protests, car crashes, rock concerts…everything from Depeche Mode to Hillary Clinton. But the best for me in those times was shooting UT sports. Swimming, basketball, football, etc…what an amazing time. Sadly, at that age, I wasn’t as serious as I should have been as some of my colleagues went onto bright photojournalism futures as I entered graduate school. But while was an undergrad, I actually considered my future in photojournalism and sports and figured it was a career to nowhere. I did see the end of the San Antonio Light and that was the paper I wanted to grow up and work for. Shortly later, the internet took the fun out of the newspaper industry and job loss and newspaper closings became all the rage.
I did recall a conversation with a staffer from the Dallas Morning News and we talked about the Pultizer Prizes won by several staff members back in those days. The staffers exact words were “At the end of the day, you can’t hug a prize.” I never forgot it. I then continued to put more emphasis on life rather than career. Whether its was the right decision to make a balance of life over letting a career take you over, I don’t know.
After grad school (international economics) went to New York to learn about commercial and editorial photography as a photo assistant…lots of good that did. Yet I live in Honolulu and have a great shooting career and life. Sure I think about moving back to New York but my friend Tracey Woods, a photo at a big mag asked me, “Why?”
She was right…why give up the sun, sand, and bad drivers?
But I digress…
On to the boxing.
I’ve only shot boxing once. Its a brutal sport. Too many punches and way too much blood. On TV and from the stands, its ok..but up close, you get…well, you get the picture, rather you get it all over your picture and yourself. Sweat and blood splatters all over the place. And if you are next to the ring, you’ll surely get a shower. The AP writer, Jaymes Song, told me he covered boxing once all the while drinking fountain cola in a cup. Jaymes said after one particular bloody match, the inside and outside of his cup was flecked with red spots of…well…it wasn’t Coke.
Needless to say, Jaymes didn’t finish his drink.
Boxing isn’t for the faint of heart. Its tough to watch if you’re not into pugilism. I could care less but seeing people get the hell beaten out of them, it can be slightly unnerving. So last night I had to cover several boxing matches for AP and the big match was the Hawaiian Punch Brian Viloria in a title fight against Mexico’s Julio Cesar Miranda. They went 12 rounds and Viloria was the victor. A great fight although Miranda put up a good attack. Viloria knocked him down a few times and I think the Mexican was shocked Vilora was such a tough guy.
Shooting boxing is tough to do. You have to anticipate each punch if you want to get peak action. If you snap when you see the punch going, you’ll never catch the actual glove connect with face. All it takes is a little timing (and a fancy camera!) and you’ll eventually get the right moment. The physically hard part of shooting the bloodsport is being bent over as you’re sticking yourself and camera through a few inches of ring rope. 12 rounds at 3 minutes each times 6 bouts…well…it’s a long time to be contorted over and through the ring and ropes. My back wasn’t all that happy at the end of the night.
well…at least there are ring girls…
Its a far cry from the chicks I shot in swim suits racing at the UT swim center. Alas, its a job…and I did have to shoot ring girls as a notation and separation to each round…really…its true. Ask any of the guys who shoot boxing…
Anyway, I got away from the journalism life only to play one in Hawaii. I’m glad I don’t have to shoot so much news and sport as I have much more fun now shooting travel pieces and portraits here and around. But its nice to get a rush shooting a sporting event…all the while getting splattered with blood..as long as its not mine.