Boxing photography is a high adrenaline fast-paced & highly competitive career. But just how do you go from being an ordinary photographer to a top world-class boxing photographer?
There are several key steps to becoming a boxing photographer. It takes time, effort, and dedication. You need to make sure you have good skills, and take fantastic photos of fights. And find a way to get gigs. Below I cover the steps I found are needed while looking into this exciting type of photography.
If you want to become a boxing photographer, there are stages you need to go through. Where you start depends on your current abilities and experience.
Evaluate Your Photography Skills
Photographing boxing is fast-paced, high skilled photography. You need top-rate technical know-how. You need your skills specific to boxing match conditions.
Practice Makes Pros
- You need to be proficient at shooting fast-paced action in low-light conditions.
- You need to be able to shoot into lights and remove lens flare. The fight angles can mean you cannot choose to avoid the overhead lights.
- Learn to use your continuous setting to get the best shots.
- You won’t have time to mess with your settings. You need to know how to use the camera quickly and efficiently.
- You need to know your camera well.
- Lots of practice taking action shots.
- Practice your timing of shots.
- Practice getting different types of shots. Very few photographers get that hardest shot the glove, kick, knee meets the face shot. Those that do, don’t get it often.
- Each match will need thousands of shots to get a few quality ones you can use.
- Learn as much as you can about boxing photography specialist skills and conditions as you can.
Learn From Boxing Photography From The Pros
You can pick up a lot from watching and learning from the Pros like Mickey Williams or Elizabeth Kreutz.
- You need a thick skin.
- Lots of stamina. If you are photographing a long fight you need to be alert and active the whole time.
- Think on your feet.
- Adaptability. Circumstances change quickly during a fight and also the conditions around each fight. So you have to adapt fast.
- Versatility. You need to be versatile in what you will photograph and how. You may not always get fighting gigs.
Start With Small Local Fights
Start with smaller boxing or martial arts events for practice and experience. Local kids events of all kinds. Or local sports events.
Be Prepared & Versatile in Your Approach
Be prepared to do other stuff. You may need to do other types of sports photography. Be prepared to travel or to move to where there are more matches.
Create a Quality Boxing Portfolio
Get together a quality boxing/fighting portfolio to show possible clients.
Make Yourself Known in The Boxing World
Once you have experience and a portfolio under your belt start to make yourself known (brand yourself).
Ideas to get known:
- Get a simple website set up with samples of your work and your contact details.
- You may prefer to use Instagram.
- Enter competitions.
- Send your pictures to blogs. Make sure they use your name and ideally link back.
Whatever you choose to do getting known is vital.
Equipment Needed For Boxing Photographers
The danger here is to get hung up on types of cameras and lenses. Pro cameras are expensive, as are pro lenses. You are talking several thousand just for the camera.
You don’t need to start with the most expensive of either camera or lens. Get the best you can afford. Put more of your money into getting quality lenses.
Which lens size to use:
The pros typically use and recommend different lens sizes. These vary. But the wide-angle to 24 mm is popular. These then go up to either 70 mm or 105 mm with f/2.8.
Some prefer the wider shots. Using 18-35 mm with f1/8.
You will be shooting the action from just outside the ring so you need flexibility and not too much telephoto. Also, you want to keep your f-stops to the wider end.
If for any reason you can’t get to shoot from the ringside then you will need the longer telephoto lens.
Remember you will be shooting in RAW so you can crop in close later. If you are shooting for magazines you may need surrounding space anyway.
Set Up Costs for Boxing Photographers:
Many say that because of the type of work-related to boxing that the equipment has to be top range. It is therefore expensive. Yes, the camera and lenses need to do the job. But they don’t have to be top of the range, especially when you start out.
Where the extra cost comes in is even when you are starting out you will need a quality camera and lenses that are fast to focus and shoot well in low light conditions.
Typically, the better the f-stops are the more expensive the lens.
You need to focus quickly so need a fast zoom lens. But fast zooms can have difficulty focusing in lower light conditions.
Pros often use two cameras with different sized lenses to save time.
Which is Best to Cover a Fight Fixed for Zoom Lenses?
Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Zooms are the most popular among pros. Zooms are fantastic as they are easy to use and flexible. This enables you to get the shot you want. You don’t have too much flexibility in how close or how far you are from the fighters. This is why wide-angle zooms are the preferred choice.
Get That Photo Gig
- Several Boxing photographers including Mickey Williams have got their opening from shooting for newspapers or other media outlets.
- Contact people with popular boxing blogs and offer to shoot a few matches for them for free if necessary.
- Become a sports photographer’s assistant.
- Write to magazines and offer your services.
Make a plan of action. Start now towards your career as a boxing photographer. An imperfect plan executed now is better than a perfect one that never starts.