Here’s a shot from back in March of Black Country boxing hope Ricky Summers (on the right) doing what he does best at The Venue in Dudley. I’ve quite a few more boxing shoots in the diary – can’t wait!
Some people spend their Summer Friday afternoons drifting away from their places of work and heading over to the beer garden for a bit of liquid refreshment. Not me. I was taking photographs in a very muddy builders’ yard in the Black Country.
I had been asked by Priory Park ABC‘s head trainer Paul Gough to take some pictures of some of the club’s top boxers for a poster. The idea was to photograph the lads in front of a digger – with boxer Ricky “Digger” Summers (who will be fighting for a title at the event that the poster is going to be advertising) taking centre stage.
Pictured are (from left): Ryan Partridge, Ryan “Tank” Aston, Ricky Summers, Luke Paddock, and Ryan Corrigan
The only digger available was perched atop a huge pile of gravel/soil and because of the available space could only be photographed from 180 degrees. The strong sun was in and out of the clouds on a minute-by-minute basis and was either directly behind, or almost to the side of the lads. And so I used some off-camera strobe to lift up the shadows on their faces a bit.
We finally dispensed with the high-vis jackets and helmets and let the boxers look like boxers…
And just to show that we also experimented with some different positioning…
Neither of these images are the one chosen for the poster. You’ll have to wait to see that. And the ultra-high-clarity finish to these images is as requested by Paul (it’s not my usual look but I do like it on these shots).
For quite a few years now, I’ve been watching the young boxers of Dudley’s Priory Park ABC as they grow (in every sense) and develop their craft under the expert guidance of trainer Paul Gough and his team. My first tentative steps into documentary photography began with a story about this club and even back then, one name was being whispered as a future champion – Dudley’s own Ryan “Tank” Aston. If you’d been alongside me at ringside when “Tank” faced Bulgarian fighter Stanislav Nenkov at The Venue, Dudley on 7th June, you’d know how he earned his nickname.
Ryan dominated the fight from the outset and it wasn’t long before Nenkov was in serious trouble…
Eventually, Tank’s relentless body shots took their toll and in the 6th round (of a scheduled 10)…
This fight was the final bout in a show which also showcased other local professionals based at Priory Park including Ricky Summers (images of whom I plan to post in the near future). I can honestly say that Ryan’s victory was a fitting highlight to an excellent night of boxing put together by Paul Gough. It was so good in fact, that I confess I was a bit too distracted at times to concentrate on my photography, Still, I walked away with quite a few images that I was pleased with.
In the last of my boxing-related posts for the moment, I’m going to show you some action shots from Wolverhampton Civic Hall earlier this month where three of Priory Park ABC‘s boxers (Luke Paddock, Ricky Summers and Ryan “Tank” Aston) fought – and won – their bouts.
I’m sure I’ve said this before but boxing is never an easy thing to photograph: the boxers’ main intention is to move quickly and keep their faces covered as much as possible. A sports photography company I used to shoot for used to insist that a face was at least visible in all shots. At this particular venue, the light comes only from high above so when shooting upwards from ringside there’s the added complication that the hunched boxers’ faces are usually in strong shadow. The light levels here are also generally quite low and so to achieve 1/500s shutter speeds, you’ll need at least 3200 ISO much of the time even on a fast lens.
I could have filled this page many times over with images from each of the bouts but hopefully these give you a bit of a flavour of the evening.
When I was working towards my photography degree a few years back I began a documentary project (my first) about my local boxing club – Priory Park ABC in Dudley. I’ve been photographing the club (named “the Pride of the Black Country” by one boxing MC), their fighters and their events ever since. Earlier this month I again photographed Priory Park’s brightest stars at Wolverhampton’s Civic Hall, including Luke Paddock, Ricky Summers and, fighting for his first title belt – Ryan “Tank” Aston.
In my next few posts I’m going to show you some of my images from the Wolverhampton show. I’m fortunate to have been invited once again to photograph the backstage scenes too and this is more in keeping with the rest of my “Pride…” project. I’ll start with the backstage stuff (or some of it – more in the next post) and then some of the action as photographed from ringside.
And in case you’re wondering, all three Priory Park fighters won their bouts…
The Express & Star’s coverage of the event… http://www.expressandstar.com/sport/other-sport/boxing/2013/07/08/ryan-aston-retires-harry-matthews-for-first-title/
Ricky dedicated his fight to his mother’s memory – more here – http://www.expressandstar.com/sport/other-sport/boxing/2013/07/03/ricky-summers-dedicates-fight-to-mums-memory/
And Priory Park’s website – http://www.prioryparkboxing.co.uk/