Cops And Cars

Since my last post I’ve moved house (I’m now living in beautiful Bridgnorth, Shropshire again) but still very much based at my Strangetown Studio in Birmingham. So it’s been a very busy couple of months in many ways but I’m delighted by the way 2019 has gone so far.

It does mean, however, that I’ve badly neglected this website so it’s about time I got on with sharing some recent work with you. Much of my work can’t be published (at least not yet) due it’s sensitive commercial nature but here is a development that many (including myself) wouldn’t have imagined just a few months ago…

I organised a workshop. My first for over a year, and this time it was really for my own amusement and creative stimulation. I began by inviting only former FOTO-CLUB members but then opened this up to a couple of other great supporters of my previous workshops.

The concept for this shoot was inspired by spotting that my friend Nick had bought a beautiful 1966 Dodge Charger. Nick had previously supplied an original 60s Vespa GS scooter for a shoot quite a few years ago and so I had the idea of creating a shoot based around his new car and that kind of car’s role in certain American 60s movies such as “Bullitt” (starring Steve McQueen). Nick kindly agreed to take part and mentioned that his friend Simon might also be interested in bringing along his 1967 Pontiac Catalina Coupe.

Next came the models and I was keen to echo the Steve McQueen and Jacqueline Bisset roles to some extent. For the female role I approached the stunning Lottie Locke who I knew, as a skilled make-up artist, would be able to reproduce an authentic late 1960s look.  As she’d just started a new job, there was some doubt if she’d be available but I waited for her to try to get time off and was prepared to postpone the shoot if necessary because I was convinced she was the perfect model for the role. Once I knew Lottie was available and happened to have a fantastic wardrobe of suitable clothes, I approached boxer Ryan “Tank” Aston to play the role of the male cop. Ryan is a very good and cool-looking model with a genuine “tough guy” look. I bought a black polo-neck jumper from the Custard Factory vintage clothing market for him but discovered on the day that he had one of his own that was perfect.

The location was the backstreets of Digbeth in Birmingham and I chose an early start time on a Sunday morning to minimise traffic and intrusive pedestrians. Finally, Nick and Simon arrived looking like they’d just stepped out of one of the films that had inspired the shoot – and so were persuaded to play support roles in the shoot and were fantastic.

So this has been a very small selection of images from the shoot. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the morning and we all came away with shots we were happy with.

Many thanks to Lottie, Ryan, Nick and Simon (and to Keith for supplying the prop “weaponry”).

The team: Simon, Lottie, Ryan and Nick.

Reflective Tank

The recent “Portfolio Booster” course gave me the perfect excuse to invite brilliant local (Black Country) boxer Ryan “Tank” Aston back into the studio. Ryan is an exceptional subject for photographs, super-fit (as you’d expect a professional boxer might be) but is also a very handsome chap.

This shot shows Ryan in a more reflective pose. He’s now taking more bookings for modelling gigs (see his Purpleport profile here).

Mud, Boxers, Mud, A Tank And A Digger

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).

“Tank” Rolls On

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.

Tank, about to enter the ring

Trainer Paul Gough gives advice between rounds

Ryan dominated the fight from the outset and it wasn’t long before Nenkov was in serious trouble…

Nenkov hits the canvas for the first time.

Eventually, Tank’s relentless body shots took their toll and in the 6th round (of a scheduled 10)…

Nenkov down for the second time.


DJR_5514

Ryan basks in his well-deserved glory.

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.

Pride: In The Ring

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.

Luke Paddock

Luke Paddock

Luke Paddock

Luke Paddock

Ricky Summers is in the ring!

Ricky Summers is in the ring!

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.

Ricky Summers in action

Ricky Summers in action

Ricky Summers gets a pep talk from trainer Paul Gough

Ricky Summers gets a pep talk from trainer Paul Gough

Ryan "Tank" Aston has his opponent on the ropes.

Ryan “Tank” Aston has his opponent on the ropes.

Let's face it, you really wouldn't want to get in the ring with Ryan Aston.

Let’s face it, you really wouldn’t want to get in the ring with Ryan Aston.

 

Waiting for a decision. Eventually, Ryan's opponent was declared unable to continue.

Waiting for a decision. Eventually, Ryan’s opponent was declared unable to continue.

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.

A Little More Pride…

Following on from the last post about Priory Park ABC‘s leading fighters at Wolverhampton Civic Hall earlier this month, here are a few more backstage shots, this time mainly showing Ryan “Tank” Aston as he prepares for what was to be become his first title-winning fight…

Ryan "Tank" aston prepares for battle.

Ryan “Tank” aston prepares for battle.

A few words from the ref.

A few words from the ref.

Trainer Paul Gough and Ryan Aston.

Trainer Paul Gough and Ryan Aston.

The "cuts mon" adds the finishing touches.

The “cuts mon” adds the finishing touches.

Last minute advice from trainer Paul Gough.

Last minute advice from trainer Paul Gough.

In my next post, I’ll show you some shots from the fights themselves. Again, many thanks to Paul and the lads and lasses from Priory Park ABC for their co-operation.

Pride Of The Black Country: The Story Continues…

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.

Trainer Paul Gough not succumbing to the pressure.

Trainer Paul Gough not succumbing to the pressure.

"Tank" relaxes before his title fight.

“Tank” relaxes before his title fight.

Luke Paddock being prepared by the "best cuts man in the business".

Luke Paddock being prepared by the “best cuts man in the business”.

Luke Paddock collects his thoughts before his (winning) fight.

Luke Paddock collects his thoughts before his (winning) fight.

Warming up. Luke Paddock.

Warming up. Luke Paddock.

Luke Paddock being bandaged by Paul Gough.

Luke Paddock being bandaged by Paul Gough.

 

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/