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'Way of the Fighter' is a new personal project that I'm working on. It's made up of many smaller ideas that I've had in the past that never really went anywhere. Capturing emotive photographs has always been part of my style and I've got a bunch of personal favourite photos that I often revisit for new ideas. So far the response has been very positive from fighters and friends. I'm very grateful to have such a supporting community!
I hope this project would help inspire fans and up and comers as they get a better insight into the thoughts of fighters.
Check out my friend Scott Barrett's new article up about W.L Fight Photography. He's out there living the dream and travelling the world and recently created L.T.L Business ideas. Be sure to check out his page and website.
Last week I finally picked up my prints and certificate from the AIPP office in Surrey Hills and was fortunate to have received two silver awards for my work. It was a nice experience to get critiqued feedback from the industry professionals. Most of them wouldn't have had such intimate to the fight scene as I had but their years of experience was valuable information to help me grow and sharpen my style. It reminded me of being critiqued by a panel of architects during my days/nights at uni.
I've been lucky enough to be nominated for fight photographer of the year along with many great photographers. If you guys like my work, please head over to www.amtawards.com.au/vote-now and vote away :)
When I fought on this promotion, there was no official photographer! Well I guess I'm the one to blame for that as I had been working at their last few shows and then decided to jump in.
It might not seem like a big deal at the time of the fight, it'll start to suck when you're thinking back about the fight but don't have any decent photos and all you have is a shaky video. I think a photograph captures a particular feeling at that moment and reignites when you look at it. It also provides some perspective on how others might have perceived your fight that you might have missed during the video.
When you're watching a fight video, you're overloaded with so much footage that you don't seem to appreciate much (except those 10second KO videos!). A good photographer is very precise and selective with the images they capture and show. They should be able to accurately convey the major sequence of events in a captivating way without boring the audience with repetition and dullness.
I was lucky to have my friend/training partner Phivo come down just to watch my fight and photograph me (I photographed his one about 8 months back). I found myself to be quite aware of him and the camera as I was warming up. I kept wondering how are they turning out because I had troubles getting my settings right at this venue. It was a little weird for me to pose as Im not a big fan of those chessy boxing poses people do but they actually turned out well! It took me a while to mentally 'switch on' for the fight and forget that he was there (also could have been that it was freezing).
Today when I'm shooting backstage, I have all these old thoughts run through my mind. It helps me understand my distance/range as I don't fighters to know I'm taking their backstage photos. I try to capture the most authentic expression and sometimes I achieve this by being subtle or pretending to do something else when I quickly snap the shot.
Photo by - Phivo Christodoulou
I'm looking forward to finishing the year with 7 shows lined up. Most promotors like to showcase something big on their final show of the year so it's definitely going to be some exciting times ahead!
This was my first proper BJJ event. I've the the occasional grading/training day photos at my gym and one grappling comp. While looking for more disciplines to photograph, I decide to ask for work at BJJ comps and tournaments but was turned down and so I stuck with ring sports. However that changed when Sy decided he would run the first BJJ fight night. I begun watching more grappling matches and photographs to analyse the key points of art. Leading up to the show I was quite nervous because I thought that I might not be used to the composition, timing, be at a wrong positing and mission a submission, etc. I came a little over prepared and ended up just using my regular pack. I was lucky to have chosen the right spot and got all the prime shots of the night! Side note, I always tend to be a bit rushed as I enter a show. I want to secure prime location to set up for the night and I would scout the ring and look for possible room. This could involve asking the video guys if i could set up next to them (video guys usually get proper spots over the photographers - well at least in my opinion), asking people to help move over a larger table for me to squeeze in or barely get comfortable (I usually don't ask officials or doctors to help because those guys might not want to give up their side of the table) or ask for a chair (life saver! I can't believe I stood for my early shoes - well that might be where all my back issues came from). Back to BOA! At the show I was lucky enough to meet Elvis Sinosic taking photos and he was a real cool dude. While processing the photos I realised that in BJJ photography, the lighting is very generous, it's all about getting that perfect technique shot, it's all about the composition, the light really is generous and the background gives a lot to play with! I was really humbled by the feedback received from the competitors and fans, this let me knew I got the shots right. (This was way more than what I first got and opposite of what I heard said about someone who did a show that took my place). I'm really keen on the next show! It was a great new experience and atmosphere! (Side note, the atmosphere was awesome and different. In situations like the 'weighin' and the back room there was no tension between camps/fighters, there was no worry about weight - except the American, everyone warmed up together and there was no psych of your opponent seeing you prepare. The spectators actually came half an hour before the doors open! And it was packed! You'll be lucky to get less than half 30mins before a ring show and at least another 1hour after the suggested time.There was no loudmouth bogan insults or bottles into the ring, just smartarsed witty response. I have my first ring show tomorrow and I hope this fight night won't affect me too much.
I figured I should fix up the old look and revamp it a little. Would be great to know what you guys think!
Towards the end of 2012, former fighter and IK Magazine contributor, Jarrod Boyle contacted me in 2012 because of a photo that he saw being circulated Facebook. It was the bloodied glove photo that caught his attention and he wanted to share it on his blog. http://themeparkatitsdarkest.com/2012/12/18/william-luu-fight-photographer/
When I started photography, I was experimenting with shooting various cliched scenes like some girl in focus with a blurry background, landscapes, flowers, street life and more landscapes. However none of these appealed to me as I didn't want to be seen as the 'cliched photo guy'. Also all those scenes just make me look more like the typical Asian tourist!
I doubt I would have found photography if it wasn't for a gym related accident. I was at a local MMA gym trying to get some extra training. I got paired up with a nut case doing wrestling drills and he ended up doing some retarded move which made him fall on top of me, twisting my foot in the process. I was only around 60kg and he would probably be at least 80kg. I was pretty sure my ligament muscle was torn and I remembered the coach just saying, "Well, it's not like it's going to get better or worse, so just get back onto the mat and use your other leg" I could barely drive home and this injury kept me indoors for about a week and a half. During this time I decided to pick up my dad's camera and have a play.
A couple months later I started bringing the camera to my regular gym at Nemesis Martial Arts to experiment. I tried to replicate the photos that I've seen in the IK mags - hoping one day I might get published there. Eventually my trainers got me into shows with them when some of our guys were fighting. It gave me a different perspective of the fight game. I've been to shows as a spectator and fighter in the ring but shooting was something of its own.
Now almost 2 years later, I've been keeping active by working on numerous fight shows around town. It would be nice to land some interstate gigs as well. One of my main goals now is to land some work in the design field. I'll be graduating mid year and I'm looking to gain all the experience I can get. I've seen my share of lacklustre fight posters and thought that I could design a decent one. I had a chat with one of my promotors and he decided to let me take over the photography and graphics department.
I figured, since I'll be graduating as a Graphics Designer in a few months, I should start getting work and adding to my design portfolio. I hope to have some more fight related design work completed and published this year.