Category Archives: Blog

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Elisha--6

Elisha II

This was the second time that I’d shot Elisha, the first being around a year ago. I think she was the second proper portrait session that I had and I was a bit unsure of myself as I think she was too.

Since then I’ve honed my skills a little and Elisha has gone blonde. We’d talked a bit between each other about what to wear and swapped images over messenger. I was keen to do a bit more portraiture and less boudoir and had a particular look in mind. Id also taken delivery of a couple of new backdrops in the previous week so was itching to try them out properly.

Elisha arrived on time, we said our hellos, decided on what to kick off wearing and started shooting with Elisha in a black goth dress and lacy top. She looked great and didn’t take long to get into the swing of things. I was really impressed that she didn’t take very much coaching at all and responded well to my directions.

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This was exactly the shot I was after. It must be said that looking at the back of the camera I knew we are onto a winner. A quick change of clothes and backdrop and we were off again.
Id bought the top below for another shoot, but didn’t get around to using it so I was pleased to find a use for it. It was immediately gratifying to see that everything was working together and we were zooming through poses.

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Using the long lens I had to step onto the balcony to get almost full length shots whilst snatching a few closeup portraits. Elisha has a cracking smile and certainly showed it off on request, we didn’t really go for many moody looking shots, the weather was good and it was a nice day so we stuck to the program.
Elisha-We switched from the studio setup to shooting with natural light next to my patio doors, Id spent that previous day tidying for just this shoot so I had to use it. I’m not a natural light shooter at all preferring to use lights to give me greater control. Elisha had brought a cracking fluffy cardigan with her which worked really well.
Elisha--3

Finally a change into lingerie shot in the same location. I used v-flats to reflect the window light back onto my model to try to get a bit more even lighting and to try to keep ISO low for maximum clarity.
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I very rarely process in black and white, I find it quite hard to get the tones and contrast correct but I’m happy with this one.

Overall I am really happy with the shoot we worked really well together and the images are by far my best so far, we wrapped everything up in a total of four hours, four or five outfit changes and a similar number of setups. I still have to work hard on poses though, so I think that a few more tutorials are required.

Frustratingly there is little that needs to be done in post-processing, both great and annoying as I enjoy the post work as much as the shooting but I guess that shows how I am progressing in my photographic journey.

 


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MMA Photography – The Half Century

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This weekend I realised that I had passed the milestone of fifty MMA photography gigs. I thought that this would be worthy of a post to share my thoughts on the matter, how I have progressed and general feelings about the mixed martial arts scene.

I shot my first MMA event at Fury in September 2012 after a rather chance meeting and job for an unconnected article in the local free mag. I went along to the event excited and unsure of what to expect. Th other photographers were welcoming and friendly, I was clueless as I’d not shot in this sort of environment before, urbex and HDR were my staple diet up to that point. I shot with a ‘nifty fifty’ and Canon 550D, the same body that I still use as my No2 camera. I was pleased with my images and managed not to shoot on auto all night. I was pretty much hooked from the off.

Max Nunes- MMA Photography

Max Nunes at my first event.

Since then I’ve shot at events around the country and covered UFC overseas as well as in the UK, been lucky enough to be ‘official photographer’ on a few of them too which has its benefits. A lot of people don’t realise that those of us that support the MMA scene in the UK don’t get paid a penny, sure we make the odd sale of pics, but its by no means anything to write home about. Those that write have even less chance of making any cash at all. As a photographer we have to get to the events, shoot images and spend the best part of a day selecting and processing pictures. Its very time consuming and from start to end getting to an event, shooting and procerssing can take around 24 hours total work.

Lion Fighting Championships - MMA Photography

Lion Fighting Championships

Initially I was putting up all of my images (unwatermarked) on Facebook, tagging fighters it was great seeing the views and comments rack up sometimes getting more hits than the official photographer. Yes this was a bit of an ego trip and to be honest it felt really good. I’d been doing urbex for a long time but had never had this much praise. I decided to start vending images through the website and made a few sakes, I had a faded watermark at the side of the image so as not to spoil it. However at one event a fighter took low res (shitty quality) screenshots of the full gallery. This ensured that I put a full watermark right across the image to ensure that I got coverage. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, but it had to be done.

Nick Chapman - MMA Photography

For me, I had a period last year when I fell out of love with the sport. I’d been hailed as one of the best in the UK at one point (something that I am proud of but don’t believe). I shot two events in following weeks, one in Swansea, the next in either Birmingham or Liverpool, I can’t rightly remember. Both took an age to drive to and from and took up the whole weekend. I sold zero pictires and spent over £100 in fuel. This was when I decided that enough was enough and reached tipping point. I decided to reduce the workload and have a bit more me time, a few less miles on the car and a bit more time with my other half who had become an MMA widow.

UFC Fight Night Gustafsson vs. Manuwa

UFC Fight Night Gustafsson vs. Manuwa

The last three years have taught me a few valuable lessons:

  • Everyone has to start somewhere and simply asking if you can come and shoot an event usually gets a positive answer.
  • People will steal images, use them in videos, adverts, on their own websites and to promote shows. This is not cool and its simple to initiate proceedings to sue for copyright infringement (I have done this). Read up on copyright, I wrote a post about it HERE
  • A fancy camera does help but is by no means essential to capture great images.
  • If you want to make money, this is not the genre of photography to follow. Photographers put full sets up on Facebook which will totally nullify any chance of sale. I have been on both ends of this, its just a fact of life that those starting out will want to garner the greatest audience possible.
  • If you are not getting paid, shoot for yourself and don’t worry about getting images out quickly, or if images are a bit poor, it doesn’t really matter, learn form it.

Although this sounds like a lengthy rant I can assure anyone reading this that I have had a great time doing my MMA photography over the last two and a half years. It’s essential that there are people like me, people who are willing to put the graft in for little reward, those who write for websites and run them working hard around the clck to get material and commentary out to the masses. We have to promote the scene to get it recognised and into the public eye, to excite and to intreague them and hopefully grow the sport from grass roots to the leading promotions.

Brad Picket and Ashleigh Grimshaw for MMA Uncaged.

Brad Picket and Ashleigh Grimshaw for Fighting Fit

I now cover a few select events that I really enjoy, the fact that I don’t go every weekend makes it more exciting for me and less of a chore. I love the people that I meet at events and although we’re not close friends I still feel a connection to people in the sport, those that I sit next to shooting, judging and officiating, sharing a laugh and a joke with and chatting about the upcoming bouts.

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Jimmy Wallhead for MMA Plus

The image of the guys that get into the cage as mindless cage fighters who like nothing better than having a ruck on a Saturday night couldn’t be further from the truth. There are very few fights that I have seen where hands are not shaken and congratulations given between the two opponents when the final bell rings, no matter how bloody the encounter. Sure the guys and girls are made of a different cloth to most of us, but they’re all athletes, training hard, eating well and living a very healthy lifestyle. Ultimately they are good people striving to be the best that they can be in their chosen profession or hobby, very similar to the rest of us in life.


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Warrior Fight Series #3

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I had the pleasure of shooting Warrior Fight Series again this weekend. This was Harry Shoebridges third outing on his own and the first at a London venue, the iconic York Hall, home to many boxing events over the years. I’d not shot here before so was interested in finding out how it would work. It turned out that the venue is perfectly suited, being around the right size for the crowd. I know that Harry had eighteen fights on the card the week before but that dropped down to nine on the night due to pull outs. We were all a it worried about this, but at the end of the night the number was perfect for the time alotted, those who pulled out really missed out on a great night of fighting at Warrior Fight Series.

Warrior Fight Series

 

Being non-combatant I often find it hard to write about the technicalities of the bouts themselves and have to more focus on how I felt during the night however there were a couple fo standouts for me. Kes Mamba and Brad Wheeler had a great tussle and althoght grappling isnt the most compelling from a photographic point just watching these guys on the groud was superb. There was a period where the advantage slipped from one to the other fighter as theyt rolled together, each trying to tie up the other with armbars and leg locks. This was a total pleasure to watch. I bumped into both of them at the end of the night having a good chat and laugh about the technicalities of the bout. It was great to see the respect for each other.

Warrior Fight Series

Lloyd Clarkson and Darren Stewart went at it from the off, at one point Lloyd stood smiling as Darren punished him with elbows against the cage. I’ve seen Lloyd fight a couple of times and he is one tough cookie, took a hell of a beating and still fought back.

Warrior Fight Series

As the photographer I like to at least try to stay neutral, but Nathan ‘Bag and Tag’ Jones was on the card, he’s someone who has always played by the rules with me and has given me his time in the past, he’s a nice guy so I have to admit that I was rooting for him. Nathan didn’t disappoint either with a submitting Matt Robinson via rear naked choke  in the first. Unfortunatly David Swan the ref was stood right in fornt of me so I didn’t get the tap on camera, but these things happen. This is Nathan’s third belt and will hopefully signal a resurgence and return to the BAMMA stable for a step up. Warrior Fight SEries

The main event of the evening was the highly anticipated return to the cage of Jake ‘Brutal’ Bostwick after almost a year out since his outing at Cage Warriors 69 in London last May. His opponent was the exceptionally tough Frenchman Patrick Vallee. The fight went back and forth between the two for the full three rounds. Patrick dropped Jake twice, the second time was right in front of me and I’m pretty sure Jake didnt know what was happening when he hit the canvass, however his instinct and training kicked in and despite being on his back gathered himself and mounted a great comeback and recovery.

Warrior Fight Series

The fight went the distance and went to the judges decision two judges scoring two rounds to one and another scoring all three to the winner…. Jake Bostwick. This was a very contentions result and one that many have talkeed about over the last few days.

Decide fore yourself and watch the full bout:

 

I really enjoyed the evening, It was great to catch up with some friends that I hadn’t seen in a while, as well as those who I had only just seen in last week. The officials, photographers, cage crew, filming team and commentators are like a little family!

All in all Warrior Fight Series #3 was a great evening, superb production, a great setting and crowd and I look forward to the next event from Harry Shoebridge.

Click here for the full Warrior Fight Series #3 gallery 


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Super Fight Series

Super Fight Series

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This weekend it was the turn of some Kickboxing at Super Fight Series at the SSE arena Wembley. Its a while since Ive been to Wembly, the last time was I think to see Duran Duran several years ago, this was a totally different proposition though. Upon arival my buddy Roberto from MMA Plus guided me in (despite walking around the stadium once). We walked into the cavernous space that is the SSE Arena.

We were met by several familiar faces. Having shot combat sports for a while its like a little family and fun to catch up, even if it is only briefly.Super Fight Series

 

Andrew Tate although iniitally scheduled to fight took up post next to Vinny Shoreman on the mic, I shall look forward to hearing the commentary from these two.
Super Fight SeriesSuper Fight Series  comprised of sixteen bouts, including two four man tournaments for decent cash prizes. All of the fights were well matched with a couple of standouts for me. Marcel Lamberts two bouts were greatas was Kielo Lambert. There were knockouts and  one contentious draw which led to a fourth round. Super Fight Series

All in all it was a great night. Supoer Fight Series had excellent production, ran like clockwork with all of the fighters being 100% respectful in winning or loosing. Considering this was the first event that Super Fight Series has put on I really can’t fault it and its a credit to the team that pulled off getting the sport on the big stage which is where it deserves to be.

Super Fight Series

From a photographic perspective again there is little that can be said against Super Fight Series, great lighting make great pictures possible, it really is that simple.

More pictures from Super Fight Series are HERE

 

 


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Tate Entertaining

Andrew Tate

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I’ve long been an admirer of Andrew Tate, he’s a flamboyant guy in the ring and off it too he has a love of nice cars and going to the casino on the odd occasion, some would say he is a bit of a playboy. I’d wanted to spend some time with him for a while and had offered a shoot on several occasions but nothing really came of it. Photoshoots are not top of the list for someone who spends almost half the year out of the country. I was cool with this though and knew that the right time would come.

Andrew Tate vs. Wendell Roche (Mark Blundell)

I’ve shot Tate in the ring several times as he fights on Enfusion, I’ve been lucky enough to be their official ‘tog on a couple of occasions. But of course in these situations there’s little time to chat apart from saying well done, and taking the group shot at the end of the event as his hand was held up in victory.

Andrew Tate vs. Wendell Roche (Mark Blundell)

When the chance to shoot him in a more sedate situation came up with MMA plus I jumped at the chance. I have to say I was a little nervous, Tate comes over as a gobby so and so on social media so I was heartened that on his arrival he showed us to the car park and welcomed both Reberto and I with a firm handshake and a smile. Andrew left us to it in his flat to get set up while he went to pick up his partner in crime and brother Tristan. This enabled me to get setup and was a blessing as we had to slightly re-arrange the front room.
Andrew Tate

I managed to get the shots that I was after pretty quickly as we were only using one setup with the casino theme. We switched over for the video that MMAPlus was shooting which gave us a chance to have a chat. It was great to hear a little about Andrew’s life and his opinions on different subjects. We chatted about travel, business, his strong work ethic of actually putting effort into a job and that anything is achievable with time and commitment. Of course we chatted about his chosen sport and the fact that he’s willing to fight pretty much anyone, although others seem to be reluctant to step up to the plate.

Andrew Tate vs. Wendell Roche (Mark Blundell)

Tate’s next outing is at Super Fight Series at Wembly where he is taking part in a four man tournament worth a £10,000 purse at the end. This is sure to be an explosive evening.

He’s a genuinely cool guy, certainly someone that I think would be fun to hang out with however I’m not sure that I could keep up with his brother in the drinking stakes!


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Royler Gracie at EK BJJ

Royler Gracie at Eddie Kone BJJ

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This Sunday I spent the day in the company of Royler Gracie at Eddie Kone BJJ. I’m no know it all with Jiu Jitstu bu any means, but I do know that the Gracie family are up there and when the call came from MMAPlus asking if I’d be interested in shooting it I jumped at the chance. I’ve also met Eddie Kone a few times briefly and found him to be a lovely engaging guy so I was more than happy to pop over to his gym in East London to take some pictures.

Royler Gracie at EK BJJ

The seminar was well attended with about forty guys and girls of all ages and standards, white, blue and purple belts all on show. Royler started off the seminar with a brief history of his family cracking a few jokes along the way. Students paid full attention listening to his soft Brazilian accent before moving into teaching. The first part of the afternoon was spent explaining how to get out of an old school headlock. I couldn’t help remarking that had I know the techniques shown I would have had a very different childhood, the two moves were so simple, obvious and highly effective. Getting out of the lock with a step and a transfer or weight to gaining top control.

Royler Gracie at EK BJJ

More jokes followed with a good period of Q+A about anything from diet to motivation and an interesting part about his bout with Eddie Bravo recently.

Royler Gracie at EK BJJ

 

Although I didn’t really talk to Master Gracie I got the impression that he had loads of time for everyone, the seminar was in no way hurried and he took time for pictures and autographs with the students. He was also incredibly humble and ensured that all of the paired up students were given some attention. I really can’t fault the guy or the afternoon, Eddie Kone did an excellent job organising the event and delivered 100%.

Royler Gracie at EK BJJ

One thing I will say is that from what I saw BJJ is something that anyone can do, from children to older people, male or female especially if self-defence is on the agenda and you don’t like getting hit in the face. The gym is a totally safe environment where anyone is welcome regardless of standard. I really got the feeling that there was a great extended family within the walls.

Royler Gracie at EK BJJ

 More images from Royler Gracie at Eddie Kone BJJ Here


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Stand and Bang Oblivion

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I’ve recently calmed down the Martial arts photography as it was all getting a bit ‘samey’. I wasn’t getting the excitement or thrill of being at the front snapping any more however when I saw the Kyle Greaves was putting on another Stand and Bang at Woking’s H.G. Wells Centre I was all over it. I had missed the last one due to being out of the country, but I wasn’t going to miss this event. Added to the fact that Kyle puts on a great show every time with slick presentation, a great crowd and a twist of his own humour (music during the bouts) there was the added spectacle of the country’s first Muay Boran event. Basically two guys going at each other with ropes on their hands instead of gloves. Stand and Bang is a Muay Thai / K1 event so no grappling and no submissions in 14 seconds on the main event.

MACE RUEGG VS TOMMY GREEN  at Stand And Bang

MACE RUEGG VS TOMMY GREEN

It’s hard for me to put into perspective from a technical standpoint how good the fights and fighters were as I’m not as well versed in stand-up as I am MMA, but it seemed to me that pretty much all of the fights were well matched and there was LOTS of striking and kicking action which from a photographers perspective is great. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy MMA, but grappling isn’t photographically appealing, its more suited to video where the intricacies can be seen. Stand and Bang on the other hand does exactly that.

ALAN SCHWANA VS. LUKE KEW  at Stand And Bang

ALAN SCHWANA VS. LUKE KEW

The first of two standout fights for me was Nicola Kaye vs.  Anne Linne. I don’t know what it is about women’s combat sports but they really seem to go for it and are a lot less cautious than the guys are. I have no idea why this is but I like it. Maybe its the long hair that looks great in the pics. Who knows?!

ANNE LINNE VS NICOLA KAYE  at Stand And Bang

ANNE LINNE VS NICOLA KAYE

Secondly was of course the muay boran fight. Both Rob Hayward and Alan Davies knew that this was a bit of a risky gamble as there had been no muay boran fights in the UK previously. The first round was spent mostly kicking as the fighters gauged each others skill and tactics. To me it almost felt as if they were scared to strike each other. Davies opened up a cut on Hayward’s left eye and continued to capitalise on this as the blood started to flow. During the bread Rob was patched up however it wasn’t long into the second when Davies floored Hayward and the bout was called to a halt. The ref did a good job stopping the muay boran bout despite protestations. The cut was running into Robs left eye and a hematoma was growing on the right. We would later find out that there was a fractured eye socket.

ROB HAYWARD VS ALAN DAVIES at Stand And Bang

ROB HAYWARD VS ALAN DAVIES

Despite the injuries both fighters embraced with massive smiles one congratulating the other on their achievement saying that they had really enjoyed themselves. Of course Alan Davies came first out of two, however in my opinion both were winners.

ROB HAYWARD VS ALAN DAVIES at Stand And Bang

ROB HAYWARD VS ALAN DAVIES

Over all the evening was fantastic. Every pair of fighters that fought hugged the other showing great respect, there were no dirty tricks or cheating. The action was fast paced and the crowd awesome.

Stand and Bang Oblivion Full Gallery


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Nicole

Recently I shot Nicole for Crush Media. I shot her twice, once at her gym and secondly at my home where I can partially convert my front room into a studio.

The gym shoot I found challenging as the space was small and I was unsure of lighting as well as having a lot of mirrors bouncing the lights about so I was on the whole a little disappointed with my work as I didnt achieve what I had wanted to, this is mostly due to setting myself some pretty lofty goals in image quality. Added to this we shot late at night so didn’t have much time in which to achieve our target.

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Nicole was a star and I think she is happy with the results. I’m pleased with the squat image above and the inverted crunch image below.

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Our second shoot was as mentioned taken at my home an environment that I am much happier shooting in, I know the light and the setup and consequently the shots that I want to take. I’m far happier with these.

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Nicole did a great job and we worked together well to grab some great shots that I’m more than happy with, some keeping with the fitness theme, others with a more boudoir style.

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More images of Nicole can be seen HERE

 


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Ann-Marie

Another shoot for Crush Media. Ann-Marie and I had made contact some time ago and we both looked forward to hooking up and getting some great images. This was going to be a bit of a test for me as I knew that we’d be trying something a bit more racy than I am used to and I was sure that I would be slightly embarrassed.

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Throwing caution to the wind Anne-Marie got changed immediately and was comfortable in her underwear.

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Ann-Marie was a great model throwing herself into the modeling and didnt need too much direction, just the initial pose and then was able to improvise herself.

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You can see more of Ann-Marie HERE


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The Gas Masks

The Gas Masks

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One of the final stops on our tour was to the school in Pripyat. This was a shot that we all wanted to capture, its been taken hundreds of times before, but to actually see the number of gasmasks left here is astounding. There must have been around a thousand of these left on the floor of one of the classrooms on the ground floor, no doubt one for each of the children in the building. Whether or not these were used I don’t know, the accident happened in the middle of the night, and there was of course a cover up immediately afterwards with little information being sent out to the locals in the city.

I’m unsure of the age of the children in the school, but judging by the books I would guess that they were from about age seven up, that would mean that they are around thirty now maybe with children of a similar age, some may even have passed away from illness related to the accident.

The Gas Masks

Although predisposed with shooting the images as we didnt have too long to cover the whole school I did try to take a little time to think about its occupants, how they must have felt and what their thought may have been on the day in April 1986

There is a very moving set of pictures related to the survivors and children who have been born since 1986 by Magnum photographer Paul Fusco shot in 1997 /2000

The 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl stunned the world, releasing thousands of tons of radioactivity over an innocent population. Magnum photographer Paul Fusco revisits the affected region, searching for the accident’s enduring effects. See the project at http://mediastorm.com/publication/chernobyl-legacy


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The Grabber

The Grabber

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There are lots of ‘things’ left around Pripyat as you would expect from an abandoned city, most of these have only slightly elevated radioactivity, the majority of the vehicles have been removed to another location where they can be monitored and visitors are rarely allowed to see them due to the latency of the radiation, trucks, personnel carriers, cranes and helicopters are in the compound.

There was however this grabber that had apparently been used to remove carbon which had been left in the close vicinity of Reactor Four after the accident. The only warning to the exceptional radiation levels is the small sign to the left of the machine.

The Grabber

Our guide carried with him a meter to measure the level of radiation, as soon as we got close it started to beep, slowly at first, then more so, then more again. The level of radiation in the general area is not that much higher than the regular ambient levels in the UK. From memory the meter would read around 4 or 5 micro sievert as we were walking around. When the meter was placed in the center of the grabber the levels rocketed to 127 , around 300 times the regular level. The standard amount of radiation over a year that we all receive is around 1000 micro SV.

Needless to say, we took our pictures and vacated rather promptly.


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Tate-9456

Young British Foodies

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I had a short notice gig last week for The Tate. It was 11.15 “Can you get to The Tate for 2.30 to shoot some dishes for us?” of course I could.

Young British Foodies

As always I was welcomed warmly, looked after by the excellent front of house staff as well as being introduced to the chief and his team. In the time it took me to get set up there were already dishes waiting for me.

Young British Foodies

The Young British Foodies  celebrate new talent in the industry, those shining start of the future that we may one day see on TV or become household names. Some of the dishes were created by the 2014 winner Tomos Parry who is head chief at Kitty Fishers in Mayfair. I shan’t attempt to describe the dishes as I’ll make a terrible hash of it.

Young British Foodies

I always enjoy shooting for Tate Entertaining, the setting is ace, whether at Tate Modern, or Tate Britain and of course the food looks stunning.

Young British Foodies

Tate are running the Young British Foodies menu on Friday and Saturday throughout November. The set meal is priced at £47.50 to include a cocktail, bread and coffee.

Contact : tate.modernrestaurant@tate.org.uk to book a wonderful meal with one of the best views in London.

More images from the Young British Foodies can be found HERE

I was pleased to see that one of my images from the shoot was used on the BBC’s Olive Magazine.

Olive Mag


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Pripyat City

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I recently went on a trip to Pripyat near the Chernobyl reactor that blew up on April 26th 1986. I can just about remember this from my younger days, I would have been 15 and in the throws of preparing for my exams I think. I probably just thought that is was something bad that happened the other side of the world.

The reality is far more tragic. Many people died that day, the first people that got to the reactor were ill equipped or informed and the Soviet State kept things quiet until high levels of radiation were detected a day or so later in Norway at a nuclear reactor there. After investigation it was discovered that the source of the radiation was at the reactor site two hours from Kiev.

Rooftopping

The evacuation order was given two days after the accident, the same time as it was announced on worldwide media. Locals had started to fall ill and reported metallic tastes in their mouths which was caused by iodine used to combat radiation.

The audio below is the order to leave.

 

For the attention of the residents of Pripyat! The City Council informs you that due to the accident at Chernobyl Power Station in the city of Pripyat the radioactive conditions in the vicinity are deteriorating.

The Communist Party, its officials and the armed forces are taking necessary steps to combat this. Nevertheless, with the view to keep people as safe and healthy as possible, the children being top priority, we need to temporarily evacuate the citizens in the nearest towns of Kiev Oblast.

For these reasons, starting from April 27, 1986 2 pm each apartment block will be able to have a bus at its disposal, supervised by the police and the city officials. It is highly advisable to take your documents, some vital personal belongings and a certain amount of food, just in case, with you.

The senior executives of public and industrial facilities of the city has decided on the list of employees needed to stay in Pripyat to maintain these facilities in a good working order.

All the houses will be guarded by the police during the evacuation period. Comrades, leaving your residences temporarily please make sure you have turned off the lights, electrical equipment and water and shut the windows. Please keep calm and orderly in the process of this short-term evacuation.

—Evacuation announcement in Pripyat, 27 April 1986 (14:00)
Everyone from the city with exception of those needed to work on the faulty reactor were told to leave and take only their essentials with them. They were told that they would be able to return within three days when the emergency had been contained. Many were relocated and dispersed around neighboring towns and cities and hosted with other families. In fact no-one was allowed to return for four to six months, many returned to find that their houses had unfortunately been looted.
Although we had spend the previous day seeing some of the other locations around the city, a lot does look very similar, tall Soviet tower blocks, the same as those erected in the UK in the late sixties, most appear to still be in good structural condition. However its only when on a roof that the full size of the city can be appreciated, from the ground there is very much that is overgrown, a proper ghost town. To think that over 30,000 people were removed from their homes in such a short time is almost incomprehensible.

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Lion Fighting Championships

Lion Fighting Championships

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It’s been a while since I’ve shot MMA due to a change in tack for me and the way in which I want to work, however I had arranged with Leo Alderman some time ago to shoot Lion Fighting Championships some time ago and true to my word I was looking forward to getting back up the ladder again.

Lion Fighting Championships

Lion Fighting Championships

I arrived in good time, met Leo and was pretty much left to myself before the event started. It was good to bump into the usual suspects and catch up before everything kicked off. Leo to his credit had changed what was essentially a sports hall into something really special, good lighting and seating and everything seemed to be very well organised from the off. A really good production.

Lion Fighting Championships

The fights were all good, no mismatches and plenty went the distance or into the second round. The card was fifteen fights and ramped up throughout the evening starting with Juniors, some amateur, ladies and finally pro bouts . The crowd were ace, getting behind their friends and always respectful to each other, exactly what I would hope for and expect.

Lion Fighting Championships

Lion Fighting Championships

I would certainly recommend a visit to the next Lion Fighting Championships which will be held on December 14th, I have no doubt that it will be a great night of fights in a wonderful venue. Considering this was the first event that Leo had put on he did an amazing job.

Lion Fighting Championships

Lion Fighting Championships

Photographically the event was a little challenging, only two floodlights either side of the cage meaning that there was about two stops difference around the edges compared to the middle of the cage therefore i had to push the ISO up quite a bit. I dont often process images in black and white, but thought hat these came out well, I like the contrasty feel to them a lot.

Lion Fighting Championships

Lion Fighting Championships

The full set of Lion Fighting Championships images are HERE


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Katie--3

Katie

I was contacted recently by a friend of a friend who owns a gym to come and shoot some portraits of one the girls he’s been spending time personal training. We swapped messages and images to gain a good idea of what we were after and took it from there. I had no direct contact from our model as Dave had a good idea of what he was from a styling perspective.

Katie--3

Unfortunately I was held up by traffic on the way, a usual hour long drive took twice as long as expected, so got cracking as soon as I arrived. Katie was looking great from the off, we started with some poses in office attire in a small massage room in the gym. This was challenging as the space was so small, we still managed to get some awesome images though.

Katie Slater

We moved outside to make the most of the roof space at the gym and shot against the neighbors brick wall which gave a great backdrop.

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Whilst outside I wanted to capture Katies long legs in a bit of a catalogue pose, I think this was all natural light, possibly with a fill flash and brolly camera left.

There’s plenty more to come and I will be posting later in the week.

 


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Dannii--10

Dannii

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Dannii is a friend of Elisha who I shot not long ago. She’s another leggy Woking girl!

 (Mark Blundell)

We’d spent some time chatting on FB and arranged a shoot at my flat for a Sunday afternoon. All went well and once again my house was turned into a photo studio. Dannii and I clicked and although we have some considerable years between us got on well from the off. I think it’s important to make a client feel at ease, have a chat and get comfortable with each other. Dannii hasn’t posed properly for the camera in some years so I had to instruct her posing, this is still something that I’m working on and (in my own opinion) a particular weak point in my shooting technique at present. There’s only one way to remedy this – shoot more!

 (Mark Blundell)

Im also still trying to find my own style – with processing. It’s a part of the process that I really enjoy, yet one of the most frustrating parts as well. Its very easy to use filters or process pictures this way or that, however as a photographer its important to develop a coherent style so that a client knows what they are going to get when they contract with the photographer. All the great photographers and artists  before them have a particular look about their work. Sure, I can produce decent pics, but there needs to be some flow in the images. With guys in gyms, I know exactly what to do and I have my own way of post processing. With ladies, I’ve yet to find my groove.

 (Mark Blundell)

Overall I’m very happy with the shoot, the pics are good and Dannii was a superb model. I’m certainly more at home shooting a model in the bedroom than standing in my living room, I think its easier for the model as well as she doesn’t have to worry about what do do with a stance, laying down is easier than standing up for someone who is a non-model.


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Office Ports-6577

Corporate Headshots

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Corporate headshots are something that I’ve fancied having a crack at for some time. I really enjoy shooting portraits anyway and what better way to exercise this than with my own company.

The setup was easy and very quick, a simple white wall, shoot through umbrella and light for highlights and separating the subject from the background.

Corporate Headshot

Corporate Headshot

The team that I shot were also nice and easy as I knew everyone, so it was easy to strike up a conversation and relax the people who weren’t at ease in front of the camera.

Corporate Headshot

Corporate Headshot

I was also asked to take some shots of the office which I discovered later were to be used on our marketing material, I’m not so happy with these, had I known what they were to be used for I would have taken more time over them. This also brings up the notion of charging and copyright as well as photographic contracts which I may cover in a separate post.

Corporate Headshot

Corporate Headshot

I’m happy with the results of the corporate headshots on the whole, the team for the most part are pleased with them and were surprised at the output from one of their colleagues.


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Dasha

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This weekend I has the pleasure of shooting Dasha.

Dasha’s mum had contacted me some time ago with a view to take some snaps of her daughter.  I knew that this would be a challenging shoot as I have been recently used to shooting women in lingerie,  so coming up with poses and lighting for a full afternoon would be stretching me a little.  Nothing ventured,  nothing gained though so I threw myself into it.

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Click the image for the full gallery

The day didn’t start well to be honest,  the pair were driving from Northampton and we’re due to arrive around midday,  due to several issues conspiring against them they arrived six hours late.  Never mind,  the weather had cooled and light wasn’t as harsh which made for a better experience  for all of us.

Dasha

Click the image for the full gallery

 

Dasha was  a pleasure to shoot and although not 100% confident with posing we soon got into the groove and came up with some great shots.

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Click the image to view the full gallery

We switched the lighting around and did a costume change,  this is when the magic happened for us.  Dark background and black blouse with the beauty dish, this is the first time that I’ve actually nailed the look that I was after as opposed to simply shooting a little indiscriminately.  Images out of the camera were great and the oh’ and Ash’s coming from Dasha mum who could see the images on the camera were a sure sign of approval.

MB--8

Click the image for the full gallery

By this time it was on the dark side of dusk so did a final switch to outdoors and some more casual clothes.

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Click the image for the full gallery

Overall the day was awesome.  Dasha was superb,  threw herself into it and is very pretty so that made my job a lot easier. I learnt a lot too,  more about lighting and posing.  Every time I do a shoot I seem to come away with a ‘that’s my best so far’ feeling, this one may be hard to beat

 


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Enfusion-9905

Enfusion Live

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Enfusion Live 19 London was the second time that I’d shot for Kieran Keddle. I’d been looking forward to the event for some time. I really enjoy shooting K1, quite a bit more than MMA, mor striking more kicks and no BJJ which although technical isn’t very interesting from a photographic perspective.

We arrived early and had time for the traditional McDonald’s for fore getting to work, I’d had a heavy night previously so the carbs were welcome. and woke me up a little. Enfusion Live

The undercard was great, super bouts with all the fights well matched. The standout fights for me were the youth bouts, in both cases the fighters really going for it in a safe environment. There’s no reason why kids shouldn’t pursue martial arts to this level, all showed skill and tenacity beyond their years.

Enfusion Live

The bout I’d come to see though was Andrew Tate vs. Wendell Roche. He latter fighter has notched up over 200 fights and was holding the -90kg belt. Tate on the other hand with less than a quarter of the ring time and around twenty years junior. I don’t really know too much about Roche, Tate on the other hand is a complex character, very intelligent and very self assured, somewhat entertaining as well.Enfusion Live

The fight lasted only two rounds, Cobra Tate took the fight to Wendell, the second round was full of body blows wearing the older fighter down until he dropped to the canvas, despite getting up before the full ten count the referee called the fight declaring a KO.Enfusion Live

Tate took to the mike after the result was announced and in a show of respect praised his opponent before announcing his desire to take the -85kg belt.

The final bout of the night was between Daniel Sam and Ismael ‘The Tank’ Lazar. I don’t mind saying that I thought that this would be one way traffic with Sam dishing out all the punishment, his superior height and reach working to his advantage. The upset cane in the third round when The Tank unleashed a massive left hook that landed right on the chin of Sam dropping him immediately. The Englishman was unable to get to his feet before the count.Enfusion Live

Ismael’s fans certainly appreciated the win with a fair few of then getting int other ring giving him the bumps and holding him up in praise.

All in all a superb night again with the team at Enfusion Live, top quality production as I have come to expect from Kieran and his Dutch counterpart Betty.

Photographically the evening was challenging, I never like shooting up into the lights and it takes a bit of time to work out the best camera settings and the best settings are always a compromise. I’m glad that once again the 5dmk3 did the business, taking advantage of wide aperture and great ISO capability. I really thought that my images weren’t up to much after looking at them on the back of my camera, happily Lightroom came to the rescue and I think I’m pretty happy with the outcome.

Enfusion Live Full Gallery 


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Elisha

This weekend I had the pleasure of my second proper photoshoot with a model. Elisha is a friend of Sunny who I shot recently and is a tattoo artist.

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We’d been plotting for a while so had an idea of what between us we wanted to shoot. Similar to Sunny, Elisha hadn’t modeled previously which surprised am as she very pretty and has legs to die for!

Elisha--25

After a little coaching we got to work and managed to get some great images.

Elisha--24

We shot for around four hours, starting off dressed ending in the bedroom in underwear and her husbands shirt. Interestingly both Elisha were happier shooting in the bedroom rather than with a backdrop standing or seated. I’m not totally sure why this is, possibly as she had less to think about from a posing perspective, only having to position her hands rather than whole body.

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I’m really happy with the outcome and I know Elisha is too. Although taking and processing the pics is a joy for me, the reaction when the Elisha was the pics was priceless, ‘I can’t believe that’s actually me’!

 

Full gallery is HERE

 

 


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Sunny-

An Unexpected Pleasure

Recently I’ve become a little jaded with the MMA photography due to a number of issues. I really want a different challenge. I know that I really like taking photos of people – both guys and girls, It’s a bit more technical and I really enjoy controlling lighting with strobes and lights so I thought I’d put a shout out on Facebook last weekend. A number of friends replied saying to look into certain websites, sign up and search out models for a shoot. To be honest, I am a member of loads of websites already and to me this sounded like a bit of a chore especially when I consider very inexperienced  and a bit of a ‘noob’, I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of a pro model.

A friend of a friend who I am FB friends with responded and we got chatting. I’d only met Sunny once before and that was very briefly at a kickboxing event when I was initially introduced, but looking at her FB feed I know she’d had a really hard time recently and it soon became apparent that she would benefit from having some pictures taken to improve her self esteem. She also mentioned that doing some posed model pics was on her bucket list. We soon agreed to meet in the week one evening for a bit of a ‘get to know each other’ and a few test images then to meet at the weekend to continue and see where things led.

Sunny--4

I think both of us were rather nervous and despite swapping pics through the week we were finding our feet, lots of ‘what shall we do next’ from each other, both her and me unsure of what to actually do. Sunny was quite nervous and I was a little unsure of how to direct. I’ve only done one proper model shoot before and that was with two girls who had actually modeled before, so they were confident in how to pose. This was a whole new ball game for Sunny.  We were both learning, and my only real goal for the night was to get a couple of great portraits, nothing too exciting, but something that she and I would be happy with.

Sunny-

We had some great props too, you cant really argue with a Beretta pistol can you.

 

Sunny--3

On the whole i was very happy with the outcome of the first evenings shoot. As always looking over the shots I was very aware of my shortcomings and knew that I could have done this or done that to make the images better in camera, but that’s what learning is about, every shoot I do I learn at least one thing. I think as a photographer I notice things that regular people wouldn’t normally see, so I’m very critical of my own work. Sunny on the other hand was over the moon – mission accomplished.

We reconvened on Saturday afternoon for more of the same. as it was daylight, this photographically posed different challenges for me. However we were both feeling far more confident and comfortable in each others company, trust in each other having been built earlier in the week. We shot a few more images in the front room and nailed a couple of images that Sunny was after.

Sunny-

 

As we were both feeling good about the way things were going we decided that it would be fun to do some lingerie shots. I think we were both as embarrassed as each other to be honest. For me it was quite weird having a woman who wasn’t my girlfriend in front of me in her underwear. I certainly felt as if I was ‘eyeing her up’ however in photographer mode I’m looking for poses, hair, bra straps, correct lighting and all that sort of thing from a technical perspective as opposed to actually looking ‘at’ Sunny. It was a rather weird sensation.

Sunny--6

The above shot was taken with just light from the bedroom window with a little direction from me ‘look over there’! As time went on Sunny became more confident in her poses and with me shooting her, it was evident that by the end of the shoot that she was really enjoying herself. After each set checking out the previous images, she was obviously VERY happy in her appearance and confidence and really got into it making my job very easy.

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We has some lunch and decided to call it a day after what seemed like only a couple of hours work, the four or five hours together flew by for both of us. The images have all been processed, but hopefully in a sympathetic manner. Images all processed in Photoshop and sent to Sunny who I know was over the moon, comments such as ‘I can’t stop smiling’ and ‘I can’t believe that’s me’ certainly make my day as much as my images have made hers. I’m really happy with these shots too, I’d love to do some more of this type of work. It’s different and challenging on so many levels from what I am normally used to

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Sunny has seen a different side of herself  after our time together,  a side that she knew was there all long, but didn’t have the confidence to show off. I hope you’ll all agree that Sunny certainly looks great and that she should have no confidence issues around her appearance at all!

Click here for the full gallery. 

 

 


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Alex Montagnani vs. Nathan Jones

BAMMA 15 – Alex Montagnani vs. Nathan Jones

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This weekend we’re all set for the long awaited matchup between two of London’s most well known fighters, Alex Montagnani vs Nathan Jones – BAMMA 15 at London’s Copper Box Arena. Both fighters have held belts at Fury in the last twelve months and both are well liked on the London scene, this is a fight that the fans down here have been waiting for  for some time on a stage that befits the occasion – BAMMA 15 at The Copper Box Arena.

BAMMA 15

Nathan is a regular at UCMMA where he keeps on racking up first round wins and has shown that he is a well rounded combatant having a current record of 4-0-1, each win coming in the first round each by submission with one exce[topm which was finished off in under a minute of the second. Nathan fights out of Combat Company in Richmond.

Montagnani on the other hand is coming off a loss at Fury 9 where he stepped up to middleweight against Michael Beaumont. In my opinion this was not a good matchup and the weight didn’t suit Alex at all, fighting someone at their natural weight did him any favors at all that night sticking to his natural weight is much more suited. He currently has a 5-1-1 record all by KO / TKO / Punches. Alex hails from South East London’s  New Wave Academy based in Crystal Palace.

BAMMA 15

The journey of both fighters couldn’t be more chalk and cheese. Montiagnani comes from a family rich in martial arts history, his father started teaching his son at age four showing that you’re never too young to start the game. Motagnani Snr was in a good position to start teaching, his own repertoire includes Amateur Boxing, Aikido, Judo and BJJ.  Alex is now attained blue belt BJJ and a judo black belt. Alex naturally made the switch to MMA to combine his skills and learn more  in the striking  arena. Alex has trained regularly with Max Nunes at NWA. He has also spent time training at Alliance in San Diego and Tristar in Canada where he spent time with many of the top fighters in the sport. Alex has recently started giving back to the community working with Colin Nwadike at Lewisham and Southwark College showing the kids how its done, bringing a positive change to those who may not have come across the sport previously, or wanted to try something a little different.

BAMMA 15
Jones on the other hand had a defining moment when after a night out he was set about by some youths who got the better of him. It was this event that made the Richmond man decide to make changes to his life, ditch bad living and start to look after himself. He started to live a ‘yes man’ life and when a friend asked if he fancied a trip to Combat Company, he couldn’t say ‘no’. I don’t believe Nathan ever set out for revenge on those guys in any way, but wanted to make sure that a similar situation wouldn’t happen again, if it did he’d be on a position to look after himself knowing that he was all the better for the terrible experience he had previously had.

Since then Jones has regularly been a face on the London circuit at Fury and UCMMA. One of the new school of fighters Jones almost immediately started training MMA as opposed to Alex’s early single discipline mostly in grappling which may make him a more rounded fighter. Jones currently holds a blue belt BJJ and brown belt in kickboxing (one off black), not bad progress for someone who has only recently started out, this shows the dedication, hard work and maybe a little natural talent goes a long way. I know that Nathan also works hard and has been a youth worker for almost ten years now, again giving back to the community.

BAMMA 15

Jones has been a master of marketing himself with his moniker of Mr Bag and Tag, something which has a ring to it given the manner in which he has dispatched recent opponents, he’s a good crowd draw as well and seems to get the twelfth man in the cage with him when the crowd are on his side. He’s also good at the banter game and likes to wind up opponents on Facebook and Twitter a fair bit, all in good humour though.

Surprisingly the banter from Mr Bag and Tag has almost been non existent for this fight. Could this be a sign that the fighter is taking the BAMMA event far more seriously than others or possibly a sign that he’s worried about his opponent being his sternest test to date or is it simply that Nathan has a busy life at present.

Alex in contrast just gets on with it, he has no interest in pre-fight antics preferring to let his skills do the talking on the night, he’s the quiet but deadly type, you know when he’s in the room though.  This will be the biggest stage both fighters have appeared on and there could be a great deal of nerves for the pair of them performing at the Copper Box which can hold up to 6.500 screaming fans. Who will handle it better and cope with the pressure positively? Will one fighter already have lost before the door to the octagon closes?

BAMMA 15

As for who will win, I’m not really qualified enough to point out one vs the other, Motagnani is traditionally a grappler, but has won all his fights through his striking ability, Jones on the other hand and caught all of his opponents with submissions using his BJJ skills. It would appear that both fighters have a stack of supporters, each post, interview or picture has a similar number of fans commenting that their guy is going to take the win. I really like both fighters and have grown to know them over the last eighteen months, both staunchly support fighters out of their gyms and put the miles in cornering for them, looking after the more inexperienced who are taking their first steps seems to be as important as taking part in bouts themselves and for that both Nathan and Alex should be applauded, its the true spirit of the MMA fraternity, its all about the team.

I probably see each at least twice a month and they’re  always happy and willing to shake hand and share a joke together, I can honestly say that there is nothing I dislike about either in any way. I really can’t pick a winner to this bout, neither my heart or mind will sway either way. From a photographic perspective I hope that the fight lasts longer than one round, I don’t have many pictures of either fighter in action as neither of them likes working overtime.

My one hope is that they both put up a great bout at BAMMA 15 and that neither get seriously hurt at the end of it. Hopefully for both the winner and the loser this will be a step up towards bigger things and fighting on a global stage very soon.

Nathan Jones – FACEBOOK // TWITTER

Alex Montagnani – FACEBOOK // TWITTER


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Ben McGonigle

Killacam Fight Night 7

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Last weekend we took a trip to Margate for Killacam Fight Night 7 Invictus. I’ve never been to Margate or to a Killacam event. To be totally frank, I wasn’t sure what to expect, however I’ve met the promoter Cameron Else several times both at events where he was spectating and at Cage Warriors where he was competing. I really liked him so thought it would be worth a try. The drive was easy, and we found Margate Winter Gardens easily. Stepping into the event I was pleasantly surprised. A lovely traditional space with a great large cage for the fighters, plenty of tables meaning that the punters wouldn’t be too cramped as well. Cameron warmly greeted and briefed us and issued passes and we were set.

 (Mark Blundell)

The event kicked off on time at 6pm with the only amateur bout on the  xx fight card. As the event progressed so did the skill of the fighters, all evenly matched and mostly from local clubs Silverbacks and Jordan Millar with a few others thrown in for good measure. By 7pm the venue was full, another couple of photographers turned up and we happily agreed to share the ladder and take it in turns. Just how it should be, professional respect and helping each other out.

 (Mark Blundell)

The main card was superb, a step up from a regular local show with fans from the clubs getting involved in cheering their fighters on. As the evening ramped up so did the excitement and noise.

 (Mark Blundell)

The final bout was between Ben McGonigle and Frenchman Ylies Djiroun. Earlier in the evening Cameron had told me that he had to go to the airport to pick up Djiroun, showing his commitment to the event. I’ve seen Ben fight on UCMMA a few times and really like him, both as a fighter and as a person, always happy and always up for it. I knew this was either going to be an easy one round bout for one or the other fighters or a total war. I was glad that it was the latter. The first two rounds defiantly went the way of the French guy, he landed some vicious elbows right in front of me resulting in a massive bruise on the cheek of McGonigle, as the fourth started it was obvious that both fighters were heavily fatigued.

 (Mark Blundell)

Ben stepped it up and gave a master class in body blows, stomach and obliques being the target. It wasn’t long before Djiroun dropped to the canvas. Ben was quick to capitalise on the fall, however the ref stepped in before more damage could be done. Both fighters were totally drained, the war of attrition complete with McGonigle showing once again that he is a tank and can take an amazing amount of stand up punishment.

 (Mark Blundell)

All in all this was a superb evening of entertainment from all involved. I really couldn’t have asked for a better setting, organisation or crowd from a show of this size. Cameron certainly has a winning formula and in my opinion should stick to it.

Photographically I couldn’t have asked for much more, the cage was large giving fighters space to move and the lighting great meaning that I didn’t have to push the ISO too much. Added to this there were only three or four photographers so no one was getting in each other’s way and we a mangled to easily work around each other.

Check out the post fight interviews on the MMAPLUS Youtube channel.

The only downside was that I got home quite late and Palace Kebabs was closed.

Killacam Fight Night 7

full gallery

Pro Bouts

Ben McGonigle def. Ylies Djiroun via TKO (punches) rnd 4 new KFN lightweight champion

Matt Robinson def. Jorden Miller via sub (triangle) in 3.19 of rnd 1

Romain Roberts def. Nathan Sparks via sub (RNC) in 3.15 of rnd 2

Semi Pro Bouts

Alex Lohore def. Barry Ryan via split decision

Denzil Duncan def. Kaine Bingham via unanimous decision

Brady Cann def. Mark Harris via sub (RNC) 2.17 rnd 2

Darren Steward def. Chris Kennel via KO in 2.51 of rnd 1

Makesea Mwanza def. TJ Simmons via sub (Guillotine choke) at 2.38 of rnd 1

Liam Bird def. Ben Lukey via sub (RNC) rnd 1

Undercard

Alec Connelly def. Steve Wise via sub (Armbar) in 1:39 of rnd 1

Karlos Kaminskas def. Ryan Mairs via TKO (strikes) at 2:01 of the rnd 1

Jamie Peach def. Jack Duffy via unanimous decision

Chris Saunders def.Jason Collins via TKO (strikes) in 0:21 of rnd 1

Danny Thompson def. Luke Plamer via unanimous decision

Ben Conway def. Ben Ford via sub (Kimora) in 1:30 of rnd 2

Thomas Terdjman def. Richard Tutt via sub (RNC) in 0.48 of rnd 2

Thanks to MMAPLUS for the company driving as always.


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Published-29

Image Usage and Copyright

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As I have progressed on my mixed martial arts photography over the last seventeen months my kit has improved as have my images, I’ve now attended thirty five events in this time. I’ve got a decent name for myself in the industry and am fairly well recognised in the South of the UK. I’ve been lucky enough to have been asked to be official photographer for BAMMA and another couple of smaller events, this is indeed an honor and greatly appreciated as a vote of confidence in my work, that I can turn out quality images quickly to those who employ me. During this time I have also shot plenty of fighters at gyms, some for my own benefit to hone portraiture skills and some for my colleagues at MMAPlus.

Tom 'Kong' Watson (Mark Blundell)

When I started out I was super happy to give my images to magazines fighters and generally whoever wanted them free of charge, especially if I had asked to attend an event myself or spend time with one of the guys at their gym to shoot them as well. However there comes a point when anyone whatever their trade realises that the time and effort that is put in is worth more than exactly ‘nothing’ and one then has to think about charging for work, be that as a single payment for a photoshoot, or for images of a particular fight. I’m not comfortable in my mind with the fees that I charge and I’m pretty sure that they will stay at current levels for a while until I feel that I am good enough to take a step up.

Jimmy Wallhead Vs. Florent Betorangel (Mark Blundell)

Here lies the rub. My images are sold at as little as £2.00 each for a small shot, something that is suitable for a Facebook posting. I used to leave my galleries without watermarks until a fighter at a recent event took iPAD screenshots of around fifteen images, which I thought was a bit of a liberty. On went the large watermarks at the foot of the picture, leaving peole to crop them out. I have therefore been forced to have larger watermarks that you see in the pictures now. Still people continue to do exactly the same, but at least my logo is present. See HERE // HERE

As I have been lucky enough to shot up and coming fighters when they make a step up my images start to appear on other websites – for instance HERE // HERE // HERE and below is the original picture which was taken on my first encounter with MMA at my local club New Wave Academy

Max Nunes

On one hand a photographer, or any tradesman wishes their work to be recognised and saeen by as many people as possible (I have very good SEO), on the other the copyright needs to be protected.

Anyone who downloads my images for PERSONAL use should realise exactly that is – Personal USE alone, i.e. not to pass to magazines or events without the photographers say so. My terms of use are HERE.

Previously I believed this to be a bit of a grey area, however there has been a new release of the “Copyright Notice: digital images, photographs and the internet” document from the Government Intellectual Property Office, it can be found HERE. For me, the most pertinent parts is shown below.

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copy2

The document does however point out that if images are posted (by the photographer) to a social media site that they will be governed by terms and conditions of that website – ie Facebook / Twitter and Instagram. There’s a great article HERE by Tim Gilbreath that goes into more detail and what to do about it.

For instance see HERE  and the oiginal pic of Nathan Jones HERE

I’m generally a reasonable guy, and if someone wants my image for a website or print we can have a conversation and deal with it, however its frustrating when an image I gave to someone appears on a poster without my permission, or when we loosely agreed that they could use it for one purpose and it turns up elsewhere. This has happened on several occasions and its very annoying. This could be my own fault for not being 100% clear about the terms. In future I will rectify this and send a link to my own usage terms with all pictures and would strongly urge others to do similar.

Although a website may insist that credit will be given, that doesn’t pay the bills and I know for a fact that camera equipment is not cheap and we all give up a lot of our time for the sport and pleasure of taking shot of the athletes at work. I have mentioned before in posts both here and on Facebook that on the whole it takes around twenty hours from leaving my house to finishing processing. Would you honestly do twenty hours work for someone if the only recompense were to be that they told you that you did a good job?

Copyright infringement can be dealt with via the small claims court online (HERE) and as far as I am aware no appearance in person in necessary.


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UFC Fight Night Gustafsson vs. Manuwa

UFC Fight Night Gustafsson vs. Manuwa

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UFC Fight Night Gustafsson vs. Manuwa fight day was upon us yesterday and to say I was excited was an understatement. Ive never been to an arena of the sixe of the O2 for any event let alone for a fight night so i was expecting good things. Once checked in I casually took a look at my pass to see….. CAGESIDE. Awesome. This was my first UFC event in the UK and I wasnt really sure what to expect. In Sweden I was up in the cheap seats so had a very different experience.

 (Mark Blundell)

 

This was very slick, quality media room, catering and all mod cons. Luckily another photographer who Id came across before (Steve Mitchell) was there so sort of took me under his wing a little. Walking out into the arena was immense. I was trying hard to be Mr Cool I must admit. I’ve done MMA photography often enough to know the ropes so wasn’t too phased by it to be honest, kit ready and we’re off.

 (Mark Blundell)

We’d spent a lot of time with the fighters and despite not knowing the majority of them at the run up to te event after carrying out interviews I felt that I had some small insight into their psyche. It was great to see the jovial guys with whom we’d chatted only the day before enter the arena with their work face on ready to do battle. I particularly warmed to Louis Guadinot, with his flamboyant dress sense and green hair and despite his opponent being British and from GymO1 in Portsmouth I was sort of rooting for him and cast a smile when he sunk in a deep choke causing Harris to tap in the first, there was nothing the Englishman could do.

 (Mark Blundell)

Of course Cambridge man Luke Barnatt was on form, and managed to gain a win over Mats Nilsson towards the end of the first, the result expected . Luke for me is one of the nicest guys I’ve met in the game, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, he has his head screwed on, for him its business. I’d previously discussed with my buddies in the week about the relatively short shelf-life of a fighter and Luke is doing everything right to maximize his exposure within the sport, he’s intelligent, articulate and also quite humble, all superb qualities to have. I’d really like to do a proper photoshoot with the guy too.

 (Mark Blundell)

Pickett vs. Seery was a great bout, both giving their all from the start. Brad is one tough cookie and always puts on a great display, however credit where it’s due, the Irishman put up a good fight and despite being the underdog too the fight the distance only for Pickett to get the nod from the judges. It was the expected result, however not many thought that the fight would go the distance. I see a bright future for 2Tap in the division despite his defeat and given that he took the fight on short notice the Londoner made hard work of the night.

There have been suggestions that the pair should have gained Fight of the Night for there bout, however with neither fighter finishing his opponent I can see why the main event got the nod. With recent changes in the bonus award structure the UFC is pushing for finishes and exciting fights from competitors, not a decision from the referee or judges.

 (Mark Blundell)

The biggest letdown of the night for me was Melvin Guillard vs Michael Johnson. We’d spent time with Guillard during the week, he came across well, a little cocky, but in a good way, not being afraid to tell it how it was. Exclaiming that his previous and supposed opponent Ross ‘The Real Deal’ Pearson wouldn’t accept a rematch after their previous bout was ended early. He spent the entire three rounds back peddling trying to avoid a confrontation. Possibly both of the fighters were aware of each other’s explosive power and timing consequently nullifying any chance of combat. The rematch between Guillard and Pearson was slated for the Berlin outing on May 31st, however after this result, that might not come off.

 (Mark Blundell)

Jimi Manuwa cut a forlorn figure when he entered the press conf after the show, I can imagine that he would have felt more comfortable in any other place than having the cameras on him. He really had no need to be down though, despite his defeat I felt that he acquitted himself well having fought the worlds number two. I’m sure that his pride is dented, however he still retains the lions pride and I have no doubt he’ll be back.

Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jimi Manuwa (Mark Blundell)

Although Manuwa spent a good deal of time on his back during the first Gustafsson was unable to capitalise on this just tiring the Croydon mans left arm, in fact Manuwa was able to escape from the ground position and get back to how feet to stand and trade once again.

Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jimi Manuwa (Mark Blundell)

So what’s next for the pair? I have no idea where Jimi will end up after his defeat, another top ten opponent hopefully possibly in the US. Jimi will have to get his skates on though, at 34 there will be a lot of up an comers snapping at his heels in the coming years. Let’s not forget that Gustafsson was also beaten by Phil Davis in UFC 112 however the Swede will undoubtedly face the victor of the Jon Jones vs. Glover Texeira fight at UFC 172 in Baltimore.

 (Mark Blundell)

With every loss there is a win, Jimi has a great team around him and they will take positives from the performance to ensure the same doesn’t happen again. Dana White in the post fight interview mentioned that he may take Manuwa overseas to fight next time. The quiet man will be given another chance to roar and be the pride of the country. In addition Jimi said that he would really like to remain with Gustafsson, a prospect which the Swede accepted and I think would welcome, who better to learn from than the man that just beaten you, again the fighters showing the respect that they have done since the fight was announced.

I hope that Manuwa can take a lot from the experience of being top of the card, from being thrown into the limelight, doing press appearances which he clearly wasn’t comfortable with at first to dealing with such a big platform on which to perform. This really was two steps forward and one back for him, however Jimi is by no means back where he stareted and proved that he can handle the big stage and all that it entails.

 (Mark Blundell)

A favorable home show in Sweden was quashed by the UFC president Dana White during the post fight press conference due to time difference with the pay per view audience on the natural home soil of the UFC in the US. This is a shame as it would be a great coup for Garry Cook The EMEA boss. White did however say that he thought it wholly possible to have a title fight in Europe at some point. Previously in the week he had also mentioned that there were no plans to have a two tier structure with EMEA playing second fiddle to the States ensuring that the talent is spread around the world. In my opinion this is a great decision, one heat may see a home grown undercard with the main card populated as it should be.

My overall impression if the event was a great one. Some of the staff had been extremely helpful all week, we played but he rules and hey helped us out with interviews and fighter access. As always fight night was great and gave me an insight into the media side of things, the reporters rushing back and forth after fights for interviews in the stacked media room, mikes thrust Towards faces of the ecstatic winners and saddened losers who would probably rather be anywhere else.

 (Mark Blundell)

From a photography perspective UFC Fight Night Gustafsson vs. Manuwa was an absolute dream to work on. The lights were bright allowing for fast exposure and although there was a large apron around the cage, we had plenty of room to move to get some great shots. I’m very happy with my images from the event and although not quite up there with the very best, I’m gaining and learning with each outing still trying to cement myself towards the top of the pile. I’m still very much second division compared to some of the pros, but looking for promotion this season.

That wrapped a hectic week for me and the team working with MMAPLUS. Next week we’re down to earth with another event at the O2, this time at the smaller IndigO2. We have to keep it real and support grass roots as much as the big shows.

Full Gallery of images

UFC Fight Night Gustafsson vs. Manuwa

Thanks go out to  MMAPLUS // Chamatkar Sandu // Jorden Curran // Abbey Subhan

* note I am a photographer not a writer or journo so please appreciate the copy bay be a bit poor!


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UFC Fightnight - Gustafsson vs. Manuwa

UFC Fight Night London – Gustafsson vs. Manuwa at O2 Arena

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After the last three days of hard graft its time for the main event  – UFC Fight Night London – Gustafsson vs. Manuwa at O2 Arena. This will be the biggest MMA event that the UK has seen, the O2 sold out 16,000 tickets some time ago such is the demand. The event will be for the first time shown on Channel 5 terrestrial as well as BT sport in the UK, this can only mean good things are in the offing for MMA in the UK.

Over the last three days I’ve been working with MMAPlus ahead of the event this evening. Its been hard work, long days and very tiring, but interesting to see how the pre-production runs and great to meet some of the fighters, film interviews and take a few pictures.

Once again all of the fighters we have met and interviewed have been absolute stars, all gentlemen and all very accommodating to the media people. Its been lovely to meet some people whom I normally only chat to on Facebook or Twitter and to reacquaint myself with others who I cross paths with only occasionally.

Luke Barnatt Mr Big Slow as always gave a great interview, the guy really has his head screwed on and understands the business side of things, he’s someone I really like in the industry, a great sense of humor and drive for being the best he can.

 (Mark Blundell)

I can’t really pick out one highlight moment, however our interview with Melvin Guillard was interesting, he didn’t hold back and came across very well indeed showing a ;lot of personality. I really like the guy. Also his conversation with regard to Ross Pearson rematch was interesting, saying that there was possible judging bias in the initial fight (3.45 into the video) and that Ross hadn’t been asking him for another crack at the whip. Ross on the other hand said earlier that he was up for another fight and that Melvin was up for it too only an hour or so prior to this. Someone clearly isn’t saying the exact truth, however the census was that the rematch would take place in Berlin on 31 May.

 (Mark Blundell)

Another great interview is our chart with Forrest Griffin, we managed to catch him on the couch in the hotel and grabbed some great insight into his life as the winner of TUF #1 way back in January of 2005. He’s a really entertaining fella, outgoing and a total gent with a bit of a comical streak.

 (Mark Blundell)

Friday as always was weigh-ins – everyone made weight and pleased the crowds. The Q and A was great as well with Forrest once again being cheeky and looking at home on the sage equally so Conor McGregor, the old and new taking their place. From a media perspective Conor has it totally nailed, always happy and always willing to appease the fans. Joining thee pair was Ross Pearson and Jo Calderwood, the latter still getting used to the media attention. Hopefully she will acquit herself well in The Ultimate Fighter 20 house.

As for the main event at UFC London Fight Night – Gustafsson vs. Manuwa,  the question everyone is asking – who will win – Gustafsson or Manuwa? When Jimi took his shirt off for the weigh-in there was a gasp from the assembled crowd as if to say – look at him he’s MASSIVE’ – UFC President Dana White in the post weigh-in scrum said that “Manuwa was in the best shape of his life”. The fight has comparison to that of the earlier bout between Gus and Jones, the former coming in aas the underdog with nothing to loose and everything to gain. This time the tables are turned. Jimi could well cause an upset.

 (Mark Blundell)

Comapred to Alex’s taller and more rangy In my opinion Gus seems to have the upper hand having gone the distance with Jon ‘Bones’ Jones and being the first person to take him down. however having witnessed Manuwa in training both striking at his home gym and grappling at Nova Forca with Ricardo da Silva I really believe that he has a good chance of taking the victory. I’m sure that Manuwa will try to keep the fight standing to use is massive hitting power, Gus will try to take it to the ground and submit his opponent. The betting odds are stacked in favor of the Swedish fighter and odds on the fight going the distance are high. My money is however going on a Manuwa win via KO or TKO in the second round.

The overwhelming feeling that I got from all the people that we spoke to was however that the fighters all really enjoy what they do – sanctioned violence. They know what they are getting into and know that they have a chance to win, even the big underdogs. Fighting is they’re job and they all really enjoy it. Who would rightly go to work in a role which involved getting hit in the face if it wasn’t fun.

I wish each and everyone of them the best of luck for this evening, lets hope that all of the fights go down in an honorable fashion and that there are no major injuries.

The full Gallery will be going up here :

UFC Fight Night London – Gustafsson vs. Manuwa

 

 


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Gary Cook

UFC London Countdown

Six days to go until UFC Fight Night arrives in London. Prior to that we have a stack of work to do. Press duties are taken up from Wednesday through to Saturday, lots of work is on the horizon and far from being three days off work, this will be three days of hard work I have no doubt.

This is a very important event I the calendar for UKMMA and the UFC as a whole in the EMEA region. BT have been pushing MMA through BT Sport, added to this Channel 5 have picked up the nights entertainment on free to view. This is significant as the sister Channel 5* is the only other way to view terrestrial MMA in this country showing the irregular but excellent  BAMMA events.

Although I am entrenched in the industry I’m getting a real buzz off of the community getting behind the home fighters, especially Jimi Manuwa who is taking on the excellent Alexander Gustafsson. Manuwa is the underdog, much as how us Brits like it. This time I’m confident we wont be beaten in the semi-finals and that Jimi will bring home the bacon for the country.

Gary Cook

Gary Cook

Gary Cook has a lot riding on this event, the lower status Fight Night with no titles on the card mean that interest in the US may not be at a peak on Saturday, however the reach to prime time in EMEA is key. The event is mostly staffed by European and UK fighters so can only help to strengthen the division and show the stateside fighters what’s on offer.

The remainder of the week will, I have no doubt pan out well, new alliances forged and old ones strengthened. We’re in for an exciting time and despite my short time in the industry I really do feel that we’re on the cusp of something special.


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Stand and Bang

Stand and Bang

Another Saturday and another event for me. This time Stand and Bang in Woking in a ring with ropes as opposed to an octagon with fencing. Yes it was time for a bit of K1 / klickboxing and straight boxing.

This isn’t my normal fare however the few kickboxing events that I’ve been to have been great fun, both photographically and from an action perspective. Stand and Bang is run by Kyle ‘Ringmaster’ who organizes, produces and MCs on the night. He’s a top guy all round. Prior to the kick off Kyle was quote stressed ensuring that everything was how it should be, making sure that his event was spot on for all in attendance. Once the lights went down and the tux was on like superman an air of calm descended and he was in his element presenting to the  people in attendance.

George Beach vs. Reinaldo Santos (Mark Blundell)

The first bout was between two amateur youths, ( JAY MILLER VS. WESLEY CLARKE ) who gave a Great account of themselves proving that age should be no barrier to the sport and youngsters can compete just as well as the adults. Anyone who thinks it’s wrong seeing kids go at it in a combat sport needs to get their head checked. These two did a great job of showing the sport at its best.

Jay Miller vs. Wesley Clarke (Mark Blundell)

The second bout between LUCIANO MENDOLA and MACE RUEGG  almost got fight of the night. To young combatants fighting each other with the no fear attitude that only youth can bring. For x rounds both fought hard and fair with the exception of one picking the other up, youthful exuberance taking hold for a split second.

Luciano Mendola vs. Mace Ruegg (Mark Blundell)

The remainder if the card was made up of adults at different weights from local clubs and some from further afield including a gym from

Boxing was also on the agenda as well as kickboxing and that also delivered with a few good bouts on the card, the highlight of which was ROY KELDIE VS. PIERS RAVENHILL

Roy Keldie vs. Piers Ravenhill (Mark Blundell)

The final set of fights were for ISKA titles and delivered in spades. Great entertainment and skill shown by all. For me I enjoyed GEORGE DAVIES VS. TRISTAN TATE. I scored the first round as a draw, duriung the middle rounds it looked as if  Tate was tiring, Davis having him on the ropes and boxed into the Shinkick Gyms corner for a while. Tate,  egged on and encouraged by his sibling Andrew Tate (himself 2x world kickboxing champion) survived the round after a few shaky moments. After the break and strong words from his corner Tate recovered and managed to get back into the fight. Tate finished strongly and got the win on the judges cards leaving him to take the belt home after a two year lay off from competitive pro rules combat.

George Davies vs. Tristan Tate (Mark Blundell)

All in all,this was a superb evening of fighting from start to finish, all fighters showed courage during their time in the ring and respect whether winning or loosing after the end of the fights.
Kyle’s attention to detail was superb, making sure that fighters, staff and guests had a great evening. Unfortunately there was a small scuffle on the crowd, however this was soon resolved by he security at the HG Wells centre and some choice words from the ringmaster and proceedings soon got underway again.

Tariq Shafiq vs. Karl Langley (Mark Blundell)

There really is nothing not to like about Stand and Bang and I would use anyone interested in a high octane night to check out the event in the future. I know that there is already another in the pipeline billed as a more amateur event which of its half as good as this one will be a great day out.


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Cage Warriors 64

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The date for my birthday was to be Cage Warriors 64 at London’s Kentish Town, another card stacked full of talent  with the main three events being fighters that I had previously watched in some very exciting fights. Danny ‘Hot Chocolate’ Roberts, Jake ‘Brutal’ Bostwick and ‘Capcom’ Cory Tait. The undercard was no less exciting with several fighters who I have come to know a little bit over the last eighteen months as an MMA photographer.

Danny Roberts vs. Juan Manuel Suarez (Mark Blundell)

Cory Tait managed to get the win over James Pennington in the first round after a flurry of exchanges. The pair ended up on the ground against the cage with Pennington on top only got Tait to manage a headlock which transitioned into a guillotine choke leaving the south coast fighter no option but to tap out.

Cory extends his record to 8-2 halting Pennington’s three win streak on Cage Warriors 64

James Pennington vs. Cory Tait (Mark Blundell)

Fight of the night went to a justly deserved battle between Jake Bostwick and Boubacar Balde. After a slow first round both fighters came out for the second more animated and aggressive. Some slick ground work saw Bostwick jump from side to full mount several times and getting to work with some ground and pound, Balde managed to weather the storm and took advantage of Bostwicks hastiness and managed to gain control dishing out some tasty elbows and opening up a two inch gash on Bostwicks forehead which started to bleed immediately. The third round kicked off and again both fighters took it to each other, Balde looking to capitalise on the earlier cut. Both fighters ended up against the fence trading short blows until Bostwick gained control and got Balde to the floor for some payback. With the final 10 seconds sounding Bostick did his best to finish off Balde raining punches and elbows onto the head of the Frenchman.

 (Mark Blundell)

Despite this being the first outing with the organisation at  Cage Warriors 64 for Balde he put up an excellent fight and I’ll be very excited to see him back in the cage again sometime soon.

Boubacar Balde vs. Jake Bostwick (Mark Blundell)

As always Cage Warriors 64 was a slick operation, easy entry and well organised, mostly due to each part of the card being streamed on the internet, there was very little ‘MMA’ time here. From a photographic perspective the event was top drawer, great lighting makes for great pictures. With the punters allowed into the Cage Warriors 64  venue at around 6pm the prelim card was underway at 6.30. At 11.00 the show was over, a capacity crowd filed out of the venue having watched a superb night of fighting.

Click the link for the full CAGE WARRIORS 64 galleries

CAGE WARRIORS 64 MAIN CARD

Cory Tait def. James Pennington via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 2:35
Jake Bostwick def. Boubacar Balde via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Danny Roberts def. Juan Manuel Suarez via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Nad Narimani def. Benjamin Brander via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 4:53
Laura Howarth def. Amanda Kelly via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Matt Inman def. Gregor Weibel via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

CAGE WARRIORS 64 PRELIMINARY CARD

Brad Wheeler def. David Howell via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 1, 4:46
Spencer Hewitt def. Cameron Else via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Charlie Watts def. Andy Kerr via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Andrei Manzolo def. Dan Edwards via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 3:36
Daniel Crawford def. Huseyin Garabet via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 2:43
Veera Nykanen def. Kirsty Davies via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)


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Jimi Manuwa at the Manuwa vs. Gustafsson press conference.

Manuwa vs. Gustafsson

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First post of the year for me and its a good one. I’ve been suffering from camera withdrawal symptoms over the last few weeks so was glad to get the call from MMAPlus to invite me to Gymbox for a quick lunchtime shoot for the Manuwa vs. Gustafsson fight at UFC Fight Night London on March 8th.

Jimi Manuwa vs. Alexander Gustafsson (Mark Blundell)

Both Jimi and Alex were on a week tour of the UK and Sweden before making final preparations for their bout later next month. It was funny to see both of the fiughters together in close quarters and although not really speaking to each other during the time we were shooting each fighter expressed respect for the other. It must be rather strange spending the week with someone who in only fourty five days will be stood in the octagon ready to punch you in the face.

Jimi Manuwa vs. Alexander Gustafsson (Mark Blundell)

Alex having fought Jon ‘Bones’ Jones last year and gaining recognition for fight of the year seemed far more at ease with cameras and interviews, possibly far more used to it than Jimi. However having met Jimi a few times I know he’s a quiet guy who likes to let his fists do the talking.  Even without the cameras I’ve not really seen him open up in conversation apart from with trainers and colleagues in his gym  (Lions Pride) in Croydon.

Jimi Manuwa vs. Alexander Gustafsson (Mark Blundell)

As to who will win the Manuwa vs. Gustafsson fight. The odds are in Alex ‘s favor, however Jimi could well come and bring an upset he’s 14-0 since 2008. I know he is training hard and has the heart to win. I’ve seen him sparring up close and personal so I know where my money is going on March the 8th I have to side with the local lad from no more than five miles from my house.

I really do hope that #LionsEatFirst.

Full gallery for Manuwa vs. Gustafsson is here. 

 

 


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