How to Get Started in MMA Photography
MMA is considered one of the fastest growing sports, and everyone wants a piece of the action. This article will explain how we got started, or how you can get started. MMA is exciting and whether you’re an established photographer or new to photography, you can build a nice action packed portfolio. I like reading ehow.com so I’ll follow the ehow.com format because its simple.
1. First and foremost you need the proper equipment. There are different kinds of photography, as the say goings “Don’t show up to a gunfight with a knife”. Sports photography in general requires decent camera bodies preferably a semi-pro or pro body for lots of shooting. Its not fun shooting vertical with on a consumer brand camera unless you have a vertical grip. Pro grade lenses are the most important part of photography and can be very expensive. MMA photographers are either shooting under low light or distances if auxiliary media so you’ll need an assortment of lenses to meet various shooting conditions. Don’t expect the fight promoter to understand photography, so expect to be placed in less than prime situations around the cage. Typically you’ll be fine with an F/2.8 24-70 and 70-200 lens. If you’re at the cage you should do fine with a 24-70 lens. Its always good to have a spare body with the 70-200 lens attached for extreme closeups of fighter emotions or blood, tear, gut, and sweat shots. The most important thing about MMA photography, if the promoter uses a cage focus past the cage not at the cage. Occasionally you get good shots which encompass the cage, but if all your shots show the cage and the fighters blurred place your garbage images in the trash.
2. Search google, listen to local sports radio shows, and visit local martial arts gyms for reoccurring promotions or upcoming MMA shows in your area. If you know a fighter or aspiring fighter your in a good position because he/she probably knows where the competitions are and may even get you in to shoot his/her fight. Once you find and event make that your niche and keep returning for more practice.
3. They say if you love what you do, you’d probably do it for free. People who make a living as a photographer will tell you no matter what, never ever work for free! Not only are you doing yourself a disfavor, but your hurting those who earn their living as a photographer. Just as the promoter wants to sell tickets, the fighters eventually want to get sponsors to pay for their training, and the concessionaires want to sell t-shirts, popcorn, posters, beer, and whatever it would be in your best interest to shop your photos around to local papers, fighters, promoters, and anyone else interested in the photos you’ve taken. If your photography is good you can even up sell your skill and do stuff like fighter portraits. Also be sure you’re allowed to sell prints and images. Some organizations do not allow you to sell the images you’ve taken at their show. Even if you’ve taken photos and can not sell your work, you can use it in other ways. I’ll repeat this again do not give away your hard work for free. The next best alternative is to reduce your photo images to a lower resolution and make sure all are watermarked with your signature or trademark. Give a couple of images to fighters, or use a service such as Facebook and twitter to advertise your work. Eventually quality work will pay off! Remember you are an artist, when was the last time you saw a painting or professional photo that was not signed, sign your work!
4. No one can truly help you but yourself. If you’re rich and can afford the equipment have a sugar mama, sugar daddy, or investor cool go buy all the equipment you think you’re going to need and learn how to use it! Buy yourself business cards, build a portfolio, and learn how to network with people. If you have the personality of a brick, you won’t get far! Customers pay to see good fights, so be sure not to ruin the experience by getting in the way if you’re at the cage. Once you come from behind the camera don’t be afraid to mingle with promoters, fighters, and fans. Mingle with other media folk, they’re your brethren and not the enemy.
5. Join organizations such as sportsshooter.com, nppa.org, or meet other mma/sports photographers at meetup.com. Even after continuously working as an MMA photographer for a few years, I am always learning something, and love to hear other peoples techniques so keep your mind, eyes, and ears open. I’m not sure of the exact quote but Bruce Lee once said something to the effect of be liquid! Be liquid, and your photos will get better and better as you adapt and learn new things.
6. Last but not least, you’re not getting rich as an MMA fighter. Most people involved in MMA wether supporting the fighters or fighting are in it for the love of the sport. As a photographer you’re supporting the fighter because you’re capturing their moment! There are only a few people who are rich in the MMA business, check mmapayout.com and you’ll see how much fighters don’t get paid. If any photographer is rich in the business it must be Ed Mulholland(http://edmulholland.com/blog/), because his photos are awesome in my opinion!
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