Story Assignment – Research

For my story assignment, I’ve been shooting in a university boxing gym. I wanted to research martial arts photographers to get inspiration, particularly as I remember looking before and not finding many that I liked.

Nicolai Howalt

Nicolai Howalt – Boxers

This body of work was completed between the years of 2000-2003, and it photographed young Danish boxers before and after a fight. The project was produced into a book which is described on his website as follows:
“The book portrays a series of young boxers where Howalt’s starting point is to capture the moment before and after the match. A sense of spirit, emotion, expectation and energy characterize the photographs. The double portraits convey the dreams of boyhood, puberty and identity.”


Howalt started the project after he participated in boxing as a teenager. He said “It is also about the age dividing a boy from being a man and to be on your own for the first time”. He realised that the moments before and after a fight are the most “tantalising” and as a result, decided to document it in the form of portraits.


I’m hoping to do something similar to this at my next shoot with the UOG boxing club, taking the fighters’ portraits before and after the session.

Rineke Dijkstra

Video of Rineke
Brief introduction to the Bullfighter
Rineke Dijkstra’s work

Rineke Dijkstra is famous for her portraits of different (usually adolescent) people. Most of her portraits follow a similar style. For example, she did a series of portraits on beaches around the world. Although they were all shot in different locations, they have similar depth of fields, and the camera settings are all the same so the images are exposed similarly (Beach Portraits).

For my research, I’m looking at her Bullfighter series:

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Similarly to Nicolai Howalt, these portraits are taken immediately after the fighters come out of the ring. This shows the viewer how physically and mentally exhausted they are, as well as the more gruesome aspect of the blood.
“Both* render an authenticity that screams to the desire for the perpetuation of life. As viewers, our emotional and psychological barriers begin to come unhinged.”
Both;referencing her “New Mothers” series – New Mothers

James A Fox

James A Fox Boxing Project

James A Fox spend 30 years documenting boxing in varying locations from Madison Square Gardens to small boxing gyms in Britain. With these images, he produced the photo book “Ringside”.


Although he photographed the fighter, he often photographed the supporters and small features of gym’s which provided more context to the images. It gave the viewer a fuller picture. His images show “devastation of a defeated fighter sitting alongside kids training with dreams of future goals”.

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I admire this style of photography. I really like the picture of the ring reflected in the spectators’ glasses. I will take inspiration from that image, and try and capture my own which indicate the sport as opposed to outwardly photographing it.

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