Tuesday, 28 September 2010

BAMMA: Barely Acceptable, Mis-managed Media Access (aka The Circus Comes to Town)

BAMMA was caught and submitted to demands of Broadcast Media,
much like Marco Santi tapped out to Simeon Thoresen, above.

On Saturday, in a departure from my usual fare, I travelled to Birmingham to photograph a night of MMA fights hosted by the relatively new UK promotion called BAMMA - (British Association of Mixed Martial Arts - if you prefer the long form)

The headlining fight on the night featured Montreal based middleweight Tom "Kong" Watson taking on Alex Reid, aka "The Reidenator."

For those of you for whom don't read or get second-hand accounts of tabloid celebrity media "news", Reid is practically a daily fixture in the glossy gossip magazines that adorn the supermarket shelves. This is largely due to his relationship with one-time glamour model Katie Price - a woman whom has courted (craved?) media attention for as long as I can remember.

After a three year hiatus from the sport of MMA, Reid's newfound celebrity had many wondering if he still had the chops to compete in the sport - a factor that the aforementioned tabloid media spent many thousands of column inches opining.

Enter the aforementioned BAMMA and a proposed matchup with Montreal based Tom Watson. The fight was originally due to take place in April of this year but, owing to Reid sustaining a knee injury during training, the bout was postponed. Cue much hue and cry from columnists and British MMA fans alike.

Getting back to the point. After months of delay, the Reid / Watson fight was booked for 25 September. With UFC 119 taking place on the same night, my editors at ESPN had bigger fish to fry so I wound up getting behind the camera for the London desk of WireImage / Getty Images.

Those of you who know me well will be very aware that I take MMA photography very seriously. I'm an ardent fan of the sport and am extremely passionate about my job, pushing myself to make each shoot better than the last. I have the utmost respect for all the athletes whom don those four ounce gloves and do battle, whether in cage or ring, no matter which promotion.

Unfortunately, it appears that professionalism and respect for MMA as a sport is in short supply in some circles. Allow me to explain.

The first hint of trouble came during the media check-in process. A generic PR man in a mid grey suit hastily explained to me the following key points.
  • Photographers were allowed cageside for the first 9 fights only
  • No cageside access for anyone during the main event
  • Main event photography would be from elevated positions
  • There were no pre-assigned photo positions
  • Up to 26 photographers would be cageside
  • There was only one side of the cage from which photography was allowed
None of the above was communicated to anyone in advance; media check-in was the first that anybody got to hear about these restrictions. Mr Gray Suit tried to soothe the ruffled feathers of my fellow photographers by claiming that he instructed a colleague to send out emails detailing these restrictions to all and sundry three days prior.

Out of the dozen or so photographers that I spoke to that night, no one had received any email to this effect. A call to Getty's London desk early on Monday morning also turned up no evidence of this email. Pretty much no-one (including myself) arrived with any lenses longer than 200mm... a highly impractical proposition for shooting from an elevated position.

A *very* tight crop of the action from the Watson / Reid fight...
In over five years working as a media photographer, event PR have always communicated in advance to me when photo access will be limited to the point of requiring a long telephoto lens (between 400 ~ 600mm) to get usable images.

Given sufficient notice, you can borrow or rent such a lens if you don't own one; at a starting price of around £6000 for a 400mm f/2.8 lens, you tend not to have such a lens in your kit line-up unless you need one every week.

Now here's where it gets weird and very unprofessional: Upon being pressed about said changes, Mr Gray Suit claimed that BAMMA's hands were tied on the matter as these changes had been forced on them by media partners.

Wait... what???

To the best of my knowledge, BAMMA booked the arena, selected fighters for the bouts, crafted the match-ups, sold the tickets (via an agent) and put the whole shooting match together. With the exception of the live broadcast, BAMMA should have been the ones in total control.

It's abundantly clear that, in a desperate bid for a quick infusion of cash, BAMMA rolled over and lubed up to meet every whim of the broadcast media circus that is the Katie & Alex show.

Try to imagine for a second what would happen if the PR or media rep for Fighter X made similar demands to Dana White. Can you imagine the sheer volume of f-bombs that would be dropped at the mere suggestion?

My incredulity at Mr Gray Suit's explanation was further stretched when a good friend of mine showed up to shoot the fights. Now, my friend works for one of BAMMA's media partners; his company's logo was on the canvas floor of the cage and many other highly visible locations - ergo, his bosses were paying BAMMA to be a partner sponsor of the event.

Even he - a photographer for one of their sponsors - was told that he would be denied cageside access to the Watson / Reid fight. Luckily for my friend a higher power intervened in the shape of one of his bosses being on site. He never got to be cageside but was eventually granted the concession of being allowed inside the cage at the end of the scrap to get a few frames.

It's bad enough when you screw over members of the media at short notice, but screwing over a sponsor partner? Never mind the cake - that takes the whole damn bakery.

In another surprising development, I spotted celebrity snapper Dave Bennet cageside. He alternately stood or crouched on the cage apron behind Watson's corner and his interactions with Katie & co. fast made it evident that he was more interested in her than the fight that was about to happen. Out of the 64 photographs that Bennet filed, only five of them were of the fight... the rest were of Jordan and her entourage.

Nice move, BAMMA. Deny professional sports / MMA photographers the opportunity to cover your main event to the best of their ability in lieu of a someone whom is disinterested in the fight that you're promoting.

As for the rest of the show: with a total of ten fights on the card, it kicked off at 5:30pm. The live broadcast of the Watson / Reid fight was set to kick off at 10:00pm - factor in for taped intro segments and wannabe Goldberg / Rogan analysis and the bout wasn't going to start until 10:20 at the earliest.

Unfortunately for BAMMA, most of those nine other fights ended within minutes of their opening rounds. Fight #9 concluded just shy of 9pm, leaving almost 80 minutes of dead time in the arena until the main event kicked off. I concede that in the sport of MMA, anything can happen - but having the bulk of your fights finish so quickly without having a plan in place to fill the dead time is a bit of a poor show.

When Reid finally made his entrance to the arena there was no doubt left as to whom was running the show. In an entrance that would have made "Mayhem" Miller or Akihiro Gono blush, Reid was preceded by a mock circus troupe, coming out to the strains of a version of the Police hit "Roxanne", as lifted from the soundtrack to the film "Moulin Rouge"
Sidenote: Alex was outed as a crossdresser last year, with his alter-ego's name being "Roxanne". No doubt Reid, Price or one of their PR thought the choice of music was appropriately subtle.
As Reid stood cageside in his glittering black fight robe, a blast of confetti littered the cage floor. I thought it was bad enough that the "EA Sports MMA" graphic on the centre of the canvas was ill-applied - peeling at the edges and unevenly rippled in places. Sponsor logos that present trip/slip hazards to fighters are nothing new. Fortunately cageside attendants seemed to sweep up the all shredded paper debris post-haste.

Watson, by contrast, entered in his trademark gorilla mask - a novelty that seemed plain in comparison to the earlier theatrics. I was somewhat nonplussed by his choice of the Ultravox hit song "Vienna" as walk-out music until the refrain of the chorus rang out: "This means nothing to me...." Watson had wasted no time in deriding Reid as an opponent in the run-up to the fight. His entrance song was a final, subtle stab at the fighter-cum-celebrity.

By the time it finished, I was left unimpressed and underwhelmed by the main event - at least when the fighters were compared to the talent that is featured in the UFC, Strikeforce or many other promotions.

As was to be expected, BAMMA had touted Watson as "probably the best middleweight MMA fighter in the UK" - a heavy favourite with the bookmakers. Last time I checked before the fight, he had -700 odds at most betting agents.

The fight that unfurled could best be described as medium-level kickboxing. Reid's technique was sometimes sloppy or overly flash. Watson was predictable in his attempts at engaging Reid. Both fighters seemed to have ran out of gas come the middle of the third round with action becoming sporadic, yet occasionally showing hints of explosiveness. At the start of the fourth, Watson showed greater effectiveness, better conditioning and began to gain the edge over Reid in the exchanges.

Having gone the full distance we had to wait for the judges to render a decision. If memory serves, I heard two scores of 49-46 and one of 49-47, marking one round as a draw - which meant Watson retained the title and Reid escaped with his reputation as a fighter seemingly intact (or renewed, depending on your point of view)

Of course the real casualties of the attendant broadcast media circus were the other fights of the night. Of particular note were John Phillip's demolition of James Zikic, Simeon Thoresen's deep and tight RNC on Marco Santi, AJ Wenn's dogged determination to get Tim Newman in a triangle choke, Harvey Harra's manhandling of David Round... I could go on, but suffice to say that every fight had a definitive finish, even if a few felt a little one-sided from the off. (Photos at the bottom of this post)

With the event concluded, I was more than a little surprised to hear a good portion of the c. 6,000 crowd shouting "Rematch! Rematch!" - their appetite for spectacle as sport seemingly unabated. I will concede that Reid showed no signs of 'ring rust' and that he managed to leave many a mark on Watson's face, although by no means did he escape unscathed himself.

With the next BAMMA card set to be headlined by ageing journeyman Bob Sapp versus Stav Economu, the promotion will likely suffer a dearth of publicity in the wake of the broadcast media circus that was the Watson / Reid fight. I can only guess that they'll somehow try to shoehorn a rematch onto the card at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, but I'll likely be staying at home - unless BAMMA institute the following.
  • Professional MMA photographers are allowed full access to the totality of their events
  • Adoption of UFC style photo positions: two sides of the cage, maximum eight photographers per side
  • In the event overhead photo spots being needed to meet demand, media are informed well in advance so they can bring/borrow/rent 400mm+ lenses as necessary
A post-fight press conference also wouldn't go amiss so reporters could elicit more than soundbite responses from the fighters following their wins and losses.

So that wraps up my opinions on the event that was BAMMA 4: Watson vs. Reid. Time to stop typing and let some of my photographs do the talking. Next up: UFC 120 fight week in London!!

Robert Devanne catches Colin Lewis in a standing guillotine choke
Shah Hussein got trapped by an RNC from Tom Breese
Charlie Leary pounds on Sam Elsdon, getting a TKO stoppage
Havery Harra rains blows down on a grounded David Round
Stuart Davies (facing) traps Scott Jansen with an armbar 
Tim Newman winces as AJ Wenn's kick finds a home
Gunnar Nelson tries to take down Eugene Fadiora
John Phillips buckles the kness of James Zikic with a left hook

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

A shoutout from Stitch

Jacob "Stitch" Duran on MMAJunkie.com radio; hear Jacob talk about his upcoming book and, at the 25:04 mark, he gives me a shout-out on doing the cover for it.

(Don't) send in the Clones

It's funny how event the thorniest issue, when transposed to the personal level, can become crystal clear....

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Malice in Wonderland

Yesterday, my "office space" for Saturday night was still undergoing some finishing touches; a little over fourteen hours from the time as I'm typing this, I'll be cageside (Side A, position 4) for the landmark event that is UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi.

My time here so far has been an adventure that has been mind-blowing; not knowing what to expect of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, my senses have been overloaded and this has only been surpassed by the incredibly genuine warmth and hospitality that has been extended to me by my hosts here - so much so that my experience warrants a post all of it's own... one which will come once I've had time to digest and properly find the words to express what I have experienced so far.

As it stands, I should be resting up and getting ready for what I expect to be the most interesting and visually stunning UFC show that I'll ever had the good fortune to witness. If the fights themselves have a fraction of the raw energy that is enveloping this city right now, then prepare to be blown away.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

The Business of Photography

Since the events of yesterday will have brought dozens of fresh eyes to this blog and my twitter feed, I'd like to say a few quick words about the business of photography

Professional photography can be a very expensive venture. Since I'm best known for shooting UFC events, here's a run-down of what I cart around to each event on average
  • Two Nikon D3 digitial SLR's
  • One Nikkor AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens
  • One Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8 lens
  • Three Nikon SB-800 flashguns
  • Two Nikon SD-8a battery packs
  • One Lastolite EzyBox Hotshoe 24" softbox
  • One Lastolite tri-flector Mk II
  • Three Calumet lightstands
  • Two Sandisk 16Gb CF cards
  • Six Sandisk 4Gb CF cards
  • One Pelican 1510 case
  • One Dell Precision M4300 laptop
  • Miscellaneous accessories for the above
Add all that together and you'd be looking at about £14,000 at today's prices; I've not factored for the cost of maintaining an ever-growing image library and keeping up-to-date with software, applications, insurance - not to mention incidental costs such as meals, travel and accommodation when I go to shoot these events.

All these costs add up and it is therefore essential that my photography is treated as a business. I license my images to editorial and commercial clients in an effort to recoup the expenses I incur and hopefully also eventually turn a profit - all in an effort to support my spouse, children and dog,

I enjoy what I do. I get great pleasure from it - an immense personal satisfaction from knowing that I've done a job well; that I'm one of the few people out there who shoots the sport of MMA at the upper levels, fortunate enough to call folk like Daniel Herbertson, Esther Lin, Ed Mulholland, Paul Thatcher, Lee Whitehead and Tracy Lee both friends and my peers. (Sorry, Lee - couldn't find your website details!)

For all that, simply enjoying what I do doesn't pay the rent, nor feed or clothe my family. The 21st century society in which I live dictates that I have to earn money; I choose to do this via my skill as a photographer.

To do this, good business sense is required to overcome the all too common challenges, hurdles and sometimes outright seemingly nonsensical requests that are faced by creative content producers when dealing with potential clients. I could try to explain these issues but these following two videos do a far better job of it than I ever could

The Vendor Client Relationship by Scofield Editorial - a wry take on common client requests

Harlan Ellison on Getting Paid - warning.. not wholly SFW in terms of language!

So: work at what you love and do it well, but ensure that you're being fairly and adequately compensated when you do so. There are still many great clients out there who understand the value of creativity but it always pays to be prepared and approach all opportunities in a businesslike manner.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Taking on the "Mafia"

As every creative individual out there knows, be they painter, sculptor, writer, photographer and so on, one of the unfortunate challenges that we face is where less than scrupulous individuals or companies seek to use our works without permission or due payment.. especially in instances where such use of our works generate some form of revenue for them

Some months ago I read (via Twitter) that MMA fighter Nate Quarry was engaged in a back-and-forth tussle with apparel company The Fight Mafia; the core of the exchange was that Nate was owed nearly $8000 in sponsorship revenue for wearing one of their shirt designs at his fight against Tim Credeur.

In reading this exchange, never did I once think that I'd find myself up against Noel Brooks' company, trying to get payment from them for their use of a photograph I took after UFC 105.

What I'm trying to sort out is this:

Yep, that's one of my photographs of Dan Hardy that they used to advertise the branded bandanas that they were selling.

It was ripped off my from my Facebook page as here. Upon finding out that they'd used and modified my photograph - without consent or appropriately licensing it from me - I went straight to emailing them. Here's what I said

March 14, 22:49 GMT
"It has came to my attention that the website danhardybandana.com, which is cited as 'owned and operated by Dan Hardy MMA Brand & The Fight Mafia', is using a photograph that I took of Dan Hardy after UFC 105 without my prior knowledge or consent - an unmodified example of which is attached to this email.

I am the sole copyright owner of this photograph and would like to know how you intend to resolve the breach of my copyright"
A few days later, I got this response

March 17, 01:20 GMT
"Hello, we were unaware that the photo had been copyrighted.  The photo was taken from Dan's facebook page were it was cited as a tagged photo of Dan.  There were no copyright symbols or information on the photo.  We can do two things.  (1)  Take down the image.  (2)  Ask for your consent to use the photo and credit you as the one responsible for the photograph.  We just loved how it turned out.  Let us know how to proceed"
Wow! They're offering a photo credit byline - lucky me! Oh, wait - I suddenly remembered the five years and many thousands of pounds that I'd invested in my photography equipment... that, and the fact my local supermarket has stopped accepting photo credits as payment for groceries. 

I guess I have to feed my kids thin air and clothe them in a mix of nitrogen, oxygen and other atmospheric gasses... 

Wait, that doesn't work. Oh well, best send a message back to them.

March 17, 09:07 GMT
"Thanks for your response. Your offer of simple removal of the photograph or merely "crediting" it's use is unacceptable as you already appropriated it for commercial use.
Specifically, your claim that "There were no copyright symbols or information on the photo" is blatantly false. Whilst it is true that the photograph exists on Facebook and, being metatagged with the name "Dan Hardy" makes it visible on his profile page, the attached screen capture (file owner_info.jpg) shows how the image would be displayed when viewed using a Facebook account other than my own.
For your benefit I have highlighted the portion of the image that shows information on who owns the photo; clicking on my name would have enabled you to send me a message via the Facebook network where you could have communicated to me your request to use license the photograph for use on danhardybandana.com
Furthermore, specifically on the lack of a copyright symbol, I would like to draw your attention to the following webpage www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/copyright_myths - in particular, sections four, five, six and eight.
In closing, the options that are open to you are twofold
1. Pay an appropriate license fee for the commercial use of my photograph, or
2. Pay an unauthorised usage fee and remove the photograph from danhardybandana.com
As a UK based photographer, non-client usage rates are based on the NUJ's Freelance Fees Guide; the license fee would fall under the section "Commercial and Business" and, as the photograph has been used at 981x786 pixels, the fees for 800x600 pixel (attached file usage_size.jpg) would apply as follows, with $US values taken from current rates as provided by XE.com
  • 1 months use: £225  ($342.63)
  • 3 months use: £450  ($685.26)
  • 6 months use: £675  ($1027.88)
  • 12 months use: £850 ($1294.37)
Please advise how you would prefer to proceed; once you have done so, I can prepare an electronic invoice and payment can be made via direct bank wire transfer"
Hrm, seems that Noel has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Being ignorant of copyright law is not a valid defense, and I'd also busted their claim of not knowing it was me who took the shot. 

At this point I'm thinking that common sense will prevail; unfortunately, common sense isn't as common as I thought...

March 18, 00:16 GMT
"Our apologies.  We have no knowledge or I guess are oblivious on the proper steps in regards to use of copyrighted materials.  We have no interest in purchasing the rights to this photo or any other photo for that matter.  The site was launched fairly recently and we just liked the photo.  We will take it down immediately!  After talking with Dan, we will have to figure out how to proceed compensating you for past use if nessassary in regards to copyright laws.  We of course at that time must see proper documentation that you are the actual propietary owner of that photo.  If you don't mind we can have further correspondance after Dan's fight as distracting him with this matter at this time is not appropriate.  I assume you are a MMA fan and hopefully understand.  Dan also might have a fee if images of him are being sold for licensing purposes.  Thanks."
Wow, there's an eye opener: The Fight Mafia - who produce clothing designs that would be covered by copyright - are "oblivious on the proper steps in regards to use of copyrighted materials" 

Ssssh! Don't let all those other MMA clothing companies know this. They might start using your designs and just give you byline credits for doing so. Or maybe they'd just stop doing it if you asked them nicely. No way would you ever expect to be paid because, hey, you're an MMA fan and created those designs because you just love the sport....

Their wording also made it clear that they're not in the habit of paying for photography. Just like they weren't in the habit of compensating Nate Quarry for wearing one of their shirts.... of course I know that'll all cleared up now but still.

The icing on the cake in this exchange is the following nugget.
"Dan also might have a fee if images of him are being sold for licensing purposes"
The mental gymnastics displayed here are astounding - truly world class. Allow me to put it into clear terms that show how ridiculous this concept is.
  1. The Coca-Cola Company hires David Beckham to promote their drinks
  2. The Coca-Cola Company hires Annie Leibovitz to photograph David Beckham for their ad campaign
  3. The Coca-Cola Company pays David Beckahm a fee for appearing in said adverts
  4. The Coca-Cola Company also pays Leibovitz a fee for her to shoot the campaign photos
  5. More people buy Coca-Cola products based on the campaign = Coke makes $$$$
Using "Fight Mafia" logic, David Beckham would be due a cut of Anne Leibovitz's fee - because she took the photographs of him for the Coca-Cola company.

Wait.... what??

The analogy for what has went on here is fairly accurate...- except Fight Mafia never hired me to shoot Dan Hardy; instead, they used one of my photographs without permission or payment to advertise a product that they sell - one which Dan no doubt gets a cut of the profits.

Can you imagine what would happen if Coke ripped off a Leibovitz shot of David Beckham and used it in an ad campaign??

Luckily for me I have the original RAW file of this photograph which handily has the date, time and serial number of my camera embedded into it - thus proving beyond all doubt that it's my photograph. Not to mention that there were a ton of UFC fighters, staff, friends and other people all milling around the lobby of the Hilton Hotel at the time who would also be able to verify I took that shot.

The neat little email exchange also proves that the Fight Mafia knowingly used this photograph without my consent and, upon my request to be compensated for doing so, they've employed stalling tactics and are seemingly unwilling to pay - despite them clearly breaching my copyrights.

Photography is the only thing I do. It's my sole source of income. I've been doing it for five years now, earning what I can and largely re-investing those earnings in gear - very expensive gear - so that I can stay at the cutting edge of my profession and deliver the results that editors, readers and fans of my photography are accustomed to.

Fight Mafia could have done the decent thing and either licensed the image from me or, better yet, employed me to take some shots of Dan wearing their new bandana design that they could have used for their website. I'd have turned in some top-notch shots and everyone would have been happy.

So what next? I'd given Fight Mafia until 31st March to respond and as of today (April 3rd) there's been no reply. It took Nate Quarry several months to get the nearly $8000 dollars he was owed from Fight Mafia; I'm asking for far less than that but I'm not going to hold my breath. Still, like Nate, I'm not going to let this go without a fight.

Who's in my corner on this one?

Thursday, 1 April 2010


Why was I in NYC early on Saturday, March 27 with Jacob "Stitch" Duran? ; info to come in a post later.

For now, I'd like to shout out to UFC cutman Rob Monroe for taking this picture; you'll have seen Rob work some of the fights at UFC 111 last weekend - be sure to hit up his website here.

Monday, 29 March 2010

ESPN showcases my work from UFC 111

Hit up ESPN right now and you'll find my editor's choice of pictures as shot for them on Saturday night at UFC 111 in the Prudential Center; later this week I'll post some other pictures and talk a little about my experiences over there, both shooting, networking and socialising. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


Foreword: I had a day full of challenges yesterday in getting to Newark but, instead of writing a rant, I'm going to post what I had wrote whilst onboard my flight - staying positive and embracing all that's good in my life :)


I'm at 38,000 feet over the Atlantic as I'm typing this; Eric Clapton is playing "Change the World" on the in-flight MP3 player and, looking out the window soutwards, I can see the arctic ice floes beginning to melt as winter turns to spring. It's funny how a perspective from so high above the earth can make you feel... connected. You appreciate the simplicity and wonderment that is nature and, in doing so, somehow you are more aware of what you have left behind you on your journey - back on terra firma.

Time to flick through the music library again. Over 150 albums to choose from; lets try to find something fitting to accompany the grand spectacle that I can see from seat 34A of CO 111 to Newark,

Ah - James Brown. The master! The track is "I feel good" Ironically it was during a trip to New York back in 2006 that I was privileged to not only see James live in concert, my work as a photographer placed me front and center for the fist three songs at BB Kings Blues CLub & Grill in Manhattan. MY wife, Claire - then pregnant with our first son - was sat in the audience, enjoying a meal as I worked. Not being on a deadline for once, I finished up and joined her. Happy times and good memories. Thanks, Mr. Brown - you are missed.
Now Louis Armstrong: "What a wonderful world" - a lesson often lost on us in our travels but something I love airports for. The faces of people as they wait in the arrivals area to greet those whom have travelled far to visit - or perhaps are returning home. Ironically it's now Norah Jones' "Do

n't Know Why" now playing :)

Most of you won't know this but I was a musician long before I was a photograher. At age nine, I was given a Casio MT-68 keyboard as a christmas present. Much to the likely annoyance of my relations and neigbours, I doggedly taught myself to play with the same sort of persistence a dog approaches a chew toy. Persistence paid off and, although no virtuoso or prodigy, I can pick up a tune quite quickly and jam along on a piano. I even wrote my own material, though a power surge on a PC back in 2003 wiped out eight years of work (no UPS, no back-ups: harsh lesson learned)

I always thought (hoped?) that I'd find success as musician in some way but instead I take pictures. Go figure. That said, Sting once opined that "Music is its own reward" and I wholeheartedly agree. I need to get some music back in my life - even if just to encourage my children. Whilst I was boarding this plane, Claire was taking Corran and Ethan to the British Music Experience. Is it a coincidence that the MP3 is now playing Queen "You're my Best Friend?"

Now an all-time classic "Bohemian Rhapsody" Beelzebub has a devil for a sideboard; spare him his life for his poor sausages and all the other mis-sung lyrics. Oh, and MAma didn't put a gun against his head, don't ya know.

I was about to complain to Continental as I almost thought there was no Stevie Wonder on their listing but there it is - "Innervisions"; "Living for the City" and "Higher Ground" coming up, back to back.

Found some Tony Bennet. There's another New York memory. November 2001 and Claire, her sister Anne and I are at the Thanksgiving day parade. We'd secured a great spot next to where all the celebrities debarked from the floats as Anne (being in a wheelchair) was given a some special treatment by the NYPD and parade organisers. Claire's gonna kill me for sharing this but here it is:

Tony Bennet was one of the celebrities on a float that year. As he steps off, I approach him and ask him if he wouldn't mind having his picture taken with Claire and Anne. An agreeable gentleman, Tony obliges and steps in with the two of them. Claire turns to tony and says "My dad's going to be thrilled when I tell him I met Dean Martin..."

He didn't correct her, even though Deano had passed away some time before. He's belting out one of my late Grandmothers favourite songs through my headphones now - "Rags to Riches"

The sentiment of the song echoes in me now. I hit the jackpot with you, honey. Rest assured that whilst I'm working my butt off over here in NY & NJ, I'll be thinking of you every second. Can't wait till Sunday night.

Time to sign off and relax for the last two hours of this trip. The flight computer tells me I'm halfway between Newfoundland and Quebec - some 890 miles to go and an outside temperature of -88F.

Ah, found some Dean MArtin to get me in the NY/NJ mood. Claire, I'll have been thinking of you and Dino/Tony all the way down into Newark - "You're Nobody (me) till Somebody (you)..." etc. :) x

Saturday, 20 March 2010


In the world of sports, it's often a given that you need a healthy dose of self-belief to climb to the lofty heights of success that are within your competitive sphere; UFC middleweight fighter Dan Hardy (pictured) is one such individual whose confidence in his own abilities is often mistaken for arrogance and supreme ego.

What is sometimes lost on many people is this: no matter what you do, if you don't shout about how good you are (whatever it is you do), very, very few other people will. It's almost a given that your close friends and family will support your endeavours but - beyond your immediate social circle - "Joe Public" generally doesn't give a damn.

Opening up your skills to independent critique and verification is a daunting prospect; in the five years that I've been working as a photographer, I've always solicited feedback and opinion so that I continue to grow both artistically and technically in my execution.

Earning an income from my work is one way my skills are validated, as is being trusted with select assignments - but I still get a kick from people who simply say "Your images rock! Can't wait to see more..."

Of course this is all tempered by an inner desire to constantly do better; to take the lessons I've learned from my last shoot and apply them to what I'm about to do - then to push myself that little bit further.

Take a leaf out of Dan Hardy's book; after just four fights in the UFC, he's facing incumbent welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre next weekend. A good part of why he's been given that opportunity is his self-belief and willingness to shout about how good he is.

So: push yourself a little, every day. Become better and then shout about it a little. You'll be surprised what doors might open for you as opportunities often have to be created rather than discovered.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

It's all arranged now - a week today, I'll be starting my UFC 111 "Fight Week" coverage, split between time in Manhattan, NY and Newark, NJ. A big thank you to Sean at ESPN and Diann at the UFC for smoothing over some last-minute hiccups to make this happen.

My shooting plans are coming together and already I have a very busy schedule: basically there's not a single day from Wednesday - Saturday that I won't be shooting something and that's exactly how I like it.

Amongst all the usual pre-fight activities there are some special events I'll be covering, such as the official launch of the UFC Undisputed 2010 videogame - and a few other surprises along the way which will be revealed in later postings!

Edit/Update: it turns out that the launch of UFC 2010: Undisputed will be a private, closed door event by invitation only. Whilst it's the prerogative of the UFC and THQ to do this, I personally think that they're missing an opportunity to have dozens of reporters who cover Mixed Martial Arts in attendance. Hopefully they'll host press event as well - but I reckon that will likely be closer to the launch date of May 25.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Month end statistics

Around 6996 round trip airmiles over an six day period; about 16,000 capacity in the Prudential Center; twenty-two fighters laying it all on the line for up to 185 minutes of fight time in the Octagon (hopefully it will be less than that, for obvious reasons) and - if all goes to plan - a few thousand photographs shot, resulting in many GB strain on my HDD.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you probably don't know me all that well :)

Wednesday, 10 February 2010


A few days ago, on the back of a little twitter conversation between myself and UFC fighter Nate Marquardt, I used Google to see if I could find links to previous Zoom galleries of UFC fights that I'd shot for ESPN. After a few hours of hunting around I managed to dig up a few which I'm going to blog here - both for your enjoyment and as a handly little reference for me.

Those who know me will spot that UFC 105, 86, 84, 72 and 70 are missing from this list.


Well, after friend and fellow photographer Ed Mulholland shot UFC 101 for ESPN, my editors told me that there were changes afoot relating to how their event photographs would be showcased; I first saw this with my gallery for UFC 105 (which I can't track down) - however, just this past week, the Zoom gallery format returned showcasing photographs shot at UFC 110 by fellow photographer and friend Daniel Herbertson.

Over and above that, there were no galleries made for UFC 86 or 84; internal production time limits meant that, by the time the galleries were finished, there were no longer current and thus never published.

As for UFC's 72 and 70... well, I didn't shoot those for ESPN, since my work for them started with UFC 75.

When's my next UFC shoot? I've still to find out; I've asked my editors about covering UFC 111 for them and am awaiting word back. Failing that, I should be out in Abu Dhabi for UFC 112 in April - I just have to get a few details sorted out for that first.