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 :)