Ringside for WFC 48 MMA, Muay Thai & BJJ

One of my personal trainers, Taylor “Ninja” McCorriston, got a call to fight at WFC 48 fights Friday night. Perfect opportunity for me to get a press pass and go shoot an MMA event. I hadn’t done one before but was very interested. I love watching the sport and would love to get more opportunities to shoot them. I began researching how to shoot MMA and found varying opinions on what camera settings to use. The other big factor is whether or not the fights would be in a cage or rope setting. I cringed at the thought of having to shoot manual focus. I’m not that fast with my camera yet and also still very new to indoor photography.  I was also apprehensive about shooting along side other photographers. I had heard and read that more experienced photographers, or those that shoot for press related sites, could come off as assholes. On the bright side, I was lucky enough to be able to bring two cameras with me. After much deliberation with the lenses I had available to me, I chose a 70-200mm 2.8 and my wide angle (I love the wide angle look). I chose to put the heavier lens on my lighter Canon 60D body, and the lighter lens on a borrowed Canon 7D body. I also borrowed a harness so that I could easily carry and access both cameras.

I got to the fights when the doors opened. Wanted to find my spot and putz with my cameras to see what settings I should use. When I first got there, the officials were still deciding where to put the videographers and photographers. The promoter introduced me to the head photographer, Brandon, of bStunt Photography. He was not an asshole. So that was nice. 🙂  He explained the best settings to use and what composition I should be looking for. Extremely helpful information. And information I couldn’t find in all the research I had done the days before. (Which is a reason for this post, to share my experience.) If you’re reading this, Brandon, thanks for being kind to a newbie sports photographer! 🙂

We went to the back where the fighters were; I followed him around like a little puppy dog. I had no idea what I was doing but dammit I was there and learning and it was awesome. When we got back to the fighters, I felt stares. I felt awkward. Might have had something to do with the fact that I was the only female in a room full of men. Not a bad scenario if I do say so myself. 😉  I was carrying the two cameras because I didn’t know which one I would use and found out the hard way that neither of those even worked. Totally wrong lenses. As was really evident when I had a chance to take a requested photo of one of the fighters. I didn’t have the right lens to get the photo at that moment. Live and learn. Brandon took the photo and I continued to feel very awkward.

Now the fights! In this corner! In that corner! Oh… and the ring was with ropes, not cage. That was such a relief. Auto focus it is! Whew! I didn’t do much in the way of event details, photos of the crowd, fighters coming out, capturing sponsorship. I tried to focus on just being there and understanding the environment. If I didn’t get any usable photos, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

This is my coach; Hi Coach! He was in the 2nd match. A submission was required for the win. I don’t know move names or anything, but could see my coach had the upperhand the majority of the fight. Unfortunately, the match went to a draw. The thing I learned about shooting this event, it’s tough to get good shots given angles and where the fighters are in the ring. Oh and remember to drop down when the fighters hit the ground. Because of where I was, near one of the fighter corners, I was in the way of the trainers. They are required to keep seated (I don’t know if this is the case in every venue or MMA fight) so when the fighters are in certain spots, their trainers can’t see them. Not good. It didn’t click in my head that was the case until one of the fighter’s trainers behind me commented that some cunt was in his way. Noted prick. Could have just said, “You’re in my way, move.” My mistake and now I know, be aware of where you and be respectful of the parties around you. It’s tough to remember when you’re shooting because you’re just thinking about getting a good shot.

I didn’t get any photos that someone like ESPN would like. However, some did turn out better technically than I had anticipated. Thanks to the tips from Brandon. I don’t think I would have been as brave to choose all manual; I went in thinking I was going to do shutter priority just so I didn’t have to think as much about fumbling with my camera. I also like to post process my photos. I like giving them different looks and playing with the movie or washed out look.

Already can’t wait to do that again!!


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