Warriors Series N~1 is special to me as it is with that shot that my journey as martial arts photographer began. I was working on my final folio for my photography studies and we were required to find “copyshots” of things we wanted to include in our final folio. My lecturer was not convinced about my martial arts page as he said that there was no market for this and I should focus on things like Weddings, Family portraits, Commercial photography, Travel photography… That was all fine with me as long as I could shoot it my way but I was dead set on having a martial arts shot in my folio. And those who know me know that if I put my mind to something, I get it done. So full of optimism I started googling and was quickly very disappointed at the poor quality of what I found. The only stand out shots were CHASE JARVIS’ & Superfads’ amazing Kung Fu series that was shot for Kung Fu HD back in 2008 (click HERE to see the shots and pretty cool behind the scenes video, you will instantly recognize which one became the copyshot). I thought there was hope at last and even my lecturer said that yes, he’d like to see me do something like that.
Now obviously I didn’t have the crew and equippment so I had to improvise and shoot on location because I absolutely wanted that cloud & ocean background and my photoshop skills were quite basic – so superimposing two shots was out of the question. This then became my “thing” and is also one of the many reasons why I love shooting my Warriors Series so much – to go on location, be outdoors, plan and shoot around the weather conditions… It now reflects in all of my photography (not only martial arts).
N°1 was shot at Brighton Beach, Melbourne about one hour before sunset. Since Shifu Stuart was constantly moving around as he was doing different techniques, I had two assistants both holding a flash following his movements as best they could to achieve the desired lighting. It was shot using the Canon 5D MKII and the Canon 70-200mm f”2.8 L IS II USM Lens. I did a test shoot with Shifu at the academy to work out the best angles and then did a test on location a week before the shoot – I was terrified that my exposure calculations would be off and it would all look horrible. But we started shooting and trying different movements and techniques and it all fell into place. It was a lucky coincidence (ok, I don’t really believe in coincidence…) that Shifu forgot his traditional Chinese top at the academy and someone had to go fetch it. Since I was loosing light I decided not to wait and just to do the shirtless shots first which really paid off. I knew i had “the hero shot” quite early on. I am very proud of this first “Warrior” that sent me on this journey.