“I wanted to go out there and try something I’ve never done before.”
Getty Images Sport photographer Al Bello has shot nearly every major sporting event and has the highest quality equipment at his disposal. But on a recent shoot at the Park Hill Boxing Club with light heavyweight boxer Marcus Browne, he decided to use a more basic, affordable technology.
“Sometimes I approach my shoots as if I was an aspiring photographer with no budget,” he said. “I wanted to go out there and shoot something that didn’t cost a ton of money and try something I’ve never done before. It forces me to think creatively and gives me the opportunity to experiment and make mistakes.”
Bello, who has covered boxing for almost 25 years, had wanted for some time to create an image of a boxer during a real training session from the trainer’s perspective, but wasn’t sure how to successfully achieve it. His normal 35mm SLR was too heavy to attach to the trainer and most smaller cameras weren’t of high enough quality. But with recent advancements in technology, he felt that GoPro cameras were finally capable of producing the outcome he wanted.
As a photographer who prides himself on being innovative and creative, Bello decided to attach the GoPro to Browne’s trainer, Gary Stark, using the same helmet he uses when photographing ski races. To keep his budget modest, he skipped on the high-tech lighting and instead brought with him two painter’s lights he purchased from Home Depot.
Because he wanted to use a slow shutter speed, he knew that there was going to be a blur in the background as Browne spun around the ring doing his mitt work. The major challenge was going to be getting him in focus.
“I knew going in it was going to be a low success rate shoot,” Bello said. “I wasn’t sure I was going to get even a single good shot.”
As he expected, the results were blurry. But it came together in the end and out of the 945 frames he shot, one had the results he was hoping for.
“Shoots like this provide me with the opportunity to totally fail and make tons of mistakes without any consequences,” he said. “They allow me to learn and satisfy my curiosity. They also help build confidence and grow the arsenal inside my head of what I’m actually capable of doing. It reminds me that I can go into any situation and make it work.”
The ongoing advancements in camera technology continue to encourage Bello to experiment and grow as a photographer.
“With these developments, I can achieve things I have always thought about but couldn’t make happen because the quality wasn’t there yet,” Bello said. “Nothing’s impossible if you put your mind to it and aren’t afraid to make mistakes. You can make technology work for you.”
Editor’s Note: Marcus Browne will take on Francisco Sierra at Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center on Saturday, December 5th in a scheduled 10-round light heavyweight fight.Explore more images from Bello’s experimental shoot at Gettyimages.com