If you’ll pardon the pun it seemed like a good way to kick-start the New Year. When a friend invited me to her kickboxing class to indulge in some photography while she trained I accepted. Frankly, I’m surprised it took me so long to photograph this subject; having reached 1st Dan in Taekwondo in my youth I was always enamoured with the flexibility and physical expression these types of sports had to offer, enjoying less the pugilism and more the forms, aerial movement and speed. The various moves were always visually interesting and demonstrative of how capable human anatomy could be. Purists would argue that kickboxing is more of a martial sport than a martial art, and perhaps they are right. But these guys certainly made it look artistic and to me any form of physical expression or movement is an art form regardless of where the blow lands. Especially when captured in a photograph it easily endorses Yates’ assertion that the dancer is the dance. While taking these photos I cast my memory back to graphic novels and old martial arts movies, when camera positions and framing were just as important to the visual experience of the audience as the exponent themselves. Indeed today camera angles and editing are what give the likes of Liam Neeson his particular set of skills, enhancing the visceral impact through clever choreography and positioning. I would shoot from ground level to lend more height to the kicks, sometimes tilting the camera to bring greater dynamism to the movement (a typical technique used in graphic novels). Combined with wide-angle lenses shooting from low enhanced the scope and impact of some of the movements. I even used the good ol’ fish-eye to deliberately exaggerate some of the kicks. Akin to graphic novel art the best way to give a sense of motion from a still image seems to be to depict the very beginning or the very end of an action, i.e. the intention or the impact. So while I reeled off a few clicks with high speed continuous shooting I tended to select images at the extremes to edit. When I had finished picking my teeth up off the floor I switched over to longer focal lengths to capture more intimate portraits. The lighting in the gym wasn’t ideal and often confused the white balance (thankfully I shoot everything RAW); alas no rays of sunlight lancing through overhead skylights and penetrating a fine mist as backlit silhouettes performed reverse roundhouse kicks on a wooden crate. And the background had plenty of distractions and objects that cluttered the scene, despite using fast lenses. Thus in processing these images I opted to apply a slightly gritty, urban look, which I felt seemed appropriate to the subject. May or may not have succeeded. And despite shooting these at a fairly high ISO I opted to reduce the noise (and grit). Anyway, maybe in future I’ll have the opportunity to shoot some competitive contests but for now I hope these encourage you to go out and shoot some images of your own. I wish to thank Chloe and her trainer George, a world champion kickboxer, at the GTC studio for the opportunity to shoot these images. This has been reproduced from my blog where you’ll find more images.