William Luu – Fight Photographer


William Luu is a budding fight photographer who uses his skills to support his studies in design. The above photo appeared on facebook recently, and is one of the most striking images published in Australian fightsports this year. I decided to track him down to ask about it.

What do you do for work, mate?
I’m a freelance photographer.  Basically, I contact promoters and ask them if they would like to hire me to photograph their events. I like to work on the photos as soon as the shows are done so I can quickly upload the images and then deliver them to the promoter during the week.

How old are you?
I’m 22 years old.

What’s your interest in photography? Did you study it, or is it purely recreational?
I picked up photography as something to do while I was injured from training. Since then, it has just been a series of trials-and-errors. I’m also a design student so photography also helps complement that.

How did you develop your technique?
I always look for inspiration and new ideas to keep myself motivated when shooting. I often look at other fight photographers like Susumu Nagao (Pride MMA photographer) and Scott Hirano ( photographer for muaythaiauthority.com), to study and compare their stylistic choices.

Your blog says you did some Muay Thai. How many fights did you have? Where did you train?

I train out of Team Nemesis in Northcote, Melbourne. My coaches are Denis Kelly and Phillip Lai. Under their tutelage I’ve had two MMA fights and one K-1 fight. Along with supporting my training, they have also helped to spread my photography across the fight scene.

What was your experience of fighting? What made you stop, or do you have plans to continue?

One of the best memories was fighting on a show and then taking photos of my team-mates fighting later in the night. Eventually, I used those photos to promote myself.

Juggling the time between school and training has made me stop fighting for a while, which has meant I have been able to focus a bit more on my photography. I definitely plan to get back into the ring in early 2013.

How did Muay Thai inform your skill as a fight photographer?
I often see photographers at ringside who appear confused by standing on the ring while the fight is happening. Timing is crucial in capturing fights and this can be achieved through understanding the safe distance between the fighters and yourself.

I see myself capturing the action from the perspective of a fan, so I make sure to also photograph the reactions of the cornermen and crowd.

Do you do much other photography?
I also photograph some local football games and animals.

Can you tell us about the bloodied glove photo? How did you find that image?

I’m surprised that photo has received so many hits! I was invited to shoot a sparring / promotional session at Powerplay Gym. One of the fighters had a bloody nose and it got smeared on the glove.

A friend suggested that it would be cool if I captured that and I agreed, so I took some time to compose the photo and made sure a punch was being thrown in the background before capturing it.

What is it that develops a photographer’s eye for that kind of image?
I’d say it’s having a very strong understanding of your subject; in this case, it’s the fight game. I like to be very subtle in capturing photos and not intrude. What I find really compelling about fight photography is that it shows that getting hit and bloodied up is an inevitable part of the sport, but it doesn’t stop you from doing what you enjoy.

What does a great fight photo articulate?
Every fight photographer wants that big, freeze-frame knock-out. My favorite shots are the ones that tell the story of both fighters, the raw emotions of the corner and the fans witnessing a knockout.

What’s your goal, ultimately?
I’m still working on making a name for myself and getting my photographs out there for the fight community to see. I hope to have the opportunity to do some interstate shows and shoot some more international fighters.

What’s the address of your wordpress site?

 http://www.williamluu.wordpress.com and you can find me on facebook under W.L Fight Photography.



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