Thursday, December 6, 2012

Howard Schatz: At The Fights, In The Studio

By William Sawalich, Photography By Howard Schatz Published in Photographer Profiles
For his latest book, Howard Schatz came back to a subject he has been passionate about since the 1950s: boxing. The photography is remarkable. Shooting in the studio and at fight venues, Schatz has created a multifaceted look at the sport and the extraordinary individuals who devote their lives to it. Above: Kassim Ouma works with the speed bag.
For his latest book, Howard Schatz came back to a subject he has been passionate about since the 1950s: boxing. The photography is remarkable. Shooting in the studio and at fight venues, Schatz has created a multifaceted look at the sport and the extraordinary individuals who devote their lives to it. Above: Kassim Ouma works with the speed bag.
Schatz is a perfectionist, and working with these athletes and building At The Fights took thousands of images. His love of boxing and his admiration for the athletes are palpable. Says Schatz, "I made 100,000 images. I edited and edited and edited, and everything in the book, I love. You can pick any image and I remember the session, I remember everything about it." Above: James Kirkland.

Creating A Deep Card

Even a casual sports fan will recognize many of the famous faces in the book: Manny Pacquiao, Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson. This makes it all the more impressive that Schatz was able to recruit them to the project. The farther he went, the easier it got.

"The more money an athlete makes," Schatz says, "the harder it is to get them to your studio. But this was a six-year project, and slowly but surely, more and more people came on. I got Jim Lampley, I got the great writers, I got the commissioners, the promoters, the managers. And slowly but surely, each of these very wealthy athletes felt the pressure of doing this, and I got almost every single champ who exists today.

"Partly, also," he continues, "it's a small world. Boxing isn't like baseball or football. Eventually, they all got behind me. When the images started getting published in The Ring magazine, I became well known in boxing fairly soon as somebody who made images that looked different from anybody else's. The writers wrote about it, the television announcers announced it, the promoters wanted me to make their pictures."

In addition to the studio sessions and photographs of promoters, commentators and other figures from the boxing world, Schatz photographed the fights themselves. Above: A sequence from the Pacquiao vs. Clottey fight, March 2010.

In Schatz's Arena

Once Schatz had an athlete in his studio, and he had explained his mission, he would set about making his special photographs. To do this, he started long before in the library, reading every book he could find about the sport and looking at almost every special photograph that has ever been made of a boxer. He'd develop a game plan, and then, of course, prepare to deviate from that plan as needed. That's how he surprises himself.
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