Photography blogs are boring and make me want to go on a terrible spree. Welcome to the antidote.
Right, here’s the thing, right? Wrestling is bloody good. Throw away those preconceptions – they’re (mostly) not true – and listen to this: a live wrestling show is one of the best nights out you can have.
A night’s wrestling entertainment is a genuinely brilliant way to spend an evening, with or without alcohol (with is better). Even if you don’t like wrestling, the actual fact is you think you don’t like wrestling, you’ve just never tried it. One of the main hangups, I feel, is that people think wrestling isn’t very cool or fashionable, or something you would dare admit to being interested in to any other human being. Lucha Britannia’s blend of incredibly vibrant characters and completely-off-its-crapping-conker cabaret acts gives it that underground culture flavour and makes it incredibly cool. I feel at least 37% cooler after attending a show. Seriously, I have no business being in East London, and it’s only because I bring my camera that I get away with it at all. I’m a PARENT, for christ’s sake. As if THAT’S cool.
I would thoroughly recommend Lucha Britannia, a once-a-month show held in Bethnal Green, East London, for your first wrestling experience. If your mental image of wrestling is still stuck in the Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks era of extremely fat men moving slowly, then you’ll be happy to know that Lucha Britannia is ACTUALLY, SCIENTIFICALLY the genuine scientific opposite of that, scientifically. The whole thing is bolstered by two live commentators who banter back and forth with each other, remarking upon the matches playing out, liberally doling out the insults to the wrestlers and to each other. It’s a seriously fun night out: it’s something different and a lot more interesting than attempting to have a banal conversation in an extremely loud club with someone you deeply hate.
It’s also an amazing subject for photography. Shooting ringside has been something I have always enjoyed, because it’s relentless and packed with opportunities for brilliant photographs. Why would I shoot family portraits when I could be dodging flying limbs and watching in horror as my camera flies out of my hands towards the floor (thankfully, nothing too expensive was destroyed)? Shooting wrestling well is also really bloody difficult. It had been a while since I’d shot any live wrestling, and since I’d upgraded my camera, all my lens purchases had centred around what I need for my portrait and editorial stuff. I realised that coming back to wrestling would be a challenge not only due to being a bit rusty but also because I didn’t have a wide enough lens to capture everything that was going on. Nevertheless, I whacked my 50 on and focused on looking for moments and events in the night that would suit my setup.
As much as wresting is about the moves, the suicidal top rope dives and the massive slams, it’s also about the story being told, the characters, the quiet moments between the action: the calm before the storm. I knew that a fellow shooter who is regular to the place (who works under the guise of PUMP Photography – have a peek at his stuff with this link) had a wide setup to cover more of the fast-paced stuff so I could focus on what I knew my setup would deliver best, instead of trying to force out images that wouldn’t work, or would result in weak images at best.
Click on an image to go into the gallery and feast your bloody eyes, you grand sorts.
You will have a good time. It’s fun. In fact, go and watch Lucha Britannia. If you don’t have fun then there’s no hope for you as a human being. I’m very sorry. If you’re a photographer, offer to shoot some wrestling. There’s a lot of crap wrestling photography out there, and a few good shooters, so you won’t be turned away, and it’s a great challenge.