I enjoy dabbling in a bit of photography. The drama, tension and athleticism at grappling tournaments is perfect fodder for shutterbugs like me. But if I'm honest, I'm only a white belt maybe with a couple of stripes in terms of photography skills. So I thought it would be a great idea to ask some people who actually know how to take a good photo what their favourite photos are.
To kick off this series, I asked top American BJJ photographer John Cooper for his top picks. I first came across John's work via an ad he placed on the excellent BJJ Weekly newsletter. John runs www.cooperfoto.com and if you have a browse there, you'll see that he covers all the main IBJJF events in the US (The Pans, The Worlds etc). John's images just seem to burst out of the screen. they are vibrant and buzz with all the energy of the fight. But they're beautiful too, capturing the poetry of the mat. He's super talented and I hope you enjoy John's three favourite photos:
Tarsis Humphreys winning his division at the 2010 Mundials. John Cooper says: "I love this shot because it really captures the emotion of everything Tarsis had sacrificed leading up to his World Championship. In one moment he was able to finally release all that pent up anxiety, pressure and exhilaration."
Kayron Gracie in the warm-up area with his father, Carlos Gracie Jr at the 2009 Mundials. John says: "This photo was a complete surprise to me. I was waiting near the bullpen during the 2009 World Championships and I turned around to see Kayron Gracie sitting down stretching. His father, Master Carlos Gracie Jr., was standing behind him. I turned to take a quick snapshot of the two when Master Carlos bent down and kissed Kayron on the cheek. The face Kayron made reminded me of being a child and having your dad kiss you in front of your friends with a expression that says, 'Daaaad, not in front of the guys!'"
John says: "This was an in house tournament and the two boys, Dustin and Dakota, are twins. I love these kids and watching them compete is always fun. But this particular time, tearful emotions burst forth from Dustin while trying to lock in the choke and I was ready. That single tear from Dustin tells a story of its own."
My thanks to John for sending me his three favourite photos and taking the time to contribute to this blog.