Esther Lin is a busy girl. I've been bugging her for months and months and finally, she found time to access her amazing archive of photographs and send me her personal favourites. I'm absolutely thrilled! I think you can see why Esther is one of the world's foremost MMA photographers. Esther puts her heart and soul into every frame. She somehow captures the raw beauty and beautiful rawness of the sport. Every single shot seems to tell a unique story - and she's happy to share them with you on her official website and her blog All Elbows.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the personal favourite photos taken by Ms Esther Lin:
1. Gina Carano vs Cris Cyborg
This is hands down my favorite photo that I have ever taken. It was made better by my going back and watching Showtime's "All Access" site to the event. The site allowed me to watch every single camera angle, whether it was on the broadcast or not. This meant I got to see both fighters, waiting in the tunnel before walking out. Cristiane was dancing, happy. Gina was breathing heavily, face serious, trying to keep herself calm.
I remember this moment in the fight well if not only for my visual registration of fear in Gina's eyes. I knew at that moment, though the fight continued for another few minutes, I knew then it was over.
2. Shinya Aoki turnbuckle surfing.
This was the first show I ever shot in Japan. I've only shot three. But I was excited for this picture. I am really bummed I shot this kind of low-res -- I wish I'd had this lens attached to my 5D and I wish I had more memory cards. Only because I'd want this blown up, 20x30 at least. It was a fun moment for me, I loved all the fans cheering and chanting. And really, it's the beginning of the new era of my career.
3. Clay Guida choked by Kenny Florian
To me, this photo embodies everything critics hate about the sport but everything I love about photography. It was so bloody. So violent. But so beautiful. I studied film -- wanted to make documentaries and be a cinematographer but I honestly wasn't good. But the still image, is a poem to a novel, for me. This photo is exactly how the fight went, in one image. My favorite thing about this photo is simply that it's in motion. You can tell what direction their bodies are moving. Florian is dragging Guida to the canvas. And Guida's hair flying, motion blurred, not the "perfect" razor sharp image but perfect in its purpose.
Every time I see that image, I feel and see that entire fight in my head.
4. Chael Sonnen vs Anderson Silva
Well, this is the most recent. I really just added it because people keep telling me this is a perfect image. I do love it very much. I think again, because you can feel the motion. This is everything MMA is in one photo. A submission in the final seconds after a brutal, mostly one-sided war. Anderson Silva's scream, Sonnen's desperate pull away. Everything is moving and I look at this and hear the crowd, deafeningly loud, I hear exclamations in all directions around me, my own heart is beating but I am still, shooting, knowing I have this. Every once in a while, I'll glance at my LCD screen between fights to check I'm not screwing things up monumentally but never during fights. I always know when I get a shot and when I don't. You feel it between the sound of the shutter and what your eye is seeing through that viewfinder. I know when I get the impact, I know when I don't.
I knew I had this when I shot it and could not wait. I packed up all my gear and ran to the press room to upload it.
Until I had done so, I just heard the crowd screaming in my head.