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Breaking the MMA Lens: Personality

Every good photo should have a personality of its own.

I try to make a point of having a reason for each photo. Why is this photo more important than the next photo in a sequence I took? Why is #18 better than #23?

The answer is personality.

There is something about a good photo that sucks the viewer in and engages them. Your job as a photographer is to find that personality in the viewfinder, take the photo and recognize the right one when you see it among 3,000 others you shot at the event. In fact, most of my rejects are due to not enough personality. Many shots are fine, but they don’t tell a story. I won’t show a picture unless I feel it tells the story.

What is photo personality? It is so many things. It is an interesting focal point in the picture, good composition and a reason for the picture to exist. It is having the composition and leading lines of the photo point the viewer to the emotion, attitude and sensibility. In a fight photo, I want to see humanity. In fact, this is what I strive for in most of my photos.

Breaking the MMA Lens
The faces of both fighters tell the whole story. Victory and defeat are on display.

There are exceptions to the ‘face’ photos. Although most times I want to see the faces, sometimes the story is just as strong without the face. In fact, it can be stronger because there is no face. This is rare, but it happens.

Most of the fight photos are about the struggle. The struggle with oneself as well as the opponent. I like to think of each photo as a story on its own, a beginning, middle and an end. You don’t need any other pictures or words to tell the story.

The action is also important. There should be something going on that enhances the story. Something to make the story move.


To me however, the emotion is the primary thing. Anyone can take a picture of a punch to the face. It’s the personality of the people that really drag you into the picture and make you think. Make this a goal in all photography. Even your snapshots will become magically transformed into so much more.

Humanity, personality and story; this is what photography is about to me.


Joe LoBianco
Joe LoBianco
Joe LoBianco writes the photography column Breaking the MMA Lens for MMA Crossfire. New columns on the 1st and 15th of each month.

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