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Breaking the MMA Lens – Getting ready: Part 2

Last time, we spoke about getting ready before a fight, or for that matter, getting ready for any shoot. We went over: The camera, lenses, batteries, memory cards, flash and cleaners. Now, let’s get into some things that we may not think of until it’s too late. Let’s ask and answer some of these questions. And there are a lot of them.

Which format are you shooting? Are you shooting RAW or JPEG? I don’t care which; they both have their place. Just make sure the camera is set to the one you want to use for that photo session. If you’re taking a lot of shots and shoot in RAW you’re going to fill up those memory cards pretty fast.

Breaking the MMA Lens
MMA Platinum Gloves 9.

Where are you going? Simple right? Not for me. Make sure you have the address, a contact number and a GPS. If you’re driving, make sure you have some idea about parking. Where to park, does it cost to park, how long from the parking space to the venue? Know this or leave extra time.

Where are you shooting from? Are you on the cage, above the cage or further away? All good, but you need to know for many reasons, not the least of which is what lenses you’ll be using.

Where are you in the photographer pecking order? If you are a main photographer getting paid by the promoter or venue you will get the prime spot at cageside. If you are not and are from an outlet or are a freelancer, you will have to find your own space or be assigned somewhere.

Get there early, find a seat and hold on to it. If you move too far from the chair, somebody is going to grab it. Just in case, I always bring something to kneel on, usually it’s a sweatshirt or jacket. The floor can get awfully hard if you don’t have a chair and many times, you don’t.

MMA Platinum Gloves 8
MMA Platinum Gloves 8

Expectations. There are always expectations. Why are you shooting? If you’re a freelancer and not getting paid it doesn’t matter, shoot what you want. If you’re getting paid be sure you know what is expected. It’s not always about the fighters. Some promoters want a lot of crowd shots, others want the vendors and others the ring girls. Know what you’re there for.


Do you need credentials or a pass? Where are you picking them up: before time or at the event.

Have business cards with you. Everyone will want a card. Where can they see the photos? When? Have cards.

And now the most important thing – stay friendly with the people around the cage. The trainers, refs, ring girls, judges, announcers -all have something to offer and having a good rapport can only help you.

Hope this helps in our quest for combat sports photo supremacy!


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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