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Boxing Photography (9 Tips to Take Powerful Boxing Pictures)

Last updated: March 25, 2024 - 9 min read
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As you might imagine, boxing photography is not for the faint of heart. You must keep up with the action, anticipate the shots, and be prepared for anything. Our guide teaches you how to take powerful boxing photos like a pro.

Boxing is a brutal sport. It involves two men or women pounding each other in a ring until one can no longer continue. The fight is a physical and mental battle in front of a live audience, sometimes televised worldwide.

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Photography Unlocked
Unlock your camera’s full potential with this guide:

  • Master manual mode to capture moments you’re proud of.
  • Overcome the frustration of missed shots with quick exposure settings.
  • Benefit from visuals with hundreds of images and illustrations.


How to Capture Powerful Moments in Boxing Photography

Here are nine tips to best capture moments in boxing photography. Every shot should tell a story of power and resilience.

1. Try Out Boxing and Practice Your Boxing Photography

You must understand and appreciate the sport to make your boxing pictures powerful. You can do this by trying out boxing for yourself. That’s right, take some time to practice boxing so you can understand your subjects.

This won’t necessarily help you take great photos, but it makes you more empathetic to their craft and will help you tell interesting stories. You might also end up loving boxing on your own because of it!

You can also practice photographing boxers during a training session. This is the perfect time to get to know your camera settings. Experiment with burst mode, ISO, aperture, and shutter speed.

A boxer sparring with his coach as an example of boxing photography
Shot with a Leica M10. 28mm, f/2.0, 1/250 s, ISO 1,600. Frankie Cordoba (Unsplash)

2. Know Camera Settings to Take Amazing Boxing Shots

Boxing matches rarely happen in places made for professional studio photography. Often, the lighting is harsh and direct to match the tension in the ring. But as inconvenient as this is, you can still use it to your advantage.

Remember that using a flash is not allowed during a boxing match. First, your shutter speed has to be very fast, like 1/500 s (seconds), to capture as many details as possible.

Increase your ISO to compensate for any action in low light. Avoid very large numbers, but don’t hesitate to go a little higher than you’re used to. Grainy boxing photos can be just as beautiful as smooth ones. You can also remove unwanted grain with an editing program.

Use a wide aperture like f/2.8 or f/4.0 to make the boxers stand out. The smaller the number, the blurrier the background is. Finally, make sure you’re using the best sports lens possible.

Look for a telephoto zoom lens to take photos from a distance. Also, look for a prime lens to take sharp photos in low-light conditions. Prime lenses like 50mm f/1.8 and f/1.4 are some of the most affordable. But a telephoto prime is also a good choice.

A boxer punching an opponent's face as an example of boxing photography
Shot with a Canon EOS 60D. 85mm, f/2.0, 1/320 s, ISO 1,000. Jonathan Tomas (Unsplash)

3. Shoot From a Low Angle to Emphasize a Boxer’s Strength

Boxing is all about power and strategy. To emphasize this, shoot from a very low angle. This works best if you’re as close to the ring as possible.

Low angles are powerful because they create a sense of power and superiority. Your subject looks taller because of it, and the light hitting them highlights their muscles.

You can also take incredible silhouettes if the lights are directly above the ring. Close-up shots can also show sweat, blood, and other details that aren’t as evident from other angles.

A picture of two boxers sparring as an example of boxing photography shot from below ringside
A silhouette of a boxer and referee through the ring ropes as an example of boxing photography

Unplash photos by Chris Kendall (Canon EOS 60D, 85mm, f/2.0, 1/320 s, ISO 1,000) and Dan Burton (Nikon D5300, 34mm, f/2.8, 1/160 s, ISO 800)


4. Use a Lens Hood to Adjust to Different Light Settings

Shooting from a very low angle might result in a lens flare effect that may or may not stand out to you. Use a lens hood to block out excess light if it bothers you.

You have to make the most of the lighting you have. It likely changes as the match progresses. So, you must adjust accordingly every time. Buying the best sports photography equipment can help.

Besides using a lens hood to manage lens flare, consider employing fast lenses with wide apertures. Fast lenses allow for greater light intake. They are ideal for shooting in low-light conditions without compromising image quality.

Couple this with lens or camera image stabilization features and a monopod. This empowers you to adapt seamlessly to changing lighting dynamics throughout the match. They will enhance the overall quality and impact of your boxing photography.

A fighter shadow boxing in a ring as an example for boxing photography
Shot with a Sony a7 III. 85mm, f/1.4, 1/750 s, ISO 2,000. Zachary Kadolph (Unsplash)

5. Take Both Wide Shots and Close-Ups for Variety

Most photography genres thrive on diversity. It’s best to experiment with different camera angles, techniques, and subjects to improve as a photographer. Boxing photography is no exception to this rule.

Take photos of details, the entire ring, the boxers’ reactions, and the audience. You should have at least two different lenses to make the most of it. This lets you take sharp and creative photos at the same time.

I recommend using a zoom and a wide-angle lens. A zoom lens lets you take fantastic photos of faces and details without getting too close to the ring. In contrast, a wide-angle lens lets you take atmospheric and slightly distorted photos.

Close-up of a woman sparring as an example of boxing photography
A wide view of a live match with two boxers in a ring from afar as an example of boxing photography

Unsplash photos by Jonathan Tomas (Canon EOS 60D. 85mm, f/2.0, 1/500 s, ISO 500) and Joel Muniz (Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 67mm, f/4.0, 1/200 s, ISO 1,600).


6. Photography Boxers Before Matches for Backstory

If possible, get to know the boxers before the match. You don’t need to meet them directly before the match. The best time to meet is long before then so you can communicate in a relaxed setting.

Knowing why they enjoy boxing is beneficial. You can even take pre-match photos of them to find their best angles and boxing techniques. This is a great way to make new connections as a photographer in the boxing industry.

You can connect with them online if you can’t meet them in person. Many boxers have websites or Instagram profiles. They usually explain why they love boxing and highlight their achievements.

Side profile portrait of.a boxer making a punch as an example of boxing photography
Shot with a Sony a7 III. 85mm, f/2.8, 1/100 s, ISO 800. Farkas Mario (Unsplash)

7. Use Candid Photography to Capture a Boxer’s Humanity

Powerful photos are often vulnerable moments with people. By showing your subject’s humanity, you can add a whole new level of meaning to your images.

To achieve this, take photos of the boxers during breaks or right after one of them wins or loses. Capture emotional reactions as they fight.

Take candid photos of boxers. Show them talking to their trainers or interacting with the audience. And take photos of the audience during crucial moments. This will improve your boxing photos and give you a better understanding of candid photography.

A tired boxer leaning on ropes as an example of boxing photography
Shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III. 40mm, f/2.8, 1/250 s, ISO 1,600. Wade Austin Ellis (Unsplash)

8. Shoot Through Boxing Ring Ropes to Create Depth

Using a large aperture such as f/1.8, shoot through the gaps between the boxing-ring ropes. This adds texture, an interesting foreground element to your composition, and depth. All these small details contribute to the power of your boxing shots.

This technique can help focus on a specific part of the frame or enhance the effect of candid photos.

A boxer sitting in a ring corner as an example of boxing photography
Shot with a Sony a7 II. 50mm, f/2.5, 1/800 s, ISO 1,600. Nick Wang (Unsplash)

9. Prepare for Ringside Criticism, Focus on Picture Taking

Unlike other sports photography genres, boxing photography can come with pushback ringside. Many professional boxing photographers are criticized for distracting viewers from the match.

Some people close to the ring might find you annoying and useless, leading to insults or snarky comments. All these negative attitudes have nothing to do with you.

Besides taking great photos, it’s your job to ignore these comments. Focus on your work as much as possible. You have nothing to worry about if you’re not taking over anyone else’s space.

A wide-angle shot of a boxer walking to a ring as an example of boxing photography
Shot with a Canon EOS 70D. 24mm, f/8.0, 1/100 s, ISO 2,000. Attentie Attentie (Unsplash)

Conclusion: Boxing Photography

Boxing is a powerful sport that offers photographers unique ways to express themselves. It’s fast-paced and aggressive. So, it’s perfect for improving one’s knowledge of cameras, lighting, and the power of stories.

We have covered everything from mastering camera settings to embracing the fighters’ raw emotions. We hope this empowers you to immortalize the essence of this brutal yet captivating sport with professional finesse.

Why not check our full sports photography guide next for more great tips?

Photography Unlocked
Photography Unlocked
Unlock your camera’s full potential with this guide:

  • Master manual mode to capture moments you’re proud of.
  • Overcome the frustration of missed shots with quick exposure settings.
  • Benefit from visuals with hundreds of images and illustrations.