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Howard Schatz e o Pugilismo

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For his latest book, Howard Schatz came back to a subject he has been passionate about since the 1950s: boxing. The photography is remarkable. Shooting in the studio and at fight venues, Schatz has created a multifaceted look at the sport and the extraordinary individuals who devote their lives to it. Above: Kassim Ouma works with the speed bag.

For his latest book, Howard Schatz came back to a subject he has been passionate about since the 1950s: boxing. The photography is remarkable. Shooting in the studio and at fight venues, Schatz has created a multifaceted look at the sport and the extraordinary individuals who devote their lives to it. Above: Kassim Ouma works with the speed bag.

Howard Schatz’s 19th book is an in-depth exploration of the forms, shapes and textures of all things boxing, and the images are exceptional.

One day in 1950, little Howard Schatz joined his friends at sports camp. Camp counselors fitted the boys with boxing gloves, then watched as they flailed away for 90 seconds at a time. Eventually, young Howard was struck in the face. He stopped and removed his gloves. It was at that moment the 10-year-old came to a realization: Boxers are different, and he was no boxer. 

“They’re different individuals,” Schatz says today. “They’re special in many ways. They’re determined, focused athletes, but they’re also different because of that one thing: They’re fearlessly courageous and getting hit doesn’t seem to faze them, and because they can hit somebody else and feel just fine about it. Almost every fight, when it’s over—whether it’s a draw or a knockout or a decision—they hold each other and they say good fight, good work, nice going. It’s really remarkable.”

 

It was while Schatz was creating a previous book,Athlete, for which he interviewed and photographed many different athletes in many different sports, that his childhood epiphany recurred. This time it led to a new project: a book devoted to boxing. The culmination of six years of work, At The Fights: Inside the World of Professional Boxing (Sports Illustrated) contains more than 400 photographs, and like all of Schatz’s books, it was a personal project powered by his intense work ethic and an almost manic desire to completely explore such an intriguing human subject.

The biggest difference, Schatz explains, is that the boxers were up for anything. They let the photographer do things to them, like dousing them with powder or sprinkling them with salt or drenching them in water, especially water. There was lots of water. 

“You know,” says Schatz, “between rounds a boxer sits there with his gloves on and he’s helpless. He can’t even handle a bottle of water. So they throw water on him, and down his pants and on his head, and they put grease on him and they rub him, and they give him water to drink and a can to spit in. Knowing that—I shot for Sports Illustrated from ringside—and seeing that, I realized I could do anything I wanted.” 

 

Chad Dawson triple exposure

Chad Dawson triple exposure

Fantastic, they are. Sublime, striking, surreal, simply stunning. This collection of boxing photographs—primarily studio portraits of boxers, although it includes ringside action shots and a bit of documentary as well—might very well be Schatz’s finest work to date. The book itself is certainly substantial enough; it’s literally and figuratively Schatz’s weightiest collection. Which is why once Sports Illustrated got wind of his project, they wanted in. 

“I did it because of my interest,” he says, “and the fact that there’s a book is really great. Sports Illustrated came to me and said who’s publishing the book? I said I haven’t thought about it yet; I’m still working on it. They said nobody but us should publish this book! But my joy is in the journey. I do it because it fascinates me, it’s my interest, it’s my passion, and it’s my enjoyment.

Sechew Powell skipping rope.

Sechew Powell skipping rope.

Sechew Powell skipping rope.

Sechew Powell skipping rope.

Joshua Clottey composite.

Joshua Clottey composite.

 

I always see the body as sculpture,” Schatz explains, “biological sculpture. There are all sorts of study of the body here, every part of the upper torso especially. There’s a picture in the book of a boxer’s back. It’s sideways in the book, a double-page spread, bent over, tattooed, muscular. I remember making that image. I’ve shot a thousand backs, but I saw differently that moment, and I lit it differently, and I worked in postproduction to multi-tone it differently, and I felt it really is iconic sculpture.”

Many images in At The Fights are sure to become iconic, but even if they didn’t, even if the book had never seen the light of day, Schatz still would consider the endeavor a resounding success. After all, he succeeded at the one thing he sets out to do day after day: He delighted himself.

It’s not work,” he says. “I’m addicted to amazing myself. I’m addicted to the high that comes from making images that surprise me. I can’t always do it, it’s sometimes elusive and evanescent and difficult, but I keep yearning and working and striving for that high, for that feeling.

Schatz is a perfectionist, and working with these athletes and building At The Fights took thousands of images. His love of boxing and his admiration for the athletes are palpable. Says Schatz, "I made 100,000 images. I edited and edited and edited, and everything in the book, I love. You can pick any image and I remember the session, I remember everything about it." Above: James Kirkland.

Schatz is a perfectionist, and working with these athletes and building At The Fights took thousands of images. His love of boxing and his admiration for the athletes are palpable. Says Schatz, “I made 100,000 images. I edited and edited and edited, and everything in the book, I love. You can pick any image and I remember the session, I remember everything about it.” Above: James Kirkland.

 

E vale a pena fazer uma visita à página oficial do fotógrafo: Howard Schatz

E vejam também as dicas aqui.

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At The Fights, published by Sports Illustrated, with an introduction by broadcaster Jim Lampley.

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