Joe Baker: Striking Boxer Portrait with Sony A7III, Paul C Buff Alien Bees & Einstein

Updated: Sep 26

Speedliter's Blog is psyched to feature striking boxing photos by Lubbock, Texas based photographer Joe Baker. Joe expertly manipulates light and color to create dynamic, evocative images for his clients.


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What camera and lighting gear did you use for this shoot?

CAMERA: Sony A7III

LENSES: Sony 24-105 f/4 G

LIGHTS: Paul C Buff Alien Bees B800 and Paul C Buff Einstein Strobes

MODIFIERS: Gridded Beauty Dish, Gridded Strip Boxes, 36” Gridded Octabox, Standard Reflector Dish with red or orange gel (all unbranded)

MISC: Atmosphere Aerosol

Why do you use the camera and lighting systems that you use?

I use a Co-op studio and this is the lighting provided by the studio. For my onsite work, I prefer to use Godox equipment and Cheetah Stand modifiers.

How did you approach this shoot from a planning perspective? What was on your mind?

I had always wanted to shoot a female boxing athlete, but I wanted an actual boxer instead of a model with gloves on. This particular model was actually an instructor at a nearby boxing club. For the shoot, I wanted to show a progression from getting ready to warm up to a full on workout.


PHOTO #1: To begin, I wanted to show how a boxer gets ready so I asked her to put on her wraps while I was shooting her. I chose a low angle and low key lighting to set the tone. She is preparing alone and focusing on the task at hand. I had an assistant spray some Atmosphere Aerosol to add a little “texture” to the background.

SHUTTER/APERTURE/ISO: 1/200 f/6.3 ISO100

LIGHTS/MODIFIERS/ETC: Sony A7III, Sony 24-105 f/4 G, Paul C Buff Alien Bees B800 with 36” gridded octabox for key light, Paul C Buff Alien Bees B800 with gridded strip box from camera left for edge light, Paul C Buff Einstein with just the reflector dish and an orange gel.

PHOTO #2: I really wanted to show some motion during her warm up process, so I decided drag my shutter to create the appearance of motion. I noticed that she had pink gloves so I changed the gel from orange to red to match.

SHUTTER/APERTURE/ISO: 1/5 f/6.3 ISO100

LIGHTS/MODIFIERS/ETC: Sony A7III, Sony 24-105 f/4 G, Paul C Buff Alien Bees B800 with 36” gridded octabox for key light, Paul C Buff Alien Bees B800 with gridded strip box from camera left for edge light, Paul C Buff Einstein with just the reflector dish and an red gel.

PHOTO #3: For me this is the reason for the shoot. I really wanted to show her intensity and how much effort she was putting into her workout. I used a wide angle lens and was fairly close to her and the bag to create this dynamic and off scale look. I had seen several boxing images before, but none with this unique angle and look. I told her to workout on the heavy bag like a normal workout and I just clicked away hoping to capture that “perfect” moment. Fortunately for me, I did! I love how the glove is just about to hit the bag, the intensity of her eyes and mouth, and the rippling of her muscles that show she is really into it. This is absolutely one of my favorite shots ever!

SHUTTER/APERTURE/ISO: 1/200 f/7.1 ISO100

LIGHTS/MODIFIERS/ETC: Sony A7III, Sony 24-105 f/4 G, Paul C Buff Alien Bees B800 with 28” gridded beauty dish from above on a boom, Paul C Buff Alien Bees B800 with 12”x48” gridded softbox in front of her to light her face and front of the body, gelled Paul C Buff Einstein with reflector dish from behind and an assistant spraying aerosol atmosphere to add “texture” to the background.

What software and tools/processes did you use for post-production & retouching?

I do all of my basic edits in Lightroom then export to Photoshop for skin clean up, dodge and burn, and color toning. Then back to Lightroom for cropping, vignette, and exporting.

What do you like most about the final images? Is there anything you would do differently next time?

These images were exactly what I was looking for when I thought of this shoot. I had the perfect athlete and she did a phenomenal job. I have done this type of shoot two other times, but none of them had the magic of this session. I really want to improve the action image with the shutter drag as I do not think I nailed exactly what I was looking for, but I will keep trying.

Check out more of Joe's work at www.joebakerphotography.com or on Instagram @joebakerphotography or @fitness_by_joebakerphoto.

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