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Breed Issue 3: Behind the lens with photographer Luca Sage

March 22, 2013 | By Julian Panico | Behind The Lens, Creative

In the third issue of Breed magazine, the Getty Images Creative team celebrates the best of 2012 and surfaces the trends, ideas and photographers they believe will make an impact in 2013, including photographer Luca Sage.

In his latest series, Luca Sage focuses on the emotive sport of street-fighting in Africa. His work is a result of much time spent in the field, a huge respect for the boxers he has pictured and his love of shooting on the continent.

“It was six years ago when I first traveled to Africa and that trip had a major impact on my work. During my stay, I discovered a boxer called Wellington Balakas. His boxing was aggressive, but amazingly balletic. And this duality totally inspired me.

Since then, I’ve gone back many times. During the last couple of visits, I found a little fishing village in Ghana, called Jamestown which is regarded as an epicenter of boxing.

The place is like a film set; only it’s for real. There are a few bars dotted around and they arrange street fights every Sunday to raise money for the gyms where they train. It was here I photographed this series of boxers and street-fighters.

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Tough young boxers battle it out in Jamestown, Ghana. (Photo by Luca Sage, Photonica World Collection)

The crowds that form around the fights are incredible. They really get involved and it’s not like they’re having a little dance. The fights are for real. The noise as they hit each other really gets you in the stomach and even though there’s great showmanship, it’s deadly serious.

And that’s what interests me about boxing; it’s violent at the time and yet, outside the ring, there’s discipline and focus. It’s controlled animal instinct. We all have this ugly dark side but boxing really allows every side of human nature to be expressed.

On my trips to Africa I often use my four-by-five, large format camera on shoots. It’s big and heavy and a pain to carry around but using it, it feels like it slows everything down. I’m there with a cloth over my camera and shoulders, not engaging with the subject in the same way you would with a digital camera. It forces me to be more considered; it forces the sitter to expose themselves more.

I think the results are more beautiful as the result is a clean, graphic, film feel. And the way it handles light and color is amazing.

I’ve become so obsessed with light and color that I don’t even own a TV anymore as I can’t stand that they don’t take the time to get it right. Whereas film, they wait for the perfect moment, creating imagery that takes time to unveil itself, which is exactly the feeling I like to create in my images.”

Editor’s Note: Luca Sage is an award winning fine-art photographer, working in Europe and Africa on commercial and editorial projects in the spheres of advertising, publishing and news. Luca’s anthropological approach and distinct style have seen his work enjoy critical acclaim across the globe. He is currently based in Brighton.

Julian Panico is a Senior Copywriter at Getty Images based in London.

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