eric espinosa – lords of the ring [EPF Finalist]

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Eric Espinosa

Lords Of The Ring

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Emerging Photographer Fund – FINALIST (number five of eleven)

Bert Randolph Sugar, one of the greatest boxing writers, says that “to understand boxing, one must understand its roots. From its beginnings, the sport has resonated with urban ethnicity, drawing its recruits from the tenements, the ghettos, the projects, the barrios, places that offered little chance for the present and even less of a future. Many a troubled and troublesome youngster has embraced the “Sweet Science” as a way out, a social staircase out of the mean streets that formed his limited world, fighting his way, bloody hand over bloody hand, up the ladder of acceptance, the only way he knows: with his fists”.

To penetrate the roots of boxing, I headed to the Queen City, a city rich with boxing history. Cincinnati has produced five world champions, beginning with Freddie Miller in the 1930s, Bud Smith and Ezzard Charles in the 1950s, Pryor and Tony Tubbs in the 1980s and Tim Austin in the 1990s. Those guys were always around – in the gyms, in the media, out in public – and the kids see them and want to emulate them. It becomes part of the culture. Pound for pound, Cincinnati is still today the top producer of high-quality amateur boxers in the country. Cincinnati has placed six fighters on the last four Olympic teams.  No other city can match it during that period.

All the young black fighters from its tough neighborhoods share the same dream: becoming future Olympians and bringing home Cincinnati’s first gold medal. But beyond their dreams of Olympic glory, they are primarily battling their way out of poverty, looking for a way out of the ghetto, hoping one day to get into prize-fighting, the “perfect” passport to fame and acceptance. I was able to penetrate their world and spent long hours with them in the dingy local gyms of the city, watched the daily sparring in sweat, blood and tears. The boy-men of the streets, the young kids who are shadow-boxing their fathers, the more experienced pro boxers that temporarily rise and then often self-destruct, the trainers – all have welcomed me into their lives.

I have tried to capture their souls in these “close” portraits, looking into their eyes straight. As Bob Black kindly wrote to me, I hope that my photographs, these stories gathered, will “provide a doorway through which others can walk through and see them, take them into our homes and our lives and understand that like each of us, they aspire, they aspire and fight and hope and love and attempt to win from this difficult life, a life that is finer than the one we, as adults and as a nation, have bequeathed them”. Boxing reveals the best in these men and boys, the hope, the perseverance, the sacrifices and above all, the dignity. Boxing is a hard way of life. Armed only with their fists and their wits, the boxers I have met in the Queen city proved to be very fine young men.

They are the “Lords of the Ring”.

This essay was started specifically for Road Trips and is now shown on Burn for the first time. My hope is to turn this work into a book to shed some light, from hours of conversations, on the lives and struggles of some of these boxers I have met – from the more famous young pro boxers like Aaron Pryor Jr., son of legendary Hall of Fame boxer Aaron Pryor “The Hawk”, to former Olympians like Ricardo Williams Jr., silver medalist at the Sydney Olympics, and Rau’Shee,  the second fighter ever in U.S. history to compete in back to back Olympics, but also the younger boxers who have yet to make it out of the ranks and are training everyday to follow the footsteps of their boxing idols.

Of course, I want to thank all the boxers and the trainers I have met at the Millvale Recreation Center, Mount Auburn gym and Northside boxing school. All of them have given so much to me and shared private moments of joy and tears during the long hours of training at the gym. Many of them live an unusual life with ups and downs and, in some cases, spent unfortunate time in jail that they regret. Clearly, there is no excuse for serious wrong doing and they all know that, but at the same time, it is important not to judge their acts too quickly when they have been tempted by the street. Most of them are very fine young men, brought up in the wrong neighborhood, without a stable family around them. It would have been easy to judge them from the privileged white suburb outside the city center where I live. In the ghetto, survival already seems an achievement in itself.

Finally, this essay, and eventually the book I hope will soon follow, is dedicated to a young boxer, James Perkins, who is shown in the last photograph. James was shot dead last October … nine bullets … a senseless assassination. I hope the few pictures I was able to take of James doing what he loved best, boxing, will help us remember James’ short life forever, a life cut way too short.

Bio:

Eric Espinosa was born in Marseille, France in 1968.  Eric currently resides in Cincinnati where he works for a large consumer goods company.  Within a few months, he will move back to Europe and settle in Brussels, Belgium.  Eric began to pursue photography in earnest in 2005 after attending a DAH workshop  in Rome and another one few months later in Sicily.  In 2008, Eric was an EPF finalist for street photographs taken in the “Over-the-Rhine” ghetto in Cincinnati.  Over the past year, in parallel with his full-time “day job”, Eric has been working on his first long-term project “Lords of the Ring”.  Currently, Eric is not affiliated with any agency but some of his past work is shown on his website.

 

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Eric Espinosa

 

Editor’s Note: Please only one comment per person under this essay.. Further discussions should take place under Dialogue..

Many thanks… david alan harvey

50 Responses to “eric espinosa – lords of the ring [EPF Finalist]”


  • ERIC…
    YOU DA MAN

  • WOOHOO!!! congrats Eric!! such a beautiful essay, the richness, intimacy, and textures of each image – makes for a strong essay. Way to go my friend!! see you soon.

  • Some interesting portraits. This would work well in a book with interviews and the back story. Finally an emerging photographer. Good job.

  • YES!!!!YES!!!! YES!!!
    I had a sneaking suspicion we would be seeing Eric here.
    Eric, hope you’re as excited as we all are for you.
    Congratulations, you deserve this. YAHOOOOOOOOO!!!
    I know you wished (for a while there at least) that you had a place more exciting than Cincinnati to shoot in but look what you found, look what you have accomplished.
    LOVE IT.

    What timing…as you are now in the midst of moving on from Cincinnati you have this body of work to represent you and all the people you came in contact with while there.

    p.s.Thank goodness, as I was about to post this I lost my internet connection…now it’s back and I actually found my comment! Although I lost my first place position :)))

  • Oooooohhh Eric, so wonderful to see your essay here … :-))))

    Cathy said it all. I love the new edit, especially the portraits, although I admit miss some of the old pictures, too … Well, guess you can never have it all. :)

    Very nice job you did here … Hope to see you in Brussels soon!!!

    Take good care,
    L

  • first congratulations on making the 10 eric.
    Some strong portraiture here. I like the treatment, the hard colours, the hard flash, they work well for these people. Good access you must have had, and the trust of these guys.

    little bugs i have. Some of it feels quite ‘posed’, i would have liked to see more ‘story’ in here. Quite a lot of’ dont shoot till you see the whites of their eyes’ shots, but they are certainly effective, I just wonder if fewer would have been even more so. Just a thought.
    I see action and poses and I wonder to myself ‘is that it?’ theres more to this than just training and posing, and i would love to see it continued and expanded.
    Really good work though, and I think the treatment sells it well
    Congratulations again

    JOHN

  • WELL, THIS JUST MADE MY WEEKEND! :)))))….

    Eric, first: a big big congratulations ami! I could not be happier or more proud of you! Sadly, I am literally running to meet folks whom i’m photographing, so I can’t do a long bob-black love poem for you, but I am so happy and pleased for this selection, mostly because of the tireless effort you have put into this essay and work and that it’s so lovely to see an ‘unknown’ here. The cover photograph is not only drop-dead gorgeous but absolutely heart breaking! And more extraordinary and humane effort and testimony to James and for his family. It has been one of the GREAT pleasures beginning with last years EPF to watch this story unfold and to bloom, even amid the tragic death of James. Most importantly, you have given these young men not only a chance to showcase their humanity and their tireless work efforts, but you’ve allowed, within the magisterial and beautiful frame of your vision, to settle for doubters that the character of a person is not wrapped in our perceptions or the tint of their skin, but is in fact a truth that abides inside a person. There is no way around the fact that these pictures and this story is a celebration, a celebration that ultimately binds all of us together: their rich and deserving courage.

    I hope that these young men get to see not only the fruits of their labor but how much the world should respect and cherish them, as we should one another. Bravo work, mon ami, bravo!

    The roofbeam is held on high….

    Nothing new for me to add here, but just a swelling heart and an equally swelling smile.

    I could not be prouder or happier for you.

    big congrats and hugs

    running
    bob

  • luscious images..
    glistening bodies,
    black
    and
    beautiful..
    I can smell the sweat,
    taste it…
    would love to see you follow one of these boys..
    to school,
    at home…
    show me why they choose boxing..
    can’t wait to see your book!!
    **

  • Very nice work. I pretty much agree with everything John Gladdy said above.

  • I am happy that also a real “emerging photographer” made it to be in the finalists…
    I do agree that this will work very well as a book!

  • The “eyes” have it. Now we’re talking folks’. Eric you’ve captured the gritty, sweaty nature of amateur boxing oh so well. It’s like Golden Gloves the way it was in the 1960’s.

    I can see Cassius Clay, Joe Foreman and Joe Frazier, et al in these images. The little voice kept saying, “but where’s the story?” and then I realized that the story is in the eyes. Eric your flash technique did all of the magic. I’m sorry I have to make a comparison, but this is like Bruce Gilden; really getting into the face. Footnote here: I’m a sucker for a “real” image that is done well inside a subjects “personal space”. It shows that they trust you.

    Oh boy this is fun. Every one of the projects we have been privileged to see, so far, have been great. Some may not trip my trigger, but this one is a KO!

  • Big smile on my face this morning Eric :) You’ve made my day! EPF finalist two years on-the-trot…you’ve got something special my friend. Really like this series. So impressed how close you got. Intense…just intense.

  • Great job!! Congratulations Eric, you deserve to be here.

    And I also want to echo Albertina and Jim: I am finally really pleased to see a GENUINE “emerging” photographer’s work being recognized by making it to the EPG finalists. Although Eric is well-known to us burn readers, as far as I understand he is a relative unknown to the photographic world at large, despite his talent.

    My hope would be that the EPG would function precisely in this sense, of giving publicity and much-needed project funds to photographers who have not yet made it to the major leagues, even though they deserve to be there. So even though the work of some of the previous finalists is fantastic as such, it seemed that their selection for the EPG was an example of the old pattern of the rich getting richer (metaphorically speaking) and the poor getting poorer.

    Perhaps the EPG would serve a REALLY worthwhile purpose if the criteria changed, and it was only open to people who have NOT already won awards and/or have gallery or agency representation. Just a thought. (and lest some people think there is some self-serving motivation to what I am saying, or a case of sour grapes, I hasten to add that I myself did NOT submit work for consideration, either this year or last year).

  • Love your resume, Eric…. ;-)

    I may not be as completely acquired as others to the dark contrasty treatment, and in many ways, after a few frames, I am reminded what has been said often lately, that photography is a good deal of self-portraiture, but this verbose is of little matter.

    Your dedication to these young men, and what you shared with them, the pain, the hope, and even death, goes beyond photography, and yet where it comes from and goes, well, that is actually, and exactly what photography is all about.

    That’s your lesson to us, Eric. Not just photos, not just talent, not just a job or an award, but having lived it and told it like it is, just as David told it, when he started his own ball rolling, a few decades ago, and passing it to us now. Let’s not drop the relay!

  • Oh man, #8 is fierce! Eric, I think a print trade might be in order! I want that one in my office! Inspiring and tough as hell…

    You know I love this work. Great to see it boiled down a bit from the first time around.

    #9 rocks my world as well.

    Best of luck,

    CP

  • Nice one Eric! Great to see your name up there, not only as one of the old guard, but as a TRULY Emerging photographer! It was starting to feel like World Press up there. Well done!

  • Dear Eric,

    Oh! You’ve done well!!
    I’m very happy and glad with you….You are a Real emerging photogarapher and DAH’s Real student..And especially You have made all efforts to your project.

    Conglatulations!!!
    And Thank You so much!

  • Eric,

    LOVE IT! great great stuff,
    So tuff and yet so sensitive,
    beautiful photography…

  • Congratulations Eric,

    An interesting subject presented in a gritty,”in your face” visual style than appeals to
    my taste.
    I did find, though, that the selection became repetitive about 1/2 way through.
    Almost always a head or face that dominated the frame with little supporting info to
    help tell their story. Needed some graphic variety
    Moving forward, I would like to know more ‘about’ these individuals outside the ring-home life,
    neighborhood, what sort of jobs do they work at to continue the pursuit of their dream, etc.

  • ahhhh..this is my first post under the first post rule. And it is with pride and great joy that i applaud this essay for all i’m worth (and how much that might be is questionable). Love the gleam, the shine, the pores, the sweat, the eyes, the teeth, the satin, the bling..love the passion, the effort and the respect that flowed between you and your subjects. I have heard that you are a real gentleman, Eric…i don’t know you from Adam but i’d say that estimation of your character is dead on. i can feel you role in this essay every bit as much as i can feel theirs. They trusted you cuz they felt the heart you carried in that black box with you every damned day to the center.That’s the only way you can get people to give back to you like this, in my totally uneducated and outspoken but experienced opinion.

    Isn’t it sad that to rise above their circumstances they have probably four choices, fight for the grades, fight for street dominance, fight in the ring or other athletics or fight in Iraq? But more than that, there’s a deeper metaphor for me personally, rising from any circumstances anywhere is a fight. And it doesn’t matter if you’re richer than Trump, sometimes fighting your way out of a box has nothing to do with money but it’s a fight to the finish nevertheless. And nothing but your best will do.

    Congratulations on achieving your place in the top 10 and perhaps beyond. You done good. I think i have not articulated the complexity of my reaction too well but i am ill (under health dept. quarentine for suspected swine flu, actually) and my thoughts are a bit muddled from fever and meds. But my appreciation for your fine work is clear as day. Wonderful!

    best~
    kathleen

  • Félicitations Eric!!!
    je suis tellement heureuse de voir enfin ton essai sur Burn, et parmi les 10 finalistes !!! Wow !! tu le mérites tellement, tu as toujours travaillé, tu ne t’es jamais découragé et le résultat est là… j’aime tes images, ta couleur, tes “front-coupés” qui sont ta marque de fabrique… ton texte de présentation est aussi extrêmement fort… je me mets aussi sur la liste d’attente pour ton livre, en espérant que tu feras une version française :))

    mes amitiés à toute la famille, ton papa doit être extrêmement fier…
    j’espère qu’on se verra bientôt aux Rencontres d’Arles ?!
    xoxo
    audrey

  • Is this a fashion statement?!?
    Yes the quality of your images is spotless, but this series of photographs (portraits) is far too much based on the aesthetics of a bunch of black boxers.
    It really doesn’t communicate more to me than the clichè of tough looking sweating boxers.
    In the text you mention their hard lives and their daily struggle to keep going. Well, where can I see that?
    Should I just imagine their houses, their families, their jail terms, their lack of money….? If I should do that, then I think it’s pointless to have a partial photo story, when on your text you mention elements that are just not present in your essay.
    Unfortunately, I can see just form without content.
    Sorry, but this is not good enough.
    Mimi

  • hi Eric.
    just browsed over your web page and have been shown a good dose of your style and what your wanting, or have been wanting to show in your images so far. Most seem very sincere.
    I truly connect with the sense of community in what you show.
    I also visually appreciate your style of getting in so close and cropping tight almost ?, certainly artistic in a painter sort of way. I like the way you see images..

  • Congratuation Eric, great stuff!

  • The style, the spirit you see in their eyes/ faces, beautiful. Without actually showing everything- everything you can see this/ feel it all in these pictures, their faces, expressions, body language. Love your personal approach! I would have liked to see a couple more images in this essay, but that’s a good thing isn’t it;)

    Bye, David

  • I like the portraits for what they are. Each one is nice, shows the pain, sweat etc. They also show that you know how to use the flash in an effective way. However, I see these photos as comparable to DAH’s recent work on hip hop (definitely in terms of technique and style) without the more intimate photos of the boxer’s outside of the ring, ie. hanging out after a fight, with their girlfriends, etc. I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you are trying to tell a story about these guys it would be nice to have the same intimacy with them in other aspects of their lives. You are already accepted by them, so why not show more of what goes on around the boxing itself.

    I don’t know if this is your aim Eric, but that’s just my opinion. Perhaps you envision a book/expo of just strong portraits??

    As a side note….this made me think of another photographer’s work who I greatly admire, Joachim Ladefoged. He’s done a project covering body building in Scandanavia. It might be interesting for both Eric and you guys to check out for comparing and contrasting.

    I read that you’ll be moving back to Europe. I’m an American transplant living in Paris. It would be nice to meet up one day.

    take care.
    David

  • Eric, it’s so good to see your essay develop and mature. I was most impressed first time around and now it looks fantastic! Great use of composition, depth of field and colour. Impressive.

    Beyond your photographic expertise, you bring a sense of commitment and affinity to your subjects that shines through and lifts your work beyond the good and into the great.

    It was good of you to quote Bob, and we who have seen your work before knew that you would not and never will forget James.

    Good light,

    Mike.

  • Nostradamus says no. 5 will be the cover shot for the burn book when it comes out.

  • Eric, this is spectacular: tough, gritty, in-your-face, haunting, brutal and touching. Your choice to focus on the faces of the fight rather than the stories of the street/home gives this essay the force of a K.O. punch. In fact you had me wet-eyed just reading your introduction. This book–and it WILL be a book no matter what is happening to the economy–will show the world who is to be celebrated in our country…and it ain’t the ones who have “made it.” It is always those who are doing their damnest to be the very best they can be, whether with their fists, their brains, their creative genius or their huge hearts. Because of you, James Perkins will never be forgotten, but nether will his brothers, fathers and grandfathers. You have thrown open a window into a world most of us knew nothing about, and you have done it with equal doses of talent, authenticity and compassion. Congratulations, dear friend, on your well-deserved place among the top ten EPF finalists. BRAVO!!!

    Looking forward to meeting you in person at Look3…

    Patricia

  • I have to agree with Mimi – most (except 8 and 19) of it’s plain boring. maybe they’ve got a passion for the sport, maybe in their head they’re toughing it out with the temptation of life on the street but none of this seems to be conveyed in these shots. Would these faces look any different if they were comfortable middle class [black] kids psyching themselves up for a bout?

  • Very good but I would like to see this cut in half and replaced with some background shots, home, work etc. Is that where you are headed next Eric?

  • ERIC,

    You know I have praised your work in the past and that I greatly admire what you have done with this series. The current selection of pictures is even more gripping than before. It is as strong a group of portraits as any I can think of. As an essay, it certainly is cohesive, and is consistent not only in style but also in quality and impact.

    My question however, is where do you take it from here? If this is to be expanded into a book… and I think that was the idea all along… then more portraits like these would not only be redundant but also would weaken the impact of the ones you already have. I remember back when DAH encouraged you to concentrate on the portraits, but I felt then, and I still feel, that a really impressive book on this subject will have to include other kinds of shots showing us sparring and real fighting in the ring, as well as the wider ambience of the gym and training, and something about the lives of your young Lords outside the ring. I know from seeing some of your other work that you are capable of making such shots just as powerful as the portraits and consistent with them in style. So I hope that the eventual book which comes out of this work will include that much broader perspective. But as a self-contained essay in its present form, I have no criticism but only praise.

    Cheers,

    Sidney

  • I looked at the essay yesterday and today… Both times I got bored in middle of the essay. Couple of real gems, but many really boring shots… In previous epf finalists essay I thought that the photographer needs to get closer (imo the contact to the subject was mostly missing) – this essay is the opposite — really close all the time…too much. Again, the variation is missing!

  • congratulations Eric on being one of the finalists.

    In general I like this essay. There are some powerful images. I agree with many of the comments above, both the congratulatory ones, and the ones with some reservations.

    I realize that the very dark contrasty look is part of your style. However I find it to be way over the top in that regard. These images, and much of the great work I see on your site appears to be the same. It almost leaves me wondering if you are working on an un-calibrated monitor, which would explain a lot. If your monitor is calibrated, and you like it that way, fair enough.

    I also agree with comments suggesting that the series needs fleshing out. I’m left wishing there had been more to it all.

    Overall however, obviously very strong work with lots of potential for the story as well as you as a photographer. Good luck.

  • An essay needs to be conceptually strong to retain the audience’s attention, one has to do a more than present well crafted images. You have an idea that is way too broad yet you presented a a one dimensional group of images and then ask the audience to fill in the gaps. Organise your ideas/concept and place the images that best fit that criteria not the ones you like. Like the previous essay it can benefit with the grant, as long as you don’t make it just about boxing. It’s positive is the richness of of subject and colour use them to your advantage
    Then, I feel that this traditional slide show approach to photography has lost its impact with the visually sophisticated audience of the digital age

  • Eric,

    I think our past edits were much better. Im just not seeing an essay here with THIS edit. You had an essay before but I think you edited it down so much you lost a lot of dimensions that made it interesting in the past. In the past we could see a lot more about their lives, about boxing. Now I dont see any of that. All I see is a collection of portraits and it just doesnt work for me as an essay. It doesnt give me any variety. I think that portaits could work as an essay but not with this approach. I really dont sense anything about these guys from these tight portraits, other than them being boxers. But nothing about why I should care about them, nothing personal, nothing intimate. Nothing to show me the pain and blood that is so central to them as boxers, nor anything private that is central to them as people. You had that, but it isnt evident here.

  • To all-

    I have been away from the computer for the past day but thanks to Tom who kindly sent me a message saying that “Lords” was up, here I am… and, as I do not seem to be able to post directly myself, hopefully Tom will be able to post this message on my behalf….

    It is with real impatience and a bit of anxiety I must confess, that I have just gone through all your comments. First, I wanted to thank you all for the interest you have shown about this work. It has also touched me to have so many of you from Cathy to Lassal, Gina, Bob, Audrey, Panos, Sean, Patricia, Charles and several I am forgetting for sure, express real joy and satisfaction of seeing me among the finalists. Nothing is more important than to have others engage on your work and respond positively…. So, many many thanks!!! I also want to thank those of you who have expressed more critical points of view…. It is hard to please everyone and I shall not even try but I am still integrating the suggestions and hopefully will continue to learn and grow with the thoughtful feedback from this demanding community. The one think that made my day is that even Jim has expressed a positive feedback JJ so the balance today, all in all, is largely positive.

    I have to say that becoming an EPF finalist this year again is a real honor and also a surprise for me. It is an honor first to be among such a fine group of photographers. All other finalists so far have displayed incredible talent and really would deserve to get the recognition and final grant. Ironically, I have really decided to become a committed photographer about 4 years ago after a workshop with David in Rome. In this workshop, there was a young Italian charming assistant with a complex personality called Simona Ghizzoni… I knew of Simona as a great individual but back then, she was very reluctant to show what she was doing with her photography…what a journey for her looking at her bio now and her work. I am so pleased to find myself side by side with her again…

    Beyond the honor to be in good company, it is selfishly a great satisfaction to see that David continues to be passionate about this “Lords of the Ring” project that I have started for Road Trips, really because of him in the first place, before it eventually became a very significant part of my life for the past months. I remember myself proposing to him potential projects that I could do a year later, in some distant location, always projecting myself into the future as opposed to the present. David kept telling me, what can you do NOW, right where you live, in Cincinnati… NOW, always NOW… this man has no patience J… well, as it turned out, Cincinnati was not a bad place after all as he once said to me… very true! Beyond the photographs, while working on “Lords” I have found a purpose along the way, became more confident in my own vision, have grown as an individual by being confronted to the issues that these young boxers face everyday, the ghetto, death, the pain but also the pride, the courage, the perseverance. I finished this work different than when I started it and, if only for this, it would have been worth it…

    Being a finalist this year is also a surprise because, as you have seen from my bio, I do have another full time day-job, a very demanding one actually that never leaves me enough time. I am also not into any professional “circuit” nor linked to any photo agency. The EPF is actually the only serious “contest” I have entered in my short life as a photographer. What’s more, I am now 40 (young at heart!!!), have never been published anywhere so surely, I thought, David would prefer selecting a younger photographer that has already made his marks, maybe one who is a working “professional” already as opposed to someone like me who has a career in a completely different profession… So, while I wanted to be a part of EPF, I never really thought I would be here in the running right now… But David keeps surprising me. What I admire most about him beyond his obvious generosity is that there is no “prejudging”…it does not matter where you come from, your age, your sex (also maybe not true, he likes women J sorry David, I do not want to get you into trouble…) More seriously, it also does not seem to matter if you are a well-known photographer or not, as long as you are committed to your photography, able to listen, willing to learn and have a good eye…you are in!!!! So, at the end of the day, you can be an “emerging” photographer like Patricia later in your life or also emerging when you have another “day-job” like me. It is not about who you are really and what awards you may or may not already have won, it is about the work, your commitment, about what you are prepared to do next, sorry to do NOW J… Thanks David from the bottom of my heart for mentoring so many of us regardless of our background and for making it possible for me personally to grow and take my photography to the next level. I said this before and I mean it… It simply would not have happened without you!

    Now, some of you have asked some questions and I will try to provide some perspective as best as I can. First to answer MIMI who has been the most critical. I surely did not attempt to make a “fashion statement”…. Obviously, I like using saturated colors in my photographs. The aesthetics are important to me and I wanted these kids and boxers to be beautiful in my photographs with their expressive faces. Really, not many care about these kids when they are in the ghetto but when they on the ring, they “become” someone, in the light, they are the “Lords of the Ring”… In my photographs, I wanted them to look like “Lords”… I wanted to show that beauty despite the dark environment, the pain…

    SYDNEY, I have been worried myself about being repetitive with many close portraits. Actually, if it was not for David, you may have seen even many more… Clearly I think it is right to limit the number for a short slideshow but I worry less than you about what this will look like in a book with many portraits. For many of these kids and boxers, like Jim actually suggested, I plan to have some pages of conversation and insights about who they are, what brought them into boxing. The text will hopefully provide a balance that you cannot achieve in a short slideshow…

    MARK/ DAVID, at the time I started the project, several expressed a desire to see these boxers outside the gym, show other part of their lives. I did initially many photographs of just that but, somehow, these photographs do not look like they belong to the same project. I think Pat got it right and eventually, it really felt to me that “focusing on the faces rather than the stories of the street home” was more compelling and unique. Sometimes a face says a lot more than a setting. At the end of the day, many stories/ essays can be done about boxing and many have been done in the past. I just selected one angle… Hope I was right…

    Again, thanks to all for your engagement and for continuing to make Burn the very special place that it has become. Special thanks to David and Anton!

    Cheers,

    Eric

  • I have to agree with many of the comments here regarding including photography outside of the gyms. Looking closely, we find that these guys never fight anyone — they just train and pose!

    It is interesting to see so many of the comments lauding Eric’s “visual style”.

    In Eric’s reply to Mark and David, he says, “At the time I started the project, several expressed a desire to see these boxers outside the gym, show (an)other part of their lives. I did initially many photographs of just that but, somehow, these photographs do not look like they belong to the same project.” Eric, you’ll have to get to the place in photography where your personal style is THE powerful unifying force that holds the disparate themes in an essay together.

  • b o r i ng. Sorry. This is nothing interesting. Only some mediocre portraits next to another which tell nothing.

  • ALL…

    interesting comments i must say…..for those of you critical of all tight portraits as a book or essay, what do you think of Avedon’s American West?? all tight portraits, no “fleshing out”, no mountains, no valleys, no glimpse of the rest of their lives, just portraits..or, is it just PORTRAITS!!!..aren’t the “day in the life of” style stories just that?? day in the life of…so so obvious….none of the really great books offer “complete” views of anything…one view, one vision is usually the benchmark of the very best….variety might be the spice of life, but rarely is the hallmark of the most significant photographers on any specific essay….

    cheers, david

  • Dear David,
    I am surprised by your reaction in defense to one participant of the EPF. Does that mean that only positive comments are allowed? Or that we are not intelligent enough to think independently about photography? Is this a kind of “personal” stand you are taking? Just to let you know, I wrote, before reading your “comment” a personal email to Eric, showing him my solidarity in vision of the comment of Dietmar, which I thought it was offensive without showing any constructive critique. But now, I am disappointed from your reaction. Eric has already posted a response, thanking the ones who supported him (you on the first place) and giving his own explanations to the ones who criticised him. I believe that was a fair discussion. If you reckong Dietmar post was too much offensive, than make this clear, otherwise you risk to scare all the ones who just don’t happen to think like the majority.
    All the best
    Mimi

  • I too feel this essay is a bit dry. If taken individual photographs–great. I enjoy the style and subject, but as a series I’m left wanting a bit more. David, your mention of Avedon’s “American West” is valid, but what keeps my attention in Avedon’s work is the variety in the people themselves. The images may all be shot in a standardized format, but the people in the photographs are diverse. Here is this a standardization in both subject and approach. The essay just leaves wanting something else.

  • Mimi,

    It’s unfortunate I have to waste my single-comment to show you what you should already have read above, but it’s an important rule, so I’ll waste my single comment to prevent more mistakes like yours:

    Editor’s Note: Please only one comment per person under this essay.. Further discussions should take place under Dialogue..

    Mimi this rule was created specifically to prevent argumentative comments since they typical breed more nasty, artist-irrelevant comments.

    I’m sure you’ll see from a quick scan of the thread that you’re the only one struggling with this simple practice.

    Best wishes,

    Joe

  • MIMI…

    first of all, i was not defending…you are reading a lot into my simple comment..and since when would only positive comments be allowed??? that would be boring…..i was simply giving an example for an alternative way to think about essays since this is a quite common comment on many works…

    i have made several comments on various essays here as just food for thought not just this one….and it was certainly nothing personal at all regarding your critique which is fair enough…

    i sure hope i did not scare anybody!!! not my wish or intent….

    now, if there is more discussion on this , let’s please go to Dialogue….i am already in my own forbidden territory…shhhhh

    or, please join me in London on the 25th at the Magnum party….we could discuss it all over a pint or two..several others from here will be joining….

    cheers, david

  • ERIC

    I can’t wait to see you at LOOK to tell you in person how happy I am for you! Am at a loss for words these past few days, but know I am cheering you on in my heart. Big Congratulations..

  • Eric, this is awesome. I have been a fan of your work since I saw your images on the EPF section of the DAH site, i think it was last year. Anyway, it’s great that you are a finalist and I look forward to seeing more from you.

  • I think this essay needs some variety. I want to see different expressions, something that breaks the cliche and stereotype. I think these photographs make strong single images, but are redundant in this format. I would like to see some actually boxing too, not just practice shots. #9 does something for me, there seems to be conflict and deeper meaning.. something about the boxers expression. maybe some would disagree. Definitely needs some work, but this is a good start. I’m not sure if this is grant worthy work however.

  • Great series of portraits, congratulations Eric!
    Would have loved to see more of the environment, but I guess that’s just my taste. I usually don’t like tight portraits, but I have to say some of yours are among the most beautiful I’ve seen in a long time.

  • great work !!!
    un saludo

  • Brilliant: content, technique, essay, lighting, colors… I’d buy this book. It reminds me of DAH’s work, a bit too much in some ways, but there is something unique I think (the flash of light, the kind of emotional engagement). My favorite so far.

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