Portrait of Boxing Champ Austin Williams
It’s been an interesting year in a lot of ways. We became friends with up and coming actress Savannah O’Hara , terrific new model Tayler Campbell, and made a memorable trip with them to a beautiful location blanketed in wildflowers. But one of the most interesting session was also one of the earliest.
Way back during the dog days of summer, Image Theory photographed boxing champ Austin Williams. Austin came into the studio with a pile of championship belts. He wanted a portrait to commemorate a successful first year of amateur boxing and to create a symbol for family and and fans of how far he’d come and how far he still had to go. That sort of shoot isn’t really my idea of a portrait, but is closer to promotional work. Nothing wrong with that. Most commercial work is promotional. But it’s a different approach. We weren’t looking for a deep expression of character but some electricity.
We got it.
Nothing says “champion” like gold, so I side-lit Austin with two 60″ strips gelled in gold. The test shots were bizarre, and resulted in Austin looking more like a zombie than a boxer. But experimentation with placement and exposure resulted in the gold plated look we wanted. Front fill with a pair of spots finished the set up. We shot lots of poses and I polished up several, but the attached image is the best of the batch and an all-time fave of mine.
Did these motivational photos do their job? I kind of doubt it. Austin’s motivation is internal. He doesn’t need promotional photos to push him. But regardless of the source, the motivation apparently is working. The George Foreman amateur boxing team recently extended him an invitation, a huge accomplishment. He followed that up with a terrific performance at the biggest amateur tournament in the country, emerging as the No. 3 ranked amateur middleweight in the United States and Number 1 in Texas. Pretty darned impressive for someone with only a year’s fight experience.
But there’s more. He breaks the stereotypical mold of the boxer. He’s articulate, friendly, polite, and highly intelligent. If there’s a polar opposite to Mike Tyson, he might be it.
Austin seems headed in the right direction. It will be a difficult course to hold. But he might just do it. And if he does, the State of Texas will add another champ to a list that goes all the way back to the “Galveston Giant,” Jack Johnson.
You can follow Austin’s journey on his Instagram account.
[This article was first published on Dec. 15, 2016 and has been revised for the new website.]