Sometimes photo stories don’t work out as planned. This is understandable and no matter how much effort or time you put behind the lens it is more often than not, out of your control. That being said, simply because it never goes anywhere does not mean it was worth it.
A number of months ago my Reuters photo editor sent out a call for photo story pitches in relation to the upcoming Olympic games this summer. I did some research and pitched the idea of following an Olympic hopeful female boxer in Vancouver for a month or so. The catch with this story is that Female boxing is making its debut at the London Olympics. It is the last Olympic sport that isn’t open to Females athletes since women’s wrestling was added in the 2004 Olympics. This story has news value, visual opportunities and potential for a solid feature package for the Reuters wire and its clients around the world. It looked promising and I started to photograph Jaime for a two months.
It is safe to say that women’s boxing is certainly the undercard compared to the flashy main events long time held by their male counterparts. Training is much the same. Jaime has an inner group of sparring partners and often spars with the same individuals week in and week out. Jaime and the small group of dedicated women boxers in the Vancouver area are all like minded in that they want to see the sport grow. This was evident from day one of shooting this story. Jaime helps out and basically manages the Astoria boxing club on Prior and Main streets in downtown Vancouver. Alisha, who is a part-time school teacher, often brings a group of elementary students to her matches at out of town casinos.
Although this group of women do all they can to help the sport they love, they often find themselves facing circumstances completely out of their control. Jaime hasn’t fought since before I started photographing her in February. She has been scheduled in a few matches, including a larger fight in which she was starring in the main event. The last minute cancellations are partly due to ill opponents but in the larger picture, are simply caused by the lack of female boxers at the calibre Jaime and her peers are at. With the debut of the sport coming this summer the sport will hope to gain a wider range of appreciation, acceptance and interest. Younger female boxers will be more encouraged to compete in the sport afar witnessing their boxing idols win Olympic glory.
Jaime unfortunately did not qualify for the Olympics this year. Another Canadian, Mary Spencer of Windsor, Ontario managed to get on a wild-card sport earlier this week and will be making the trip to London to fight for Canada.
The photo story I worked on with Jaime has come to an end, for now. In retrospective, everything was worthwhile. These things happen and ‘rolling with the punches’ is just another skill you have to have to be in this business.