Blood, sweat, and the sound of a leather glove hitting skin. There is nothing quite like boxing, one of the most demanding and at times loneliest sports in the world. Detroit photographer Brian Kelly recently captured Vincent Jennings, Jr. as he endured the rigors of his training schedule and continued his fight to become a world champion boxer.
Brian first shot Vincent 7 years ago, after he won the Michigan State Amateur boxing title, and they stayed in touch via social media ever since. Brian reached out to the professional boxer after he posted about a pro fight in California in September, asking if he could document Vincent as he trained for his next fight. The resulting hybrid photo/video project showed Vincent as he pushed through the ups and downs of training, suffering, and setbacks.
Vincent recently lost his beloved mother. He was extremely close to her and he isn’t afraid to show sides of himself that reveal how devastating that loss was for him. He wears her ring on his necklace when he’s training to keep a part of her close to his heart. He won’t let anything get in his way. For me to be in proximity to that energy level is truly inspiring.
Brian began shooting Vincent as a self-assigned project, as shooting personal projects breathes new life into his commercial work. Brian said that his personal work has had a huge impact on his professional work, and that he often sees his personal images used by clients on inspiration boards for upcoming shoots.
It’s rewarding to have an aesthetic you developed during personal projects subsequently bleed over into the advertising world.
Brian shot Vincent on location at the MLK Boxing Gym in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and experimented with various lighting setups to perfectly highlight the boxer’s muscularity, focus, and determination. While the project was relatively simple to shoot, lighting became a huge challenge due to the overhead lighting at the gym. The use of HMI lighting in certain situations helped to achieve the look Brian wanted, but not without tripping a few circuits in the process.
Working closely with his studio manager and cinematographer, Mark Andrus, helped the project go off without a hitch. Mark was able to shoot the video for the project, while Brian focused on directing his subject and crew as well as the overall tone on set.
So far, the reaction to Brian’s work with Vincent has been great.
Besides the general social media buzz in this area of Michigan, Vincent is using the images to help elevate his visual brand, which has been very successful!
While there are no immediate plans for this project, Brian is considering documenting Vincent’s next professional fight in California for a documentary.
To see more of Brian’s work, visit briankellyphoto.net.