Martial arts are a dramatic subject for photography. But their blistering speed poses a real challenge. Fortunately, Michael Townsend has an edge.
The University of Huddersfield undergraduate has mounting expertise with a camera, thanks to his degree studies in photography. He is also a seasoned practitioner of kung fu, having become a Fourth Dan in the Southern Chinese style named Lau Gar.
Now, for the enterprise placement year that is built into his BA Photography course, Michael has set up his own business, Loki Photography, in the University’s 3M Buckley Innovation Centre, where he specialises in taking pictures, including action shots, of the martial arts.
“You can produce some stunning images,” he says. “Martial arts are very dynamic, but not easy to photograph – they move so fast! That’s where some of my experience comes in. I know when to expect certain moves.”
Michael, aged 34, also finds that his travels to kung fu schools and contests around the North West of England provide him with fascinating experiences of the many styles of martial arts that have been introduced to the UK.
For example, he has been intrigued by the Sikh style named Babba Deep Singh Gatka and the Japanese sword art of Batto do.
As Loki Photography, Michael takes both action shots and posed pictures, in order to provide martial arts schools and practitioners with good quality photography for promotional purposes.
He took up martial arts and photography when he was in his mid-teens and gradually became more and more serious about both pursuits, although he now concentrates on developing his photographic skills, keeping up his kung fu for recreational rather than competitive purposes.
Michael, who lives in Stalybridge with his wife and two children, decided to study photography seriously and make it his career after working at numerous jobs. His goal is to become a full-time, self-employed photographer.
He is sampling this during his placement year, calling on the help and support of the University’s Enterprise Team in the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre, which is home to The Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Centre.