I recently had the privilege of spending a week with conflict photographer Benjamin Lowy at the Savannah College of Art and Design where I got to see and hear about another side to this critically acclaimed photojournalist’s work—his riveting portraiture. Last summer, Lowy spent six weeks photographing boxing champion Floyd “Money” Mayweather for ESPN The Magazine.
“Most of the time he acted like I wasn’t even there, which is something I’ve come to expect and even relish when working on ‘day in the life’ features for my clients,” Lowy explains. “But having Mayweather look me in the eye and acknowledge my presence was the real challenge. One of his security detail had mentioned that I had been in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that started the conversation going to the point where I could stray from a conservative safety shot and work instead with another idea.
“I asked a taller boxer in the gym—one who had a massive wingspan—to shadowbox from behind me while pretending the camera was actually the center of his body, and to reach out and spar with Mayweather as I shot. I had the stylist spray a mist of water over all of us as the shadowboxing began. I then got over-excited that this was working and shot a quick succession of images that blew out most of my lights.”