Chris Farina: The Godfather of Boxing Photography
By Emmanuel Rivera, RRT
Sat, 31 Aug 2019
Farina (in yellow shirt) in action.
San Leandro, California -- Judging by his work, the esteemed Chris Farina seems to be at the right place all the time. For the past 30 years, the master photographer (Dominus Pretium in Latin) has amassed a collection of heartfelt images he keeps in a portfolio of who’s who in boxing and entertainment.
Sports Illustrated, ESPN Magazine, The Ring, Las Vegas Sun, Vanity Fair, PhilBoxing.com, for example, have featured his life’s work in the fight game.
Prizefight scenes he’s taken are award-winning pieces recognized by the BWAA---Boxing Writers Association of America.
Many celebrities have been in front of his lens including Bill Gates, The Artist formerly known as Prince, Sylvester Stallone, Tom Cruise, Robin Williams, Victoria’s Secret models Tyra Banks, Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Heidi Klum and Gisele Bundchen and so on.
www.ChrisFarina.com shows memorable shots everyone can appreciate.
As Top Rank’s chief photographer from 1989-2015, Chris had unfettered access to fighters.
Manny Pacquiao and Freddie Roach pose with Farina and Farina's photo of Pacquiao.
The challenging job required meticulous planning and execution.
A sight to behold, the final print usually was.
Of all his choice subjects, though, it is the fighter’s narrative that tugs at his heartstrings---pugilists like Johnny Tapia, Miguel Cotto, Oscar De La Hoya, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez and, of course, Senator Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao have captivated his mind’s eye.
The Art of the Fight Video:
When Manny Pacquiao pulverized Ricky Hatton in two rounds, Chris Farina was there.
“Fighters have innate abilities and habits. The photographer’s job is to anticipate the action based on the boxer’s tendencies. Hatton tended to be flat-footed and off-balanced after throwing punches. Manny knew that and countered with a looping left hook. The result was a brutal knockout of Hatton. The look on Pacquiao’s face afterward was classic,” Farina observed.
When Juan Manuel “Dinamita” Marquez flattened Emmanuel Manny” Pacquiao with a smashing right cross to end their tetralogy, Farina was again at ringside.
“The photo of the aftermath of Marquez-Pacquiao IV had all the elements of a great picture. The victor and the vanquished, the glory of victory and the agony of defeat all filmed in 1/1000th of a second,” Farina explains. "If you see a punch through the camera, you’ve missed that punch.”
“Preparation is key. Coming to a venue, hours or sometimes days, before fight night can alleviate headaches. The last thing you want is to improvise at ringside. Save up and buy the best equipment you can afford and maximize its full potential. Having the proper gear is winning half the battle.”
Not all assignments go as planned.
Having a Plan B is paramount.
In one instance, Farina explains how a missed opportunity turned into something special after “The War” between Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Tommy “Hitman” Hearns.
“Early in my career, I was not able to cover Hagler-Hearns up close. Due to the magnitude of the event, I was relegated to the press room away from ringside action. As a result, I missed the three-round beauty and one of the greatest fights ever. I was crushed, but I still made the most of it.”
At the post-fight press conference, Chris Farina landed the coveted cover of Ring Magazine showing Hagler smiling and sporting an itty, bitty band-aid covering a wide cut on his forehead sustained while knocking out Tommy Hearns.
Chris Farina says he fell in love with photography twenty-five years ago, thanks to his father.
“My dad had a boxing show on radio and I used to tag along. He told me to bring my camera. Covering the fights with him was priceless. From then on, I got hooked, “Farina reminisced, “I learned the trade on my own, without formal education. I was fortunate enough to have great mentors like David Lee Waite and Neil Leifer who showed me how to create pictures not just take snapshots (there is a difference). I try to compose, frame and capture the moment as is. Boxing has been my love since I was six years old and I hope my journey continues.”
• Photos and video are courtesy of www.ChrisFarina.com
• Instagram: ChrisFarinaPhoto
• Veteran boxing photographer since 1985 (Top Rank’s official photographer 1989-2015)
• Multiple winner of boxing photography awards from the BWAA
• First boxing photographer ever featured with a 20-page spread in RING Magazine history
• Featured 250+ times on ESPN's front page of boxing
• The Farina Collection is one of the largest privately-owned boxing collections in the world with a stellar photo library dating back to 1983 and continuing into the present day.
• Photo Representation: GETTY IMAGES
• The Art of the Fight video, in addition to the photo collage above, is courtesy of Mr. Chris Farina by way of UCN---Undisputed Champion Network as featured on YouTube.com.
It has been eight years since our beloved sister Maria Christine Rivera-Cesano left us and joined our Creator. We miss you so much, especially during the big fights.
Click here to view a list of other articles written by Emmanuel Rivera, RRT.
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