A tribute to Billy Smith

So, here we go. The launch of my new website means the start of a new chapter in my career. The transition from working at Getty Images in to the deep, dark world of freelance is bound to be a tough one but I can only look at the positives and work towards building new relationships, new clients and hopefully a new portfolio of award winning images. 

I feel lucky to have worked with so many athletes during my short two and a half years as an employee and I'm sure that I'll be able to carry that on now. Working with so many boxers, trainers and promoters has helped me to understand that within this industry is a vast spectrum of personalities. I can be standing around for hours on one day waiting for a Premiership footballer to sit behind a desk and give a two minute press conference, and the following day lying on my back in a  boxing gym being straddled by a heavyweight boxer who hasn't a care in the world about what his agent or sponsors might think! 

 

Last November I was asked by Ring Magazine to go and shoot a feature on journeyman Billy Smith in Swansea. I had to get there early as I was shooting Carl Froch v Yusaf Mack that night. When I arrived, Billy told me he'd only just got home himself from a fight the night before in Doncaster! Suddenly I didn't feel so tired. He went on to explain that this is what he does. Driving up and down the country at short notice to step in to a ring with an opponent who was looking at this fight as just another step towards something bigger.

I found out a couple of weeks ago that Billy had sadly taken his own life. Before his 161st fight Billy left us and a torrent of tributes started to flood in through social networks and boxing websites around the world. These guys spend their whole lives waking up early to prepare for afternoon training and then evening sparring. Their jobs rule their lives as I'm sure most of us think about our own. 

I sat in Billy's front room chatting about his career and his family before driving down to the bay where he runs every morning. After the shoot he thanked me for my time and wished me luck for my shoot in Nottingham that night.

I'm glad I chose boxing as my specialised area of sport photography. I look forward to working with more heroes like Billy and I certainly won't be sitting on my arse sulking just because I've been given the pink slip!

RIP Billy. 

 

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