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Chris Occhicone September 23, 2015

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.
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Amateur boxers line up for registration and weigh-in. Passaic, NJ 2012

Chris Occhicone (b.1978, USA) is photojournalist based in Northern New Jersey. Before coming to photography he received his BA in history from Fordham University and did graduate work in public health at Harvard and international relations at the Whitehead School of Government. He decided to pursue his passion for photography on a full time basis by enrolling in ICP. His project Fringe was screened at the 2014 Visa Pour L’Image festival in Perpignan Chris attended the Eddie Adams Workshop and was awarded the Time Magazine Award for his work there. His photographs have been published in TIME Lightbox, and Al-Jazzeera.

About the Photograph:

“I had really just started photographing and considering changing directions career wise and a few lessons that came out of taking this photo have been important. After meeting some trainers at a gym in Passaic, NJ I had started shooting amateur boxers in gyms in Passaic, Patterson, and Newark. I had seen a lot of the younger kids train in the gym and was always impressed by their confidence. When I saw them lining up for registration and weigh-in they looked much more vulnerable than at the gym. The guys running registration all had the hard look of older fighters and I wanted to see what they saw. So, I squeezed behind them and shot a few frames. What’s funny is that, while I was shooting one of them grabbed me and dragged me out and started to loudly say you like taking pictures of little boys with no shirts on, telling me he was calling the cops and I better erase the images.”

“My first reaction was to laugh at the absurdity of his accusation. They were live streaming the event- an event where the same kids were going to shirtlessly punch each other in the face in front of a crowd with cameras. He didn’t find my observation funny. Also, the guy had been a boxer so I didn’t have a chance to physically back him off. I had gotten to know a lot of trainers, several of who were local law enforcement and I waved them over to explain that I was not some pervert. The whole incident taught me how important it is to shoot what I see as an important moment and deal with any problems afterwards. It also was a good lesson in dealing with people who don’t get what you are doing and in standing my ground as a photographer. I knew I had the photo I was looking for and there was no chance I would delete it.”