Paying your dues to reach the top: Zhuang Wu and the essence of Sport Action at the AIPS Sport Media Awards
Zhuang Wu, placed 2nd in Sport Action at the AIPS Sport Media Awards in Budpaest, on February 3rd, 2020 (Photo by AIPS Media)
LAUSANNE, February 29, 2020 - When Chinese sport photographer Zhuang Wu entered the Fuzhou Sports Centre in Jiangxi Province to take pictures of a professional boxing match for the first time, he realised it was the perfect scenario for a photographer.
“I had never covered professional boxing before. I was surprised by the lighting of the arena, which was ideal if compared to some other venues in China offering worse conditions for photographers. I had to jostle more than once with my colleagues to get the perfect visual.
“But there, I could see the beads of sweat dripping down the boxers’ faces. It was unbelievable,” he says.
Zhuang Wu was placed second in the Photography Sport Action category at the AIPS Sport Media Awards. According to the jury's shared belief, “Chinese boxer Xu Can embodies the essence of the category, with the boxer falling at the mercy of Xu Can, who has just thrown a winning punch.”
BOXING Boxing matches are usually crowded and extremely noisy. Chaos and screaming get the best on people’s self-control. But what really makes boxing photography such hard work is speed:
“The way boxers sneak up on the opponent, the way they unexpectedly strike a blow at the enemy, is something unpredictable for photographers, too. It looks like you are fighting on one boxer’s side waiting for their punch, and against both of them at the same time, trying to catch a frozen frame.”
"Chinese Boxer Xu Can", Sport Action picture by the Chinese photograper Zhuang Wu from Xinhua, China (Photo/AIPS Media)
CORONAVIRUS The Chinese photographer, as well as several Chinese guests were not be able to take part in the AIPS Sport Media Awards ceremony due to the dramatic situation in their country because of coronavirus. The government took the necessary measures to try to contain the spread of the illness as much as possible. Neither the embassy nor Xinhua, the company which the journalist works for, could help in the visa application to leave China. Day by day, a huge number of journalists forgot the idea of flying somewhere else: as Chinese citizens, they felt they needed to stay home and collectively support the country. Inevitably, it was a massive absence.
-How do you feel about it? Please tell us how China is living such a difficult moment and how the lives of journalists have changed.
I was very disappointed and upset to have missed the AIPS Sport Media Awards ceremony. But it was the right thing to do. This is a conversation that's tricky for me. I do believe we can come over it. In these days, the Chinese government is doing its best to deal with this difficult historical moment and taking care of the population. My colleagues and I chose to remain here to show the world we stand with China, as well. They work hard to report the truth about coronavirus.
-How did you become a photojournalist?
-I joined Xinhua seven years ago with no solid experience in photogrphy nor previous studies within that field. Then I was writing the captions under the pictures that photographers send over from the various events. But at that time it wasn't as easy as today to find photographers, so Xinhua gave me the chance to start covering events. I am so grateful for that opportunity because it set the tone for all the rest and my career followed from then onwards.
-How did you realise your picture Chinese boxer Xu Can?
-When I took Xu Can’s punch, I used 70-200mm lens camera, whose zoom lens are very suitable to detailed pictures, close-ups, especially to catch frames during fast sport actions. My workstation was very close to the ring: it looked as if I was the one in the ring, fighting against the opponent. When I felt there was a chance to give a punch, instead of hitting, I shot with my camera.
-Do you remember the moment captured in the picture? Can you describe it?
-The match was quickly passing. I took pictures, shot after shot. As soon as I captured Xu Can’s frame, I just knew I got what I was looking for, but I was not hundred per cent sure of the quality, and ‘the match must go on’. I couldn’t stop taking pictures to have a look at the previous ones. Only after the end of the match, I looked at that frame on my laptop. I got it, and I was shocked.
-What do you think about AIPS idea of creating an international Award for the Sport Media industry?
-The AIPS Sport Media Awards are a necessary reward for all the professionals who run their careers with passion and dedication. Being a sport journalist is different from many others professions because sport has something special. On my side, it is not just a mechanical gesture, clicking on the button and get your picture done. It has its own spirit and I feel inspired every time in a different way.
-What can the AIPS Sport Media Awards bring to the profession and to the new generations of Chinese journalists?
-This kind of international sports contests, especially the AIPS Sport Media Awards which offer three different prizes for young reporters, make the young generation confident, it pushes them to dive into the professional field and test themselves, compete with peers and discover new realities. For instance, there are many talented young photographers in China, they just need the chance to show the world their skills and their desire to do well. And AIPS gives you that chance.
To view all winners of the AIPS Sport Media Awards’ second edition, please click here.