Daily Inspiration #352 by Rich Castro

Hello Steve.

Photography has been a long time hobby of mine shooting mostly landscape and some portraits sprinkled in here and there. Over the last few years I found myself taking less and less pictures. A new interest was occupying my time; Mixed Martial Arts. With no prior experience in combat sports I dove in deep, training my mind and body at every free moment I had. Photography was taking a backseat because I basically live in the gym. I was / am addicted.

I’ve been shooting with various DSLR’s starting with the first digital rebel and eventually settled on a Canon 5D Mark II. It’s a great camera, but it is simply too big for my taste. Looking for an alternative I stumbled on your site and discovered the NEX5N. What impressed me was it also shot great video in such a small package. Even after purchasing the camera I still wasn’t getting out there taking photos, but I still had an itch.

Combats sports and injuries go hand and hand, and I’ve definitely had my share of them. After suffering a separated rib I decided to take the NEX5N for a spin in the gym. Using the kit lens the results were less than spectacular. The lens was simply too slow and the camera’s auto focus isn’t quite the best for a fast moving fighter. Even though the pictures weren’t the best, it satisfied that itch that never went away. From your site I learned more about legacy lenses and bought a few for cheap. The results compared to the kit lens were night and day.

The marriage of two of my passions were formed; Combat Sports and Photography! I still train every day possible, but now I come equipped with either the the NEX5N or an RX100 in the gym bag. I train and coach (part-time) out of arguably the top MMA gym in the country Xtreme Couture. I’ve been extremely lucky to be surrounded by some pretty exciting and talented people to photograph.

Shooting with a manual focus lens definitely has it’s challenges shooting combat sports. Many shot’s come out simply out of focus, but I think that’s part of the charm. The focus peaking feature of the NEX5N does help a bit, but shooting at wide apertures it can be a guessing game. The results are far from perfect, but I enjoy them that way.

As a hobbyist I don’t have a website, but my work can be found here:



Photo Info:
  1. Sony NEX5N with C-Mount 35mm – Head grappling coach Neil Melanson applies a rear naked choke to Sean Borchman during competition team practice.
  2. Sony NEX5n with SEL50mm f1.8 – Christian Molina prepares for a exhibition fight at Xtreme Couture.
  3. Sony NEX5n with C-Mount 35mm – Kids coach Rodrigo supervises the kids class at Xtreme Couture.
Rich Castro


  1. Thanks for the comments guys. Some info on the second photo… It’s a picture of a young fighter named Christian during his first ever exhibition match. He was a bit outsized by his opponent. It was a kickboxing match inside a cage. The photo was taken moments before entering the cage while looking up at his coach for advice. Christian did great getting the better of the larger opponent!

    It was shot with a SEL50 F1.8. A nice little lens but the autofocus system just didn’t work under the conditions I shoot in the most. I ended up returning the lens after the event and settled on a Konica Hexanon 57mm f1.4 and a 40mm 1.8 for “up at the cage” shots.

  2. Have to agree with your observations, although not my sort of thing I appreciate that good art challenges and sometimes takes us out of our comfort zone. The second shot reminds me of some of those classic Mohamid Ali pictures that I grew up with, superb capture

  3. Nice post! I’ve been doing martial arts for some ten years, and most recently, photography. So I’ve been playing with the thought of taking the camera with me to the gym lately. So, very nice pictures, thank’s for the inspiration. Now I just need to get injured, otherwise I still like the training too much to prioritize photographing.

  4. Thanks for selecting me for the daily inspiration Steve! I’ve truly been inspired by all the others you’ve posted.

    @ David Hunter – Thank you for the insightful comment. The whole kids thing is touchy subject. I was offered an opportunity to teach a kids “submission” fighting class the involves various chokes and joint locks but due to scheduling conflicts it wasn’t an option. Either way I wouldn’t have done it. But on the other side of the coin, I sure wish I started training when I was younger!!

  5. Love all of these shots. The B&W’s are gorgeous but I’m particularly taken with the first photo. “Violence” is a part of our everyday culture and should be as much fodder for art (along with sex) as the usual subjects of photography (such as love, beauty, and happiness). Even though the photo is violent, because the subject matter is shown as a silent, frozen image, it tells a different story than what we see on television. These men are warriors, for sure, but they also appear very vulnerable, as much so as the two young boys in the last photo. I find this photo shocking, sad, and moving, all at the same time.

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