I have a good friend of mine named Jason who recently achieved the status of Junior Tai Chi Master. This is a huge achievement and it’s something that he did in pretty short order.

T’ai chi ch’uan translates as “supreme ultimate fist”, “boundless fist”, “supreme ultimate boxing” or “great extremes boxing” although it’s practiced more in this country now for it’s health and meditation benefits.

I enjoy photographing athletes, dancers and anyone one else who is “body aware” and the people who practice martial arts fall into that group. The hours they put into training mean that they have the strength and body control to hold and repeat poses that most people cannot do.

In working with Jason it was a pretty low-key shoot. It was just the two of us working Iron Maiden cranked up on the stereo. No assistants, no support people or other friends there. There was something kind of cool about keeping it very simple. I think it allowed Jason to relax and focus as well since it’s a very awkward thing for most people to be in front of the camera.

We’re both goof balls and we decided we had to do a ninja style photo while we were there. That had nothing to do with tai chi but it was something I really wanted to try. Don’t ask me why…it was just one of those things and since Jason was game we added that into the mix.

For the Tai Chi shots though, I had a picture in a my mind I was working toward and set the lights accordingly. In this case. In this case it was a 48″ Oct camera left and high that he faced. On the other side and slightly behind him I had a 36″ strip box and that was it.

We worked through a number of different forms. As we went along I asked Jason to just go through the he was demonstrating form and I would photograph him as did as opposed to trying to have him stop at a specific point and hold the pose.

That worked pretty good until we got the swords and those were tough because of the speed of the sword tips.

Originally, I had thought I would put Jason against a background of bamboo – I had something in my head about the green of the bamboo with the blue in his uniform that I thought would be cool. After a couple of hours searching for an appropriate bamboo image I was still unhappy. Then I stumbled across the temple image and I knew it would be a better fit anyway.

This is one of those shots I would love to re-create on location. Oh well, for the lack of time and a bigger budget at the moment I’m going to call this good and be grateful for the time I got to spend with my friend.