Boxer Luke Watkins collaborates with New College tutor

Former New College student, Luke Watkins and Sports Centre Manager, Dan Thorley have been working on an exciting Muhammad Ali inspired photography project. Dan previously taught Luke, who is now a professional boxer and the two have reunited for a ‘War and Peace’ themed shoot.

Alongside managing the Sports Centre at New College, Dan has been pursuing his passion for photography. He enrolled on the part-time Discover your Digital SLR Camera course at New College and his most recent project has given him the freedom to explore an underwater theme.

Dan said: “My main interest is surf photography, for example, capturing pictures of massive waves at point break.  When the end-of-course project was announced I was desperate to incorporate underwater images. I also have a keen interest in boxing and the idea of photographing a boxer underwater then came to mind. Straight away I thought of Luke.”

Luke completed his full-time studies at New College in 2008 after completing qualifications in Chemistry, Graphic Design and Photography, as well as taking part in the Football Academy. He then went on to further his studies as an adult learner at New College, where Dan tutored him to become a Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer.

After the first day of shooting with Dan, Luke recognised the images resembled those from a 1961 underwater shoot with Muhammad Ali. Inspiration was taken from the comparison, with Dan creating a series of images that mirror those of Ali. The series of images also incorporate a ‘War and Peace’ theme, focusing on elements of Luke’s peaceful personality – a contrast to his career as a boxer.

Dan said: “I didn’t realise anything like this had been done with a boxer before, I was really surprised, but it was great inspiration for the project. It has been a pleasure to work with Luke on the project; I couldn’t have achieved the underwater shots without his skills, willingness to help and massive pair of lungs!”

Luke enjoyed collaborating with his former tutor, he said: “It’s been really enjoyable working with Dan and great to collaborate with him on this project, it’s so interesting and different to anything I’ve done before. I’ve seen very few photographers attempt shots like this, with a handful of elite athletes, one of those being Ali.”

The part-time Discover Your Digital SLR Camera course begins again this April, inviting a new cohort of budding photographers. Speaking of the evening course Dan commented: “Without this course I’d still be shooting in automatic mode. I’ve developed my skills in order to take better photographs, by programming my camera correctly and developing a wider understanding of composition. The course tutor has such a passion for photography and expert knowledge, the weekly workshops have been inspiring.”