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Morrissey Opens Up Unique Photography Collection

John Morrissey is a student of Creative Multimedia at Dundalk Institute of Technology and a photographer of the future. Photography has been a passion of John’s for many years and he feels fortunate to be able to put his passion to good use.

John has garnered experience shooting many live music events as well as Professional Wrestling events over the last number of years. He was the official photographer for a Battle of the Bands contest which was the only competition in Ireland directly affiliated with the Glastonbury Festival and also had the opportunity to go to the Glastonbury festival to photograph the winners of the Battle of the Bands play the Queens head Stage in 2010.

At the latter end of 2011 John had the opportunity to do photo shoots with Irish Wrestling star Bingo Ballance as well as the other members of the Irish Whip Wrestling roster. Since then he has continued to cover almost every Irish wrestling event across a whole range of promotions.

Irish News Review caught up with John to get the low down on the photography world with specific reference to his tenure as Ireland’s premier wrestling photographer.

1) How did you fall in love with photography and what camera do you use?

When I was really young I got this idea of wanting to be a photographer when I received a simple point and shoot camera for my birthday one year. However it never seemed to work properly, the film would always come out blank! Over the years as other interests came and went I never really picked up a camera properly again until I was given a digital camera for a Christmas present when I was 21. It was a simple Kodak camera with a great digital zoom. From there on out I became known as the guy who always took pictures. When I began my Multimedia course in 2010 I was taught all the theory needed to manually control a professional SLR camera, as well as how to develop film and produce the photos in the dark room.  From there I purchased my first and current DSLR, A Canon 1000D. It’s not the best of the best type of camera, but it has served me very well. I will be purchasing a newer model in the summer but I don’t think I’ll retire the 1000D fully.

2)  What is your favourite shoot you have ever done?

It’s hard to pick a favourite shoot, as I have had many really enjoyable ones. I took part in my first fashion shoot back in January with up and coming fashion designer Linda Sloane which was one hell of an experience. I really can’t pick one favourite but if I could name a few I’d have to say shoots I have done with Main Stage Wrestling on their extreme wrestling shows and an Irish Whip Wrestling (IWW) show in Dundalk last October, which featured one of the best street fight matches I have seen involving Jeebus and Mandrake.  The Main Stage Wrestling (MSW) shows are always great fun to shoot, and when I get a chance to take some promo shots of the wrestlers it’s always fun.

3) If you could choose a specific area of photography to work in what would it be and why?

I would like to be versatile and be able to shoot anything, but if I had to pick one field of photography it would be event photography. I’ve had a lot of experience shooting live music over the last couple of years and I really enjoy capturing the energy of a good gig.  I’d love to be able to shoot the big name bands in venues like the O2 and the Olympia. If I could make a good living out of shooting gigs and wrestling shows, it would be a dream come true. When it comes to music gigs and wrestling shows you never know what could happen. That unpredictability makes my job so much more enjoyable.

4) Are you a wrestling fan? How did work in that field come about? 

I am a huge wrestling fan and have been for most of my life. My Dad would watch WCW Worldwide on Itv on a Friday night back in the late 80’s/early 90’s, and I’d always sneak out of bed to watch it with him. The same show was repeated on a Saturday afternoon, so more often than not I’d watch the same program twice. I got into the Wwf through video tapes of the European rampage tour and wrestlemania 8 that my dad got off some of his co-workers. I still have those tapes today. I didn’t see wrestling much from 1994-1999 because WCW disappeared from terrestrial TV and we didn’t have Sky.  In June of 1999 I had the chance to see wrestling on a regular basis again and my love for it just got bigger.

How I got into shooting wrestling shows is actually through training to be a wrestler myself. I began training with Irish Whip Wrestling  in September of 2007 under (new Irish News Review columnist) Bingo Ballance and the Ballymun Bruiser. I trained on and off there for 9 months and I had my debut match in the King of the Gym Battle Royal at the last ever IWW Gym Wars. The IWW Lock up closed after that and I decided not to continue training.  I later returned to the IWW ring in 2010 as a heel manager and got to be a part of the main event which was really cool. It was after this I started taking photos at shows. The first full show I had the chance to shoot was an Irish Whip show in Balbriggan which happened a couple of days after my managerial role. I made friends with a lot of the guys from my days with IWW and it was through these connections I managed to get the chance to take photos for Main Stage Wrestling. I really have been very fortunate to get to work around so many talented people and make more friends in the process.

5)  Describe a typical day covering a wrestling event.

Well, the typical day of show involves getting up early and hitting the road. I always like to allow time to find the venue if it is somewhere that I am not familiar with and you never know when car trouble may strike, so it’s good to have time to allow for any hiccups. I always like to arrive at a venue 2-3 hours prior to doors being open. This gives me time to check out the venue and see how much light there is available for me to work with, how much room I’ll have to move around without getting in the way of the audience and taking test shots to get an idea of how the photos may look. Getting in early also allows me to chat to the wrestlers and see if they need some promo shots taken before the show.  When a show is wrapped up and all is said and done, it is usually well after midnight when I arrive home, but no matter how late it is I always take time to review the photos on my laptop before I go to sleep.

6) How do you keep up with the pace of a wrestling match?

When it comes to shooting wrestling I feel due to my experiences as a trainee in the past, I have a fair knowledge of how things operate inside the ring and I can judge when a series of moves are coming. I use this knowledge to my advantage when shooting wrestling and it helps me keep up with the pace. When the pace is slowed down you have time to think about your shot and it’s easier to get into a good position to get a good photo, but when the pace is picked up you need to be quick on the draw so to speak as well as been quick on your feet! It is also a huge help when you are familiar with the wrestlers you are photographing. Every wrestler has their signature moves and the more you see them work the more you begin to become more aware of when they will pull off the move in a match. For example, Thunder and Lightning do the awesome dive through the ropes to the outside. Having had the chance to shoot quite a few of their matches I can tell when they are about to pull the move off. This allows me a few seconds to get into a good position to capture the dive mid-air.  This familiarity helped me get a great shot of the dive at the last MSW show in Tallaght.

7) What are your aims when you finish college?

When I finish college I hope to get a job working in graphic design and photography.  I’d like to be able to make a living out of combining them both. Once I get some experience working in industry I hope to set up my own photography and design business and hopefully get a chance to work all over the world.

8) Plans/scheduled gigs for 2013?

Well I have a few things lined up. In August I’m shooting a Christening and I’ll be travelling to Clonmel in Tipperary to shoot the 3rd annual Belly Bang music and arts festival at the Piper Inn from the 23rd-24th.  I’ve shot the Belly Bang event for the last 2 years, it is always amazing fun and all proceeds go to charity. If anyone finds themselves in Clonmel on those dates you should check it out. I’m currently in talks with Dundalk based band Words That Burn to do photographs for the cover of their upcoming EP release. I’m also currently developing ideas for my own little photo projects that will benefit my portfolio.

With this being a degree year for me at college, my time is taken up with assignments and this may hinder me from being able to shoot some upcoming wrestling shows, but I do hope to be around for the next MSW Extreme Wrestling show.

If anyone would like me to photograph any events they may have coming up they can find my contact details or contact me directly through my Facebook page or via my website .

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