By Pat Bolen, Special to the Times-Advocate
NANAIMO — Getting close enough to Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) ringside action that he could hear “a sickening crunch,” is how Matt Tinney, a former Hensall resident and South Huron District High School (SHDHS) student, describes his life as a photographer that recently included a two-page photo spread in ‘Ultimate MMA’ magazine titled “Blood on the Lens: Life As An MMA Shooter.”
Before moving to British Columbia six years ago, Tinney lived in Hensall as well as Crediton and south of Exeter and London until he moved to Nanaimo where he started Tinney Photo with his wife Kat in 2010.
Tinney says his interest in photography started from a young age.
“The very first shot I ever took was around four years of age when I snuck into the cupboard and snapped a picture of my own face with my mom’s Kodak Instamatic. I did a bit of film photography in communications class in SHDHS which really helped me understand the relationship between light and film. I picked up photography more seriously during the move across Canada. The combination of the landscape and artistic influence of the west coast helped to rekindle the passion I had for the medium. I got the bug and purchased my first digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) which got the ball rolling.
“Other than the bit of film work I did in high school my only form of training was a two-hour lighting workshop I did with photographer Dave Hamilton when he was living here in Nanaimo. Beyond that I’ve learned from magazines, web forums, library books and really anything I could get my hands on. I’ve found the best results really come from just shooting and then working with the different pieces of the puzzle to get things just right.”
According to Tinney, he became involved with the MMA professionally after he was asked to do promotion shots for a clothing company that supplies to the fighters.
From there he was asked to shoot local shows, fight clubs and fighters.
As a long time fan of the MMA, Tinney said he was quickly accepted into the world of the fighters.
“I knew the world of MMA as an avid fan beforehand and although I may not be able to fight like these guys I was able to talk on their level and appreciate what it is they do.”
As well as action photos with the MMA, Tinney also takes posed photos for portraits, publicity, wedding, maternity and family, and says both types offer challenges and benefits.
“With posed photos you have a lot more chances to get things right and that’s when I like to get creative, whether it’s with some dramatic light to create a mood or something that gets processed through Photoshop in order to get a visual effect that isn’t possible straight from the camera. With live events, whether it’s a fight, a concert or even a wedding ceremony you only have one chance to get things right.
On the positive side they are always the most honest shots of people who are in the moment. These people aren’t thinking about me or how they look on camera, so there’s something extra special about those shots.”
Tinney said he and Kat make a good team, especially with creative photography.
“She is naturally more detail oriented than I am so we make a good team. Where I might think I have the shot she’s there to notice when a stray hair is in the way or some other imperfection is present. She always makes sure we shoot until we both feel we have ‘the shot.’”
Regarding his future photography goals, Tinney said he would like to shoot for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
“Besides that I also enjoy concerts and live shows. I work closely with Got Pop? concerts in Nanaimo and have been able to shoot Bob Saget, Big Sugar, Jon Lovitz, State of Shock, Wide Mouth Mason, Jon Lajoie, and am shooting Tom Green in the next couple months. These shows are a lot of fun and just like the MMA it really doesn’t seem like work.”
One shot that Tinney regrets not getting was at ringside during an MMA match in Nanaimo in 2011.
“My friend Jer Kornelsen was fighting Micah Brakefield and got himself into trouble. I remember watching as Brakefield picked up Kornelsen in a suplex and slammed him on the back of his neck resulting in a sickening crunch. I remember not getting the shot but it wasn’t until watching the replay on the Fight Network that I saw why, as my camera was pointing towards the roof and I was cringing.”
To see more of Tinney’s work and follow his progress, check his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/MattTinneyPhotographer