I've been thinking about doing some personal projects for a while now, and I have chosen to do a series of action sports photography related shoots with emphasis on the portrait side of things. This will mark the first project in a series to come.

As it happened, Ralf Carneborn from Nacka Dojo, who is one of the best in Sweden and Europe in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, was keen on my idea. It also coincided with the fact that his sponsor needed a few images.

With the aid of Ralf's sparring partner Fredrik Widgren, third place finisher in the World Championship of Jiu Jitsu, we got up early at 6 AM one morning to create epic imagery.


The biggest challenge was how to light the two martial artists, so in preparation I drew a few lighting diagrams. I also needed a few more lights and light modifiers than what I already had so I booked a couple of Profoto B1 and modifiers for renting. Usually google is my friend, but with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and well, wrestling in general, it was very difficult (in the end impossible) to find inspiring images that were arranged with good lighting.

Lighting setup

My plan was to try 4 different setups for the action images. In reality I settled for one. First off I didn't have a lighting assistant, which I should make a priority for my next sports shoot which involves more than one person, and secondly Ralf's sparring partner had to leave early which made me go the safe route and rather focus on directing them to get the best images possible. 


I prepared well for this shoot. In the end I brought more stuff than I needed, but it's better to bring too much than too little.

  • Broncolor Para 88: My go-to modifier. This one never leave my side.
  • 2x Profoto AcuteB 600 AirS
  • 2x Profoto B1
  • 2x Broncolor 1x3.9' strip boxes
  • 2x Profoto Zoom Reflectors
  • Elinchrom 135cm octa
  • Nikon D750
  • Nikon 24-70mm 2.8
  • Nikon 85mm 1.4G
  • Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART
  • Lighting stands and accessories...


Considering this was the first time I shot Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I am very happy with the result and with this experience in the bag I look very much forward to the rest of the year.

I must credit these two awesome martial artists, they are both humble and down to earth, yet can throw a man like he was made of thin air. Working with them was a treat.