Photographer Rich Wade’s passion for wrestling began when he started taking pictures when he was around 12 or 13. “The hobby came from a childhood love of professional wrestling and of wrestling figures themselves. I would build small sets and recreate the wrestling moves by hanging the figures from invisible sewing thread. I posted all the images to an online figure forum and really loved it,” he said.
When asked about his inspiration for “Ring of Honor,” he said, “I’m a huge wrestling fan and always have been. I have been making a project on wrestling for the past couple of years ranging from small local shows to large TV productions. ‘Ring of Honor’ is one of the top companies in the country with an unbelievable roster of talented wrestlers. These pictures really highlight the spectacle and core themes of wrestling as a passion play of good vs evil.”
Wade who describes his style of photography as “car crash ballet,” says his biggest challenge while shooting was “the logistics of getting to the events themselves.”
“I have walked, driven, flown, railed, cycled and skateboarded to shows. Luckily there is a great community aspect to wrestling and I’ve made lots of friends who have been kind enough to give me rides when the venues are in different states. Another thing that took some getting used to was photographing on live television. The most important thing is that the video crews capture everything, the photographer always comes second. Usually.
"I will have to stay at one corner of the ring and essentially be invisible to the TV cameras. Of course, the most important thing is to stay vigilant to what is happening during the matches. Things can get wild when multiple wrestlers begin brawling outside the ring. Ring awareness is so important; a lapse in concentration could result in being crushed by a high-flying wrestler. Also, keeping glass out of my eyes when it shatters in the ring!
“In an ideal world I would hope that people view the images like they would a painting. There is usually a lot going on in each photograph, and sometimes they require a more in-depth look to really understand. Wrestling is loud, fast and completely chaotic in nature. Photography is a tool to appreciate and reflect on what is happening inside and outside the ring in those unbelievable moments,” Wade said.
You can see more of the photographer’s work on Wade’s website.
In Sight is The Washington Post’s photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.
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