The Gentle Art Of Photography By Blanca Marisa Garcia

At many of the top BJJ competitions, you will see Blanca Marisa Garcia crouched mat side, catching the match action with her camera.

Blanca trains jiu-jitsu at New Breed Academy with Johnny Ramirez in Los Angeles. She is one of the top photographers in the BJJ world, and she manages to capture the split-second moments in high level competition.

Blanca shared her insights on having the best seat in the house at the matches and what it takes to get those images.

Jiu-jitsu Times: Blanca, what is your background in professional photography?

Blanca : I have studied photography since I was 16 and I have an MFA. I have freelanced for NBC Sports, Warner Bros, ESPN, and Fox Sports.

Jiu-Jitsu Times: How did you get involved in the world of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and shooting the events?

Blanca: I started jiu jitsu with Rener and Ryron Gracie in 2009. I received my blue belt from them and have been their official photographer for four years.

The person that actually introduced me to photographing jiu-jitsu was Kenny Jewel from Grapple TV. Since then, I have been working with different magazines and clothing lines in the sport.


Jiu-jitsu Times: You are a staff photographer for some major jiu-jitsu publications.  You are also a media coordinator and official photographer who is mat side at big events. Which events are you involved with? What is a day like photographing the competition?

Blanca : I am the media coordinator for EBI and their official photographer. I am also the official photographer for SUBCON.

I work closely with Jiu Jitsu Style Magazine and also Jiu Jitsu Magazine.

I also work with JJGF, NABJJF, JJWL, IBJJF, Dream, and Copa Pacifica to name a few.

A typical day starts with making sure I have enough battery life and memory cards to get me through the day. I check on my clients that have booked me for the day to make sure I am at their mat on time and get some before photos of them.

I try to keep hydrated because it is a long day on the mat.

I do take a couple of breaks, because when you are intensely watching these matches, your eyes are being worked overtime.

Jiu-jitsu Times: What goes into getting the best possible photos at a jiu-jitsu competition? What techniques or tips do you have for capturing the split-second action in a match?

Blanca : Getting the best photos at a jiu-jitsu competition has to do with knowing some jiu-jitsu to begin with to know what to capture. I always try to tell a story with my photos. I try to relate to what is going on with the people.

To catch the split action, I sit on the side mat and observe all the matches. When I see someone going for a move, I start to shoot.


Jiu-jitsu Times: For the photography tech nerds who want to know: what equipment do you work with at an event?

Blanca:  I have a Canon 7D, and it shoots 8 frames per second and works with a 70-200mm 2.8, which is a fast lens with a wide range to capture all the action around.

Jiu-jitsu Times: What motivates you to be so involved in all of these major events? What aspects of Brazilian jiu-jitsu are you most passionate about?

Blanca : I have always been a huge fan of empowering other people. Jiu-jitsu keeps a lot of people grounded. It has changed my life a lot from losing weight and keeping my stress level down.

I love supporting women in jiu-jitsu, especially those who came in for self-defense classes. I started jiu-jitsu for self-defense and love the fact that it has helped a lot of people in that aspect.


Jiu-jitsu Times: How do people in the Southern California area get in touch with you if they want you to photograph their event?

Blanca: Web :
Instagram :
Twitter : @Latinadesign


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