Mixed Martial Arts captured the attention of the public as the fastest growing sport in the world overcoming the boundaries of languages and geographies. Photographs have played a key role in the immense popularity of the sport capturing public attention. Daniel Schälander is one among the most promising photographers of the generation who took the step further and dominated inside the cage.
Schälander started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts in 2009. While he is not fighting, he supports the sport of Mixed Martial Arts by actively covering the news and developments of the sport in the region as a combat sports photographer for MMA Viking. While Schälander has an amateur record of (21-4-0), he is also the youngest UFC credentialed cage side photographer.
After joining MMAviking.com in 2011, he supported video editing and covered the growth of the sport in Sweden. He also competed actively to secure National Championship gold medals as well as the 2016 IMMAF European Open Championship gold medal to top it off. The most exciting part is that he is the only fighter in Sweden to compete at the same card he shot photos. He went ahead to win his third national championship at the undercard of the Battle of Botnia in 2016.
Being so immersed in the sport has helped me capture those magical split-second moments in the cage. It is such a beautiful sport to capture in its raw glory.Daniel Schälander
During the time he covered his first UFC event, he was the youngest UFC credentialed photographer. Further, he had covered most of the major MMA promotions active in the region and had followed the Swedish national team to cover the IMMAF Amateur World Championships hosted in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
When it comes to covering fights, Alexander Gustafsson is the top athlete for him to shoot. Other favorites throughout the years have been Reza Madadi, Niklas Bäckström, Ilir Latifi, and Gunnar Nelson. And more recently he actively covered the careers of new generational fighters including Tobias Harila, Khamzat Chimaev, and Andreas “Bane” Gustafsson.
I think the role of a photographer, in general, is to document history. So in a fight, the photographer’s case is to record the history of MMA and help to show it to the world. I guess the biggest challenge is to not miss the split-second moments that happen in and around the cage. This requires one to constantly be present at the moment and always be on your toes to not miss that one special moment in time.Daniel Schälander
The role of media and especially that of photographers is much under-appreciated when it comes to Martial Arts. The role is extremely challenging as the photographer needs to adapt to the pace of the fight. It also requires in-depth knowledge about the sport.
Quality of visuals helps the promoters to gain additional coverage and to highlight key moments to the media. The years of technical experience of media professionals like Schälander can make a difference as a consultant while supporting local events, training facilities, and athletes to promote themselves better.
Schälander believes that the one-step solution by which MMA promotions can improve the quality of the events, as well as the quality of videos and visuals from the event, is to ensure the quality of lighting in the cage. The more the quality of the light the better the results when it comes to the quality of the content from the event.
As a photographer, Schälander had covered the top athletes and accompanied the biggest fight teams from the region around the world. He strongly credits the competency of the coaches in the region for the exponential growth of the sport.
He believes that the careers of role models like Alexander Gustafsson, Ilir Latifi, Jack Hermansson, Gunnar Nelson, and Makwan Amirkhani have a long-lasting impact on nurturing the superstars for the future.
The major challenge to stay on top globally will be to find ways to modernize training in accordance with current sports science whilst still keeping in mind that we must also build fighters and not “only” athletes. I think no one has missed how Khamzat “Borz” Chimaev made his entrance on the big stage at the UFC after absolutely dominating everything in his path in BRAVE CF. He continued his growth maintaining his pace at the UFC creating global attention towards the growing MMA scene in Sweden. He is made out of champion material and it will be a pleasure to see his rise to the top.Daniel Schälander
With the sport growing exponentially in the region, the support from MMA media is crucial for emerging athletes to gain global attention. Check out www.mmaviking.com to get quality insight into the Nordic scene and check out his Instagram @photographyviking to see his MMA photos. Schälander also writes for one of the biggest Swedish outlets – kimura.se. More photographs from Daniel Schälander could be accessed at MMA Viking.