New York City-based still life photographer Sean Welch‘s wrestling figure photography is some of the most distinct and striking work in the figure photography community.
Last week, Welch shared a series of photos that brought to life the 1980s and 1990s World Wrestling Federation that capitalized on the pop culture zeitgeist and the popularity of A-Team and Rocky star Mr. T.
I asked Welch what inspires his photography. He told me that he started out drawing and retexturing images to make them more realistic. But he has since shifted to a more commercial shooting approach.
“I now still strive to make them look as real as possible but no longer manipulating them in posts as much,” he told me. “Having watched WWF/E and WCW through high school (2001) and returning around 2011, wrestling always reminds me of my childhood, and I tend to pull ideas from the past, recreating or creating moments inspired from the late ’80s and ’90s mixed with more product/E-com style images.”
Welch added that the friendly competition in the wrestling figure photography community “is a great motivator to push my work further.”
Some of Welch’s photos over the last week featured the San Diego Comic-Con exclusive Mr. T action figure, which has now sold out in two separate pre-orders.
Welch reimagined what negotiations between WWE impresario Vince McMahon, Mr. T and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper might have looked like before WrestleMania 2.
Welch also put Mr. T in the ring with his ally from the first WrestleMania, Hulk Hogan, and Piper for the big challenge.
1980s and early 1990s wrestling wouldn’t be what it was without Bobby “The Brain” Heenan mixing it up with McMahon and Hogan. Welch captures what would have been a scene backstage at a Survivor Series.
Rounding out this edition of Figure 4 Photography is a look at the Hulkster and his Hulkamaniacs — the Big Bossman, Tugboat and Hacksaw Jim Duggan — being interviewed by “Mean” Gene Okerlund.
Welch captures many different eras of wrestling, from Dusty Rhodes vs. the Four Horsemen, to Shinsuke Nakamura, to even fringe characters such as No Way Jose. He also has a knack for making these figures look so damn real.
Bonus shot: nWo 4 life