Dave Fogarty, the young Irishman behind Ginger Beard Photography, has taken two passions most people could only dream of making careers out of - fighting and photography - and merged them into a wildly successful business adventure.
Take one look at the photographs of Dave Fogarty and it’s clear that they are the work of someone who understands his subjects and puts them totally at ease. Contrary to what you might think, this does not mean that his style is soft and mellow. Fogarty photographs some of the world’s toughest UFC fighters, chief among them Conor McGregor.
As McGregor’s career has taken him from the training gyms of Dublin to packed arenas around the world, Fogarty has documented his rise - both the peaks of high drama and the moments of quiet. The McGregor you see in his photos is someone you don’t see anywhere else. Here he is, suited up before a press conference, or in full Notorious mode in the ring. But here he is again, taking a break while training, or sharing a grin with his toddler son.
Fogarty’s journey to running his own aptly named photography business, Ginger Beard Photography, was a circuitous one. In college, he studied acting and communications and fell in love with the photography element of the latter. At the same time, he happened to begin training in martial arts and kickboxing.
After graduating, he went to Australia with the safe and secure plan of working in a bank, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that it just wasn’t what he was meant to be doing.
“I hated it, I just wasn’t cut out for an office job,” he told IrishCentral. “I was earning more money than I ever had in my life, but I just couldn’t do it anymore.”
He took a leap of faith, went back to Ireland, and enrolled in a photography program at Griffith College. He kept training in MMA at the same time, and it was then that everything started to fall into place.
Fogarty began taking photos from inside Ireland’s burgeoning MMA scene and developed a reputation for himself as a fighter’s photographer.
“There are things that I bring to the table,” he acknowledged. “I take pictures that I know I’d want in that setting: sharp, crisp, knockout pictures; that’s what I’d like as a fighter.” And it's paid off - in 2016, he was named Sports Photographer of the Year.
He applies the same mentality to the commercial work he does for brands, tapping into what appeals to him as a consumer.
Through the Dublin MMA scene, he got acquainted with Conor McGregor, and when McGregor came calling to work with him, he was ready for the challenge.
Fogarty describes the past two years of working with McGregor as “kinda surreal. It’s real fly on the wall stuff, just him living his life.”
“The strongest aspect of my work is that nothing is posed, nothing is staged. It’s just Conor, he’s not acting.”
A lot of their work together happens fairly spontaneously, so Fogarty is always prepared.
“Conor’s famous saying is ‘stay ready,’ so that’s what I do, too. I stay ready, I always have my camera charged.”
At the same time, Fogarty - the 2016 IMMAF World and European silver medalist - has carved out time to work on his own fights, while maintaining a roster of clients with Ginger Beard, shooting big names such as Drake, Rita Ora, and Lewis Hamilton.