In the New York underground boxing scene

Devin Yalkin

November 10, 2023

The photographer speaks about his approach and what the New York underground boxing scene means for him.
Time and again, Devin Yalkin has dealt with the subject since diving into the New York underground boxing scene, over tens years go. After boxing he turned to wrestling. Currently he is working on the subject of the “vampire”. With up-close, atmospheric black and white images, he allows the viewer to take part in whatever is happening. In his The Old One-Two series – which is featured in LFI 7.2023 – he offers classic and dynamic perspectives of a special scene, which remains hidden for many. 

LFI: What does photography mean to you?
Devin Yalkin:
Photography is a vehicle for me that records the ephemeral moments that life feeds you. It creates and records experiences with those that you love and those that you’ve lost. It engages you with people that you’ve just met and fabricates a new world where the individual experience can become a collective one even if it’s only for a few moments.

What is the biggest challenge for you when taking photos?
I wouldn’t consider this necessarily a challenge but remaining physically and emotionally present throughout my photographic process is a practice that I’ve consistently worked on for a number of years. This ranges from portrait sessions with with actors, musicians, politicians and artists, to editorial feature stories as well as being in the right mind for landscapes and nature photographs. It’s important to remain grounded and connected to the world around you no matter where you are.

What was it like in the boxing clubs? Please tell us something about the atmosphere there.
The first time I went to one of the fights I remember joining a slow moving mass of people and felt the dull vibrations from the steps beneath me. The bass in the music was shaking the walls as if there was a subway going through the floor below us.

What does this series mean to you?
For me this was the epitome of underground subcultures, which is what NYC was and is all about.

Are you still pursuing the underground boxers, this special scene?
I’m not currently photographing the scene any more, because it was largely in NYC and now I’m based in Los Angeles, California. That being said, I plan on a book of this work down the line, maybe even chapters of the different subcultures I’ve photographed over the years.

What projects are you currently working on?
I'm working on two books concurrently. One of the them about the underground Vampire scene that I’ve been working on for about 5 years now, as well as another book entitled Obsidian that is more intimate, involving family and conceptualizing what our idea of home is.
Carla Susanne Erdmann
EQUIPMENT: Leica M6, Summicron-M 28 f/2 Asph, Elmarit-M 28 f/2.8 Asph and Summicron-M 35 f/2 Asph

LFI 7.2023+-

Find further images of Yalkin's project in LFI Magazine 7.2023. More

Devin Yalkin+-

Yalkin Portrait (c) Kathy Ryan
© Kathy Ryan

Born in 1981 in New York City, where he also grew up. In 2010 he completed his BFA in Photography at the School of Visual Arts. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and has been published in the likes of The New York Times Magazine, Time magazine, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and Rolling Stone. His first monograph, I’ll See You Tomorrow, Until I Can’t, was published by Sun Editions in 2016. Yalkin currently lives in Los Angeles. More


In the New York underground boxing scene

Devin Yalkin