In the Mo Bro Spotlight

If you have been participating in Movember, good news, there is only nine days that your soup straining, crumb catching porn stache has to reside on that precious real-estate known as your face.

This year I have been reluctant to post picture of the atrocity under my nose, it is just too bad. In 1970 this thing may have got me laid, but in modern days it should most likely get me arrested. Look at every news report of some creepy guy with yellow sunglasses and a predator mustache and I look like his twin. ugh.

Fortunately there is a bright side to this hideous facial hair, it and its cause Movember has led to many conversations this year with friends and strangers alike. From physical to mental health, I have had the good fortune to share stories and talk to people around the world that are going through the same journey.

However, the month is not done yet… Movember has taken notice and published an interview I did with them a few weeks ago. If you have a few minutes, head over to their site and have a read, maybe learn something about your’s truly.

 

Read more.. Friday, November 21st, 2014

Stuff You Should Know (Movember Edition)

It is no secret that I am addicted to the podcast Stuff You Should Know. The amount of time that I spend on a plane listening to the banter of Josh and Chuck probably not in the realm of healthy. However, today’s post is all about healthy, more specifically mentally healthy.

If you read my post two weeks ago, you know that I have had my fun with mental health stuff. A quick story if you will….

While some people know about the River Monsters photoshoot that I was fortunate enough to do that subsequently won in Comm Arts and Archive, what they don’t know was to what degree it affected me. To say I was nervous in an understatement. I went through a very extreme anxiety attack on the way to the set. Now we’re not talking about “Blair had the case of the jitters”, I was at one point unconscious as I had fainted in the passenger seat. My assistant and best friend Mike was driving. He knows how I am about shoots and knew not to worry and to just get me to the location. When I get on set, I can turn it off (or hide it) in a way that it focuses me on the lighting and subject to an extreme that I couldn’t get any other way.

Story aside, today I wanted to give everyone some fun listening material, via Stuff You Should Know, that talks about all type of mental health stuff in a fun, yet informative way. I have picked out some specific ones that go along with Movember’s theme so that you can have a listen and maybe learn something that changes your life:

Maybe you learn something about yourself, or about someone close to you that might help. Worst case scenario, you don’t find that you or someone close to you has one of these disorders and you can be mad at me for now being more educated on it.

Read more.. Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Running on Faith

If there is one part of my career that I could say that I have let myself down in, it would be not shooting enough editorial projects.

For many years all I shot was editorial, and I loved it. However the lure of high dollar advertising work was too much and I started turning down work in the editorial world to focus more on ad campaigns. In a sense I had sold my photographic soul to the devil. I will admit it, I made a mistake.

I had forgotten about the fun experiences, incredible opportunities and most importantly, I  had forgotten about the people one meets while on editorial assignments. This is not to say that ad work doesn’t introduce me to some very interesting people, it’s just that the barrier of entry limits the number that you will meet.

Runner Alicia Shay

Fast forward to a couple months back and Shape Magazine called me to see if I would be willing to do a photoshoot of a runner in Flagstaff, AZ. At the time Scottsdale was going through a heat wave, so I thought, “why not?” and drove the 2 hours to Flagstaff with my assistant.

Upon stepping out of the car in Flagstaff we immediately rejoiced in the 20 degree cooler temperature along with the large evergreen trees all around us… it was beautiful.

I rang the doorbell to a cute little house on a hill and was met by our subject, Alicia Shay. After a quick discussion of wardrobe for the shoot, we got in my car and the three of us headed to a nearby mountain preserve where she often does trail running. The location was absolutely stunning, I found myself going for a walk more than looking for the photo opportunities. To tell you how distracted I was by the landscape, we got to a spot that we decided to shoot our first shot at only for me to have forgotten the cables to the strobes in the car (almost a half mile away). Rather than transport all the gear back with us to the car, my assistant said he would run to the car and grab the cables while I set stuff up at the location.

While getting gear out of the cases I began talking to Alicia about her career as a runner and about her life. She told me about how she fell in love with running, and how it was an extension of who she is. It was a very romantic view of a sport that conveyed true passion and dedication. She had gone to college on a running scholarship and was expected to compete for the USA at the Beijing olympics in the 10,000 meter race. Running was her life, so it was only appropriate that it had her heart as well, as she met her husband while competing in college for he was a runner too. They got married only four months before the Olympic trials in New York where he was competing to qualify for the marathon race in Beijing.

Standing on the course, waiting for him to run by, the world as she knew it would disappear. Her husband Ryan collapsed only six miles into the competition. Although taken immediately to the hospital, he did not make it.

I froze as she told me this. I tried to act as if I was completely engaged to the conversation, but the truth is that inside I was heart broken for her. She was calm and continued on about what happened in the months and years that followed. Her passion for running slowly went away as it reminded her too much of him, until one day she stopped running. Injuries forced her out of the Olympic trials, and she was left to only watch them on tv.

As time went by, the idea of returning to running grew and Alicia began to run the trails of the mountains in Flagstaff. At this point in the conversation the clouds broke and the sun hit the mountain we had both been looking at. I made the comment that the trail where we were at was beautiful and extremely peaceful. She said it was a place where she is at peace. I knew that it was a place where he was with her.

It was a day that left me speechless and in admiration of the strength that Alicia has. I knew that the image we got was strong, but truly feel that seeing the will of human spirit that she has will mean more than anything. I left Flagstaff humbled and grateful for taking that assignment.

Read more.. Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

The Nikon D750

I never thought I would be writing this blog… We all know I love me some Nikon, but that which is loved is usually of the pro body form. Be it the D3x or D4s, I am a big fan of Nikons with a built in vertical grip. From time to time I do shoot with the D810 and other such bodies, but my preference tend to lean towards camera bodies that look like a square box head on.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I got a call from my good friends at Nikon that said, “hey, you should try the D750 out, we really think you’ll like it.” I agreed to give it a shot, but in complete honesty thought it was going to be small for my tastes and wondered what the catch would be.

Three weeks later and I am obsessed with this camera, she’s (yes, my D750 is a female camera, just haven’t named her yet) even gone to her very first photoshoot. While I used some other bodies on the actual production, I found that I am rediscovering my love of photography in this lil camera.

For starters, I don’t shoot it in a conventional way whatsoever. I used my right thumb to fire the shutter and turn off the autofocus on all my lenses that I mount to it. Often letting the camera force me to look at it very reminiscent to how I viewed old Hasselblads. This D750 has changed my view of photography in a way similar to the D3 the first time I saw its dynamic range.

Of all the functions that I dig about it, none are more freeing than the wifi. Yes, I know that there have been other cameras that have built in wifi, but this is my first experience with one. It is for that reason that I have turned the D750 into my dedicated Instagram camera. I couldn’t even tell you if it has a memory card in it right now as I only grab the files with my phone and then post them straight to Instagram. So with that said, enjoy some square pics from this not so square camera and while you’re at it go check one out.

Thunderbirds D750

D750 grass

Riley

D750 me

Thunderbirds loop

Nikon D750

 

 

Read more.. Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Mental Health . . . (this isn’t going to be easy)

As photographers, writers, illustrators, actors, musicians …. As creatives, we create the world that we exist in, we create the world that the rest of the world sees.

This is a gift, it is our gift and it is the soul of the saying that we “are gifted.” While many are brought up to view doctors and lawyers as having greater intellectual prowess, the truth of the matter is that it takes a VERY strong mind to visualize and then create our art.

What happens when that mind turns against us?

We have seen what can happen all to often in stories like the suicide of Robin Williams only a few months ago. He was an incredible comedian and a good man tortured secretly by the very mind that the world celebrated for its whit and talent.

Now it is at this point that the author tries to distance his or herself from the cause but offer a solution usually with a statement like, “I knew a person that went through yadda yadda yadda.” Why is this? … Because it is taboo to be honest, and all to often people worry about being seen in a bad light if admitting to something of this sort. You deserve more, by reading this alone you have given me time that I have not deserved and I would like to be brutally honest with the hopes that someone reading this is helped.

I know someone that has gone through mental health struggles….. ME

It is a deeply personal and extremely (understatement) terrifying experience. If I had to quit this career in exchange of one person not going through it, I would in a heartbeat.

In the time since I experienced it, I have had the incredible fortune to talk to many great artists and non-artists alike that have quietly gone through the same exact thing (anxiety and panic attacks). This tells me that there is a very good chance that some of you reading this have gone or will go through it. There are two very important things that I want you to know, things that I wish I had known or had the ability to understand when I was in a bad way.

  1. This is the most important one….. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!! Right here, you have found a friend that has gone through it. Had those thoughts that we only think crazy people have, experienced the desperation and loss for explanation as to what is happening.
  2. Going through mental health struggles is NOT a weakness. In no way does it mean that your mind is weak, if anything it means that your mind is STRONGER than many others around. It means that you have the ability to form situations that do not exist in reality, and the emotional strength to be captivated by them. In many ways it is a gift to have the strength of mind to lose your mind.
  3. I want you to know that those around you care about you dearly. It is hard to convince yourself of this, but it is absolute truth. You matter, and no amount of self imposed isolation will change this.

It was on set for a photoshoot that I had a very long conversation with Adam Garone, the co-founder CEO of the Movember Foundationthe global organization changing the face of men’s health. We talked about how important it was for men to talk openly about mental health. Unfortunately this often is hidden for fear of being outcast when there is a chance that the guy sitting across the table has gone through the very same thing. We are quick to complain about feeling weak from a sore muscle or injury, but hide condition of where our heads at?

Photographers: I love you guys. I want nothing but the best for you. Let’s be honest with each other… not necessarily in such a public forum, but on a one to one basis. We all have close friends in the industry that we talk to about work, camera gear, techniques…. why can’t we talk to them about mental health?

The most important person in this long journey is YOU.

Read more.. Thursday, November 6th, 2014

The 2014 Movember Watches

With Movember underway, many men around the world had given up the strip of hair below their noses for a cause. Last year I did it in support of my father who had just been diagnosed with prostate cancer. I will talk about that more in the weeks to come, but let’s just say it was one of the best decisions I’ve made as it truly helped him through a tough battle.

Today though, I’d like to talk about a very fun aspect of Movember, more specifically the reason why you should head on over to Movember right now and join the Maurice Lacroix team… Yes, I am talking about the 2014 Movember watches!

ML Movember side by side

This year Maurice Lacroix made two beautiful watches to award at the end of the month. Both of them are based off the insanely loved Pontos S Diver, my personal daily wear watch. The first one is a Limited Edition blue version… it is being awarded to the international Man of Movember. To say it is going to be tough to win this is an understatement… for the next watch that is not the case.

Blue Pontos S

The second watch is a black dial Pontos S Diver with an orange Movember mustache logo on the dial and a custom brown strap to compliment it. It too is a limited edition piece, but there is some VERY good news on this guy… there are 14 of these babies being awarded (one to each of the Maurice Lacroix teams). What are your chances so far on this then? VERY VERY GOOD

Brown ML Pontos side

You see, as of writing this blog, there are only 18 members on the team, and so far the top two are ML employees, so they don’t count towards this contest… your odds are getting better.

Pontos in case

So what do you need to do to win one of these babies? Easy, go to Movember.com, sign up and join the Mo’rice Lacroix US team and raise money and awareness for a great cause. While you’re at it, maybe grow a rockin handlebar mustache that all the chicks will rage about.

Read more.. Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Dogs are Awesome

Today’s blog is more of a life hack… well not really a life hack, but more of a little food for thought… or dogs.

If that first line didn’t lose you, then welcome to the insane world where you are able to follow my chaotic train of thought, I don’t know if that is necessarily a good thing.

Before the meat of this hamburger of a blog, a little background if you will. My wife and I are dog people. We have two pups of our own and talk about how we would like nothing more than to open a dog ranch someday to rescue more. On many occasions (usually on a date night for some reason) we have cancelled or delayed plans because we have seen a loose dog on the way. There is no time limit to how long we will drive around trying to find a dog’s home or sit on the curb waiting for it to find the courage to approach us.

dogs

Last month I was at dinner with a good friend when I got a call from my wife. She was panicking as she was on her way to the gym and had just seen a stray dog. Two issues faced her, the first was how to get the dog to approach her to see if it had tags, the second was lifting a 100 pound dog into her little SUV. Fortunately for her the planets aligned that night and I had left overs with me (chicken of all things) and once the pup caught a whiff, he jumped in the car willingly. This event may have robbed me of my chances to enjoy a second helping of my thai chicken, but got us thinking.

After we returned the dog to his owner, we went out and bought bags of dog treats (I think they are Marrow Bones or Snausages) and put them in little plastic bags in our glove boxes. Not a really complex idea, but one that is easy to do. Now, whenever we see a lost dog, we have the bait to get him to the car already, taking away one of the hardest parts of helping someone pup return home after sneaking away.

My apologies if this blog had nothing to do about photography, just wanted to pass along a tip to those that loves dogs like us and want to help them get home safely.

Read more.. Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Movember is Near

For all you men and a couple of women I guess, the time to grow that stache is quickly approaching us. Yes, I am talking about Movember.

Last year many of us grew staches and raised money for friends, family members and strangers alike with the goal of raising awareness of men’s health. Whether you are raising money or just talking about the cause, you are helping us as a society move forward. It means a ton to every person that has gone through the battle or may in the future.

I am proud to announce that for the second year in a row I will be captaining the Maurice Lacroix US (Mo’Rice Lacroix to be cheeky) team in our quest to raise awareness and money for men’s health. Like last year, we will also be awarding a limited edition Maurice Lacroix timepiece to the guy or gal that raises the most on our team (look for a blog and details on that in the future).

So head on over to Movember’s site and join us. Also, stay tuned to this blog as I will be making some posts about the causes we are fighting for throughout the month.

Read more.. Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Dallas

This job has taken me many places, both in the physical and mental realms. I have seen diversity in cultures, in socioeconomic situations and personalities alike. However, in a journey that has seen incredible situations from around the world, I have never seen anything like last week in Dallas.

Upon leaving to the airport headed for Texas, I knew that there was plenty of news coming out of there due to the Ebola patient that infected his medical practitioners. As much as I encourage those around me to not watch the news, even I have moments of weakness where I hop onto CNN’s website to see what horribleness they slap on the page that day. Last week was of no exception to this macabre reputation.

To say that I saw fear and panic was an understatement, I saw absolute lunacy in the face of a situation that was most likely going to affect very very few. Nonetheless, the seed of fear had been planted in the back of my mind. Driving to the airport, I thought about what I would do different on this trip than what I do on all my other travels. Would I wear gloves, a mask, a class 4 bio suit? That little devil on my shoulder told me to embrace the chaos, to stand far away from anyone and not to engage with any person for my “safety.”

I got on my flight and wouldn’t you know it, a beautiful old lady from West Africa (Guinea) sat in the seat next to me. Part of me (the media based chaotic side) said, “maybe I should lean against the window and act like I’m sleeping.” However, I noticed that she was nervous to be flying. Now there is a choice that had to be made… let irrational fear control you and be silent or live logically and with compassion. It was a no brainer. I ended up talking to her for the duration of the flight, about her family, her culture, anything she wanted to chat about to keep her mind off flying.

Call it eccentric, but I feel that the moment we treat another person coldly for no apparent reason, we lose our humanity. There are some that will say that it was a risk. Yes, any conversation is a risk, life is a risk (trust me, I nearly spent the last month in a Chinese prison… something that I will talk about in time). But what is worse, going through life having been closed off to the world around over fear, or experiencing all that life has to offer with the very minor chance that something bad happens?

During my stay in Dallas, it was ever apparent of the elevated stress that existed in and around the city. I talked to cab drivers that had refused to pick up people because of their proximity to the hospital, I saw a man try to purchase his row of seats on the plane to guarantee no on sat near him. Fear had become the norm, and all logic had been lost.

Moral of the story… Embrace life, be it at any risk. Be the kindness to others that you need in your own life. Accept that your time is finite and learn as much as you can, about other people, cultures, existence. You will know yourself more as a result. Be passionately compassionate.

… oh, and stop watching the news

Read more.. Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Giving Back

Of all the gifts and opportunities that we as photographers will experience through our careers, none are more important than the opportunity to help someone else out. From teaching others your craft to using your talent to enrich someone else’s life, there is no downside to giving back.

One such opportunity presented itself about a month ago when I got a phone call from the man that owns the studio I shoot out of, Floyd Bannister. A little background on Floyd… He is one of the most humble men I have ever met. On many occasions I have come to him with clients that were charity based organizations and he has let me shoot without asking for anything in return. When we produced the entire Fstoppers video of the Lamborghini photoshoot, he again told me that he was grateful I chose Loft 19 and that it was on him. I have had shoots where athletes have been in bad moods upon arrival and he sat me down and told me to not worry and that the situation would calm down and then I should shoot. It is for this and many reasons that I see him as a bit of a father figure in this industry.

Back to the phone call… He said that he was sponsoring a very small college’s football team. Many of the players on the team and students at the school were the first members of their family to even attend college. He then asked if there was any chance that we could give them a photoshoot to make the guys feel like rock stars and make their sense of accomplishment even greater. Without hesitation I said “yes.”

I began calling assistants and telling them that we had a shoot for Floyd and every single one of them immediately said they wanted to help. Incredible people, every one of them. I told them all to bring their gear to the set for I also saw this as an opportunity to teach.

The day of the shoot, we all showed up and began producing images and an environment that saw many of the players calling their parents to tell them what was going on. I was able to also start giving the camera over to my assistants and letting them gain experience on a set that isn’t possible in a big time shoot where a campaign is on the line. To say that this was a perfect day for me is an understatement.

We were able to help out a man that we all like, a group of kids feel important from the experience, and my crew gets to take turns shooting while I assist them.

It was a good day.

I want to thank Andrew to doing a behind the scenes on the shoot and all the guys on my crew that made this possible.

Read more.. Thursday, October 2nd, 2014