My Surf Story

Tommy Lueck killing it at his secret spot. Photo-Alex Menendez

Tommy Lueck killing it at his secret spot. Photo-Alex Menendez

I was 15 years old when I first discovered the sport of surfing. Classmate Glen Ford had a board that was spray painted in camo colors, a single fin and it was about 9 feet long. The cracks in it were yellow where the foam had soured, and it was soft in some spots, filled with water. I don’t remember how much I paid him for it, but I bought it and then headed down to SkiWorld for a new bar of wax to slather onto it.
I think I went to New Smyrna with my best friend Noel and his family on my first adventure with that crazy board. I surfed all day with Bullfrog sunscreen burning my eyes and saltwater getting up my nose everytime I crashed, but I was hooked! Eventually I moved on to a Fluid Dynamics board, yummy yellow colored with 3 fins, boy could that stick fly, and it taught me how to really surf.

Surfing became my obsession and I would go as often as I could. My school notebooks had drawings of waves and palm trees on them, I would study the stack of magazines I bought at the 7-11 and memorize all of the tropical paradises and reef breaks that they featured in every issue. I watched VHS tapes of the professionals on tour, and wore my Vans sneakers and surf team T-shirts. I blended with the other surfers on the East Coast and became pretty good at riding the waves.

Eventually I made my way over to California, the Bahamas and Barbados for the thrill of something different. My obsession was real and I knew that one day I would ride for money…..until one afternoon I was the passenger in a horrible automobile accident on a trip back home from the beach. Physically I wasn’t too terrible, but something in my brain clicked that let me know that I would have to be a whole lot better to make a living at this sport. My dream of becoming a professional surfer was over…….but, like in life, there were other options.

My mom purchased my first 35mm film camera for me around this time and I quickly found that I had an eye for camera work. Everywhere I went I took my Ricoh and would shoot contests, surfer girls, crazy haircuts and beautiful sunsets, just like the images in the magazines. I would sit for hours, waiting on a perfect wave or scene, snapping only when the moment was right. Film in those days was pricey and developing was time consuming, so unlike today’s digital shooters, I was very selective in what I shot.

Moving on I eventually starting shooting video and producing my own television show on the Sunshine Network. I would film surf contests and sell advertising to cover my costs. I had a great thing going, shooting with Natural Art Surfboards in Barbados, and watching Kelly Slater come up as well as getting a few waves myself. I miss those days and looking back I realize that I now want my two boys to experience that same feeling.

The three of us have been getting a lot of surfing in lately and we will be going again today. I can sense that they are starting to feel the rush of adrenaline that comes with being in the water, and I think they really enjoy the sport! I truly love it when they tell me their goals and dreams, and I can only help to guide them in the right direction…….

……….Yesterday I was on assignment in Melbourne Beach and was finishing up around 5:30. Traffic was bad heading back to Orlando so I decided to head over to the beach and check the waves. I parked and heard the roar of the ocean as I walked through the parking lot and up onto a beach boardwalk. There were a few surfers out and another father resting on the overlook. We spoke and he informed me that his son and other members of the Satellite Beach High School surf team were a few streets down and that they were “ripping it”!
I thanked him for the tip, smiled as I waved goodbye and headed on down the street. I was immediately taken back to my youth as I saw the team slaying each and every wave that pushed itself onto the shore. These kids were killing it, smiling the entire time. I was in Nirvana. Something in me came back to life as the salt air mixed with the shouting in the water made me feel like I was a youngster once again. Not having my new surfboard with me I grabbed a camera and filmed for two straight hours and saw some amazing surfing.
One more thing I saw yesterday was a young cameraman named Marcus who was shooting in the surf with his underwater housing. He was working everytime a wave pushed through, snapping images and ducking when his peers flew down the line right towards him. He has the drive and the passion that I have been missing of late, and I want to thank him for showing me that there is still someone with that surfing soul in him. I will see you soon again my friend……

Here are a few of the images that I captured as the sun was starting to go down.

Local ripping at secret spot! Photo-Alex Menendez

Local ripping at secret spot!
Photo-Alex Menendez

We've all been there, enjoy the ride!   Photo-Alex Menendez

We’ve all been there, enjoy the ride! Photo-Alex Menendez

Surf photographer Marcus Cote doing his thing!  Photo-Alex Menendez

Surf photographer Marcus Cote doing his thing! Photo-Alex Menendez

Waves on a Florida sunset East Coast style.  Photo-Alex Menendez

Waves on a Florida sunset East Coast style. Photo-Alex Menendez

Sunset coming, surfer leaving. Time to finish homework!   Photo-Alex Menendez

Sunset coming, surfer leaving. Time to finish homework! Photo-Alex Menendez

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Learning on the road

Travels, Family, Work and Play.....never stop learning no matter how old you get! (Photos:Alex Menendez)

Travels, Family, Work and Play…..never stop learning no matter how old you get! (Photos:Alex Menendez)

Yup, doing my homework at 5 a.m. on a Saturday morning…..Yawn!

Once again I am in a different city on an assignment the is paying me, but at the same time taking up my precious time. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the travel and taking in the new scenes and meeting nice people, but I am at that age now where being with my family is the most important thing in the world. I have turned down many good paying assignments lately because my family structure is changing and I don’t want to miss the good times. My boys are getting to that age where they will soon be out of the house, and my mom is struggling with medical issues too large to write about. I am at that point where the important things are really “the important things” ……..I’ve finally grown up.

One of the things that I have been concentrating on of late is assembling my photo workshop that I will hopefully launch in the fall. I have been working on this for over a year and am very excited to be bringing it to various cities across the United States. I will follow up here later or you can check my website at AlexMenendez.com in the next month or so for the press release.

Putting together a workshop such as this is a huge undertaking. There is obviously more to it than showing up and instructing students on how to aim a camera and press a button. My course syllabus is quite extensive as is my method of teaching. I have been working on a #BlendKit2016 assignment course at presented by the University of Central Florida for a few weeks now and have started creating my own Blended Learning course for those students that sign up for my class. Basically, they will have online study assignments to complete before we ever meet face to face. This is an exciting time for me and I am very happy to have gone back to school myself, so that I can better prepare for when my registrants sit in front of me to learn. Technology is great when it is done right!

This class has also helped me to better understand how my children are currently learning at their schools via online studies. Our conversations have opened up a deeper connection as it relates to their studies…..and in the end, that is what I find most gratifying, talking education with my boys. Preparing them for a life on their own is my responsibility, and furthering my education to further them has been quite rewarding.

Stay tuned.

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Back to school- Blended

FullSail Grad Alex Menendez (R) on a panel at 2016 Hall of Fame.

FullSail Grad Alex Menendez (R) on a panel at 2016 Hall of Fame.

I was recently invited back to my school, Full Sail University as a guest speaker and panelist with a bunch of extraordinary graduates. I had a very good time and was very impressed with the interaction with the current students.

Please check out one of the panels if you get a moment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2yDkFVfuQM
This experience has jump started my willingness to go back to school so that I can one day run my own class, after I complete a few of my own photography workshops in the coming years that is!

Upon searching for new ways to study, I discovered the UCF blended online learning course. I began yesterday, three weeks behind everyone else, and am trying desperately to catch up so that I can gain a certificate of completion.
Last night I completed my first writing assignment and this blog post is the second assignment of the first module.

So here goes, very short and precise. My thoughts on Blended Learning are quite simple, let the student learn the information presented on their own terms and at their own pace. Be sure the content is the most important part of this method, and interact face to face on a needed basis. Let the student email the teacher when needed, otherwise just let the lesson progress until a final exam.
I dont really think the technology is as important as the lessons being learned.
Thats it! Blended means to mix, so give different scenarios if need be, but make sure the course outline is getting to the point.

I will be writing more here in the next few days as I travel and catch up, please check back.

Thx: Alex Menendez
AlexMenendez.com

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Nashville Music Row

A neon sign is seen on Music Row store in downtown Nashville, Tennessee .

A neon sign is seen on Music Row store in downtown Nashville, Tennessee .

Last week I had to shoot medical training at the Vanderbilt University hospital. This was the second time in two years that I was able to travel to Nashville, Tennessee, the first was on assignment for AAA and we were allowed free access to the newly created Johnny Cash Museum, and boy was that fun! Cash is an Idol of mine and the images and video I was able to capture on that day was a once in a lifetime experience, the memory will stay with me always. Unfortunately,on this latest pass through, the only opportunity I had to film Music Row was a few hours on Friday night as we went out to dinner in preparation for our 5 a.m. call time the next morning.

Music Row stores and bars are seen in downtown Nashville, Tennessee.

Music Row stores and bars are seen in downtown Nashville, Tennessee.

I left the big cameras (Canon 1DX) in the hotel room and only took the Fuji XT1 for this sunset street session. The Fuji is a very compact camera and I had an 18 to 55 lens attached with a 32 GB card inserted, Velvia setup for the bright colors. The streets were crowded and the neon lights were lit up brilliantly as I walked from bar to bar, dodging in and around drunk tourists and clickety clacking cowboys..all whilst trying not to get run over by passing cars and pedaling bicycle bars on wheels…

An Elvis impersonator performs in a bar on Music Row in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. This dude was AWESOME!

An Elvis impersonator performs in a bar on Music Row in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. This dude was AWESOME!

I tried my best to capture the essence and flavor of the street without drawing any unwanted attention to myself! Some of the bands I heard were phenomenal with their twangy pulse, others could barely keep a beat and sounded like cats trying to claw their way out of an old Volkswagen bus.

A band is seen through a window as they perform in a bar on Music Row in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. There are dozens of these performers that play all day from sunup to sundown.

A band is seen through a window as they perform in a bar on Music Row in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. There are dozens of these performers that play all day from sunup to sundown.

The neon signs were mesmerizing and uniquely crafted and I decided to try to push the limits of the camera as I struggled to learn its menu and buttons. Its compact size allowed me to be free to capture many unposed moments and I admit, though short, my time as a street photographer was fun.

Neon signs are seen on Music Row stores and bars in downtown Nashville, Tennessee.

Neon signs are seen on Music Row stores and bars in downtown Nashville, Tennessee.

I was lucky enough to chat with the Elvis impersonator and a woman playing for tips on the street, as well as a BBQ food server and a police officer. On our final night, we snagged a few nosebleed tickets to the Ryman Theater at the Grand Ole Opry, and heard country legend Ronnie Milsap perform on the piano. Dude has some serious skills…..

Country music singer Ronnie Milsap performs onstage at the Grand Ole Opry Ryman Stage in downtown Nashville, Tennessee on Friday, November 13, 2015. (Alex Menendez via AP)

Country music singer Ronnie Milsap performs onstage at the Grand Ole Opry Ryman Stage in downtown Nashville, Tennessee on Friday, November 13, 2015. (Alex Menendez via AP)

I could spend a week on Music Row and capture thousands of Raw images if I had the time… perhaps I will return here before this Christmas and collect a few different looks and maybe take in a hockey game or tour the Country Music Hall of Fame. Either way, I know this wasnt my last adventure here!

Please feel free to click through and purchase a few images for yourself or your friends if you like.
Check back often as I will continually update this page.
More images can be found at AlexMenendez.Photoshelter.com

Posted in Country Music, Music Row, Nashville, Neon LIghts, Tennessee, Tourism, travel, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Boxing Art

Juan Aguirre (L) fights with Armando Alvarez during the Mad Integrity Fight sports boxing match at the Florida Orange Event Center in Lakeland, Florida on Saturday October 10, 2015. Aguirre won the bout. Photo: Alex Menendez

Juan Aguirre (L) fights with Armando Alvarez during the Mad Integrity Fight sports boxing match at the Florida Orange Event Center in Lakeland, Florida on Saturday October 10, 2015. Aguirre won the bout. Photo: Alex Menendez

What of week of boxing coverage!
Those of you that are new to this photo blog may not know that I religiously cover the sport of boxing and usually travel out of state to do so. However the “Sunshine State” is home base for me, and this week it was incredible! I had to opportunity to once again film Puerto Rican superstar Felix Verdejo at the Kissimmee Boxing Gym, then over to the AllStar Telemundo boxing televised event at the Kissimmee Civic center with good friend Orlando Cruz as the headliner, and finally my first trip in a very long time to the center of the state, the Florida Orange Event Center in Lakeland.
Keep in mind that I’ve filmed at the biggest boxing venues in the U.S. and have come to expect very good lighting…..well, last night failed, or so I thought.

LeAnthony Fleming fights against Randy Hedderick during the Mad Integrity Fight sports boxing match at the Florida Orange Event Center in Lakeland, Florida on Saturday October 10, 2015. Fleming won the fight. Photo: Alex Menendez

LeAnthony Fleming fights against Randy Hedderick during the Mad Integrity Fight sports boxing match at the Florida Orange Event Center in Lakeland, Florida on Saturday October 10, 2015. Fleming won the fight. Photo: Alex Menendez

Upon walking into the venue, I was blown away by the lack of lights on the ceiling. There was no lighting grid whatsoever, just a bunch of hanging wires and garage type halogen lights that anyone could easily buy from the local Home Depot. The colors were mismatched to say the least, and the flourescents were flickering, but we do what we can as professionals, right?

The venue itself was a very old nightclub with broken walls, busted up floor and a stage for the band that was off to the side, it reminded me that Roadhouse feel, you know, identical to the old Patrick Swayze film……

Alex Nicholson fights against Joseph White during the Mad Integrity Fight sports boxing match at the Florida Orange Event Center in Lakeland, Florida on Saturday October 10, 2015. Nichilson won the bout. Photo: Alex Menendez

Alex Nicholson fights against Joseph White during the Mad Integrity Fight sports boxing match at the Florida Orange Event Center in Lakeland, Florida on Saturday October 10, 2015. Nichilson won the bout. Photo: Alex Menendez

I set my Canon 1DX to ISO 500 with a 24-70 2.8 and was lucky to be able to get a shutter speed of 250…I strive for 500 or higher, but this was the best I could do.
There were a number of other photographer friends at this event along side me as a very hot rising up and comer was fighting. Radivoje “Hot Rod” Kalajjdic is undefeated and has been signed to a contract by Dibella Entertainment, one of the sports largest promoters.

We all took our spots on the apron and started the first of six fights that were on the card. Surprisingly, the sucky light was making for some very artistic images. I struggled at first in getting sharp images, but once i got into the groove, the night turned into a very enjoyable photography experience. The cycling of the flourescents made every sequence of shots white, they yellow then blue. Three consecutive images, three different colors. Custom white balance and fluorescent white balance had no effect on the images…they were what they were…nature of the beast.

Radivoje "Hot Rod" Kalajjdic knocks out Gilberto Domingos during the Mad Integrity Fight sports boxing match at the Florida Orange Event Center in Lakeland, Florida on Saturday October 10, 2015. Photo: Alex Menendez

Radivoje “Hot Rod” Kalajjdic knocks out Gilberto Domingos during the Mad Integrity Fight sports boxing match at the Florida Orange Event Center in Lakeland, Florida on Saturday October 10, 2015. Photo: Alex Menendez

Hot Rod won his match by first round knock out and the hometowm crowd roared in delight as the fights came to an end. I will admit, the tacos at the venue were world class, especially with fresh lime on them, probably the second best mexican ever. If your are wondering if I will ever go back to this place….

….the answer is a resounding Yes, in a heartbeat! Thanks again FLORIDA.

Wytana Faulk fights with Christen Brightwell during the Mad Integrity Fight sports boxing match at the Florida Orange Event Center in Lakeland, Florida on Saturday October 10, 2015. Photo: Alex Menendez

Wytana Faulk fights with Christen Brightwell during the Mad Integrity Fight sports boxing match at the Florida Orange Event Center in Lakeland, Florida on Saturday October 10, 2015. Photo: Alex Menendez

More pictures here: http://alexmenendez.photoshelter.com/#!/index/G00000Olm9XZUI_8

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FullSail Alumni Post

Recently I was contacted by FullSail after shooting a Professional Boxing Champions (PBC) event at the schools Winter Park studio. They asked if I would like to tell them a bit about my past work experience after graduating from the school back in 1990. I am very thankful for the opportunity and am really impressed with how much my alumni has grown over the decades. FullSail leads the industry in many aspects on modern media and I can not stress enough how many incredible graduates and staff members they have here in Florida.
Stay posted on future events that I plan to participate in with the school, but for now, check this blog write up!

 

http://www.fullsailblog.com/grad-alex-menendez-on-making-a-career-out-of-photography/

Posted in Alumni, FullSail, Uncategorized

Boxing-A Poor Mans Sport

TIME Mayweather

Rolling Stone Klitschko

ESPN Front Page

Vice FightlandProfessional photographers have had a hard go of it in the past decade! Digital cameras and platforms have made
it easier for anyone with a camera to take amazing pictures. The quality of images that are being snapped today
is beyond compare to just a few short years back. I-phones are incredible at capturing publication worthy images, and
with that, the demise of professional photographers is on the upswing, anything can get published these days if you find the right outlet or means.

Does that mean that anyone can take a good photograph? Of course not. Professionals look beyond the actual picture,
they are trained to set the exposure for intended effect, blur out a background and let the light hit just right to capture the peak moment, to give the end viewer the whole story…..as if they themselves were actual present in the moment.
Anyone can claim to be a photographer, but don’t just claim it too loudly to those of us who are schooled in the art. We are all MEDIA capable, but it takes many years of successful shooting to continuously make a living off of our craft.

Boxers are the same way, just because you can throw a punch does NOT mean that you are a boxer. Professional boxers give and take punches on a daily basis, learning the proper techniques and avoidance measures…they react on instinct and thus, turn pro when/if they are good enough. I fought for a few years when I was younger, upon realizing that I would never make it as a pro, I changed careers at the right moment. I am forever grateful for what my coaches taught me, and I wont forget my skills, but with that, I do not call myself a professional boxer.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao are fighting this weekend, you may have heard rumblings about it somewhere.
I was at the Mayweather camp in Las Vegas last week for the open media day, with about 400 other media types. It was a madhouse, and looking back it was a somewhat unpleasant experience. The general rudeness amongst those covering the open workout was embarassing. There was fighting, pushing and general name calling over simple positioning by those trying to get their own angles. People were actually moving other outlets bags and markers when they simply stepped away for a drink of water. This is not the journalism I was taught, and looking back, I am happy to say that I did my best with what was allowed to me. Kelly Swanson and her crew, along with those that run the Mayweather Boxing Club were amazing, with their politeness and the way that they were so accomodating to fans and showbiz types alike, but for the reporters and some of the camera operators, OMG, how long do you think you will last in this business if you continue to behave like you did? Seriously!
If you know me, then you know I am not one to hold back, I will face a challenge head on and speak my mind to those that are not following the rules. I asked a few folks just what they were thinking, and they all told me that they had the right to do what it was they were doing. They had the obligatory wrist band wrapped around their arm, so thus, they were in their minds, LEGIT.

I understand that with the limited time and deadlines, the pressure was on, but some of you “journalists” had better come to your senses. You represent not only yourself, but your media outlet as well as your mentors……this is a very small world and word travels fast in this industry.

Regardless of the experience, I had a very good week leading up to the camp with a quick stop over in Miami with Wladimir Klitschko and then was fortunate enough to shoot the fight of my life at Turning Stone Casino between Lucas Matthysse and Ruslan Provodnikov. All in all, I was able to get almost 100 images published in just the past week. Rolling Stone, TIME magazine, SI, ESPN, TheRING Mag and over one dozen different countries picked up my photos. I did apply to cover the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight, but was turned down…there are simply not enough spots available I guess, or our seats were sold to boost numbers! Though I am not happy with being declined, I am trying to keep my head up and just move on, to get past it. There will be better fights in the future and hopefully I will be invited to shoot those! Just like boxing itself, if you get knocked down, tighten your gloves and stand right back up, eventually you will forget about getting knocked down and will one day be the best.

If you like the sport, check out coverage from Al Bello and Ed Mulholland this week, they are the top 2 shooters currently that shoot the sweet science, and just all around good guys.

I tried to upload a PDF of last weeks tearsheets but the file was too large, check some shots here:

Alex Menendez tearheets:   http://alexmenendez.photoshelter.com/gallery/Tearsheets/G0000lyzBgEalMdk/

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San Francisco Aerials & Fog

Golden Gate Bridge

I’ve always loved getting different images and views that most people are unaccustomed to seeing. That is why on my latest adventure to San Francisco I decided to snap a few images of the city and bridges from above. When I say a few, I really mean about 4000 photos over the course of one sunset, and the concurrent sunrise.

Lets back up for a minute.

I’ve flown about 50 helicopter flights during the course of my professional career, over Miami, Fort Myers, Tampa, Orlando, and Alaska. Most of that work was for video projects, using gyros and nose-mounted cameras. My clients usually sit in the rear, advising and directing, but we all secretly know that it is the pilot who ultimately sets you up and gets the photographer into the correct position for the shot. All of the pilots that I have been fortunate enough to work with have been extremely professional, and experienced, especially my latest pilot.
Marc Fiedor was the pilot for both of these flights over San Francisco Bay. He works out of www.VerticalCFI.com, located in the Oakland area, and he is the real deal. Experienced, a great communicator, and probably the best controller I’ve ever used to get me into the right spot. I explained what I was looking for beforehand, and he obliged, setting me up perfectly each time, at one point he even offered to fly UNDER the Golden Gate Bridge! He knows the area better than most, the best times for images, and his experience really paid off for me on these flights. Thanks Marc, can’t wait to do it again, real soon.

AT&T Park

Moving on…..Day 1.
The San Francisco Giants had just paved their way into the MLB World Series against the Kansas City Royals, and the entire town was painted or lit up with Orange and Black. Everywhere you looked, the city was gearing up for 3 straight days of games, unfortunately, so was the FAA. All flights over AT&T Park (baseball stadium) were restricted, my only hope of shooting the field was the day before the first home game was to take place. We took the opportunity to remove the doors on the chopper and left home base about 20 minutes before sunset. The fog and sun were perfectly placed as we flew overhead. My business partner Steve Kidd was strapped into the back of the ’44 and he shot a bunch with his new FujiXTI. He was on cloud 9.
The stadium was lit up like it was Christmas time, with the field workers painting the logos onto the well manicured grass, all in all, it made for some beautiful images. We then headed over the bay to the Golden Gate Bridge for a few circles, before flying back over the tallest buildings in S.F. The flight was magical, and the images simply kicked ass! We set down in pure blackness, I was so excited to see the results. I uploaded a few dozen to the APImages.com website, in hopes of highlighting the city and the park for their World Series coverage.

Golden Gate Bridge

Day 2….
The next morning, at 4a.m. to be exact, I was back at it. I walked to the Powell Street BART station (the subway) and headed to West Oakland. Yup, that’s right, THAT Oakland, not the one that is located just 20 minutes from my house, but the Oakland where the Raiders live. Just 45 minutes later I was waiting outside in the barely lit parking lot for Marc to grab me and head off to the airport. I made a point to remind myself to take off the Giants cap on my head, just to steer clear of the Oakland A’s fans that were hanging in the lot and most likely cheering for Kansas City, they are a tough bunch I’ve been told.

The sky was a bright orange about 15 minutes before sunrise and the temperature had really dropped, this Florida boy was wearing blue jeans, a neck scarf and a jacket as the doors were once again off the bird.

San Francisco Skyline

The first thing I noticed as we passed the Oakland Coliseum was all of the stopped traffic on the roadways. Cars were moving 10 mph at best, it was very much like Interstate 4 in the Disney area, pure hell. The headlights were pretty bright, so I adjusted the ISO on both cameras to accommodate for the darkness.

We made our first pass over the city and the fog layer was almost nonexistent. The sun was beginning to peek out over the horizon and we were on the Marin Headlands side of the Golden Gate Bridge. When the bright orange ball was finally up, the entire skyline of San Francisco lit up like a camp fire. The ISO changed from 3200 all the way down to 640 in a matter of minutes, and the fog layer started to creep in. We flew over bridges and the TransAmerica building, watching as the workers looked at us from behind the glass of the highrise. The new Bay Bridge was golden in this light, and we rushed to catch it before the light changed to blue. Upon shooting back into the city from Oakland, there was time for one quick pass over the UC Berkeley campus.

TransAmerica Building

The images I captured that day were beyond belief, and I can not wait to return there to shoot more aerials with Marc. You never know what the weather will be in that city, but regardless, the experience is always worth the risk.

All Images Copyright Alex Menendez- These are low quality for the BLOG post.

Licensing and prints from my site at: http://alexmenendez.photoshelter.com/archive
-OR- https://500px.com/AlexMenendez

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ROSEWATER- Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart

On a recent trip out West for a medical based assignment, I was met with a phone call from the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism about covering a special event for them once again. It is always a pleasure to receive these types of phone calls from them, as they are awesome to work with and their guests are usually very worthy of not only covering, but also very informative and cutting edge. (see- James Risen, and Daniel Ellsberg in the past).
This assignment once again fit the bill…

Jon Stewart, Mazair Bahari

The Daily Show host and newly crowned director Jon Stewart was the assignment for the evening, with special guest Maziar Bahari in tow. Stewart’s yet to be released film “ROSEWATER” was being screened for the UCBSOJ students and faculty as well as for their special guests, with a lecture to follow the film. My assignment was to cover the event, the introductions, meet ups, the screening, behind the scenes, the 15 minute student interview session and of course, the aftermath with questions and answers of the guests on stage.

Jon Stewart

The film itself is based on the book “Then They Came for Me”, a story written by Bahari, an Iranian/Canadian journalist who was sent to Iran, to cover the 2009 presidential elections that pitted incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against reform-minded opposition candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Bahari was on assignment at the time for Newsweek magazine when he was arrested and charged with being a spy.
After some trumped up charges, including the possession of pornography, Bahari is kept in prison and basically tortured for over 100 days, much like his father had been in the 1950’s. I won’t get too deep into the film here, as I suggest you go see it firsthand, especially if you are a member of the media or are planning a career that may take you out of the country. I will say that Stewart did a fine job in his directoral debut, and I hope this is not the only film he produces.

Jon Stewart, Maziar Bahari

As for the event itself, Jon Stewart is a class act and if he has an ego, he left it at home on this night. The man was incredibly humble, joked with almost everyone that he interacted with and was a trooper even when his handlers were saying it was time to leave. His onstage aura was hypnotizing, the multi Emmy-award winning host of The Daily Show was definitely in his director role for this event. He never spoke out of turn, thus allowing Maziar to tell the story as he remembered it, with intense mental and physical struggles daily as his torturers tried to break him, even though he had actually done nothing wrong. The crowd of 600 in the packed house listened to every word that was spoken, and laughed nervously at some of the raw humor as the questions were answered. Berkeley Graduate students and staff alike asked honest and tough questions and at the end of the night, many lessons were learned. The time they spent onstage could have gone for hours if allowed, but the night was getting late, and the guests were off to Chicago the next day, so after about 45 minutes, the event ended.

Rosewater has won many awards at the film festivals where it has screened, and it will surely make a dent in this autumns’ national movie schedule. I like the fact that Jon Stewart was able to make this film based on a true story and that its main concern was the journalists that cover worldwide policy and conflict. If the real world would wake up and see what really happens outside of the U.S., and how it is reported, the world, our world, would be a much better place. Go see this film when it comes out, though I personally don’t think it will win an Oscar or Academy award, it is a very well documented story that needs to be seen. I truly enjoyed what I saw!

RoseWaterB7

ROSEWATER images available on APImages.com Copyright Alex Menendez 2014

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Ebola Vehicle DECON

Ebola apparently is everywhere is the world these days, and it does not discriminate. It cares not about race, age or the physical size of its host. It simply wants to spread freely and make the daily headlines all around the globe.
My oldest son who attends middle school watched a video today about Ebola and its origins, my elementary school son, well, he just watches it on the television and reads the headlines…….the radio is also broadcasting about the victims, the EMS workers, nurses and airplane travel and this diseases incessant desire to spread.

Vehicle Decontamination System

Living in Orlando, Florida with an International Airport just miles away, I wonder how quickly Ebola will take to arrive here. Customs won’t stop it, the TSA is helpless and the police, nah…..once it sneaks in, its here for the long haul. Now don’t let this panic you, the big pharmacy companies are promising a drug, a cure, a miracle on its way. The million dollar question is, who will it be made available to first? Can I get it, can your kids, your pets? Only time will tell, but I think it will be a long time before the PILL becomes readily available…..I hope I’m wrong.

Ronald Brown

The one certainty is that once Ebola makes its way into the Sunshine state, it will spread quickly, of this I am positive. Patients will have to be transported to safe zones, quarantine areas and wherever else the City decides to house them. It wont be fun……..scary yes, but fun, NO! Healthcare workers who were already wearing their PPE (Personal protection equipment) have now been diagnosed….so what of the man on the street who has the perfect exposure risk made available?

Moving forward—The Winter Park Fire/Rescue organization, a nearby city of Orlando, now has three ambulances equipped with self contained, built-in decontamination units – coming in the wake of an international Ebola virus scare. The units feature pressurized pumps, which release a decontamination mist inside the patient area of the ambulance. It takes about 15 minutes for the mist to cover all the surface area inside and break the chain of infection. Initially built for another service, this process will hopefully set the standard for rescue and emergency medical workers who travel to areas where contamination is possible.
It’s inventor, AeroClave founder Dr. Ronald Brown, recently showed me the testing methods of his built in decontamination unit, at his office in Winter Park, Florida. Viruses with similar characteristics to Ebola have been tested with positive results that show the pathogens are erased. A small disk which contains spores is placed throughout the vehicle, inside of gear bags and drawers, and then misted. The disk is taken out after the process has been completed and then tested to see if the spores were killed. In all the cases he showed me, they were. Everyday AeroClave is bringing in city and county vehicles from other agencies to “clean them out”. If it is currently available, why haven’t I heard about other states trying to benefit from this service? Are they tone deaf, don’t read social media, broke, or just scared to call….

Ronald Brown

I surely hope this process and his installed units gain some followers in the near future. I for one, would feel much safer traveling in the back of an ambulance that I know was decontaminated after the last medical call had ended. I don’t know who was in the back of the truck prior to me. I’m sure the workers themselves would also feel much safer knowing that they can mist the back of the ambulance after every call. I for one, enjoy coming home to my boys every night, and surely don’t want the Ebola virus to come calling unexpectedly.

Images available at APImages.com Search VEHICLE DECONTAMINATION SYSTEM AlexMenendez.com

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