Category Archives: Alex Menendez

Altas V Launch with my sons

I missed the remote control camera setup on Tuesday
for the Atlas V rocket launch, but couldn’t get the thought of missing this opportunity to film at Cape Canaveral out of my mind. When a rocket blasts off and you are within sight and close enough to taste the smoke, there is no better feeling. To describe it would not do it justice…..AWESOMENESS exploded!!!!

So I decided that with perfect blue skies, I would go for the 5:38 launch on Wednesday.

Keeping in mind that both of my sons have a science fair at school this Monday, and both of them are featuring rockets and launchers….I decided to pluck them from school, grab our swimming trunks and 4 Canon cameras…..and off we were…they were thrilled!

We of course had to stop at the Twistee Treat ice cream stand on the way, (Don Montague, you know what Im talking about)…..with our bellies full we set out towards Playalinda Beach.

The crowds at the park were pretty fierce and we had to drive a bit to park in a secondary parking lot. After loading up, we crossed the boardwalk over the dunes to see 4 foot waves and about 1000 spectators who had the same plans we did.

After setting up a pocket wizard remote to the 70-200, the boys jumped into the Florida surf.  You could barely hear their screams of joy over the hovering helicopters flying overhead, but the smiles on their faces told the whole story.

Twenty minutes later, we were lined up in the waves, firing 4 cameras as the rocket lifted off towards space….

The  launch actually went on time without a hitch and it was back into the water until the rangers ordered us to leave…

We had to stop on the way out to let a 5 foot long alligator cross right in front of my truck……thats when I heard the words I love to hear…..”This is the best day ever Dad!”

I hope this wont be our last launch……

More pics here

NASCAR Kyle Larson Autoracing

NASCAR Drive4COPD Crash

Rookie NASCAR Nationwide driver Kyle Larson was having one heckuva week at his first ever Daytona International Speedway Speedweeks. He took second place in the ARCA race on the track and captured first place in the special night race that the track held for drivers. He never imagined however how his week would end, with him being the centerpiece of one of the most spectacular crashes the track had ever featured. It was the final lap of the Nationwide Series opener, the Drive4COPD event, that was being broadcast live across the world.

Larson was in the top 10 coming out of turn 4 and in racing for a top 5 spot, he got tangled up with a few other cars as they raced near 200 mph down the front stretch.  As race winner Tony Stewart was crossing the finish line with almost every camera focused on him with the checkered flag a wavin……a mere 300 yards behind him, all HELL was breaking loose!

Larsons car got tangled with a few others and the newly designed “Generation 6” car flew like a kite up against the catch/safety fence, spitting fire like an angry dragon. His racecar slapped right up in to the safety barrier about 15 feet in the air, with parts flying off like it was a lego toy. The madness only took about 3 seconds before the sound diminished into screaming fans, blood and utter chaos. As the race winner was being announced over the P.A. system and lightbulbs were flashing, the smoke started to settle, and cries for help could be heard coming from a few of the lower sections of seating.

Larsons car came to a rest on the infield, with the entire front half of the vehicle missing….he had left the entire front portion of the car, engine included, in the front sections of the grandstands.  An entire wheel, not just the rubber, but the rims and axles, as well as his entire engine had appeared to fly through the fencing and was burning at the feet of the security personnel standing in the front row.  Shards of metal, plasting and glass had sprayed the crowd like fireworks that had been lit on the pavement.  Chaos ensued and the medics were scrambling like pissed off fire ants to the scene. The burning engine block was quickly extinguished as the smoke began to rise into the already heated stands, and the television folks began to scan the victims with their broadcast cameras.

To say the tone was quickly turned down is an understatement, even Tony “Smoke” Stewart, the race winner, didnt celebrate like he should have, he said thanks and wished the best for the injured fans. The next day he would visit those same gearheads in the local hospital.

I was filming from the roof and after 15 races, can honestly say Ive only captured the race winner 1 time, when I could see that there would be no crash on that final lap, this time I felt it and decided to hold off on the winner once again. The following frames are the exact reason why I held off……..pure Instinct.  

I am so glad that no one was seriously injured in this crash, and glad the race organizers were smart enough to place this catch fence when they did. Many worse things could have happened here, and Larson was the luckiest of all….

More images can be found at this link below.

Larson Wreck

Dwight Howard has left the building!

After the past year of will he stay or will he go, Dwight Howard has officially left the building….while most are glad to see him leave, I am not.

Dwight brought credibility to the “City Beautiful”, and with his loss, the entire city is back to being tagged as a non sports town. Sure we have the Orlando City soccer team (minor league), and the Solar Bears Ice Hockey team starting up, but what else is there? The Predators indoor football…..puhleeze….? (You can surely hear my bellowing as I laugh so hard I almost pass out)…
 Sure, a lot of prominent athletes come from here, but the tiny city of Clermont has more pro athletes training there (NTC) than in all of Orange county now. 
I am not afraid to say that the same owner that built up the Magic has on the surface, successfully torn it apart. Sure, you own the team and can do as you wish, but for the love of God, think about others and how they have supported you and backed you for so long…….selfishness is an ugly beast….and you will see when you realize that the ticket sales are slipping and that new arena you built is only going to survive on concerts that tour the area.
To let Dwight go is like giving up on the dream you have been holding onto of for so long….this was handled in as bad a way as could have been handled…….the MAGIC did not try……if I worked for you I would quit as well….hell, I couldn’t leave soon enough, no matter how much green was thrown my way….
I first realized there was an issue when I was invited by Dwights team to go and tour Haiti after the enormous earthquake that rocked that poor island.  The entire trip was to be taken by myself, Dwight, Shiyana, Adonal Foyle, Rodney the bodyguard and Kevin, Dwights manager…. This trip was NOT supported in any way by the NBA or the Magic themselves…in fact, I believe that they were actually against it…..this may not be true, but my gut tells me so, and I believe myself over ANYONE else!
Regardless, Dwight went to Haiti and witnessed the devastation first hand, even into Cite Solei, one of the 5 most dangerous places in the world…and what did he do you ask….well, he smiled and hugged every kid and played ball for 3 hours at a time…on top of donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to the school for salaries, backpacks, food and shelter…..           but you never even heard a peep about this trip did you? Nope, nobody knew…….guess what, when we tried to leave the island, American Airlines cancelled our flight, so we spent the entire night in the airport, with the rats….Dwight bought thousands of dollars worth of food for everyone that was stuck, the volunteers and mission workers included, and he even signed autographs and posed for photos…all evening….
Its the little things that go unnoticed or unreported that makes a man who he is…and Dwight has far surpassed these measures………..dont think the city and the little ones that he has helped support all these years won’t miss him……..I just hope the Magic will fill the gaps that these large footprints have left….?
Good luck Dwight, you held on as long as you could here, and nobody blames you for going to L.A……at least they shouldn’t if they one day think honestly about the situation..
I’m proud to know you!

USA-Scotland Soccer

I am a HUGE soccer fan and even played goalkeeper in high school. The sport is no doubt one of the hardest games to try to photograph, and I have been extremely lucky to have had access over the years to film some of the best teams in the world. Last night was another example when the Scotland international team visited Jacksonville, Florida to take on the US mens team. This was the largest crowd ever to witness a soccer match in the State of Florida with over 44,000 in attendance, almost more than the NFL Jaguars get in their own stadium….

No doubt, Landon Donovan is the best player the U.S. has ever had on its team, and boy did he show up last night, he scored a hat trick (3 goals) as well as 1 assist in the 5-1 trouncing of the “Tartan Army”, and the crowd really let him have it after the game with a rowdy standing ovation that seemed like it was fit for a king……he deserved every clap and chant he heard….
I met some really cool people and need to thank photographer Gray Quetti for his Southern hospitality once again, he saved me a seat in the photo work room, hooked me up with a computer lock and even told me how to get to the top of the stadium for the massive view of the crowd!    I will be editing these images later today before the tropical storm rolls in…….
But……..I really have to say I was blown away before leaving the stadium when I checked online to read the story of the game…….I was very blessed to have the lead images on both ESPN and Sports Illustrated….at the same time, just after the victory……..(funny though, SI credited me as Alan Menendez/Getty Images?)!
Never in a million years, NO, make that a trillion years,  did I think something like this would occur, EVAH, its funny what happens when you put your head down and just do your job isn’t it? 

anywho…..Have a safe Memorial Day ya’ll, and thanks for reading. Up Next- The Boxing Hall of Fame ceremony in Canasota, New York…….fun times ahead!

Time Magazine


A few weeks back I was suppose to film a Delta rocket launching from Cape Canaveral but due to scheduling issues, I was unable to attend. So whats a photographer to do?

Well, just shoot it from the front yard as it will surely be bright enough to see from 45 miles away. These rockets are usually pretty cool to watch during the daytime when the smoke trail rises and spreads across the sky, but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect after sunset.
I grabbed my son Blaze, age 8, who is a master at the Canon 30D. He set up shop under our palm tree by the streetlight. Using a remote trigger, we set the camera up on the bulb setting and I instructed him to use the trigger when the ship was aloft.
Here is the result of one of his grabs…….not too shabby.
Unfortunately, he can’t get access to the launch pad until he turns 18…..!

Ryon McKenzie 10-0


I have been working on a documentary that has to do with the sport of boxing. I won’t get into the details here because I don’t want anyone to steal the idea, you’ll just have to wait until August.

However, I just returned from a photo shoot with one of the principal fighters to be featured in the film. His name is Ryon McKenzie and he is from the Caribbean. This young man is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, unless you are across the ring from him and planning to scrap….
He won his 10th fight in a row this past Saturday in New York, his 9th knockout in his young pro career.
Memorize his name, he will be a force in the 175 weight class…..and remember you saw him here first!

Dwight Howard media day


It annoys me when I show up for a shoot and one critical piece of gear is missing or broken….well, it happened to me this past Monday. The Orlando Magic were holding their annual “Media Day” event and the only story in town was that Superstar Dwight Howard had requested a trade from the team! Every sports station, radio, tv , newspaper and magazine was there to see what he had to say. Me, I just needed archive images for Orlando Sports Magazine, if Dwight was actually on his way out of town. (Thanks to Melanie and Joel once again for the access).

So the first thing I did was find my spot on the gym floor to set up, making sure that there was power and plenty of room for those that did not bring their portable lights. Most folks there will hover around the tv guys with their on-board lights and snap stills over their shoulder, unbeknowst to the videographers. Well, as tradition, they have a tendancy to hover around me until the player poses and then multiple flashbulbs blind the athlete until he can no longer see, paparazzi to the fullest…
Anyways, I opened and set my backdrop, set stands and lights and found the necessary power supplies….formatted cards, set camera to Raw/Jpeg and then went to grab the sync cord……..um,….the sync cord. Dang, “Now where did I put that?”….I always carry 2 cords just in case one fails…….hmmm………oh yeah, I was checking lights with my 8 year old a few days back, and we decided to put them back into the Pelican case, not the ThinkTank bag…NOT GOOD! I had the ThinkTank with me now..
Pocket Wizard time, but I only carry one set of these as I hardly ever use them….time to make my own magic…..I was able to put the transmitter on the camera and the only other receiver on my main light….I would just have to let the first light trigger the second light…..with absolutely no back light now……bummed to say the least!!!
The original plan was to set two lights at 90 degrees (aiming directly into the subjects ears) and then front light them with a ring flash much as I did last year. But now that my hotshoe was being used by the PocketWizard, that option was off the table….
My lack of properly preparing my gear came back to bite me in the butt…..
Regardless, you can only do what you can do so I simply pressed on. All of the players themselves were in a good mood it seemed, but the atmosphere was beginning to get tense an hour in, Dwight had not been seen or heard from by anyone.
Then suddenly, like someone had yelled “Fire”, everyone moved to the center of the gym and surrounded the basketball logo on the floor. It looked like a giant donut, 5 people deep, with cameras, lights and mic boom poles everywhere. Dwight entered the gym much like Muhammed Ali would have back in the 70’s, and after stopping for a brief moment to talk to a coach, he slowly glided across the floor to the buzzing entourage of English/Spanish/Italian? voices all clamoring to ask him about his future…..
……meanwhile, still photographers Fernando, Gary, John and myself all hung WAAAYYYY back and watched as the madness unfolded….scary and funny at the same time…..It sounded like honeybees surrounding the Queen……….had it been me, I probably would have run away!
Then it ended.
Dwight was gone just as quickly as he had arrived, and after about 30 minutes, the gym had a calm, eerie feeling to it. Of the 150 media members that had been in attendance, about 25 remained, not waiting for one-on ones with anyone else….They came, they conquered…….they bolted.
Three hours later the only ones in the gym were us photographers, CEO Alex Martins, and various communications people from the Magic. Almost all were on the phones speaking, texting or twittering…. then out of nowhere, Dwight came in again… He was ALL smiles, jumpy and very much alive…a few hellos to everyone and then it was GAME TIME!!! When he finally made it over to the last station, (mine), he smiled that pearly white smile, gave me a high five and a hug and we talked about our Haiti adventure together….I had seen him a few times over the summer but not as happy or as loose as today……I grabbed some hilarious frames of him acting like a kid, a happy kid, and then he was on his way, one last interview before heading home…
I packed up as quickly as I could, minus sync cord, and was out the back door.
No matter his choice, I sure hope Dwight decides to finish out his career here in Orlando, he is so much more than “just a baskeball player”! He actually gives back through his various charities and events, even those many of us have never heard about…….
More Images to view here:
http://alexmenendez.photoshelter.com/gallery/Orlando-Magic-Media-2011/G0000HD4QUs7TteU/
(Hey Dwight….I would take the elephant over the pint!)……better choice

Miguel Cotto Boxing Media Day


Had the unique opportunity to film three time World Champion Miguel Cotto at the KG Boxing Gym in Orlando the other day. The workout was pretty intense for the media event and I was very surprised at the turnout…about 250 folks showed up…

Top Rank Boxing promoter Bob Arum was also in attendance for the display and there was plenty of nervousness surrounding the fact the the December 3 fight against Antonio Margarito may not even happen due to NY State Laws.
It turns out the event is now “ON”, can’t wait to see how this bout turns out….these two fighters despise each other……
More images here: http://alexmenendez.photoshelter.com

Fall Colors on the interstate


Driving up to Baltimore this week has been an adventure for sure….

My Chevy work van exploded when the oil filter that I had replaced 3 days prior simply “fell off” on I-95 and spewed 6 quarts of smoking oil all over the roadway and every window of the vehicle…..can’t wait to go see the QuikLube manager next week!
Then the next morning I was lucky enough to drive 4 hours in the fog…not just your everyday morning fog either, nope, this was MEGA-FOG, the kind you see in haunted movies on TV…..yup, made for some interesting ideas on using a fog filter on some upcoming gigs…
……then, well, then things started to turn for the better…the sky opened up and the leaves on the trees came into focus….the roadway looked like a rustling rainbow! It brought back memories of me growing up on the farm in Upstate New York and the good times I shared with my little brother Dion, the same one who was stuck there on the roadway waiting for the tow truck driver with me….
Yup, things are looking up……

Mr. Cooper


Ran across this image today. Anderson Cooper is the man on CNN who is constantly trekking the world in search of the Breaking News stories. He does a fairly great job in my opinion and he is both fun to watch and not afraid to ask the tough questions….

Just wish he would return to Haiti to see how those folks are doing today……….
……yes, I stopped so he could have his pic taken with me! :-)