Category Archives: Instinct Films

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

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!

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!

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! :-)

Shuttle Atlantis landing


So here I sit in my hotel room, the Mandalay Bay, in Las Vegas waiting to finish the video edit for a client of mine. It has been a hectic 3 days so far and though they are very pleased with what I have captured so far, my mind is mush…..

The space shuttle Atlantis lands in a few hours back in Florida and I don’t leave Vegas until tomorrow afternoon. Safe to say that I won’t make it to the landing pad….and there is no “next time” to get the desired images……guess what….life goes on. There are times when you really want to be there and unfortunately there are times when you just can’t. This is the way the photo industry works, and the sooner you figure that out, the less stressed you will be. Trust Me!
To all of my colleagues who will be there, I wish you nothing but the best. Get the exposure right and make history, you’ve obviously put in the time and deserve to capture beautiful images. Make us proud.
I just came across a cool shot of mine that got picked up today: cool slideshow here-
http://foxnewsinsider.com/2011/07/20/slideshow-nasas-space-shuttle-program/#23

President orders attack on Osama Bin Laden

I had no idea what this photo would mean when I took it on Friday.
I was hoping to photograph President Barack Obama when he visited the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center after the announced scrub of Endeavour’s STS-134 launch. The first lady and his daughters were with the President to watch the launch and to speak for a few moments with Gabby Giffords, the Congresswoman who was shot in Arizona and the wife of shuttle Endeavour Commander Kelly.
The motorcade arrived about 30 minutes after 5 helicopters began hovering around the property, and it was past us in about 10 seconds. Of course Barack was on the opposite side of us and Michelle waved as their cars drove by.
About an hour later, we all hoped the motorcade would leave in the same direction and they did….I pressed the button on the camera and nailed the image we see here!
Today, just two days later, I learned that just hours after these images were taken, President Obama would approve a military strike in Pakistan on Osama Bin Laden which would result in the death of the terrorist and mastermind of the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers.
Sitting here typing this, I admit it feels weird to think of all the problems Obama has to deal with on a daily basis. Perhaps I should feel lucky with how much pressure I don’t have to endure every hour that I am awake…..photography doesn’t seem that hard anymore.
More pics here: http://alexmenendez.photoshelter.com/
Image taken on April 29, 2011. (Photo Credit: Alex Menendez)

Rock Climbing NC



Family took a trip to Chimney Rock, North Carolina a few weeks back. Rainy weather with the temps in the high 30’s. Not exactly what I had planned for Spring Break weather but you know what, my phone didn’t work there and that was alright with me. My boys, ages 6 and 7, regularly climb at the indoor rock wall in Longwood and get a kick out of it. We decided that for this trip we would try to climb real rocks….game on!!

We hired Fox Mountain Guides and were on our way. Blaze and Zane had a blast climbing, even though it was so foggy and we were so high up that they couldn’t exactly see where it was that they were climbing to….
Fun, never the less.

Shuttle Discovery Final Flight


I had the coolest time shooting the final liftoff of the Space Shuttle Discovery this past week. With all the hype and worry surrounding the NASA shuttle program, this was indeed one cool shoot that I am very appreciative of being able to cover. Not everyone gets the chance to stand this close to a rocket and I will never forget the feeling of it taking off.

I set a Canon 7d remote camera set up in the swamps facing a waterway with a sound trigger to activate the camera upon liftoff. The trigger turns the camera on from its sleep mode about 10 minutes before the scheduled liftoff time. The “awake” camera automatically starts snapping images when the sound trigger hears a loud noise. The shuttle is loud when the boosters fire up and this starts the image capture.
I have a lot of people to thank in helping me learn the ropes on this type of shooting but I want to put a big shout out to Don Montague and Red Huber. They know what they are doing and are not afraid or too stuck up to share their knowledge!
By the way, we went to retrieve our camera’s at about 10p.m. in the pitch black and we encountered monster mosquitos and a rather large alligator in the water keeping watch on my tripod. It’s always an adventure here in Florida.
More pics: http://alexmenendez.photoshelter.com/