Tag Archives: Alex Menendez

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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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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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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Derek Jeter NOTE

Yankees SS Derek Jeter hands a game ball to a young fan in the crowd.

Yankees SS Derek Jeter hands a game ball to a young fan in the crowd.


I’ve had a very busy week and after returning home from covering the Mayweather Jr. fight in Las Vegas, there was only one more gig I was looking forward to covering: ……New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter would be playing in his final game ever against the Tampa Bay Rays, and I wanted to film him one last time.
After arriving, I was relieved to see that he was in fact on the starting lineup for the game, after being struck by a pitch the night before.
The Yankees fans were out in full force, and there were signs and camera flashes going off the entire evening, especially when Jeter got a hit and eventually rounded the bases for a run. He was all smiles the entire night and you could sense he was a bit sad about saying goodbye for the last time to his loyal fans, and the regulars that he always saw at Tropicana Field. There was magic in the air, mixed with a little bit of sadness that one of the greatest ever to play the game would not be in uniform come next season.
With the final out of the game, the Yankees had defeated the Rays 3-2, and the crowd roared its approval with whistles, clapping, cheers and flashbulbs. Derek tipped his hat for the very last time on this field, and I followed him until he disappeared into the safety of the dark Yankees bench, and down the dugout steps……….

Only later while photographing the aftermath of the bench area and searching for a shot of the final team lineups did another piece of paper catch my eye…….
……after looking closely, it was a hand written note addressed to Jeter, by a very young boy….it was taped to the wall with red tape, sitting just beside the players heads……..it read:

From Anthony (………..)

Hey Jeter! I really hope you read this. If you do I just want you to know that you’re my hero. You are the reason I wake up with a smile on my face. You are my motivation to do everything to my best ability to be as successful as you. Baseball has had a big impact on my life and it is because of you. I want to be just like you and be a role model to so many people like me. I hope you have a good game an I will always love you. You should text or call me sometime it would make me so happy, but I wouldn’t tell anyone your number ;-): (PHONE NUMBER CENSORED)
You could also visit me: (ADDRESS CENSORED)

I love you man. 😉

THANKS <3 And that folks is exactly the reason Mr. Derek Jeter will truly be missed. Yes, he was an incredible baseball player, and the best Captain ever…..but as a person, we should all strive to emulate this man. Alex Menendez Derek Jeter

Blog JeterLetter

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Boxing projects

Showtime Boxing at Turning Stone Resort.

Showtime Boxing at Turning Stone Resort.

When I was 19 years old, I started participating in the sport of Boxing. There was no real reason for it, I had been in a few fistfights growing up but nothing that lived inside me that craved a penchant for blood and fists. I simply thought the sport was cool. Keep in mind, this was the time of Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Leonard…..it was popular and I just wanted to do it.
I fought everyday for almost 5 years before “retiring”……It kinda hurt.

Thomas Dulorme gets knocked down by Luis Carlos Abregu during their fight for the WBC International title during the HBO Triple Explosion fight at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY, on Saturday, Oct 27, 2012.  Abregu won the bout by TKO in the 7th round.(AP Photo/Alex Menendez)

Thomas Dulorme gets knocked down by Luis Carlos Abregu during their fight for the WBC International title during the HBO Triple Explosion fight at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY, on Saturday, Oct 27, 2012. Abregu won the bout by TKO in the 7th round.(AP Photo/Alex Menendez)

Fast forward twenty some odd years and here I am again in the sport that I loved, only this time I am outside of the ropes. I’ve become a sports photographer and I have had the opportunity to shoot quite a few fights in the past year. I’ve flown numerous times to The Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Upstate New York and shot televised events under the ShowTime, HBO and ESPN broadcast banners. I’ve also filmed in Kissimmee,Orlando, Las Vegas and Liverpool and I’m hopefully just getting started in this endeavour.

Orlando Cruz fights and wins after announcing that he is gay.

Orlando Cruz fights and wins after announcing that he is gay.

My rekindled interest started back when there was commotion of the first pro fighter coming out, as they say. Puerto Rican superstar Orlando Cruz had just announced to his family and sportswriters that he was gay, a first in the sport, and the media buzz was incredible! I shot his fight in the packed stadium and listened as the catcalls and boo’s of the crowd quickly turned into chants of joy,encouragement and national pride. Cruz had turned a majority of the crowd into passionate fans who got to witness his pugilistic prowess first hand. He easily won the fight, and that feeling I had upon seeing my images on the back of my camera that night were set in stone, boxing and the surrounding atmosphere would become my new passion.

ESPN Boxcino action featuring Brandon Adams.

ESPN Boxcino action featuring Brandon Adams.

It was shortly after that when I began work on a documentary film centered around Canastota, New York, the home of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, and the town I grew up in. Interviews with Tony Graziano, Ray Rinaldi, Billy Backus and Ed Brophy give this project in depth insight into the history of the sport and how it should be covered and one day remembered. This project of mine has continued for almost 3 years, and I am getting closer to finishing up the project with the help of talented producer and writer Linnea, and the wondrous insights from all of the promoters, trainers and boxers themselves, and the witty locals who have extensive knowledge of boxing and its roots. The folks I have met, and my surrounding team are the best at what they do, and this keeps drawing me back, month after month. Im proud to say that I am off once again to my hometown, for my fourth consecutive Hall of Fame inductions in just a few weeks, to not only cover the event for the Associated Press wire service, but to reach out and make more industry connections. I truly want to be a “go to shooter” in the minds of all of the promotion companies and their fighters for the next few decades. I feel I have the skills and my technique and timing for the moment of impact are flawless.

Miguel Cotto knocks out Delvin Rodriguez during their bout in Orlando, Florida.

Miguel Cotto knocks out Delvin Rodriguez during their bout in Orlando, Florida.

Near the end of 2013, another Puerto Rican superstar, Miguel Cotto was bringing his contest to the Amway Arena, with his Hall of Fame trainer, Freddie Roach. These two have hooked up and are both at the top of their games. The sellout crowd was just under 17,000 and was by far the biggest fight ever in the Orlando market. Cotto won by beating Delvin Rodriguez by knockout in the 3rd round. My images were distributed all over the Associated Press wire service, and I ended up having a “Photo of the week” image run on the ESPN photo gallery page. Big time fights make for damn good images!

A few more trips back to Turning Stone saw some amazing fights on the ESPN Boxcino tournament. I was able to capture some more thrilling images including a TKO from Floridian Nate Heaven, in the heavyweight division. Power punches galore.

Floyd Mayweather is seen at the weigh in prior to his fight against Marcos Maidana, in Las Vegas.

Floyd Mayweather is seen at the weigh in prior to his fight against Marcos Maidana, in Las Vegas.

The highlight of my boxing photography happened a few short weeks ago at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Floyd Mayweather Jr. and crew had promoted a show at the Turning Stone Events Center earlier in the year, and it was there that I met with TMT media and promotions manager Nicole Craig. She is an extremely busy person, but actually took the time to speak briefly with me. It was her help that enabled me to shoot a few days of coverage in Las Vegas. “The Moment” pitted Floyd Mayweather Jr. and his 45-0 record against Argentinian Marcos Maidana.
There is way too much to talk about on this trip, the fans, the promoters, the weigh in, the fight and just that Fight Freak atmosphere….but all in all the experience was incredible! Though I was not really set up for the media access I am normally accustomed to, I was able to pull off a few cool handheld images from my seat up high in the arena. I truly hope to one day be a main apron shooter at fights of this magnitude! I am working on my boxing styles and shooting skills every chance I get, and will surely be part of the young guard coming up the ranks…. I want to acknowledge and thank all of the promoters and media contacts that have helped to get me this far. You will be seeing a lot of my images in publications in the coming years……this I guarantee!

Floyd Mayweather punches Marcos Maidana as he wins his 46th straight match.

Floyd Mayweather punches Marcos Maidana as he wins his 46th straight match.

All images copyright Alex Menendez. More work here: http://alexmenendez.photoshelter.com/archive

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My Viral Image?

Every photographer that has ever uploaded their image to the internet to share it with friends, family or clients, has at one time or another had their images stolen (whether they know it or not). Its not a very good feeling when you realize that after you took the time to prepare, arrive, properly capture the shot, edit it, watermark it and then upload it, that an unknown thief grabs it and claims it as their own. Trying to pursue them can be very challenging and makes most individuals gnash their teeth and curse the invention of the web for image sharing in the first place! Some victims have been known to morph themselves into the NSA, looking for and tracking any leads on Bing or Google that pop up….. it quickly turns into a lesson in futility. Trust me I know , but I digress…………….moving on to my story.

AP Image ESPN

AP Image ESPN

Over the past few years, every time the U.S. National soccer team comes to Florida, I am always the first to sign up to shoot them, no matter if it’s the Men’s or the Women’s team….they both ROCK and the games are always action packed with tons of screaming fans in attendance and top quality play! It truly is one of the highlights of my photo career to capture these athletes on the field and to experience the actions of the game on the pitch. I’ve had a few images featured on both the ESPN and the Sports Illustrated websites after International friendlies and the CONCACAF qualifying games……and its just awesome to be able to share these scenes with the world, when its on my terms!

The first weekend this past November, the U.S. Women arrived in Orlando to take on their futbol nemesis, the Brazil National team. Just to be clear, there is no love lost between these teams and the players know each other as well as one can know a rival. Though it was an international “friendly”, no one on earth expected the game to be played with kid gloves, this was serious business with bragging rights and National pride on the line.

AP Photo Alex Menendez

AP Photo Alex Menendez

(Side note)- Local media picked up on a story a few days prior to the match where the U.S. team bus broke down after a scheduled practice session and the players actually caught rides back to their hotel with their fans. The Twitter and Facebook worlds were all abuzz and other social media platforms stressing just how relaxed the U.S. girls seemed to be. Smiles and happy spirits seemed to be everywhere if you could believe what you read…but that changed come game time.

The Florida Citrus Bowl was packed with about 30,000 spectators and the decibel level of the screaming fans was actually quite high. Though fireworks and flares were not allowed, the U.S. faithful seemed to have a pretty good time as they were videotaped live for the NBC television network, performing the wave, chanting and beating on small drums and tossing rolls of colored toilet paper onto the grass.

As for the media, all of the wire services and broadcast teams were in attendance and the assigned photo areas were pretty packed at the beginning of the game. It was about 10 minutes into the match that I decided to pack up my gear and change my camera angle….I caught a quick golf cart ride to the other side of the playing field and set up shop behind the endzone boards. Within minutes of arriving, I was connected wirelessly to the internet with my MacAir. It was Game on!!!!
It couldn’t have been 3 minutes later that Sydney Leroux scored her first of two goals on the day, and the crowd went absolutely nuts! All time leading scorer and recently married team Captain Abby Wambach raced over and jumped onto Leroux’s back as she stretched her arms out in celebration, facing the crowd and the national TV audience. The moment was fleeting and I happened to be in precisely the exact spot to see it, 8 shutter clicks later I had captured what I had come for, the perfect emotional frame. I quickly pulled the card from my camera, inserted it into the card reader and grabbed the one frame that I wanted to transmit. I really didn’t do much in the way of image manipulation, just a simple tone, crop and added the caption/metadeta. Less that 2 minutes after the goal was scored, the image was already visible on the AP Images website. Just as quickly as I had settled in, Abby was tripped in the goaltenders box and a penalty kick was assessed, she scored easily on the shot and the score was now 2-0, in a matter of minutes. Brazil kicked it into overdrive and the elbows started to fly. By halftime I was walking back to the media room, having already uploaded 10 images….

AP Photo Alex Menendez

AP Photo Alex Menendez

The game ended 4-1 with the U.S. winning and everyone was happy. Days later I was thrilled to see that my first image had been selected as one of the ESPN “Images of the week”!

It was on a different job a few days later that my world came tumbling down. I searched “Alex Menendez” and “U.S. soccer” on the search engine and low and behold, my image was EVERYWHERE! Literally. There it was, on hundreds of tumblr sites, with full credit given “COPYRIGHT AP IMAGES ALEX MENENDEZ”, but interestingly enough, more than half of the shots still had the AP watermark placed right across the shot that was there to prevent illegal use. They were stolen…..plain and simple. TUMBLRstolen3

If you want to do a frame grab or a screen grab its quite simple, you just find the shot you want online and grab it. Once its on your computer screen, you can pretty much manipulate it any way that you want to, and this is just one of the things I saw being done to my soccer photo. This image had been cropped, toned, over saturated, brightened, sharpened or simply turned to black and white. Somebody else had actually grabbed the un-watermarked version (most likely the large file from ESPN’s site) and created an Iphone screen saver and was passing it out like candy at Halloween to any of his followers that wanted it. I was less than thrilled at this discovery and the feeling one gets once they’ve realized that they’ve been violated sunk in….I was way more than mad.
Immediately I sent a quick list of sites to my editor who didn’t know what to say…..what could he say?
One by one I started following the long rabbit hole, down this way, right, left and back right again, only to discover 50 more violations. The few main sites I had discovered were being followed by hundreds of people, who in turn were being followed by hundreds more, and then more behind them…..all of them sharing or linking my photo, I was at a loss. Due to the fact that I was on assignment in California, and using the incredibly slow hotel internet connection, I felt handcuffed as to how much trolling I could actually get done before my daily shoot was scheduled. I managed to contact the first 30 sites and sent a take down notice, but only 4 of them agreed to take the shots down with a written apology. My next move was to contact Tumblr directly…..but that proved to be a joke.

TUMBLRstolen1

Here is the response I received:

“If you are the copyright holder for the content that you are reporting, or their authorized representative, please complete the following DMCA notification form.
(form here) Once we receive your completed request we can proceed with removing
the material you’ve reported.”
abuse@tumblr

The problem with doing as they command in their policy, is that you need to fill out the entire form
for EACH OCCURRENCE with the listed website users web address. In essence, I would have to
fill out over 1000 DMCA forms and include every single link, and a copy of the pilfered image
with the link. It would take weeks to complete this method. They seem to trust their own
users more than they would trust me, the original owner of the shot, whose name by the way appeared
under most of the images stolen.

Most of you who are professionals know about copyright registration, but to those that may not,
let me kinda, sorta fill you in.
Once you snap the shutter button and the image is captured, you own that image, you
are the copyright holder. It belongs to you and you can call it yours. There are certain restrictions
on what you may or not use the image for, whether you can sell it or not, based on its contents and
the location of the shot , and who the people are that appear in the shot. I won’t get into this as this
is a whole other can of worms and we could talk for weeks about responsibility and usage.
What I want to talk about is the fact that the Associated Press watermarked this image with an
APImages logo so that people who wanted to use it in their editorial content could license or “rent”
the image for presentation or publication without the logo covering the scene. I captured the
image, and then via my contract, provided the shot to the AP site for licensing, for a set fee.
ESPN, among other publications, paid for this image on a rental basis and then uploaded it to
their websites for worldwide use. They did nothing wrong in this instance, in fact, it was done
by the book.
The theft began when a fan, (I can assume) grabbed the image from both the ESPN site and the
APImages viewer site, and downloaded a lower resolution image to embed on their personal pages.
They attempted to give me credit under the image. I am not sure if they thought that this would
free them from paying for it or what, but it means nothing in a court of law if you’ve stolen the image
in the first place.
Keep in mind that once I register this set of images via http://www.copyright.gov/, and I receive
my registration receipt number in the mail, I am bonafide. I can prove that my image is registered and
then if I send an invoice to the guilty party for stealing my image, and they refuse to pay, I can then
take them to court for copyright violation. This is the norm and I am having to do this
for a lot of images that I have recently discovered. Its not fun, nor is it how I would like to be
compensated for my hard work, but realize this, every assignment that I go on, I have to travel there.
My costs include gas, perhaps airfare and hotel, and food. My gear is worth tens of thousands of
dollars and it too needs repair at times. I could go on, but won’t…….

TUMBLRstolen2

Every image that I upload, there is a chance that it could get stolen, I know this and it seems
to be the norm these days. Once upon a time, a sportsshooter would walk into a flea market or a
shopping mall and see illegal prints of theirs for sale to general public, nowadays, when a stolen
image goes viral, there is no way to stop it. This once profitable industry has changed, there are
still ways to make money at it, but you have to outsmart the trolls…..
Let me know your ideas or thoughts on this if you have any, but when you contact me,
don’t try to do it through Tumblr, I wont be there.

Alex@InstinctFilms.com…….

This blog is Copyright Alex Menendez….. 😉

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James Risen-Prosecuting the Press event

RisenBlog2

A few weeks back I was invited to shoot an event at the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. The event was titled “Prosecuting the Press” and featured the world famous investigative reporter Lowell Bergman, a true badass and currently producer/correspondent for the PBS documentary series FRONTLINE. Bergman is so tough and experienced that actor Al Pacino played him in the feature film “The Insider”, needless to say, he is the real deal!

His guest for this lecture was the currently embattled Pulitzer Prize winning American journalist and New York Times reporter, James Risen. Risen is also as tough as nails and has been challenged by the courts to reveal the name of his source for a chapter in his book State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. Chapter 9 in his book talks about a secret mission called Operation MERLIN that the CIA totally screwed up. Risen caught wind of this mishap and wrote about it years later, unfortunately, both the Bush administration and the Obama administration are still trying to punish him for bringing the said incident to light. He is currently challenging the ruling of the court system who looks to send him to jail if he won’t divulge his source of the leak, by taking his case to the Supreme Court. This is currently scheduled to happen in a few months, and that is also why I chose to accept this assignment, the verdict in this case will have HUGE implications on the way the Media/Press deal with acquiring and writing their stories in the near future. Risens’ challenge is one of the bravest things for a journalist to attempt, and I fully support his rights and ideals.  With the amount of hype that Julian Assange (Wikileaks), Eric Snowden and Chelsea Manning have received in the past few years for their specific leaks, the Risen case may seem miniscule in comparison. However, it must be noted that he was not the “leaker”, he merely wrote about the events the occurred, as told to him, by a trusted source…….but he is also a journalist, and is protected by the laws of the land…..right? One would think, but the rules have changed rapidly since 9/11, and the U.S. government is trying to set him up as an example….don’t burn us or we will burn you seems to be the statement they are screaming!

“The basic issue is, can we continue as journalists to protect and offer the confidentiality to someone who knows something going on in the government but doesn’t want to go public?”, asked Risen.

 

RisenBlog1

 

His question and answer event was scheduled at the Berdahl Auditorium on campus and was held in front of 300 invited guests. Among those in attendance was Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, one of the first ever to leak secrets, most famously the “Pentagon Papers” that he copied and delivered to The New York Times in 1971. His leak changed the way the Vietnam war debacle played out, and his decision and bravery no doubt helped save the lives of  many U.S. soldiers.

 

I was fortunate enough to film all of these men and listen to their stories as well….a bonus if you will. I had read the book ahead of time to judge for myself if the leak was really worth going to jail over…..I don’t think it gave away anything that would have jeopardized or hurt America…..unless showing how reckless and childish the whole CIA plan actually was…! I truly believe that the people trying to punish Risen are embarrassed by what he revealed, and the simple fact that they got caught.

 

The Berkeley professors, Dean Wasserman and the students/staff who helped and attended this event should be proud of the program that they put together this night and I am glad that I could attend and do my part in capturing this small segment of history….James Risen is a true leader, and will be seen as one by years end.  When asked about his own future and why he published his book, Risen responded to the crowd, “I thought, I either publish these stories or I’m getting out of journalism. The default position for a reporter should be to publish.”

The entire event was videotaped and will hopefully be around for many decades to teach other journalism students the ethics and responsibility of being  professional writers.

 

In other happenings, I was invited to put together a small workshop on the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism campus and it couldn’t have gone any better! I was to discuss being a “Pool photographer” as well as how uploading images to the Associated Press wire service happens. I had about a dozen excited and curious students in attendance in the library, and we spoke for over 2 hours. We talked ethics, responsibility, PhotoMechanic, editing, cropping, metadata, code replacements, Photoshop actions and FTP servers……and then went through my traveling camera case. Students set up my cameras with Pocket Wizard remotes and tried my selection of different lenses and bodies……Hands on was the motto of the day.   I want to personally thank everyone at Berkeley, and I truly hope to return there one day for a longer workshop to train these excited students. This was one of the best teaching experiences ever. Go Bears!!!

 

AlexClassUCBJsmall

Alex Menendez leads a workshop at the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

 

More images found here:  http://alexmenendez.photoshelter.com/archive

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Dia De Los Muertos

“DAY OF THE DEAD”…..what a title for a Holiday!

 

 

I had heard about this for years, but didn’t know if it was the title of a movie or the name of a song, or both…..but it stuck…until a few months back….

 

A friend mentioned it to me and explained the concept and origins…and I have been waiting impatiently for these few days to begin ever since.

For those of you that aren’t quite up to date, or just simply lost like I was….lets take a look at Wikipedia’s definition of this worldly ritual:

 

Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where the day is a bank holiday. The celebration takes place on October 31, November 1 and November 2, in connection with the Christian triduum of Hallowmas: All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.[1][2] Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. They also leave possessions of the deceased.

Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. The holiday has spread throughout the world: In Brazil Dia de Finados is a public holiday that many Brazilians celebrate by visiting cemeteries and churches. In Spain there are festivals and parades, and, at the end of the day, people gather at cemeteries and pray for their dead loved ones. Similar observances occur elsewhere in Europe, and similarly themed celebrations appear in many Asian and African cultures.

 

 

Get it? Well, let me take it from what I experienced at the Mexican Consulate event in Orlando, Florida this past weekend.

 

I saw Skeletons, flowers, food, cigarettes, cerveza, face paint, honest feelings, sad faces and a huge sense of pride. Friendly folks tried in vain to explain the purpose to me, while speaking in Spanish and feeding me and my son Blaze the best Beef and Sausage tacos I have ever eaten….. in short, I was very welcomed, accepted and taken in.

 

 

I first made the connection to photograph this event on Friday afternoon after searching endlessly on the internet for “Dia De Los Muertos” festivals in the area. The closest was in Fort Lauderdale……..a bit too far to travel for me……but with some persistence and tracking down and translating the El Sentinel newspaper, I came across a very small article about the Mexican Consulate public event. I knew this was my only chance to capture this festival, so I cleared my cards and charged my batteries. My son Blaze also wanted to shoot, so he agreed to tag along with his DSLR.

 

 

Saturday arrived with the cold front, and all of the ofretas that had been arranged outside were packed up, and moved indoors. The first heavy rainfall in weeks arrived to try and ruin the event, but it was not to be…..nothing was going to supress this day.

 

The event went off without a hitch and the Consulate was packed to capacity. The altars were stacked with candles, old photos, Catrinas, sombreros, paper figures and sugar skulls……It was colorful and GRAND!

 

 

 

 

Blaze and I took many photos of the surroundings and the parade of worshippers……it was a fantastic experience and we hope to film it again next year. Thanks to everyone who granted us permission to photograph.

 

 

Please see photos here:

 

http://alexmenendez.photoshelter.com/#!/index/G0000kZvwSdxZ_I0

All Images on this blog property of Alex Menendez.

Dictionary text usage: Credit Wikipedia        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_of_the_Dead

 

 

 

 

 

 

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