Tag Archives: Florida

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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