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Tag Archives: Photography
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.
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.
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……
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.
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.
More pictures here: http://alexmenendez.photoshelter.com/#!/index/G00000Olm9XZUI_8
Professional 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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