DeAndre Jordan

You never know where your images will get picked up. I shot with DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers) a few years ago, before he really blew up into the beast he is today. It was only his first or second year in the league, but you could already tell that he would be a force. Awesome to shoot with, as you can see from his energy in the pictures. Very willing, and has an infectious smile. Huge dude, but seams like a teddy bear off the court. I think he's my wife's favorite player, just because of his smilie. Anyway, these images from a couple years ago got picked up by another media outlet recently. And ran alongside an article about DeAndre, written by DeAndre. Pretty cool. 

You can check out the article here.

 

TRAVEL PORTRAIT

One of my favorite things to do on the road is make portraits of people that I randomly come across. This is Larry. He's a farmer in Blanca, Colorado. Which is a place you've probably never heard of. Neither had I, until driving through it last week. There isn't much to be said for it, but quite the opposite for Larry. Really jolly guy, and proud owner of that mustache since September 8, 1971. "The day I got my shipping papers to go state-side". Saw him out of the corner of my eye while passing his farm, and knew a portrait had to be made. Really gladded I stopped. 

Nikon D810 with Nikon 17-35mm lens. Lit with a Broncolor Move Pack and MobiLED Flash Head. 


Fishing-British Columbia

Fishing and golf are two sports that seem directly related. Not because of the skill set needed to perform each of them. Although you could argue that the motions are at least a little similar? Rather, they seem alike, in that you can totally suck at both of them, and still have a great time doing it. Beer is usually involved too, for whatever that's worth. A bunch of us went up to British Columbia last month intending to snowboard/ski. Unfortunately, BC is setting records for bullshit amounts of snow. It's sad really. Driving up there felt like spring, not winter. Half of the mountain was dirt. Whatever. The trip was booked a while ago, and we couldn't do anything about the weather. So instead of cry about it, we focused out efforts elsewhere. Those efforts happened to be fishing. And despite all the effort, the desired outcome was not achieved. There were no fish caught, but each day felt like a success none the less. Lots of laughs, good food, tasty beer, incredible scenery, and great company. 

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Rob Hammer


Glacier Point-Yosemite National Park

The more time you spend in Yosemite, the more you think it's an artificial world. An enormous movies set with perfect views around every corner. Send a chimp into Yosemite with a camera, and he'll come out with cool pictures. On this last visit, we spent the better part of a day hiking up to Glacier Point. And my only regret is that we didn't camp up there. It would have been all ours. This time of year the road is closed, so the only way up is to hike. Which cuts out the majority of tourists. Next time I guess? Either way, it was an awesome hike. All of the images below were made on the fly. Just snapping while Emily was hiking. Nothing staged. I got some cool stuff, but looking through them makes me want to go back and actually set up a few shots. Maybe even with some strobes. Although the light in Yosemite is pretty hard to beat. See for yourself....

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Rob Hammer




Yosemite National Park

Try all you want, you'll never find a place like Yosemite. Last week was just my second time to the park, and the whole time there, I kept questioning why? It's only a 7 hour drive from San Diego. The trip was great. One of those times where everything seemed to add up. The weather was great.The hikes were amazing, Perfect visibility. And the best part, there were barely any people there at all. We hiked up to Glacier Point one day, which took about 6 hours round trip, and we might have seen 10 people? Note to self: mid-week in the middle of winter is the time to go. Much more to come next week  from the hike up to Glacier Point. Stay tuned. 

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Rob Hammer

Niagra Falls

On New Years Day, I was driving through upstate New York on my way back to San Diego. And found myself close enough to Niagra Falls that I shouldn't pass it up. Why not? Had never been there before, and figured it was a good time to cross it off the list? My expectations weren't that high, as I sort of expected it just to be a tourist trap. And it was definitely that, but it also couldn't have been more impressive. I had heard that the place to see it is from the Canada side, which I did. The power was amazing. As you walk in, you're eye level with the huge river of water that takes the turn into the falls. Then you keep walking, and you're right at the end of the falls where everything drops. And it's almost impossible to wrap your head around how big it is and how much water is flowing over the falls as any given moment. A very cool thing to see.  If you ever find yourself in that area, put in the extra effort to stop in. Depending on the time and day of the week, crossing the border is not bad at all. Well worth it. 

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Rob Hammer


Travel Portraits

There are so many things to love about travel, but high on my list are the people you meet. Most of them unexpected. And making portraits of these people is something I love to do. Even if it's a brief encounter, you can learn so much about a culture by talking to the locals. This woman was set up on a roadside on our way in to Rovinj, Croatia, where fruits are a major commodity. And she made the most of it. Her whole "stand" was filled with tons of dried fruit and homemade jams, which we left with plenty of. Lady knew what she was doing, because it was all delicious. Just by looking at her, you can tell she knows. The late afternoon light was just flooding in her stand, so I couldn't help but ask her for a portrait. Glad I did. 

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Rob Hammer

The Jam Lady



Buffalo, NY

One of the many great things about road trips is the food you can find along your way. Some of it is totally random. And then there are places which are obviously known for a certain kind of food. Buffalo, NY is one of those places. Birthplace of the chicken wing. I'm originally from NY, so naturally have a deep appreciation for the chicken wing. Now living out in San Diego, it's hard to find a proper wing. So while traveling through western NY, I thought it only fitting to try the best. I'd never been to Buffalo before, and it seemed like a good enough excuse? Buffalo itself was a pretty cool place. Has a very "neighborhood" feel to it. Like everything is friendly and local. The outskirts though, were much different. Lots of deserted old factories. Great for shooting. And had it not been for the chicken wing, I never would have stumbled on this scene. Sometimes it pays to eat. 

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Rob Hammer


Hoops

Back in my hometown now, after a cross-country road trip. Photographically it wasn't the most productive. I got some cool stuff, but not as much as I was hoping for. The main focus was BASKETBALL HOOPS, which is something I've been shooting all over the country for the past year and a half. It's a lot of fun and brings me to some amazing small towns that are completely off the grid. The longer I do it, the harder it gets to find unique hoops. That all part of the treasure hunt though. 

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Rob Hammer

Joseph City, Arizona

On Wednesday I started another cross-country road trip with Mojo (dog). They are always an incredible experience, with an almost therapeutic effect.  There aren't any parts of the country that I don't enjoy visiting, and Arizona is no exception. The light in AZ is just phenomenal. Rivaled only by New Mexico. I guess it's all that flat wide open space. The late day light just rakes across everything. I found this scene in Joseph City. Really awesome looking clouds until you realize it's smoke from the Cholla Power Plant. 

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Rob Hammer

Road Trip

One of my favorite forms of travel is the road trip. It's the best way to see what ever part of the world you are in. And the only way to really experience local cultures/foods that you would otherwise miss by flying. Next week I will be starting a cross country road trip back to New York to be with family for the holidays. It's something I've done many times and always look forward to. As of this post, I have road tripped through all 50 states (flew to AK+HI) for my Barbershop project. And this time around will be working on my most recent project, Basketball Hoops. Being on the road with other people is always fun. For these however, it's just me and Mojo (dog). Which I prefer, because it allows me a lot more time on my own to shoot, without worrying about inconveniencing anyone else. It's something I really encourage every photographer to do on a somewhat regular basis.

This image is from a road trip last September to Colorado. We stopped to "use the bathroom" and our car happened to be in the perfect spot with perfect light. Love Arizona. Anyway, I'll be regularly posting to this site during my trip, so be sure to check back. 

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Rob Hammer



New Orleans

Nowhere else in America will you find a greater mix of food and culture, as you will in New Orleans.  Television has it painted as nothing but the mecca of drunken debauchery. A place where people go to lose their minds along with thousands of other people falling down on Bourbon St.  And that does happen. A lot. But to think that's all NOLA has to offer, is like saying Amsterdam is only good for prostitutes and weed.  

If you like food and music, then New Orleans should be at the top of your to-do list. The restaurants and bars all have a unique vibe. The kind you can only find down there. Same goes for the people. And the streets, they come alive every night. Not just with partying tourists, but some of the best jazz bands you'll ever hear on a street corner. They are great to see and hear, but they also give New Orleans so much energy. Which makes you want to keep exploring. Wanting to see what's around the next block. And where all those smells are coming from. Do yourself a favor, dive into the local food.  Po-Boys, Oysters, Crawfish, Mufaletta. All of it. The food alone is worth the visit. 

Experience Bourbon Street when it's in full swing. Then get off it. Walk around. See everything else that the French Quarter has to offer. Hole in the wall restaurants. Bars. Shops. Just looking at the architecture will keep you entertained for hours. See it all before you're too drunk to remember anything, because  New Orleans is a special place. 

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Rob Hammer

Alaska

Where do I begin with Alaska? If you're lucky enough to have clear skies on your flight in, then you'll instantly realize that the normal rules don't apply. Alaska is a different monster. Playing on a higher level then the rest of the lower 48. Everything is bigger. "The Last Frontier" couldn't be a more fitting title for "The Great Land".  AK's scale is so enormous, and seems like it should be overpowering, but it's not. There is something very calming about it. Maybe it's the lack of people, or the calm nature of the people that you do actually meet? Either way, thinking back on this trip brings back great memories. At the time, we knew it was amazing, but not until looking back, did we realize just how special Alaska is. There's an untouchable amount of things to see in a lifetime, let alone a week. And regrettably, I didn't shoot that much. But that's just one more reason to go back. The more I think about Alaska, the more I think it might be the best place I've ever been. And before going, it seemed like this unreachable destination that took forever to get to.  From San Diego, you can fly there in the same or less amount of time it takes flying to the east coast. There is nothing unreachable about that. And once you're there, you'll experience a way of life you can't find anywhere else in the world. This first picture sums up Alaska for me.  Only there do you see a bald eagle flying over a log cabin, that is sitting on a cliff over looking a body of water, with a snow capped volcano peaking out of the clouds in the background.  

Recommendations:

  1. Get out of Anchorage
  2. Drive. A lot. 
  3. Drive down the Kenia Peninsula and stop in all the small towns.
  4. Raft/Fish/Swin on the Kenai River.
  5. Hope, Alaska. Amazing little town no bigger then a football field. 
  6. Homer, Alaska. Halibut capital of the world. 
  7. Eat lots of seafood. So fresh it almost melts in your mouth. 
  8. Hike and kayak around Kachemak Bay. 
  9. Drive up north. Stop in all the small towns and everything in between. (Talkeetna is a good one. Their official mayor is a cat). 
  10. Not a huge fan of Denali. Seeing a national park from a bus has no appeal to me. 
  11. Try all the local food/beer. Chances are, the meat came from right down the road. 
  12. Get as close as possible to at least one of the countless glaciers.

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Rob Hammer

 

Kas, Turkey

The southern coast of Turkey couldn't be any different from Istanbul. It almost feels like two completely separate countries. As previously stated, I loved Istanbul, but it was also great to get out of the grind and into the country. After a total f*#k up with our airline tickets, we landed in Antalya. Then ran into another problem with our rent-a-car. Which turned into a lot of fun to figure out, with the language barrier and all. Anyway, we finally got a car (without a gps) and just decided we could find our way to Kas, which is about 4 hours away. Why the hell not, can't be that hard to read Turkish street signs, right? Well, it worked out, and the ride was awesome. Driving along the Mediterranean Sea was unforgettable. Seeing the coast and getting a better feel for Turkey was was cool. I can't even describe how much of that country is covered in green houses growing vegetables (mostly tomatoes). Which are delicious. When it Turkey, order any meal with tomatoes. You won't be sorry.

After dark, we got in Kas and had to finagle our way to the Airbnb that we had reserved. No map, no directions, and almost zero knowledge of the language. Eventually we found a cab driver who spoke some English, and called the home owner, who met us in town. Amazing how things work out with a little effort. The place was great, and a 45 second walk from town. We instantly loved the vibe Kas was giving off. If I had to compare it to anything, I'd say it's the Catalina Island of Turkey. Really low key and relaxing. Especially this time of year. A place that the Turks actually go to vacation. 

We spent the next couple days exploring Kas and the surrounding areas. At one point we drove out even further into the country. Finding some really remote areas that seemed completely trapped in a time warp. For what seemed like hours we drove around mountains roads that dumped us into a town who's name I couldn't remember if you paid me. It just popped out right in front us though. After coming around a blind corner, it felt like we were transported into a different world that is cut off from the rest. It just has a different feel from everywhere we had previously been. An ancient way of life. Wild animals roaming the one narrow street that cut through town. I got out to shoot and within 30 seconds heard a dangerously close shotgun blast that was immediatly followed by squawking chickens. Then an older woman (pictures below) in traditional Turkish clothes and a cane came walking up the street. Said a few words that I obviously couldn't understand, and kept going to the fig tree that Emily was trying to pick from. Almost pushing Emily aside like she was offended with her technique. Then began wacking the figs off the branches with her cane, handed them to her, and kept going. 90 seconds of our lives that we're still questioning as a dream. The whole scene was very surreal. Permanently burned into our brains. Thank you Turkey. 

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Rob Hammer


Istanbul, Turkey

It's been a about a month since we left Istanbul, and I still can't make any sense of it. Not sure there is any point in trying either? Don't take that as a negative thing though. I couldn't be any happier that I went, but it's an exhausting place if you do it right. Istanbul is a city that never stops moving. With the exception of a few wee hours, the Turks are always hustling. And as a 6'5" American, I was a victim of that hustle. It's hard to knock it, but after a while, it definitely gets old. Rather than make myself look like an idiot by trying to describe Istanbul, here are some random thoughts on things that really stand out: 

  1. Religion (Muslim) is bigger then anything else in the city
  2. The Muslim's are unapologetic about shoving their religion down your throat
  3. The "Call to Prayer" is played 5 times a day throughout the entire city and every town in Turkey. If you don't know what the Call to Prayer is, Google it
  4. Turkish Coffee and Tea are a big thing. Wherever you look, the men are drinking it together on little stools. Not chairs. Stools
  5. Turkish woman rarely leave their homes. And if they do, it's to buy groceries 
  6. "Turkish Delight" is no joke. Before going to Turkey, I thought it was just a saying. It's not
  7.  Turkey knows how to do Tomatoes. If you have a meal with tomatoes in it, chances are, that meal will be great
  8. Almost all of the street food is delicious 
  9. The Mosque's scattered throughout the city are extremely impressive. Especially when you see all the detail up-close
  10. They are even more impressive when you realize that they were built in the 16th Century
  11. There are building in Istanbul dating back to the 5th Century
  12. Istanbul is awesome

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Rob Hammer


Dubrovnik, Croatia

I'm not going to say Dubrovnik is the best place I've ever been, but it's pretty damn solid. A lot of you nerds might recognize it as a filming location for Game of Thrones. I've personally never watched it, nor do I see that happening anytime in the near future. Anyway, Dubrovnik. Loved it. Out of all the towns we visited in Europe last month, this has to be at least tied with the tops. Had we been there a few months earlier, it probably would have been crawling with tourists?  So mid October was a great choice. Our apartment was actually inside the walls of "Old Town", which made the experience that much better. Old Town was built some time in the 15th century, which you can probably tell from the pictures. It's an extremely unique town. Plenty to do, or not. Walking on top of the walls gives you a great view. And exploring the many alleys gives you a more intimate feel for how the city operates. There are no cars allowed inside the walls, so all the residents and business owners have to hump everything in. That includes any kind of construction materials or food supplies for restaurants. Speaking of, the meals were fantastic. Being on the Adriatic, you expect the seafood to be good. Well it was better then good. Never in my life have I eaten a better piece of swordfish. Don't think I even had to chew it.There really isn't much not to like about Dubrovnik. Very authentic, which is all you can ask for. 

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Rob Hammer

Venice, Italy

When a local in Rovinj, Croatia told us we were only a 2.5 hour car ride from Venice, we had no choice but to go. You just don't turn down that opportunity. So we woke up early one morning and did it. Crossing the border couldn't be easier. And from Rovinj, you actually go through the country of Slovenia as well. Which in all honesty, I didn't even know existed. Anyway, if you stay off the highway, the drive takes you right through Italian wine country. So yeah, you'll never forget the ride. The kind of country where you see old houses completely covered in vines. Postcard kind of thing. Then you park and take a boat out to Venice, and have no choice but be impressed. The city is made up of 118 islands, that are seperated by canals, and linked by bridges. Just thinking about how the place was built, blows my mind. Seeing all this beauty comes at a price though. And that's dealing with boat loads of tourists, literally. There were 5 cruise ships in the Venice harbor when we pulled in. 5 cruise ships! That many idiots packed into one place sorta takes away from all the romance that is Venice. Deal with it for a few hours though, they all get back on the boat, and Venice becomes a different city. Much more intimate. There are so many layers, that keep un-peeling the more you explore. And in my opinion, everything gets better the farther you get away from the Grand Canal. Which in itself is undeniably impressive, but there is so much more to offer elsewhere. I probably don't need to bother saying that you'll find tons of good food and wine in Venice? My only regret is not having more time here. Guess we'll just have to go back. 

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Rob Hammer

 

Rovinj, Croatia

It's hard not to fall in love with Croatia. The more you explore, the better it gets. We drove from Dubrovnik, all the way up the coast of the Adriatic Sea, to Rovinj. And even if there was no Rovinj, the ride itself could have been the payoff. The coastline alone is gorgeous. And the seemingly never ending chain of islands is just icing on the cake. That route should be a requirement for everyone visiting Croatia. With the exception of a few small towns, It's completely desolate, with nothing to do but enjoy the view. 

Then there is Rovinj. Right away you know it's a different place because people are speaking Italian. Turns out there are actually two official languages in Rovinj, Croatian and Italian. Which means you know there is going to be great food. Hence the reason why Anthony Bourdain is such a big fan. Do yourself a favor and get your grub on in at least one of the places he visited. You won't be disappointed. It general, it didn't seem like you could go wrong with the food, just by snooping around a little. We went out to Giannino's one night and let the waiter bring us whatever he wanted for every course. And he was on point with everything from the apps to the limoncello.  

Side note: Rovinj is located on the Istrian Peninsula, which is known for their truffles. So this is the place to get them, it that's your thing. They have it all. Straight truffles. Truffle cheese. Truffle meat. Truffle oil. Truffle Vodka. Etc. 

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Rob Hammer