It's only been a year+ since this trip and I'm finally getting around to posting about it. Have been back several times since. Wonder how many other trips I have sitting on my hard drive? Jackson Hole is top notch. Really top notch. The more I go back, the better it is, and the amount of time we actually spend in town is less and less. Grand Teton National Park and everything else that surrounds town is phenomenal. The hiking, camping, fishing, etc, is so good. And on this particular trip we did all of that. Up the middle Teton to be exact. A very different type of backcountry climbing than I'm used to. So much of it is just huge boulder fields. Which means that you spend a lot of time going from rock to rock, or scrambling. Not my favorite style of hiking, but what an incredible trip. The Tetons have to be the most picturesque range in the USA. The way they rise up from the the valley floor is so dramatic. They look so massive from afar, and even bigger when you're right up close. Not sure how we got so lucky, but it was perfectly sunny at the summit without an ounce of wind. That can't happen too often? As I'm writing this it's snowing in Jackson Hole, and I can't wait to get back up there. The snowboarding there is so good. You'd have to put it up there as some of the best in the country, especially when you really get to know the mountain. This is the worst thing I've written in a while. Sorry.
Good times over in Austria. For whatever reason, I did the least amount of shooting on this trip compared to all other in the past. Travel always brings on great experiences no matter what. Perhaps the funniest and unexpected came out of the need for a bathroom. During a long drive, we stopped at a market in a small town to pee and get food for lunch. I couldn't find the bathroom and tried asking the two workers in the back. They obviously knew very little English, and had no idea what I was saying. After trying every word they might know, I moved onto the universal sign for a guy going to the bathroom, the actual motion of doing it. They instantly knew what I needed and showed me the way. When I came back out, one of the guys was still there and asked me with a very Austrian accent "Ver ah you from?" I replied simply with "California", to which he screamed "AAAAHHHHH, SCHWARZENEGGER!!!"
Working with brands that you naturally click with is such a rad thing. I've talked a lot in the past about personal projects,and their benefits, but this is the perfect case. For the past 5-6 years I have been working on my barbershop project. And to be honest, it hasn't been until the past year or so that I've put much effort into getting it out there. That effort combined with the social sharing by people who are naturally pumped about the project has lead to exactly what I had hoped. Brands within the barber industry reaching out to connect with me. That's amazing. Like any other industry there are schwappy companies, and then there are those that stand out. Uppercut Deluxe is one of the later. I dig their brand and what they are all about. Ironic that they sell hair pomade as I have a shaved head, but whatever. Doesn't matter. I dig what they do and they dig what I do. Rad group of people too. So when Uppercut reached out about a collaboration, I was really excited. After just a couple short conversations we developed a way to incorporate both of our "products", and the video below is the first sample of things to come. I love working on these so much. The barbers audio really brings the images to life, and is something that people can connect with on a different level. Check back soon to see more of this.
Getting outside your comfort zone is a beneficial thing in all aspects of life. Without it growth is not possible. The rodeo in Poway was last week, and I thought it would be a fun thing to shoot. Certainly something I've never done, but was very drawn to. So I reached out and found someone who needed some coverage. Like most things I shoot, my focus was not so much on the action, but behind the scenes. The little things that add to the culture but aren't really noticed or seen by most people. I loved everything about shooting this event. Being back where the riders were was awesome. Such a foreign culture that I've never experienced. And all the auxiliary stuff was great too. I got there really early and just wondered around the grounds, where I ran into a lot of characters. Everything I shot was natural light, and after the sun went down it was cool to see how much the color temperature of the "house" lights changed so quickly as they fell off. Learned a lot, most of which is that I'd shoot something like this again in a second. The grittiness of it is right up my alley. And everything felt so authentic. These aren't showy athletes on multi million dollar contracts. They are cowboys being cowboys.
I always think to myself that any photographer who really gives a shit will invest heavily in personal projects. That's not to say you have to spend a lot of money, but invest yourself. Shoot something that's just for you and let that project develop a life of it's own. You'll be glad you did. I also think that a photographers personal project begins without even knowing it. In your own time you shoot what you're randomly and naturally drawn to. Then over time, a small collection or series of images comes together that you didn't even realize you were creating. The even greater part is over the same period of time, that body of work naturally grows followers of people with similar interests. Those people can be totally random, but they can also be commercial clients who want to buy your images or pay you to make something similar. That's a win on all levels. No longer are you searching for the right clients. Now the right clients are looking for you.
I don't care who you are, things can get slow from time to time. And what happens during those lows, is that you take assignments you're not right for. Maybe it's not your speciality, or maybe you just don't give a shit? Either way, you shouldn't have taken it because it always shows up in the work. Everyone who views an image can tell if it's right or not. When a photographer wants to make a great image he'll do whatever he can to make it. But when the interest isn't there, or they just took the job for the money, you can see it. I decided a long time ago that I'd rather be broke than take assignments that aren't right for me. I use to take them all the time, and it just led to bad relationships and bad images. Definitely not the kind of thing you want out in the world as a freelance photographer. So I started investing heavily in my own projects while also shooting commercially. And after years of building up different portfolios, all that work is starting to pay off. One of them in particular is starting to get really fun, The Basketball Hoops Project. Last February the project had it's first exhibition in New Orleans for NBA All-Star Weekend. And just recently I signed on with Fathom Gallery in Los Angeles. They will not only be sourcing shows for the project and selling prints, but also seeking commercial licensing. I'm really excited about this partnership, and look forward to seeing where it goes.
Creating images for the right clients is always fun. For a company to choose you out of all the other photographers in the world is a great compliment. When your personal projects start to take flight though, that's the real reward. Hugh Hefner died yesterday. Calling him a legend would be an understatement. Among the many great things he's ever said, my favorite has to be "Life is too short to be living someone else's dream".
Go out and create for yourself.
I made this image back in April of 2011 during a road trip with my mother. At the time the Hoops Project wasn't even a thought. Yesterday though, after stumbling on this, it made me wonder if it was?
I've had a lot of love for Europe for a long time, and even more after completing this recent trip to Austria. Don't get me wrong, I love America and have a lot of pride for this country. But every time I visit Europe, I find myself saying "they have it figured out over here". There just seems to be a whole lot less bullshit, and the people have a much more relaxed outlook on life. Walk around Vienna, take a couple rides on the U-Bahn, and tell me you're not somewhat embarrassed of how disgusting most of America is? You'd have a hard time finding a piece of garbage on the street in Vienna. And the subway platforms are almost clean enough to eat off of. Sort of a double edged sword, as the grit in America is a lot of what I'm drawn into photographically. Still though, our biggest and most popular cities (NYC+LA) are fucking filthy. Trash everywhere.
As is any trip worth remembering, this one was an adventure. Traveling in all forms will teach you valuable lessons whether you realize it immediately or not. We flew on Air Berlin which was our first mistake, as we later found out that they are bankrupt. I'm not a genius, but maybe if they had working WIFI on the flight for people to purchase, they could turn over a few extra euros? That's just one bullet point I'd throw in if asked to make a power point presentation. Not that I really care, but you don't see British Air having problems with their WIFI! We made it to Salzburg fine, but our luggage, not so much. The whole system of trying to get your bags located was prehistoric, but finally after 7+ days, they were back in our hands. Again, not the end of the world. Although most people would probably disagree with you. We weren't necessarily that upset about not having our bags as we were thinking about having to replace everything that was in them. During the trip it sucks taking time and money to go buy the necessaries, but something you just shut up and do. Deal with it and make the most of your trip. The biggest lesson we learned after dealing with Air Berlin's bullshit for 7+ days, is that there really is no reason to ever check a bag again. How much stuff do you really need on a trip? Not much. There now is no question that everything we could possibly need can fit in a backpack and you're one given piece of carry-on luggage. Think about all the times you've packed for a trip and never end up using half of what you stuffed in there? That's almost every trip that every human being on the planet has ever taken. Let's not even discuss the photography equipment that I take on a trip. If you just focus on the necessaries, it works in just your carry on. Couple t-shirts, socks, boxers, jeans, shorts, sandals/bathing suit(seasonal), and a nice shirt or two for dinner are the basics. On top of that, all you need is a warm layer, a shell raincoat (just incase), and your toiletries. A great pair of sneakers are key, but those are already on your feet. Add on a nice pair of shoes if you really need them. We always stay in Airbnb's or VRBO's, which often have washing machines, so doing laundry isn't any issue. Even when they don't, wash your laundry in the sink. It's easy, just takes a little bit of thinking. Checking luggage is out. All it does is slow you down.
As you can see from our route on the map, we covered a lot of ground. One of the phenomanal things about Europe is how easy it is to travel between countries. Almost without slowing down at the "border" we took little side trips into Hungary and Slovenia. Anyway, good times over there. Will be posting more on this soon. For now, go do yourself a favor and throw out that huge old suitcase sitting in your closet.
Went to Chennai, India for a client last month, making it the second time I've been to India in the last 6 months. Funny where the camera will take you. Any time you travel that far for a shoot, no matter how much fun you're having, you have to make time shoot for yourself. Which is precisely what these images are. The people and things I saw while aimlessly wondering around that foreign city. There were a lot of very noticeable differences between Chennai and the places I visited up north (Delhi, Agra, and jaipur). Firstly, the people down south seemed to be much more relaxed. They were still trying to sell you on something, but it wasn't nearly as often or with the same aggression. Which was a big plus. Overall, I think it didn't have the character of the northern cities, but that could just be my experience. One of my favorite parts of the northern trip was all the Chai tea. It was everywhere. Granted, we were there in the winter, but it didn't seem to be as much of thing down in Chennai. And when it was, the tea itself had a completely different taste. I was told they don't use a lot of spices like the northerners do.
Keep scrolling down to see lots of images from the 1st trip to India.
Among the many lessons I continue to learn during cross country road trips, is that things inevitably come up. Things that cause you to deter from the original plan. And it's easy to get frustrated because you're time shooting in one place gets cut short, but it always seems to come back around. I used to be extremely high strung about this. When I got to a place, I couldn't relax until a shot was in the bag, which would sometimes take away from the whole experience. Now I like to have faith that the shots will come, just maybe not in the way I was expecting. Being open to that idea is a lot of the key though. Sometimes the shots you originally had planned, turn out to be your least favorite anyway. So when you just go with the flow, and take advantage of situations that pop up, great things come about. This past road trip to Cape Cod and back was rushed due to other commercial responsibilities (a great problem to have). Even so, my time shooting on the road didn't amount to all that much. The set of images that resulted are far from my favorite. However, because I was rushed, it made me look for other places/times to shoot. And in the end, I am left with another batch of images and potential assignment/partnership that never would have otherwise happened.
During my time on the road one thing I've always got my eye out for is hoops. I don't really see an end to this project. It will probably be something I continue to shoot for the rest of my life. That being said, it's getting harder and harder to find hoops that I actually like. Over the past 4+ years, I've come across some amazing hoop scenes, which means the bar is now set pretty high. So unless I find something at least as good or better than the previous ones, then I'm not shooting it. These three are (in order) from Nebraska, Colorado, and India.
It would appear that driving cross country then flying to India has become a thing for me? Last month was another crazy one as far as travel/shooting (commercial and personal) goes. Let's see if I can get this right? It started with a flight up to Omaha and a drive to Sioux Falls for a concert that was a must see for Emily. So we spent a couple days there, then drove back to Omaha and flew back to San Diego. I slept at home for the night, then started a week long cross country drive to the east coast. Dropped Mojo off at my mother's house in up-state NY, then drove down to Brooklyn where my Hoops images were on display at an NBA event. Afterwards, drove back up to my mothers for the night, then drove to Boston the next day for a flight out to India. Spent 3 days shooting in India, then hopped a quick flight over to Sri Lanka for 3 days of exploring/personal shooting. Back to India for another 3 days of shooting before flying to Boston. Drove to New Hampshire to shoot for my barbershop project, then up to my mothers to get Mojo where I spent the night before driving back down to meet Emily in Boston. We spent the night there, then met my family on Cape Cod for our annual trip. Spent 6 days there, then another week driving/shooting back to San Diego. Hell of a month. I love the road. Still trying to figure out if I'm happy with the outcome, but will be posting updates on it all soon.
While Jaipur wasn't my favorite place in India, from a photography standpoint it was the place I got the most access and was able to spend the most amount of time. So that by default, makes it my favorite place in India. I found a local guide to take me around one day. And by found, I mean the guide was my Tuk Tuk driver that knew the area and said he would take me into the local neighborhoods. It's hard to say, but I might have been one of only a few white people to visit that neighborhood. Just walking down the street was a spectacle. It felt like what I would imagine Brad Pitt feels like while walking down the street in New York City. Everyone either just stopped and stared, or came up to see what I was doing.
The Taj Mahal is quite something. That's obvious ahead of time, but you can't possibly understand until you're standing in front of it. It's not just the Taj though, it's how they laid the grounds out that really ties it all together. The way you're lead in, and forced to see people standing in front of it at many different distances gives you an unreal sense of scale. The symmetry, detail, and the way light lives around the structure is something I've seen anywhere else. Really amazing experience, but probably not my favorite. Just based on size, The Taj takes it, but on overall detail and ridiculousness, have to give it to La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Gaudi was a god damn mad man. Agra was in interesting place to check out as well. You can probably classify it as a shithole, but whatever. We were lucky enough to be staying at a place with a rooftop balcony that looked over the whole city. That was an experience in itself. There was so much life on all the rooftops in Agra. Seemed to be where all the residents hung out. And if you just closed your eyes and listened, that was a whole other thing. Couldn't really make sense of it. It was a strange mixture of animals, kids playing, people talking, and what seemed like screaming. Then you get the daily "call to prayer", which I can't get enough of.
Not sure there is way to describe New Delhi that would do it justice in any way. I wasn't able to spend a ton of time there, but couldn't be happier with what we experienced. There is so much going there all the time, that you can't possibly make sense of it. If you're not from there, or have been living there for an extended period of time, don't even think about driving. The city streets are chaos. And that's coming from someone who loves to drive, everywhere. So thankful I did not have a car in Delhi. Let the locals handle that task. At any given point, you'll be sharing the streets with cars, motorcycles, rickshaws, motor rickshaws, dogs, cats, monkeys, cows, bulls, people, and who knows what else. The strangest part is that there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. Yet nobody is angry, and somehow is just seems to work. The energy in the streets of New Delhi is incredible. Something I'd love to experience over and over again for the rest of my life. Any time you're outside in Delhi, you've got constant stimulation. Sort of like Vegas, only not at all. And not just visually. It seems like there is something for all of your senses.
Getting off the airplane, it's obvious that you're no longer in America. You can immediately smell smoke, which seems to be the standard weather forecast. Not hazy or foggy, but smoke. That's literally what it says when you look on a weather app. Smoke. And if you stay in a hotel, the armed guards at the gate have to check your cab for bombs, both under the car and under the hood. Depending on where you go, who you're with, and time of day, it can be difficult to walk around alone. Both because of safety and because you'll be bombarded with people trying to sell you something. Just get over it. The experiences you'll get from walking through the streets and markets are worth it. Don't even get me started on the food. I still can't figure out how that jam all that flavor into their meals. Brilliant.
Have a lot more from this trip to post. We also visited Agra and Jaipur, where I did a lots of shooting. Will be posting those images in the next week or so. Come on back.
Haven't shot Crossfit in a bit and think I'm going through withdrawals. Time to get back on it.
The miles are really starting to rack up this year already. Only took about 8 months to hit 25k on my new truck. Good times. Should be sharing images soon.
Been almost two years since I stepped foot in a barbershop with my cameras, but a lot has happened since then. Seeing the barbers out on the street in India completely rejuvinated my passion for the this project. Not just with the old school barbers that I originally photographed years ago, but for the new class of barbers that have come up. Since I put out the first book, barbering has exploded. And while I think most of the new shops are a dime a dozen, there are a large handful of guys who take a lot of pride in what they do. And that shows in their shops. Over the past couple months I've had the pleasure of visiting a lot of these shops, and have been very impressed with what I've seen. Not that I'm the judge or jury, but I've visited enough shops over the past 5 years (1000+/-) to know whats real and what's shit. So I've begun the hunt for more of the hidden old school shops across America, which will be included in the 2nd edition of BOA. And I've also begun shooting a completely new project on these new school cats who are doing things the right way. A few days ago I completed the first portion of shooting, which involved 8 days on the road from southern California, up the coast to San Francisco and Sacramento. Was really happy with what I found, and can't wait for the next trip (It's not far away. I'm ready to roll). Stay tuned for more on the next book.
Go to the STORE if want a book or a print.
The result of 7,038 American miles this past month. Love this country.
Recently completed what I would have to consider my largest collective journey to date. It started last month with a road trip from San Diego to New York. From NYC I traveled to India and did a lot of exploring in Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. After returning, I then did another cross country road trip from New York back to San Diego. Not even sure what the total mileage is on all that, but each leg was a great time, and I did a lot of shooting for a number of different reasons.. As always, more to come on that.....