If you’ve been following what I do for any amount of time, you know that basketball hoops have been a focus. It’s only a personal project, but I really enjoy making these images. And it seems like others have enjoyed them too. Recently I bought the domain www.thebasketballhoopsproject.com, so this ever growing collection of images could have it’s own home. On top of that, I also started Instagram/Tumblr accounts under the same name. So if you enjoy these, and all the others in my HOOPS GALLERY, please go check them out. They are a work in progress, but like this project, constantly growing.
This particular batch came from my most recent road trip. Which went 7,181 miles from coast to coast, and back. I saw tons of hoops, but was really only turned on by a few of them. Which seems to be the only problem with these type of projects. Driving cross country you see such awesome stuff, that continues to raise the bar. So each hoop I decide to shoot needs to be as good if not better then the last one. And while I think that’s the only way to look at things, it doesn’t make it easy. The images you see here are from Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Ohio, and Indiana. Some of them shot with strobes. Some of them not. Either way, good times on the road. Great experiences and way too much BBQ. Time for a diet.
For every kid, the first day of school is all about who had the freshest kicks. There was always mixed emotions about that first day. You were scared of the unknown, but also excited to see friends and what they had on their feet. Then there was the feeling of jealousy towards the kid who had the sickest pair. School shopping was awesome, but at the same time, nothing was every good enough. No matter which kicks you got, you felt like someone was going to have something better. And sure enough they did. I begged and begged my parents for the latest and greatest. They were smart enough not to feed into my bullshit though. They knew what an incredible waste of money it would be to buy a $100 pair of sneakers that would be trashed in a week. I didn’t get it though. So that just made my desire even stronger. And back in the day, the Reebok Pump was it. The shoe. Before their release, there was nothing else like it. Once they came out, everybody had them. At least that’s how it seemed. And I hated that I didn’t. My mother is from Boston, so she and my grandparents brought me up on Celtics ball. Aside from Larry Bird, Dee Brown was my guy. And when I saw him in the dunk contest wearing Pumps, that put me over the top. I’ll never forget when he paused before his dunk to “pump” up his sneakers. 26 years later, I still think they’re rad. And was lucky to get a pair from my sister this year for Christmas. Thanks Morg!
Last week I completed the first half of a cross-country road trip to visit family in NY for the holidays and work on the HOOPS project. This one actually came from San Diego. I was trying to figure out a good use for the rain we were having. So after it calmed down, I went out to a local court with some strobes and played around with the puddles. As usual, I drastically underexposed the sky in camera, and used a polarizer. Then illuminated the hoop with an Elinchrom Ranger on full power. Love the reflection of the sideline running through this frame. Kind of makes you stop to figure out what’s was going on.
A couple years ago Kobe Bryant was my “White Whale”. The one I was chasing, but never landed. Then the opportunity to shoot him not only came up, but it happened. And he was pumped about the results. As a photographer, there really isn’t much more you can ask for. I was able to cross him off my to-do list with a smile for a job well done. Fast forward a little bit, and somehow I was lucky enough to shoot him again. Hard to complain about that. Kobe is the ultimate professional. Fortunately, he remember me, so it made things a lot easier. Regardless, he has done this a million times. Knows exactly what to do, and needs little to no direction. So we were able to get in a bunch of different looks in about 25 minutes. Just like most celebrities/athletes, Kobe is very mindful of his time, and doesn’t want it wasted. So getting him in and out, was expected and appreciated. In fact, he remembered me most from the first shoot because I was so quick. Hoping for Round 3 before he calls it a career.
The San Diego skies have been filled with great clouds lately. So I took some time to work on my HOOPS project. After driving around Chula Vista/National City for several hours looking for a worthy hoop, I came up empty handed. Then had lunch with a friend who happens to be a police officer in that same area. He took me right to this place, which I would not have had access to without his badge. Thanks Chris!
All images shot on a Nikon D800e (D810 is in the shop) with a polarized Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8 lens. I drastically underexposed the sky in camera, then lit up the hoop with an Elinchrom Ranger Strobe. Planning another cross country road trip next month and can’t wait to shoot some more of this stuff.
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.
Back at it again. Been shooting Crossfit for a while now and always trying to come up with new images from different angles. This time, with the help of my extremely talented assistant (Shawn Cullen), we rigged a camera in the ceiling. Shawn also hooked up remotes (Pocket Wizards) so that I could trigger that camera at the same time as all of the strobes. So while I was shooting images from the floor (Nikon D4), the remote was also firing the ceiling camera (Nikon D800e). Which gave us sort of 2 for 1. He’s an expert at this kind of thing, and I definitely couldn’t have done it myself. Things get really complicated with all the different remotes, cables, lag times, electronics, etc. It was a fun way to shoot, and I definitely want to do more of it.
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.
Istanbul, Turkey isn’t a place you can make any sense of. It’s madness. All the time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing city, and I’m extremely happy to have experienced it. However, I was also exhausted when I left. There is so much going on there, that I have no clue how to describe it in words. So here are some random thoughts….
1) Religion (Muslim) is bigger then anything else in the city.
2) The city (and country) isn’t afraid to shove the Muslim religion down your throat.
3) The ” Call to Prayer” is heard throughout the city (and every town in the country) 5 times a day. And it’s shocking. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google it.
4) The Turks are hustlers. They are always trying to sell you something.
5) Turkish coffee and tea is very prominent. Everywhere.
6) The Turkish men love to sit around on stools (not chairs) and drink coffee/tea.
7) Women rarely leave the house, except to get groceries. Seriously.
8 ) Turkish Delight is no joke.
9) The Turks know how to do tomatoes.
10) If you have a meal with tomatoes in it, the meal will be legit.
11) The Mosque’s throughout the city are extremely impressive. The effort and detail that went into making them is mind blowing.
12) Even more mind blowing when you realize they were built in the 16th century.
13) There are buildings in Istanbul dating back to the 5th century.
14) Istanbul is awesome.
It’s always cool to see how a client uses your images in real life. And this is certainly no exception. Here you can see Kobe Bryant giving a speech for Lenovo over in Manila with my images up on the Jumbotron and as about 100 cardboard cutouts.
Click HERE to see some of the originals from this shoot.