Watching fighters compete has easily become one of my biggest passions in my life. MMA and jiu jitsu take the most of that interest, although I enjoy some boxing and kickboxing as well. Combat sports is where it's at for me. Especially jiu jitsu. It's still wild to think after so many years I have found my way back to these battlegrounds with my camera in hand. I used to have to shoot from behind the barricades on a point-and-shoot and now I get to shoot through solid glass on the mats with the competitors, often with multiple matches happening simultaneously. This brings an entirely new challenge and an incredible set of rewards each time. I've really come to embrace and love the added pressure of having a third eye on my surroundings while having to watch my match carefully to ensure I capture the moment I want as things can happen in fractions of seconds. When shooting on the mats at tournaments like this, my situational awareness has to be sharp because while looking through the view finder at one match, I may be in the way of another or even worse, have two competitors grapple far enough to fall into me because I wasn't paying attention. Thankfully this hasn't happened, although I've had plenty of close calls because I really wanted a shot and, well, every match must play on! If you are aware however, you can capture some fantastic action and still let each match flow uninterrupted.
This competition brought something new for me as well--women's gi! Previously, I've only been able to catch women compete in nogi. And while those matches were great, there's an entirely different feel to a gi match that isn't necessarily better or worse--it's just very creative in a complex way, which brought me joy for the new opportunity. Gi matches often create extra-slick maneuvers given that now your opponent's clothes are in play as well as their limbs--it's a war on your everything. Paying attention to these extra variables makes for some playful and spectacular chess matches. Now I get to see the women play this game and capture the battles through my lens! Many of these women were really going all out regardless of skill level and making all efforts to take their opponents' arms and necks, creating some intense scrambles and exciting fights. There weren't a ton of opportunities where I was able to photograph women in battle, so watching the rise of women fighters in combat sports has brought me so much happiness.
This day I was also able to photograph some new homies compete, the Spokane Gang from my previous story. I love meeting new people in this realm because you can meet some interesting characters while understanding that at any minute they could very literally choke the life out of you. It takes a special wiring to operate here. These guys are no exception and provided me some unique opportunities in some amazing and also humorous ways. Just take a look below and see for yourself, particularly in Daniel lol.
Snow is likely the last thing anyone thinks about while living or visiting Austin, TX. Snow? In February? Pssh. Gtfoh. And yet, last Monday I found myself walking around the shores of Lady Bird Lake in complete awe of the white blanket that covered the entire park, trails, and roads. We had a tiny flurry of snow last month and even those few inches had Austinites bewildered, and it certainly didn't stick around overnight. *(I'm sure there's a good small dick/one night stand joke in there but it's late and I can't seem to bridge the gap at the moment)* This snow came heavy [by our norms] though and lingered around for a bit. Rather than staying in feeling restless and wrought with cabin fever, I decided to head out on foot first to make some photos nearby with my Minolta and my phone. After about an hour of grinning through my neighborhood from all the sparkling sky sprinkles, I couldn't resist and started planning my venture out by vehicle to find wider, more popular areas to make images of. At quite the crawl, I made my way through campus and downtown, hilariously watching people slip as they crossed the street (they're fine). Surprisingly fast considering my 20 mph drive, I touched down on the shores of Lady Bird Lake and was so blown away how everything looked. Not even a week before this moment I was sprawled out on my blanket stretching after a 7K run, enjoying my favorite drink (Clean Yerba Mate, holler), and wearing shorts. Now I was ankle-deep in snow with maybe less than 10 people as far as my eyes could see in every direction.
The next day would prove a little less fun as there was no sun out, a lot more ice was present on the roads, and nearly half the state of Texas was losing power and/or water. This limited my travels to carrying on by foot, so I walked a few miles to a neighboring area continuing to make photos of the new Snow Land before it disappeared. All problems aside, I was really having a great time walking through ice and snow, stopping to make snapshots of a very different climate than I am used to. I've experienced snow maybe four times in my life prior to this and they were all in Central Texas, so it doesn't really count considering how little snowfall we've had since ever. This was far more than I've ever seen in my years in Texas, it was pretty astonishing. I'm happy for the experience and all it taught me coupled with the images I was able to make throughout the week. I will eventually get the film developed, until then here are some of my favorite moments from this eerie time in the snow.
Stay Creative, BLUE731.
Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail.
Long Center for the Performing Arts.
I've walked by this countless times for five years and all it took was a snowfall to catch my attention.
The Spokane Gang (Daniel, Danny, Ryan). Austin, TX.
Jiu Jitsu is quite the lifestyle to live. For many practitioners, tournaments are a great way to test your mettle and skill level against those that may likely be from another school/gym and therefore someone new for you to roll with. The unpredictability in this makes competitions all the more exciting. It's no secret I love jiu jitsu and have been making photos in this community for a few years now. Even as far back as my point-and-shoot days, photographing jiu jitsu is something I really love doing just because. Usually I am at these competitions to cover any fights that seem interesting to me even though I don't know many of them personally. However over the years I am familiarizing myself with some of the competitors and even getting to know some of them the more I do this. So for this tournament I wanted to also make images of some of the competitors off the mats.
I met Danny at Dark Clan Fight Lab last year and through time we've become friends, thankfully. I've been sidelined for several months now and although I haven't been on the mats getting my ass whooped, I am still out here making photos at every chance I get. On this day, Danny introduced me to his brother Ryan and their friend Daniel who traveled from the Idaho/Washington area and were all gracious enough to let me photograph them between matches. This was an extremely rewarding experience for me to get a little more personal with my images rather than simply scrambling on the mats covering matches. It gave me time to relax and get to know these guys while they warmed up, shooting the shit and busting each other's balls along the way. I will have images from the actual competition up soon. For now enjoy this initial lifestyle approach to jiu jitsu.