Monday, June 26, 2017

Fractions.

Chino Moreno. Austin, TX.
Chino of Deftones. Austin, TX.

Deftones return to COTA in a couple of days. In celebration, I wanted to share this film photo with all of you from their last visit to the amphitheater. See my digital images from that show right here and I hope to see you all there!

Stay Creative,
BLUE731.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Grappling with The Youth of Onnit & 10th Planet.

Cora Sek, Onnit athlete. Austin, TX.
The Triangle Queen strikes. Austin, TX.

Arm bars, heel hooks, triangle chokes, tap outs. Welcome to the world of jjitsu. If you are a fan of mixed martial arts fighting (UFC, Bellator, etc), then you are all too familiar with jiu jitsu. If the term is foreign to you, watch closely. For several years, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (or BJJ, but usually simply referred to as just "jiu jitsu") has become increasingly popular in the world of martial arts and fighting. As with most things, the evolution of the human body and mind is exposing the limits of past thinking. It used to be considered that big brawlers were at the top of the food chain of fighting. That is, until UFC introduced the world to Royce Gracie. In the primitive days of cage fighting, there were no weight classes, there were no rules. It was in this venue that Royce brought light to a form of martial arts that would go on to influence MMA fighting still to this day. Royce, weighing in around 175 pounds, not only won the first tournament submitting his opponent of over 200 pounds, but he continued to win the UFC 2 and UFC 4 tournaments.

Spirit is a muscle.

Onnit World Open 2017.

Today, jiu jitsu is as commonplace in the cage as any punch or kick. It has also become competitive in its own regard outside of the cage. Last month I gave you a glimpse into this world at the Onnit Invitational inside 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu located at the Onnit Academy here in Austin, TX. Earlier this month, I was given an opportunity to photograph the next tournament, the Onnit World Open. This event was much bigger and included one of my favorite parts of any big martial arts tournament--the kid's division! There's something inspiring watching youngblood battle it out and push each other to extreme physical limits. Plus, it's just fun watching those little rugrats wrestle each other down into mini-arm bars and such.

10th Planet Kids.

More BJJ action at the Naturally Fit Games.

The youth are the future. And I find it extremely gratifying when I see kids pushed in such a positive direction as martial arts. Martial arts increases focus, discipline, and drive--without medication. I've seen troubled or hyperactive kids shift gears into more positive directions in life because they train so rigorously. It transfers that unfocused energy into something that promotes better brain development and body growth. It was a pleasure photographing these kids and teens in their element of dominance and self-improvement.

The Art of Jiu Jitsu.

Discipline and focus.

Triangle.

The tiny, tiny ones are so much fun to watch!

Little jiu jitsu rugrats.

Total Human Optimization.
10th Planet Kids teammates Marcus and Nickolas battle it out. 

#getonnit

Of course, no tournament is complete without watching the ladies and girls dominate in their own right! These girls and women are TOUGH.

North-South submission attempt.

Onnit World Open 2017.
Cora Sek staying calm in the pocket. 

Rhodes Faraday, Onnit athlete locking in that armbar.
Rhodes Faraday with an armbar attempt.

Overall, it was difficult to capture everything with so much action on multiple mats but super fun nonetheless. It was an intense day of chokes and submissions with a good change in pace from the last tournament, photographing more of the youth this time around. Big shouts to Onnit for all of the amazing work you do and big shout out to 10th Planet ATX for training such wonderful athletes. I am stoked to have been part of y'alls journey.

Crank that neck!

Cheers!

Stay Creative,
BLUE731.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Fractions.

The other side of Bixby Bridge. Big Sur, CA.
The majestic Pacific Ocean. Big Sur, CA.

Because, World Oceans Day.


Stay Creative,
BLUE731.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Dark Side of Detroit's Underground Returns to Austin.

Twiztid. Austin, TX.
Twiztid performing at Come and Take It Live (formerly Grizzly Hall).

There's a dark side to Detroit's underground music scene that many steer clear from. In fact, there's an entire genre of rap music that many fear or distaste simply because they cannot relate to it (or choose not to, take your pick). Horrorcore aka the Wicked Shit, made famous by the likes of Esham, the Insane Clown Posse, King Gordy, Prozak, and many others, is a vein of rap music rife with blood, violence, self infliction, and the darker edges of the human psyche. So you can see why so few relate to it. But honestly, I think it is a part of the brain that is quite interesting to explore. A lot of horrorcore delves into the darker sides of the mind we like to ignore and pretend aren't there. Those who choose to embrace these ideas and explore these thoughts are often marked as outcasts and shunned from society. When more often than not, they are simply misunderstood or labeled improperly. Horrorcore often finds us in our youth, our days of angst and aggression. While some resort to fighting or full-contact sports, some take a different route all together and explore that aggression inwardly through music like this.

Chain-smoker. Monoxide still commands with lethal force.
Monoxide.

Twiztid is a rap duo from the East Side of Detroit who most know as the sidekicks to the infamous Insane Clown Posse. Twiztid's fans, much like ICP's, are labeled as Juggalos and if you are familiar with that term, I am sure it paints a rather vivid picture to you which may likely be inaccurate of what a Juggalo actually is. Yes, they are strange, weird, and off the wall. They have embraced all that other's hate about them and found others like themselves who are outcast and treated differently because of how they dress, the music they listen to, or their apathy in what others think of them. I feel this is where aggression is taken out on Juggalos not because of their differences or strange behavior necessarily, but because they've found a freedom so many of us are afraid to explore for fear of what others may think about us if we truly be ourselves. And they've found a huge click of others brave enough to embrace that same lifestyle that is totally against the grain of "normal". They've found family.

W.I.C.K.E.D.
Twiztid still commands the crowd through energy, theatrics, and mutual respect.

When I first discovered Twiztid, I was a huge ICP fan and rabid Juggalo. It was easy to embrace their sound at the time, wrestling with my own adolescent demons, searching for clarity in life. I attended countless concerts of theirs, often making the trip here to Austin since they rarely came to San Antonio (where I am originally from). I was enamored by the theatrics; the face paint, the silent performers dressed as famed serial killers Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers, the costumes, the blacklights and vivid colors. It was always more than just two guys exchanging sides of the stage, it was a full on theatrical performance. Twiztid definitely gave you your money's worth every single time, delivering a powerful and fun show every night.

Fat kids unite. Jamie Madrox is a powerhouse.
Jamie Madrox.

Over the following years, Twiztid became my preference over the clowns. There is a deep mental dissection in Twitid's music and lyrics that I found fascinating as I grew older and it was more natural to relate to than (IMO) the unchanging sound of ICP. There was a sense of growth, even if the subject matter stayed relatively the same. Eventually, Twiztid moved from the clowns' shadows and began experiencing much success on their own, headlining their own tours across the U.S., releasing powerhouse records over the years. Twiztid ultimately left the label they were formed on all together and created their own label, Majik Ninja Entertainment.

G-Mo Skee preps the crowd for Twiztid.
G-Mo Skee, one of the acts signed to Twiztid's label, MNE.

While I am nowhere near in touch with those darker sides I once was, having since worked out a lot of those murky emotions and angst, I still find myself looking for Twiztid's music from time to time. Especially when I'm having a "fuck-you-just-leave-me-alone-today" kind of day. For about a decade I photographed Twiztid, like so many other bands in my youth, from the crowd; mashed up against people twice my size and barely able to hold my camera steady. Today, I make a lot of concert photos from the pit area with plenty of room to make a great photograph. It was a rather surreal moment to make these images up close with room to breathe and compose properly. Although their music doesn't strike such a strong chord within me as it once did, for a few moments this night the 16-year old me was having a blast, singing along while snapping away.

Monoxide points to the crowd in the upper level of the venue.

Jamie Madrox takes a moment to breath in the crowd.

Drayven Davidson smashing the snares.

Twiztid have come miles along since rapping in the shadows of Detroit's underground kings, ICP. The shows may have gotten smaller, but the performances are just as strong. The duo now has supporting acts from their own MNE imprint and their show is now rounded out with a dope live drummer, Drayven Davidson. I spent the first part of this night next door at Emo's photographing Kehlani. It was super dope (and a little odd in some ways) to walk a few feet from her show, full of teens and tweens singing about love and sex, to this dark side of rap where the outcast crowd sang along to blood and guts. My life has some pretty bizarre moments lately and this night for sure was toward the top of strangeness this year. But I love that I get to explore so many facets of life. We may sing along to different music, wear different clothes, or smoke different things, but at the end of the day we are all human and I am happy I get to examine the different sides of the human psyche through shows like this.

Twiztid still bring the heat.

Juggalos are still the rowdiest.

Twiztid perform at Come and Take It Live (formerly Grizzly Hall).

To all my fellow Juggalos worldwide, I hope you enjoy these images and I hope you stay true to who you are. I've found Juggalos to be some of the bravest people in life and some of the realest. I think everyone can benefit from taking the same IDGAF approach to their own life. Let's all live with a little less judgement and a lot more curiosity.

Catch Twiztid on their current tour, The Psychomania Tour.

Much fam love!


Stay Creative,
BLUE731.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Fractions.

Hiking through Zilker Park. Austin, TX.
To all the fallen, Thank You. Austin, TX.


Stay Creative,
BLUE731.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Getting High With The Austin Skyline.

Home. Austin, TX.
Twenty three floors and counting...

Like a lot of creators, I have spent a ton of my life as an introvert. As I began to take my work into the public eye, I started to see the benefit in talking to people. (To all my fellow introverts--bizarre concept, I know, lol.) Whether live-painting, vending, or in galleries, I began to find new opportunities just from talking to different people at art events. Especially those people outside of who I am usually drawn to. Since moving to Austin, I started seriously taking this idea of pushing outside of my comfortable rock into practice in my daily life as well as my creative life. From a smaller town where many within the art community know your work to a city much bigger and thus, a much more expansive art community, I find myself discovering opportunity in the strangest places.

Elevated view of the Texas State Capitol.
Texas State Capitol.

Recently, I met someone at a part-time gig I have who was gracious enough to let me return to his spot at night and capture this city I love and call home in a much different light. In fact, in almost all of its light! Since first diving so deep into photography, I had really wanted to make images like these. In the beginning, I spent several nights climbing fire escapes and walking parking garages in the late nights and early mornings to get as high and unobstructed views of skylines as possible. While I have no problem still doing this and even enjoy the rush, it was a lot more relaxing to have legit access and take my time making photos, rather than splitting that time climbing sketchy cranes or looking over my shoulder (so to speak).

UT Austin flanked by Guadalupe and Lavaca.
Windy flags and the UT Tower.

Today, I do my best to talk to as many people as I am comfortable doing. At first because you never know who may bless you with an opportunity like this. But now, I mostly do it just to learn about other people. To see how they live their life. It is a big reason why I started The Natural Spark podcast as well. As I get older, I am becoming more fascinated with how other people think and live.

360 Condos in Downtown Austin.
360 Condominiums (and the new bridge over Shoal Creek on 2nd).

West 6th Street. Austin, TX.
I ride this road (West 6th) on my bike a lot. It was so cool to see it from up here and not sweating & weaving through its traffic.

Looking down South.

Guadalupe facing North.

I hope you all enjoy these images. I will have prints available in the near future and I will be sure to let you all know when that happens. I have started printing in-house so it is likely to happen sooner than later. For now, enjoy these pretty lights!


Stay Creative,
BLUE731.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Visually Ethereal Ballet of Martial Arts (Part 2).

I posted some photos from the Onnit Invitational 4 earlier this week. For the second set, I wanted to highlight the more artistic side of jiu jitsu. With the help of some amazing lighting at 10th Planet Austin, I was able to make some killer images highlighting the emotion, dexterity, and ambiguity of the Brazilian martial art. In making photographs at this event, I wanted to take several moments in between snapping the action to capture the human-chess essence of the martial art--not just what was happening. This was like a ballet inside my head; peering through my viewfinder, watching shadows and lights play with the individuals on the mat and doing my best to be selective with the shutter. Below are some of my favorites from the tournament, in timeless black and white.

Enjoy!

Determination.

Strength.

Flexibility.

Prowess.

Persistence.

Brotherhood.

Duality.

Preparation.

Amplitude.

Ferocity.

Awareness.

Humility.


Stay Creative,
BLUE731.