Monday, February 17, 2020

Submission Challenge 2020 Part 2: Relentless.

Submission Challenge 2020. Cedar Park/Austin, TX.

Dorian taking command. Cedar Park, TX.

Jiu jitsu has become one of my favorite subjects to photograph. There's a beauty in the art of fighting that some people just cannot appreciate. I think a lot of people misunderstand fighting. While it may mean many different things for many different people, I love fighting for the technical aspect of putting yourself in a situation where the best person will emerge victorious. This is the venue where all of the hardwork, sacrifice, and determination are all put on the line in of the most vulnerable experiences you can put yourself through. While competing can certainly be satisfying for your ego when you win, losing can also teach you things about yourself. Invaluable lessons of understanding the self.

Making jiu jitsu photos specifically brings me a sense of peace and bewilderment. To see and understand what these competitors are doing and knowing what it took to get there gives me such a huge appreciation for any fighter. I love watching the human body twist and contort and explode in the pursuit of dominance and defense. I am especially fond of watching smaller fighters take on the bigger ones (and Dorian does this EXTREMELY well). Where in the past it was once believed that the bigger fighter will always win, jiu jitsu is a direct expression of contradicting that idea--the most skilled will win, not just the bigger opponent. And at the end of the day regardless of who you are, everyone taps, everyone grows.

Jiu jitsu is art, it's science, it's love. You just have to see it and be open-minded to appreciate these parts of it.

Such an exciting fighter to watch.
Dorian was not letting up on this dude who was so much bigger than him.

Setting up a submission.
The setup...

...the tap.

Love the length in this image.

Seth and Dorian going at it.
Never a dull moment with Dorain on the mat.

An exhausted competitor falls into family after a tough match (Dark Clan Fight Lab).

Stay Creative,

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Submission Challenge 2020 Part 1: Tap!

Submission Challenge 2020. Cedar Park, TX.
Ashley of Dark Clan Fight Lab takes top postion during this year's Submission Challenge. Cedar Park, TX.

I had a fantastic time at this past weekend's competition featuring some amazing practitioners of varying skill levels. I love watching people compete in jiu jitsu because it's like a real-life chess match. Watching each player plan, strategize, and react is something truly mind-bending at times. If you're paying attention you can often see setups as they happen, catch someone's costly mistake, and overall marvel at what the human body is capable of.

This competition was different for me given that I knew a lot of the competitors this time around. I spent some time shooting from the sidelines as well as on the mat directly which was also a first for me. The biggest challenge shooting from the mat is being hyper aware of the other matches going on behind you and on both sides while attempting to capture the action. As a photographer you need to respect the other fighters and not interfere while you do your thing. Which is easier said than done! All in all, I was able to make some great images again and got to cheer on some new faces.

DCFL represent!
 Taylor (Dark Clan Fight Lab) locking in this crazy triangle.

Dark Clan is coming up!
Cody (Dark Clan Fight Lab) gets the win via armbar.

Dorian is an absolute SAVAGE. So fun to watch this kid battle fighters with 30-50 pounds over him.

Gi matches are so fun to watch.

Purp on purp!

Stay Creative,

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Catch These Hands.

Bandana from Freddie Gibbs x Madlib. Austin, TX.
Freddie Gibbs' "Bandana". Austin, TX

Freddie Gibbs and Madlib delivered my favorite record of 2019 with Bandana. This record has been receiving heavy rotation in my life ever since. This record is filled with so many great bars and this line in particular from "Soul Right" caught my attention immediately. Too often we can find ourselves holding onto past pain and trauma from people who have hurt us and it does not serve us any good to do so. This clever flip really shined on me and reminded me what you can miss by holding on to the past. So this is my reminder to let go of any grudges and pain I may be holding onto so that I may continue to receive life's blessings.

I used Freddie Gibbs prayer blanket he often shares on his Instagram Stories as inspiration for the color scheme and traditional prayer hands from Muslim religion as this is Freddie's practice in faith.

Stay Creative,

Friday, February 7, 2020

Submission Challenge 2019 Part 3: Sneaky Chess.

Submission Challenge 2019. Cedar Park, TX.
Controlling the gi. Cedar Park, TX.

Jiu jitsu is a fun martial art to watch and while no gi competitions are a bit more technical for me, gi fights are way sneakier. And that excites me! It is so much more crafty with the gi when you weave your limbs through and make subtle adjustments to your opponents garb, slowly gaining position and control, often times without them knowing. I love making photos in competitions because the extra folds in the fabric make for such interesting shapes. It brings an entirely new dynamic to the image. Although the premises are similar, there is a much different approach when competing with a gi. A different mindset needs to take place to find success. Overall, this day was so packed with so many fights I came home with a ton of great shots. Enjoy!

The tap!
The tap out! 

Collar Control to Major Tom.
Control the collar.

Getting tangled.

Stay Creative,

Monday, February 3, 2020

Submission Challenge 2019 Part 2: Grace In Chaos.

Submission Challenge 2019. Cedar Park, TX.
WAR! Cedar Park, TX.

Some of my favorite images this day looked so much doper in black & white. While I tend to capture both action and grace separately when photographing jiu jitsu, sometimes I hit both simultaneously and it makes me really happy. These events are getting increasingly more interesting every time I photograph one. There are so many details that are easily missed to my naked eye that I get to capture with my lens. While shooting these events, I will take a break from the action to capture images that focus more on shape and form. I like to make images like this to highlight the artistic grace that comes with this sport because so many people look past it. It puzzles me how people tend to boo grappling in MMA fights. Usually it is because they lack an understanding of what is happening so they cannot appreciate it. Hopefully images like this can help encourage those minds that there is more happening than they initially think. Jiu jitsu is an amazing art and I am happy to be diving deeper into these waters.

Dark Clan's Victoria holding on.
 Victoria (Dark Clan Fight Lab) working side control.

Victoria of Dark Clan Fight Lab w/Derrick Garza.

Rear naked sinking in.

Getting coach's advice.

Lock up.

10th Planet represent!
 Mary Angela (10th Planet Austin) is a fucking BEAST.

About to fuse!

Mary with the escape.

Picture me rollin'.

Flexibility is key!

Stay Creative,

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Submission Challenge 2019 Part 1: Power and Domination.

Submission Challenge 2019. Cedar Park, TX.
Choke attempt at Submission Challenge 2019. Cedar Park, TX.

Slowly but surely I am becoming obsessed with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I attend as many events as possible and I love making photographs at tournaments because I get to capture some moments that often happen too fast--blink and you'll miss it. The past year I've been sitting on a backlog of photos from shows, tournaments, street walks, and more. My goal is to catch up this year and what better place to start than last year's Submission Challenge event in Cedar Park. As we approach this year's matches next month, I wanted to get these done to help build up some anticipation. I broke these sets up from full-color and black & white. For myself, full-color tends to showcase more of the action where my black & white images express the more artistic side of jiu jitsu. Yin and yang, ebb and flow.

This was a solid fight.

Jacob of 10th Planet Austin.

Bad ass Mary doing the damn thang.

Mary gets the tap.
Mary Angela (10th Planet Austin) completing a triangle/armbar submission. 

We are the Dark Clan!
Victoria (Dark Clan Fight Lab) keeping composed.

Stay Creative,

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Bandanas and Zebras Invade Austin.

Freddie Gibbs at Empire Garage. Austin, TX.
East Gary, I'm a representer. Austin, TX

Ladies and gentlemen, Freddie Gibbs.

It's been four years since my first Freddie Gibbs show, almost to the day. He was relatively new to me then, but I was a growing fan the more I would listen to his records. His delivery on wax was sharp and attitude abrasive, with a toughness that physically cut through the soundwaves. I had yet to move to Austin when I had the opportunity to photograph that show and jumped at the chance to make the drive to photograph someone new. Freddie's onstage performance further convinced me that he was sure to be one of the next great ones and had me smiling ear to ear as I watched the audience eat of out his hands with every verse.

Four years later (that included another photo op during the Freddie Tour) came full circle for me with this opportunity to photograph Freddie once again at the same venue, Empire Control Room--which is still one of my favorite places to shoot in Austin because they have some of the dopest lighting in town. What I further enjoy about the Red River area this venue is in is the ability to step out between sets for fresher air and some street lurking, camera in-hand.

Fresh off the release of "Bandana" with a much bigger chain, Freddie was full of vibrancy and joy on stage as he delivered new joints along with some classics (word to Harold's). During the first show I photographed, he showed his potential. The night of the Freddie Tour he displayed his street prowess in full spectrum. In this latest show. Freddie exhibited a playful and professional side as smoke proceeded to fill the air almost immediately when he got on stage. It makes me so happy to watch a well-deserving artist rise up the way he has and after hearing this record you know he is barely painting the base coat of a much larger picture. His presence on stage and in the studio today are just as raw as before, only sharpened and honed with the excellency of any sword-wielding wordsmith. Photographing Freddie Gibbs' performances have become extremely gratifying for me and bring me excessive of joy and high energy at every show. Needless to say I am already looking forward to the next time I get to watch him perform.


Level up.
Such an elevated presence since that 2015 show.

"Mutha fuck Jeff Sessions I'm selling dope with a weapon."

Heavy handed mic crusher.


Smoke if you got 'em!

Stay Creative,