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Lucky ’13

When you’re born on a Friday the 13th (like I was back in the 19th century), choosing a lucky number was done for me. 

And looking back at the weirdness I’ve shot this year for my second book, I do feel pretty, pretty, pretty fortunate to have shared some epic photo adventures with badass friends.

Are these my best images from 2013? Perhaps. Or not. You tell me. Are these some of my favorite images from the year? Yes, yes they are.

More importantly, did I have fun making these photos? Hells to the yeah I did!

Yo, 2014. You’re on the clock. What do ya got to show me?

Kaiju Japandemonium

Kaiju: Live Monster Wrestling.

Barstool Ski Races during Cabin Fever Days.

Barstool Ski Racing.

2013.03

Cowboy Downhill.

Barstool Ski Races during Cabin Fever Days.

Water Ballon Fight World Record Attempt.

Barstool Ski Races during Cabin Fever Days.

Forklift Bowling.

Barstool Ski Races during Cabin Fever Days.

Speed Stacking World Championships.

Barstool Ski Races during Cabin Fever Days.

Basketball at the National Senior Games.

Barstool Ski Races during Cabin Fever Days.

Sitting Volleyball at the Warrior Games.

Barstool Ski Races during Cabin Fever Days.

Quidditch World Cup.

Barstool Ski Races during Cabin Fever Days.

Chuckwagon Races.

Barstool Ski Races during Cabin Fever Days.

Chuckwagon Races.

Barstool Ski Races during Cabin Fever Days.

Hopscotch World Record Attempt.

Barstool Ski Races during Cabin Fever Days.

Unicycle Polo.

Barstool Ski Races during Cabin Fever Days.

World Naked Bike Ride.

Barstool Ski Races during Cabin Fever Days.

Flaming Tetherball.

Barstool Ski Races during Cabin Fever Days.

Electric Run.

Kaiju Japandemonium

Kaiju: Live Monster Wrestling.

Biketobeerfest

Bike Tossing.

Indoor Sky Diving

Indoor Skydiving.

Northwest CrossFit Games

CrossFit Regionals.

The 10th Annual West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta.

Pumpkin Races.

6th Annual Battle of the Paddle, stand up paddle boarding

Standup Paddle Race.

Major League Dreidel

Major League Dreidel.

Lap Dance Fitness Class

Lap Dance Fitness Class.

Wazz SUP?!

6th Annual Battle of the Paddle, stand up paddle boarding

“What’s so weird about that?”

That’s the response I got after telling a friend that I was shooting Battle of the Paddle, a standup paddleboard race in SoCal.

Sure, SUP is a popular, um, mainstream water activity. Even I have flailed at tried it. But to have a thousand boarders compete in a real race? Not only do I think that’s weird, I think it’s photogenic. And worthy of going back to Cali.

No doubt, baby.

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I first learned about this Battle from beloved friend Kevin Sullivan, who shot it last year for the OC Reg. What I loved at first sight was the level of chaos on hand. These people are real athletes and give a shit.

Yeah, no costumes or pre-race beer bongs.

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One thing that made me apprehensive about shooting this was that many of the visuals relied on graphic aspects and less on moments. Then there was being stuck at sea level, shooting from the beach. A helicopter would have been nice.

The next best thing, though, was getting an unsolicited offer for a boat ride along the course. (I’m still shaking my head at this, because it so rarely happens like this.) Thanks to the great folks at Harbor Boat Rentals for the free ride – and the ice cold Bud Light. Mucho Mahalo!

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As with all wonderful Weird Sports® events, I found myself smiling with friends. Was bummed that Sully couldn’t make it again this year. But I did have a couple of the best sports shooters alongside me.

Was great to Hang 10 with dear friend Rob Gauthier, a stud staffer at the LA Times. (That’s him with the gray tee above Instagramming a photo in the makeshift pressroom.) I love Rob’s passion for photography and covet his work ethic. I feel fortunate to have friends like him.

The Donald (Miralle) was also there not just to shoot, but also to compete. In fact, he won his event, but placed 4th because he dropped his paddle before crossing the finish line. (Sounds like a bullshit technicality to me.) Donald also danced hula onstage and met surfing legend Gerry Lopez, below left. Yeah, this dude is an Achiever.

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I’ve got to admit: I shot a shit ton of photos this day, north of 5K. Yeah, the Decisive Motordrive™ in action. Tends to happen when I’m out of my comfort zone and unsure what I’m shooting. My hope is that things will make sense when I’m back home in front of my computer screen.

Can’t say I’m a huge fan of my program, but it is what it is. And I try to own it. I’m swinging for the fences, looking for happy accidents and hoping to connect with something that could make Weird Sports® 2.

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While I’m not sure what to make from this batch of images, I will say this was a good day and a reminder why I love what I do.

Shooting Weird Sports® is definitely a happy accident.

6th Annual Battle of the Paddle, stand up paddle boarding

 

  • *The* Tara - October 8, 2013 - 11:48 am

    That *does* seem like a fun thing to sit in a boat drinking beer while other people do. I will say, that like just about everything, this could only be improved with costumes; wearing such just show that you give ALL the shits.

    Reply

  • […] Continue reading and see more photos on Sol’s blog. […]

    Reply

Back on the Bandwagon

National Chuck Wagon Races

I’ll tell you what, I fell off the blogging wagon.

Sure, I have excuses. Good ones. But what do you care?

So, let’s focus on my most recent of Weird Sports®: The 28th Annual National Championship Chuckwagon Races in Clinton, Arkansas.

As Cookie might say, “Come and get it!”

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I learned about chuckwagon racing from beloved friend Julia Robinson, who shot a smaller, regional event in her native Texas the year before.

Everyone told her she needed to visit the granddaddy of them all in Arkansas, where tens of thousands of fans are in attendance and events span over Labor Day Weekend. Thankfully, we were able to road trip together from Texas in epic Grapes of Wrath fashion. (Thank goodness for that spare tire.)

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The venue itself was awesome for photography. The Bar Of Ranch features a spectacular viewpoint atop a ridge. Can’t tell you how many races/sports I’ve been to where it’s nearly impossible for the majority of fans to see the action on a course so grand. And organizers were super hospitable and kind.

The timing of the races, though, was miserable: 1-3:30p Friday-Sunday. Jiggahwhat?

Ok, the light itself was horrible. But the triple-digit heat was insufferable. Even many of the racers didn’t understand why the heats were held during the heat of the day, as did a couple of the out of town photographers.

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There are rules for competing, but I wouldn’t worry about it. Needless to say, the fastest team wins.

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National Chuck Wagon Races

National Chuck Wagon Races

The amazing light was wasted available as fans and wagoneers lounged around the ranch campsite, doing errands and chillaxing after a brutally hot day. As Jules and I wandered around, we realized we were pretty much the only ones moving around by foot, rather than by horse or monster truck.

City Slickers.

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After splurging on a hotel room with AC Friday night, we camped out Saturday at the ranch parking lot. We wanted to bare witness to some of the nightlife. For the kids, there was a rodeo. For the adults, there was a barn dance (minus the barn).

Like in high school, folks were tentative out of the gate. But after an hour or so, wallflowers – steeled by cheap beer – took to the dance, um, floor. I knew it was a party when I heard a couple Skynyrd cover songs.

Gimme three steps mister, and you’ll never see me no more. (For sure.)

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Not sure if it was the heat or simply my lack of practice taking photos lately, but I was feeling a bit hesitant those first couple days. Maybe I needed a horse to ride on. Or boots instead of Tevas. I’ll tell you what, an assistant with a HUGE umbrella for shade would have been nice.

The third and final race day started with overcast skies and a mild break from the brutal sun. I wandered along the staging area, where fans and racers in wagons were holding court. Felt a bit more in my wheelhouse shooting behind-the-scene moments.

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I might have been better served with a longer lens for some of these events. The challenge for me, though, is that I want to make photos I haven’t necessarily seen before. And not that I know how to make those happy accidents. (They’re called accidents for a reason.) If I’m using a 400mm lens, my photos will look less like mine and more of what I’d expect from a sports mag.

I always feel better making images with a wider lens. Doing that without getting trampled was an interesting challenge.

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I so LOVE shooting Weird Sports® with friends. To turn around and see Julia smiling, having fun taking photos in rural Arkansas was a gift. And a reminder that what we do is fucking awesome and fun, despite the elements. (Did I mention it was African hot?? Tarzan couldn’t take this kind of hot.)

I’ll tell you what, being alone on the road with so much visual gold is a lonely experience. Being with friends, it’s a celebration. I guarantee.

National Chuck Wagon Races