Beckham and Co.


This week Hawaii was blessed with futbol…yes…futbol, football, or what Americans call soccer. I prefer futbol as it brings back warm memories of flipping through tv as a kid and landing on a Spanish network broadcasting a match taking place down south in Mexico or some other Latin nation. The passion of the announcer, taunts of the fans, the tackles, passes, headers, and the dives from the players, the long locks of hair bouncing off the shoulders of a far away star. And yes, the cries of “gooooooooooooooooooooo1!” sent shivers down my spine!

But those days pushed the curiosity into a passion and now I follow football regularly. I have been known to stay up late nights obsessed with the World Cup action and now that we have the Fox Soccer Channel, Saturday and Sunday mornings are filled with Torres and Ronaldo smoothing their way down the pitch for Liverpool and Manchester United.

You can only image the joy when I learned David Beckham would play soccer in our dumpy Aloha Stadium. Becks, along with the Los Angeles Galaxy, the Houston Dynamos, Sydney FC, and Gamba Osaka played in the Pan Pacific Championship, a two day international tournament held here in Honolulu.

As I am a terribly addicted football nut, I couldn’t help but to be excited about having someone like Beckham play here…and me being the photographer extrodinare, I couldn’t wait to work the tournament.

The Associated Press had me on for the entire Beckham week and it started with great fan fair with Becks and the Galaxy arriving at the airport. The PR guys for the MLS set up the media just outside the terminal giving us full access to Beckham arriving and getting the traditional Hawaiian flower lei.

From there the soccer circus had several community events including a kid skills camp with Becks and other playing around with the kids. So many kids got the treat of their life as they got to kick the ball around with him…it makes me wonder if any of those young soccer players really knew who Beckham is or what history he created.

I think so many Americans only think of him as Mr. Posh Spice.

The tourney itself was not something I would call amazing soccer but play was decent and games spotted with great action. As Beckham is not close to retiring from international play, his role in the MLS is interesting if not controversial. His departure from the top leagues in European football to the MLS slightly mars his image as the MLS isn’t known for their amazing players or teams. Many critics stated Beckham was done and would not make another international for England and worse, he might start seeing play as a substitute for his then club Real Madrid. As any athlete knows, youth will always replace age.

The top MLS teams might only rank in 2nd or 3rd tiers of England and Europe. Yet there are great players and some games are quiet amazing. Sadly, many feel the MLS is the retirement league for European and Latin American stars.

Beckham’s play stood quiet still at times as he was not played the ball much and when he did get his foot on the ball it was only for his specialized crosses and set pieces. Sure, that is his specialty yet his lack of full on action made me wonder if either the Galaxy is a bad team and doesn’t know how to utilize him or the organzation keeps him safe from bad form players and injury. The Galaxy wouldn’t fare well if their multi-million dollar baby was done in with a knee injury or a Eduardo-style ankle break. Brutal that injury the poor Brazillian suffered the wee start of Aresnal’s game against Birmingham.

Watching Becks through my 400mm allowed me secret access to moods, emotions, frustrations, and quirkiness. I viewed him quiet frustrated as his beautiful curved kicks sailed to strikers who in my opinion, lacked the skills of a Rooney, Owen, or Lampard. Yet his decisions to move to the MLS seems more a decision based on a new Hollywood lifestyle he and his wife embraced rather than a man willing to play at the top leagues. I do imagine that $50 million a year contract does smooth things over yet watching him play in this lower tiered tournament brings frustration to me and obviously to him. I am certain many people who watched him in the glory days probably have similar feelings.

The tournament played out well and the star of the tournament was Gamba Osaka’s Bare. His four goal game against Houston in the final hopefully put him in the minds of the European leagues. The J-league is great but what great striker wouldn’t take a chance to play in the big leagues. Hopefully Gamba will reap a big windfall if Bare is taken by another team.

As far as Galaxy’s final game, Becks was full of emotions. Many smiles and frowns along with better play from him and his team. They defeated Sydney FC 2-1 and both goals came off of Beckham assists. It was a good time by all…maybe not as good as the Manchester United games he once played but good times.

After all, sports are an evolved form of entertainment. Sure Beckham was a bit of show as screams echoed throughout the stadium anytime he touched the ball…but what fan wouldn’t scream when The Edge plays a rift, or Bono hits a high note.

Its all just fun.

Gamba Osaka won the tournament whipping the Houston Dynamos 6-1. Bare was a bear. He was great to see…pure top form.

One of the funny highlights of the end of the Galaxy games was Becks pulling off his top and strutting around the field, tattoos and all. His presence is rock star like.

I will not hold my breath for another full on pro soccer tournament but maybe this will push me to travel and shoot a game or two elsewhere.


Dallas Morning News

I got a December Dallas Morning News cover!

As a young budding photographer in San Antonio/Austin, there could be no better newspaper gig other than working at the Dallas Morning News. Dallas, with its pro sports teams, urban crime, big city lights, and its money, afforded a big world of photo opportunities. Dallas was up there with LA, Chicago, New York and Boston. At the time, I felt these were the papers that made all the difference. Before the crunch of the digital world and shrinking budgets, staff photographers at the big newspapers would jet around the world to big sporting events, shoot Presidents and Prime Ministers, and cover conflicts at home and abroad. I saw these photographers, many who won major prizes, as the ambassadors to the visual world. Nothing could top being staff at a major newspaper and the Dallas Morning News was it for me.

Life changes and I followed different paths and hoped around the world only to end up in Hawaii–a far cry from Dallas.

So…a few weeks ago, I get booked to shoot a gig for Dallas. Sallie Stratton’s husband, Chuck, was shot down over Laos in 1971 and the POW/MIA group based in Hickham AFB found his crash site and remains. Sallie, who lives in Dallas, spent a good portion of her life wishing and hoping one day that phone would ring and her husband would return. After photographing her in the short time that I had with her here, you can just never understand what loss that woman had in her heart. Its unbelievable to think she held on that long but what else would you do?

S0…the MIA team found the crash site, dug through the wreckage and found the tiniest of bones.

Mrs. Stratton flew to Hawaii for the repatriation ceremony in which her husband finally came home.

It would not have been human for me not to shake as I shot some of those images. But as hard as it was for Mrs. Stratton, she survived as did all the memories of her lost hero killed in action.

Hard work and being in the zone helped me capture some of these unique images. I assume the eds in Dallas liked what I did as they gave me the cover on the first of three special issues of the paper. It was even the Sunday issue which most likely is the biggest issue of the week, not to mention the lead of the story.

My other issues ran on the third day of the series on the inside. I felt my photos and the David Tarrant’s story did a great deal of justice shining a light on an individual who lost the most important person in her life.

Recent publishing.

Today’s post concerns publishing! I sometimes forget to see where my photos end up. It can be a mystery at times as images are sent to editors on the mainland never to be seen again. The wireless age creates apathy as images are ftped to a far away place never to be seen again. I had two sports images end up in Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News this week. My hard won photos although not peak telling of the story action are stock images and clients and magazines do care for what I describe as “stock” images.

Peak sports images are most essential to any sporting event but since I live in a different market, Hawaii sporting events are usually off the radar of most people. Mainland writers will focus on stock images of sport stars and athletes and to me, many could clearly care less of any important impact plays. Clean sharp images are what counts.

I’ve showcased this images in a past blog but this image was used to illustrate UH’s 12-0 season for SI. It ran on a page with two other images at about 2×3, hardly worth me paying for the mag at Borders.

The University of Hawaii football team performs a Maori “haka” or war dance before their football games at home and away. The controversial performance does make some upset (namely Maoris as Hawaiians are a different “tribe”—and a good portion of the players are not even Polynesians) but the dance does make for interesting photos. My image showcased on the back page of The Sporting News.

I borrowed Jamm Aquino’s Canon 15mm lens for the shot and lined up the image just right. The 15mm is a tricky not an every day use lens which gives a fisheye effect. On a cropped Canon Mark II body, the fisheye is limited but there is very high distortion. The lens is a bit too distorted but it worked well for the shot.

The layouts below come from Modern Luxury’s summer issue. I did a story on hip Chinatown spots in HNL. Margie the ed assigned me the job just days before I was to leave the country. I was my first story for the magazine and I had to work to impress. I worked tirelessly for two days straight going to different spots around Chinatown/downtown to get the right images. It was tough but I managed to pull it off. Margie liked the images and called me for more work.

It was tough but I made it happen. Its always fun to challenge myself visually…meaning when you see something day in and day out (I live just outside of Chinatown) you forget to “see.” You get so used to looking at everyday life that it just becomes routine. Photographers get so excited thinking of making images far away from home but always forget their backyard has some of the best places to make pictures. We just have to open our eyes a bit wider!

Life is never routine.


Beach shooting

Garry Winogrand had New York. Cartier Bresson had Paris. I have Waikiki Beach.

I ran down to Waikiki even though it was raining. I figured I would see something interesting. Sure enough, I stumbled upon a view.

I am not sure what captivates me with this image. Is it the disconnection? The emptiness between these two. Her rain poncho? His attention to the waves? They didn’t seem related nor were they too happy. Rain has covered Hawaii for several days.

My psyche shot this picture. Not me. I don’t remember it. It just happens sometimes. A reaction…I pull the camera to my eye and fire a burst or two. I can’t explain it. I guess its like being someone else.

Its probably nothing. Just lighting.