I love people of courage. It comes in all forms. When I met Jason I told him a guy friend had asked me to thank Jason for coming out. He thought for a minute and said “Tell him you’re welcome… It’s strange to be thanked for being honest about who you are.” During our shoot and listening to his interview with Jennifer Medina I was struck by his humble grace amid what was a media storm. He still went and worked out the morning of our shoot, between taking calls from President Obama and Oprah. He seemed so happy about finally being able to be open about who he was, and grateful at the great response he had gotten. He will make the road better for young men, athletes and African-American men who are gay. He is a hero.http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/01/sports/jason-collins-took-personal-steps-before-coming-out-publicly.html?_r=0
I have wanted to shoot Cub Swanson for the last year. Something about him was so likeable. I was thrilled when Fight Magazine called to ask me to shoot him for the cover and feature of this month’s Fight Magazine. I went to Palm Springs where he lives to meet him. Writer R.J. Clifford was there to interview Cub between shots. I was fascinated hearing about his life growing up hard in Palm Springs and all that he has overcome. He is open and honest about growing up around gang violence and drugs, and getting to where he is now inspiring youth who are in the same situations. Cub has an easy smile and a great energy about him. It was way hotter than I expected in Palm Springs and we were going to hike up the hills to shoot Cub running the cliffs. Cub walked out of his house with a pair of shorts for me. It’s those kind of gestures that you remember, and help define a person. We had a great, fun day. Even when R.J.’s truck got stuck in the sand by the wind turbines and we all had to push it out, it was somehow a fun group effort. I’m really happy for Cub!
Personal projects are so important as a photographer. It’s when you get to create just for you. I saw Myles and Tayler coming out of Trader Joe’s and was struck by their beauty and contrast. I never approach people, but finally went to their car, handed them a card and said I’d really like to shoot them because they were so beautiful . Myles and I looked at each other wondering if we knew each other. I got an email a day later saying Hi and he was one of my son’s friends. Of course…Myles! I love my son’s friends. They are all such incredible individuals. So the start of a personal project began in a parking lot. The day I was shooting Jeremy Sisto I had them come to the studio before, and we did a shoot. I love these images so much. Tayler and Myles have no idea how beautiful they are, which makes them even more extraordinary.
Freddie and Manny are two of my favorite subjects. I have been lucky enough to photograph them both several times over the past three years for different publications. This time the New York Times sent me to do images for a story, writer Greg Bishop is doing on the upcoming Marquez fight. There have been lots of changes at The Wild Card Boxing Gym over the years. The laundry is no longer downstairs, which means the woman who owned it isn’t chasing everyone in the parking lot. We once washed my sweatshirt over and over to appease her during a shoot. Freddie no longer lives in an apartment attached to the gym, he is now in a nice house. Pepper Roach no longer works at the gym every day. I bumped into Pepper in the parking lot, and while he wasn’t sure who I was from his recent strokes he did ask to marry me, which was our usual banter. I always reply, I’m single…but You are married! It was great to see him up and about.
Manny was going to be late, no surprise there. I shot portraits of Freddie and we caught up on his new girlfriend who seems awesome, his Mom Barbara who no longer is dying her hair blue. Freddie says she is growing up. This is why I love these people. Marie gave me a big hug and said how happy she was to have me back shooting at The Wild Card. This place is full of heart, besides being the training ground of the top boxers. Manny arrived and seemed really relaxed and happy. Every training camp has a feel, and this one seemed very mellow. Manny has become deeply spiritual and involved in politics. It will be interesting to see how this will affect keeping the killer instinct so needed in boxing. Manny plans to keep boxing through 2014 and I hope to be here for the ride.
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