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!
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.
I am so happy to see my great client and friend Bas Rutten out in Here Comes The Boom. Bas was my first feature portrait shoot for Fight Magazine a few years ago. Since then I shot all the images … Continue reading →
I met Cain when Fight Magazine sent me to San Jose to shoot the incredible roster of guys training at AKA with Crazy Bob Cook. Cain was training and he was going hard. My first impression was this guy is Tough. In a room full of the top MMA fighters training, to be singled out as such is a statement in itself. Cain wasn’t laughing or smiling he was hard, tough and serious. Any one sparring with him was going to get his full force- no holding back served up. The first day I was at AKA, Cain sent a message that he didn’t want to shoot, but he would the next day. Day two I was wondering if it was going to happen, he didn’t look at me or acknowledge I was there. When he was done he gave me ten minutes. We did the set up shots I needed to deliver and then I asked him to stand in front of the rainy window light. Somehow the soft light accentuated how tough he is and that was the magic moment. I knew not to try to get him to smile, it wasn’t in him. I was getting the essence of who Cain is, pure, tough, strong and determined. My favorite image from this moment was used as the cover for Fight Magazine celebrating Cain as Fighter of The Year. I was at the UFC fight when he defeated Lesnar. I knew he was going to bring it and loved that he advanced when others would have been tentative. I was on my feet yelling and cheering until my arms were tired from clapping. I have never seen an arena light up like that. After the fights when we were walking to our cars I was happy for all the Latino’s who were so proud to have the first Latino Heavyweight in history. I said in Spanish…I am as happy as you are Cain won today!
The new biography on Manny Pacquiao is out. I am proud to have shot the cover image. It was pretty cool to see it on the tables at Barnes and Noble. I am looking forward to sitting down and reading it.
Ok….let’s be honest. I didn’t plan on liking Nick Diaz. Fight magazine has tried to get Nick to shoot a cover for the last two years. I was told it was harder to get a photo of Nick Diaz than Sasquatch. While vacationing on Catalina, I got the call…we are good to shoot. I wake up at 5am and hustle up to San Jose, rent the car..drive the hour, all good. Set up and ready to shoot….wait for Nick to show…. Wait for Nick to show some more….Still waiting for Nick to show….now calling, texting and low jacking to track him down. Stories start drifting in about his many no shows, or shows and then walking out after deciding he didn’t like the photographer or interviewer. Five hours of waiting….my assistant is sleeping in the car, and I am getting to know Cesar Gracie and the crew really well. Cesar is cool, and so were the guys at his gym. Hallelujah Nick has been found ten minutes away and is being lured to the gym. He arrives and I shake him and say ” Aren’t you excited to be here?” total deadpan response, amid held breath by everyone at the gym. Did I not get the kid gloves memo…got it…but not running with it. I was expecting a quick in and out with Nick. I showed him on camera what I was shooting and he loved it. He doesn’t want to be portrayed as a thug any more and loved the sexy hot images. He asked if he could jump around and kick. His leg reach is epic and a challenge to get in the frame. He was leaping and flying and I saw the athlete come alive. We connected and Nick was in my lens. He stayed until I said we had the shot. I think every one in the gym was shocked. Nick smiled. I like Nick Diaz.
I first met the Ranger Up guys at Camp Pendleton for a shoot for Fight Magazine a few months ago. What happens when you drop a hippie chick into a military base? I realize again why I love my job so much….. I met some incredible people. Nick, Tom and Tim are amazing guys. They make me laugh, get things done and have an amazing outlook. We got to hang out in Los Angeles again when I shot Tim Kennedy before his Strikeforce fight. I love these guys. It is another lesson in, if you keep your heart and mind open, we see how much alike we all are. My son Cash swiped my Ranger Up T-shirt, and paid them the highest compliment. Wow, this is soft and really great quality….I’m wearing this! www.rangerup.com check it out!
The new campaign I shot for PETA with Jake Shields is out. I love the concept. I was really surprised when I shot Jake and he told me he was a vegetarian and had been all his life. You really don’t think of some one like a fighter being a veg head. It dispels some erroneous ideas about nutrition and energy which I think is great. I love when people are not what you would think from the outside. Jake gets props from me for standing up and being proud. Congrats on the big win too Jake!