I recently got hired to follow Dominique "Sonicfox" Mclean around while on assignment for B.E.T at the Injustice 2 tournament in Orlando, Florida. I can't ever say I was the biggest gamer in my younger years. For all the flack pro gamers catch the top level gamers have an insane amount of skill. I can honestly say I have never seen anyone press buttons as fast as Sonicfox. His ability to think ahead 3-4 moves is what separates him as one of the worlds best. Also, his knowledge of all the characters and their strengths and weaknesses is something that most people underestimate. He knows his opponents strengths and weaknesses as well as the character they chose to fight with. You can read more about Sonicfox here in his interview with B.E.T.
I think it’s safe to say that lately the majority of us have lost some sense of what it’s like to live in the moment. Often that’s why it’s easy to find so much enjoyment and peace when you travel out of the country. It forces you to be present in times that are usually consumed with a cellphone in your hand and face. You’re forced to learn how to get around to somewhere new without a data plan to fall back on, and you have to have a real, genuine conversation with people to get directions or find the best place to eat or drink. Our phones have really cut down on moments like these.
A big goal and push for me this year was to be more connected, on a human level, when I was in the boat with other people, or grabbing a beer with an old friend. Not sitting next to people and trying to continually show them something cool on the Internet. It’s become our default these days. What happened to doing something stupid and being the only the people that got to be in on it, and enjoy it? That’s how the best memories and stories are made. Not who can get Snapchat to load the fastest. We live in the “Timmy the Topper” generation (sorry if your name is Tim or Timmy.) Why can’t we go out to eat and not snap what is on our plate, or the person next to us awkwardly eating something with that slow, tight zoom that pixelates everything? Why can’t we go on a boat and not look at our phones the whole time?
This issue shows that it’s okay to live in the moment, and not just do things for the social media payoff. Just look on the cover this month. Driving double ups alone takes a lot of practice. Driving a double up past me floating in the water, so the boat hits the rollers at the perfect distance and angle away is a whole nother challenge. Next, we have Alex Graydon, who wrote an article about not taking the easy way out and filming with your crappy phone camera when you land that banger new trick. We all know that professional riding is a race for new tricks, but at some level, Graydon argues, you’re only hurting yourself and the talent you have by posting it as fast as possible. We didn’t see Max VanHelvort land the first ever Double Cork on a wakeboard through the lens of an iPhone 6. The hype of him landing it lasted way longer because he made and released real video. Not a single clip or one of the boys riding doubles filming it and claiming it with a handle spike, dab, or whatever is cool these days. Next, we have the boys from Istudiomo, who have been working on a project for the past two years. You haven't seen Snapchats and loads of photos on Instagram showing off what spot and location they’re at each day. And finally, we have Courtney Angus, Ange Scriber and host of friends who premeditated a 10-day trip to hit 10 different cable parks, and make a movie about it. They struggled through language barriers with filmers and photographers, and managed to create some of the most memorable experiences together with a group of girls from eight different countries.
What I’m getting at is put the cellphones down sometimes. Sit there in silence at the end of the dock and enjoy the colors of the sunset. Let your toes soak in that golden water that the Earth is reflecting onto the glass calm lake. Stop worrying what filter will make the lake look better, or hashtag will give you more likes on your picture. These moments will make you appreciate what’s in front of you and what you care about. This isn’t just for the wakeboarder or wake fan out there; it’s for everyone.
So I challenge you, next time you go out on the boat to ride or party at the local sandbar, leave the phone in the car. Have fun with the people around you and make real, genuine memories. Everything doesn’t have to be posted, hashtagged or filtered. You’ll appreciate these moments a lot more than only having a random video clip or photo that will get lost amongst the other 7,000 in your camera roll.
Social campaign from a recent trip to Puerto Rico to shoot the 2018 Slingshot Kite product line. Stay tuned for more photos from our trip to PR and follow @slingshotkite
Thanks to the VW emissions scandal that happened last year, I’ve recently been on the search for a new car. Instead of looking for something brand new, I’ve been looking for an 80’s Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60. It’s been a process of searching eBay, Craigslist and every forum possible every couple of hours to try and find the perfect FJ out there. I know you are probably thinking what does this have to do with wakeboarding at all? Is this guy just trying to brag about a car? The reason I’m telling you this is because we seem to live in a culture of people always craving newer, better, bigger and more out of everything. It would be easy for me to go down to the dealership and pick out a new car and call it a day. But I’m searching for an old car to slow things down. It’s about simplifying and reducing all the unneeded things society and culture tell us we need to have. The whole process of searching for the right FJ is the exact reason I want one. It isn’t about a sprint to get to things as fast as possible; it’s about enjoying things as they come and being grateful for what you have in front of you.
You most likely remember when you first got introduced to wakeboarding or wakeskating. It was probably behind your friend’s two-stroke PWC, smoking and plowing down half the lake trying to get you out of the water. Maybe it was a fishing boat with that Airhead or World Industries wakeboard from Walmart with a four-inch “skeg.” For some of you, your first experience was at the cable with those sandal straps and yellow or red Liquid Force rental board that weighs 20 pounds. Remember the smile on your face when you stopped fighting the rope and finally turned the board and pointed it straight for the first time? Do you remember how bad your gear was at the time but how happy it made you to be riding? That’s what this is all about, making the most out of what’s in front of you.
Society has instilled this newer, bigger, better, more idea in our heads and it is affecting everything we do, and people don’t even notice it. We are seeing people who need the biggest and best boat out there because it’s the newest and hottest thing. What happened to people riding behind a 2000 ski boat with a pylon extension and sand-filled Rubbermaid bins to make that wake juiced? There used to be a time that your driver had to drive 23.2 and didn’t have a computer to do it. Some of the most innovative tricks ever landed were without a computer driving the boat. It even happens on social media that people don’t feel gratified with landing a new trick without a preconceived number of likes and comments it should get. My point here is that society has forced everyone’s perspectives into thinking that if we don’t have the newer, better, bigger or more of anything than you can’t do anything. Make the most of what whatever situation you are in and stay positive. There is always a way to turn the situation or environment you are in into something that will benefit you.
This issue features an interview with Alex Graydon who didn’t grow up in the "Mecca of Wake." He grew up in Equality, Alabama, which has a total of zero traffic lights and gas stations that only take cash. I can say from first-hand experience of going there that iPhones are still a thing from another planet to most. Alex made the most of not growing up with a regular crew to push him. He made the most of where he came from and shared his love of the sport with everyone on his lake. He teaches lessons when he is home and travels the world during the winter months. You can even say he’s become Australian at this point. Alex didn’t have the biggest, newest and best boat but he made the most of his situation and circumstances surrounding him. He worked on creating quality edits rather than pumping out the same thing every week. When no one was there to film or shoot photos he bought a camera and taught whoever he could how to use it.
Tom Fooshee, Jimmy Lariche, Rocker Steiner and Cole Vanthof packed in an RV and traveled from Texas to Orlando riding as many cables, boats and winch spots along the way. From the backyard compounds to winching to boat riding the boys made the most of every situation. They even broke down at one point and attempted to make the most of the situation by hazing young Rocker, which ended up completely backfiring. You can read more about this on page ____ though.
So obviously, my point here is to make the most out of YOUR situation. If you don’t have the biggest boat, how can you make the biggest wake with the one you have? If you don’t have the latest board, how can you fix up the side rail of the one you have, and push it to the limits of what it can do? No matter what it is, stop worrying about having more things. Use what’s in front of you and enjoy it! Unless it’s a Volkswagen, damn thing is an emissions nightmare.
Florida during the summer is about as temperamental as it gets. I recently caught up with a good friend and his Subaru WRX STI. While I don't own a sports car, I always have been a fan of the WRX and the wide variety of ways people deck them out. Lifted to perform like a rally car or lowered and tuned up to be a street machine.
I recently shot the new Footaction and Flight 23 store opening in the Florida Mall in Orlando, Fl. The new retail space is part of a new direction Footlocker has taken with their sister stores. When you walk in into space it doesn't feel overcrowded and a bombardment of shoes in your face. It feels like a high-end specialty shoe store. No detail is left unnoticed with the flow of the store and placement of items. It was great working with the Footaction team to create photos and marketing material for their largest retail space yet with the new look and vibe.
Rick Flair recently released a new shoe at Footlocker from Puma and the WWE. Rick is living legend in the sport of wrestling and was honored with a signature shoe that sold out in minutes. Rick has been a long time ambassador for the sport since retiring from the ring but his "Flair" has not left. Footlocker brought me on to shoot photos of the shoe release for Social, PR, and marketing for the shoe.
I recently had the guys from The Baseball Swag hit me up about shooting their new 2016 winter line. They wanted to keep to their roots and have the shoot based around the lifestyle of baseball but not stereotypical baseball dugout photos. Since the majority of their demographic is a middle to high school baseball crowd we decided the local high school would be the perfect spot to shoot. I think this was the first time I had been to a high school since I graduated which brought back a lot of memories.