A couple of weeks ago, I photographed the Sterling High Raiders boys hoops practice before they went off to San Antonio to play in the state tournament. It was Monday March 9th and shout out to senior guard Avery Ragland for paying homage to The Notorious One who probably died before Ragland was even born. The practice which consisted of a fast break drill, a scrimmage, free throws and an impromptu dunk contest was about as light and as loose as you could get. Coach Andrea (pronounced Andre) Young assured me that it was mostly a rest day and the practices would ramp up tomorrow and the rest of the week.
At the end of that week, the Raiders went on to advance past the semi-final and on to the state championship game where they suffered an 83-53 loss to Bridgeport (a team powered by 4 junior transfers). Shout out to Houston hoop legend Clyde Drexler who apparently wore #42 and wrecked shop at Sterling High in the late 70s before moving on to the University of Houston.
BeautyNow, started by Kathleen Jennings, is an app that lets you quickly book salon and spa appointments on your iPhone. I was called upon by the Houston Chronicle to photograph Jennings in her home for an article written by Joy Sewing. Despite my dashing good looks, I don't know much about beauty. So while Joy and Kathleen talked about a numerous array of beauty products they've used and/or tried, all I heard was the musings of Charlie Brown's teacher. But shout out to the nice light flowing throughout then Jennings' household.
Well, it looks like the AJ80 era here in Houston has come to an end. According to the NFL rumor mill, the Houston Texans and Andre Johnson have agreed to part ways. Johnson spent 12 years with the team and is undeniably the greatest player in the franchise's 13 year history. Even with quarterbacks like David Carr, Matt Schuab, Case Keenum and Ryan Fitzpatrick (sorry guys), he was able to amass 1,000+ receptions, 13,000+ yards and 60+ touchdowns. HOF? I think so.
I took this photograph of him shortly after a 2014 regular season game against the Baltimore Ravens. It was the game 4 days before Christmas and I was actually there to take portraits of all the Christmas-costumed Texans fans. My assistant and I roamed around the famed Blue Lot and the concourses on every level, for hours, asking strangers if we could take their pictures. Toward the end of the game, we headed down to the field and the bowels of the stadium where I noticed a huge Texans logo painted on the wall. It was right along the path where the team leaves the field and heads to the locker room. The hall was dark but I had this ring flash connected to my camera so I thought I would try my luck. I practiced a few frames on a passing security guard, then the punter, then Mike Vrabel. I got shots of owner Bob McNair, coach Bill O'Brien, Brian Cushing and Arian Foster. I even got a shot of fan favorite and probably the second best player in franchise history JJ Watt...but that picture was trash. My favorite of the small series of images was this shot of Andre Johnson. I snapped it as he walked to the locker room to shouts of "What up 'Dre!"and other pleasantries from nearby, lucky fans. It's not perfect, but I like it. Shout out to the great 80.
I usually save my shout outs for the end of the post but shouts to the homey and Houston rapper, Roosh Williams. His album, Unorthodox, dropped today so mosey on over to iTunes and get that.
When I moved back to Houston, one of the first things I did was try to figure out which young H-Town artists were new and making it happen. I googled upon a couple of Complex articles on the subject both written by Houston's very own hip-hop scribe, Shea Serrano. On the list of "The 10 Best Houston Rap Mixtapes of 2013" was a fellow by the name of Roosh Williams and his project deja roo: Times Have Changed. Downloaded it. Jammed it.
Fast forward to a couple of months ago, I was contacted to work on a photo story doing artist spotlights on Houston rappers. Roosh was one of the people I reached out to. Even though the story kind of fell through (new management), I got to kick it with Roosh for a few days while he did various rapper things like shoot a video, wear a Sub-Zero costume, play basketball, eat fajitas and open for Wale. Unfortunately, I was unable to follow him into a classroom where he occasionally moonlit as a substitute teacher (seriously). Oh well, maybe next time.
OH! We did get to play a couple of games of 1-on-1 in which I am reluctant to say...I lost. He shot like 80% from 3 and I just didn't believe in his jumper. Still don't, actually. But go get Unorthodox and go watch the video he did with Houston rap gawd, Scarface. In the meantime, I'll work on a negotiation for a hoop re-match.
Hung out with Mr. 94 Feet during a collaboration he was doing with Green Label. Originally, we were supposed to shoot all over the city at a bunch of awesome outdoor locations but...rain. So all of the outdoor venues turned into indoor gyms. The first stop was the Hastings Bears high school gym, of which I have a bit of familiarity. I grew up hooping across the street from the school, my nieces and nephew graduated and currently attend, respectively, and I worked on a little football project with the team.
Pat Bev came through with his family and galoshes and after introducing himself to everyone as Larry Hoover, he played a little one on one with his little sister Mya. Even then, Mr. 94 Feet was in full effect. No buckets were yielded to 4 year old children. After we left Hastings, we headed over to the Rockets practice facility at Toyota Center for some more shooting. I resisted the urge to challenge Pat to a game of one-on-one in from of Rockets GM Daryl Morey for his starting spot. My nephew says he would undoubtedly play Beverley to a scoreless draw...so I would have had a shot.
Like yesterday's post, this too is about some late season college football action. ESPN's College GameDay crew traveled to Waco for a match up between the 10-1 Baylor Bears and the 9-2 Kansas State Wildcats. At this point, Baylor still had some hope to be included in the College Football Playoff but they were definitely going to need a win to have a shot.
In another assignment from ESPN The Magazine, the focus was on senior quarterback Bryce Petty. I pretty much had to keep one eye on him and the other on the action throughout the game. The Baylor Bears took care of business beating Kansas State 38-27 but it wasn't enough. They were on the outside looking in as the fifth team of a four team playoff.
While standing on the sidelines of McLane Stadium (beautiful facility, by the way) watching the seconds of the clock tick to 0:00, I'm trying to anticipate Bryce Petty's next move. I keep my distance, but I keep my eye on him as the celebration begins. As I rush to the middle of the field to shoot #14 celebrating with his teammates, I didn't know the rest of McLane Stadium was right behind me. All of a sudden, the vast expanse of an 100 yard football field turned into a packed 18 & up club on ladies night. That was not a cool feeling. I say I'll never do that again, but you never know.