Fat Tony II

And for the second Fat Tony post of this week...

I linked up again with Fat Tony in late January of this year to shoot more portraits and less DJ action. This time, we met at a music studio on the southwest side of town. Sometimes he records there but more importantly, there was enough space to get a few different portrait options. I think he was only in town for the day before he had to fly somewhere else to do some more rap stuff. After the shoot, we rolled to the thrift shop where he copped an ill Dale Earnhardt tee. RIP Intimidator.


Real Estate 2015 Issue for Houstonia Magazine

Last month I got to know Houston a little bit better as I drove around to photograph a bunch of different neighborhoods for Houstonia's 2015 Real Estate issue. Although there were 25 neighborhoods highlighted in the issue, I was only tasked with visiting five and finding something interesting in those places. I went to places I haven't yet explored and saw communities that I didn't even know existed. My list consisted of Montrose, Bay Oaks, the Energy Corridor, Cross Creek Ranch and Westview Terrace but you should probably pick up the magazine if you want to see the rest! Big shout to Chris Skiles for the assignment that gave me a reason to further explore the city.


Fat Tony

The night was December 4th and I had been trying to link with Fat Tony, a Houston hip hop artist, to work on a photo project that would eventually be shelved. I got in touch via email and, long story short, he was down to be followed by me and my camera.

This particular night he was going to DJ at two different venues in the city after he finished his shift at Cactus Music. The first gig was at a super chill spot called MKT BAR connected to Phoenicia Specialty Foods in downtown Houston. It was just around happy hour so people were sipping beer, tasting appetizers and chatting with friends. The turn-up here was not real. But the relaxed environment did allow me to get in a few quick portraits.

The next gig was on the quiet, unassuming campus of Rice University where an underground dive called Willy's was scarcely populated with a few studious students. I thought to myself, "Self, is Fat Tony really gonna do a rowdy DJ set at this place?" The answer was yes. First of all, beers were like $2 or less and you could get a whole bottle of champagne (which Tony got a few) for $9. This was probably the cheapest place to get a beer in Houston outside of your own living room. The studious students stuck around a lot longer than I expected but soon, the books disappeared into bags and the turn-up became real. Fat Tony partied with all of his homeys, old and new, and kept it going until the very end when an undergrad/manager of Willy's told him he had to shut it down. Shut it down he did. Shout out to the homey Tony for bringing me along for the ride. More to come...


Sterling High School Basketball

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.


Kathleen Jennings and BeautyNow for the Houston Chronicle

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.


Andre Johnson - Houston Texans

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.


Roosh Williams - Unorthodox

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.