Monterey Trail Mustangs - 2011 Season

After 5 games and many more practices, my 2011 stint with Monterey Trail Mustang football is complete.

I settled into my home away from home in Elk Grove, CA August 2nd, exactly one month after I relocated from DC to Sac. I reached out to a number of high school football programs in and around Sacramento looking to continue my interest in documenting the sport at this level. Soon after my initial feelers, I got a call from head coach, T.J. Ewing. He thought my work was pretty cool and said he'd love to have me come out. So I did.

The coaching staff was awesome and the kids were an excellent bunch of hard working, determined and accountable young human beings. Although the team finished 4-6 and missed the playoffs, it was great to document their journey. Enjoy and see you next season!

Check out a larger gallery here.


Goon Squad Classic

Last night I went down to the campus of UC Davis, not to cover some kids getting pepper sprayed, but to shoot the Goon Squad Classic charity game hosted by Donte Greene and featuring an assortment of Sacramento Kings. The funny thing about charity games is it's all dunks and 3's until the end of the game when it's close and someone wants to win. This particular contest went into overtime and ended with a 167-164 score in Greene's team's favor.

Some NBAers in attendance: Donte Greene, Tyreke Evans, Jimmer Fredette, Isiah Thomas (this one, not that one), Spencer Hawes, Jason Thompson, Demarcus Cousins, Matt Barnes and Hassan Whiteside. Add this game to a long list of exhibitions that have transpired in lieu of the lockout. At the very least, proceeds from the game went to charity. Hopefully we can get down to some real NBA action come Dec. 15th. Shout out to free t-shirts. Everyone loves a free t-shirt.


Brett Dennen

Barefoot Wine sponsors beach rescue projects throughout the country where they entice volunteers to pick up trash during the day with a promise of a free wine party/concert later in the evening. Great idea if you ask me, especially if you're a fan of the person playing the live show. In this case, yet again, I didn't know who this person was.

Brett Dennen, a musician hailing from Northern California (hey!), brought quite the crowd to this clean up party. He's a super, laid back, guitar wielding musician who actually walked barefoot along the banks of the Anacostia River (def not recommended). After I shot the concert, I was able to get a free copy of his newest album , Lover Boy, and played it loudly in my car through the streets of Georgetown. It's a good album.

Later that night, I went to a bar with a few of my friends to watch the Heat v. Bulls playoff series. Guess who's music was blasting from the jukebox? Surprise, surprise. Shout out to Pep.


Sally Wilson of CBRE for Eco-Structure Magazine

Sally Wilson is the Global Director of Environmental Strategy/Senior Vice President at CBRE whom I photographed for Eco-Structure Magazine. Check out the article here.


Portraits of David Kahn

You guys ever heard of David Kahn? Assuming you're saying "Nope, sure haven't Mike." I'm saying, "me either." After photographing NCAA basketball tournament participant and American University arch nemesis Bucknell men's basketball, I had the good fortune to photograph a Bucknell alum.

David Kahn wrote a book on cryptography called The Codebreakers. And with him being one of the leading experts in cryptography, we met at the National Cryptologic Museum near Ft. Meade, Maryland. I didn't know this place existed and no wonder because although cool and in the cut, it is a far cry from the Smithsonian powerhouses located in the District. In this particular place, he is somewhat of a celebrity. I actually photographed him in a room called The David Kahn Library in which he donated over 2,800 books.

Shout out to Dr. Khan who is an interesting man with funny stories and extreme amounts of patience for the idiot with the camera.


Running through Napa and Sonoma

Oh no, I definitely wasn't. I still can't get with the idea of running long distances for extended periods of time and smiling while doing it! Even if it's for a good cause.

Early in my tenure as a Sacramentan, I photographed Team Challenge as they raced and raised money for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America through the wine countries of Napa and Sonoma. While the participants ran 13.1 miles from start to finish, I drove and short-cut my way through most of the course. Boy was I exhausted. There was also a running guitarist by the name of Mike McCready. Shout out to Mookie Blaylock Pearl Jam.


Dime Magazine #66

Whew, where do I start?

Earlier in the summer of 2011 I started a project taking pictures at the Goodman League at Barry Farms in Washington DC. Some of that work can be seen here, here and here. I was even able to shoot some pretty cool portraits of some of the players. It was so much fun to be out there because you could watch some great basketball (no defense allowed) and you never knew just who might show up. Could be Kevin Durant, could be Michael Beasley, could be John Wall, you just never knew.

With the NBA lockout looming, the Goodman League along with a few other leagues around the country started to gain momentum in the mainstream basketball world. A little Facebook trash talk and the natural East Coast / West Coast rivalry bred a game between Washington DC's Goodman League and LA's Drew League that was to take place at Trinity University in Northeast Washington DC.

August 20, 2011 was crazy. Trinity's small gym was packed, standing room only. The buzz was enormous and folks with legit tickets were being turned away from the oversold event. The media credential person tried to force all of the photographers to shoot from a balcony, but I was able to traverse the adversity with my ninja like skills and rappel down the side of the basketball hoop to the baseline (just kidding). I was disappointed with the access that I wasn't able to get per my relationship with the Goodman League but I am very proud to have this spread in the current issue of Dime Magazine! Shout out to editor Aron Phillips and writer Rachel Marcus.


Game Day vs. Rodriguez

Remember all of that spread offense preparation and blocking and tackling that I talked about in the last post? Well it worked because Monterey Trail came away with another lopsided victory defeating the Rodriguez Mustangs (yes, Mustang on Mustang crime) 51-13. The Monterey Trail Mustangs were forced to warm up on an actual grass field because the JV game started about 30 minutes late, hence the change of scenery.

I don't know about you, but while watching football on TV, I wince every time I see a play rapidly approaching a sideline full of photographers and camera operators. Last Friday, that was me. I was christened into the "got my ass run over by fast moving football players" club and it wasn't a great feeling. I still think I'm quick enough to get away from absolutely anything but I don't know what happened that Friday night. I must be getting old.


Practice at 1.4

Practice, practice and more practice. This team does it almost everyday and when I'm out in Elk Grove with them, I'm practicing too. This day, I photographed their entire workout at 50mm f/1.4 for no other reason than, "why the hell not".

It was another hot day on the FieldTurf but the team is most definitely used to it by now. It's the Wednesday before a Friday game and the Mustangs are going over the spread offense that their next opponent, Rodriguez High School, employs. The off-season workouts are for the basics, you know, your blocking, tackling, scheme and conditioning. But every week of in season practice builds on those basics as well as infusing the tendencies and formations of the weekend opponent. I've never played football, but I thought I knew a good amount about the game just by watching and being around it. But upon further review, the game is a little more complex than I thought.


Game Day.

After multiple blog posts of Monterey Trail off-season workouts and practices, finally, the game. The Mustangs took on the Panthers of Florin High School and excelled in a major way, taking a 54-14 win on their home field at Mark Macres Memorial Stadium. This was their third game of the season, but the first win and the first one that I've attended. Which proves that I must be the good luck charm. Shout out to myself.