I enjoyed writing the post on “Lessons Stone Cold Steve Austin Can Teach You About Photography”, and will continue this wrestling and photography blog series.
This second wrestling/photography post (IDK what to call it) is on Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (I know him as The Rock). The Rock was at the peak when he and Stone Cold Steve Austin were wrestling together in the Attitude Era, when wrestling was at it’s best because there were competing companies (now WWE is a monopoly).
It took The Rock a while to connect with the audience and rise up to the top. I believe all of us can really learn a thing or two from him, he is the highest paid actor in Hollywood per 2016. Here is my analysis.
When The Rock debuted in 1996 in Madison Square Garden at Survivor Series, he debuted as Rocky Maivia. A combination of his father’s first name “Rocky Johnson” and his grandfather’s last name, “High Chief Peter Maivia”. Debuting on one of the major pay per views of the year, in New York City, and helping his team win the match, was a strong indication that the company (WWE & Vince McMahon) thought very highly of him. The Rock is a second generation superstar and former collegiate football player. He had all the athletic tools and capabilities to be a successful sports entertainer.
His persona as Rocky Maivia, was a happy go lucky guy, who just…well happy to be in the business and nothing more. Fans got bored of watching this happy go lucky guy week after week and fans started booing Rocky Maivia. The WWE officials took Dwayne off the wrestling schedule for a month or so and rebooted his character. He joined a predominately black stable (wrestling gang/group) “The Nation of Domination”. He re-introduced himself as “The Rock” and instead of a happy go lucky guy, he insulted fans, he spoke from the heart, the resentment from the boos fed his fire to tell all the fans in the arena to shut your mouth (You can watch The Rock’s debut somewhere on youtube). It was definitely a turning point in The Rock’s career.
With your photography I do believe you need to shoot who you are. Don’t try to be another photographer, we all have peoplr or photographers we admire and try to follow or emulate them but if you are able to add your own touch or find your style…you will a stand out on your own. The Rock was able to turn a regular elbow drop by adding his own signature to it, and even adding a new name “The People’s Elbow”. He turned something so common and made it so great. The best street photographers are able to make something out of nothing or turn a mundane scene into an interesting photo.
The Rock was one of the most entertaining superstars the industry has ever seen. And that opened up opportunities for him in Hollywood which he recently became the highest grossing actor in 2016. Anytime The Rock surprisingly appears at a WWE event, it reignites the fans especially once they hear his music hits. His segments are never boring, it’ll keep you smiling, laughing and wanting more the entire time. I truly believe he could talk and entertain for hours, and it could be on anything. He has a special talent by connecting with the audience. By not making it a I or Me conflict but a “We” thing, we are in this together, we did it…The People’s Champ. He was able to turn a raising eye-brown and make it an iconic signature of his. He would make up his own vocabulary and phrases, “Know your Role and Shut Your Mouth, Smackdown Hotel, If/Do You Smell What the Rock is Cookin, etc”. He knew how to let the fans be part of the program, basically he was a genius and he did it in entertaining fashion and by being himself.
With your photography make it fun. Recognize those comical, strange, surreal, interesting, crazy, gritty, moments. Have your photos evoke an emotion from your viewer. If your photos lack emotion, if it doesn’t move you with humor, or it doesn’t make you happy, sad, mad, hopeful, or curious, then it probably is not a good photo and will leave other people that view them just as confused or uninterested with it.
In 1995, he had $7 in his wallet, that’s all. By 1996, before he even made his debut in WWE, The Rock was wrestling at carnivals, flea markets, high school gyms for $40 a night. He definitely had a humbling beginning, nothing came easy. Till this day, he works out like a mad man and is so discipline with his diet. At age 45, he is in the best shape of his life. He is at the highest mountain there is to climb being the biggest Hollywood star. But he’s not content, The Rock continues to work hard and out work everyone else. His early struggle (not being drafted by an NFL team, wrestling for $40 a night, the boos early on in WWE) has instilled a work ethnic that you can’t teach.
For me, these past two months I’ve been pretty blessed with my photography. I had a group exhibit at the Street Sans Frontieres in Paris from May 12-14, 2017 for my Rafael Trejos Series. Then I get an email the other day saying that I’m one of the 52 finalist in the 2nd annual StreetFoto San Francisco International Photography Festival. A lot of luck involved to be a part of these group exhibitions but you also need to position yourself for the opportunity. You have to put yourself out there (create a website, Instagram account), take risk (traveling to Cuba to make photos), and outwork everyone else (shoot relentlessly, study photo books, read blogs, read or look at anything that inspires you) and apply it to your photography.
Always Help Others
The Rock understood that he wouldn’t be where he’s at without the help of his fellow superstars. The Rock never had any issues putting another talent over (letting them win the match). In the wrestling industry, some wrestlers let their ego get the best of them. This was never an issue with The Rock based on what his peers have said in various interviews. In fact, I think elevating others eventually helped with his character and helped the business in its entirety. The Rock was able to make the fans cheer for ManKind AKA Mick Foley. Who early on in his WWE career, was a freak heel (bad guy). They formed a dynamic duo, The Rock and Sock connection. One of the most entertaining teams ever!
He also put over Y2J AKA Chris Jericho. Jericho debuted in WWE by interrupting The Rock during a in-ring promo. That was probably one of the best debut’s in WWE history. Helping Y2J establish himself quickly into the WWE scene, it create a very interesting feud (Jericho was one of the very few wrestlers that could go head to head with The Rock both on the mic and in the ring).
The Rock never let his ego get in the way, his persona was never bigger than the business. Still today, he comes back from time to time and appears randomly even with his busy schedule.
So no matter how famous or successful you get, remember that you didn’t do it alone. There is always help along the way. Give back to the people who helped you and were always loyal to you. Help the younger generations, help those that seek advice about your photography and maybe you’ll learn something new too along the way.
Do someone a favor and tell them to pass it on.
Thanks for reading, keep shooting.