Lessons Stone Cold Steve Austin Can Teach You About Photography

I’m a big pro wrestling fan (WWE), ever since I could remember. My older brothers grew up watching wrestling dating back to HulkaMania era, to the Attitude Era, into the Ruthless Aggression Era, and now. I love the story telling through the physical athletic performance that these pro wrestlers put on (or how Vince wants us to say “Sports Entertainers). I love the story telling through the microphone, the drama they tell through their physical punishment (men’s soap opera). It’s also sentimental for me…when my dad moved over the states after the Vietnam war, he tuned into boxing matches of Muhammad Ali, Bruce Lee movies, and wrestling, to learn English. Ali, Lee, and wrestling specifically Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes, all were a joy to watch and listen to whether you understood any English or not. They all had something in common…Charisma.

One of my favorite wrestlers growing up was Stone Cold Steve Austin. He was fun, had a don’t give a shit attitude, beer drinking, always came up with catchy phrases (What? Austin 3:16, Give Me a Hell Yeah!) and had lots of charisma. I appreciated him more when I researched how he got to the top of the ladder, perhaps becoming the biggest superstar of all time. Austin’s journey was not a smooth one but he kept pushing…here’s how we can apply it to our own photographic journey.

austin

Be Real

The Stone Cold persona would not have connected with the audience if Steve Austin himself didn’t insert a good portion of his personality into the character. What you saw on screen with Stone Cold, I’m sure that was how he was off screen or close to it (if not more credit to him for selling it so good). If Steve’s character were a clown or similar to Doink the Clown, I don’t think it would have worked. You need to be vested in the character and Steve did just that with the Stone Cold character, especially after getting fired from WCW (more on that later), Steve came into the WWE with a “I don’t give a damn” attitude that resonated with a lot of disobedient teenage fans. Whether it was going to work by being himself or not, he had a no lose mentality.

A lot of us fear of failing and pursue things with the intent of playing not to lose rather than playing to win. We need to photograph for ourselves and take risk, try new things, embed our character…our personality into our photos. What is our photos saying? What is it saying about society, or about yourself? Or is it just a photo of just people. A lot of this will take time and may organically evolve on it’s own as you keep shooting and studying the masters or photographers you greatly admire.

stunner

Add Your Own Touch

Part of claiming your own unique style is adding your own touch. In photography, everything’s been done before, however, not everything has been captured through your eyes. Like in wrestling, every move has been done in the industry. Even Stone Cold’s infamous finisher, the “Stone Cold Stunner” (photo above) was used by some other wrestler (ECW’s Mickey Whipwreck). I would say Stone Cold’s version was a lot better even though its the same finish, his version had more impact behind it, and his opponents would most often sell the move a lot more (making the effects from the finisher look more dramatic, painful)..The Rock was the best at selling the stunner.

So if you’re preventing yourself from shooting the streets by thinking that you can’t be innovative…your wrong. Study the photographers you admire and why you enjoy their photographs. If you like Bruce Gilden’s up close, in your face style, then by all means try and shoot that way. Or maybe instead of shooting at a low angle, aim higher, fill the frame with 75% of their face instead of 100%. Aim your flash gun at a different angle, up your flash power, lower your flash power. Experiment! Experiment! Experiment! That’s the only way you’ll find what style of image caters and is unique to you (I don’t even have a unique style, I like everything!).

Evolve

Your photography should evolve for the best overtime. Your taste and in what you like or dislike on a photo will change over time. I started off shooting only in B&W simply because that’s what I thought street photography was. I look back at my old photos and really have a hard time viewing them. The B&W seems too force and artificially imposed without reason. I think B&W just like Color works on a photo if it helps with the image, if it helps elevate the content. Don’t just turn a photo B&W just cause, search for a reason within the image, find the reason, if your reason is “Well I think it looks better in B&W”, then it probably means that your photo is weak.

Your intentions will evolve overtime as well. When I started off I wanted to make badass photos like Vivian Maier who I highly admire. I wanted to make intimate portraits and captivate those special moments out in the public setting. Then a few years in (2010-2012) I asked myself “WTH am I doing”. I knew in the back of my mind I wanted to produce and capture those surreal moments but lacked reason behind it.

I got off my ass in 2015 and went shooting again. The same thoughts passed through my mind, fast forward today (2017) and I realize for me it’s not about capturing special moments that I enjoy most. It’s really just getting off my ass, taking a walk, burn some calories, absorb some vitamin d, appreciate the “NOW” moment, get away from my phone or social media and enjoy the day. Appreciate life. Getting good photos is the bonus, seeing the surreal, comical, interesting moments, is the bonus to all of it.

Steve Austin started off in WCW as part of the tag team, The Hollywood Blondes. He was a big brass athletic guy with long blonde hair. Very very talented and should have moved up the ranks if it wasn’t for backstage politics.

He got a call one day from his boss telling him that he was fired. Left unemployed, the lit a fire up Steve”s ass in which he used as motivation. Which brings me to my next point.

Have Something to Prove

Have a chip on your shoulder. Find it within you or Something that you may experience to give you that extra motivation. Prove people wrong but most importantly do it for yourself. Test yourself, test authority, break the rules…these will only lead you to be more innovative in your work.

Austin’s character was anti-authority, who didn’t give a damn about anything. It was refreshing to see instead of your usually good guy/bad guy, he was an anti-hero. Someone that we could relate to with our everyday lives, someone that we wanted to be like. Austin would give the Stunner to his boss (Vince McMahon) and they started feuding. The  story line worked, it was innovative, it resonated with the audience (I mean who doesn’t want to give their boss a Stone Cold Stunner). And the fans embraced it.

Sometimes you can’t be too forceful or even if you put all your eggs or marketing budget into one idea or basket it does not mean it’ll blossom. The best things happen in it’s purest form, evolves organically, and happens with reason. Continue to look up to your idols, your parents, teachers, super heroes, photographers, athletes, business entrepreneurs, and ask yourself what is it about them that I really admire, look into their story, and apply to your photographic journey and everyday lifestyle.

Thanks for stopping by!

Keep shooting,

Tim

Hawaii Street Photography

14089195_1391118167571577_5209323864525142904_n

Aloha,

When most people think of street photography they think you must shoot in areas where there’s chaos of people, rich in history, or plentiful of colors. Some countries/cities that are on the top of most street photographers list to shoot in are India, Japan, London, New York, Coney Island, LA, San Francisco,  and Cuba. Hawaii is not even a consideration or on the radar. Hawaii is home to a lot of great photographers or genres of photography, surf photography (Clark Little, John Hook), landscape photography (Aaron Feinberg), seascape photography, sunrise/sunset photography, nature photography, I can go on.

When I first started off I thought I wasn’t able to produce quality images or find those eye catching moments because I was in Honolulu, everything seemed so boring. Everything looked the same (born and raised in Honolulu my whole life).

Shooting for over a few years now, I can say some of my best images were made here in Honolulu, right in my backyard, my childhood playground of Waikiki. Traveling to different cities or countries have made me appreciate home. You don’t need to be in a big city to produce good images, the truth o f the matter is the more you go and shoot the more the opportunity will present itself. No matter the location.

Why I think Honolulu is a prime location for street photography…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Personally, I think Honolulu is a great place for street photography (I have yet adventured to the neighbor islands to shoot, will explore one day). Honolulu offers a lot in the form of diverse cultures, if you take a scroll to Waikiki (touristy spot), you’ll find locals, tourist, of all shape, sizes, color, background. The island is located between international Asia and the US mainland. We have the option to shoot on the beach (my personal favorite) and catch surreal, comical, and interesting moments.

Weather is great year round with spectacular lighting for sunset or sunrise. A good portion of Honolulu is under redevelopment. Kaka’ako is an area that’s going through major changes (the government wants that to be the hip area aka San Francisco of Hawaii). There’s a lot of construction, graffiti art (the famous POW WOW Hawaii), on weekends they have events. It’s not a dense area like Waikiki but it’s a good spot to find something different and be away from a chaotic area like Waikiki.

There’s other areas within Honolulu that I would consider good spots to roam and shoot. I would consider Kalihi as an area with potential, it’s not overcrowded with people but there’s a lot of old homes, shops, some nice colors. It’s not a touristy spot, so if you’re looking to get away from the tourist attractions, I would consider Kalihi. Many surrounding areas within Kalihi are low income housing, homelessness, different ethnic backgrounds, many schools within a short radius.

There’s many areas that I have yet hit up myself and would like to (Waipahu, Haleiwa, Kaimuki). You can check out Japanese street photographer Shin Noguchi, who recently visited Honolulu and captured many great moments (he’s currently seeking a publisher to publish his book “Hawaii”).

I think there are people who are interested in learning what street photography is and how to go about it here in Hawaii. There are a few people on the islands that I know already shoots this genre. And with the reach of social media, I do foresee Hawaii being more active and one of the top destinations for not just seascape or sunrise/sunset photography…(oh how did I forget to mention “WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY”,) but for street photography too. You can make great photos anywhere and anytime. Keep shooting!

“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet” – Bobby Unser

Street Photography Tips (before heading out onto the streets)

chairs

Hello aspiring street photographer. I’ve noticed there are so many blogs with tips on street photography while you’re already out shooting. Instead, let me share my experiences, (bias) opinion, and advice before you even hit up the streets.

front page

  1. Do your research

Research the location you’ll be shooting in. What’s the environment like? Is it a residential area? Low income, high income population? Tourist, locals, or both? Does the area have a reputation for being a rough part of town. These are questions you’ll need to ask yourself before heading to out. You’ll need to prepare yourself mentally if you know you’re going into an area where your chances of getting mugged or stink eye. Your social skills and how you communicate with others may play a higher factor in these areas. Being able to blend in with the community takes a certain person and specific skills.

Research the forecast of the day. Is it going to be sunny. Overcast, rainy, or all of the above. Mother nature can be unpredictable at times, so you may need to pack an umbrella or a sweater. The weather will affect your shooting for the day and how long you intend on staying out.

Research if there’s restaurants or bathrooms. If you’re out shooting for an entire day, I can assure you that you’ll need to use the restroom a few times, and you’ll want to take a break and grab a bite to re-energize.

If you’re going to shoot in a touristy area, there will probably be a lot of restaurants, hotels, and public parks with available restrooms. Now if you were shooting in a more residential area, public restrooms will probably be scarce and restaurants may be miles apart. ***You can always knock on someone’s door and ask if you can use their restroom and have a quick bite.

1923832_1265942930089102_7468836101842783581_n

2. Make sure you have a pair of comfortable shoes

Whether you’ll only be out shooting for 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours, or 10 hours, it helps to have a nice pair of shoes. You don’t want your feet to slow you down or stress you out while you’re shooting. And you definitely don’t want soreness after your adventure.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

3. Eat

Similar to having comfortable shoes, you’ll have to have a meal before you head out. Sometimes the only available times I have to shoot within the week is during my lunch break. A lot of times I go hungry  (saving money, cut back on calories) before shooting which I highly don’t recommend. I’ve learned my lesson on many unsuccessful photowalks during my lunchbreak. HAVE A MEAL! Eat SOMETHING!

It’s like going to the gym on an empty stomach…you need food as a source of energy to carry you through the workout process or in this case photowalk. Also, you want to keep any stresses to a minimal when you’re out shooting.

13001184_1293321654017896_1254705038844581120_n (1)

4. Forget about your daily duties and stresses

You don’t want to think about your chores, bills, debt, or what you need to finish up at work while on your photo-walk. Put those thoughts on  the side and just zone out. Be in the moment in your photo-walk location and absorb all that’s around you. Look up, look down, look down 20-30 feet and anticipate what’s to come. Street photography is my therapy or meditative tool to get away from my reality and create my own illusion through images.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

5. Last but not least…pack as lightly as possible

Stop bringing more than one camera (unless you’re traveling abroad). Do not bring more than one lens! Keep it simple. All the extra gear will weigh on you, having more options such as a wide lens, a tele-photo lens on hand doesn’t give you more options. It gives you more stress. You shoot street photography to be stress free right?

Again, these tips are from my own experience and my own opinion. I hope you found these tips insightful. Keep shooting.

Mahalo,
Tim

What I learned traveling and photographing in Havana

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It Takes Time to Feel Comfortable

Prior to landing in Havana, Cuba, I heavily did my research on the city. Is it safe? Is there internet? Are the people nice? Tourist reviews? Crime rate? Things to do? Where to go? Asked friends who’ve traveled to Havana about their experiences.

For the most part, friends and online reviews had nothing but positive things to say about their time in Havana. In fact, it was rather encouraging, friends would mention that there’s “so much to shoot in Havana, you’ll have a field day, the locals are so photogenic”. I was really excited on this personal photographic journey.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

With those insights, I thought I would be able to capture many special moments…and do it with ease. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy as I had envision. It took me a few days to feel comfortable with my surrounding and get a feel of my sense of place. For one there is no internet, two I traveled on this journey alone, and three being in a new place with info that I had only read on the internet and gather from a few friends can only do so much. From this experience I’ve learned that you really don’t know until you put yourself out there.

Shoot Like It’s Your Job

My first two days, I would say I photographed like a tourist. In awe with the cars from the 50’s and colonial colors and architecture. I definitely got the cliche shots for memories. I had a photographer’s block my first two days (very short trip 4 1/2 days). I wanted to create and capture something innovative. Nothing stood out to me. I walked a total of 40,000 steps each day. From Old Havana to Central Havana, to Vedado, all along Malecon, and would come up unsatisfied with my photos.  I would be honest with myself and say I was not as assertive because I was feeling my way around town.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It wasn’t until my last 2 days where I was more assertive and aggressive with my shooting. I was being more proactive, clicking the shutter regardless if I thought the moment was interesting or not. I would shoot as if I was shooting at an event, shoot, move, repeat. Your limits are all within your mind. If you want to go out and accomplish something, only you can slow yourself down. Shoot as if your on assignment, either will be paid or you don’t come back with any usable photo and be fired from your job.

Shoot Through The Window

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shoot while in the car, Lee Friedlander style. Photographing while in the taxi was one of my highlights. Being in the car you know you’ll cover so much ground and you’re not seeing the same mundane neighborhood or work district as back home. Some of the images I’m happy with were through the car. Just snap away and enjoy the ride. Photographing through the car offers a unique perspective, a different taste. This Point of View really captures the POV of the photographer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I think if I had a few extra days it would have been perfect. I would have ventured out to other areas in Cuba. To summarize, I’m thankful for this Cuban experience and to have had this once in a lifetime opportunity, to communicate with people in a country where both our governments have had decades of tension. This experience will continue to help me understand this complicated world we all live in. And this was done through verbal discussions and visual documentation.

Why I Enjoy Shooting Street Photography

couple-01.jpeg

You’re in Control…

Mid-way through the first month of the new year, I reflected back on my street photography. The true joy of shooting the streets is being able to recognize a moment whether, surreal, comical, interesting, strange and to anticipate the moment and act upon. There’s a feeling of ownership when you’re able to photograph a moment or a scene and call it your own.

We have the fullest control over our lives but realistically it doesn’t always feel that way. Yes, we can choose where we want to work or what career we’d like to go into…but once we’re slaving ourselves to someone’s company we don’t have full creative freedom of how we’d like to direct the company towards. We give our time, energy, and resources making someone else’s vision to life or someone’s company prosperous.

With my street photography, it’s simply by choice. I don’t work for anyone, I don’t sell prints or books (hopefully some day), I do it because there’s an excitement and liberating feeling when I’m out and about. I don’t have to shoot a certain way or capture a special moment to please a client or anyone for that matter…Other than myself.

Da Human Connection…

oi000081-01.jpeg

Occasionally, I’ll interact with my subjects if I’m making a street-portrait. It’s always nice to talk to people out of your comfort level….such as people at work, friends from school, childhood friends, people you meet in non-profit clubs, etc. I find joy by having real conversations with a strangers that I don’t know. Instead of talking to co-workers and hearing their frustrations about their bosses, or with old friends who only like to reminisce on old times, or sport friends only talking about…well sports!

I think that’s one of the most important skills to have as a street photographer…being sociable…being comfortable around others and having the confidence to talk to strangers on a personal level. Especially in this day and age where we all are focused in on our phones…it’s nice to look up, create small talk, smile at someone, and see what else is going around within your surrounding.

I’ve always made the analogy that street photography is like fishing…you go out for hours, waiting to find that special moment or person or thing and once you recognize it, you just want to quickly make a photo of it. Like in fishing you go out, put your bait on your fishing rods and you see what you can get. Once you get a bite and a big one that is, you want to reel it in and not let it go. It can take hours to reel something that you’d actually like but that’s what makes all that waiting much more satisfying.

In this fast pace crazy world we all live in…street photography allows us to take a step back, observe our surroundings with the intent to make it a better place.

3 Lessons I learned from C.T. Fletcher

maxresdefault

I was lucky enough to watch a documentary on Netflix a few weeks ago (the kids hog the Netflix) on C.T. Fletcher,“My Magnificent Obsession”. Prior to this, I have never heard of C.T. Fletcher, I was just Netflix surfing and the main image and synopsis caught my attention. I really enjoyed an old documentary on weightlifting…”Pumping Iron” and thought of giving this film a try. The topic was on weightlifting, something I’m somewhat familiar in my old life (I hope to resurrect that old passion in 2017).

The film is a biography on C.T’s life, his recovery from open heart surgery, and his life long goal in opening his own gym “Iron Addicts Gym”. C.T. is known for becoming the strongest “Mutha Fucka” as he would always say without ever using steroids. He once benched 700 lbs and is a 3X world arm curl champion…curling 225 lbs! What can C.T. teach us?  Below is what I’ve learned from him.

ct-fletcher-steroids

Become an addict to your passion

In the 1980’s, C.T. discovered weightlifting which was a turning point in his life. He became addicted to weightlifting, working out 7 days a week! The transformation of his physique made him even more obsessed with weightlifting. His initial goal was to be a cut up, drug free, body builder. Remember…in the 80’s, weightlifting was at it’s peak (Schwarzenegger, professional wrestling, Stallone) and a lot of bodybuilders were roided up. By the mid 80’s his attention shifted to becoming “the biggest, strongest, baddest, drug-free Mutha Fucka to ever walk this planet”. He was able to do this because he was passionate in what he was doing. He put in the time, the blood, the sweat, and the tears and made it a part of his lifestyle.  To become great at something I believe you must be somewhat obsessed…which means you eat, breath, sleep, shit, repeat it.

If street photography is your passion, study the greats, analyze some of your favorites on social media, take risk, experiment, ask for critiques, sign up for workshops. Just rule o thumb though,  be obsessed but don’t neglect other things in your life.

Count your blessings

Make the most of each day. After surviving open heart surgery in 2005, C.T. lost all his gains, his confidence, and even self pity himself. Years later, he realized that he was given a second chance. He did not give up on the gift of life and continued to proceed with bodybuilding.

Everyday is not guaranteed, if there’s something that you want to do, go do it, pursue it with all your heart and mind. If you’ve always wanted to shoot street photography but was always fearful of how someone might yell at you for taking there photo, don’t worry. Live today like it’s your last and you’ll get the most out of each day. Be thankful you have the opportunity to even wander the streets to make photos.

No matter how shitty your life is or how unhappy you are, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. One good day will always outshine seven bad days. Just like one photo your satisfied with will outshine a thousand crappy photos. As long as you’re above ground, breathing, moving, consider yourself blessed.

Use your passion to help others

Now at 57 years old, C.T. inspires people all over the world whether it’s through a meet and greet, speaking to an audience, or if you’re working out at his gym. Through his body of work, surviving a fatal heart condition, and his life experiences, C.T. inspires others through his healthy lifestyle philosophy. He not only used his passion to better himself but to better others.

Besides from trying to capture that decisive moment….which I haven’t yet. I’d like to do some good with my street photography. Maybe it’s to hold a workshop in a third world country for an orphanage home. Or to be able to put together a photo book and donate a portion to a specific cause…We are our most happiest as human beings when we are able to give back and help without seeking any reward.

Conclusion

If you need inspiration, I recommend you to watch “My Magnificent Obsession” on Netflix. My biggest takeaway from C.T. is that you have full control of your destiny and in reaching your goals. You will always encounter obstacles but it is up to YOU if you want to accomplish any task or condition. Obstacles is an illusion set to divide the weak from the strong.

 

***Read my other blogs on people that I find inspiring. 

5 Lessons Vince McMahon Can Teach You About Street Photography

Lessons Stone Cold Steve Austin Can Teach You About Photography

Lessons “Shinsuke Nakamura” Can Teach Us About Photography

Lessons Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Can Teach You About Photography

What I learned shooting on Halloween

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For the first time, I spent the spookiest night of the year not dressed up in a costume but instead shooting others dressed for Halloween in Waikiki. I didn’t really know what to expect. I was just hoping to capture some surreal moments, nothing in particular. Something special to add to my collection. While I wasn’t able to capture anything spectacular, I walked away with more knowledge for next time. Here’s what I learned from shooting on Halloween night.

Mask have no Emotion

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My first 15 minutes in Waikiki I was noticing a lot of people wearing mask and not so much costumes. I realized although some mask are unique, they lack emotion. Maybe because it covers the eyes and there’s not much of a emotional attachment, I don’t know, mask’s feels stiff to me. I was afraid I wasn’t going to see anyone in customized costumes or anyone unique. I started to doubt myself with a feeling of regret for having drove into town so late at night. I continued walking down the strip, it was busy as ever, everyone squeezing through tight spaces. Even though I realized that photos of people wearing masks make for boring photos, I couldn’t resist to not take them. After all, Halloween is once a year.

Note: IMO photos of people wearing Mask works best if juxtaposed. See photo below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Flash is a Must!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Flash is a must! Especially on my micro 4/3 camera (olympus M5II). One rule in street photography is to be stealth and go unnoticed. Unfortunately, when using a flash you can’t help but to be noticed. Most people were aware that I was photographing them, most loved the attention, some thought I was photographing something behind them (as usual), and a few said the “F” word. But that was it. If you shoot without a flash at night, regardless how high your iso can go up to, your photos will suffer more often than not (unless you’re going for a grain effect similar to Daido Moriyama; he’s the master of that). My recommendation…Use a flash! No one cares or don’t even knows that you’re photographing them!

 

Experiment…Motion Blur

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’m a fan of motion blur and slightly out of focus photos if used properly (again…Daido Moriyama). If used correctly, I think these effects can add more emotion and drama to your photo. Referencing my photo above, I saw this couple kind of tired and swaying back and forth (drunk and in love? maybe).

Their intimate bond caught my eye and without wasting time by checking my shutter speed I made clicked my shutter. My observation of the photo is that regardless of how much craziness, booze and weed in the air, or obnoxious groups around them, it doesn’t really matter because they have each other and want no part of their environment. In short, “Life’s a Blur”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Stay in One Spot

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For most of the night, everyone was pacing back and forth, lots of movement, and I wasn’t really feeling nor seeing anything. I was capturing a lot of the same type of photos of people walking right past me and not much was happening. I decided to settle in one spot and let the action come to me. Finally, a person in a Trump costume came around the corner and caught a lot of people’s attention both positive (wanting a photo selfie) and negative (people saying insulting remarks).

A group of teenagers approached the person dressed as Trump and said some negative things all in good fun. Apparently, the person as Trump decided to stay in character (Trump’s hand gesture) and not back down from the harassment, causing the scene to be more hostile. Initially, I was focused on the two teenagers and Trump but then realized that around them were some older folks who seem to be laughing it off or having a good time with it. The US flag behind the kid with the mask adds a nice layer that reminds us all that this is how divided we are in the United States of America. It’s quite spooky knowing who our options are for 2016 Presidency.

Lesson from that night is to be patient, let the action come to you. Good things come to those that are patient. Try new things, be open to experimenting. Street photography should be fun and therefore you should try new things and push your limits/boundaries. Don’t add any pressure to your photography…to remind myself to have fun and enjoy the moment. And last, shoot more flash! Flash is fun!