Monday, July 26, 2010

Bike Polo and No Sleep For the Bear

The summer is without a doubt in full force, and being a recent college graduate and fun-loving phenom means that to me, summer will never end. So far I've been catching up on some missed climbing opportunities, and have been guiding and climbing regularly at Wisconsin's own Devil's Lake state park. I definitely feel like I am getting a stronger connection with the unique rock here, and because of this have become a stronger climber all around. While in Milwaukee I have been doing my best to play bike polo regularly again, and have been feeling (at least for a while) like I've never played better. Its great to get back on the court and really give it a good go, every game is a new challenge and provides me with many exciting near misses, real misses and plenty of spills.

I took a weekend off to attend the North American Hardcourt Bike Polo Tournament held in Madison, WI. Here I was able to meet up with polo players from around the country, and even from as far as Australia and France, as well friends from Milwaukee and Madison. The competition was serious, but the off court conversation was friendly and I got to play in several pick up games that were going on throughout the three days. The temperatures were through the roof in the relentless sun, and it was easy to get exhausted with all the biking, sweating, and free Ale Asylum. On the first day one of Meg's friends gave me a disposable camera... it had 13 photos left on it that were quickly snapped away by many folks.

This tournament was only my second, and first outside of Milwaukee. It was an excellent time and once again I had a great time hanging with anyone with a bicycle and a moment to chat. I met so many great players and entertaining people, and I am excited for the next tournament to come around the bend so I can do it all again. Next time I hope to get a team of friends together to compete, lets see if I can handle all those games in a weekend!

While back in Milwaukee I was contacted by my friends in No Sleep For the Bear for a last minute photo shoot for their press kit and website. They were really open to my ideas, and after a short brainstorming session we compiled a few guidelines for successful images. The list was pretty entertaining, and the main guidelines were... no sexy eyes, no jump kicks, and no cut off t-shirts (unless everyone is wearing a cut off t-shirt). The list continued in this fashion, and the more and more we narrowed down the "lame" ideas, we thought of some seemingly less lame ideas to try.

The photo shoot was made easier by everyone just jumping into my station wagon and just driving around the city. We had our eye out for interesting street murals where I hoped to photograph the band playing a game of Jacks on the sidewalk. As always the ideas evolved with every turn, and one location would lead to another idea, and in the end a totally different photo. Overall we just improvised and tried to make the shoot a fun time, along with getting some not-to-cliche images along the way. So we followed our guidelines, and I kept snapping away...

In the end the above image turned out to be my personal favorite. The mural we found looked to be painted by children who attended the school is was near, and the mural was home to some really interesting imagery of historic people and places. All we had to do was walk up and down the painted wall looking for interesting renderings or people in the background to shoot in front of. We thought the one of The Beatles would be an interesting match, as well as the colors being relatively varied all around.

We ventured onward and into the school playground, and gravitated towards a fence with a decent view of the city in the background. The lighting was pretty good, and waiting to shoot later in the day was certainly a strategic move on my part. The sun filled in the foreground with even light, which was warm and not over dramatic or too bright. I wanted to do a shot of them all sitting on top of the fence with only sky in the background, but because of the drop off on the other side, the band was a little reluctant to take this risk. We did a few of them climbing on the fence, but I liked the more straight forward look in the end. Overall the shoot was a good time, and a fun challenge and learning experience to do on such a short notice. I wouldn't say shooting bands is my calling, but it is certainly a fun way to work, and with every shoot I am getting more articulate and comfortable with art direction and in visioning how the final product will actually turn out.

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