A sampling of photos from a recent shoot for Milwaukee Magazine. To see the digital article and one of the shots in use click here. I only got to spend an hour with Ron, but learned a lot about his life, his journey, and also that he is an avid musician. The original art direction was focused on his car (the one he used for his escape), but after learning that music is what makes him most happy these days I had to sneak in a few shots of him with his beloved trumpet.
I recently got back from another incredible trip to Costa Rica. Though I was primarily there to photograph the High Energy Fusion Yoga teacher training (which was absolutely an amazing experience), I also took time go surfing and eat a ton of fantastic sea food. During my lessons with Tortuga Surf Camp I learned that the owner Mike was training to compete for a spot on the Costa Rican national SUP team.
Standup Paddle Board (or SUP) is a sport that I am learning more and more about. Like surfing, boards come in all shapes and sizes, all designed to accomplish different things. Mike was testing out a brand new board by Banzaii Surfing during my stay and I decided to follow him and one of his instructors to a sunset training session.
This title says it all... I'm not a writer (trying to get better, always learning) so I decided to do a video instead of a write up... Might try to do more of these videos in the future, maybe ...
A selection of my favorite photos I took while assisting with and producing the audio for the Adworkers "Honest. Hardworking. True." Podcast Episode 12 featuring Fred Gillich, a.k.a. Too Much Metal Fred.... Of course, even though I was doing audio, I had my camera because why miss the opportunity to photograph a couple of cool dudes having a great conversation.
I often hear people say "oh, I'm not very photogenic"... which is a total lie and I'll be sure to get into that in a later post... but when I hear that I usually laugh and reply "well, thats why I am on this side of the camera" But in truth I love getting my photo taken and my favorite is when people take shots of me working at shoots.
BTS photography (Behind The Scenes) is one of my favorite ways to share what I am working on. I also use it as an indicator to if the rest of the room is having as much fun as the subject and I are.... because if they are snapchatting its usually to brag that they don't "have to work" because some guys with a camera took over their desk space.
Fact is I am a social media whore, I love Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, even Facebook (most days) and seeing people post photos from our shoot let me know that I am doing something right.... because lets be real, we don't like posting shots of us bored at the DMV, we more often share posts of us having fun to show off to all our friends how much fun we are having... nothing wrong with that :P
So yes, if you are at a shoot, or see me floating around an event space, snap a pic and tag me in it... I'm often times standing on something or contorted in a weird position (bonus points if to catch me drinking a coffee) and its fun to see the environment from your perspective.
At first glance Captain Jordan Ponder is an intimidating dude. Big firefighter who is legitimately a body builder in his free time. Massive muscles and steely glance aside, Jordan is, without a doubt, one of the nicest people you will ever meet.
I met Jordan through local trainer Kellen Millad. We got a cup of coffee and I instantly knew that this was a guy I would want to be friends with. He truly has a kind heart and soul, is extremely involved in his community, plays drums in his church's band (go musicians!) and is driven to always improve. He said to me that it's not about being better than everyone else, but rather being better than you were the last time you did something. (I even trained next to him once at CoMo. My competitive nature got the best of me, and I was pretty sore for a few days from my attempts to keep up.)
Jordan is a born and raised Milwaukee native with deep roots in city pride, faith and family. He is the son of a 26 year veteran of the Milwaukee Police Department, so it's no surprise that he followed in his father's footsteps to serve the city that he loves. Jordan's parents were very supportive of his body building, encouraging him to begin training at a young age to compete in his first meet at 17.
Jordan became a Milwaukee firefighter right after high school, and his passion for fitness and public service combined when he was approached to take on the lead fitness trainer roll for MFD. Even though a volunteer position at first, Jordan eagerly took the opportunity as a way to give back to his brothers. As a trainer he focuses on safety, energy conservation and overall health.
When he’s not at the gym or fighting fires he is still working. As the Director of Firefighter Dynamic Performance Training and contributing writer for Fire-Rescue Magazine, Jordan continues his dedication to improving the health and safety of his brothers and sisters at departments in Milwaukee and nation wide.
Jordan is a man who lives his life in service - to his city, his family and his community. It truly is an honor to have him not only representing - but also protecting - Milwaukee.
So it's been a while since I've posted on this project. I've let a few things get in the way, and my focus got a little off for the past few months (pun totally intended). However, I finally feel like I'm getting back to where I need to be both mentally and physically.
A major catalyst for getting me back on track has been the amazing community of people around me. Doing yoga and meeting the members of Urban Om (their story) for our monthly photo shoots has introduced me to some pretty incredible people in the Milwaukee community. Recently Kelsey, the studio's co-owner, introduced me to Kellen Milad.
Kellen practices what he describes as "free movement". Basically it's a combination of yoga, parcour, gymnastics, running, climbing, lifting and pretty much any natural movement that doesn't require a gym space. He bases the practice around three principals:
- Practical movements like claiming, carrying, jumping, lifting, and balancing.
- Playful practice that sparks creativity and makes these movements enjoyable
- And the Personal journey that is unique to you and your movement.
To showcase these ideas and demonstrate that no gym is required, we decided to photograph and play in a natural environment. Along the way, I had the opportunity to learn what Milwaukee means to Kellen.
Q: Were you born in/when did you move to Milwaukee?...What was it like growing up in Milwaukee?
I was born in and raised in Milwaukee. I definitely didn't appreciate the city like I do now. My childhood time was split between Whitefish Bay and the inner city. I crossed the starkly drawn racial lines on a daily basis. Being biracial presented some unique challenges with Milwaukee being such a segregated city. I return about 2.5 years ago to find that Milwaukee has made a lot of progress since those days.
Q: What is your favorite part about the city?
My favorite part of Milwaukee is how we embrace food as part of the culture. That might sound odd coming from a "fitness guy" but I'm all about good food made with love. When I moved back I was unsure if it would be a good fit. Once I started getting acquainted with the restaurant scene I knew I would be alright calling MKE home again. I am so impressed with the number of restaurants that are sourced locally and continually raise the bar to produce innovative menus without being pretentious.
Q: What makes Milwaukee unique?
I have traveled all over the country and I can say that what makes Milwaukee unique is PRIDE. We know this city isn't perfect but we are so proud to rep MKE. Along with this pride you can tell that people really care about continuing to improve the city. The growth of local businesses, the lakefront festivals, community activism, the park system - I see all this goodness as the result of people having a deep sense of pride and caring for MKE.
Q: How do you feel connected to Milwaukee?
I love so much about this city and I am also in a position to give back now - that mutual bond makes me feel very connected. I want to help Milwaukee improve by helping individuals learn how to cultivate better health through lifestyle balance.
Q: What led you towards your practice?
Whoa, that's a long story. In short, I found a lot of emotional strength and mental energy through the development of my physical practice. I was in graduate school for counseling psychology when I realized that I wanted to help people access this inner strength through fitness. As time passed, it became less about exercise and goals and more about the bigger picture of health. Now I call what I do Free Movement - my practice of moving that is practical, playful, and personal.
Q: How does the community you've created influence/benefit the city?
In terms of health / fitness, the city is in need of an upgrade. The community we're building at CO/MO is dedicated to helping people move like humans again. We aren't about random acts of exercise. We're about making movement playful and meaningful again. We know our bodies can do so much more than biceps curls and ellipticals. And we know our bodies deserve so much better than being constantly abused and beaten down. Basically, we want to see a more balanced Milwaukee. Forget work hard, play hard...I want the new saying to be work hard, recover well, and play often.
The morning I spent photographing and chatting with Kellen really had a lasting effect on me. The idea of "enjoying what you do" really rings true when he describes what its like to train the way he does. He explained to me that its not a completion with anyone but yourself, you just have to push the be the best version of yourself possible. I really feel like that can be said for virtually anything you are passionate about.
Have you heard of Stealin' Strings, Honest Monday, R.A.S. Movement, Milwaukee's Own, Bryan Cherry Band or Naima Adedapo? If you have, you've probably seen Marc Ballini play live. In fact, Marc is kind of a staple in the local music scene, in Milwaukee performing weekly at a number of clubs in the area as a soloist, vocalist and keys player with MEGAPHONIC and R.A.S. Movement.
Q: What was it like growing up in Milwaukee?
Marc: I moved to Milwaukee when I was 12 years old. I consider myself lucky to have grown up in the city of Milwaukee. Milwaukee has been so very good to me in the last several years, and by being able to make music my full time job has been nothing but priceless. I wouldn't trade growing up in this city for anything.
Q: What is your favorite part about the city?
Marc: My favorite part of Milwaukee is the connectedness of the people, all the different pockets that inhabit the city are unique in their own respective ways, and all of them are enjoyable for their own reasons. From Bayview to Riverwest and beyond. You have to truly spend time in all parts of the city to have a true understanding of how great Milwaukee is.
Full disclosure, I've actually known Marc for a few years. He was one of my favorite customers when I was younger and had my own ambitions of the rock 'n roll lifestyle working at a Cream City Music. We reconnected recently when I started going to yoga classes at Urban Om. It just so happened that Jozi, one of the owners and first 414 Degrees participant, and Marc have been together for a few years and have a couple of adorable dogs!
Q: What makes Milwaukee unique?
Marc: Colectivo!! I love their coffee as well as everything their business stands for. This city has an industrial heritage flavor that many other cities would like to incorporate. It's a booming city, full of business and promise for the future. Good people, great friends!
I always call Milwaukee a "big/small city". It's got everything any big city could ask for, but it's small enough that you're able to find whatever you need to find within a short driving distance. The different neighborhood nooks this city has to offer, as well as the tight knit community overall sets Milwaukee aside from bigger cities. The amount of local support by its citizens and businesses alone make Milwaukee feel like a home. Everything from the excellent restaurants to the small neighborhood bars make this city one to make your home. Milwaukee = Home.
Q: How do you feel connected to Milwaukee?
Marc: Being able to make my living playing music for the last 10 years straight in Milwaukee has connected me to so many different people and lifestyles. I feel lucky to have been able to experience all the wonderful aspects that this city has to offer by making music.
Q: What led you towards music?
Marc: Music has always drawn me in, ever since I was a little child. It's been a moving force in my life that nothing can compete with. Music runs through my blood and continues to bring joy and happiness to my life.
Q: How does the music scene influence and benefit the city?
Marc: I've seen, first hand, how the music scene in Milwaukee can connect so many different groups of people. Milwaukee is such a tight network of people and local businesses. The people and the attitude in this city set it apart from the rest. I absolutely love Milwaukee and will continue to be a strong advocate for this awesome city.
Hanging out with Marc inspired me to get my butt back out there in the music scene again, not necessarily to start playing again, but rather to enjoy the blessing of such a thriving musical city we have. So with summer just beginning get out there, see a show and support local music! If you want to catch Marc live he can be seen playing with MEGAPHONIC at RC's Bar every Tuesday, at The Jazz Estate almost every Wednesday nights or with R.A.S. Movement now that the summer season is in full swing.