Journal

The Good Guys

 
He’s that guy... that just kind of does everything for you.
— Jeff Carter on Jamie Benn
 

Yesterday, Jamie Benn & Team Canada dispatched the mighty American’s in Sochi. My mighty Americans. Not long after, I received a text from my son, Brendan. He was mad. At Jamie Benn.

Jamie Benn faces off with Team Canada captain, Sidney Crosby, at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX.

Jamie Benn faces off with Team Canada captain, Sidney Crosby, at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX.

Here in Dallas, we’re big Benn fans. He’s our captain. So his anger didn’t last long… but, like Brendan, Jamie’s game winning goal (his second of the tournament), put most hockey fans in this city into an emotional conundrum.

But, not me. I’ll cheer for Benn every time. Even as he’s relegating USA Hockey to the Bronze Medal Game.

I will cheer because he’s one of the good guys. And, as the father of a young, impressionable hockey player, I’m of the opinion there aren’t nearly enough good guys. I’ve written before about the good guys we’ve had in Dallas. But, in all honesty, Jamie has quietly filled what I once thought were un-fillable shoes.

At this point, I could give you stats & examples that demonstrate his leadership & general hockey dominance, but, that’s not what this is about. Instead, I’ll tell you a story.

Jamie & his brother Jordie Benn, for the Dallas Stars Foundation

Jamie & his brother Jordie Benn, for the Dallas Stars Foundation

Last summermy son was cut from his travel hockey team. As a parent, It was gut wrenching to watch, but to his credit, he hardened his resolve to play at that level and landed himself a roster spot on a new team. The excitement faded quickly as the team struggled, going winless in their first handful of games. I was shooting Jamie and his brother Jordie for the Dallas Stars Foundation during one of those games as the score updates from my wife kept rolling in and finally, as the sun was setting, the final score came back. Another loss.

As we finished the final shot (which ended up as the poster), I told Jamie & Jordie Brendan’s story. Then asked if they’d be willing to send him some encouragement. Without missing a beat, they grabbed my phone & recorded a simple video wishing him luck with his season & encouraging him to work hard.

I have to think that Jamie knows a thing or two about getting slighted by a team he desperately wanted to make. This past summer, Team Canada sent out 47 invites to its orientation camp, but nothing came Jamie’s way. He wasn’t considered one of the best 47 Canadian born players. But he worked hard & earned the honor of wearing his countries sweater.

Jamie in his Team Canada sweater, a week before departing for Sochi, Russia.

Jamie in his Team Canada sweater, a week before departing for Sochi, Russia.

Then, when he arrived in Sochi, he was relegated to the end of the bench where 4 forwards have to share 3 spots on the ice. But he worked hard, earning the praise of his coach and a little more ice time. But, for most, Canada still only had eyes for Crosby, so Jamie continued to work, scoring twice, both game winners, one dispatching Team USA, and earned the adoration of his nation.

The good guys, in my opinion, aren’t defined by the colors they wear, but by the character they show when the deck is stacked against them. By that definition, Jamie Benn gets the C, once again.

Speaking of good guys: good guys credit the photos they post online, so, please don’t post this on your blog/tumblr/Pinterest, etc. without a photo credit. Thanks!

Dark to Dawn

DtD-01

I'm excited to announce an event that has been months in the making. On Oct. 3rd (yes, Stars fans, I know that's opening night) at the Fashion Industry Gallery, my long-time collaborator East-West Ministries is hosting a one-night gallery event featuring more than 100 of my photographs from around the world.

The event is free, but you need to register online (click here to register now) in order to attend. In order to spread the word, I'm asking for your help. Please feel free to steal that image above and post it where ever you like - Facebook it. Tweet it. Pin it. Do all of that and more. Even if you're not able to come or don't live in Dallas, I'm sure there is someone in your network who would be interested in an evening filled with art and good company.

Below is an excerpt from the artist's statement I've written for the show, which has been curated from more than 50,000 images taken over the last four years. Most of the work has never been seen before, but we have also included a handful of images that have helped shape my understanding of who I am as a photographer and storyteller.

DtD-02

An evening dedicated to the art and film of East-West has been a dream of mine since our first collaboration was in pre-production during the spring of 2010. In the years since that first trip - a career defining & life affirming journey to Cuba - I have had the distinct privilege of traveling with East-West to 9 countries, witnessing the artful ordering of our Father's grace and majesty at incredibly close range. In that time, through the tens-of-thousands of frames and terabytes of video footage collected, a singular belief has solidified in my heart:

Where goes light, goes life.

DtD-04

I have seen how the promise of the day to come can unshackle a man condemned by leprosy. I have seen how light can give courage to the two Christian families in a city of a half-million Muslims. I have watched as people experience Jesus for the first time in a dark hut through the flickering light of the Jesus film, then stood in awe as those same people were baptized in a puddle in the dark of night, just down the road.

DtD-03

To paraphrase my friend Barry Jones, there is a day coming when there will be no tears and all the rough places will be made smooth. These images represent little glimpses into the lives of people and places who have experienced a taste of that day in this one - or who are desperate for such a hope as this.

I sincerely hope to see you there.

DSLR workshop

Let's be honest, I've done a terrible job of promoting this, on a personal level, but I wanted to let you know it's not too late to sign up for this weekends WELD lab that I'm teaching. We will spend four hours with our hands on our cameras, learning everything from how to navigate your cameras menu system to taking advantage of features inside your DSLR that you haven't tapped into yet so that you can get the most from your camera.

This class has been designed with beginning photographers in mind. All you need to come with, besides your camera, is a willingness to step outside your comfort zone and try new things. That's it. Oh, and remember, you learn more when you're with friends - so please take a minute to share this with people in your life you'd like to learn alongside. We're going to have a good time.

You can register online by clicking the image. So, please do that.

You can learn more about WELD & WELD labs here: http://weld.co.

Against The Grain

Effective storytelling in the world of photography - or image making in general - requires one very well honed aspect of the craft: a unique perspective.

A victorious Adam Scott poses for photographers in his Green Jacket at the 2013 Masters (photo by Scott K. Brown/Augusta National)

A victorious Adam Scott poses for photographers in his Green Jacket at the 2013 Masters (photo by Scott K. Brown/Augusta National)

Kudos to Scott Brown understanding how powerful pointing your camera against the grain of all the other cameras can be. This image should remind us all to not get swept up in the tidal pool of trend or common wisdom. For your work to stand apart from the crowd, you must literally stand apart from the crowd.

Tap into and seek out your unique perspective. It's the only thing in the world you have that no one else can claim.

I must tip my hat to my friend Allan Thompson for sharing this image. His passion for story & golf are second to none.

Richard Rawlings

Richard-Rawlings-Private-Clubs-Magazine-photo-by-Trey-Hill

This one has been a long-time coming... but when you get an editorial commission, sometimes you have to hold on sharing the work until it has been published. Such was the case with this shoot with Fast N' Loud star, Richard Rawlings, for Private Clubs Magazine. So, I was stoked to find the issue in my mailbox over the weekend. There are few things as gratifying as seeing your work in print.

I wasn't familiar with Fast N' Loud, but back in December found myself on-set of the reality TV show, which is filmed at Rawlings' Gas Monkey Garage here in Dallas. Because of Rawlings' shooting schedule, my assistant, Neva Everett, and I would have to set up our shots and wait for a break in shooting to steal a few minutes with Richard. He was incredibly gracious and in a couple of hours of shooting we walked away having shot 7 set-ups.

Here are a selection of the images I delivered to the client.

Richard-Rawlings-Gas-Monkey-Garage-photo-by-Trey-Hill
Richard-Rawlings-Gas-Monkey-Garage-3-photo-by-Trey-Hill
Richard-Rawlings-Gas-Monkey-Garage-2-photo-by-Trey-Hill

Thanks to Richard & the entire Fast N' Loud crew for the access they provided and to Private Clubs Magazine Associate Design Director, Ron Thomas, for the assignment. It was fun collaborating with all of you guys.

10 for 10

Morrow embodies nearly all the characteristics Canadians so admire in hockey players: bravery, unselfishness, resilience, toughness, honesty. That skill set made him important to Team Canada. Then he started scoring goals.
— Ian MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun

Hearing the news of Brenden Morrow's trade, I knew I wanted to share some of my favorite images from the last 5 seasons of The Captain. But, before I get to that, I'd like to put everything - my work as a photographer & storyteller for the Dallas Stars and life as a hockey fan - in a more personal context. Because Morrow is at the center of all of that, when you boil it down.

I became a Dallas Stars fan in the fall of 2000 thanks to my friend Sam Ditore. I was newly married & recently out of college. My sports consciousness was waking back up. Despite my parents meeting on a hockey rink in Houston back when all the Howe's played for the Aeros, I'd lost touch with my hockey roots. Sam told me I needed to pick a favorite player.

After watching a handful of games, I chose a fresh faced kid who was in his first full season with the big club. He'd just received the number 10 from Brett Hull, a real hockey number. I chose Brenden Morrow because he seemed to embody the qualities I remembered my dad espousing as essential to hockey: honest play, self sacrifice and unfathomable toughness. Morrow led with his nose, didn't back down and played the way I hoped to live - right at the limit in pursuit of what mattered most. For him it was a piece of vulcanized rubber; I hadn't quite found my focus at that point, but when I did, I wanted to go for it the way he played every shift. No wonder he was such a great captain.

Fast forward a couple of years. My wife was pregnant and we had just found out we were having a little boy. A name, in my opinion means everything, so I wanted a name that he could grow into. A name representative of the right way to move through life; a name that was unflinchingly tough and inspired the pursuit of what mattered most. I jokingly went through the entire 2002-2003 Dallas Stars roster. When I finally got to Brenden, my wife & I felt like it fit. When we finally met our son a few months later, it absolutely fit, though we did change the spelling just a bit.

Brendan meets Brenden, Oct. 2008

Brendan meets Brenden, Oct. 2008

So, you see, when you hear that guy has been traded away after spending every minute of his career in your favorite team's sweater, it makes you feel two very polarizing things.

The first is a deep sadness. It makes no sense that we get attached to pro athletes the way we do. Actually, it's really silly that we do. But, for me, Morrow was a guy that had come to symbolize something far more meaningful than sport. I modeled my pursuit of a career as a storyteller after his pursuit of a puck and I hope a little of that will rub off on my son as he grows into his name and finds his passion, vulcanized rubber or otherwise, to chase after.

The second feeling, however, is unbridled excitement. Brenden is the kind of player who does it right every shift and is the kind of player whose name deserves to be immortalized on the trophy of all trophies. For his entire NHL career, he's been on a team that was either non quite good enough (1999-2000 and 2007-2008 come to mind) or really pretty terrible. So, as a fan of Morrow, the man and the player, I hope his move to Pittsburg alongside some of the most dynamic players in the game, brings him a renewed passion to pursue the thing he's been after since he first came into the league.

And if he does get himself a Stanley Cup, you can bet my Brendan and I will be watching and cheering.

These are my 10 favorite images of #10 and a little bit of the story behind them:

10 - Father

Brenden-Morrow-calls-home-photo-by-Trey-Hill

One of my favorite stories coming out of Morrow's trade was this one about his daughter comforting her mom by saying, "Mom, it's going to be okay, it's only a couple of months and he has a chance to win the Cup."

It instantly reminded me of this image from December, 2011, after Richard Bachman's shutout at Madison Square Garden. It was late and we ended up having an epic haul to New Jersey in front of us, but Morrow stole a few minutes to call home. I guess he's human, after all.

9 - The Other Cup

Brenden-Morrow-tapes-his-stick-photo-by-Trey-Hill

I'll never forget walking into the AAC on opening night of the 2011-2012 season and seeing this image on the souvenir cups. I've had my images show up in a lot of places, but that was a first.

8 - Chirping

Brenden-Morrow-chirps-the-Chicago-Blackhawks-photo-by-Trey-Hill

Hockey moves fast, especially in that spot right between the two benches. It's a shooting position that gives you an incredible perspective on the game and the games within the game. This image really gives you the sense of the speed with which stories unfold during a game and the kind of Captain Morrow was.

7 - Karting

Brenden-Morrow-laughs-with-Dallas-Stars-teammates-photo-by-Trey-Hill

The access the Dallas Stars have afforded me in my five seasons of shooting is unprecedented. It's something I never take for granted. Morrow, as the captain, was always the gate keeper of that access. On occasion, I press in a little too close - not for lack of respect, but because I genuinely want to find images I haven't seen before - so, to be invited on a team outing in Washington, D.C., and photograph the guys away from the rink was a highlight.

6 - A Little Something Special

Dallas-Stars-captain-Brenden-Morrow-photo-by-Trey-Hill

This image is just a favorite, but there's no real story behind it. It was shot early in the 2011-2012 season as the Stars were facing New Jersey. If you looked at the scoresheet, you wouldn't see a mention of Morrow, however, he left the franchise with his name all over the place. In 13 seasons with the Stars he served as team captain for 7 of them, sits 2nd all time in Game-Winning Goals (42) and has 3 of the last 4 playoffs goals scored by Dallas in overtime, including that special evening in 2008. So, I figured there was room for at least one image that's just pretty cool to look at.

5 - Face Off

Brenden-Morrow-face-off-win-versus-Colorado-Avalanche-photo-by-Trey-Hill

The Dallas Stars were grasping for playoff hope as the 2010-2011 regular season was coming to an end. If ever there was a time for the captain to rise to the occasion, this was it. Just seconds into the second period, with the Stars up 2-1, Brenden Morrow scored a power play goal that would hold up as the eventual game winner. Playoff hope was alive, if only for a few more days.

4 - The Captain Returns

Brenden-Morrow-at-morning-skate-photo-by-Trey-Hill

This image was taken one year, to the day, after Brenden Morrow learned he'd suffered an ACL injury that would limit his 2008-2009 season to just 18 games. I remember standing outside the locker room at the morning skate as he walked by, the first guy onto the ice that day. I followed him and took two or three frames. It was only later realized the connection between the date of his injury and this image which has always been a favorite of mine.

The work he put in to return from that injury was done in solitude, away from any spotlight and I've always felt you get a fleeting sense of the kind of work it took to come back in this image.

3 - The Warrior Sword

Brenden-Morrow-weilds-Warrior-Sword-photo-by-Trey-Hill

You may remember this story that blew up a few seasons ago. The sword became a symbol of camaraderie for a team that, at the time, couldn't lose. The moment in this image, in my opinion, the high point of that Stars season. A few days later after losses in Calgary and Vancouver, the season came unravelled in Boston.

2 - One of the Last

Brenden-Morrow-takes-the-ice-at-American-Airlines-Center-photo-by-Trey-Hill

Brenden Morrow makes his way to the ice at American Airlines center on Jan. 24th, 2013. A non-moment, really. But sometimes even the non-moments are beautiful, in retrospect. Little did I know at the time, this would be one of the last images I would make of Brenden Morrow in a Stars sweater.

1 - The Face of a Captain

Brenden-Morrow-has-a-black-eye-photo-by-Trey-Hill

I have no shortage of images of Brenden's battered face, but this one really sums it all up. Here you can see the embodiment of  "all the characteristics Canadians so admire in hockey players: bravery, unselfishness, resilience, toughness, honesty." Hands down, this image from Brett Hull night in 2009, is my favorite image of Morrow.