Over 20 months, two moves, new jobs and a global pandemic, I am finally back.
In October of 2018, I was fortunate enough to land a job as a Video Production Manager with Feld Entertainment for Monster Energy Supercross. I was sent out to Las Vegas for the Monster Energy Cup to film for the weekend to see if I was going to be a good fit for the company and as soon as I got there I was blown away with how real everything seemed to get. I was up close with the athletes who I had followed on social media and TV for years, and work one on one with them and see what really went into the spectacular show that is a Supercross race.
I worked alongside 3 other videographers, and me coming from a primarily photo background was out of my element, and shaking in my socks. You try to act like you know what you're doing because the saying goes; "fake it until you make it" and I certainly had a lot of learning to do.
You'd be surprised how different the two elements of Photo and Video can be and you need to think completely different within each discipline, while I knew the basics, I listened and watched everything that the other three videographers did and said to soak it up like a sponge to hopefully better land myself a shot at the job long term. Luckily for me, the guys I worked alongside with; Mason Churchill, Travis Hawkes, and Stephen Erikson all were so extremely laid back and helpful in order to give me any help I really asked for. Throughout the weekend we shared shots, experiences and it was a lot to take in and attempt to not be a total fan boy, but in the end it must've went better than I thought because as I was back home in CT the next month, I got a call that I had been offered the full time job and they needed me to move to Florida where Feld headquarters was as soon as possible.
I left Cole Beach Photography and my family and everything I knew for the first 20 years of my life and went to live on my own right outside of Tampa, Florida and start this new journey. I was tasked with the responsibilities of creating opening ceremony videos that would air inside of the stadiums and introduce the top riders to the fans, create social media videos, promotional videos, and shoot and capture the races and the action that was Monster Energy Supercross each and every weekend as we traveled across the United States for 18 weeks straight.
My first season was tough; mentally and physically. To get thrown into the deep end and force myself to grasp a whole new concept of videography, work for a huge corporation, and travel and live on my own, I learned a lot about myself and believe it forced me to grow up and mature much more rapidly than I would have had I stayed where I was comfortable. I'll never forget before round two in Glendale started I was on the phone with my Father and told him I couldn't do it anymore because of how homesick I was and felt as if I wasn't doing a killer job. He told me I need to finish out what I started and make it to the end of the season and it'd be done before I knew it.
He was right.
We traveled to the new city from Florida on each Thursday of the week, would stay there until Sunday or Monday (depending on if there was amateur racing Sunday) and fly back to Florida to work in the office Monday through Wednesday. We'd be editing, organizing and sending out footage during that time and before we knew it we were on another plane to do it all over again. Working for a large company really taught me a lot about how to work with people and to respond to the powers to be. Being my own boss previously or working for smaller companies really allowed me to do what I wanted creatively so between the two there were plenty of plus sides and down sides.
As the weeks went by, we got closer to the final race in Vegas and before I knew it, I was back home for a week long trip to visit family and friends after the season had ended. Towards the end of the season things began to click more for me and I began to really have fun and enjoy what I did, mostly because I began to learn more and figure it all out. After visiting home it made me realize even more how much I truly missed it, but after more long talks with my parents and Danny Stuart, they convinced me to do another season.
This time I had an actual offseason to prepare for what lie ahead of me. When the season was over, what most people don't know is I still worked full time, but now as a 9-5 (never really was 5, more like 7 or 8) desk job during the summer months just going through footage and organizing, editing and sending stuff out. It wasn't as demanding or fast paced as the regular season but we still had tons to do which included pre season meetings on how to make the next season better and improve on what we did the year prior, which excited me because I had no pre season when I came in, I just got thrown right into it all and it was a little overwhelming at times, and I wasn't able to do as many projects as I wanted to with my time restraints. We talked a lot about how to make opening ceremonies more intense, more impactful, possible video ideas to do with the riders, fan fest ideas, possible things to add to the racing and lots more. It was honestly a good summer of planning and I felt confident moving forward.
Now the thing is, with professional athletes comes the hardships of trying to work with them. So when trying to plan out pre season shoots for riders opening ceremonies videos, it became a nightmare at times. Riders not responding, not sure what they wanted to do, or just not having time, I really experienced it all. While there was bad, there was also good, certain riders like Cianciarulo, were super awesome to work with and we did a remake of a blink 182 music video for him, incorporating Ken Roczen and his girlfriend as well! And Blake Baggett where we showed both him and his new born baby boy training for racing.
As my second season came, our video team was clicking on all cylinders, putting out a ton more content and really getting some amazing footage each weekend and working well together and it was a blast. I even got to shoot the JS7 recap videos with the legend himself at his house each week when I'd fly back to Florida. Things were going great and then it came to an abrupt stop.
The Thursday we flew into Indy we heard rumors of possible rounds getting canceled because of this disease known as "Corona". At the time I was completely ignorant to it, had no idea what it was and figured it'd blow over before I had to pay any real attention to it. I had gotten to the stadium Thursday and began to finish up some videos that would be played Saturday and was told to not worry about anything or working for the day because things weren't looking good. It was an odd feeling, I didn't grasp just how real it was and remember just standing in the stadium watching the track still getting built wondering what my future would look like.
As the hours passed, the crew that put these shows on began to act a lot different, they knew everything was about to change and the atmosphere that filled that building was eire, odd and somewhat nerve chilling. People began to panic and talk, no questions were answered because nobody knew. It all happened so fast.
And finally we all got an email from Kenneth Feld stating the next few rounds were canceled, and then we flew back to Florida the next day and waited for what was to happen next. Rumors began to whisper around the office, you didn't know what to believe or what your future looked like.
As we began to work from home, I figured I'd fly home to family to spend time with them while I could, and still work at the same time, so I found some cheap tickets and booked them and as the time came for me to fly out, I received a call telling me that I, along with 80% of Feld was laid off and the future was very uncertain. The voice behind the other side of the phone was full of sympathy and forgiveness, in which I had no hard feelings for, I saw this coming and it wasn't their choice. So I flew home and stayed for the week, then drove down to Florida with a friend Matt Parker to grab my essentials, and we drove back together so I could now live in Connecticut.
Since then I've fully moved out of my Florida apartment, spent some time working for my Father's construction company, and restarted Cole Beach Photography. From weddings to portraits, to dirtbikes I've done it all since I've been back. I've also been working for Align Media who is a group of super talented photographers who shoot for various companies at the outdoor races so I've been traveling to the recent nationals as well and just loving it all! So if you see me around New England say hey, or if you need any photo or video work make sure to contact me.
I'm happy to be back home, see you all soon!
Where to even begin - what a story.
I was a freshman in high school, roaming the halls intimidated by all the older kids, just trying to stay out of their way. I knew who Corey was before then, we had taken the bus together, as he lived just about a mile from me but I never had talked to him before, and was honestly a little scared of him! He, and his girlfriend would always be hanging out whenever I saw them in the halls. Not like the other couples though, all over each other and acting like it'd be their last time seeing one another, but more of almost already like a married couple, and best friends at the same time. Don't get me wrong you could see the love between the two but it was different, and appeared more real to me, I honestly looked up to it.
Nicole would come on the bus with Corey sometimes when she would go over to his house after school, but just like with Corey, I had never spoken a word to her, just kinda admired the bond the two of them had. It wasn't until I started to get into riding probably a couple months later where I was at a track in Granville - Woodger's, one Thursday after school with my Dad, and Corey was there as well. His speed was smooth, pure, and frankly I looked at it in awe with how someone could ride like that, because I had a problem getting up the spectator hill at the time but he made it look effortless.
My Dad had to leave early to go get stuff ready for his job the next day, but I wanted to keep riding so Corey offered to bring me home since we were practically neighbors. On the ride home, we talked as if we had been friends for years, never any quiet awkward moments and just learning all about each other. He told me how he wanted to turn Pro and eventually qualify for a national just like his Father had, back when he raced, and how he had a great relationship with Nicole, who is also a big part of his racing. I could tell he had heart and would make anything happen if he put his mind to it, and I was ready to jump along for the journey.
You know when you meet people and you may like spending time with them but you're not going to necessarily call them up everyday and talk to them or hangout often? Well that's not what Corey was, I knew we were going to end up pretty close.
Fast forward about 6 years, and man the experiences we've shared, things we've seen, and amount of hours he's talked to me on the phone is just incredible. Not only with him but Nicole as well, two I consider to be my best friends, been through it all with me and I've seen them grow an amazing amount as well. I look at the two of them like family and knew from the start Corey was going to marry her. How could he not? Not too often you come across a girl like her, naturally beautiful, has a unique awesome sense of humor, and who not only supports your dreams with everything she has, but has huge dreams of her own and is going and achieving them at the same time. They compliment each other so well and their story is different than most and it's what makes their bond so special.
We've traveled the East Coast multiple times, lived together, trained together, cleaned Joe Mudda's house together, and yes I may be just third wheeling the whole time but it doesn't even feel like it! I can't say that I've done that with any other couple, and felt as close as I do with anyone else. They have witnessed and supported me in the building and formation of my photography business, and I don't think my business would be the same if it weren't for their advice and help. We have all trained together, to get in better shape and also better riding shape, from running on the streets of North Carolina, to the gym in Nicole's basement, in the Griffin sandpit, or just the back roads of Enders.
When I see Nicole look at Corey I see a story. A story of pure happiness and support, she would do and has done anything for him, in the blink of an eye. He is where he is today becasue of her, she has been his biggest support system always believing in him and making sure he was bettering himself to achieve his dreams. It's not easy to be in the motocross industry, let alone support your boyfriend through it but she has, and that comfort that she gives him makes all the difference with him. She knows what to do to make sure his race days go better, and when they don't go too well she knows how to handle it. I'll never forget at my second race ever, it was an October day at Central, and had poured the whole morning and the track was a mud pit. We had pitted together and after unloading my bike and gear, I look over to their trailer and I see Nicole cleaning and prepping his helmets and goggles, he was no where in sight but it just amazed me that he didn't even ask but she just knew to do it and seemed to actually enjoy doing it. He may not show how thankful he is all the time but I know he truly is, and he knows just how lucky he is.
Corey was there on the gate with me for my first gate drop, he was there for my first ever national shooting inside the fence, he was there when I dislocated my elbow, and I've been there to his first national that he qualified in, to the race where he won the NESC 450A championship, to the gym together with our killer trainer Steve, spent many hours working for my dad together, and even going to WWE RAW when Goldberg returned. The memories are endless, he's also become one that I look up to and take a lot of advice from. He's become close with my whole family, to thinking of them and talking to them just as comfortably as he does with me. I don't think there has been a day in the last 6 years where Corey hasn't called me to talk just about anything or just to ask to go riding. It's honestly hard to put into words my relationship with him and Nicole, that's why this may seem all over the place, but there are just so many amazing times and things wouldn't be the same if I didn't know them.
Last Fall Corey had told me he was going to propose to Nicole and I was a little surprised, I knew it was going to happen but it seemed to come out of nowhere one day. He just knew what he had and wanted to make sure she knew how he felt about her, so he had asked if I could come take photos of the day. We were going to go on a hike together and I was going to "take photos of the view" but you know what that was all about... But things didn't line up and he decided to wait a little longer so that was that. I didn't know when it was going to happen, or how and I don't think he really did either. Then one day I had gotten another call from him letting me know he just did it, he felt the time was right and wanted to propose. He had faked working on his truck and asked her to come over with her phone for a light, and there he was on a knee. I was overwhelmed with joy and happiness because I knew how much this meant to the both of them, and now it was truly official that they were going to be spending their lives together and I wouldn't want it any other way.
Nicole had asked me a couple months back if I could take their engagement photos and I was ecstatic. If you know them, you know they aren't the type to show much PDA so my hands were going to be full with Corey, but I had confidence from the start. As days passed, Nicole would text me asking about outfits, locations, and pintrest posts on photos she liked, so I began to see what she was looking for and what she liked, so the shoot would go smoother.
It was a Saturday, and I was up in Maine shooting a race and the two of them were at Southwick racing Corey's new bike, and on my way home Nicole had texted me saying he had won all of his motos so I knew it was going to be a good shoot, he was in a good mood and would be extra cooperative with everything. They both got ready, and came to my house as I lead them to the location I had in mind, the sun was setting and there was a slight breeze, just absolutely perfect weather. As we began, we had to work through some things and get comfortable with the whole concept of me pointing the lens at them. Nicole was amazing, she knew what to do and had no problem doing it but Corey would either get distracted and off topic or just not look comfortable in the photos, so I began to just interact with them and talk about things instead of focusing so much on being serious and it began to flow, it was just an awesome day where I really got to see the behind the scenes affection they have. I had not once seen the two of them kiss in all my time of knowing them but thought it would be a great shot so I asked if they would and positioned myself. I wanted the photo to be from a little bit of a distance, to show the size and emptiness of the field that engulfed them. This point of view gives me a more intimate feel, even though its just the two of them in this field, they still will choose to stay close and kiss one another showing the connection they truly have. It brings your attention right to them and almost makes you feel like their in the middle of nowhere, just all alone by themselves not thinking about anything else but each other and all the incredible memories they share. The light color of the wheat went just right with the colors I had them wear, and the residual sunlight that the sun had left to offer for the day before it descended.
These two are my absolute best friends and I am beyond happy for them and their next step in life. Nicole and Corey thank you for everything and I wouldn't want it any other way, you two are perfect for one another and don't ever lose sight of that.
As I learn more and become more experienced in the field of photography, I understand more and more what Photography is, and how so many people may not understand it.
I'm one who is inspired by others, and I will go out and attempt to recreate a similar image to what inspired me but with my own style and twist so I'm always looking at photos others post, and watching behind the scenes videos of various shoots. It's what pushes me to create new images and change it up. I feel that I was personally stuck in a rut with photos of people riding for a month or two, where the only photos I would even think about taking were when people were exiting a corner, because who doesn't love a sick corner shot with their bike leaned over and roost flying out from the back? Don't get me wrong its definitely a money shot, you need it but not all the time, and you have to shoot it from different angles instead of just towards the rider coming at you.
After doing some scrolling through various social media profiles of photographers I felt new and refreshed of so many ideas that I was ready to put to use. The biggest thing I noticed behind each photo that inspired me was the fact I could feel the photo, like I was there and it told me something besides just being a clean, crisp photo of something. It changed how I thought about photography, and made me realize I wanted to change my style and how I held myself mentally going out to each and every shoot.
So many people who aren't in the industry will look at a photo and if its clear, sharp and if the backgrounds out of focus then they instantly think its a great photo, which may definitely be true, but theres much more behind it. In my eyes you could have an out of focus, soft photo of something but if it tells a story and preserves a memory then its worth more than the perfectly exposed, in focus photo that is bland and doesn't tell anything. Now don't get me wrong I'm not saying that to stop worrying about composition and exposure of photos because those are very important pieces of the pie, but in my eyes the best tasting piece of the pie is that underlying story to the photograph that makes people sit back and think about it. in some situations it can be very difficult to tell a story with every photo, but thats where exposure and composition can come into play with how you put those pieces together.
Sports especially are not the most artistically advanced photos, so you tend to have to possess extra patience and also have a lot of luck along with talent on your side. One shot that people love is the two or more bikes battling it out for a position, it tells more than just a single bike in a photo, but they're not the easiest to always capture and you have to be in the right place at the right time.
This is a photo of my good friend Mitch O'Keefe, who races locally in the Expert class and he rides because he loves it. I was doing a shoot with him in a sandpit and the sun was setting on the warm late April afternoon and that's always my favorite time of the day, with being able to play with that warm, and everlasting sunlight. Mitch was doing motos on motos in the deep, rutted up sand track as I would run from section to section to get the shot of him. Now he may not have the best gear, the best bikes, or even the best luck in the sport, but that won't stop him. He fights against all that's thrown at him from tearing both ACL's (one currently torn but the dude is riding through till his surgery date) bike problems, or even just dealing with the same thing everyone else in the sport experiences, money hardships. That is one thing I do admire, his will and drive.
This photo to some may not mean too much, but to anyone who knows Mitch it says a lot. As you look down you can see he is on his 2006 Suzuki 250 2 Stroke, which is all covered with dirt giving you the idea he had just been riding hard. Now not many people who are racing at a high level locally are on a bike over 3 years old, let alone 12 years old! Most will buy the newest and the nicest but Mitch's ride of choice is the rm250, which is no longer in production and is still a very good bike, but new technology definitely allows the new four strokes to be much more competitive and have more power under the seat. Then as your eyes travel to his face, you see a smile hidden behind the helmet. A smile that tells his story of moto; through the thick and thin he still loves and it's his escape from reality. I don't think too many would keep riding or racing if they were in his shoes, with a torn ACL right after his other one had been repaired. For some reason this sport is such an addiction it'll make people do the weirdest things, that only the ones who do ride understand. We keep going back to it after it keeps knocking us down (some get knocked down harder than others).
Mitch is doing what he loves, and I just dig this photo and how he's smiling so naturally, it's not in your face but almost hidden behind the helmet. The smile is sincere and it tells a story that people can interpret many different ways, but all I know is that riding makes Mitch keep going and that's why this Photo is so rad to me, it tells a story.
Thanks for reading!
So this is more of a rant, versus an explanation of a photo (Still included one Photo from a recent shoot) and I've wanted to get back to writing one of this since it has been a while.
Photography is my full time job, it is what I solely depend on for a source of income just like everyone else that works a job, it's their way of living and paying bills. Each job in the world is paid differently and some make more than others, people will choose their career based of the income that comes along with it and then some will choose their career off of their interest versus the income.
I chose Photography because I love it, I love capturing moments and being able to see people react positively to what's captured. I didn't care about what people thought about a photographer's income whether it was a lot or a little, I just wanted to do it and enjoy everyday of work which many people do not. Being in the industry for myself for about a year now I can see the highs and lows of it all; there are plenty of photographers who are out there making great money and then there are plenty making not so good money. Being in business for myself has taught me a lot, and shaped me as a person.
Starting as an outsider from the industry and seeing it in that perspective from buying photos of myself from others, and now being one of those photographers it makes me realize how much people don't see and realize from an outsiders point of view. Photography costs lots and lots of money to get into, just like other industries but people for some reason don't look at it as work, or that all it is, is "pressing a button" so they're owed the photos that are taken of them. Which I can somewhat understand thinking back to how I looked at it before I got into it, but it's so much more than that. Photography is an art, you are able to create an image and show people how you see things. From manually always adjusting exposure, to dealing with people, to running a website, editing for hours on end, spending time out of your day, running around to get the shot, buying software, the camera, accessories, gas money, it all comes down to a lot of work and time that people don't see.
One of the biggest rules I learned recently is: business and friends do not mix, you must separate them. Trust me if I could just do it all for free and not have to worry about paying bills and all that, I would have no problem but it's life! I gotta make a living just like everyone else. In this past year I've had so many great and loyal customers, who value the time and effort I put into my work, and they pay, but just like any business you will always have the people who will bust you and haggle you for money. The last month a couple have popped up, when I followed up with someone who hadn't paid me since September I was told "you didn't charge then, you gave me the photos". This was someone who I was on a friendly basis with, but he was going to bust me for a couple bucks that we both had agreed on in person at the time of the shoot. I am not looking to take money that isn't owed or take more than I deserve, but when a client agrees on the price you give them, they need to pay.
I've tried to understand why some look at us as people who deserve to give our work away, why should we go without an income to give people what they want? It doesn't seem to make sense. If you're a carpenter and I ask you to build me some kitchen cabinets, you expect to be paid for your work, right? What if people just called you and asked you to do work for them without getting any money, how would you feel? Probably pretty crappy. It goes the same for photography, people will contact me and ask; " We should do a photoshoot!" I'll answer back, and when I mention prices, people seem to back away and say "Oh I didn't know you were expecting money".
When you're in the process of taking photos and videos of people, they love you and are all about it; referring to you as their buddy, but when the shoots over and money is the next topic at hand, they want nothing to do with you and will ghost you. I strongly believe if someone puts their all into it and they give you a price for what they did, they should be paid. For example someone who does graphic design work for me will bill me after everything is done, I won't even know a price before he does any work but I see what he puts out and believe he should be paid for it.
I hear too much nowadays of amateurs who go and pick up a point and shoot camera will go to places such as the motocross track and take photos and give them away for free, where there are professionals also at the track selling photos in order to earn some money. When riders go home after riding and see all these free photos online they'll take them even though the quality of them is much lesser and can't be compared to the professional's photos. This will cause people not to do business with the person charging, because even though they got $hi**y photos from the amateur, they still are photos. When you pay for a photo, you're paying for that experience and that knowledge that makes their photographs so much better than the others, and plenty of people will see that and they will pay, but some don't value it.
I've been fortunate enough to be able to be paid for what I do by many people from sports, to portraits, to video and those are the people that keep me going. They see what it takes and what I can do for them so they will pay the price that is charged, and to all of you that have done business with me and paid what is owed, I thank you for allowing me to do what I love, and I thank you for not being like the very few who attempt to stiff me and take my work for free.
This is for all Photographers out there, to explain what happens to us, and to get the word out. These select few have taught me a lot, and to watch out for certain people when owning and operating a business.
Thank you for the support, much love
This last week, some buddies and myself decided we wanted to get away from the cold of New England and go ride down south in North Carolina for the week of Thanksgiving so we packed up everything we needed, hooked up to the camper and off we went.
Along with the three of us, there were four other families coming down to the same area we were so we were going to be in good company with people we enjoyed being around.
The drive down seemed to take forever, and towing the camper did a number on our wallets as we stopped to fill the truck what seemed about every 20 minutes. We continued on through, deep into the night as the traffic vanished and the road became wider and more open and I may have snuck in a minute or two of some Z's where Zach and Mitch stayed awake most of the night.
I woke up around 5:30 in the morning when the GPS had told us we were within in an hour of our destination, and to Mitch saying "About time you wake up, you lazy SOB!" I sat up and as I looked out the window to see the land passing me by, it felt as if we were in a new world; the houses looked different, the land was flat and you could see for miles across the fields that enclosed the road, and most importantly, there were Waffle Houses.
Every year we would usually make at least one trip down to North Carolina to ride various tracks, and last year we went to one sand track that was recommended to us by a friend and it was unlike any track we had ridden, great flow, great sand, safe jumps and really demanding and technical all in the middle of nowhere behind a guys house in Vanceboro, NC.
We loved it so much we knew we had to come back, the track owner would go out of his way to talk to us and see what we thought of the track and see if we wanted anything changed, and he even offered to have us come back and stay in his own home! So thats exactly what we did, we wanted to ride that one of a kind track, and even if we had to drive 12 hours we were gonna go to West Craven MX, home of the Dirt Wizard Joe Sawyer.
We rolled into the track around 7:00 and as we got out of the truck the hot and heavy air hit us like a truck, much different than what we had back home, and we took off our sweatshirts and began to walk around checking out the dirt we would be riding for the next couple days. Shortly after we were approached by a young man who at first seemed to be speaking a different language, using words that I had never heard of, and referring to us as "y'all". His name was Hunter and he was the track owners brother and he had offered to groom the track for us before he went to school, in case we wanted to ride while he was gone. He had something which we wouldn't easily find back home, generosity, and the fact he would go out of his way to make sure we had a nice smooth track to ride on even if it messed up his days schedule. We all were in need of some rest and food so we declined and off to waffle house we went.
With full stomachs and deprived of sleep, we went to work on setting the camper up and doing some bike work and as the hours passed the families would roll in one by one all with the same goal, to ride dirtbikes and have fun.
Mitch, Zach and I all became friends through the passion of riding and what we also had in common was the fact we were balling on a tight budget and didn't bring a large amount of food and with thanksgiving in the middle of our vacation we had planned on going to either KFC or Popeyes instead of bringing all that food and cooking it. Luckily because of how great the moto community is, when thanksgiving rolled around, the Bailey's, Nettleton's, Jenny and Ron had all cooked an amazing meal right out of their campers at the track, and you would have sworn they were in the comfort of their own homes with the food that they created. We all sat around the fire with the essence of exhaust and turkey filling the air as we shoved our faces full until we couldn't eat anymore.
As I looked around I knew this was one of the big things in life I was thankful for, being able to have these great people around and help each other out without asking for anything in return, all sharing that passion for the same sport was something special and I just took a deep breath and took it in and realized how great life was. The fact I was able to do this, and enjoy it with some of the best people was something I had to cherish and take in, life has it's ups and downs and this was certainly an up.
As the week went on, we shared many laughs, stories and foods with each other, and Dirt Wizard and his family all joined in and we were able to combine our various types of cooking and ways of life with one another and even turn up some dirt and hit some jumps.
So about this photo; I took this of Zach going up the face of a jump on Thanksgiving day and it personally interested me due to the lines in the face of the jump. Anyone who has ridden knows the challenges ruts can cause, and for people who haven't ridden, they're caused from tires repeatedly going over the same spot and just wearing it down, and once those ruts are formed, you must follow them with both wheels, so you don't get sketchy and out of control and go off the jump sideways by accident. The lines of the ruts cause your eyes to follow them from the bottom up, eventually bringing your attention to Zach, the main focus of the image and you can almost just imagine how technical the face is from the small ruts going up it.
The whole trip was eye opening, I had been down South before but never had the chance to talk to people about the things that they did that were different than us Yankees, and hear about what they thought of the North and still at the same time all come together and be one big family brought together by dirtbikes and a man who built an awesome track in the middle of his backyard, that is far from a backyard track, but a high caliber track. It was a week full of berm blasting, good times and even some crashes but most importantly good memories that you couldn't put a price tag on.
Thanks for everything and having a killer track see you soon Dirt Wiz,
Your favorite Yankee
It was a cloudy Saturday in October. The air was light and dirt was flying through the air as the bikes rode by, it was just another day at the track for me, taking photos and videos of people doing some awesome things on dirtbikes, what more could I ask for?
This is my job and I love everything it throws at me, the people I've met because of it and the places and things I've seen wouldn't be possible if I wasn't Cole Beach Photography.
As the day came to a close, the sun began to set, the sound of two and four stroke engines drained away, the dirt settled and natures soundtrack began to take over at the track. Some great girls I had met from taking photos at the races had still been at the track though, and had asked me to take some photos of them down the road at a beautiful location for some fun fall photos, but as we walked around and took a couple at the track, we knew we had to stay and just do the whole photoshoot at the track because that's who they are, thats their background and what defines them as a a group of best friends.
Laura, Cailin, Kylie and Noelle are some of the most unique and down to earth people I have ever met, traits that seem harder and harder to come by in this day of age. They care about everyone around them, and look out for each other like I've never seen before, but also love to have fun and live their lives to the fullest.
Their personalities may actually be pretty different among the four of them, but I think that's what makes them clique so well. I had the honor of meeting the four of them at a race in Marshfield, Massachusetts in the middle of the summer, they had come up to me and asked for me to get a photo of them and their friends and we immediately vibed well and from then on it's been nothing but laughs and good times.
The clouds began to open up and the sun peaked through, and with it setting I knew the shoot was going to be a good one, so we walked around the track and my eye was searching for things that would show the track and the girls at the same time because that's who they were, that's what united this friendship so with every photo I want to tell a story to the viewer and this was one of my favorites from the afternoon.
When looking at this photo, it fills me with excitement and a smile appears on my face, the track is a familiar place with amazing memories of my own being made here. Then when I think of all the memories the ladies have from the track, from the pro nationals to the local races and even the unique J Day races, it's all be special to them and they've been able to meet awesome people from it, and its shaped them for who they are and that's really interesting. You look into the background and you see the sun setting, on the beat up and rough track that just had a day of riders hammering on it, and for anyone that rides it brings that great feeling of seeing those rollers and lines burned into the sand. Not only does it bring good memories and emotions to other riders, but it almost shows that the ladies "rule" this place as they stand in front of it all, with smiles and body stature that suggests their relaxed and almost like they're in control.
The whole afternoon was one of the most enjoyable shoots I've done, being so relaxed with such cool people made my job that much easier. As we went through various spots and poses, they would pipe up with some helpful and insightful tips to only better me as a photographer which makes me see just how caring these girls are. They began to offer suggestions of things I could do, and things they liked and what they wanted to see more of, yes the photos were of them so they wanted them to look good, but sometimes you can just feel that genuine feeling from people and that's exactly what I felt.
Some poses like the ones in this photo were fun and relaxed, but we were also able to do candid, in the moment, photos which are a style I very much enjoy, with capturing emotion in the moment. We even would change it up and try serious looks only to last a couple seconds because I would laugh because they thought they looked tough but in reality they aren't mean and nasty like some people can be.
Overall with this photo my goal was to create a relaxed feel by not directly posing them just having them stand where I wanted and told them to smile. You can see with how they are all standing, all different poses, true, beautiful smiles and leaning in towards one another, the bond between them is apparent. As your eyes pan to the background you see the track which brought these girls together, and this is the place they have spent many weekends at, building life long friendships and memories that'll never fade.
These ladies are some of the best people I have ever met and am honored to call them my friends, thank you for everything guys.
Till I see you next Noelle, rock it in bama and don't forget about your favorite C class racer.
When you think of New England what's one of the first things to come to your mind? The cold winters? The large variety of wildlife? Maybe the New England Patriots? Some meanwhile may say the beautiful fall foliage and I can agree.
I for one am not a fan of cold winters, and the amount of snow that comes with them. I love snowboarding and being at the mountain but besides that, I dread that time of year but the season leading up to it, is definitely my favorite, fall.
With the cool breeze, thin and light air that surrounds us, beautiful colors spanning from yellow to orange littered among the trees, it's a season that's hard to dislike. There aren't any of those high 90 degree days with high humidity, just the happy medium with temperatures ranging from the 50's to high 60's. You don't have to pile on layers of clothes just to be able to stand outside for a little, throw on a sweatshirt and you'll be perfect, and for any motocross racer that you ask, they'll say fall is their favorite time to ride.
Perfect temperatures and the beautiful colors make for some awesome race days that aren't in need of umbrellas to shield people from the beating sun of the summer, or multiple coats and jackets that people may wear in the early spring to deal with the cold. For most riders, these are the last few times of riding that they'll be able to get in before they have to put the bike away for the winter, at least up here in New England so we always try to make the most of it.
I've always wanted to get a photo that really represented New England well and I think this one does just that.
I went out with my pal Dylan to our local pit, and just wanted to play around with some things and practice because I always strive to improve my work and get better so anytime I have a free moment I try to go take some photos.
The sun was on it's way down, on the early October day and we rushed to get any last shots we could while we had the light. My favorite time to shoot to get that beautiful warm feel is always when the sun is setting, so I was looking for something that sparked my eye with the light and being able to capture it with Dylan as well.
This particular shot wasn't totally planned, Dylan was trying some jumps that he had found and I was attempting to shoot towards the sun with Dylan jumping in front of me but as I looked on the screen of my camera, what I saw didn't wow me so we both stopped to talk for a second and so Dylan could catch his breath. He sat on top of one of the tallest mounds of sand in the pit, and I was probably 12 feet below him on a shorter pile, and probably 30-40 feet away from him.
As he stopped and we began to talk, I saw the opportunity for a beautiful image. The trees behind him were still being hit by the everlasting light that was existent as the sun set, and that light really brought out the warm, fall feel in those changing leaves. I waited for Dylan to look at me and snapped away, putting him the lower part of the frame so the trees behind were still visible, and underexposing the shot so instead of seeing a lot of light, you're able to focus more on that warm feel that the colors provide.
Theres just something about getting a shot like this, its rewarding to see it and put it together and to create something that can actually give off a mood and feel just from looking at it, and that's one of the big reasons why I have such a passion for photography, images like these. Some may not understand and may believe it's all in the camera or all you do is "press a button" but as a photographer you control everything, you are solely responsible for making the image that is captured by your camera, everything can affect it and its up to you to decide how it appears and what it represents. It's an art.
For motocross, this is a sight everyone loves to see; a dirtbike and those colors on the trees, it represents the best riding time of the year, something you can only find in New England.
Thanks for reading!
What a crazy past few weeks..
The week of August 21st was one that was filled, every single day with something different which is a big step in my career. I've always had stuff to do, but not a different shoot everyday of the week, but my weekend was the most busy.
I had contacted companies about shooting more pro nationals for them and provide them with photos that they would be able to post online and do with them as they wish, and some had contacted me back and then I applied for a press pass and I was off, and August 26th the pro national was in Crawfordsville, Indiana.
My buddy Corey was going as well to attempt to race it, but I didn't wanna travel together incase something happened I didn't want to be in his way by staying there all day long, so I decided to drive myself out.
It was a 14 hour drive and I've done longer before, but never alone, or even in my own vehicle where nobody else could switch off with me and I could rest while driving, but I was up for the challenge.
I loaded up my little Colorado with enough clothes and food to last me the weekend and left right around 3:30 friday morning and drove straight through to Indiana, only stopping to use the bathroom or fuel up. I got to the hotel Corey, Tyler and Nicole were staying at right around dinner time so we all walked across the street and got some dinner at Cracker Barrel and then went back to the hotel to prep for the next day of racing. (which included a quick dip in the hot tub)
We woke up right around 6:30 and got dressed and had some breakfast and off to the Ironman National we went.
The weather was great, not too hot and pleasant and sunny, and the track was so interesting with huge jumps, large amount of elevation change, and even a racer, from overseas who has never competed in the pro nationals over here, came to race the event, so the hype and excitement in the air was apparent.
As practice started, all the other photographers posted themselves all over the track in order to capture that morning light and the best looking shots, but as 450 B Practice finished up, it was like a photographer call had been heard down by the starting gate and they came by the masses.
Wondering what they were doing, I then remembered that Jefferey Herlings the Dutchman would be in this practice session and everyone wanted photos of him, and so did I.
I went down to the gate and saw the whole line of riders ready to take the track, but a swarm of blue vests surrounded Jefferey, it was like the other riders weren't even there everyone just wanted photos of the 784.
He had a different attitude about him, he didn't soak in the attention like some might, or even acknowledge the cameras and people surrounding him, he had a very serious feel emitting from him, he was here to do a job and prove a point for all of the guys who race overseas.
He did just that, by going 1-1 on the day and totally sweeping the Americans on their home turf.
It stirred up the pot of emotions and angered plenty, but as the riders finished their second motos, the top rider in America Eli Tomac had just won the 450 class national championship so his celebration was the focus of everyone, draining out Jefferey in the backgrond with chants from the crowd of "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!"
Another national was done, I had gotten quite a few decent shots, and even was able to send them right from my camera to the people throughout the day who had asked me to take photos for them. I learned a lot, and was able to make new connections and overall had an awesome day.
The day was from over though.
I got in my truck as the celebrations concluded and started driving, and no not back to the hotel but back to Connecticut.
I had gotten hired to shoot the NEATV race the next day in Planfield, CT, and the only way I was getting there on my budget was driving through the night, something I had little experience with as well.
Most kids growing up usually attempt to be rebellious and will pull an "all nighter" but I guess I was never one of those kids and always needed my sleep, so going 24 hours without any sleep was going to be new and probably tough.
I drove on my first tank of gas until around 10 pm in which I figured it'd be a good time to get a quick bite to eat. I was feeling great, jamming out to some music I felt as if I would have no problem going all night.
Oh man was I wrong.
Once 2 am hit, I was ready to pass out, and not wanting to take any risks I pulled into a rest stop, got some gas and I ran around the rest stop. I figured with some blood flow it'd help and it did, for only an hour in which I pulled over again and repeated the same process. This continued until about 6 am when I hit the jersey turnpike and started to recognize where I was and the sun began to come up. I had an energy drink or two, which I rarely drink, and put the hammer down through New York City.
The sun coming up definitely helped, but doing the same thing over and over for that long amount of time without rest was brutal, and in order to prevent myself from dozing off I would call people because talking kept my brain going. You can only talk to people for so long though and it was still early on a Sunday so there wasn't many people to call.
I was about an hour away from the track when I had to pull over one last time because I started to doze again, and did my lap around the rest stop and told myself I was almost there, and that this is all for my career and my passion.
My father I consider to be one of the most motivated people I've met, when he sets his mind to something and wants it, he will succeed no matter what, so I just thought about what he would always tell me, "If you set your mind to it, you can do it"
I got to Central at 8:30 and then started another whole day of shooting, doing what I love and being able to make money at it. What more could I ask for?
I absolutey love photography and being able to preserve those special memories and even see some of the coolest things in the world, along with travel and see parts of the country I never had before!
This is my passion, and I'm able to wake up everyday saying I love what I do, and to always continue learning and improving my work.
Thankful for it all and here's to the future
Hey there guys-
This article is about how I was able to shoot the Unadilla Pro National on Saturday, with the granting of a press credential pass with the help of the famous Mr. Paul Buckley. (Thank you for all your help Paul, it's meant the world to me!)
Unadilla is a national round my dad and I have gone to for the last three years, it's the second closest round and we love the national scene and seeing the racing live and in person. This year we had planned for the same thing, to go and drive three and a half hours to go hangout for the day and watch the excitement.
After the Southwick National, I started looking for ways to be able to take photos at more rounds, because of how great of a time I had at Southwick. After talking to some people, Paul helped me out and wrote me the letter to MX Sports so I could gain access inside the fence and shoot the racing up close, and upon the email back from MX Sports stating my credential had been approved I became overjoyed to be able to have the chance to do this again.
Then I realized something; I wouldn't be able to hangout with my Father as much throughout the day like we always had in years past. (even if one year resulted in us having an argument and leaving each other for the day) I was bummed because it's always a great day hanging out with him, and hearing him get super excited about the racing. "Cole did you see that?! He was flying!" or "If I was out there on my bike right now Tomac wouldn't stand a chance" I texted other friends that we go riding with and asked if they were going, to see if they would want to hangout with my Dad for the day so he wouldn't be alone, but in the end he actually wanted to go alone so he didn't feel like he was in anyone's way or holding anyone back from what they wanted to do, so it all worked out.
The day started off as a beautiful Saturday morning, the air was filled with the one of a kind smell of race fuel that racers all love, and thousands of people, talking and cheering, only to be drained out by the roaring of those built 4 stroke engines.... and Steinke's onetwofive banger. Practice went by smoothly and when the motos came around, the other photographers started to talk about the threat of rain coming through. Luckily I was prepared and brought a poncho and plastic bags.
Clouds slowly creeped into sight and covered the sun, creating an overcast and dark feel, and I knew I didn't want to be caught in the middle of the moto without my rain gear on, so I put all my batteries and memory cards into plastic bags, and a camera bag over my camera and my poncho on. I was the only idiot out there who had my poncho on at the time and got plenty of looks, but once that 450 moto started, the sprinkles started and people began to run to cover.
10 minutes later, the rain was coming down so hard you couldn't see 15 feet infront of you, the race was still in progress and it was a slop fest everywhere. All the media personel hid under a big Red Bull tent in the middle of the track, but me along with some others were still out in the rain. I loved every second of being poured on and all I could do was smile, I had never taken photos in the rain before and it made for some really unique photos with the rain splashing down on the riders. Then the race was ended early because of the fact lighting was spotted, and the day was placed on a delay until the lighting passed.
I went back to the truck and my Father and I exchanged stories about how the day had gone and listened to the radio for when racing would resume, and a couple hours later we finally got the message that the second motos would start back up and be shorter than usual with a little bit of a shorter track. So I walked down to the starting gate to see the start stretch under water along with the starting gate. Multiple racers were actually stationed in sitting water in their gate and then upon looking down to see where I was standing, off the track, my feet were in mud too. The place was a mess and it wasn't just the track that was muddy, the spectating area was slippery and muddy on top of it.
Now I mean no disrespect to other sports or hobbies out there, but there are very few to no other sports that would still finish the day in the conditions that these guy do, and yet they are some of the most underpaid athletes on this planet even after what they go through. Not just the racers, but as I looked around into the spectating areas, it still looked as packed as it did before the rain started coming down, the fans in motocross have such heart and love for the sport, that the weather wasn't going to prevent them from watching some awesome racing! The whole moto community has such a passion for the sport that I have not seen in any other sport, the racers, the fans will do it all no matter what the circumstances are and that's something I admire about the sport that we all care about, no babies allowed!
Once that gate dropped, the racing did not disappoint, those forty racers gave it everything they had for twenty minutes plus one lap on the muddiest track I had ever seen, and I got to capture all of it with my camera! I had never taken photos of a mudder and tried to capture the pure struggle and determination in the riders as they went by me each lap.
Now to the photo I selected. (Finally)
The 450's were the last moto of the day, they got the track as rough as it gets, and on top of that, they machines that they're racing are much more powerful than the 250's, so when they get tired out there its that much more dangerous to hold on to if they get a little whiskey throttle.
As the checkered flag waved, the racers all came off the track in relief, the day was finally over, and they could get out of their mud drenched gear and hopefully clean up. I was positioned right at the finish line, to capture any emotions that would become visible, and as Matt Bisceglia came across the line, you could see how tired he was in his body positioning, and so I followed him with my camera as he went by. He ripped his goggles off, in a last exhausted action that seemed to drain the last little bit of fuel he had in the tank. He then turned around, as seen in this picture and seemed to look at me, the big weird looking photographer in a big green poncho, and you can see the look of exhaustion in his eyes, and the mud over all of his body tells you that he was just though something quite dirty and tiring. That look is a look of relief, a look of all those days and hours of training paying off, although he may not of won, he still made it through the moto and finished in 7th, after how his first moto went of looping it out while in a podium position, I'm sure he was happy to stay up in the second moto.
His body was beat, it was drained and it needed rest, and that single photo tells me all of that just from how he's holding himself and his facial expression.
These guys go through the gnarliest of conditions and do things other people wouldn't. Even in ankle deep mud, they go unreal speeds on dirtbikes and deserve all the respect from all athletes for being truly bad dudes.
Onto Budds Creek,
-Cole Beach Photo
Hey guys been a little while since I've done one of these! Been so busy and taking more photos than ever and learning more day in and day out, cant complain about any of it though!
About a month ago I was racing locally when I had a little tip over and when trying to save myself from hitting the ground, I outstretched my arm and upon impact the force drove my elbow right out of place, again.
The same injury had happened 3 years prior at the same track, and I knew when I hit the ground that a hospital trip was in my near future. I got up and picked my bike up and since I couldn't pick my arm up to pull in the clutch lever, I had a flagger push me down the hill so I could shift my bike into 1st and ride off the track, to see my buddies Corey and Nicole who brought me to the race, shaking their heads and running back to the van.
I got back and once my jersey came off, you could see just how bad the elbow was out of place, so we rushed to load everything up, and get out of there, and back to the hospital I had visited three years ago.
Friends and fellow riders all came over to check on me and help me load up, and send their best wishes, which is something that really is awesome about the moto community. I was just racing against these guys and then they all come over to check on me or even go out of their way to call me to see how I'm doing, so to all you who did that; Thank you guys.
Once everything was put back into place, the doctor told me I had to take some time away from riding to recover, which was the smart thing to do and I agreed.
I still was dying to be at the track every weekend like I was before, so what better way to do that then bring my camera and provide people with photos, and work on my photography skills!
Week in week out I was at the races, still seeing all my buddies even though I wasn't on my bike it was everything I could've asked for with the situation I was dealing with. I took thousands of photos, spent long nights editing and sending the photos to everyone, and learning new things each time.
Now to explain this photo though, one of my favorites.
This past weekend my buddy Zach invited me to stay up in his camper and come hangout and take photos of the Jday race in Maine, and of course I said yes.
I was able to meet some really great people up there as well, his buddy Richie and his girlfriend Kate, and Zach's friend Marissa. We all hungout and had a great time, creating memories and friendships that'll last forever. Sunday was race day, and girls being girls, told me that they really wanted some photos of them with their men on the starting line before the race and I liked the idea, and wanted to see what kind of emotion I could capture.
We took some normal posed shots, with the two, arms around one another and beautiful smiles. You always have to have those shots, everyone loves them and they're easy. What I strive for though is different, the photos that will really stick forever and create an everlasting impression, moments that most may not see. I want that one split second that can just tell such an amazing story.
That's what I got with this photo.
Kate is extremely supportive of Richie and his racing, she was up there all weekend just to be there for him and cheer him on. She cooked him meals, and always made sure he wasn't doing anything too stupid. (whats up yo) Truly a special girl.
On the line we took the photos of the two together and as the start of the race got closer, all the other friends and family of the racers began to leave the starting area, to make sure they wouldn't get run over when the race started. Kate and I were about to leave when she started to say goodbye and good luck to Richie and I made sure to pay close attention, I set the exposure on my camera as close as possible and I held my camera low right in front of his fender, and began firing away. I captured moments of Kate talking to Richie and then when she kissed his helmet, something symbolic to me.
They may not of actually kissed on the lips, but there was more meaning to it. You could tell this was something they do before every race and it's part of who they are together and unique for them. Richie even puckers his lips as though he's going to kiss Kate throught he helmet, and the connection between them is strong enough to really make that kiss seem to connect to one another.
Racing can be dangerous and they both are fully aware of this, knowing that each race could be life threatening, so they want to make sure the other knows just how much they care about one another before going out and taking huge risks. This is something that Richie could think about while he's out there racing, and when things get tough and tiring, he may just remember how caring Kate is and how much they love one another, something to keep him pushing.
A moment like this will last forever and tells such a unique story. I'm stoked I was able to preserve it and provide them with this photo.
Thanks for all the rad times.
Ask me about photos
This blog is going to be a little different. I'm going to talk more about the whole day I was able to experience this past weekend versus just how I took a photo.
This past Saturday was New England Motocross' ultimate day, the day all the fans could come see the big dogs come race the local track that anyone who is involved in moto has been to, the day the local stars could show their speed against the guys who get paid millions, the day us New Englanders get to earn our respect as racers for racing on one of the toughest tracks.
I had always wanted to be inside the fence, close to the action, when shooting this event, shooting from the outside in can be a pain and people can get in the way. Luckily this year I was able to, with the great help of New England's most established and famous photographer. He has been shooting this event since 1976 and you could say he knows the ins and outs of it- he even has a part of the track named after him!
I was beyond thankful he gave me the chance to shoot, just to be in there is an experience in itself. On top of that, my best bud was attempting to qualify with a fast lap time to be able to race the fastest 40 in the country, something he's come up so close on.
I knew the day was going to be different, I was going to be shooting my first national, and even though Corey had broken is wrist 3 weeks prior, he had the determination and mindset to be able to do it. He had been talking to me the whole week before hand about how he's so excited and he was confident he was going to be able to do it.
He was right.
For the first time ever Corey Ridel qualified for the 250 class main event putting him on the gate with the fastest 40 riders in the country. When he came off the track, I ran over to him and so did his cousin who has seen him go through the hard work, and we both hugged him in pure joy and relief that he was finally able to do it. We felt Corey's happiness and we could relate, I felt as if I had just qualified myself because of the fact I've trained with him and been through a good amount of it with him.
He rode back to his van, where he family was stationed. I followed up even almost cracking a tear of happiness, as I saw each one of his family come up and congratulate him and hug him. Slowly friends would come through, close friends, some friends he hasn't talked to much recently. Anyone who was in the sport and knew Corey, knew this was huge and how happy he was. The whole group just stood around him as he tried to cool down and relax, in awe and smiling. As a photographer those are the moments i want to capture, only thing was, i was doing the same.
To see someone who you care about, succeed at what they've worked for is truly really cool. It is unlike any emotion I've gone through, and I think everyone in that circle could relate. I wasn't even thinking about taking photos at my first ever national anymore, it was just all about him. As the time passed more people came by to give their kind words and I decided I better get back to my big day!
To see all the riders you watch on TV, rip up your local track so stinking fast just helps you understand just how much of another level these guys are on. If you've ridden the track, you know what it takes to go around and complete a lap at whatever pace and then these guys will just make you look that much slower. (In my case waayyyyyy slower)
Then it was time for my best bud to lineup for his first ever professional moto, so I made sure to be down on the gate with him to take some photos so he could remember the big day and what was going through his mind at that time, and even be able to relive that amazing memory. I then talked to him a little bit and told him to just go out there and have fun that's what it's all about, thats why we started racing; because it is truly one of the most enjoyable things to do.
As the gate dropped I couldn't help but smile for Corey, just imagining what was going through his mind. His dream had finally come true! Then I realized I was able to go take photos of his dream and all the other pros so I ran off and took a very large amount of photos because of how excited I was to be there.
This photo I selected was from Corey's second moto start. I positioned myself on the side of the start stretch with my 300 to get up close to corey to see the intensity before the start. As the 30 second board went up, all the riders mechanics left the gate and had to walk to the mechanic's area, only way to get there? Walk right in front of me. I waited for them to all get by but it seemed to never end! So I decided just to get ready and look through the viewfinder and shoot away.
This was right before the gate dropped and someone had walked in front of the camera, but their arm had lifted enough to make it so I could still see and focus on Corey. The guy's body on the left and his arm on the right frame corey in, bringing your attention right to him, actually turning out pretty cool! You can see the determination and concentration in his body positioning as he prepares to dump the clutch and start the race.
The banner behind him signifies how professional and important this race is, and you can slightly see the rider next to Corey doing the same as him, signifying strong fierce competition. A very strong photo if you know Corey's story, and what he's been through, worth a thousand words and memories.
Proud of you buddy, lets work and make it happen for the rest of the year.
Thank you for everything.