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The Making of a Photographer

"Once you've wrestled, everything else in life is easy." ~ Dan Gable

So I had a camera now.

Now what?

I mean, what is an artist without his muse?

Well for me, that inspiration came from an unlikely source.

"I think I'm gonna try out for the wrestling team," our freshman daughter informed us. Now, for a guy who has participated and been a fan of the martial arts and combat sports for decades, well this was music to my ears, but I was a total stranger to the sport of wrestling.

It was a whole new world, with its own language, rules, and culture. Quite exciting actually, but it wasn't enough for me to cheer from the stands. I made it my duty to document it. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst. ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

So I packed up my gear - my trusty Canon Rebel T3i with a 70-300 (kit lens). I found myself running up and down gyms and stadiums all around the Lone Star State trying to capture some great images. It turned out to be more of a challenge than I thought. Photography also had its own language, rules, and culture.

As I learned more about the sport, I also learned more about the art of photography...and when those two things started to click together, well heck - I actually started to take some fairly decent photos!

As time went by, our daughter got to be a better wrestler. So I figured I better become a better photographer. I learned all I could and eventually upgraded equipment. I moved to a faster camera, the Canon 7D - which was a huge step up from the Rebel line.

Then a pretty cool thing started to happen.

People noticed.

Though I had been giving away all of the photos I had been taking, parents started to ask about hiring me as a photographer.

In addition to that, I began to contribute where I could as a voice for the sport - even more so, a story teller for women's wrestling.

Wrestling is a pretty tight community and the more involved we got, the more folks we got to know. For me this meant documenting stories of more athletes and families.

Things got crazy and we started making road trips to Oklahoma and eventually flying up to Fargo, North Dakota for the Super Bowl of wrestling. I'd like to take a minute to add that our daughter, Chelsea, placed at Nationals making her the first Female All-American Wrestler from New Braunfels, Texas.

Eventually one daughter graduated and another one took up the sport. This time we were a little more versed in it all, but I continued to develop my skill set. By this time, I was already covering weddings and doing portrait work. I like to think it showed in my wrestling photos.

Now that Abby graduated high school, I don't really cover wrestling anymore. The sport gave us some life-long friends and connections, but we tend to focus on other areas now (pun intended).

Wrestling is an emotional sport. You see the joy in victory and the darkness in defeat. There is literally blood, sweat, tears and vomit. I'm honored that I was able to cover the sport all those years. Dan Gable, perhaps the best known and most successful wrestler of all time, once said, "Once you've wrestled, everything else in life is easy." I'll take that a step further and say this:

One you've photographed wrestling, everything else is easy.

I hope you've enjoyed this origin story. For any aspiring photographers, I hope you find something that drives you to learn and develop your skills. It's worth it.

This blog post is dedicated to the memory of Coach Brent Harvey, founder of War of the Roses, an all female wrestling series.


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