A few weeks ago, I had an amazing opportunity and honor to work with former Army Green Beret Capt. Ben Harrow for US Lacrosse Magazine as part of their Best of Lax end of year issue. I’m very fortunate my job allows me to meet a wide variety of people who are truly inspiring. This was by-far the most humbling assignment I had this year.
Ben served 3 tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. On May 15, 2012, Harrow stepped on an IED loosing his legs and a few fingers in the blast. There was so much damage he was told he’d never walk again as his right femur was too short for prosthetics, which would make him wheelchair bound. Through an experimental procedure called osseo-distraction, his femur was broken multiple times and a device was inserted to help it grow 6.5 inches longer, enabling him to be fitted for prosthetics and the ability to walk again. He was the first amputee patient in America to have this procedure, which has now become common for other soldiers at Walter Reed with similar Harrow a former attackman, turned short-stick midfielder while attending Army hadn’t played lacrosse in 11 years until this summer at Shootout for Soldiers. The experience at Shootout for Soldiers brought closure to his lacrosse career, but he’s currently competing as a sled hockey goalie on international teams.
Here’s a few of my favorites and out-takes from the project.
Back in June we had a chance to photograph USA Olympic Weightlifting Phenom CJ Cummings on assignment at his home gym in Beaufort, SC. Cummings, 16 years old, has been on a tear lately setting and breaking records no American has touched at any age in almost 20 years. He routinely lifts against men almost twice his age and just missed making Team USA for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
A fun, fast-paced and heavy lifting (CJ, not me) shoot on a beautiful, humid day on the coast of South Carolina. A few of my favorites from the shoot.
A few months back we had a chance to photograph Johns Hopkins Blue Jays and Team USA U-19 defenseman Patrick Foley for a special feature on the Team USA U-19 stars for Lacrosse Magazine. In an age of sport specialization here in the US, Foley is a late-bloomer picking up a lacrosse stick for the first time as a freshman in high school. He’s also not your prototypical defender standing in at just 6 feet, 175lbs; small for your top-level long-sticks. Foley shined this year at Hopkins, won a Gold Medal with Team USA and recently was named to the All-World Team for his performance at the U19 World Championships in Coquitlam, British Columbia.
It was fun to photograph this smart, confident, blue-collar kid. Here’s a few of my favorites from the shoot.
Last month I spent the afternoon with Baltimore Corps CEO Fagan Harris at their row-home headquarters in Federal Hill on assignment for OZY.com. Harris is a rising star locally who is helping change the city of Baltimore for the better by connecting business leaders and creatives with social enterprises, city government and non-profits through his social entrepreneurship venture Baltimore Corps.
It was a fun assignment for me because I was exposed to another person in Baltimore who’s trying to improve the city. It was great to share experiences, views, goals and hope for Baltimore.
What do Character, Talent, and Style all have in common? It’s how Under Armour picks its sponsorship athletes.
Back in April I had a chance to photograph Under Armour executives Ryan Kuehl and Adreinne Lofton for Baltimore magazine. They find these “under-the-radar” athletes who have exploded over the last few years – Stephen Curry, Jordan Speith, Tom Brady, Misty Copeland, Cam Newton, and Bryce Harper to name a few.
With both of them on crazy travel schedules, we were able to find a 15 minute time slot where both were free and in Baltimore together at the Under Armour Brand House in Harbor East. We were able to knock through 3 different setups to give the magazine the most flexibility.
A few months back I had chance to work with Sports+Lifestyle Unlimited model Alex on-location and in studio. This series was by far my favorite from the shoot.Originally I had it lit a lot more, but after taking a look at the images, I’m glad I switched to a simpler, more dramatic lighting setup.
Excited to have a chance to share one of my first assignments of the 2016 now that it has gone to press. I had another opportunity to work with Messiah College and their quarterly BRIDGE magazine photographing senior Katie Kaslow as she travels across the East Coast to perform her research. We were fortunate to catch her on tour before working at the National Archives in Washington, DC on what was the coldest day of 2016 so far this year with the temps at about 12 degrees when we started and a small wind of 20mph. Katy and my assistant Eric were troopers and we were able to knock out a few looks before the Archives opened up for the day.
It’s always exciting to have a cover, especially when you get bumped up due to the art. Thanks goes out to Katie, Eric and the Messiah College team who always gives me interesting assignments.
The night before the big race while documenting the spaghetti dinner celebrating all the athletes who would be competing in the Baltimore Running Festival the next day, I setup a seamless to shoot portraits of the racers with their bikes. It was tough to position a bike and the subject on a 9 foot seamless, but we were able to get it done. It was also a chance for me to get to know each of them better and to know a few who were not able to be a part of the reportage series. Here are the few that are my favorites from the night.
Back in November I had a chance to shoot John Urshel at the Baltimore Ravens facility. John isn’t like any other football player. He graduated from Penn State with both his Masters and Bachelors in Mathematical Sciences. He’s gotten a fair amount of press over his published papers and playing in the NFL at the same time. I had a chance to shoot him on seamless for Baltimore magazine. I graduated with a degree in computer science, so I took a fair amount of math – Calculus, Discrete Math, Linear Algebra, Computational Computing – during my time at Clemson. I never would’ve thought in a million years I’d get a chance to shoot a portrait of an NFL athlete who is a math nerd. Offensive lineman are hard for me because they don’t hold the ball, but they also aren’t interesting recognizable due to their position.
We were fortunate to have 10 min with John to make a portrait, spending time talking about Turing machines and driving crappy cars. Thanks to Travis for the awesome assist.
Back in August, I had a chance to work on another personal project, this time documenting and creating portraits of lawn mower racers competing at the United States Lawn Mower Association’s National Race at Bowles’ Farm in Clements, MD. The story really starts 2 years before when I was driving home from covering collegiate sailing at St. Mary’s, MD and saw this billboard surrounded by cornfields saying simply, “Lawn Mower Racing, first weekend of August.” Immediately I pulled out the phone, marked the location the best I could and sent myself an email to follow-up on this to explore and experience. I was intrigued and I don’t know how you couldn’t be as a living, breathing person in what this might be.
Growing up in the South, there’s always these niche cultural sports/events/things and I was fortunate to go push myself to go experience or document these things as I found them. After some basic research I found it, but the only problem was Em’s oldest sister was getting married that weekend, so it hit the list of possible projects in the future. As the schedule came out for the whole series (they race almost every weekend around the country), I put it on my calendar. As it got closer into July I called up Bruce Kauffman, also known as Mr. Mow-It-All and talked with him about the project and was granted access to the event. For those of you who have been following me on Instagram, we’ve been working on the back bathroom, also affectionally known as “the outhouse.” About two weeks before the race weekend, Em and I have a conversation that goes like this:
Em – “What is this lawn mower racing thing on your calendar? Who’s the client?”
Me – “It’s exactly what it says it is, lawn mowers racing each other; I’m the client. Should be awesome!”
Em – “My parents are coming down to work on the outhouse, can this be moved or how are we going to do this? Why do you need to shoot this?”
Me – “It’s been on the calendar since January and I already got access and told them I’m coming, I can’t bail now. I’m planning on using this for the website and possibly a special mailer out to people next year.”
After some discussion, it ended up working out perfectly. We’d start working on the house at 7am and I’d work until 11am or so, get in the car and drive 2 hours south to shoot. I’d shoot until it was over, around 11pm, and then drive back. It was exhausting, but also an adrenaline rush to make the schedule work and shoot the project. After seeing the images, I’m so happy Em and I could figure out a happy balance to do this project.
Mr. Mow-It-All gave me a bit of the run down about the weekend, but I was still flying blind and had no idea what to expect. Fortunately the location and weather were picturesque and couldn’t be better. Everyone was awesome, friendly and open to letting me hang out, document and shoot portraits for the two days. People came from all over the East Coast and Midwest, from Michigan, to South Carolina, to New Hampshire. The racers ranged in age from 14 to 73 and in some divisions youth competed against adults. It was a $10 entrance to raise money for charity and all your regular fried foods to pair with $3 Bud heavy, Bud light, Michelob and Miller. I think the coolest part is people are racing for a plaque, there is no prize money, only pride.
I setup the studio on pit road, which was in front of possibly my favorite background ever – cornfields and blue sky. Out of 80 racers we shot 30 portraits, in between the 16 hours+ of racing over the two days.
Here’s a few of my favorites from the project. You can find the whole project on my website – www.ebrianschneider.com/ready-set-mow. Let me know if you want to be on the mailing list when this hits mailboxes in 2016.