Name: Fat Tony
Locations: Long Beach, California, by way Louisiana.
Affiliates: Ride BMX Magazine / ridebmx.com
Crews: BMX riders all around the globe are who I usually roll with…especially the flatland dudes.
Gangs: If I told you, I’d have to kill you.
Whatever: Doughnuts and ice cream are my favorite food. I eat ice cream way more though because I’ve convinced myself it’s not as unhealthy as doughnuts.
Camera Gear & Flashes:
– Canon EOS 5D Mark II (With shoulder strap and E1 hand strap.)
– Canon BG-E6 Battery Grip
– Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 USM Lens (With lens hood.)
– Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Lens
– Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens (With lens hood and tripod mount ring.)
– Canon Speedlite 580 EXII & Pouch
– Quantum Qflash T5D-R Flash
– Quantum Qflash Battery (Qpaq-PB1 Module, Qpaq PXC 200 Watt/Second Add-On Module, and Qpaq PX 200 Watt/Second Power Pack and Command Module with shoulder strap and mounting bracket.)
– (2) Vivitar 285 HV Flash
– PocketWIzard MiniTT1 Transmitter
– (2) PocketWizard Plus Digital Receiver
– Lowepro Pro Roller x200 Rolling Case
– Avenger A630B 10.8ft Lightstand
– Generic 11ft Lightstand
– Slik Pro 340DX Tripod (Used as flash stand and to hold camera/video camera.)
– Sunpak 5200D Tripod (Used only as flash stand.)
– (2) Bungee Cord
– 15lb Impact Sandbag
– Empty 18lb Capacity Impact Sandbag
– Extra Tripod Base Plate
– (3) Nikon AS-19 Flash Stand
– (2) Impact Super Clamp With Standard Stud
– Manfrotto 026 Swivel Umbrella Adapter (Lite-Tite)
– Custom Brackets BH-1 Battery Holder
– Mini Table Tripod
– Custom Brackets CB Digital-T Flash Rotating Bracket
– Smith-Victor 1/2-20 to Standard Shoe Adapter
– Adidt M1 Remote Cord
– PC Sync Cord For Quantum Qflash
– LumiQuest Pocket Bouncer
– Canon RC-5 Remote Control
– Canon LP-E6 Battery (For camera body.)
– 3V Battery (For PocketWizard MiniTT1)
– 1.25-2.5 Angle Viewfinder & Pouch
– Memory Card Case & Cards (SanDisk Estreme III 32GB, SanDisk Estreme III 8GB, SanDisk Extreme III 4GB, SanDisk 1GB, Lexar 1GB)
– 12 AA Batteries
– Paper Lens Wipes & Lens Cloth
– Ride BMX Stickers
– Transworld Business Cards
– Personal Business Cards
– Note Pad & Ink Pen
– Benadryl & Dayquil
What got you into photography?
My mom let me use her point and shoot camera on a family vacation to New York City when I was in fifth grade, and I probably shot about 15 rolls of film over the course of a week. I wanted to take a picture of everything I saw. I distinctly remember standing on the pedestal of the Statue Of Liberty, looking up at the big green woman, and taking pictures… I told myself right then and there that I wanted to be a photographer when I grow up. I’m a photographer now, but I’m not quite grown up yet.
What inspires you to create?
That’s a good question…Inspiration comes from literally anywhere, but drive comes from very specific places. I can get inspiration from a random photo or design in a book or magazine, from something a random person says, a blog, a TV show, out of thin air while laying in bed at night…anywhere really. Ideas and inspiration come at the most random times and places.
But what drives me typically comes from a few places, and most of the time it’s the idea of the end result that truly gets my going. Knowing that I’ll be able to hold something, look at it on a screen, or sit back and talk about something when it’s all said and done drives me. Or knowing that other people will be able to do those things with the stuff I create… I’m definitely a self-driven person, and honestly, part of it is an ego thing. I like to be able to say to myself, “I did that” or, “I made that.”
Other times a close friend like Terry Adams is what drives me. When I hear Terry talk about things he’s doing, or the stuff he is working on, it pushes me to do more as well. When it’s not him, it’s someone else I look up to, admire, or respect. If someone has something I want, or is in a position I want to be in, I’m driven to push myself.
What are your ideal conditions for shooting?
Blue skies, white clouds, beautiful scenery, nature, colorful sunsets, good friends, professional riders (tricks and work ethic), and dialed equipment that is fully charged.
What problems do you often come across as a photographer?
In the field my biggest problem is not having enough gear for certain conditions or situations. I’d love to have a more powerful flash for sunny days to stop action better (so I end up with less motion blur). That’s what I fight with the most…motion blur during action shots. Aside from that, I have gone out to shoot with low or dead batteries one too many times. I gotta cut that out.
Out of the field I face a saturated market and companies that don’t want to pay much for photography. But it’s 2011 and the Digital Age, so I deal with this and adapt accordingly.
Any favorite spots to shoot at, or people to shoot with?
My favorite rider to shoot with has always been Terry Adams. He’s consistent as hell with his tricks, really easy to work with, is willing to do whatever it takes to make a shot happen, and he’s my best friend. It’s a win-win every time.
As far as spots to shoot…I don’t really have a favorite place that is a repeat location for me. If I had to pick though, I’d say Downtown Long Beach just because that’s where I live, I don’t have to drive, it’s beautiful, and I love it.
Aside from BMX stuff, East Africa has been my favorite place to shoot. No matter where you go, or what you do, there’s always an incredible photo opp 360 degrees around you.
Is there a particular photo that you’ve seen that you always think about?
Back around the time I got into the idea photography (middle school-ish) I saw a photo of a cheetah in National Geographic. It was a night shot with a flash, and the cat’s eyes were lit up. It stuck out in my head for years. I’m not sure why, but I just always remembered it. Then in college I was in a class where we had to rip a bunch of stuff out of magazines and there was a stack of Nat Geos on the table. I picked up a random copy, and it just so happened to be the issue that had that same cheetah photo in it. I couldn’t believe it. What are the odds? So of course I cut out that photo and kept it in my sketchbook. Fast-forward a few more years…last December I went on Safari in Africa and shot my own photo of a cheetah. I vividly remember the second the cheetah turned his head a certain way I focused on its eye snapped a photo, then quickly moved my lens over to compose the same shot but on the opposite third of the frame and snapped another photo. Then I lowered my camera and was like, “I just got my money shot…” And I thought back to that old cheetah photo then thought about how awesome it is as a photographer when you know that you just captured that perfect moment.
Any tips or advice to beginners?
If you don’t have a natural good eye for composition, then photography is going to be very difficult for you. Everything else can be learned relatively easily. Keep in mind that being a great photographer is cool and all, but if you want to make a living off photography or make it your career, you’ll also have to be able to sell you work. Being a good photographer doesn’t make you money if you aren’t also a good businessman.
I’ll have more advice for beginners on my blog and at the BMX photo clinic I’m teaching on later this year in Socal. Be on the lookout for more details on that!
More work from Fat Tony can be found on his website