Chris, my good friend who is a beautiful mind in graphic design for the Houston Astros called me up a couple of months ago. I had been lucky enough to shoot for him before and he said he had a new project that he could use me for.
As always with this cat, like when I shot his MLC Conference, I said I was down before he even told me what the project was. He explained that they would need a series of lifestyle photographs for a line of baseball caps that the Astros, New Era and Bun B were collaborating on together to sell in Academy stores. He knows I ask the who, what, why, where, when, how questions and went on to explain Bun B’s passion for Houston and the natural fit to work together on this concept. My head exploded that I would get to be around people passionate about anything outside of themselves and because of how much I love Houston myself.
When I got to Minute Maid, Chris introduced me to the beautiful lady for the Astros that would be handling the shoot, Jacqueline. I first noticed her awesome approach, a relaxed “I’m just me, man” style but you knew she meant business. She outlined the shots she wanted and took me to meet the man of inspiration. Bun B was quiet at first which intimidated the shit out of me. As time went on, I watched as he interacted with his crew, with Jacqueline and with me. As I worked to set up the shots we needed, I started noticing how he talked to me. His tone was calm and his responses showed confidence in me. I’ve been lucky enough to photograph some incredible people, famous across the entertainment and corporate worlds and I’m used to them all letting me know just how important they are. This time, this experience, was different. He was encouraging me with simple notions of conversation and he did something that threw me off entirely. Bun B candidly asked me what I did in life, what I was interested in. I’ve never had a celebrity ask me about me. What do they care, right? Not this time. What he did that day will stick with me forever. You can tell he’s never forgotten where he came from.
I don’t talk about my growing years much. I grew up with a single mom and she busted her ass. There are three of us, my older brother, me, and my younger brother. We all have different dads. I don’t have my dad’s last name and I don’t even have the last name of either of my brother’s dads. I have the last name of someone I don’t even know. My mom was young when she had my older brother and I. She had an older sister who pushed her to give us up for adoption and she refused. She kept us close and worked her ass off. We moved around a lot and had to learn how to make friends over again. We didn’t have money but we had a lot of chores and we knew were loved. I spent a lot of time super-gluing the tip of the rubber sole on my green and white Adidas shoes back to the shoe so I had something name brand. We grew up fast and started working ourselves. I started to see that the harder I worked, the luckier I got, the more people that encouraged, believed in me and most importantly, the more opportunity that came my way. It first took me to breaking 3-point records in a no-name Division III University on a conference-winning basketball team. I know, women’s basketball is as lame as it gets unless you’ve had to watch turtle races. You might argue that turtle races are still better? Fine. What else did I have though? So for me to be standing there, in this jackpot, with someone who talks about struggle and hard work, how overnight success is for chumps, and who actually lives it to a highest degree while he keeps his feet on the ground was emotionally riveting. All the hard work, all the risks I’ve taken financially to start a photography business and my passion to learn that camera inside and out came together as I stood at my opportunity, with the one thing in front of my camera that stands for it all, Bun B, a person with a passion for living.
We talked a little more and I came to learn just how deep his passion went. He mentors other artists, entertainers. He speaks at Rice University to kids about the growing pains of life, the struggle, the reward, and when he talked, I could see his passion in people. His eyes sparkled a little brighter and his smile was real. It was a surreal experience and I’m beyond grateful to Chris, Jacqueline, and Bun B for the opportunity to shoot for him, the Astros, and New Era. If you love Houston, this hat loves you.