I must have met Masai three or four years ago when he first showed up at the jiu jitsu gym after moving to Long Beach. For me, it was one of those things where I felt a connection almost immediately. From our hard and fast rolls on the mats to talking shit in the locker room, I’ve had a good time getting to know him beyond the four walls of the gym. I remember once we got so intense in our roll at open mat that we were the only two people left at the gym. We only realized this once the buzzer the rang and looked around to an empty room. We shrugs our shoulders and started to clean the mats.
I’m blessed to know a lot of cool people through work and play. I’ve decided to start documenting those I find interesting.
For this shoot, I met Masai in his office space at WeWork in downtown Long Beach. Being my first time there, I didn’t know what to expect. For those of you who don’t know, WeWork is co-working space where you can rent very small working spaces in a professional building for much less than a traditional office space. The added bonus is that they have huge and well furnished common areas and amenities which are great places to meet with clients. If I had a small business or professional practice like Masai, I’d probably do the same.
As a lawyer, another bonus for him is that the courthouse is literally three blocks down the street. Since he’s such a tough guy at the gym, it’s easy for me to imagine him verbally sparring in the courtroom. We decided to head there for the majority of the shoot as the sun began to set behind the building lending a nice cool tone to serve as the background.
Photo Nerd Note: This was the first shoot where I’ve had my dream x100 kit complete. Most recently, I acquired the WCL-II for my x100F giving me a little extra width at 28mm from the original 35mm. However, I still prefer to use the TCL-II to give me that 50mm reach for the portraits. Overall, I’m very happy with how these photos turned out considering that it felt a lot more like hanging out with a friend than anything else.
When I saw these benches at the top of the stairs, I knew I wanted a wider shot with a gridded light. Luckily, I was able to step back and down a few stairs to get down to the right height for the shot. I love the spotlight feel mixed with the ambient light to give that little bit of extra pop to the image. This could be one of my favorite environmental portraits I’ve ever shot. I’m enamored.