Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How the Deadliest Warrior Made Me A Better Photographer

Jesse James, old west outlaw and anti-hero relived brought me back to just making art the way I wanted to.  Let me start with there used to be this fantastic, wild, television show.  Deadliest Warrior, that I like imagine was thought up to settle drunken debates over who could best who in a battle royale of historic proportions.   The show tested historical weapons, judging there accuracy and the damage that could be done to determine who would win these hypothetical match ups.

This match up was my favorite, Al Capone Gang versus the Jesse James Gang.   They had this fantastic team representing for the James Gang.  Demonstrating all the bad-ass qualities of Jesse James was Joey Dillon.  This dude was awesome.   The confidence of John Wayne, the talent of so many gun-men that came before him, a wealth of knowledge, and a great sense of humor to boot.  I was hell bent on photographing him.

I looked him up, say he was performing at the Autry Western Heritage Museum in a week.  I stuck around after his show, a unique blend of jaw-dropping gun skills and comedy.  I felt like a kid, this guy was super cool and I was gonna get to meet him.   We started chatting, turns out, we lived in the same town.
Joey Dillon's show
Such happy, grateful guy, shaking hands, signing autographs, taking pictures.  He would stay until every little cowboy and girl got to have a little of his time.
Even stuck around for this weirdo (me).

Photographing Joey from the first shot was so easy and natural.  He just goes to "work" if you could call it that.  Pulling off tricks that surely would land me in the emergency room with a broken foot and a concussion.  He makes it look so easy,  gun spinning and tricking while casually carrying on conversation about music, cars, history.  I had to let my brain catch up more than once.   I could ask him to change things up, try from a different side, angle, anything, and he'd just roll into it like nothing.   Really I hardly had to direct him.  This allowed me to have more freedom in my own way of creating.   There weren't any no's or insecurities about how he was being photographed.  Having mostly photographed women for so many years this was so new, and so refreshing. He just trusted me and my own talents.  Photos from our shoot that day:

I made this fun composite from a photo that day and a western set photo I had.  I made a few Joey Dillon lunch boxes with this artwork, they were really fun. 

Driving back after the shoot, Joey singing along to the Avett Brothers, in his own happy world, I remember thinking, "this is so cool, and changes so much."  That one shoot made such a difference in my own confidence and comfort as an artist and I am forever grateful for this crazy gun spinning cowboy, that is now like a brother to me.  Since that shoot, I have grown so much as an artist.  It's always great to work with Joey, be it the shoots we set up, his shows, or his garage Rocketshoes Vintage Garage.   Some of previous work:

I've worked with Joey many times since then, and will again when I can catch him.  He's a busy guy between being a favorite Hollywood Gun Coach and performing his own show across the country.   Busy, but still spends much of his time with his beautiful wife and two precious kids.  He really is living the American Dream.

We got to shoot a little video this last go round, you can check it out as well as other videos by Joey at Joey Rocketshoes Dillon on YouTube

Some photos from our last shoot:

If ya like what you see, you should really join his Facebook fan page, where you can view more photos and videos that we have shot together on the Joey Dillon Gunslinger Facebook page

Want to see Joey on Deadliest Warrior?  Click Here

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