Maitland River - July 3rd, 2016

This is my first summer in three years that I am at home. During this time, I am usually on a bus or in a parking lot somewhere on the Vans Warped Tour. Although I am not on the tour this year, I have the opportunity to create images of friends, family, and I have the ability to take on some personal projects. 

On Sunday, I made the trip up to Maitland River with some friends to go fishing, something I haven’t done in years. I used to really enjoy fishing up north in the Sudbury area with my family, but I don’t get up there near enough anymore due to work or other reasons.

The five of us hit the road around 5am after grabbing some McDonald’s breakfast. Although I had only caught one fish, it was still really great to be out on the river in the early morning. I brought my Fujifilm X100s along for the trip as well as the TCL-X100 that converts the fixed 35mm lens to a 50mm, which helps get a bit more reach. The following are some photos from that morning.

Texas In July - The Final Show

Back in 2009, I had just started going to local shows that were mainly hardcore/metal bands, and most of the time they were just bands from the Ontario area. It wasn’t until January of 2010 that I made the trip up to London, Ontario for a show that a band called Texas In July was headlining at a venue called Moon Over Marin (now deceased). It was the first show outside of Sarnia that I photographed. I took a bunch of photos during Texas In July’s set and after they finished, I went up to the merch table and introduced myself to Ben, the bass player, and showed him the photos I had taken on the rear screen of my Nikon D40. He was thrilled at what I had got, so he gave me his email to send him some of the photos. Below is a link to those exact photos.


In 2011, the guys came back to Canada to play the Eagles Club in Sarnia with a band called With Life In Mind. They didn’t have a place to stay, so I let the entire band and crew crash on the floor of my parents house after the show. We hit it off and a few months later, they invited me out on tour with them for a weekend. The bands on the tour were August Burns Red, Set Your Goals, and Born Of Osiris. I met up with them in London and rode with the band in their van for the next two shows, Ottawa and Sudbury, and then took the bus home from Sudbury. At the time I went on the tour, I was still in high school and had never really thought of touring or photographing shows outside of where I lived. It wasn’t until after that three day run that I realized that there was an entirely new world out there that I could potentially be a part of. 

Since that first tour, I have been on tour with the guys a total of five times, ranging anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. It was because of working with this band that I was given the opportunity to document the Vans Warped Tour in 2013 for Equal Vision Records. I have met countless bands, managers, record label employees, and other amazing individuals through Texas In July. With the work I had done with them, more and more opportunities came from it. I have toured with August Burns Red a few times now, one tour being an entire European tour, and it was because of Texas In July that I met them in the first place. 

What I am trying to get at is that I really do owe a lot of my experiences in the past 5 years of my life to this band. Even if they themselves did not directly have anything to do with something, it was still that first tour back in 2011 that drove me to keep shooting as many shows, festivals, tours, and anything else in the music scene that I could be a part of. They introduced me to a way of life that was unlike anything I had ever heard or known about, and even if I’m not a music photographer forever, I have these past five years to look back on and reflect at how amazing it has all been.

The following images were taken at Texas In July’s final show in Lancaster, Pennsylvania on December 27th, 2015 at the Chameleon Club.

This is a visual tribute to a band that gave me so much.

Harry Turnbull Skatepark - Sarnia, Ontario

I recently spent part of an afternoon at the skatepark that is located in my hometown of Sarnia, Ontario. Harry Turnbull Skatepark has been a local spot for all extreme sports for over thirty years. Other than a few modifications by locals, it has been untouched and is one of the oldest skatepark in Ontario, and could be one of the oldest in Canada.

Although I don’t skate or ride BMX bikes anymore, I used to love it. I would usually skate around my neighbourhood, but sometimes my dad would take me and a few friends to the park. I was always intimidated by the older people there, but I did have a blast there as a kid. I wanted to get some images of the parks landscape, and while the park does not have an abundance of features, it was still a great way to spend time outdoors with friends.

A Brief Update

I have not been as active on here as I would like to be, so I will begin to create more blog posts with some recent work. I just returned home to Canada after being in Europe for a month with August Burns Red and In Hearts Wake. I will be creating a gallery in my “On The Road” section for the August Burns Red photos specifically, as well as a full blog post with images that I gathered throughout Europe. I had my Fujifilm X100s camera on me at all times this trip and it really helped me get great images of my every day life while over there.

For now, feel free to check out my gallery from this summers Vans Warped Tour. I was commissioned to work for Epitaph Records on the entire tour and it was an incredible experience.


- Joel

Los Angeles: A Short Skateboarding Essay

Some people may not know this, but my primary focus with photography was not always directed at the music industry. While in grade school, I was introduced me into the world of skateboarding by the older kids that attended my school. For the record, I was never really that good at it. Sure, I could ollie, and maybe even land the odd kickflip once in awhile, but I definitely was no pro at it. That didn’t matter much, though. What mattered to me at the time was just riding with my friends, going to Hakuna (a local skate shop at the time) as well as West 49 (which is a chain store within Canada), admiring all the skate decks and their awesome graphics. I used to watch any skate video I could get my hands on, and you could probably find me watching events like the X Games and Dew Tour. Although I don’t skate anymore, I still enjoy watching the odd skate video online, and it’s crazy to see how large the industry has become.

I recently took a trip to Los Angeles, California to visit some friends who live in the area before joining up with August Burns Red on the Frozen Flame Tour. Los Angeles to me has always seemed like the mecca of skateboarding. Hundreds of skateparks, skate shops, and some of the most legendary skate spots in the world. Also, being able to ride all year round as opposed to the 4-5 months in Canada is pretty awesome. While I was there, I was only able to observe so little, especially within skateboarding, compared to the entire city as a whole. This write up is mainly to show what I had personally observed while staying in Los Angeles.

I originally met Emilio for the first time in 2012 at the Detroit date of the Vans Warped Tour. He was working for Epitaph Records and I had a photo pass through them to photograph some of their bands at the festival. Emilio contacted me last spring asking if I would be interested in doing the entire tour for Epitaph. They were looking for someone with experience on the tour, and since I had done the entire tour in 2013 for Equal Vision Records, I ended up being a candidate for the gig. Emilio and I spent the summer of 2014 on the Vans Warped Tour for Epitaph Records documenting the tour for them. I discovered while working alongside him that he was actually a really good skater and was clearly better than I ever was. When I told him how I wanted to meet up with August Burns Red in California, he offered me the opportunity to crash on his couch for a week before hand. I was not about to turn down the opportunity to get out of this Canadian winter, so I packed my bags and set my sights on California.

This is Emilio!

Emilio is a great skateboarder. He may be stubborn and tell you he isn’t that good, but to the general eye, he is. When I watch him ride I can tell he has been riding the thing for quite some time and that he truly loves it. He keeps his board in the trunk of his car and takes every opportunity to ride that he can. While in LA, Emilio was kind enough to spend time showing me around. Whether it be good local cuisine/coffee shops, or just fun tourist type stuff I should do, he was the best host anyone could ask for. The way that I now like to visit places like this is to just dive right into whatever it is people do in that particular place. I had the best fish tacos I’ve ever had, an incredible breakfast burrito in Long Beach, and also the best burgers and pizza you could eat.

I flew into LA late Sunday with no real “plan” in mind for the week. All I knew was that I wanted to shoot as much as possible and pack as much interested stuff in that I possibly could. On the Tuesday, Emilio drove us to the famous Venice Beach, a place that I’ve always wanted to visit really badly. They have a legendary skatepark right on the beach. Although a lot of the features were too advanced for me, I had fun just cruising the park and watching the locals shred. It was awesome hanging out there as the sun went down over the ocean and we also skated up and down the infamous boardwalk. I bought a “Venice California: Muscle Beach” t-shirt with a stencil of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the middle, which was a very solid purchase if I do say so myself.

After hanging out in Venice for a few hours, we headed back to the Silver Lake area. Emilio is currently helping film a shop video with a bunch of local skaters for ThrashGnar, which is a skate shop located in downtown LA. We met up with a bunch of people at the shop and hit the streets. We first went to the Los Angeles Convention Center/Staples Center, and after we got the boot, we went to the next spot which was a ledge near an overpass in the downtown area. Once the riders got some clips in, we finished up the night at Pizza Nista for some slices.

It was a really awesome experience being able to tag along with a crew of that size for the night. On the Thursday, we woke up and headed to The Banks, which is a skate shop located in Silver Lake. The owner, Chris, was a really awesome dude who also shoots photos. Emilio’s brother Tristan works at the shop, so he met up with us there before making our way to Subliminal Projects.

Emilio and George at The Banks

Subliminal is a gallery that was created by Shepard Fairey and Blaize Blouin in 1995. The group played an integral part in introducing skateboarding culture and design to the art world. The exhibition that was currently being displayed was called “AGENTS PROVOCATEURS”, which is a collection of subversive skateboard graphics and artworks. Some of the artists included were Alyasha Owerka-Moore, Andy Jenkins, Ben Horton, Cleon Peterson, Donny Miller, Ed Templeton, Marc McKee, Mark Foster, Michael Sieben, Nil Ultra, Sean Cliver, Todd Francis, and Winston Tseng.

I also picked up a copy of Shepard’s book, “Supply & Demand”, which highlights his massive body of work from 1989 until 2009. I have always been a fan of street art and how it has become such a global phenomenon, so it was really awesome being able to see Shepard’s gallery and grabbing a copy of the book, which just so happened to also be signed by the man himself.

On the Friday morning before Emilio drove me to Pomona, we went to check out a mini ramp in the middle of Silver Lake. The ramp belonged to Chris, owner of The Banks, and he was kind enough to let us come check it out and ride for a bit. It was very well built and the views from his back patio were incredible.

The thing that makes me really enjoy staying in a new place with someone you know is that you will find yourself in situations where you have the opportunity to observe people doing the things they normally do. As opposed to being in an environment full of tourists all doing the same things and taking the same photographs. Yes I walked the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame and did other tourist things, but what I wanted most out of this trip was to see or do things that a normal tourist wouldn’t have been able to. Visiting Los Angeles for a week’s time had only allowed me to scratch the surface as to what it really has to offer. With that being said, I hope to have the opportunity to visit again in the future to continue this exploration of the skateboarding, music, and art culture that exists within Los Angeles.

Thank you for reading!

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