The great wall


From left,The Stockton Lightning linemen Peter Tuialu’ulu’u, Jason Vaka, Manase Hopoi, coach Mathias Vavao, linebacker Sale’ Key, linemen David Lose’ and Mason Mitchell.

The Stockton Lightning Arena2 football team has seven players and an assistant coach who from the Pacific Islands of Samoa or Tonga. My assignment was to shoot them in their lava-lavas or traditional skirts. I waited about 45 minutes for them to finish a practice at the Stockton Arena. Through it all, I was trying to think of a way to pose eight people in a picture and make it look like they weren’t standing in front of a firing squad. One of the players wasn’t there, so that made things a little easier (the fewer the better). They put on their game jerseys and their lava-lavas. I suggested a standing pose, but they wanted to sit in a circular arrangement which they said was traditional in their culture. Since they were mostly big, burly linemen-types, I obliged. After that was done, I suggested a different pose. These were big, tough guys and I wanted a big, tough image of them. So I posed them together in a tight arrangement with each angled slightly differently (this helps to break up that lined-up-to-be-executed look). I got down low (laying on the ground, in fact) to get shot of an imposing wall of humanity resplendent in their traditional garb. I bet this is one group that doesn’t get ribbed about wearing skirts.

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