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A leap of faith: From college classrooms to capturing Curry

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Jordan Jimenez is a Bay Area photographer

All images By Jordan Jimenez / JSquared

October 15, 2018

“Shoot on Wednesday at the Fox Theater. Call time is 11 am.”

Just eight months before, I made the leap and decided to drop out of college and pursue becoming a full-time photographer. I was attending the University of San Francisco studying Marketing. However, it was incredibly painful for me to sit in a classroom all day, constantly dreaming of what I could do outside of it. So, I took a chance. When I left school, I hit the ground and started running. A couple weeks after dropping out, I went to Atlanta to photograph the McDonald’s All American Game. The week after that, I was out to Spain to shoot Luka Doncic and Real Madrid, before Luka made it to the league. Shortly after, I moved to LA with some of the homies to try to build a brand. When I say I hit the ground and started running, I mean I was RUNNING. 

Fast forward to October 2018. 

One of my dreams in life (after the hoop dream of course) was to work for the Golden State Warriors, my home team since I could remember. Now, here I was, about to work with the greatest Warrior of all time. At this point, I was about two years into my photography journey and I had these huge dreams of getting to the NBA level. When I got the text, I knew it was go-time. On this shoot, I wasn’t even hired to shoot the actual content that was needed. To be honest, I was on this shoot as a personal assistant and behind the scenes shooter, making coffee and lunch runs, helping set up and break down the set, and snapping some photos in between. As much shooting as I had done by this point, I was still trying to work my way up and pay my dues. 

Although I was hired as a PA, this is the shoot that helped boost my career a little bit more. At the Fox Theater in Oakland, Under Armour and SLAM Magazine were celebrating Stephen Curry’s ten years in The Town and the release of the Curry 6. Steph would be gracing the cover of SLAM Magazine just a couple months later. This was my first time shooting with SLAM and Under Armour and this would just be the start to my relationship with both companies. More importantly, this was my first personal encounter with Steph. During the shoot, I introduced myself for the very first time.

After this shoot, a few months later in June 2019, Under Armour reached out to me personally for the ‘Thank You, Oakland’ project, which was Steph’s way of thanking the people of Oakland for all of the love and support over the last 47 seasons before the Warriors’ move back to San Francisco. In this project, UA and Steph were gifting 30 people, including his barber, dog trainer, and security, a pair of the Curry 6 in the ‘Thank you, Oakland’ colorway along with a thank you letter personally signed by Steph. My job was to photograph the recipients of the shoe and capture their reaction to the surprise gift. Crazy enough, Steph and the UA team decided to include me in on the project as a recipient and thanked me for the work I’ve done as a photographer in documenting parts of Steph’s journey and career. 

In between all of the major events, I would find myself constantly around Steph naturally. Sometimes, I would run into him at an open run. Other times, I would show up to one of his camps (Underrated Tour and the SC30 Select Camp). By this point, I was lucky enough to even start shooting some Warriors games. Each time, I made it a habit to re-introduce myself. I figured that Steph was always meeting tons of people every single day, so re-introducing myself was probably the best thing to do. 


Now, fast forward to October 2020. 

One thing that Steph and UA have been working on has been growing the game of golf and providing the resources necessary for kids to play the game. Steph’s team reached out to me to photograph him playing golf with kids from Oakland public high schools. During this shoot, I realized that I didn’t have to introduce myself again. Throughout the shoot, Steph and I were able to chop it up and, eventually, I asked him if he needed a photographer for during the off season. With the season probably starting soon (we didn’t really know yet because of covid), we got to work for a couple months. We were in the gym almost every day, whether that was for workouts or runs with some of the other Warriors on the squad. When we weren’t in the gym, I was shooting to help prepare for the launch of the Curry 8. Part of the launch was Steph renovating the Manzanita Recreation Center in Oakland and giving out basketballs to the community. 


For me, shooting with Steph can be described in three words: Inspiring, Humbling, and Awesome.

Inspiring

Of course, anyone would be inspired by #30 based on what they see him do skill-wise on the court. However, being around Steph and seeing the way he works, it goes a little bit deeper than that. More often than not, a lot of us take life a little too seriously sometimes. One thing that I like to tell myself is that “It’s okay to take yourself seriously, but life itself doesn’t have to be so serious.” When I’m in the gym with Steph, he embodies that pure heartedly. You can even see that on an NBA court. During his workouts, Steph is one of the hardest working and precise people I have ever been blessed to be around. Each movement is specified down to the slightest of details. At the same time, Steph is one of the most fun people to ever be in front of my camera. In between the reps, he always finds time to dance, make faces at the camera, and even stop to have a quick conversation. It’s okay to have some fun. If one of the greatest in the world can have fun doing what they love, so can we.

Humbling

Luckily, I’ve had the opportunity to be around so many different people around the world throughout my career so far. As talented and as much of a superstar Steph is, he’s also one of the most humble and down to earth people I’ve ever come across. We, as a society, tend to look at celebrities and athletes in high regard and often forget that they’re people, just like us. Of course, some people have different attitudes than others. With Steph, it’s kind of like hanging out with a homie. He treats everybody in the room with the same respect. When you have one of the biggest superstars in the world acting like that, it’s truly humbling to see. After all he’s accomplished and as much as he has changed the game of basketball, he’s an even greater person off the court. 

Awesome

I’ve talked about how great Steph has been as a person, but it’s obviously hard to ignore everything that he does on the court. On TV, we see him do so many different things, things that people have never seen before. The crazy thing is, after only a couple months of seeing him work in the off season, I’ve seen him work on a lot of those things that end up being crazy in the game. Sometimes, I just stop and watch, because it’s not every day you get to be around greatness of that caliber. Part of being a photographer is sacrificing being in those insane moments so that other people can witness and live in that brief moment that you photograph and freeze in time. During those workouts, I’ve been lucky enough to see the reps and make sure that I get the shot while also  being able to take some time to enjoy the present moment and realize where I am and who I get to create with one of the greatest of all time.

From one shooter to another, 

3/14/88: Happy Birthday, 30! 

I appreciate you for all that you have done for me so far in my career and it’s been a blessing to help tell even a small part of your story over the last couple years. Being around and watching your story unfold has been a huge inspiration for me in my journey. Thank you for all that you’ve done for the game of basketball. Even greater than that, thank you for your impact on multiple communities in the world, your effect on the Bay Area, and for inspiring so many people. Your impact is definitely beyond the game of basketball and you deserve all your flowers. Keep changing the game for good. See you soon my guy! 

Jordan Jimenez / JSquared

Feeling inspired? We certainly are and ready to gear up to hit the courts 🏀

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