2014-2015 Indianapolis Colts Calendar Shoot >
Written by Jay Sheets
Returning from Mexico, I walked into customs at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, with my camera bag in one hand and my U.S. customs declaration form in the other. I had checked “yes” as to if I was doing business overseas. The policeman checking my documents looked at me and said, “What kind of business were you doing overseas, Mr. Sheets?” “I was one of the videographers for the Indianapolis Colts Cheerleaders calendar shoot,” I replied. “Well, that’s not too bad of a gig,” he said.
No. No it was not.
Two weeks ago I was sitting at my desk when I got a text from one of my high school friends who currently works for the Indianapolis Colts. The phrases “…Colts Cheerleaders shoot… videographer… Mexico,” really stood out. For a second I couldn’t believe it. You know how sometimes you catch yourself just staring at something and don’t realize it until the drool falls out of your mouth? That’s exactly what happened to me. I ran down to the boss man’s office and begged him to let me take my vacation days to go on the trip. He agreed and next thing I knew I was arriving at the Colts practice facility to embark on a once in a lifetime journey.
When we arrived in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, it was around 4PM and we needed to be ready for the first sunset shoot in three hours. Photo shoots were usually only shot in the morning at sunrise (7AM) or sunset. The days started very early and ended very late. I know I said the gig was pretty great but that doesn’t mean it didn’t come with its tribulations. Puerto Vallarta, for anyone who has never been there, could easily be compared to the surface of the sun. My pale skin became victim number one. “You should of put on sun screen,” you’re thinking. I did. A lot of it, in fact. The amount I was sweating, or the Go Pro footage I was capturing in the water, quickly washed away any UV protection.
As the days and photo shoots continued the crew got to know each other more and more. From the Indianapolis Colts was our lead photographer Matt. Matt was one of the most laid back and easy-going guys I have ever met. Plus his photos look amazing. You can check out his work at www.mattbowen.com. Kelly was the boss in charge of organizing the whole trip and each photo shoot. She worked alongside Matt to scout locations and put together the perfect photo. If there was a competition for the most stressful job while on the trip, Kelly would have won. The lead videographer for whom I was the assistant was Mike. Mike, who was only a few years older than me, already worked like a seasoned vet. He recorded hours and hours of footage each day. His glide cam skills were like that of a stealthy panther chasing its prey. And his karaoke singing was heavenly. Others on the trip were the ladies of Tyler Mason Salon & Spa, our stylist Danielle from Fresh Fettle, the assistant photographer Gretchen, Jessica the PR intern, and finally Noah & Kristen, the husband and wife power team, for which if not for Kristen I would not be writing this blog post right now. After day two the team seemed more like a family to me than a group of strangers I had just met. Everyone did an amazing job and it will be evident when the calendar comes out.
Now on to what the photo shoot was all about – the cheerleaders. Most people would be intimidated to approach one of these ladies to even say “hi,” but the genuine kindness that these ladies show is just that: genuine. No matter who approached them at the resort, outside the resort, at the airport, or inside a McDonalds, these ladies were always willing to take a photo and have a small meet-and-greet. When I arrived at the Colts Complex Tuesday morning, I was immediately approached by two of them who introduced themselves and talked to me about what I was doing there. After that, no matter who it was or where we were, I was always greeted by a smile and a, “Hi, Jay!”
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge Indiana Pacers fan. Basketball has been and always will be my first love (outside of actual humans; that spot belongs to my Mom). Coming in a very close second on my all-time favorite teams list are the Indianapolis Colts. Ever since arriving on the scene, Andrew Luck has been one of my favorite professional athletes to watch develop, and hopefully that is true for a long time to come. Rounding out the top three is my alma mater Ball State. However, after this trip my top three has been rearranged a little bit. BSU falls out of contention, the Colts move down to number three, Lance Stephenson and PG back track to number two, and the Sweethearts of the Horseshoe move to number one. And they will stay there, unless I go on the Pacers calendar shoot, but then again I don’t think I could stomach Roy Hibbert in a bikini on the beach.
Overall the trip was a ton of fun and a great experience. I got to do so many things I don’t think I will ever do again in my life. I rode mules up a mountainside, almost got bucked off a speedboat flying through a harbor, ate a year’s worth of guacamole, zip lined through the jungle, talked to a local for an hour who didn’t speak any English (even though I don’t speak Spanish I think we became best friends). And finally I met a group of unbelievable people I wouldn’t of had the pleasure of meeting if it wasn’t for this opportunity.
Photos are copyright of the Indianapolis Colts