I’ve been going hard and heavy at Wrestler4Hire & Hero Hunks for a long while now, but I haven’t been alone. It would be near impossible for me to do everything that I need to during a shoot, so over the last few years I’ve collected a few video cameramen and photographers in various places. In the past, the photographer du jour would be whomever I could get that was hanging at a shoot. Sometimes that would be a friend who had stopped by and other times another wrestler who wasn’t involved in the match. Other times it’d be myself or I’d decide we would just have to miss out on photos because I didn’t have enough hands.
Well, that has changed since I finally linked superpowers with Pete Carson. You may already know Pete as he has been photographing events for years from his ringside side seat. Pete and I have a mutual buddy. Our mutual buddy has tried to get me to attend WWE NXT and other indy level events with him and Pete (and Kieron Dunn) for years, but I we lived on opposite coasts in the Sunshine State.
I thought it’d be great to get some insight for the photographers vantage point, so I asked a few friends to think of some questions to ask him in the interview below. I’ve got a few things I gotta know myself, so I’ll be asking some questions of my own, too.
Cameron: Pete, first, I want to say thanks for taking your time to do this interview. As well, I’d like to publicly let everyone know that you are one of the most top notch dudes I have met. Always on time. Always willing to give a wrestler a ride. Go through thousands of photos to give me the best options for the final gallery. Coming up with match scenarios and picking out gear for the guys. It’s been a pleasure having you at every shoot you’ve made it to. Thanks for all you do and making it fun, too. It took us years to finally meet up but it was well worth it.
I think to start, without getting into too many naughty details, when did you first realize you liked wrestling for more than just the drama? How long have you been a fan of wrestling? What were you drawn to? Any favorite wrestling memories from when it first caught your eye?
PETE CARSON: Ha ha, right to the heart of the matter. I started watching WCW on TV in the early 80s when cable came to my small town. Before that, as a kid of 10 or 11, had been buying wrestling magazines and watching weekly studio matches from a local station. I was hooked very early on by all of it, from the drama of the ring entrances, the shouting promos, the nervous jobber bouncing from foot to foot, waiting for the badass heel to make his way to the ring, the inevitable struggle and beatdown, and, of course, the hot guys in pro gear. From the start, my favorite wrestlers were the heels who not only knew their holds, but also included the small details to torture their opponents…the sneaky jab to the throat, the blatant eye gouge or rake across the top rope, the corner work, the chokes, the illegal use of ropes, and a foreign object pulled from the boot or trunks. The more vicious the beatdown, the better, as if the heel was more interested in having a wrestling toy, than just pinning his man. Did I mention before-the-bell attacks, and refusing to stop the beating after the pin or submission?! There were so many great wrestlers and matches…Buzz Sawyer, Don Muraco, Paul Orndorf, Dean Malenko (I appreciate intricate holds and working one body part until the wrestler on the receiving end is near panic to escape or for the match to just be over), and of course, the babyfaces like Tommy Rogers, Tommy Angel, and many more WCW good guys. I would say one of the most vivid earliest memories was a studio match in which Tommy Rogers, who was probably 18 or 19 at the time, played the heel to an older guy in his 40s, but ripped, smooth and tan. Tommy repeatedly worked his leg so hard that the guy repeatedly tried to escape, only to be dragged back in and punished some more. Tommy finally submitted the older guy in a figure four leglock amd refused to release, with the bell ringing frantically and the victim slapping the mat and screaming. The ref had to pry their legs apart. I had never seen a.match like that, and, to this day, wrestler contrasts are a favorite, e.g., all-American vs surfer, guy-next-door vs street punk, evil foreign heel vs clean cut, and older vs younger. Don’t get me wrong, I am a still a fan of two good-looking, well- built athletes going at it, for sure.
Cameron: When did you first get into photography? What type of stuff did you start photographing first? I know you love taking pics of wrestling matches and wrestlers. How did you first get into shooting pro wrestling pics? What do you look for when capturing a photo at a live event opposed to at a W4H or Hero Hunks shoot?
PETE CARSON: I got into photography in high school and took a couple of classes. Until I started attending live pro wrestling events in 2007, my photography was all travel stuff. After attending several live events, and sitting in the front row, I noticed tons of ppl taking pics with their phones and a few ppl with cameras. I bought a mirrorless camera with a zoom lens and here and there met a few pro wrestlers at the events who asked that I send them any good pics, and, I guess word spread. I now have several regulars who use the pics in their social media, which is really gratifying. I see lots of wrestlers who are just getting started, and not a lot of fans are taking their pics. They really appreciate getting them and have something to show their friends and family. My favorite pictures are definitely closeup portrait style, showing intricate holds, facial expressions, and artsy shots of, for example, a hand grasping a wrestling boot planted on a throat. There is very little difference in what I look for at a live event and a W4H shoot…I just want to get emotive, great pics. Maybe a few more racy zoom-ins for W4H, haha.
Cameron: You’re very known online for your up-close-and-personal photos from live WWE events. What do you think makes a perfect sexy pro match?
(See above, my first long-winded answer.) Always a must, classic pro wrestling trunks and boots, lots of body contact, and torturous holds, with rule breaking.
Cameron: Obviously shooting a Wrestler4Hire or Hero Hunks themed match is a bit different from shooting action photos ringside. What has been your favorite part about being part of the crew and experiencing the behind the scenes life at the shoots?
PETE CARSON: First and foremost, not having to stay in a seat with those pesky ropes in my way. Being able to climb in the ring and only have to worry about staying out of the videographer’s way is a blast. My favorite part of the shoots has been seeing how incredibly hard the wrestlers work to produce a good match. The wrestlers you hire really want to do a great job, they show up ready to wrestle, are in incredible shap,.and they can go for a long time. I really respect how hard they have to work with their workouts and diet. I have been pleasantly surprised by how approachable and down-to-earth the wrestlers are, despite how hot they are!
Cameron: Any favorite models/wrestlers you’ve met so far? Who would you say is the nicest guy on the team?
PETE CARSON: Whoo boy, there are so many, I would have to be really drunk to have this info pried out of me. I might reveal this if anyone wants to PM me on Facebook (pete.carson.7). Cameron Matthews happens to be a pretty nice guy (not just sucking up, you really are, lol). OK, just one more, but, remember, there are many, Z-Man is as sweet as he looks. Why does that make it even more fun to see him demolished?!? Poor Z-Man.
Cameron: The fans are gonna want something juicy. What’s it like “working” for me? Would you like to share any on-set tantrums I’ve had? Any behind-the-scenes secrets you’d like to reveal about myself? Be careful. I know you where you sleep.
PETE CARSON: Oh, man, I just want to show up and take great pics. I tend to ignore tantrums, and you are very good at keeping secrets. It does amuse me a little when you get frustrated (a rare occurrence) when someone needs some reminding/direction about the match. Even then, you deliver your critique in an aw shucks kind of way, with a little expletive thrown in. As for what it’s like working for you, wow, I can’t imagine any of your competitors in the video world being any easier or professional.
Cameron: You’ve come up with some great scenarios for videos. It may take some time for me to come around to the idea, but you’ve been right 100% of the time. What is Wrestler4Hire missing? What should we do next?
PETE CARSON: A few more tag matches would be great, even one in which the wrestler can tag (or be tagged) by anyone. And, as always, love the interfering ref scenario, even better if the ref strips down to pro gear and wrestles, like Slade Groman. I can think of another bald ref who appeared recently, and one with a head of pretty great long, grey hair…both those guys look like they could hold their own in some pro gear. Even something that evolves into ref vs ref. Maybe something similar with the manager or businessman, which you have done before. Oh, and, always more pec and face claws (to convulsing and KO).
Cameron: If you could have anyone wrestler for W4H, who would it be?
PETE CARSON: Charming Chase Addams would be quite the coups as a vicious heel with creative intricate holds. Kenny Star as a babyface. And, if you can, Cole Cassidy…what a perfect muscle daddy heel to take care of some of your babyface wrestlers.
Cameron: Trunks, singlets or shorts…what is your favorite gear to see on the wrestlers?
PETE CARSON: TRUNKS!
Cameron: Favorite kind of match?
PETE CARSON: Classic pro ending in a screaming submission, with the heel adding a humliating, unnecessary pin. Then, as the loser attempts to leave the ring, an attack to return to the submission until a KO from the pain, or the heel gets tired.
Cameron: Favorite hold and who at Wrestler4Hire applies it best?
PETE CARSON: Sleeper, and there are so many…may have to go with Joey Nux…have you seen his arms?
Cameron: Favorite match of all-time? Don’t worry I won’t get mad if it isn’t me or Wrestler4hire
PETE CARSON: For straight up pro, would have to be that Tommy Rogers heeling the older ripped, tan jobber that I mentioned in my first long-winded answer. For videos, probably a match from the first wrestling video I ever bought, Brad Rochelle vs Dante. Dante rolls him around the ring in a fig four headscissors, then piledrives him into oblivion. Poor Brad was nearly crying, not unlike the exquisite suffering of Z-Man and Scrappy.
Cameron: Recently, you came all the way to Maine to photograph a 12 hour day of wrestling for Wrestler4Hire. Not only did you take thousands of photos, but you helped set up, too. Now that was impressive, but I’ve seen you do that often. You go above-and-beyond.
The next day you had free reign to take pics anywhere you wanted at a live event I promoted with some friends. Your first “official ringside photographer” gig. The pics obviously came out great and there were more than expected as always.
What was that experience like? Any favorite moments? Any near collisions with the pro wrestlers while they were flailing and flopping around inches from you?
PETE CARSON: Well, first of all, to participate in a live show was a blast. As I have said, taking pics at W4H and at your live pro event is so far beyond any level of participation in wrestling that I expected…it is surreal. My favorite moments really have to do with the appreciation of how much effort goes into a show and meeting some longtime favorites like Carlito, Teddy Hart, Wes Brisco, Tony Atlas, Douglas James, and up-and-coming Jeff James. Having Teddy Hart pour water on the back of my pants while I was super focused on taking pics of a match was definitely something I never expected to be able to brag about. And, yes, from my assigned corner, there were definitely times I had to hide out crouched by the ring steps when the action spilled out of the ring and nearly on top of me, lol, was an experience. You don’t call it Pro Wrestling Experience for nothing! The fans had a blast. I won’t soon forget the expression on the girl’s face as she ran past me to get out of the way of the mean Ruasian heel chasing the Prince to smash him through a table. We were all having the time of our lives, lol.
Cameron: Any famous last words?
PETE CARSON: I would like to thank my friend David for getting sick and not being able to use his ticket at that pro wrestling show in Tampa last fall. I also would like to thank my friend Philip for calling you to see if you wanted to use that ticket, which you did, amd for introducing us at the show. I also want to thank Denis for talking my pics up to you and for pushing me to do that first shoot when you invited me. Also, and most importantly, to thank you, for including me and giving me the opportunity to pursue my favorite hobby, wrestling photography. As you know, I am always looking for that next good pic. What I would like to plug is this, if Cameron ever does a live W4H show, or another pro wrestling event, fans, IT IS WORTH TRAVELING for. WOW!