After Dwyane Wade's masterful Game 4 performance in the NBA Finals, we caught up with Bob Metelus, a Miami-grown Heat fan who happens to be an integral part of Wade's inner circle.
If you've never heard of Bob before, you're probably more familiar with his work as he's the man behind the lens that has captured many moments of Wade's illustrious career.
Bob was generous with his time to share some of his work and his perspective as an insider of Team Wade.
How long have you been working with Dwyane Wade?
Unofficially, I've been working with him since 2009. I was usually the guy that was on deck when there was a special event and a photographer was needed, for example Wade's birthday party, but officially I began working with him in the end of 2010.
How did you end up working with him?
Now that's the tricky part. My wife, or at the time my girlfriend is Dwyane's business manager so I was always around accompanying her and she would always encourage me to bring my camera just in case there was a behind-the-scene moment that needed to be captured.
So throughout the years of being around, I was capturing moments at the kids birthday parties, or at private dinners but there was one particular trip on the way back from Los Angeles where I snapped a shot of Dwyane on the plane just off to his side that came out really nice. So I showed it to my wife; she thought it was a great picture and suggested I show it to Dwyane, so I did.
He said, "man this is the kind of stuff we need to have;" he's always wanted to capture his own sets of behind-the-scene photos and it was actually his idea first to hire me.
So I'm in this position because of my wife, but it was never handed to me. She wanted to make sure we did things right, that nothing was ever handed to me especially because of her position with him. So I actually had to put together a proposal and present it to my wife and Dwyane's agent before officially being part of his team. I even showed it to Dwyane and they were all very impressed.
From that moment we figured we could make this thing work. At the end of the day, anyone can pick up the camera and say they're a photographer and be good at it, but I also have a level of trust with him so that's what makes it work for us.
It's all about being in the moment, but not ruining the moment. I never let the moment get too big for me either. That's the trick at the end of the day.
Before working with DWade, have you worked with any other professional athletes before? If so, who?
Not in the capacity that I work with Dwyane. I've shot high school and college sporting events, as well as other special sporting events. For example when the Super Bowl came to town a few years ago they had professional athletes participate in flag football tournaments and I'd go shoot that, but that was the extent of my sports photography experience; there was never anyone in particular before Dwyane.
On that note, was photography just a hobby of yours that turned into a career or is it something you chose to pursue from the start?
It was more of a hobby at first. It was how I got by in college, actually. This was how I was able to make ends meet; it was my side gig, my hustle.
I've been shooting since 1998 and shot just about everything. I've shot weddings, birthdays, and special events. I've shot domestically and internationally for years and have even won awards just from day-to-day still shots. I always knew that I had an eye for this kind of stuff, and knew something bigger was coming for me. I didn't know how or when, but I knew it was coming.
I feel like the experience I gained prior to shooting Dwyane was like my training. I'm that guy that will go down in the subway late at night or stand in the middle of the street to get the shot I want. So, even though I never shot a professional athlete before Dwyane, he's actually easier for me to shoot than most of what I've shot in the past.
I'll tell you this, there is more pressure shooting a bride on her wedding day than Dwyane.
You have captured many behind-the-scenes moment of Dwyane, which is the most memorable (professional or personal) to you?
I have so many moments that I can go on, but the moment that stands out to me the most, the one that set it apart for me was in Paris after the 2011 Finals. I just got a new SLR camera that could shoot video, so I was practicing with it and this was around the time when Dwyane's Twitter account had been hacked. So we just made a kind of fun but also serious video of Dwyane basically talking to his Twitter hacker. We put the video on Twitter, and shortly after we found out that the video had been picked up everywhere. So to see the power of a video of Dwyane and what it can do, to have that kind of reach it's changed the way I look at the whole medium.
As a member of Team Wade, how do you feel about some of the criticism he's received as of late during this year's playoffs? What would you say to his critics?
Wow that's a good question. I used to be one of those guys on the outside looking in for a long time. There are very few that can play professional sports, and to have a personal relationship with him and know some of the things he goes through and the work he puts in, to be good at what he does; I tune it all out.
People shift so easily because you're not doing anything for them right now, they don't care if you're hurt; they want to amnesty you, trade you and all these other things and say things like "why is he still on the team?"
It baffles me how people shift, and being around Dwyane, I look at all professional athletes now in the same regard, because at the end of the day they're still people. Sometimes I question myself, "was I ever that person, because if I was, I was so foolish."
At the end of the day, it is what it is. I look at it like someone talking about my brother or someone in my family. I know Dwyane hears it, he's in it and he's living it and I'm part of the team so I just follow his lead.
He has a saying, "my belief is stronger than your doubt," so until he stops believing (which will never happen), then I'm good. I feel like when he gets kicked, he comes right back every time. Those that loved him, then turned their backs; they'll love him again.
So if he doesn't let it bother him, in the sense of getting angry, then I'm not going to get angry over it.
What is your prediction for this year's NBA Finals? Do the Heat repeat?
Honestly I think if the team plays their game, there is no one in the league that can beat them, but they have to get to their game. Until we lose, I always feel like we're always going to win.
My dream scenario would be a Game Seven, and we win on our home floor with our celebration afterwards. I'd want that only for one reason, because I remember how I felt after that game seven against Indiana. Did you feel that building? I had a friend who watched that game and he told me he could feel that energy on the TV. I could've partied all night, so just imagine that but on Championship night. I know the pressure will kill of a lot of people but I think the reward would be that much sweeter.
You'll be sure to share some behind-the-scenes photos of the celebration with us, right? ☺
Anything else you'd like to share?
The first game I ever went to was just after we won the Championship when Shaq was still here. I won some tickets at the time from 103.5 The Beat. I must have been two seats from the top, if I stretched out too much or jumped too high I could touch the ceiling. I'll never forget, as small as the court looked from where I was sitting, I couldn't be happier. I was so happy just to be in the building.
So eventually I worked my way down.
My first time on the court was last year, I sat courtside and I looked up at the top and I'm thinking I used to sit up right there, in that corner right up there and I was so happy. Now I'm here touching the floor, and a part of me was so grateful. I kept thinking, I'm a Miami kid, born and raised and I just picked up a camera and my life just did what it did.
For more information on Bob, be sure to visit his website or follow him on Twitter and/or Instagram @MistaDubb.
BONUS: BEHIND-THE-SCENE FOOTAGE
Dwyane Wade and LeBron James offseason workout (2011) - Part 1
Dwyane Wade and LeBron James offseason workout (2011) - Part 2