The Flight Record: New publication showcases disc golf’s spirit

A few weeks ago, photographer Stuart Mullenberg reached out to us to talk about a new project he was working on. He was pumped and every excited to share the details. We’ve talked with Mullenberg in the past about his experience at the 2014 PDGA World Championships and he’s written a guest post about his trip to the 2014 USDGC.

Today, Mullenberg is announcing a new venture that is designed to not only deliver his top level photography, but also show the true zeal of disc golf. The Flight Record is a 68-page coffee table like book that has shots from both on and off the course.

Mullenberg sent us a proof to look and and we were very impressed. We’ve seen some of the photos before, but seeing them in a full size print really brings it to another level. From the action shots on the course to capturing some of those off the course moments, The Flight Record accomplishes what it sets out to do. While it does have a little bit of writing, it is minimal. Mullenberg smartly lets the photos do the talking.

To learn about how the Flight Record got started we talked with the man himself.


The Flight RecordEver since you got bit by the disc golf bug and people really fell in love with your photography at the 2014 PDGA World Championships you have carefully carved out your own little niche in the disc golf community. Did you ever think you would be this involved with disc golf?

“I think the best way to put it is that I hoped I would be this involved with disc golf. If what I’ve built so far were to fall apart tomorrow, I would still have to count my experience as a success. Initially, I really only set out to meet a handful of my favorite golfers, make some cool photos, and have some fun. By the end of that first week at Worlds, though, I had bigger plans.”

“Being a freelancer isn’t for everyone, but it’s what keeps me engaged. It’s speculative, and I equate it a little bit to prospecting for gold. You have to believe that there’s gold out there in the hills, and you have to be confident that you’ll find it. I’m not even talking just about money. For me, doing work that I believe in is just as important at this point. I’ve been successful as a freelance photographer, and I earn a respectable and predictable living. Bringing disc golf into the equation was just a natural extension of the dream-chasing that my whole life ultimately boils down to.”

“When I realized that I had something unique to offer the disc golf community is when things got really exciting for me. I saw a very real opportunity, and I patiently worked out a way to make it work. I tried a handful of things, but The Flight Record was ultimately the real goal from early on.”

We’ve seen many online photo galleries of your photography from tournaments around the country, but today you’re announcing a new product: The Flight Record. Tell us about this.

“The Flight Record (TFR) is a premium photo journal that chronicles this moment in the timeline of our sport’s young but very compelling history. It’s 7.5 x 11”, and it feels like a cross between a high end magazine and a softcover book. The concept was to make a premium, coffee-table-worthy, run-to-the-mailbox kind of publication that would be a must-have for any disc golfer. I’m holding the final proof in my hand, and I’m really proud of the result. I think we really delivered well on the idea, and I’m super excited to get it into the hands of the disc golf public.”

“I guess you could call those online galleries, blogs, and social media shares “proof of concept.” Their purpose was simple: to test an idea. I wanted to see if disc golfers would respond to a different take on disc golf photo coverage than I had seen anywhere else, and it worked. I was able to use social media to build a fantastically enthusiastic and well-connected core audience.”

“From here forward, though, my real content will only be available in TFR. That’s the place where my vision is best expressed, that’s where my heart is, and that’s where I want my images to live on. TFR will be a printed and bound visual history of the sport from the 2014 Worlds forward.”

The Flight Record

This won’t be a subscription type publication, but you do plan on producing multiple editions, correct?

“Exactly. We haven’t decided yet exactly how often we’ll release new issues. It depends on the demand. In this first year, we’re most likely to do 3 issues. It’s important to me that the content remains deep and compelling. With that schedule I know I can deliver on that promise.”

“One thing that jumps out to us is how you want to not only highlight the professional level of disc golf and not even the action on the course for that matter. You love those candid moments, don’t you?”

“Yes I do. Think about the Olympics. Imagine watching them without the little intro pieces that precede each event. You get to know the athletes personally a bit. You connect with them. Without that connection, there is no drama. Image after image of drive after drive lacks soul. If you’ve seen one, you’re pretty much good for the day. For me, the stories and the VIBE of being there are the important thing. At tournaments, it’s electric. In casual rounds, it’s chill and fun-loving. Whatever that vibe is, I aim to communicate and amplify it for the viewer. In my opinion, this is what disc golf needs most moving forward: an emotional connection to ever-more recognizable pros and their journeys. That emotional connection is what sports lovers feed on.”

The Flight Record

We’ve seen a few print publications pop up over the years with the most recent one, Hucker Magazine, failing to produce any positive results and leaving many disappointed. What are your plans to ensure The Flight Record isn’t a one-and-done?

“I can’t worry too much about that. I will say that we’re not selling subscriptions, but that’s not honestly a reaction to the way other media publishers have structured their sales in the past. We’re not selling subscriptions because we can’t guarantee that there will be an issue two. It’s that simple.”

“All we can do is make the absolute best product we’re capable of, market it as well as we’re able to, and then wait to see how disc golfers respond to it. We’ve made the photo journal that we wanted as disc golf players and fans. I’m so incredibly proud of that, no matter what. If enough people love it and buy it, we get to do issue two. That’s the reality, and at some point it’s out of our hands and into the hands of the disc golf public. I’m cool with that, because I think we’ve created something truly unique for disc golfers to be proud of. If we are successful, we will employ as many ways as possible to get it into the hands of supporters which includes subscriptions and sales at your favorite disc golf retailer.”

“If you are interested in carrying The Flight Record in your shop, please send and inquiry to orders@theflightrecord.com.”

The Flight Record

It undoubtably takes many people to take something like this from concept to reality. Who else makes it possible to bring us these great photos?

“I have the best business partner I could have imagined, which is Jay Harbour from Huk Lab. Jay and I share a vision for the sport, and we live a few miles apart. I was a Huk Lab loyalist well before I met Jay. The more we talked, the more I realized that we had a mission in common. Jay has been instrumental in my disc golf story since before day one. He helped me get my first shoots set up, and helped me roll those shoots into the success story that 2014 Worlds was. Jay was the first person to really see what I had to offer the disc golf community, and to really jump in with both feet to help me out. After the 2014 season, we had some time to dream and ideate, and there was no shortage of great ideas.”

“We called in Ed Hepp, who is the creative director for Huk Lab. His design work is top level and we knew when it came to brand identity he would deliver. We hired him to create the a logo that would be simple, clean and evoke a feeling of focus and flight. Oh, and of course it had to look good on a disc!”

“We also called in Kate Madden, who I’ve been working with for a decade. Kate was one of the very first people to believe in my work enough to hire me, a full decade before I shot my first disc golf image. Kate and I have worked together on thousands of images for hundreds of projects. Kate helped me get my fledgeling career off the ground, and has played a huge part in my success as a working photographer. She was also one of the first people to recognize the magic that was happening when I started shooting disc golf. Kate built TFR from scratch with us, and patiently worked through all of the tinkering and tweaking that made TFR the unique product that it is.”

“I’d also like to take a chance here to thank you, Zach. I was super flattered and honestly totally surprised when ATDG reached out to me within a day or two of me posting my first disc golf images. That exposure is no small part of this success story.”

What is the timeline for the first edition of the Flight Record? How much will it cost and where can people order?

“We have a very limited number of copies available, but you can purchase our first issue today at TheFlightRecord.com for $30.”

“Get them quick, because we will be having simultaneous launch parties very soon. I’ll be shooting the Glass Blown Open in Emporia, KS from April 28-May 2. I’m super excited to announce here that I’ll be joined by 3x World Champion Paul McBeth for a signing session at the GBO Flymart on Saturday, May 2nd from 6-10 p.m.”

“Meanwhile on the west coast, Jay will also be selling copies at the Huk Lab booth during the Amateur Master’s Cup in Santa Cruz, CA on May 1-3.”

The Flight Record

I know we’ve talked about this before, but we have to give the photography folks a bone too… remind us of your typical disc golf photography setup.

“It’s super simple, but effective. I shoot a Canon 5D Mark III The key for shooting disc golf is having great low light performance, and I don’t know that there’s a better option out there for that. For lenses I’ve used the 24-70 f2.8 mark ii and 70-200 f2.8 mark ii, but I’ll likely be looking to mix it up with some super fast stuff like the 50mm and 80mm primes Canon has out there. If we get to Issue two, I’m also likely to start doing some stuff that’s more styled, lit, and considered to keep it fresh and exciting.”

Anything else?

“I really want to say this last thing, mainly for the benefit of the younger folks in the audience. Chasing your dreams works. It really does. It gives you the energy to work harder than anyone else at projects you’re passionate about. Please don’t be afraid of hard work, sacrifice, and reasonable risk.”

“I chose this career at age 17, based on little more than the growing realization that I loved spending time in the darkroom. 22 years later, I understand more about that affinity towards image-making, and why I get such a charge from doing the work that I do. Getting to do projects like this, things that really mean something to me personally, is truly the fruit of blood, sweat, and tears. Being a photographer is not the easy job I thought it would be, but it’s as rewarding as I hoped it might be.”

“If you have a dream, do your best to start a conversation with a person who’s already living it. Present yourself to them professionally and respectfully. Ask them questions about their path to success, and take their answers to heart.”

“There is always someone with more raw talent than you out there, doing the same thing. You’re going to have to work harder than them if you want to succeed.”


People often use the phrase “Grow the sport.” Many have their own idea of how to grow the sport. For Mullenberg, he’s certainly putting forth one heck of an effort to continue the showcase of disc golf. If you have this sitting on a table at your house and just one person picks it up, looks through it, and asks how they can also play… the sport grows. It takes one person at a time putting forth an effort to get one new person involved. Mullenberg is putting together one strong effort.

Thanks to Mullenberg for talking with us and letting us have an early look at The Flight Record. Order your own copy at TheFlightRecord.com and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

The post The Flight Record: New publication showcases disc golf’s spirit appeared first on All Things Disc Golf.

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