Jun 242016

Corporate Portrait - Hyperloop Transportation Technologies

Corporate Portrait - Hyperloop Transportation Technologies

Corporate Portrait - Hyperloop Transportation Technologies

On a torrentially rainy afternoon in March, I found myself inside a nondescript hangar in Culver City shooting portraits of Dirk Ahlborn and Bibop Gresta, founder and COO, respectively, of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies for the German business publication, Digtator Magazine. They and their company are one of two contenders in the race to create the world’s first Hyperloop, a high speed transportation system that aims to hurl passengers between major metropolitan hubs at speeds of up to 760 MPH. That’s about 8 MPH shy of the speed of sound… as I write that I can visualize the skin on my face peeling back as we reach top speeds. The reality though is that the passengers would be seated in long, pressurized, cylindrical pods that would move quite smoothly through low-pressure tubes, possibly running alongside major highways. As long as the acceleration is gradual I doubt you’d even feel like you’re moving. It reminds me of that thing you put your deposits in at a drive through bank. Slightly bigger though. As a kid that was always one of my favorite parts of running errands with my mom. I would reach across the seat and stretch out the driver side window just to drop the canister into the machine, close the door, and watch it zoom away to the teller. If this is anywhere near as fun as that I’m sold.

The competition was initiated by none other than Elon Musk, who, in 2013, with his company SpaceX, open-sourced the idea to any company willing to take up the challenge. The two major contenders are Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and Hyperloop One. While Hyperloop One has already done a public test run of its technology in the Nevada desert, HTT has been slower to unveil the goods. This is in part due to the fact that their approach has been to crowdsource the engineering of the design and technology first before building anything, with volunteers, consisting of some of the best minds at NASA, Apple, etc., donating about 10 hours a week from the comfort of their homes in exchange for shares of stock that will hopefully hold some value once the company is fully funded. Their competitor, meanwhile, went the traditional startup route, raising lots of capital and building as they go. HTT’s approach makes sense once you realize that Ahlborn, before starting HTT, founded JumpStartFund, a crowdsourcing platform for startup companies. The downside for me was the lack of actual machinery available to photograph during my visit aside from a fancy looking vacuum pump. The cylinder you see them seated in is nothing more than wood with some airplane seats, so I took the unusual (for me) step of gelling the background light to help make things look more interesting.

Nevertheless, they say they are still on track to create a test track in California’s Quay Valley later this year and later aim to open their first operating Hyperloop system in Europe, connecting Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest. It will definitely be interesting to see how these companies develop and what the differences are. I have to say the appeal of getting between major cities in a matter of minutes, and without burning fuel, is something to look forward to!

Click ‘continue reading’ to see additional images from the shoot.


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Jun 062016

Lachlan Patterson Comedian Portrait

My comedian friend Lachlan Patterson recently found a xylophone abandoned by a dumpster outside his Venice home. Unable to believe anyone would discard such a treasure, he adopted it and soon started to incorporate it into his act. Seeing this, I thought it was funny but also realized that I hadn’t seen too many photos of handsome men holding such an instrument. So I decided to invite him to make some portraits that would fill that void. Fortunately for me he obliged, and a couple of weeks ago we met up at Elektrashock Studio. If you’re not familiar with Lachlan’s comedy you should be paying better attention. He’s been touring for a number of years and was the runner up on Season 8 of Last Comic Standing. I got to know him recently on his regular guest appearances on my friend Eddie Ifft’s Talkin’ Shit podcast, but he also has a comedy podcast of his own, The Kooks of Comedy, which he co-hosts with comedian Joe Praino. My understanding is that he also has a big special that’s about to be released, so I’m sure you’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the near future.


David Zentz is an editorial and commercial portrait and documentary photographer based in Los Angeles, Calif. For bookings reach him at dz@davidzentz.com.

May 312016

Manhattan, New York, Street Photography

Coney Island, New York Street Photography - handball courts

I made a quick trip to New York and DC last week to take meetings with editors and art buyers and also made a quick stopover in Lancaster, Penn., to visit with family. I never have enough time to really shoot anything of substance on these trips, but I did stop here and there while hustling around to different appointments. I did have one free afternoon in New York though and decided to spend it by taking the Q train to the end of the line to walk around Coney Island. I’ve lived a block off of the Venice Beach boardwalk for nearly 8 years and was interested to see how the east coast equivalent compared. Few of the businesses and none of the rides were open, apparently due to something the east coast refers to as “seasons,” so I can’t say got the full picture. However, I thought it was quite nice and seemed to be much improved since the days of the Warriors. I’ll have to go back sometime in the summer. Lancaster and DC were also fun. While the rain somewhat limited what we could do out in the country I was fortunate to only come across a brief moment of rain while walking around DC. Between meetings there I spent an afternoon in the National Portrait Gallery and the Renwick Gallery and also made time for drinks with some editors and photographers off of DuPont Circle. A good trip overall. More photos from the rest of the trip are below.

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May 062016

Ojai Wildflowers - Los Angeles Photographer

Lizard on a Rock - Los Angeles Photographer

Light through the trees - LA Photographer

I had a very busy start to this year shooting a variety of corporate, commercial and editorial projects, but as little of what I’ve shot has published yet I have practically nothing to share! So, let’s take a nature walk while we wait. Last week we joined some friends of ours for a weekend of camping and hiking in the Los Padres National Forrest outside of Ojai. The original plan was to go out to the San Bernardino Mountains, but a bad weather forecast had us looking for last minute alternatives. Our timing couldn’t have been better for where we ended up. We found a fantastic campground in the woods and on an afternoon hike ended up finding an amazing stretch of deerweed in full bloom along the Maricopa Highway. One patch had grown over the trail so thick it felt surreal pushing our way through them. I tried to capture the feeling w/ a slo-mo iPhone video I’ve posted below the jump. I also shot a video showing the seemingly endless stretch of them as we wound our way along the road. I’ve probably said this before, but one of the great things about California is that it’s so large that in our 8 years of frequent traveling and camping outings we rarely repeat experiences. We’re constantly amazed that we’ve found yet another gem of a spot and wonder how we could have missed it. I’m looking forward to more discoveries!

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Mar 292016

Los Angeles Artist Portrait - Esteban Schimpf


I recently caught up with Los Angeles based artist Esteban Schimpf to shoot some portraits at his home in Highland Park for my occasional, ongoing portrait series on LA artists. I first met Esteban at an art party at our 1320Main Studio, now Elektrashock Studios, several years ago and have since followed his work online, growing as a fan as his work progressed. His art uses a mix of photography, photoshop, painting and collage and I’m always impressed at the bold and unique pieces he creates. He’s also a really nice guy, a collector of vintage typewriters and he bakes a killer loaf of bread, which I was fortunate to enjoy during the shoot. Check out his work on his website and click below for more portraits from the shoot.

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