I recently got together with sparring taekwondo world champion Leticia Esparza for a monotone-themed shoot at Concrete Studios in downtown Los Angeles. Besides being a badass 4th degree blackbelt, Esparza is a model, actress, stunt double and fitness trainer who has recently relocated from her hometown of Las Vegas to give it a go in Hollywood. As fierce a competitor as she is, I wouldn’t bet against her!
Golfing, glitz and more swag than you can fit in your carry-on. That was the scene late last year when I covered the Inc.5000 Conference & Gala for Inc. Magazine in San Antonio, Texas. The annual conference gathers hundreds of successful entrepreneurs and leaders from the country’s top up-and-coming companies under one very large roof. In this case, the massive JW Marriott Resort in Hill Country, something akin in scale to the Las Vegas MGM Grand. The event is held to honor their achievements as well as provide them with an abundance of business education and networking opportunities. Spanning three days, the event had many participants burning the candle at both ends, with activities such as 7am golf outings and parties lasting late into the night. In between, attendees sharpened their business skills by attending a series of breakout sessions and stage presentations by featured speakers such as Brené Brown, Life is Good founder Bert Jacobs, and Kendra Scott’s Kendra Scott. The marathon run was ultimately capped off with a black-tie gala featuring an awards ceremony emceed by celebrity guest Joel McHale. All of it amounted to an exhausting yet rewarding experience.
I shot so much over the course of the event that it’s too much to display here. As such, I’ve created a separate gallery on my website’s archive page. You can view the wider selection here.
As promised in the last post, a shoot featuring a motorcycle-riding librarian! We had a great time doing this profile for the cover of the Library Journal, which recently honored LA County Library Director Skye Patrick as their 2019 Librarian of the Year. We met up with Skye and her executive team at the Manhattan Beach and West Hollywood Public Libraries, just two of the counties 87 branches. Both have really cool and modern architectural elements like floor-to-ceiling windows and large art installations that made them great shooting locations. Skye – who besides being a super cool librarian is a fellow Univ. of Pittsburgh alum – was a great subject throughout and made the process feel like a collaboration. Both her back story and what she has done for the LA library system in only two and a half years are impressive and worth the read, which you can check out here. One thing I learned on the shoot that the article doesn’t mention – perhaps because it doesn’t rise to the level of high brow concepts like expanding inclusivity and bringing the library into the wireless digital age – was that one of her first acts upon starting the job was to allow people to bring in coffee. Genius! So next time you’re in the mood to read at the coffee shop maybe grab it to go and head over to your local branch. It’ll be much quieter.
Happy New Year! Though you probably can’t tell from my posts, 2018 was an incredible and incredibly busy year for me. I shot and self-published a book, traveled around the country on numerous assignments and even bought a house. And if that weren’t enough, we’re expecting our first child in February! Yikes! But between a crammed schedule and waiting for numerous shoots to publish I’ve had very little to share other than photos of my pregnant wife taking down gross, old wallpaper. Which, you know… bad optics. Don’t worry, I helped too, but those are challenging selfies. Anyway, as the year begins life has slowed to a more manageable pace (at least for the now…) and various projects have finally published. So time to start sharing. I’ll kick it off with a couple of clips from two shoots I did late last year with financial publication Morningstar Magazine. Both featured prominent Southern Californians kicking butt in their respective fields. Neither shoot took place in a conference room! I shoot for a lot of financial publications and anytime we can avoid that cliche I consider a success.
The first shoot was with Tara Unverzagt, a financial planner based in Torrance, who also happens to be a competitive track cyclist. For the shoot we met her after work at the VELO Sports Center in Carson, where she trains. The idea was to show her in typical work attire in the cycling environment, so I wanted to show her with bikes whizzing by in the background. A big challenge was that there weren’t that many cyclists on the track at the time, so we had to wait for them to circle all the way around the 250 meter track and then hope that we nailed the timing on both the foreground and background. If not, we had to wait for them to come around again. Then they would take a break. Not too many chances to get it right! Fortunately Tara was a patient subject and could nail her expression on cue, so we had several good options to choose from in the end.
The second shoot featured Howard Gleicher and Greg Padilla of Los Angeles-based Aristotle Capital Management. This shoot was less concept-driven, but the building, in Santa Monica, had a beautiful courtyard with palm trees and a koi pond that provided a great setting. You’ve probably noticed that neither of those elements were in the final shot, but this wall worked pretty well too.
More new work coming soon. Next up, a motorcycle-riding librarian!
I’m very excited to share the artwork I created for latest album from acclaimed violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, Mirror in Mirror. Late last year Anne and I began discussing a trip to the desert to photograph her for a series of images to accompany the album she was working on. She describes the project — which took nearly 10 years to complete — as transcendent, reflective and very personal, so she wanted the artwork to reflect that.
After some discussion we came up with a goal of creating a series of images depicting her in Death Valley and featuring her holding her violin, the “Vieuxtemps” Guarneri del Gesu. Crafted in 1741 and in pristine condition, the “Vieuxtemps” violin is considered to be one of the finest violins in existence. It was most recently purchased at a price estimated to be north of $16 million, making it the most valuable violin in the world.
I’ve listened to the album a couple times now and it’s beautiful. It features a mixture of original commissions and arrangements with a list of composers that includes Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt and Maurice Ravel. I recommend that you treat yourself by picking up a copy here.
I’ve also included some additional publicity photos we shot that day, including a couple of black and white photos shot experimenting with an antique Graphic View camera using sheets of New55 film. Love the results!
Some of my favorite shoots involve collaborating with creative subjects, and working with Anne was no exception. She was a pleasure to work with, and I’m happy to see the results of our collaboration out in the world.
I recently spent a morning at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, Calif., photographing Dr. Rahuldeep Gill, an associate professor of religion, and Dr. Leanne Neilson, the provost, for a story on diversity hiring and the school’s changing demographics for the Chronicle of Higher Education. As a Sikh, Gill had often felt like he didn’t belong at the university, to the point that he considered not returning following time away on sabbatical. He did return, however, and is now, along with Nielson and others, a member of the university’s “evidence team,” a task force created to help the university recruit and retain faculty of color to better reflect the changing demographics of their student body, which has shifted in recent years from predominantly white to about 50/50 white to non-white. It’s an interesting topic. If you’re a subscriber you can check out the full story here.