This is a time-lapse showing the second of two amazing days spent producing a portrait series on the Venice Beach Boardwalk last week. With the invaluable help of Erinn and our assistant Marlena I shot 144 people from all walks of life and numerous countries. The plan as of now is to share the finished body of work in March and then go on to create a book and gallery show. Please check back next month!

Corporate executive portrait composite  Georg Fischer

Corporate magazine photography Los Angeles Georg Fischer

Corporate Magazine Tearsheet

Corporate Magazine Tearsheet

 

Problem: You’ve been assigned to photograph the presidents of two neighboring divisions of a major corporation, but neither of them will be in town at the same time prior to your deadline.

Solution: Composite!

This was the situation on a recent shoot for Globe magazine, the in-house publication of the multinational Georg Fischer corporation who wanted to highlight how two of their divisions were now working under one roof at their new facilities in Irvine, Calif. In order to deliver the shot they needed, we decided to shoot both executives individually in the chosen location — in front of a large aquarium that serves as a centerpiece to their office showroom — and later merge the portraits together. In this case, the company has its own in-house capabilities for post-production, so with the actual Photoshop work taken care of, my main concern was to shoot nearly identical frames taken a week apart. For prior composite work, such as the Macklemore tour poster I photographed a couple years ago, the task was made easier because everything was shot the same day and the camera never moved. In this situation, however, leaving the camera mounted on a tripod in the middle of their offices for a week was not an option! So, I had to set the lighting and camera up again and, with the help of a reference photo on my laptop and using my assistant as a stand-in, find the exact framing. I wanted not only to make the task of compositing easier, but assure that the result was believable, so it was important that the subjects be shot at identical angles. In the end, the images blended together seamlessly and the client went away happy. Hooray! The rest of the spread, as you can see, consisted of documentary-style shots showing employees working in various departments, as well as tighter portraits of some of the featured employees who play important roles in the two departments. While there, we also shot a group portrait for the company’s annual report, which has yet to publish. Once it does I will be sure to share it here.

 

For bookings visit www.davidzentz.com or contact us at dz@davidzentz.com or 310.745.9854.

Musician Vinnie Venice Beach coffee shop

Musician Vinnie Venice Beach coffee shop

 

Walking through the neighborhood recently I came across local musician Vinnie Caggiano, who was perched on the sill of the Groundworks coffee shop talking to our friend Petey Pete and strumming on a beautiful orange guitar. Of course I couldn’t help but take a few pictures. A native New Yorker who relocated to LA in the ’80s, Vinnie is a talented guitarist who occasionally plays the boardwalk, but mostly takes local gigs and teaches. You can check out his work and sign up for a lesson here: http://vincognito.com.

Hayward Nishioka portrait - judo

Last year I had the unique opportunity of trailing judo legend Hayward Nishioka for a piece on the declining role of physical education at colleges and universities for the Chronicle of Higher Education. At 72, Hayward, a 7th degree black belt, has long since retired from professional competition and has been teaching judo at Los Angeles City College since the 1970s. Among his numerous accomplishments in the ’60s are being a 3-time U.S. judo champion and a gold medalist in the 1967 Pan-American games. He is widely considered to be one of the best ever in the sport. While this is impressive and rather intimidating, in person Nishioka is a soft-spoken, gentle man with a good sense of humor, and was a pleasure to spend the day with. And a full day it was, starting with me knocking at the door of his San Pedro home, just steps from the Pacific, at 6 a.m. and ending around 8 or 9 at night at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Garden Grove in order to create a day-in-the-life style profile piece that could accompany the story. The day consisted of a wide range of activities, starting with a stop at the neighborhood market near his home in San Pedro for coffee and danishes, followed by a 45 minute drive in his blue Prius to teach introductory judo classes at LACC, lunch with his girlfriend, a stop for ice cream, a visit to East LA’s Abell auction house — not far from the rough neighborhood where he grew up and where the staff know him by name — a kendo demonstration (another martial art, in addition to karate, that he excels in) on a homemade dummy in his backyard, takeout dinner on a San Pedro bluff a short walk from his home and finally to Garden Grove for yet another judo session. Along the way we had great discussions, ranging from his recalling his heyday as a champion to his earliest days where he and his family were interned at Camp Manzanar during WWII to how one can determine the authenticity of a lithograph. His time in Manzanar, as you can imagine, has greatly influenced his opinions on today’s wars and the public’s common misperceptions of muslims. He also let me give it a go with his kendo sword, which he swings 1,500 times a day. Typically a fairly light, wooden sword, he fills his with lead to increase his strength and control, the object of his training being to stop the sword as close as possible to the dummy without actually hitting it. After about 20 swings my forearms were on fire and I maybe stopped the sword from touching the dummy once. Maybe I’ll be better by the time I’m 72. All in all, a fascinating and humbling day!

The article just ran in the chronicle and can be seen here: http://chronicle.com/article/When-Colleges-Abandon-Phys-Ed/151109/

Hayward Nishioka photo essay

Hayward Nishioka San Pedro

Hayward Nishioka Los Angeles

Hayward Nishioka teaching judo

Hayward Nishioka teaching judo

Hayward Nishioka teaching judo

Hayward Nishioka teaching judo

Hayward Nishioka teaching judo

Hayward Nishioka

Hayward Nishioka lunch

Hayward Nishioka

Hayward Nishioka

Hayward Nishioka practicing kendo

Hayward Nishioka practicing kendo

 

Hayward Nishioka Editorial photography

Hayward Nishioka broken fingers

20140512-Hayward-_DEZ0110

Hayward Nishioka portrait

ChE_Editorial_tearsheet

 


Studio headshot - black and white publicity photo dramatic lighting

Anthony Zuiker - CSI creator portrait

 

These two shoots have something in common. One is a publicity shot for an actress named Marisa Costa who wanted to create an image that evoked a sort of noir, crime drama feel that might help her land a role on a television show such as CSI. The other is of Anthony Zuiker, the creator of the CSI franchise! He also was in need of publicity shots to promote his newest endeavor, a “gamified narrative” app called Mysteryopolis. The novel show is aimed at children and will allow them to change the outcome of the story as it moves along. Both images needed to be dramatic, but while Marisa’s needed to be dark, Zuiker’s needed to be a little warmer — so as not to scare the children — while still invoking the criminal brand he has built over the past 15 years. For Marisa we stuck to my home studio, 1320Main Studios in Venice, and kicked up the drama by casting light on the backdrop and shooting black & white. For Zuiker we went with natural light and found a place that gave us a softer version of the high contrast lighting that we needed to fit the look of the genre. I had a great time working with them both and think we achieved the looks we were going for.

For bookings visit www.davidzentz.com or contact us at dz@davidzentz.com or 310.745.9854.

Touch the Wall - Missy Franklin Kara Lynn Joyce Denver

Touch the Wall - Missy Franklin Kara Lynn Joyce Denver

Touch the Wall - Missy Franklin Kara Lynn Joyce

 

It was a busy past couple of weeks with trips to Denver and NYC for the premieres of Touch the Wall, a documentary directed by my good friends Christo Brock and Grant Barbeito focusing on the simultaneous rise of Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin and the decline of her more experienced teammate, two-time Olympian Kara Lynn Joyce. I was fortunate to be involved in the film as an additional photographer for some key scenes late in the film. So when they invited me to come along to the premieres, I was more than happy to join them, both to celebrate and help out by documenting the behind-the-scenes experiences of both momentous weekends. The official premiere was at the Starz Denver Film Festival and was as exciting a start as any small film could hope for. The screening sold out the enormous Buell Theater’s 2500+ seats, outselling the festival’s opening night. This was in no small part to the fact that Denver — more specifically, Aurora — is Missy’s hometown and has also recently become home to Kara Lynn. Needless to say, there was a huge turnout from the swimming community and locals who have followed the ascent of Missy’s career long before she had won her five Olympic medals at the age of 17. The following weekend, we reconvened in Manhattan for a private premiere screening hosted by USA Swimming at the Sunshine Theater. Though the crowd was smaller, the theater still sold out and was attended by several notables in professional swimming, from Rowdy Gaines, who hosted the Q&A after the screening, to Olympic gold medalist Davis Tarwater, as well as Olympic gymnast Nastia Luikin. Both weekends were great. Missy and Kara are genuinely a lot of fun, and I had a good time tagging along as they got the Hollywood treatment, from the red carpet to a private dress shopping visit at Nicole Miller. I also got to enjoy brunch with the Franklin’s at a restaurant high above Times Square where Missy was recognized by an adoring server and a nearby table of teenage girls.

Though my role was small, I’m really proud to be a part of this film and am proud of my friends Grant and Christo for pulling it off. Not only did they complete the film — a grueling, four-year process including two years of filming, countless hours trying to raise money and I have no idea how many hours of editing — but they managed to tell a great story that makes the film interesting whether you’re a fan of swimming or somehow have no idea who Michael Phelps is. The level of personal sacrifice they put themselves through was also amazing to me, and I truly hope they reap the rewards. To that end, I recommend that you go see it! Since it’s a small independent film, the filmmakers are trying a new approach to distribution, in which people can request screenings in their hometown theaters. There are a number of screenings already taking place around the country, and if you miss them you can request your own or choose to buy a digital download of the film for your own private viewing. All the info you need is HERE.

 

Continue reading »

Los Angeles Grand Central Market

Los Angeles Mark Twain Hotel Hollywood

I’ve been too busy to post regularly lately, but I recent visit from my sister and her boyfriend gave me an excuse to take a break, play tour guide and explore the city.  Here are a few scenes and encounters taken along the way. Places visited include Grand Central Market, Hollywood Blvd., the Griffith Observatory and Little Tokyo. While we had a great time, please note that we were not entirely responsible for all of the empties pictured at the bar!

View from Griffith Observatory

Hollywood Blvd. Star Maps

Hollywood Blvd. Homeless

Little Tokyo Near East Bar bartender

Senior Surfers Jericho Poppler

 

Jericho Poppler Senior Surfers Portraits

 

I recently had my first encounter with a surfboard tree. What’s a surfboard tree, you ask? Well, for those of you who don’t know, which I can only imagine is most of you, it’s a part-wood, part-polyurethane, fiberglass and epoxy plant with a few leaves on top that grows about 20-30 feet in height and is exclusively found in the Capistrano Beach backyard of legendary surfer and board shaper Mickey Muñoz. I came across this arboreal aberration while photographing Mickey for my ongoing project on senior surfers. He was one of several new people I have had the great fortune to include in my project since my last posting and one of the most avid all-around watermen I’ve ever met. I first met him and Jericho Poppler, pictured above, at the Oceanside Longboard Surfing Club Contest in early August. It turned out that the two were surfing partners and agreed to meet me at Doheny State Beach a few weeks later to shoot some portraits and action. Both are extremely accomplished surfers. Nicknamed “The Mongoose,” Mickey, 77, excelled in big- and small-wave competitions in the 1960s and was also known for creating inventive moves such as the “Quasimoto.” He later went on to be known as a board shaper and sailor and recently chronicled his life on the water in his 2011 book “No Bad Waves.” Jericho, 62, made her name as one of the first full-time female professional big-wave surfers in the ’60s and ’70s, winning numerous championships including the title of IPS World Champion in 1976, and later won the first women’s World Longboard Championship. All while being the proud mother of five. While photographing the pair at Doheny, I also noticed Mickey’s truck, a pickup with a camper installed on the bed. He told me that he and his wife regularly slept in the back on surf outings, including regular trips to second home in Baja, Mexico. I knew I had to photograph him against it in order to show his lifestyle. We were having too much fun in the water, though, and after several hours, I had to get back for an appointment. Fortunately he was kind enough to allow me to meet him at his home at a later date, where I encountered the surfboard tree. Mickey’s home is organized chaos, an incredible museum of memorabilia and cluttered work areas indicative of a life of nonstop board shaping and tinkering on sailboat parts. I probably could have photographed him in any space there and made an interesting picture, but couldn’t help but be drawn to the tree, a combination resting and storage place for numerous boards. It was great getting to know both of them, and I’m thankful they were so generous with their time.

Mickey Munoz Senior Surfer Portraits

Mickey Munoz Senior Surfer

Mickey Munoz Senior Surfers

Mickey Munoz Senior Surfers

 

On to Surf City! I also found some connections in Santa Cruz with the help of the Santa Cruz Longboard Union and found some time in August to head up for a few days. There I met up with local surf legend Howard “Boots” McGhee and John Doty. Boots, 66, has been a lifelong fixture of the northern California surfing scene, learning to surf in Berkeley in 1963 before moving to Santa Cruz. He is a founding member of the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum and an environmental advocate who helped establish the Santa Cruz chapter of the Surfrider Association in 1990. Similar to John Moore from my previous post, he too continues to surf after undergoing a full knee replacement 13 years ago. We met at Pleasure Point, one of many breaks in the area and a fantastic spot for longboards. We had a great time talking on the shore while taking some portraits and then jumped into the frigid Northern California water to shoot some action. The waves were small that day, but Boots caught a few and the afternoon light was nice, so I emerged shivering, but happy with what I had shot. Finally there is John Doty, a lifelong surfer with the nickname of “Turtle,” who has recently been sidelined due to a stroke he suffered around three years ago. My original intent for this project was, and remains, to show active surfers who are still paddling out on a regular basis. I wasn’t aware that Doty wasn’t doing so until the day before I was to meet him, when I learned of his setback. I wasn’t sure how photographing a nonactive surfer would fit into this project, but decided to go ahead and pay him a visit anyway. I’m glad I did. In a group of super friendly subjects that I’ve met through this project, Doty could well be the friendliest. We spent about three hours talking at his house, about his and his family’s long history in the sport. In fact, I personally delivered a family heirloom trophy from 1916 that his uncle won when he defeated the legendary Duke Kahanamoku — the man largely credited for bringing surfing to the continental U.S. from Hawaii — to Boots McGhee for inclusion in the surfing museum. While we talked I took several portraits of him, most of which show his bubbly character. But a couple moments also indicated his sadness for not being able to take part in something he has done since the age of 5. Although he’s been out of the water for three years now, I have hope that he’ll soon return. His obstacle at the moment is his balance and the negative effects not riding for three years has had on his confidence. This I can relate to. I begin to doubt my abilities after I’m out of the water for a week. But his mind is sharp and he’s regularly out there riding bicycles, so I’m sure he’ll find himself popping up on a board sometime soon.

 

 

Boots McGhee Senior Surfer

Boots McGhee Senior Surfer Santa Cruz

John Doty Senior Surfers

John Doty Senior Surfers

 

That’s all for now. Hopefully I’ll find some new subjects this year before the water temperature drops. Otherwise, I’ll be sure to continue working on this in the spring.

Nana Ghana Agyapong Portrait Ritz Carlton Los Angeles

Nana Ghana Agyapong Portrait Ritz Carlton Los Angeles

 

Every year or two Nana and I get back together to make some fresh portraits. This time, we had been talking about it when the opportunity to shoot in a room at the Ritz Carlton in downtown Los Angeles came up. Her roommate had rented the room for a birthday party and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get together and have some fun. I only had 45 minutes available that day to shoot, as I was on the way to a meeting that afternoon, but we made the most of it! Here are a couple of my favorites that I think show a great side of her personality. I’ll probably post some additional shots on Instagram in the following days. You can follow me at @davidzentz!

Night shot of lake

Chelsea, Manhattan storm clouds

 

I had a great visit last week to New York, first stopping in the small town of Warwick to attend the wedding of my friends, Eric and Mollie, and then on to Manhattan where I spent the week visiting with clients, old and prospective, and visiting with my cousin Meredith. So I thought I’d post a couple of shots taken along the way. The first image is from a lake at the location of the wedding in Warwick. Lights from buildings on the property threw the color balance off, but I liked the effect! The second is from my cousin’s balcony in Chelsea. The weather was actually great the majority of the week, but not having seen clouds in quite a long time, the novelty appealed to me. It’s been too long since my last post, but I should have some fresh work and clips to share soon!

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