Jun 282017
 

Editorial Corporate Magazine Photography - George Fischer - Paintball

Action - Editorial Corporate Magazine Photography - Paintball

Portrait - Editorial Corporate Magazine Photography - Paintball

I didn’t need a reminder that I made the right choice early on not to pursue a career in combat photography, but after feeling the sting of a paintball against my skin for the third time in only a couple minutes, despite several layers of protective clothing,  I remembered that it was indeed the right call.

Earlier this year I found myself out in the middle of a field seventy miles east of Los Angeles following around paintball enthusiast Justin Sorenson for Georg Fischer’s Globe magazine. Justin is a field service engineer by weekday, avid competitive paintball player by weekend and a really nice guy to work with. They were featuring him as part of a regular series they publish highlighting employees’ passions and pastimes outside the workplace. I had only played paintball once in my life, with some friends as a teenager. Being the new guy, they put me out front. I was quickly shot and went back to the house to hang out until they were through. So given my limited experience it probably goes without saying that I was unprepared when I suddenly found myself on the edge a battlefield where ten guys were raining hellfire upon one another with paint-filled balls of gelatin.

Justin and I had shot some portraits before things started and, when it was his team’s turn to play, made our way onto the field. He told me more or less where to shoot from to avoid being shot, but once play begins it all happens very fast. Starting at their home base on opposite ends of the field, upon the referee’s signal each of the five members of each team sprint in different directions, simultaneously scrambling for cover behind large bunkers while also shooting rapidly at anything they see moving on the other side of the field. The goal is to eliminate everyone on the opposing team by “marking” them with a splat of colored paint. You’re hit, you’re out. Last team standing wins.

Standing in the mud along the sidelines with nothing but a camera it feels a bit chaotic at first. The bunkers, inflated vinyl balloons, make loud thwaps each time they’re hit. I see Justin take off and immediately move so I can get a clear view of him in action. What I don’t see is one of his teammates crossing in front of me, which immediately draws fire from their opponents. Any shots that miss him, which was more than a few, have a good chance of hitting me.

The first one hits me right in the keister and stings like hell. I try to move along the edge toward the middle of the field where another team is watching. His teammate heads in the same direction and leaps behind a bunker. Paintballs whoosh by my ear. As I turn sideways one hits the side of my camera, ripping through the bag I’ve secured around it for protection as if it was Kleenex. Fortunately it hits a solid part of the camera body causing no harm. But I realize I should have brought a water housing. A moment later the referee yells to stop play and I let down my guard. Another paintball smacks me in the foot, stinging my toe even through the leather cleats I’m wearing for traction. What the &#*@!? The teams exit the field so the next teams can take a turn and, a little frustrated, I assess what I’ve shot. Not much. Besides spending most of the round trying not to get myself shot, Justin had taken a route up the middle of the field keeping him out of view, so I’d essentially taken all that fire for nothing.

Fortunately round two is better. I quickly learn to watch not only my subject but also to look out for anyone else running anywhere near my direction and to not get behind them. This time Justin runs an outside route toward my corner and I’m able to get a clear shot of him while also staying out of the line of fire. I’m shot only once more over the course of the afternoon and am able to get numerous images of him running, firing and diving for cover. Knowing I have what I need I decide to get myself, and more importantly my gear, out of harms way and call it a day. As for Justin, he intends to play for several more hours. Having watched them play I could see why. It’s a strategic, fast-paced and adrenaline pumping game that I’m sure is addictive once you get started.

As crazy as I may have made it sound, it was actually a great time and a really fun assignment. There are a lot worse ways to spend a Saturday. Even if most of them are less painful.

Here’s a video showing my POV from an iPhone I mounted to my camera. See below for more photos from the shoot!

Paintball Photography POV from David Zentz on Vimeo.

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Feb 022017
 

Financial Advisor Magazine Cover Los Angeles Photographer

Editorial Magazine portrait
Editorial Magazine portrait

Editorial Business Portrait El Segundo

In December I photographed financial planning expert Liz Davidson at her business Financial Finesse in El Segundo for the cover of Financial Advisor magazine. The editor had requested a mix of environmental portraits and portraits against a backdrop so there would be options for both the cover image and the inside pages. When we arrived we found a great rooftop waiting for us and decided to set up there for our backdrop shot and one of the environmental shots. For the backdrop we taped paper to the wall to maximize the shooting space, which was in a small shaded sitting area where the sun wouldn’t be a factor. We also planned an additional setup that was an easy pivot from the first one that used the slate grey lineup of the building’s offices, which provided a nice clean backdrop and an appealing architectural element. From there we moved the shoot inside to the second floor loft where shot her in the common space of the office before moving to a nearby open-air conference room for a final shot using natural light. Liz was high energy and a great sport throughout and her team was very helpful making sure we had everything we needed for a successful shoot. Financial Finesse, which she founded in 1999, is a business specializing in helping other businesses educate their employees to ensure their financial well being. You can read more about Liz and her business on the Financial Advisor website.

Nov 142016
 

Migros Editorial Portrait Trump Supporter tony-luisoni

Migros Editorial Portrait Clinton Supporter isabelle-meyer

Clinton Anti-Trump Bumper Stickers

A few weeks before the election I visited and photographed two Swiss-born American citizens who were voting for opposing candidates Clinton and Trump. The images were part of a 5-person series profiling Swiss-American expats of various political leanings for Switzerland’s Migros Magazine. My first subject was Isabelle Meyer, 64, a resident of Glendale, Calif., collector of globes and an avid Clinton supporter. We didn’t speak about politics for much of our visit, but both of us were fairly confident that things would work out for team Blue. And we know how that ended. My second subject was Tony Luisoni, a 79-year-old resident of Granada Hills, Calif., structural engineer and Trump supporter. This might surprise those of you not living in a “liberal bubble” as I do, but Luisoni was the first open Trump supporter I had ever met. Sounds crazy I know. But when you live in an extremely diverse city a candidate who inspires racism, xenophobia and misogynism is kind of a deal breaker for most of us, regardless of your political opinions otherwise. So, I was very curious what our interaction was going to be like. Working as a journalist, I would never try to argue politics with a subject. But I wasn’t looking forward to nodding along as I listened to someone inform me of the merits of a Trump presidency, which despite my feelings, would be the only way to handle the situation as a professional. Fortunately, I didn’t have to. Dispelling the notion that all Trump supporters are angry white people, he never brought up politics once and was very accommodating throughout the shoot, allowing me to create a nice portrait of him in his living room.

Normally I don’t discuss politics here or outside of my circle of friends and family, and never as a professional. Had a Republican other than Trump won the election, I would likely say nothing here. But I feel that this situation falls outside of mere political opinion and cannot express strongly enough my opposition to what has happened. It’s truly a catastrophe that someone was able to make it to the office of the presidency on a platform based in large part on hateful rhetoric and white nationalism. It speaks poorly of us as a people and is a national embarrassment. Fortunately, I can see that while Trump has won the election, the majority of us are still strongly opposed to him and his ideas. So I am hopeful that although his supporters are laughing, the last laugh will belong to those who believe in equal rights and justice for all.

 

Nov 012016
 

Farfetch fashion editorial Wall Street Journal

Farfetch fashion editorial Wall Street Journal

Last month I visited the LA offices of the London-based e-commerce company Farfetch to photograph a behind-the-scenes look at its operation. If you’re not familiar (I wasn’t, but my wife definitely was), the company is an online marketplace that sells on behalf of high-end fashion boutiques around the world. They don’t stock the items themselves, but list them on their site and then take a cut of sales. In order to properly list each item on their site, the boutiques must send in one of each item they want to sell, which the team at Farfetch then catalogues, styles and photographs before sending back to them. On average they list around 1,000 new items each week. If you’ve ever done product photography, you can imagine the amount of time this must take! You can read more about the process by checking out the article here. For more photos from the day continue reading below.

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Sep 282016
 

Corporate Advertising Portrait

Corporate Website Advertising Photography

Corporate Website Headshot Photography

 

I love seeing the end result of a long-term collaboration. During the first half of this year I worked with a great group of people at Intrepid Investment Bankers in Santa Monica to help them overhaul their website and give it a modern feel that better represents their business. So many corporate websites come across as stiff and boring, generally comprised of headshots against a grey background and generic stock images suggesting notions of success and achievement. The problem is, once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Intrepid, as their name suggests, wanted to be bold and show they are different from their competition by building a new, dynamic website that showed both the personalities of their bankers as well as the people running some of the interesting companies they work with. Fortunately, they found my work and saw in it the style that they were looking for. Soon after our first meeting, we got to work. Most of the portraits of their staff were done at the Intrepid offices, while each of the featured clients were photographed at their respective places of business. I’m thrilled to see the end result and think this is one of the best looking banking websites out there. Visit www.intrepidib.com to check out the rest of the work and learn more about Intrepid.

Dec 102015
 

Christina Angelina Starfighter Cosmopolitan Editorial

Christina Angelina Starfighter Cosmopolitan Editorial Street Artist

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to spend some time with the well known, Venice-based street artist Starfighter, aka Christina Angelina, as she was putting the finishing touches on a collaborative mural in Hollywood. The shoot was for a profile on her for Cosmopolitan’s “Get That Life” series focusing on successful women with cool careers, which published this week. You can read all about her career there, so I won’t repeat it here. But she was very cool to work with and I look forward to noticing more of her work as I drive around the city. Also, if you were just at Art Basel I know you can see a really cool large mural she just completed in the Wynwood Art District.

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