Jan 312018
 

Photojournalism - WSJ Honda

Photojournalism - WSJ Honda

Last month I spent an afternoon going door to door with members of Honda’s Recall Team in Torrance as they attempted to inform car owners that their vehicles are subject to recall due to the famously deadly flaw in Takata airbags that were used between 2001-2015 by Honda and numerous other carmakers. The only problem, they were hard to find! This is largely due to the fact that Honda, whose cars were affected possibly worse than any other company, has spent the past several years reaching out in every way they can to car owners and have already found a high percentage of them. They are also trying to reach 2nd, 3rd and higher-generation owners, whose records are often hard to find or turn out to be inaccurate.

After several hours driving to various residences, which their records indicated were home to Honda owners who had not yet fixed their vehicles, we found exactly zero actual owners. We often missed them because they were at work, in which case they left a flyer on the doorknob, and in one case found someone whose husband owned the car, but had just sold it. I’m sure it’s a frustrating experience for the recall team, but also worth it as there’s supposedly a 50/50 chance that the driver or front seat passenger of an affected Honda could die or be seriously injured by shrapnel should the airbag deploy. Pretty bad. The recall is considered the largest in history, affecting over 42 million vehicles across all manufacturers and killing at least 20 people worldwide. If you own a car you think might be affected by this hopefully you’ve been contacted already and taken care of it! If not, you can get info here. Honda will actually come to your vehicle and fix it for free, so get on it.

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Dec 222017
 

Magazine Cover - Editorial Photography

Editorial Portrait Photography

Not long ago I found myself bobbing, weaving and trying to hold focus as a fierce woman with a two-toned mohawk swung large purple boxing gloves at my face. Usually I don’t appreciate that sort of behavior while I’m trying to take a picture. In this case I’d asked her to do it, so it was okay. My would-be attacker was Hollywood super-cool stuntwoman Petra Sprecher, who I was photographing on Venice Beach for a profile to be published in Migros magazine, a publication from her native Switzerland. She may not look familiar, but you’ve probably seen her work!  She’s performed in numerous big-time films, including Minority Report, Eagle Eye and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, to name a few. Prior to that she grew up performing in circuses, ultimately touring with Cirque de Soleil’s Quidam. Circus to stunts seems to be a natural transition. The other stunt performers I’ve known were either trained gymnasts and/or parkour runners. Who else would be capable of jumping off rooftops or falling down stairs? Unfortunately timing didn’t allow us to shoot her doing those things on an actual set, so we did the next best thing, having her demonstrate some of her training exercises, also stopping to take some standard portraits. It was a fun afternoon and we were both thrilled to see the work chosen for the cover.

Oct 022017
 

Discover Magazine-Editorial Photography

Discover-Editorial Photography

Discover-Editorial Photography

Discover-Editorial Photography

Discover-Editorial Photography

It was great seeing not one, but two, pieces published in the October issue of Discover magazine! The first story was shot at the UCLA Brain Imaging Center to illustrate a first-person narrative by writer Jeff Wheelwright relating his experience getting tested for the Human Connectome Project, a large study creating a baseline map of the brain to better study how it ages. For the story we created a series of images of him going through various cognitive tests, as well as an overhead of him lying in a decommissioned MRI machine. That latter was a challenge, but we pulled it off with the help of my assistant LR, a patient subject and a Camranger remote, which allowed me to shoot live view wirelessly from my laptop to my Nikon, which was carefully positioned overhead on a boom. The second story was a fascinating piece on advancements in stem cell therapies that are allowing people such as Kristin MacDonald, who I shot at home in Beverly Hills, to regain partial vision almost totally lost to Retinitis Pigmentosa, an incurable degenerative eye disease that caused her to start going blind in her twenties. Others have successfully used the therapy to overcome paralysis caused by stroke or injury. The advancements were initially made possible by the passing of California Proposition 71 in 2004, which provided $3 billion in funding for stem cell research in the state after the feds cut off funding for embryonic stem cell research in 2001. I did a related story several years ago when scientists were just figuring out how to work around the ban, so it was great to see how far things have come in the last seven or so years. I’m looking forward to seeing the advancements this field is sure to produce in the coming years.

 

 

Aug 212017
 

Editorial Portrait for Rotman University Malibu Beach Entrepreneur

Editorial Portrait Malibu Beach for Rotman University

In May I met up with LA-native and entrepreneur Anthony Harbour on Malibu’s Topanga Beach to shoot portraits for the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Harbour is a recent graduate who was being profiled after creating his new venture, The Baldwin Gentlemen, a social club for gay men of color. Rather than depicting him in a professional setting the school wanted to show him somewhere that was obviously California, so after a conversation with Anthony we opted to meet up on the sand but shoot him in business casual attire. This fit the story quite well, as his business is all about creating small gatherings in different settings, from beaches to museum exhibits and any variety of other cultural events. The weather turned out to be partly cloudy, so it could have been a little more “LA” had the sun been out. But I really like the quality of light we got. These are a couple favorites from the shoot.

 

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.