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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May 032017
 

Editorial Photographer Tear Sheet

LACC Jazz Band - Editorial Photography

 

Late last year I photographed the Los Angeles Community College Studio Jazz Band for the Chronicle of Higher Education as they rehearsed for the following night’s concert. The story was about how the school had just received a $10 million grant from the Herb Alpert Foundation, which would be used to make tuition free for all music majors. Alpert, a jazz musician who founded A&M Records, and his foundation already had a history with donating to the school, but last year decided they wanted to give a legacy donation that would make a big difference in the lives of LACC students. The story reminded me of an episode of Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast that I listened to a few months ago in which he discusses a man named Hank Rowan who, in 1992, decided to give a $100 million donation to a local community college in order to create an entire engineering department. The podcast argues that more donors should think this way rather than only giving to the top Ivy League schools, which today have endowments in the multiple billions of dollars, but generally educate people who are starting with a lot of advantages. Thus the money doesn’t really do a lot for them in the way it would for the underserved students attending the small schools. It appears the Herb Alpert Foundation had a similar mindset. It was great to not only meet some of the beneficiaries of the foundation’s generosity, but also sit in on what felt like a private concert put on by a talented group of students.

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Apr 242017
 

Zibbz editorial for Blick magazine - Pink Flamingo

Tear sheet - Zibbz

I got to spend some time last month with Swiss brother and sister rock duo Zibbz at their Los Angeles bungalow for a profile just published in Blick Magazine. The magazine wanted to show their home lifestyle, in what it referred to as their “hippie flat,” for an article that would coincide with the release of their new single, “Run,” which just came out on March 10th. They were great to work with, allowing me to shoot wherever I wanted, even climbing up on the roof with me despite the fact that it was in the middle of an unusually hot day. Unfortunately those photos didn’t work out, but I appreciated their effort! If you read German you can learn more about them here. If not, you can at least check out their new music video.

 

Zibbz editorial for Blick magazine - musicians, available light

Zibbz editorial for Blick magazine

Zibbz musicians editorial for Blick magazine

Zibbz editorial for Blick magazine

 

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.

Dec 082016
 

Editorial Portrait Los Angeles KTM

Biz Tech Published spread tear sheet

Biz Tech KTM published clip

 

Editorial Portrait Los Angeles KTM

In October I visited the offices of KTM motorcycles to photograph their in-house IT specialist, Joe Truebe, for the winter issue of Biz Tech Magazine. Fortunately, the editors requested that I not show him working with the innovative backend networking system he’s set up and we got to spend some time shooting with the flashy bikes in their Murrieta, Calif., showroom. Truebe was easy to work with and generous with his time and we were able to make some pretty good pictures for a story that’s basically about iPads and routers. Here are a couple of images that ran in the print and online version, plus an outtake I liked. You can read the full piece here.