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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Oct 282015
 

Commercial Fitness Photo Shoot in Malibu

Commercial Fitness photo shoot in Malibu

Continuing with my recent efforts to build my commercial fitness and active lifestyle portfolio I recently invited professional soccer player and fitness model Diana Redman to do a shoot in Malibu. Diana, who plays center midfielder for the Israeli National Soccer Team, is a powerful athlete and was really fun to work with. Extra kudos are deserved for her willingness to go through with the shoot despite the nasty, seemingly endless heat wave that had us in 100+ degree temperatures that day! All that training in Israel has apparently conditioned her body to high temperatures as she’s barely breaking a sweat here. Myself and the makeup artist, on the other hand, were melting. Compliments as well to the talented hair and makeup artist, Emily Wetzel, who made Diana look great, kept her looking fresh all afternoon, and was a hell of a sport putting up with the heat. More photos are after the jump!

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Sep 232015
 

Surfing Lifestyle photography Newport Beach

Lately I’ve had the urge to shoot some new outdoor and active lifestyle images and decided to start with a little surfing, something I’ve shot relatively little of aside from my Still Stoked series on older surfers. I knew I wasn’t going to get great action shots around here that could compete with all of the amazing images you see of big wave surfers screaming down the face of Mavericks or Waimea Bay, so I decided the action would be secondary and set my sites on creating some very natural, photojournalistic images that conveyed the feeling of being out in the water. The first person that came to mind at this point was Vanessa Yeager, a talented and enthusiastic longboard surfer I met while shooting my recent Far West portrait series in Venice earlier this year, and whose daily surfing activity I’ve followed on her Instagram. So I messaged her and a couple weeks later found myself treading water at Blackies, a popular break by the Newport Beach pier.

When I first arrived the waves were small and mushy, the light flat. I wasn’t sure how things were going to go and was beginning to worry I’d made the 1 1/2 hour trip for nothing. Vanessa and her husband knew better though, leading me up the beach past a couple jetties where we found a decent swell. Around that time the sun started poking through the clouds and I knew we were good to go. Although the waves were a bit fast, for an hour or so things were pretty near perfect. Best of all, since the conditions had been poor only moments before, there were only two other surfers out there with us, creating the feeling that she had the whole place to herself. Rare circumstances these days anywhere on the California coastline. After an hour or so of shooting the scene darkened as sun dipped behind a wall of clouds on the horizon. Just then the after-work crowd started showing up and we knew it was time to call it a day.

It was a short, but successful outing. These are some of my favorites from the shoot.

Surfing Lifestyle photography Newport Beach

Surfing Lifestyle photography Newport Beach

Surfing Lifestyle photography Newport Beach

Surfing Lifestyle photography Newport Beach

Surfing Lifestyle photography Newport Beach

Surfing Lifestyle photography Newport Beach

Surfing Lifestyle photography Newport Beach

 

Jan 132015
 

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

 

Dec 012014
 

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.

 

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Oct 222014
 

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.