I’ll be honest. Some assignments are more fun than others. When the job calls for you to spend the day shooting in the newest Golden Road brewery in Anaheim and the afternoon culminates in a private tasting by master brewer Victor Novak, eager to share some of his latest creations, it ranks right up there. The shoot was for Georg Fischer’s in-house magazine, Globe, which was running an article on how the cooling market segment of their piping division is serving the ever-growing craft brewing industry. I was to meet the featured GF employee, Dan Strömberg, the lucky man who makes the sales calls to this particular segment, at the brewery & tap room and spend the afternoon shooting the brewing process, portraits of him and Victor, and the piping that makes it all possible. The brewery, which has yet to fully open, is only the second brewing location for the immensely successful LA company, which opened its flagship brewery and restaurant in a stretch of warehouses in Atwater Village in 2011 and was acquired by InBev only 4 years later in 2015. The building is a massive warehouse situated directly across from Angels Stadium, which will eventually house a full restaurant that I imagine will be the place to be before and after baseball games in coming years. For now though, it sits mostly empty, with some space used for two rows of 50-barrel tanks and the rest dedicated to housing pallets of beer cans and a few rows of oak barrels aging various ales. The small Taproom, however, is open to the public. Despite the acquisition this they seem to have kept their character, something that was once feared lost upon being swallowed up by a major conglomerate. In fact, the Anaheim branch will be dedicated to smaller batch, experimental brews, such as the robust ginger bread stout and a refreshingly light mango berliner weisse we got to try following the shoot. These and others were served up by Victor, accompanied by explanations of what we were drinking and insights into thought process behind each experiment. My favorites are still their line of IPA’s, including Point the Way and Heal the Bay, but nothing on the menu disappointed. Were every shoot to end this way, well frankly, I wouldn’t get much else done. But a guy can dream. If you’re in the area I recommend dropping in for a pint. And if you get to take a brewery tour, check out those pipes!
If you find yourself in Los Angeles this weekend please join me and photographer Martin Linss for our open studio event, part of the 38th Annual Venice Family Clinic Art Walk & Auctions! I’ve taken part in this for several years now and it’s always a fun time and great to raise money for a good cause. Our event is free, with a portion of sales going to the clinic. If you want to take the tour you can sign up here.
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.
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.
After my shoot with Howard Shu, the country’s number-one ranked mens badminton player and, as of this week, first time Olympian, he asked me if Instagram annoyed professional photographers because everyone now thinks they’re a photographer. I thought about it for a second and, without going into the myriad ways the digital revolution has positively and negatively affected my industry and people’s perception of photography, told him that it was probably similar to everyone he’s ever met who’s played a drunken game of backyard badminton telling him they’re also pretty good at the game. I think he got my point.
Unfortunately, like cell phone photography, I think backyard badminton is probably the extent of most Americans’ experience with this sport, which hasn’t had much in the way of mainstream success here as it has in other countries, such as China, Korea, Britain and Sweden to name a few. So it was an exciting opportunity for me when I recently got to enter the real world of competitive badminton to photograph Shu for the Wall Street Journal‘s ongoing “What’s in Your Bag?” series. The shoot took place on a Monday morning at the Los Angeles Badminton Club in El Monte, about 18 miles east of downtown LA. A cavernous gymnasium with fluorescent lighting, it was a difficult location to light, but I had fun shooting a variety of portraits, details of the contents of his travel bag, and him practicing with his training partner, as other club members played and practiced on neighboring courts. He was a nice guy and very easy to work with. According to the article, the U.S. has never won a medal in the sport, which is largely dominated by China, but I’ll be sure to watch this week and am wishing them the best. Click below to see a few more photos from the shoot!
Continue reading “Olympian Howard Shu for the Wall Street Journal”
On a beautiful afternoon in Malibu this past September I met and photographed young entrepreneurs Helen Grossman and Aliza Faragher, cofounders of a new dating app called Align, for the Carleton Voice, the alumni magazine of their alma mater, Carleton College. The app takes a fresh approach to the online dating scene, taking into account users’ astrological signs when trying to make a match. The two seem to have found an interesting niche in the market and have have had early success in finding venture capital and launching their app in LA and NYC. Old married man that I am, I’m not likely to be using it anytime soon. But if you’re in the market perhaps give it a try. You can check it out at http://www.doyoualign.com.