New Year, New Work – Morningstar Magazine

Editorial Corporate Portrait Los Angeles

Editorial Corporate Portrait

Happy New Year! Though you probably can’t tell from my posts, 2018 was an incredible and incredibly busy year for me. I shot and self-published a book, traveled around the country on numerous assignments and even bought a house. And if that weren’t enough, we’re expecting our first child in February! Yikes! But between a crammed schedule and waiting for numerous shoots to publish I’ve had very little to share other than photos of my pregnant wife taking down gross, old wallpaper. Which, you know… bad optics. Don’t worry, I helped too, but those are challenging selfies. Anyway, as the year begins life has slowed to a more manageable pace (at least for the now…) and various projects have finally published. So time to start sharing. I’ll kick it off with a couple of clips from two shoots I did late last year with financial publication Morningstar Magazine. Both featured prominent Southern Californians kicking butt in their respective fields. Neither shoot took place in a conference room! I shoot for a lot of financial publications and anytime we can avoid that cliche I consider a success.

The first shoot was with Tara Unverzagt, a financial planner based in Torrance, who also happens to be a competitive track cyclist. For the shoot we met her after work at the VELO Sports Center in Carson, where she trains. The idea was to show her in typical work attire in the cycling environment, so I wanted to show her with bikes whizzing by in the background. A big challenge was that there weren’t that many cyclists on the track at the time, so we had to wait for them to circle all the way around the 250 meter track and then hope that we nailed the timing on both the foreground and background. If not, we had to wait for them to come around again. Then they would take a break. Not too many chances to get it right! Fortunately Tara was a patient subject and could nail her expression on cue, so we had several good options to choose from in the end.

The second shoot featured Howard Gleicher and Greg Padilla of Los Angeles-based Aristotle Capital Management. This shoot was less concept-driven, but the building, in Santa Monica, had a beautiful courtyard with palm trees and a koi pond that provided a great setting. You’ve probably noticed that neither of those elements were in the final shot, but this wall worked pretty well too.

More new work coming soon. Next up, a motorcycle-riding librarian!


Anne Akiko Meyers

Anne Akiko Meyers - Musician PortraitI’m excited to share a sneak preview from a series of images I made with acclaimed violinist Anne Akiko Meyers for her website and upcoming album, due in September. The shoot, which features her extremely rare and valuable “Vieuxtemps” Guarneri del Gesu violin, known to be the most valuable violin the world, took place at her home in Los Angeles. The instrument was lent to her by an anonymous collector to play for life after being purchased for north of $16 million. We had originally considered going on location, but the rarity of the violin, which is in pristine condition despite being constructed in 1741 (!), caused us to reconsider. So, we opted on setting up an outdoor studio on the shady side of her home, where we could ensure that the instrument’s perfect varnish would never see direct sunlight. Did shooting an essentially priceless piece of musical history on a live set make me nervous? Nah! Do it all the time. Did we quadruple sandbag any and every object within 15 feet of the set? Absolutely! Was I lying about not being nervous? Uh, yeah. Sorry. The winds did actually kick up a bit later in the morning, causing our backdrop to ripple, but my team had secured everything so well that it wasn’t a concern.

It was both a great honor and pleasure to work on this project with Anne. An experience I won’t soon forget. One of the highlights was realizing that we were getting a private recital part way through the shoot. Part of me wished I could stop clicking my camera  long enough to really enjoy it. I can’t wait to hear the album and see the finished product. I’ll be sure to share when it’s out!

On a technical note, the scenes we were shooting for required multiple lighting sources, so we set up for a variety of scenarios that we could rotate through in order to create images that appeared to be in open shade, low morning sunrises and moonlight among others. To do this we started with a Profoto pack on a large Elinchrom Octabank to create a beautiful broad key light and then rotated through multiple variations using combinations of a soft box, beauty dish and 7″ reflector as back and side lighting. For fill we set up a Scrim Jim a couple feet from Anne, which was secured by multiple sandbags, clamps and an assistant to make sure it didn’t move an inch. We also added in a Reel EFX fan to create a subtle breeze and add movement.

Finally, I also couldn’t have done this without the great crew, listed below.

Assistants – Ryan Duclos & Jeremy Jackson
Hair/MUA – Courtney Hagen
Grip – Sync Photo Rentals

Stay tuned for the follow up in September!

Stylehaul – Annual Report Photography for RTL Group


Stylehaul Corporate Editorial Portrait

A couple months ago I spent an afternoon in the fashionable offices of Stylehaul in Hollywood photographing project manager Melanie Okamuro for their parent company RTL Group’s 2018 annual report. Stylehaul is essentially an online network bringing fashion and beauty influencers from around the internet under one roof. Founded in 2011, the young startup was recently acquired by the larger, Luxembourg-based media company. What I loved about this shoot was that the client designs their annual reports with an editorial eye, using fun, modern design and portraiture rather than the typical approach of more traditional corporate imagery. The photos really help tell the story of who their employees are and gave me the freedom to play around with various looks and lighting approaches. Melanie, who as a project manager and programmer isn’t usually in front of the camera, was a great subject. She was not only very friendly, but very patient and was willing to work with me and my team to create the best images possible. Thanks to all involved!

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Farfetch for the Wall Street Journal

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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Rodeo Clown Justin Rumford for the Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal Clip

A 2012 PRCA Clown of the Year belt buckle is one of the items rodeo clown Justin Rumford always keeps in his bags.                   Decorated rodeo clown Justin Rumford shows us the contents of his Bucks Bags rodeo bags during the Woodlake Lions Rodeo in Woodlake, Calif., on Sunday, May 10, 2015. Rumford, a barrelman clown and winner of the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) 2012 Clown of the Year Award, is able to fit quite a bit into his bags, a necessity considering he is on the road traveling from rodeo to rodeo for much of the year. Some of his must have items include his 2012 PRCA Clown of the Year belt buckle, cowboy boots, clown makeup, huggies wipes, baby powder, batteries, an iPad and iPhone, a wireless microphone, a rope belt, a toothed australian hat, his cowboy hat, baggy jean shorts with suspenders, and costumes, including a gorrilla suit, spiderman suit and Evil Knievel suit, all of which are incorporated into his act. CREDIT: David Zentz for The Wall Street Journal                 FIXBAG_rodeo

Rodeo Clown Editorial Feature Wall Street Journal

Can you say culture shock? A day after returning from two weeks in Thailand I was back on the road, driving three hours north to Woodlake, Calif., to attend the annual Woodlake Lions Rodeo for a feature assignment for the Wall Street Journal. The piece was for their ongoing “What’s in your bag?” series, which profiles various professionals and asks them to share the contents of their totes, brief cases or what have you. The subject this time was Justin Rumford, an accomplished rodeo clown who kindly agreed to let us open up his two Bucks Bags rodeo bags and see what’s inside. What is inside, you ask? Some of the items I found included jumbo clown jean-shorts with suspenders, a leather belt with a 2012 Clown of the Year belt buckle, an iPad and iPhone, a microphone headset and extra batteries, Spiderman, gorilla and Evil Kneivel costumes, white makeup and a black grease pen. You know, clown stuff. It’s generally everything he would need to head out to a rodeo on short notice. Rumford, a resident of Oklahoma, spends much of his year on the road traveling from rodeo to rodeo, whenever possible living in his cozy RV. I also spent the day with him, shooting a few portraits as well as shooting him in action as he emceed, dodged bulls and generally clowned around in the arena. A barrelman clown, Rumford’s job is to assist with hosting the event, keep the crowd entertained between competitions with gags and stunts and to narrowly dodge bulls by diving into his custom-made barrel or hopping over the fence to safety. He does not run around in front of the bulls, antagonizing them to keep them away from the cowboys. That’s what the bullfighters are for. Still, it’s a dangerous job requiring him to intentionally draw a charge to his barrel to give the bull riders and bullfighters time to escape. The assignment was a fun break from the norm – if there is such a thing in this line of work. Click on the Continue Reading link to see more from the shoot.

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Adventures in Thailand 1 of 3 – Bangkok

Bangkok China Town

Bangkok Silom red light district

The Tiger Balm burned my skin and eyes, mirroring the burning sensation in my mouth still lingering from the chili pepper I’d bitten into moments earlier while eating breakfast in Lumphini Park in 90-degree, muggy weather. It was only 9 a.m. on the first day of our visit, and so far Thailand could be summed up best in just one word. Hot. Only 24-hours earlier I would have probably passed on all three of these circumstances — receiving a massage from a stranger in a park, eating spicy street food for breakfast and willingly sitting outdoors where the temperature and percentage humidity seemed to compete to be the first to reach triple digits. But as the saying goes, “When in Bangkok … sure, I’ll try that.”

It was late April and we’d arrived in Thailand the night before to kick off a 17-day trip around the country. It was the first time for both of us visiting Southeast Asia, and we were excited to see as much as possible, heat be damned. We’d chosen late April through early May because it was the shoulder period between the high-tourist season and rainy season. The tradeoff is heat, but we thought it was still the best option and had the added incentive of lower travel prices. The trip started in Bangkok and from there we went to Chiang Mai and Pang Mapha in the north, followed by Krabi and Ko Jum in the south and back to Bangkok to fly home. While the travel itinerary was pretty tight, we only had a few major objectives. See as much as we could, eat as much local food as possible and, last, but certainly not least, get married.

Mission accomplished on all counts! Though the last objective turned out to be more complicated than anticipated, I am happy to announce that on April 29th we officially tied the knot! I’ll get to that story later though, as too much happened to include it all in one post.

Bangkok is a bustling, dirty metropolis. In some ways, it was my favorite leg of the trip. A visual smorgasbord of signs, power lines, vehicles, people and markets teeming with things to buy, it’s a street photographer’s paradise. It also doesn’t hurt that the king himself, whose visage is plastered on numerous walls and billboards throughout the country, is known as a hobbiest photographer to the point that he is pictured on the 1,000 Baht note holding a camera. I was a little disappointed that it was overcast much of the time we were in Bangkok, but there would be plenty of color to be found later in the trip. We covered much of the city on foot, managing to wind our way through a number of areas including Chinatown, Bo Bae, Wat Pho, Silom, Khao San Road and places in between. Each had their own flavor, and often, the places in between turned out to be more interesting than the intended destinations.

When we weren’t walking, we found relief for our aching feet on the modern BTS train system or by taking an incredibly affordable water taxi up the Chao Phraya River. The air was surprisingly cool on the water and offered a unique view of the city.

While the food was amazing through most of the trip, Bangkok gave us some of our best experiences. While we stopped for meals, it was often just to take advantage of the restaurant’s air conditioning and to rest our legs over a water or ice cold Singha. The abundance of great street food allowed us to snack our way through the days. Khanom khrok, kuay tod, khanom bueang and moo ping, (to name a few foods whose names I’ll never remember) followed by copious amounts of water and iced coffee, kept us going through the afternoon. Dinners would often be something along the lines of tom kha kai soup or a noodle bowl and a Chang. One night we splurged at a high-end restaurant, and while it was amazing, were were often just as happy with the quality of the street food we found at a fraction of the price.

After a few days in the city, it was time to head north to Chiang Mai and to the caves of Pang Mapha. I’ll pick it up from there on the next post. Lot’s of photos after the jump!

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