Kickin’ it with Leticia Esparza

Athlete Fitness Portrait Leticia Esparza
Jump Kick Athlete Fitness Portrait Leticia Esparza

I recently got together with sparring taekwondo world champion Leticia Esparza for a monotone-themed shoot at Concrete Studios in downtown Los Angeles. Besides being a badass 4th degree blackbelt, Esparza is a model, actress, stunt double and fitness trainer who has recently relocated from her hometown of Las Vegas to give it a go in Hollywood. As fierce a competitor as she is, I wouldn’t bet against her!


Golfing, glitz and more swag than you can fit in your carry-on. That was the scene late last year when I covered the Inc.5000 Conference & Gala for Inc. Magazine in San Antonio, Texas. The annual conference gathers hundreds of successful entrepreneurs and leaders from the country’s top up-and-coming companies under one very large roof. In this case, the massive JW Marriott Resort in Hill Country, something akin in scale to the Las Vegas MGM Grand. The event is held to honor their achievements as well as provide them with an abundance of business education and networking opportunities. Spanning three days, the event had many participants burning the candle at both ends, with activities such as 7am golf outings and parties lasting late into the night. In between, attendees sharpened their business skills by attending a series of breakout sessions and stage presentations by featured speakers such as Brené Brown, Life is Good founder Bert Jacobs, and Kendra Scott’s Kendra Scott. The marathon run was ultimately capped off with a black-tie gala featuring an awards ceremony emceed by celebrity guest Joel McHale. All of it amounted to an exhausting yet rewarding experience.

I shot so much over the course of the event that it’s too much to display here. As such, I’ve created a separate gallery on my website’s archive page. You can view the wider selection here.

Magazine Cover- Skye Patrick for the Library Journal

Editorial Magazine Cover - Library Journal - Los AngelesAs promised in the last post, a shoot featuring a motorcycle-riding librarian! We had a great time doing this profile for the cover of the Library Journal, which recently honored LA County Library Director Skye Patrick as their 2019 Librarian of the Year. We met up with Skye and her executive team at the Manhattan Beach and West Hollywood Public Libraries, just two of the counties 87 branches. Both have really cool and modern architectural elements like floor-to-ceiling windows and large art installations that made them great shooting locations. Skye – who besides being a super cool librarian is a fellow Univ. of Pittsburgh alum – was a great subject throughout and made the process feel like a collaboration. Both her back story and what she has done for the LA library system in only two and a half years are impressive and worth the read, which you can check out here. One thing I learned on the shoot that the article doesn’t mention – perhaps because it doesn’t rise to the level of high brow concepts like expanding inclusivity and bringing the library into the wireless digital age – was that one of her first acts upon starting the job was to allow people to bring in coffee. Genius! So next time you’re in the mood to read at the coffee shop maybe grab it to go and head over to your local branch. It’ll be much quieter.

Editorial Portrait - Library Journal Magazine - Manhattan Beach
Editorial Portrait - Library Journal - Los Angeles
Editorial Portrait - Library Journal - Los Angeles
Editorial Portrait - Library Journal - Los Angeles
Editorial Portrait - Library Journal - Los Angeles

The Birds the Book the Kickstarter

The Birds photography book

Those of you who follow me on Instagram are probably well aware by now that I have started a Kickstarter campaign for the initial print run of my self-published book, “The Birds.” The book contains a series of photos documenting the sudden ubiquity of BIRD’s, a brand of motorized, dockless scooters.  In late 2017 and early 2018, BIRDs began appearing on the streets, sidewalks, and virtually every other unoccupied public space in some neighborhoods of Los Angeles. They were particularly abundant in Venice Beach and Santa Monica, where the company was founded.

The series documents unoccupied scooters — as they were found — in the early months of 2018 as they first gained popularity. It also includes intermittent quotes of dialogue from the 1963 apocalyptic Alfred Hitchcock classic, “The Birds.” We’ll come back to that later.

I started this project in Feb. of this year. As I was skateboarding down the bike path along Venice Beach one evening around dusk I noticed a BIRD sitting alone along the path in front of a landscape of beach, ocean and the distant Santa Monica Mountains. Sitting by itself the scooter appeared to anthropomorphize into an amusing, odd looking creature. Something about it’s long neck, big handlebar ears and it’s upright posture seemed to give it personality. I immediately thought picturing them this way would make a good photo series and the next day set out on foot looking for BIRD’s at rest. As the series progressed and the scooters continued to grow in popularity, the idea came to me that the BIRD’s were taking over the town, which immediately made me think of Hitchcock’s classic film of the same name and essentially the same plot. I looked up quotes from the film on IMDB and after reading one or two I realized they would not only be funny when put with my images, but could also add extra layers of meaning and could be used to form a loose narrative around the photos. From that point on I began shooting with that story concept as the driving force. I admit it’s an unconventional approach to what’s essentially a photojournalism project. But it’s also a photo series about scooters! How could I not have fun with it?

If you haven’t seen them in the news yet, dockless scooters are the latest trend in transportation. BIRD and other brands, such as Lime, Spin and GOAT, started appearing around the same time in cities such as San Francisco, D.C. and Austin and have since expanded to numerous other cities. The main feature that sets them apart from other ride sharing devices begins with the fact that they are GPS enabled and can be located and activated by using an app on a user’s phone. The user can then ride to their destination, cruising along at speeds up to 15mph using the scooter’s electric motor, and when finished, simply hop off, log out and leave the scooter where it is. It’s a great idea, but it has not come without controversy. In fact, new rules potentially capping the quantity of scooters in one area are being debated by the Santa Monica City Council as I type this. While the concept’s merits, such as convenience and environmental friendliness, have been validated by their obvious popularity, detractors have complaints and/or concerns about a number of issues. The two most common revolve around safety and optics. The scooters are literally everywhere. Not just along the edge of sidewalks and paths where the companies suggest riders place them, but also in the middle of sidewalks, down every alley, in parking lots and almost any other public space you can think of. They are often knocked over as well and can frequently be found blocking access to doorways, driveways and various other right of ways. This presents not only numerous opportunities for pedestrians to trip, but is also considered unsightly by many who would rather not see them lying on the ground and randomly strewn about the community. The public’s frustrations (and amusement) can be seen in many of my photos, as well as countless ones posted on social media, that depict the BIRD’s tossed in dumpsters, hanging from ropes as if lynched and having been either vandalized or physically destroyed. It’s a complicated issue to be sure. I try not to have a strong opinion either way, but think that both sides have merit.

In shooting them and creating this book I wasn’t so much trying to make a point, but to document a new trend and to have fun with the way I present it. I didn’t necessarily aim to show the scooters only blocking sidewalks or in ridiculous situations, but aimed for strong compositions, varying numbers of them grouped together and, of course, anything that made me laugh. I also found along the way that through the BIRD’s the images are also documenting my neighborhood. The area’s colorful textures, amazing beaches and unique architecture are some of the numerous features on display.

If you made it this far thanks for reading! If you enjoy this project please consider supporting the Kickstarter and/or sharing the project on your social media. I’ve created a special project website ( and Instagram handle (@thebirdsthebook). Thanks!!



Takata recall for the WSJ

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.

Continue reading “Takata recall for the WSJ”

Kapow! – Petra Sprecher cover for Migros Magazine

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.