photography

USAA Campaign With VSA Partners


USAA for VSA Partners

USAA for VSA Partners

I did a shoot a while back with VSA Partners for USAA.  I had a great time traveling across the country with Art Director Britta Hernalsteen (a highlight being the BBQ in Austin TX).  We were photographing active and veteran military members and their families and I got to meet some interesting people with amazing stories.  I felt truly humbled after hearing what they have gone through serving our country.

Happy Veteran's Day

VSA Partners USAA Campaign

VSA Partners USAA Campaign

Dr. Clarence Jones - American Way Magazine


Dr. Clarence Benjamin Jones Palo Alto Home

Dr. Clarence Benjamin Jones Palo Alto Home

Today is the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech.  I was asked to shoot Dr. Clarence Jones for American Airline's inflight magazine American Way for an article on the anniversary.  If you're not familiar with Dr. Jones, he was an important part of Dr. King's civil rights movement.  Dr. King personally came to Dr. Jones' house in 1960 to ask him to for help with the movement.  Later, Dr Jones helped co-author Martin Luther King's "I Have  A Dream" speech;  Of the nearly twenty minute speech Dr. Jones is responsible for approximately the first fifteen minutes.

It was fascinating to listen to Dr. Jones tell me the story of the night Dr. King came to his house.  As Dr. Jones put it to me to illustrate just how popular Dr. King was at the time,  "it would be as if Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Tom Cruise all rolled into one showed up at your doorstep". It was even more surprising to hear how he initially turned down Dr. King that night.  Dr. Jones would have had to do extensive traveling and he didn't want to leave his wife.   Dr. King persisted;  The following Sunday Dr. Jones attended  a sermon given by Dr. King at his local church.  During the sermon Dr. King spoke about a brilliant young lawyer  he had hoped would help him in his fight for civil rights, but the young lawyer had turned him down.  The crowd was stunned.  Dr. King continued talking about the young lawyer (never mentioning his name) and the good he could be doing.  After Dr. King's sermon, Dr. Jones finally agreed to help Dr. King.

Today Dr. Jones is a professor at University of San Francisco and a scholar writer at the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University.  He has written two books about Martin Luther King and lectures across the country.

The initial shoot took place in a small recording studio on the USF campus.  This is where the magazine wanted the shoot done. The recording studio was a very small room with nothing in it but a chair, a microphone and sound baffling on the wall.  There was little room for the much needed lighting I had brought and what did fit couldn't be placed where I would have preferred.  To make things more interesting, because the magazine wanted a "wide shot" of Dr. Jones,  the room was so small I had to be in a completely different room shooting through a glass window.  This meant I only had a couple of angles available to me due to reflections showing up in the final picture.

Dr. Clarence Benjamin Jones University of San Francisco recording studio

Dr. Clarence Benjamin Jones University of San Francisco recording studio

The picture came out ok, but I wasn't that happy with it so I offered to do another shoot of Dr. Jones, this time at his Palo Alto house.  Despite being very busy, Dr. Jones obliged and patiently sat through another photo shoot.  This time I kept things simple; It was just me, Dr. Jones, my Mamiya and some film.  This time I was much happier with the images. It was also great getting to spend more time with Dr. Jones and hear more of his stories.  Dr. Jones was actually thankful that I was so willing to make sure the pictures for the story came out well.

So, if you're flying American Airlines this month, put down the SkyMall catalog and check out the issue of American Way.

Dr. Clarence Benjamin Jones Palo Alto Home

Dr. Clarence Benjamin Jones Palo Alto Home

Dr. Clarence Benjamin Jones American Way Magazine

Dr. Clarence Benjamin Jones American Way Magazine

Driver's Education Road & Track Magazine


driversed-1.jpg

I was contacted by Design Director David Speranza to do a shoot for a feature in Road & Track.  The article was about teen drivers being undertrained  and the outdated drivers license exam process.  I was asked to photography Danica Lacey and Martha Tessmer on location just outside Fresno California.  While in high school Danica was driving with her friends and boyfriend when she lost control of her car and killed her boyfriend Donovan; Martha's son.  Here is a bit of their story:

 From the moment she got her learner's permit, just after her 15th birthday, Danica followed every traffic law, every rule of the road. She obeyed every nuance of California's strict graduated-licensing laws. She looked both ways at every intersection. She never got so much as a parking ticket.  Then came that night in the middle of July.

Lacy's boyfriend Donovan Tessmer, a star running back at Liberty High in Madera, California, had just finished his last day of football camp. The couple had the rest of the summer in front of them, but this night began quietly enough. Lacy and Tessmer remembered making plans to drive a few friends to see the new Transformers movie.

Lacy would drive. She was the only one old enough to have passed all her licensing requirements; Tessmer was 10 days too young to drive at night with passengers. They picked up three friends in the silver Toyota Corolla that Lacy's father had bought her for her 16th birthday, headed to the Cineplex, and spent two hours watching Camaros come to life on the big screen. As they started home, Tessmer realized he left his Game Boy in the theater. Tessmer and Lacy split up. He went back to the Cineplex. She went off to get gas, chips, and energy drinks.

When Lacy swung by for the 20-minute drive home, Tessmer and his two football-player friends piled into the Corolla's back seat and did what teenage boys do: They began wrestling over the snacks. With the stereo pumping out music and three boys wrestling in her back seat, Lacy started driving faster. Too fast-75 or 80 mph in a 55, down the back road to Madera Ranchos. Most drivers avoid the deserted two-lane that winds through the apple orchards, but Lacy liked how it was usually free of traffic.

"Can't you keep this car going straight?" Tessmer joked from the back seat. The silver Toyota was trying to tell Lacy something, but she didn't understand. "You mean like this?" she said. She playfully jerked the steering wheel.

What happened next was a confluence of physics, bad luck, and bad judgment. In that long moment when the car began to slide and Lacy realized something was very wrong.

The Toyota left the road and careened into an orchard, crashing into one tree, then another. A rear door was ripped off. The boys in the back, unbelted, were hurled from the vehicle. Lacy and her front-seat passenger were merely shaken up. Two of the rear passengers were seriously injured.  Donovan Tessmer, the third, wasn't so lucky. "I saw him lying in his own blood," said Tessmer's best friend, Dustin Simpson. "We were having fun, and in a split second, he was dead."

I first met with Martha.  She now travels across the country for Impact Teen Drivers talking to students about what happened with her son Donovan.   I have a 21 month old daughter and since she was born the only thing I've ever truly cared about is her well being.  If something happened to her I honestly don't know how I would handle it.   Martha talks about her story day in and day out and she has an amazing attitude about everything that's happened.

Martha Tessmer

Martha Tessmer

As I photographed her lecture to the freshmen students at Riverdale High School I found myself sitting in the seats watching Martha and the students.  These are teenagers and that means they (think) they have more important things to do than to sit and listen to an adult talk about "blah blah blah, don't text and drive".  As the lecture went on some kids were goofing off (that probably would have been me in high school). They weren't loud but there was the noticable sound of a group of people who are mostly trying to keep quite but are still talking to the person next to them.  That is until the video of  Danica & Donovan's story was played.  At that point the entire room went silent.  By the end of the video many of the kids were crying.  Once the projector was turned off and the lights came back on the room remained silent.  The murmur was gone and you could only hear Martha speaking about her son's story.

Martha Tessmer Lecturing

Martha Tessmer Lecturing

After the lecture we went back to Martha's house.  She showed us around her house, which was filled with pictures of both her children and she had stories for each photo.  We had a few hours before we were to meet up with Danica so my assistant and I hung out with Martha in her kitchen.  Martha talked about her lectures and her family.  One of the strangest coincidences of the shoot was the fact that my assistant, whom I randomly found through a Facebook referral, went to high school with Martha's daughter and they knew each other.  Although he didn't know Donovan, the two families actually had quite a bit of history together.

Martha Tessmer - Donovan's Room

Martha Tessmer - Donovan's Room

Martha Tessmer Backyard Memorial

Martha Tessmer Backyard Memorial

Finally it was time to meet Danica at the crash site.  We arrived before her so we would be set up and ready to go once she arrived, hoping to minimize her time at the site.  She was friendly and smiled when she arrived, but you could tell she was't comfortable.  The magazine wanted her to be photographed in front of the tree the car crashed into.   Danica's mom showed up shortly after Danica for moral support.  Up until this point, Danica had never been back to the crash site.   Danica said she probably wouldn't have been able to do the shoot if her mom wasn't there.

Danica Lacy - Crash Site

Danica Lacy - Crash Site

Having their photo taken for most people probably isn't on the top of their list of things to do normally, let alone under these circumstances, but Danica was great.  She even sat patiently in a very hot car with the windows rolled up far longer than I would have before asking if she could roll down the window.  I was so focused on taking pictures it didn't dawn on me that the windows were up and she probably needed some air.  But knowing she probably wanted to get out of there I went as fast as I could with as few setups as possible so she wouldn't need to stay longer than necessary.

Danica Lacy Behind The Wheel

Danica Lacy Behind The Wheel

This was easily the most emotional photo shoot I've done and I was actually nervous prior to the shoot because I really didn't want to screw it up.  In the end I'm very happy with the images we got and I'm glad to have met and spent so much time with Martha and Danica.

If you have driving age kids, I would recommend reading the entire article.  The organization that Martha works for is Impact Teen Drivers.

Bicycling Magazine September Cover


Bicycling Magazine September 2013 Cover

Bicycling Magazine September 2013 Cover

I was contacted to by Bicycling Magazine to do the cover of their September issue.  This was to be the first cover in their new redesign which more prominently features photography.  When briefed on the phone I was told they wanted a shot that showed either the city or a notable landmark in the background on a sunny day.  Anyone who knows San Francisco in the summer knows this is sometimes easier said than done.  But the fact was that we had actually gone through a long period of  clear very hot non-typical San Francisco summer weather.   Of course that all changed once the shoot was schedule and the weather turned grey.  We even got rain the day before the shoot with more predicted for shoot day.   The fog was so bad while I was scouting the day before the shoot, I could not see the Golden Gate Bridge 50 yards in front of me.  At one location I couldn't even be certain which direction the city was facing.  Thankfully everything cleared up the day of the shoot.  I decided on doing the shoot on Treasure Island with the Bay Bridge and city in the background.

Another thing to be thankful for... no spandex.  If you look at the cover of pretty much any cycling magazine you're going to see someone in spandex that would make David Lee Roth's sock proud.  One of the features on the cover this month was more casual non-spandex cycling clothing.

After the cover shot I wanted to grab a portrait of the cyclist Austin Horse for myself.

Cyclist Austin Horse

Cyclist Austin Horse

Venice Beach Skater


Venice Beach Skater

Venice Beach Skater

When I was a kid I would  go through a pair a shoes a week.  My shoes would more often than not look like this kids.  It never even dawned on me that my mom was spending as much money on shoes as she probably was (along with new decks that would also only last a couple weeks).

Ever since we've started taking our 21 month old to skate parks every weekend (yeah, I started her early much to moms concern) I've been skating more and more as well which means more beat up shoes again.  Can't wait until my daughter is going through a pair of shoes a week.  She was a little tired and grumpy on this day.

Kates & Chloe Venice Beach Skate Park

Kates & Chloe Venice Beach Skate Park