Tearsheet: Andy Miller, NBA Sacramento Kings

August 11th, 2014

Andy Miller, Co-Owner Sacramento Kings

Editorial portrait of Andy Miller, former Apple executive and current Co-Owner of the Sacramento Kings NBA team. Photographed in Palo Alto, CA. | Boston College Law School Magazine.


Lightroom grid view: Andy Miller, Co-Owner Sacramento Kings | Boston College Law School Magazine


Outtake: Andy Miller, Co-Owner Sacramento Kings

Tearsheet: Canadian Cycling Magazine

May 22nd, 2014

Editorial: "Ride In The Redwoods" Canadian Cycling MagazineTearsheet: Canadian Cycling Magazine. “Ride In The Redwoods”

The May issue of Canadian Cycling Magazine features the work of a long time cyclist and Bay Area photographer (me). Included is a series feature on cycling in Palo Alto, CA. In addition, the issue includes outtakes for a piece on nutrition. No word on whether I get to shoot (or ride) in Canada for the next assignment. The images include some classic Bay Area climbs starting in downtown Palo Alto, through the redwoods of Old La Honda, a descent down highway 84, over Haskins to Pescadero (not “Haskins the hard way” which is the same road going the other direction), and along the coast past the Pigeon Point Lighthouse. There is a huge symbiosis between photography and cycling, because there are two objects in this world that connect everyone together. Cameras and bikes. Everyone has a story involving one of those two things. “My father gave me a great camera but I lost it,” or “I wish I still had my first BMX bike.” Or… you may wish you didn’t go over the guard rail in the Marin Headlines while your rims were wet because it was raining and you just installed new break shoes on your bike.

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Canadian Cycling Magazine, May cover photo by Joel Esposito.

Tearsheet: Reverend Horton Heat for Inked Magazine

March 31st, 2014

Jim Heath of The Reverend Horton Heat at The Chapel in San Francisco for Inked Magazine.
Jim Heath of The Reverend Horton Heat at The Chapel in San Francisco for Inked Magazine.

The March issue of Inked Magazine includes a spread I shot of the Texas rockabilly/psychobilly legend Reverend Horton Heat. These were shot in a very dark room called The Chapel, a venue for live music in San Francisco’s Mission district. I’ve seen the Reverend live several times so this was a great assignment. Everything went smooth, but I forgot one thing. I forgot to thank Jim Heath for creating an original world with his music. The guitar work and lyrics will take you to a place you have never visited before, yet a place that feels familiar, wild, and fun. You get to drink martinis, drive fast cars, hang out at a roadside bar, or take a ride on an electric spaceship fueled by the glow of neon lights from a remote liquor store in the desert.


Reverend Horton Heat. bassist Jimbo Wallace (L), guitar + vocals Jim Heath (center), drummer Scott Churilla (R). The Chapel in San Francisco, CA.

Reverend Horton Heat. bassist Jimbo Wallace (L), guitar + vocals Jim Heath (center), drummer Scott Churilla (R). The Chapel in San Francisco, CA.


Jimbo Wallace at The Chapel. San Francisco, CA | Inked Magazine

Jimbo Wallace, upright bass for Reverend Horton Heat at The Chapel in San Francisco for Inked Magazine.


 Tearsheet of Reverend Horton Heat in Inked Magazine.
Tearsheet of Reverend Horton Heat in Inked Magazine.


Top 10 favorite songs by Reverend Horton Heat:

1) Where In The Hell Did You Go With My Toothbrush
2) Big Red Rocket of Love
3) Liquor, Beer, & Wine
4) I’m Your Pet Rock
5) Loco Gringos Like A Party
6) Reverend Horton Heat’s Big Blue Car
7) Galaxy 500
8) Pride of San Jacinto
9) Duel at the Two O’Clock Bell
10) Let Me Teach You How To Eat.

Outtakes: Grant Twiggy Baker Surfing Mavericks

February 1st, 2014

The 2014 winner of the Mavericks Invitational Surfing Contest was Grant Twiggy Baker of South Africa. This year’s conditions were significantly better than the 2013 contest with a few heats seeing waves close to 40ft. Baker was aggressive and made the most of the opportunity. I didn’t shoot the contest this year, so here are a few outtakes of Twiggy I shot from the 2010 contest at Mavericks on a day with +50ft waves.

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surfer Grant "Twiggy" Baker, Mavericks Half Moon Bay1 of 2. Grant “Twiggy” Baker going to work on a +50ft day. Notice he isn’t plucking this one off on the shoulder.


2 of 2. “The Reaction.” Grant Twiggy Baker at Mavericks. We all appreciate a little bit of recognition from our peers.

Note: You can see my entire coverage of the Mavericks 2010 surfing contest for Drift Surfing here.

Shooting Mavericks
Mavericks requires preparation prior to the shoot and you could be exhausted before you even start. Since public interest of a sporting event only has a 24 hour shelf life, after a long day of shooting you have to edit quickly and/or pull a late night working on the content. Add to this the cost of your equipment (purchased + rented) and expense for a spot on a boat. If a client isn’t fronting the bill – expect to pay $300-$700 to cover the event. So if you are not there on assignment would you do this for free? It’s a thrill. It’s rewarding. It’s a lifetime experience. However it’s also a risk. What if the conditions bring small waves like they did in 2013? You could be out a decent chunk of change without many images of surfing.

It’s Not 2010
Today, an official “media pass” from the organizers will grant you access to “The Mavericks Festival” not the contest. It’s basically a parking lot with a jumbotron and food vendors. No beach access (1 mile from the action). No cliff access (requires a 400mm lens). No boat access ($$). However getting on a boat does not necessarily provide good access. Boaters have to fall in line with orders from the harbor patrol and coast guard. They keep everyone safe, but in doing so they require boaters to continuously troll in a counter clockwise rotation to keep traffic moving. In 2013 it seemed like the sets only appeared when our boat was on the wrong side of the circle. An expensive happy place too far from the action.

Cue The Live Webcast + GoPros
This year the live webcast had excellent coverage and I watched it from the comforts of my office with hot coffee. It was nice to finally know who was surfing and when the heats ended. Basic info like this is often just a guess when you are shooting from a boat, and it’s the reason why I’ve seen many images posted online with an incorrect surfer credited for a wave. The webcast also mixed in video footage from cameras mounted to the surfer’s boards. Man does that change the game for live coverage. You can’t beat it! No photographer can safely place themselves in the impact zone during a big wave contest, but a GoPro can.

See the clip below of Mark Healey caught inside with a 25ft sneaker wave coming at him during Heat 1 of the 2014 Mavericks contest. The video was edited. Healey was held under for 2 waves which is much longer than it appears here. The expression on his face leading up to the hold down shows the weight of the moment. A photographer could only get closer to the action if they were selected as one of the 24 contestants. Good luck with that.


Worth Listening:
KNBR radio sports announcer Damon Bruce had an interesting take on Mavericks. Here are some noteworthy hours to check out:
1/27 hour 1 (review of the event)
1/27 hour 2 (Interview with 2010 winner Chris Bertish)
1/28 hour 1 (Interview with 2014 winner Grant Twiggy Baker) 

Don’t get me wrong. Shooting the contest in person is still better than viewing it as a spectator from a computer. I’ve done both.

Tearsheet: Product Photography for SoundFreaq

January 13th, 2014

The Dec/Jan issue of Dwell Magazine includes an advertising piece I shot at the Dwell Magazine home in Venice, CA for the Bluetooth wireless speaker company SoundFreaq. Their speakers are more than just cubed boxes with air holes, and they sound just as good as they look. I went to Venice a second time for more product photography that made use of the open space design of the home. My visual goal for the series was to capture the products on location with a clean studio look while keeping the real life feeling and natural light of the background environment. I’d post more images, but SoundFreaq has first dibs.

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SoundFreaq product photography ad in Dwell MagazineTearsheet: Ad for the Sound Spot speaker for SoundFreaq featured in Dwell Magazine.


product photography for SoundfreaqFull frame: Product photography for SoundFreaq at the Dwell Magazine home in Venice, CA featured in Dwell Magazine.


Dwell Magazine cover

Dwell Magazine Dec/Jan (cover by Jill Paider)

Portrait of Skateboarder Mark Partain

December 1st, 2013

When I first photographed Mark Partain a few years ago he made a strong impression on me so I was very excited to reshoot him for this portrait below. I already had a good portrait of Mark. The lighting was similar, but it was missing a little bit of soul that I see here. To me THIS photograph shows his intensity and the heart he has for skateboarding. It’s in his eyes and on the lines of his face. I see things in this photo that remind me what is still exciting about photography and with creating portraits.

The photo of Mark Partain below was shot in my studio set-up at Lake Cunningham Skatepark in San Jose, CA during the Tim Brauch Memorial Contest. In Mark’s last run in the contest, he yells out to the crowd “This is for Tom Sims” – referring to his first sponsor who had recently passed. I hear a fully supportive roar from the crowd. Moments later – in walks Partain. Words are expressed out of breath. Emotions still running. It was beautiful. It was right in front of my camera.

This is only half of the story.

The second half deserves to be told another day. It’s less about shooting portraits of skateboarders and more about the good things still available through photography. I thank people like Mark Partain for reminding me.

skateboarder Mark Partain portrait

Portrait of skateboarding pro Mark Partain, San Jose, CA


A large framed 20X24 portrait of this photo was auctioned off at the Board Rescue art show in Santa Cruz, CA last month. Proceeds from the auction went to Board Rescue, a non profit that provides skateboards and safety equipment to organizations that work with underprivileged and/or at-risk youth. – JW

Lifestyle + Product Video Shoot for Eton

November 7th, 2013

Here is video I directed for Eton Corp to promote the Eton Rugged rukus, a wireless Bluetooth solar powered speaker. Check out the YouTube version at 1080 HD for best quality.

director: Jay Watson
photography: Jay Watson
producer: Judi Oyama of Maximum Impact Design
editor: Denise Gallant + Kevin Monahan of Video4Creative
video cameraman: Nils Carlson
1st assistant: Lance Yamamoto

talent: Eric Clarkson, Allison Twisselman, Emmanuel Guzman, Julian Sunn, Vicky Jones, Logan Halliwell, Katie Steidl, Naomi Kelley, Sara Johnson, Michelle Mathews, Michael + Wynn Webb and kids.

The video work was grouped together with a photography shoot that included lifestyle and product photography situations of different Eton products. Bay Area locations included Aptos, CA and Woodside, CA. Since a job like this requires a few extra hands, I asked some people from the crew to jump in and share their experience about working on this project. You can read their words towards the bottom of the post.

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beach scene - Eton lifestyle product photographyBeach lifestyle and product photography scenes with the Eton Rugged rukus at Aptos, CA.

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dancing scene - Eton lifestyle product photography shootBeach lifestyle. Aptos, CA.

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Pool scene - Eton lifestyle product photography shoot Woodside, CAJulian sneak attacks the models with his best cannonball stage left. Woodside, CA.

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Camping scene - Lifestyle product photography shoot  Logan with the Eton Rukus XL among the redwoods in Aptos, CA

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Hiking scene - Lifestyle product photography shoot Aptos, CAAllison hiking in the redwoods on a lifestyle shoot with the Rugged rukus. Aptos, CA

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Behind The Scenes
Images below are from the Instagram feed of Judi Oyama of Maximum Impact Design who produced this shoot.


About the shoot:

Lance Yamamoto (assistant):

My job on the Eton shoot was to be the first assistant to the photographer and to assist the videographer (Nils) when needed. I unloaded gear from the truck, set up lights that I knew Jay would use, and did everything I could to make Jay’s workflow go as smoothly as possible. I had a copy of the shot list so after each shot I would double check with Jay, cross off a shot from the list, and would move the equipment to the next spot while he worked with the art directors. When you’re the assistant, your job is to work just as hard as the photographer and to make sure everything runs smoothly. It’s the equivalent to how Robin is to Batman.

Jay always knew what to do for each shot to get it done as efficiently as possible. He adapted to every obstacle that came our way and had everything under control the entire time. This job taught me a lot about being able to problem solve under constant pressure. Having a great team that has your back is nice to have as well. Everyone worked really hard on this project and it was inspiring to see a group of creative individuals working together to create something great.  All in all I have the say the experience was “SICK!”


Judi Oyama (producer):

Finding fit talent in Santa Cruz is easy, but having everything available on the shoot days was a challenge due to changes with the schedule. Thankfully we have great connections with local surf, skate, and outdoors store owners for wardrobe. I tried to choose colors that provided the best contrast for each location.

For props I borrowed my kids’ backpacks, boogie boards, and other items from our camp gear. When I needed the latest and greatest I relied on my contacts at NHS, Jam Collective PR, and other companies. Many of our models have worked with us in the past on other shoots and were willing to be available for this shoot.

Working with a tight crew of people that got along well paid off big time. Plus everyone was excited to be involved with Eton. The end result comes from the camerawork, but I help to package it up, add what I know, and bring everything to the table so it all comes together. “


Some technical and not-so-technical info:

  • Close to 99GB of media content was shot and edited for this project.
  • Day 1 was a +17 hour round trip work day that made me punch drunk on occasion.
  • When I was directing I wanted to be behind the camera. When I was behind the camera I wanted to be the director.
  • For video we used the Kessler Pocket Dolly, Cinevate Pegasus Slider, and a Glidecam for tracking motion.
  • Most challenging – developing the shot list. Eton makes such cool products packed with features that if this was a 5 day shoot we still wouldn’t run out of ideas.
  • Most rewarding – working outdoors with fun people.
Thanks for viewing. – JW

Surfing Waddell Creek, CA

October 4th, 2013

Justin. Surfing at Waddell Creek | G Project GearJustin. Surfing at Waddell Creek | G Project Gear

My friend Justin makes his way down the cliff to the surf at Waddell Creek, CA just north of Santa Cruz. This was shot for G-Project Gear as part of an on-going photography assignment that includes my California lifestyle work. G-Project Gear makes a variety of wired and Bluetooth wireless speakers. I have one with me on every shoot.

Editorial Portrait For Euro Tech Mag

August 12th, 2013

Below are 3 different set ups from 1 shoot. They are editorial portraits I photographed of Nir Eyal at Sanford University in Palo Alto, CA for the technology magazine EPiServer Engage (Sweden). Nir Eyal writes and lectures about the intersection of psychology, technology, and business. He encompasses user experience, behavioral economics, and neuroscience in his work. Nir will tell you why you buy certain things and people listen to him when he voices opinions about the design of sites we visit on the web. I would have picked his brain, but I was a little busy setting up these options for the photo editors at the mag.

1) Conceptual. Editorial portrait of Nir Eyal at Stanford University

1) Conceptual. This is a composite of two images. I stitched together a very rough version at the location to see if it was worth the time and to get feedback from Nir on the concept. The high res version submitted to the magazine has pixels selectively painted onto the portrait inside the laptop screen to make parts of it look low fi when it is printed.

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2) Straight. At work. Editorial portrait of Nir Eyal at Stanford University

2) Straight. At work/in action/in environment.

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3) Risk. Editorial portrait of Nir Eyal at Stanford University

3) Risk. Several options were covered that showed Nir clearly (not all posted here), so this version which doesn’t show his face was also sent to the magazine. His eyes are dark, but that’s not important. It builds mystery and gives the mag something to play with for page layouts. It reminds me of subjects seen through the back of a focusing screen on a 4×5 view camera except the image isn’t upside down and backwards. It would only need a few grid lines added in Photoshop to help that idea register.  – JW

Cycling Running & Fitness For Magellan GPS

June 26th, 2013

Athletes in these photos include Eric Clarkson, Tommy Zaferes, Josh Bjornstad, & Elle Washburn. Photographed for a Magellan GPS product launch at trail running and cycling locations near Santa Cruz, CA. Tearsheets are included from advertising spots in Triathlete Magazine. Production and art direction by Judi Oyama of Maximum Impact Design.

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Triathlete Eric Clarkson cycling Santa Cruz, CA
tearsheet from Triathlete Magazine of Eric Clarkson cycling in Santa Cruz, CA | Magellan GPS

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triathlete Tommy Zaferes
Triathlete Tommy Zaferes | Magellan GPS

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Elle Washburn, triathlete
Elle Washburn running in Santa Cruz, CA | Magellan GPS

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Josh Bjornstad + Eric Clarkson

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Josh Bjornstad cycling | sports
Triathlete Josh Bjornstad cycling in Aptos, CA | Magellan GPS

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Eric Clarkson trail running
Triathlete Eric Clarkson | Magellan GPS

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triathlete Eric Clarkson trail running
tearsheet from Triathlete Magazine of Eric Clarkson trail running in Aptos, CA | Magellan GPS

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More info. See more images and info about this sports, lifestyle, and fitness campaign for Magellan here.

Flathead + Knucklehead Choppers

June 20th, 2013

Commissioned motorcycle photography for the personal collection of Metallica’s James Hetfield and for promotion of the Orion Music Festival. The yearly 2-day festival includes live performances from over 35 bands, an art show, skateboarding vert ramp demo, plus a custom car and motorcycle show.

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flathead chopper motorcycle | San Rafael, CAThis stretched out flathead chopper has a killer profile. Long and low. View courtesy of the rolling hills of Northern California.

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A black customized CFL knucklehead chopper. Originally built by Jessee James and personalized by the lead singer himself.

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Custom paint by McPhail.

Cycling In Palo Alto

May 22nd, 2013

Cycling up Old La Honda, a classic climb in Palo Alto, CA. Cycling up Old La Honda, a classic climb in Palo Alto, CA.

My first bike was a yard sale gem. It had 20″ wheels and the forks were raked out like a motorcycle chopper. I was crushed when the cranks broke. It was a repair that cost as much as a new bike. The only problem was I didn’t want a new one.

If you are a cyclist you have ridden or read about the epic road rides that start, loop, or end in Palo Alto, CA. A decent cyclist can be out of town and in the country within 30-60 minutes of saddle time. Once you make it over the first climb – you’ll be in the rolling hills of Northern California. A little bit farther – you’re at the coast. Palo Alto is a Bay Area cycling mecca. It’s also the home of Palo Alto Bicycles which is one of the oldest bike shops on the west coast. Below are some outtakes from a photo shoot with the staff of Palo Alto Bicycles. The Northern California roads look pretty good and so does the shop’s new apparel.

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Things seen in Palo Alto:

1) Let’s just ignore the weekend traffic in town.

2) On the roads you’ll see large group rides, pros training, retired racers rolling at the same speed as in their prime, and a random kid on an old 10-speed that’s too big for him gunning it up Old La Honda.

3) A man standing on University Ave with large Foldger’s coffee cans around each ankle. You know – for protection.

4) Cyclists can be spotted wearing full fingered gloves and earmuffs in 95° heat, or riding with nothing but shorts and a cotton t-shirt on early morning winter rides in the rain.

5) Robin Williams once did some impromptu stand-up in the repair shop of Palo Alto Bicycles, and I once met Steve Jobs there. We talked about bike technology and wheel designs.