Tearsheet: Reverend Horton Heat for Inked Magazine

March 31st, 2014

Jim Heath, Reverend Horton Heat editorial

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 editorial portrait

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


bassist Jimbo Wallace

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


Reverend Horton Heat editorial
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.

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

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 of 3 editorial portrait of Nir Eyal1) 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 of 3 editorial portrait of Nir Eyal2) Straight. At work/in action/in environment.

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3 of 3 editorial portrait of Nir Eyal3) 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

Tearsheet: XXL Magazine

December 7th, 2012

Tearsheet | Editorial portrait of hip hop artist A.B.S in XXL Magazine.

The hip hop music and entertainment magazine XXL Mag got in touch for a piece on Philly born rapper Chris “A.B.S.” Schaefer in San Francisco. He was the winner of a rap battle sponsored by Corona, so XXL assigned me to photograph A.B.S for a full page feature. Ahh….. the full page editorial portrait. This is the holy grail of editorial photography and a highly coveted space for any portrait photographer. God bless print.

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Portrait of A.B.S. | XXL Magazine. My version of the final image.

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A.B.S. on location in San Francisco, CA. Not knowing if the feature would be a single page or a double page spread, we shot the location options in both landscape and portrait formats.

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Portraits and outtakes of hip hop artist A.B.S. from the studio set up.

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BTS. A behind the scenes shot of the location set up. Yeah we were working right next to a live train line, and we were trespassing. So what. It’s for hip hop.

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BTS. A behind the scenes shot of the “studio” set up.

There is no smoke and mirrors here. The photo editor asked for a location scene plus a studio shot. Taking the studio to the location was done for one reason only. It saved time. Some of the best things about this shoot included getting kicked off the train tracks by the transit police, and getting to meet Chris “A.B.S.” Schaefer. He’s solid. We share an East Coast connection, respect for old school rhymes, and love for Allen Iverson. Plus I dig his music.

Check out A.B.S.

Big Air Portraits: Burnquist + Brusco

August 10th, 2012

One of the best things about skateboarding is that it doesn’t discriminate against age. This was proven at the X Games this year in the Skateboard Big Air competition in Los Angeles. First place and second place winners on the mega ramp were separated by 20 years in age! That’s a decent chunk of time. Think how different the world was 20 years ago. Computers, cameras, sports – everything was different.

This isn’t an “old guys rule” or “look out for the groms” post. It’s just a high five to skaters Bob Burnquist (age 35) and Mitchie Brusco (age 15) for showing everyone that skills are more important than age when it comes to clearing a 70 foot gap and getting 45 feet of air off the ground. Or maybe it just doesn’t matter at that height when all you have are 4 wheels and a piece of wood under your feet? Check out ALL of the links below. What do you think?

Studio portrait of Mitchie Brusco

Skater Mitchie Brusco, at age 15 won silver at the X Games Big Air contest on the mega ramp in LA. After I photographed Mitchie someone nudges me and says,”Hey that kid does 900s on mega ramps.” My reaction – “You’re kidding me. He’s not much bigger than his skateboard. How does he get the speed?”

Well he rips, and this is how: (video of Brusco 2012 x-games).

Studio portrait of Bob Burnquist

Bob Burnquist, a skateboarding veteran of big air still raises the bar at age 35. Naturally I was thrilled to finally meet him in person and he didn’t disappoint. Bob is wearing knee high rubber boots in this photo and the only skateboard with him this day was bolted to a surfboard. Here’s Bob in action with some backwards fakie business that won him first place in the big air comp (video Burnquist gold 2012 X Games).

Long live the Scorpion King!

Editorial Portrait: Dr. Jay Lalezari

June 15th, 2012

In print this month for the French magazine Science et vie is my editorial portrait of Dr. Jay Lalezari (Dr. Jacob P. Lalezari) of Quest Clinical Research in San Francisco, CA. Dr. Lalezari is working on a very promising HIV treatment that involves genetically engineered human cells that are resistant to the invasion of the virus that causes AIDS. He’s blazing some trails indeed.

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Editorial portrait of Dr. Jay LalezariDr. Jay Lalezari of San Francisco, CA for the French Magazine Science et vie.

A lesson learned from this shoot: The window of opportunity to shoot Dr. Lalezari was very narrow. We had less than an hour before he had to catch a flight at SFO and within that window he was busy. Shooting inside his office was a good start (obvious choice), but it didn’t yield a heroic portrait and it wasted a little bit of time. The roof top was our second option. The images from that set up were decent and very usable, but they still didn’t grab the attention that I felt Dr. Lalezari deserved. Time was running out. But wait! On the way back inside, I noticed the stairwell leading to the roof had some interesting architectural lines. Four minutes later with 1 light, 1 shoot through umbrella, a few test shots, and enough time for only 10 real frames – we get it.

The cool part is that Dr. Lalezari would have been fine with the portraits from the office, yet he saw how those few extra minutes had paid off without making him late. There was never any stress. It worked out and I didn’t cave in on myself just because of the time. That’s a good lesson for all photographers. I love photography, but it’s not rocket science. Getting to photograph people who are able to change the world help make my efforts feel more worth while.

2x Indy 500 Winner Dan Wheldon

October 6th, 2011

Below are portraits of two time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon (2005, 2011) shot at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA. Mr. Wheldon is an INDYCAR race driver from England who is currently living in Florida, and driving for the team of Bryan Herta Autosport (owned by former driver Bryan Herta). These images were shot for Simraceway which is an online simulation racing game. It’s available for free in beta, but a kick ass game controller is right around the corner! I am not a gamer, but after seeing a demo of Simraceway this past weekend I can see why a race fan might get addicted to this one.

The second image is from a studio set up we built inside a garage bay not far from the racetrack. The coolest thing about shooting the 2x Indy winner was seeing his professionalism on set. He was all business! However once the shoot was wrapped up he was personable, humble, and incredibly thankful. I dig that.

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Skater Roger Mihalko

May 27th, 2011

Portrait of skater Roger Mihalko

Northern California skater Roger Mihalko has one of the most unique styles of anyone I’ve ever seen. He truly brings creativity and soul to the sport and rides as if he is making a piece of art in the process. Here is a video of Roger getting nice with ripper Bob Lake, and a barefoot adventure of Roger at the skatepark in Pacifica, CA (one of my favorite digs). A former rider for Gravity Skateboards, Roger now rides planks for Solitary Arts.

Executive Portrait: Gary Elliott of HP

March 17th, 2011

The toughest commercial assignments are when I’ve had to shoot a corporate portrait of an executive in a bland office environment. How do you make an interesting portrait of someone in front of a computer, on the phone, or sitting at their desk? Uhhh… It’s hard. Actually most of the business magazines I have worked for request their photographers to avoid shooting those types of images. HP knows what is up, which is why they have a corporate media floor dedicated to video and photo shoots at their Cupertino office near San Jose. It even includes an area propped like a modern living room. Cool, but if everyone else who shoots at HP is also using the same backgrounds how do you make your images different? Uhhhh… Avoid those areas and look for something less obvious.

These images were shot in the hallway. After the shoot, HP’s vice president of corporate marketing said, “we have a lot of shoots here and this is the first time anyone has ever used that wall as a background.” ANA Mag chose a few shots of Gary smiling for their editorial piece, but I preferred the outtakes below.

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Executive portrait of Gary Elliott, VP of Corporate Marketing at HPExecutive portrait of Gary Elliott, VP of Corporate Marketing at HP

4 light set up
• Overhead main light on a boom – small softbox
• Camera right – large softbox
• Camera left – large white reflector for fill
• Background – (2) lights. No diffusion.

Cold Water Souls (4 of 4): Zach Wormhoudt

February 4th, 2011

A portrait series of surfers from Santa Cruz, CA photographed for the book titled Cold Water Souls by author Chris Nelson. Outtakes, selections, and archives on Northern California surfing below.

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Surfer Zach Wormhoudt, Santa Cruz, CA. Cold Water Souls

Zach Wormhoudt, Santa Cruz, CA. Cold Water Souls

Surfer Zach Wormhoudt, Santa Cruz, CA. Cold Water Souls

Zach Wormhoudt represents Santa Cruz well. His father Ken Wormhoudt, built the legendary Derby skatepark in 1976 that has been featured in classic skate videos and magazines. The park still stands today as a mecca for skaters visiting Santa Cruz and is a landmark to local residents.  Zach is also a humble and well respected surfer in the lineup at Mavericks and has won a Billabong XXL Award for the biggest paddle-in wave one winter.

California skate culture owes a big thanks to the Wormhoudt family. Not just for Derby but for all of the amazing skateparks Wormhoudt Inc has built up and down the state. It has made a huge impact in the lives of skaters young and old with me being one of them. I’ve worn out plenty of shoes, gone through numerous decks and wheels, and had some great times with friends riding these parks. So what do you do when you get to photograph a person who has played a role in your life by building bowls and pools that you previously only dreamed about? You come with gifts, a handshake, and gratitude.

click to enlargeZach Wormhoudt surfing Mavericks Half Moon Bay, CA. Cold Water SoulsZach Wormhoudt surfing Mavericks Half Moon Bay, CA. Cold Water Souls

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Cold Water Souls, by UK author Chris Nelson is NOW available at select book shops, surf shops, and on Amazon.com

Cold Water Souls (1 of 4)
Cold Water Souls (2 of 4)
Cold Water Souls (3 of 4)

Cold Water Souls (3 of 4): Richard Schmidt

January 21st, 2011

A portrait series of surfers from Santa Cruz, CA photographed for the book titled Cold Water Souls by author Chris Nelson. Outtakes, selections, and archives on Northern California surfing below.

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Portrait of Santa Cruz California surfer Richard SchmidtCalifornia surfer Richard Schmidt

Portrait of Santa Cruz California surfer Richard Schmidt

Richard Schmidt has been a dedicated big wave surfer, competitor, professional, and surf instructor for decades. Though most of his time now is focused on his surfing school in Santa Cruz, Richard was a regular in the line up at the North Shore every winter for 15 years. A multi year invitee at the Eddie, many people are not aware of Richard’s role in the history of Mavericks. He too was one of the early pioneers along with Jeff Clark who helped figure out how Half Moon Bay’s behemoth could be ridden. I have a deep respect for Richard and his presence commands attention. This comes from either his heroic stature among Santa Cruz locals or from his reputation and list of accomplishments. However I like to think it comes from his quiet manner that gradually diffuses any preconceived ideas that go along with a legendary status. That to me is cooler than charging monsters and slaying giants.

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Sunrise over Cowells. Santa Cruz, CASunrise over Cowells. Santa Cruz, CA

• • •

Cold Water Souls, by UK author Chris Nelson will be published world-wide January 25, 2011. It will be available at select book shops, surf shops, and on Amazon.com

Cold Water Souls (1 of 4)
Cold Water Souls (2 of 4)
Cold Water Souls (4 of 4)

Cold Water Souls (2 of 4): Hunter & Flea

January 20th, 2011

A portrait series of surfers from Santa Cruz, CA photographed for the book titled Cold Water Souls by Chris Nelson. Outtakes, selections, and archives on Northern California surfing below.

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John Hunter, product designer • O'Neill Wetsuits

John Hunter, product designer • O'Neill Wetsuits

John Hunter, product designer • O'Neill Wetsuits

John Hunter is one of the product designers at O’Neill Wetsuits. In fact he created the exact same wetsuit that I use – the O’Neill Mutant. For that same reason, I can say that John has made a significant contribution to not just me but to many other surfers. He makes the cold stuff much more tolerable. John is extremely dedicated to his job, his love of surfing, his love for Santa Cruz, and he has an insane quiver that I am dying to see.

The O’Neill R&D department is old school and legit! It consists of the Pacific Ocean right in their own back yard. Non surfers see a wetsuit as a weird neoprene monkey suit, but once someone points out all the features they’ll be surprised at how much technology is used just to provide warmth and freedom of movement to surfers. As for genius product design, take a look at the Zen Zip on the O’Neill Psycho wetsuit – yup another Hunter design.

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Darryl Darryl “Flea” Virostko at Mavericks in Half Moon Bay, CA.

Darryl Virostko is a cold water legend. I have not had the privilege of meeting him, but will hopefully someday get the chance. This cat has definitely lived an epic life. There have been some injuries and demons, but the three time winner of Mavericks should never be counted out as long as he is in the line up. This image of Flea was taken at the 2010 Mavericks contest. He took a terrible spill in the first heat, but here he is in the first heat of the semi finals with a few tricks up his sleeve.

• • •

Cold Water Souls, by UK author Chris Nelson will be published world-wide January 25, 2011. It will be available at select book shops, surf shops, and on Amazon.com

Cold Water Souls (1 of 4)
Cold Water Souls (3 of 4)
Cold Water Souls (4 of 4)