For me, when it comes to great documentary photographers, it doesn’t get much better than the likes of W. Eugene Smith and Dorothea Lange. The way their photographs bring to life a point in time with unflinching and yet empathetic honesty. So with that in mind, I set out to capture an aspect of the world I live in today in Los Angeles. A time when more than 60,000 of my neighbors don’t have a home.

Seeing people sleeping on the street always makes me uncomfortable. Photographing them at 2:00 a.m. for this series made me even more uncomfortable. But sometimes the only way you can capture the truth is to focus your lens on what’s hardest to look at.

As a kid growing up watching Hollywood movies, Sunset Boulevard seemed like the perfect representation of the California dream. The ultimate Street of Dreams. In these photographs, I wanted to document the heartbreaking reality of what can happen on that street when your dreams don’t pan out.

You may be wondering if I asked permission to shoot these photographs. I view them as part of the time-honored tradition of documentary journalism, which doesn’t ask permission or forgiveness, but strives to candidly capture our common humanity and vulnerability.

I shot these images up close with a wide angle lens to create a feeling of intimacy. I wanted to draw the viewer into a world we often see but don’t stop to contemplate.


Thank you to the judges for recognizing this work in the 2019 International Photography Awards.


Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission

What does it mean to be lost? To really lose everything you value in life – your family, your friends, your job, and ultimately, your home? As much as we in advertising like to think that we have good imaginations, I couldn’t imagine what that would be like. Or what it would feel like to come out the other side. 

I thought about that a lot as I flew across the country to shoot portraits for the Lost & Found campaign for Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. The goal of this awareness campaign was to juxtapose the haunting face of someone who’s lost everything through homelessness with a portrait of someone who’s escaped the streets.

Ultimately, the stories told through these images is a narrative that plays out every day at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. This incredible organization is doing what so many say is impossible. They’re helping people lost in homelessness find a new beginning.

Thanks to art director Paul Asao and copywriter Dan Mackaman for going above and beyond to create something bigger than ourselves and asking me to be part of it.  

Additional thanks to: Agency producer, Kim Witzczak; Photo producers Amber Geiger, Jordan Siegman and Shelli Gonshorowski; Assistants Lucas Chapel and Michael Ganyo; DIT, David Falcon Ayala; H&MU, Jenny Verador; Video portraits editor, Cam Hassman and colorist Enno Jacobsen; and digital artist Rebecca Bausher for coaxing the very best out of the still images.

To learn more or donate to Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, visit




I have always believed that in order to stay true to who you are, be passionate about what you do, that one must continue to find the joy in it. To stay inspired. 

For me this means traveling; be it around the block or around the world — for not only is it a way to combine my passion for travel, people and portraits but it is also what keeps the nomad in me satisfied— I always want to know what lies over the next hill.

I’m also a photographer so it’s impossible to separate who I am and what I see when I travel.  And like most travelers today, I carry a camera. But my roots in photo journalism coupled with a restless nature means that my eye is always searching for that storied something or someone unique.

On this last trip to Sri Lanka we found ourselves in a row of fish cutters, and I instinctively moved towards a man in a newspaper apron.  And then I saw the knife.  Maybe it was because I’m a bit of a knife enthusiast, a curator of sorts, but I knew in that moment that I wanted not only to take his portrait but that I wanted to find a knife like that for my collection. A Mana. I was drawn to the wooden handle, the weight of the blade.

As I shot, people gathered around and I learned that Nassir is considered “the best” of the cutters and that he had been a fish cutter since he was a boy.

 Certainly there are times where I know it can be easier to simply snap a photo of someone without permission; but I don’t believe that gets you the good stuff.  And it’s not the way that I would want to be treated. So afterwards we stuck around, and he and I did our best at working to connect, mostly eyeing each other’s tools of our trade.


And maybe during our imperfect communication my face told a little of my story — I didn’t just find a knife like Nassir’s, but I ultimately ended up with Nassir’s knife.

 Later, as we returned home and as I unwrapped that knife and considered its place in the line-up above the stove, I couldn’t help but be reminded once again about why it is that portraits have become such a big part of my portfolio — that we not only connect with a face around which we get to create a story, but to which we connect our own stories — a connection in this case of not only a portrait taken, but also a knife given.


Client: PHILLIPS 66 | Agency: CARMICHAEL LYNCH | Producer: Dave Lewis | Art Director: Andrew Wetzel

Copy Writer: Chad Temples | Producer: David Safian

Phillips 66 for Carmichael Lynch

Live to the Full. Indeed.

Carmichael Lynch is one of my longest-running clients, and that relationship has produced a wide range of work that I’m really proud to be a part of. 

Getting the call for this project on behalf of one of their newest clients, Phillips 66, was a chance to add to that portfolio, and that relationship. This integrated campaign for Phillips 66 is an example of how hard they work at CL to create work that espouses diversity, change, and challenge. 

The concept was built around the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament and aimed to highlight three Live to the Full everyday heroes who go above and beyond to make a positive impact in their community through basketball. 

We arrived in Kansas City still needing to locate and secure our last talent. To search for people who use basketball as a tool to do extraordinary things within their communities, to find them and then synch up their schedules to our pre-production calendar – well it’s a tall order. But, owing to the casting magicians on the team we were able to find the perfect fit. 

What started out as words on a brief to deliver a library of video and still images ultimately turned into one of those jobs that surprises you a bit with its full impact long before the edits are even finished. I was able to interact with a group of folks truly giving back, contributing deeply to the soul of their community.   Thank you as always to everyone at the agency; especially AB Dave Lewis, Senior Designer Andrew Wetzel and Copywriter Chad Temples. 

Here are our three humble heroes who Live To The Full

Pat Clark, for him the court is not just for dreamers, but kids with a vision.

Michelle Clark, her involvement in Granny Basketball has given hundreds of women a chance to keep playing a game they love.

Ed Hubbard, for him sports are so much more than just a game.

Vizio for David & Goliath.

I’ve known David Angelo for a long time. We followed parallel paths in the advertising world, making our separate ways from Minneapolis to Los Angeles.  While David and I are still both in the business of making work to tell stories, he now does it with a 200-person agency, me with a 200-person crew.  Okay, sometimes I dream about a 200-person crew.


But for this project, we needed a lot fewer than 200 people to bring these ideas to life.


Picture this they said “dogs relaxing like humans, escaping their everyday routines, having a beer, cozied up with a bowl of popcorn, while watching TV.” The answer was “sure” but these things don’t just happen. And while it may have been said that I’m not much of a dog person (my apologies, Subaru dogs,) it has never been said that I won’t jump in and do whatever is needed to execute an idea. Primping pillows and coaxing dogs alongside my small but committed crew, I was in the moment. Then, at the end of the day, as I locked eyes with the talent, who needed to lock eyes with an entertainment system, became a real portrait making opportunity — a connection with a subject. Is it a stretch to believe I could be a dog person? 

I always work on having a good connection with my talent on set, it's important that they feel inspired.

Thanks to David for reaching out and for introducing me the Vizio pack leaders, Ben, Courtney and Rob.

Subaru | New 2018 Ascent, Outback, Crosstrek and Legacy



Very proud to say that Carmichael Lynch is one of my longest-running clients, at least a job a year for I think 27-years and counting.  And while there is familiarity, like any good relationship, what works and is proven time and time again is the amount that you get back is proportionate to what you put in.  

This year we did four embargoed shoots, and after seeing lots and lots (did I say lots) of pipe and drape kits go up and come down, I’m finally able to share some of my most-favorite images.  

Global warming aside, it’s always a challenge to track down late-season snow, but as I am fortunate to work with some of the best people and best problem-solvers in the business, it was really no surprise to anyone when producer Gyorgi Sapojnikoff came up with Dunton Hot Springs in southwestern Colorado.  But spring skiing it was not — as the sun faded and struggled to rise again the next morning, we shot in below zero temperatures for both our shoot windows.

Ultimately the creative goal is all about looking for ways to keep it real and capture authentic stories around Subaru’s four thematic pillars—longevity, safety, versatility and adventure.  To make images that resonate with people that are defined as doers, deeply engaged with life.  Definitely my kind of people.

See More here


Down on the Magnolia Farm with Chip Gaines | Arcana Academy

As the other half of the Fixer Upper team, Chip brings hard work and a lot of personality to everything he touches. 

Which meant that as a brand visionary for Kilz and in addition to all the spots done with Joanna, Chip would have his own spotlight.   So off we went to Waco with the creatives from Arcana Academy, tasked with a hefty shot list for both video and stills all centered around Chip.   Ultimately these assets were used for TV, online video, SEO optimization content, website photography, print, display banners, dealer tool-kit asset library, brand guidelines, and I think more…

Growing up the son of a contractor, I appreciated not only his energy and passion for what he does but also his values — so many of them, mirror my teams and my philosophies about what it takes to do a job well:  1.  Do your homework.  2.   Look at the space for what it can be, not what it is.  3.  Go for quality materials.  4.  Build for the future, not for the now.  5.  Don't feel satisfied unless people are literally beside themselves.  Copy that Chip.

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The Gabriella Foundation | Everybody Dance

The seeds of the Gabriella Foundation project were planted back in the 90’s.  I was shooting a lot for Fallon — which meant opportunities working with writer/creative director Mike Gibbs and account manager, Kevin Berigan.  

Fast forward and Kevin is now a Director at a school in Ventura CA, he and Mike are working together on a fund raising campaign and asked me to direct the spots.

A few weeks later, Kevin tells me that he’s recommended me to The Gabriella Foundation, an LA-based non-profit which brings the transformative power of dance and artistic expression to thousands of inner-city kids — they needed help crafting their fund-raising message, from the ground up.  When I approached Arcana Academy about the opportunity to develop the creative, both Shane and Lee said “we always love a chance to be involved with something larger than ourselves” and so we all jumped right in.  

Over the course of 3-days, we met, filmed and photographed ten students who have brought dance into their lives, and have found themselves transformed.  Rounding out the video was an original score crafted by music composer Sven Faulconer with lead vocals by Briana Lee.

A real creative force that thing called chance.

Arcana Academy; Lee Walters, Shane Hutton, Creative Directors; Jessica Darke, Producer.

With a little BTS here:

Rally Cycling | “Longevity”

This spot for Rally Cycling, which touts the long-term health benefits of cycling, debuted online during the final stages of the Tour de France.  The creative heads of Solve, Hans Hansen and Eric Sorensen, are Minneapolis ad legends, and my work with them has spanned agencies and decades. I’ve also had the pleasure of working for Rally Cycling, and their in-house creative director, Sam Wiebe for 5+ years through three name changes and their push to climb the ranks in international cycling. 


Following up after last year’s "Calories" spot, this time I would be directing Bob Powers, a 92 year-old triathlete from St. Paul.  When we showed up, our camera car was literally an old ambulance, with a porch so we could shoot. And we had a paramedic at the ready. And even through a cut on the ankle, Bob bandaged up and forged ahead to get the shot we needed. Who better to illustrate the health benefits of cycling? Bob was a true professional as we worked on timing single-take motion shots as both the daylight and Bob’s (enviable) endurance waned. We got the shot, on our last shot, and it’s always good to go home again, hang out with such legends. 


A life in advertising photography means that I go by the general rule of thumb that if you are busy, chances are you are about to get busier, and if things are hectic, you better know how to ride the waves.  For this case in point; I was wrapping up a job in Waco, Texas on a Thursday, having scrambled to get there from a Minneapolis gig, when I get a call asking if I can be in Europe that Saturday for a project with Ogilvy & Mather for their IBM “Where in the World is Watson” campaign. Additionally, this project is already underway, so I am going to be hopping onto a moving train, and said train is being piloted by none other than legendary commercial director Joe Pytka.

Luckily for me I had worked with both the creative director Rich Wallace and Pytka before so I wasn’t overly worried about getting on this train again.  And this is the sort of work that I live for.  Which is good because the scope of the project was pretty wide, Iceland to Prague; shooting AD stills on the TV set, then going with the location scouts to capture wider texture shots on the TV production down days. So, a couple days after being in shorts and a t-shirt in Texas, there I am bundled up in gloves and a parka, alongside art director Dennis Kung and art producer Ashley Holmes, trying to find the right type of windmill somewhere in Iceland. Gotta love it!

See more here IBM


Ashley lying down on job!

Ashley lying down on job!


After some relatively low-key shoots, the Kilz / Magnolia Paints project was a change of pace. Which was fine by me, I’m a worker, a laborer, and I like to do the heavy lifting to get things done. As such my focus is always on how best I am going to implement an art director’s vision. That said, variety is always welcome, and I also got a chance to work with Lee & Shane at Arcana Academy again, which was great! We previously collaborated on a campaign for Southern Comfort out on this farm in Wisconsin a few years back, and had a blast, on and off the job (fly-fishing in a thunderstorm, don’t knock it till you try it haha). All I really care about is working with good people who know how to bring out the best in each other and Lee definitely fits that bill. I’m going to be honest and admit that I had no idea who Chip and Joanna Gaines were before I landed this gig. But as soon as I mentioned to anyone what I was doing they would rave about how much they loved the couple’s show on HGTV, and as I found out once I got to Waco, it’s for good reason. My father was a contractor, so I know a little bit about that world and the Gaines’ really do great work. Also, for a couple who are as famous as I eventually realized they are, they are really down to earth, genuinely nice people. Like I said, it was a pretty big 4-day project; we did stills, we did video, we had a DP, second camera, so it was a lot of coordination over those four days. Doug, Francis and I have done all this before though, and for their part, Arcana knows how we work, our commitment to quality and makes it easy for us to go out there and do our thing. Chip and Joanna also deserve credit because they really welcomed us into their home in a way that made the work easy. Maybe the most rewarding part of the experience was when we wrapped and they seemed genuinely amazed at how efficient the whole process had been. I always want clients, celebrities or not, to feel like their time was valuable to me, because it is.

See more here



"I AM DRIVEN" University of Minnesota

Minneapolis is a home away from home for me. I lived there for more than a decade, my son was born there, all my kids went to school there. Minneapolis is also where my career began in earnest, where I earned my stripes, if you will. So when my plane touched down in the Twin Cities it was like putting on a pair of old slippers, especially since I knew I’d be working with my old friends at BDD. I have known producer Kim Witczak and advertising veteran's Bruce Bildstenand Bob Barrie since crossing creative paths with them at Fallon in the 1990’s. Advertising is a pretty unforgiving industry, no matter how much a client might like you personally or how much history you have, if you don’t deliver their vision on budget and on schedule, they will find someone else who will. I am not the most sentimental guy in the world, but I do take pride in the fact that professionals I respect and admire like my work enough to keep coming back for this long. That said, we were on a pretty tight schedule for this gig, so I didn’t have time to smell any roses. After putting in a long day of shooting and coordinating and troubleshooting, I would come back to the hotel to decompress and get ready to do it all again the next day.

See more here "I AM DRIVEN"

Photo: Bob Barrie

Photo: Bob Barrie

California State University



Connections are everything. It’s a cliche, of course, but that doesn’t make it any lesstrue. What they don’t tell you is how random that particular cliche can turn out to be. Fast forward from a chance meeting at party two years ago to receiving an email from Executive Producer Randi Feinberg at the Department of the 4th Dimension, a branded content studio. Her team was looking for a photographer on a rebranding project for Cal State University and she remembered me. The brief was pretty straightforward, Creative Director Matt Checkowski wanted portraits that were similar in style to my Person to Person project. Ultimately the approach we agreed on was a truly editorial style one; it would be just myself and my 1st assistant working on five separate campuses - Cal State Fullerton, Northridge, Long Beach, San Jose and East Bay. At the end of the day, road tripping from LA to SF with Paul, working with the talented team at D4D and having an opportunity to spend time with some very passionate and smart people-including the Mayor of Long Beach, Robert Garcia- who I would never have met otherwise, was a big part of what stuck with me from this shoot. You can see more pics and read more about the student success profiles here.







Subaru Snow


The brief for the 2nd half of this job said:  Estimate to spend 4 days on a snowy location to capture 5-vehicles at 5-locations covering 4-lifestyle scenarios (stills) + running footage (a 3rd model will be shot beauty/static only).  

What it took to get all these images is a production tale too long for this blog. And one I could likely never tell.  So I asked my trusted long-time producer, David Zickl, and he was happy to give some insights…

“What I know after having a few of these Subaru shoots under my belt with Shawn and Carmichael Lynch, is that after all their years of working together, ACD Jeff Terwilliger, Art Producer, Sandy Boss Febbo, and Shawn have their own unique shorthand. Theirs is a long relationship layered with trust - as in they trust Shawn, he trusts them, and then they entrust me to interpret it all - that ultimately gets us where we need to go to make the magic happen for the client. 

And for this shoot, I chased snowfall patterns for 2 months over 5 states, cast talent in 48-hours, booked and rebooked a handful of last-minute airplane tickets, coordinated movement for embargoed cars + pursuit vehicle/team, paid some people not to plow their driveways, organized an early morning hockey game for some 11 year-olds, had numerous dump truck loads of snow brought in the night before to cover the roads, ultimately turning Ketchum, Idaho into the winter wonderland that everyone envisioned.

What I also know after 20+ years producing shoots for Shawn, is that he is always steady and prepared, a real master of this craft.  And in the end, he just makes it look easy to do the difficult. 

And while the brief didn’t mention Shawn’s daughter then buying one of these cars a few months later, that also happened.

Thanks for the adventures brother, always great to work with you. -DZ”

Rachel with her new Crosstrek!

Rachel with her new Crosstrek!


Person-to-Person Insights from Senior Art Producer Michelle Mintz

I remember the day that I added Shawn to the list of photographers that I wanted to work with. I was at LeBook’s Connections in NYC when I saw some of the images and heard some of the stories from his around-the-world journey for the Cadillac ATS shoot. And while we tried to make it work on a couple of shoots, it wasn’t until this project – itself an around-the-world excursion - landed in my lap that it came to be.  

Shawn and I would be working together. And what a project it was: 25 days, travel to six countries to capture 120 video + 120 still portraits and make three print ads in London.Three days from official award to wheels up.   

From that moment, I put my faith in the hands of Shawn and his producer Gyorgi Sapojnikoff, and off the three of us went on a photographic adventure of a lifetime. A fantastic, exhausting, harrowing, beautiful, exhausting, manic, rewarding, exhausting, will-testing, and ultimately successful whirlwind of a shoot. 


Six countries. Six countries that were not geographically close to each other. Chile, England, Singapore, Korea, Dubai and Turkey. Connecting from city to city like red lines across a globe. We were flying anywhere from 8-16 hours at a time, sometimes overnight with maybe a couple hours of sleep stolen on the long flights. After landing we’d head out to shoot straight away, we didn’t have time to acclimate or get our bearings. Basically, we ate whenever we could, because we couldn’t plan when we would have a chance to eat. And while Gyorgi was really good about making sure we stopped to eat during our long shoot days, sometimes my energy would crash (and Gyorgi would mercifully notice and get me snacks.) 

Packing light was a challenge when our itinerary was basically everywhere. I’m glad we all packed parkas, because we needed them throughout the trip. Our first stop was in Santiago, Chile and it was the end of their winter so it was chilly. Early mornings were also very cold in London, Seoul and Istanbul.  We experienced the other extreme in Singapore where it was like a sauna, hot, humid and smoky. For me, Singapore was torture, I longed for those mornings in my parka. At the botanical gardens shoot, it was so hot and humid, I had to sit down and drink a lot of water so I didn’t pass out. Dubai was extremely hot too, but it was a dry heat which was bearable. I also knew that I needed to be covered in Dubai as per their custom, so I brought a long sleeve shirt and scarf (which saved me from any last minute shopping and delays in our shoot schedule).

When I left on the trip quite a few people – including my husband - were very concerned that I was going to some unstable countries with pervasive anti-American views. As we took off, I was concerned more about the scope and challenge of our assignment than about the locations. Ultimately our fixers directed us in each city so we didn’t end up in dangerous areas or having to limit ourselves on where we went to find our talent. The fixers seemed to fix things before they became our concern and helped me uphold the been-there-done-that, global traveler attitude I’d departed with. 

I will say that upon landing in Istanbul just hours after a terrorist attack in Ankara, I had my sense of safety shaken. It was the only time that I felt compelled to consider our wellbeing vs. our willingness to get the job done (including arriving 3 days after an 8.3 magnitude earthquake in Chile). Since I was the only agency representative on the shoot, I had the last word on continuing in a particular location if any of us were uncomfortable in a situation or if our security was at stake. Despite some tense hours, we were all in agreement that we wouldn’t change our plans, and we would take our portraits in Istanbul. Even in hindsight, I wouldn’t have changed anything.

Beyond the challenges of travel and location and logistics, I knew when I left on this shoot, that I wouldn’t have an Art Director. This was a huge responsibility for me to oversee this shoot, but it was motivating to know that the agency was confident that I could deliver and handle any challenges along the way. Since the creatives back home requested to see images along the way, we put a plan in place to show them selects each evening. That meant that not only was the street casting a huge part of our days – we needed 20 people in each city to say yes to give their time to be photographed. Not just 20 people, 20 people who were the right people, who fit the diverse profiles we needed, 20 people who were willing to stop on their way to work or home or school, 20 people who listened to us and felt like what we offered (our project mission and the cash in our pockets) was worth their time, and 9 out of 10 turned us down – but then we would also spend our evenings reviewing selects, editing and uploading. Uploading big files is not a task to take for granted, but we were surprisingly fortunate with the internet connection in most of the countries, so I always had a sufficient connection to upload files. The only issues were in Santiago and that may have been due to the earthquake aftermath…. or maybe it’s always like that. There were pretty much no evenings spent relaxing, having a drink and congratulating ourselves after a hard won day. In the mornings before heading out again, we’d review and incorporate agency feedback into our plan for that day. 

When I returned to the office after the trip, I was able to review the selects and give my background and recommendations on the images and locations. 

Recounting this trip, I’m exhausted and invigorated. I give you my words of wisdom to anyone planning a fantastic, exhausting, harrowing, beautiful, manic, rewarding, will-testing, and ultimately successful around-the-world shoot:

Do keep hydrated

  1. Don’t try to do a carry on (trust me)

  2. Do eat in the airport lounge and on each flight, you never know when your next meal might be

  3. Do keep hydrated

  4. Do carry energy bars (that next meal thing)

  5. Don’t forget to stop and enjoy a moment – or two.

  6. Do try to limit or cut out alcohol and caffeine, you’ll probably want both desperately, but it makes for better sleep when you can squeeze it in

  7. Do keep hydrated

  8. Do trust your instincts, your team and your fixers.

  9. Don’t underestimate yourself

  10. Do plan on downtime when you finish the project. You will be mentally and physically spent. Sometimes this isn’t possible right away, but I was lucky and didn’t need to be back in the office immediately. My (wonderful) fellow producer’s back in the office covered for me and I took a week at the beach to relax, decompress and sleep!

Going around the world was one of the hardest and most rewarding shoots, and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

— Michelle

Subaru 2017

612-334-6000. Carmichael Lynch. From the first call back in 1989 it feels like it’s always been an easy working relationship for me – trust, creative compatibility and great results, what one hopes for when you do this job.  And 27-years later, I feel fortunate that I can say that they continue to call me at least once every year for a project (or two.)  And it’s still not something that I think either of us takes for granted.  

No shoot is ever business as usual though, and the familiar is always rubbing shoulders with the undiscovered. For these 2017 Subarus, we spent 5 days on location in Southern California to capture 5-vehicles at 10 locations covering 4-lifestyle scenarios + a day of backlot shooting in the rain alongside the running footage team.  All this embargoed, all on a tight schedule (so you’ll see none of those BTS pics showing how hard we worked at it).

Many thanks to Art Director Bob Berken and Content Producer Sandy Boss Febbo for entrusting me with their vision, sharing this Subaru’s love.

Catching Up With Cando

When I heard that Alex “Cando” Candelario had retired from pro cycling to the Big Island to establish a bike-tour company geared towards serious amateurs, I decided to see for myself what his new life was like.

It’s pretty fantastic.

He’s negotiated access to many of the vast tracts of privately held land on the Big Island, which means that he can go places no other tour guides can go. There was no way I was going to keep up with him and his tour group on a bike—I contented myself with photographing the action—but I didn’t want to miss out on all the fun. And Cando? He likes his detours, his remote corners of island life.

Those include a makeshift diving platform perched over the Pacific (that’s me sailing through the air) and a secret underground swimming hole that can only be accessed via a concrete trapdoor. I saw a side of Hawaii I’d never seen before, laughed a lot, swam, talked late into the night, and decided that if this was retirement, Cando had it figured out.

Thanks to Tim Schamber of Peloton for running a great piece on my trip. Read more here:

South Point, is the southernmost point of the Big Island of Hawaii and of the 50 United States

South Point, is the southernmost point of the Big Island of Hawaii and of the 50 United States

Team Optum Pro Cycling's Tom, Eric & Brad

Ambition, Visualized

It’s always exciting to be involved with high-caliber commercial work, but never more so than when the creative team are old friends, like Hans Hanson and Eric Sorensen of SOLVE. We go way back to our early days in Minneapolis, so when they asked if I’d like to shoot their latest campaign for the second-largest bank in the United Arab Emirates, it was an easy decision to make.

They wanted to show people from all walks of life visualizing their ambition. (80% of the UAE’s populace is made up of expat workers.) It was an unexpectedly emotional experience for many as they talked about family and future, hope and belief.

Not too far from where we were shooting in Abu Dhabi was the Dubai Creek Port, where things looked a little more gritty and improvised than the well-scrubbed streets of the city. I snuck over there with my camera and convinced some of the locals to let me shoot them. Their dhows were piled precariously high with new TVs and refrigerators and computers bound mostly for Iran. It looked like a tough existence but they were proud and friendly and glad to show me another side of the capital city.

Shahab, Haneen


Hans, Eric

Hans Hansen, Eric Sorensen, Shawn Michienzi, Jassim, Chris Rouchard, Michael Marantz