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The State Fair of Texas, headquartered in Dallas is a fascinating place to visit if you’ve never been there before. Even more interesting if you are lucky enough to meet Don and Sharon Endsley and spend several days making portraits of the characters who perform in their roving Great AmericaWild West Show. Don and Sharon have spent their life together performing and being involved in the Western lifestyle Before creating the Great American Wild West Show Don spent almost 30 years as one of the top Professional rodeo announcers in the Country. He was the “voice” of the last NFR held in Oklahoma City in 1984. In 2011 Don was inducted into the texts Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in Ft Worth, where they lived for 25 years.

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The spectacular arena shows are the trademark but the Great American Wild West Show has been featured in many versions for venues like the legendary Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas. Producing the Great American Wild West Show is a family operation with Don and Sharon writing the scripts, producing the music, designing lighting and special effects, booking show dates and always looking for new ways to make it more thrilling and exciting. It was an hilarious couple of days getting down and dirty at the Texas State Fair.

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We had the opportunity to get behind the scenes and create a series of narrative portraits documenting many of the characters that make up the entourage. By far the standout for our crew was the amazingly talented Kyzer Stoddard, horseman extraordinaire – what a gift he has with animals and the camera just loves him. Thanks to these generous hosts and our amazing local crew. See you all again soon.

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Thanks to these generous hosts and our amazing local crew. See you all again soon.

 

 

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We recently spent 2 days working with Casey Morton, professional female boxer recently at the headquarters of Victor Conte’s SNAC Company outside San Francisco. Victor has created a state of the art facility and training regimes for a select group of elite american athletes, that range from pro football players, olympic track and field athletes and professional boxers.  Casey Morton utilizes the SNAC facility, its trainers and its products for the strength and conditioning aspects of her training regime.  #caseymorton

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You can spend lengthy amounts of time and funds conceiving new personal projects to keep your creative energy going and to produce new work to show clients. Last week was a different story for us! Working away in the studio, we heard the approaching sound of sirens, closer, closer still, then atop us. At that point Eszter opens the front doors and enthusiastically says you’d better get out here – pronto!

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The commercial/residential space across from us was well ablaze and there had been a 2 alarm alert sent out, and trucks were arriving from everywhere. As any good assistant would do – Brian De Simone instantly replaced the iPhone in my hand with a more professional approach and told me to get to work.

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Being right in the middle of the action before the first responders arrived saw me with unfettered access as the SFFD men and women got to work tackling this huge fire. Police lines were getting drawn all around me but somehow they couldn’t work out who I was or where I came from, opting to leave me on the playing field as it were. Within minutes there were 12 fire engines plus emergency vehicles surrounding me. Here’s some of the collection of images I made of the SFFD heroes getting the job done.

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Thank you to all who gave their service that day. You bravely saved the property from total ruin and protected nearby residents from a catastrophe. Hats off to you.

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Feels like we’ve been living out of state for most of the last few months. Having multiple trips back and forwards between San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas has seen us continually chasing the sunshine and warm weather of late summer. No complaints from us!

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We recently had the opportunity to collaborate with San Francisco agency Nice&Company, spending several days creating a library of assets at various outdoor locations in Los Angeles. This would have seemed like a fairly simple proposition, accept for the fact that there is a severe drought in California and an ideal lush green grassed outdoor space is becoming increasingly hard to find. I flew down from SF a week before the shoot, spending a full day of pre production visiting somewhere near 20 city parks and reserves as well as a host of large scale private properties with most parched to a very un-photogenic shade of tan. We lucked in at the final location on scout day, Whittier Narrows Recreation Area  in South El Monte, an area of LA I had never visited. Discovering this venue saved our backsides as we are literally out of options with the clock running down, and ambassadorial talent flying in from all over the country. Our second location was made a little easier as we found  an exclusive private property in the hills of Thousand Oaks that had no water restrictions at all due to its private well offerings, it felt like we had been transported to the English countryside.

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It was great to work alongside Doug Finelli, Sunni York and Val Beckwith from Nice&Company – thank you for having faith in us. Our ace producer Michael Mattes rocked out in all aspects of the shoot, most notably assembling a great crew of around 20 folks who delivered more than they were asked for.  A big thank you must goes out to all of them- too many to name. It was a long and arduous shoot incorporating sunrises and sunsets each day and little sleep in between.

But then again isn’t it always this way!!!

See you soon LA.

 

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A recent collaboration with the wonderful team at the MPP agency
in San Francisco gave us the opportunity to embed on the campus of Santa Clara University for 4 days and interpret day to day life for its student body and faculty.  The project started with a unique location scout – a request for us to observe and interpret as we saw fit and come back with our commentary. It is such a gratifying feeling when you have the opportunity to truly collaborate with an agency, taking their original ideas and being given latitude to take the concept and add to it. A big thank you to Robert Maidens, Keith Pacoma and the MPP gang for their vision and their trust in our creativity. Here’s a small sample of the finished product.

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It’s great time to be in Northern California, the home of the Napa Valley. Right now it’s the beginning of the harvest season. Seems every year around this time, a shoot or two arises that will invariably involve some aspect of documenting the harvest. This week we are awaiting the decision of Trinchero Napa Valley’s winemaker Mario Monticelli to make his call on when he feels is the perfect time to pick the fruit that will best articulate a vineyards terroir. We have been involved with several shoots this past year with this marquis Napa Valley vineyard and eagerly await the chance to rise at 4.00am over multiple days in a row!!

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This exact time last year its was Peter Heitz from Turnbull Winery to make the call. It’s a solid 90 minute drive to get there from my home in SF, so a double espresso became my best friend when heading out the door at 4.30am each morning – but it was well worth the effort. Here’s a small selection from our early mornings.

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I thoroughly enjoyed hanging with the boys as they went about there business. Damn they work hard and fast. Hats off to all the pickers in the Napa Valley. If you are up that way check out my two favorite wineries Turnbull and Trinchero.

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I was recently asked by a potential hotel client if I could explain how “eszter and david” work together on shoot days, and how are our images produced. My response was to pull up a few examples of our work and take them back to their essence – before and after scenarios.

As a duo we collaborate intensively on shoots for start to finish. My general roll is that of photographer and all that that entails, with Eszter’s role a little broader, encompassing pre production, overseeing digital technicians, on set producer and ultimately retouching all our imagery. Hotel work is fast and furious, generally with lots of hurdles along the way, in most cases we are working with a partially built and sparingly furnished construction site. In order for our clients to have a marketing campaign and print ads out as a lead up to hotel opening dates we usually shoot during final stages of construction and have to be fast, nimble and accommodating to construction workers, designers, staff training, management and a host of hourly visitors all with their own agendas and looming deadlines. We will always start with a pre production walk through on arrival and begin to scope and build a library of potential shoot angles with a hand held camera trying to create a cohesive narrative that best showcases the property. This then gets edited and built into a document we present to our client to showcase our vision. From there we begin creating a shoot schedule based around accessibility, talent, weather and host of other variables.

Following I have collated a selection of initial scouting snaps, followed by the final images. What a difference a little production, lighting, talent and retouching/ post production can do.

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Great to see some imagery we shot for the boys at Trick Dog bar in San Francisco being put to good use. Travel and Leisure’s current issue showcases the best bars and nightspots across the globe. When it comes to SF of course Trick Dog is right up there on top. To Scott Baird, Josh Harris, Morgan Schick, the Bon Vivants well done boys, you are the cocktail geniuses. Drinks on you next time.

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I continue to pinch myself at my luck in life – having found an occupation that I truly love and never really seem to feel I’m working for a living. On this recent assignment for ViTRO agency out of San Diego, we got to work with an amazing team, everyone from the agency creatives and clients, to my photo crew pitched in where ever was needed to pull of this epic 14 day shoot that saw us travel to a new location each day. Outside the challenges of delivering all things photographic, we had had to endure trying weather conditions and an ambitious travel schedule that on occasion saw us on location at 7.00am and not reaching the hotel room until midnight, before another 6.00am wakeup call.  Somehow severe exhaustion just didn’t matter because we were constantly surrounded by the awe inspiring beauty of the landscape of remote Alaska and it unique and exotic animals regularly present. It seemed every day another “did you see that”,  moment occurred. From Moose, Brown Bears, Black Bears, Wood Bison, Antelope, Musk Ox, Elk and even Bald Eagles, the wildlife was stunning. Here’s a few “on the road” snaps from the trip.

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A big thank you to all who worked on the shoot from pre to post production.  A great job and a very happy client. Alaska we will be back!

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They certainly breed them tough in Alaska!!

No matter where we ventured across this epic landscape it became apparent that you needed to be a special breed of person to really enjoy your life here. Before arriving I had no idea there was a surfing culture so far North of the equator – sheer madness if you ask me. From the frigid water surfers of Homer to the Bore tide riders of Turnagain Arm, we salute you.

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Another amazing place we had the pleasure of shooting at was Mt Denali, and Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge  this rustic wilderness lodge over looks the Nenana River, it’s precariously perched atop a cliff with the beauty of Mt Denali as its backdrop. As would have it on any shoot something will always pose as hurdle, in this case it was a power outage due to an immense storm that left us with our power for our entire shoot day!!!  Not to be deterred we found ways to make things work including the use of car headlights and a cache of Profoto 7B battery packs (sure worth the excess baggage costs to travel with 6 of these babies) and good deal persistence.

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Did i mention that it hovered around 30 degrees F most of our trip…..

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But we had a hell of a time. David

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