Author Archives: zongrik

Portrait of TJL-2080


This portrait is of TJL-2080 (hereinafter to be called TJ) that being his professional name. TJ is a fascinating person who I knew from a group called the Antelope Valley Thespians, “an incorporated 501(c)3 nonprofit theater company” that supported playwrights and screenplay writers.

Because TJ and I both came to their meetings to have our screenwriting supported, and he was a very good photographer, loved sci-fi and virtual reality, and had so much in common with me, I thought we were alike. Then I read his Twitter profile, “Special Education Teacher, a Futuristxe, a Technoutopian, a Transhumanist.” Since I didn’t know what two out of five of those things were, I realized we were not identical twins.

TJ’s fiction writing had very interesting/ironic twists, which was a sign of excellent storytelling. As of the date of this posting, I had been looking forward to working with him on short-film production.

TJ was not just a fiction writer. He studied the use of technology to help people with disabilities, then wrote about his research and experiences.

You can learn more about TJ on the TJL-2080 blog. You can reach him on Twitter @tjl2080.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Aeowyn


This portrait is of Aeowyn, named after the Lord of the Rings character Éowyn . I was so excited that Aeowyn’s mom allowed me to shoot this and post it AND that Aeowyn was cooperative. So here you go, my first child in this series.

Aeowyn is an energetic, cute, affectionate three year old. She loves to draw, build with blocks and dance. Recently she discovered she liked singing. She primarily sings Disney songs, but since she’s seen Moana, she is obsessed with You’re Welcome. She saw Moana a few weeks ago with her mother, brother and aunties.

BTW, in case you question when this was shot, it was shot in January, for sure. The sky cleared, the rain stopped, it was still chilly, but not enough to make a little girl who can’t stop moving cold. So. Yes. This is a California girl in January, and it’s shot with my DSLR and not the point and shoot.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Arteasha


This portrait is of Arteasia, who I had known previously from my local Lancaster Costco  in Lancaster, CA, USA. She worked for CDS (Club Demonstration Services) Costco Food Demonstrator as one of the sample ladies, everyone’s favorite people at Costco. She had been working at this position for four years and loved the job. She believed Costco employees were fun and the customers were terrific. What she enjoyed the most about her job was meeting and speaking with people, “a lot, all day long.”

Arteasia’s favorite item to serve were sweets, “everyone tends to like sweets so I get all the customers when I have sweet things.” Arteasia found that the customers “stuck around” and talked to her more because they wanted more and more sweets. In other words, on sweets day, she was able to talk to even more people.

I took this portrait with the point and shoot. I used Costco overhead lighting, but because of the shadow on her face caused by her cap, I looked for a box with a white bottom. You know all those empty boxes in Costco? Well I didn’t use one of those. I emptied out a box full of chocolate covered some non-GMO fruit.I had Arteasia stand under a light, had her hold the box, at her waist, like a tray, pointing up, and it reflected the light into her face to give her even lighting. I darkened up the background with Photoshop.

This was a fun shoot not only because Arteasia was tickled from being chosen to be in my project, and because she is so “sweet” (pun intended) in the first place, but because I enjoyed being creative about improving the available light.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Nancy


This portrait is of Nancy, who I met at the Lancaster Public Library  Lancaster, CA, USA. She was sitting next to a table with pencils configured in a very strange way. (See picture below.) I asked her if she did that and she laughed and said, “No.” I told her I thought it looked like something you’d see in a Stephen King movie.

Nancy found that amusing not only because she saw the scene in the same way before I had walked over and mentioned it, but because her husband was wandering the shelves searching for a Stephen King book. At that point, I thought I should ask her about using her for the portrait project.

Nancy came to the library often with her three children and her husband. She liked Stephen King also, but didn’t have time to read much because motherhood duties. She had seen all the movies adapted from his books. Carrie, Misery and Sleepwalkers were her favorites. As for his books, Cujo was “probably” her favorite.

In general, Nancy had always loved horror movies. She enjoyed “wondering what is going to happen next and the mystery of it all.”

Nancy was originally from Los Angeles, CA.She moved to the Antelope Valley area several years prior to the posting of this blog post. At some point, she moved back to Santa Clarita, CA, to work. Then, after her eldest daughter was two years old,  the family moved back because Lancaster area was smaller and because of the numerous friends they had left behind; she also said it was a better place to raise children.

Computer HopeImage Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Kurt


This portrait is of Kurt, who was delivering mail for Cedar’s Sinai  Medical Center, Beverly Hills, CA, USA. This picture is interesting because usually, in Beverly Hills, people are running around in shorts, and tank tops, you know The Fun In The California Sun Look. But there was Kurt, bundled in rain gear, and pushing a cart covered to the max with protective tarp. It was such an unusual sight for Beverly Hills.

Kurt did not have time to talk to me at all because he had to go to the mail room. Below was the “mail room.” Yes, the mailbox is the mail room. It confounded me that in an institution that literally has the best brain surgeons in the world would mislabel a mailbox as the mail room. I seriously don’t think Kurt, his hand-truck, the mail and all that rain gear  fit in the little mail room below. Luckily, there was a normal door next to the mislabeled box and Kurt disappeared through the door, never letting me find out anything about him.

Computer Hope

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Armine


This portrait is of Armine, who I met at the Bloomingdale’s Los Angeles – Beverly Hills | Beverly Center, in Beverly Hills, CA, USA. She was a beauty stylist for Bobbi Brown make-up.

So, as you can see the last person in my early January Beverly Center Portrait series was a female make-up artist with beautiful make-up.

Armine was born in Yerevan, Armenia and came to the United States 6 years ago. She currently resides in Burbank.

Armine was  trained extensively by Bobbi Brown Cosmetics with tutorial, tools, classes and experience. She enjoyed her five month old position at Bobbi Brown/Bloomingdale’s

Image Credit: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Jason


This portrait is of Jason, who I met at the Ferrari Store | Beverly Center, in Beverly Hills, CA, USA. He was a sales associate for the Ferrari store, his duties being to sell Ferrari merchandise. He had also learned enough about the cars to be able answer customer’s questions about them.

Jason loved the job because, as a lifetime “fan of cars,” he was learning more at work than he could ever imagine. For example, he had the opportunity to become part of the  racing scene: not long before I had met him, he was sent to Daytona to man a booth for Ferrari. This, was the highlight of his six moth career, at the time of this posting.

Jason was sitting next to a genuine (retired) race car, which is located, real time at the mall. I photographed all my Beverly Center shots on a point and shoot because I didn’t want to carry around my DSLR in the rain. I also didn’t carry around lighting or reflectors. In this case, I prioritized composition over lighting. I figured I could play with the lighting in Photoshop. This was the hardest of the Beverly Center photos to get right on Photoshop. If someone were to print this, you could easily see how photoshoped it is.

Image Credit: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Boris


This portrait is of Boris, who I met at Sephora | Beverly Center, in Beverly Hills, CA, USA. As I ventured through the famous mall, someone mentioned I should visit Sephora to get one of the lovely ladies to pose for my portrait project. This was a great idea, I thought.

I walked in and naturally, the women had beautiful make-up on, but not one wanted to let me take a picture of her. One woman dragged me around the store, searching for “Boris” because Boris, the operations consultant, had such a a great smile. He sure did. So, at the end, I didn’t get pictures of anyone with fancy, up-to-date make-up; but that was  not a constraining point of my project.

Boris loved the job he held at Sephora for three years. Furthermore, the women in the store all adored him because his personality was as sweet as his smile. Not bad for him to come to work and be adored by beautiful, cheerful, friendly woman.

Boris was born and raised in  Guatemala and had been in the US for 16 years. His whole family was back in Guatemala, but he did’t live alone. He lived with Choco, The Chihuahua, and a Yorkie named Natasha.

There must be some punch line there, you know, Boris lives with Natasha. Where’s the squirrel? Where’s the Moose?

Image Credit: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Dubois


This portrait is of Dubois, who I met at Club Monaco | Beverly Center in Beverly Hills, CA, USA. The store was filled with interesting headless manikins, each dressed in a very chic, modern outfit. I immediately conceived of  a dozen great poses for a portrait, and then espied Dubois, the retail manger. He who had a very friendly and interesting face and was more than happy to pose for me.

Dubois was a creative director for photo shoots. Having found out he had 15 years experience behind his belt, I was glad I hadn’t asked him what he did before shooting his portraits because I might have been shy about directing him.

Dubois recently did his own fashion video starring James Wang and shot/cut By Dustin Shepard The Color Of A White Wall .

Image Credit: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Kevin


This portrait is of Kevin, who I met at Bloomingdale’s in Beverly Hills, CA, USA. He was hanging out by the Giorgio Armanic   make-up section, where he was the business manger. He had held this position for over a year, and looked great in a three-piece suit.

Kevin was originally from Pennsylvania, USA. He moved to the Los Angeles area, about six years before our meeting, to attend graduate theater school at California Institute of the Arts. He was always intrigued by the art of transformation and therefore started with prosthetic work back in Pennsylvania.

While living in Los Angeles,  Kevin adapted his work to make more money, that is selling and designing non-theater make-up. However, if he were back in Pennsylvania, he would have been be hugging his family, doing theater more, teaching theater, or maybe moving to New York. He missed the people out there and seasons of the year.

Image Credit: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.