GPP 2014 Shootout: An Entertaining Battle Between Two Top Photogs

The video for this year’s Gulf Photo Plus Shootout has been released and it’s a good one. Going head to head this year were photographers Zack Arias and Sara Lando, both of whom had 20 minutes to go from hearing their assignment to final image, all in front of a 400-person audience.

The video shows how it all went down, with plenty of photography all-stars making cameos and a lot of laughs along the way — which is only to be expected if you followed the duo’s Twitter battle leading up to the shootout. In the words of our fearless leader Michael Zhang, the GPP shootout is “like watching the photography equivalent of a freestyle rap battle.” What more could you want!?

(via Strobist)

  • bogorad

    Sara wasn’t just amazing, what she did and how she acted was mind-blowing! Zack was… meh.

  • Gannon Burgett

    I concur. Just another reminder of how important concept is.

  • awerrweraw

    both images look like amateur stuff……

  • Daniel Cely

    Sara’s take on the subject was amazing, her simple real life photoshop technique was stupendous.

  • siva

    Wow, I was all ready to dismiss this, but I have to admit the two photos were pretty good.

  • Michael

    Two “TOP” photographers???????????

  • Justin Kroger

    500 photographers and you can’t find someone that knows how to use manual exposure to shoot the behind the scenes? I stopped watching because it completely takes me out of the experience when that’s going on. Horrible video.

  • rodrigo feijo

    amazed at some comments here. i’m curious to see the portfolio of people who think zack or sara aren’t top photographers or dislike their stuff. internet is so full of sad sad people.

  • Adam Cross

    Sara’s shot/s were awesome, I have no idea what Zach did, wth was that and what did it have to do with water? :S

  • bbear

    Nothing at all. Zack was always going to pay tribute to his wife: whether it fit the parameters of the rules or not. Which was very sweet and beautiful.

  • bbear

    “Signal vs Noise.” A lot of noise here, not that much signal.

  • alex

    Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. The internet is creating a generation of creatives, too lazy to research in depth things that inspire them. Whatever is shoved in your face is now the standard. And the standard is as above, pathetic. Try looking at the photographers producing good commercial and personal work, rather this nonsense for a change.

  • bbear

    Zack has an outstanding commercial portfolio and is has makes his money as a working photographer. What on earth are you talking about?

  • Marcin

    Don’t be silly. Do you need to be a film director to give your opinion of a film or a writer to review a book? Same with photography – it is not made just for photographers (whether “good” or “bad”), everyone can voice their opinion and I appreciate honest opinion of my photos even from people who never take pictures.

  • Esprit

    Agreed. I was actually surprised by Zack, he did a great job on the last one, this one was a little meh.

    Sara’s was clever, but you have to realize that… that’s exactly what she does, the challenge was definitely in favor of Sara’s style much more than it is Zack’s, who’s more of a controlled light studio photographer.

  • bbear

    It is my opinion that everyone who thinks that Zack and Sara aren’t top photographers are absolutely bananas. And I don’t have to be bananas to hold that opinion. Thanks for setting the ground rules for the discussion Marcin.

  • Paul

    I don’t think Zack used Fuji during the show.

  • Zarif Rafiul Haque

    OMG! Amazing! :D
    They showed how creative they are. :) Thats why they are on the top! Two completely different output!!! Love Zack! :)

  • Titus-Armand

    In this case, top = internet popular.

  • ThatGuy

    Not the same thing. Books and films are being marketed to and critiqued by an audience that are mostly consumers. In this case, the critiques are mostly from their peers. (other photographers)

  • ThatGuy

    It looks like they were shooting on manual and trying to adjust while shooting.

  • Adam Cross

    why was he always going to pay tribute to his wife? (ps. I have no idea who this Zach guy is)

  • ThatGuy

    Lots of negative comments here, and they have the right to their opinion. But these photographers both did exceptionally well, especially considering the pressure they were under.

  • bbear

    Why not not pay tribute to his wife? Why not pay tribute to the people that you love and care about? It doesn’t matter if you know who Zack is or not.

    Did you watch the video? It explains what he’s paying tribute.

  • LookitMeImAnAnonynousCommenter

    Would LOOOOVE to see what all of the anonymous poo-pooers would have come up with given the stark time constraints in front of a live audience. Something totes amazeballs, I am sure.

  • SurroundedByDumbshits

    Don’t worry Michael. You’re a top commenter and everyone respects you.

  • Nuno Cruz

    To all the haters out here, just hate the auto exposure backstage videographer and the presenter, bowtie, with oversized trousers and trekking shoes, + showing of a leica? Dam, there are so good videographers out there, that a little bit more effort could have been done in that matter. Aside from that it’s always a fun challenge to do something out of nothing in 20 minutes.

  • Adam Cross

    yeah I watched it, he completely failed the point of the shoot, the key word was water – he did nothing with or about water.

  • Alben

    I mostly agree with you, but the presenter was David Hobby and I’m pretty sure he had a Fuji X100s not a Leica.

  • D-Man

    Zack is a very good at online marketing himself, but I’ve seen very little from his work that would warrant his reputation.

  • bbear

    What reputation does Zack have that you don’t think he warrants? Be as specific as possible!

  • D-Man

    Just because someone gets paid, doesn’t mean they’re any good. Where is that “Outstanding commercial portfolio”? It’s certainly not on his website.

  • bbear

    Way to miss the point Mr D-Man. Zack made his money as a working photographer: in other words he is one of “those who do.” I was responding specifically to alex. He gets paid as a working commercial photographer. Being good or not is irrelevant to the point I made.

    As for your second point: “outstanding” is of course a subjective term. I find his work outstanding and so do many others. If you are a commercial photographer you would be well aware of how exactly competitive the industry is and how hard it is to make it. Even if you don’t think his work is outstanding: you must at least acknowledge his work is “good”, would you not agree? If not, please feel free to offer us your critique.

  • D-Man

    I don’t really want to get into bashing him, but he’s a middling photographer with a big online presences. I put him in the same category as Steve Huff and Ken Rockwell.

  • bbear

    What reputation does Zack have that you don’t think he warrants?

    I didn’t think you’d answer that question.

    You’ve done a pretty good job of bashing him so far to start being concerned about bashing him. So why not have the courage of your convictions and tell us how you really feel.

  • Jander

    What was Zack doing? Why would “water” inspire zack to make that photo about his wife? He was not being creative on the fly, he completely skipped the assignment and executed an idea he already had in his mind and then tossed a little water from a cup at the end. Watching a crowd of people eat it up is insanely frustrating to watch!

  • D-Man

    I think you missed Alex’s point, which is that Zack’s career is primarily as a workshop instructor right now, supplemented by shooting local bands and notables. He got a big following through his Q&A blog and then another bump by pumping Fuji’s tires enough that he started appearing in their promotional material.

    I’m sorry, I cannot acknowledge his work as “good” because I think it’s below average in the commercial world. If you want to see good commercial photographers, check out Joey L, Timothy Hogan, Alexx Henry, Art Streiber, Dave Hill or Lara Jade. I would consider them to be “Outstanding”.

  • mthouston

    And your portfolio is available where for all of us to critique?

  • bbear

    Really? He supplements his workshop career shooting bands?

    Since you have such an intimate knowledge of his income streams what percentage of that income comes from workshop?

    Zack is a working photographer who supplements his income with workshops: not the other way around. There are other people out there to which Alex could be said to be accurately describing: but Zack isn’t one of them.

    In the real world art directors have a lot of choice. Some choose the likes of Dave Hill because they feel his work is the right fit for the brand: and other times it would be someone like Zack. In the real world there are a limited amount of successful commercial photographers and Zack is one of the few. Its a shame you don’t rate his work but you are of course entitled to your opinion.

  • D-Man

    lol, okay, well to be honest this whole thing is taking more effort than it’s worth, but really, just look at his portfolio. Flat, uninteresting compositions, poor, unimaginative and sometimes unflattering lighting setups. Probably his best photo is the one of Robin Meade and it’s an awkward pose and she has an equally awkward facial expression. Again, flat, uninteresting lighting in what looks like a location that has a lot of potential and it’s that location that somewhat “saves” the shot. A couple of his black and white portraits are ok, but look more like photography class assignments than well thought out, creative portraits.
    There’s some fuji promo videos with Zack in India, and to me it really illustrates how you can plop him down in the greatest locations, give him interesting people to shoot, and he’ll still come up with boring, flat photos.

  • bbear

    So what reputation does Zack have that you don’t think he warrants?

  • D-Man

    I’m basing my assumption on how busy his workshop schedule seems to be and the poor quality of his portfolio.
    What art directors have hired him? What magazine spreads has he done? Which billboards have been done by him? Why ad campaigns has he done? I’ve seen none. I see no evidence of him having any kind of presence in the commercial world outside of Atlanta at all.
    People are entitled to revere and praise him if they so chose, but his “commercial portfolio” is it were, is just not impressive at all, and in fact is quite amateurish.

  • bbear

    I’m sure your intimate knowledge of the commercial world outside of Atlanta is as intimate as your knowledge of Zacks career: as in you have no knowledge at all.

    Thanks for clearing up that when you said ” Zack’s career is primarily as a workshop instructor right now, supplemented by shooting local bands and notables” you were making that up.

    Why are you asking the Internet for details of what work he has done? I thought you had details of his income streams and everything! And what is wrong with being a commercial photographer with only a presence in a single city? Aren’t most commercial photographers only a presence in where they live?

    When you’ve taken a look at his actual commercial portfolio and some of his commercial work come back and let us know.

  • alex

    20min from concept to final product…

  • alex stuart

    I thought it may be a “it brought a tear to people’s eyes” kinda wet. A way of interpreting water.

  • Titus-Armand

    Stuck on repeat?

  • bbear

    Waiting for an answer actually. D-Man made a claim but won’t back it up.

  • Nuno Cruz

    True, a second look and seems like a Fuji.

  • Robin

    Nothing new from Sara, if you look at her web site its something she has done before.

  • siva

    Agreed, but he did speak to a whole lot of struggling photographers in his video,”Transform,” Can’t help liking him because of that. But yeah, he is overrated.