Portrait of Matt Zelier

Portrait of Matt Zeiler of Clarifai for Forbes

Cool assignment alert!! Forbes called with portrait assignment a couple months ago. Matt Zeiler is an interesting guy. The quick story is that while finishing up school and an internship he was approached by Google, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook to name a few with job offers for his field of speciality, Artificial Intelligence. While that could have been very lucrative, Matt decided to go on his own and start up a company, wow. Presenting Clarifai.. Now four years in, this tech startup is known for its software with image and video recognition.. No small feat considering his competition. The story editors wanted something interesting depicting Computers and AI. Problem with a lot of these type of shots, making things look techy, is that they can also look hokey. So I worked up a couple of portrait ideas using reflections and glass. I ended up with a partial reflection shot that I liked. Important also is that I had to be able to take this set up on location to the Clarifai NYC offices. So I bought a large piece of glass for the reflection and black background cards. The basic idea behind the shot was to see how the machine was looking at Matt. The actual portrait was rather simple. Matt was positioned in profile to the camera, with him looking into the glass which was at a 45 degree angle in front of him, and a black background behind them. I aimed a Profoto head through the glass positioned slightly behind Matt allowing for a little light to bleed over. The shot had very little variation possibilities from the profile position so we were done pretty quickly. The only thing I did in post was to add the blue overall color and to add a texture on to the glass reflection, in a shameless nod to the Matrix code kinda thing.. I really like how it turned out, cool without feeling I like I was trying to hard, and it also feels unique.

Then we walked around the office space and figured out 2-3 more portraits. After being with Matt for a few minutes I could see how relaxed he was even though the office was humming along.. So my next shot was to show him exactly as you would expect a young non-corporate guy in his space. I turned his chair around and had him get into a very casual pose. It did not feel forced at all and he looked great. Again 25-30 frames later and I got it. I don’t over shoot as general rule but sometimes things come together so quickly that you know you have it within the first few minutes, and this was one of those times.. 

Both Forbes and the folks at Clarafai liked the images. Successful shoot! Check out the story here on Forbes’s website

Some of other shoots I have done for Forbes that you might want to look at. Bruce Flatt, Carolyn Rafaelian, James Taylor Manufacturing

Portrait of Matt Zeiler

Matt Zeiler Portrait in Clarifai Offices NYC for Forbes

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