NYC Shoot-out :: Me vs. Jason Groupp :: Vote!

October 27, 2010 | Events GOYA

Today my good friend and collegue, Jason Groupp, and I had a shoot-out in the streets of NYC. We have been talking smack for two weeks about this on Twitter and we now have the results of our bravado.

******* Voting is now closed. Results here. *******

Click “more” to see the rest of the original post and photos…

Here is how it worked. Jason booked Amanda and Sean to be our subjects. Jason set up the first shot and he had five frames to execute it. Then I had to use the same location and execute a shot in five frames. I then chose the next location, shot five frames, and then Jason would shoot five frames. We piggy backed like that for six locations. At the sixth and final location I challenged Jason to tape his LCD screen. I did the same. We had five frames to shoot, with lights, without meters, and no chimping. It was a blast!

We have now picked our top five images and you are going to vote on who won best image of the shoot-out. This will be like a presidential election. One image will be the top photo of the day and then we will tally the votes of each image and see who received more total votes than the other and they will be crowed “President of Light” or something stupid. I have a feeling this might just be an annual thing. :)

So here are the images. Vote at the bottom of the page. Voting will continue through PhotoPlus this weekend and we will announce the results at the first of next week along with a behind the scenes video of the shoot and some of our out takes.

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Vote For Your Favorite Photo free polls

Thanks for voting!

Cheers, Zack


  • Chris Bergstrom said on October 27, 2010

    Nice Zack! Did you come to NYC just for this?

  • TimR said on October 27, 2010

    Since the lighting is all over the place on these I would love to hear a 1 a.m. critique aided by the brown foamy refreshment.

  • chrisdavid42 said on October 27, 2010

    I’m betting the brick wall wasn’t yours!! Interesting concept. I don’t know Jason’s work, so am trying to guess which are yours and which aren’t. I’ll still vote for the best one though.

  • Les Doerfler said on October 27, 2010

    I had to vote for #4 not just because it’s an awesome shot, but also because it looks like the woman walking the dog is mortified by a sunburst headed Dan Depew in the shot, and I like that.

  • Trevor Dean Photo said on October 27, 2010

    lol.. @chrisdavid42 I was thinkin the same thing when I saw the brick wall :)

    It’s a hard desicion but I would venture a guess that would be due to both photographers being exceptional at their craft! Great work guys!!

  • Rocky Garza said on October 27, 2010

    I great images fellas!

  • Paul Bennett said on October 27, 2010

    I ended up going for number 3. The soft quality on her skin and the rim lighting just draws me in.
    Will you be posting lighting setups for these at a later date?

  • Andrew Jones said on October 27, 2010

    Amazing that you have done some of these with the LCD taped and no meter. I can’t even pick which they are.

    And 5 shots each doesn’t leave much margin for error (I’d love to see them all at some point).

  • Ben McLendon said on October 27, 2010

    #4 Excellent!! For me, shows that having a vision before you pull the trigger really pays off when you get back to the studio.

  • frank said on October 27, 2010

    gold star for who ever shot number 3 but just a bit too much skin treatment on the lady she looks plastic. Cheers good job the both of you

  • Diego Veríssimo said on October 27, 2010

    What a great idea! I should really try this someday…
    I already voted for the one I liked most, but they’re all pretty good, actually. You should do this every month, not once a year 😀

  • millie said on October 27, 2010

    number 5 is my favorite. no question about it.
    the emotion on their faces, specifically hers is what steals it for me. and the angle stands apart from all the other, giving it an edge.

    love it.

  • Matt Normann said on October 27, 2010

    Are these camera jpegs or processed raws? If it is a test on lighting/exposure/modifier selection etc., lets see camera jpegs. btw, great exercise. Thanks for sharing.

  • Kirk said on October 27, 2010

    #5… and looked again.. still #5…
    the way i see is #5 is a bold move. without chimping.
    the other are all pretty ‘safe’ shots if you ask me. have to know your light well enough to do this without meter or chimping.

  • (oss@ck ;) said on October 27, 2010

    #3 becouse i love emotions :)

    PS best background on #2 :)

  • tyler said on October 27, 2010

    Maybe its just me, but I can easily pick out which photos are zarias.

    greetings from indianapolis, zack!

  • Richard said on October 28, 2010

    Yep, I can tell exactly which ones are Zack’s.

  • Michelle Feeney said on October 28, 2010

    Love the idea. So fun. Thanks for sharing and letting us vote!

  • david jackson said on October 28, 2010

    Numero cinco has it. I say this cause it’s more of an environmental portrait and conceptual in nature. But y’all are both nerds to the highest degree.

    I thinking I could give the winner a run for their money… Of course, depending on the rules, time (hours) involved and the number of lights available. #humor

    Your pal,

  • Sierra Murphy said on October 28, 2010

    Wow Wow Wow. That’s all. :-)

  • said on October 28, 2010

    It is hard to decide between 2 and 5… I’ll go with 5.
    Actually don’t understand why so many peeps like 4 – thre is too much going on for my taste.

  • Nathan Padilla Bowen said on October 28, 2010

    I’m going to say that this sure looks like a dead giveaway. Zack doesn’t overcook his images and five of these look like they were drenched in nacho cheese.

  • Nathan Padilla Bowen said on October 28, 2010

    P.S. I’m saying 8 actually. Because even though #5 is better, I think it was just a little lucky. The cab makes the shot. #8 is a well made image with negative space and mystery.

  • pr said on October 28, 2010

    Just because i can, i´m going to leave my opinions on all 10 images.
    It´s my opinion.

    #1 – Looks like it was aiming towards symmetry, but there are some objects that
    make the image lose it´s appeal. Talking about the mirror of the bus on the left,
    the barb wire on the right, and the reflection of the pole on the right window of the bus.
    Feels like there is something missing, maybe the letters of the bus could be on, saying some location.

    #2 – Like the opposition of the buildings, one is a brick one, dark, dirty, old. The other one seems
    to be more recent. Like the emergency stairs of the building on the right. Almost seems like the guy
    is staring at the breast of the women. weird. Like the light, more focus/intense on the faces.

    #3 – The blue line is a guide to the eyes, but feels like it´s going the wrong way. It take´s me
    down the road and not the subjects. Nice light with the back light and all, seems to be 3 lights.
    Left, right and back. It´s not a bad image, but nothing compared with the others. Last thing,
    the light on the upper left corner is annoying.

    #4 – One of the most voted, urban style. Lots of gray, and a big “Lincoln Tun” sign that is a big
    pop in the image. Sure, after the flare. Like the depth of all 3 levels, the models in front, the
    lady with the dog, and the man holding the light, creates a nice line. Lots of things for the eye
    to see. Not chaotic, it all belongs to someone´s story. From the way the lady is walking, to the blue
    truck, to the MCD in the back.. Like the rim light on her jeans.

    #5 – My fav. Like some one said, the taxi wins the shot. Could be.. But also could be all the lines
    and curves that are in the image that makes this a great image. From the direction of the taxi
    and opposite direction of the subjects, to the curve of the pavement and the lines of the pedestrian
    crossing. The mild dark of the image and the contrast of the subjects is great! Nice story here.

    #6 – The only cool thing about this are the eyes, first time i saw this it was kind of cliche.
    But seeing for a second time you can see some cool effects, the eyes, the hair and the symmetry
    of the background.

    #7 – I don´t know..kinda incomplete this one. The composition plays around the building on the
    background, but it still feels empty, too short? The shadow on her hand is weird and distracting.

    #8 – Mystery, someone said. I would prefer that the windows didn´t had any reflections. And more
    texture to the bus. Like the composition were there heads were placed, on the middle of that window.
    Creates a nice frame around them. The rest are lines cutting there bodies.

    #9 – This one has a little of attitude. The different sharpness of the foreground, middle and background,
    creates a push and pull effect to my eyes. Going from the blurry foreground to the sharp subject to
    the blurry background. Give a sense that he is hiding. I would say to this image, Pop&Urban.

    #10 – Red bricks. Weird position of her hand, she´s tense and he is reflecting. Chin up, chin down.
    The composition could have been played around the buttons, from her jacket and his shirt.

  • Cati said on October 28, 2010

    Phew, it’s super hard.
    #5 Says nothing to me. Also, the guy looks somewhat stiff.
    #10 could have been my pick. I like the contrast between cold colors on the guy’s shirt and the warm red on the wall, but the skin looks somewhat dull to me (also happens with #2)
    #9 would have been my pick if it wasn’t for the out of focus wall (?) in the foreground. I love the colors and the contrast with the grey-ish background, and has perfect composition.
    #6 & 8 are beautiful black and white shots too, but when there’s a readhead involved I’m all for colors! :)

  • Phil. M said on October 28, 2010

    Where’s Joey L’s polaroid?

  • Lars said on October 28, 2010

    Damn. Those are some great shots with great light. Only gripe is that those models look stiff to me. Maybe that has to do with many changes of scene, but their lack of expression really ruin many of the shots for me (well especially the dude in #9). My vote goes to #3 because they both look alive. Would have been #2 if the guy wasn’t so dark/grey.

  • Roland said on October 28, 2010

    Hi Zack!

    Although most people seem to like #4 the most, for me it is just too crowded.

    I actually like #7 and #10 the most, they are clean and simple.

    Btw., will you be there at ChaseJarvis Live today?


  • Howard Haby said on October 28, 2010

    #5 got my vote. A lot of people are voting for #4, and yeah it is a cool photo, but it’s distracting as well. #5 shows the most “attitude” for lack of a better description, and I just think it’s the coolest photo. All are excellent of course. Thanks for this,Zack.

  • Peter said on October 28, 2010


    They’re all great shots, obviously, but it’s tough to say which one is “best” without knowing the GOAL of the session?

    Was there any art/concept direction?
    What’s the intended purpose of the photo(s)?
    Is there a (fictional) client?

    You’re asking us to be photo editors without knowing the intended use. Without knowing the use, it’s tough to know if it was “suckcessful”.

    unless of course you were just going for “art”, in which case I don’t think these are good photos. I doubt many people would buy any these for their mantle….but many would buy them for their ad or editorial piece.


  • Bruno Was said on October 28, 2010

    #4 or #5 stand out.

    But that was a really creative bunch you got there.

  • joals said on October 28, 2010

    i think 2,5,6,8 and 10 was shot by zack..

    my vote is 5

  • Eric said on October 28, 2010

    I must be slippin, I know which one is def not Zacks, but there are a few that could go either way… I chose #5. The lighting is really good, or great in all the images, but there are several that the models connection/emotion just don’t shine thru. Great project, luv the no chimping angle! Great Job, as usual and customary.

  • Leoraul Torres said on October 28, 2010


  • Nick Collins said on October 28, 2010

    Image # 3

  • nas said on October 28, 2010

    i’d go for #5. great shot.

  • Heinz Schmidt said on October 28, 2010

    I love no 2, it looks like an advertising still for a super hero film. Awesome work!

    No 4 is close, but too Dave H. for me, I like it a little more subtle.


  • Mike Wilson said on October 28, 2010

    #5 wins it for me. It’s got such a great Alfred Hitchcock feel to it!

    While I love the flare and the lady walking her dog in #4 I really don’t like the VAL. REALLY distracting.

  • Amos said on October 28, 2010

    This is a fun poll… I like 2 and 5 (close second) the best (think they were shot by the same photog).

    I like 9 too (co-2nd place), but wish it was exposed for moodiness… would have been my vote.

  • Freddy O said on October 28, 2010

    6 for me, allthough it’s been composited, I like that the visual is much different, than the normal engagement, or headshot framing we see every day.

  • David Pexton said on October 28, 2010

    I really liked the whole series. I wanted to vote for #4 but the light on the left hand side literally made me squint.

  • Denny Wells said on October 28, 2010

    Interesting that #4 is rated so highly. Makes sense – I expect most of the audience are photographers, and as a photographer it is fun to break the rules by including the light in the image. But if the audience were more broad, I would expect this image to be rated much lower. The light is too distracting.

    I think the best pairing of shots (to contrast what different things can be done with the same location) are #4 and #5. It’s almost a perfect lesson in how to use your composition to simplify the background and draw attention to your subject.

  • Fatih K said on October 28, 2010

    #5 is the winner for me. It is totally different than others. Look at the movement of the taxi, expressions of the couple, lines of the road..

  • Mars said on October 28, 2010

    Hiya Zack,

    Knowing that your’Pet Hates’are distracting elements and attenas growing out of peoples heads I dont think Photo 1 is your style, I think 1,3,7,9 is Jasons and also because the harshness of the lights in those photos.
    I think 8 & 10 is more your style(lots of negative space and POP! but then again i could be wrong?

    Cheers Mars

  • Opinion said on October 29, 2010

    I like the 4 the rest of the pics you don’t need to travel to New York city to take them. so I don’t see the point doing a shoot in New York City that does not get the essence of the city.

    I frequently see photographers doing a shootings in the sophisticated farthest place in planet and when you see the pics it seem the where taken in Sarasota FlORIDA? I DON’T GET IT!!!

  • Matthew Carter said on October 29, 2010

    Nice work gents. Was #8 a “blind” shot? Anyway, I liked #4 best. Good Luck Mr. Arias

  • Alex Menendez said on October 29, 2010

    You could even crop out the left side of the frame on #4, (kill the lady and flash) and it would still be a great image. Probably better in fact!

    Just sayin…

  • Douglas Sonders said on October 29, 2010

    #5 is a great editorial image. simple. great mood. shows emotion and motion.

  • Mark said on October 29, 2010

    Another vote for 4 … spent more time looking at that great shot than all others. Bonus points if the flare was lined up with the red light on purpose!

  • Opinion said on October 29, 2010

    @Alex Menendez, yes yo are right he could crop the flash and the lady and attache a dog to a light poles..

    I think the most interesting part of the picture is the surrealistic image of the lady walking with the dog at the same time young people are posing for the picture. It tells an history, if you remove the lady with the dog you can throw the picture in the garbage.

    Also walking the dog is new yorker scene and connect me immediately with the city I love.

    The 5 you can take that picture any where in U.S.A. But I would have taken it differently. I would have parked a taxi right at the corner with the door opened waiting for them. Tell and history is alway a good solution to connect the image with the observer.

    The cab passing by is only good to distract the your sight to upper top level of the image.

    This is my humble opinion…

    Thanks Zack, for sharing part of your work with us…

  • Millie said on October 29, 2010

    Oh at first 5 was my top vote, but now going over the photos again I love 7 as well.
    I think its getting looked over. Its simple, well light, and a beautiful yet non-distracting background.

  • David said on October 29, 2010

    Nice experiment.
    Are both of you using the same lighting equipment? Because the light of some pictures are very different and I wonder if the differences were in camera or done in post. I love #4.

  • Cindy said on October 29, 2010

    Cool pictures. I liked the lighting you used!

  • Oud&Kuro said on October 29, 2010

    I like number 4 because it is the most interesting captured of a moment in time in this group of pictures.

  • Oud&Kuro said on October 29, 2010

    I vote for #4 cause I like the moment of the shot.

  • Charlie Clift said on October 30, 2010

    number 9 for me, simple and classy

  • Edd Carlile said on October 31, 2010

    The attraction of #4 for me is the studied artificiality of the models (and light guy) but the reality of the grimly determined Dog Walker to breeze right on through no matter what.
    Love that image.

  • Paul Fletcher said on October 31, 2010

    I really liked #4 as well. Great job on all the photos though.

    There are so many great ones to choose from.

  • Carlos said on October 31, 2010

    Zaquinas minha nega …
    Hope the pic #10 is NOT yours … otherwise I will through out the Creative live I bought in July!
    By the way … don;t we met in a party at Jason’s?
    Kind a remember you … your assistant with a huge fish bowl full of liquor … are you stealing the other’s assistants also? WHAT DA HECK Brad was doing with you guys? Bad … bad influence.
    “Hi nice to meet you … I’m Zack” Oooo Geee … EVERYONE knows you pal … YOU are the one to need record everyone’s name from that party!
    Hahahahaha … Love.
    Carlos Bruno

  • Suzanne Young said on November 1, 2010

    By far my favorite, I think #4 is quite an accomplishment. Take the same scene in normal daylight mode, you wouldn’t have the same interest at all. Brilliant dramatic creativity. Woman with dog so surreal too & little ‘laser’ from the red robo thrown in for good measure… hope it’s yours Zack!

  • Kristof Pattyn said on November 1, 2010

    I love the idea of you guys shooting out like this!

    I was doubting between 4 and 5, but because of the misleading simplicity and the original POV of number 5 I voted for number 5.
    Not to say that all of them are very good work of course but 5 is very refreshing to me.

  • zack said on November 1, 2010

    ******* VOTING IS NOW CLOSED *******

    ******* AND THE WINNER IS *******

    Jason Groupp won this shootout. Not only did he win best image (#4) but he won most votes for the total of his five images in the group.

    I accept my defeat but this phoenix will rise from the ashes next year. You better watch yourself Mr. Groupppppp. No holds barred next time!



  • Opinion said on November 1, 2010

    I knew it!.
    I Loved the 4th. I am not saying the rest of the pictures are bad. But the relation between the background, models and the woman walking the dog is really good.
    For me is more like a scene than a picture, there is action and a short story there.

    So remember the model is not always the most important. Don’t take me wrong, model are important but elements and situations like the woman with the dog can substantially enhances your picture dramatically, make them more dynamic, interesting and mysterious.

    Obviously as a designer i see this picture to fit more in advertising than anything else. Anyway, I thing the opinion that really matter her is ZACK’S.

    Zack I would like to hear your thoughts about this picture in particular. Maybe you can tell us something we have seen yet, good or bad?


  • Andy Lim said on November 3, 2010

    It’s amazing that these were shot without a meter and without chimping, and even more so with the exposure almost spot on! Great stuff.

  • Jay said on November 8, 2010

    Easily see the exposure style of Zack,(Very balanced). Jason’s style is a much brighter style to see 2 sep. styles which should always be seen if 2 diff photographers shoot the exact same couple or subjects.

  • Douglas Gottlieb said on September 6, 2013

    Great shoot guys — I really enjoyed watching you shoot on the video over at the SaberStrip site. I’m curious about that modifier. It looks kinda like a piece of thick PVC pipe ($6 at HomeDepot) with a slice cut out for diffusion paper or fabric. Is the light even? Did you need to do a lot to even it out in post? Must be great in the wind, and easily hand held. Is the light soft at all? Do you still use it?

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