Chad Ziemendorf


A background in professional baseball seems atypical when compared to that of most of Chad Ziemendorf's peers. Despite this, Chad has been able to bring many important values from his time as a baseball player into his work as an architectural photographer.

Early in his photographic career, Chad decided to invest in a Phase One camera system with the IQ180 digital back. Chad shares why Phase One has been important to him and his career.

My path as a photographer - Emotion, narrative and intimacy are paramount to my work, all skills that I learned as a photojournalist and visual storyteller with the San Francisco Chronicle and Reuters. I seek to find the larger story within any of my architectural assignments, not simply create a collection of images for a client.

Formerly a professional baseball player in the Cincinnati Reds organization, I have an intense sense of personal responsibility to perform at peak levels everyday. I love to push the envelope and maximize every opportunity. I am convinced that the mental fortitude to keep a balanced emotional state amidst the successes and failures of baseball (and photography) is of utmost importance. My time as a professional athlete prepared me to take on the rigors of professional photography. Through those experiences I grew to understand that our character is not defined by accolades or achievement, but by how we bounce back from failure and become stronger as a result.

My family has always been involved in commercial real estate, both development and brokerage. It seemed like the next logical step for me once baseball was over but I had an intense creative bug that needed to be explored. I spent about a year and a half in real estate brokerage but left to pursue photography full time. I havent looked back.

As a commercial photographer, my sole focus is urban architecture and office interiors. I illuminate and illustrate the visions of architects, contractors and make real estate look its best for marketing firms and developers. My goal is to make the built environment come alive with personality, even make it gesture through dynamic light and composition.

I am truly blessed to be making a living with my passion. My Grandpa used to say, "Pray like it is up to God, work like it is up to you." I take that with me on a daily basis, it is amazing how such a simple statement creates such a profound balance.

My equipment - I use the IQ180 digital back with the Alpa Max technical camera and the Rodenstock lenses for 80% of my work. The Phase One 645DF+ body, the Schneider Kreuznach 80mm and 240mm lenses are also used regularly.

The IQ180 delivers unparalleled image quality. The silky smooth tonalities of the IQ180's ISO 35 give me images that are not only incredibly sharp but also beautifully detailed and noise-free.

I chose this system to ensure that I deliver the very best image quality to my clients, so that at the end of the day I know that nothing has been left to chance and the only thing separating me from creating world-class images is my own creativity.

One of my mentors instilled in me the notion that an image should never reveal more about me as a photographer than it does the subject. I should never shoot to show off a certain technique or make a statement about skill. I only want the viewer to experience my subject completely without distraction, just as I do when I am there. The Phase One IQ180 captures the urban environment with such startling clarity that the viewer can't helt but be immersed in the scene.

On a typical shoot, my team and I stage the scene and capture as many images as possible without jeopardizing the quality of each image. We don't typically set up any lighting due to the natire of the design that we photograph. Most office environmentsare designed with LEED Certification in mind (a certification program from the US Green Building Council). They are built to not only showcase stunning design but also to be energy efficient and earth-friendly. Natural, available light is one of the key components to this type of design so there is usually ample light to work with without adding supplemental lighting.

I look for every opportunity to create the most dynamic imagery possible, to find verbs within the nouns. Anyone can take a picture of a building or interior, but finding dynamic light and the underlying story that inspires the design is where we can elevate our work to a world-class level.

My partner of choice - I couldn't be happier to be a customer of Bear Images in Palo Alto, CA. Jim Taskett and Karla Johnson have guided me on countless shoots and equipment purchases. I am proud to call them friends and partners, not just my favorite camera suppliers. Without their guidance and insight I would be forced to muddle through certain situations on my own, I wouldn’t be nearly as effective without their support.

Future endeavors – I am excited to be exploring the world of fine art now that I have established my business and I know that my family is taken care of. I look forward to scheduling time specifically for creating art and exploring my personal vision. Given that so much of my time is spent in the urban environment I suspect that I’ll be visiting rural America more often and exploring the small towns of North Dakota and Montana.

Photographer Chad Ziemendorf

Camera: Phase One 645DF+
Digital back: IQ180
Test drive a Phase One camera system

More images: Phase One gallery
Chad's partner of choice: Bear Images

ALL IMAGES © Chad Ziemendorf

Chad Ziemendorf IQ180
Chad Ziemendorf IQ180
Chad Ziemendorf IQ180
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Chad Ziemendorf
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