Musicians & The Mosaic: Doug Zambon of The Vansaders

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Doug Zambon, lead singer, The Vansaders

Ok, so my Musicians & The Mosaic project slowed considerably in July. While I was hopeful at the end of this post, it’s proved to be a tougher row to hoe.

Primarily, because of scheduling. While I’m getting interest in artists wanting to be part of this project, it’s often difficult to find the time to meet up that works for both of us. Their life and jobs, my life and jobs. Wouldn’t be that bad of a thing, but I was planning for this only to be a summer project – something that I do between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

And also, in small part, there’s been some non-responses by some of the musicians that I’ve reached out to. They don’t say no…they just never get back to me. I get that. They don’t know me, no biggie for them to not do this.

Frankly, no biggie for them TO do this, either. That’s why I really do appreciate the folks that have said yes so far. Like Doug Zambon, lead singer and leader of The Vansaders.

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The Vansaders are an Asbury Park-based punk band (I’ve heard them called folk-punk – what the heck is that). To me, they remind me of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones (without the horns), The Bouncing Souls with some Green Day thrown in.

I first heard them at the A Set For Vets event back in January and really dug their sound. When I started this project, I reached out to them on Twitter (or Instagram, not sure which), and they agreed. Well, someone did. When I’m dealing in social media, I’m never really sure who’s answering me…is it the lead singer? The drummer? Someone’s significant other who runs their social feed for them?

In this case, it became clear at one point that I was talking to Doug himself, and it was his schedule we’d have to work around.

His dream is rock ‘n roll. His reality is a number of jobs to pay the bills so his schedule is scary. I asked him about this during our shoot.

“You said you had to work till 5. What’s your day job?”

“A few,” Doug said. “Today it was babysitting.”

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I’m jumping forward a little. Ok, so, without a locked-in time set, I headed down to Asbury Park at 4 p.m. this past Friday. It’s was a nice summer day, the sun ducking in and out of the clouds though. I wanted to be down there and set up so that when Doug said “Ok, I can come over…now” I’d be ready.

I lucked out again and got a parking spot in front of the Empress Hotel so I didn’t have to lug my gear to far. It’s a pretty minimalist set up, again no lights, but I did want to have a black background ready to go for some other portraits.

At that time on a Friday in the summer, Asbury Park was starting to get busy. And The Revivalists were playing the Stone Pony that evening, just a block away. People were starting to head into the venue to listen to the opening bands. As I was setting up, more than one person asked me if I were shooting The Revivalists. But no.

After securing my parking spot, it was about 4:45 and I wanted to be ready. I pulled out my tripod and an apple box, and my trusty assistant to help me dial in my f stop and ISO.

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After just a few minutes, I was ready to go with the mosaic portrait. I had some time, then, to scout around the area a bit more to see if I had other portrait options with Doug. I approach this like a commissioned job: Get the image I’m required to get first…then get stuff for my portfolio.

I started to get texts from Doug telling me when he’s arrive….and that he forgot his guitar…and then when he’ll NOW arrive.

I was all ready to go for him whenever he’d arrive. I was just standing around, continuing to try out some test shots.



(I know. The wall always looks different. It depends on if I’ve bumping any up, like exposure, saturation, blacks, etc. in post. I’m OK with that.)

Just after 6, I saw Doug walking down Ocean Ave, guitar case in hand. Now, he and I had never except on email and text. I knew he was up for this, but also probably a little stressed: Just got off his job, and, more importantly, earlier in the day, he and The Vansaders dropped their new EP, No Matter What. Not only that, but he had a gig later that night at Bond Street as an EP release party. The dude had a lot going on!

But after some initial pleasantries, which included me showing him 5×7 prints I had of the other mosaic portraits I had done to give him an idea of what I was looking for, we got right to work. I told him I’m only keep him for 30 minutes…or less.

I got the shot I wanted pretty early on (it’s the one that leads off this post), then I moved on to some other looks and styles.

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In between we chatted. I asked him if anyone else told him he looked like Jason Bateman. To me, he does. He said “Ah, no, never got that one before.” Then we talked about Silver Spoons (a show he had no idea about – Doug’s about 28, so I’m really showing my age) and Ozark, a show he DID know know about.

As we were shooting, I told him how much I liked the vocals he did for Don’t Take Me For Granted, a cover of a Social Distortion song, and since I was going to see SocialD on Saturday, I asked him sing me a bit of it while we shot. Earlier in the week, I had purchased a Vansaders t-shirt from their Bandcamp site as proceeds were going to a worthy caused. The Vansaders opened for SocialD at the Stone Pony once, I promised Doug I’d wear the T to the show on Saturday night. I did.

I knew time was running short, so I quickly pulled out the black background I had clamped up and we did some quick headshots. After seeing this one, though, I think Doug looks more like a young Jon Bon Jovi than Bateman. Maybe.

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Shot this with the Fuji X100T. Love the f2 on that. I also shot some film of Doug with a Nikon L35 AF I have in my bag. Of course, since it’s film, it’ll be a while till I see it.

My first shot with Doug was at about 6:35 p.m. and by 6:55 p.m., we were done. I got my portraits in, and hopefully Doug had a good time. Had to wrap with my usual group portrait.

Much thanks to Doug for giving me the time. Please check out The Vansaders on Bandcamp, Facebook, Spotify, and YouTube and pick up some of their music!


So, that’s three Mosiac portraits in the books. I was hoping to do 10 this summer. Still a long ways to go…let’s keep our fingers crossed.

To see the full set of Doug’s portraits , click here.

© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2017

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5 thoughts on “Musicians & The Mosaic: Doug Zambon of The Vansaders

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