When evening news broadcasts lead with stories such as drive-by shootings, home invasion robberies and kidnappings, Al Corbi and his wife and business partner Lana usually see a spike in their website traffic. Al and Lana research, design and install Strategically Armored & Fortified Environments (SAFE).
Although most SAFE houses are kept under tight wraps, Al and Lana recently put some of their high technology on display for Forbes magazine at their home in Hollywood Hills, and Los Angeles-based industrial photographer Tim Rue was hired to photograph it.
The assignment was to capture a feature portrait and, of course, showcase a few main security features of the house. As one would expect in Los Angeles, Tim said just getting to the location was half the battle:
Traffic this day was at its worst and then complicated by an address that is NOT on Mapquest or correct any phone GPS. After numerous wrong turns, stomach-dropping switchbacks and hairpins, my assistant Austin and I arrived at the fortress gates. The house— which looks more like a castle— has six floors, three above ground and three below. After introductions and a house tour I decide to tackle the portrait first. Since I don’t get the chance to photograph a couple up on their heliport too often, I made that first priority. The shot looks good and the view is the most commanding I’ve ever seen above L.A.
Although Tim got a commanding shot from the heliport along with a beautiful view, he made sure to get one with the house in the background as well, which ended up being on the first page of the article.
After shooting the portrait, Tim sat down with Al and Lana to discuss all of the security features within the house and plan out the ones with the most photogenic promise. These included facial recognition cameras, 8-inch thick ballistic-proof walls, vault-like doors and disorientating fog:
All of these were pretty straightforward to shoot but the fog certainly was the biggest challenge as Al warned me that we’d only get one shot at it. He showed me where some of the tiny nozzles were on the ceiling but I wasn’t really prepared for how fast it shot out. Thankfully I decided that two cameras – one on strobe and one available light would give me the best chance. The available light camera – due to the motor drive – got the shot.
At the end of the day, Tim enjoyed the shoot, got the shots he wanted and gained valuable insight into some futuristic technology.