Armstead & Garibaldi Benefit Studio Experience. / by Luke Cheng

It was a hot summer evening at War on Wall Studios in Sacramento, Ca. I was invited to photograph a very special painting experience by local artist David Garibaldi. Tonight he would be performing his speed painting act in partnership with San Francisco 49ers player Arik Armstead to raise money for Arik's youth football camp. This was a very limited engagement and it was a privilege to be there and a part of the evening.

I had seen Garibali on television, but this was the first time I've been so close to him. It was really exciting to be right there next to his brushes and paints before his performance. Tonight he would be creating three pieces of art to be auctioned off immediately after the show. His theme for the night would be 'icons'. Time to get started!

David performs with and is energized by the music that is played as he paints. Having the crowd joining in on the fun enhances the entire show even more. I was wowed by David's movements as he was painting. I did my best to capture the paint flowing trough the air as it left his brushes. It was challenging to do as the venue was in low light; I had to maintain a high shutter speed to make sure the action wasn't burry. I'm glad the new Sony a9 was able to keep up with the action magnificently.

This was the first time Arik had seen Garibali, so I knew he was in for a real treat. He had a front row view of the show tonight and brought along a couple of his 49er teammates - Quinten Dial and DeForest Buckner - to see Garibaldi with him. Both players would also be in attendance at Arik's camp as special guests and coaches.

David's first painting was of iconic legend Muhammad Ali. It was done as a profile portrait with a stunning and bold red background. The piece was a great way to start off the trio of paintings that David would do. It would be hard to top someone like Ali, so I was curious as to what he would paint next. 

Garibali's next couple of paintings were of 49ers players... of course! The second painting was of San Francisco legend Jerry Rice. Rice is considered by many to be the greatest wide-receiver to every play in the NFL. He was a great subject, and a very appropriate one given those in at the studio, for Garibali's 'icons' theme. 

The third, and final, painting of the evening turned out to be of Arik! What a great surprise! I know Arik was honored to be the subject of this last piece of art. I would say that paining Arik is a premonition of iconic things to come. Arik could certainly be the next icon for the Niners. But even if not that, he is already cementing iconic status in the community as someone who has taken the fame and success he has and freely given back to the city he grew up in. That's an icon in my book!

The paintings at the auction following the studio event raised thousands of dollars for Arik's youth football camp. A huge thanks goes out to David Garibali, Arik, and his teammates & management for putting this all together.

This event was another opportunity to put my new Sony a9 to the test and it was a joy to use. 95% of the shots I took this evening were from the a9, the others were from the a7rii. After using the a9 for a few events now, I'm finding it harder and harder to go back and pick up my DSLRs! Let's see which pieces of gear I choose to cover my upcoming events. Should be interesting!