Winter Love

An Italian villa. Lots of flowers and vintage details. LOTS of Dr. Who-referencing details. A grey wedding dress. A bride with pink hair. You know, just some of the standout details of Ben and Beck's fantastic wedding yesterday. I've known these two since college, and it was a pleasure and honor to be able to document their day of exchanging vows, beginning a new chapter in their life together and celebrating with their family and friends. Not to mention, Via del Sol D'oro in Sierra Madre is one of the most gorgeous venues I've shot.

Settle in, this is gonna be a long post....

I love moments like this, when the bride's father sees her in her dress for the first time.

Seriously, how elegant and rockin' does she look?

That ridiculously long scarf? One of their purely awesome Dr. Who details.

Did I mention how awesome that dress was?

I loved seeing how in love with each other these two are.

This was such a sweet tender moment between Beck and Ruth, one of her bridesmaids.

There was no shortage of simply wonderful details at the reception, from the little favor bags, to the table settings and everything else. (And not a shabby chic mason jar anywhere in sight.)

Just try to tell me this is not the cutest wedding cake ever.

As first dances go, you really can't beat a room like this.

This one's a bit out of focus, but I can't help it. I love it.

These two know how to dance.

The danced. And then they danced more. And then dashed out in a shower of rose petals and cheers.

Mr. and Mrs. Ross, thank you, so much, for giving me the gift of documenting this beautiful day. 

A father's love

I had the last-minute pleasure of capturing images for the bat mitzvah of Rabbi B.'s daughter this past weekend on Mercer Island. Thankfully, there was no rain and mild enough temperatures so we could take some relaxed, natural light portraits outside. I love the warmth and emotion in this portrait of him and Chayale.

Separation clarity

So, I've been in the process of going through image after image, culling and narrowing down my portrait and wedding portfolios as I prepare to launch the long-overdue in the next few weeks. I won't lie. There have been moments, as I've started to go cross-eyed from staring at photo after photo after photo, that I've mused "It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if I just 'accidentally' lost all the photos on my hard drives and started from scratch, would it?" It can grow wearisome, cycling through past work, trying to decide what best represents you, while functioning as your own worst critic.
And then I stumbled across this image of my friend Megan, shot more than two years ago in a fire-blackened Southern California canyon. I somehow completely bypassed this image while editing back then, and last night saw it with new eyes. A horizontal crop, a few minor adjustments, and I sat at my desk feeling better about a lot of things.

I'm finding it sometimes takes that distance, that time away from things, to provide clarity and freshness to get back on track with more vigor than we had before, when perhaps we were muddling along attempting to keep up a flagging energy. I've been feeling that a lot over the last few months, reminded that sometimes we simply need to step back, take a deep breath (literally or figuratively) and take stock of things. And just maybe, that's all it takes to find our way. I know that sounds terribly reductive, and really has nothing to do with this photo, but it's the truth.
What do you need to step back from?

Looking back on all of this

I was prepared to wax eloquent about the past year, about its challenges, its highs and lows. About how for all the hard moments there have been moments of joy. About how it's been a stretching experience. About how I'm not quite there yet, but I'm closer.
But you know what? This is about the images. So sit back and engage with some of my favorite images from the past 12 months (which, you'll notice is weighted heavily toward portrait work with essentially no news work, as opposed to last year's retrospective).


(My good friend, old co-worker and roomie, and great web designer Adam, of whose beard-growing prowess I'm supremely jealous.)

(One of many colorful characters in Washington, D.C.'s 2011 St. Patrick's Day parade.)

(I couldn't have asked for a better backdrop than this one on the D.C. waterfront.)

(If the sun's out, I'll always look for a way to backlight. And it never fails to make me giddy.)

(Another portrait of Channapha, an amazing cook and CEO of Legacies of War.)

(This shoot was, outside of Facebook, the first time I'd met Crystal, but we had a super relaxed and fun time walking around Eastern Market in D.C. and creating images.)

(From a headshot session Los Angeles.)

(Sometimes the old-school Hollywood look you have in your mind's eye and what you do with the camera delightfully collide.)

(If had to actually produce a favorite photos list of reasonable length, this would be on the short list.)

(Joseph is a great friend, fine musician and all-around good dude to have in front of the camera when a happy accident like this happens.)

(Sometimes, the best place to shoot for a hair and makeup portfolio is a dingy, dimly-lit back alley.)

(Or, somewhere like that.)

(My friend and former co-worker, Fran, is a great photographer and also at ease in front of the camera.)

(Another happy accident, that occurred while I was finding the light. I found it.)

(In addition to having a camera-friendly face — are you paying attention casting directors? — Scott is an all-around good dude.)

(This was the first time I'd met Michelle, who had apparently not had the greatest experience with photographers in the past, but we had a relaxed blast shooting together.)

And, capping off this section, six of my favorite images I created this month with my friend Sarah, who's supremely photogenic and ridiculously comfortable in front of a camera.)


(Shooting Sheridan and Jade's outdoor wedding was one of the last things I shot before leaving California for Washington earlier this year. It was a pleasure.)

Two months later, I documented Mario and Rachel's beautiful and all-out celebratory Malibu wedding...

Four photos that don't fit in other categories

(Joseph makes an appearance again, busting out some spacey, rockin' tones with his band A Concrete Mess.)

(The agony and the ecstasy in downtown Seattle.)

These next two... Frankly, it's pretty challenging to take a bad photo of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. I mean, look at it.

The token "the iPhone is amazing" section

But in all seriousness, having an iPhone has breathed a bit of fresh air into my shooting this year. The absolute ease of always having with me a compact and powerful imaging tool cannot be understated, whether I'm using it as a visual notepad for future shoots, using it as a discreet street photography camera, or just being able to capture candid moments without carrying around a bulky SLR. (My most-used photo apps, in case you're wondering, are Hipstamatic, Instagram, and Camera+ in conjunction with a few editing apps.)

(Early morning reflections at the port of Edmonds, WA.)

(I probably waited a good 15 minutes for this shot at Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport.)

(Conversely, I nearly missed this shot at Newark Int'l. Airport.)

(A rainy moment in Dupont Circle, D.C.)

(Downtown Seattle, as seen from lower Queen Anne.)

(Taking in the awesome, powerful view of Mt. Saint Helens.)

(Another moment I nearly missed along the waterfront in Edmonds, WA, as this couple stopped moving just long enough for me to pull out my phone.)

(Downtown Seattle)

That last image is from somewhere along Interstate 5 in Northern California, taken as I left behind my home of the past decade-plus and headed for WA. As I head into a new year still marked by certain uncertainty, it's an apt image.
And with that, I bid you a happy new year. When you get right down to it, the new year is just a changing of the calendar, but it's still a good time to look back, reflect, and look ahead and make the most of each new day.

The day after.

It's the day after an all-day wedding shoot (see previous post). What do I do? Relax by the pool? WRONG! Gear up and shoot more awesome images. I had a great time working with some of my favorite people on Sunday night, capturing images for hair-and-makeup rock stars Lola and Lovy. Here's a few I picked out today.

As a side note, Michelle felt a bit apprehensive before the shoot. I don't know what kind of experiences she's had with photographers in the past, but by the end of the night I was thrilled to hear what's become my favorite compliment from clients (aside from "great photos!"), that she felt really relaxed.

This next image is another in a series of happy accidents in my journey as an artist. I simply asked Scott to stand there while I tested the lighting. What I wound up with was an image I love. (Note to self: consider a collection titled "Perfect Mistakes.")

And finally, an image of Sarah, one of my favorite people to photograph. She's got killer eyes (which, of course, you can't see in this image) and makes posing seem so effortless.

Wedding bliss

That image right there pretty much sums up the feeling ALL DAY for Rachel and Mario's Malibu wedding. Their deep love for each other was so evident, no one was stressed out and everyone was having a good time.
I had the pleasure of capturing their engagement photos earlier this year, and had a blast shooting the wedding. I've many images to sort through, but here's a (big) handful of initial favorites from Saturday.

Rachel and Mario elected not to see each other before the ceremony. From a photographer's standpoint, that's sometimes a little bit of a logistical headache given the frequently detailed nature of wedding-day timelines. That was nowhere near the case with this wedding. It all worked out perfectly.
These next four images are also a study in looking for backgrounds in unlikely places. The first two were shot at the edge of a dusty parking lot, the third was down at the base of Pepperdine University's iconic Theme Tower, and the last was shot in an empty classroom lit by nasty fluorescent lights.

I don't think I've ever photographed a wedding where either the flower girl or the ring bearer didn't cry.

The Pepperdine chapel is just a little bit amazing.

Late afternoon light? Check. Veil? Check. Couple very much in love? CHECK.

There was a lot of this at the reception...

This week...

No work makes Jack a dull boy. So...the other day I and and a photog friend (and former co-worker) took a few hours to work on portrait technique and, since a photographer should have portraits of themself, shot portraits for each other. I've got a bunch to work through, but here's two of Fran I like very much. I used to be all about shooting with natural light, but in the past year I've started introducing more controlled light into my portraits.

Seattle moments

The past month has been crazy. After nearly 11 years in Southern California, I packed my life into the car and headed north, to the Evergreen State. It's time for a new chapter, a new season. So I'm settling in and getting acquainted to life in the Pacific Northwest, moving into a place minutes from downtown Seattle.
While I've been doing a lot of iPhone shooting lately, a few days ago I pulled out the SLR as well, and wandered downtown with a fellow photographer. Seattle is a great city for street shooting.

Coming and going...

I've fallen in love with the iPhone as a photo tool. There's nothing like having a quality image capture device on you at all times, particularly one that is part of your phone and takes up no extra pocket space.
Lately, I'm shooting mostly black-and-white images with Hipstamatic.

Wedding day

A few months back, I had a great time capturing Sheridan and Jade's engagement pictures at Descanso Gardens and downtown Pasadena. Last weekend, I had the pleasure of capturing their wedding in the garden setting of Le Chene French restaurant.
It was a perfectly sunny, breezy spring afternoon, as they exchanged vows under sprawling oak branches and then mingled with guests until the sun went down.
There's lots of great images to process, but for now these are a few favorites.

The Sigma 50-150mm vignettes like crazy on the 5D, but it does have gorgeous, creamy bokeh.

I loved the images I captured of Jade, waiting for her groom to arrive.

I love the shallow depth of field on the 50mm 1.4.

I owe most of this to Joe McNally

It's no secret I'm a big fan of the work of veteran photographer Joe McNally. The man's a master of creative lighting and shoots some fantastic images. His use of small flash and rear-curtain shutter has had a huge impact on the way I shoot. During Sunday's fun session with Crystal (A good friend of an old co-worker of mine. Thanks, Facebook!), I had in mind a few shots on the D.C. Metro system. This one drew subconscious inspiration from Joe's great image of singer Fiona Apple on a crowded NYC subway car. Ok, I'll stop going on and on like a fanboy now.

2010 Retrospect — Part 2

Here we go. It was tough narrowing down some of my favorite images of the year. Every shoot brings something special. Everyone brings something good to the table. Here's a little bit of the goodness.

Wendy hired me to shoot some professional headshots, but this is hands down my favorite image from the session. It's candid, relaxed and smile-inducing.

I love the classic, vintage vibe of this image of Katie. Nice soft lighting; good expression. And despite the simple background and good lighting, it wasn't shot in a studio. It was shot in the decaying, weather-beaten shell of a house on the shores of the Salton Sea. The light was courtesy of a hole in the roof.

A more candid moment from a family session I did earlier this year. Proof that good portraits don't always require people look at the camera.

I met these two couples at a charity photoshoot in Malibu. I only had about 15 minutes with each of them, but it was enough time to create some warm, romantic images.

A chance moment after a baptism.

The next few images are from the wedding of my friends Teague and Jenni, last spring at an almond grove in Moorpark. It was a great day from start to finish. Simple, romantic and a fantastic celebration.

This pretty much sums up the reception.

I enlisted my friend Sarah to help me test out a new lens. It was also good practice in looking for easily missed good backdrops.

I had an absolutely fantastic engagement session with Jordan and Jess as we walked around Fort Tejon and the Tejon Ranch property north of Los Angeles. The hills are peppered with majestic old oak trees.

In September I traveled to Washington, D.C. to help my friend Christine shoot a wedding. There were lots of great moments to be captured, among them this chance moment between Emily and her flower girl, and Emily and Scott sharing a kiss in a veritable cathedral of greenery.

Sheridan, Jade and I had a fantastic time exploring Descanso Gardens near Pasadena and creating some awesome engagement images. We had a great time, and I'm looking forward to their vintage-themed wedding.

At yet another charity photoshoot, I met engaged couple Tim and Tara and had just a few moments to capture some images. This was one of my favorites.

I've been doing a lot of freelens shooting lately, and this is one of more favorable results, captured during a shoot with Perla in downtown Los Angeles. It didn't hurt to have plenty of light bouncing off mirrored office buildings.

I've shot engagements, weddings, families, newborns ... but this was the first time I was hired to photograph a group of roommates. We got plenty of great images, but I love the classic, "band photo" look of this one.

Blogged just a couple days ago, this is from a series of portraits I did for my stylist friend Josh. Using the mirror as a framing device, I wanted to capture and image that said "vision."

In addition to shooting photos of Josh, I also did some photos for the homepage of his new website. For this image of Chad, I went with more of a high-key lighting feel. A bit of a change from my normal style, but I like the results.

Capping off this blog of epic length are two images from a recent shoot I did for my friends' hair and makeup portfolios.

So that's it, 2010 in review. Thanks for reading! If nothing else, come back in 12 months for more greatness.

love that conquers

i can't think of a better time than thanksgiving to post some of my favorites from teague & jenni's engagement session. so much thankfulness is embodied in an engagement. she said yes. a man finds someone with whom he wants to spend the rest of his life, and she reciprocates. marry for love and nothing else. i am so happy for the two of you as you begin this new chapter in your lives, and i am thankful for the opportunity to capture the magic of your wedding day. a wedding is one day; a marriage is every day after. but the wedding day is a sweet point of demarcation.