Weddings Are Overrated

Two years ago today, I made the best promise I will ever make. I stood under the warm May sun in Pasadena, surrounded by witnesses, and pledged to love and care for this woman no matter what.

Our wedding was a fantastic time. We laughed with friends and family. We got down on the dance floor. We ate phenomenal braised short ribs and drank coffee and ate ice cream and cake. And then we zoomed off into the night. It was an absolute party.

It pales in comparison to marriage. A wedding is one day of ALL THE EMOTIONS (!). A marriage is every day, getting to wake up next to this person who’s pretty awesome. A marriage is celebrating the emotional highs and dealing with the emotional lows. A marriage is finding out you’re not so awesome and you have issues and needing to ask for each other’s forgiveness. A marriage is a day-to-day journey of growing and learning to love actively and selflessly.

Weddings are great, but they’re overrated compared to marriage.

Also, if nothing else, my wife has learned to be a willing and patient portrait subject. She’s solid gold, that one.

Aimee, I adore you. You fill my heart with joy, you encourage me, and I am humbled by how you love me. Happy anniversary, darling.

“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”
— Tim Keller

What's Limiting You Today?

Why do we put ourselves in a box? Why do we limit ourselves to what it is we want to achieve, but tell ourselves we can’t because we aren’t properly equipped?

Any photographer (or insert any other vocation) knows this all too well.

If only I had that lens…

If only I was shooting on that camera instead…

If only, if only, if only…

At the beginning of the year, I gave myself a personal challenge to create more portraits, constantly, no matter what gear I had at hand. After all, the best camera really is the one you have with you.

Which leads me to this portrait of Mike, a case study in using what you have at hand. A fellow coffee aficionado and news junkie, we ran into each other one Saturday at my favorite local coffee spot, and I had to create a portrait of him in that light. My gear? My trusty iPhone 5, coupled with the fantastic Moment Tele lens, and, oh, the white side of a menu I was holding just out of frame to bounce a little light back onto Mike’s face. I shot it with my go-to app, VSCO Cam, in which I applied some mild post-processing.

This was one of the earliest images I shot with the Moment lens, which I received as a Christmas present. There are a lot of iPhone photography accessories on the market, but this lens is by far one of the best and worth every penny. With high-quality craftsmanship, optical-quality glass, and ease of use (it twist-locks onto a small adhesive plate you affix to the back of your phone), it’s a great way to step your game up when shooting photos with your phone.

Here’s the thing. The skill to create a strong portrait comes from being able to see a strong portrait, not because of your gear.

Our ability to achieve, to rise above, and to succeed? It’s helped by various outside influences and resources, to be sure. But do you have within you the fire and the drive to do something in spite of circumstances?

What’s limiting you today?

"I'm not going to believe that only a few people are permitted to be gatekeepers or creators or generous leaders. I have no intention of apologizing for believing in people, for insisting that we all use this moment and these assets to create some art and improve the world around us."

Portrait of a Lady

One of the things I love about the type of work I do is the people I meet. Recently, I had the opportunity to create a quick portrait of Noelia Rodriguez. She is a gifted, inspirational speaker whose background includes having been the press secretary for First Lady Laura Bush, deputy mayor for Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, and former director of the John F. Kennedy Jr Forum at Harvard University's Institute of Politics.

Shared Moments

In addition to a restful, enjoyable few days of Thanksgiving celebration in San Francisco with Aimee and family, I had the opportunity to capture a few images of her cousin and husband's family. Thanks for having us, Keith and Kristin! 

It's always the right time to schedule a family photoshoot.
Contact me at
You get one shot at life. Live it with vision.

Family Love

I've now had the opportunity to take family photos for Maria and Tom several times. It's always a pleasure to capture families at different stages of their life. I had a great time capturing images of them, their daughter and their dog, Oz, at Mentryville, a historic oil town on the edge of the valley.


It's always the right time to schedule a family photoshoot.
Contact me at
You get one shot at life. Live it with vision.

October Love

Frank and Heather's October wedding at the California Yacht Club was, how do I put this...awesome. So awesome I have way more images than the typical wedding. Which explains the length of the blogpost you're about to dive into...

(click any image for a pop-out image viewer)

DJ Matthew Rubino of Project Slate did an awesome job of pumping up the jamz.

Frank and Heather, it was an honor and an absolute pleasure to document this day in your life together!

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. 

In the time that's passed.

It's a little embarrassing how long of a gap there's been between postings here. But, in the past few months life has gotten pretty busy, between working for a great nonprofit organization, working for a marketing firm and falling head over heels in love with a great gal.

That said, here's one of my favorite portraits of late, of Bernie, a super-dedicated volunteer at the Senior Center where I work.

Probably a lot more posting come soon, with some exciting shoots on the horizon.

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.

New lens and neo-noir.

In addition to seeing some much-missed friends while in Southern California last week, an absolute highlight was getting to shoot with my friend Sarah, who has a knack for looking effortlessly in home in front of a camera. It was a rollicking good time of messing with lighting, gritty backgrounds and moody expressions (and putting my new 50mm to use).

This next photo? An absolutely happy accident. It's a little soft, but still...after an accident like this, I can pack up and go home.

Nerd note on this one: Backlit with a Canon 580, fill light provided by an iPhone 4.

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.