Monday, October 28, 2013


What does this mean?

Does any of it matter?

What am I doing with my life?

These are questions that I'm sure most people have asked themselves at one point or another. It always comes at different times, but ever since I started down this road I have found myself asking more of these questions.

Why do I do this?
Sometimes I just feel uninspired. Sometimes I hate the photos I take. I ask myself questions like "Are these any good?" "What is good anyway?" I look at pictures I've taken in the past and I think "This is crap" or "This is uninspired..."

The question that's at the head of my thoughts... that I think of after almost every photo is "What am I saying with this?"

Photos, after all, are meant to be shared. No one who does this is content creating image after image only to keep them in some super secret hidden library. No one chooses this path in hopes that no one will ever see their work. So what I find myself wondering is what exactly it is i'm trying to say with my photos. With the usual work I do (weddings, events, et all) they aren't exactly complicated messages.

"She's happy."
"He's nervous."
"These people are having fun."
"This father is proud."
And so on and so forth.

Where am I?

Are they just moments in time? Places I've been? People I know?  Is it a memory? Are they hopes?



Are they life?

I'm not one to complain, and I shouldn't either. I'm very fortunate that I get to subsist by doing something that I love. Sometimes though I feel like that love gets lost. I feel like I get distracted. There's this shiny veneer coating that says what I do is glamorous...and sometimes it's really not. I get content keeping my bills paid. I'm comfortable being able to afford certain luxuries for myself, for my dog, and for my girlfriend.

And yet...sometimes I'll look at my photos and think "These are empty, hollow, meaningless."

Where am I going?

Don't get me wrong. I don't have some grandiose view of what I do. I won't cure cancer with photography. That's a job for someone that...well for someone that's researching cancer cures. There may never be any great books or collections made from my work. It won't start a revolution. What I'm doing will probably not have any major impact on the world. In spite of everything I see, no, everything that I know is wrong with the world... I can't fix it with photography. I think about that, and it's depressing.

But you know what?

I look over my body of work so far and I do see something. I see a perspective. Is it unique? That I can't say for sure. Is it good? I'll leave that up to others to decide/worry about.

What I do know for sure about it is this: It is me.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Capturing a Duet.

The Warriors' Duet

 This shoot turned out exactly as I imagined it would. Sometimes you'll go into a shoot with something specific in mind and end up discovering something completely different. It's good to be open to that sort of process because rigidity is bad for creatives.

It's best to be fluid to get where you need to be.

This time however, I knew how I wanted this to look and ,with a little bit of direction, I was able to get it in less time than any of us had planned for.  When my dear friend Katie asked if I had time to come grab a couple of shots at the rehearsal for a play my friends’ company was producing for the San Diego Fringe Festival I knew that I didn't want them to look like just plain shots of a rehearsal space. How to go about that was a bit of a mystery initially... I don’t like going into shoots blind so I read the press release for the piece, and a single word stuck with me. “Enchanting” is how they described a relationship the story showcases . I knew that the photos had to reflect that


So I chose a single overhead light-source from a giant diffuser as my tool and went to work. I watched the piece once to get an idea of where the actors would be and to keep an eye out for any movements or moments that would be particularly striking in this light. After that I set up my light-source and took some snaps of a second run-through. The images were good...but not great. They were missing a certain punch.  So I asked the actors if they could play the whole thing tighter and just get directly under the light as much as possible while still being true to the movement of the piece. The resulting images, even just looking on the back of the camera, were exactly as I imagined them.

I didn't want the viewer to be distracted by the objects in the background, so I really needed the light to make these wonderful actors jump right out of the image. It's always a pleasure to work with people who know how to take direction...which is why i'll never turn down a shoot with actual actors involved :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ain't Nobody Got Time For That

I'm fighting what I like to call "work comfort." It's that point you reach where you job is enough to provide you with essentials: food, roof, entertainment... but the amount of time I spend there cuts into energy usually reserved for heading out into the world to do what I love to do. Make photos. The past week has been even heavier. As I type this I'm getting ready to go in for my 7th day of work in a row. There are open hours in the day, sure, but I've been feeling pretty strapped for free time lately.

Ok so maybe I have some spare time...

Thankfully, I have a very understanding girlfriend. The lady is happy to take a bit of our time together and use it to satisfy my need for little photo adventures. Just the other night we took a quick detour into downtown San Diego so I could get a shot I had been thinking about for the better part of a week.

Worth it.

I let my last full time job completely sap my energy for photography. It may have been because I felt dirty for shilling crappy souvenir prints to people who didn't really want/need them. It may have been the commute when the job was far away. It may have been the added responsibility of being management. In any event I let it pretty much kill my creativity.

I won't let that happen again.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Content of your Character

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in 

a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their 

skin but by the content of their character." - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today is the day we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It's still relatively early in the morning, but I've already seen numerous posts linking to his most famous speech. It is important to note that we have come a long way since the day that speech was given...but we are still not living Dr. King's dream.

Yep...sorry kid.

We still live in a world where a brown person regaining power draws this kind of reaction. Whether or not you like the president is one thing. That's your prerogative  Politically speaking there will always be people on the other side. But to resort to this? En masse even? In such an(a) (mostly) anonymous fashion is both cowardly and indicative of just how little the minds of the masses have changed in the 50 some odd years since Dr King's day. I'm not sure what, if anything, can be done for people to realize that there is much much more to a person than their ethnic background. That their upbringing,  their experience and their education all play into the sort of person they are. 

Fortunately for me I don't have to see a lot of this in my daily life. I live in a place where the majority of people I interact with don't seem to give two shits about whether you're black, white, mexican, french, hungarian, gay, straight, lesbian, transgender or a monk. Every now and then I'll encounter an elderly person that is clearly a product of their era... but even most of them that I see have worked to alter their point of view.

It also appears that a larger portion of the next generation is being taught that our differences don't matter. This bodes well for not just the brown folk, but for women and for the gays too.

Eventually they won't have to do this

It's comforting to see things moving forward even if they're always coupled with a few steps back. Here's hoping that next year January 21st  is an even better, more equal world for us all.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What I've Learned

....Not how to hit a curve ball, not literally anyway.

This one is a lot less photoey (photo eee? photoish?) than...well than all my other posts. When it comes to photography I've got more than just a few things to talk about. On the other hand I kind of feel like talking about myself today. The great thing about me (stay with me here) is that when I'm 84 years old I'll be able to look back on my 20's and say, "I was such an idiot, but at least i grew out of it." While i'm saying that, I'll be bopping my head to some 90's alternative... waxing poetic about how awesome it was when hoverboards came out in 2015.

In my early 20's I had some pretty serious self confidence issues. 

I didn't always kick this much ass while doing the Carlton.

Why? Hell if I know. I've always had a lot of friends, and at that point I hadn't been without a girlfriend for more than a few months at a time. I suppose at some point in everyone's life self doubt manages to creep in. With me though it was more like being hit by a bus. 

I think a lot of it had to do with still feeling more than just a little bit lost.

Not the awesome road trip kind of lost either...

I did a great job of pretending to be fine (something that I still hate to say I'm good at) so I doubt anyone noticed. I was listless. I had a job that I didn't loathe (though that would change rapidly) and a girl that I loved (again, that would also change) so I didn't think I had any legitimate reason to complain.

Then I (cliche I know) discovered myself.
Somewhere around the time this was taken actually.

I think photography had a lot to do with it. Something about taking photos and sharing them with people felt...cathartic. It's like saying "This is me. This is how I see it." without hiding anything. Sharing little pieces of your world with others, or something like that. In any event, it fostered a lot of growth in how I interacted with people and the world around me. It also grabbed my attention like nothing else had before. It gave me the confidence I needed to take myself where I wanted to go.
It was the first time I knew what I wanted to do with my life and I was 24.

When I meet people who are on their way out of college that express worry over their future I tell them this. That it wasn't even until I was well out of college (over a year) that I really had any interest in a particular path. It was some time after that where I even entertained the thought that it would actually work...and even more time after that before I started to pursue it relentlessly. And now here I am, a 30 year old who knows without any shadow of a doubt my place in the world. I'm meant to explore it, to explore people, to share what I see with everyone.

Must. Go. Places

I've got a good job. I've got the girl. I've got a passion that drives me. Life is pretty damn good.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Not Without My Softbox

Traveling is easily one of the best things a photographer can do to grow. Whether you like to shoot people, places, animals, food, beer or cacti, odds are that going somewhere out of your comfort zone will give you a chance to explore new perspectives.

Not in my backyard

Sadly, and I think i'm not alone here, it feels like I never really get to travel as much as I should. I'm making a concerted effort to change that. Especially now that I have someone that I'm actively excited about traveling with

Recently I went to PA in the wake of Hurricane (Superstorm?) Sandy to be a part of a friend's wedding. Sadly, it didn't afford a ton of photographic opportunity. I was on someone else's timetable. On top of that it looked like the winds had blown away any chance of their being beautiful fall colors on the trees anyway. Thankfully, some time after the New Year the lady and I will do some travelling. I look forward to spending time with her away from here... and the photo possibilities are almost as exciting!

I'd like to see what these look like on the east coast :)

In the meantime, check out the company I work for's blog to keep up with all the weddingy eventy type stuff I don't post here :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Wowzers... Looks like I wrote this and forgot to publish it. Color me absent minded. Since then I have taken one large step in the right direction and purchased Lightroom 4! It is an absolute godsend. I've never been one to be terribly organized and it has helped a lot.

Saucy interface! 

In any event, here's the rest of the entry as it was meant to be...

I discovered recently that I had a metric ton of rewards points from my bank from about 10 years of steady credit card use. I had been looking to streamline my work flow with shiny new software and gadgetry to take image making to the next level, but I just didn't have the money to start doing that.

Enter $250 Best Buy gift card! With this I got myself a nice new monitor. Previously I had been working on a 7 year old dell display, and the colors on the back of my camera (hell the colors on my phone) look better than they do on that monitor. In post processing lately (since my laptop screen went kaputska) I've just been sort guessing when it comes to correct white balance and color.

It was also way past time to get myself a new wireless mouse and keyboard. I am so happy with how this technology has improved over the years. I used to have this giant charging station/receiver thingy that had to plug into the computer and to the wall in order to signal the devices and recharge the mouse. Now? It's a tiny receiver that's smaller than a thumb drive that plugs right into the USB port.

With the leftovers I snagged a wi-fi router so that I can de-cordify my life a bit, and make it easier for a certain someone to use her laptop to write about our food adventures among other things :)

(One more edit, the lady has since bought herself a shiny new macbook pro!)

Hopefully sometime soon I'll get my hands on some extra cash (Gah! bills!) and be able to finish my workstation. Long term I'd like to be running a workflow through Lightroom 3 and CS 5 (expensive, even on e-bay) on a tower that I've built myself. If you know what you're doing, or aren't afraid to learn, building your own computer is absolutely the way to go.