Snow White and the Baby Bump

I’m on a road trip with my family.
We’re in a remote area.
Castle Lake.
Shasta.
Suddenly we’re not alone.
Poof, a young woman appears.
She is sprung from the forehead of Walt Disney himself.
Snow White is pregnant.
Carefully she steps into the lake.
She arranges her dress like a blue lily pad on the surface of the water.
Satisfied, Snow White says, I’m ready.
Another young woman appears at the water’s edge.
Her bestie.
She has a mobile phone.
Bestie says, Smile.
Snow White goes timeless.
Snap goes the maternity picture.
They’re done.
But I’m not.
I obtrude, politely.
Can I photograph you, I ask.
Awkward pause.
Snow White is sizing me up, I suppose.
Creepy middle-aged man.
Middle of nowhere.
Wait, a wife.
Oh, and two kids.
I imagine all this in 1/1,000 of a second.
Snow White says, Yes.
Thankfully.
Snap, snap, snap go the maternity pictures.
Which are now safely gifted to Snow White and her magical kingdom.

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See the Invisible

Portrait photography Bay Area San Jose flash light study low key

That’s Jesigga,
Our next-door neighbor,
An Icelandic gal born in California.
It’s been a pleasure watching her grow up.
My wife Terrell and I refer to her as our other daughter.
We’re the beneficiaries of that compliment, for sure.
Anyhow, how lucky am I that Jesigga will often model at a moment’s notice.
In the image above, I was practicing with a new off-camera flash.
We were in a garage with too much ambient light.
So I dropped my ISO to 100 and stopped down to f/22 at 1/200 of a second to produce a perfectly black background.
Then I experimented with flash power to study different effects.
This image is a throw-away, an outtake, nothing more.
But there’s one thing I like about the photo a lot—
The sharp profile line that travels down Jesigga’s forehead,
Across her nose and lips and round her chin.
That line is very interesting,
An ultra-stark edge,
An abrupt demarcation between light and dark,
Between something and nothing.
I’m fascinated by that Line, always.
But there’s something else that interests me.
My outtake came to the attention of a young Bay Area artist.
His name is August Vu.
He tinkers with many mediums,
Including clay, crayons, oils, and even recyclables.
In sleepless hours, he makes art to clear his mind and think.
You won’t find him on social media.
He avoids it.
His interests are elsewhere.
But I’m delighted to share his interpretation of my photo here.

Portrait photography Bay Area San Jose flash light study low key

His rendering makes up for all the faults of the original picture.
He surfaces textures and details that were originally lost in shadows—
In her cheek, in her jaw, and especially in her hair.
Isn’t that what an artist is supposed to do,
To make invisible things, visible?
Well, I think so.
And our young Bay Area artist does just that,
All while preserving The Line.
Well done, sir!
A tip of the hat to you.

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Stand Out

brand corporate photography business portraits group staff event lifestyle office space product

Clicks.
Every brand wants them.
But brands are only as successful getting them as their visual assets allow.
Strong visual content improves reach, awareness, and engagement in a big way.
And brand photography is the queen of visual content.
From portraits, groups, and events, to office spaces and products—
Brand photography helps you communicate how you’re different and why you matter.
If you’d like to learn more about my rates, I encourage you to contact me.

SAY HELLO

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Godmother

Family photography Bay Area San Jose Pacific Grove ocean beach portrait

Arm in arm, they strolled the beach.
They dug their toes into the sand.
They laughed, they hugged.
They gazed out to sea.
They were radiant.
Beautiful.
Thinking it to myself wasn’t enough.
Holy smokes, you two look fantastic, I said.
Smiling, the Godmother touched her blue headdress.
Yes, we do, she said.
It’s a party.
We’re celebrating.
My goddaughter’s son turns one today.
Our family is beat, but we are not.
So we’re here, and they’re not.
The Godmother opened her arms to embrace the sea.
Congratulations, I said, and turned to leave.
But she glanced at me and my camera around my neck,
And I understood her meaning right away.
Yes, she said without a word.
Photograph us.
Snap away.
It’s OK.
And when the Godmother speaks—
Telepathically or otherwise—
You do as you’re asked.

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All The Light There Is To See

Last Thursday, I was scouting light for a family shoot.
I parked at the edge of Alum Rock.
Then I started walking.
And walking.
It was hot and dusty.
And my walk turned into a hike.
After two miles, I was sweating as though on a long run.
Rapid-fire, a non-verbal thought came to me.
It felt something like this…
Yes, was the thought.
Yes, I’m changing careers
Yes, there’s uncertainty
Yes, there’s self-doubt
But this is my new office
My new workplace
My new commute
After the thought flashed through me,
I pressed on, giddy as a 50-year old kid can be.

I’m running a family promotion this summer, so let’s shoot.

Let’s Shoot, She Said

Can you take my photo, Alex asked.
She needed a new profile pic for work and LinkedIn.
Of course, I said.
So we met in Campbell near the Ainsley House.
Typically, the first five to 10 minutes is a warm up period.
I’m reading the light,
Tinkering with exposure,
And establishing rapport and trust.
The client is often wrestling with discomfort
And the self-consciousness of being observed by a Cyclops.
It can take some time to get comfortable,
In both directions, in front of and behind the camera.
Results in the beginning are usually competent and satisfactory, if a bit forced.

Portrait photography candid profile picture business woman outdoors

But after warm up, interesting things can happen.
Interesting good things.
In the case of our photo shoot, Alex and I started talking about life,
About college, about baking, about scuba diving—
And of course about work,
Where integrity and self-assurance are key.

Portrait photography business executive head shot woman outdoors

Then something unexpected happened.
Unplanned and unbidden,
Our conversation turned into a fun, creative jam session.
We played with foregrounding and framing.

Portrait photography candid profile picture social personal flowers outdoors

We captured candid profile pics for use on social media.

Portrait photography candid profile picture social personal flowers outdoors

And we made B&W portrait art.
Catch light! Catch light! Just look at Alex’s eyes.
This image is proof that life without specular highlights is drab.

Portrait photography outdoor black white fine art headshot outdoors

A business portrait photo shoot
That morphs into a creative session for social media photos,
Which then evolves into B&W fine art photography is pretty damn cool.
And I’m very grateful it happened.
Thank you, Alex!

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Going, Going Gone

Zoie, 2018.
I’ve known her since she was two-years old.
I won’t do the math, I refuse.
Time has moved too fast.
She’s not even my daughter,
And still I grieve a bit as she launches into the world—
But launch she must,
And that’s exactly what she’s ready to do.
As a high school student,
Zoie’s mind was a sheet of paper ready for learning.

Portrait photography bay area high school graduate eyes closed

As a graduate and former class president bound for ASU, she’s woke.

Portrait photography bay area high school graduate eyes open

In addition to magnetic eyes, Zoie has an amazingly infectious smile.
It’s impossible not to smile back. Just try.

See, you can’t do it.
That’s the best kind of emotional contagion.
Her mom is a strong, passionate woman.
And she’s ready to release her daughter into the wild—almost.

high school graduate portrait with mom

And whether her parents are ready or not,
This kid is going to soar.

Family portrait photography high school graduate

Just look at her expression.
Bright future ahead!

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