Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

I want to thank all my family, friends and associates for all the gifts we have received this past year and wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!
While this past year has not been terribly easy for me with Missing my Dad & developing diabetes, I am grateful for what I have in my life and hope you are too.

The holiday season has been a busy one, with Sandy's class schedule and catching-up on production from weddings & portrait shoots. I'll catch you up on the highlights the best way I can, in photos.

Before Thanksgiving, we had a great shoot with Corey and his lady. These two are hot and made the shoot even hotter!!!

We also had a nice Thanksgiving meal at My Bro's new house in Long Beach. Here we are with our Uncle Odell...

We only went to two Christmas parties this year, three if we count Jackie's B-day party (sorry Jackie, I don't have those photos up yet)We went to one thrown by Kiss Wedding books (Kiss-mas), which was a generous & fun party on their part, but I didn't bring my camera. We also set-up our studio at Brent and Noriko's party and got stuff like this...

...We also shot Tony & Aracelli for their Christmas card...

Christmas is only now beginning and we have much more to do, but I just wanted to take the time to catch-up on this blog and wish everyone a happy holiday season.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"we were ashamed"

This is perhaps the most iconic image of the great depression, by a photographer I have always liked, Dorothea Lange. Thsi is the story as told by one of the children in the image.
This gives a great perspective on appreciating the things that you have in your life and not taking anything for granted.


MODESTO, California (CNN) -- The photograph became an icon of the Great Depression: a migrant mother with her children burying their faces in her shoulder. Katherine McIntosh was 4 years old when the photo was snapped. She said it brought shame -- and determination -- to her family.
Katherine McIntosh holds the photograph taken with her mother in 1936.

Katherine McIntosh holds the photograph taken with her mother in 1936.
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"I wanted to make sure I never lived like that again," says McIntosh, who turns 77 on Saturday. "We all worked hard and we all had good jobs and we all stayed with it. When we got a home, we stayed with it."

McIntosh is the girl to the left of her mother when you look at the photograph. The picture is best known as "Migrant Mother," a black-and-white photo taken in February or March 1936 by Dorothea Lange of Florence Owens Thompson, then 32, and her children.

Lange was traveling through Nipomo, California, taking photographs of migrant farm workers for the Resettlement Administration. At the time, Thompson had seven children who worked with her in the fields.

"She asked my mother if she could take her picture -- that ... her name would never be published, but it was to help the people in the plight that we were all in, the hard times," McIntosh says.

"So mother let her take the picture, because she thought it would help." Video Watch "we would go home and cry" »

The next morning, the photo was printed in a local paper, but by then the family had already moved on to another farm, McIntosh says.

"The picture came out in the paper to show the people what hard times was. People was starving in that camp. There was no food," she says. "We were ashamed of it. We didn't want no one to know who we were."

The photograph helped define the Great Depression, yet McIntosh says her mom didn't let it define her, although the picture "was always talked about in our family."

"It always stayed with her. She always wanted a better life, you know."

Her mother, she says, was a "very strong lady" who liked to have a good time and listen to music, especially the yodeler named Montana Slim. She laughs when she recalls her brothers bringing home a skinny greyhound pooch. "Mom, Montana Slim is outside," they said.
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Thompson rushed outside. The boys chuckled. They had named the dog after her favorite musician.

"She was the backbone of our family," McIntosh says of her mom. "We never had a lot, but she always made sure we had something. She didn't eat sometimes, but she made sure us children ate. That's one thing she did do."

Her memories of her youth are filled with about 50 percent good times, 50 percent hard times.

It was nearly impossible to get an education. Children worked the fields with their parents. As soon as they'd get settled at a school, it was time to pick up and move again.

Her mom would put newborns in cotton sacks and pull them along as she picked cotton. The older kids would stay in front, so mom could keep a close eye on them. "We would pick the cotton and pile it up in front of her, and she'd come along and pick it up and put it in her sack," McIntosh says.

They lived in tents or in a car. Local kids would tease them, telling them to clean up and bathe. "They'd tell you, 'Go home and take a bath.' You couldn't very well take a bath when you're out in a car [with] nowhere to go."

She adds, "We'd go home and cry."

McIntosh now cleans homes in the Modesto, California, area. She's proud of the living she's been able to make -- that she has a roof over her head and has been able to maintain a job all these years. She says her obsession to keep things clean started in her youth when her chore was to keep the family tent clean. There were two white sheets that she cleaned each day.

"Even today, when it comes to cleaning, I make sure things are clean. I can't stand dirty things," she says with a laugh.

With the nation sinking into tough economic times and analysts saying the current economic crisis is the worst since the Great Depression, McIntosh says if there's a lesson to be learned from her experience it is to save your money and don't overextend yourself. iReport: Are you worried about losing your job?

"People live from paycheck to paycheck, even people making good money," she says. "Do your best to make sure it doesn't happen again. Elect the people you think is going to do you good."

Her message for President-elect Barack Obama is simple: "Think of the middle-class people."

She says she'll never forget the lessons of her hard-working mother, who died at the age of 80 in 1983. Her gravestone says: "Migrant Mother: A Legend of the strength of American motherhood."

"She was very strict, but very loving and caring. She cared for us all," McIntosh says.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Jaclyn & Gino!!!!

I failed to mention in my previous post that I did not get out of the hospital until the morning of Jacklyn & Gino's wedding. Thankfully they had a late afternoon wedding, and what an eventful day it was!
Jacklyn & Gino have been together as long as I have known them and have been together longer than Sandy & I despite them being (NEARLY!) 1/2 our ages. They are an incredibly fun and ambitious couple and we had such a good time celebrating their wedding day as well as shooting it.
The original plan was for an outdoor wedding, but this got rained-out. The wedding and reception was at the Reef in Long Beach,who were able to relocate the wedding indoors. This turned-out to work quite well and the rest of the day went-off without a hitch.


If I ever had any doubts about my commitment to getting-in to professional wedding photography, they were wiped-out this past week in a very dramatic way..
Over the past few weeks (especially that last two) I had been feeling more and more tired and thirsty all the time. So much so that I was flaking on photographic commitments in favor of sleeping and zoning-out. I thought I was depressed or burnt-out on the idea of making this a business and escape from the 9-5 world. As last week progressed I simply could barely stay awake and focused. I thought I had some viral infection that I needed antibiotics for and would have to wait it out. I took Thursday off to simply sleep as I was so exhausted. I tried to see my Doc, but couldn't get an appointment until the following Monday (today). At 1st I thought I'd just wait it out, but I had a wedding to shoot on the following Saturday and it was becoming obvious that there was no way I could do this in my condition and that I had to see a doctor ASAP.

Long story short...I made Sandy take me to the hospital was quickly diagnosed ketoacidosis from diabetes (had no clue about this) and hospitalized for two nights. Had I waited any longer I might have ended-up in a diabetic coma or worse!

So now I'm dealing with the fact that I'll be packing insulin at least for the next several months...not pretty, but it could have been way worse. I can deal with this and hope to wean myself to at least a Type-2 state of diabetes (oral medication) at some later time and I am motivated to do this and eat waaay! healthier and exercise more regularly and more vigorously.

The staff at the hospital gave me excellent care and I am sooooooo grateful to have medical insurance. As I was feeling so much better by mid-Friday I begged the doctor to discharge me ASAP so that I could shoot Saturday's wedding. He assured me he would and followed-through, assuring me that I would be OK for this. I was very, very close to seeking a replacement photographer. I knew that a good shooter could have been found, but thank God I was able to make this myself. I asked a friend to act as an assistant whom I hoped would do a reasonable job with my technical direction, but he exceeded my expectations and allowed me time to sit and relax whenever I needed with (almost) full trust that he would get great candids for me. I concentrated on portraits before & after the ceremony as well as the ceremony and was free to shoot when & where I wished thanks to Sandy, and Chris!

The wedding went incredibly well despite a little rain and I am forever grateful to the couple, Jacklyn & Gino for choosing us. Being motivated to get better for this wedding may have saved my life.
See the next post about them.
Thank you all of my family & friends for the prayers & well-wishes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Photographer William Claxton dies at 80

William Claxton has always been an inspiration for me. He shot many of the most iconic images of my favorite jazz artists.

From the L.A. Times:

Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times
"I didn't want to stage my pictures," noted jazz photographer William Claxton once said. He died Saturday at age 80 of complications from congestive heart failure, according to his wife of 49 years, Peggy Moffitt Claxton.
William Claxton dies at 80; photographer helped make Chet Baker famous

"I didn't want to stage my pictures," noted jazz photographer William Claxton once said. He died Saturday at age 80 of complications from congestive heart failure, according to his wife of 49 years, Peggy Moffitt Claxton.
By Jon Thurber, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 13, 2008
William Claxton, the master photographer whose images of Chet Baker helped fuel the jazz trumpeter's stardom in the 1950s and whose fashion photographs of his wife modeling a topless swim suit were groundbreaking years later, has died. He was 80.

Claxton died from complications of congestive heart failure Saturday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his wife, actress and model Peggy Moffitt Claxton, told The Times.

* William Claxton's photographs helped define an era's pop culture
Photos: William Claxton's...

Claxton obituary: The obituary of William Claxton in Monday's California section said he was taking the bus downtown to the Orpheum Theatre at age 2; it should have said 12. The obituary also said the Tiffany Club was on 7th Street. It was on 8th Street. —

In a career spanning more than a half century, Claxton also became well known for his work with celebrities including Frank Sinatra and Steve McQueen, who became a close personal friend; but he gained his foremost public recognition for his photographs of jazz performers including Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Mel Torme, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Stan Getz. But it was his photographs of Baker that helped teach him the true meaning of the word photogenic.

"I was up all night developing when the face appeared in the developing tray," Claxton told the Irish Times in 2005. "A tough demeanor and a good physique but an angelic face with pale white skin and, the craziest thing, one tooth missing -- he'd been in a fight. I thought, my God, that's Chet Baker."

Claxton observed that over the years he had taken photographs of some ordinary-looking guys whose faces would just pop out on film. He said that's what Baker had.

His 1951 photograph of Baker started a relationship that continued for the next five or six years as he chronicled Baker's rise to fame as one of the most visible jazz performers of the decade.

Claxton called photography "jazz for the eyes" and tried to capture the often dynamic tension between the artist, the instrument and the music.

"For the photographer, the camera is like a jazz musician's ax. It's the tool that you would like to be able to ignore, but you have to have it to convey your thoughts and whatever you want to express through it," Claxton told jazz writer Don Heckman some years ago.

Almost as much as the recordings themselves, the photographs reach into the essence of making music.

"That's where jazz and photography have always come together for me," Claxton told Heckman. "They're alike in their improvisation and their spontaneousness. They happen at the same moment that you're hearing something and you're seeing something, and you record it and it's frozen forever."

Born in Pasadena on Oct. 12, 1927, Claxton grew up in an upper middle-class family in La Cañada Flintridge. His mother was a musician and his older brother played piano; Claxton said he tried the keyboard but had no patience for it. He started collecting records, especially jazz, at an early age. At 2 years old, he was taking the bus to downtown Los Angeles to hear jazz greats, including Ellington, at the Orpheum Theatre.

Years later, he would go to jazz clubs and shoot photographs of up-and-coming musicians just for fun and to listen to the music. An incident that he recounted in the introduction to his book "Jazz: William Claxton" speaks of a more innocent time between celebrities and photographers.

Claxton recalled taking his old 4-by-5 Speed Graphic to photograph the legendary saxophonist Parker at the Tiffany Club on 7th Street in downtown L.A. He hung out with Parker until the place closed and then took him and some of his young fans to his parents' home in La Cañada Flintridge, where he improvised a studio in his bedroom and posed Parker with his fans in a formal portrait. He said that he had never seen Bird, whose life was cut short by drug problems, look happier.

Claxton started at UCLA but gave up college when Richard Bock, who was starting Pacific Jazz Records, hired him as a photographer. He created a vast array of memorable album covers for the label.

Toward the end of the 1950s, he started moving into fashion work. He married Moffitt, who was the muse of fashion designer Rudi Gernreich. In the early 1960s, they created the photographs of the topless bathing suit designed by Gernreich with Moffitt as the model.

"That was a big family decision," Claxton told Heckman. "Whew. Was I going to let my wife show her breasts in public? We hassled about it for a long time. Finally, we decided to employ nepotism. Only I could photograph it, we would have control of the pictures and Peggy would never model the suit in public. And it worked out OK. The pictures were tasteful, I thought, Peggy looked great, and it was historically a breakthrough for women, that they could feel free enough to show the beauty of their breasts."

Claxton also directed the film "Basic-Black," which is viewed by many as the first fashion video and is now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

While taking assignments for Life magazine, he photographed Sinatra at a recording session at Capitol Records, Barbra Streisand in New York, and McQueen. All were notoriously tough assignments, stars distrustful of the media and reluctant to be photographed. But he gained their trust and developed a friendship with McQueen through their common love of sports cars, race cars and motorcycles.

His work is collected in an array of spectacular books, including "Jazz: William Claxton," "Young Chet," "Claxography," "Steve McQueen" and "Jazzlife."

Claxton is survived by his wife of 49 years; his son Christopher; sister Colleen Lewis of Eagle Rock; and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial gathering is being planned.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Jaclyn & Gino's E-session

Yesterday evening we did an E-session for Jaclyn & Gino for their November wedding.
Sandy has known Jaclyn since she was a baby and is very excited to be photographing her wedding (...and so am I) Jaclyn and Gino are a fun couple and know that their wedding will be a blast.
Here are a few from Last night...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Melanie & Kevin's wedding at Cafe Hidalgo

We recently shot an excellent wedding for our friends Melanie & Kevin at Cafe Hidalgo in Fullerton, CA.
You may remember these two from an earlier E-session.
Cafe Hidalgo is an excellent restaurant and wedding venue. The entire even was held in the courtyard, lending an old spanish atmosphere to this amazing day.
Congrats to you both.
A slideshow will be posted this week...stay tuned.

The groom seemed a little nervous before the ceremnony, even having a cigarette...

Then, he made an escape attempt, but was quickly subdued by his groomsmen.

I love this pic...

The groom finally wised-up and the cermoney went on smoothly.

They used an English theme to their table centerpieces.
I borrowed one of the props for the ring shot.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Radio Poppers & new pics

A few weeks back, I recieved my long-awaited Radio Popper flash kit.
I have been following Kevin King's posts on the OSP forums for at least a year now since he started promoting his then new product idea. What he has done is improve on Canon's great, but limited remote flash triggering system and convert the optical pulse signal into a radio signal. This stuff is much better explained on the Radio Popper web site, so I won't kill you with the details. The end result is I can now place my flashes anywhere I wish; behind walls, outside at sunset, anywhere! and shoot in TTL mode, meaning that lysdexic me doesn't have to worry about guide numbers and subject to distance rations and the like.
In a nutshell...these things kick ass! there are two things I don't like about them;
You'll have to start with a fresh battery before any wedding, or bring a screwdriver to change you battery due to the hokey housing that requires you to un-screw the cover to replace the flash. Also, you have to tape the receiving wire's "bead" in fromt of the flashes optical receiver, this is a must to place the bead here, but in my 1st wedding gig with these babies, I had to keep re-setting the placement to adjust for various light modifiers that I use. I found a cool solution to this problem, so my next gig should be easier.
That being said...I love these babies and cannot recommend them strongly enough.

I used them on two more recent shoots. One of which was for our friend's new baby (Amy & Jose-b) is our fave:

I also shot a portrait of a classmate for a project recently. I told him I wanted something urban, he delivered by showing me an abandoned restaurant in Mission Viejo that is cover in graffiti on the inside. I will defiantly use this place again.
Here are two faves so far:

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

[b]usine$$ [b]uilding

Some of you who know me know that I am a fan of many photographers in the wedding industry as well as others. One shooter who's openness in sharing his business secrets with others is truly amazing has been building an online community for photographers called the [b] school. This is created by the one & only Becker. You will recall him from some of my previous posts (I'm gonna make you look for them ;-)). Anyhow, He has been building-up hype for this project with videos, links and general miscellanea about the business for the past year that has been very beneficial for me in building confidence in our capabilities. I have gotten to the point where I am almost angry if he misses a day of posting. Well, the [b] School is going live next month (Oct. 1st)and I HIGHLY suggest that any photographer, new or experienced, to sign up and give it a try. Please follow the link below for more information.

On a slightly related note regarding business building, I will be updating my site and plan to have it launched by November 9th. Why this date? This date marks 1 year since my Dad passed away.
This past year has been very difficult for me and my family and I chose to back-off of our photography to grieve & help out with family duties, but from here on I am ready to take-on more and get this ball rolling.
My dad was always a business entrepreneur and would be incredibly excited to see Sandy & I following our dream with our photography business.
It is in his honor that I will do whatever it takes to make this business a success and I will launch on November 9th to celebrate the my Dad's life and bring some light to an otherwise gloomy day.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Brent & Noriko's wedding

This past Saturday, Sandy & had had the pleasure of photographing the wedding of an old friend of mine, Brent to his amazing new wife Noriko. For me it was like shooting a family members wedding as I have been close to his family for many years.
This was a wedding of firsts for us. It was our first time using our new Radio poppers (I will post a review in another post), It was also our first time truly using off-camera flash, and it was our first time creating a slide show for the reception. Despite the challenges, it all went off incredibly well and it was a beautiful wedding at The French Estate in old-town Orange.
Much more can be said about how great Brent & Noriko's wedding was, but for me, pictures speak better than words.
More images will be posted online over the coming week, so for those interested, please post a comment here or send me an E-mail and I will send the link when the images are up.
This is a long show, so be please patient if the upload is slow. For all of Brent & Noriko's friends & family, I promise this will be worth the wait.

Here are some of my faves so far....

Friday, August 8, 2008

Mel & Kev's E-Session

With 30-something days until Melanie and Kevin's wedding, I wanted to take the time to post the best of the E-session we shot for them a while back.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Jessica's Grad-Show

This slide show was created via The images are of our friend Jessica made for her graduation. Congratulations Jessica!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lego versions of famous photographs

If only I had thought to do this myself!
These images are so neat. Click on the image to see more.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Congrats to Suzette & Sean

It's a pleasant relief to be a guest at a wedding every now & then to enjoy the fruits of the couple's labors and enjoy the day without the pressures of being the photographer. Although we we have loved to cover Suzette & Sean's wedding this past weekend as they are a handsome couple and had a perfectly planned wedding, it was nice to observe another photographer in action. The photography was left in the very capable hands of Katie Moos Photography and she did an outstanding job.
Trying hard to relax and NOT impose or get in her way, we kept to ourselves and our immediate friends and whatever else we simply could not let go.
So, from a guest's point of view, here's what we got:

The first dance must have been planned to happen at the peak of the golden hour.

The Ross Family are good friends of ours and, well...very interesting people...

This is the lovely couple who's wedding you will see in November:

And here they are in a more natural state...

See our images & VR work at the House of Brew's web site

The new web site is up for the House of Brews in Huntington Harbor.
Their new site and menus feature the photographs made by me as well as new VR imagery created by Stafford and I.
Please take the time to visit the site and make a trip over there for great food & beers.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sandavi Photographers featured on Canvas-on-demand's web site...

In a previous post, I raved about a promotional offer from Canvas on Demand and the excellent service they gave me. The rave was well received as they have featured my comments and our image on their site.

See the post here and please leave a comment. ;-)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Photo (s) of the week - Jessica

Last week we shot some new pics of Jessica for her graduation announcement and for our own selfish reasons as well because she is sooo photogenic, fun, and easy to work with.
I took the opportunity to work with the new beauty dish that I made courtesy of the Strobist.

As with my own shoot with Corey, there are way too many good images to work with. There may be better images yet, but here are two that I am liking so far...