Saturday, September 12, 2009

Chasing Mickey

OK folks, so I know it's been quite a while since our last post. All will be explained later but, long story short, were on a photographic hiatus due to the baby, jobs, and a potential move....more on that at another time. ;-)

...So we went to Disneyland today on a specific mission to get a maternity picture of Sandy with Mickey Mouse. This is all in a bigger scheme to get photos of the baby with Mickey as she grows. So we get to Main street and wait mickey out at a location that we know he will be at, we just didn't know when. Amazingly, he came out within 10 minutes and we were 3rd in line to meet him. Sandy set's up the pose we mickey and I was about to shoot when who steps in but Donald Duck. Normally this would be totally awesome to get the 2 biggest Disney characters with her, but that dam* duck ruined our plans! Still pleased with the photo and amazed to see Donald on Main street for only the 2nd time in 5 years.

We worked on plan B, to find him at his house in Toon Town. Long story short, those pictures just plain sucked. We then went on with another mission to get a Captain Jack pirate hat for tomorrow's pirate themed baby shower (?) and on our way we ran in to our favorite punk rock family. Cristy and John are friends from a great bygone era of mine and it is always great to see them and catch up.

On our way back up Main street we lucked right into meeting Mickey exactly where we left him. This time without Donald. Back in line we went and we we got the planned photo! 2.5 hours later and it happens to be the same actor in the costume because he remembered us. So now we have what is probably Sandy's last planned maternity shot and baby Zowie's first picture with Mickey.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Sandy & I had been laying low for the last two weeks in a long, agonizing wait. A wait that tested our faith in ways that we have never been tested before.
Let me start by saying that we are a little old to be having a baby. It is known that older women tend to have more babies with birth defects, particularly with Downs Syndrome. So, at Sandy's age, it was suggested that she undergo testing and so we did. An initial blood test called a quad-screen showed an increased likelihood for this condition and so an advanced ultrasound was ordered. The baby showed some markers of the syndrome. On their own, these markers mean next to nothing, but combined with the other factors (age and quad results) did not look good for us. An amniocenteses was ordered and we were counseled with the question as to what we would do should the worse happen ( I will end speculation here and say that we would indeed have kept the baby). The results of an amnio can take up to three weeks, and so all we could do was that which I hate more than anything....Wait.
...and so wait we did. This was incredibly hard on Sandy but hard for me as well. I knew by the way my Glucose levels stayed high for no reason that I was stressed, but Sandy took it much harder. All the joy of having a baby were put aside while she worried about the outcome. The look on her face and in her eyes just broke my heart. She could hardly manage getting anything done as this was all she could think about. She even nearly decided to postpone finishing her last two college classes ever and forgo graduating. We both relied on faith more than ever before and walked to Church every evening to pray. We also received prayer from many friends and family members for which we are very grateful. Thankfully, Sandy was coaxed into sticking with her classes and finishing up by her friends, and so she did!
So finally, 11 days after the test, a voice message was left from her doctor to call her back. Let's just say it took Sandy some leg work to actually confirm the news, but at long last, the tests proved negative and showed that all is normal with our baby!!! and for those who don't already know, it's a girl!
We are still not completely out of the woods as there is one more issue to clear up, but at worst, it will be a treatable condition. More on that at a later date.
So, finally! Sandy and I are back to our normal selves and able to enjoy this pregnancy and move on with our lives and plans. For starters, we rushed to CSUF yesterday morning for Sandy to get her last minute cap & gown so that she could attend her graduation! not only that, but she graduated with honors! I am so proud of and for her. Now Sandy is finished with school and I get my wife back in the evenings least until the baby is born, then she is shared for 18+ years! ;-)

So now we are having a very happy memorial day weekend.

...and a big shout out and thank you to those who gave their lives for the simple pleasures we enjoy in this country!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Frank & Karol's wedding

Recently Sandy & I had the pleasure of photographing the wedding of Frank & Karol, two friends of mine who I have known for many years from my Long Beach days.
Frank is from my home town of Cerritos but I didn’t know him until after high school. We had common friends and he was influential in inspiring me to move to Long Beach back in the early 90’s. My brother & I ended up in Belmont heights after finding an apartment referred by another common friend (go Cathee!) and we ended up with a couple of very cool neighbors, Karen and Karol. In these days, between our apartment, Karol’s, and our downstairs friends, we had some great parties and great times.
Frank & Karol didn’t actually hook-up until well after I moved away, but they have been an item for many years now and it’s about time that they tied the knot!
It was awesome to reconnect with the old Long Beach crew. I only wish the night were longer and that Sandy & I could have stayed longer, but with Sandy’s delicate state, partying is not always an option. ;-)
Cheers to Frank & Karol!

Monday, April 27, 2009

A new addition to our team.

It was a case of denial and ignorance. Ignorance on my part in that I have been too absorbed in my own work & drama to notice that Sandy was growing ever so slowly, and Sandy had been swimming in the waters of denial for some time, never believing the facts until she saw the undeniable results of her sonogram the amazing fact that after all these years….we have a baby on the way!!!
She told me later that night after apologies for not telling me sooner. At our age, she has concerns and didn’t want to get our hopes up. This I could understand, but after realizing that her own mother gave birth to Sandy at the same age, this all sounds of little worry to me now and I just keep her focused on the prize at the end of the 9 month highway.
She wanted to wait until after the 1st trimester to clear before telling our families & friends, and after the results of the sonogram came in we found that she was farther along than expected…15 weeks! So now that we have cleared that milestone it’s on with the good news.
We couldn’t be more surprised and excited as we had all but put the idea of kids out of our heads, but here we are with a little pooper on the way and big, big changes on the horizon for us.
We do indeed feel blessed.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Thank you: The Bokeh Pot

Thanks to The Bokeh Pot for featuring us in their latest post.
What is the Bokeh Pot? as stated in their blog:

In a nutshell, The Bokeh Pot was created to serve as a directory and event resource for the up-and-coming photographers of the wedding and portrait industry.

This blog was created with three basic goals in mind:

1. give a little extra exposure to all those talented wedding and portrait photographers who have been in business 2 years or less

2. provide a place where other photographers, new or well established, can easily find the like-minded in their own community, to help break down walls and build more friendships and support

3. provide a common place to find out about all the numerous photography related events happening

Crystal and Laura are on to a very cool and generous concept here. Please check them out, provide comments and show some love...


It's interesting how sometimes things just seem to come together for you.
In accumulating what I feel are the best services I can use, 3 great companies that I am either already a client of or intended to be a customer of, are working together to create an awesome solution for photographers. The companies involved are Showit Sites, Smugmug, and Bay Photo Lab.
I already use Showit Sites because I love their look, feel, and ease of use. David J. has yet another great software product here. If it wasn't for Showit Sites, Showit web, and especially his OSP forum, I don't know where I'd be in the photography world these days.
I have also been using Smugmug for that past two years primarily because I love their interface, but I never thought this would end up being a full-scale order fulfillment solution for me. I intended to use Pictage for this purpose when money & jobs were more abundant for me. While Pictage now offers a much more affordable solution for folks like me and may still be a better choice for some people, I was uncomfortable with their reputation for poor service & the spamming of your clients. While they apparently have addressed these issues and have some advantages over Smugmug, they are still a corporate entity that answers to stock holders first. While I have no issue with corporations at all, I always favor the underdog, especially when they are privately owned by people who genuinely care about their chosen specialty and their community of customers. Smugmug was already known for this and is running at maximum warp into building an even better resource for the professional wedding & portrait photographer community with their latest offering: Smugmug Pro.
Smugmug Pro offers the ability to integrate directly with Bay Photo Lab (yet another great, small company with a passion for their business and their customers!) and the professional features and offerings seem to be growing on a weekly basis. I was sold on SmugMug Pro based on three items: Printing is offered through Bay Photo Lab, unlimited storage! And the eventual ability of bay Photo to work seamlessly with Excel Picture frames to design & deliver orders online in one stop. Everything else they offer is gravy. As an added bonus, they are building on their community by starting SMUGS, a monthly regional meeting of fellow SmugMug users to meet, network & discuss business issues. I went to their 1st Southern California meeting in Hollywood last night at Robert Evans’ Studio in Hollywood. It was great to hear David J. speak about Showit’s new features and integration with Smugmug and Jeff Jochum & Don MacAskil of Smugmug share their stories & take questions. This was also a great meeting & networking opportunity in which I got to meet Jasmine Star, Dane Sanders, Robert Evans and also see some other new friends from the recent [b] school meetings such as Regis Chen, Ryel Hendrickson and Michelle Yam (who I shared a ride with and provided excellent company!...her site is coming soon. ;-)).
Jasmine Star will be involved with hosting Smug meetings in Orange County and so I have that to look forward to next month. To me, this is the most exciting thing going on in the photographic community these days and I am so glad to see these small companies doing so well and forming this awesome symbiotic relationship with each other.
Thanks to all who spoke at this meeting, to Robert Evans for opening his studio for this event.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Catching up & Frank & Carol's - E-session

It's been a while since our last post, but not for lack of business.
There was a great turnout to the last [b] school GTG, including the Becker himself, and many more great folks who are linked on the image at Facebook

We also attended a day at the Pro Photo Expo in Pasadena. While this year's expo was at a greatly improved location at the Pasadena Convention center, the seminars just weren't as varied and dynamic as last year. Maybe am am comparing this unfairly against WPPI, but the offerings were just dull to me. Hopefully next year will have something better for me. The convention itself was pretty much the same as last year, but how many photo labs and album companies can one take in? I had enough of these at WPPI....but one thing I paid too little attention to at WPPI was Smugmug's partnership deal with Bay Photo Lab. I will post about this at another time. All I can say is that I am very excited about the ability to order prints directly from our site and offer a complete solution from upload, to print, to frame...or bind. Long story short...It's very exciting and you will start seeing the changes soon.

Today Sandy & I shot an E-session for our good friends Frank and Carol. I will need to write a detailed story about how I know these two when we post their wedding. We are very happy for these two and can't wait 'til their wedding day.
These two are long-time long Beach lovers and we wanted to shoot somewhere that was about the city. Well, we had way too much wind to deal with at the more urban sites that we had in mind, but we all agreed that the Queen Mary would be a great place to shoot at. The images are barely finished importing, but I knew I wanted to get one particular image up ASAP that we just love. how do you like it? Please comment.
Click on the image to see it bigger.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

WPPI 2009

Sandy & I returned yesterday from our 1st trip to WPPI and this will not be our last...this will be a yearly pilgrimage.
For thise of you who don't know, WPPI is THE event for Wedding and Portrait Photographers essence, it is a massive trade show/learning/networking/and gathering of the vibes for those of us in the photo industry.
I am so grateful that Sandy was able to get time off from work to spend more than two lousy days at this event and get to see the (almost) entire lecture series and trade show. Sadly, she got sick as soon as we got there, but she trooped along and came away as inspired as me. This would not have been the same for me without her. Thank you ACUSD!
Where do I begin in describing this? we saw so many amazing photographers and learned so much, it is all a blur of information overload. All I can do is say thank you too all the people who put this together and spoke. I will miss a ton of deserving folks in the remainder of this post, so I'll just want to thank everyone who spoke here & shared their knowledge and experience to us all.
The standout speaker for me was 1st and foremost Yervant. His lecture was purely inspirational. Sure, he was ultimately promoting his new album design collection with Graphi Studio but he put on an amazing show, with images accompanied by a live Russian violinist:

At the end of Yervant's presentation he premiered his latest fusion based slide show.
For thise of you who don't know, the term Fusion is a buzz word for the usage of photos and video in a wedding slide show presentation that is now allowed by the introduction of HD video into digital SLR cameras. A problem for photographers with video is that we often love to shoot in a vertical orientation. Video limits us to the standard horizontal format. Yervant circumvented this issue by 'inventing' vertical video by simply importing video into Photoshop, and rotating the video file 90 degrees...then showing the video along with still images...and still images morphing into video images. This must be seen to be understood, just let me say that our jaws dropped as this was the most amazing wedding imagery that I have ever seen and Yervant has latched-on to this "buzz word" and forged the trail for this new genre.
Running a razor close 2nd place for our favorite presentation was fellow Aussie photographer Jerry Ghionis. Jerry is a master speaker, teacher and entertainer. The dude is slick and funny with his presentation.
I'll just say that throughout everything we learned this week about posing, Jerry provided the icing on the cake by providing clever tricks and one-liners to loosen-up your photo subjects that I can't wait to put to use.
He's also a quite friendly guy:

I guess I am quite the photo nerd...I am almost constantly listening to podcasts & blog-stalking some of the top shooters in this business and it was amazing to see these people all around in one location. To see the likes of Yervant, Dennis Reggie, Joe Buissink, Bambi Cantrell, Mike Colon and tons more just walking around and easily approachable is awesome.
We only went to one party this year with Sandy being sick, but had a nice time atthe raging party that Becker threw down at the Real World suite in the Palms hotel.
I want to thank Becker for putting this on and not giving me grief for bringing an extra person, Sandy (long story). Becker's party was the hot ticket in town and speace was limited. I told Becker that Sandy wasn't coming before she got her time off and I think I ticked him off...Becker...if you read this I am so sorry and want to say thanks for being a gracious host.

When in Vegas, I always take time to visit my sis, Rhonda. Actually, we also brought along my mom & nephew to visit Rhonda & stay with her. due to the insnity of all the vents at WPPI, I sadly didn't have a lot of visitation time, but I did get these cute shots of her & her new baby girl ;-) The bitch needs a saddle! (the dog, not my sis!!!)

Some other highlights? watching Denni$ Reggie..the $50k photographer himself, give a demo at the microsoft booth:

Learning some posing techniques by the great Hanson Fong at the Canon booth:

..and briefly meeting with some very inspirational Dane Sanders and Mike Larson, who must have thought it was so cool to see me in the front row of his presentation that he took a photo:

We are already looking forward to and planning for next year's WPPI.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Sandy & I will be attending the WPPI show in Vegas this coming week. I am particularly excited that Sandy has taken some vacation time to stick around a few days as I was originally planning on doing most of this myself. We will be attending numerous platform discussions on everything you need to know to run a photography business and then some, while networking with thousands of other photographers.
I will be posting updates via Twitter and Facebook for this who care to follow.
Stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Not on-board with Amtrak

This is funny, but true... View on:

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Workin' the neighbors

So this weekend we had no plans in store, photographically speaking. Yet we were anxious to play with a large softbox I recently purchased. We currently don't have a studio, but that's OK because our aim is to create location portraiture that with studio-like lighting. So, we wrangled our neighbor's kids and tortured them for an hour to get these results. They were very good sports and excellent models.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

3 Years

Sandy & I Had our 3rd anniversary last week and went out this past weekend to where we have always gone to celebrate...the Santa Barbara wine country. Particularly, we LOVE to eat at the Hitching post. Their steak makes one understand why people give thanks and prayers for a good meal! Holy cow, this place rocks!
Here we are out in front:

We also love a particular courtyard spot in Solvang for photos & hope to do a proper shoot here with others one day...these are all in the same location..

This year's trip was shorter than we normally do, but worth every minute. Our next trip is to WPPI just after Valentine's day and we got a gentle reminder from a bear:

We also spent part of a day at Universal Studios to utilize the annual pass we paid for but never fully used. Here's a fun pic I took of Marilyn. ;-)

Monday, January 12, 2009

[b] School GTG

I have been involved with the [b] School for some time now and getting involved in networking with other photographers and building our network of like-minded photogs trying to build a better business. This is proving to be more beneficial than the [b] school itself, but then I suspect that this is with the [b] man himself anticipated.
On Friday night (Jan 9th) I proposed a gathering at the Corner Bakery at the Block in Orange. While the turnout itself was not so good, the company was great and it is expected that this will be a regular event for us that will grow.
Besides Sand and I along with my friend Stafford, Jeff and Dana Sipper were there as they were from previous gatherings, as well as Amanda Lynn and Kerry Garrison. Amanda is a very talented shooter in her 1st full year of shooting on here own. She has had a great year and should be having a great second year and more. I had heard of Kerry Garrison before as a guest on a recent edition of the Pro Photo Show podcast,but had yet to follow-up and check out his web site and podcast called Camera Dojo...How could I have let this go? This is easily among the best resources for photographers at any level. I am already a fan and look forward to chatting with him again.
By the end of the night we decided to make this a regular meet-up since random meetings are just a pain to get everyone on the right schedule. These meetings are open to everyone and we hope that this grows into much larger numbers.

Thank you Jeff, Dana, Amanda, Stafford and Kerry for coming out.