Saturday, June 30, 2007

What makes a great child portrait great?

Happy Saturday! I am often asked why I love to photograph children and my answer is always the same - because they are so much fun. But, most photographers will tell you that photographing children is hard. I disagree.

As a photographer you have to understand that what makes children portraits so wonderful is the natural God-given beauty of being a child. And unfortunately too many photographers try to script their photo sessions with children.

Yes, it is true that you need to have your shots mapped out for the day. But, the whole purpose of photographing children is to capture all of their emotions as they happen - naturally. That's why shooting children in their homes or favorite playgrounds works so well. In those environments they are familiar with their surroundings and simply are themselves. Therefore, you have to be ready to just run around and follow them wherever their imaginations lead them.

So, what makes a great child portrait great? The answer is simple - a child. It may sound like a riddle, but it is really a "secret" that all parents understand and that's why they hire you - to forever capture their children at time when the world is just a playground. Have a blessed weekend and keep shooting!

Friday, June 29, 2007

iPhone Pandemonium!

Well, it is officially here - the Apple iPhone! We've all been exposed to what could arguably be called one of the most effective "hype" generation campaigns the advertising world has ever seen. For the past six months we've been teased and lured by Apple to believe that the new iPhone is the greatest personal electronic device ever created. Do you wanna know a secret? It just might be.

After briefly playing with it and going through a twenty minute presentation I must admit that the new iPhone is REALLY "cool!" It's thin, sleek, and black with a wonderful screen. And, the touch pad interface actually works very well. It is definitely a different approach to the cellular telephone and I believe Apple has once again done the impossible - they've created a device that once you've been exposed to it, you must have it.

Due to my "day" job I wasn't able to get off in time to capture all of the madness and the long lines prior to the 6:00pm release. But, the people at my local Apple store were very friendly and didn't mind if I brought my camera inside and captured some of the post release frenzy.

(I must give a special "shout out" and thanks to the fine people at my local Apple store. They are always helpful, friendly, and happy to just talk with you about Apple products. It is a very special place with some very special people who keep it going. I also want to personally thank Ryan Conley, our local stores' Senior Assistant Manager for allowing me to capture these images inside of the store.)

(This is SamTheMan's cell phone. Despite never keeping a charge, relaying my voice mail messages 24 hours after they were initially recorded and constantly dropping calls it has proven itself to be indestructible. But, what do you think? Is it time to upgrade?)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Scott Robert's Actions in Action!

Happy Thursday! I couldn't wait until the weekend to play around with Scott's famous Photoshop actions. I didn't spend much time with these images as it is late but wanted to share what you could do in just a few minutes of editing. I have a shoot this weekend and then I'm free to "dig" into these actions. I warned him that I was getting close and it won't be long now. Have a great Friday!

Thanks Scott!

What a great week! Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend two very special photography seminars taught by the world famous Scott Robert Lim of Scott Robert Photography. Scott is one of the top wedding photographers in the world and he was here teaching as part of his NextLevel seminar national tour.

Now,for those of you who don't know Scott is the reason or to "blame" for me returning to photography. I was heavily involved in photography in High School some twenty-something it's-been-so-long-I-forgot years ago. When I joined the military I stayed active in photography while overseas, but eventually just started using a simple point and shoot camera. And, after 15 years of using my point and shoot camera it broke.

While surfing online to find another model I "stumbled" across Scott's website and was blown away. Although I am a marketing/advertising professional by "day" I had never seen images like his. I literally viewed every one of his then 1,500 images and studied them over and over again. Well, to make a long story short I decided to buy a SLR instead of another point and shoot camera just to see if I could create images like his. And, as the old saying goes "the rest is history."

So, after years of what Scott called "stalking him online" I finally got to meet him in person. You can imagine how cool it was to have the artist who's responsible for getting me involved in photography again actually teaching me in person. As all of the southern California dudes say "I'm stocked!"

Well, I'm still not creating images like his but after both of his seminars and purchasing his actions and presets, I'm getting close. What was most enjoyable was not the instruction (although excellent) but was Scott's kind and generous heart. You would think that someone who "kicks it" with Arnold Schwarzenegger and professional athletes all day in LA would be stuck up. Quite the contrary, Scott is just as down to earth and humble as anyone. And, I believe that is why God is blessing him so as Scott's entire approach is not centered on him, but on helping and sharing with as many people as possible. Gotta run, will share more later; but if you haven't seen his work make sure you checkout his website. Be blessed and keep shooting!

(Scott asked for images from us and used them to show how to use his Lightroom presets and Photoshop actions to create his signature look.)

(Scott spent a lot of time answering our questions and sharing what he has learned that separates the "average" photographers from the "great" ones.)

(Tools of the trade: Canon 5D w/24-85mm 2.8 lens & Nikon D200 w/24-85mm 2.8 lens. I'll take them both!)

(Here, Scott is showing us how to use the natural lighting inside of an ordinary room to create great portraits. He was also showing me for the 100th time why I need to switch from Nikon to Canon)

(The portraits he created during this session were wonderful. Before this workshop I would have thought that there wasn't enough light and grabbed my flash. But, Scott showed us what makes a great portrait and how to create one without a flash.)

(One of the photographers in attendance had the cutest little baby boy. And, you know how I love to photograph children so I couldn't resist. But, check this out - this is my baby portrait...)

(...and this is Scott's. I've got some ground to cover and work to do as none of my portraits from the workshop looked like this.)

(Thank you Scott for spending so much time with us and for also giving so much of yourself. Through your blog I've gotten to know you and your family despite never meeting you. But, after meeting you in person, I must tell you that you are an even "cooler" dude than I had imagined. God is going to bless you richly for your generosity and kindness. And, because I have so much respect for you as an artist, not to mention the 100 "hints" to get a Canon, I will go ahead and pick-up a 5D. Look out brother, you're creating another passionate and gifted wedding photographer. But, then again that is your heart's desire to begin with.)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Match Made in Heaven: Cherise & Onzis' Wedding

This has been a great weekend! Why? Because, I finished the wedding slide show for one of the most loving and anointed weddings I've ever attended. These two people are very special and it is always a blessing to see good things happen to good people. Grab your popcorn and a box of tissues and please enjoy the slide show from "A Match Made in Heaven!"

Isn't she lovely!

One of the most enjoyable aspects of being a photographer is capturing those "special" moments between people. And, it is really great to be a photographer when you can capture the love between a father and his little girl. I can't tell you the last time I had so much fun working as I did while photographing Ms. Jocelyn Carter. A big "thank you" to her parents for allowing me to digitally capture this special little girl.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Children are so precious!

Whew, I've been an editing dynamo this week working through 600+ wedding and 400+ portrait images. But, by God's grace I'm almost done! And, just wanted to share a few more images from our recent photo shoot with one of the cutest little girls in the world. It's late so I've got to run but please enjoy and have a blessed and empowered week!


Afro Puffs

Playing with Bubbles

(This is one of the images that I am going to suggest to the parents that they share with the agency. We have several really nice images of their daughter playing with bubbles. But, there is something special about her sense of wonder and curiosity in this image that is just too cute. She is truly a star!)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

What a special dude!

Well, first let me thank you all for your prayers and support. However, I placed 2nd to a close friend and terrific tennis player. His name is Florian and not only is he an exceptional athlete and tennis player, but he is also an exceptional person and a great friend.

I have never beaten Florian before (me and everyone else for that matter) despite years of trying. But, I have learned so much from him about tennis, being a great competitor, and being a man of honor. Even under difficult circumstances, regardless of how the other players behave, he is always a gentleman and always competes with honor and integrity. In fact, he is so encouraging that even when we're competing against one another, when I play well he cheers me on. Despite my gentle heart and kind manners I am very competitive. And yet, I always feel encouraged, even in defeat, when playing against him.

All I can say is that he is one of those people who "to know is to love." And, I thank God that he has allowed our paths to cross. CONGRATULATIONS Florian, and I love you dude!

Monday, June 18, 2007

I love film!

In this world of digital photography there seems like there is no room for film anymore. But, as a photographer every once and awhile you have an opportunity to go "old skool" and enjoy the vibrancy of film.

I've been editing the final film images from my last wedding and I LOVE what I'm seeing. It is hard to put into words but there is something special about film and the images you can create using it. Even in today's digital age we have software applications that emulate the old film "look."

And, I was encouraged when I discovered the outstanding work of Jose Villa who still shoots exclusively with film. Don't take my word for it, check out his wonderful work for yourself. But I must warn you - once you see Jose's work you may never return to digital photography. Be blessed and keep shooting!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A real princess

Yesterday I had the privilege to photograph a star in the making. You may recognize her from this image, and as a result of that image the talent agency her parents are working with asked for a new set of shots now that she's older.

Well, we took our time and just played in the park and that ended up being the best thing to do. I don't know who had more fun, her or I as I had a blast watching her and her father interact and play with one another. It really did my heart good to see the love between them. It is hard to put into words but all I can say is that children are truly a gift from God.

Gotta run, I have another tennis tournament this weekend. And, I get to play against the local "Roger Federer" I spoke about in a previous post. Be blessed and enjoy your Sunday!

Friday, June 15, 2007

You've got to be kidding me?

A super-gifted photographer from Japan named Tommy Oshima shared this with us on and I must admit that I was shocked. I'm familiar with the "Great Wall II" project but I never would have believed that sites like "Apple," "YouTube," "Wickedpedia," "MySpace" and "" would be banned in China.

I've lived outside of the US and I can remember how it felt not to be able to do certain things that I could always do at home. But, I must admit that when I saw this I realized just how blessed I am to be planted in this part of the world. Something as simple as visiting Apple's website is not allowed in China. It is unfortunate that it takes a negative incident to remind me just how blessed I am to live in the United States. I pray for the salvation and freedom of my brothers and sisters in China! Have a great weekend, be blessed and be free!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The General is in the house!

His name is synonymous with leadership, courage, fortitude, bravery, accomplishment and respect. Who am I referring to? The one and only General Colin Powell, former United States Secretary of State. General Powell was the keynote speaker at the recent GET MOTIVATED Business Seminar and he was phenomenal! He is one of the few people that garners the respect and admiration of political friends and foes alike.

What was so surprising about General Powell was that he was very charming and "down to earth" as he laughed and joked and really let his personality shine through during his presentation. And, being a former military man myself, I have never met a General who could even come close to being described as "charming." But, after hearing him speak for myself one thing is clear - this isn't the end of General Powell's public life, just another chapter. And do you want to know something? That's probably a good thing. Be blessed and keep shooting!