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Ever since I was 17 I’ve had a thing for cameras. I’ve got quite a collection; A few 35mm film cameras, two 6x7s, a 6×4.5, Holga, Lomo, a twin lens, and my stable of digital equipment. But there’s one very small camera that I never leave home without, my iPhone. The few times that I’ve misplaced or lost my phone, my biggest fear is that I’ll miss the chance to photograph some interesting person or moment. There’s always some element that draws me in to take a picture. It may take 100 frames until the right elements align or as I put it, the magic happens. I’ve found that strapped with my iPhone, headphones, and maybe even a cup of coffee to sip on, I can really become inconspicuous.
Up until this point my iPhone photos have been like a coveted collection of miniatures in my Instagram gallery. This New Year, as a gift to myself, I worked long and hard to cull my favorites out of the thousands of photos I’ve taken with this camera over the last two years. It’s been a long time coming.
Wishing you all a wonderful 2014!
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This week I had the pleasure of giving a wedding photography workshop in Puerto Vallarta. We had a great group of photographers and what was meant to be an 8 hour day turned into 11 hours of photo goodness. It was such an awesome feeling to have this creative group together, shooting, talking, and brainstorming. Thank you to Eder Acevedo for coming up with this idea and for coordinating everything, to Yanen Ali, my right hand woman, associate photographer, and editor of 4 years for taking some photos of us and imparting her Lightroom mastery on everyone, to Mariana and Luis for being patient with us and being great models, and to Bed and Pizza for letting us use their space and feeding us great pizza and beer.
Here is our crew:
We started the day off with a discussion about the business side of wedding photography and the best ways to grow your business in Puerto Vallarta. We followed that with a critique of each student’s work.
Before we hit the streets we took advantage of some great light inside.
We spent a lot of time roaming through the streets exploring different ideas. I’d spent some time talking about anticipating moments, finding good compositions and waiting for something to happen, and really sticking with something until you have it. I saw this little girl peak out her door at us and got into my head that I wanted the bride and groom to go on the other side of the door so that we could get them and the little girl in the shot. She went back inside but I still had them go get into position hoping that she would come out, and she did! Sometimes when you plan and wait for something to happen, it does, and it can be magical.
Some more great light and a wonderful connection between our bride and groom.
We stumbled upon a gritty little tunnel that didn’t smell very good but Mariana and Luis were troopers and we played around.
After our shoot we went through editing, processing, and photoshop techniques followed by some cold beer! It was a great day. Thanks to everyone who came and supported. I hope to do another one soon!
Just before I left NY for my winter season in Mexico, two of my great friends tied the knot at City Hall in Brooklyn. A few good friends met early in the morning to support and share the moment and we followed that up with some champagne at a BK local fave, Bar Tabac. The real deal wedding extravaganza is going down in Costa Rica this May with Sheena and Moni’s family and friends. It will be epic for sure and I can not wait to photograph that amazingness. Check these two out.
The motley crew.
Congratulations my dear friends. Alone you are amazing. Together you are off the charts.
This is an ongoing project that I started about 12 years ago and continue to work on. I was in Los Angeles going to school for photography when I started to notice some strange details about the motels around town. Signs were spelled wrong, personal belongings were everywhere, and two things became obvious to me; they were mainly immigrant owned and a lot of people were calling them home. I began to delve deeper, photographing and researching the subject and came to find a whole sector of American life unknown to many.
Most of America’s Motor Hotels were built in the 30′s along the main roads of the U.S. when car culture first started. As superhighways were eventually built in new areas of town, most of the neighborhoods along the old routes were all of a sudden devoid of traffic and found themselves economically depressed. Many motel owners found they couldn’t keep their rooms occupied and had to drastically lower rates and offer monthly and weekly rates. Most American owners sold their businesses. At this point, over 85% of motels are Indian owned.
Much of America’s poor and marginalized population has no other option than to live in Motels. There is such a shortage of low income housing that welfare is actually striking deals with motel owners and subsidizing recipients to live in them. More often than not though, I meet people essentially forced into living in motels for lack of any other option. They are living day to day and can not afford to put one month’s rent and security down on an apartment, let alone pass a credit check. It is standard to find 6 person families living in one room and other motel residents taking care of each other as a community.
I have driven up and down the east and west coasts and across the southern route of the US from coast to coast trying to tell this story. I’ve had a few gallery shows and it’s been published in a few magazines but I still have some more shooting to do! I’m aiming to have a book published one day. These photos are all shot in medium format film with the exception of two 35mm images.
Los Angeles, California
This is the sight that sparked this whole project. When I saw this note on the door a whole world was opened to me and I knew I wanted to pursue this idea.
Angel, Riviera Beach, Florida
Angel lives here with her daughter who works to support her.
Pablo’s family. Rahway, New Jersey
Pablo and Kimberly lived with and took care of Kimberly’s parents until they passed away and Kimberly’s step brother ended up inheriting everything. He was a crack head and quickly lost the house and everything they had. Pablo was injured at work and they had to go live in a shelter for 6 months before they could gather enough resources to move into this motel. Kimberly was in tears as she told me their story. They lived in this room with their 3 children.
Don and his pets. Highway Host, Mobile, Alabama
Don acted as a surrrogate father to the many kids that lived at this motel. He called one of his neighbors a saint because he was a hard working man that adopted 3 children and lived in the motel with them. Don would dumpster dive for food and feed all of the children from unopened boxes of cookies and snacks. He’d been living here for years.
Will and Jamie. Riviera Beach, Florida
Will and Jamie are cousins and share a room with another friend.
The kids of Highway Host. Mobile, Alabama
The two children on the left (and a teenage girl) were adopted by a man who works full time, so the kids spend a lot of time with other families at the motel when they are not at school. The girl on the right lives here with her parents and her sister.
Pablo Junior. Rahway, New Jersey
Pablo and Kassandra. Rahway, New Jersey
Janessa and Talisa. Rahway, New Jersey
These two girls live with their mother, step-father (who has just been released on parole with an anklet), and their baby sister. They think that something bad happened to Talisa because all of a sudden she stopped talking about a year ago and will not say anything.
Paw Paw and his grand daughter. Rahway, New Jersey
Paw Paw’s son came to the motel to visit him so he could see his grand daughter who he adores.
Ernie. Rahway, New Jersey
Ernie ended up at this motel after he had an argument with his sister at a family barbecue and she kicked him out. He was taking computer classes and receiving some help from the state.
Bonnie and the baby. Bristol, Pennsylvania
Bonnie lives here with her husband of 65, their 4 year old daughter and their 19 month old baby. They were happily living in a trailer but had a small fire and the city condemned their trailer. Her husband George had his own mobile welding rig but it was stolen and he was left without work which is difficult to find at 65. They had trouble keeping up with payments on their storage unit and the company auctioned off everything they had.
Kassandra. Rahway, New Jersey
Motel owner. Mobile, Alabama
Gitbo’ (Midget Boy). Riviera Beach, Florida
After a 20 minute conversation to convince him that I was not police, Gitbo told me that he deals drugs for a living and let me photograph him.
I entered the wedding photography world as a music/editorial/documentary photographer. At first I was a little skeptical. I kept to myself and didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to what other wedding photographers were doing. Until I realized that there are AMAZING wedding photographers out there. Photographers that inspire me to be a better photographer no matter what my subject is. One of the first things I noticed was that there was a photographers’ association that kept coming up when I looked at the work of those who I thought were the best in the industry. This was ISPWP -The International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers. I’m proud to have reached a personal goal of mine to be approved as a member of ISPWP and to be among the best wedding photographers in the world!
They say it best….
Click on the image below to be directed to ISPWP and see what they’re all about:
I thought this might be interesting to read for brides looking for a photographer:
I feel lucky to do what I do, to have access and a window into the happiest days of people’s lives. It’s a pleasure and a special challenge to document weddings in a creative, original, and artistic way and create images that will serve as reminders and homages to this amazing moment of people’s lives for generations to come. I find each wedding to be special, exciting, romantic, and magical in their own way… it never gets old to me. After I moved to Mexico and met the design and coordination team The Dazzling Details, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. The sheer effort and imagination that they put into every wedding boggled my mind. At every wedding I work on with The Dazzling Details, I find myself behind the scenes at some point saying, ‘You are crazy people! How do you do it??’ (This is my highest compliment of course). From the start, they made a decision not to do the same idea, altar, design, etc. twice. I really respected that stance and have come to look forward to seeing what they create. As if my job of photographing these magical moments couldn’t get any better, enter the Dazzling Details into the equation and I’m one happy photographer.
Here is a collection of images from weddings designed by this extraordinary team….
I love the idea that when I bring an extra photographer on a shoot, I can guarantee we will see and shoot things in different ways. I can look over at another photographer shooting something and have no idea what they are doing with their composition. There are times that I’m with clients and putting them on a dirty lot or a run down area, and as they look at it trepidatiously, I just have to say, ‘trust me, this looks great’. I’ve had a few reviews by brides and grooms exclaiming at how I laid on the ground or climbed trees, my pants sullied by the end of the day, and I’ve been labeled ‘ninja photographer’ by several people independently. Here are two fun examples, one of me standing on a chair (which you can’t see in the photo), and one of me lying on the ground. I find it interesting how you would have no idea what my picture looked like until you’ve seen it. I know people must think I’m crazy sometimes, but I don’t care because I’m looking through the lens and I’m liking what I see.
Yes friends, after a long dry spell since the day in nursery school when I guessed the right amount of jelly beans in the jar and proudly ate my winnings at home, my luck has changed. With the help of my 3 rock star photographer teammates Olivia Brown, Kirsten Lewis, and Kathryn Kreuger, we won big. Like a 4 year old with her own big jar of jelly beans, the 4 of us are proudly savoring our 37,000 dollars worth of photographer goodies. Witness the Firing Squad.
A few days before my annual trip to WPPI (photo conference/learning and information frenzy/photographer hang out) I got a note from my BPF (best photographer friend) Kirsten informing me that we were going to partake in a photography scavenger hunt held by the super hip album company Finao. At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend a lot of time doing a scavenger hunt as I had a lot of talks and classes in my schedule, but once I commit I rally hard and it was well worth it. Over 3 days we received 12 clues via cell phone text asking us to do crazy things all over Vegas. Between all of our conference activities and talks, and late nights hanging out with the 12,000 photographers gathered in Vegas, we managed to pull in the first place spot in the competition. Here are a few of the tasks and images we created. The link to the video we submitted is at the end.
All four team members must illustrate ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’:
Find an Elvis impersonator and make a photograph with two members of your team:
Find triple sevens on a slot machine and make a photograph with one team member:
All four team members must be included in a photograph with the famous Welcome to Las Vegas sign:
Have one team member do their best Elton John impersonation:
Have Finao’s own Thunder From Down Under (who we figured out to be the awesome photographer Jerry Ghionis) sign a body part of one team member:
Go to the booth of one of the Finao prize partners and make a photograph with one team member (ultra fabulous rock star photographer team Dave and Quin were serious sports with our crazy idea):
One of my favorites. Go to a wedding chapel, find a couple getting married, put them in the worst wedding pose ever, and make a photo including one team member and the chapel sign. Whew! Um yeah, added bonus was the couple getting married IN a pink Cadillac with Elvis serenading them between vows. It was off the chain folks:
I was behind the lens on the Elvis shot but I loved the idea so much I had to jump in for a shot with him myself:
I had a wonderful time roaming Vegas – sleep deprived and sometimes humiliated – to make all of this happen. Thank you so much Kirsten, Olivia, and Kathryn for all of your great ideas and hard work. Finao, thank you for being such a cool company that you thought of this crazy idea. Last but definitely not least, thank you to all of the people, photographers and vendors whose prizes we were so lucky to have won!!
And here’s the video we submitted to Finao. wicked right?!:
For my very first blog post I thought I’d start on a personal note with the wedding of one of my best friends, Monica. Equally as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside, Monica is one of the most lovely, talented, and giving people I know. Monica spent years teaching children around the world and then came back to Mexico to help start and run the outstanding non-profit organization P.E.A.C.E. On top of that, she supplies all of our friends with her stunning jewelery from her company Lunachia. They pulled their whole wedding together on a very small budget. Monica made all of her decorations and her now-husband Chris, who is an amazing chef, handled the food with a little help from his friends. Doing their photography was very personal to me because all of my friends and family (and my dog pancho!) were there and my best girlie got hitched. These images are my gift to them.
Yours truly doubled over as a pedicurist/bridesmaid and painted those red toenails.
Me on the left with my lovely family.
Everyone getting loco in the photobooth, including me and my doggie Pancho.