california dreaming

Early last month, I traded the east coast for the west coast for five days. 

This trip was the first time I’d spent any real time away this year and my only goal was to unwind and take photos. 

First stop: Santa Cruz, California.  

I spent two days with my friend Chelsea and her husband Ben, hanging at the beach and eating as many burritos as humanly possible. On my last full day, they took me to their favorite surf spot and I watched them surf. The waves weren’t very big, but they were still able to go out and have fun and I was able to snap a few photos. 

Below are a couple of shots from that session. 

Next stop: Los Angeles, California. 

I don’t pretend to know how one would navigate living in LA, as the landscape is drastically different than NYC (less sirens wailing, skyscrapers, humans in your physical space, and the whole having to drive everywhere thing), but whenever I visit, the city always shows me something different. 

Whether that is simply because of the differences in how people move in LA vs NYC or a new perspective unrelated to those two completely, there is something special about Los Angeles. Actually, not too long ago, I was dreaming of moving to California and leaving the concrete jungle behind for good, but that is a whole other story entirely. 

Below are photos of Hollis; one of my dearest friends and a constant source of inspiration, who is finishing her debut solo project. And if you’ve read any of my other blog pots, you’ll notice that whenever I’m in LA, I’m with her. 

This session took place in the backyard of her homie’s empty pool, which immediately made me wish I had a fish eye lens and a skateboard. 

Though the trip was brief, I was able to shoot some new work (you can view more here) and relax. In a few weeks I’ll be heading to Chicago with the same goal that I had ahead of this trip, to take photos and relax. 

as the flashes blinded us in the photo booth

If you’ve been to a wedding post-2009, then it is safe to say that you’ve been to a wedding with a photo booth. Not to say that this is something that had never been done before then, but I will say that the likelihood of there being a photo booth at any given wedding these days has increased significantly. 

Last month, I had the pleasure of being the photo booth photographer at my friends Mike and Delaine’s wedding and it was a mind-blowing experience. 

This was not your typical photo booth with silly props or with the automated digital, instant gratification feel. This was Delaine’s vision; inspired by Mark Seliger’s Oscar x Vanity Fair portraits. Below is an image that I took of Delaine and her sisters.

Breathtaking, right? Now I can not take full credit for this, as it was Delaine’s vision and I only directed the guests and took their photos. The editing and retouching was all her handy work. Want to see more images from that night? You can view them here.

In case you were wondering, Delaine is an incredible photographer. Her work encompasses this vintage, film quality that is also often moody, but still light. Not only was I so honored to have her trust me (as one photographer to another) to photograph her special day, but being a part of this really pushed me to get the guests to open up and step into the vision that she had for this. Previously, in other sessions, I have struggled with directing some of my subjects (and whether or not asking for too many adjustments is too much). Because of that, I often end up with more candid results, but this was a rewarding challenge to see that if pushed I could get that original idea to come through. 

Slightly unrelated, this also really made me realize that I need to finally buy myself a prime lens.

Best of 2018

I’ve never done this type of post before, but all I’ve been hearing lately is that “old ways won’t open new doors”, so here we go! Below are my photography highlights from this past year. 

Photographing 100+ Buttonians

In my previous post, I mentioned that I would be kicking off a big photo project at the company I currently work for. Since I onboarded in May, I have taken over 100 headshots to showcase the amazing team I get to be a part of. You can view the photos by clicking the link above. 

(More) Family Portraits & Engagements

While some of these faces aren’t necessarily new, this year I continued to photograph families (for birthday parties or holiday cards) and engagements! 

Better Headshots

Studio headshots have been the bane of my existence since I took my first studio lighting class in undergrad at PCNW, which was 10+ years ago. Since then, I have always preferred natural light due to my fear of not being able to consistently control studio light. Over the past year I’ve mastered the art of bouncing a flash and have gotten waaaaay better at balancing color temperature and removing color casts, if need be. These headshots are the first that I’ve taken that I’ve been really proud of. 

Photo walks in Italy and France

Before these experiences, when I traveled abroad I’d always return home without any real photos outside of the ones I’d taken on my phone. I’ve never felt great about my street photography and these two photo walks have definitely improved my technical skills and confidence in shooting while out and about. 

While 4 highlights from a full year may seem like a short list, this is the first year that I’ve ever been able to see growth both technically and creatively. 

Looking forward to what 2019 has in store! 

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