central coast

A Central Coast Engagement Session

Early morning session with Manuel and Priscilla at the Monarch Butterfly grove in Pismo Beach CA,

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I have know both Mo and Priscilla for years. Mo and I go back a ways.  He and I first met in middle school at the time when breakdancing was making its comeback.  Now Im not going to lie and say that there are no photos or videos out there of us breakdancing but I can tell you that they will not be included in this blog (sorry to disappoint).  Priscilla and I have known each other even longer.  Both her father and my dad were very good friends.  Always BBQing and laughing over a cold beer, some old stories, and good food.  So I was honored when they asked if I would capture their engagement photos.  It is awesome to see two people I have known for so long find such happiness in each other.

 We met up early on a Sunday to get some of the great sunrise lighting.  Being that this was my first time photographing at this location I arrived early to get a lay of the area and what spots might work best for the couple.

We started out with some close up photos before moving into the rest.  I like to break the ice with some tight shots that require little direction for a couple just begining their session. It is a nice way of easing into the shoot with a more laid back and relaxed vibe.

From there we moved to our first location.  Priscilla had also taken the initiative and brought out some signs and various other items for us to use during out shoot. In this photo I used my 85mm prime, and directed her son to stand in the foreground with the sign so that Mo and Priscilla would sink into the background blur. This lense has an amazing bokeh at the wider apertures. It is my go to lens for portraits and I use it whenever the room permits.

After we finished here we moved toward a bridge that connects the grove to a campground near the beach. Given the early start time we had very little distraction from the morning walkers.  For this shot the sun was just begining to shine thorough the tree in the background. So I swapped my lens out for my 50mm in order to drink in more of the surrounding area. With the morning fog begining to lift it offered a warm golden glow when the sun hit. We positioned their second sign in the center of the bridge. Setting my focus on the sign I set my aperture to f/4 to give a soft fall off to them in the distance. 

Wraping up at the Butterfly grove we packed up and moved to our second location in Nipomo. I always get pumped when people are as passionate about the vision for their photos as I am.   So when we discussed a second location and working with a classic car I was all for it. I believe the finished product and the process involved are equally important when it comes to creating great photos.

When we arrived Priscilla already confirmed the car we would be working with was in rout. The driver arrived minutes after we did, both mo and Priscilla were ready in their second outfit, and things could not be running any smoother.  

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The sun was begining to really give off some harsh light so we positioned the Impala under a tree to give us some even shade to work with.   We ran through a few more poses with the vehicle and then called it a day. After all was said and done we managed to complete our shoot in an hour not including the drive time between locations.  

Both Mo and Priscilla were a pleasure to work with. The love they have for one another not only shows in their photos but in the way they laugh, and act with one another. It is my pleasure to share the photos in this blog with those who read it. I am blessed to know this happy couple and wish them all the best as they draw closer to their wedding day. 

As a couple or photographer have you ever taken photos in separate locations. Also what are your thoughts on early morning sessions with the sunrise vs. those taken later in the day with the sunset? Let me know in the comment section below. If you are new to the blog, welcome! Be sure to head over to Facebook and add my photography page. You can follow me on Instagram as well links located above and remember to like if you liked this, and share this post.

Fitness Shoot with @a_cabrera805

Amanda Cabrerra is an Air Force Veteran, gym/fitness enthusiast,and part time model.

Amanda and I met up at the gym early on a Sunday morning for our shoot.  I arrived early so that I could get my camera set up and ready to go. During this shoot Amanda was working toward her goal of entering her first fitness competition. Her show was still a few months out but at the time of our shoot but her focus during the workout was on point. I've learned in my time working with fitness enthusiasts. Among a few of those things is when it comes to taking your training to a competition level a lot changes with your approach toward both dieting and training.

We started out warming up on the stair climber. It was a cold morning so that meant some light cardio was needed to get the blood flowing.  After a quick ten minute climb we moved straight into the weight room. For todays workout Amanda was scheduled for legs and shoulders.  She started with the Hammer Strength Plate-Loaded V-Squat machine. This pice of equipment was among one of Amanda's favorite to use for the legs and over all lower body work.  From there we moved to the leg press where her strength began to show.  Loading the sled up with 230 lbs. (not including the weight of the sled)

This shoot marked my first time photographing an entire workout. I had taken photos many times before in this facility however The lighting had been upgraded since my last visit.  I used my 35mm prime lens on this shoot. My settings were all over the place while I learned the lighting at each of the equipments locations.  I started out with a shutter speed of 1/30s f2.2 and ISO400.  This resulted in a lot of motion blur and because of the low depth of field I had a lot of the shots taken in the beginning out of focus. I compensated by boosting my ISO to 800 changed my shutter speed to 1/100s at f2.8 and found that those settings worked best under this gyms new lighting conditions.

On leg day we train legs. So after warming up on the stairs, hitting sets on both the V-squat machine and leg press it was time for some smith machine squats. Everyone is different when it comes to their choice of gym equipment. I am more of a free weight lifter doing movmints like backsquats, front squats, and deadlifts with a barbell. That doesn't mean that there is one type of lifting to rule them all. Durring the breaks between lifting Amanda shared her expierence with both free weights and machines. It was after years of training that she found her body responded best when training with a machine vs free weights.

When we finished with the last set of squats it was time to put the shoulders to work. Moving to the cable machine for some standing shoulder press and then finishing the workout with some strict over head press work with the barbell.  Afterward we went over to the fitness room for a few posed shots and called it a day.

After finishing up with the shoot I had my settings memorized for future shoots at this gym. I also got the chance to add a few more photos to my portfolio and learned a lot more about the mentality an athlete has when training for a competition. For some the goal might be the expierence of entering a show where as for others the goal is to win. That focus on success can be seen in the eyes of athletes while they train, and with Amanda that look was very apparent as she lifted. 

How about you? Have you ever prepped for a fitness competition? How far out did you begin your cut, and if it was your first show did you have fun? Let me know in the comment section. If you are new to the blog, welcome! Be sure to head over to Facebook and add my photography page. Also you can follow me on Instagram links located above.

Fitness Shoot with @lift_mor Part 2

If you haven't had a chance to read part one you can click HERE for that blog

Back in the gym with Garrett who during the time of this shoot was five weeks out from his show. This time he has invited his girlfriend/ lifting partner Melissa to join in on the workout as well.  Both Garrett and Mellissa have been on the road to the big show for a few months now, and seeing their progress in comparison to the first time we worked together is unreal.  The photos only show a small part of the work involved to achieving greatness.  For these two there are hours of hard work put in each and every day.  From early mornings of fasted cardio, to working out twice a day at times to shock the body while trying to  force it to retain every ounce of muscle during the cutting phase.  The gym isn't the only place where they put in the work.  Outside of the gym things like calorie counting, meal prepping, low carb days, and re-feed days are meticulously monitored, tracked, logged, and tweaked along the way.

For todays session Melissa came prepared with a workout routine.  They both started with some cable moments to warm up with then moved to the cable rows and cable lat pull downs.  Melissa along with being a personal trainer has also competed before and has developed a muscle maturity that comes with years of training.  

After the light cable work we moved to the weight room for some free weight arm work as well as training the legs.  Garrett had shed quite a lot of his bulking weight since we last saw one another and he is beginning to show more chiseled definition to his physique.

 I tried a few different things during this shoot.  After talking about my style of work with my engagement photographer DeeDee (link to her website HERE) she recommended I try using my 50mm lens because it was her in experience better than the 35mm in low light situations.  Another new style I tried was shooting wide angle photos.  Melissa was interested in seeing the entire physique in the photos so to deliver those types of images I reached for my 18-55mm kit lens (the nikon 14-24mm glass just yet).  Shooting with both a 50mm and 18mm lens was a fun and welcome challenge.  For the 50mm my workspace was a lot tighter looking through the viewfinder, and with limited space to back up in the gym it was fun learning to adapt to the new conditions.  With the 18mm lens I had to keep distortion in mind when framing my shots.  For anyone who is unfamiliar I will give you the short and easy. When shooting with a wide angle lens anything near the edge of your frame is stretched or "distorted" you can read more about it HERE.  

When taking photos with the wide angle lens I made sure to center my subject in the frame and tried to leave extra space all around the edges so that any excess distortion could be cropped out during processing.  

After a great workout session with these two we moved into a separate room to finish with some pose practice. This session was shot on a Saturday when the gym opened. We were all surprised at the amount of people in at that hour. I prefer working in a semi empty facility so as to not weird out any members with my camera, and mainly to not have anyone that might be a distraction in the background of my photos.  Once I imported the filesinto Lightroom I went through my selection process.  I was really pleased with the images I got from both the wide angle lens and 50mm prime. Having worked in this gym a number of times before I have memorized all the camera settings for each room, and I feel like I've been able to capture much better shots when I don't have to look at my camera to see if I have the right exposure or shutter speed.  It also makes editing in Lightroom so much faster.  All in all it was another awesome time working with Garrett and Melissa.  

You can follow their instagram for more updates as they make their way to the big show on May 28th in Culver City, and Melissas YouTube channel for some great vlogs and fitness advice, links down below.

How about you? Have you ever prepped for a fitness competition? How far out did you begin your cut, and if it was your first show did you have fun? Let me know in the comment section. If you are new to the blog, welcome! Be sure to head over to Facebook and add my photography page. Also you can follow me on Instagram links located above. 

Garrett Instagram : @lift_mor

Melissa Instagram : @melissa_fitlifestylz

Melissa YouTube : Melissa Weatherby

Exploring Pismo Beach

Photos not only capture a moment in time but are also a way to re-live a memory.

I was born and raised on the central coast of California. With that being said I am a little biased when I tell people that one of the best beaches in my book is Pismo Beach.  For as long as I can remember the ocean has always been a force that I have been drawn to. So naturally it is also a place I photograph often.

Most of the times I have been to Pismo to take photos it is down on the beach or at the end of the pier. For this photo I was spending the day with my mom when she asked if I'd like to catch the sunset from a new perspective.  She drove us to a spot I had not been to before, and the views of the beach from there were amazing.  To the far left of the photo is the Oceano Dunes and not included to the far right was a clear sight of the coast line leading to Shell Beach.

Once I had my camera set up we sat there for about an hour talking and laughing while waiting for the sun to set.  I took five photos to create this panoramic image.  I used my 50mm prime lens and stitched the photos together using Photoshop (lightroom had not yet added the panoramic feature) The sky that day was on fire once the sun began to set, and The small beach town below had a dreamy look to it.  The ocean was calm and the skies were clear.  This is a time I reflect upon often.  Life is an adventure, and the people you experience it with makes it that much better.

If you are new to the blog, welcome! Be sure to head over to Facebook and add my photography page. Also you can follow me on Instagram links located above.

Fitness Shoot with @lift_mor Part 1

Garrett Glover serves active duty with our United States Air Force, graduated with an MBA from Oklahoma State University, and is an NPC Bodybuilder who trains primarily on the central coast of California.

Garrett and I both trained at the same gym (Western Village Health Club) in Santa Maria. However it was through Instagram where we found our common interest for the sport of bodybuilding. After Garrett mentioned he would be competing in a Bodybuilding competition so we scheduled a time to shoot some pre competition photos.  We talked about having two photoshoots. The first would be thirty weeks out, and the second would be much closer to his show.  Its good to see the progress you've made as well as have photos to critique physique and areas you may want to build upon.

We met up early on a Sunday morning when the gym opened for the day.  It was quiet with only the regulars getting their morning workout sessions done.  I like an empty gym for photo shoots. All the equipment is readily available and there is less of a chance to distracting someones workout with my camera.  Garrett started out warming up with some cable movements before moving into the weight room for some free weight work.  Today was an accessory day so the workout consisted of a wide range of movements.  Afterward we headed into the spin cycle room for some pose practice.  Since he was so far out from his show the progress he would see in the weeks to come would be tremendous and having these picture to study and look back on would act as a motivator on the road toward the competition. 

The lighting in this gym was really great for our shoot.  I decided to only use my 35mm lens for the workout portion. My settings were ISO 800, f/2.8, and 1/125 of a sec.  The lighting is slightly brighter in the weight room so I compensated by increasing my shutter speed and left the rest of my settings the same.  Be sure and follow for Part 2 with Garretts transformation pics just days out from his show.

How about you? Heve you taken any gym photos? When did you take yours, and were you the model or the photographer? Let me know in the comment section. If you are new to the blog, welcome! Be sure to head over to Facebook and add my photography page. Also you can follow me on Instagram links located above.

Our Engagement and Family Photos

With our wedding on the horizon, going over final details, and checking off the list of things we need to book. We took some time to meet with out wedding photographer DeeDee Stolz for our engagement photos.

We met at Shell Beach on a quiet stretch of sand located along the central coast of California. This was very windy weekend to shoot outdoors but fortunately for us the rocks provided a natural wall dampening the harsh winds. It was a short walk down a set of stairs to the beach.  DeeDee had come prepared with a blanket for us to sit on, and talked to us about the location we were shooting at.  She guided us through our poses very easily and was helpful in explaining the shots she was capturing. With the photos that included our son DeeDee was very much in her element getting him to laugh and smile for the pictures.

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I've known DeeDee for years, and her work with families, weddings, newborns, and engagements photos really caught my eye.  The colors of her pictures and the moments she is able to capture are amazing. She has a real eye for people and is a natural at bringing their emotions out with her camera. 

As a photographer I tend to be my own worst critic. I pay attention to every detail before I send a photo out into the world. However when I look to other artists for their services I want their creative vision. I didn't want a photographer who would take the photos I wanted.  Instead I wanted them to have full creative freedom when it came to capturing my fiancé and I. When we decided to working with DeeDee we had seen her previous work and trusted 100% in her artistic ability. The opportunity to have DeeDee take photos of us and our family was really great expierence.

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Photos included in this blog are by DeeDee Stolz. Check out here website for more of her amazing work (here) and be sure to follow her Facebook page (here) for deals on photo sessions with her.