portraits

Engagement Session @ the Griffith Observatory

Early morning engagement session with Andrian and Shawntelle at the Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

 Photography has blessed me with the opportunity to meet and work with some pretty awesome people. Getting to know their story and have a fun time while out capturing the love these two share in a photo.

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

We met up early on a Saturday morning at the Griffith Observatory. This would be the first time I would be working at this location taking photos. Shawntelle and I had communicated via email about the types of poses she would like to have captured and even provided me with a link to her pinterest. All of this made my job a whole lot easier. However there was still the fact that I had never photographed at this location before. I'm not one for running and gunning when I have an opportunity to prepare. So on the day of our shoot I headed over a half hour early to take a look around the observatory myself and plan out some of the areas that might work best with the sample ideas I was provided.

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

The weather is something I always have on my mind as the day draws closer to a photo shoot. This photo session was scheduled for 9:30am, and after checking my iPhone for the weather it was going to be an overcast morning. If given the choice of photographing during a clear sunny day or an overcast one I'll take the fog every time. The light is easy to work with and doesn't cast any harsh shadows.

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Once the happy couple was ready to begin I dialed in my cameras settings and set up my exposure for the couple.  This resulted in photos with a blown out background giving some of the images a feeling of solitariness in a busy city like Los Angeles. When I look at other inspiring engagement photos I feel like just the couple is captured. Some photos convey a feeling of togetherness, or strong emotions of being in love, and alone in a place that is just their own. It was a feeling I tried capturing with these images. I hope you enjoyed viewing them as much as I did capturing them and thank you for reading.

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

So what do you think? Has the weather ever been an obstacle in your photo sessions or have you found ways to use it creatively?  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. Also follow me on Instagram as well links located above. Thank you and please remember to like this post if you liked it, and hit that share button.

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.

Engagement Session with Ili and Tavern

Early morning photo session at the Lake in Van Nuys CA,

I met up with these two early in the morning. We were scheduled for a 6:30am shoot however plans changed and we pushed things back to 8am.  Being a morning person this wasn't an inconvenience for me.  I would much rather have a couple be ready, and not feel rushed to get to a photo shoot with me.  I find things go a lot smoother when everyone is at ease.

Photographing these two was a lot of fun.  Both were very comfortable in front of the camera and made my job a whole lot easier.

For these photos I decided to use my 85mm for the entire shoot.  It required a lot of moving on my part to frame my shots but I am a huge fan of the images that this lens is able to capture.  The background just melts away and the couple is tack sharp at f/4.0

While on location this early there was very little background interference from the public.  This allowed us to move about the park in a way that allowed us to capture shots that would otherwise be filled with people.  Since I started photographing in southern California finding locations that give a private feel can be a challenge.  The most effective way I have found to photographing without a lot of people around is to schedule my photo shoots either early in the morning or late in the evening.

I also included another lets edit video where I take you through one of the black and white photos and show you my editing process from beginning to end.  Also 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.

A Santa Clarita Maternity Session

In this video see behind the scenes while I talk about my shoot with @megasourus_rex.

Included below are a few of the images we captured while out a the Wiliam S. Hart ranch and museum in Santa Clarita, CA.

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Have you taken photos using a handful of locations for your clients? Do shoot at the same places or try to find new ones for each session? 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.

Pictures in the Park w/the Langston Family

Summer photo session with Anthony, Christy and their yellow lab Jack

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Driving towards Newbury Park on a warm Saturday afternoon we were met with the wonderful surprise of a ten degree difference in temperature.  Given the heat that we have been living with this summer it was a welcome change.  When scheduling photo sessions in the summer season Its good to check the weather ahead of time to be sure it isn't too hot out.  The heat can cause a lot of discomfort for a client and that discomfort will show through in the photos. On the 101 freeway as we drove toward our shoot we even caught a glimpse of a fire burning off in the distance.

We met on location at 6:30pm.  The sun was still far from ready to set but the light we had was great none the less.  Christy, her husband Anthony and their dog Jack are close friends of my fiancee.  Christy and Anthony were a pleasure to work with. Their dog Jack was full of energy like most labs but when it was time to take their photos he was very well behaved.  My fiancee and Christy have been friends for almost ten years.  When Christy asked to have her photos taken it was just about setting a date.  

The park Christy selected for her photoshoot was just a few steps away from their new home.  I try to do as much research as possible before shooting at a new location. This helps me plan the path we will take through our photoshoot and ensure we get the photos we want. In this instance I wasn't able to make it out to survey the area prior to the shoot.  I relied on Google maps and screen shots taken by others who have visited that park before.  I find it helpful to use Instagram when doing research on a new location.  More often than not I find a large amount of photos taken by others who are familiar with the best angles to photograph from.

Since the sun was still rather high in the sky we began our shoot posing under a tree.  The shade helps to prevent harsh light and shadows from being cast on a persons face. One thing I learned to watch out for is light spilling through the branches.  It can create a hard light spot or spots on a person that isn't easy to edit out in post.

From there we moved into the clearing while still remaining covered by the trees shade.  I tried a few different lenses to incorporate the grand landscape in the background.  Having started out taking landscape photos I like to incorporate the surrounding area whenever possible in my work with people.

Have you had your photos taken on a hot summer day? Also what do you do to manage harsh sunlight? 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.

Joe, Breanda, and Their Maternity Session

With their babies arrival quickly approaching Joe and Breanda took a little time to have the story of their happy pregnancy captured with photos.

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When Breanda asked me to shoot her maternity photos I was super excited.  Capturing important moments in peoples lives is one of the greatest perks of being a photographer, and I am always humbled when asked.  We went over a few of the things she wanted for their maternity session and set a date to meet  The location however was something to be determined.  I have lived here in Southern California for going on two years, and I am still exploring my surroundings.  With little knowledge of the Santa Clarita area I turned to the Internet to research possible places for the couples maternity session. I narrowed my search down to three. The William S. Hart Ranch and Museum, Valencia Glen Park, and finally an area near Bridgeport Park.  Breanda liked the idea of having their photos taken at the William S. Hart Museum. She was more than familiar with the area having just had her baby shower there the previous weekend. After settling in on the location I headed over to the park to scope out the area and find some places to pose the happy couple.  The area we would be photographing at required some lite hiking but Joe and Breanda were up for the chalange.

On the day of the shoot we met up early at 8am. It was an overcast day and it remained that way throughout the shoot. I welcomed the natural soft box that the clouds provided because it eliminated any harsh light that would otherwise be cast onto the couple.  At the base of the hike I snapped a few test shots to get my settings and from there we headed to our first shoot location. Having checked out the area earlier in the week I broke the hike up into four rest/photo spots. This would ensure my couple didn't look as if they had run a marathon in their photos.

On a side note: photographing a couple who is willing to put in the leg work and hike is awesome for getting a great scene to pose at. I recommend packing some water for your clients. A little extra service can go a long way. 

 At our first spot I had the couple pose next to an old tree. I had them run through a few simple poses to get comfortable with the camera. I find having a couple start out sitting or leaning on something helps take their mind off of what their feet are doing and can allow them to focus more on engaging each other in a more relaxed way.

After this location I had the couple move ahead toward a landing on top of some stairs in the trail.  Having them standing at a higher vantage point than myself felt like it represented  the path they were on as parents, and that even with help from loved ones it is ultimately a path they will navigate together. Due to the overcast morning the sky was a flat gray. To compensate for the lacking background I framed this shot so that I would have a few for ground elements around the edges.  This provided texture and naturally brings you into the photo so that your focuse is on Joe and Breanda. The wood fence also provided a nice leading line toward the couple.

From there we moved up towards the third location. It was a clearing over looking Santa Clarita and the park down below. A single bench provided a comfortable view and served as the perfect spot for images to be shot at a wider focal length.  For these shots I used the 50mm prime to drink in a little more of the surroundings. 

Our final location on the trail was at a small building with wooden railing and some old bars covering the windows.  This building overlooked trail we had hiked and was a place I made sure to save for the end of our session.  Whenever Im out scouting locations I keep a mental note of my favorite spots and try to save those for the end of the shoots.  It has been my experience that near the end of a photo session everyone is a little more at ease than they were in the beginning.  Having a comfortable couple with a great location makes for some awesome pictures.  Breanda had also packed a few sentimental items to use as props. So it was here were we got creative.

I took most of these shots on the balcony with my 85mm prime.  I love the quality of the images I get with it.  We took a few photos with the props, and some solo shots of them on their own before calling it a wrap.  As we made our decent back down the path we came across a really cool looking log cabin.  Since it was on the way we all thought it would be great grab some last minute photos before we called it a day.  We went for a shot of them standing at opposite sides of the stairs landing, and then finished with a fun photo of them belly to baby belly.

I definitely had a blast working with these two.  They are a fun couple and are well on their way to being awesome parents.

Have you had maternity photos require a little exercise to get to the locations? 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.   

Portrait session with @Laurie Love

Laurie is a Certified Family Nurse Practitioner serving the people of Santa Clarita/Valencia, and providing education on how to protect health & prevent illness.

I meet up with Laurie and her husband Donald around mid morning in Santa Clarita, CA. For today's shoot the goal was to get some awesome portraits for Lauries' website, and finish the session out with some photos of both her and Donald.  We began with a traditional behind the desk shot. Whenever I work with someone new I like to go through a few simple poses to help with becoming comfortable in front of the camera. Lauries office was heavily backlit by the natural sunlight coming in from the morning. This is where knowing your camera really helps. I knew that the dynamic range my camera could capture was pretty good.  I wanted to play it safe though so I shot this photo slightly under exposed to prevent blowing out the background in camera. When it comes to editing its a good rule of thumb to preserve as much data in the image as possible. If you blow out the light or crush the black point that information is lost and cannot be pulled out in Lightroom.  Its nice to have more to work with when editing anyways. I shot my indoor portraits at ISO 640, f/4.0, and 1/400s

From there we moved outdoors for more candid photos. A few yards from the office were some trees and a nice hill covered in green plants.  The shade helped to soften the light while the hill provided a nice backdrop.  When taking portraits I like to offer a wide range of looks. I feel that a good portrait is determined by the client. I may have a selection of images that I really like but more often than not the clients tend to have a very different list of favs. The outdoor portraits were shot with my 85mm prime lens ISO100, f/4.0, and 1/250s

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Winding down toward the end of the shoot Donald got some camera time along with their two little pups.  In the beginning of my photography career dogs were my fist models when learning to take portraits.  So I love whenever I can get a chance to work with both people and their pets.  Working with both Laurie and Donald was a lot of fun. They are a great couple, and I got to learn a lot about them both during our photo session. The final images were shot at ISO 400, f/4.0, and 1/320s with my 85mm prime.

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Be sure to follow Laurie on her Facebook page (here) for helpful tips and advice on living a happy and healthy life. Also 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.

A Bakersfield Engagement Session

Making a day trip to Bakersfield for some Engagement photos

A few weeks before deciding on plans for the memorial weekend my fiancé was contacted by an old co-worker who had recently tied the knot.  She had gone through the process of planning her own wedding and didn't book any engagement photos or wedding photographer.  Her Husband owned the tux worn on the wedding day and her dress was still in immaculate condition. Instead of trying to re-create the day we decided on taking very formal (dressed up) engagement photos.

One of the things I enjoy about photography is the ability to tell the story you want. The audience viewing your photos doesn't know if you took the photos before or after your wedding making an engagement session something that can happen at any time.

Before meeting up at The Park at Riverwalk in Bakersfield CA we made the day into a family road trip.  With the car loaded, and all batteries charged we set out from Van Nuys on a short one hour drive north.  Being the lightweight that I am when it comes to driving our first stop was McDonalds for some iced coffees.  Now were off and cooking.  With caffeine in my system I was charged and ready for the rest of the day.  Traffic on the road was really light given that it was a Holliday weekend. Once we hit Bakersfield we took some time to stretch our legs and give our son a break from his car seat.  The outlets at Tejon served that purpose for us.

After a brief break from the drive we were back in the car and off to meet our couple for their photo session.  The park was packed with lots of locals all with the same idea to cool off and enjoy some BBQ and ice-cream.  Taking a short time to survey the area I knew I would need to focus as much on my couple as I would on what or who is behind them.  Any random person, cooler, or BBQ pit could easily take away from the focus of the photos. 

To start out I had them standing in front of a stone pillar.  It adds some texture to the background and we started our shoot a little early so we had a little time before the sun would be offering premium lighting conditions.  This pillar was located at the front of the park and offered time for all of us to get comfortable with taking photos around such a large crowd. 

From there we moved to the water.  Kids were swimming in the background so again I adapted to the surroundings and positioned my couple accordingly so as to not have anyone interfering in the background.  By now we were all settling in and becoming comfortable.  This is the time where I break out the posing ideas.  My fiancé carried her phone with a few photo poses but I find its one thing to tell people how to stand or position themselves and its another to make them look natural or comfortable.  Here is where I provide the internal monologue for them as they pose.  I suggest what they might be thinking or what they might be looking at off in the distance.  Anything that breaks their concentration and gets a laugh or moment of relaxation.

By the end of the shoot the sun was offering some amazing light.  I shot this entire session with my 85mm prime lens and got some interesting lens flare with it.

Have you ever had your engagement photos taken after your wedding? 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.

Family Photos with Johanna and Her Boys

Mother's Day is a celebration honoring our mother, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society

My fiancé has known Johanna for over twenty one years, and has watched her boys grow from tiny babies to young men.  We met up for out shoot on Saturday and went over to Balboa Lake in Van Nuys.  The lake is a great place for photos here in the city.  With plenty of trees, bridges, and water to work with. It was slightly overcast this day so we went to the lake two hours before sunset just to ensure we had good light to work with.  

Our first location was by a wood fence around the perimeter of the lake. I picked this spot for a few reasons. First it was farthest from where we met so as we made progress through our shoot we would also be making our way back to the car, and secondly I think people relax more when they can sit or lean on something.  Walking between locations helps with small talk and getting to know each other if your working together for the first time. This helps ease people I work with into getting comfortable in front of the camera. If the people I am working with are up for a little walk on our shoot I recommend comfortable shoes. Being able to move around to different locations provides a diverse collection of photos by the end of our session.

Johanna and her boys were great about walking to each place at the lake. It was during those walks between shooting that we got a chance to catch up with her boys to hear how they are doing with school and what plans they have for summer vacation.  

Before heading out on a shoot I take the time look up photos of where we will be on google and even Instagram.  This helps me decide where we can meet and unless the client has a specific place they want to shoot, I will have a few places picked out ahead of time. When searching a locations photos online the first to come up are usually the most popular spots. I like to save those for the end of our photo sessions because it takes time for people to get comfortable. Also the light tends to get better near the last half of the shoot if you time it right. 

Have you recently had your family portraits taken?  What was your experience like, and did you shoot at multiple locations? 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.