The Light + Location Family Shoot

Its often said that [quality of] light is more important than location during a photoshoot. Few things in life are worse than a beautiful location with bad light. A skilled photographer that can find or create the good light will make great art in even an undesirable location. I once shot a wedding in an oversized garage with great light and it came out so awesome that I made a sample album from the day. What beats good light + bad location? How about beautiful light AND beautiful location?!?! I'm always amazed at the landscape treasures that Tucson holds. Who knew the desert held such greenery year round? Here we're shooting at a wetland where treated city water recharges the local aquifer. So maybe it is a bad location if you find that gross. But still myriad beautiful colors and composition to be found in such a setting for the optimistic spirit.

 

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Fall Colors At Their Peak on Mount Lemmon!

Living in the desert has its advantages: You're almost never cold, you see plenty of beautiful rock formations, gorgeously photogenic sunsets, and a plethora of hardy desert wildlife. One annual mainstay that we often find ourselves unable to enjoy are the seasonal fall colors found on leafy, deciduous trees. Enter the nearby 'Sky Islands' as they're affectionately referred to.

I took a drive up Mount Lemmon to enjoy fall colors in the usual beauties: Bear Wallow, Marshal Gulch, and a few other hidden gems. They're not too hard to find, but you'll need a USFS pass to access some locations. They're $5 daily, but I paid $20 for yearly access, as it also grants one to Madera  and Sabino Canyon as well. I'll say the colors tend to peak around the third week of October, and in a few short weeks, all the leaves will, well.. fall. Get up there soon before they're all gone!

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Erin's Headshots

If there's one thing I love as a small business owner, its a repeat customer. Not only does this mean they trusted me with their photographic needs previously, but I served them well enough for them to return. So I was flattered and happy that Erin called on me to set up a headshot for her.

With today's digitized world, your headshot may be the first and possibly the only impression that a potential client or job recruiter may see of you. In Tucson's highly competitive job market, there's nothing quite like the professional image that your head shot will impress upon your current and future colleagues.

My portrait sessions are about an hour and a half long. This includes time for a few wardrobe changes, backdrop and lighting adjustments to complement your hair, outfit, eye color, etc, as well as just some time getting comfortable in front of the camera so that we can capture natural, unforced expression. I typically deliver about a dozen images for which my valuable clients receive high resolution, unwatermarked images with a limited copyright release to use their images professionally as well as print for themselves. Contact me to schedule a shoot today!  

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Black and white boudoir in a downtown loft

I often don't find myself in a 'thematic' mood, per se, when it comes to publishing a collection of images from a shoot. But when Phoenix model Happy Kat came down to Tucson for a shoot I just couldn't help but note how the window light in this upscale loft would look great for a black and white collection, perhaps with a bit of contrast and grain added in post production for some extra texture to the depth. Thanks Kat for all your ideas and energy as it turned out to be a fantastic shoot! 

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A Boudoir Photoshoot

As the Southern Arizona summer heat rages on, it becomes more challenging to stay creative in the summer months. Headshots are one way to spend the time, but so is using soft, indoor window light for full length portraits of people. While sunrise and sunset tend to saturate colors for a 'warmer' glow and are therefore the preferred times for shooting most beautiful desert landscape images, I prefer shooting during the midday hours for window light given the overall volume of light as well as the decreased likelihood that sun will be shining directly through the window onto my subject(s). Window light is one of my favorite light sources as it is soft, directional, diffuse, and of course, free!  There's no batteries to charge, gear to haul, or obnoxious stands [for me] to trip over during the shoot.

Enter Tucson model Annabelle. For my first boudoir shoot, she made my job much easier. I am grateful for her hard work and preparation for the shoot!

I must also thank event planner Kathryn L'Heureux, a rising star in the Arizona wedding planner industry, for assisting with this shoot. As a male photographer I will only participate in a shoot like this with another female present or a household member of the model present.

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Portraits of Amanda -- Tucson Headshot Photographer

I was thrilled to welcome Amanda and her childhood bestie Millie for some headshots and a chance to experiment with some new lighting setups I've recently invested in. I've never really had the chance to photograph such beautiful red hair in a studio setting and I've always been intrigued by the idea of trying to make red hair obvious in black and white processing. Do you get a sense of her beautiful red hair even in the black and white photo?

A studio quality headshot is a must have for working professionals, aspiring models, and just about anybody. True: you can always snap a quick and easy self portrait, dare I call it a "selfie,"  with your camera's phone, and resolution of camera phones are quickly catching up to professional cameras. Nevertheless, there's more to a photo than just megapixels. There's just no comparison to the flattering perspective a telephoto lens brings as well as the DSLRs ability to trigger off camera lighting, and control depth of field for those nice, blurry out-of-focus backgrounds. Please contact me if you'd like a headshot today!

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Diana's Downtown Tucson Fashion Shoot

Tucson model Diana Acosta brought her sons downtown and we met up for a fashion shoot. It was fun to show off some of her handmade wares and shoot in front of some of the iconic architecture of downtown. Moreover, I'm always challenging myself to find ordinary locations and make extraordinary images, often by the creative use of lighting. The reflection shots towards the end of this post, for instance, were shot from the outside of a simple blacked out office window. Other challenges during the day include overpowering the harsh daylight by using powerful strobes. A commonly misunderstood principle of exposure is that the brighter the ambient lighting conditions are, the more (not less) flash power is needed to properly expose our subject. So thanks to her sons for helping us out by carrying the lighting equipment!

 

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A Sunset Glamour Shoot

Cara Marie contacted me through our network of photographers and models here in Tucson. She is an up and coming model while I have been watching desert cactus flowering left and right and been hard up for a reason to photograph some people in front of one! So next time you drive by a patch of desert in town, lookout for this one photographer tripping over thorny things to make a great image. Despite the challenges of wind and relentless spring pollen, we made a sunset shoot happen. Thank you Cara for being on time (early, in fact) and ready to make some great images!

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Mt. Lemmon Engagement Photography--featuring April and Chris

Many congratulations to April and Chris, who will be wed next March here in Tucson at the beautiful Westin La Paloma resort. Some clients just make a photographers job so easy, as do these school yard sweet hearts. We took a walk through the forested peaks of Mount Lemmon and watched another beautiful sunset here in southern Arizona from Windy Point. Thank you for the privilege of capturing your engagement story. Shout out to Lauren Chon for assisting with lighting!

Pastor Tim and Lyndol are Retired!

Many congratulations to Pastor Tim and his wife Lyndol after a long and storied career in full time ministry. I had the privilege of being called by their daughter Kim, a talented photographer in her own right, to photograph their festivities. As you can see, Kim and the rest of the church threw them quite the bash! Desert Son Community Church started in the humbled beginnings of an elementary school, like many others. In time it grew to not only its own campus but also planting new churches as well. All this in addition to supporting other great community service programs such as More Than A Bed, Angel Tree, and full time missionaries across the globe. One need only look at the size of the crowd in attendance to see the many lives they have touched over the years. 

In Pastor Tim, we gain an appreciation for how busy and hard working a ministers job can be. In addition to preparing sermons for weekend worship, they are officiating everything from weddings to funerals, as well as overseeing church administration. I wish them the best as they set out their life on a new adventure on the East Coast to spend time enjoying retirement, participate in new activities and hobbies, and watching their beautiful grand kids grow.

 

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Trash the Dress Shoot at an Abandoned Warehouse in Tucson

If I need any reminder what an active industry of creatives Tucson is blessed with, I need remember no further than this weekend when fellow photographer Shawna Cadwell invited Kalei Harmon and myself invited me to a trash the dress shoot.  Trash the dress shoots don't always have to involve actually destroying the dress: sometimes we can play around with paint, sometimes we make a mess at a waterfall, or just shoot more photos of a newly wed bride and groom as a couple that time limited on the day of a busy wedding, and you can preserve your dress for posterity.

Contrary to usual event sequence this particular shoot happened to precede a wedding as the beauteous Nini Pear Pear brought along her groom-to-be Julio. So in a sense, they enjoyed a most unique engagement shoot whilst three photographers played around with paint, smoke and even a little bit of broken glass.  What a fun break from the usual gig and the chance to collaborate on an artistic project with my colleagues. Other photographers in my market are not my competition--they are my colleagues.  I feel so blessed to work in an industry where we can share work referrals, help each other out, and come up with some bad ass images working together.

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International Wildlife Museum

I took a break from wedding photos this week to join a class field trip to the International Wildlife Museum, which "is dedicated to increasing knowledge and appreciation of the diverse wildlife of the world as well as explaining the role of wildlife management in conservation." The Museum boasts a large and diverse collection of taxidermy ranging from the Rocky Mountain elk to exotic African plains game. Students and young children will also enjoy the hands on exhibits and live presentations from wildlife biologists on a variety of reptiles and insects. Thank you to the Museum,  Safari Club International Foundation, as well as American outdoor enthusiasts such as anglers and hunters, whose recreational license fees and excise tax contributions have funded the North American model of conservation into the worldwide paragon of wildlife management.

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Flowers! How to Preserve Your Wedding Boquet

When planning and budgeting for a wedding photographer, you’ll often hear it said “the only thing you’ll have to remember your day by is your photography.” As a Tucson based wedding photographer that makes money off this sentiment, I cannot be mad when your friends preach this to you. However, there are other keepsakes you can and should plan ahead to save for memory sake. These include, but are certainly not limited to, your dress, a program, invitations, and of course, your bouquet.

“Wait a minute!” you say, “I’ve always loved the bouquet toss at a wedding, and I want to do that, too!” Well there’s a simple solution for that. Talk with your florist about ordering an extra ‘throwaway bouquet’ that is lesser in price and composition and you can still keep your bouquet from the day.

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There are several methods of preserving flowers, I’ll quickly walk through them from easiest to most complex. Naturally the progression of costs tends to follow the effort. Whichever you chose, its important to remember that the sooner you start on your preservation, the better the results will be. In other words, if you spend top dollar to mail off your bouquet after you get back from your honeymoon and they’re already rotten, you’ll likely have ended up with much better results if you started on them soon after the wedding with a more simple method of preservation. 

The easiest and cheapest method to preserving the flowers from your special wedding day is to press them in a book. This takes a few days, and can be done with materials you already have in your house. A phone book is probably best. In order to avoid imparting ink and toner from the pages onto your flowers, place a paper towel closest to the flowers on both sides, followed by wax paper. Then slam the book shut and dance on it with your new groom… or just place a few more books on top and leave it alone for a few weeks ;-)

As a photographer, pressing is my least favorite method. Sure, your pressed flowers can be neatly framed in a two-dimensional manner and presented on your wall for generations to come. But, what did you hire me for? Oh that’s right: two-dimensional presentations that can be framed for your wall for generations to come. I prefer to maintain the three dimensional nature of a bouquet.

Bouncing to the other end of the spectrum, we have professional freeze-drying. This will involve sending your bouquet off to a professional where it can be dried in a special oven. The preserving company will usually frame the flowers in an airtight box (thereby keeping out moisture) and returning it to you in a beautiful display box that can either be hung on the wall or placed in your closet. Expect to spend $500 or more for this process. Is it worth it? You must decide.

Moving back to the middle of the spectrum we have my two favorite methods. The better of the two is a method using silica gel that is comparatively tedious. Basically: buy a large, airtight plastic box. Gently place your bouquet in it, and gently pour the silica crystals around the flowers, inside their structure, and up over the top of them. Close off the box and in five to seven days you not only have dried flowers but less wilted ones than the next option below.

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Expect to spend about $50 on enough silica if you’re cutting the tops of your flowers off the stem, and maybe two to three times that much if you want to keep your flowers whole. You’re also going to invest in a very large plastic box if you want to keep your stems attached to the head of the flowers.  Its more common to cut the flower heads off the stem and use wires to attach them to a backing for presentation after the drying process is complete.  The good news is that the silica can be reconstituted in the oven and used again later.

 

Here is the other of the two middle options, which happens to be the method my dear wife and I used more than a decade ago. Its cheap and easy. Plus, here today you get to judge for yourself how well the method works. Its simply the hanging method. You’ve probably heard of it before. Simply unravel your bouquet, group small numbers of flowers together, and drop from a hanger. Pant hangers with clips work best, but you can finagle them up using a variety of household objects, such as twisty ties, clothespins, etc.

Let the flowers dry in a room without moisture, so a bathroom you shower in is not ideal. After the flowers are dry, regroup and spray it down with a lacquer or more simply: some hair spray. We purchased a cheap plastic box meant for storing a signed basketball from a sports memorabilia vendor. It is not vacuum sealed, but being that we live in an arid climate we are quite comfortable with how it looks after a decade.

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There are other methods that involve use of an oven, microwave, hot wax and dehydrator. Results can vary and the use of an active heating process makes me nervous. The more heat you apply, the more you should expect the flowers to shrink, and unpredictably so. Let me know if one of these methods has worked out for you!

Just like your wedding photography, you have several options, that range marginal in quality but very easy and cheap, to spending a few bucks and getting the very best. There are myriad expenses that will surround your wedding, and you must decide for yourself where to allocate your time and treasure.  Whatever you chose, make it a point to have a plan going into it before your wedding. Don’t come back from your honeymoon before even considering your options. Its best to hand your bouquet off to a responsible family member who will begin the preservation process while the flowers still look fresh for a beauty that will—forgive me—echo throughout eternity.

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Second Shooter at Tiffany and Josh's Outdoor Wedding

Here's a few from a beautiful outdoor Jewish wedding that I shot a few months ago. This was with industry veteran Jen Schrantz, who helped me get started in wedding photography. As a second shooter, my primary duties are to cover the groom and his groomsmen getting ready for the day, as well as cover a the wedding ceremony in a journalistic sense. Above all, that means nailing the first kiss. As is often the case when assisting a primary shooter, my duties with off camera lighting kept my hands a little too full to shoot the reception; I look forward to ways to continually improve my lighting skills. Here are just a few I added to their album. Congratulations, Tiffany and Josh and may your future together be as bright as your memories on the day you started out together.

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Family Christmas Photos at El Conquistador in Oro Valley

When Stacy called me to set up a big family shoot for Christmas photos at the last minute I only needed to ask two questions: 'where?' and 'when?' So shot their big get together at the Last Territory & Courtyard at the El Conquistador resort in Oro Valley, Arizona, and we had a blast doing it! This is about a 20 minute drive north of the Tucson area set in the shadow of the beautiful Santa Catalina Mountains. What a beautiful family legacy that grandma and grandpa so proudly enjoy. All the best wishes from my family to yours for a joyous holiday season and warm family memories from these images we made. Thank you for your business.

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Tucson Christmas Family Photo Special!

If you're looking for a quick and easy family photo session for annual Christmas cards, look no further! I've received many inquiries for simple family shoots so I am offering a multi-family special. Bring at least three other families, and I'll deliver to you three high resolution digital images with a personal print release within 48 hours. Watermarked images optimized for social media will also be provided. Sitting fee will be $75.00 per family, payable in advance. All families must be ready at the same start time (non-negotiable). All photos to be shot at the same location. Minimum four families per session. Contact me today to schedule a time!