I'm so glad you found me! I'm a San Francisco photographer, and this blog charts my journey in the ever-evolving world of photography. One of the things I love about photography is that it's a journey, not a destination. I'm constantly learning and meeting wonderful people. Please peruse the blog to your heart's content, then check out my website and feel free to contact me! (I love hearing from you.)

“Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow." – Imogen Cunningham

“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” – Edward Steichen

Yoga Number 3


We just spent a weekend in the snow, but I spent it mostly being sick and burrowing under the bedcovers rather than frolicking in new powder. So here's a photo from our last snow trip, when I was lucky enough to get a day with brilliant blue skies.

Have to keep the roads clear, you know!

The Vine

I am always in awe of the way life finds its way into unfamiliar and harsh places. Seems like no matter where you look, no matter how forbidding or remote, how devoid of nutrients or untouched by the sun, life makes it through.

True, ivy on a brick wall is a fairly common sight. But it's still pretty amazing.


Sometimes when I'm given the choice of two movies to watch, I choose the worse one. Just because I've noticed a trend: bad Hollywood movies have much better and interesting light than good Hollywood movies. Has anyone else noticed this? Am I all alone here?

I feel like your Oscar nominees, in general, try much harder to make it look like natural light.Your blockbusters, on the other hand, are not quite so restrained. Multiple light sources? Check. Looks like no natural light anywhere in the world? Check! Gels? Oh hells yes. Completely different lighting in exactly the same place depending on whether the character is male or female? Double and triple check. Next time you're watching a movie that has a scene with a male and female actor, check it out. Chances are almost 100% that the lighting on the chick will be a lot softer than the lighting on the dude.

I won't lie, sometimes I watch entire scenes in movies and the only thing I pay attention to is the shape and number of catchlights in the characters' eyes. This may be some kind of dangerous obsession.

One movie in particular that flouted the bad movie = fun light rule was Inception. Great film, gorgeous light. I dare you to watch parts of it without the dialogue just to look at the lighting.

Anyway, I felt like this image had a bit of a cinematic feel to it. Let me know what you think.

The Tongue: A Triptych

It's not how I take a bath, lord knows. (And sometimes it's not how she takes one either. Yes, we wash our cat. Feel free to laugh - but it keeps her cleaner, and our mild cat allergies don't flare up at all.) I don't think I could have the patience for so much licking and swiping, and then repeat, repeat, repeat. Last week I just stood above her as she washed on my gray office chair (more hers than mine, honestly) and held the camera shutter button down.

I think it's safe to say that my cat is pretty cute. And that pink tongue is just the icing on the cake.

Available Light

Who doesn't love available light? It's available (unavailable light is so frustrating!), and it's the lightest light around. Nothing to carry but you and your camera. And sometimes it's a bit flat and dull, yes. Or at worst it's harsh and too contrasty to capture. But sometimes it's pure magic.

Hard as it might be to believe, it's blossom season in San Francisco again. I may have gone a little hog wild with blossom photos last year at this time. I'll try to keep it to a minimum if I can stand it this year. But here's the first one. Gorgeous.

Self-Portrait: January

Sometime in the last week I remembered my resolution to post a self portrait every month this year. What was I thinking?? I realized that self-portraits are actually pretty hard. For a while I had visions of toting my tripod somewhere beautiful, setting it all up, prefocusing, using my remote trigger (which, by the way, where is it? does it still work? who knows). Gosh that seemed like a lot of work.

So I took the easy way out and found a reflective surface. And not even a very faithful one, there are really two reflections of me there, kind of merging together. I propose that we think of this as a practice self-portrait and remember that there are still 11 more to come. Fortunately fore me, I've left a lot of room for improvement!

(Oh, and you should check out this video about a roll of film left in Prospect Park. Interesting stuff. Especially if, like Mike Johnson, you think it might be a fake.)

Right Now I'm Loving . . . January

Honeycrisp Apples. I've always been an apple lover, but man! Honeycrisps are even better than my old go-to favorite, Braeburn. And I'm a picky apple eater. But these are perfect: crisp, juicy, sweet but not too sweet. Love at first bite. Incredible that they've only existed for about 19 years. Science is amazing, isn't it?

JetPens Ohhh I wish I had never discovered this site. it all started when I picked up a pen someone had left behind, fell in love with it and then discovered it wasn't available in any stores. Then I found out it was from Japan (as all good stationery supplies are) and googled it, just for fun. Well, if you've ever wanted to buy some Japanese pens but didn't know where to look, your wait is over! Just be careful, it's addictive. The pen I fell in love with, Pentel's Hi-Tec-C, is right here.

Behance Action Journal A related tale of stationery addiction began at SFMoMA where I was innocently browsing the museum store and chanced upon the Behance Action Cahier. I thought it would be a cute, portable way to carry around my endless to-do lists. And it was, it's awesome. Plus the paper is 100% post-consumer recycled. And I do actually feel a lot more productive. (Is that the placebo effect?) These are hard to find it stores, but you can order them online. And in person, they're gorgeous. Especially the Action Journal which I recently graduated to. Now I just need some Action Stickers to round it all out.

And last but certainly not least, my Fresh Sugarplum Lip Treatment. Makes chapped lips good as new almost immediately, plus it smells and feels amazing, and it has an awesome color (probably only for the ladies, though, sorry gents!).

*Full disclosure: the only relationship I have with these companies is that I waste my hard-earned money on their nefariously attractive products.*

Photoblogs I Love

Last week I talked about my favorite photography blogs, here are my favorite photo blogs. Light on text, heavy on pictures, these are generally a visual feast.

Accessible by Uwe Eischens Incredibly well processed, often surreally beautiful landscape and intimate landscape shots. His pictures often seem to glow.

Cornforth Images Some of the best landscape and nature photography around, in my opinion.

Darwin Wiggett A cross between a photography blog and a photoblog, but still more space given to images than text. Great work from Darwin himself as well as many other featured photographers.

Eli Reinholdtsen GREAT reflection images, that's her specialty, but also some wonderful street work. I find her blog a good reminder that everything doesn't have to be perfect or straight to be interesting and beautiful.

Tafari's Mindspill Sometimes controversial, always entertaining, and some good photos as well. I particularly enjoy his work with flowers.

The Still Image With Crash Taylor I really like the premise of this blog, which is to take great photos from all kinds of photographers and have the photographers themselves speak about the process of making the image. My only beef with it is that Crash always has one of his images in the post as well, and frankly they're usually not as good or as interesting. But that's probably being a bit picky.

Anyway, please feel free to leave your favorite photo blogs in the comments! (Not that my Google Reader needs to subscribe to anything else, quite the opposite!)

Old School

Can you remember the last time you made a call on one of these?

Marc . . .

 . . . asked for a head shot for a job application, so I obliged.



This is a random picture, because I can't blog without one. 
After the amazing year I had in 2010, I think some thanks are long overdue. So in no particular order, great thanks go to:

-My boyfriend, for helping me and supporting me in my photography, and always taking the time when I say, "What do you think of this shot?" and then actually giving me his honest opinion. Sometimes repeated a hundred times in one day. I kid you not. I owe him more than I can ever repay.
-My friends and family, for always saying nice things about my pictures. It's really helpful to hear, guys.
-Miguel, Jose, Phoebe, all the fellow photographers who are willing to talk photography with me. Thanks for not telling me what a dork I am!
-YOU, my wonderful wonderful readers and commenters. Special thanks go to Danudin (Ron) Tammy, and Scott for their wonderful comments on many many many of my posts. I read and appreciate every comment, even if I don't reply. You have no idea how much I appreciate the concept that I am not talking to myself here on the blog, day after day. And you guys are the ones that make that possible.

To express my thanks, I'll be giving 3 8x10 prints of mine to one person who comments on this post. The winner will be able to choose from all photos I published on the blog in 2010.

The Rules: If you're going to comment, please answer this question: if you could go anywhere and photograph anything with any equipment, even allowing for time travel, what would you shoot and why? To fend off any claims of favoritism the winning answer will be chosen randomly. But I still say you should be extra creative. It's good for the soul.

I can't wait to hear what you have to say!

One Way

I was walking along a San Francisco street the other day with a friend when a guy stopped us to ask directions. I pulled out my phone while my compatriot gave general directions. "Just go to Market Street, walk down, you'll see it. You know, it's sort of over there-ish . . . "

The man semi-thanked us and seemed about to go on his way. Then he paused. "Are you for the redistribution of wealth?" he broached, off-handedly, as if he were commenting on the weather.

I was a bit taken aback. "That's a pretty general question, isn't it?" I asked.

He seemed confused that I might think so. "No . . . " he hedged.

I continued, "I mean, what wealth, and to who?"

"Oh, all of it."

"Like Robin Hood?" I queried. He looked blank. "Robin Hood?" I repeated.

"Oh, yeah! Exactly." And then he handed us each a flyer, and said, "It's going to happen soon. You're the 59th person I've given this flyer to. Everyone's excited about it."

I wasn't sure what to say, so I paused a moment. He added, "Anyway, I'm on my way to the Apple store. You said turn right on Market, right?"

He walked away.

I shouted after him, "Enjoy the Apple Store!"

Alice in Wonderland

This shot was kind of an experiment/accident. This wonderful cube sits in downtown SF, doing I'm-not-quite-sure-what, housing some kind of art maybe? I was out shooting with a friend, and trying to use my tilt-shift lens and get the whole thing in the shot (tough, because it is one big sucker), and I accidentally tilted it the wrong way (see all those vertical lines converging towards the sky?) and then I kind of liked the zaniness of it, so I shifted the lens as well, making the two sides of the image go out of focus.

And then, the magic ingredient, the right woman walked by. I had actually been waiting for a skateboarder to complete the image, since there were lots of them around, but she walked into the frame first. And she was perfect.

Anyway, this is a little different from my normal style, let me know what you think.

Here's to a Great Man

I was with a group of internationals recently who innocently wondered: why a day for Martin Luther King, Jr? Wasn't he just an author? Not even a president or elected politician, so what's the big deal?

Well. I resisted the urge to give them a huge lecture, and instead only gave a small one (I think). I think we all know what the big deal is. He is a symbol for what is both right and wrong with America: our racism, and also our incredible capacity for change. He changed our country for the better (though not alone), showing us all both the power of the individual and also the masses, and the real change that can be made through nonviolent protest. I think we could all stand to take a page out of his book (myself definitely included!), and steadily work for the change we want to see. And the rights of the people around us.

Something to aspire to. So, Happy Birthday, Rev. King. We'll be thinking of you.

Moon Over San Francisco


I took this photo tonight after work on my way home. I took about 5 photos of bicyclists coming towards me and then my camera battery died (let this be a lesson! always charge your batteries!) which was a real shame since the light was absolutely gorgeous. Also I think with a few more frames I could have got a better shot. ;)

Still there's enough I like about this one to post. I've been shooting less recently, trying to focus more on starting the business and getting all that handled, and then less on processing new 'fine art' (translation: no one asked me to take them) photos. But I miss it, and I've kind of run out of stuff to post on the blog. So I think I'm going to try to start shooting a little more.

Anyway, let me know what you think about this one. I wanted the bicyclist blurry, and in the bottom right corner of the shot. But I still think there are a few things that could be improved.


I've never professed to be a foodie. Foodies, by definition, have to be REALLY SERIOUS about their food, and I honestly try to be REALLY SERIOUS about as few things as possible. Only the life or death scenarios. Or . . .  what outfit to pick for an important meeting. Musicians being in tune. And, you know, photography stuff.

So if I'm not a foodie (which I'm not. Foie gras? No thanks. Think of the poor geese) then maybe I'm a food-er. Or -ist. Or something. Evidence? I'm a bit snobby about my cheese. It must be fresh or aged, but nowhere in the middle. Preferably European, although some aged cheddar will do. Dark chocolate, only. Heirloom tomatoes in the summer and asparagus spears in the spring. Farmers markets are my kryptonite. Specialty seasonings leave me all aflutter. And I've discovered that I get a little difficult if I'm not allowed to go shopping for cool ingredients and cook regularly. (And have someone to help me with the cooking. It's way more fun as a team sport.)

Evan can attest to this. We've had a lot of conversations where I say, "I want to be cooking more." And he just doesn't understand the bone-deep nature of that one simple sentence. He thinks it means the same as when I say "I want to be exercising more." Which is actually the opposite, because I wish I didn't have to exercise at all. But I do.

Anyway, this blog post has turned into some weird sort of tangential ditheriness. Those plants up top look edible to me, is all. And I like food. And cooking. We'll leave it at that.

OH, also, as I mentioned a few days ago, Jim Goldstein is doing his yearly collection of links to all the Best of 2010 photoblog posts. It's really quite incredible, there are more than 160. Here's the link, if you want to check it out.

My Favorite Photography Blogs

On the fence about this one. I love the moment, I'm just not sure it works as a photo well as I think it does. 
This is not the same as my favorite photo blogs. That's another blog post. This is for blogs that generally talk more about photography than show it, and some that show a selection of artists, not just one person's work. My blog would not qualify. In fact, it would be disqualified immediately. Mine is definitely a photo blog.

So, photography blogs. In no particular order:

The Online Photographer This is such a great blog. I absolutely check it first every day. It has everything: some camera news (but not too much, because I'm generally not interested in the latest point and shoot, but might have some passing curiosity about a Leica or Micro 4/3 camera), some bodies of work, usually a bit esoteric but high quality, some print offers that I haven't taken advantage of but someday might, some well written random ramblings (usually on Sundays), and various articles about technology or physics or maybe philosophy as they pertain to photography. And that's a piss-poor synopsis, but it gives you a taste. HIGHLY recommended. Really.

The Visual Science Lab I didn't really understand this blog when I started reading it. It's a bit all over the place. When I started reading the author, photographer Kirk Tuck, was obsessed with Olympus cameras and I really couldn't relate, not owning nor even wanting particularly to own an Olympus. But what gear he's shooting with is really beside the point. He is an incredibly prolific writer, spinning out endless essays about the worth of various parts of the photography business and process as a whole. What I love about him most is that he changes his mind almost every week. Yet I wouldn't characterize him as wishy-washy or indecisive. He's just a bit quicksilver, unpredictable. Always a good read. Even when you don't particularly care to purchase or even try the equipment he's talking about.

Joe McNally's Blog Always human, always a great story, most often about the light, it's a good read. Even if, like me, you couldn't even begin to attempt the shots he does in five minutes regularly.

PixelatedImage Blog If you don't know about David Duchemin, you've been under a rock. Ever about the process and the photographer's psyche, and then also the next great image, it's a must read. He hasn't been posting much lately, but you can always check out Craft & Vision to get your fix.

Zack Arias A rare blogger, when he does it's golden. Subscribe via RSS because you'll get tired of checking back. Love his GOYA contests, as well as the video portfolio critiques. We need more, Zack!

Ok, stay tuned for my favorite photoblogs, coming up in a few days! And feel free to post your favorite photography-related blogs in the comments.

The Four Immeasurables

It's brushed silver, which means that it feels soft. I love the saddle shape of it, and that it feels perfectly balanced on my middle finger. It's in Thai, a language I know a very very little of, but still feel close to. It says 'love, passion, joy, equanimity.' Good reminders for us all. It's a Christmas gift from my mother that I just adore. I guess she knew when I mentioned it twice that I was serious!

Anyway, just thought I'd share that with you. You can have another look over at PineappleSeed where it comes from, if you're interested. I don't benefit in any way if you buy something from them, but I think they're a pretty awesome (San Francisco based!) company.

And some more interesting things I found recently around the web:

A lovely video about the Sartorialist here. (He takes photos of people on the street wearing stylish clothing. It's better than that sounds.)

Scott Kelby's Best of 2010 Awards. Worth a click.

Yoga Number 2


I did a shoot yesterday at a local ashram for a friend of mine. It was a lot of fun: soothing music, a warm, calm atmosphere, and a few beautiful people doing amazing things with their bodies.

This image I liked just for its simplicity.

You have to check this out!

One of the most entertaining videos I have seen in a long time. These were stuck in my head for days afterward.

Is There a Bird in That Tree?

I was walking home today from work (feeling very virtuous as I usually take the bus), and I saw this cat. Pulled out my camera, and I took a few shots, this being one.

Walked a little further and I saw a guy very intently photographing something on the sidewalk with a little point-and-shoot. I strolled by him with my hulking DSLR nonchalantly, feeling like 'please don't notice my huge camera!'

At which point he says, "Are you a photographer?"

duh duh DUHHHHHHHHHHH tension builds, what do I say??

A couple of months ago I might have said, "I'm an amateur." or "I want to be a photographer." or "Sometimes." or just "I love photography." BUT NOW? I have a photography business. I get paid to take pictures, which is just amazing and wonderful and terrific and comes with scary accounting software and filing and invoices and . . . yick. But still. Amazing. So I said "YES."

And then we had this great five minute street-corner conversation about film vs digital photography (he used to be a film shooter), and the different signature looks of different cameras, and whether art was dying. We got totally philosophical on the street corner! (To which I said no. Just changing, thankyouverymuch.)

And anyway, did I mention that I love San Francisco? Well, I do.

*PS New logo/watermark. What think you all?

Black and White Reveal

Bet you're tired of this photo by now!
In the end, it seems that most commenters chose the color version as their favorite, and I can't say that I blame them. What prompted me to do all this blacking and whiting was a very interesting article by Mr Jake Garns about the 'unsupported' nature of most digital black and whites. His point was that in most black and white printing of the past, other colors were introduced into the process, whether in the paper or the inks or what have you. This created a richness that digital black and whites simply don't have. He suggests using the duotone feature in Photoshop to give more richness to your blacks. The tutorial is here. I suggest you check it out.

So I decided to do my own experiment. I gave you the color image (1), then a duotoned image (2) (which most of you referred to as 'sepia' in the comments, close enough). And then the image with a black and white layer added to it in PS (3), with a curve to bring out all the details in her eyes and clothing and give the contrast I felt the image needed.

My favorite was the simple black and white conversion in Photoshop. I'm not sure if I did the duotoning process wrong, or chose the wrong colors for the image, but I felt that it lost a lot of detail and became pretty muddy. However, it's not a tutorial I'll forget. I may look it up one more time.

Confusing all of this, of course, is the issue of monitor calibration, and the fact that these images probably looked pretty different depending on which monitor you looked at them on, since there's a lot of fine detail in the highlights that could easily be lost on an overly bright screen.

And then that brings us to image number 4, the one in this post, which I processed in Silver Efex Pro. I feel like this one captures the detail on her face best. But is it my favorite? I'm not sure.

*Still not sure about this new comments option. Lots more people did comment on the last post than usual, but it seems not to be working for some people. Let me know.*

Black and White, What Do You Think?

Ok, here are three versions of one photo. Which one do you like best? Tomorrow I'll tell you what makes them different, and what my preference is. But first, I'd like to hear from you.

Also, I've changed some things about the way comments are organized from here on out. Hopefully it will improve the whole commenting experience. Let me know if it works or doesn't work for you.


The great Jay Maisel always says that the aspects to look for in a photograph are 'light, color, and gesture.' I think he's completely spot-on. And to my detriment I think on average I spend more time looking at the first two than the third, which is arguably more evocative at times. This photo is an attempt to bring the three more into balance and start capturing some of the gestures all around me.

Somewhat related, the rather whimsically name photographer Miss Aniela has a good recent post about the nature of photography and the tension between 'contrived' vs 'natural' shots. Worth reading, I think, if only for a look at her images which are quite good, and mostly fall into the 'contrived' category.

More Leaves

Some more leaves I found on my Dec 24th walk. I must admit that I arranged them on this storm drain, as the way I found them wasn't as compositionally pleasing. You can see the difference that the light makes. Since these were on the ground they were basically front-lit, and you can't see the structure of the leaves as well as in my previous leaf post. But I do appreciate the contrast between the natural and man-made here, and the difference in texture between the smooth leaves and the rusting storm drain.

Also: if you're still on the fence about making New Year's Resolutions (which I am for, honestly, because why not?), you might want to check out Gretchen Rubin's 6 Tips for Sticking to Your Resolutions or (the more photography-appropriate)  The Online Photographer's advice about what kind of resolutions you'd be better off making.

And it's not too late to get on Jim M Goldstein's list of photoblogger's best of 2010. The deadline is January 8.

Plus, a look at the question: is digital cheaper than film? Not sure how I feel about that, honestly.

SF MoMA - Henri Cartier-Bresson


Yesterday that was all I could say. I felt like I had been breathing in the essence of photography. A bit like pure oxygen, it left me slightly light headed and a little euphoric. Why? I went to the Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibit at SFMoMA with my mother and her boyfriend , and it was incredible.

Room after room of amazing black and white prints, gorgeously composed. After about one or two rooms I kind of got it. I started to abstract his photos in my head into the lines they were made up of. Triangles, diagonals, one photo I remember clearly was arranged like a kite: a rhombus of four gentlemen sitting at a table in the foreground, and then a line leading us into the background. And of course, the images are not pure exercises in geometry. They all captured a moment that meant something probably to the world and then also something intensely personal to the subject.

We all know of HCB as the coiner of 'the decisive moment'. But he was also an excellent portraitist. In particular I loved his portrait of Camus, and his photo of Coco Chanel I found quite insightful as well.

The exhibit runs until January 30 and I whole-heartedly recommend it. There's something about seeing the prints in person that just can't be experienced seeing images on the web. If you live anywhere near San Francisco, you have no excuse.

I took these at the museum. It's a gorgeous space. Processed in B&W as kind of an homage to HCB. They don't hold a candle to his work, as they are not as personal or arresting. But I thought I'd post them anyway.

Some Resolutions for the New Year

A couple of posts ago I talked about my 2010 resolutions and how they worked out (mostly pretty well, actually). Inspired and hopeful for 2011 to surpass 2010, here's my list of photography resolutions for the new year:

*Post one self-portrait on the blog a month
*Write one personal story about myself on the blog each week
*Make my photography business profitable (in the black! this is a big one)
*Create 2 more photo books, mostly just as an exercise for myself
*Write an ebook
*Get my photos and Lightroom catalogs organized
*Have another swap on the blog (soon! look for it in the next couple of weeks)
*Give away one downloadable desktop wallpaper a month
*Get my website up and running (this one will happen this week, come hell or high water)
*Learn how to light, well
*Create my own Photoshop actions, so I don't spend all my time doing the same few things, over and over
*Continue Anatomy of an Image, make it better and more informative, and then actually do it every week!

*Have fun with it all. Because in the end, that's the most important thing.

What about you? What are you resolving to do, or resolving not to do? Or are you just not resolving?