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

Light Up the Darkness

Meetup is Fun!

I'm a self-taught photographer, and sometimes being self-taught is a little lonely. No one else to laugh at your mistakes with you, or congratulate you on your best shot ever. No one to swap camera lenses with, or practice poses.

I mean, yes, I have the online community here which I appreciate more than I can ever say. I'm certainly beholden. And I have my wonderful Evan, who is always happy to tell me when my photos aren't quite up to snuff, or even (sometimes) that they are. And I've had a few brave the odd photowalk with me. But usually I'm on my own, off in a corner, taking 20 shots of the plant. And other people think, "What can the picture be in that??"

Well happily this past weekend I got to hang out with some other like-minded photographers that I found courtesy of Meetup! We all got together in Bill McClaren's studio in Oakland, and shot a couple of models in 3 kinds of light: natural (my favorite, and where I'm most comfortable), fluorescent (my least favorite, generally speaking), and with some strobes (a fairly new experience for me). It was good fun, and I met a couple of other photographers who were great. Hopefully we'll all go shooting again soon!

A couple shots of the photo crowd:

And here's a quiz for you. I named three kinds of light above, can you guess which is which? 50 bonus points to the commenter who gets the right answer first. (Bonus points are redeemable for my good favor. And warm weather in the summertime.)

Reports of My Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

In fact, I was just a little ill. Sorry that the blog went silent.

(By the way, the title of this post is apparently not the real Mark Twain quote at all. Here's the real thing. But I like this version better, so I went with it.)

Elephant Seals

I affectionately like to call this one 'Sausages on the Beach.'
As if I didn't have enough on my plate already, I've been kind of fascinated with the video my cameras are capable of recently. Honestly, now that I feel like I have my stills under control (not anywhere near perfect, but under control) video looks like a long learning curve.

But then, it also looks really pretty. Here are two examples I've come across recently of video that I want to try out. One is a sort of behind-the scenes at a shoot with the amazingly talented Sue Bryce, and the other is a promotional piece for Jasmine Star. Both are very visually pleasing. Gorgeous, in fact. And I look at them and think, "I could do that! That's just moving photography! No problem."

Of course, it's oodles more complicated than that. Light, sound, focus, camera movement . . . all headaches. But I do think I'm going to dip my toe in, at the very least. I have a very exciting project coming up in March that I'll tell you more about when it gets closer. And it has a lot to do with video.

Oh yeah, and the photo? I took this when Evan and I were away for the weekend, just a few hours after we got engaged. These are elephant seals during their breeding season. They spend a couple months on land to have their babies. Kind of amazing to watch them all flopping around on the beach. And man! are they noisy. Squealing, groaning, you name it. Fighting, mating, nursing, snoozing . . . it was all happening on this beach.

Becca and Matt, San Francisco Engagement Photographer

Meet Matt and Becca. Or Bean and Becca, as they're also called by some. Becca's a med school student, impressively organized (for someone like me), and one of the most positive and open-minded people I've met.  Matt has this quiet something, poise maybe, or just utter confidence that really draws you in. I met up with them  in their San Francisco apartment after they recently acquired two amazing but rambunctious kittens, and we proceeded to take some photos.

First off: what an amazing looking couple, am I right?

I had some serious apartment envy in their place. It was pretty fab, with some amazing window light.

Matt, do you have any idea how many women would kill to have eyes like that?

This is Ms Thistle. She is quite adorb. And yes, that's a word.

And this is Mr Peach. He had the softest fur I have ever felt on a cat. I kind of wanted to just wrap him around my neck and wear him as my scarf. Plus, look at those eyes!

Not only are they gorgeous, they're readers too. I love me some built-in bookshelves.



Then we went outside and onto their roof to enjoy some of the beautiful San Francisco afternoon light.

Can you believe their view?

Guys, you were the best. Thanks for welcoming me into your home. I know you're perfect for each other.

Oh, and on the subject of engagements and marriage, what do you think of this rating system for husbands and wives? I thought it was pretty funny. And surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly) still quite accurate in some instances.

Slow Photography

NOT a slow photograph. Taken in a few seconds on a tour of Hearst Castle.
There's a recent article on Slate about a new photography movement: slow photography. Here's a quote:

"Defined more carefully, slow photography is the effort to flip the usual relationship between process and results. Usually, you use a camera because you want the results (the photos). In slow photography, the basic idea is that photos themselves—the results—are secondary. The goal is the experience of studying some object carefully and exercising creative choice. That's it."
I agree, slowing down is important. But to me this sounds like a distinction between 'spray and pray' and carefully composing your shots. Which is nothing new.  In fact, I would argue that this is what separates photographs from snapshots, and is old as the hills. I also disagree with the assertion made later in the essay that to practice slow photography you need a film camera.

On the other hand, I do think that a lot of people get caught up in the photography and forget to experience the moment. I often don't pull out my camera when beautiful things are happening, because I want to experience that moment without a frame around it. And I do appreciate the value of taking your time in a world that seems to be moving faster and faster.

What do you think?  Are you interested in trying 'slow photography'? Is it any different from what you currently do?

Late Bloomer or Prodigy: What's Your Pick?

Look! It's an artist over there. But what kind??
While reading the featured comments on TOP, I came across this Malcolm Gladwell article from the New Yorker about two different kinds of artists. Prodigies have talents that manifest early, and these are often the most talked about kinds of artists, but there are many who have talent that matures late.

And Gladwell makes an interesting distinction between the two: the Mozarts of this world aren't spending a lot of time searching for their masterpieces. They've already found them, and written them at the age of 21. And then they moved on to the next. While the Robert Frosts and (dare I say) Clint Eastwoods continue to experiment again and again before they finally get it right.

Which method is better is clearly beside the point. If you are given the talent of a Picasso, you shouldn't squander it by trying to emulate Cezanne. And if you aren't a Picasso, there's not much you can do about it.

Still, I found the idea that there is no visible difference between people who will always suck and those who are geniuses late in life very interesting. How do you know you're a Cezanne? And how does anyone else? The only way to find out is to wait and see. And keep at your art, whatever it is.

California Coast: No Need to Wake Up for Dawn

Prevailing wisdom is that there is beautiful light everywhere twice a day: some time around dawn, and some time around sunset. A while back I wrote a post about the glories of shooting at dawn, and why it might be better than sunset. I'd like to update you on that, since I know you've been waiting with bated breath.

I'm rethinking it. As you probably already know if you read my blog with any kind of regularity, I'm not a morning person. However, in an almost unprecedented move, I have gotten up twice to see the dawn in the past couple of weeks. Both times on the coast of California (that is, after all, where I live), and both times: not so impressed. In other words, meh.

Recent case in point: the Twin Peaks fog debacle. It was almost impossible to take any decent photos until about an hour and a half after dawn, just due to the dang SF fog. But also, if you want any shots of the water, the light's going the wrong direction. Dawn is (I am assuming) way better on the East coast than the West coast.

Anyway, both of these were shot about 2 hours after dawn, when the light on the water improved (in my opinion).

Took this from inside the Cliff House Restaurant. See the reflection? I actually thought it made the picture better. What do you think?

True, hollandaise sauce doesn't require dawn light so much as the other, but there's really no wrong light for a breakfast as delicious as this. I might not be a morning person, but breakfast is definitely my favorite meal.

Hungry yet?

Dr Seuss Trees

Mouse over to see a black and white version. I couldn't decide which one I liked better. What do you think?

This shot is from a slightly ill-fated but otherwise quite lovely morning photography trip. We tried to make it to Twin Peaks (an amazing SF overlook) at dawn, but of course were completely fogged out. Visibility from the peaks was about 5 feet into the fog. Hoever, there was a film crew setting up there, and I later learned that it might have been for a film starring Jude Law! Oh, had we but waited the fog out!

But we continued on, and about 7 am, or maybe a little later ended up at Land's End. Which was a little misty, and windy. I regretted not bringing a windproof jacket. We walked around, I took some photos.

And then we had an excellent brunch at the Cliff House. It was a pretty good morning.

Open for Business

Come check out my website!

There still may be a few bugs left, just let me know if you find any.

Hannah and Pedro San Francisco Wedding Photographer

Let me introduce you to Hannah and Pedro. Hannah has one of the best smiles I've ever seen. She lights up the room when she walks in. She always thinks you're funny and interesting (I love that about her). And she remembers people's outfits for years after they've worn them. Pedro gives the best hugs. His eyes crinkle up at the corners when he laughs. And he looks at Hannah like he can't believe how lucky he got.

They met after a yoga class. He taught her some arm-balancing. They both got a pair of Smurf knee socks. And it was like fate.

Their wedding day was gorgeous. Here are some photos from the event.

Hannah called me that morning and asked, "Do you have a small gold necklace?" I'm so glad I didn't, because this necklace and her were meant to be. It was perfect for her dress.

All of the details were simple, but perfect.

Don't they look amazing together?

I don't think I've ever seen her happier.

It was a no-shoes affair. I personally think everything is better barefoot.

Hannah and Pedro, I wish you the best! Here's to a long and happy life together, filled with yoga, hot springs, and lots and lots of creativity.

Feeling a Little Squirrelly?

Happy Tuesday! A little inspiration . . .

Cole Thompson on his own version of the Rule of Thirds.

TOP's recent print offer, which I wish I could take advantage of . . . unfortunately the finances are a little tight right now.

And some brownies that are perfect for Valentine's Day, or really whenever!

Looking Up

Distant Mountaintop

A photo from a couple of months ago that I almost passed over. But I think it was worth a second look.

And, some links:

Check out Tim Walker. Pretty darn cool photographs! (With obviously a little help in the editing department. But still.)

And some new math that Evan is going to have to study up on.

Plus, am I the only one who's super excited that Anthropologie is coming out with a new wedding line? (To be unveiled on V-day.) I was excited before I thought it could have anything to do with me. And now that it possibly could? I can't wait!

Pink and Blue

Ring Ring!

So, a special event occurred this weekend: Evan and I got engaged!

For those who are curious, he proposed in front of the giraffes at the San Francisco Zoo (the site of our very first date). I didn't see it coming at all.

Here's the ring:

It's from a company called Brilliant Earth, who specialize in ethically sourced and green materials for their jewelry. This means that the diamond comes from Canada, the emeralds are lab-grown, and the gold is recycled. And Evan picked it all out himself! (He did a really good job.)

And here are a few more shots of the weekend, in no particular order.

Our amazing bed and breakfast in Cayucos, CA had a bottle of champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries waiting for us in our incredible room.

Evan looking dapper.

More to come!