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

The Bridge, Again

I love bridges. Any kind. Name a bridge and I'll like it. All the cities I've lived in had bridges. San Francisco? Yep, we've got a few. Budapest? Oh, bridges galore. Montreal? Yeah, some. Not the most beautiful. New York? Some of the best bridges in the world. Bangkok? Oh yes, that city wouldn't function without its bridges.

We need bridges. They connect things. Over water. They're strong where we're weak, elegant where we're squat sweating and stuck in traffic. Bridges make for amazing views. They also make for great legends and stories.

Like that one time? In '89? When this bridge? Well, kind of collapsed? (Only kind of, though, thank goodness.)

They say that they've been trying to rebuild it since then (They being the powers that be. YOU know. Them.). Progress has been sighted, and next year, after 23 years, we'll have a new Bay Bridge.

I'm sure it will be gorgeous, and safe, and safety is definitely number one for bridges, just before looks and charisma. But I'm glad that in its last year, I'm getting some pictures that show just what a great gal the Bay Bridge is now. She might be showing just a hint of those 75 years on her, but I'd say she still looks fantastic.

State of the Blog

Dear Lovely Blog Readers,
We're coming up on the end of 2011, and I've been trying to analyze how I'm spending my time. Somehow (as for most of you, I'd imagine) my to-do list always seems to get longer and not shorter. And I'll admit, I tend to prioritize the urgent at the expense of the important.
I've asked this question before, but I only received a handful of responses. It's now been well over three years that I've been posting daily (or attempting to), and as you can imagine, that takes a lot of time. A lot of shooting, a lot of downloading, editing, writing, and then posting for pretty much every day of the last three years. I'm not quitting. I still enjoy the heck out of most of it. 

But I am trying to recalibrate. That's why I'd love your honest opinion: how often would you like me to post? What do you enjoy reading about? Over the past few months, while readership numbers haven't really changed, there's been a dramatic decrease in commenting. At first, it bothered me, but I know you guys are busy. Really, I read a lot of blogs where I don't comment. It's ok. But it makes it harder to figure out what people like and don't like.

Hence the poll. If you're looking at this via email or some kind of reader, I think you'll have to visit the blog to see the poll. It's only two questions. I'd certainly appreciate you taking some time out of your busy day to answer them to the best of your ability. 

And thanks, again, for reading. Without all of you I might have given this up a long time ago. 
Cheers, Jessica

20 Things I Believe

What I Believe . . .

- I believe that there is beauty everywhere, and we just need to look a little harder to find it.
- I believe that sitting down and having a rational conversation helps in most situations.
- I believe that doing something nice for someone else usually is the same as doing something nice for yourself.
- I believe in early morning walks.
- I believe in warm beverages.
- I believe in farmer's markets.
- I believe in spending time with good people.
- I believe in deep conversations.
- I believe in the moment, and making it wonderful. Tomorrow is tomorrow, today is today.
- I believe in gorgeous smells, new tastes and also familiar ones.
- I believe in the power of experiences to bring people together.
- I believe that you can connect with someone you think you have nothing in common with.
- I believe in sharing.
- I believe in stars, in chocolate, and in drinks with bubbles.
- I believe in you. I also try very hard to believe in myself. Some days are easier than others.
- I believe in experiencing the extremes: heat in Thailand, winters in Montreal. And enjoying both. Equally.
- I also believe in equilibrium, and finding a balance. Not killing yourself or anyone else in the pursuit of a goal.
- I believe in play, and that anything can be fun or enjoyable.
- I believe that the most annoying experiences make the best stories afterward.
- I believe that when you have less, you appreciate it more. (Still working on this one. It's so easy to end up with more instead of less!)
- I believe that anyone can look great in a photograph. Especially you.
- And I believe that your attitude shapes your life. Perspective is key. Here's to looking on the bright side!

So that's my list. What would you add?

*If you'd like to buy a print directly from the blog, now you can! I'm trying out Fotomoto's service. Just click the 'Buy Print' button beneath any photo and choose the size you prefer. All files will be optimized for print by me after you order. (And watermarks will be removed.) Fun!*

Simple Pleasures

I think I've talked before about my love of coffee on this blog. Forgive me if I'm a broken record. There's something about the ritual of it I love: the smell, the heat, the foam of the milk, and the chance to sit down for a few minutes and just focus on a wonderful sensory experience.

I think maybe I talk about it so much that people think I'm a coffee-holic, when in reality it's a rare day when I have two cups. Some days (although not many) I don't have any. Mostly I just start the day by savoring one cup. Slowly. I'm not a gulper; I like to enjoy the experience.

One of the things I love the most about photography is the ability to capture these small moments of pleasure so they can be revisited later. Yes, maybe I take too many photographs of my cups of coffee, but they bring me joy. As Gretchen Rubin says, "What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while." And I totally agree. The small rituals are what give the shape to our days.

So what do you do every day that brings you pleasure? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

*If you'd like to buy a print directly from the blog, now you can! I'm trying out Fotomoto's service. Just click the 'Buy Print' button beneath any photo and choose the size you prefer. All files will be optimized for print by me after you order. (And watermarks will be removed.) Fun!*

Changes (Caturday)

Two cats is exponentially more cat than one cat. I hadn't quite considered this before we got Chee. We used to have one cat, who was at most in one place, wandering around the apartment, ensconced in a lap, indulging in an afternoon snooze, or perhaps chasing a toy.

Now there are cats everywhere. Where you least expect them. On the sofa, hiding among the pillows. Racing down the hallway after each other. Sleeping on my chair when I get up to get a glass of water.

Intellectually, I know. We had one, now we have two. Simple math. But it actually doesn't seem that simple. Because yes, sometimes it seems like we have a hundred cats. But it also seems like we have less real cat than we did before. Mouse is too busy to sleep on my lap all the time like she used to. She's also too distracted to really enjoy a good petting session. And Chee . . . well Chee just hasn't learned to slow down yet. If he ever will.

Chee, in a rare still moment just after a nap.
So most of the cat I see goes by in a blur. And that's fine with me. But yeah, it's different.

Pier 24

There's something about museums that really gets me. It's zen. I go in, usually feeling like I'm in about five million places - late, disorganized, hair blown about by the wind, five bags hanging gracelessly about me that I sheepishly hand to the coat check. Jittery from too much caffeine and usually flushed or sweaty from rushing to get in the door on time.

But all of that melts away in the first room and I get a glimpse of the deep peace that art gives me. Given the reaction of many others when I suggest a trip to a museum, I would venture to say that this feeling doesn't happen to us all. Evan, for instance, doesn't share my love of museums. I might be fairer to say that he runs the other way screaming unless they are aviation or war related.

Anyway, if you like museums at all, and if you have a hankering to see some good photography, I highly recommend Pier 24. It's a bit of an oddity: it's free, but you need a reservation and they kick you out after two hours. Then again, it's in a glorious location, on the bay right next to the bay bridge, and it's perfect for a contemplative photo walk before or afterwards. There are some stunning photographs there, too. Irving Penn, Lee Friedlander, Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Jim Goldberg, Richard Misrach (whose work I was unfamiliar with but I LOVED), Todd Hido (who was also an unexpected treat).

Anyway, highly recommended. If you like museums. I do.


Tomorrow's Thanksgiving. We'll be in Tahoe, slaving over hot ovens in the morning, and sitting down with family and friends in the afternoon.  I hope that wherever you are, whoever you're with, that you're enjoying the day and spending it with those you care for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Learning as You Go

This is a great video I yoinked (yes, it's a word!) from Dave Delnea's blog. It's worth watching because it highlights the fact that sometimes in creativity the passion comes first, and then the skills and the methodology tag along behind. Honestly, without the fire and the drive to do it, what do the other things matter anyway? The ability to speak cogently about the entire process is not to be sneezed at, either. And he does a bang-up job.

Andrew Zuckerman: On Curiosity, Rigor, and Learning As You Go from 99% on Vimeo.

In a similar vein, Jasmine Star has just written a magazine about her own journey from broke bride to brilliant wedding photographer. I haven't read it yet, but I did order a copy. Partly because I'm an easy sell, I just like her writing, and also because I'm sure I'll learn something new from it. And I'm addicted to reading, so I'm sure I'll make my way through it like a house afire. (Is that the right way to use that expression?)

The Waves Below

Taking the plunge is supposed to be the hardest part. You shut your eyes tight, breathe deep, and just let go.


After that the momentum takes you down. You're not driving. The water meets you whether you're ready or not, and there's a certain peace to that. There's the first cold shock, yes, and the wait for the first gasp of air that lets you know you haven't drowned, but after that it's done.

It's a nice metaphor but it doesn't work that way in real life. Even after you jump you can't let go. You have to steer. There are rocks where you least expect them, and there's no one moment where you can realize you've made it, you've survived another jump. Other people will let you know when they think you've resurfaced. But to you? You're still treading water.

I'm not sure I'd have it any other way. But some days I long for the cleansing jolt of the water, and the satisfaction in the strength of my arms bringing me to the surface. And the clear, clear blue.

Wordless Weekend - Portrait

Happy Caturday!

Chee plots havoc while sunbathing. 

I hope you all are enjoying the weekend. This one seems particularly sweet - I've got a pan of tomatoes roasting in the oven, a kitten attacking a toy to my right, a pile of photoshoots I'm excited to edit, and no real obligations tonight -  just a quiet dinner in, me and my boy and two cats.

It's the first weekend in a while that feels so relaxed, and I'm grateful for it. Especially with the excitement of Thanksgiving looming in the future, tinging everything with a touch of anticipation, I'm content. Happy. We've got big plans to go see the snow and pretend we know what winter is really like, hang out with family, and take a lot of long walks. Just like I like it. 

Five Things That Are Underrated

1. Winter light and shorter days. I don't know why, but I'm getting a real kick out of our slightly changing seasons here. It's nice to see the longer shadows on the pavement, and being outside at five in the evening means magical light.

2. Unexpected warm breezes. I was in a Bart station a few days ago, and it might sound weird, but the approaching train made me feel like I was back on an island somewhere. So I closed my eyes and just enjoyed it.

3. People who are quirky. Give me someone who's passionate on a subject I've never even heard of, and I'm fascinated. I love it when you feel like you've pegged someone as a normal nine to fiver and then you find out that they cultivate bonsai religiously. Or they've written three books on vampires that haven't been published yet. (Watch out, Twilight!)

4. Good smells. Our local supermarket smells like cinnamon in the entryway right now (probably to manipulate us into a holiday spirit so we buy more groceries, but, whatever).

5. Abandoned evidence of a good time. The scene on this table made me take a picture. What a lovely setting for a good cup of coffee with a friend. I imagine they only talked of poetry and friends they had in common.

So, what about you? Something you love that no one else appreciates?

More Kittens!

More kittens (and a few cats) from the ACC. I have to really hand it to Kimberly Saunders; she's taken it upon herself to raise the level of photography at the shelter, and she's doing a fantastic job - all as a volunteer. And the kittens are darling, especially this group. If I didn't already have two rambunctious cats (one of whom is trying desperately to drink my smoothie as we speak), I'd be hard pressed not to take a kitten or two home.

Evan would be really mad at me if I did.

So I won't. At least not this week. But it's pretty hard to resist.

Anyway, here's this week's crop!

If you'd like to adopt one, go on right ahead!

*If you'd like to buy a print directly from the blog, now you can! I'm trying out Fotomoto's service. Just click the 'Buy Print' button beneath any photo and choose the size you prefer. All files will be optimized for print by me after you order. Fun!*

Yes, YOU Are Beautiful

So here's the deal. You're beautiful.

You're beautiful and I want to take your picture. All of you. Any of you. Without exception.

I don't care if you think you're not photogenic. You're wrong.

And I'd love to have the chance to prove it to you.

*Images are from a recent session with the lovely Lara. More photos coming soon.*

Wordless Weekend - Cyclist

Wordless Weekend - Coastal Fog

Toothsome Thursday

The new s'mores cupcake from our friends at OvenLovin. Um, it's seriously heaven. Way better than a real s'mores. And I don't even know why I'm posting about it, because it just makes me want one.

Now, I doubt it's going to be as good, but here's a recent recipe from SpoonForkBacon for s'mores cupcakes. Looks like it's missing out on all the delicious layered magic of this one, though. Graham cracker, chocolate, some magic, mmmmmm . . .

Camp Royaneh - Our Wedding Location

So THIS is where we're getting married.

Aren't you excited? I'm really excited. It's kind of perfect. Not too formal, with plenty of gorgeous trees and nature around, places for guests to bunk should they choose to spend the night, and it's not too far away. I can't wait, personally.

I just wish the wedding would plan itself. Little chance of that, though.

Yes, it's a Boy Scout camp. Isn't that cute? Evan even went here as a boy scout a couple of times. 

Here's the visitor center. At least I think that's what it's called.

The dining hall. 

Some of the local foliage.
I love all the wooden signs scattered about. They add such a great touch to the place. 

So, you could sleep here! You might want to bring a sleeping bag, though. 

And this is the "chapel." 

Other possible sleeping arrangements. Not the Hilton, that's for sure. 

We will NOT be using the shotgun range. I think that's a wise decision. 

Isn't it great? Where did you get married? Or where do you want to get married if you haven't tied the knot yet?