Wednesday, August 26, 2015

It's what happened next that gave me goose bumps...

You won't believe what happened next...gave me goose bumps, and I just happened to be the lucky guy to witness it today...

I was on a photoshoot to Old Towne Orange (the "Orange Circle") and arrived early to take advantage of the morning light and the empty streets. When I made my way to the park in the center of the circle, there was a group of four men standing near the fountain at the base of a very tall flag pole. One of the men was pulling on the rope and I saw one of the others holding a tri-folded American Flag. My timing couldn't have been better for capturing the raising of the flag.

As the American Flag was attached to the rope, I'm taking photos...then I notice the POW-MIA flag being prepared for attachment as well....I'm taking more pictures. As they start to raise the flags, I realize that I'm going to have to step back in order to include the men along with the flags in my composition.

The flags quickly get to the top as I'm trying to back up, and almost as quickly the four men tie off the rope and start walking away. I'm pretty sure it's over as I prepare to take my final shot...that's when I notice it in my viewfinder...

The four men have stepped well back from the flag pole, have lined up, and are now saluting the flag... other than me in the vicinity, it's just them and the American Flag...and the respect they're giving with a quiet and unassuming salute.

I took a lot of pictures today, but NOTHING compares to the feeling I had standing there as witness to this moment.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Creative versus Analytical

Or is it creative AND analytical?  These two traits are often treated as being mutually exclusive, and further, traits that one either has or doesn’t have.  In reality, it’s the combination of these that truly makes the successful photographer (and many other endeavors). 

It’s not enough to simply know THAT something exists, but one must also know WHY it exists.  If a photographer looks at a picture or scene for example, and determines that they like it, but don’t know why, then the chance of conveying their reaction and emotion to someone else becomes particularly challenging.  One must have sufficient analytical skills to understand, and sufficient creative skills to be able to “see” the unseen.  One must have both, but the order doesn’t matter.

There’s a style or approach to photography that some photographers have, best described as “I’ll know it when I see it”.  It’s an approach that relies on serendipity (or “luck”) in order for the photographer to capture a compelling image.  There’s another approach that tends to be more analytical where one might consider what’s important, what composition best presents those elements, and what techniques will emphasize and convey a sense of meaning, emotion, or story-telling.  But simply following these mechanics and “rules” may not result in a meaningful or compelling image.

Both the creative and analytical approaches require something in common of the photographer…observation, and study.  It’s the openness of the mind to observation that “sees” the possibilities, and creates the potential to understand what is being seen.  It’s the combination of these skills that allows the photographer to be a successful story-teller through their work. Regardless of the genre of photography, a successful photographer must combine a creative as well as analytical approach to bring a three-dimensional world to their viewer via a two-dimensional representation.

“I’ll know it when I see it, and I’ll know why…” 

Comments and feedback always welcome…

Monday, August 10, 2015

Published in Orange County Register Newspaper!

I was contacted a couple weeks ago by the newspaper in conjunction with an article they were working on about an historic neighborhood in Santa Ana.  They apparently had done a search and come across photographs on my website that they wanted my permission to use.  I agreed and the article ran today.

Feel free to contact me anytime at  

Published in Orange County Culture Magazine!

This one definitely requires a bit of a backstory…

I was contacted a couple of months ago by the co-founder and editor of a brand new magazine being produced, called Orange County Culture.  Apparently they planned to have a section of the magazine called “OCSTATEOFMIND” which would feature full-page photographs depicting life around Orange County, and they had come across an image on my website of a hummingbird that they wanted to use.  Of course I agreed.

I just received a copy of the magazine in the mail today, and sure enough my photograph appears on page 33.  There are a total of ten images that are in this section of the magazine and show mostly landscape and seascape oriented images—all are quite beautiful by the way!

What I didn’t know until I thumbed through the magazine (and the cover was my first clue) was that I was probably outside their targeted demographic for the publication.  They feature certain musicians, personalities, businesses, and eating establishments that I don’t regularly frequent.  I’m inclined to think that the sweet spot demographic is 20s-30s.  It’s a very well put together and produced magazine and I’m quite happy and proud to have my photograph featured in it.  I have a feeling that this is going to be a very successful magazine and feel lucky to have a small part in it.

If you’re curious and want to get more information about the magazine, visit their website:

Feel free to drop me a line anytime at

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Photography Instructor--who knew?!

My venture into formal photography instructing has begun…  For many of us, “instructing” is just a natural thing we do each day when conversing with people.  We tell them something we know, they do the same with us, and when questions arise, they are matched with explanations…learning occurs.  In our photo club, there is a certain amount of “instructing” that comes across through this somewhat organic process, whether that’s listening to a critique, watching another photographer during an outing, or simply getting answers to questions from fellow members during social time.  This is all good stuff, informal, unstructured, sometimes applicable to our interests, sometimes not.

I’d been approach a couple weeks ago by a friend whose wife was getting more interested in photography, and in some ways getting more frustrated that results weren’t matching expectations.  Joining a photography club at some point may help, as would reading countless books or watching endless videos, but this friend has specific questions, and specific desires and interests.  For her, the most efficient and effective way to boost her knowledge and skills is through one-on-on instruction.  I’m made many instructional presentations, written articles, etc…but where all of those exchanges conveyed a body of information to a varied audience, this new instructing role will be specific, targeted, custom tailored, and most importantly, paced to match the rate of absorption.

Much as the old adage “Luck is where Preparation meets Opportunity”, this luck of mine to become a one-on-one instructor/mentor was a result of much preparation.  Like many of you, hours spent reading, watching videos, practicing and experimenting have now begun to bear fruit.  This preparation was not purposeful with this instructing result in mind, but rather was a labor of love, based on following my own interests and passions in photography.  Now I have the opportunity to share with some else on their own journey and path—and hopefully accelerate them in the direction they are charting for themselves.

Another of my favorite saying helps articulate the exploration and mystery for many of our journeys, and in this case our photographic journey... "if you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there...".  The road is less important than the act of simply being on a journey...

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Showing off what a successful business looks like!

When I’m not shooting real estate or portraits for clients, my “fun” photography typically involves birds, trees, gardens, parklands, architecture, or one of many numerous landmarks around Orange County, the State, and beyond… But my outing yesterday was a very different, and very special unique opportunity—and it was practically in my own backyard…   (I’m going to have to add business production process photography to my list of services!)

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing for the first time the Cla-Val foundry and manufacturing complex in Costa Mesa.  You may have never heard of Cla-Val, but what I came to learn is that they produce the world's highest quality automatic control valves for a diverse array of industries, from military ships to offshore oil platforms to high-rise office buildings.  Just as their clients rely on the quality and performance of their products, we too depend on them indirectly.  According to their website (, Cla-Val was established in 1936 in South Pasadena with just five employees.  Cla-Val moved to its present home, a twenty-acre property in Costa Mesa, California in 1954. The Costa Mesa facility, which serves as the worldwide headquarters, features two in-house foundries as well as a manufacturing operation with more than four acres under roof--and we saw it all!  Cla-Val also has state-of-the-art production facilities and warehouses in Canada, Switzerland, France, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
The company’s president was the gracious host for the morning tour of a California State business and economic development official, and I was the lucky tag-a-long!  I felt like I was part press-photographer and part tourist photographer…all I know is, I had fun!  One of the highlights of the tour was watching the end of shift for the foundry operations as they poured molten metal into casting forms.  It’s not often that you get to see what I like to call “real work” getting done…and this was some serious work!  These guys have to be at the top of their game every day…no distractions, no mistakes.  We also got to see the wide range of supporting manufacturing, engineering, and quality control processes throughout the facility, from high-speed machining to investment casting using the lost wax process to state of the art 3D prototype printing.  It was easy to be impressed with the diversity of products and the sophistication needed to develop and produce them.  I was also impressed with the number of workers, all whom were friendly, yet diligently focused on their work…seemed like the vast majority of jobs were very high skilled, high-tech positions.  When it seems like all you read about these days is jobs leaving California for other states or countries, it was really refreshing to see so many jobs right here at home…and good manufacturing jobs.  This was clearly a very successful company, and the ingredients are no secret…great people, great leadership, great products, and superb customer service.

At the end of the morning, I got a really cool hat with the company’s logo on it…I’ve already worn it and was reminded of the great time I had!  I hope you enjoy seeing some of my photographs!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Bolsa Chica--Huntington Beach

Just when I think a return trip to Bolsa Chica in Huntington Beach can’t reveal any more beauty or variety to me…  Actually, I knew my trip today would bring me at least one new thing …owlets!  A photography friend had posted pictures a week ago and after inquiring where they were found, we scheduled an outing for this morning so I could see them!

I arrived before sunrise to see what action I might find before our scheduled rendezvous.  Dark overcast skies were a bit of a departure from the last couple of days.  It later burned off and gave way to the sunshine though.  From where I parked it would be about a half-mile walk to where we were to meet.  I took my time, and along the way saw California seagulls, Willets, Long-billed curlews, hummingbirds, Double-crested cormorants, Great blue herons, and Red-tailed hawks.

And then there was the star of the morning—the Great horned owl and her three owlets!!  Couldn’t ever get a “family portrait” of all of them together looking towards me, but got a variety of shots of the owlets and a couple shots of the mother.  What a wonderful morning!

According to the Amigos de Bolsa Chica website,  In 1973, as part of a controversial land swap, the State of California acquired approximately 300 acres of wetlands adjacent to Pacific Coast Highway. A portion of this was restored by the state in 1979 to become the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. The remaining acreage was retained in private hands. Planning for the construction of a massive marina, commercial and residential development was quickly underway. The plan was drastically reduced in 1989 through the settlement of a lawsuit filed by the Amigos.  In 1997 the state acquired 880 acres of Bolsa Chica wetlands and another 41 acres was acquired in 2005, bringing public ownership of the Bolsa Chica to over 1200 acres. Wetland restoration of nearly 600 acres of Bolsa Chica was begun in 2004. In the summer of 2006 seawater flowed into the restored wetland for the first time in over 100 years. The Bolsa Chica wetland restoration was the largest coastal wetland restorations ever undertaken in Southern California.
I give you this historical background to make a point today… it took great courage and vision (and public expense) to acquire and set aside these wetlands from what was inevitable development.  You can imagine the pressure against these so-called “environmentalists” who worked tirelessly on a simple goal…preserving open space.  Even today, Bolsa Chica isn’t much to look at to the uninformed eye (swampland some might say) as thousands of cars whiz past it on Pacific Coast Highway.  But Bolsa Chica is indeed quite special and as time goes on, gets even more special.  Opportunities to preserve open space around us are few and far between, and like a door that swings only one way, pass up the opportunity and you’ve lost the chance forever….takes courage, takes perseverance, takes leadership.  As growth and congestion increase throughout Southern California, these open spaces are even more important to our quality of life (and that of the natural environment).

Queue music…

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Photography at Yorba Linda Regional Park

I’ve been so busy lately photographing real estate projects and portrait head-shots that I’ve fallen behind in my personal photography.  Yesterday I had the opportunity to go out shooting with another photography friend and our destination was Yorba Linda Regional Park.  This was the first time I’ve ever photographed in this location, but I’m not at all unfamiliar with it.  In fact, Yorba Linda Regional Park has for many years been my turn-around point for weekly bicycle rides up the Santa Ana River Trail.  As the crow flies (or the bike rides), Yorba Linda Regional Park is about 18 miles away from Costa Mesa.  The park has several small lakes which are surrounded by a scattering of benches—the perfect place to sit and rest, eat a banana, drink water, and just enjoy the beautiful and peaceful scenery.

I really didn’t know much about the park in terms of its history until I searched out information on it after yesterday’s shoot.  At nearly 140 acres, and over 1 mile long, this somewhat linearly-shaped park is situated in the mouth of Santa Ana Canyon in the city of Anaheim and runs parallel to the adjacent Santa Ana River. Because the park is in a historic setting in an area where such names as Yorba, Peralta and Dominguez were common, the Orange County Board of Supervisors recognized the 1976 opening of the park site by designating it as the official Orange County bicentennial project.  Yorba Linda Regional Park has been developed to provide an abundance of family and group picnicking facilities. More than 400 picnic tables are situated in the park, many with permanent shade structures. A series of four lakes with connecting streams offer a pleasing aquatic environment and provide opportunities for fishing and model boat sailing. Bicycle trails meander through the park, and connect to the nationally recognized Santa Ana River Trail, leading some 20 miles to the Pacific Ocean--a stretch of trail I’m intimately familiar with!!  Playgrounds and restrooms can be found throughout the park as well as volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, two ball diamonds, a physical fitness course, and some 200 barbecues.


So what was I there to photograph you might ask?  Birds of course—and lots of them!  There were a variety of species that I was familiar with having photographed at numerous wetland locations around Orange County, but there were additional sightings which were new to me.  The weather, like today, was perfect and made for an enjoyable morning of photography.  I hope you enjoy seeing this handful of photographs.  My full collection from yesterday can be viewed at:  (this is where prints/enlargements are ordered).

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Passion...the "voice" of story telling through photographs

If the first month of the year is any indication, 2015 is going to be one incredible year!  These past several weeks have brought to me some tremendous opportunities to meet dynamic people needing portraits and headshots, new homes and properties needing to be show-cased for sale or rental marketing, and event photography featuring the biggest names in the community!

All of this activity has made me profoundly aware of the importance of customer satisfaction…total satisfaction.  It starts by listening, understanding, setting and managing expectations, and then delivering performance as promised.  My clients expect of me what their customers expect of them.  It’s invigorating to be part of their value stream and I’m proud and honored to be considered a partner in their business ventures.

So what’s next?  I’m hoping more people see the value of using quality imagery to tell their stories.  Whether that story is as personal as how they look, or whether that story is about a place or product, people or process…  Communication’s key ingredients are words and pictures, but more than that, they are the conveyance of ideas and emotions… So next time you’re thinking about getting your message out, ask yourself if there’s an important role that quality and creative photography can play in your initiative or project.