WPPI – Annual Vegas Shoot 2013

I just got back from my third year in a row at WPPI, (the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International). Each year a bunch of  photographers get together and congregate in Sin City to attempt to learn things. Mostly what happens is it turns into partying and a little bit of photography happens, and if we can squeeze in a little time, we might take a class or two.

This year, despite bringing a full camera bag, and about a pound of film, I ended up not shooting one single frame while I was there. I had some work to do for Flaunt Your Site, and I focussed a bit more on hitting some classes. My favorite this year was Gary Fong’s in which he essentially challenged us as an industry of photographers to stop copying each other and think for ourselves. I gave him a slow clap for that. Thanks Gary.

So while I don’t have pictures from this year, I do have quite a few from last year’s shoot that somehow just never made it up. So have a peek below and let me know what you think.


Kariem & Natalie’s Mission Bay Wedding

Kariem and I went to high school together. He was quite the awesome guy. He told me he was getting married just a couple days after I decided to start shooting weddings again. A sign if anything.

Kariem and Natalie together are quite possibly the best expression of love out there. I loved watching and photographing them smile at each other all day long. It didn’t stop. As I was editing these photos weeks later, I often though that they could very well still be smiling at each other just like that.

Please enjoy the photos.


Mark & Andrea’s Wedding at the Paley Center in Beverly Hills

About 3 years ago, I retired from wedding photography and began focusing on Flaunt Your Site my web development company for other photographers. I was so focused on creating websites for other photographers I had totally forgot how much I missed the excitement, thrill and pure love I have for shooting weddings.

I had been talking with Andrea about potentially doing a website with her since she was intensifying her own photography business. We hit it off right away, a couple 2-3 hour conversations talking about the excitement of running and promoting a business and photography in general.

At the beginning of the year, she called me and told me that she had bad news, she wasn’t going to do a website. But… she was getting married! It was great news. And of course the inevitable question of who was going to shoot it came up, and she said that I was going to! And apparently I had no say in the matter.

Jump to May, and I find myself in Beverly Hills at the Paley Center for Media designed by Richard Meier (which is awesome since I studied Architecture in college), photographing my first wedding on film. Photographing a wedding for the first time in 3 years. And photographing one of the sweetest women in the world, and her new husband Mark. It was one of the most memorable days of my life.

Oh and dinner at the Palm…


Morgan Kellie Environmental Portraits | Otay Lake

Last year I promised I would take photos of Morgan Kellie, a firecracker of a cowgirl, for her birthday. A year later, we finally got to do that. We headed out to Otay Lake to take care of the incredible tall grass, and great views of the surrounding mountains.

Behold the beauty of Morgan Kellie!


Kariem & Natalie’s Engagement Session in Coronado & Otay Lake

It was around 92-93 when I met this half black/half Puerto Rican cat named Kariem. He transfered to Mar Vista High from outer space and intrigued me with his big brain and his knack for making guitars bleed. I knew this guy was going to be up to something in life, whatever that meant.

Cut to 20 years later, and he and I connect on Facebook, find out we’re nearly neighbors, and decide to start running together. I also find out the dude is happily engaged and about to become happily married. Eventually I meet his betrothed, the sweetest Natalie, and how could I not offer to photograph this event, (which I half expect Eddie Vedder to show up to by the way).

Kariem and I have been running out by the Otay Lake reservoir and the afternoons had been glowing brilliantly lately, so I suggested that as a great place for photos. They also wanted to shoot over at Glorietta Bay in Coronado to commemorate where they met while training for triathlons.

So we headed over there too. The both of them can bring the expression like nobody’s business. Hope you enjoy the photos.

Film & Equipment:
Color = Hasselblad 501c + 80mm Zeiss + Fuji 400H
B&W1 = Zeiss Ikon Rangefinder + 35mm Zeiss Biogon + Tri-X
B&W2 = Nikon F100 + 85mm 1.8D + Tri-X


Scorpion Bay Surf Trip

Patagonia founder, Damn buster, and mountaineer, Yvon Chounard talks about adventure, not as just a trip or journey but as being something that happens when everything goes wrong on the journey. 14 years ago, I took a life changing trip deep into the Mexican Baja desert for a surf trip, that easily qualifies as Adventure in Yvon’s viewpoint. Seized engines, transvestite prostitutes, nearly severed tendons, running out of money, and oh yeah, epic surf. And that was just one week!

That one trip spawned a love affair with the thousand mile stretch of rugged, untamed Old California that still exists today. Since moving back to San Diego, I’ve been itching to get back down and do a little surf trip. I finally got the opportunity to escape for a week, and with a good solid Southern-Hemi on it’s way, I set my sites on the Southern exposed Scorpion Bay.

I just acquired a new Zeiss Ikon camera, and thought it was the perfect time to test it out and give it its due. So I grabbed 4 rolls of Tri-X B+W film, 3 surfboards, my laptop, and followed the compass South. This trip down was pretty uneventful. The North road down to Scorpion Bay used to eat vehicles for lunch, but was pretty smooth driving (as far as Baja roads go). And some of the sections are actually being paved. While I had about 4 days of great waist to shoulder high waves, the swell I was expecting got blown out by a big low pressure coming across the peninsula. I figured I would head back, and catch some of the swell further North, but I did get stuck a couple times by massive amounts of rain fall shutting down the highway.

In Yvon’s words, it wasn’t a true adventure, but there were some exciting moments. And now, I’ll shut up, and let you enjoy some photos. Please let me know what you think.


Night Surfing

I’m about to crawl in bed after just coming in from a surf session. Yes, that’s right, a surf session. I paddled out at 1-ish am after drinking and partying. When else would you I suppose…

I can only liken it to a religious kind of an experience. The Bio-luminescence I spoke of the other day was out in force. And I discovered it’s not just a ‘thing’ that happens, but the waves glowing when they crash is actually the process of millions of individual life forms actually lighting up!!!

As I paddled out into the dead, dark sea,  I was greeted by the first few bio-luminescent plankton critters as they floated up on my board to say ‘Hi, come play in the water with us.
I can’t stress this enough, they are individuals!!! I wanted to name them as they came to see me.

It was a bit creepy paddling out into the darkness, but I had an electrical storm going on over the desert that would light up every few seconds, the bio-luminescence glowing as the waves broke, and a few lights from campers left the bluff outlined.

The waves weren’t actually big enough to ride standing up, so I would belly in on them as far as they would take me. The biggest thrill was to see the bio-luminescent creatures being flung in the air with the spray as I came down the wave, and the board scattered water everywhere.

Because they are individual little beings, one or two would get flung up in the spray particles, and totally light up! And I would just giggle in delight. There really wasn’t more I could do, it was just too awesome.

The tide was super low, so I would end up dragging my fin on the bottom, or the wave would just die out. When the ride was over, I’d just turn out into the blackness and paddle back out again.

While I can’t photograph it, I added a drawing that in no way captures the experience, but gives you an idea of the view from my board staring out to the horizon. The rocks are to the right, and my little glowing friends are in green, floating on top of and around my board.




14 years… Scorpion Bay, then and now.

I’m writing this from the same exact camp spot I stayed at when I was 23 years old. Here are a few initial observations…

What’s changed?

  • I didn’t have to sell my vehicle in a junk yard in San Ignacio because I failed to put oil in it.
  • I have gray hair.
  • 3 surfboards instead of one.
  • I am decked out a laptop, an iPhone and 3 cameras (geez, could I get more pretentious???)There are WAY more people here. There were 10 guys and girls out at 2nd point vibing each other for 2 foot waves during tonight’s evening session.
  • Fish tacos are fuckin expensive now! (Well, everything is.

What hasn’t changed?

    • The waves that are breaking 5 feet out, and 20 feet down from my tent door still sounds like the most amazing sound in the entire universe. You know those questions that the guy on The Actor’s Studio asks? What sound do you love the most?… Well, I would totally answer that with “Waves peeling from 3rd point to 2nd point at Scorpion Bay”And I still can’t believe that I get to fall asleep tonight listening to that amazing sound.
    • I can’t take a picture of it, but the bio-luminescence is showing up too. On the pitch black walk back from having my expensive fish tacos in town (see above), I came up with this amazing postualte that went something like ‘If life is energy, and energy can be expressed in wave form as well, then life inside of energy is the greatest life-form known to man.” Bio-luminescence is a form of plankton that glow when waves break. It’s actually a life form expressing itself in the presence of energy. That’s all it does! Well, that and probably get eaten by whales. But how cool is that????What this particular theorem provides to the scientific community, I don’t know. C’mon, I was on my 5th Tecate.
    • The stars! Fucking Oh My Fucking God!!!! I can see the mother fucking Milky Way. And I get to sleep under it tonight!

I’ll post this tomorrow after a morning surf sesh.


The Elephant Boy, Joshua Tree and Drop Bears

A good photographer friend of mine from Australia, Xanthe Roxburgh was traveling through Los Angeles on her way to New York, and I got a chance to hang out with her while she was staying with another photographer friend of ours Jess Schilling.

We all decided that it would be the greatest thing in the world to drive out to Joshua Tree during Coachella traffic. Good thing Xanthe’s son Arlo was there to entertain us on the drive out with songs about the mythical and highly Drop Bears of Australia, that perch on trees and kill you dead as you walk under. I think I remember something about Panda Spiders as well…

We got out to Joshua Tree with about 20 minutes of light, and we put Arlo in a elephant costume. And we all photographed and reveled in the serene light and silent beauty that Joshua Tree offers until Arlo stepped on some cactus spines…


Vegas Baby! WPPI Desert Photoshoot

My first trip to WPPI 2012 was so much fun! Between hangovers, early morning educational classes, and murdering hookers we actually got a chance to go do a little photographing with some of my SWPB friends. We went out to a dry lake bed about 40 minutes South of the Strip and had some model talent meet up with us.

Here are some shots with my great friend Jamie from Austin. She’s super beautiful, so we decided to trailer trash it up a bit at the end and do some donuts around her with my X-Terra while she wore a bikini. Most of these are on film.