2020 Spring Picnic Photoshoot

March 03, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Yo! Thanks for your interest in my first styled photoshoot of 2020! Despite the over-professional outfits of Jesse and Meagan, this is intended to be a very chill “Springtime Picnic” shoot for couples and small families alike.

Dates/Time: 3/21 AND 3/22 from 9AM-11AM, then again from 1PM-3PM.
Location: Park anywhere around Balis Park then we'll walk to the nearby park.
Deposit: $75 non-refundable. If the weather is disagreeable, the deposit can be applied to a future shoot with me (including private and future styled shoots).

I’ll provide a blanket, basket, and other items to provide the picnic mood. All you have to bring are adorable outfits and smiling faces!

Couples pricing: $175. Sessions last 20 minutes.

Families (limited to 4 members and may include dogs): $250. Sessions last 30 minutes.

You will receive:
A private gallery
5 free images of your choice
The opportunity to purchase more digital images, prints and other tchotchkes (link can be shared at your discretion).

If you haven't seen them, example images can be found here and here!

For reservations, inquiries, and comments please contact me.

Black Panther Review

December 29, 2018  •  1 Comment

We’ll knock out the simple stuff first:


It is a Marvel movie. There is nothing special about how it was filmed. I totally understand if you don’t like it at face value. I didn’t, either. To this day I still have no damn idea why Martin Freeman was in that movie. What even did he really do at any point in time? Tell me. PLZ.


Gender roles: Can we all agree that Black Panther did a better job than Wonder Woman with proving how strong women can be? WW is just on an island of superhuman women. It is a female dominant society. BP not only shows women as equal rulers of nations, but as the constant guard of the king. While the ruler has ultimate rule, even Okoye knew when to disobey the throne and was greatly respected for it. They are viewed as a threat to those who threaten and an impenetrable, spikey wall to those whom they protect. The gods did not GIVE them any power. They took it, damn it! Also, by the rules of the challenge, even a female may be ruler of Wakanda.

I’m knocking race out of this. We already get that point. Everyone else made that point. The film does a great job of keeping it at the forefront of situations and dialogue. Don’t pat yourself on the back for noticing that. Stop it. Now.

The post focuses strictly on the information and situations provided within the film. No comics.

Now, let’s get to your feature presentation…

Black Panther: The Fog of Traditions

The movie contains 3 hosts, each with the burden of carrying a tradition. The purpose of this post is to observe the three cornerstones that are M’Baku, T’Challa, and Killmonger, discuss their stances, state the weakness of their view, and quickly say why M’Baku and Nakia are the best two characters in the film. Because they are. T'Challa sucks.

Hold on to your butts

M’Baku is the leader of the Jabari Tribe. This tribe strictly adheres to ancient traditions dated before the use of technological advancements beyond fire and whatever was used to carve a giant ape in the side of a mountain (maybe more fire? I don’t know. Never carved anything into a mountain before.). The Jabari are the Black Sheep because of this decision. Not only do they choose to live in the past, but M’Baku states his displeasure at how much Wakanda relies on their technology for everything.

T’Challa is son to the late monarch of Wakanda, T’Chaka, who represent the tradition of science (Vibranium technology) being an absolute answer and answer to all questions or grievances. In fact, by their actions and statements it seems as though all of the remaining tribes fall in line with this ideal. They don’t believe in the tradition of “tradition” and, with their fervency, have created a new one that blinds them to all else. Additionally, this includes the selfish idea that their technology should only benefit them.

Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (a.k.a N’Jadaka) is the son of late Prince N’Jobu and was involuntarily and secretly “omitted” as a Wakandan by his father’s murderer, T’Chaka, who left young Erik to just… Do whatever. Good luck, kid! His vehemently violent beliefs are in the tradition of war being the ultimate answer to all, particularly as a means of pacivity (or equality?) on local and global economic levels. Big war, small war, street fights, the public pool; war.

From face value, everyone’s views come across as short-sighted.

Let’s stir the names up

Killmonger’s observation about the world catching up to Wakanda is not wrong. With a big name like Tony Stark and events in The Avengers, it’s obvious they won’t have the advantage much longer. But his sheer focus on creating that reality through destruction is… destructive. To self.

T’Chaka was a shitty guide so T’Challa’s similar direction was destined to fail. He didn’t learn his lesson until the screenwriters decided it would be a good time to hit the climax. Kids, amirit?

These two had tunnel vision riding a bullet train straight into the Great Wall of China.


M’Baku. My man! M’Baku wasn’t so invested in tradition that he was blinded. He stood aside, watched, observed, and took note. Even when given the opportunity to become the next Black Panther he respectfully turned it down, knowing with whom that mantle belonged. His job as tribe ruler was to be a (the only unbiased) voice to a blind king. He knew where he fit in the 5-piece puzzle. While he presents himself as a brash thug who holds on to otherwise dead ideology, his actions all show that he is ridiculously intelligent in both politics, war, and the need for progression.

Lastly, Nakia. Bless her heart. The 5 tribes were so caught up in their own, tiny world that they forgot the rest of the world existed. Killmonger shattered everyone’s decades-long dream in an instant. All the while, Nakia has been telling everyone “The outside world is there, guys. Maybe we should do something? I dunno just an idea.” this whole dang time. In the end, rather than agreeing to “settle” to a newly founded tradition, she just wanted to help the world and see it change first hand. She wanted to be in it again to constantly have that new experience; so she could be on top of the game. Nobody ostracizes her, but it never seemed like anyone ever truly appreciated her approach despite HAVING THEIR ENTIRE EMPIRE TAKEN DOWN BY A PSYCHO. You go, girl. You don’t need no man.


The movie and this post remind me of a great verbal trade in James Bond: Skyfall.

Q: Age is no guarantee of efficiency.

James Bond: And youth is no guarantee of innovation.


Erik: Killmonger

August 09, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

For starters, I don’t know shit about comics. This is entirely based on happenings and characters in the 2018 Black Panther film. Second, I love a villain who is created by the heroes almost as much as an anti-villain created by villains (Char Aznable for President of Space).

On July 28th we hosted the 2018 GAAM Anime Show, which features a cosplay contest at the end of every event. A previous client and friend of mine, Mike, cosplayed as Killmonger. It was so spot-on and just begged for a shoot.

At the time of the Show I had only seen BP once and decided to re-watch it for material. Did it, then rode around town trying to pick places that may have a good, theatrical look.

During the ride I began to have a change of focus. There are two characters at play; Erik the man and Killmonger the mercenary. Instead of capturing the Killmonger and scenes we already know, why not visit the character and internal struggles we missed?

Erik could have enjoyed life so much more. Played some B-Ball, hung out with the other kids, grown into a respectable person who had an opportunity to become a benevolent king. Instead, he grew up in hatred of the man who killed his father. While aging he had to watch the life that could have been fade away. Erik has to read about Black Panther in the news or comics, knowing this respected “hero” -his father’s murderer- is still out there and that his home has abandoned him.

Killmonger has to exist re-living memories of events that never happened. He has to see Erik’s life and know it couldn’t be. He travels the world with intent to murder and has to know it could have been business trips, vacations with friends he never made, or hopping between Oakland and Wakanda to visit family and extended family. Killmonger hears about Black Panther via underground sources, knowing his target is still out there.

One had to live through his future fading away away while the other has to watch the present that could never be.

Hopefully you’ll appreciate the vision behind this. Not all of these images were 100% thought through, but if it gets you thinking then my job here is done.

BTW, did anyone else notice that it's always sunset in Wakanda? All the time. And if it ain't sunset, it's about to be. Great place for weddings I bet.

Scheduled, not Planned

March 27, 2018  •  1 Comment

I will preface this by saying the models were absolutely wonderful and had great attitudes about everything. If not for their patience and happy dispositions, this post would not be written. Not happily, anyways.

HEY-O! Long time no blog! Today’s topic will touch on a frequent occurrence which affects all creatives. Not just photographers.

I get a lot of ideas for shoots. Like, a lot. Many of which are just “oh, that’d be neat”. But there are those few that become an obsession, where everything is planned: location, outfits, model, lighting, poses, time availability. All of it. Every last thing. And it sure is a great feeling to start lining it all up. But we all know reality usually has an opinion….

In the past year I’ve had three shoots that relied on natural lighting. The first was on a beach and not only ended up being overcast but cold, very windy, and intermittently wet. Sucks that we planned for a sunny, breezy sundress shoot… It caught us off guard, added more risk to gear, made the area much more difficult to interact with (you can’t un-do a wet butt), and overall just crushed the anticipation. Despite conditions, we checked out the area, talked it over, then decided to persevere. It turned out to be a great learning experience for both of us: how to handle wind from every direction, reserving poses that result in permanent changes (back to that wet butt), recognizing when the model needs to hide behind a wall to warm up, and -most importantly- how to accept that some of the new ideas/poses just won’t work. Didn’t get as many usable shots as desired, but after that mess we were happy to get anything!

The second plan was supposed to be a weekend, indoor, underwear fashion shoot next to a VERY large, single panel window with lots of lighting. The location fell through and the time didn’t work out. We ended up re-scheduling late on a weeknight and moved to the home studio. Winging it has always been one of the most personally terrifying options. Completely giving up being the only worse option.

I already spoke extensively with the model getting to know her personality, background, likes, dislikes, etc. Dance is her forte. She was a cheerleader for some time and has danced various styles for years. Perfect! We switched to a backdrop, switched underwear to sportswear, went from lots of light to only one strobe, and fashion to… I dunno, beauty? Whatever. I’ve never photographed ballet, so she showed me several ballet positions, we broke them down, took a few shots, really dug the results, then just wung it from there. (“wung” is the official past tense of “wing”, FYI) That was an amazing experience with many great results. The saviour of that shoot was our lengthy conversation. It may not have recovered if not for all the information she provided. Creativity was altered but not lost, everybody was happy, and it helped to overcome the fear that pairs with having utterly lost a concrete plan/idea.

Example #3 was a huge test. Shoot an unseen outfit at an unseen location while ONLY using a reflector if possible. I just wanted indoor, sunlight, and a dress. This idea was less artistic and more to combat my normal desire for dark, contrasted, backdrop shoots as well as my want for too much gear when there’s a perfectly good sun out there. WELL GUESS WHAT? After many days of sunlight, our scheduled day JUST SO HAPPENED to be overcast. Awesome. Time and place were still a go, so go we did.

With the exception of a large painting chilling on the floor in the dining room, the area was mostly empty. Instead of the bright, empty space, I accepted the shadows and used the painting for background noise. Switched from beauty/fashion to moody, which worked flawlessly.

After some time the sun popped out. At her suggestion she switched to jeans and a snazzy shirt, opened all of the blinds, moved into the living room, and I broke out that aforementioned reflector. The mood became a lot more fun and active, giving us a totally different vibe. We captured a LOT of usable material, I accomplished my goals, and even gained a theme of light and dark! Win/win right there.

Sometimes plans change. It’s not you, it’s not the model, it’s nothing that can be controlled. Accept whatever mental repercussions arise, then move on to the art. Art cannot always be controlled, and a little chaos never killed anyone. It doesn’t inherently seek or desire control. That’s where we have the opportunity to fail or create a previously unseen success. In many scenarios, everything you need is STILL in front of you just waiting to become part of an idea you’ve never thought to have.

In the end, stick with the schedule and make any damn thing happen. Even if you’re salty, seek to create and you’ll find that happiness. Don’t lose composure ESPECIALLY when your model is standing there, ready and willing to be used in whatever creative manner you devise.

So that’s the end.

Do good. Don’t suck.

SwampCon Takeaway

January 23, 2018  •  2 Comments

Yo! How 'bout this first blog post, huh?? Gonna cover some self-observations, tribulations, and accomplishments from SwampCon, so let's get this going!

On January 13-14 I was a guest official photographer with Mark Pariani Productions at SwampCon Voyage 2018. For those who don't know, this convention is attended primarily by cosplayers, anime/video game enthusiasts, board game aficionados, and parents just enjoying these crazy kids and their matching hats.

This was Mark's 3rd time hosting the official photobooth at SC, but my first real experience with micro-shoots. With so many in attendance, we had limited time to shoot everyone. My personal expectations were to get 2-3 differently posed photos per individual. Here is a list of trials:

  • Using Mark's single continuous light vs. my multiple strobe lights
  • Shooting 5 minutes at a time vs. 30min-2hrs
  • Limited work space, forcing me to use my 24-70 (normally 50mm or 70mm-200mm for portraits)
  • All new people I've never met. Don't know their personality.
  • Subjects who are unfamiliar with their character, posing, cameras, lighting, anything whatsoever
  • Subjects who are uncomfortable with all of the above but still want that photo
  • Subjects who don't actually care about fancy stuff. They just want a photo to prove they attended. Simple as that.

None of these are difficult to overcome. However, they require experience I didn't previously have. I have my own preferred equipment, shooting style, approach, and have been very fortunate to mostly shoot with people who either know what they want or are at least good at modeling on the fly.

What was the solution? In the end:

  • Don't take it too seriously.
  • Throw everything I want out the window.
  • Observe Mark's approach. We're in his territory now.
  • It's just a stupid light. Make it work for me.

3 and 4 are easy. Mark is experienced and knows how to nail the results, and a modeling light requires all of 30 seconds to adjust in-camera settings. Maybe an occasional adjustment as the sun sets. We both know our capabilities. 1 and 2 are very difficult. Everyone has habits and comfort zones. I've had 1-hour shoots last 3 hours because it so much fun and there were so many great results. But 5 minutes? People I've never seen or spoken with? Using the event lens for portraits? LARP characters with undefined traits? Being right up in someone's face? Mentally, it was like trying to stand still atop a bucking bronco ride.

Free yourself from yourself. These aren't going in an art gallery. These people are having a great time and most of them just want a single photo. But you're a pro photographer who is going to give them 2-3. While also having a great time. There is no way to do wrong. They were test subjects for something brand new. The light mostly limits these to upper-body shots. They don't know what to do? Take a few serious profile shots, then funny/cute profile shots, then have them strike their best kawaii pose. They know what to do? Work with them to make it look amazing. Always interact with the weapon. Are they a good guy? Keep the light head-on. Are they evil? Back-on. Batman? He doesn't need light. He was raised by the darkness; shaped by it. Take photos at weird angles, then normal angles. Many "whatever" shots turned out surprisingly good and have opened my eyes to so much more.

What do I take to my next professional shoot:


  • There is little to no room for "heiro" shots (flat, one-dimensional)
  • Quicker observation and reaction to models and posing
  • Quicker creativity where the subject lacks
  • Switch lenses then work your surroundings. Get some distance. Get in their face. Stand on a side table. Get on the floor. Now get shwiftyyyy.
  • No matter how professional it is, there is always room for a smile and laugh.

I could write much more, but you have things to do. Get to it! Thanks for checking this out and please feel free to contact me if you have any detailed questions about this scenario, or if you just want to chat!

Please check out Mark's work. He's a great photographer and an even better guy. This event would not have been possible without him. BTS photo also by him.

Do Good. Don't Suck.

January (1) February March (1) April May June July August (1) September October November December (1)
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March (1) April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December