Santa Fe and the Fat City Horns – Las Vegas






These guys were amazing.  I loved every minute.  It was funky, it was powerful, it made me want to dance.  And kind of reminded me of Tower of Power.  Great music.  And I had front row seats, so also a great view for photos.
















The Lights of Las Vegas





I have not always loved Vegas.  I used to think it was tacky.  And my opinion of its tacky-ness has not exactly disappeared.  As a photographer, though, I’ve learned to see it in a new light each time I visit (and I’ve visited often since a couple years ago when I started shooting weddings in Southern California!  It’s the halfway point, made my drive much easier.)  And now I love it.  So much art, music, and people watching!  Even nature, believe it or not.  The Vegas area has a lot to offer.





So much discovery and adventure – something new every time.  My last visit was no exception.  The highlight of my trip was definitely Valley of Fire!  But I will get to that later.



First, a selfie:









And now, the lights of the Las Vegas Strip.










One of my favorite things walking through all the Casinos is looking up.  The light fixtures, the textures, the colors, there’s an unbelievable amount of details that most people never even see (like the photo above, at the Encore).












And this next photo has an interesting story behind it.  It was one of my… well…  less-than-graceful moments.


Here’s the boring setup to the story:  An amazing night – dancing to a jazz trio at Tuscany Suites, then a peaceful hour walk (yes, I walked alone and accidentally had to cross I-15 on foot.  But it was peaceful, I promise!) to see a funk/soul band called Sante Fe and the Fat City Horns (there will be photos tomorrow).  I was at the concert with my friend Wyatt and he offered to give me a ride back to my hotel, but I just wanted to jump out at the corner on the strip so I could do more photography that night.  The city never sleeps, right?



Well, here’s where it gets interesting:  There is a railing in between the sidewalk and the street.  For good reason.  Way too many drunk tourists would be happy to take their stilettos right into the road without thinking twice about the cars or, you know, potential death.  So, dozens of cars on the road, hundred of people on the sidewalk… I hop out of the car at a red light and say goodbye, then climb through the railing to get to the sidewalk.  Yes, you can probably see where this is going.  Sigh… I forgot about my photography backpacking backpack ON MY BACK (it’s a fantastic backpack, by the way.  Every photographer should have one)  as I try to climb through the railing.  Yeah, that was an oops.   After a few seconds, there’s a semi circle of drunk pedestrians on the sidewalk staring at me and wondering how to help get me out of the railing.  That was my assumption, at least, I have no clue what they were really thinking!  Maybe they were seeing three cherries in a row…  And I’m wondering which side would be the least embarrassing to roll towards – back to the cars still waiting at the red light or forward to the sidewalk of people?  Eventually, I shimmied my way through and did a little summersault onto the sidewalk.  It was the strangest thing, though, they were all standing there, still staring like deer in the headlights. It was as if they were waiting for me to say something before they had permission to move on.  So I said “Well, that was graceful!”  and apparently it was sufficient direction for the masses to move forward.



To hide my embarrassment and to redeem myself and the camera gear on my back, I pulled out a tripod, tried to look as official as possible, and started working.  This (below) is the photo that came from it:







They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Well, I got a story AND a photo out of that one!





Check back tomorrow for photos of the concert with Santa Fe and the Fat City Horns.







Valley of Fire SOC – Straight Out Of Camera



I’ve been to several inspiring landscape galleries this week.  What an amazing experience to walk through a gallery and stand in silence, full of emotion, and actually experience each photo in an photographer’s gallery.  I’m inspired, I’m grateful, and I want to open my own gallery!  Soon!



My favorite was Peter Lik, in Las Vegas.  If I ever have the opportunity to meet that man, I will cry when I shake his hand.  The power in his photos…  I cannot find words to describe it.





This week has also brought up some thoughts, and some questions.  Many reputable photographers show composite photos in their galleries.  This means two or more photos are taken, then combined in post-processing (“photoshopped”).  There is a lot of skill involved in combining photos, or any editing, and it defines much of a photographer’s style.  My clients know it takes an average of 3-4 hours at the computer for every 1 hour shooting.  And I don’t often show the unfinished product – I take pride in my work and want the photo to be complete before delivered.  But today I’m going to make an exception and here’s why:

I believe the world is a beautiful place.  As a photographer, I get to prove that.  Life in this world is beautiful and we get to celebrate it – in its light and darkness, its joy and pain, in its changing seasons, night and day, large rock formations or small butterflies on a flower.  I can use photography to let other people see through my eyes, my lens, and what an amazing thing that is.  I hope that if someone feels inspired by something a photo, they also open their eyes to see it in the beauty of every day – or every night.





Now, if you are ever left wondering if these photos are beautiful because they are “photoshopped” then I have failed.



Valley of Fire Screen Shot - Unedited





Photoshop does not create beauty in these photos – yes, it is important and it refines what is already there.  But the colors, the sky, the stars, the light, the textures, the crispness, that’s all SOC – Straight Out of Camera.   So, today, here is an example of an unedited photos.  I imported this Vallery of Fire photo (from Valley of Fire State Park) to my computer and didn’t do any editing before taking the screen capture.  This is a single shot, not a composite photo.  And it’s all real.  None of it is photoshopped in, it’s just the beautiful world we live in!






I look forward to sharing the rest of my Valley of Fire State Park photos next week.  I’m headed down to Moab today :)