Celebrating Beauty

  I had a wonderful conversation with an artist friend this week about photography, the purpose, and what really drives me.  Yes, there are times I get burnt out.  There are times when I want to give up photography all together.  But the people, the places, the beauty... That's what keeps me connected to my camera.  I have the opportunity today to show you why you are beautiful.  To let you see it through my eyes.  And the world.  This beautiful world we live in.  Every day, I see the mountains, I see a new sky - cloudy, sunny, colorful, or dark is dismal.  It's all beautiful.  And those moments of reality - tears shed, a crying baby, a playing child, the sun rising over the mountain, or even simply the way the light shines on the leaves of the trees.  Moments in weddings or families.  Moments in events or activities.  And moments of peace in nature.



Today, I am alive and that means I get to open my eyes and celebrate the beauty all around me.  As a photographer, my job and my opportunity is to show the beauty in the world as I see it.



Through my eyes, my lens, here are a few examples of the beauty in Turks and Caicos (Caribbean).  There's a story behind every moment, but today I just want to share the photos and let you see what you see.

















San Diego Skyline



I spent the afternoon of Day 2 in San Diego at  a beach, sitting, sleeping, and writing things in the sand.  Oh, how I would love to be on the beach right now!  Jealous seemed like the correct word to write :)  I first tried writing them with my toe, but the water kept beating me to it and washing the words away.  So I walked and walked and walked looking for a big stick.  And I couldn't find one anywhere!  Then Justin suggested a lightstand - turns out camera equipment has multiple purposes!




It was perfect :)





And the working part of the day - corporate photos.  Jeremy's business partner, Nate, flew in that morning so he could join us for photoshoot #2.  Nate has spent the last year or so traveling around the country - a couple weeks here, a couple weeks there (California, Colorado, Utah, Florida and a few other places) and has finally settled back in San Diego with a permanent address.  Most of the work they do is online anyway, or traveling to meet with clients in other states, so being able to move around without interrupting the business is pretty cool.  I love the perspective both of these guys have on life and people, though.  They make a huge effort to understand people and it shows in the relationships they have, even while not staying in one place for very long.  You can still connect with people and make a difference.  Everyone travels for different reasons, and I've loved the experiences I've been able to have traveling recently - new people, new places, new experiences.  I've gone out of the state at least once every month since November, and this will continue for almost a whole year.  I'm excited to see the connections I can make as this continues!



Nate and Jeremy run two businesses together, SpireWave and Mind Breakthrough.  (The SpireWave website is about to be relaunched, but until then, you can read a little bit about it on Jeremy's website here)










I loved the view of this skyline with the water.  For you photographers interested in the specs on this one below, I had one speedlight on my camera, two behind them for backlight, and one from the front right with a soft box. I used pocketwizards to trigger, and shot it at 1/15 sec, f/3.2, ISO 640.  Most importantly, though, I called ahead to make sure they'd turn all the lights on for the office buildings in the background ;)




And I hopped in one at the end - thanks Justin for taking the picture!








When Jasmine and I started looking for locations for our cruise, the first requirement was warm.  She's moved out to New York City and I'm still in Utah, so we wanted to get away from the winter.  This vetoed the Antarctica cruise.  The second thing that sparked our interest was Jamaica.  To be honest, we chose this cruise specifically so that we could go to Jamaica.  We grew up with the movie "Cool Runnings", and we were just a little tinsey bit obsessed.  We loved quoting the movie- "Ya mon!"  "No problem, mon!"  "Hey Sanka, ya dead?!"  And everything you see if movies is true, right?  OK, maybe not.  But we were still excited.


Sooooo, we didn't see a bobsled team practicing going downhill, and there wasn't live music on every corner.  But Jamaica did have  vivid colors everywhere.  The blues in the water, the umbrellas and clothes, the lush greenery and even some flowers.  I was bummed we didn't really meet a "Sanka" character like in Cool Runnings, but we had a few funny experiences with  some locals.  "Can we get you girls anything?  A taxi?  ...Some grass?"   Yeaaah, definitely not in Utah anymore ;-)



Below is the patio where we tried jerk chicken and pork.  It was decent, but I imagine it's a lot like BBQ, the flavors, spiciness, and overall quality varies.  I'll definitely try it again some time in a less tourist-y area.  I love how the umbrellas match the flowers though.




This guy made me smile - singing "Don't worry about a thing, cuz every little thing is gonna be alright..."  Love music like that!  And the colors from the market behind him.






The top right photo above is my favorite from the whole trip - the yellow umbrella with the blue water and the gorgeous sand.  Looks like the perfect vacation to me.


And I thought the bottom left photo below was really cool, but Thomas said you can't really tell it's a wave coming up on the sand.  Maybe we'll call it abstract art?





Played a bit with the Canon G11 and the underwater casing, first time really using it and I say 2 thumbs up.  However, we also had the rest of our camera gear and didn't want to just leave it sitting on the beach, so we actually traded off - Jasmine would go swimming while I sat on the beach, then I would go swimming while she sat on the beach.  Definitely remembering to bring a larger group to the beach next time.  We met a cute little old lady who seemed trustworthy (and apparently was since she didn't steal our stuff!) set the cameras by her for the last 10 minutes so we could play in the water together.  Can you believe how blue that water is though?  Unreal!







Labadee, Haiti



When I travel, I love to see the culture.  The people in their daily lives.  How are their lives different than mine?  How are they the same?  It's interesting to see a new perspective.  So I was a little bit disappointed when I learned that the island in Haiti the cruise ship stops at was a private island and all tourism.  But when I opened my eyes, I saw a little taste of heaven. The first photo I took when I got off the boat is this one below.  It's interesting because I have so much experience photographing people that I wasn't sure what else to do for this scene.  I tried a few different angles, but I couldn't change it up by asking the palm tree to pose differently.  And ultimately, I was happiest with the very first photo.  It's a new challenge and I will be learning how to improve.



I then walked closer to the water and a rock took off the top of my toe.  The blood would have ruined the shot, so I took a little break until we got to a new location :)



I think these two should be on motivational posters or something.  On the left:  It's not about where the journey ends, it's the path you take to get there.  And on the right, well, I don't know if a quote goes along with it, just a sigh.  Doesn't that look amazing right now?








If you look carefully at the photo below, you can see several wires running across the water.  These are not telephone lines, they are actually zip lines that Jasmine and I went down (daredevils, I tell ya!).  I wish I had a video to show you of us, but to get an idea anyway, here's a link to some other guy going down the zip line:






This guy below did three things:  1. Danced (somewhat similar to a hulu?  Lots of hip movements.  It was... interesting).  2. Smiled and laughed.  3. And he ate fire.  Over and over again.  Can you say "Awesome"?




And this is one of my favorite photos - this guy was playing in a little trio as we waited in line to get back on the ship (anyone who hasn't been on a cruise should be warned that the lines you wait in to get on the ship, off the ship, to get food, photos, or into the theatres - they are as bad as an amusement park).  We were very grateful for the entertainment  as we waited this time.  And isn't this little old guy adorable?



So there it was.  Not tons of culture, but a view that took my breath away.  Tomorrow - Jamaica!









Brittany and Scott- Sunsets, Sand, and Saltair


Today is Brittany's birthday!  She and Scott are getting married in less than a month, and today is the perfect day to show off their engagement photos.  We packed up our gear, slathered on the bug spray and headed on out to Saltair for some beautiful outdoor shots.  Brittany and Scott were a delight to shoot- happy to smile, ready to kiss on command, and A-OK to stand in the mud/sand/rocks/unmentionable sludge to get that perfect photo!


I mean, just look at those smiles...




It can be hit or miss to get the sky we want, but that night was something special...





I loved just how comfortable they were with everything.  With each other, with the camera, and with everything in between....




They didn't do so bad with the dramatic look either...




Happy Birthday Brittany- we'll see you two at the wedding!
















Allison and Darron: Pre-wedding day formals at Santa Monica Pier

I'm originally from Austin, Texas, which I once thought to be a fairly big city. I live now in Lehi, Utah, which is definitely NOT a big city. Neither location really educated me on what "bad traffic" can really mean. I was actually pretty naive when it came to such things, and didn't really understand how horrendous a traffic situation can really be. NO LONGER!

We met up with Allison and Darron at the Los Angeles LDS Temple to shoot some bride and groom photos the day before their wedding (bridals/groomals/pre-wedding-vanity-shoot, call it whatever you like :), and when we finished, we headed on over to the Santa Monica Pier to finish the rest of the evening. It's only a hair over 5 miles from the Temple to the Pier, and I figured even with "bad" traffic we'd get there in about 30 minutes. ...About an hour and a half later we pull into the parking garage a block away from the Pier, and I am ready to pull out my hair.

This was fairly representative of the traffic situation during our trip down there. We fought with "Jeeves" our friendly GPS unit the whole way about whether or not we dared get onto a freeway while we were down there. It seemed like "rush hour" was actually from about 8am-11:30am and then again from 12:00pm-8pm.

Anyways, once we got to the Pier everything was great. Allison was completely gorgeous in her dress (even after close to two hours in the car getting there), and we ended up getting some really fun images. There were THOUSANDS of people around the Pier and the beach, which made Allison and Darron feel a little out of place in their wedding clothes, but they were awesome! Seriously, if I were on the other side of the camera I would have died. We even had an audience that spontaneously started cheering when they did their first kiss for the camera. Darron was so cute about the process- once he realized that we were going to have an audience for the remainder of the evening, he made the joke that he would just tell people that they were models just doing their job. So the whole time, he just said over and over under his breath "It's ok, I'm a model." It made for a fun running joke, and anytime we needed a genuine smile I just had to remind him to give his model face. "Ok, now BLUE STEEL!"

^ Insert cheering here. Yaaaaay....

As I've mentioned before, I am addicted to color, and so I think this ferris wheel below is amazing.

This next one on the left is definitely where Darron the Model shines...

Take a look at the complete set of the formals at Santa Monica here.

Erin and Cole- Beach Formals

Went to Newport Beach, Ca to shoot a wedding for Erin and Cole, and we were able to do a pre-wedding-day bride and groom shoot at a resort in Laguna Niguel. It was a beautiful location, and Erin kept getting compliments right and left from the people passing by. There was one little girl in particular who was extremely excited to "see the princess". :)

Cole surprised Erin with very sparkly wedding band to go along with her engagement ring.

You can see more photos of Erin and Cole here.

Jessica and Casey's Marathon Engagement Session

Meet Jessica and Casey.
Jessica, Casey, happy fun couple
I knew we were going to get along and that we were going to get some truly awesome pictures pretty much as soon as I met them. I think it was about the moment that they explained to me with a grin that as Jessica's last name is "Terribilini" and Casey's last name is "Skankey" their wedding was ultimately going to be a "Terribly Skanky" wedding. Yes, I thought to myself, I think we're going to be able to work together juuuust fine. :)
I think I must have been fated to shoot their wedding. Jessica's sister is also engaged, and had contacted me a month or so before Jessica asking if I could shoot her wedding. She had found me through Facebook ads and liked my style. Unfortunately I was already booked for that day, but was able to recommend a very good friend to photograph their wedding. I guess in the spirit of "if at first you don't succeed" the powers that be lead Jessica to my site, completely independent of her sister and unknowing that she had tried to book me, and we were able to sign a contract- thus paving the way for the sweet sweet photographic goodness you find before you.
Now something you probably already know about me is that I don't charge by the hour. There are several reasons why, among them simplicity in terms of pricing, the opportunity to be there as long as I need to to get that one perfect shot to capture your day, and the flexibility to deal with craziness in schedules and mishaps along the way. That being said, engagement and bridal sessions still only last anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 hours on average- mainly because not too many brides and grooms really want to be in front of a camera for longer than that. However, I am always ready and raring to do anything my clients want, and while talking with Casey and Jessica about engagements it quickly became apparent that they were up for a bit more than the norm.
Thus, I present to you... (drumroll, please) the Marathon Engagement Session. We started out at Wheeler Farm, then headed to a location west of Salt Lake City off the freeway, and finished up at Salt Air. I took over 1000 photos and the shoot lasted over 5 hours. Fun was had by all. I still haven't quite finished editing all of them, but I have put up a gallery of some of my picks from the session. Be sure and check them out here.
sitting on a log, enjoying the sun

black and white, serious models
Remember the teaser post I put up a couple weeks ago? Yeah, these skies were AMAZING!
silhouette, sunset, holding hands

dip, about to kiss in front of a sunset
The colors just kept getting better as it got later.
Beach, Great Salt Lake, Salt Air, Sunset engagements

blue skies, wheat fields, long road
They were such a pleasure to work with. I love happy people, which is why I love weddings!
sunlight, rim light, smiling and laughing
I loved these stalks and reed thingys, you could just see how they moved in the wind- gorgeous setting.
about to kiss in the reeds

fiancee piggyback ride

hiding in reeds at the beach, Saltair

Trees at Wheeler Farm, green grass
Yeah, we got along fine.
making faces, fiancees