Of Time and the River

landscape photography photographer ventana wilderness big sur river san francisco bay area

In the heart of Los Padres National Forest, the Big Sur River is carving steep gorges and sharp-crested ridges. Sykes campground—where I captured the image above—is a 10-mile hike through untamed canyon wilderness. It was a challenging destination to reach even when there was an established trail. But now in the wake of fires, road closures, and erosion damage, this lovely little spot is next to impossible to reach.

Contact me for kids, teens, family, and corporate photography in the Bay Area.

The Great Untried

Creativity is hard. Self-criticism is easy. And slumps are inevitable as a result.

To challenge this dynamic, I’m doing something different.

When I’m on a shoot—whether it’s corporate or family photography—I do the thing that comes easily and naturally to me. It yields predictable results in a style and aesthetic clients expect.

Like this image of an executive on Maiden Lane in the City, snapped a few weeks ago.

neilson corporate photography bay area san francisco san jose executive portrait chime maiden lane

After I’ve done the easy thing, I force myself to do the hard thing. Something I haven’t tried before. Something new. Different. This, for instance.

neilson corporate photography bay area san francisco san jose executive portrait chime maiden lane black white

Not bad. In fact, pretty good, all things considered.

You might be surprised to learn that I made the image outside. Just ten yards from the spot where I snapped the first image. Both were taken on Maiden Lane, bustling with colors, shapes, and motion.

Can I experiment, I asked my subject.

You bet, he said.

He sat in a chair in the middle of Maiden Lane at high noon.

I stopped down till ambient light went black on my camera sensor. Then I placed an off-camera flash directly in front of him. Next I slowly dialed up the flash power till his silhouette magically appeared, and I got my shot.

Will the client use the image on their company website? No, probably not. But it’s an arresting effect, which I can now produce in the future with confidence.

I eagerly await the next, great untried!

Contact me for kids, teens, family, and corporate photography in the Bay Area.

New Yorker Abroad

I’ve shared photos of this NY ballerina before. At the top of the year, we kicked off a half-day collaboration, working deliberately to achieve certain effects. Here are some of my favorite images from the collection, each introduced with a verbal cue only:

Atlas Slave

teen family photography bay area santa clara university ballet ballerina san jose photographer

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

teen family photography bay area santa clara university ballet ballerina san jose photographer

Color is Black and White

Curves and Lines

teen family photography bay area santa clara university ballet ballerina san jose photographer

Living Green Frame

teen family photography bay area santa clara university ballet ballerina san jose photographer

Life without Beautify is Empty

teen family photography bay area santa clara university ballet ballerina san jose photographer

William-Adolphe Bouguereau

teen family photography bay area ballet ballerina san jose photographer portrait headshot fine artteen family photography bay area ballet ballerina san jose photographer portrait fine art

Determination

teen family photography bay area ballet ballerina san jose photographer portrait headshot

Thanks for visiting, hope you enjoyed!

Contact me for kids, teens, family, and corporate photography in the Bay Area.

 

Woke

When I arrived, Baby was sound asleep.

baby newborn family photography bay area san francisco san jose

But when my shutter began to click, she woke.
She took one look at my ugly mug and drew the right conclusion, fast.

newborn family photography bay area san francisco san jose baby mom

Fortunately, Dad has a way with Baby.
And she began to calm down.

newborn family photography bay area san francisco san jose baby dad

Dad is great.
But Dad plus Mom is even better.
Baby began to rock to sleep.

newborn family photography bay area san francisco san jose baby dad mom

Before long, Baby achieved a state of perfect bliss.
Awake or asleep, that’s one beautiful kiddo.

newborn family photography bay area san francisco san jose sleeping baby

Oh, and Mom was delighted with the results.
Which makes me very happy.

Contact me for family or corporate photography in the Bay Area.

Mya in the City

Not long ago, I had the honor of photographing the staff and executive team at Mya, an SF-based company that helps recruiters optimize their workflow through AI.

Their office is located on Maiden Lane, one of the most picturesque streets in the City. Combine that with the team’s commitment to shooting outdoors, and you have the makings of a great photographic day.

One of my favorite shots is this portrait of a CEO as a young man. The hubbub of City life goes on round him, while he hovers confidently in space. Red accents glow in the background. If I were to retake the photo, I’d drop 2/3 of a stop below ambient and fire an off-camera flash. Pesky shadows under his eyes bother me now.

bay area san francisco san jose corporate photography ceo executive portraits

This particular shot was a lot of fun to make. Primarily because I enjoyed walking the Lane with this executive. We shot the breeze about science, medicine, and the National Geographic. I had good fun just getting to know him. Best of all, I fired my flash.

bay area san francisco corporate photography portraits headshots mya maiden lane

I love this next photo. It took a while to get it just right. But it was worth the effort. Plus, I like things in threes. See the bokeh frame left? See the bindi, nose ring, and earring?

Portrait of an executive in sf vinita

How did I get this harried professional to relax? You know, the usual—we talked about our wives and family life. Trust me, if you’d been there, you would have smiled, too. Oh, one last thing. Check out the crop. You’re looking at 2.39×1, which isn’t your standard 5×7. I’m a big fan of 2.39×1 and 16×9 because they offer a cinematic lens on the environment, of which the subject is a part.

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See the soft green tree-clouds in the background? I did then, and I do still. I tell you, threes are the best! Plus, I like the curbsides, faint and disappearing.

Portrait of an executive in sf connie

Ditto. Except in this shot, the light had changed dramatically from the prior one, requiring me to stop down from f/1.8 to f/4.5. Background is too sharp for my liking, but it was a trade-off I was willing to make to get the shot.

Portrait of an executive in SF eric

Happily, the executive team was thrilled with the process and results. One of their senior leaders even chimed in here.

Contact me for creative Bay Area corporate and candid family photography.