The Godmother

Family photography Bay Area San Jose Pacific Grove ocean beach portrait

Arm in arm, they strolled the beach.
They dug their toes into the sand.
They laughed, they hugged.
They gazed out to sea.
They were radiant.
Beautiful.
Thinking it to myself wasn’t enough.
Holy smokes, you two look fantastic, I said.
Smiling, the Godmother touched her blue headdress.
Yes, we do, she said.
It’s a party.
We’re celebrating.
My goddaughter’s son turns one today.
Our family is beat, but we are not.
So we’re here, and they’re not.
The Godmother opened her arms to embrace the sea.
Congratulations, I said, and turned to leave.
But she glanced at me and my camera around my neck,
And I understood her meaning right away.
Yes, she said without a word.
Photograph us.
Snap away.
It’s OK.
And when the Godmother speaks—
Telepathically or otherwise—
You do as you’re asked.

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All The Light There Is To See

Last Thursday, I was scouting light for a family shoot.
I parked at the edge of Alum Rock.
Then I started walking.
And walking.
It was hot and dusty.
And my walk turned into a hike.
After two miles, I was sweating as though on a long run.
Rapid-fire, a non-verbal thought came to me.
It felt something like this…
Yes, was the thought.
Yes, I’m changing careers
Yes, there’s uncertainty
Yes, there’s self-doubt
But this is my new office
My new workplace
My new commute
After the thought flashed through me,
I pressed on, giddy as a 50-year old kid can be.

I’m running a family promotion this summer, so let’s shoot.

Going, Going Gone

Zoie, 2018.
I’ve known her since she was two-years old.
I won’t do the math, I refuse.
Time has moved too fast.
She’s not even my daughter,
And still I grieve a bit as she launches into the world—
But launch she must,
And that’s exactly what she’s ready to do.
As a high school student,
Zoie’s mind was a sheet of paper ready for learning.

Portrait photography bay area high school graduate eyes closed

As a graduate and former class president bound for ASU, she’s woke.

Portrait photography bay area high school graduate eyes open

In addition to magnetic eyes, Zoie has an amazingly infectious smile.
It’s impossible not to smile back. Just try.

See, you can’t do it.
That’s the best kind of emotional contagion.
Her mom is a strong, passionate woman.
And she’s ready to release her daughter into the wild—almost.

high school graduate portrait with mom

And whether her parents are ready or not,
This kid is going to soar.

Family portrait photography high school graduate

Just look at her expression.
Bright future ahead!

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Eyes like Exotic Insects

A neighbor’s niece was visiting from out of town.
We were introduced.
Hello.
Hi.
Your eyes, I said.
Yeah, I know, she replied.
They’re amazing.
Yeah, I know.
Confidence, you got to love it.
Can I take your picture, I asked.
Yeah.
Great.
In the shade of our backyard,
She sat in front of the side of our house,
Which was brightly illuminated behind her.
I went high key with the 85mm
And got lots of fun-interesting shots in minutes,
Like this one, slightly playful…

Portrait photographer in bay area captures playful eyes

…and this one, brightly astonished…

Portrait photographer in bay area captures astonished eyes

…and then this one, exotic eyes edged with reptilian intensity.

Portrait photographer in bay area captures exotic eyes

Notice how the taupe background on the left
And the green background on the right
Pool in her irises like an estuary,
Where a brown river meets an emerald sea.
Love it when that happens.

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Quarry

Landscape photography at Rancho San Antonio in Cupertino while in hot pursuit of a coyote but cornering yellow flowers instead

Camera in hand,
I chased a coyote through dry brush,
Over two ridge lines
And into a valley,
Where she lost me for good.
In a sweat,
I plopped down, frustrated.
I complained to myself.
At last, I looked up
In a field of yellow wild flowers,
Sagely nodding in the breeze.
I chuckled.
Lesson learned,
I gathered them up in a single frame
And returned home.

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Mirror, Mirror

Say hello to Giovanna.
Or Gio for short.
Gio’s a mom and a marketer to boot.
She’s into healthy eating, weight training, and silly humor.
Emphasis on all three parts in equal measure.
I’ve known Gio a long time, before the Age of Children.
And now our girls are classmates and friends.
They’re good buds.
And Gio and I are good buds, too.
Luckily for me, she’s up for photo shoots at the end of a long week.
We practice lighting and posing for candid profile pictures,
Like this one minus the sepia treatment.

Portrait photography creative business headshot woman smile

Recently, we pushed ourselves beyond our customary limits.
And we explored shadow and light, hair and eyes.

Portrait photography black and white woman eyes shoulders hair intensity

We explored clavicles, lips, and the spine.

We explored strength and toughness…

Portrait photography black and white woman eyes shoulders hair clavicle

…and shoulders…

black and white portrait woman eyes shoulders hair

…and the assurance that comes from being the boss lady of one’s own life.

Portrait photography black and white woman eyes shoulders hair arms intensity

We shot for over an hour,
Using a 50mm f/1.8 at ISO 200,
With only a reflector and a white backdrop.
My favorite image from the session is this one, hands down.

Portrait photography fine art black and white mirror back eyes

It’s not an original concept.
Not by any means.
But it is the first time I’ve ever executed on the idea.
And I’m pleased with how it turned out—
A frame within a frame, capturing almost every feature we sought to explore.

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Details in a Country Vineyard

Outside of Healdsburg, CA, deep in a maze of unimproved dirt roads, there’s a country vineyard called TEN Springs Ranch.

It’s a steep, wild, and beautiful place.

I was there with family and friends for an annual celebration.

When I had my fill of conversation, I struck out alone to capture details that often go unnoticed. Tendrils and spears of grass, grain and mortar, trellis and wire tighteners, and other small things just waiting to be discovered.

 

Details are huge. When you add them up—poor, humble, and unknown as they are—you get amazing places. Like vineyards or churchyards or schoolyards or even backyards.

As I pondered a square bolt, one of my favorite Details in the world startled me.

Dad, she said, brightly. Look what I caught.

Turning round, I looked very carefully. There they were, five little fingers holding one bigger finger, an iridescent blue throat gulping air, and a smile as broad as the Russian River.

family portrait girl lizard bokeh

Now that’s a scene worth capturing.

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