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Anniversary

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November 7th is a huge deal for me. Three years ago tonight, my buddies Andy, Chris, Aaron and a few others joined me to watch the premiere of Thor: The Dark World and helped me celebrate the fact that my Booker supercell footage had been licensed by Marvel and appeared at the 1:21 mark of the film 🙂 I love those guys for being there with me that night, it was a huge moment and one I’ll never forget.

Bigger than that though…two years ago today, I left my day job behind and embarked on this photography thing full-time. I was terrified but trusting that God would take care of me and my family like he’s always done. And he did. And continues to do so.

That was a life-altering moment for us and at times it’s been tough, scary and daunting. There are moments when I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing and no clue how I’ve gotten here.

But here I am and I’m so proud of where we are as a business and as a family. I’m so thankful to my wife Jina who was right by my side, selling our entire DVD collection back in 2009 so I could buy my first DSLR. I don’t think either of us had a clue how that little camera purchase was going to change our lives.

I appreciate everyone who has supported me along the way, shared my work, spent their hard-earned money on me for their weddings, family sessions, storm chasing workshops, prints, books or whatever!

It’s been a wild ride and I’m so stoked for the future!

(Photo by Jay & Jess circa fall 2016!)

One | Jina

This is my wife Jina…pregnant with our surprise baby boy who will be named Asher Henry. He’s due September 15th! We took some photos last Friday evening and while it was overcast most of the afternoon, we scored 15 minutes of sunshine right before it disappeared below the horizon.

I’m a lucky man. She’s never looked more beautiful.

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A few frames from Joshua Tree

Just over a week ago I drove out to Joshua Tree National Park with Rick Young and Chris Frailey. We met up with Heath O’Fee (down from Canada), Chris DeAngelis (California) and Doug Wise (also California). The plan was to hang out in the park for a sweet sunset, shoot some stars, shoot the sunrise and then mosey on over to the Salton Sea for another sunset.

The plan was great except for absolutely zero clouds anywhere that first evening. Photographers hate that.

So when the sky is boring, I usually turn my camera on my buddies and start shooting them instead. We setup camp in the early afternoon and then went on a short hike to a dam with no water. Along the way I snapped some shots of the guys and a few of the beautiful landscape around us. The trees were just amazing, but it was mostly just a ton of fun to hang out with some friends I don’t see very often and get to know everyone a bit better.

Had a blast guys, hope we all can do this again down the road! (minus the 25 degree overnight temps)

Behind all the cute

I love to photograph my daughter, even though I’ve been doing less of it lately. I need to get back into that habit though, because usually I can find something worth treasuring forever.

Like this shot.

Lyla is a cutie pie for sure. Whenever I post pictures of her on Facebook or the blog, I almost always hear about how adorable she is. In fact, my good friend Jesse has told me his wife demands that he tell her anytime I post a new photo of Lyla. Wonder if she still will? (heh)

So today I thought I’d show the other side. The side we get to see. I don’t have any photos of the temper tantrums, or the crying, or the throwing of things, or the yelling “No!!”…but I do have this one.

I had pulled out the camera because she was sitting peacefully in this chair, playing with my wife’s iPhone. The light was perfect, she looked cute…so I thought I’d snap a few while she wasn’t looking.

And then she did this.

Maybe if you are a parent you’ll get why you might treasure a photo like this 🙂

Anyways, she’s still cute right? And for those that would rather be left with a nicer memory of Lyla, here are a couple more.

Looking ahead

Me and Lyla

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Last year on January 3rd, I wrote a blog post that talked about some things I was excited about for 2011. Appears as though that might end up being an annual tradition around these parts.

I shot this little self-portrait of me and Lyla back on September 15th, the last day we went stormchasing in 2011 (if you bought my book, you’ve seen this already). At the time, I believe I was actually standing there thinking about what an amazing  summer it had been and how sad I was to see it end.

But then the fall was also amazing. I was more busy and photographed more families/couples than I ever had before. And now this new year looks like it could be the best yet. The weddings are starting to pile up. I even get to shoot one in Park City, Utah this August. My haboob photo will be in the next issue of Arizona Highways. And I’m praying and crossing my fingers that perhaps I can find a publisher for my Stormchasing Arizona series.

What’s weird is that I’m having a hard time writing this post for some reason. The words aren’t easy to find this morning. Maybe because the future is so huge and wide open for me right now, I just don’t even know what to say about it.

Which is why I’ll just end it with this:

I love what I do so much. I love being passionate about the weather and stormchasing during the Arizona summers. I love photographing kids and families. I love meeting couples who have decided to get married. I love the idea of getting to know them and their stories.  I love walking around with them as we take engagement photos. I love the big wedding day where I get to be a part of something magical. I love taking pictures of the babies that eventually arrive later down the road.

But mostly…I just love what I do.

Bring it on, 2012.

A weekend in Flagstaff

We rarely do last-minute stuff like this, but last Thursday I suggested we drive up to Flagstaff on Friday afternoon and show Lyla the snow. One night quickly turned into the two and became a much needed weekend getaway for all of us.

We ate good food, played in the snow and even stumbled across the Flagstaff Christmas parade on Saturday night, which was a ton of fun, especially for Lyla who couldn’t stop talking about it afterwards. Being sub-32 out and beanie-less, we all bought snow hats at the only store we could find. Lyla was in love with her oversized green one and mine actually had ear flaps and tassels. Yikes.

Kept me warm though.

All in all, a spectacularly fun weekend away.

So we snapped some photos of the weekend…I took most as usual, but Jina got behind the 5D a few times and I’m thankful for that. Sure most of us who are photographers know that we rarely make appearances in pictures from vacations.

Hope you enjoy a little look into our little trip to Flagstaff.

Jina took this one below! Love it!

It was waaaay too cold to build a big snowman, not to mention the snow wasn’t sticky, so this was the best we could do. Lyla made us take him back to the hotel in that cup. Had a lot of explaining to do about the whole melting thing.

The moments

My daughter loves being outside. It’s been good for me actually, because my first tendency is to keep inside where it’s nice and cool and maybe where I can catch up on a few TV shows. But she forces me to expand myself and I love her for it.

This little series was shot back in May and are some of my favorite images I’ve ever taken of her. Not so much the photos themselves (although I do love them), but mostly the memory of that afternoon. I’m sitting on the front steps, she doesn’t want to go back inside so I’m checking mail on the phone while she just walks around.

Suddenly I hear her laugh and I look up and she’s standing by this puddle in our driveway. I had watered the grass earlier and there was a decent amount of water just chilling out on the cement, waiting for a kid to walk by. I kind of half-heartedly say “Don’t get wet okay?” And the next thing I know, she steps in it and then sits down.

So my first inclination is to go UGH, diaper wet, pants wet…she’s gonna be dirty. Her mom is going to be annoyed. Then I realized all that wasn’t true and didn’t matter.  Her mom isn’t like that. And so what? I’ll just give her a bath.

I mean, look at all the fun she’s having.

My  next thought (OF COURSE!) is to run grab the camera. And I just kind of laid down on the driveway with her (not in the water) and documented this little adventure of hers. I made her splash the puddle a few times so I could capture it at just the right moment. I laughed as she not only was sitting down, but then decided Why Not? and just went face down in that thing. Looking at herself in the reflection and laughing. Standing up, dripping wet and then just walking around in the water.

I don’t want to be a photographer that hides behind the camera, always snapping, never participating. It’s easy to do that. Anytime your kids do anything, you want to photograph it. It gets to the point that you aren’t actually being a part of what they are doing. I went through a phase of that but I think I’ve relaxed a little and found a nice balance. I wait for the important moments now instead of making everything a photo-op.

Of course…on the flip side…a day like this might easily be forgotten after a few years. Without a camera, you miss being able to capture those moments that make them who they are.