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When Harry Met Sally

Music Man - New York Central Park

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/1.8, iso 400, 1/320 // buy print)

I’ve been waiting and waiting for a time when I could use this film for Movie Title Wednesday and it’s finally here. It took a trip to New York to make it happen, but that is perfectly okay with me.

When Harry Met Sally is one of my all-time favorite movies. In fact, I wanted to join my wife in visiting The Met just so we could stand in that one spot and practice saying “Pecaan pieeeeeee…pecan pieeeeeeee.” Probably the best romantic comedy ever, but I think it kind of transcends that “chick flick” status into a classic. You have to see it. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan at their best. A movie spanning years and ending on New Year’s Eve in New York. Funny, heartwarming…unforgettable.

This photo is one of my favorites from the trip. I was dying to use it for the movie series, but I couldn’t think of a title until of course I talked to my wife. I had already thought of WHMS, but didn’t connect the dots too well. Yeah, it’s set in New York, just like my photo. But my wife remembered how the movie is full of awesome, big band music. Harry Connick Jr….It Had to Be You. Good stuff.

Which works perfectly with this old man playing a saxophone in Central Park. Not to mention the fact my wife and I were together, exploring the park…kind of like Harry and Sally wandering around New York.

This actually wasn’t a simple shoot and keep moving. I took my time composing this. Trying to figure just where to place the man at the end of the tunnel. How much of the blurred wall to show. But the bigger aspect was employing some patience I don’t usually possess. The guy wasn’t facing in this direction the entire time. It took maybe 30 seconds to finally snap the photo with him perfectly silhouetted exactly how I wanted.

I think a younger version of me from not even that long ago would have just shot and kept on walking.

All the crazy time we spent shooting bridges and I knew a shot like this would be more meaningful to me than anything else. That’s why I love photography.

Paparazzi

So what do a group of photographers do when they get bored of shooting stuff around them, or have to wait 30 minutes for a large table at John’s Pizzeria?

Turn the cameras on each other, of course. Become our own paparazzi. The photo above of my pal Brian Matiash kind of says it all. Someone is off-camera left shooting a picture of him, then a second guy is on the right taking a picture too for some reason, and thus I completed the trifecta in an attempt to capture BM in his element: the center of attention *grin*

Most of the shots in this blog post take place while we waited to eat some just amazing pizza after we had been photowalking since 5:30am. The food was delish, but the company was the real treat.

So here are my final portrait images from the trip to New York. They were tall taken with the 35mm 1.4. Had a blast. Met awesome peeps. Ate fantastic grub. And hopefully furthered some friendships that will last a long, long time.

Before the pizza, Jesse Pafundi was playing with Jacob’s huge ass 400mm lens. This is the shot Jesse was lining up below, from his perch on the Brooklyn Bridge.

My boy Chris Deangelis from Fresno.

The MAN Rich Williams, responsible for all kinds of amazing portrait shots himself.

My Aussie pal Jacob Lucas.

Brian Furbush…hilarious dude, totally awesome meeting this guy.

The Canadi-man…Heath O’Fee…I always do my best to shoot this guy at his most awkward. Some of you may have seen my Instagram of him on the subway *grin*

Brian Matiash shooting with the 70-200.

Love, love, love this shot of Scott Wyden. He’s a solid dude.

Heath shooting with his awesome old Mayima film camera.

Never can get enough of BM.

Chris D!!!

Here is Rich…going from checking his camera’s LCD playback to….

…instant smile!

Happy Friday!

I can’t wait to hopefully see this face today. I’m flying back from Las Vegas mid-day only to rush off to an event shoot in the afternoon and then the First Friday showing downtown. I’m crossing my fingers that somewhere in all that is a brief moment to give Lyla a hug.

Not a lot of time today, busy, busy, busy…so I wish you all a happy Friday and hope you have a great weekend!

 

Standing on a corner…

“…in Winslow, Arizona…such a strange sight to see…some photogs, Lord, looking really weird, and I think they’re staring at me…”

Yeah yeah…I’m no lyric writer, give me a break 🙂

If you follow this blog, you’ll remember a few weeks back that a few of us Phoenix photogs woke up butt-early in the morning to meet at 3:45am and drive to Two Guns, AZ for a little sunrise shooting at a ghost town.

I can’t even tell you how much fun we had and how great it was to hang with these guys all day. We spent a lot of time at Two Guns, then the little abandoned gas station and motorhome campground at the same spot…then we drove to Winslow and saw some cool stuff, took some shots and from there it was lunch in Flagstaff at Oreganos before our big haul to Grand Falls.

Epic day…awesome guys. Up top you have Rick Young on the left, Chris Frailey next, Ken Peterson after and me on the end.

Thanks so much guys for being a part of this big trip and making the day awesome. Also, our good buddy Scott Wood was supposed to be there too but had to work at the last minute, so we were highly bummed that he didn’t make it until later in the day.

So here are some other random shots from our trip.

Chris standing at a super-graffitied old swimming pool area.

Ken down inside the pool getting a unique perspective.

The next four images are our model poses in the Two Guns abandoned gas station. I took these (except for the one Chris took of me, thank you buddy) to just play around with the wide angle upwards kind of shot. I mean, how can you NOT want to pull in that opening in the roof and the gorgeous sky?

Another of Chris shooting graffiti.

Portrait shot of the day below of Rick…

Rick driving us back to Flag.

Ken shooting cows on the way to Grand Falls.

And…the epic shot of Ken perched on a tiny precipice getting a good look at the Falls.

Little Miss Sunshine

(click to see larger, crisper, with a nice dark border)

If you were to boil my life down to the basic things that are essential to my existence…the photo above represents all of it.

Before I go on about my two girls, today is Movie Title Wednesday so of course I gotta talk about the film for a bit. Little Miss Sunshine is one of my favorite movies from the last decade or so. A fun, hilarious movie with an awesome cast, great story and a VW bus that couldn’t stop honking. If you somehow missed this one, I’d give it a look-see. Can’t go wrong.

In reality, our little girl Lyla is indeed our sunshine. I don’t remember what I used to laugh about compared to what I do today. There isn’t a day, or an afternoon, or an hour that goes by where she doesn’t make me smile.

When you first have a baby, it’s amazing how badly you want to get to the stage when they sleep through the night and you can finally rest. And then when she’s almost 2 1/2, you are wishing that time would slow down because you already can’t bear the thought of her leaving the house someday.

The shot above was from Easter Sunday morning in our church parking lot. She had just seen my wife Jina twist her foot for a second, and so of course Lyla copied her and gave me a perfect little model pose.

Here’s a second shot below of both of them. These are probably two of my favorite pictures ever of them together.

Both shots were taken on my 5D Mark II with the Canon 50mm 1.4, at f/1.4, ISO 100 and a shutter speed of 1/8000.

 

 

Hepfinger and family

(Note: You can click on any picture to bring up a lightbox and then flip through all the photos in this blog post!)

Sona’s parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary this past weekend and it was a huge party, with lots of friends and family coming in town. Suresh, Sona’s father, said he was making around 4-5 more trips to the airport that weekend to pick up people coming into town.

Sona, along with hubby Charlie (who looks an awful lot like that guy from that movie The Town) and daughter Amea, wanted to celebrate the event by getting some family portraits done. Her sister and brother-in-law Mike joined in on the fun.

Poor Mike had just flown in on a red-eye from Chicago and went STRAIGHT to the photoshoot after scarfing down some french toast. Luckily he slept a bit on the plane, but I think he was pretty tired.

We hit the jackpot with the conditions on Friday. The shoot had to be done in the late morning, and 10:3o isn’t the ideal time to do portraits out in the sun, but as luck would have it, the clouds moved in and we had overcast conditions the entire time.

Timing is everything. Even if I have no control over it!

Congrats to the happy couple for being married 40 years! You guys were all a pleasure to work with and it was awesome getting to hang out for a bit.

The Dunnigan family

My wife and Liz have been friends for what seems like an eternity and they met long before a husband or kids were in the picture…at least for Liz.

Jina and I have literally been married FOR-EVER. (don’t you hate people who have no clue how to use the word ‘literally’?)

ANYWAYS…this beautiful group of four were only six weeks ago a family of three. Thus of course they needed some updated photos and I was only too thrilled to be able to help them out.

Little Cara is much like our little girl Lyla. Free-spirit…adventurous…never stopping, always moving, ever exploring. Which is kind of my favorite type of shooting…following these little ones around and capturing them in action. Baby Connor had never been outside before and it was fun to shoot him looking around at the sky and trees for the first time.

Sweet boy, happy little girl…and an awesome little family. So happy for you guys and thank you for letting me take some pictures of you all!

Outside

My daughter is two and she’s always wanting to explore the world, never satisfied with where she is right now. If we’re inside…of course she wants out.

“Daddy….owwwwtside!”

Once outside, she wants to do more. If she’s in the backyard sitting on the patio steps with me, she wants to climb the stairs to the guest house. If we’re on the side of the house, she runs up to the gate in the picture above and wants me to open it. If I open it and we go out front, she wants to run down the sidewalk. You get the idea.

I used to be able to give my wife a break by bringing Lyla with me on little photo excursions. Put on a DVD of Toy Story and she’d sit there, happy as a clam while I’d pull over, set up and take some storm shots, or whatever.

Now when I get out, she wants out. Makes things a bit harder. Because she wont just stand there watching a sunset with me. She wants to move.

It’s exhausting to say the least. The girl runs so fast, even a brisk speed walk on my part is not fast enough to keep up with her. She’s super-independent, would rather walk everywhere and anywhere instead of behind held or chained to a stroller. And I say “chained” because I’m sure that’s how she feels about it.

Is it frustrating? Yes. Would I change that about her? Absolutely not.

Even running down the street after her, knowing I need to give her a little talking-to for not listening to me yet again…I smile. I love who she is and the crazy desire she has to constantly be learning and moving.

I can’t wait to see what she does with all this energy someday…I bet it will be something amazing.

(Exif: Canon Rebel XSi, 50mm 1.4, f/1.4, ISO200, 1/800)

The Window

Just the other day I realized I wasn’t taken as many photographs of my daughter as I used to. I’ve gotten so caught up in portrait and wedding stuff, landscapes, storms, urbex…I just kind of stopped shooting random photos of Lyla around the house or wherever we might be. Which is sad, because she’s pretty much the reason all this started…once she was born, I didn’t want to do anything but shoot pictures of her, which led to a new passion being born inside of me.

So the last few days I’ve gotten back into the habit of watching her, seeing what she’s doing and capturing it on camera if I can. Feels good to be back doing it.

This particular photo, however, was taken back at the end of December when we had a day-long rain storm which doesn’t happen around here too much. The house we’re renting in downtown Phoenix is a hundred-years old and the windows are amazing. No screens, no sliding sideways…they are the old, heavy, wooden ones with the cables on each side that help raise it up. There is something magical about these open windows and I knew when Lyla was standing on her little stool watching the rain, I just had to capture this moment.

Another memory that will last forever.

And I need those, because my wife will tell you that I can barely remember what I ate for breakfast…THIS morning. *grin*

(EXIF: Rebel XSi, Canon 50mm 1.4, F1.4, ISO 400, 1/60)

An early farewell to 2010

If I had known I was going to end up posing for a self-portrait against this wall, I probably would have worn a hoody or something more ghetto looking to fit the scene better. But sometimes you just happen upon a place where you are inspired to do something and you just go with what you got. I haven’t done a SP for awhile now, but there was awesomeness in this wall and the graffiti and for some inexplicable reason, I knew I had to stand in front of it.

That’s kind of how the year has gone for me in general. Going with my gut, finding shots on the fly during a busy storm chasing season and winging it when it comes to my portrait business. I’m not a planner…I tend to hate planning, I don’t write down goals and rarely strategize. I have visions in my head of things I want, but nothing down on paper. But that needs to change.

I’m on vacation from my “real job” until January 4th and during that time I will likely not be posting much on the blog (if at all) and will be instead focus on three things: Spending time with my girls, catching up on movies and TV and planning my 2011 strategy for the photog business. I may get so bored and so excited about an image that I’ll have to post it, but otherwise, I’m on vacation from the blog as well *grin*

There is no doubt that 2010 was an incredible year. In many ways it was Year One, despite having started some of the portrait work back in late 2009. So much happened. My mission to storm chase all over Arizona and then publish a book ended up coming true (okay, I guess I do have SOME goals). I was counting on doing more photoshoots for people and that really boomed the last few months. I’ve been a part of a gallery, a few farmer’s markets, got into Shutterbug magazine and have sold over 25 prints in the last 12 months. And one of those prints endedup in a performing arts show in Canada! I’m so very proud of that.

But likely my favorite part of the last year are the relationships I’ve formed along the way. Of course I love the people, the families, the kids, the horses, the new parents, the new babies, the newly engaged, the-about-to-be-married…all the clients that have had me take photos for them. I’m beyond appreciative of all of that. I thank you for your trust. I thank you for telling your friends about me. And I hope to see you again next year.

The largest impact on me personally this year has been the bonds I’ve formed with my fellow warriors behind the shutter. My buddy Dee at work and all our conversations, Rick who taught me how to use an off-camera flash correctly and Brian M, one of the very best guys I know who is a constant help, inspiration and friend (I seriously owe you a few beers man). And to all my Twitter peeps like Heath, Dave, Oscar, Phil, Pat, Jim, Bob, Jacob, Jacques, Jay, Chris (F and L), Scott (Wood, Wyden and Frederick), Steve, Doug, Viveca, Jon, James, Mark, Stefanie, Jesse, Justin, Tobias, Tim and others. I know that since I mentioned a bunch of names that I’ll miss someone, but I appreciate you all.

Some photographers keep all their secrets to themselves and don’t want to help others. Not these guys. They share in the struggle and would rather help those facing the same problems then to just sit and watch a guy drown himself without tossing out a life line. A few even bought prints from me and a few more bought copies of my book. Thank you guys for your unbelievable generosity.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Facebook, because I have a ton of supporters on there, too many to name. Needless to say, I love all the comments and all the kind words from you guys…some of the things you guys tell me about my work is incredibly humbling and confidence boosting. Again, thank you.

And of course, never last, never least, Jina. You are, as always, the reason I ever succeed at anything. You know this. I know this. Thank you.

So what is coming in 2011? I’m not sure yet, that’s what the break is mostly going to determine. I do know that I will be changing up my portrait photography business model to a more standard format. I’ve used the last year as practice and I’m ready to go to the next level. I will be taking a 4-5 day trip to the midwest this spring for some stormchasing, so expect something awesome to come from that. Depending on how busy the portrait business gets, I will be doing more stormchasing in Arizona during the summer months and will probably do another book.

My other big goal is to start teaching people about HDR photography. I always have photographers asking how to do it and that they’d be interested in a workshop. So I’m going to make it happen…hopefully in a few months we’ll get together a first attempt at one and see how it goes. I’m super excited about it, nothing is more fun that teaching what you love to people who want to learn.

If you are interested in those workshops, let me know. Also, if you’d like to see something else from me, please ask!

Mostly I want to keep doing what I’m doing. While I’m going to plan strategy and goals moving forward, I think my best strength is to stick to being me. I think most of us struggle with confidence and the desire to always be “as good at this other guy”…when in reality, we need to trust in our own vision and our own ideas. It’s good to aim high, but don’t sell yourself short. People are going to be drawn to you because of YOU, not necessarily because of what your photos look like (although having good images can’t hurt, right? *grin*).

Speaking of a lack of planning or strategy, this blog post wasn’t even an idea until last night, so here I’ve gone on rambling for an eternity. I’m going to skip the Happy Holidays mumbo-jumbo and just wish you all a Merry Christmas like the good Lord intended. And a Happy New Year. I’m sure I’ll still be all over Twitter and Facebook, looking at other photogs work and interacting, but I’m honestly looking forward to a little bit of a recharge and some relaxation. And relaxing to me is getting up at 6:30am in stormy weather and driving around downtown Phoenix.

Also rewatching the entire Firefly series on Blu-Ray (thanks Jina!) and catching up on the Event, Chuck, Dexter and Boardwalk Empire.

A few of us will be out shooting over the break, so if you are interested in an early morning downtown Phoenix photowalk, let me know!