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James & Ayla’s engagement in Phoenix

Way behind with posting fun engagement sessions, here’s James and Ayla who got married in Tucson earlier this year. Had a blast with them in downtown Phoenix and then Papago Park for these engagement photos!

Never got around to sharing this engagement session between Ayla and James, but it was a blast. A drink at Carly’s before exploding some of downtown Phoenix and then hitting Papago Park!

Arin & Aaron’s Wedding at The Croft Downtown

A favorite wedding from last year. Arin and Aaron were nervous about photos, but they of course turned out to be two of the most photogenic people out there. Their wedding was such a blast, a slamming party with the reception led by the JJ’s Band, one of the best out there. The venue was The Croft, which I’m shooting at a lot these days. Victoria Canada was the planner and she’s always stupendous to work with. Not to mention by buddy Jay Worsley doing video and my friend Alyssa Campbell helping out with second shooting.

Enjoy the photos, links to the amazing vendors at the bottom!

Venue // The Croft Downtown
Event Designer & Planner // Victoria Canada Weddings & Events
Cinematographer // Everly Films
Invitations & Reception Paper Items // Celebrations In Paper
Dress Designer // Sarah Seven
Florist // Angelic Grove
Hair & Makeup // Amanda Huffman & Allison Pynn
Linens // La Tavola
Caterer // M Catering By Michael’s
Rentals // Classic Party Rentals
Ceremony Music // Two People Singing
Band // The JJ’s Band
Officiant // Raun Melmed
Photo Booth // Social Station
Guest Accommodations // Firesky Resort & Best Western Sundial

The Wise Family

Another family session from last year that we didn’t blog but should have. This family. Amazing. So cute and so fun.

And the grandpa from Up is in this. I mean, what more could you ask for?

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Ally & Justin’s Wedding at The Croft Downtown in Phoenix

From a blast of an engagement session up at Big Lake to a beautiful wedding at The Croft in downtown Phoenix, working with Ally and Justin was a treat. Seeing Justin kinda lose it at the first look told me everything about these two.

Love working with Angela and the crew from The Croft…it’s a newer venue that is getting pretty popular! And nothing is more fun than having one of your best friends helping you shoot…thanks Aaron Hoskins!

This was such a classy wedding for a classy couple. Hope you enjoy the photos!

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A December sunset over Phoenix

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, rokinon 14mm 2.8, f/16, iso 50, 1/6 sec // buy print)

Since the monsoon season ended, I feel as if I’ve done nothing but take pictures of brides, grooms, kids, babies, families, parents, couples…and not much else. In fact, it’s more than a feeling, it’s true. In my Lightroom catalog, I have my fine art work (storms, landscapes, etc) organized by date. The previous entry was October 12th before I went out last night.

We’ve basically been having sick sunsets and sunrises all week and I finally had a few nights off. But being tired and all that, I only drove a few blocks to my fav parking garage and waited for the colors to arrive. It’s a place I’ve shot at a bunch of times, but it really does offer one of the better views of downtown. And yup, we got yet another beautiful evening sky across Arizona.

Looking forward to hopefully some winter storms later this month or into January.

Airplane

Airplane - Downtown Urban Phoenix Reflection

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 30mm, iso 100, f/4 // buy print)

You may know about my love for reflection photos like this one. What you may not know is that I’m kind of specific about when I shoot them.

Like, if someone empties their swimming pool and it floods the street…I don’t rush outside with camera gear in hand. That just doesn’t get me going at all.

But what does motivate me are storms. Of course right? And when it comes to reflections…I like the puddles of water leftover after a good rain. And even more specifically…I like to shoot them at sunset or in the early, cloudy morning. And finally…I need to be in the downtown, urban environment. I could have taken some shots in my driveway this week, but I wasn’t as inspired until I found myself in an abandoned parking lot. Don’t ask me why, it’s just the way it is.

It’s kind of a weird thing to shoot too. You wonder if people are looking at you funny. You are just walking around, tripod in hand…staring at the ground. From 100 feet away, I’ll bet it looks goofy as heck. I love it!

Now I love this shot I posted today, but honestly I think the plane makes it and I never even intended for it to be there. I just liked the pattern in the cement and the glimpse of some powerlines. But as I was bracketing the shot, this plane flew overhead and turned an okay image into some a bit more special for me.

And the reason I like shooting after it rains is the stormy clouds that you usually have and that awesome texture you get in the reflection. Swirls of light and dark…adds an element you can’t really control.

The Johnson family

When you are lucky enough to photograph the same families every year, it’s kind of fun to see how things change. Like with the Johnson family here. Last year baby Aly was a bundle of joy and sat there for an eternity letting me take pictures. And little Nick wanted nothing to do with me.

This year, the opposite. Nick was a superstar model. He pretty  much wanted to be in every picture. Aly? Well, she had her own agenda.

I do love this family though. As I mentioned in the Nakamura post this week, Dave and Meribeth used to work at AMC Theaters, along with me and my wife, back years before kids were even an idea to us. I never actually worked alongside them, but my wife did and I remember meeting them at some point.

Amazing to still be in touch well over a decade later.

And an amazing family too. Beautiful kids. Good people.

Thank you guys!

Life is Beautiful

(click to see on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 35mm 1.3, f/1.6, iso 2000, 1/80 // buy print)

It’s that time of the week again…time for Movie Title Wednesday. When I looked at this image thinking I’d use it for the weekly film series, the first title that popped into my head was Life is Beautiful.

What’s kind of weird about that was I couldn’t remember a single reason WHY I connected a bicycle with that film. The movie came out in 1997, so that’s fourteen years ago and I don’t remember much about it at all. But then I Googled “Top 10 Bike Movies” and it was on almost every list. So obviously I remembered something from that movie.

So what I do recall about Life is Beautiful was that it was an amazing, powerful film. The first real movie I watched with subtitles. And I remember afterwards telling my wife that about a 1/3 of the way through the movie it suddenly felt as if you weren’t reading anymore…like you almost forgot it was in subtitles. And I remember it being sad and probably getting a bit of dust in my eyes at the end.

Of course, my bigger memory is the star of the film, Roberto Benigni (who won Best Actor), at the Oscars making his way to the front by walking across the chairs instead of the aisle. His acceptance speech was one of the most memorable in history. I’d love to watch Life is Beautiful again, but it’s kind of like Schnidler’s List to me…it’s always hard to re-watch those gut-wrenching Holocaust movies.

Now, about the picture…what is it about bicycles that are so interesting? When I was in Amsterdam, or anywhere in Holland or Belgium really…if I saw a bike, I wanted to take a picture of it. Old bikes against old brick walls…a hundred bikes lining a canal…an alleyway with…yup…bikes.

I saw this one outside the New City Studio gallery this past First Friday in downtown Phoenix and I had to shoot it. I really dug how the light was almost like a spotlight on the bike and then how it falls off everywhere else. Definitely had to crank up the ISO on this shot, but I love the feel.

First Friday is tonight!

(Canon Rebel XSi, 17-35mm, 17mm, ISO100, F10, six exposure HDR, Photomatix, CS5, Topaz Adjust)

The First Friday art walk in downtown Phoenix happens tonight and for the first time I’ll be showing my work in a collaborative gallery for a month. I’m beyond excited and cannot wait for 6pm! My wonderful mom and step-dad are babysitting for us so that my wife and I can get out of the house and just enjoy a lovely evening meeting people, talking to people and enjoying our time spent together.

If you are interested in coming, click right here for the flyer. Myself along with five other photographers will have their work shown at Day Twelve, which is a church plant in downtown Phoenix, one we’re helping to get going. Their goal is to become a part of the city and aid it in anyway possible, and right now that includes embracing the artists in Phoenix and helping to showcase their work. If you’ve never heard of a church doing something like that before…join the club. It’s amazing. The “gallery” is where they house the Day Twelve office, but it’s more of a collaborative gallery/workspace for those who need it.

Like I said…this isn’t just about me. There is another HDR guy down there in Rick Young who is amazing, my buddy Dee who specializes in beautiful landscapes, Chereth who tells stories from Africa with her portraits, Tiffany the vintage fashion photographer and Steve who just “sees” things worth shooting anywhere he goes. While I was down there on Wednesday helping to hang these images with a few of the other photogs…it was so awesome to see how different we all were but how much we loved each other’s work and were inspired by that.

Today’s photo was taken at the same time as the one in the flyer…at a pedestrian overpass crossing Interstate 10. I was trying so hard to find a place to get a stormy sunset photo with the freeway and city skyline integrated into one and it’s a difficult task down here. There aren’t many spots at all, the freeway doesn’t run through the areas with tall buildings, so you kind of have to take what you can get.

Hope to see some of you tonight! And from the bottom of my heart, I thank all of you who have supported me since I started doing this…it’s been an amazing journey and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Glowing Rails

(Canon Rebel XSI, Tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, ISO 100, 8-exposures, F8)

Back three weeks ago when I realized it was going to be a nice sunset, I’d drive 5 minutes and be in the middle of the desert. Now I’m scrambling for places in downtown Phoenix that will compliment the gorgeous skies we get down here in the evenings and mornings.

My little family and I had been driving around downtown two weekends ago just exploring and seeing what kind of restaurants are there, shops, etc. Of course I was unconsciously more focused on things I could photograph, but when isn’t that true? We passed these tracks and I just knew I had to come back sometime.

By the way, the cardinal rule about never leaving a sunset until it’s well past the sun actually going down is so very important. As the sun disappeared on this night, the high clouds that were hanging around all afternoon suddenly appeared to vanish. I was like “UGH! They were amazing, why did they just go POOF like that? Argh, better drive around and see what else I can find to shoot while I’m here.” Sure enough, I found something that I’m extremely excited to post at a later time, but as I was snapping the shutter I saw the sky. Wow…all the clouds were back and they were on fire.

Obviously they had never left, but the sun going down made them blend in with the sky for a few minutes before they got nailed with that amazing light. Don’t. Give.Up.On.Your.Sunset.

I love the train tracks in this photo more than anything…the way they were shiny enough to reflect the sky was remarkable. Next time though I think I’d like to be further down the tracks, closer to that bridge you see in the distance.