Sunday, December 28, 2008

Coyote Sighting in Los Alamitos - 10:30am

Everyone who knows me well knows that I am an avid outdoorsman, nature photographer and lover of animals. I encounter animals all of the time in the forest or at El Dorado Park. Today was my first experience with a southern Californian coyote.

Kymberli and I got up this morning intent on going to the park to walk and get some exercise. I drove down the street and Kymberli exclaimed, "Aw, a dog is in the street down there by itself." I look and without hesitation we both blurt out, "That looks like a coyote!" It was down near the Los Alamitos Animal Hospital and it was 10:30 in the morning. Bright sunshine and it was using the sidewalk. I drove right up near it and started hollering at it. It gave me one look and was not at all worried about me. It kept walking ahead.

I quicly turned the car around and got my phone out. Kymberli called the Los Al Police and they said they couldn't do anything because the animals live there. I understand that they do, but they could be a bit more helpful. I feel they could have asked for more information or sent someone to check it out. People keep bitching and complaining at the City Council meetings and in the papers about coyotes attacking their pets, killing cats and small dogs and not being able to do anything about it. Well, they should do something! Anyway, we follow it down the road. I drive right next to it and all the while (And I am sure the Baxters will appreciate this) I am cursing myself out for not bringing my camera. This would be THE prime op. for a coyote photo and it's a block from our apartment! So, I whipped out the phone and got this quick shot. It's nothing spectacular, but you can see the coyote. He was well fed, healthy and not at all afraid of humans.

I drove down the road to tell a young couple, who had their little boy walking on the sidewalk, that there was a coyote right up the street. They looked, pointed and asked me if that was him. I said yes and they turned right around and high tailed it to their vehicle. I cannot blame them! With a baby on the way, I would be VERY cautious. After I made a U-turn, the dog dissappeared. I went bacvk to our apt. to see if our cat was ok. She was and we waited for a few minutes to see if the coyote would reappear. He did not, but I am still cautious. I know I will be carrying my pepper spray anytime we go on a walk and I recommend others do, too.

We both a little rattled about seeing the animal. I have seen them in the wild and had them come very close when i was in the forest, but to have one in your neighborhood and unafraid... that is frightening. Be on your guard Los Alamitos.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

S.tarbucks O.n S.aturday (SOS)

I am laughing inside at just how picky people are and how crazy our society can be. It's no wonder we are having financial difficulty when someone can't just get a cup of coffee anymore without being super, no Uber-specific.

I came back from walking dogs at the animal shelter this morning and made my usual stop into Starbucks. When I get there I counted 7 people ahead of me. 5 minutes later we weren't moving and people started grumbling. So, I opened my ears a bit more and found the hold up. A woman was ordering gift cards... not coffee, at 8:30 am on a Saturday. Now, usually that won't matter to me, but she was ordering each one separately and she ordered around 10! She didn't even order a coffee or anything. Who shows up to a coffee place at the peak time everyone wants a hot, tasty beverage and orders their gift cards? By the time she was done, the line was 12 people deep. She rushed out the door as to not make eye contact with anyone. Crazy!

Oh, and it gets better. I usually get the same thing - a coffee! I know, it's an AMAZING concept, but I get a grande coffee with room from cream and sugar. That's it. This is where the rest of the fin begins. The guy behind me orders a medium foam, double cup latte, at exactly 130 degrees. WHAAAATT?? Do you mean to tell me your tongue knows exactly what 130 degrees is and you HAVE to have that? HAHAHA! Ok, I'm done. Nope, I lied. It gets better.

The guy behind him asks what the bold coffee is for the day. The barista does NOT stutter when he says the regular coffee today is the Chrsitmas Blend. Good stuff. The customer wants to know what the bold is. The barista tells him that they brew one regular and one decaf and that the regular is the C.B. He pauses and askes for the funniest thing. I am still smiling over it. He asks for a 50/50 - half Christmas Blend, half decaf with a splash of hot water. Are you kidding me? You JUST asked what the bold coffee was and now you was a 50/50 with a splash? Please, God, am I on candid camera? I know you MUST be messing with me. LMAO!

I try to look at the humor in everyday life and today made me laugh. So, now I am home. Happy to have a regular coffee and a breakfast sandwich. I am happy that my wife and baby are doing great and momma is sleeping soundly in the bedroom. I wish I could take some of the burden from carrying the baby from my wife, but it's just not going to happen. I need to be supportive and loving and I just want to take care of her. God, thanks for helping me see the humor in life and seeing what is really important. It's not the 130 degree latte, or my coffee... it's people. It's my wife and soon-to-be-born baby, family and friends. Keep them close, talk to them and most of all... listen. You'll be surprised at what they don't actually say that you can hear loud and clear. Have a wonderful weekend everyone and I hope you get the exact coffee you want.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Richard, Monica and family slideshow!

This was a wonderful session on s many levels. First, the family is wonderful and very polite. Second, they are a beautiful family - just look at them! Third, this was our very last portrait session of 2009 and now we are waiting for the arrival of Baby Riley so we can take even more pictures!

I am very happy to be able to share this slideshow. We have grown so much as a business and as a couple. Kymberli and I are always trying to improve our styles, our workflow and our business sense. If you check out our first blogs to now, you will see a big improvement... and we aren't finished.

Thank you Richard and Monica, for allowing us to photograph you and your family. Tux, there's a special treat for you for being such a good dog. We hope you all enjoy this slideshow of some of my images from the day. You can check out Kymberli's slideshow here. She captured some of her BEST images of the year with this session. Great job, babe!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Are You Ready For Some Football?

A couple weeks ago, Kymberli and I got to do a session with the ever-so-cool and uber-athletic Chavez family. They were all so cool and even though the boys weren't 'really into' the session... I think they secretly enjoyed being in the spotlight. How can they not? Mom and Dad were great and just look at how beautiful Mom is and how handsome Dad is!

A big thank you goes out to the Chavez family for being patient, walking on soggy ground and just plain having fun while letting us photography you. We really enjoyed it!

Here is a brief slideshow for you all to enjoy.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sneak Peek - Richard, Monica and family make seven!

Today, we had the great fortune of photographing Richard and Monica along with their family. This includes Tux, their Boston Terrier, who was so cute. I mean, look at this mug!

Their family is absolutely beautiful. It was great seeing their family dynamic. The kids could be themselves and Monica and Richard could do their thing. Thank you all for allowing us the opportunity to photograph your wonderful family. It was such a great way to end the day. Kymberli posted some of her sneak peek on her blog, too! Check them out here!

Here is the entire family...

And here is my favorite image from the session. I just love how everything melted together and how sweet they were to each other. Gorgeous!

More to come later!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cindy & Shelly - The Images Revealed!

Back in October, Kymberli and I were given the opportunity to photograph the wedding of Cindy & Shelly. The entire family greeted us with warmth and kindness. There were many children and the photo ops were endless. Thank you Cindy and Shelly for allowing us to capture the day for you. We wish you a lifetime of happiness!

Kymberli posted her images from the day on her blog. She has a wonderful eye and a great way with people. You can see the truth behind that in her images. The kids just love her!

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did while witnessing the day. The love these two share for one another is something every couple should strive for. On with the show...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sharing and giving thanks, what a concept!

Thanksgiving always brings back good memories for me. Back in NY, every year my family would get together and have a big meal and get to spend some quality time together. There was always the fruit salad (which I loved), the oysters for my dad and the 15 pies for me. Ok, but I had to try each and every one! It was a rule. I'll admit, I miss those big dinners with my family and look forward to one in the next few years. My family here in SoCal is wonderful, too. Everyone gets together at Aunt Donna's and we all bring something to share. Last year, Kymberli and I opted to share our time with a local church in Seal Beach and help serve Thanksgiving meals to those who didn't have families, were homeless or just needed a good warm meal. It was one of the warmest days of my life. It wasn't that I felt good about being a servant or anything like that. It was that God had put me in a place to share a unique moment with my wife and we had both agreed to do it without hesitation. It was the fact that I got to share some time talking with people there and finding out why they were there. It is easy to explkain how it went, but difficult to truly grasp how wonderful the day was.

This year, Kymberli and I did not go to the church. I didn't want Kymberli risking getting sick or being on her feet too long. Riley will be here soon and I am sympathetic that she has a baby in her belly and the extra strain taxes her body. It was still a very positive day. We were able to spend the day with our family (her side) and it was great. Lots of baby talk, great food and much laughter. We took some time to photograph Kymberli's cousins (mine too now) in the backyard. Jayson and Ali have a wonderful family and they have been great to us. As future parents, we have had many questions and they have been more than helpful. We are so appreciative that they are willing to share. Even 3-yr old Jackson was willing to share his meal with Kymberli. He's a character and extremely intelligent for his age. Look out pre-school!

I just want to say thank you to my family here, my family in NY and my wonderful wife for all the memories of Thanksgiving. I am thankful to God for blessing me with so many wonderful gifts in life. Without my faith and family, I would surely be in a different place.

Here are two of my favorite shots from yesterday. Thank you guys for allowing us to photograph your family. It was a treat!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pet Photos With Santa

Sunday, Nov. 23 - Tomorrow for you calendar challenged is the 2008 PAWS for a Cause at the Seal Beach Animal Care Center. Kymberli and I will be taking pictures of people's pets with Santa. We are going to be donating half of our proceeds to the shelter because this is something we believe in and we see so many animals that need our help. It's our way of saying thanks to the shelter for doing so much for our unwanted, lost and neglected pets.

The festivities begin at 10am and go until 2pm. If you or anyone you know would like a photo or two of you and your pet with Santa, then come on down! This will be the first time we have ever done anything like this, but we really want to help the shelter. Bring your cat, dog, African grey, or even Timmy the lizard if that's what you have. We'll take the picture for you! Just remember this is going to help the shelter out. It's a fundraiser and one that we hope is great! There will be vendors, baked goods and you can even have your pet dip its paw in some paint and put it on the board. It'll be festive! Come one, come all!

Monday, November 10, 2008

What a beautiful family!

We had a second shoot set up for today down at the beach with A, R, & Baby C. When we got down there I thought my wife might blow away. The winds were constantly gusting incredibly hard and the air was chilly. When the family showed up for their close-up we were afraid for sand blowing and not being comfortable. Fortunately for us, A and R were SUPER flexible and had no problem moving back to Central Park. There we'd be out of the wind a bit more and we could relax and get some fun shots. Did we ever! This is one beautiful family.

Thank you both, and you too baby C, for allowing us to photograph your family. Thank you for being flexible and being so cool about today. You guys were great! We really enjoyed meeting you and getting to know you better. Thanks for the heads up on the baby books, too. I am certainly going to pick one up!

Here are a few of my favorites from today. How cute are they!

Makin' Babies - With Style

My title has a hidden meaning... and no, I am not talking about 'making' babies. Paul and Wendy already did a great job there. I am talking about the fact that they have a little girl on the way and they have a style all their own. My wife posted a few photos of their maternity session today and it was so cool. She also gives a brief history of how we know them, but here's my side.

When I moved out here to SoCal three years ago, my wife threw me a party to welcome me to California and she invited all her friends. Wendy, Kymberli's co-worker at the time, was one of them and she introduced me to what I think was called a Washington Apple shot. Tasty little things. That was how I met Wendy. I then met Wendy's husband, Paul, and we've all been friends ever since. We certainly don't get to spend as much time hanging out like we'd like to, but when we do we make it count. Paul is one of THE most unique artist's I know. The man has a talent that most would make any sacrifice for. He's got mad skills as a graffitti artist and can freehand and airbrush some of the most amazing stuff you have ever seen. I can't wait to do a vintage car shoot with him.

Today we had the privilege of photographing the expectant couple in Huntington Beach's Central Park. I love it there. Spacious, lots of dogs and beautiful scenery. We had a lot of fun with our shots and even got to poke some fun at me for setting them up in the oddest shot ever. Sorry guys, next time we'll bring duck food.

Here are some of my favorites on the day. My wife got some of the best shots I have seen today. You'll have to check out her blog. I know pregnant women seem to have a hard time believing they are beautiful, but I think you'll see how beautiful Wendy is from these photos. Thank you both for allowing us to take your photos. Your daughter is going to have an amazing life and play dates will definitely be in our future! You can always see the amazing amount of love the two of you have for each other.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What I Enjoy About Traveling

One of my favorite things to do throughout my entire life has been to view wildlife and enjoy nature. When I was young, my parents showed me a side of nature that was incredible. Thank you both for taking that time. My mom would take us on long walks through the woods and name plants and animals. My dad would take us to the woods and we'd get our camo on and we'd spot animals from far away and get right up close to them. We would spot and stalk. At that time, of course, I did not have a camera on me. It wasn't until later in life that I got a camera and documented what I saw. I always remembered what they taught me - enjoy it, soak it up, and most of all. . . respect it.

Last week I was sent to Tennessee for work. I have to say that Tennessee is one of my favorite states to visit. The weather, the smell of nature, the sight of greenery and best of all - the animals and nature. I love it all! This time, and the last, I went to Cades Cove. It is a nature lovers paradise. There is an 11-mile loop that you can drive around at 2o m.p.h. and stop and take photos. You can hike it or bike it, but I love to drive it. 7 months ago I got some great photos of some bears. This time is was of a big 9-point buck. He was my muse.

My day was interesting. I got to the park at 6:30a.m. There was a line of 12 cars ahead of me. Within an hour there were 30 cars behind me. The loop opens at sun-up and we had to wait patiently. Once it opened, I drove the loop once and got some sunrise pics, but that wasn't enough for me. Oh, one other thing my dad taught me when it comes to nature was to trust my gut. My gut was telling me the animals were just moving around and I'd have more to see. I made the drive again and I was not disappointed. I saw lots of deer, a nice 6-point buck and he rose and began feeding and his does meandered nearby. I got about 3 miles in and the line stopped. I figured there was a bear ahead and I'd get some cool shots again. I waited for 15 minutes, but the line didn't move. There were about 50 cars ahead of me. So, I did what any photographer would do, well, maybe some of us photographers. I parked the vehicle, grabbed my gear and hustled ahead on foot. I had to quickly walk about an eighth of a mile and there he was. No, not a bear. A very large, beautiful 9-point whitetail deer. He was watching myself and two other photographers and then made his way through a hedgerow. I quickly got to the other side and set up. Once he appeared, I was ready. Click-click-click-click-click. I was shooting quickly and my jaw must have hit the ground. I stood about 20 yards from him and he looked right at me. I cannot begin to tell you the amazement, happiness and wonder that went through my mind. I can only tell you that I have never been so close to a large buck like that. I moved along with him as he made his way across the field. I even got ahead of him a few times.

Oh, and one thing my dad also taught me, which I almost got in trouble with, was to anticipate where they will be and be ready. Well, my dad taught me too well. If you remember back in April when I first encountered the big bear, I was right on his trail as he walked towards me. I did it again with the buck. I stood near his trail and watched him edge closer, and closer, and closer. That was when I knew that he was in rut, I was in his way and I needed to move aside. He even waited in some trees until I had moved before he continued on. Absolutely amazing. Dad, thanks for showing me so much insight into the minds of animals and how to anticipate. Otherwise, I might be bear food or a pin-cushion!

Here are some of the photographs I captured on that wonderful day. This is my favorite slideshow to date. Please enjoy.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Michelle and Gabriel Wedding Slideshow

I had posted a few images a couple weeks back to give you glimpse into the wonderful day when Gabriel married Michelle. It was a gorgeous setting with excellent weather, beautiful people and two in particular who are very much in love. After seeing this you'll wish you had been there.

Baby Kenzo

Babies are beautiful and I cannot wait to meet our own. A couple of weeks ago (Yes, I am slacking a bit), Kymberli and I had the good fortune of being invited to do a photo session with Baby Kenzo. I am sure he was wondering what we were doing with those odd looking contraptions. I want to say thank you to Kenzo's parents. We really enjoyed our time with you and we hope you love the photos. Your baby is precious. I apologize for not sharing these images sooner!

Please, sit back and enjoy the latest slideshow... starring Baby Kenzo.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Vote YES on Prop 2!

Have you ever sat down for a wonderful meal and said 'Grace'? I mean truly thanked God for what he has provided for you and your family? The next time you do that or just sit down to a nice plate of scrambled eggs or a juicy steak... think about where it came from. REALLY came from and how it was brought to your dinner table.

Most of you know where I stand on certain issues facing the world and I am not afraid to believe what I want to believe, nor am I afraid to take a stand. My wife and I constantly talk about how cruel people can be to animals and what we can do to help. It seems like an overwhelming task. Sure, we volunteer at our animal shelter as much as we can and when we aren't with the animals we are putting a newsletter together for the Seal Beach Animal Care Center or helping with a fundraiser. Don't think I am asking for a pat on the back. Far from it. Like my good friend Abbey would say, I don't want any 'Thank yous' or f-yous.' I just want people to wake up and realize that we all need to do our part to help out in this world. It may or may not be what Kymberli and I do and I am, of course, totally ok with that. Just take a few minutes to watch this video.

I am quoting my wife here. She states in her blog, 'Please, please, please watch this video and then vote YES on Prop 2. PLEASE WATCH IT so that you are informed. Not watching it because you don't want to be disturbed is not fair to those who cannot choose for themselves. Turning your head to something you are uncomfortable with DOES NOT MAKE IT GO AWAY. Please be informed and please know what is happening to some farm animals. It's not right and it breaks my heart and boils my blood. May God Bless the animals that have suffered and the animals that are currently suffering. May California voters support this so that every creature has a right to humane treatment.'

That says it. Our elections are right around the corner and this is one of the big ones for California. It's scary knowing what I know now and I aim to fight the cruel treatment of these animals. Please Vote YES on Prop 2 on election day. Check out the website for more information.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Brian and Jenna Make It Official!

I love a good party. I love an even better party when it includes a wedding and two wonderful people. That's what Brian and Jenna are and Friday they tied the knot in memorable style. It was a day like no other.

First, I must thank Brian and Jenna for asking us to shoot their wedding. It was our pleasure and we hope you like the images we captured for you. We had a great time watching it all unfold!

In case you don't remember the newlyweds, we shot their engagement session at Angels Stadium earlier this year. We got to know them and understand the love they share for one another. After our session, we couldn't wait for their wedding!

The Olsons were married at Aliso Creek Golf Course in Laguna Beach, CA. It was our first time there and it was an adventure. Were had some time before the ceremony to get some shots of the wedding party and family in, but there was a catch. We couldn't be on the golf course and the other areas were blocked by ongoing construction. Now here is where I want to share what I did and give other photographers some advice. If you need something. . . ask. Simple, right? It really is. We were told that we couldn't be on the course during the day. People are there to play golf and we didn't need to be in their way. Here's where the asking comes in. I asked the coordinator and then the golf pro if we could shoot on the first tee, in the box. He said no problem! Simple as that. He allowed us to shoot until each foursome needed to tee off and that was how we got our first group shots. Thank God for Doni, the golf pro and Jeannie, the coordinator for working with us because the sun was quickly disappearing.

Once we finished with the group shots it was time to begin the ceremony. The guests were seated, the bridal party took their positions and the bride made her way down the aisle. She looked beautiful and it was apparent on Brian's face as he watched intently as she approached. After her father gave her away to Brian, they took their positions and that was when the sun decided he had had enough. The Aliso Creek staff came out with flashlights to help and it was a good thing they did. The reading was read aloud, the vows spoken and then the pronouncement of husband and wife. Cheers erupted and then we all made our way back to the reception.

Kymberli and I were able to use the outdoor lights and flash to our advantage as we captured the newly married couple. They were beaming and it was fitting that the moon was shining the duration of the wedding and the photos.

Once inside we captured the rest of the night. There were smiles, laughter and little children playfully running and dancing all night. I am sure they slept very well! It was wonderful.

Brian and Jenna, thank you again. Your reward will be a long, happy life together. Kymberli has some beautiful shots on her blog and here is but a small taste of the images from your amazing day. . .

We hope you all enjoyed the evening. We certainly did.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Jenny and Jay Show

All of you get front row tickets to the Jenny and Jay Show. They were such an awesome couple. Now, I am a bit biased because Jenny is my wife's cousin (cousin-in-law?) and her fiance, Jay, is such a cool guy. There were two things I really wanted to make sure popped in the photos - Jenny's smile and Jay's ink. They made an appearance and so did some wonderful emotion, some fun and incredible sincerity. Let me take this opportunity to say thank you to you both. It was a pleasure to be able to photograph you today.

We were fortunate enough to be able to shoot in San Juan Capistrano. It's a popular location for photogs and today was no exception. We must have counted 3 or 4 photographers with models and couples. Kymberli and I were feeling pretty good when Jenny pointed out that one of the photographer couples was following behind us and snapping 'their' couples in the same exact spot we were just at. I guess we must know what we are doing, right? Here is a link to Kymberli's spectacular gallery.

Long story short, they kicked ass in the photos. They were fun. They are in love and they wanted vintage. I think they get what they asked for.

Without further adieu, with limited commercial interruption, I give you the Jenny and Jay Show...

One of my favorites on the day...

Monday, September 29, 2008

The San Gabriel River and Bike Riding

One of my favorite thing to do is ride my bike. I love getting out and seeing the world from the seat of my bike. Tonight I took a ride along the San Gabriel River to get some much needed exercise and to relax. I just love taking along our little point and shoot camera and grabbing some shots. Tonight I only stopped a few times, but those times were worth it. Maybe not to everyone else, but to me.

I got to see flocks of cormorants, pelican and even a few sea lions swimming. It was very cool. Perfect weather and it is truly beautiful. I can ride from my house to the beach and back in less than an hour. How great is that? I used to have to dig out of 4 feet of snow just to make it to my car!

Anyway, here are three of my favorite shots from tonight. I love how I can see the water, airplanes, nature and just enjoy peace and quiet a few miles from my busy life.

2008 Wag 'n Walk for the Seal Beach Animal Care Center

Wow, it's been almost a month since I last blogged! I have been involved in a big fundraiser, the Wag 'n Walk, for the Seal Beach Animal Care Center. We put about 3-4 months of planning and brainstorming in effect to get this rolling. Kymberli and I have only been involved in it for two years, but man it is SO worth it.

Last year we raised $15,000+ for the shelter. It was fantastic. This year we want to bury that number and go much higher. I wanted us to break the $20,000 mark. You may wonder how we get there. Let me tell you.

First, we go for our sponsors. This year we had PetSmart and Dogswell as our big sponsors. Then we get donations for our silent auction and raffle and get vendors to reserve a space on the day of the event. We had a great fundraising team this year. We all put in a lot of time and effort and we were able to collect more than 50 raffle items, 9 silent auction items and we had a HUGE super opportunity drawing for an LCD TV, a $500 gift certificate to one of our local malls, a weekend getaway at Tahiti Village in Vegas and a $200 gift certificate to a local restaurant. These were some great prizes!!

The day started off soggy. The morning fog was lingering and the ground was saturated with ocean mist and dampness. In 10 minutes my sneakers were soaked, but I soon forgot about it as there was so much to do. Our team got right to work and it went about as smoothly as it can. It was great!

Long story short, we had a beautiful day. There we over 30 vendors (a big increase from last year), many more people showed to participate in our contests, raffles and auction. We saw all different breeds of dog and best of all, our adoptable animal dog show was a bit hit. Our dogs are so amazing. It's bittersweet sometimes. You fall in love with some of these animals and when they get adopted it's sad for you but so awesome for the dog or cat.

Drumroll please... at the time of this blog we have raised $22,699!!! That's more than $7,000 more than last year and we are still counting! Congrats to the shelter for getting some much needed funds to care for the animals and for our wonderful, dedicated team of volunteers who put this event on. It had it's stressful moments, but I don't think it would be as great as it is without them. We all handled it well (ok, maybe I got testy from time to time) and made this year the best yet!

Here are some of the 'snapshots' I snagged in between selling raffle tickets. It'll give you a little taste of everything that was going on. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Mammoth - Third Round of Images

You all read my story from the other day, or at least I hope you did. Here are the images from Bodie and Yosemite.

This is one of my favorite shots from Bodie.

The wooden planks had so much character.

The town was huge. This is only a small section of it.

This gives a bit of perspective on how intense the view was.

When we left Mammoth, we encountered some Tule Elk. I was in awe as the two herds merged into one as they ran off. The bulls were 700 lbs. and bugling. It was so cool to hear!!