The Blog

"Blind" (Wedding) Date

When someone contacts me about potentially photographing their wedding, I encourage them to meet me for coffee.  I think it's a good opportunity for me to show more samples, talk about my process on a wedding day, and gives them a chance to get to know me a little to make sure the like and trust me to be the one responsible for preserving the memories of their day.   Well, in this case, a potential bride contacted me from the East Coast.  She's getting married in Orinda, but lives in Michigan.  So , meeting for coffee was going to be difficult.  Despite that, Shelly booked me for her wedding.  This was one of the first time a bride (couple) booked me without meeting me first.  Well, Shelly made a trip out to go over some wedding day details at the beautiful home that will be hosting the wedding, so I got to meet her there a week or so ago.  She was not only a fantastic girl, but so photogenic as well. .she is going to make my job easy!

Grabbed a quick portrait while I was there  (the "before" if you will) :)

Looking forward to shooting the real thing in a few week.

Breaking Halloween

If you know me, you know I love taking pictures.  Pictures of people, objects, animals, buildings. . you name it. . . .EVERYTHING.  Except myself.  My wife jokes that when I'm gone, my kids will not know they had a father because there will be no photographic evidence (although I'd hope they'd remember me without photos).  Well, I had to turn the camera on myself last night.  I became obsessed, like most of the world, with Breaking Bad.  So 6 weeks ago I decided to grow a beard to be Walter White (Heisenberg) for Halloween.  Since I didn't know if I could pull off a goatee, I left the full beard.  Additionally, I didn't want people get "used" to the goatee so I could make a bigger impact on October 31st.  Well, it all came together and the resemblance was eerily similar.  But since I couldn't wait to get the 6 weeks of hair off my face, I figured I should take more than just an iPhone picture and document it for posterity. So I set up my camera and lit myself to try and roughly match the photo that was the source of my inspiration before my alter ego was washed down the drain (literally). 

Who I am . . .

I remember walking out of the hospital, 3 day old daughter in hand, and putting her in the tiny car seat in our car.  I also remember closing the door, and saying to my wife . . "That's it?" "We can just take her home?"   "No manual?"  "No official 'parent approver' to tell us we've passed inspection?".  "We don't have to take some sort of test or something"?

And that happened TWICE!

Between all the fights, laughs, talking back, silliness and tears,  they are funny, smart, wonderful young kids who amaze me every single day.

They are the thing I'm most proud of. 

They are who I am. 

Friday Night Lights . . .


It's Friday night.

The biggest rivals are visiting.

And I was asked to shoot it . . .

20 years and counting

A good friend called me and said. . "I know it's last minute, but would you possibly be free tomorrow to take photographs of my girlfriends and I for our 20 year high school reunion"?  Well, I was able to do it, and it was minutes from home, so it was meant to be.  Then the tricky part was finding a place to shoot at the hotel where they were getting ready.  It was 7pm, so I was starting to lose the light behind the trees that surrounded the hotel.  I literally was sitting IN a fireplace outside by the pool in order to get enough distance to shoot with my long lens and not have these ladies (most of whom were wearing high heels) fall into the pool inches behind them.  I needed all the light I could get, and had to shoot into the sun to get the nicest background I could get. Because I was shooting directly into the sun,  I was getting flares all over the place.  I used what I had and grabbed a big pool umbrella and rolled it over to help flag off the sun from my lens.  I had JUST a bit of room left above the heads of the girls before I'd see an ugly umbrella in frame.  Photography is like a giant puzzle that you also have to juggle while balancing on one foot. . . . 

I love it! 


Meet the Hoban's

Had the pleasure of doing a photo shoot with the Hoban family.  As it's plain to see, these gorgeous children (and parents) were quite photogenic.  They also ooze personality which I hope I represented in the images.  It's fun to play around with the kids as well to get them excited about taking photos (when they may otherwise not be).  I brought them over and told them to stand behind their parents all nice and sweet, and when I said "GO", to dogpile  on them.  They did an amazing job and we all had so much fun.  Here are a few from the day.  Thanks Hoban family for such a fun afternoon. . .

Shooting as a guest . . .

My family and I were invited to a wedding as guests of the bride.  She has been a family friend for years now who we think the world of.  Naturally, I thought , I'll bring my camera, and I'll get some shots for the couple .  Now, I knew they had hired a photographer, and believe me, I would NEVER get in his/her way because I know what that is like.  If I had a dollar for every time some Aunt or Uncle stood up right in front of me  while I'm trying to get the pivotal shot , I'd be a rich man.  So I vowed, I will not leave my seat during the ceremony, I will not pull the bride and groom aside later for ME to take their photo, and I will not "compete" with the hired photographer.  As much as it pained me, I followed my own rules and got what I could while shooting from the hip. Congratulations Katie and Albert!

Chavez Ravine

Not living in the city where I grew up , it's rare I get a chance to take my kids to places that mean a lot to me.  Well, we had a spur of the moment chance to catch a Dodger game during a short L.A. visit.  I haven't been to Dodger stadium in over 11 years (since I moved to San Francisco, I know. . the irony).  One bite of a Dodger Dog threw me back to when I was my kid's age.  I've instilled the proper values to my children (Lakers, Dodgers, Kings), so it's special for them to see one of the places they've heard so much about.

"Day in the Life" - Schroeder Family

Another "Day in the Life", another incredible family.  As a gift to his wife, Dad bought a "Day in the Life" photo essay for his wife for her birthday.   This was a jam packed, morning to night, event filled day.  I don't know how they do it.  After looking back at this book, and all the different activities, places and things, I'm exhausted! These kids were amazing.  So polite, smart, respectful to everyone, and smiles on their faces.  This day reminded me why saving these moments are so important.  They go by in a an instant.  The days are about "Go! Go! Go!", and by the time you have a moment to breathe, you get to start all over again the next day. 

Tanya and Sean

Nothing like Vacaville in June for a wedding.  Well, was I wrong!  The weather was perfect!  I had been looking at the forecast for weeks anticipating 100 degree temperatures.  But when the day came, it couldn't be more perfect.  The wedding was at Pippo Ranch , about an hour north of San Francisco, a unique venue where the ceremony and reception both took place.  It lent itself to many wonderful moments and images.  The bride, Tanya, was so fun and incorporated balloons and other festive things in the wedding and photographs.  Sean, who is in the Coast Guard, displayed his incredible honors dressed in his military attired.  Besides being such a wonderful couple, they approached the day with such a fun , light, attitude in the spirit of why there were there. . . for each other.  Here are a few from their day.   

Baby Ella

My latest baby shoot was for the gorgeous Ella.  This little one , beyond being beautiful, was so incredibly strong.  At 1 month old, she would roll herself off the blanket on the floor, and even held her head up for me to take one of the cutest photographs I've ever taken.  Take a peek at our shoot . . .

Flag Day

On May 30, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation establishing a national Flag Day on June 14. Many Americans celebrate Flag Day by displaying the Red, White and Blue in front of homes and businesses.

Instead , we in my household celebrate something much more important. . .

my Father-in-Law's birthday. 

Happy Birthday Kip. 


ol' glory

Lovin' the Lovins

Got to see some good friends that we haven't seen in a while this weekend.  It's incredible to see their pair of twins after a year.  That time between 3 and 4 years old shows such a monumental leap from baby to kid.  All the personality and vocabulary and just overall confidence shows through. . . well, you be the judge . . . 

Welcome Darcy J.

Here are a few shots from a photo session I just did of the 1 day old Supermodel Darcy J.   It's been a while since I've had babies this little and you forget just how small and fragile and dependent on you they are. 

C o n g r a t u l a t i o n s   L e s l i e   a n d   T o b i n   !

eyes of blue . . .

Another quick portrait shoot of a future star . . Maggie.  With these gorgeous eyes, I'm not sure if the blue polka dots brought out her eyes, or her eyes brought out the polka dots ! 

Matthew the "Great"

I had the pleasure of shooting Senior Portraits for Matthew Magnus (Magnus in Latin means "Great").  Well, "great" is certainly fitting for this young man.  Beyond the knowing smile and cavernous dimples, Matthew is a polite, considerate, and motivated kid ready to take on the world.  Here are some of the images from our shoot this past weekend. . .

going commercial (real estate)

A wonderful mom at my daughter's school asked if I would want to do a photo shoot for a real estate deal.  It's nothing I've done before, so I was a bit nervous.  Not nervous that I couldn't get some good shots, but not knowing what people in that industry are expecting.  And, whenever I do any kind of shoot for a friend, I want them to be so perfect.  Anyway, it was fun to do something different and to try and make a charming little house in Pinole look like the home of your dreams.  (and if you're in the market for a house, let me know and I can pass on your info :) )

by Michael Clemens