Callaway Winery Styled Shoot

This was such fun. Who wouldn’t want to have a cigar and a scotch in the grounds of a lovely winery such as Callaway?




Special thanks to all who made this shoot possible!

Bride: Samantha Hart Miss American Beauty 2014

Makeup Artist: Desperately Seeking Sueann featuring Sueann Henge Garzon 

Furniture Rentals: Royalty Ranch Furniture Rentals by Coyla Angeloff 

Bridal wear by Elyse Reuben Custom Couture by Jaime Stephens

Grooms Attire: Friar Tux, with Scott Kiralla

Accessories: Sandra Buczek of Sandra Nicole Designs 

Paper Villa Stationary by Erika Beach 

Floral: A Sweet Company by Amanda Sweet

and of course Sara and Lisa at Callaway!


Pop-Up Studio

It’s been a while and it’s been a busy summer for us. One of the things we have been working on (aside from the new web site, check it out at is a “Pop-Up Studio” concept. Basically we hijack (well actually sub-lease, but hijack is more dramatic, right?) a space and set up an entire studio in it.

So if you head for the Burn at the Barre studios in Old Town Temecula (full address below) you book a 1 hour slot for your portraits in a real-as-can-be studio environment complete with strobes, backgrounds, the whole nine yard!

Take a look at some of the fun stuff we got up to at the last Pop-Up event!

Cross-Promotional Event at Temecula Creek Inn

How does a wedding photographer practice during the wedding ‘off-season’? The answer is by participating in group ‘styled shoots’ with other wedding photographers.

Last week to get us all warmed up for the coming season, and with the help of a simply stellar styling crew, I arranged a styled shoot at the Temecula Creek Inn. All involved had a great time!


This kind of event is a great opportunity to try new ideas and new equipment and also to work with awesome vendors. Huge thanks are due to Bethany Hawley Falefitu of Splendid Sentiments for supplying us with awesome wedding bouquets. If you’re looking for fantastic floral arrangements and getting married in the Temecula Valley then look no further.


Thanks also due to Sharri Picard of the Temecula Creek Inn and her staff at the events department. The wedding venue is set in a secluded valley and abuts the golf course. With the Stone House providing a covered area for anything you can think of its the perfect place to party all night long.

Also this was a great opportunity to scope out the venue as I am delighted to announce that I have just been appointed as a preferred vendor at Temecula Creek Inn. Getting a chance to roam around and explore means that I found all those sneaky little nooks and crannies to make spectacular and unique images for your wedding.


You cannot have a wedding without the perfect gown and ElyseReuben Custom Couture is the place to go for that perfect gown.

What bride would not demand perfect makeup and MakeUpByKate is a PHENOMENAL makeup artist. I cannot stop raving over the work she did for our shoot and she is a joy to work with. Brides, hunt her down and DEMAND that she do your wedding day makeup!

On the subject of looking fantastic, you will need perfect hair and I have to recommend Brittney Mast to take care of you on your wedding day. Now the reason I can personally recommend Brittney is that she is my own hair stylist!

It was a fantastic day and everyone ended it happy and exhausted! I couldn’t have asked for more!print_DSC0281-EditB

Temecula Creek Inn Spring Engagement Event 2013

So yesterday we attended our first wedding show at the Temecula Creek Inn, which is a well known destination wedding venue in Temecula. It’s been a frantic last few weeks getting everything prepared and again I’d like to thank the folks at Leather Craftsmen for the work they put in getting our sample album put together and it was a HUGE hit. Also a shout out to Bay Photo and for the metal prints and printed products.

_DSC9420-EditThe other things that were a big hit were the metal prints we brought to the show. It seems that some people have heard of them but not ever seen one. Almost everyone had to pick them up and do the “touchy-feely” test. They loved how the colors just seemed to “pop” off the metal. We can also testify to the durability of them as they blew off the table 3 or 4 times and are completely unscratched!

It was a great opportunity to start to network with other vendors. I can recommend a couple of florists (see tags below) as they not only had great products but were highly entertaining while we were all setting up our tables.

The location is fantastic, a secluded wooded glen close to the golf course. If you are looking for a wedding venue Temecula Creek Inn has several great features but one, potentially, really important one. As TCI is so secluded there are no time constraints for your reception. Party to 4 in the morning if you want!

_DSC9512-EditSo for us the event was great, a number of excellent wedding leads and a wonderful start to the season.

Gear: What I Use & Why It’s Not Important! aka The Vision Thing!

Like all photographers every so often I get comments like “wow, that’s a great image, what camera did you use?”. Now like anyone I love the flattery but the question really bugs me!

So I’m going to quickly run through the kit I have and then tell you why I have what I have. I’ve been ‘taking pictures’ for many years, MANY years so this is the distillation of all that trying, testing and experience.

I have used Nikon cameras for about 20 years, film and digital. I currently own a D2x, F100, D100, and D4 in no particular order! I have a Sigma 15mm, Sigma 20mm, Nikkor 28-70mm f2.8, Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 and Nikkor 85mm f1.8.

Lets start with the most unimportant part, but you’re thinking that it’s the most important part; the camera! If you have purchased a camera any time in the last 5-10 years you have a good camera! Period! Nikon, Canon and now thankfully Pentax AND Sony all produce great DSLR cameras! So that is taken care of, right?

So now the really important stuff. ‘kay, payin’ attention? The lenses or if you want to be a cool photographer guy, the glass!

Tip #1. My advice to any new photographer or anyone wanting to get serious or just wanting to take better pictures is “spend your money on your glass”. To give yourself the best chance of taking great images you need to have great flexibility and that means you need good, fast glass. f2.8 or faster means you can take shots in lower light than your f5.6 kit lens but crucially it means you can play in my favorite yard, selective focus.

It is magical when you have the ability to shoot a portrait with one eye in focus and one out of focus. You’ll start using worlds like bokeh with passion! Extra tip, bokeh is the fuzzy meaning word describing how an out of focus background looks e.g. that 85mm has great bokeh; sounds great at dinner parties btw)

I promised a “why” as to the kit I have so here goes. When I was buying lenses years ago and when I had the cropped sensor D100 and D2X I knew that eventually I would have a full frame camera, so I bought the best lenses I could afford.

Actually I bought the best lenses I couldn’t afford! It took a few years more than I thought but that leads us to the D4, which is a totally awesome camera by the way. You’ll find numerous reviews of it on the web so I’ll not bother adding my 2 cents. Now that investment in full frame good fast glass pays me back! My lenses now work the way they were supposed to. In particular my all time favorite, the 85mm f1.8. If you take portraits you HAVE to have either the f1.8 or f1.4 version of this lens. You just have to!

Tip #2, if you don’t have a fast 85mm BUY IT NOW! Get on eBay, auction a child, your wife, car, whatever but get this lens! See it’s all about perspective.

Tip #3 immediately follows, how many of you think that ’cause you have a cropped sensor camera, your 50mm lens is “just like a 75mm”? You’re wrong! What you’re seeing is just a crop of what you’d see with a 50mm lens. The perspective doesn’t change and when you’re shooting portraits perspective is everything! What you see when you shoot a headshot with a cropped sensor camera and a 50mm lens is a distorted view, in particular noses will look WAY too big! Shoot with a longer lens, even with a cropped sensor camera, and you’ll fix that perspective problem.

Tip #4, the really important one. It isn’t what you have, it’s the vision in your head! When you start to become a photographer, rather than someone taking pictures, you’ll realize a couple of things. Firstly, you’ll spend about 5% of your time actually taking pictures, next, you’ll spend the other 95% of your time THINKING about images.

When you start thinking about your images you’ll be starting to lose a focus on the technicals of your image making and begin to tell stories; you’ll be bonding more with your subjects and immediately your images will look so much better!

Back at the beginning of this post I talked about the question that bugged me. By now I think you can see why it bugs me! The camera DOESN’T matter, its your vision that matters more, then your lenses… the camera is WAY down the list of what matters!

So why do I have the latest Nikon, having spent this entire article telling you why the camera doesn’t matter. Well in certain situations the camera does matter BUT they are very specific. I love to shoot motor sports, I need a camera that can perform quickly, the D4 does, shooting up to 11 frames per second. When I’m panning on a Formula 1 car doing 150mph, I need that response.

High iso from the D4. Well I also shoot runway and those IDIOTS (LOL!) who design lighting for many runway shows (most notably NOT the really big events which are mostly, perfectly lit for photography) do not design it for the benefit of photographers. I will need to be shooting great looking images at iso settings of maybe 12,000! The D4 does that for me.

Finally, full frame! I want MY 85mm to BE an 85mm! You get that with full frame and fortunately now there are several cameras from Canon and Nikon which are reasonably priced and have full frame sensors!

So I know this column has bounced around a little but it was meant to get you thinking of the image, not the techy stuff! Get your vision firing and you won’t be so bothered about “camera envy” LOL!

Photoshop World Vegas 2012

So I’m back, from outer space! Okay no, not outer space but visiting Vegas often feels like an off-world experience and visiting Vegas for my first Photoshop World especially so.

As this was my first event I decided on the ‘immersive’ approach and signed up for just about everything I could. I had very high expectations for the event and a few days before leaving I started to get nervous. What if it didn’t live up to those expectations? Would I be depressed? Would Scott Kelby bite off my arms? Okay I wasn’t so worried about losing limbs but I left Temecula at about 4:30am on the 4th with some concerns, mostly that I’d not make it through to the evening!

I did not need to worry! Not only did the event live up to those high expectations, it massively exceeded them. This event is awesome, and epic!

The first thing I did really right was to get a Speed Pass! I loved wafting into the workshops and heading straight for the front of class. More on this later. The next thing I did right was to be alert to changing my mind on the sessions I wanted to attend. You’ll want to visit everything and do everything but it is just not possible, not even close. You’ll get to about a quarter of what you want to see and that is it.

Organizationally I cannot find any fault, only praise! The event seemed to go flawlessly to me although I am sure there was much of the ‘duck’ action going on behind the scenes, you know on the surface all serene sailing by but beneath the waves frantic paddling!

I have to confess that I did not attend many of the techy technique type seminars. I did attend Scott’s Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It talk, one on Lightroom 4 by Matt Kloskowski, and a Photoshop CS6 tips and tricks session with Dave Cross and that was it!

All my other sessions were photographer themed sessions or on marketing type stuff. The first one which comes to mind is the open panel on Google+. So there was some talk about G+ but a lot of talk about other social media platforms such as Twitter and, of course, Facebook (Twitbook or Facer anyone?). Matt K hosted and as it was very free-form. He initially asked for questions from wanted the floor but given that RC, Matt K, Tamera Laskey, Jeremy Cowart, Colby Brown & Mike Wiacek (from Google) were on the panel WE COULD NOT GET A WORD IN!!! 🙂 It was a great session, hugely informative and definitely should be repeated! So what we overran by at least 15 mins!

I’d like to try to pick a highlights reel, but really the entire event was a highlight, from the wonderfully talented folks teaching to all the great new friends I’ve met. It was a blast!

Not only am I already planning my visit next year but I am thinking I should bring my studio manager, aka my wife, aka ‘person who says no a lot’!