Kristen and Rob | London Hotel, Los Angeles, CA

Kristen & Rob’s wedding was perfect from start to finish. After an epic engagement that took us all over LA, I wasn’t sure it could be topped. I was wrong.

The backdrop was Gordon Ramsay’s The London Hotel in West Hollywood. But it was the people that made the venue.

Rooftop vistas and a west coast / east coast rivalry that made for a fantastic evening.

The ceremony… gorgeous. The couple… in love. Thanks for allowing me to play a part.

Jessi and Austin

When a family trusts you with a second daughter’s wedding (here is the first), it is both an affirmation and a privilege. Thank you Walker Family! I was eager to give it my all for Jessi & Austin. By request, here is a little tease from the day…

Of course, there’s plenty more to see both from this wedding and other recent work. If you’d like to see more, please check back here periodically as I’ll be posting a lot more work over the coming months (I’ve been really slack with my blogging for far too long – please forgive me) as well as on Pinterest. You can also see my main site or just give us a call anytime at 949-829-3263. Thanks for stopping by!

What battle are you choosing?

Our arts, our occupations, our marriages, our religion, we have not chosen, but society has chosen for us. We are parlour soldiers. We shun the rugged battle of fate, where strength is born.” – Emerson

A lot of life is preloaded.

My family, my socio-economic start, my race, my geography… I had no control over any of them and yet I live under them. When circumstances are favorable, I feel like I’ve won the lottery. When my back hurts or my internet goes out, I curse the gods.

The question I’m interested in is where do I take a stand regardless of my circumstances?

What do I care so much about that no thing will stop my commitment to it?

In the chatter about the “problems in our industry”, I’m believing that [Read more...]

The case for the committed part-timer

Our arts, our occupations, our marriages, our religion, we have not chosen, but society has chosen for us. We are parlour soldiers. We shun the rugged battle of fate, where strength is born.” – Emerson

Most every successful professional photographer I know is a part-timer.

… and if they aren’t, I say they might want to rethink their strategy.

Let me go one step further:
I don’t think the “part-timer” category is a meaningful distinction anymore. It feels more like the residue from a bygone era meant to cajole people into responsibilities they no longer need to keep.

We need a new way to understand the people (part-time or not) who are flourishing so more can find their way.

Mapping a path to success by logging more time doing the same old thing, however, is no longer helpful. To create something new requires at least as much attention as emulating what everyone else is doing. We need to either dump the pejorative label or embrace those who are doing it well.

Of course, the part-timer can come in many forms. Some of you [Read more...]

The genie in your bottle

That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him. Where is the master who could have taught Shakespeare? Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin, or Washington, or Bacon, or Newton? . . . Shakespeare will never be made by the study of Shakespeare. Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much.” – Emerson

Who do you listen to?

I was in a conversation with Tim Sanders recently who was warning me (and those listening in) to be very thoughtful about the socialstream I choose.

Like kids in the junior high school yard, I’m tempted to think I’m un-effected by those I let in my consciousness. But those voices – good and bad – do effect me & I’d be wise to be intentional with who I grant access.

That said, when it comes to creativity, there’s a deeper voice I can neglect even more that has even greater ramifications. It’s my genie.

That voice in my soul that I need a lot of quiet to hear from. The greeks actually called her genius. We all have one. Very few of us, however, are brave enough to do what’s required to woo her out into the light.

I get it. It’s scary.

One thing I’m clear on though is those who do dare, accomplish the remarkable.

Emerson was right, Shakespeare will never be made by the study of Shakespeare. Same thing with Jeremy & Altf & Parker & Marcus. These crazy people are listening to something internal even while they’re inspired by a world external. I’m tempted to call them geniuses. But they’re not. They’re just regular joes courageous enough to listen their genie inside and do something about it.

I caught a lot of flack for putting the phrase “Fast Track” in the titles of my last two books mainly because critics were concerned that I was suggesting I had some short cut solution to becoming a competent professional creative. There isn’t and I wasn’t.

If you want results – to hear from your genie – you need to work harder at listening than you knew was possible. It’s a daily engagement… a habit, a discipline. The fruit of which can take you on a crazy road & make you feel crazy. But if you really want to find the fastest track to your authentic creative self, I’m convinced that making some dates with your genie is where it begins.

PS… For more insight on nurturing your genius, check out Elizabeth Gilbert’s legendary TED Talk.

Time to iterate

It seems to be in vogue these days to suggest that the photo industry has a problem that needs fixing. It doesn’t.

“If only we could limit access…”
“If only we could slow down talent acquisition…”
“If only we could go back to the good ol’ days…”

I don’t hear many people say things this overtly, but I do hear it underneath industry complaints. What I hear even more is that, somehow, it’s the new photographers fault that things have shifted. It isn’t.

Although it might feel good to try and find a scapegoat for challenging circumstances, I don’t think it’s very constructive… or creative.

In a recent conversation, Seth Godin noted that all you used to need to succeed as a pro photographer were (a) access to tools and (b) access to talent. He believed this was so because of his belief that where there is scarcity, there is value. Since neither tools nor talent are scarce any longer, success can feel elusive.

Let’s back up for a second and get some perspective…

Not too long ago, if you aspired to be a pro photographer, you’d have to invest a chunk of money on inconvenient and heavy camera gear (tools), not to mention a lifetime of commitment to the craft to become something special (talent).

Like the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker before him, the photographer had the chance to create value because he could do things with his camera that others couldn’t. That is, what he had to offer (tools and talent) was in short supply and high demand.

Over time, a sort of ecosystem evolved around photography. You and I call that ecosystem “the photo industry” and it is part of a larger ecosystem called “commerce”.

What’s interesting about this ecosystem is how it evolves, with or without anyone’s participation. In that way, the changes we are all experiencing aren’t in any way personal. The tectonic shifts happen in every industry once in a while regardless of how any of us feel about it.

Notice how the evolutionary pattern of successful iterations is always the same:
• from film to digital
• from negatives to JPG to RAW
• from dark rooms to labs to manufacturing facilities
• from Paint to Photoshop to CS5.5
• from large format to medium format to 35mm to DSLR
• from self-taught to art school to worldwide online broadcasts offered for free

Why wouldn’t this also be true for the photographers themselves?

Ecosystems need to grow to live. Participants in that ecosystem need to iterate to survive.

Yet, so many photographers take the evolutionary process of the ecosystem personally. Like there’s a conspiracy “out there” trying to steal what “should” be ours. We think too highly of ourselves if we believe (unconscious or not) that we deserve to get paid for what we do with a camera. We don’t.

Evolutionary forces are always at work. Those who creatively adapt, win. Those who don’t, disappear.

As a business person within any trade (e.g., cake-baking, candle-making, photo-taking), I take it as my job to respond to the system resourcefully and not the other way around.

The most recent and obvious shift in the photo industry hit about a decade ago when everything went digital. The naysayers fought it for a bit but besides a small band of endangered analog enthusiasts, it has become clear that if one didn’t adapt to digital on a professional level, you ran the risk of extinction.

Where professional photographers have felt the implications of this reset the most has been with the influx of photographers. From the perspective of the ecosystem, this is of course great news: more people are being infected with the desire to take pictures!

From the perspective of the participant in the eco-system though, it could feel personal if it affects my ability to feed my kids. But, getting mad at evolution or trying to hold back the tide or hating on the new wave misses the mark. Why not try something new? Why not leverage our times and the direction of the ecosystem instead? I wonder if that might be even more resourceful.

The photo industry isn’t a problem that needs fixing. It’s an evolving resource that needs leveraging.