Tuesday, January 26, 2010

State of La Brisa Photography

Yesterday, I celebrated my 28th birthday. Whoa. 28. Never in a million years did I think that I would be a professional photographer at 28. For those of you who have been with me since the beginning, you know how I have been crazy blessed with this gift of photography, this business and all of my phenomenal clients.

This past weekend, I photographed my best wedding ever. Seriously. Afterwards, I realized that that is how it should be. Each and every session should be my next best because in order to serve my clients well and become the best photographer that I can be, I need to perpetually evolve, improve and critique my abilities as a photographer. Recently, I finished a fabulous book called Fast Track Photographer by Dane Sanders (highly recommend to all wedding photographers) and it reaffirmed my business goals of improving my branding through my unique personality and the infinite benefits of giving back as much as possible. I am confident that I am on the right track and that the future of La Brisa Photography is incredibly bright! My best friend is currently doing his medical residency in surgery and each new day he aims to be better, stronger, faster (yes, from the Daft Punk song). In 2010 and beyond, I am applying that philosophy to this business because this past wedding truly reinforced my endearing love for wedding photography.

Nonetheless, on the drive to the airport this past weekend, traffic was being redirected by a police officer because there had been an accident. As I found out later,  someone had driven through a red light early on Sunday morning and caused three fatalities. While I was waiting to depart Garden City, KS to Denver, CO, I contemplated how humbling God is. Just a few hours earlier, I witnessed the covenant between two amazing individuals which in fact combined and linked numerous families and friends together forever, then only 35 miles away, a fatal accident occurs on a beautiful Sunday morning. There is so much give and take in this world and the events of this past weekend coupled with my birthday really encouraged me to stop and think about my goals for La Brisa Photography.

In a nutshell, they are as follows:

  1. Build upon my strengths and outsource my weaknesses to other professionals. Essentially, everything besides the photography and editing, I want to place in the hands of those who are as passionate about them as I am about photography (i.e. wedding albums, print orders, bookkeeping, etc) so that I can focus on what I love to do the most. Also, as a result of this, I will have more freedom to spend time with my wife, family and friends to improve my work/life balance. 
  2. Stop Gear Envy. I always want the latest and greatest photography equipment. I always read the rumors  about what is coming out next from the main companies and I drool just thinking about the possibilities of owning a $6,000 camera body (yes, the 1DsIII) or a $5,000 camera lens (yes, the 200 f/2 IS). This year, I want to focus on getting the most out of the equipment I have and being able to maximize their results. By re-reading my manuals and learning more about my equipment, I strongly believe I will become a better equipped and better prepared photographer. 
  3. Give Back. Last year, through Photography for a Cause, I was able to donate $1,000 to local charities. This year, my goal is $1,250 and will increase annually for every year that I am running this business. Thank you again to all who ordered prints last year!
  4. Give Back II. Many photographers view the flood of DSLRs to the market as a threat to their livelihood and market share. More and more people are taking up the beauty and awesomeness of photography and I am incredibly excited about it. Through my Aspiring Photographer Workshops (APW), I am trying to leverage aspiring photographers as an asset to me because I want to help them succeed. With each and every new photographer, established photographers are being challenged to be more creative, push conventional notions of composition, exposure and focus in order to continue the evolution of the industry. By giving back through workshops, mentoring, etc., I benefit by building my network, honing my skills, adding new friends and progressing the industry as a whole.
  5. In the 5-10 year range, I want to build a database/network of Christian photographers. Obviously, there is not a legitimate way to ensure that X photographer has a relationship with Christ, but I would love to see a website where potential clients/fellow photographers can find a Christian photographer in their local area for business, networking, bible studies, mentorships, etc. How amazing would that be?
  6. Also in the 5-10 year range, I want to create a non-profit organization that enables high school students to take senior portraits so that more students can afford amazing pictures of themselves. When I first started La Brisa Photography, I had no idea how expensive senior portraits were. Even in little Manhattan, Kansas, it was not unheard of to be spending $1,000-$1,500 for senior portraits and that to me is absolutely absurd. I know I will not make many friends amongst the photography community with this goal, but I think something should be done to hinder the exploitation of this rite of passage for adolescents. 

I share these goals with all of you because I have built this business on the foundation of transparency and I want you to know what I am thinking, where I hope to be heading, what I want to accomplish and I am hoping that you will help keep me accountable. Accountability is the key to any chance of accomplishing your goals and so I hope that you continue to ride shotgun with me on this journey that is La Brisa Photography.

Here are a few teasers from my most recent wedding. I love the background stories behind all of the little details of wedding days! Enjoy!

Absolutely gorgeous gown hanging at the backdoor of her parents' house

Scotty City is a small town of about 3,000 people. Every car that drove by congratulated the bride by name!

Love these moments when the father is walking his daughter down the aisle and gives her that last knowing look...

I asked the ladies to stay as low and as still as possible,  then asked the men to jump over them without telling them first :)

Nothing beats a sunset in Western Kansas except if you add an amazing couple looking towards their future together

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Week 9: Objects that Tell Something about You

Week 9: Objects that Tell Something about You

The four objects that define me the best are 1) wedding ring that symbolizes my amazing marriage, 2) the bible that represents my relationship my Jesus Christ, 3) the illuminated heart represents how I openly express and extend my heart to others and 4) light because without light, I wouldn't be able to do what I love = photography. I have seen various versions of this photograph in the past and so I wanted to try it and add my own personal interpretation. What do you think?

Photog Info:
Flashlight in left hand
ISO 1600
SS 1/1000
Canon 5DII
Canon 16-35 f/2.8L II
Lightroom 3 Beta

For those of you interested in participating, PLEASE do! I would LOVE to see your pictures! So please comment and leave a link to your blog/photo gallery!

Here is the full list of 52 Weeks of Awesomeness!

Week 1 Free for All
Week 2 Introduction of yourself
Week 3 Show us your Hometown
Week 4 Water
Week 5 Sports (anything related, teams, players, equipment, etc,)
Week 6 Botanical
Week 7 ONE object shot at 5 different angels/distances
Week 8 One for the road (signs, streets, traffic, etc.)
Week 9 Objects that tell something about you
Week 10 Things that make your life easier
Week 11 Your favorite color
Week 12 Household items
Week 13 Foods
Week 14 Something Slimy
Week 15 Sun (sunlight, sunset, sunrise, etc)
Week 16 Emotions
Week 17 Something old
Week 18 What you do outside the world of photography
Week 19 Weather
Week 20 Emotional attachment (heirloom/special gift, ect.)
Week 21 Pets
Week 22 Things you couldn't live without
Week 23 Habits
Week 24 Fire (candle, fireplace, etc.)
Week 25 Scrapbooking (stash, room, lo's, etc)
Week 26 Textures
Week 27 Hands
Week 28 Shoes
Week 29 Favorite Jewerly
Week 30 Generations
Week 31 Hot
Week 32 Fill the Frame (close ups)
Week 33 A week in our lives
Week 34 Faith (what you believe)
Week 35 Dance (body in motion)
Week 36 Family & Friends
Week 37 SOOC...from that to this...before & afters
Week 38 Patriotic
Week 39 Object: straight up shots and then straight down shots
Week 40 Nighttime
Week 41 Something that gives you the feeling of warmth or cold
Week 42 Pictures of words
Week 43 Chores I hate
Week 44 Animals
Week 45 Music
Week 46 Reflections/Shadows
Week 47 Flowers
Week 48 Sleep
Week 49 Action Shots
Week 50 Wheels
Week 51 Wrapping (gifts, baby, foods, etc.)
Week 52 Guilty pleasures

Check out La Brisa Photography's GEAR!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Alison & Kevin - Engaged in San Jose - Chris

I first met Kevin when we were little kids on the soccer field. He was our fearless goalkeeper and I was trying my best to protect him as a sweeper. We played soccer together for years. Then through the miracle of facebook, we found each other and quickly realized we are suddenly older, unathletic (no offense man) and ready to settle down! And I was ecstatic when Alison and Kevin asked me to take their wedding photos! So I made a special trip home for their engagement session and to meet his gorgeous fiance, Alison. I was completely blown away by his ability to marry up. I did it and I give major respect to anyone who did as well as me, but I gotta hand it to Kevin, Alison is stunning! :)

We met at their beautiful new home in San Jose and as soon as I walked in, I was completely jealous of their place! Brand new countertops, appliances plus a ridiculously HUGE master bathroom with a large jacuzzi tub and a glass enclosed shower. Brisa would have moved right in then and there and Alison said that is what sold her on the place too!

After starting our session in a nearby playground, we ventured around their complex and found some fabulous lines and compositions for Alison and Kevin's engagement pictures!

Thank you so much for having me take your pictures! I am super excited about coming back to San Jose for your July wedding!

To view all of their engagement pictures, check out their online gallery: Alison & Kevin ~ Engaged! AND be sure to check out their slideshow at the end of this post!

For Facebook users, to view larger and uncompressed pictures, kindly visit the blog: http://labrisaphoto.blogspot.com/

Hello Gorgeousness!

I love seeing laughter in pictures :)

Talk about stunning!

Pictures of amazing relationships = my goal in photography

Alison - bringing IT!

Kevin - looking good!

This could be used in a perfume ad in a fashion magazine

Elevator goodness!

Now for their slideshow! To view it in HD, click here: Alison & Kevin - Engagement Story in HD

Monday, January 18, 2010

4 Year Anniversary of PAZ's arrival!

Four years ago on Martin Luther King Jr's holiday, I was blessed with something that turned my life upside down. I immediately got less sleep, spent a lot more money, took days off of work, increased my level of responsibility ten-fold AND I had never been happier! For years (literally), I had dreamed about getting a dog to call my own and four years ago today, it finally happened!

Thanks to my sister for letting me borrow the $100 to rescue her and thanks to my brother in law for driving us almost to the West Virginia/Virginia border just to see her! I already had two names picked out, 1) Paz - meaning peace in Spanish and 2) Buddy - because she'd always be my buddy. When we arrived, I knew as soon as I saw her that she was the one and her name would be Paz.  So freakin adorable. Very shy and timid, she made you just want to pick her up and hug her until she popped! :) A lady had found her and her siblings in an abandoned home in the mountains of West Virginia and Paz was definitely the runt of the group. She was TINY and had to fight for her food because she had a sister who the rescuers had named "Big" because she was probably twice the size of Paz and would eat all of the food!

By the way, for all of you single men out there, cute puppies are BABE-MAGNETS! No joke, everywhere I went with her, the ladies would drool all over her. (Don't worry everyone, my wife knows all about the power of puppy cuteness and I am innocent of any wrongdoing!)

Can't believe my Pazy-Wazy (one of her 10 billion nicknames) is 4 years old! Amazing how time flies!

Here are a few photos when I first brought her home...

See how huggably cute she was?

I was already rockin the K-State gear...who knew?


No task was too big for my little princess!

And somehow, she grew up to be a complete butthead, but you gotta love her!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Late night @ the San Francisco Airport

After a wonderful visit to see my parents, do an engagement session (that will be blogged about soon) and hang out with my best friend in San Jose, CA, I was hanging out at the airport for me redeye flight back to New York. Well, my flight was delayed for over an hour and so what should a photographer do with extra down time?

That's right! Take pictures! So I put attached my Canon Super Ultra Wide 16-35 f/2.8L lens onto my Canon 5D Mark II camera and played around a bit. I really wanted to play with some long exposures and so I set my camera to TV mode at 30 seconds, lowered my ISO to 100 and increased my exposure compensation to +1 and then snapped away.

This first picture was completely by accident. As I was adjusting my settings, I hit the shutter and started moving the camera all around waiting for the 30 seconds to end. Afterwards, I looked at my LCD and was quite pleased with the results! I love accidental photography. I believe it is my specialty! :)

For the last picture, I used the same settings and I set my camera down on the moving walkway. I was very careful though to not allow my camera strap to get sucked into the creases of the walkway because that would have been uber embarrassing, right? I really really like how this one. Love the stillness + movement all wrapped into one photograph.

Lessons of the day for all of you photographers: 1) always have your camera and 2) try to avoid taking pictures from the typical vantage point (i.e. standing up straight with camera to face) for those creative shots!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

RIP Howie :(

In my world, pets are equal to children. Proper diets, regular checkups, plenty of exercise, discipline, etc, etc are all just part of the process of raising, caring for them and loving them like our own children. So when a family member passes, it takes a toll on everyone involved. With a heavy heart, I honor this post to the lasting memory of Howie. Recently, one of our friends in Brooklyn lost her Howie. I only had the privilege of meeting him once, but I immediately knew he was incredibly fun-loving, loyal and had such a joyful spirit!

Blessings to Howie up in doggy heaven and that he's running around and doing everything he loves to do! Many prayers to Howie's mommy for closure, acceptance and celebration for everything that he gave her in his lifetime...

Sooooo unbelievably adorable!

Love the way he's looking as his mom in the picture...

One of my favorite dog pictures...ever.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Big Thank You!

As stated in my end of the year blog post, I have had the distinguished honor of having an amazing collection of photographers assist/join me for workshops, portrait sessions and weddings over the past year and I really want to showcase their phenomenal work! I am incredibly grateful to all of them for allowing me to "give back" in various ways with my photography. With this being more of a transitional year, I am super excited about building deeper relationships with all of these fantastic photographers and helping them anyway that I can with however I can and then developing new relationships in Houston! Thanks again everyone for helping me be a better photographer!

Onto the photographers! On very short notice, I asked if they could send me a few of their favorite pictures that they've taken either through an APW, portrait session or wedding with me or from their own sessions so that I can share with you their awesomeness! Definitely click on the link of their photography names so you can follow their blogs to check out their recent work and to contact them for a session!

A. Staats Photography - Wamego, KS
One of Amanda's favorites!


One of Amanda's favorites!

Cathy Mores Photography - Manhattan, KS

ELS Photography - Manhattan, KS
One of Eric's favorites!

J Grogg Photography - Manhattan, KS
One of Jill's favorites!

Kim Kravitz Photography - Junction City, KS
A behind the scenes of yours truly in action and Brandi modeling! Thanks kim!

Quick side note, I didn't know Brandi until she attended one of the APWs! Random, but fun, right?
One of Brandi's favorites!
Another one of Brandi's favorites!

LS Photography - Manhattan, KS
One of Lauren's favorites!

From APW V
From APW V

Michelle Haskell Photography - Manhattan/Kansas City - KS/MO
One of Michelle's favorites!

One of Ruth's favorites!

Ryan Edick Photography - Manhattan, KS

Trisha B. Photography - Olathe, KS
From APW V