Hotel Maya Event

National Assn. of Catering Executives (LA) held a special meeting in conjunction with BizBash at the Hotel Maya in Long Beach this month.  Cool design, great food, and great view.1040Hotel Maya

pink drinkA little Nuvo Sparkling Vodka to lubricate your sociability.

tableLong Beach Hotel

tabletopFloral designs by Dave's Flowers.

Long Beach Harbor

networkingAttendees mingling and exchanging business cards


raffle winnerThis is how excited Doyle was to win a resort stay in the raffle!

chocolateA sumptuous chocolate fountain was furnished by Chocolate Delights.

bizbashAttendees enjoyed a delicious dinner as well as a program on "Event Style and Trends" by BizBash Editor and Bureau Chief Alice Dubin. Lighting was furnished by Sight & Sound Events.

FAQ Friday: Light vs. Setting vs. Subject

Q: Which is more important in creating a photograph? Great light, great setting, or great subject?A: Obviously if you've got all three it's like you've struck gold.  But if you photograph weddings, or portraits in an uncontrolled setting (i.e., outdoors), then often it's sadly unusual to get all three in one shoot.Personally if I had to choose only one, I would choose great light.  I can use my knowledge of lenses to minimize (or even creatively use) a sub-par background, and use appropriate direction to encourage the subject and produce good shots of him or her, but as a natural light photographer, there's not much I can do to adjust the sun!  This is why many natural-light photographers try to shoot around morning or late afternoon, when the light is gentler, and the shadows are softer.Photo•graphyFrom the Greek word "phos" (light") and "graphê" (drawing). A photograph is still a photograph without subject or setting. Without light it is nothing!

The Third and the Seventh

This is amazing.First, watch this video.Beautiful light, beautiful focus, beautiful settings, right?  Well, none of it is real.  Those places don't exist, the lighting is digitally generated, and so are the subjects and backgrounds.  Don't believe me?Then watch this:Just incredible.  A slow, painstaking process combining techniques in 3ds Max, Vray, After Effects, and Premiere.  And we photographers thought we were badass just because we have good Photoshopping skills.  Ha!

Family Photos


1023Harvey & Harvey, father and son

1033This family is so fun it should be illegal.

1019Veronica & Jessica, mother and daughter

1093Jessica is a stellar professional makeup artist, but I think her secret to eternally youthful looks is how much she laughs.



1125See?  Illegal.

FAQ Friday: Important Photo Components

Today's question is from my high school buddy Trevor!Q: What would you say is most important factor in taking a great photo (not taking consideration of the photo subject)?Sure, a lah-vehr-lee photo subject brightens up any picture, but there are two other major factors I consider as very important to taking a great photo.The first is lighting.  OBVIOUSLY!!  The word "photography" itself means 'light writing', and understanding the properties of light itself and how your camera perceives light can improve your work dramatically.  Awareness of light makes the difference between a photo that's overexposed, underexposed, or what parts of the photo are exposed perfectly, and manipulating the light or adjusting the camera settings to achieve the look you want.The second is setting. You can seriously have beautiful light but a hideous, difficult background really brings down the quality of a photo.  There are ways around a poor set, sure...but only so many, and in the end it's very limiting on what you may be able to do and how you may be able to shoot.

img_1304-copyThis photo of Katelyn is a great example of a lovely subject, lovely light, and a lovely setting.

[30] Wedding images

Judy and Aric had the enormous honor of getting married on my birthday this year (March 7)!  It was an über-long day, but I had Matt there to lend a hand, a gorgeous couple, and some sweet locations...who could ask for more when shooting a wedding, really?

Matt took the gents to a playground and took this awesome photo of Aric there.  It's one of my favorites of the day, I think.My shot of Aric.Judy meanwhile orchestrating everything while getting her hair did.  Shot this through a mirror.Judy got ready at her parents' enormous house in the Turtle Ridge neighborhood in natch there were lots of pictures of baby Judy around!Another favorite, of Judy's dad bringing her veil and shoes upstairs to her.Those jammies!!  LOLTwo of Judy's bridesmaids and Judy's sister fluttering about the dressing roomShot by Matt, w/ added textureJudy's earrings screamed classDon't you wish your parents' bedroom looked like this?  Or your own bedroom for that matter?I also wish I had a staircase like thisTaken by Matt.  Judy has a ten-trillion megawatt smile.WHY 2 PHOTOGRAPHERS AT ONE EVENT = OPTIMUM SITUATION: This is my angle of the wind suddenly catching Judy's veil while setting up a shot......this is Matt's angle of the same moment.  Two different yet really beautiful images from a single fraction of a second.Sometimes when I have to explain to someone why they should consider paying extra for a second shooter, I can't decide which of the myriad reasons I should begin with; illustrations like this are always so much more effective in explaining how sometimes two pairs of eyes are better than one.Beautimous ceremony floralsWhile editing, when I saw this shot of one of the bridesmaids during the ceremony my first thought was, "I wonder what she's thinking?"First DanceChanging into what I dubbed "The Queen of the Night," dress (a lá the character from Mozart's 'Magic Flute'). Seriously, the dress looks like it was designed in the starry Milky Way!The happiest I'd seen Judy's father all day was during the Father-Daughter dance. SO CUTE.

Smokin' photos!

Last night I took some shots of smoke. Anyone can do this with a remote strobe (or other bright light source), and a stick of incense; set the strobe behind and a little below the smoke, make sure it's dark and you have a black background if possible (though not imperative, I shot these w/out a black sheet or anything), put your camera on a tripod and fire away!


Put your settings on a high F-stop, and if possible, a high shutter speed and low ISO.

Obviously your camera will have trouble focusing in the dark, I recommend focusing and THEN turning out the lights, or (what I did) focus on the glowing tip of the incense and move the frame upward a little.

Experiment! I took over 400 shots in about an hour, and wound up with only 3-5 favorites:

This is actually my desktop now. It reminds me of the incredible graphics in the iTunes commercials.

A very close contender for a favorite, I think it looks like a woman with long hair.

Featured Link: "Light Writing/Graffiti"

Time for some featured links!Light GraffitiMaybe you've seen the sweet Sprint commercials where dozens of slow-exposure stills are run together to create the effect of moving light streaks---very artistic, and apparently now a trend. It's easy enough to do (I remember trying to effectively mimic this 1924 photo of Picasso painting with light when I was little, using sparklers), all you really require is a flashlight, and a camera.You can also watch this video of German artist "lichtfaktor", who I believe is best known for "Light Writing" art, and check out his equipment:

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We're having a heat wave here in Southern California this weekend---it's so humid, it totally feels tropical, but that doesn't make the heat less bearable!Which is why I think I'm going to switch off this afternoon to conserve energy. After all, I don't want any of my appliances sucking up more power than they need to be!