The Race is Over

As I was preparing my dinner Wednesday night, I noticed my dad was even more quiet than usual. As he laid on the living room couch I asked him how his day was. He said it was okay but I could tell something was bothering him. My mom walked in to the room and said, “They gave grandpa a few days to live.” My heart dropped as I knew the time had finally come.
My grandfather is our last connection to our Mexican heritage, language and history. He was always so private, we would learn a small piece of his life every time we visit. There was still so much I never got to ask him.
I was nervous to see my grandpa sick, he had always been a strong solid  man, depending on no one. He lived alone for years and even drove himself to doctors appointments. If there was one thing I knew, my grandpa didn’t like to be fussed over.
When we walked in to the room my grandpa was in, the first thing I noticed was the color of his skin. I had never seen it so pale. He was asleep over drugged with medicine for the pain. The more I saw him struggling to live I tried to hide my tears from my dad.
It seemed we were all shocked at how fast his body shut down. Just a month ago we were at my grandpas house watching tv. Now we were here waiting for him to go. I wasn’t sure how to respond. My uncle told us earlier that morning, my grandpa took a walk outside and said, “The race is over.”
When I heard that, I took a deep breath, looked at my grandpa about to leave earth and knew he was right. As my dad played my grandpas favorite album, I pictured my grandpa as a young man in Mexico, excited to make his trip to California for work. I imaged the going away party his family gave him. Leaving at sunset to the bus station. Daydreaming of a new life.
I got up from my chair, hugged him and whispered in his ear, “I’ll miss visiting you grandpa, I love you, good bye.” I walked away allowing my dad to talk to his father. When we left the house, I knew that was the last time I would see him. My mom shared with me when my dad told his dad about the Lord and how God changed his life. That day he accepted Christ. I was comforted to know my grandpa made his peace with God.
The following day, I returned from work with the news that my grandpa took his final breath. The only thought I had was, life really does happen fast.

My grandpa picked grapes for a living to support his family. Because of him, he taught my dad to work hard, and because of my dad I’ve learned to finish the race well. I always felt bad because I never learned Spanish or I never paid attention to Mexican holidays, but true heritage is wisdom and the legacy he passed on to me, the next generation of Mexican Americans.

I’m grateful for the heritage my grandfather left me. I’ll miss him.

What heritage do you wish to pass?

Jacob, The Listener

Months before my sister got pregnant with her second son I had a dream of him. I was carrying him on my back like the Native American women and taking care of him. In the dream I remembered thinking, “He is different, he is deep.” I woke up excited for this baby boy to exist. She soon announced she was pregnant and gave birth to him earlier this year.

Today I was spending time with Jacob and discovered he is a great listener. My dream was right, he was different. He is five months and I can already tell. We went outside to enjoy the fresh air and I found myself talking to him about all sorts of things. I told him about Central Park in New York, the streets of Sydney and how I loved it there but missed the family. I held on to his little hand and told him about the season change and the joy of Summer. I later wondered how he was able to get me talking like this. When his older brother, David was a baby, I never knew what to talk about. David would just look at me and make me feel so dumb. haha.

Jacob smiles every time I kiss him and even laughs at my jokes. He also doesn’t mind watching me edit on my computer. Call me crazy, but Jacob is one of the coolest people I know. I am thankful to be a part of his life.

Personality Portraits

I use the city of Los Angeles as a character for my personality photo shoot. My friend and I found different locations and had some fun with the characters that each location created.

– Creating studio lighting with the Sun and the atmosphere around you.

A grass area near the cafe parking lot:

I had my model lay under a tree and place her face towards the sunlight. I wanted her hands to be over her chest to give  a hopeless romantic feel.

The Art Distract had lots of great back drops:

At noon the sun is the most harsh. I used it to my advantage and created a high contract colorful scene.

The cafe we stopped out for a break  had a great atmosphere with interesting lighting. I had her sit across the neon sigh and used my 55mm lens.

The cafe lounge had a small little light, I had my model point it at herself. The small light in the dark area created a high contract, highlighting only one side of her face.

– The atmosphere and clothes match to tell the story:

A run away bride escapes..

Lost in Paris..

The free spirited hippie…

A beautiful Mexican princess..

A young worried career woman..

The music indie lover..

The day dreamer…

Confident beauty…

The inner beauty..

At the end of the day, what matters is who she is when she is alone.

It’s fun storytelling..

The truth is, the story that I am telling is my own. Each character she played is apart of my personality. I didn’t notice that until now. My work is my personality. Neat…I am a real artist. 🙂


Chapter 1: Portrait

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A friend and I were hanging out at the local book store when I said to myself, “I want a photography book that isn’t just about great photos but tells me how to capture my own.”  I then picked up a book “The Complete Photographer” by Tom Ang.  The moment I picked it up I knew I had to buy it.  After reading the first chapter I dramatically saw the difference in my photos.  I have also started a photography club with some young girls from church.  I want to impart in them creativity and to inspire them to capture some of life’s greatest moments.


A Portrait: When the subject is the center of the universe they can be anyone and anything.

Here are some photos where I used different techniques.

Storytelling: To kick off the photo shoot I told my friend a story and explained the character she was going to play.  I told her to pretend she was a servant girl who had been working all day. When she sat in a pile of rocks she quickly began to role play. Her facial expressions began to come alive right before me.

Peeping Through: This creates a dramatic effect which conveys a sense of alienation.

Back lighting: In this pose that was created I noticed the great light that was behind her and told her to stand where her hair captured the glow.

Soft Focus: I used the technique Soft Focus for the Panda Mask so the viewer’s attention would see her reaction before they saw the mask.

Capturing Action: Even though the focus isn’t sharp, I didn’t disregard this shot. Her running added great energy to this fairy tale image that I wanted to display.

Lighting Character: I noticed the sun was peaking through the bushes so I had my model run over and stand right where it was hitting. It created this great dramatic look to her and bought out her eyes.

Unique Mannerisms: To deliver a sense of character and personality, I used body language and played with some unique poses.

Here is my favorite photo that I made into a poster and now hangs on my wall.   I love the purity and beauty that it displays.

I left the shoot feeling very proud knowing that I put into practice some of the new information that I had gathered from this amazing new book.

You can check out the complete set on my flickr where I used other techniques.

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