The Importance of Being Prepared

When I think about the photoshoots I’ve done in the past, the ones that were the most stressful where the ones I took getting prepared lightly. Usually this would happen after I hit a home run with a shoot, I’d just grab my camera bag with not many thoughts about preparing for the shoot. A number of problems never fail to come up during a shoot; I didn’t charge the battery, the batteries in the flash decided to give out by the third photo taken, the location agreed upon was closed, a child starts crying for no reason, all of these things happen but preparing for them is the game changer to master.

Every mistake I’ve made or failed to be ready for, I add it on my mental list of preparation.

1. Work out money and the detail before your shoot. Land on an agreement of prints, photo count, location, and so forth. What will help you with this is to pretend you are looking for a photographer in your area, research and see what the market is like. Then decided what is fair for your time and talent.

2. Charge all the batteries the night before, even if you think they are charged enough.

3. Clear all memory cards, capture any photos on it before you head out, even a few images on a card can impact your ability to get that final shot. You don’t want to stand there with your clients in front of you deleting images to make room.

4. Contact the location you are going to shoot at, get open time and ask if they don’t mind if you take photos. There have been times I failed to do this and the place was closed, and another time we had to pay $50 to take photos. That is something I could have added to the price.

5. Contact the client days before, exchanging contact mobile phone numbers, location address and time. Be prepared to show up earlier.

6. Communicate the payment for your service is due the day of the event. Many time’s I’ve said, “Don’t worry pay me later”, only to be paid months and months later, and awkward conversations of where’s my money. People forget and move on, get paid now.

7. Look up examples on line of the shoot you’re going to do. Of course you want to have your own style but chances are your clients have been on Pinterest and now have “this” idea of the photos they want. Also, this will help you with setting up your shots.

8. Gas up the car, clear your calendar. Avoid booking two photoshoots in a day. Its overwhelming and the second one will pay and be sloppy.

9. Book your appointment based on the best lightning of the season, or if the location is shaded anytime works best. The most visual mistake is shadows or harsh sunlight.

10. Do as much as you can to make the process easy for your client, do most of the work as possible. They are not only paying for photos but a service. Go beyond the agreement if it doesn’t hurt you. You want them to tell there friends about you, and you want to become their family photographer. What an honor. Or better yet, you want a photo you took to become their Facebook profile picture. That’s the greatest honor for a photographer of them all.

California Road trip – Hollywood

Growing up my parent’s idea of a holiday is staying home. This summer because I wanted to save money, I was about to do that too.. but just couldn’t stay home for a week doing nothing! I talked Gus into doing a road trip with me but this time focus on California. We made our first stop in Hollywood to visit a church. After we went around the blvd and captured some photos and video. Gus shot and edited a travel series of our trip. I’m so happy to share the videos here along with my photos. Keep in mind, I am awkward in front of the camera! Next post – Santa Barbara!



Black and White shoot

I decided to change what I was looking for during this shoot. I found the real change was in the editing room. When I was picking out the photos -the usual ones I would disregard I decided to keep and my normal shots, I disregarded.

I for one love color but I wanted different results so I went black and white. I wanted to capture the eyes attention and keep it. Black and white has that power.

Here is Olivia.

Color….. I couldn’t help myself. 🙂

Make Them Feel Beautiful Not Imperfect

My cousin asked me if I could do a shoot with her. She told me she went to the mall with a few of her friends to take pictures. My aunt began to tell me about their experience. “The man at the studio used a green screen for the backdrop. The picture came out looking fake. You could see green in their hair. He also touched up the photos, painting make up on the girls, adding eye lashes, taking out the lines on their face, and making their eyes bigger. He said he was making the photos ‘better’.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I didn’t know if I should laugh or be angry. For one, these girls are fourteen, they have no wrinkles!
Getting photograph is an experience that should make the subject feel beautiful not imperfect. It’s the photographer’s job to capture the best in people not be a plastic sergeant.
I told my cousin I would take a few photos of her. I knew she loved to draw graffiti so I took her to a wall of graffiti I found a few years ago. She loved it.

Audio: Power of Photography


When I first started to do these creative photoshoots, I would ask young girls who I had seen at church or some of my friend’s daughters to be my models so I could practice portrait photography, children photography, and fashion.
I heard back from the parents of these young girls and the impact the photos had on them. It was like these girls were seeing themselves as beautiful for the first time. Through out their life, they’ve seen printed media and movies stars as gorgeous. But never given the opportunity to really see how gorgeous they are. When I had parents come tell me that, I was encourage that my photography had a life of it’s own. A bigger impact then I knew.
Here I was concerned about getting practice but they were having an experience that made them feel beautiful. They were finally able to see the end results of their smile or their best side. And with that in mind I knew in the future, I wanted to use that power that photography has for the good.
When I was editing Pam Espinosa’s testimony about her battle with Breast Cancer, I was moved when she talked about her appearance impacting how she was feeling inside. She rarely talked about the physical pain she was going through because of the surgery. It was as if the emotional pain of seeing herself in the mirror when she wasn’t at her best was having an impact on her life. It wasn’t until she overcame that, that healing began to happen in her life.
When I heard her story, I imagined..(I like to call them a, “God day dream”), I imagined doing a free photo shoot with make-up, and hair done for women who had been through cancer or who are going through cancer and looking at the reaction on their face, having their true beauty shine for that afternoon. To just forget about whatever they are going through, to come and to enjoy being pretty again.
And so with one text to another text, I began to gather the creative troops; my friend Roni who does my hair and another friend Vero who does make-up and hair. And I asked them if they would be interested in donating their time to come along side me and be apart of this project with the girls. I had asked Pam if she could invite some of her friends and some of the girls she knew who were going through a difficult time or had been in the past.
I imagined it in this garden. But the garden is owned by someone who is very important in the community and in my life. I had been fortunate enough to been at her house a few times. She even offered to let me use the garden whenever I needed to. That was all cool in theory but really asking her I was a bit scared. I figured why not ask, its okay if there is a “no”, there is always another location. And to my surprise and yet not surprise, she said yes I would be able to use her garden for the afternoon.
This Thursday, I am hosting what I am calling, “She is Fearless Photoshoot.” Having an afternoon to take part in these women’s lives, to give them back what is really there: their beauty, their strength, and their courage. I am so excited to be able to host them. To give them an afternoon of just forgetting about all the drama in their life but just to enjoy the shoot. I am excited to see the results.
This weekend look out for a post of the girls, the behind the scenes and their photoshoot. I am going to rent a very expensive lens because they deserve it, everyone deserves a 85mm lens for their face.