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History in the Making: A Surprise Engagement at San Diego’s Gay Pride Parade

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

It’s been years since I photographed the Gay Pride parade in San Diego. Usually I have a wedding that weekend so it just hasn’t fit into my schedule. This year, I happened to be free so I pedaled my bike on over the parade route and started snapping away.

Without a doubt, the most anticipated moment of the parade was when the soldiers in uniform walked the route. Normally, soldiers are not allowed to parade in uniform unless they have permission, but, because of the heavy military presence in San Diego (we have three aircraft carriers home ported here, a submarine base and two Marine bases) and the fact that gays can now legally serve in the military, the powers that be issued an announcement a couple of days prior that soldiers could attend the parade in uniform.

The fact that our fighting men and women would be in uniform at a gay pride event was history enough but then this man walked into my camera’s view. I didn’t realize it that time, but he was on a mission. Notice the little box he’s holding in his right hand.

After he passed me, I turned around to find this scene.

There in front of hundreds of people, this sailor proposed to his obviously shocked boyfriend. Before I knew it, I found myself swept up in one of the most emotionally powerful experiences of my life. Yes, here was one person proposing marriage (though not yet legal in California) which is a significant and emotional moment to be sure. But against the background of all the civil rights arguments and the fact that, had this man dropped to one knee a year ago, he would have been expelled from the military, the sight literally brought tears to my eyes.

It all happened so fast and without warning. I was lucky to have been in the right place at the right time. After it was all over, everyone cheered and the parade continued. My immediate thought was that I’m proud to be an American. I’m proud to live in a country where people can accept each other based upon the intrinsic value of human dignity. Where people are allowed to be different from the norm. Where love can express itself free from the constraints of bigotry and religion.

In the photo above, you can see one of the soon-to-be grooms checking out his ring. After they passed me, I let my camera drop and knew that before too long, people would look at my photos and wonder what the big deal was all about. Witnessing his little slice of history made ever more resolute my faith in the fact that this moment will come and in my hope that it comes soon.

John Mireles

Intervention - Hard Rock Hotel, San Diego

Monday, June 13th, 2011

My cell phone buzzed as it does whenever a text comes through. It was my friend and client Samantha from a local magazine. “Did I want to go to intervention?” was the text. So I’m thinking that either we were going to try and intervene with a friend or that maybe she thought my bad habits had reached the point of requiring outside help.

Fortunately, it was neither. Instead, it was an invite to an outdoor pool party that the Hard Rock Hotel in the Gaslamp throws most Sundays throughout the summer. Far be it from me to say no to a party so off I went.

Now, it’s been brought to my attention that some people think that my images are “upskirt” shots. In the broadest sense maybe they are, but the people in my photos are generally aware that I’m taking their photo. They know what they’re doing and often play it up as willing participants in the making of the photograph. Some of my photos may be extreme, but this is an extreme environment. I’m just documenting it (which I thoroughly enjoy by the way).

I’d also like to add that creating these types of images is not easy. The second most people see a camera, they immediately turn to it, stick out their tongue or make a peace sign, grab a friend and pose for the camera. Ugh. It’s thoroughly uninteresting to me. Yes, I take the picture because that’s the routine, yet I’m always looking for more. One reason why I resorted to taking shots from the ground or close to it is because a) it’s an interesting angle and b) they can’t smile at the camera once it’s on the ground.

My goal is to capture the energy and feeling of what’s like to be there so I do what it takes.


Day on Mt. Tam

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

During my trip to the San Francisco area, I took a little side trip to the mountains north of the bay. Mt. Tam has it all: mossy forests, broad grassy mountainsides, broad vistas to the sea, beach, cliffs and winding roads that you’ve seen many times in car commercials.

At my first stop, I was there all alone until a rental company showed up with chairs for a wedding. Can’t think of a better place with a more fantastic view. There’s a beautiful view of the ocean and even downtown San Francisco from here.

If you ever have a two-seater sports car or motorcycle that you want to take for a test drive, Mt. Tam is the place.

Mickey’s beach is actually a nude beach. But it’s blocked in by a tall cliff that’s littered with rock climbs. Back in the day, I used to climb there on my visits to the area. I actually did an early ascent of the most difficult climb (5.13b) on the cliff. Here’s a view from the top.

The sunset lasted forever.


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John’s Interview Special

Friday, September 24th, 2010

The website Enticing the Light recently interviewed me for the their blog. It’s always fun for me to share my thoughts on photography, process, art and life as a creative. Check it out here: http://enticingthelight.com/2010/09/17/shedding-light-on-john-mireles/


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WPPI Radio Interview

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

I’ve been interviewed by WPPI Radio in anticipation of my seminar at the WPPI show in Vegas. I talk about my seminar “How to Book Weddings” and other Photographer’s Toolkit related stuff. My seminar is sold out but you can get a taste of it here. It’s on iTunes with a bunch of other interviews so scroll down to find mine: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=293620128


Along the Mayan Highway, Mexico

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

I’m trying to keep up with the blogging while on the road down here near Cancun, Mexico. The internet connections are hit and miss so it’s hard to post regularly. I’m skipping past the wedding stuff which I’ll blog later. (Jen’s got that on her computer.) Yesterday, we left the resort and headed inland into the Yucatan peninsula. Our first stop was the town of Valladolid, about two hours inland from Cancun. It’s an old Spanish colonial town with lots of color and a traditional town square across from the catholic church.

As I was sitting in the hotel room playing with the photos, I decided to play around with some of the textures I’d shot walking around and use them on the photos. These are genuine Mayan textures here folks! ;-)

Although there’s tourists in Valladolid, there’s not a lot. For the most part, it’s just the local Mayans. Jen took a shot of a couple of kids. Before we knew it, they were on us: “Sacaste nos photos. Tiene que compra algo!” which meant “You took our photos, now you have to buy something!” So we bought a couple of ten peso (one dollar) handkerchefs for my little neices back home.

We stopped and ate at this restaurant. It was pretty simple food - much like home cooking.

Later, we came back and ate here. The food was super-delicious. The drinks and salsas were perfect as was the ambiance in this old Spanish villa.

After lunch, we drove to a nearby “Cenote” - it’s basically a hole or cave filled with water. The area is littered with them and they make perfect rest stops. On a hot day, you pay your ten pesos and then jump in to cool off.

We tried to drive to some nearby Mayan ruins, but it started to rain. And rain. And then rain harder. Eventually, we just turned around. Not only was driving on the narrow road a little scary in the wet weather, we figured that trying to walk around in a pouring rain would be pointless. Once we decided to turn around, the rain let up. It was like someone was giving us a message.

We drove to our hotel, the Mayaland Resort. The name was kinda hokey, but the resort consisted of small, thatched roof villas spread over a large property surrounded by jungle. Just outside our room was one of three swimming pools. It was perfect for jumping in and cooling off after a hot day of playing tourist.

Next stop: Chichen-itza!


Souvenir from New Mexico

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

Some of you may remember my “In the Land of My Father” trip to New Mexico. I posted photos and wrote about it in this blog post. I printed many of the photos that I shot and my dad sent them off to the folks that we visited. This weekend, I received a letter from the man with the bow and arrows that I photographed. He’s a champion bow hunter and makes his own arrows from feathers and obsidian. I asked him a bunch of questions about the process as I took a close look at his arrows.

Apparently, he remembered my interest. He sent me a nice thank you note for the photos along with a handmade arrowhead on a leather cord. It came from a large chunk of obsidian that someone gave him. Anyhow, I thought it was pretty cool.


Kids on the Beach

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Just another gorgeous day shooting family photos in La Jolla.


Baby Ozzy

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

I photographed the wedding of Eric and Samantha at Rancho Valencia earlier this year. Well, they wasted no time and now they’ve got a little addition to the family. He’s only three weeks, but he’s feisty and a hungry little boy. Here’s one of him and daddy.


Colorado: Day 2

Monday, September 17th, 2007

It’s actually the morning of day three as i write this. I got up early - before sunrise - to get shots of the early morning light against the red standstone rock formations here. But the clouds rolled in and there was no sunlight. Bummer.

Yesterday was fun. I cruised around the ranch on a Suzuki quad. Nothing like bouncing over hill and dale through flowers and fields. Later I did some rock scrambling and bushwacking through oak-choked gullies. My legs were all cut and bloody last night. Doing that reminded me of my college days in Santa Barbara when we’d go out bushwacking in search of rocks to climb. Here it is 20 years later and I’m doing the same thing.

Here’s a few more shots:

Today, I’ll be shooting more ranch oriented stuff cowboy stuff.