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Archive for March, 2008

Jessica & Frank - Rancho Valencia, San Diego

Friday, March 28th, 2008

I remember meeting with Jessica and Frank for the first time at my studio. I felt like we really clicked and quickly looked forward to photographing their wedding. I knew it was gonna be fun. They got married at the Rancho Valencia Resort in Rancho Santa Fe just north of San Diego. Jennifer Bueno of Beauty to Be did the hair and Claire Young of Clairestyle did the makeup. Jessica’s dress was made by Paloma Blanca which she got from Isis Bridal in San Diego.

Our blushing bride, Jessica.

Our gallant hero, Frank.

True love… never have I seen a groom so happy to see his bride. Since the wedding began after the sun went down, they saw each other before the ceremony.

A moment of zen before the ceremony.

He’s such a cute little fella, I wanted to pinch his cheeks too.

This is what a wedding ceremony looks like at night. By the way, San Diego Stage and Lighting provided all the lighting for the wedding. Proper lighting makes all the difference. Lighting is so inexpensive relative to everything else, but it can make the biggest impact if done well.

The reception took place in the Terrace Room. It’s gorgeous at night and very private.

My favorite part of the reception is the Hora. Everyone dances around and round in a circle and then they finally stick the bride and groom in a chair and dance them around. It’s a rush to photograph. I just wish we could have had one at my wedding.

And into the night they disappeared…

John

T’was the Night Before A Fashion Shoot - Mission Inn, Riverside

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

Tonight’s Easter. I spent the day resting at home playing the guitar, headed over to the in-laws for a home-cooked dinner (thanks Cathy and Jim) and then drove a couple of hours up to Riverside for a magazine shoot that I’ll be doing in the morning. I grew up in LA and Riverside is kind of like the armpit of LA. It gets no respect. So, I can’t say that I was too thrilled to be going to this Mission Inn place to do the bridal fashion shoot for I Do for Brides Magazine.

I pulled up to the valet and, honestly, was blown away. This place is gorgeous. Amazing. A true gem. My room is on the fourth floor and it feels like I’m in a Spanish castle. I’d love to photograph a wedding here. I snapped some photos for folks to check out.My room is on the top floor to the right of the frame - you can see the door open just a crack.

Here’s the view into my room.

Here’s a couple of shots of the walkway outside my room.

This is the outside of a gorgeous chapel right below me. President Richard Nixon was married in a smaller chapel across on the other side of this courtyard. Although I’m not a fan of his, our paths have crossed before. I went to preschool where he graduated from college (Whittier College).

I’ll be photographing a bunch of bridal gowns - much like my Exquisite Weddings shoot that I just posted. We don’t have as many dresses so hopefully it won’t be as long a day.

John

Magazine Photo Shoot - The Movie

Friday, March 21st, 2008

I’ve been getting a lot of great feedback on my Exquisite Magazine photo shoot. I shot some video during the shoot that I thought I’d share. If you’re at all interested in seeing how I create my lighting style, it’s well worth a look. There’s a lot of tips on location lighting.

By the way, for all those who’ve signed up for the Rimrock Workshop, you”ll be working with a lot of this gear in your shots. I’ll also be showing how to take these ideas and make them work for the no-time-for-anything wedding day in my Light and Fast seminar with Jules Bianchi on June 12 in LA.

John

 

Exquisite Weddings Magazine - Bridal Fashion

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

This is a post that I’ve been waiting to do for a couple of months now. I did this shoot back in January but didn’t want to post until the Spring issue of Exquisite Weddings magazine came out.

Talk about a long day. We did 25 setups over 10 hours. That’s a lot no matter what, but everyone of those shots required setting up multiple studio lights to get the look that I wanted. My crew was running around with a truck load of gear, hustling to set up each shot. I do a seminar for photographers called Light and Fast… well, this was more like Heavy and Fast.

At the end of the day, we were all cooked. But we did it!

We did this wedding shoot at The Grand Del Mar resort which is located just north of San Diego. The recently opened resort was done in the style of an Italian villa. There’s really nothing like it in Southern California. The attention to detail is fantastic. Doug “Pappa Doug” Manchester is the developer - I photographed him at his home last summer. The Grand Del Mar is a lot like his home - just on a grander scale.

I did the men’s fashion shoot last fall. Photographing the guys is a lot easier. With women, there’s a lot more hair and makeup - which takes forever - and then there’s the dress. On my crew, I had two hair stylists, one woman for makeup and another just for the dress.

My concept for this shoot was to treat the women kind of like sculptures. Italian villas always have lots of female sculptures so I put the talent up high standing on chairs, sofas, walls, and even a wall sconce.

The jewelry was provided by Tiffany’s in San Diego. They not only supplied the diamonds and silver, but also had someone doing all the styling for the jewelry. Some of the rings that they brought sell for over $100,000 so they also supplied several rather stocky guards who never let the models out of their sight.

The staircase is fantastic. No doubt there will be more than a few wedding day shots taken here. I’m photographing a wedding at the Grand Del Mar in July so don’t be surprised if you see some shots from here.

Not your garden variety pergola…

The only thing better than one bride is two!


This was the last shot of the day. Actually, night. I had my assistant outside with a giant umbrella outside making sure the strobe would fire. It was cold outside and we were dead tired. It’s at times like this that I really rely on my crew to keep it together, stay focused and be committed to producing great work.

For the next issue of Exquisite Weddings, I’ll be shooting the cover. I’m looking forward to focusing on one shot. Should be fun!

John

New Website Preview!

Friday, March 7th, 2008

As many of my photographer friends out in blogoland know, I have contracts for wedding and portrait photographers available for sale on my www.PhotographersToolkit.com web site. Well, the time has come for me to update my site. I’ve added an entire slate of workshops as well as a new product, The Lookbook, which I’m particularly excited about.

Officially, it’s The Lookbook: A Quick Visual Reference for Photographers. It’s a swatchbook
of poses for the Bride and Groom that you can refer to when you’re shooting a wedding. It’s pretty cool. I’ll probably do an official announcement when I get my first production sample on Monday.

Anyhow, I’ve got a preview of the updated Photographer’s Toolkit website all set up and I’d greatly appreciate everyone’s feedback and critique. I’m hoping to have it go live in time for the WPPI tradeshow in ten days. To everyone who checks it out and leaves a comment, I’ll be very thankful.

To keep this from being a completely non-visual post, you can check out my new logo. Dan Busta, my former photo assistant and sometime designer created it for me. I think he did a great job - it was the only one he presented and I liked it pretty much as is.

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of The Lookbook, I’m offering a special sneak-peak price here. You won’t find this price on the web site and it’s less than show special price that I’ll have at the upcoming WPPI trade show. (I’ll have a booth in the Venue section near the seminars - stop by and say howdy!) This project has been an amazing amount of work - my wife Jen says she wants me back - but it’s been an adventure at the same time. We’ll see how it goes!

John

A Wedding on Wednesday - Las Rocas, Baja Mexico

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

There’s a first for everything, last night I shot a Wednesday wedding down in Baja at the Las Rocas Spa & Resort just south of Rosarito Beach in Baja Mexico. Actually, I was the second shooter - my wife, the superlative Jennifer Dery, was the primary photographer. Second shooter duties usually include photographing the groom while the main photographer is off with the bride. Well, seeing as how I was the sidekick on this one, I got to hang with the guys.

For those of you who haven’t traveled down Baja’s Highway 1 down to Ensenada, Las Rocas is right on the ocean about 30 miles south of the San Diego border. If you drive down the toll road, you can’t help but see the giant statute of Jesus up on a hill.

Las Rocas sits right across the highway from Jesus.

Despite all of San Diego’s coastline, there’s no wedding venue that overlooks the water. The Lodge at Torrey Pines is close - but it’s got a golf course between it and the ocean. The Hotel Del sits on the beach, but it lacks the perspective of sitting high on a cliff with a view of the water. Las Rocas is unique in that it sits right above the water with a spectacular view of the ocean and bluffs.

Arturo with Artquest Flowers in San Diego provided the flowers for the wedding. I used to work with Arturo all the time, but I hadn’t seen him for a few years. It’s always nice to work with good people that you know.

One thing cool about working with the guys is that the pace is usually a little easier. There’s more time to look around and get the details.


Here’s Josh getting ready. (That’s me on the left!)

During the wedding, I got stuck in the back. Jen got to run around and get the all different angles. Still, I had fun with it.

April and Josh have cute little daughter, Hailey.

I wasn’t gonna drive all the way down to Baja and then wait forever at the border without a chance to photograph the bride and groom. There was almost no time for photography since the wedding ran late so I think I shot for all of one minute. But I like this one.

When we did our scout of the location before the wedding, I saw this steep gap between two buildings. I knew the shot that I wanted. When the time came, I had no time. I set this up in about 30 seconds and scrambled to get the shot while all the guests were waiting for the bride and groom to do their grand entrance. Still, I got the shot. That’s my job!

John

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.

John