Erica & Nate's Wedding (Placerville, Ca).

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I met Erica and Nathan early this year when they contacted me regarding wedding photography. After meeting with them at a local cafe, they decided that I was a good fit for their needs. This past month was their big wedding day, and I was on hand to capture all their moments - big and small! The wedding took place in Placerville, Ca at Davies Inn and Ranch. I had never been there before, and was excited to check out the location. Turns out it was a gorgeous venue for a wedding. Rustic buildings, beautiful trees, and a spacious lawn were just a few of the stunning backdrops that were available to create photographs with.

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I arrived during Erica's make-up session. The venue had a lodge for her to stay in and get ready. As I usually do, I took photos of Erica as the make-up artist was applying the make-up. The bridesmaids were on hand getting ready as well and the general excitement was definitely building.

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I took the time at the beginning to also take photos of the important clothes, shoes, and jewelry Erica would be wearing today. My favorite thing of hers were these blinged out Converse shoes. They were certainly unique, but also functional as they made getting around very comfortable for Erica. This was such a smart move by Erica! 

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Before long the ceremony began with the bridal party walking towards the ceremony location. Erica a small party of just two bridesmaids, but they were her sisters, and of course, very important to her. They were beautiful as they came down in their maroon dresses.

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Erica arrived shortly after. It was getting later on in the afternoon which was very nice for taking photos. Though having many trees around can make the lighting uneven, the parts that do get even lighting look really great. I love this photo of Erica as the sun in the back is kissing the back of her hair just right giving it a nice glow.

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There was no lack of emotion at this ceremony. The vows made were personally written by Erica and Nathan, and each were very impactful. There were very few dry eyes in the audience after the vows were said. As I try to do, I was looking to capture those emotions as best as I could.

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Of course the first kiss is a MUST for any wedding shoot. Sometimes this moment lasts for only a split second. It was nice for Erica and Nathan to let their smootch linger on for a little longer. You only get one of these first kisses... so might as well make it last!

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The centerpiece of the reception was the simple, yet elegant and gorgeous wedding cake. I thought that this cake fit the newlyweds perfectly. Quite a few people were clamoring to take a photo with it before Erica and Nathan got to cutting it up. By the way... I did end up getting a slice... it was delish!

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As the sun began to set Erica, Nathan, and I went off to do a sunset photoshoot while the light was about to disappear. This golden hour is one of the best times to shoot as the light is warm and flattering. Some couples don't do a sunset shoot as they are busy with the reception. It was awesome that Erica and Nathan wanted this done!

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As the night came in, the food came out. The reception was full of joy! The speeches made were memorable, the dancing was epic, and all good time was had by all who were here. It was a great pleasure to shoot this wedding for Erica and Nathan. I wish them the absolute best as they spend the rest of their lives together!

Kings Dancer Auditions.

Last week the Sacramento Kings held auditions for their on-court dance team. Nearly 200 dancers came to audition for a spot on the roster to dance this upcoming season. The audition process is a rigorous and demanding experience for everyone who comes out. The Kings only pick the best of the best when it comes to the dance team, so these dancers would have to really give it their all in order to obtain one of the coveted positions.

It's always an excited time for me when auditions come around because I enjoy the shooting dance photography. I love the movement involved in dance - it's graceful, powerful, and elegant all at the same time. I am amazed at the talent that all the dancers have; there was some high level skill on display!

The audition process consists of a few different stages. The dancers have to learn both a jazz and hip-hop routine on the fly. These routines are performed in a large group and in smaller groups. The dancers are judged at different points during the audition process, and cuts are made periodically. If dancers make it through the two routines, they still have to come back and perform a solo dance showcasing their own unique skill set. 

Throughout the day the judges carefully watch each auditioner. Every little thing is noticed - from dance techniques to whether or not the dancer is engaging the audience. The dancers have to be 'on' the entire time they are at the audition. There really isn't a time to rest save for the quick water breaks. It's really intense!

Because there is so much talent to choose from, the judges have to think very carefully about each dancer. The judges discuss each dancer's attributes in great detail. Included in discussions are whether or not a dancer will be a good ambassador for the Kings basketball team. Yes, dancers need to be flawless dancing on the court, but the dancers must also have the ability to interact well with fans and represent the organization with class. They are looking for the complete package.

The few dancers who are chosen to make the 2017/18 Sacramento Kings Dancers squad were given flowers when their number was announced. Those who made it onto the team were overcome with happiness and joy. The hard work and effort paid off! 

Congrats to all the dancers who made the final cut! I'll be looking forward to seeing everyone out on the court during the Kings games! This will be an extremely exciting time, especially for the first year dancers. Becoming an NBA dancer is certainly life changing. Big things are to come!

A special thank you goes out to the judges led by Jenn Santich. Each year they spend the time to get all of this together in order to build the best team possible. I'm looking forward to a great season of dance!

Mike's Surprise Proposal.

Mike contacted me about taking photos of his surprise proposal and I was more than happy to oblige! I've done a few of these now, and they are always a blast for me to do. Often times these surprise proposals have me hiding out somewhere and being inconspicuous, but not this time! Mike set up a cover story saying that I needed shots for a magazine story. What a great idea!

I had the opportunity to pose the couple in the best light. So often in these surprise proposals the proposal happens in a place that isn't the best for a picture. That was definitely the case this evening as the sun was quickly setting behind the trees in the park. There was one little patch left of good light for them to be in. We were definitely lucky to have that spot.

I gave Mike a nod so he knew I was absolutely ready to go and he took out the box containing the engagement ring and got on his knee to propose. It was an beautiful moment to witness and capture. 

The best part? She said 'yes'! And of course Mike was overjoyed! I took the opportunity to get in some fun shots of Mike celebrating this huge moment in his life. Congrats to this beautiful couple. Now comes the wedding planning!

Maternity Photos with Cassie.

This past weekend I was out shooting maternity photos with Cassie. Maternity photos have become increasingly popular in recent years as people desire to capture this special time before their child is born. This is Cassie's very first child, so I know that this part of her life has been filled with both challenges and great joy. Having a professional photoshoot to capture portraits of this stage in her life will give Cassie something to look back on, remember, and share!

Cassie came to me ready to shoot! She told me she didn't really have any idea what she was going for, but her flowing pink dress and flower crown were exactly the elements that fit this type of shoot perfectly. Our location was filled with lush greens and yellows, so the pink really stood out nicely. Cassie looked absolutely gorgeous!

Cassie and I met at 6pm - the perfect time to capture some gorgeous natural light. This is what photographers call the 'golden hour'. It's a very narrow window to shoot in, but when we do the photos we end up getting are stunning.

I loved shooting with Cassie that early evening. In about an hour we were able to get lots and lots of beautiful photos. I was able to process the images very quickly and got her the entire set by the very next day! I pride myself of getting photos back to my clients as soon as possible.

As an expecting father myself, I know how important and special these 9 months before the baby comes is. I have a few more maternity shoots coming up soon so be on the lookout for some posts on them! If you or someone you know is looking to do a maternity photoshoot, please let me know! 

Shaq in Sac.

Oh man! My third sports camp in the last few weeks. This time it was with Shaq Thompson of the Carolina Panthers. He was at Sacramento's Grant High School hosting a football camp for the youth. He was in it for the long haul as there were two sessions of the camp spanning the entire day. This would most likely be the final sports camp I shoot this summer so I wanted to get as many pictures as I could.

Unsurprisingly, Shaq was every bit as hands on as DeMarus and Arik were during their camps. He was right in amongst the kids as they were working on their football skills. He had a great rapport with everyone and was willing to mentor and teach. I could tell that the kids in attendance were having a blast. They really put out a great effort in everything I saw them do.

Every youth that came out got a sweet Shaq Thompson camp shirt that they got to wear and keep. The color scheme was definitely in line with the Panthers motif. Everyone looked great on the field in them as they competed with each other.

There was no shortage of exercise happening at the camp. The kids were running, jumping, and racing with each other. I like this shot I got of the kids as they were doing one of their races. You can really see the desire to be first in their faces as they go!

Shaq spoke with the kids at the camp and gave everyone an encouraging word. It has been awesome seeing pro athletes like Shaq, DeMarcus, and Arik giving their off time to the community. I definitely was encouraged by seeing what they did.

That's a wrap for the sports summer camps. I hope you enjoyed seeing the photos that I took. I'd love to do this all again next year! 

DeMarcus Cousins Returns to Sac!

DeMarcus Cousins was back in Sacramento to host his yearly basketball camp. As you may know, he was traded from the Sacramento Kings to the New Orleans Pelicans this past basketball season. I've always had a great relationship with DeMarcus and his managers/agents. It was an honor to be asked to cover his return this summer as I've definitely missed the big guy since his departure. DeMarcus was all smiles as he walked into the gym, it was a sweet reunion for many of the people in attendance.

The youth invited to this camp would be receiving the best in terms of coaching. Just like with Arik Armstead's camp, everyone here was completely dedicated to making sure the kids got a quality experience. I've seen many of these coaches from the previous years of DeMarcus' camp. I'm always astounded by the level of commitment they have for these kids. Some of the coaches in attendance have connections to higher level basketball camps and would be scouting talent here. It was important for the kids to do their absolute best to get noticed.

The expectation when coming to this camp is to work your hardest and to do your best. Nothing less than that is accepted. As I was taking photos, I could feel the energy in the gym. The kids had many activities throughout the day from working on offensive skills like passing and shooting to defensive stances like the one shown above. 

DeMarcus didn't let the coaches do everything themselves. He took on the task of engaging with the kids and working with them so that they could get better. The ultimate challenge for the kids would be to take DeMarcus on one-on-one. Only a few of the campers got this opportunity. But wow! Wouldn't it be amazing to have the chance to take on an NBA All-Star? That would be something to remember!

The gym was hot as the summer heat got the facilities cooking. Thankfully, everyone got regular breaks in the action to hydrate themselves. Water, Gatorade, and energy snacks were plentiful so that anyone who needed them could easily get them. Things like this are a crucial detail that cannot be overlooked. The organizers of the camp were prepared for whatever the campers needed.

Towards the end of camp DeMarcus sat down for a question and answer session. There were many hands up as the kids had a ton of questions they wanted answers to. DeMarcus was patient and open in his answers to the campers. I hope that the kids take to heart what DeMarcus had to say. He shared his struggles as a student and encouraged the campers to take school seriously. 

DeMarcus was also presented with a letter of from the city thanking him for his service to the community. In it was listed all that DeMarcus had done up to this point - and it was a long list! He certainly deserves some recognition for his efforts off the court as they are many. This kind of stuff always gets overshadowed by game actions and stories, but they really shouldn't. I can attest to DeMarcus' huge heart for people.

As the kids left they each got a sweet bag full of goodies from DeMarcus. It was a nice little reward for a day of hard work. 

For this event I used both the Canon 7d mark ii, 5d mark iii, and the Sony a9.

Second Annual Arik Armstead Football Camp.

Back at it again for the second year in a row! I found myself in Elk Grove on a hot Friday morning to photograph Arik Armstead's youth football camp. This was the camp that Arik and David Garibaldi was raising money for the other day. Arik was there bright and early to personally welcome all the kids who came out. They would all be getting a tough workout today, and an experience that they will always remember fondly.

Each person that came to the camp received a special Arik Armstead camp shirt with his special logo on it. Hehe, I was able to snag one myself too. The kids wore grey shirts while the coaches donned red ones. Over 100 kids came out to the camp this year. They were separated into different age groups to get specialized instruction from their coaches.

For this event I chose to shoot my Canon cameras. The Canon system has been my bread and butter for me these past few years. I always feel that they are reliable, tough, and will get the job done. I used my trusty 5d mark iii and a newer 7d mark ii today. Though I liked the images I was able to capture, I started to notice a difference in quality when compared to images shot on my Sonys.

Quinton Dial and DeForest Buckner were back to help the kids in their activities today. How awesome is it to have current NFL players helping and training? These kids were really lucky to have these guys around. I was impressed by the willingness of these players to even come out to an event like this. It shows a lot about both Quionton and DeForest's character. And I must add that they were happily working, they really did want to be there! It was awesome to see.

I enjoyed going around to the different stations capturing the skill drills that the kids were doing today. The kids were working on a variety of football related skills such as passing, catching, and running. There were little breaks between each station so that the kids could get water or refreshment, but other than that every minute of their day was filled with something to do.

I have to give a shoutout to the coaches at the camp. As hard as the kids were working, the coaches were working even more. They had to set up the stations, demonstrate the drills, and of course make sure the kids were on task and working hard. These guys had difficult jobs to do, but they all were tireless in the commitment they had to Arik's camp.

Being as it was Arik's camp, he was right in the thick of it all. I saw him go from station to station working with kids on their drills. He took time to talk with every person who came up to him. My favorite moment of the day was overhearing a conversation between Arik and an older camper. Arik asked how he was doing in school and the camper said he wasn't doing so well for various reasons. Arik stepped aside and encouraged him to do better and gave tips specific to his situation. I was floored at the amount of love Arik had for these kids. 

Arik also addressed the camp as a whole after the lunch break. He got to tell the story of how he got to the NFL and let the kids know that their hard work will pay off. Arik then had a Q and A session where the campers got to raise their hands and ask him any questions they wanted to.

After the large group session it was back to work for the kids for a few more hours. There was a lot of action to capture so I went about my business getting as many photos as I could. For photos like the one above, the Canon 7d mark ii's high frame rate was extremely useful. 

When it was all said and done I was tired and hot. I had to go straight to Jamba Juice to get an ice cold smoothie. But other than that the camp was a great experience for everyone involved. I am hopeful for a third year of this camp to take place. This month is full of sports camps for me, so be on the lookout for more sports action soon!

Armstead & Garibaldi Benefit Studio Experience.

It was a hot summer evening at War on Wall Studios in Sacramento, Ca. I was invited to photograph a very special painting experience by local artist David Garibaldi. Tonight he would be performing his speed painting act in partnership with San Francisco 49ers player Arik Armstead to raise money for Arik's youth football camp. This was a very limited engagement and it was a privilege to be there and a part of the evening.

I had seen Garibali on television, but this was the first time I've been so close to him. It was really exciting to be right there next to his brushes and paints before his performance. Tonight he would be creating three pieces of art to be auctioned off immediately after the show. His theme for the night would be 'icons'. Time to get started!

David performs with and is energized by the music that is played as he paints. Having the crowd joining in on the fun enhances the entire show even more. I was wowed by David's movements as he was painting. I did my best to capture the paint flowing trough the air as it left his brushes. It was challenging to do as the venue was in low light; I had to maintain a high shutter speed to make sure the action wasn't burry. I'm glad the new Sony a9 was able to keep up with the action magnificently.

This was the first time Arik had seen Garibali, so I knew he was in for a real treat. He had a front row view of the show tonight and brought along a couple of his 49er teammates - Quinten Dial and DeForest Buckner - to see Garibaldi with him. Both players would also be in attendance at Arik's camp as special guests and coaches.

David's first painting was of iconic legend Muhammad Ali. It was done as a profile portrait with a stunning and bold red background. The piece was a great way to start off the trio of paintings that David would do. It would be hard to top someone like Ali, so I was curious as to what he would paint next. 

Garibali's next couple of paintings were of 49ers players... of course! The second painting was of San Francisco legend Jerry Rice. Rice is considered by many to be the greatest wide-receiver to every play in the NFL. He was a great subject, and a very appropriate one given those in at the studio, for Garibali's 'icons' theme. 

The third, and final, painting of the evening turned out to be of Arik! What a great surprise! I know Arik was honored to be the subject of this last piece of art. I would say that paining Arik is a premonition of iconic things to come. Arik could certainly be the next icon for the Niners. But even if not that, he is already cementing iconic status in the community as someone who has taken the fame and success he has and freely given back to the city he grew up in. That's an icon in my book!

The paintings at the auction following the studio event raised thousands of dollars for Arik's youth football camp. A huge thanks goes out to David Garibali, Arik, and his teammates & management for putting this all together.

This event was another opportunity to put my new Sony a9 to the test and it was a joy to use. 95% of the shots I took this evening were from the a9, the others were from the a7rii. After using the a9 for a few events now, I'm finding it harder and harder to go back and pick up my DSLRs! Let's see which pieces of gear I choose to cover my upcoming events. Should be interesting!

Haley's Grad Shoot.

Sweet! Another graduation shoot! This time out it's with Haley. She's excited to be graduating with an animal science's degree. We went all over campus to get the photos of the locations she wanted to remember from her time here at UC Davis. This particular photo come from UC Davis' Memorial Union. The MU has been under construction for a while and this giant seal had been inaccessible until just recently. I'm glad we had a chance to shoot with it.

Adjacent to the Memorial Union is the large quad area. This large field is a place that students travel between to get to different classes, the MU, and the library. Any UC Davis student is familiar with the quad and has probably been through it countless times. I wanted to get a shot of Haley walking down one of the paths in the quad. For this shot I had the camera set to track her as she walked. The Sony a9 did a marvelous job of keeping her in sharp focus.

Haley brought her cowboy boots to the shoot and wanted them featured in a few shots. We took some photos low to the ground so that the focus could be on the boots. Thankfully, the Sony a9 has a tilting screen as it shoots in live view. It was no problem getting the low angle I wanted to shoot at. This photo is pretty cool in that not only does it feature Haley, it has a group of prospective UC Davis students visiting the campus with their parents in it. I'm sure Haley remembers the time when she did this same tour. This photo has the graduate about to leave the school and the young students who are about to enter. Nice!

Speaking of graduate... this is the Graduate! The Graduate, or Grad, is a restaurant/bar just off campus. There's good food you can eat there (like the Aggie Burger), but many people go to the Grad to dance! Haley's favorite night to go is when they have line dancing. It was a huge part of her Davis experience so she wanted to get a shot there. The big double doors provide a nice symmetry in this photo featuring Haley in her dancing cowboy boots and grad accessories.

Being an animal science major, it was only natural that Haley would have some photos taken with the animals she worked with as an undergraduate. We went to the goat barn and took some photos with some of her favorites. It was really cute to see the goats that day. I'd actually never been to that particular part of campus and was excited to be able to experience this unique corner of UCD.

Congrats to Haley as she finishes her time at Davis. I'm grateful that she found me to be her photographer. Best wishes!

Shuna's Wedding.

Last month I was hired to photograph Shuna and Harold's wedding out in the Bay Area. I get an opportunity to go out to the Bay to do shoots every once in a while, and I jump at the chance every single time. The wedding took place at a beautiful vineyard on a warm and sunny day. I shot with both Sony and Canon systems. No a9 on this wedding as it took place before the release of that camera body. This wedding was shot with a Canon 5d mark ii, 7d mark ii, and the Sony a7rii.

When I arrived the bride and her party were beginning to get ready. The location had a room just for them very close to the area of the ceremony. It was quite convenient! I enjoy taking photos of the bride and her bridal party getting ready as it is awesome to see how careful and detailed the make up artists are in preparing everyone for the day. There are a lot of shots to focus on during this time. I usually try to get both closer and wider shots of the activity as well as a lot of the detail such as the make-up used and the application of make-up on the bride and bridesmaids.

Also during this time are the wedding gown photos. Also taken are photos of the rings, shoes, flowers, and other special items involved in the wedding. It's always a fun challenge to try and figure out where and how to take these photos. I usually get a full shot of the wedding dress hung up in a beautiful location, and I did, but my favorite photo of the wedding dress from this weekend was the photo above focusing on the ribbon. The image reminds me of a present that you might receive at Christmas or on your birthday. Today, like those days, is a very special one.

Here comes the bride! Shuna was walked down the aisle with her parents by her side. What a proud and happy moment for her! I always love seeing the facial expressions in the photographs. They capture so much. I can see the joy in Shuna's face, she's beaming! Mom and dad are happy, but I also think there's a bit of sadness seeing their daughter get married off and into the care of another.

As with all ceremonies, each couple has their own unique inclusions. In Shuna's ceremony, one of the groomsmen stepped out and sang a special song for her and Harold. I was actually really impressed by his voice - I'm sure he slays at karaoke! 

'The couple has chosen rings...' is a very common phrase I hear at wedding ceremonies. And in fact the rings are very, very important as they symbolize the union between the two. Here the pastor is letting the congregation know that the particular rings he is holding up are to be for Shuna and Harold as a symbol of their love and commitment. This photo is one of my favorites as the sky is completely blown out behind the pastor. It has a high key look to it that works especially well in black and white.

The kiss! That first kiss has to be captured... it just has to be! This is the one moment where the photographer has to get it right. The photo has to be in focus and captured at just the right moment because it won't happen again. For Shuna and Harold's wedding ceremony kiss, I was close to them so I was able to get photos that were more intimate.

Shuna and Harold had quite the  bridal party - there were 13 of them in total. Shuna had told me there was an uneven mix between the groomsmen and bridesmaids before hand, but it was still a challenge to think of how to arrange everyone. With 8 bridesmaids and just 5 groomsmen, a lot of thought had to go into the poses. I liked how this group shot turned out. With two women on the ends and one groomsmen in the middle, the photo came out pretty balanced.

And of course we had to do a few fun shots with the bridal party. Here they are making a big deal out of the newlyweds kissing. The bridal party was a lot of fun to work with, and I enjoyed the unique challenge of fitting everybody into the frame. Thankfully, wide angle lenses are there to save the day. 

Here's a great moment during the father-daughter dance. What a treat for dad to get to dance with his daughter on her wedding night in front of all the guests! His expression really tells it all, and I love the people in the background watching the dance. This photo had to be in black and white as I think those tones give this photo a classic look... for a classic moment.

I'll finish off this blog post with an action photo taken during the bouquet toss. I really like this photo as it freezes the lady who got the flowers right as she is about to grab them. Shots like this require good timing and good lighting. I had to rely of my Canon camera system to get this shot as I don't have the flash set-up yet for Sony. In the end, I was very happy with the images produced.

I've sent off Shuna and Harold's wedding package. I hope they enjoy it and I'm looking forward to some more weddings coming up soon!