Happy New (blue) Year

Politics have always played into my conceptualizing, but never as much as in 2017.  I personally have not been heavily affected by the current social and political situations, I just think the amount of information that all of us are surrounded by is influenced by politics and social reform.

The Happy Blue Year concept was born with the idea of changing the word  “new” to “blue” and making a punny title "Happy Blue Year".  To me, the idea of blue had two different meanings.  First, to describe the sadness which was felt by many people in 2017, and second, to signify the hope that the “blue party” would be fighting back in 2018.  The model had to be a young professional woman standing strong in her beliefs and her desire for social change.  But I also went with a bright and fun style and lighting setup to reflect my wish that the next year be strong, inspired and jubilant.  Wishing you all a Happy 2018!

Model: Jen Nelson
Mair & Makeup: Katie Kihara

Where the Air is Sweet

This was one of those jobs that you really try to get to be part of, not for money or notoriety, but so you can be the coolest dad on the street.  I got to take my 2 year old son to the Sesame Street Live show and photograph him meeting all of his favorite monsters.  I still don't know who was happier, him or I.

Super Humans of Marvel Live

Earlier this summer I traveled to New Orleans to continue photographing unique content for the new Marvel Universe Live show.  The routines and acrobatics of the performers in the show are simply amazing. On the last day of the shoot, we needed some portraits to capture the strength and talent of the athletes in the show.  I didn’t have much time and needed to utilize what was on hand from earlier shoots. Knowing that I would need to shoot wider to capture the movement of the performers I decided to create a very large set. I hung a couple 12’x12’ solid backgrounds, put up 4 Profoto monolights with grid spots and gels and created essentially a 50’x50 background to work with.  Placing key light’s on the sides with a couple large softboxes and a fill from the front with a giant shiny parabolic and this is what was created. You can see more from this series here. If you’re a Marvel fan or just someone who enjoys live entertainment, I would recommend seeing if the tour comes near you.

The Great American Eclipse

24 hours before the event, I was still undecided whether the long drive there and even longer drive back to see the totality was feasible.  I decided to leave it to faith in a coin toss, and the eclipse won.  I quickly packed my camera bag, grabbed some camping equipment and put all of it and Buksnort in the truck.  I picked up a couple friends and set out on the 6.5hr drive to the Umatilla National Forest in Eastern Oregon.  We arrived late Sunday night, drove a couple miles back into the forest and found a clearing with lumpy ground below and the Milky Way above.  When we awoke in the morning, the sky was clear, and the location was perfect. We made coffee, packed up camp and waited in wonder. Then totality happened, and is was a truly ineffable experience, something I left needing to experience again.  Guess I’ll be heading to Texas in 2024.  

The Last Frontier

A few weeks ago I noticed that I still had a $200 travel voucher that was expiring soon and decided to use it and check off my 50th state. I packed up the family and we flew north for a weekend in Girdwood, Alaska.  The ruggedness of Alaska stood out to me immediately, the size and vastness was breathtaking.  This trip was supposed to be a relaxing getaway, in fact, I only brought one camera and a couple lenses with me.  But with 16 hours of daylight and so much to see, I left the weekend feeling like I needed a vacation from the vacation.  Here are a few of the photos I wasn’t planning on taking.

The very very Northwest

I unplugged with some family on the Olympic Peninsula last week at a picturesque resort.  The Kalaloch Lodge is a collection of little cabins situated on a bluff over the ocean. Each cabin contains a wood stove for heat and electricity to run the lights & refrigerator but, no TV's, no wifi, and almost no cell service. The beach in the evening was something straight out of a Hollywood film.  The dense fog made the world feel as though I was in a frame of tungsten film.  The smoke and fires on the beach looked as though the set was lit with CTO gels and fog machines.  With the ever changing weather, peaceful tides and active wildlife, it’s safe to say I look forward to a return trip.

Pineapple Moguls Daughter

When I was in Hawaii back in February, I was taking photos primarily for stock, and for demonstration in the stock photography course. One of the less productive activities was a visit to the Dole Pineapple plantation.  Granted, it was trip for my one year old to ride a train, but I did feel rather defeated in accomplishing any stock photos at the location. While looking back the photos I did discover a couple pretty good backgrounds that I could use to make a successful photo.  I made up a story of about the pineapple moguls daughter coming back home for a visit and turned it into a photoshoot.  I found the perfect model to play the role of “pineapple moguls daughter” and photographed her in my studio, mimicking the sunshine from the day and incorporating Dole pineapples and this is what I turned the plantation visit into:

Model: Marissa McBride
Hair & Makeup: Kristina Grohs

Ready to Pop

While being inspired in Palm Springs, I sketched out a few photo shoots I wanted to complete this summer.  One of them was a character portrait of a very pregnant friend. The idea was to illustrate the old saying “ready to pop”  and I had a few different ideas on how I wanted to do this.  Once the friend was on board to participate,I chose an all red set and the concept of using popcorn to illustrate the idea.  While prepping the shoot, I noticed a friend's pregnant wife on his instagram and thought, why not use the other idea i sketched out, bubbles!  Never thought I’d  have two maternity shoots in my portfolio, but I love them both.

Hair and Make up by: Kristina Grohs

Palm Springs

One of the things I miss about living in NYC is the photo community, I was always around other photographers, editors, and creatives.  Having someone look at your work and inspire you was easy, it was just a part of life in the city.  Since I’ve been away from it for a little while I decided to attend the Palm Springs Photo Festival.  A fellow photographer and best friend had been attending the festival for a few years and thought it would be worthwhile for me to attend.  She was attending again this year so we decided to rent a house for a week and bring both our families down for a little work, play and lot of inspiration. Thanks PSPF, I’ll be back again.


As you know from the last couple post, I was preparing to teach a course on stock photography.  Well that course happened, It took a month of planning and it was over in a day, pretty much like any of my photoshoots.  The week before the course I did an in the field shoot at Carkeek Park in Seattle that was recorded and included in the course.  It was fun to be out early in the morning taking some pictures and sharing what I was doing and thinking. Below are a few of my favs from the preshoot.  All in all it was a great experience, I enjoyed sharing my knowledge and hope to do it again sometime. Check out CreativeLive and my course if you’re interested in learning more about how to incorporate stock into your workflow!  


In what has kind of become a tradition, I spent a winter/spring week in Hawaii. For 3 of the last 4 years there has always been a reason to venture to the islands.  This year there were several reasons.  I needed to get some stock photos for the class I am teaching in a month, so I brought a friend/model with me...I also needed some sun with my family.  We went to Oahu to visit friends who have a 2 year old so we could meet her and introduce her to our 1 year old. My son fell in love with her and more importantly, I was able to grab some incredible shots while hiking, beaching and enjoying island time.

Red Rock

My wife had a conference in Las Vegas so we decided to pack up the kid and the nanny and make it a trip.  I will be teaching a course on stock photography in April and needed to get some new photos for the class.  It worked out great, I took the nanny and the kiddo, both great models, to red rock for the day and got the images I needed.  On top of getting some great photos, with the nanny,  my wife and I were able to get a night out and enjoy a show.


For my birthday, I travelled up to Whistler with my family and some close friends to spend a few days riding.  As usual, everything was so much fun, but the real highlight this year was getting to watch my 16 month old shred it up on his christmas gift.  Burton makes a snowboard for toddler, and just had to.  He liked it, but I think mom and dad liked it even more.


I spent a cool Saturday morning photographing some seriously tough ladies at Crossfit Phinney Ridge.  Lately I’ve been challenging myself to get out and do some shoots that are outside my norm.  I’m most comfortable in the studio or in a remote landscape by myself, so walking into a crossfit gym with no lights and no real plan was a challenge.  I got some fun shots, had a great time and left feeling like a real wimp.

2017 is a new beginning

For my birthday, I travelled up to Whistler with my family and close friends to spend a few days riding.  As usual, everything was fun, but the real highlight this year was getting to watch my 16 month old shred it up on his Christmas gift.  Burton makes a snowboard for toddler, and I knew I had to try to get him on it.  He liked it, but I think mom and dad enjoyed it even more.