Holiday Gift Ideas

Holiday gift shopping can be challenging, especially if you wait until the last minute. I’ve gotten better at making my purchases earlier in the year, but I still struggle to find unique gift ideas. The hardest are the White Elephant or Secret Santa Gifts. Most often gift cards work really well. Who doesn’t love an Amazon Gift Card, right? However, there is something gratifying when you can find that perfectly gift for someone that will make them laugh or smile. Here, I’ve listed some gift ideas that might elicit a chuckle. Everything I’ve listed below is available for $25 or less.   1.) Wine Tumblers by Tru Blue Steel I know a lot of people who like to enjoy their wine with their significant other or friends. While the Yeti brand can be a bit pricey, there are many other brands that offer the same features for a fraction of the price. These Tru Blue Steel tumblers are BPA free and dishwasher safe. Plus, they run just over $20, so they won’t break the bank.   2.) Lets Get Galactic Art For several months, I’ve been following Holoreader on Instagram. Holoreader is an Instagram account that belongs to Cassie Lola, […]

Picking Out The Right Camera

Sometimes people have asked me for camera recommendations. It’s usually people who are fairly new to photography, and they want to purchase their first DSLR camera. The technology has improved so much over the past decade that you can’t really go wrong with any of the top camera brands you see on the market these days. So when people ask me what camera I suggest, I ask them what are they looking for in a camera. When you figure out what you want in a camera, it helps narrow the field.   Here are some examples of things to think about when looking at cameras: Weight/Size: I know a lot of photographers have recently switched to mirrorless cameras because they are smaller and lighter weight, which puts less wear and tear on their neck and shoulders. Type of Photography: Some people don’t know what they want to shoot, or maybe they’re interested in learning many different types of photography. When I first started, I really enjoyed concert photography, so identifying a camera that performed well in low light venues was important to me. Budget: Obviously this factor will have a lot to do with influencing your decision. You don’t have […]

The Importance of Tattoo Placement

Meet Angela Angela Jordan is a personal trainer and owner of Camp AJ Athletic Conditioning. When I interviewed Angela for my book, she emphasized the importance of tattoo placement. The body is the canvas and tattoos are art, so where it goes on the body is very important. She explained that a tattoo can make the body look better or worse. For example, a poorly placed tattoo on the thigh can actually make the leg look bigger, whereas certain shapes of tattoos can make the body look leaner.   At the time of the interview, Angela didn’t have nearly as much ink. As a trainer, she felt it was important that people could see her physique. Several months ago, when I saw that Angela had added a glorious lion neck tattoo to her collection of body art, I decided to reach out to her. Even now, it’s rare to see neck tattoos. She first seriously considered getting a neck tattoo when she saw a photo of herself with a large necklace that covered most of her neck. She liked the look and quickly decided to take the plunge. While she has received reactions from people, Angela says that there hasn’t […]

Working with natural light

    When I first started doing photography, I did a lot of photo shoots using just natural light. It was nice to focus on composition and getting familiar with the camera, without having to deal with a lighting kit. I feel that if you try to focus on too many things, it can feel overwhelming. Now that I’ve been doing photography for a while, I’m much more adept and comfortable incorporating studio lights.   Before you plan your photo shoot, there are some factors that you should keep in mind.   Time of Day The mornings or late afternoons tend to offer the most flattering light. The sunlight is not as intense and it’s not directly overhead, creating distracting shadows on your model’s face. I have done shoots in the middle of the day, and you can make it work. The most important thing is to be aware of the shadows. Shadows can create a cool effect. Just be patient with yourself and get creative. The second photo is from a shoot I did at a junkyard. It was the middle of the day, and I was really struggling with the shadows. Eventually I made it work, but I […]

Zach, US Navy: Tattoo Interview

In the past decade, tattoos haven’t just artistically evolved, but they have become so popular that many industries have changed their policies regarding body art. The military is no exception. In honor of Veteran’s day, I’m posting a portrait from my book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits. Zach got his tattoo in honor of his time in the Navy as well as his love for the sea. The tattoo on his chest is the Greek God of the Sea, Poseidon. Zach also enjoys snorkeling and spear fishing.   I’m always grateful to have the opportunity to speak with soldiers and veterans. I know that as a civilian much of what veterans experience is outside of my paradigm. Nevertheless, I think it’s important for me as well as everyone else to be a good listener and honor what they have done for this country. Thank you for your service, veterans!

Gatekeepers Talk About Tattoos

The Gatekeepers is a neutral motorcycle club of professional and retired fire fighters who frequently host fundraising events. Five of their members were kind enough to come down to my studio to talk about their non-profit organization and how tattoos have evolved in the fire department.┬áToday it’s so common to see fire fighters with tattoos, but there was a time when tattoos in the fire department were not as accepted as they are today.   “There was one point in the fire department you couldn’t have any. If they showed, you had to cover them,” says Rob. “Now it’s a matter of what it is. If it’s offensive to anybody, you have to cover it.”   When I interviewed each member, I was amazed at the different styles of tattoos and how varied the stories were. While all of them had a Gatekeeper emblem tattoo, each of them had ink honoring what was important to them. For example, Bill (red shirt) got tattoos celebrating his family’s Scottish heritage. Pappy (far left) explained that the Celtic Crosses on the inside of his forearms were to remind him of his own inner strength when times got tough.   My interview with the […]

Packing Tips for Photographers

Travel Photography First of all, I want to state that this blog is more for the person who enjoys photography and wants to take full advantage of their traveling opportunities. Professional photographers already know what they want to bring and why. However, on that same note, I’m a photojournalist and when I started traveling more, I used to pack everything but “the kitchen sink” (so to speak). This is why I’m writing this post.   In 2018, I traveled to Spain and Portugal to perform with the Oregon Arts Orchestra. I was excited and nervous. I had only been playing the cello for about four years, which is little compared to all the other talented and experienced professional musicians. As I was getting ready for the trip, I decided that this would be a great opportunity for me to get incredible photos. I couldn’t pack every single lens and accessory, but I sure did cram as much as I could. My backpack was so heavy that I had to see a chiropractor after I got back from the trip. And do you know what the real kicker is? My Sony camera never left the bag. Not once. I ended up […]

The Enchanted Pumpkin Garden

A couple of years ago I read an article about the talented and world renowned sculptor, Ray Villafane. In 2016, he transformed 24 tons of sand into a realistic sculpture of an elephant playing a game of chess with a mouse.   Villafane’s work is ephemeral, which means that his sculptures don’t last for a very long time. The elephant sculpture exhibit lasted for six months. I was intrigued by the idea of someone creating art that would only be temporary. I thought about all the hours that must have gone into the sculpture, only to eventually be eroded by Mother Nature. At the time, I was working on Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits. When I saw that Villafane had tattoos, I decided to reach out to him for an interview.   Villafane explained that most art is essentially ephemeral. For example, tattoo artists create art that leaves the studio once they’re done tattooing their client. The tattoo may be permanent, but for the tattooist they will probably never see that piece again.   If you’re interested in checking out Villafane’s amazing sculpture’s, The Town of Carefree is hosting it’s annual Enchanted Pumpkin Garden from October 18 – 27. […]

Tattle Tales: Making the Book

Considering the fact that Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits was first photography book, I definitely went through a learning curve. Looking back on the process, there are things that I wouldn’t do and other things that I would do again. Creating a sample book was one of the best decisions I made. I feel with most things in life it’s a good idea to really know and understand what you want, but remain flexible and open to other people’s opinions. For my sample book, I used Mixbook because it’s fairly easy to use and they frequently have sales, which makes it more affordable. There are many websites that allow people to create photo books. I just happened to hear about Mixbook, and I felt pretty happy with their quality and customer service.   My book was pretty easy to organize because each spread was about one or two people. However, I wanted to make sure that my layout wasn’t too text heavy or stylistically repetitive. Initially, I wasn’t worried about the page order. If you try to make all the decisions at once, you’ll feel overwhelmed. I created the page spreads first. Afterwards, I took a few days away […]

Coast Guard Eases Up on Tattoos

Sometimes we hear things that we don’t expect. I was getting ready for bed when I heard on the news that the Coast Guard was easing up on their tattoo policy. Last Thursday the Coast Guard announced less stringent tattoo regulations so that more candidates could apply for employment. For example, chest tattoos are now allowed, as long as they don’t show above the collar. Additionally, hand tattoos are accepted, but with certain restrictions.   Over the last couple of years, different military branches have also adopted less strict tattoo regulations. Those who are old enough to remember what it was like when tattoos weren’t popular can appreciate the significance of this evolution. Because tattoos are common, it’s easy to assume that ink is unconditionally accepted. It’s hard to say whether tattoos are more accepted or tolerated, and there is a difference between the two. After interviewing so many people with tattoos, I came to the conclusion that tattoos are more accepted and tolerated and it really depends on the environment. As one person explained to me, “it’s following the culture of the customer service.”   Maybe twenty or thirty years from now people will be so used to seeing […]