Reagan at 3 months!

Julie and I shot this session Saturday night around 9pm; Reagan was squealing away like an angel and really seemed to be having a good time! The last picture is one that I converted to a charcoal sketch in Photoshop.





More Reagan, Julie and Me

We shot these back on Mother’s Day!
Reagan was oblivious, of course, but daddy took very good care of mommy.
What mom wouldn’t love a gift card for a day at the spa?

I really wanted to shoot some dramatic shots of my two girls. I’m designing a photo book of Reagan’s first few weeks for my Mom’s birthday and these were the last shots I needed to complete the series. This is the same type of book I create for my portrait clients but it’s even more fun when it’s your own!
I decided to keep it simple and just use my 2 Nikon flash units; one through a white diffusion umbrella and the other with a mini-softbox as an accent light. We were amazed at the results; I converted them to b/w using Adobe Lightroom.

Here is Julie and Reagan on the couch lit only by the umbrella from the right and slightly behind. I thought about setting up a reflector to bounce light back from the front but we usually have a very small window of cooperation from the little princess.

Here are two that I really love! This one is the dramatic look I was going for; umbrella about 24 inches away on the left and the other light above and behind on the right. I love the dramatic shadows and you can still see the detail in them.

Right after that shot Reagan got fussy again; we’ve learned to bounce her up and down for about 30 seconds then we have about 10 seconds to get the shot. Julie is sitting on a chair in our dining rooom and I’m shooting from the kitchen; I took this shot when she brought Reagan over for more bouncy-bouncy from daddy (yes, I said bouncy-bouncy.) Julie calls me the “baby whisperer” because, apparently, Reagan likes my bouncing better because she almost always calms down; I never would have envisioned that two years ago! Anyway, the lights were in the same spot and we loved that bright, blown-out background effect; she’s also lit from the front by the kithcen light.

Ten little piggies! I can’t believe I’m actually talking like this; somebody shoot me! 🙂

Finally it’s my turn to be in some shots. Julie is a natural with the camera; she doesn’t quite know how the equipment works yet but she’s got an eye for design and fashion. One day I’ll give her some basic lessons and she’ll probably surpass my skills in a hurry.

These are my favorite shots to date. In fact, the flash units were off and we’re lit only by the dining room lights; I added a little b/w effect in Photoshop and I think we have a winner!



Back to the lighting as before; Julie chose a great moment to capture this one.

Daddy’s little angel!

4th of July party in Oak Creek Canyon

On Saturday Julie, Reagan and I drove up to the canyon to join my guitar player, Al, for a two-band jam in a neighborhood near the top of the canyon. His brother has a cabin in Pine Flats and the neighbors throw a huge party every year. Al’s brother has a band called Young Country and we didn’t really have a name so we went with The Dagwoods. We figured out our set list on the fly and did some classic rock and r&b tunes while they did country and some rock, too. It was the most fun I’ve ever had on a 4th of July. I decided to leave the camera in the car but one of Al’s friends had just bought a Nikon D300 just like mine and didn’t know how to use it. I couldn’t resist and showed her a few cool features like how it shoots so well without flash; I took these just using stage lights. Sure was a lot of blue!




After that I showed her how to “drag the shutter.” It’s a cool trick using the flash with a camera setting called “rear curtain sync.” I set the camera to manual on a 1 full second shutter speed which will make a really blurry image. Then the flash fires just before the shutter closes which lights the subject and “freezes” them so they are sharper among these blurry lines. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t; takes some practice to get the technique right. I forgot to show her double exposures but I’ll show some in the next blog from my Las Vegas job I’m on.




Heaven on Earth!

Once I was done shooting for the PTA convention it was vacation time! We hung around San Diego’s Gaslamp District for most of Tuesday. The next day we drove north to Temecula and wine country; it was awesome! We visited more wineries than we can remember and brought home 7 bottles of reds and whites; I think I’m turning into a wine snob! That wouldn’t be a stretch because I’m already beer snob 🙂

First stop was Hart Winery; their Sauvignon Blanc was fantastic so we brought home a bottle. This is Bandit, their mascot.

I’ve never seen the bottling process before, either.



After visiting a few others we stopped at South Coast Winery and Spa and found they had one room left so we took it. Turned out they upgraded us to a suite but at the discounted rate. Our patio was surrounded by grape vines; it was the most amazing place we’ve ever stayed in.

We brought home 3 bottles of their wine; the Zinfandel was the best I’ve ever had.



Flowers were everywhere and their vineyard was huge. I would give anything to shoot a wedding here.






Busy three months!!!

I’ve finally gotten enough time to back off and breathe a little bit. April, May and June were busier than I could have imagined with weddings, my first bridal expo, portrait sessions, charity photo sessions and corporate events; often for several days in a row. Add all of that to being a new dad and you get a significant lack of sleep! It’s time to catch up the blog so I’m going to try and get several posts up in the next few days.

Julie, Reagan and I just returned from San Diego where I shot for the National PTA again; this is my third year in a row working for them at their national convention and it is one of my favorite event jobs I’ve ever had (last year was St. Louis.) We had a few very well-known speakers this year, too. Carol Channing was hysterical and had everyone rolling on the floor.

Later I was assigned to shoot Dr. Maya Angelou being interviewed by Dr. Sanjay Gupta for CNN’s new broadcast later that morning. After that they both gave very inspiring keynote speeches during the convention.



My favorite part is where the kids perform. PTA has a big contest every year for kids to submit music, dance, literature, art etc and the winners are showcased at the convention. I was totally blown away at the talent these kids have; especially at a young age.



I really love working with this group; their commitment to helping kids is contagious.




The best part was being able to bring Julie and Reagan along!

Next, we’re off to wine country in Temecula for a few days!

More baby photography!

Julie had her first Mother’s Day!
Reagan was oblivious, of course, but daddy took very good care of mommy.
What mom wouldn’t love a gift card for a day at the spa?

Last night, though, I really wanted to shoot some dramatic shots of my two girls. I’m designing a photo book of Reagan’s first few weeks for my Mom’s birthday and these were the last shots I needed to complete the series. This is the same type of book I create for my portrait clients but it’s even more fun when it’s your own!
I decided to keep it simple and just use my 2 Nikon flash units; one through a white diffusion umbrella and the other with a mini-softbox as an accent light. We were amazed at the results; I converted them to b/w using Adobe Lightroom.

Here is Julie and Reagan on the couch lit only by the umbrella from the right and slightly behind. I thought about setting up a reflector to bounce light back from the front but we usually have a very small window of cooperation from the little princess.

Here are two that I really love! This one is the dramatic look I was going for; umbrella about 24 inches away on the left and the other light above and behind on the right. I love the dramatic shadows and you can still see the detail in them.

Right after that shot Reagan got fussy again; we’ve learned to bounce her up and down for about 30 seconds then we have about 10 seconds to get the shot. Julie is sitting on a chair in our dining rooom and I’m shooting from the kitchen; I took this shot when she brought Reagan over for more bouncy-bouncy from daddy (yes, I said bouncy-bouncy.) Julie calls me the “baby whisperer” because, apparently, Reagan likes my bouncing better because she almost always calms down; I never would have envisioned that two years ago! Anyway, the lights were in the same spot and we loved that bright, blown-out background effect; she’s also lit from the front by the kithcen light.

Ten little piggies! I can’t believe I’m actually talking like this; somebody shoot me! 🙂

Finally it’s my turn to be in some shots. Julie is a natural with the camera; she doesn’t quite know how the equipment works yet but she’s got an eye for design and fashion. One day I’ll give her some basic lessons and she’ll probably surpass my skills in a hurry.

These are my favorite shots to date. In fact, the flash units were off and we’re lit only by the dining room lights; I added a little b/w effect in Photoshop and I think we have a winner!



Back to the lighting as before; Julie chose a great moment to capture this one.

Daddy’s little angel!

Trying out the new camera gear in Flagstaff

On Wednesday afternoon I took Rico for a walk around downtown Flag while Julie took a nap with Reagan; I needed sleep, too, but really wanted to play with my new lens. I just bought Nikon’s 70-200mm f 2.8 and was blown away. I played photojournalist and just captured a few shots of daily life around downtown. The lens focused super fast on these people playing hacky sack.



The afternoon lighting was perfect and the lens really captured the detail on this little dachsund, too. Black dogs don’t usually photograph very well but the D300 and new lens really nailed it.

Later, while Julie got ready for dinner I walked around at dusk to see how good the D300 would perform hand-held in low light; I was blown away by these shots of the Monte Vista where we were staying. This lens was the 17-55 f2.8; over the last several months I’ve really seen the value in spending the money on high-end lenses. The difference in image quality as well as shooting options is unbelievable. I’m able to get shots I could never get before.


Just before I met Julie for sushi I waited at the train station for this shot; now I’m using the tripod. I wanted to wait for the Amtrak but it was an hour away and we were hungry!

Cool night shots on the way back to the hotel; all handheld.




First road trip with the little princess!!

After 3 weeks of parenting practice, we decided it was time for a road trip. I was a little overwhelmed with work projects so I put everything on a brief hold and we left for Sedona on Monday. Our first stop was Alcanterra Winery near Cottonwood; their wines are outstanding and we bought a bottle of Viongier.




Julie’s dream is to own a winery one day. From talking to the winemakers, though, the reality is that it is a money pit and you’d better not quit your day job. Later in the summer, though, this winery will be harvesting and they invite (beg) their friends and patrons to come help pick grapes. We’re going to join in the fun; I guess that could be the next best thing to owning a winery. I’ll photograph the whole event, of course.

After we checked in to the condo we went to Oak Creek Brewery for dinner and microbrew or two.

Next day we went to the Javelina Leap winery near Page Springs. Very cute tasting room and I really liked their red Zinfandel so I bought a bottle.





On to Flagstaff; Sedona got boring pretty fast. Everything shuts down around 9pm; Flagstaff has a lot more action and even cooler climate. We stayed at the historic Monte Vista downtown; pet friendly for Rico!


I have another new lens for my camera so I’m going to walk around downtown while my girls take a much-needed nap. More pics to come!

Introducing Reagan Elizabeth Bonham!!!

Well, here she is! I had no idea how incredible it is to be a dad; I certainly waited long enough. If anyone had told me a little over a year ago that I’d wind up getting married AND having a baby I would have laughed. However, after dating Julie for only a couple of months those big decisions came easier than I could have imagined! Funny how one’s perspective can change in such a short period of time. Anyway, Reagan was born on Monday, April 14, at 10:40pm in Banner Desert Hospital in Mesa. Mom and baby are doing just fine; dad has learned to change diapers and take over ALL household chores. These are pictures, in no particular order, of her first week starting at 1 minute after her birth.

She looked a little confused when she first came into the world.

First bath at home


Laughing it up in the hospital

Sleeping like a, well, you know….

Rico contemplates life with his new little sister

WOW!!! Fatherhood rocks!

Motherhood too, of course

Window light is perfect for portraits!

Graduating Senior portrait session

On Tuesday I met Linsey and her dad for her senior session; she was a little nervious in front of the camera at first but warmed up quickly. I find that I like to do the generic shots first before getting to the creative stuff; that gets the subject used to being photographed and they loosen up a little. I rarely use the initial shots but they are a great warm-up. Playing music they like helps a lot, too…John Mayer is almost always a good choice! I’m learning some of his songs for my music gigs.



I have been studying a lot lately to learn more about lighting and portrait techniques and it really paid off today. I almost always try to work with natural light first and then add flash only if needed. Most of these were shot with only sunlight and a reflector.


This was the last shot of the session and I love how it turned out. I suggested that she bring along something unique to her to use as a prop. As it turns out, she loves to work with stained glass. I had her dad hold the piece behind her and I zoomed in tight; I put the sun behind her and held the reflector with one hand while shooting with my right…a little awkward but, hey, whatever it takes to get the shot!

Danielle and Michael’s Wedding Day

This was the most fun I’ve ever had shooting a wedding; I also provided DJ services and had an assistant handle music during the times I was shooting important parts. The wireless lapel mic comes in very handy when I’m announcing their grand entrance AND shooting it at the same time. They got married on Feb. 29; does that mean they only have an anniversary every 4 years?









New Camera!!!

I picked the new Nikon D300 yesterday and brought it along for some test shots on our hike through Papago park. I LOVE what I’m seeing so far; one of its great features is the ability to produce sharp, vivid images in low light situations without looking grainy or noisy. I shot all of these through my 80-400 lens at 6400 ISO around 5:30 on an overcast day and the picture quality is incredible; no noise anywhere! I have 9 weddings coming up and can’t wait to bring it along with my D200. Wait until you see the sunset below!



The overcast day would up creating an amazing sunset; when I was shooting slide film I didn’t think digital would ever equal the color saturation that the film gave me. That is no longer the case. These images are unedited; exactly as the camera captured them. I think I shot these at ISO 400 or 800. Wow!