del alma PHOTOGRAPHY

2019: year in review

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My years are kinda strange - I guess because of when I really started taking portraits in earnest. So I measure from March to February. And I had hoped to wrap up last year with a big group portrait of all the models that I worked with in 2018, but honestly it was a lot of people to navigate to the same place at the same time - and then, even once I had more or less managed that impossible feat - it rained that day. Nevertheless, I pressed forward into March 2019 and I’m excited by what I’m discovering so far. Let me share with you.

 
 

MARCH

 
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MAR' 19

03

From a technical standpoint, this is the shoot that convinced me it was finally time to invest in a flash for my camera. From an artistic one, it convinced me I was alright without one. I did eventually get one, because you just never know when natural light isn’t going to cooperate, - but I was so proud of how these images turned out. Skyla wanted to shoot at Warsaw’s local skating rink, the Eastlake Skating Center, and I was really nervous. Not having a flash, I didn’t know if there would be enough light, and it would’ve been so embarrassing if the photos hadn’t turned out. Skyla’s an experienced model and was doing me a favor working for free, so I really didn’t want to risk the pictures sucking. I thought about pushing her off to a different day or a different location, but I decided to swing for the fences. We got there, the lights were up, and I took a deep breath. It was going to be fine. Then, about five minutes into the shoot, they went full cosmic bowling on us. My stomach sank and I started to panic. I was not prepared for this tiny, tiny amount of light. But I pushed through, got creative, and found some genuinely cool natural light sources in the skate center. What resulted was some of the most artistically challenging, interesting, and gratifying work of my career. Click the button to check out more from Skyla’s shoot.

 

MAR’ 19

16

These two are two of my closest friends in the world and I was so happy when their initial photographer ended up not working out and they asked me to step in. I loved getting to spend their big day bouncing back and forth between them, capturing all the parts of their joy. This moment, in particular, is one of my favorites. Skyler is a competitive, Type A, strong personality. At first glance, Crystal’s demeanor would have you believing that she’s a lot more deferential - demure, easy going, maybe even a little shy. But don’t be fooled. There’s quite a fiery spirit in there, and she’s up for just about anything. Crystal’s not one to shrink from adventure, from a challenge, from an immortalized moment of self-deprecating silliness. And that’s why I love this photo: it lets you see the heartbeat of this relationship. Skyler would totally dive face-first into a cupcake, but Crystal will not be outdone. Look at her chomp down on that thing! And then there was a big laugh after, and some genuine enjoyment of super delicious cupcakes. Obviously, there’s a lot more that goes into wedding photography than silly cupcake photos, and that day was filled with touching and tear-inducing memories. But, this one still ranks near the top of all the photos I took that day for me. Click the button to check out the rest.

April

 
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APR' 19

01

I’d give anything to be able to actually tell you about the secret wedding. Maybe one day you’ll get to hear the full story. Suffice it to say, for some complicated family reasons, I got to photograph a small wedding that the couple couldn’t really tell anyone about. It made the ceremony strangely intimate, and I was privileged to be a part of it. If you click the button on this one, nothing will happen, because I can’t show you the photos that I took that day. You’ll have to take my word for it that they were filled with love. If and when that family situation gets sorted out, I’ll update my gallery for sure with all the photos and you can see for yourself. You might also be able to spot me taking a break and smoking a cigar with the bride and groom in one of the photos. I can neither confirm nor deny…

 

APR’ 19

16

My wife teaches at Presby Preschool in downtown Warsaw (my home away from home while I subsist outside my native California - which, I admit, it’s been 11 years and Warsaw feels more like home these days than Cali probably ever will again). It might’ve been a fair bit of nepotism that got me this gig but as long as I do good work, I’m okay with that.

This job was a lesson in professional responsibility for me. I actually did the first shoot (from which this photo is taken) back in March, but my external hard drive where I kept my unedited raw files was corrupted before I got a chance to finish editing them. All of my work up to that point, gone in a flash. So I offered to go back and correct my mistake as best I could by coming in for free to photograph another Parents of Presby meeting. The two meetings ended up being pretty different but maybe that’s for the best. People who see the photos on Presby’s website will now have a fuller picture of what Parents of Presby meetings can entail. In any event, I ended up being able to recover the original shoot’s photos, so they got a 2 for 1 special! Click the button to see them all.

 

APR’ 19

20

Tierra, or Miss T as I’ve come to call her (as she babysits for me from time to time and that’s what my girls call her) is a really talented musician. She’s got a soulfulness that I love in music. On this particular evening at Black Dog Coffee in Logansport, IN, she performed an acoustic, slow, haunting version of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” one of my and my wife’s favorite songs. And I had never realized before then exactly how sad that song is. I appreciated it in a whole new way through her performance, and I’m always grateful to any artist that can make me do that.

Incidentally, this was also the first shoot I ever did where I got to test out my new flash. I didn’t use a ton of the photos I took with it in the end. It tended to wash out the backlighting which was so much fun with its greens and oranges and purples. But I’ll keep practicing. Performance/music photography is a whole different beast than traditional portraiture, but it was a lot of fun to do and I appreciate T for the opportunity. Click the button to see more photos from her shoot.

May

 
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MAY 19

10

Remember the secret wedding back in April? Well - they’re back! Still not fully public, as you’ll notice if you peruse the gallery (there aren’t any photos that feature their faces). But, in my other job, I run a non-profit for couples to learn crucial communication and conflict resolution skills, which is how I know Mark & Kylie (again - not their real names). After they got married, we ran a fundraiser to show them how much people loved their story and wanted to support them, and they generously volunteered to do some photos for it.

It was an interesting challenge as a photographer to find a way to demonstrate emotion and connection and create dynamic images without the benefit of the subjects’ faces. It seems obvious to me now, but I have to confess that I never realized how much I relied on that as a photographer. Luckily, we had great lighting and a beautiful forest to work with, and they’re deeply in love, all of which came together that day for a really fantastic, creative, rewarding shoot. Click the button to check it out!

 

MAY 19

11

I never had anything against prom, per se, but it was never something that held a special fascination for me. I barely went to my own prom. The only reason I did was because my best friend in high school, Ronnie DeGott (shout out, Ronnie!) got asked to the prom by a girl and he was nervous, so he asked me to come to kinda be moral support.

That said, I may be in love with prom photography. This is my second prom shoot and it was so much fun. I don’t like getting dressed up myself (you’ll catch me in jeans and a T-shirt pretty much 365 days a year), but man do I like photographing people dressed to the nines and just looking fierce. Hailey modeled for me back in 2018 and did a great job, so when she asked me to do her prom photos I was stoked to work with her again. But these turned out even better than I could’ve imagined. Click the button to see the full gallery!

June

 
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JUNE 19

11

Shooting with Caroline was a reminder of just how much fun this job can be. We shot on some walking trails near a park, and they tend to be pretty busy in the spring and summer. In fact, if you look at this photo here, you might just be able to make out someone jogging in the background (maroon shorts, sky blue top). By the end of the shoot, we were having fun with the challenge of how to hide people in the background - behind Caroline’s head or behind a tree.

It also turned out that Caroline was the cousin of one of my closest friends and one of my first models, which was also pretty cool. It’s a small, small world we live in.

I’ve actually shot on these trails a few times. Once with Alison, who tragically passed away later the same day we shot these photos, and once with my mom. Part of the joy and part of the challenge of any location is shooting it in ways it hasn’t been shot before - which is especially challenging when you’re the one you’re trying not to replicate. I was essentially trying to see the location with a third pair of eyes, but it yielded some interesting work that I’m proud of. Plus, Caroline did a great job, and that boho top just lights up a photograph. So much fun!

 

JUNE 19

14

I had been excited for this shoot beforehand - but on the day, I was pretty nervous. Because of the setup of the beach location, we could really only shoot in one direction. There was a beautiful lake, which you can see here, in one direction. The other direction was a huge, ugly parking lot. Unfortunately, that meant that Kaitlyn spent most of the morning staring straight into the sun. That was a challenge.

That seems, to me, to be the theme of this year: challenging myself. How do I shoot in really dark environments using only naturally occurring light? How do I create emotional images without the use of faces and expressions? How do I see locations differently? How do I not blow out highlights when my model is STARING INTO THE SUN.

Turns out the last one is a fairly easy solve: you bring a sunhat. You find the shade. You learn on the fly how to expose for the highlights and bring up the shadows later. It was an adventure. But it was good practice and I was excited with the results. Kaitlyn had never modeled before but she nailed this shoot. Her hair was on point, that jump suit is amazing, and you can tell she was having a lot of fun with it. It was a good time!

 

july

 
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JULY 19

19

This is another one of those shoots where I can’t show you the photos yet. I was invited by a local Christian camp, Camp Alexander Mack, to come up and take some photos of the various camps and events that were happening on their grounds while their staff photographer was out. I was only there for a few hours on a Friday morning, but man those kids were having fun and it was a blast. I was really grateful for the opportunity.

For safety & confidentiality reasons, it’s up to Camp Mack (and, more specifically, the parents of their campers) what I can and can’t post at this point. But, if and when I get clearance on some photos, I’ll be sure to throw them up! The rock wall was especially fun. Some of those kids can climb!

 

JULY 19

25

Okay. This shoot. Holy moly. I mean, I knew that Maegan was gorgeous, but I did not know that she could rock a pose like this. She has very little modeling experience (or so she says), but I’m convinced she’s at least practiced a couple of these in the mirror at home. We found all kinds of crazy fun locations, including UNDER A RAILROAD BRIDGE, which was so much weird fun.

As we were wrapping up the shoot, I thought, let’s get a few shots in the middle of this road. Could be fun. Little did I know she was going to best out these America’s Next Top Model moves on me and just bring the fierceness. Make sure you pay extra close attention to the end of the gallery for those pictures. I can’t wait to work with Meagan again! We just laughed it up the whole shoot and it was a blast.