Indigo Buntings, Yellow Warblers, and Tulip Flowers categories: personal

The first time Brooke got a tattoo, she wasn’t nervous at all. I’d say she was more excited than anything. For her latest tattoo, the emotions were quite different. As we drove down Lorain Road, I could see her shifting in her seat. We were almost there and her nerves were building a bit. I’m sure the nervousness was from a combination of factors. The memory of her first tattoo must have still been fresh. Plus, the scale of the new tattoo was much, much larger.

We arrived at Tattoo Faction just in time for her appointment. Another minute and we’d have been late. Dave Wulff was there waiting and ready to go. Brooke and Dave discussed the concept for the tattoo while I stood listening. Many of you may know that my wife is a professional biologist and avid environmentalist. Like her honey bee tattoo, Brooke’s plans for her new tattoo involved fauna, but also flora. She wanted indigo buntings, yellow warblers and tulip flowers. Dave listened closely, and then said “Have a seat and I’ll sketch this out.” A few minutes later he returned with a drawing. “Perfect,” Brooke said with no hesitation. Just like her vision, the drawing was realistic, also like an Audubon print.

Below are some highlights of Brooke getting the outlines completed. Unfortunately I won’t be present for the shading or the color, as I have to work elsewhere. After seeing just this small part, I can say one thing – Brooke is tough. Really tough! She took the hold thing in stride and did an amazing job. Truth be told, I’m not surprised one bit. For a long time I’ve known that my wife is made of the hardest metal. Also worth noting is that Dave did an amazing job. Brooke searched for years to locate the perfect artist, and Dave has certainly proven worthy. We wish he was staying local, but he’s headed across country soon for awesome new adventures.

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Personally, I love the look of tattoo shops. They are like graphic dreams. Every inch is covered with detailed artwork, and Tattoo Faction is no different. I especially like the Durado fish mounted on the wall, the “Drunkenness Prohibited” sign, and the large tiger head gate guarding the back room. For the technical minded, the above was all shot on a Contax 645 with Kodak Portra 800 film. Enjoy!

Sailing the British Virgin Islands on Film categories: personal

Let’s not kid ourselves – being a wedding photographer and small business owner is hard work. Every working day is a hustle. And my working days are different than most. I work nearly 7 days a week, every week. During the wedding season, it gets especially crazy. For this reason, and many others, I’m thankful for the little family time I can squirrel away. Recently, I had the chance to take a short, family vacation. I’m eternally grateful for time with my family, especially when we vacation together.

Like last year’s trip to Grenada, again we went sailing together. For this vacation we returned once more to the British Virgin Islands. I grew up sailing, thanks to my father, as we had a very small boat on Lake Erie. Most people avoid the lake in bad weather, but we reveled in it. We’d hear a small craft warning on the radio, and rush up to the lake just to catch some time together as a squall passed by. When I was growing up, we also visited BVI a couple times. Once when I was four, and again when I was about 15.

This trip to the islands could not have been better. We departed Cleveland in rather cold weather and arrived in San Juan to meet the rest of my family. After a “roadie” beer, we jumped the next plane to Tortola, British Virgin Islands. Then came customs and immigration, which followed the typical experience in the Caribbean – a general sense of malaise mixed with an unnecessary expectation of formality. Thankfully immigration passed smoothly and quickly.

We spent a couple days on shore at first. We provisioned the boat and swam with dolphins in Road Town. Then we boarded the Whiskey Chaser and set sail. To say the boat was aptly named would be an understatement.

First up was a shore layover at The Baths near Spanish Town on Virgin Gorda. We took a two-day stop at the Bitter End Yacht Club in North Sound. The time spent at the Bitter End was needed for some extra beach time and recuperation. We then set sail, passing The Dogs during a sudden squall, and arrived at Marina Cay safe and sound. Visiting Marina Cay was special for me. I remember the cay clearly from a previous trip. It’s a tiny place, located in a channel between Beef Island, Scrub Island and Monkey Point. The cay features only a bar, but it’s a great place for a Pusser’s Painkiller. However, it is also surrounded by an amazing shallow reef, perfect for snorkeling.

After a couple hours at Marina Cay, we next headed for Cane Garden Bay on the north shore of Tortola. As we arrived, we were greeted with the most amazing sunset. Another beach day came and went, surrounded by beach-going tourists from a visiting Carnival Cruise. We even ran into Bernie from “Weekend at Bernie’s”, or at least we thought so. Our sail between Tortola and St. John was very active, as we tacked every few minutes to stay off the shores. We eventually arrived at Peter Island and quickly located a gorgeous, private beach. We swam with green sea turtles, saw and barracuda and spent time relaxing in the surf. And there ends this year’s adventure.

I’m back now, rested and ready for the crazy new year, and already dreaming of our next journey together. Who needs a cruise or an all-inclusive resort. Go find an adventure!

Travel photography in the British Virgin Islands while sailing

Our flight into Puerto Rico above. Jumping a tiny plane below.

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Rosie the Lesser Blue Heron above, with a tender wing from a recent break.

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Overlooking Cane Garden Bay, which we would visit later in the trip.

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Above and below – the Bomba Shack. It’s only open on the full moon. Apparently, they serve a “special” kind of tea. Not for the faint of heart!

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The two Brooke’s and our appropriately named boat – the Whiskey Chaser. If you know me at all, then you understand my predilection for whiskey.

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The Baths on Virgin Gorda above and below.

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Thank goodness my film camera has a self-timer. Also, thankfully there was a rock nearby.

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I can’t believe this wonderful, beautiful, smart woman married me. So, so lucky!

Travel photography in the British Virgin Islands while sailing

The Bitter End Yacht Club above and below. By some miracle, I’ve been visiting the Bitter End since nearly it’s inception.

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Passing The Dogs during a squall above. Marina Cay, which is 90% bar, below.

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Bartender! I will have another Painkiller, please.

Travel photography in the British Virgin Islands while sailing

Sunset at Cane Garden bay, Tortola.

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Brooke and I, this time captured by my brother. Below – one last leisurely float before heading home. Yes, that is a safety line tied to the boat.

Travel photography in the British Virgin Islands while sailing

There are a million other stories I could tell about this vacation. The one about the purple fist of justice, a dancing Bernie, roadie beers, or the one about hairy men. I think I will save those memories for my family. That’s what makes family time special – the memories we make together.

Los Angeles on Film categories: for photographers, personal

Recently I had a chance to visit California once more. Specifically, Los Angeles and Malibu for a wedding photography workshop. Caroline Tran’s Propel workshop was simply amazing. In fact, you can see some of my work from Propel here and featured on 100 Layer Cake. Today, I thought I would share some travel photography from the trip.

Everything is shot on film. In fact, I don’t even know why I brought my digital equipment. It largely just stayed in the bag. I was really thankful to have the opportunity to visit some places that have been on my list for a long time. Griffith Observatory, Venice Beach, LACMA, Richard Photo Lab and Cypress Albums. I even got a chance to see my own work being produced by my favorite vendor-partners. Taking a coupe extra days to extend my trip was certainly worth while. I did miss the Getty Museum, but I have seen it once before.

There is not much else to add, so please enjoy just a few highlights below -

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That last one of me was just for fun, or to finish off a roll of film. I think it’s one of the few self-portraits that I have. Definitely stop back soon. I have more work on deck from the Propel workshop, California, the British Virgin Islands and some new client work coming soon.

PS – Those two little blue dresses above are from the movie The Shining. I happened to catch a Stanley Kubrick exhibit at LACMA, which was awesome!