The Birth Of The Prince
Today marks the 22nd birthday of my only son. Wow! Just wow!
To all the new parents out there, please be sure to spend as much time as you possibly can with your little ones because, before you know it, they’ll be all grown up in what seems like a matter of moments.
I’ll admit, although I love that my children are grown and mostly independent, sometimes I wish they were babies again just so I can hold them….I would love to just watch their development all over again. It has been the greatest joy and the most fulfilling time of my entire life.
But, today is all about my Junior.
Son, I love you, and I thank God for you. You will always be my baby, but now you are a man. It’s time to tap into the greatness that the Most High has waiting for you and level up! I pray that you become a far greater man than I could ever be. I look forward to your ascension, and In shaa Allah (God willing) I hope to someday pass the crown to you as you grow from a Prince to a King!
I love you my Son!!! Happy Birthday to you. ❤️
This Is Love…
Love is not just for couples, love is for everyone!!! We all need love. We all need to show each other love frequently, especially those that are closest to us.
In honor of love, I present these 2 best friends being a beautiful illustration of what love truly means, even at an early age. We can all learn from their example and make a conscious effort to spread more love in this divided world. ❤
Recently I’ve noticed how much depression had started to affect my work over the past few years, and it’s been a real eye opener. Not creating with the same level of care and passion, thereby reducing the overall quality of my images has been an extremely disappointing discovery. I was literally making photos, doing very little post production, then posting to my social media accounts. I was totally frustrated, burnt out, and I just couldn’t make myself care like I use to. It was honestly a dreadful time in my life. Looking back, my work really suffered because of my attitude.
I’m happy to say that I’m rectifying my mistakes and I’m officially back on track. I can’t tell you how good it feels to thoroughly care again. To find myself again. To do the hard work to achieve the results I want. To be back on point and creating my way. Reviewing my work from the past 6 years makes me want to completely re-edit almost every single photo I’ve made. But I’m going to be realistic and selective with the images I choose to reimagine moving forward. As long as the end result makes me happy, I’m good.
If you’re suffering internally as I was, I highly suggest that you make the time to do whatever it takes to bring yourself back to a state of normalcy. Trust me, the difference will be shocking! But it’s definitely worth the effort to reinvigorate your life as well as your creative energy.
The first photo is the original that I posted back in 2021 when I initially created it. The second photo is my most recent edit, which I feel represents her skin, the overall scene, and my work far more accurately! When comparing the two photos side by side I was very emotional. I couldn’t believe just how far I had slipped away. Regaining my mojo makes me truly thankful that I’m back on the road to recovery.
A Night Of Fun
Happy New Year!
Know you, a large portion of photography historically focuses on human suffering and atrocities. One aspect of being a photographer is documenting all sides of life, the good the bad, and the ugly. Throughout my career I’ve photographed a variety of situations, including those that aren’t pretty or positive. But these days I tend to move away from negative imagery. Even if I feel compelled to photograph something that could be considered negative, I often choose not to share those images for public consumption.
Having suffered a number of tragedies in my personal life, I’m at a stage where I feel I just want to immerse myself in positive energy only. So I love to photograph candid moments of people just being themselves. I love to see people enjoying themselves, going about their daily lives. My favorite subjects to photograph are those that depict joy. And I know happiness in “serious” photography still seems to be frowned upon, but it’s what I like to see, and more importantly, it’s what makes me feel good inside.
With that out of the way, here are some photos I made at one of my favorite places to hang out and people watch. Here you’ll notice ordinary moments of humor, fun, and details you might otherwise miss.
Moving forward I will continue to photograph any and everything that sparks my interests, but I will consistently share work that promotes positivity. I hope in some small way I inspire you to do the same. There’s NOTHING wrong with being happy. And it’s certainly nothing wrong with photographing people who AREN’T suffering. Believe me, choosing joy will help lift your spirits as well as add some much needed variety to your portfolio. If enough people adapt this mindset maybe we’ll finally start to make some positive changes in the photography community.
Peace and blessings!
Santa’s New Sleigh
As this year comes to a close I thought I’d share one more favorite from 2022.
Shoutout to the city, coordinator’s, and all of the participants who showed up, despite the bad weather, to put on a really fantastic parade.
This photo of Santa arriving on his new sleigh served as the climax to this years Electric Light Parade. I love this photo because, of all the different elements involved. From the lights, to the colors, to the visible raindrops falling from the night sky. This photo is also the conclusion of a beautiful night full of fun and excitement.
More importantly though, it’s the conclusion of another year full of photo making for me. This is my last big photographic event of 2022, and it was also one of the most fun! God willing, I hope 2023 can provide as many wonderful photogenic moments as this year did.
To you and yours, Happy Holidays & Happy New Year!
Peace and Blessing to you all.
A Lowrider Christmas
This year’s 35th annual Electric Light Parade was cold, dark, windy, and very rainy. But you know something? I loved every second of it!
The winter months in the desert are the very best to me. It’s the only time the weather reminds me of my home in the Midwest. It’s also the only time we get a break from the intense heat, so I absolutely love being outdoors during this time of year.
This was my first time attending the Light Parade, but I had so much fun. Seeing all the people out despite the weather was really refreshing. I honestly thought that maybe they would cancel the parade due to the poor weather conditions, but to my surprise the event went on without any issues.
The photos I’m sharing represent the highlight of the entire evening for me, the lowriders. I love that the city embraces this part of their culture, allowing lowriders to participate. I love lowriders and I’ve been anxious to finally photograph some. I only wish there would’ve been more in the lineup. I look forward to meeting some of the owners of these beautiful and unique vehicles, so that I may do more in depth photo work with them.
For now, here are a few of my favorite images. Enjoy!
Photo Of The Year
Although the year is not quite over, I’ve chosen my favorite photo from this year.
2022 has been a great year for me in terms of creating. I have a ton of beautiful images that I can choose from at any given moment. But this particular image stands out in my mind as one of the most beautiful and meaningful that I’ve made this year. This photo of my daughter is proof that not every image we create needs to have a complex backstory to be important.
So, the story of this photo is extremely simple and straight forward. My daughter was trying on her new scarves. As she was coming down the stairs, I was on my way up the stairs. I saw how the light was hitting her face, so I asked her to stand there while I go grab my camera. I came back within a second or two and made the photo. I made a few frames just for the sake of variety, but ultimately this is the one that really spoke to me. That’s it. Easy right?
As you can see, sometimes the most simple, unassuming, moments can make for some of our greatest, or, most favorite work.
Don’t be afraid of “regular” moments. Often times they are overlooked, but totally beautiful. As long as you have a camera to record what you see, you will always be able to create something special.
State Fair Favorites
Last but not least, here are 4 of my favorite photos from the State Fair. I love these particular images because, of their combination of colorfulness, humor, and timing.
Until next time, enjoy!
State Fair Continued
I’d like to share some more images from my time at this years State Fair. This collections focuses on the people, the expressions and the animals. Enjoy!
State Fair 2022
Fall is my favorite time of the year, and each year I look forward to attending the State Fair.
I love the sights, the sounds, the smells. All of the different people interacting, having fun. The lights, the rides, the colors. It’s really a beautiful experience. It’s also a literal playground for photographers.
With that being said, I’d like to share a few moments from my trip to this year’s fair.
Happy Halloween everyone!
Just thought I’d share a few fun images of one of my favorite horror movie icons, Jason Voorhees. I hope that everyone has a very safe and fun time!
The Return Of Autumn
It’s no secret that fall is my favorite season, but now this time of year has taken on a whole new meaning.
Living in the desert for the past 4 years has made me both miss and appreciate the fall even more. Living in an area that doesn’t reflect any of the wonderful characteristics of the season makes me reminisce on a time when the beauty of fall was just outside my door.
With that being said, I’d like to share a few of my favorite fall memories, in hopes of creating more someday soon.
World Photography Day
Happy World Photography Day!
In honor of World Photography Day I wanted to share a few of my favorites. I started my career as a film photographer over 20 years ago, so I’m very happy with the resurgence of film photography. I took a few lo-res scans from some years back and decided to jazz them up to post on my social media accounts.
If you’re a photographer, how are you celebrating today? Will you be out in the field? Will you spend the day editing or working on a project? Or will you spend the day relaxing?
However you decide to spend today, I hope that you can reflect on your love for photography and have a great day!
I love photographing nature! The desert is a totally interesting place, with a unique and beautiful array of plants, flowers, and wildlife. I try to get out to experience as much of the desert landscape as I possibly can. Of course the summer and fall months can be a huge challenge because of the intense weather conditions. But once the winter months roll in the desert becomes a vast, exciting, photographic feast. There is also plenty of danger around every corner that you must be cautious of as well. I was once told by a local when I moved out here that, “everything in the desert is out to kill you!” I’m definitely careful whenever I venture out into the unknown.
Below are a few of my favorite photos from my most recent outing. As soon as it cools off outside I plan on taking many more trips to discover all of the new and fascinating hidden gems this expansive environment has to offer. Enjoy!
Sundown In Nevada
“Sunsets are nature’s paintings across the sky“
-Robert N. Jones
My Goddaughter Sunni is a real character. She’s constantly making a variety of faces that, when viewed in pictures would lead you to believe she’s truly upset. Quite the opposite is true!
Take this set of photos for instance. She asked to be placed in the tree, but once she was in the tree she decided she wanted me to join her. When I explained that I couldn’t sit in the tree with her she immediately made these faces. The second after I removed the camera from my eye she started to smile and laugh like nothing happened at all. I wasn’t quick enough to catch the smiles, but trust me, she does things like this all day long. Her expressions go from happy, to sad, to anger, all within a matter of seconds. She ended up having great time at the park after all.
I have been thinking that I’d like to get her involved in some type of drama classes because, she’s already great at acting! Just look at that face!
Meet my 3 year old Goddaughter from Florida named, Sunni. She’ll be staying with us for a while and I’ve already begun the process of documenting her visit. More photos to come very soon!
I haven’t really been out of the house too much this month. The weather remains ridiculously hot for this time of the year, and I’m just not into the heat. Plus, my family and I didn’t do much cleaning last year, so we decided to finally get back on track and clean our house from top to bottom. Staying in has also given me some time to edit photos that I’ve been neglecting for a long time, so I guess that’s at least a good thing?
So whenever the weather is tolerable and I’m able to get out with my camera for a while, I’ve been trying to make the most of it. Nothing major, just walking and observing. Trying to slow down and make some photos of things I usually overlook. Challenging myself to pay closer attention to all of the beautiful details surrounding me on a regular basis. My thought process is, some of the work I’m doing now may not be considered my “best” but I’m sure the memories I document will be far more meaningful in the future. Also, I’m having fun, so that makes it even more important! After all, this work isn’t for anyone else…it’s for me. I’m creating to satisfy my need to create. So in that regard, that’s all that really matters. There’s so much freedom in not having to create for any specific reason. To me that’s the true joy of art. To create as a form of self expression. Having only ones self to please.
I’m still dealing with the long process of healing my mental/emotional health, so making photos for fun helps a great deal. I choose to share these photographs with the public as a way to share my ongoing process, my personal journey. Hopefully someone can make some kind of connection, or at least enjoy what they see.
With that being said, here are some photos from my most recent outing. Enjoy!
By some miracle of God, my wonderful cousin Latasha has blessed our family with a new version of my Mother Marilyn and my Aunt Theresa, both of whom are unfortunately no longer with us. Not only were they sisters, but they were also best friends. Now my little cousins are mirror images of them. Ever since my Aunt Tina made me aware of this observation I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m completely amazed by their similarities! It’s truly unbelievable how genetics work. I’m so happy I was able to photograph them both together.
I guess in a way it’s bittersweet? But no matter what, I love these 2 angels with all of my heart!!!
Rediscovering Fun Part 2
I really enjoyed photographing different parts of California with my phone stylized in infrared. I had so much fun I decided to share a few more of my favorites here in portrait orientation. Photography is hard work, but we must always remember to make time to enjoy ourselves. Never stop having fun!
Beautiful star-child, with a glow so bright
You illuminate the day, as well as you do the night
Confusing to most humans, you’re a complex sight
For you may be dark, but you are also the light
Goodbye Old Friend
Goodbye old friend. It’s terribly painful to see you go away. I will always miss you.
The old friend that I’m referring to? My hometown’s local drive-in movie theater, the legendary Hilltop.
I can’t begin to express to you how many of my favorite childhood memories are deeply connected to this place.
My first experience was going with my parents as a baby in the mid 70’s. Next, watching it evolve as a child throughout the 80’s. Eventually growing up and taking my own family in the 90’s. Sadly watching it struggle to stay open and relevant in the early 2000’s. Witnessing a small resurgence under new ownership, before ultimately seeing it go out of business for good. The rapid growth in popularity of digital media as well as mismanagement helped to seal it’s doomed fate.
Seeing those doors closed and watching the property deteriorate over time broke my heart even back then. Now seeing it completely destroyed by misfortune breaks my heart in a seriously more profound way. Now I know it’s truly over.
The city I grew up in wasn’t always nice. The family I grew up in wasn’t always happy. But, some of my most positive memories of fun and joy are directly tied into this location. This where my love of the movie going experience began. It’s also a bridge to my personal memories of a period in time long forgotten. A place where people would socially gather outdoors to enjoy a movie. It might be very difficult for modern people to fully understand how eventful this activity truly was without having been there during that specific time. We didn’t have a lot of money and we couldn’t really travel, so the drive-in represented the type of excitement a child would feel when visting their favorite amusement park. The drive-in was literally like my Disneyland.
Just preparing to go was an event all unto itself. Looking through the newspaper to find out what was playing? And at what time? Getting dressed in the appropriate clothing based on the current season. The long drive there. Well, what I thought was the long drive there, since everything seems more grand when you’re a child.
I can remember everything about this place in vivid detail!
From the swings, slide, and merry-go-round that sat right underneath the screen for the children. Hell, even the mosquitoes! The strong smell of OFF bug repellent in the air. To the way the light from the projector would shine across the night sky with the stars sparkling in the distance. Each and every time was exciting for me. From getting there early sometimes to beat the traffic. To playing with random children before the sun set, letting you know it was time to head back to your car. To showing up at night while the lights from the marquee would glow, illuminating the surrounding pavement. The display of bold red letters, arranged by hand, describing what’s “Now Showing”.
The long line of cars with their headlights shining, waiting to pull up to the brightly lit ticket booth. The friendly individual happily greeting you while handing you your tickets. Driving around until you find the perfect spot. Or maybe being too late and having to park further away from the screen towards the back. Rolling down the window, hanging the speaker inside. Followed by turning on the radio, trying to tune the dial to find the right station for a clear audio signal. Watching the intermission cartoons sing and dance, instructing you to be courteous to the others, while also recommending which snacks to purchase. To one of my favorite moments of all, walking to the concessions building.
Our drive-in had a large concessions building, much bigger than the average stand. When I was a child the building itself was painted bright orange and white. During operating hours the front and back doors would be wide open. The light from inside would pour out onto the gravel. People would be maneuvering in and out, balancing a variety of snacks in their hands. And the best part, the overwhelming smell of hot, freshly popped, buttered popcorn!
I’m an old-school movie goer and a diehard movie theater popcorn lover. I’ve been to tons of theaters, carnivals, fairs, plus popped my own corn at home for years. But, nothing can compare to the way the popcorn smelled at the Hilltop! It stands out as one the most instantly identifiable memories of my entire experience there.
The smell grabbed you instantly! It grew stronger as you moved closer to the inside, making you hungrier with every step. And although there was plenty of other wonderful food being prepared, the popcorn was the star attraction. The aroma was truly undeniable.
The inside was a child’s paradise! The assortment of candies neatly lined up behind the glass counter. All of a child’s favorite junk food items being prepared right before your eyes. The cheesy Tombstone pizzas. The flavorful ice cream sandwiches. The delicious nachos. The iconic Chicago style hot dogs. The old style lemonade & fruit punch fountains, with the colorful liquid dancing around inside the glass containers. Oh, and some of the absolute best hamburgers I’ve ever had!
I even loved just wandering around on the inside. The food, the games, the people, the decor. All of it made me happy to be there. Getting somewhat of a behind the scenes look at the huge projectors transporting our movies outdoors through a beam of light. I thought it was both fascinating and magical!
Over time watching the mostly mechanical 1970’s pinball machines evolve into the 1980’s electronic video arcade games. Seeing the large crowd of people gathered around the new technology of Space Invaders, then Pac-Man & Donkey Kong. I can’t count how much money I wasted in those machines, but it was worth every penny!
Running into both friends and family randomly was always another exciting surprise. Living in a small town means you’re more than likely to run into someone you know quite frequently. Especially in those places where large crowds gather seeking to enjoy themselves.
Honestly, walking back to your car with your food was even an adventure. Trying to find your way in the dark while not spilling or dropping anything…classic.
Let me just reminisce a little deeper for a moment…
I’m thinking about how we’d always go no matter what. Despite all of the completely different Midwestern weather conditions. The heat. Being rained out. The cold winds. It didn’t really matter. We always seemed to have a good time, even when the movies were no good. Sometimes we’d sit on the hood of the car, or my Dad would park in reverse so we could sit on the trunk. Taking blankets and pillows for extra comfort. Meeting new, friendly, people. For instance, very often someone with a truck would allow us to sit in the back of the flatbed, providing another playful viewing position. Even my earliest memories of being a small child and sitting on the roof of my Father’s car. Can you imagine how much fun that was?
We use to bring our own foldable chairs to sit outside, and sometimes we brought our own cooler. We even barbecued many times on site before and during the movie. You can’t do that inside a regular theater!
I mean, where else could you have the choice to see two brand new movies, two awful horror movies, or two goofy B-movies for the price of one? It was seriously a better value when directly compared to my other love, the standard sit-in movie theater. Not to mention the freedom and privacy it provided you with. It was great! And it was definitely an extra special treat to go on a random school night!
Being able to go back to school and tell your friends all about what you saw. Especially if it was R-rated or nudity involved! Or sometimes simply falling asleep in the backseat before the movie ended. Only to wake up with just enough time to ask, “what’d I miss?”
It was always bitter sweet staring out the window as the credits rolled. Slowly drifting along as my parents tried to beat the traffic to the exit. Not wanting it to be over, but looking forward to the next trip.
Then becoming a young man, driving your own car, going on dates. The many make out sessions with any young lady you were trying to impress at the moment. Finally, maturing and taking your own children in hopes that they’d have an appreciation for your nostalgia. Being able to bond over this retro form of entertainment in a modern setting. Man, what an awesome experience!!!
In light of our recent COVID crisis, there has been an unlikely rebirth of drive-in movie theaters worldwide. A whole new audience is now being introduced to their parents or grandparents “old fashioned” way of viewing films. For this very reason, I had high hopes that the Hilltop would somehow be revived. For years I would tell anyone who would listen that the Hilltop is and should be a historic landmark for our city! It should never be disregarded or torn down! Now the worst has happened…Weakened by years of neglect and abuse, this seemingly indestructible brick construction is abruptly destroyed by a powerful summer storm?! I’m stunned!!!
For the official news report click the link below:
Selfishly, I never wanted this special place to go away. Specifically in such a disgraceful fashion. I often hoped that someone with the money and the proper vision would see the value in renovating the property for the future. I thought that maybe some local saviour would come along, willing to invest into the community, but it never materialized. Such a shame because, I always looked forward to riding by to catch a glance, or stopping by to take a few pictures whenever I would visit. It was always one of the highlights of my trip. Even when it was strangely converted into a makeshift soccer field. Even throughout the years when it was abandoned and vandalized. I hated seeing it that way, but I could always count on physically seeing the buildings and taking a moment to reminisce.
I don’t know what the owner of the property or the city is planning to do with the land? Maybe they’ll rebuild it? Although I highly doubt it. Maybe they’ll clear it all out? Effectively erasing the entire history of this once thriving landscape. No matter what they choose to do, I know that whenever I visit my only option will be to recollect on what use to be. Even if they totally rebuild the site exactly the way it once was, I’ll always know that the original, this important symbol of my childhood, is now gone forever!
So, goodbye my dear friend! Thank you for the countless thrills, excitement, and memories. I will forever reflect upon you with happiness and great fondness. I will continue to tell your story, and I will absolutely never forget you! You will forever represent a much simpler time in my life, as well as the world in general. You were quirky. You were unique. You were romantic. You were the best!
Early Morning Color Palette
Very few things in life can compare to the beauty of an early morning sun rise. I wouldn’t consider myself a “morning person” by any means! But, I understand and appreciate the energizing power of a brand new day. The colors that come alive and start to envelop the surrounding environment is truly inspiring. It seems that they can only be matched by the soft, warm, glow of the setting sun. I always feel a sense of thankfulness whenever I’m up to both document and enjoy a wonderful sunrise.