A few weeks ago I was standing with a flock of warbird enthusiasts up at the Flying Heritage Collection at Pain Field in Everett, WA with my camera in hand waiting for a bf-109 & FW-190 (WW II German fighters) when I started thinking back to where the obsession with War Birds and photography met…
Set the “Way Back Machine” to 1976 when I got my first airplane book at a little book store in Encinitas, CA right after my dad took me to see Monty Python’s Holy Grail at the La Paloma Theater. I think it was the drawing of a one of the Flying Tiger’s P-40’s that fascinated me, the shark mouth just looked so cool. I started trying to copy the drawing, over and over again. I loved that book and while it’s a little worse for the wear I still have it. This was the spark that would change the rest of my life, but at 6 years old I just thought the P-40 looked really cool.
A few years later, I think it was in 6th grade I was in the school library having to find a book to read when I stumbled on a book about the Red Barron and when I went home to start reading it I was hooked. I finished the book that night and went back the next day to get more history books. I ended up reading every book the school library having anything to do with WW I & II. One of my dad’s friends, who was an warbird buff, suggested that I read a couple of other books that weren’t at my school library, so I went down to the Carlsbad City Library to pick up “Incredible Victory: The Battle of Midway” & “30 Seconds Over Tokyo”, read them and kept going back for more. Most of my interest focused on the airplanes and this interest never passed.
A couple of summers later (between Jr. High & High School) my dad’s friend, who lived in Fresno at the time, invited me to come up so I could go to a with him to the Madera Air Show. For the first time in my life I was finally going to be able to see the planes I’d been reading about for the past couple of years. It was an amazing experience and I hardly minded that it was 110 degres out on the runway! I was there seeing these planes fly for the first time in my life, experiencing the sound and power of some of the most famous aircraft in the world and there I was with my little Kodak 110 camera borrowed from my grandmother taking the photos that would start it all.
The new obsession was air shows and thankfully I lived in Southern California and was surrounded by military bases, Mirimar NAS, El Toro MCAS, March AFB, Norton AFG, Point Mugu NAS and Edwards AFB all just close enough that I could make my dad drive me and my best friend to all of them with an upgraded camera borrowed from my uncle Dan this time. I got to see some things I’d never forget. One year at Mirimar NAS (then home of Top Gun) I watched on as a low flying F-14 pushed just a little too far and broke the sound barrier and managed to shatter the windows of the radio booth that was covering the show. At Point Mugu in 1983 or ’84 I got to watch famous stunt pilot Art Scholl (who later perished while filming the movie Top Gun) fly an amazing routine in a Rockwell Shrike Commander (he finished up his routine flying w/o power, did a couple of loops, landed and taxied the plane to the centerline of the air show and made it curtsy as it came to a stop – all without the engines on)! In 1988 I was at the El Toro Air Show with my uncle when I watched an F/A-18 crash during a demonstration. The pilot was fine, by the way.
My Junior year of High School is when I finally got a camera (Pentax special that was the Price Club special as a Christmas Present) of my own and the summer between my Junior and Senior year I got to take my first photography class at a local college (the class at my High School was impossible to get into). I had an amazing teacher who was more interested in helping us develop our style of photography than doing everything exactly by the numbers and I’m SO glad she was my first photography teacher. If my second teacher may had been my first things might have ended differently for me. She was clearly checked out and didn’t know anything other than how to run us through the chapters in a book – boring exercise after boring exercise with no passion or interest in what the students were doing.
My senior year was a rough time, with some crazy family problems that I won’t bother to go into here, but I started working on the school newspaper and yearbook and really poured my energy into the photography in an effort to block out what was going on at home. I took pictures of my friends at school, my cousins on the weekends and from time to time drove down to Palomar Airport to take pictures of the random planes down there. My trusty Pentax was stolen out of my car, so I traded my mountain bike for my friends Minolta X700 that I’m now teaching my kids photography with and I bough a Yashica 124g with money earned working for my father. With my work on the yearbook and newspaper I was really starting to take more and more photos of people and was really enjoying that. I even did some head shots for a girl at my school who was on one episode of The Wonder Years and I have shots of my classmate Denise Richards (pre-Charlie Sheen drama of course).
So, how did I get from there to here? I was actually very strongly encouraged by my family to go into photography, but I at the time I felt that if I took something that I loved so much and made it a job I’d end up getting sick of doing it and I really didn’t want to loose the passion for photography. As a result I had a long series of jobs at camera stores and various other things. While the jobs changed every couple of years my love for photography was still there. In about 1999 I was hired by my father-in-law’s company to spend a week traveling around the country taking pictures of their devices that were installed in hospitals. Suddenly the switch was flipped and when I got back from that trip I started hounding all of the local newspapers to hire me as a photographer. While I had a job, now as a travel agent, I kept calling all of the editors until one finally had an assignment for me. I started shooting school sports for a local paper after work and was thrilled to be finally making some money doing photography. It wasn’t much, but I saved every penny of that money to buy better equipment. Shortly after 09/11/01 I quit my job as a travel agent and set off on my own, doing contract photography for a sports photography company, working for the paper and picking up portrait shoots.
I was working as a photographer but things changed when my new wife (and my biggest fan) asked what I though about shooting weddings. Honestly, I’d avoided them with a few exceptions for friends and family and had never really considered being a “wedding photographer”. It just so happened that at that time one of my best friends was getting married and the friend of a model I’d done some work with was getting married within two weeks of each other. Mitzi just suggested that I go into shooting with the mindset of seeing if it would be something I’d want to do. Well, I loved shooting the weddings! We then changed the business name, started marketing weddings and soon had booked up 15 weddings for the next summer!
Now we’re into our 5th year of shooting weddings and we’re going strong. This year at Mitzi’s suggestion we opened “Little Black Book” as our boudoir studio and that side of the business has been much more successful than I had expected. Mitzi told me it would be, don’t know why I doubted her. She’s a genius!
Looking for a night out, a great date or a little fun? The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, South Puget Sound’s largest performing arts facility, is located right here in Olympia. It hosts a vibrant series of national and international touring artists from a broad spectrum of genres and styles. It supports local shows and Broadway hits such as Cats and A Chorus Line. Speakers, comedians and social rights activists also call the Center home. The experience is enhanced by the beauty of the location, the plush elegance of the facility and the warmth and amiability of the atmosphere.
Below is a list of my top three most anticipated events for the next couple of months. Not to your taste? Find the complete CALENDER OF EVENTS here.
The Intern’s Top Three
1.San Francisco Opera Cinema Series: Lucia di Lammermoor
April 10, 2011
“The emotionally fragile Lucia is driven to madness when manipulated to marry a man she does not love. Featuring the most famous mad scene in the repertory and full of ravishingly beautiful melodies, this timeless bel canto masterpiece evokes the passion and desperation of a woman used by her brother as a political pawn. Superstar Natalie Dessay owns this virtuosic role. Also starring Giuseppe Filianoti, Gabriele Viviani and Oren Gradus. Recorded Summer 2008, War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco” (website).
Link to the San Francisco Opera here.
2. Ballet Folklorico “Quetzalli”
April 20, 2011
“Founded in 1985 (the same year as the Washington Center!), this group has crisscrossed the globe exciting audiences of all ages. Their visual fiesta of culture and folklore features many regional dances of old Mexico, in particular, their home state of Veracruz (birthplace of the world famous “La Bamba”). The music, performed live on authentic stringed instruments, punctuates the meticulous movement, colorful clothing and perfect pulse established by the dancers. Earning standing ovations from Cuba to Malaysia, Quetzalli proves they are one of Mexico’s most popular exports” (website)!
3. Dance to Make a Difference: Benefiting Japan and Northwest Harvest
March 26, 2011
“Save the date and enjoy an evening of Dance to Make a Difference at the Minnaert Center for the Performing Arts! This delightful gala begins with pre-performance appetizers, wine, live music and mingling to be followed with a full repertoire of performing arts from talented dance companies from across the Puget Sound: Ballet Bellevue, Washington Contemporary Ballet, Evergreen City Ballet, Southwest Washington Dance Center & Studio West Dance Theatre. We are splitting the net proceeds from this event between statewide hunger relief agency, Northwest Harvest & Japan. Enrich your life and others while enjoying this philanthropic event” (website)!
Stay tuned for Green Wedding Week, starting tomorrow, February 14. Every day will feature an eco-friendly alternative to the elements of a standard wedding, from cakes to flowers and lodging. You’ll learn how to transform your wedding into a model contemporary celebration and have a blast while you’re at it!
Weekend: Start Planning!
Boudoir Portrait Party By Firstlight Photography
On-location, Customized, Tasteful images.
Get together with friends! Earn FREE prints as a host!
No session fee for you or your friends!
Print Prices Starting as low as $25 per 8×10 sheet
Now Scheduling and Thursday and Friday Evenings and Sunday afternoons.
Call us today at 253-335-7958 to schedule your party!
Firstlight Photography has hooked up with Free University to offer a couple of basic photography classes. We are also very proud that one of our photographs was chosen to be used for the cover of the first Free University course catalogue.
We will be teaching you basic operation of that really cool camera you bought, but can’t figure out how to really use. We take about 2 hours and go over some basic photography principles and camera operation.
It doesn’t matter if you have a point & shoot camera or a more advanced SLR, I’ll help you get the most out of your camera.
Classes will be in the Puyallup South Hill area from 6:30 – 8:30 on April 21st & June 16th. Contact Free Universtiy WA to register. There will be a fee of $5.00 to register for the class.
For more information, please contact:
Robyn Liss at the Ubiquitous Journey on South Hill.
Telephone: (253) 445-6128,
Mailing Address: PO Box 731517, Puyallup, WA 98373-0015.
We’re back at the WIAA 3A state high school basketball championship this week. The day started off with Lynnwood playing the Prairie girls. It was an exciting game and could have gone either way until the very end when Prairie kicked it up a notch and won the game 47 to 38. Much different from the game currently going on, Holy Names 30 – Yelm 12 in the 2nd quarter. I hate to say it, but I’m pretty sure how this game will end.
If you’d like to follow the games, you can check the brackets HERE
I just got done shooting the first game of the 2nd day of the WIAA State Basketball Championship, Stanwood vs Auburn HS. It was an exciting game, although it didn’t start out that way. In the end, Stanwood won by just 4 points in the last few minutes after leading by as much as 16 points in the 2nd half. This begs the question: “Did they win or did they just not loose?”
Here we are again, day one of the WIAA State 4A Basketball Championship and it’s off to a big start. Although I’ve shot sports for years and I really love shooting this tournament I do not pretend to be a sports writer, or really much into sports at all. I do enjoy watching basketball and at this tournament there is some great basketball being played. Another highlight is what Federal Way High School’s head coach, Jerome Collins, is wearing. He didn’t dissapoint, check out this gold suit!
Over the weekend we were at a wedding show in Tacoma put on by South Sound Wedding & Event Magazine. It was a great show, met a lot of people, including quite a few vendors that I will be sharing with you. The show was at the convention center and was much nicer than the shows I’ve been at in the Tacoma Dome. Not only is the venue nicer, but the show was a little smaller giving brides a chance to really interact with the vendors and giving them a fighting chance to remember those that they liked. I had a great time and am looking forward to the next show on JAN 31st at the Great Wolf Lodge!
Once again I’m shooting another really cool event. For the next couple of weeks I’ll be shooting the U.S. Open Swimming championships in Federal Way, WA. There’s a lot going on, events going all day, some of them quick and others, like the 1500m freestyle, that take forever.
I’ve often found it quite ironic that as I’d end up shooting so many different sporting events when I’ve never really been a sports person. Sure, I played soccer as a kid and later on in life I was drafted by the roller hockey team some of my co-workers had formed when I worked at The Mac Zone. I’d never even watched a hockey game, but when they found I was was born in Canada they decided that Hockey was in my blood and I should be the goalie. Other than that my interest in sports has been pretty minimal since Magic Johnson left the Lakers.
How is it then that I ended up spending so much of my time shooting sports? Some 15 years ago I was hired by a medical device company to travel around the country taking photos of their products in various hospitals and I was thrilled to finally be making money doing something that I love. When I got back from that trip I started contacting all the local newspapers until finally I badgered the editor at the Federal Way News enough that they finally gave me a couple of assignments and I kept after them until finally the sports editor started giving me regular work. I was so excited to be doing the work that it didn’t matter a bit to me what I was taking pictures of, I was being paid to take pictures and they were being published in a newspaper! I did this as a sideline along with my day job for a few years until I finally decided I’d had enough of the day job and quit without any real plan other than I knew that I wanted to take pictures for a living.
It took a few months, but I finally got in touch with a company that specializes in sports photography and since that was what I’d been doing with the paper I thought it was a good match. I started doing contract work for them 7 years ago now and I still love it. While I’ve never really been into professional sports, at least not since I spent my youth watching Lakers games with my dad, I do really love getting to go to all the high school tournaments. I also get to travel quite a bit and see a lot of places I’d never get to see otherwise.