Monday, May 12, 2014

Kary & Ben's Maternity Session

Over the course of the NBA season, I found myself sharing pregnancy stories with my friend Kary, who works in corporate partnerships with the Los Angeles Lakers.   Yes, you read that correctly.  It’s kind of amusing because most people would imagine two pregnant women trading stories about their experiences.  Chanda and I are only a few weeks ahead of Kary and her husband Ben in pregnancy, and since we’re just about at similar stages, we have that in common to talk about during our dinners before working the Laker games. 

This is also our first experience with pregnancy – granted I’m not the one carrying the baby, but I’m going through the experience as well, so I guess indirectly, I can relate.  Kary was the one who suggested that I buy Chanda a body pillow, and said that it has made a huge difference in her comfort level at night.  Sure enough, we went out and bought one, and it was a game changer.  We both liked it so much, we ended up buying  a second one (for me)!  Now our bed is pretty crowded with pillows, but it’s so worth it.  If you don’t have a body pillow, do yourself a favor and try it.  You’ll never go back to sleeping without one. 

One day at dinner before a game, Kary asked me, “are you and your wife going to take maternity pictures?”  I showed Kary a few photos I took of Chanda during an impromptu maternity session during a short trip to San Diego that weekend.  It was not originally planned as a maternity session, but I really liked the way the photos came out.  A few weeks later, we did our real maternity session, based on the vision Chanda had for her photos, and I showed those to Kary as well, since she had expressed some interest in documenting her pregnancy.  It wasn’t long before we were talking about her vision and how she wanted her photos to look, so I offered her some advice.  I didn’t originally plan on being her photographer, but I think there was a certain level of comfort in having somebody that you know document such a personal moment.   That comfort really does make a huge difference in the vibe of the pictures, and I really wanted her to get the pictures that she envisioned – so we set up a date.

I took Chanda along to the shoot, as they’re both going through the same experience.  Upon first meeting Chanda, Kary asked, “do you find yourself having Braxton-Hicks contractions?”  I knew immediately that they were going to hit it off, and they started chatting about their pregnancies.  I met Ben and we both started talking about our experiences being on the other side of the pregnancy, and I immediately took a liking to his personality and easy-going nature.  After a few short minutes chatting them up, we started photographing.  The thing I liked most about this whole experience was that it just felt like a stroll in the park with two friends.  We really got to take our time and enjoy the conversations about babies and basketball.  They brought along a few props, including cute tiny Nike shoes (complete with shoe box), and blocks that spelled out their daughter’s name, Akemi.  I thought it was a cute idea, and we were able to work the props in to some poses. 

At the end of the day, we said our goodbyes, and as Chanda and Kary moved in for a hug, they were both surprised by a brief belly bump, which naturally got in the way of a hug.  Chanda mentioned that she had never experienced that before, and it caught her off guard a little bit.  “You forget that two people with baby bumps going in for a hug can sometimes pose an issue with hugging!”  

Enjoy the photos!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Winner of the Sports Emmy for Outstanding New Approach in Sports Programming

Last year I was involved in a new project with NFL Digital Media called NFL Up, in which we documented NFL players' workouts.  These workouts were recorded and photographed in order to demonstrate exercise techniques that everyday folks could use to "get fit like your favorite player."  It started with a list of athletes and gyms during the offseason, and the project continued throughout the season at the respective NFL team training facilities.  I even did photos of Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis just a few months ago.  I think it's a great tool to teach people the proper mechanics of working out, especially coming from the top professionals in the field - both trainers and athletes.

Throughout the season, different players' workouts would be pitted against one another and fans would vote for the workouts they wanted to see.  The winners' workouts would be unlocked, and a set of different movements and workouts would be demonstrated in detail, including short video clips and photos.  I was involved in the earlier workouts of the project, including those of Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller, Cincinnati Bengals safety Taylor Mays, Chicago Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long,  Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner, and New York Jets (now of the Arizona Cardinals) cornerback Antonio Cromartie.  Among those guys were many other high-profile NFL stars who also work out together with the guys listed above, but were not featured workouts for the project, including Clay Matthews and Colin Kaepernick.  You can see a blog I did about those workouts here.  

A month ago, we got word that NFL Digital Media was nominated for two Emmy Awards, for NFL UP! and another project we produced called "JFK:  The Untold NFL History of that Day in Dallas."  This week, the 2014 Sports Emmy Awards winners were announced, and BOTH projects were winners in the category of Outstanding New Approaches - Sports Programming Short Format.  

I'm excited to have contributed my photography to the projects as an Associate Producer.  You can see my name in the list on the bottom.  Also of note is that the Leon Sandcastle project earned the honor of "Outstanding Sports Promotional Announcement - Institutional."  I was on the set of those productions providing still photographs.  See my behind-the-scenes photographs from the original commercial, and stills from this year's NFL Draft promo commercial here (featuring Jerry Ricecake).

This has been a pretty awesome feeling knowing that the hard work has paid off for everybody involved in these projects.  I guess I can now say that I'm an Emmy Award winner.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Steven & Ian's Engagement Session

When Chanda and I were invited to the home of Steven and Ian for our initial meeting, they made us feel so welcome.  The love that the two of them share for one another was tangible, and it certainly was easy to connect with them.  From there, we talked about photography, photo booths, and wedding plans.  Over the next few months, I asked them what kind of engagement session they wanted to have, and they made it clear they wanted to do something on the beach, as well as something "nature-y"  I had the perfect spot in mind, as I had previously scouted some areas along Pacific Coast Highway.

Ian and Steven are getting married in August, and it will be my first time photographing a same-sex wedding.  I joked with them during the shoot that photographing two guys was easier because there is less to worry about regarding hair and wardrobe.  It did get very windy at the beach that day, and the fact that they both have short hair means less flying hair in the wind, which can sometimes be troublesome when you're trying to shoot out in the open.  Overall, I'm glad they enjoyed the session, and we're looking forward to photographing their big day in August!

Thursday, March 20, 2014