Wednesday, December 24, 2008



Just a quick sneak peak of one of Cory and I's favorites of a newborn/family shoot we did last week. Enjoy!!! Lisa, if you are reading this, can't wait to show you the rest!

Merry Christmas Eve!!!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Foto Friday #5- Take a Vacation



That's right, vacation. I know some of you were doubting the chances of Foto Friday's continuing regularity this week. Fear not, dear readers.

This week's tip- take a vacation. Cory and I are currently vacationing in Palm Springs for the next few days in the Westin Villas and we are loving it! I included the photo above from our last vacation that some of you may have voted to choose our adventures in the past. Cory and I loved that vacation and we did sooooo much and this vacation will be a little different. We have a sweet villa for the next few days, and no plans. Whatsoever. Oh wait, what time is it? Dinnertime. We're planning to eat dinner. That's what we have planned.

How in the world does this tip relate to photography? Here is the deal, don't let photography consume your life. In this blogosphere it is easy to look at photographer's blogs with their numerous photo shoots and busy travel schedule and to view that life as glamorous and desirable. However, knowing many professional photographers, the life is....busy, and not always glamorous as it seems. It is easy to let photography define and consume your life, to have your camera attached to the hip.

I'll keep this week's tip short. Don't let photography define your life. In this day and age, many photographers are doing photography part time (as probably are many of you), and it is easy to allow it to become a full time-preoccupation. Photography captures life, but that doesn't mean you have to miss out on yours.

I am so happy to have the next few days to just relax with the woman I love and to get to all the plans we don't have. Oh wait, we're going to dinner...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Very Burns Christmas

A Family Portrait

Friends. Christmas time is always a time that I feel that I am drawn into a deeper appreciation of the blessings that God has given me. This Christmas, I am particularly thankful for friends. When I graduated from College and jumped into life in the O.C./Corona, there was one family and one man in particular that befriended me in a way that I have appreciated so very much. In my freshman year of "life" (post-college), I was so thankful for this family that I felt at home with and who took an interest in me and my life and my relationship with the Lord.

The Burns Family has been a constant source of joy and encouragement over the past 3 and a half years for Cory and I. Scott officiated our wedding, we have had so many great times at the extending of their hospitality. Scott continues to be someone who I greatly respect and always come away from conversation feeling encouraged and feeling as though I have been challenged to think deeper and love more fully.

It is a great joy to me to be able to bless this family in a small way compared to the blessing that they have been to the Blakeys over the years. We were able to make a quick run to a local spot for some photos this past Saturday morning to update last year's photos. We weren't sure how it was going to work out with rain forecasted, but we were there, the weather was good and I think we got some great photos!

Thank you again Burns family for how you have tremendously blessed the Blakeys! Merry Christmas!

The kiddos

Their kids are fun loving AND well-behaved. Basically you could say they're classy and fun...

Faux Run

Scott's Face in the background = Priceless. Cory and I chuckled. That's right, chuckled.

Maddie Spread

The Madison.

Chlo Chlo

Scott and Chloe.

Kale Spread

This year's edition of The Kale.

Maddie + Kale Run

Running always makes for a fun picture.

Avery Spead

The Avery. Wasn't she in the winter Gap Kids catalog?

Look what I caught.

Freshly caught. Gotta love fresh.

Avery + Maddie Run

Umbrellas. Just in Case.

Chloe Spread

Chloe's first close ups. She's a cutie.

The Avery

Can't get enough Avery.


Thanks again!

TAGS: Corona Family Portrait, Orange County Family Portrait, Inland Empire Family Portrait, Family Christmas Portrait, Lifestyle Portrait.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Foto Friday #4- Shoot Wide Open


Foto Friday here again. This week- let's get technical, technical.
Today, we are talking all about Aperture and how it can give you a distinctive style to your photographs, particularly of people.
I have had many people ask me how I get my photographs to look so sharp and crisp. My secret- shooting wide open. I have already blogged about some of my favorite choices in lenses. The reason I love these lenses is that they allow me to go so far down the aperture scale. Aperture is the size of the opening in the lens that lets light onto the sensor of the camera or the film. When you adjust the size of the opening, you also adjust the depth of field, or how broad the area of your picture will be in focus.
So when I say "shoot wide open," I mean that I am going to the lowest aperture number that my lens allows (2.0 or 1.4, there are lenses out there that allow 1.2) and using that setting to take the photographs. This allows me to to really accentuate and draw the viewer in to one aspect of the picture. With people, I almost always focus on the eyes. When I e-mailed a photographer friend of mine before I did my first ever engagement session, I asked him if he had any tips. He said, "focus on the eyes" and it couldn't have been more true. What focusing on the eyes does is really draw the viewer into the photograph to where the eyes are sharp (or if you are standing a bit further away- the face) and the rest of the photograph is smooth and creamy.
There are other factors in determining depth of field (such as as how far away you are from your subject and how far the background is from them), but for this week, try going as low as your lens allows on the aperture.
Is there a drawback to shooting wide open? Yes. When you shoot wide open, it makes the area of your frame that is in focus very very small. If you are not careful, it is easy to think that you are getting sharp, in-focus pictures only to get them on your computer and realize that your subjects eyebrows are very much in focus. Be veeeery careful and select a focus point that you can put directly on their eyes to ensure that they are in focus.
However, I view the results as worth the risk. Going low on the aperture will take your photographs from being on the same level as the rest of today's photographic mileau to being photographs that stand out. Until next friday, stay classy and fun. B

A Blakey Thanksgiving

Finally, getting around to posting some pictures from way back at Thanksgiving! This year we dined with the Blakey family in Montecito. We ate a fabulous dinner at the wonderful Montecito Country Club and it was great to see a bunch of the family and have some time to relax.

Enjoy some photos!
Don't worry, photo Friday still to come...

The Whole Gang

The whole gang.

Four Generations of Blakey

Four Generations of Blakey


Aunt and Uncle

Uncle Scott and Aunt Sheri

Hoo Hoo Hoo

Took a few of my brother Ben, after all, he is a senior....

The Lads

The Fam



My Grandpa himself. Dr. Ernest Blakey.


The Tyler

Friday, December 5, 2008

Foto Friday #3- Have Fun

Have Fun

Straight off the bat, I must say I have been enjoying Foto Friday. I look forward to posting these and hopefully they are helpful, or at least mildly amusing. Thanks for those of you that have sent in topics that you would like addressed in future Foto Friday posts, I'll be getting to yours in the coming weeks.

THIS WEEK'S TIP- HAVE FUN. While this may seem so common sense that perhaps some of you are rolling your eyes and moving the mouse toward the X on your google reader, hold your proverbial horses. There are many different types of photographers out there- some most enjoy taking landscapes and beautiful scenery, others enjoy taking product shots, me?- I like people. In photographing people- whether senior portraits or engagements or families or weddings, I cannot over-emphasize how important having fun is.

The concept of fun and photography goes way back for me. When I was a kid, I didn't view photos as fun. My experience with it was primarily when a photographer was telling me to tilt my head this many degrees and angle my body that many degrees. I'm playing with G.I. Joes and you're busting out geometry on me? Bless my parents for their patience with me during those days. If you peruse back through the Blakey photo album from earlier in my childhood, the pictures that don't include me making a goofy face are few and far between.

Why did I make goofy faces? It was my way to make the process of having my picture taken fun. And the fun has stayed with me...

But here's the deal- I believe fun to be so important to my photography that I've included it in my slogan- Classy and Fun. Why is it important- the photographs you take of people will be absolutely superior if the people that you are photographing are enjoying themselves. Like so many things in life, it's a concept that's easy to agree with but not always implemented. As an up and coming photographer, you may think the MOST important thing is your equipment or knowing your camera settings or marketing and branding yourself (if you're in business). I would contend that all those things are important but if you have all the technical knowledge but your subjects are uncomfortable and feeling awkward, your images aren't going to be very striking.

The most important thing for me these days at the outset of a photoshoot is to get the people having fun. Having fun relaxes them, having fun makes their expressions genuine, having fun makes them have fun.

So when you're photographing people, find the way to get them to have fun. It may be having them make goofy faces (works for me), or taking a picture of them jumping, or playing tag with a child, or telling a guy to whisper a joke into his fiance's ear. If you are going to be shooting a wedding, think about setting up an engagement session with the couple where they can get to know you and have fun in front of your camera, that way when the wedding day comes, you won't be an added point of stress, but rather a portion of their day that they will look forward to and enjoy and remember fondly as they look back at the pictures.

This week's tip- get out there and have some fun with your people. It will make your photographs better.

Until next week, stay Classy and FUN!!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas is coming....


Finally, December 2nd and it is the first time since this summer that I have genuinely felt cold. I am so excited for this holiday season for so many reasons- time to hang out with Cory, time off from school and writing papers, time to think more deeply. Time to take photographs for fun.

Cory and I will be putting up Christmas lights and getting a tree so you can be sure that photos will follow... Sorry this post is random and somewhat short, but I needed a reason to post this cool image I captured of my nephew Tyler on Thanksgiving Day. Actually, I didn't really need a reason to post it, he's just that cute...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Foto Friday #2- It's All About the Glass


First off- Happy Thanksgiving! I'll be posting photos from the Blakey Thanksgiving here shortly but I wanted to maintain true to form and post another Foto Friday today! This Friday I want to talk about the glass- that's right, the lenses.

FACT: Your lenses are probably the most important part of your photography equipment. I have heard it said by other photographers that Camera bodies may come and go, but the lenses you keep, and I would have to agree. The right lens is really everything for getting the right look and feel to a shot.

MYTH #1- I can skimp on lenses by purchasing an off-brand lens (i.e. sigma/tamron) that has the same technical specs. Some might enjoy these other lenses, but I think there is a reason that the best photographers out there are using the same brand of lenses as their cameras. They are simply better. I started out with a Tamron lens and noticed a SIGNIFICANT increase in quality, color, sharpness and overall "pop" to my photographs once I purchased my first canon. Since then, I haven't looked back and probably never will. The only lens that I have heard recommended above the "brand name" lenses is the 50mm Sigma 2.8 macro- I hear it's killer for ring shots.

MYTH #2- To be able to get great images, I have to spend a buku of dollars on lenses. While the best lenses will cost you a pretty penny, you don't have to have them to create images that are, shall we say, Classy and Fun. Don't let yourself be focused on the lenses that you don't have, master the lenses that you do have and save up for upgrades.

Canon has some FANTASTIC lenses that you won't have to borrow against your house for that I would like to recommend.
50mm 1.8- $90- you can tell this is a cheap lens by holding it in your hand but it was my first Canon lens and it takes really sharp, clean pictures! Anyone just starting out on the Canon system should DEFINITELY purchase this lens!
50mm 1.4- $350- If you have the dough, I would upgrade to this lens. It is much sturdier and being able to go down to 1.4 on the Aperture make it a fantastic portrait lens! I love it!
35mm 2.0- $200- this lens is my newest purchase and I absolutely could not be more thrilled with this lens. The pictures are sharp, color is awesome and I love the angle without distortion on the sides of the image! If you look back to the engagement session that I previously posted- 80% of the images were taken with this lens and they came out not too shabby. I think it is a great lens where you want to be in close but still be able to get the interaction between a couple.
I also own the 24-70 L Series 2.8 which is also a great lens that costs just a tad more than the others. It is very useful at weddings when you want to be able to grab a variety of shots/angles without changing lenses very often.
For weddings, I ALWAYS rent the 70-200 L Series 2.8 IS lens. It is a must have for during the ceremony and at receptions where you want a front row seat on the action without snuggling up next to mom and dad. I love the DOF on that lens and it is a must have for low-light situations. I rent it from Samy's Camera and it really isn't that expensive.

My Wish List (hey, Christmas is coming...)
70-200mm IS 2.8L 85mm 1.2L 35mm 1.4L

Today's tip boils down to this- MASTER YOUR LENSES- know how to make the best use of them in certain situations and be creative. Don't always be caught up in the equipment that you don't have, learn to be a great photographer with the equipment that you do have in the mean time.

Until next Friday, stay Classy and Fun....


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Brian + Becca

I'm not gonna lie, I've been looking forward to posting this. The only thing that could have made this engagement session more enjoyable is if my wife Cory had been able to come along. Brian and Becca were such fun to hang out with but I am pretty sure they not-so-secretly enjoyed the opportunity to hang out with each other...

Brian and Becca are getting married this coming April at the Valencia Hyatt and I am super stoked to have a front row and back row and not-in-a-row seat for the festivities!

Brian and Becca, thanks again for the wonderful day!
BLOG READERS! I've done a few different things in this post, let me know if you enjoy the album-spread esque pictures! I had a lot of fun editing this session (the new Coldplay EP helped out as well).














TAGS: Engagement Photography, Santa Clarita Wedding Photography, Santa Clarita Wedding Photography, Santa Clarita Engagement Photography, Los Angeles Wedding Photography, Los Angeles Engagment Photography, Engagement Portraits, Orange County Wedding Photography, The Master's College

Friday, November 21, 2008

Foto Friday #1- It's the Photographer, Not the Camera

It's the Photographer, Not the Camera

Aren't you glad it's FRIDAY? While Fridays have always been an enjoyable day for me, since I have started working for my church, they have become even more enjoyable. Why, you may ask? Because they are my day off. And I for the most part get to hang out with my lovely wife on these days!!! Tonight we are going to Disneyland and it is the first day of Christmas time there. Yeah, we are pretty excited.

All that to say, I wanted to be able to share my excitement for Fridays will all of you. Lately I have been getting a lot of requests from up and coming Photographers who would like me to help them take their photography game to the next level. While I can't help out everyone individually, I thought that Foto Friday might be a good way to share photography tips that have helped me become a better photographer.

You may not know this but I have NEVER taken a photography course and have learned 100% of what I have learned from fellow photographers, 1 book and the internet. So now I am giving back.

FOTO FRIDAY TIP #1- It's the photographer, not the camera.

When I say that, I must instantly qualify that statement by saying that if I was given the chance to have a point and shoot camera vs the Canon Mark III 1ds- I would choose the latter every day of the week and twice on Sundays.
But here's what I am getting at with this post- the more decisions that you take away from your camera and make yourself, the more creative and higher quality your photographs will be. Many people buy a fancy SLR (single lens reflex- or detachable lens) camera and put it on fully automatic mode and assume that they will get amazing photographs simply because they have an expensive camera. Not true. A photographer who really knows how to use a Canon Rebel XT will get pictures that are far superior to a novice photographer who puts the $7000 canon camera on auto and snaps away.
So what does this mean- Photography takes some effort! It is like many other things in life where you will get out of it what you put into it. So, two things to take away from this post-

#1- Manual Mode- I shoot 95% of the photographs I take in manual mode because that is where I have the most control over the settings for my shot. If you don't know what you are doing, manual mode will yield you stinky pictures (yes, they may actually smell) but if you do- oh so good. Manual mode is incredibly intimidating at first with trying to understand shutter speed, aper-what? and ISO? However, there is a book that incredibly helped me to understand the nuts and bolts of photography in general. You can get it for about $17.11 on Amazon. Understanding Exposure. The author uses pictures to demonstrate everything and reading this book will definitely not make you feel like a photo nerd. Not that there's anything wrong with being a photo nerd... Read this book and practice! Get comfortable with manual mode, because your photographs will be better when you do!
#2- Know how to adjust the settings on your camera. Plain and simple, you may have to crack open that manual to learn how to adjust the aperture, shutter speed, ISO and a few other things on there. Obsessive reading of the manual may just make you a photo nerd, however. Read the first book to teach you about how to do photography and use the manual to help you apply that to your camera.

Well there it is, the first Foto FRIDAY! I will be endeavoring over this next year to be posting a helpful photography hint EVERY Friday so bookmark me on your google reader or check back on Fridays!

And if you have a photography question that you are dying to get answered- email me! I would love to be able to be inspired by you for a future Foto Friday post!

Monday, November 17, 2008

There's no retreat in this staff....


I love these people. Every year in the Fall our student ministry discipleship staff head down to Encinitas for a weekend for some good new-fashioned staff training and staff bonding. This year was phenomenal. I felt there was such a unity amongst the staff and a good time had by all. We sang, ate, learned from God's word, and stayed up way too late playing mafia.

My partner in crime Ken Flower and I had the privilege of talking with our staff about discipleship and meaningful relationship and I am very much looking forward to continuing this year in ministry alongside these brothers and sisters at my church!

I didn't get to take many photos due to the overload of awesomeness I was experiencing, but I did have the opportunity to roll down with a few of the guys to document their early morning surf sesh (I had to head back up and finish preparing to lead a discussion).



I love how these guys always pray before embarking out on a session.







Oh, and here's James and Molly.

UPDATE: Family Sessions!
If you are interested in having me take your family photos for general Christmas card awesomeness this year, let me know! I still have a few spots available to get your photos before Christmas!

Tags: Corona Family Christmas Portrait, San Clemente Family Christmas Portrait, Lifestyle Portrait, Aliso Viejo Family Christmas Portrait, Irvine Family Christmas Portrait, Mission Viejo Family Christmas Portrait, Newport Beach Family Christmas Portait, Fullerton Family Christmas Portrait, Yorba Linda Family Christmas Portrait.