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10 Tips for your Engagement Shoot

One of the most common issues I find my clients have is that they don’t know what to wear to their sessions! When you book your session, you will also receive a guide to take you through preparing for your session. 

 1. Choose your fashion style. Talk with your partner and decide if you’d like to dress formally or casually. Then, ensure your outfits are to the same degree of formality. 

 2. Choose a color scheme. Choosing a color scheme will ensure that you and your partner’s choice of outfits blend well together. I wouldn’t recommend wearing the same exact thing as your partner. Also, I would avoid wearing black and white, unless of course we plan on doing a black and white themed session. 

 3. Be comfy! Make sure you are comfortable when you come to the session. Plan what you are wearing based on the climate we are taking photos in. It’s also a great idea to bring a change of shoes, as hiking in dress shoes is no fun! 

 4. Plan according to the weather. Sessions aren’t all glamour. You will likely get a little dirty, sweat a little, and may have to walk to get to the most scenic locations. Bringing a change of clothes, shoes, and makeup is a great idea to stay fresh in front of the camera. 

 5. Don’t wear logos or distracting patterns. Florals are in right now and photograph well, but a pattern such as stripes or plaid can be a bit distracting. Distracting patterns draw away from the subject, which we don’t want! Also avoid any graphics on clothing or large logos. 

 6. Wear flowy clothing! Flowy clothing is always fun to toss around, creating movement in your photographs. Ladies, if you’re wearing a dress, consider one that has a little bit of sway. Cardigans are also a good idea! Layering is very photogenic. 

 7. Makeup, hair, and nails! Make sure your makeup and hair are fully done, as this will highlight your features in camera. I recommend you do a trial for your wedding hair and makeup before your engagement session. Also, ensure your polish is fresh or your nails are clean. Chipped polish can take away from your gorgeous new ring! 

A fresh French Tip!

 8. Clean and mean!  Guys, make sure you have a fresh haircut and smooth face (if you’re clean shaven). 5 o’ clock shadows can distract from your facial features in photographs. 

9. Bring some props! If you have something special you’ve shared in your relationship, bring it along! Props are a good way to add variety in a session. 

 10. Bring your pets! Pets are awesome additions to sessions. Who doesn’t love furry animals? Please ensure you have someone to watch your pets as well when they aren’t in front of the camera. 

Hopefully these 10 tips will help you prepare for your engagement session. 

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask! I’m only one call, text, or email away. 

See you soon!


Wedding – Shannon & Dustin

Dustin & Shannon

Congratulations to Shannon & Dustin on their marriage on the lake at the lush Boccaccio’s in Westlake Village, CA.  With the bride and groom getting ready for the wedding at Westlake Village Inn, the hop over to Boccaccio’s outdoor wedding set up was a 5 minute drive.  I love local weddings!  

Knowing the wedding ceremony site would be outdoors at midday sun with no shade in sight, we knocked out as much as we could at Westlake Village Inn.  With their Italian inspired vignettes all around the property, the Inn has plenty of picturesque areas that make life easy for photographers.  

With Sergio as my trusty second shooter, we used a Godox AD600 Witstro with a nice octobank for fill during a few of the mini sessions throughout the day.  Considering the studio light has HSS and TTL capabilities with such a strong wattage, we were able to really work the pier at a distance.  Our main concern turned to how strong wind was at the lake that day, turning the octobox into a great sail!  Sergio noted that he made an excellent sandbag.  :)

I’m not sure how they secured it, but Shannon & Dustin were able to utilize the restaurant for their reception.  I’m not sure they do that regularly, but it awesome to be part of a reception that was so quaint and intimate.  The restaurant has plentiful window space to maximize the view of the lake for all their guests to enjoy.  It was great that both families and friends were able to get together and mingle.  

Some of my favorite images of the day…


A big fat THANK YOU to all my vendors.  As always, I appreciate the work that goes into putting together a great scene and performance for our clients.  


Exotic Green Garden

Westlake Village Inn

Howard Lee, who really knocked it out of the park.  I haven’t met too many bi-lingual MCs that do English and Cantonese so fluently.  With him hosting a radio show, I wasn’t surprised at how poised his cadence and delivery was throughout the event.

Howard Lee

For my photo dorks, here are some things about the wedding that I would like to share:

Again, watching the Godox flashes out tech my super consistent AlienBees, I have to say I did quite a bit of research on Godox flashes.  Apparently Godox equipment is sold by other vendors such as Cheetah, Flashpoint by Adorama and some others I can’t really remember.  I found the same setup that Sergio uses, only by Flashpoint.  Adorama sells these exclusively.  

Some serious changes coming to my gear real soon.  REAL soon.  

The Sigma 50 mm Art saw plenty of action this wedding.  With it’s ultra sharp frames and consistent auto-focus, I found myself with a much lighter shutter as I was able to trust the lenses ability to hit the image in a couple of frames.  My wife thinks it’s just because I’m becoming a better photographer.  What does she know?  :)

Wedding – Lilia & Mike

Mike and Lilia Monson

Congratulations to my good friend Mike Monson and his beautiful bride, Lilia.  A scorcher of a wedding in Fresno, CA, it was a hot one at 109 degrees.  This outdoor wedding really put my planning to the test with instant frozen ice packs, finding suitable indoor shooting locations and making sure the gear stayed operational in the heat. 

The cake actually *melted*

Here’s a link to the PASS Gallery…  

I love doing destination weddings and with this being just outside of five hours from my office, all the planning I did while buying gear with a focus on portability and mobility paid dividends that weekend.  The Pelican 1510 and 1560 kept my cameras, lenses, lighting equipment and cords easily organized and protected traveling to Fresno.  

Some of my favorite images from the day…

I want to thank all the awesome vendors that made the wedding such a blast to shoot…

Toca Madera Winery

Expo Party Rental

Fresno Event Group, with an extra helping of THANK YOU to Barbara Tanimoto

The Linen Shoppe


Light Up the Walls, Erik Hess, Uplighting

Below Ice Sales

DJ Juice

Chiffonos Bakery

Sugar Shack

Dog House Grill

Black Executive Car Services

Sugar Plums Photobooths


Toca Madera Winery

Toca Madera Winery

Barbara Tanimoto of Fresno Event Group in action!

Dog House Grill

Sugar Plums Photo Booths

For my photo dorks, here are some things about the wedding that I would like to share:

Second shooters:

Considering one of my favorite second shooters to work with had moved out of state (F@#$%^ PORTLAND?!?), I had to find a second shooter for the day.  Logistically, it did not make sense to try to fly Rich out to my wedding, so my search had two options: Find a shooter closer to Fresno or find a shooter closer to me that would be willing to travel.  Finding a shooter in Fresno seemed like a good idea, but most of the responses I was getting were from the saturated Los Angeles market.  As soon as they realized that it would include travel close to 5 hours north, most balked.  

After 2 shooters canceled on me the week before (one, the day before my trip), the first person to actually respond to one of my posts came through.  At first glance, I must say that I was not impressed with his portfolio at all.  Little did I know what I was getting.  This second shooter has shot video for MTV, specializes in Quinceañeras and was geared to the teeth.  He was also acclimated to the heat.  After seeing his shots, I asked why his portfolio didn’t reflect his work and his response made sense.  

“I’m not allowed to use my shots for other people in my own portfolio.”


I told him that I was more than happy to let him use his own shots for his portfolio with the stipulation that he waits until I post the images from the wedding first.  Anything I can do to help a fellow shooter succeed…

After all the headaches and disappointments in searching for a second shooter, I walked away from the wedding with a great new friend and peer.  After the wedding, we ended up talking shop and arguing the merits of Nikon, Canon and the ever tempting Godox wireless flash units with battery packs, TTL and HSS.  I ended up forgiving him for being a Canon shooter by the end of the night.

That brings me to…:

Godox flashes:

Holy moly.  

I own AlienBees and love them.  I’ve heard them referred to as the Corolla of strobes, which is not a bad thing.  They are reliable and get consistent results every time.  My only issue is going wireless with them.

My second shooter yanked out his Godox unit and I went…

“Uhh…Where’s the cords?”  

He proceeded to pull out the controller and show me the battery AND shoot through remote.  I thought I was on top of the tech game, but apparently, nursing has pulled me out a little too far.  

These units at their price and capabilities are too tempting to at least not to give a serious look at with consideration of switching my system up.  I may keep an AlienBee for backup, but I have a feeling I’ll be switching soon.  


Keeping cool was obviously a big concern of mine knowing that it would be 109 degrees.  Aside from knowing to stay as hydrated as possible, I went to the store to load up on instant ice packs.  Not only did they come in handy, but I had one ready for the groom as he’s wearing a full suit and coat.  Just like the opposite when riding motorcycles in the freezing cold, you’ll take relief in any shape and form.  A little foresight goes a long way with wedding and event photography, so be a little greedy when it comes to comfort.   

Last, but not least…

I’ve never really been a fan of using DSLR for video.  In my personal opinion, I feel that camera makers are packing too much video into camera bodies and as a photographer, I really don’t use video.  I’d rather see all the advances and upgrades in the newer camera bodies be put into the still images rather than going to up the frame count in 4K video.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s neat-o, but if cutting all the video function out of a body dropped the cost of a body by $500 bucks, guess which body I’d rather get?  

I ate my words this wedding when I realized I would not be able to capture the moment with images, as only video would do this moment justice.  

I present to you, the flower girls…

The Exotic Green Garden Bridal Show at Westlake Village Inn

What a weekend!  Just got done editing for the Exotic Green Garden Bridal Show held at Westlake Village Inn.  I took the liberty of shooting all the local vendors and then also shooting the bridal show.  Here are a few of my shots from the day.  

The entire gallery link is here.  

Wedding vendors:  Feel free to use images from the gallery link.  I just ask that you tag me in the social media, or give me a photo credit.

The fashion show by Camarillo Bridal and Friar Tux was also awesome.  A great set of dresses and good times all around.  If I missed anyone in the tags below, please let me know at

For my photo geeks:

Another one in the books for the Nikon D750/Sigma Art 50mm 1.4.  Just a power house combo in low light.  I must admit, Lightroom was put through it’s paces with bumping the blacks and shadows, but nothing new that I haven’t already used in previous weddings and events.  Sun at this time was a killer, but knowing to put my subjects in the shade helped out in post a lot.  Sometimes, you just can’t get stuff EXACTLY right in camera, but I can try to get as close as I can.  Without my AlienBees to help balance the sun, open shade had to work.  

It was also great having models that had some sort of experience with posing and their “look”.  I can’t tell you how many TFP sessions I did where models would lock once the camera came out.  

I wanted to do the entire event without using a flash, as sometimes, it just blinds every one.  Most of my shooting took place in the last hour of the event, so I was shooting fast and furious.  One thing that I had to be very aware of was the mixing of tungsten and natural lighting.  It drives me nuts when my white balance is off, but I knew that it would have to be something adjusted in post.  

As photographers, I know we are to taught to never say, I can get that later in post.  It’s a bad habit, like chewing with your mouth open or not using your turn signal.  However, if it needs to be fixed and adjusted in post for the sake of time/moment, it can be fixed in post.  I just want to say now, if you can fix it in camera, FIX IT IN CAMERA!


Agoura High School Spirit Team Banquet 2016

Agoura High School Spirit Team Banquet 2016 – Westlake Village Inn – April 6th, 2016

Double trouble for this event.  Not only did they get me for photography, but they also got our photobooth, all booked through my lovely wife.  I want to thank Talia Gad for reaching out to us so we could be part of these local families special night at the Westlake Village Inn.  Now that I think about it, we did uplights too!  Not only did she do a great job with the event, but also made sure that us vendors were well taken care of. 

A banquet, a toast to another year of excellence for these young women and young gentlemen that uphold Charger pride.  I may have just met all of them during the event, but it was clear through all the speeches and interactions with the families that it was truly a night to celebrate.   

Check out the gallery at this link here.

I can’t say enough about our new photobooth!  Helps that we have a Halloween Store for sweet props!

For my fellow photo nerds:

I’ve been playing around with the Nikon D750 and the Sigma Art Lens 50mm 1.4 quite a bit now.  It’s ability to focus and capture images in little to no light continues to amaze me.  The following images are shot with no flash (obviously) during a video montage.  The only available light was the uplights, the reflected light off the video screens and some ambient tungsten in other parts of the room.  I was usually hovering around 3200 ISO, sometimes up to 6400 and didn’t really go full wide open, but stayed real close around 1.8 and 2 to quell my brain’s hankering for adequate depth of field.  I may go 35mm Sigma Art.  I may not.


2015: A Quick Close

As this year comes to a close, another begins.  Here’s to starting a regular blog in 2016, a newly revamped website/portfolio and a new workflow!  Thank you to PASS and Pictage for your great work.  Thanks to all my second shooters, assistants, editors and staff that got me through this year as well.  Couldn’t have done it without all of you.  Also, thank you to my family, especially my wife for all the support.

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