Churches of New Mexico

The influence of the Catholic church is very clear in New Mexico.  The oldest church in the continental US is San Miguel Mission which was built in 1626. I my recent trip to New Mexico with Arizona Highways Photo Scapes we had the opportunity to photograph several churches.  I chose to present them in black and white to emphasize the building textures and their unique lines. All these churches were hand built and the stucco walls are repaired frequently. One can easily see the imperfect finish which gives these buildings a sense of being more than a structure. The buildings are "alive".

You've Got Mail

10 years ago I took a photo class at Santa Fe Photo Workshops. I was at the early stages of starting my photography business.  During my week in Santa Fe I spent several hours in and around Canyon Road.  The area is vey popular for the its numerous art galleries and old homes.  One thing I discovered back them was how colorful and unique the mail boxes of business and residents could be.  Last week just over 10 years later, I returned to Santa Fe to help on a 5 day photo workshop with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes. As I did then, I captured few mailboxes to share with you this unique aspect of Santa Fe New Mexico.

Downtown Mesa is the place to be.

Last night downtown Mesa was a very busy place. Downton was packed. The diversity of people in downtown Mesa was striking. It is something common in downtown to see families, young kids, and old people as well as artists, music enthusiasts and biker all having a wonderful time. A reason for the big crown was the fact that there were three popular events all happening at once. In addition to the standard monthly first Friday event,  Motorcycles on Main, the Mesa Arts Center unveiled Fantastic Planet. If that was not enough to bring you to downtown Mesa , the recent installation of the Arizona Museum of Natural History of the life size dinosaur breaking out of the museum walls, should entice you to come down.  We took advantage of the nice weather walked downtown and stop for dinner at Mangos.

If you have not been to downtown Mesa in a while, you need to take a look, you are missing a great deal.

Here are few images from last night, enjoy.

Mesa Community College Rose Garden Annual Fundraiser Tea event

Last Friday the Mesa Community College Rose Garden held their annual fundraiser events. The Rose Garden at the Mesa Community College is a very special place. According to their website
" It is the Desert Southwest's largest rose garden, where roses bloom in the desert. Host to nearly 9000 rose bushes located in Mesa, AZ.
The Rose Garden at Mesa Community College is not only a Mesa landmark but a centerpiece for community, education, and innovative economic initiatives in the East Valley. Students, kindergarten through high school and community college through university, use the Rose Garden as botanical laboratories and study areas."

I had a wonderful time photographing the event which was well attended. Participants had a chance to tour the garden and learn more about this unique place.

Photographing an evening in Downtown Mesa

Last night we had a full moon. It was the perfect setting for stroll and for some street photography along our neighborhood , the Second Street Historic District, MacDonald Street and Downtown Mesa.  We loved our neighborhood proximity to downtown and its collection of historic homes. These homes are owned by people that are dedicated to keeping these beautiful homes in top shape while preserving their historic charm. Last night was also the last Friday of the month, which means Zen Nights. Zen Nights @zennights is a plant based, family friendly gathering that occurs on the last Friday of every month on Mac Donald and Main Street.  The turn out was great. This is unique family friendly event that just celebrated a year in Mesa and has seen a significant increase in attendance by visitors and vendors.   

University of Arizona Eller School Phoenix Experience

Last week I was hired to photograph the event put together by the University of Arizona where students from the Eller business school get to visit several organizations in Phoenix. Student in the first or second year of business school get to spend half a day learning and experiencing area businesses first hand.  It is a great opportunity to learn more about the career choices the will have as they work on their business degrees. I followed the groups that visited Youtech, Indeed and The JW Marriott Resort in Desert Ridge. The Phoenix Experience ended with a presentation from Google Education Evangelist Jaime Casap. I had a wonderful experience photographing these energized and driven students. Having the opportunity to listen and photograph Jaime Casap's presentation was educational and very inspiring.

Photographing the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur an inspiring experience

One of the things I do as a professional photographer is to create images that tell a story. Photographing places and creating portraits of people that help the reader or viewer connect with the subject is something I enjoy very much. A couple of weeks ago I worked for two days with the Sister of Notre Dam of Namur. The project's objective was to create a series of images to document sister Mag work with the Maricopa jails in Phoenix. Getting to know sister Mag was very inspiring. Sister Mag has been in Phoenix since 1964. She has lots of interesting stories about her early years in Phoenix living without air conditioning. Learning about the fact that she used to ride a bike to get around Phoenix to visit all places she was working with like the Lower Buckeye jail. Sister Mag is on her 80's  and still going strong. She no longer rides the bike; but still manages to get around thank you to volunteers that drive her. It still allows her to keep doing the job she has done for many years. Sister Mag works with people that have paid their debt to society and are working hard to get their live back in order.

Fall in Mesa, AZ under the super moon

It is hard to think of Fall colors when leaving the in the desert.  However if you take time to search you will find it in many places here in Mesa, AZ. Last week I wanted to capture the moonrise on New Year's day which was a one of two super moons that will be available in this month.  While waiting for the moon to rise, I was able to capture a glance of the sunset light on the banks of the Salt River right in front of Arizona iconic mountain, Four Peaks. Here are the three images I created from that evening shoot.


Downtown Mesa a photo comparison 2012 vs 2018

Downtown Mesa is changing. A big reason for all the improvements is the construction of the Light Rail that currently takes you across the heart of Mesa from Country Club Avenue to Mesa Drive.  My photography studio is half block from the Light Rail line. I have had a front row to witness many of the changes. Because of my work with many local business, I have done a great deal of architectural photography around Downtown Mesa.  I am always fascinated with the thought of looking at progress through images. These two images are about 5 years apart. The first image was taken on October 20, 2012 (before Light Rail). The second image was taken on January 6 of this year. 

Answering few questions about construction photography

How do you approach a construction site when you are photographing it? How do you prepare? What do you look for? How is it possible to tell a story when you are photographing something that is in the very early stages? 
These are some of the questions I get asked by people I meet or my students when we talk about construction photography.  The answers are many.  To start I meet with the engineers that are working the construction and we go over the project and what are some of the elements in the they want to highlight. When possible, I scout the location and find angles and times of the day that will help me create the construction photos that the client wants.  I prepare as much as it is possible before the day. During the photography day, I do a lot of walking and look for different points of view before I start to photograph. I also ask for any particular event that will be happening that we ned to capture. There are times when a concrete pour is schedule, or a structure is being moved.  In addition to looking for potential construction photos, I am also keeping an eye on al the moving trucks and equipment. Safety is a must at any construction site, you have to be hyperaware of your surroundings and be very carefully with your equipment.  Taking the time to understand the construction site and paying attention to details is what drives me to do my best to create construction photos that tell a story.  Here a selection of images from a construction project I recently captured in Peoria. The client was DCS Contracting and they are currently setting up the sewer lines for a new neighborhood that is being built in the area close to Highway 303 and Grand Avenue in Peoria , Arizona.

City of Mesa Mayor John Giles delivers the state of the city address

For the last 5 years, I have been covering the Mesa Chamber of Commerce special event, The State of The City Address by the city of Mesa Mayor. This year's event was at the Mesa Convention center. More than 700 business and community leaders attended the event. As a photographer this is an event I always look to capture.  The event layout is a challenge as there are many tables and few area to wonder.  So arriving early to review the layout and prepare is always a good idea. When I photograph an event, I always to take time to study the layout and look for different ways to capture it and tell the story.  I also try to find different angles and points of view.  This year State of the City Address was an exciting and inspiring event to photograph. Mayor John Giles highlighted the city mayor accomplishments and its plans for 2017.  Some of the items discussed included the new Apple manufacturing facility in South East Mesa, Downtown Mesa Benedictine University new student housing and new potential development for the lot at the corner of Mesa Drive and University.  

Tilt-Up construction by Suntec Concrete, a heavy lifting process.

In the Fall of 2016 I was hired to do construction photography for the lifting of one of the walls for the iFly skydiving place that Suntec Concrete is building in Scottsdale, AZ. This particular lift was going to be one of the largest and heaviest lift they have done. On a tilt-up process the walls are built on the grounds and when ready they are lifted and set in place. It is a process that takes a great deal of preparation and precision. As a photographer, I need to be very aware of my surroundings and anticipate what will be happening in order to capture the perfect image. Safety comes first. You have to be synch with everyone. You cannot afford to get distracted. It will get you in a lot of trouble. Construction photography is something I have done for many years. I find it appealing. Structures of concrete and steel are my canvas. I look for lines, shapes and shadows to create my compositions and tell the story that I see.

Thanksgiving in Iceland. Wonderful warm country in a very cold land

I am not a cold weather person and neither is my fiancé Jen. We both were born and live in a very warm place. However, we love to travel and experience new cultures.  So when the opportunity to visit Iceland came about; we weighed the pros and cons and decided to go for it.  We have heard about Iceland and felt that winter was probably better than summer. It is a very popular place to travel to in the summer. In part it is the location. Iceland is right in the middle of the flight routes from the US to Europe. Many airlines will offer stop by services. So over the years the Iceland economy has transformed from an economy that depended on fishing to one that is now driven by tourism. The country population is about 350,00 and one can drive around the island in about 13 hours. The challenge of visiting in winter in addition to the cold is the very short days you get. Sun rises at 10:30 in the morning sets at 4 in the afternoon. The advantage of visiting in winter is that you get less crowds and the opportunity to see the Northern Lights. We rented a car for two days and managed to visit many places close to the reykjavik . We visited several waterfalls in the southern coast and were able to get to see the Northern lights on our first night. We were very fortunate and the rest of our stay was rainy and cloudy.  Overall we had a wonderful experience. And even thought it was winter,  I am glad we did it. 

Lydian, A Different Way of Looking at a Dental Office

I was hired by  Burkhart dental, a company I have done work for in the past to commercial photography of the Tempe office for Lydian dental. The images were created for their quarterly magazine  Catalist.  As you will see in the photographs Lydian is not your traditional dental office. The owners: Dr. Scott Connell, Dr. Josh Turnbull, and Clayton Nylander, did a great deal of research to create a place where patience and workers feel at easy and welcome.  They currently have three locations. In Arizona in addition to Tempe they also have an office in Queen Creek. Their third location is in Austin, Texas. Working with this team was exciting and energizing.  It was a great pleasure to see the images on the Catalyst magazine cover and in the featured article.

University of Arizona Mount Lemmon Sky Center, a view of our galaxy and beyond

What an wonderful experience we had last weekend. We signed up for the Mount Lemmon Sky Center Astronomy program.  It was my first experience at a real observatory.  As a Mesa, Arizona photographer, going to Tucson is always a great trip. Tucson culture is very diverse and there always great places to eat and visit.

After a half hour drive from our bed and breakfast The Azure Gate outside of Tucson, we arrived at the top of Mount Lemmon. The program started around 4 PM with instructions on how to use the telescope, a beautiful sunset and a well executed presentation about our universe by Matt Ryan. Matt is an astronomer who graduated at the University of Arizona. Matt presentation showed his passion and immense knowledge for the topic.  He did a wonderful job in educating all of us about our universe and many of the other galaxies beyond. We had perfect skies and great weather for star gazing.

I came out with a great understanding of how tiny small our planet and solar system is when compared to everything else out there. We learned that there are about 100 billion stars in the Milky Way, the galaxy our solar system is in. Now put this into perspective, it is estimated that there are about 100 billion galaxies out there.  Yes, we are just a little grain of dust in the bast space system. Here are few images from the facility and the views we had .

Photography Techniques, Stephen Wilkes Day to Night images

Photographer Stephen Wilkes, uses a very unique approach to capturing live at iconic places throughout the world using thousand of photographs over a 20 to 30 hours span and then carefully combining them into one image. Stephen Wilkes series Day to Night are beautiful photographic illustration of our world today.  This TED talk presentation is not just about a photography technique but about a portrait of our planet, ourselves and nature. 

Tokyo Sky Tree, a photographer's perspective

This summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Japan for the first time. We traveled throughout the country and spent several days in Tokyo. Photographing Tokyo was a delight. There is so much to capture with the camera. Tokyo is a very modern city with world class architecture and in 2020 will host the Sumer Olympics. One of the city's newest structures is the Tokyo Sky Tree. It is the tallest broadcast tower in the world. It measures 2080 feet. It opened on May 22, 2012 and cost $806 million to biuild.  From the ground the tower is majestic and it hard to miss.  As someone that has done architectural photography, it is hard not to be inspired by it. The clean design and impressive size of this structure draws you in. The view of the city from the top of Sky Tree is impressive. With a population of 13 million people Tokyo is one of the most populated cities in  the world.

White Sands National Monument, a photographers' paradise

We are on our second day of a 4 day Arizona Highways Photo Workshops at White Sands National Monument.  We arrived yesterday afternoon and photographed during the afternoon through sunset. The weather changed on use several times. In a span of 4 hours we saw storms go by, lighting, moon rise, sunset and got caught in a very strong wind storm. Weather like this makes for great images. Today we were up very easy to capture sunrise. The weather was much calmer this morning; but we still managed to create few great images. It is my first trip to the White Sands. I am glad I came. It is a magical and beautiful place. See for yourself.

Mesa Morning Live September 2016 episode

Every month , the Mesa Chamber of Commerce presents Mesa Morning Live, a monthly networking event that showcases business and community leaders. The topics varied through out the year. This month, our key presenter was Cindy McCain. Cindy, the wife of Senator John McCain, talked to us about human trafficking.  Her passion for this topic is evident. She is in a mission to raise awareness and get lawmakers and business leaders to do what is necessary to stop human trafficking from happening. In addition to Cindy McCain, we also heard from SRP, the United Food Bank and East Valley Veterans Day Parade.  Jim Pratt SRP Sr Director of Grid Modernization Services, shared with us what SRP is currently doing to improve and develop its services to people it serves in Arizona. Ginny Hildebrand, Executive Director for The United Food recognized Organ Stop Pizza for collecting the most amount of money and pounds of food during the 2016 Christmas in July food drive event.  BankMelissa Forester and Steve Borden gave us an update on the upcoming East Valley Veterans Parade which will happen on November 11 in Downtown Mesa. Below is a selection of images from the event. A more extensive collection can be found here