Little Things Make Big Things Happen

It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.
— John Wooden

One of the thing's I notice as I get older, is how everyone gets way to focused on the big picture. They're so focused on acing that big exam, that they forget to get that good night of rest, or a decent meal, all because they're focused on the studying and passing that exam. They're so focused on the finished sky scraper, that they forget to pay attention to the screws that hold it together. So many people, including myself, are guilty of this horrible habit. We're told we shouldn't focus on the little things and go for the big picture, which is great and all, but we can't forget about the little things. It only takes 1 failure for the whole building to crumble... Even if everything else was made to perfection. This week I want you to look at what little things you tend to look over, whether it's your dietary habits, that hour you waste doing something that really doesn't matter, thanking the people around you who go out of their way for you, even though they don't have to and you never acknowledge them, anything really. Take a good look at it, and do something to change it. 

I Love Senior Portraits

One of the favorite parts of my job is photographing Seniors. Seniors are always so full of life, ideas, and creativity. It's right at a point in their life where they're becoming adults, thinking for themselves, and really turning into the person they're going to be! It makes capturing portraits awesome! 

Yesterday I took my sister out to do some senior portraits of her and to get some new photos up on the wall (her's are several years old). I was super excited, as I've gotten new equipment recently and haven't had a actual portrait session in several months. Sure, I've done portrait type pictures at sporting events, parties, day trips to the city, the set of a music video that I was a crew member on, but not a actual portrait session. I take studio style portraits at my day job everyday, and it was awesome to be able to get out of the studio to get back to what I really love doing. 

Normally I wouldn't do a portrait session with all this rain that California has been getting, but since it was my sister it was really easy to just stay ready. The original location I wanted to take her to was flooded (to be fair it is in the wetlands) so we went to another favorite spot of mine. This spot just so happened to be the local baseball field complex (yes, these were at a baseball field). One of the reasons I love this location is because of how many different looks are in a 50 foot radius. You have tall grass on one side of the foot bridge, a small grove of trees on another side, and these awesome rocks on the third! Although the bathrooms on the 4th side are hard to beat!

Luckily we got a few hours where it wasn't raining, and we were able to get some awesome pictures! All in all, we spent around two hours playing around with different looks, different lighting techniques, and allowing myself to get comfortable with my new equipment. I'm extremely happy with the results! I sent off some photos to the lab today to be printed and I can't wait to see them when they get here in a few days.

Senior Season is right around the corner. I have a limited schedule, so make sure you reserve a date as soon as possible! I can't wait to hear from you soon so we can create some amazing photographs that you, your parents, your family, and your friends will cherish for centuries to come! 

The Secret To Finding Beautiful Things In Not So Beautiful Places

The Secret To Finding Beautiful Things In Not So Beautiful Places

While some of us get to wake up to beautiful sights like San Francisco, New York, Miami, Paris, Rome, Ireland, The Rocky Mountains, Zion National Park, or another of the many beautiful sights around the world, the harsh reality is that not everyone is so lucky. Millions of people, such as myself, wake up to the same old suburbs, trailer parks, and harsh terrain that isn't always so camera friendly, or is it? 

The First Bay Area Sunrise Of The Year

The first sunrise of 2016 over San Francisco.

Here I am sitting at the bottom of the cliff that we climbed down after the trail ended. Photo by Alex Broom

Here's Alex perched on the cliff we climbed down. 

Here's Alex and Joe heading down the trail we explored. 

I was invited by Alex to join him and another friend to go photograph the Golden Gate Bridge way early in the morning on New Years. I'm always eager to explore places I've never been before, and I've never actually been on a trip to just focus on the bridge. So I took him up on his offer.

I ended up staying up all nigh on New Year's Eve and headed over to meet Alex at his house bright and early in the morning. We then went to go pick up Joe and head out. We got to the Headlands around 6:25am (about an hour before sunrise) and proceeded to explore a few of the spots. We finally settled up the road and perched out in the cold for a half an hour waiting for the sun to come up. It finally did, and we got our pictures and wondered farther down the road.

We found a spot along the road that Alex saw a good angle and we pulled over for it. There was a trail off to the side, so we parked and followed it. It took us down to find an awesome view of the city and the bridge. We even went a little farther and explored down a cliff like wall, out to this pile of rocks at sea level. We crawled around those rocks, took some much needed portraits of each other, and headed back up the path.

We drove along the road and decided we wanted to head into San Francisco. We found one more Golden Gate Bridge vantage point along the way, and then crossed over the bridge. We drove around SF for a little bit, and then found a spot to park in Chinatown. We got out and walked quite a bit, eventually ending up in a little cafe to use the restroom and grab something to eat and drink. We walked back to the car and proceeded to drive around San Francisco for a little longer before realizing we had a flat tire. We pulled into a gas station and fixed the flat, and headed home. I'm not quite sure how long it took to get home, as I fell asleep in Oakland and didn't wake up until we were in Antioch. 

While I had gotten a half an hour or so of sleep in 24 hours, frozen my butt off in the cold, and even had a good chunk of my photos turn out to be unusable, I still had an awesome time. One of my goals this year is to do a lot more traveling, whether I'm with friends or not. I tend to chose my bed and Netflix over driving out somewhere and exploring with my camera. This was definitely a great way to start the year. I hope everyone had a good New Years, and gets a great start on their new goals! I know I did! 

Here's a older gentleman reading his newspaper in Portsmouth Square.

Here's Alex at the end of the trail. 

Look At The World In A Different Way

A good photograph is knowing where to stand.
— Ansel Adams

For this shot, I was crouching in a wide split, balancing on a rock about 2 1/2 feet from shore, and the shore.

For this shot, I was pressed up against a wall, on a bridge about 22-25 feet wide, with 2 lanes of traffic and no pedestrian path.

Anyone who's gone on a trip with me knows they have to keep an eye out for me. It's not uncommon for someone to realize I'm not walking behind them anymore, and then turn around to see me laying on the floor, in the mud, shoving my camera as far under the fence as possible, for a shot. I personally think that's one of the biggest differences in photographers and non-photographers. Photographers look at the world in such a different way. I often finding myself walking around when I don't have my camera and looking at specific angles and what millimeter I would roughly be at. I've always surprised clients by lying down in the mud, or wading out into the water, laying up against a tree, twisting my body in ways that would hurt a yoga instructor. Good photographs don't always require such dedication though, sometimes photographs become so much stronger by changing your angle to the left by a foot. Another reason why I can't never seem to stay still while I have my face to a camera.

One of the great things about photography is there's so many perfect ways to look at the same thing. You can hand two world class photographers the same camera and lens, send them down the same street, and they'll come back with two albums that are polar opposite. You have a unique way of seeing things, train your brain to realize what you're seeing.

This week's blog post is pretty short but I don't think much is needed to be said. Look at the world differently. Focus on details. Try to think outside of the usual tourist shots.

For this image, I was laying in the dirt with my camera as low to the ground as possible, while tweaking my head to run parallel with the ground so I could see through the viewfinder. 

Maybe Christmas, The Grinch Thought, Doesn't Come From A Store

Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store.
— Dr. Seuss

Christmas is coming up really quick! It seems like just yesterday I was photographing the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot and then stuffing my face with turkey! The holiday season is always a magical time, but many of us forget what the holidays are really about.

Throughout the year, I hear people talk about how they need Christmas to come so they can get that new make-up palette, cell phone, action figure, doll house, pair of shoes, purse, vacuum, or even, if they're so lucky, the Camaro they've wanted for so long! So many people get upset about how they wake up Christmas morning, run down the stairs so fast they almost tumble down them, and don't see that new Camaro in the driveway, while there's just as many people that have been standing in line in the cold all night for the local soup kitchen to open up so they can get something warm in their system. We don't realize how lucky we are. I'm super lucky I can make an income as a professional photographer. I have a nice car that's in my name at 18. I get the chance to work 60+ hours a week, 6-7 days a week, and have a house, a bed, a TV and warm food to come home to. I'm thankful that I have the hardship of having to chose which camera model I spend thousands of dollars on next. Some people on this planet don't even earn that much in a year. I have light to capture photos with and see what I'm doing. I have a computer to edit photographs, read articles, write blogs, and even watch pointless comedy videos on YouTube while I'm on my phone scrolling through Twitter. I can send anyone I care about a message and they can read it instantly.

It really is amazing how much we all have, yet we're so disappointed that we don't have more. I challenge you guys to do something (or lots of somethings!) selfless this season. Help out at a local soup kitchen, give a food gift card to someone less fortunate that you pass on the way to work everyday, donate some blankets and jackets you don't use anymore to a local charity or homeless shelter. Enjoy what you already have. Make an extra nice dinner at home for a loved one that usually cooks for you, curl up on the couch and watch a movie with your family and friends, go on a drive and explore a place that you're fortunate enough to be able to travel to yet haven't. Enjoy the season and have a Merry Christmas! -Michael

You May Never Realize How Much Of An Impact You Have On Somebody

Mr. Mathews (right) with Principle Rocha (left) during the National Anthem at Antioch High's Class of 2015 Homecoming Rally.

Mizrahy Aquino (left) and I on a December day dressed for a final presentation my freshmen year (2011). 

Taylor Daniel (right) and I after Antioch High's Class of 2015 Homecoming Rally our senior year.

A creative selfie I took during a break at my job.

Mr. Mathews waves for the camera during Antioch High's 2014-2015 Back To School Night. 

A few weeks ago, I was photographing The NCS semi-final football game between Foothill HS and Antioch HS. I always enjoy heading back to Antioch, as it's the High School I graduated from and it's always full of familiar, friendly faces. I always run into old classmates, fellow journalists, fellow photographers, my former teachers, and the staff members that were there when I was attending High School. One of my favorite teachers to see is Mr. Mathews.

My very first high school class ever was 9th Grade Honors English with Mr. Mathews. I was extremely nervous my first day of high school, due to the fact that most of my friends had chosen to go to Deer Valley (the other HS in town). I didn't know to many people, and I was fairly scared due to how some students were acting in the hallway. I sat down in Mathews classroom and wasn't quite sure what to think. He was funny and a little loud. Okay, maybe really loud. But he was cool. His class actually calmed me down the first day. After a little while I really enjoyed first period, and looked forward to it everyday. I learned a ton in that class, although it almost never felt like we were working. For the rest of high school, Mathews was a teacher I constantly went back to visit and talk to in the hallways. 

After the game, I went home to upload all of my memory cards and send a few photos to various publications for purchase as I usually do, when I got a message from Mathews asking if it'd be okay to give me a call although it was well past midnight. I was still up editing photos so I figured why not. I'm so glad I did. Mathews was talking about how awesome the game was. The crowd, the players, the people, the cold, everything. It was great. He then went on to talk about how it was awesome seeing so many alumni out helping out, whether it be cheer coaches, fundraising, and even us photographers! We talked a little bit about photography and he was completely in awe of how I gave him a mini-report on camera settings. He went on about how he remembers me coming in the first day, and how quiet and reserved I was, although he had a feeling I'd be one to keep in eye on (in a good way). Mathews then went on to talk about how great of a young adult I've become and how far I've come with my people skills. Freshmen year I was really nervous to get up in front of the class to read a 5 minute quick write, and by senior year I had no problem standing in front of a large group of people to give a 20 minute report by myself. Now I work in a job where I deal with different clientele and anywhere from 20-300 kids a day. On the sidelines of the football games, I'm running up and down socializing with people almost as much if not more then actually photographing the game. He then told me I was definitely going far and he couldn't wait to see where I end up. It was such an awesome way to finish off the day. And it meant a lot. While Mathews wasn't the only teacher responsible for me coming out of my shell, he was definitely a huge and important part, and while I'm still not the greatest at writing, I really enjoy writing.

The next couple of days I really thought about how much of an impact everyone in high school had on me. It really shaped me and I wouldn't be where I am now without those experiences. I really started thinking about how much I impact people. At my job, we get 30 seconds with each child to take their picture. I definitely don't remember most of the kids that come through my set. I always assumed that the kids wouldn't remember me either. Surprisingly, there has been quite a few times where I go back to a school for a random reason, and a kid comes up to me and says "Hey, you took my picture! It's my mom's favorite picture of me ever!" or "Thanks for taking my picture! Can you come back next year? You're my favorite photographer!" One of my favorite parts is when we are working with a child who's parent comes in to help because they don't take good photos, and you catch a photo that the parent say's is the first ever professional photo of them smiling (and they're 10 years old+) or it's the best picture they've ever had. It's those little things that I think of as just doing my job, yet it's made such an impact on one or more people. And those are just the parents that come in. I can't imagine what the parent's say when the picture's are taken home. 

It's amazing how I went from a tiny, shy freshman to a slightly larger (although still tiny) young adult who makes an impact on so many people's lives, all because of the people that made an impact on mine. Mr. Mathews is just doing his job, and may not realize that he's going above and beyond for everyone. I mean heck, he's just doing his job. Heck, I'm just doing my job and impact people without realizing it. Think about how much of an impact you might be making on people. Give someone that compliment, hold that door, let someone know they dropped something. It might be the best thing that's happened to them all day. 

Mr. Mathews during Antioch High's 2014-2015 Back To School Night.