Aftermath of the MFA


diBenedetto_MFA_2015_42Not to sure how or where to start…. I finished my MFA in August and a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Literally and figuratively. All I wanted was a break from school and I felt the day would never come. But now it has… and now I am like “well what do I do now.” I think the hardest part of graduating with a terminal degree is that school is officially over. Done. Fin!…..Right… I could start my PhD in Visual Art, but is that what I really want right now. Not a 100% sure. The thought has crossed my mind over and over again, but for now, I think it’s best to just continue to the practice. Which right now, for me is the hardest part… finding the time to create again. At least when I was in graduate school, I was pushed to make art all the time, be in the studio all the time and create create create.

Now that I have completed my program, I find it more difficult to make time… mainly because there simply are not enough hours in the day. Now with new job opportunities flourishing and doors are opening, (WHICH IS GREAT!!!!- WHO WOULD HAVE KNOWN THEIR WOULD BE 4 JOBS OPEN IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA!!)

BUT applying to exhibitions and applying for grants…. is like…. applying grad school every week… like every week… LITERALLY! I FEEL LIKE I AM APPLYING TO SCHOOL AGAIN ALL THE TIME. But just like one of my favorite art videos on Ted talk… Just do it. So how does one find time to create, research and write and then create more. Well here goes…..

I am learning that the push comes from within. It is now more than ever, more important to push myself. Nobody is here to check in on me. I am also learning maintaining the relationships I made in school are more important, more than ever right now at this moment. I valued my cohorts voices and opinions when it came to my work. So keeping that connection is very important right now. I also find it’s important to continuing reading and keeping up to date with whats going on in the contemporary art world. Joining mail list, artist talks, and even seeing more and more exhibitions has become so much more important than when I was in graduate school. More important… taking the time to rest. There is no need for those sleepless nights and endless writing and reading sessions. Of course I try not to procrastinate, but I work two adjunct positions full time and have my daughter, I can’t help but wait to the last minute at times. I have realized that I just need to be okay with that. And I am okay. I also realize, that it’s not worth the last minute push if I can’t sleep and get my mind right. I also find it very important to keep believing that my work is amazing because I am amazing. Confidence. That confidence I built in critiques and during my thesis…. that confidence that my daughter looks up too. Confidence. I didn’t just get a degree, I got a terminal degree. So I am going to keep moving forward… like always.



Best Photo of 2015



The best photo I took of 2015 had to be the photo of daughter Savannah and all her many activities. I call Savannah ““Multipotentialite.” She has this wonderful imagination about life. She often finds the adventure in everything and has this appetite to try everything. I wanted to create a fun photo showing all that emotion and really capture her identity. We set up the backdrop in my home in San Diego, Calif. We used different types of lighting kits, but I loved using the soft boxes. Savannah helped set up the shot on what she should wear and how she should place the books on her head and her soccer ball. She wanted to make sure we got all her activities just right…. a clear sense of balance into her life. I think I just enjoyed how my daugher and I collaborated, it was special moment.

I often find it hard to print my photos for the best quality. So this year I googled and found Social Print Studio. I love their Giant Photostrips and the metal prints! I found these to be the best print for our home and easy to hang up. I also like the different parts you can write on them. I plan to  use Social Print Studio  for part of my thesis project  for graudate school, that I am currently working on with Savannah. The series is called “Are you okay?” and comes from a project that Savannah and I started about two years ago.  Savannah has her own instagram called @Sids_world_  and it captures the everyday life of a kids world, it’s called #comeplaywithme. The series was inspired by Murad Osmann‘s photographic series called #followmeto. The reason I love Social prints Giant Photostrips, because it allows Savannah to write on the photos as well. They look great on our walls and are inviting for a fun perspective on things.

We often struggle these days with raising our kids to be the best and strive to introduce them to so much. Always college prepping and over booking every single detail in their day. We have become the generation of  “helicopter parents.” We forget that they are kids, and they need to have FUN! 

But this year Savannah wanted to choose every activity in this photo. (except swim.. she wants a swim team that swims in the ocean and be FREE!!) She wants to try everything and I respect and admire that about her. She is a resilient and tenacious kid and I know that she will find her niche and love what she does, but for now, I just want her to enjoy being a kid. 🙂

Yes, she is in Soccer, swim, piano, violin, Continuing Catholic Development, paints and draws and not to mention she is a pretty awesome Fourth Grader. She is amazing and often inspire me. She is the definition of what you call a “Multipotentialite.” This photo captures that and much more. It truly captured our year of 2015!


Walnut Grove Park with my Students

The rain cleared up just in time to get my students some great experience shooting on location. The sky turned into some beautiful colors from blue to pink to purple.  I brough my camera out and took some shots for fun too! Here they are!


We Out Here Like, Whoah

The past several years as a photographer, I have always focused on pure documentary. I love the idea of telling peoples lives and stories. Even as a trained Combat Cameraman, I tend to always reveal the truths of what goes on around me, behind my camera.

However, I always love the idea of how to push myself and how to really change my perception of the things around me. One of my weakest areas is night photography. I have always struggled with it and as I grow older, my night vision isn’t that great anymore.

Last night a friend named Arthur Marqueez and I, pushed out creativeness and went on a night shoot. He has this great idea to work with long exposure and reflections of the water ponds by the beach. Instead of using lights and flashlights to write with the light, he brought in the concept of using steel wool to fire to light up the night sky. When we tried our first image, I was instantly high. We began to try different angles and different settings. With the ocean as the backdrop and the water reflection from the rocks, the images captured so much more. The steel wool, when lite, sheds light embers that just flick off into the air. It was amazing!!! I finally loved this new found idea of night photographer!!!! I am still in amazement and can not wait to do this again!

WARNING: Please do not do this alone. This can be dangerous and if not handled properly, can set fires. Make sure to have an extinguisher and water around incase of emergency. Make sure to use a tripod when trying this as well. Gloves are also a key and eye protection!

Enjoy the images!!! This will not be the last post!


Getting real in LA


Over the holiday weekend, I was able to have some new adventures with my kiddo and friends. I brought along my two friends from the Navy, Tony Coffield and Arthur Marquez, along with my two graduating students, Esteban Robinson and Adriana Guidino. They are all super creative and insightful in all that they do. I love to work off of other people and see what they come up with when we are all in the same location. They came up with some creative and insightful compositions and I was amazed!!! We ventured off to the Abandoned LA Zoo, which had some colorful boundaries. Then headed to Hollywood for lunch and the LACMA. It was free because of the holiday, which was great! But I mainly wanted to run through the Urban Lights with Savannah. We had a great time and it was great feeling to be amongst people who motivate you and help you to get out of your funk! Enjoy the fun shots!!!



2015 in review Thanks for all the love this year!!!!

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Savannahs Fourth Grade Photos

Savannahs Fourth Grade Photo are here! I couldn’t wait! I struggled with this year’s concept and had to brainstorm a lot for this one!!! But I am so excited with the results!

We often struggle these days with raising our kids to be the best and strive to introduce them to so much. Always college prepping and over booking every single detail in their day. We have become the generation of ” helicopter parents.” We forget that they are kids, and they need to have FUN! 

But this year Savannah wanted to choose every activity in this photo. (except swim.. she wants a swim team that swims in the ocean and be FREE!!) She wants to try everything and I respect and admire that about her. She is a resilient and tenacious kid and I know that she will find her niche and love what she does, but for now, I just want her to enjoy being a kid. smile emoticon

Yes, she is in Soccer, swim, piano, violin, Continuing Catholic Development, paints and draws and not to mention she is a pretty awesome Fourth Grader. She is amazing and often inspire me. I would say she is  what you call a “Multipotentialite” Thank you to my amazing team, Esteban Robinson and Adriana Gudiño!!!




Back to the Grind… In Boston.

Back to the Grind

I never thought I would reconsider going back to Grad school. I had such an awful first time experience and I had come to the conclusion that it wasn’t for me. However, I kept teaching part time as an adjunct, and it wasn’t until I realized how much my students motivated me to continue my own work, that I reconsidering going that route. My supervisors at CSUSM, continually pushed me and explained to me, that I couldn’t move forward in my teaching career if I didn’t finish my degree. But I also discovered, I wasn’t moving forward with my own work because I didn’t get the full experience of Graduate school. So here I was rebuilding a portfolio and reapplying to programs. I found two that I felt suited me and my situation. UCSD and Massachusetts College of Art and Design. I wanted a program that I could dive into, but work from home because of my daughter and work as an adjunct. I found Mass Art by just googling the internet. I already knew of UCSD because it was local. After researching, Mass Art was the program for me, just had to figure out how I was going to get there. There program is an intense 3 year program, with 3 Summer- 6 week residency and online classes and mentorship in the Fall and Spring. Its a called a low-residency program. For those of you who know me well, the attention span in class is very very minimal and I like to create on my own. This program was also perfect for me because it allowed me to be home with Savannah. As you can see, I applied, had a Skype interview anddddd long behold, I am here and I got in. I was like oh crap! Here I come Boston!

The first week, was overwhelming with moving into the dorms, meeting everyone and reviews. My reviews actually went pretty well despite how scared I was. Being back in a dorm situation is also a little funny too. But the other woman in the dorm with me are fantastic! They are all third year and have such an abundance of information. I enjoy the program most because of the interdisciplinary aspect of the program. Everyone has so much wonderful work and concepts, that its exciting to see on a daily basis! I love it. I love being surrounded by so many wonderful experienced artist. Below, I have listed a few of them and hope to continue to add more as time goes on.

My biggest goal for the summer is to really experiment with my hands and find a different way to show my prints. I grow so tiresome of just posting them on a big white wall. I have a paper making class, printmaking workshop, Graduate studio drawing class and Graduate seminar class. I look forward to keep you posted on this new journey and experience!

I really want to thank my loved ones for supporting me. I couldn’t be here without the full support. I grow homesick a little now and then, especially because its summer in Cali, but I love the new journey I am on.

Here are some fun photos from getting lost around the city.

Check out these artist and more to come:

William Chambers
Ashley Normal

Stephanie Wagner

Colleen Pearce

Sara Wichterman

Rebecca Barsi

Deborah Gray

Freedom Baird


2015 DC Shoot Off Visual Media Workshop


Over the weekend, (March 20-22) I participated in the DC Shoot Off, hosted by Visual Media Workshop.

Whats the Shoot Off??

Shoot Off Visual Media Workshops is a not for profit program for our military and civil service photographers.  The best speakers, mentors, editors and judges throughout the country volunteer for this prestigious event that aligns our service members with the national press corps, industry leaders and veteran military photographers. These workshops are for all levels and provide professional development in helping to fill training gaps for our service dedicated photographers throughout the year.

Who supports the workshop? 

We have Pulitzer Prize and Emmy Award winning presenters to nationally endowed speakers, visual creatives, book authors and lifetime educators who support the program.  We have legacy military photographers ensure students receive the knowledge of their own history and provide mentorship they will carry throughout their

Whats the future?

The medium is in constant rapid change and to provide the best in visual communication requires the sharing of knowledge through networking.  It involves many hours of production and resource to make these events happen and the program is open to financial support in helping staff and to offset the cost of travel and lodging expenses for key volunteers.  We have expanded the shoot off program to include an online category for forward deployed personnel in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere called Shoot Off Online, so they too can participate during the competition portion of the program online and judged separately.

Photographers are challenged to shoot or produce a still or video photo story or essay assignment within a 24-36 hour time frame.  Edit teams are on hand to help critique and mentor the students in a challenging and engaging environment.

My Perspective

Unfortunately, I was not able to attend, but I was able to participate in the online submission. This was my third time attending the workshop and I loved every minute of it! Friday is broken down to a variety of guest speakers that range from photojournalist, an ethics committee, portrait photographers, and veteran military photographers. This years speakers were amazing and I had such a great time listening. I have to say, my favorite this year was Preston Keres. Preston Keres served in the Navy for twelve years and made his foray into journalism in 1996, spending the last five years writing and photographing for the Navy. “I fell in love with photography,” remembers the native Iowan. “I found people would talk more about the photos I took than the stories I wrote.” The experience encouraged him to enroll in the Military Photojournalism Course at Syracuse University. After graduation in 2000, he started working for the Navy’s flagship publication “All Hands” in D.C. In his first two years, he won the Department of Defense’s Military Photographer of the Year for his coverage of Navy operations in Guatemala, Ground Zero rescues after the September 11th attacks, and the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake for DoD athletes. He joined the Post in 2003. ( taken from the Washington Post Website)  You can hear his presentation here:

His words were so informative and most importantly, inspirational. ” Think like a writer” when you are photographing, ” Navy Pick up the slack,” “Just as in writing, don’t be redundant.” These were some words that struck the hardest. I feel as photographers in the Navy, we continue to lack the emotion in our photos. We have gotten into this notion that we  just shoot to get the job done, but not much feeling nor creativity goes into our work these days. (personal opinion) I don’t speak for all Navy photographers, because there are certainly some great ones out there, but over the years, I have seen such a decline and it breaks my heart. Keres words made such a difference for me and it made me realize how I need to take this information from these informative workshops and keep moving forward with my own work and improve daily.

After the presentations, the theme of the Shoot off is selected and all shooters, both in-house at the workshop and online submitter’s have 24 hours to shoot the theme as a photo story, selecting in 3 to 5 photos.

This years theme was:“Juxtaposition.”


1. the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect. “juxtaposition of these two images”
My co-worker from the active duty side of Fleet Combat Camera Pacific, Antonio Coffield, an amazing videographer, was able to accompany as my partner in crime during this amazing competition. ( Check out his work: Flash Me Photography ) We set out to Hillcrest, Calif. around 11pm for a story on the double life style of two Drag Queens, Kevi Kev and Grotesqua Belladonna. We shot until about 4 am, slept and then were back at it in the morning at Oceanside, Calif. Pier. In Oceanside we concentrated on the Oceanside hostel with the lifestyle of hippies and homeless society roaming around. We had a great time and were so motivated! I loved every minute of it.
Sunday morning, we were able to stream live online for the judges and voting. The judges this year were Sharon Farmer, Stephen Brown & Larry Levin. An amazing and experienced panel.

This is where I began to draw questions about how the workshop was run. The last three times that I have participated in the workshop, the focus has always been storytelling, with a photojournalist style photography. THIS WAS NOT THE CASE this year. Most of the shots were set up, arranged and completely contradicting to the rules in the past. I was very disappointed how the judging went and their justification for the winners. I feel I completely over thought my subject and should have gone a more simpler route, so I understand why I wasn’t a winner. Overall, I was impressed by each shooters creativity and showcasing, but this went against everything I had been taught. One comment was “a photograph is a photograph, doesn’t matter what category it’s in.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME? As an adjunct professor for CSUSM, there is no way I would ever teach my civilian students this! I also was extremely disappointed by the biased opinions of the judges favoring certain graduating students ( I won’t mention the school, but it’s always praised- none the less a great school ). When you are on a panel, all your emotions, connections and relationships need to be set aside. Period. You are on a judging panel to be bring your experience as a professional. BUT congratulations to all the winners, again, I was very very very impressed by everyone’s creativity and structure of their shoots. I love seeing more and more work and I am always, so glad that a group of photographers came together for this wonderful event.

My second concern, was how disappointing the lack of communication for the online-submitters. In the past years, my mentor would notify me ASAP the theme and a phone number or email where they could be reached. This was not the case this year. I didn’t hear about the theme until I logged onto Facebook, and was contacted by my mentor until a few hours later. Then I was told I had to submit my images to two completely different people, that was frustrating. I was also given word, that I had a later time line and could submit at a later time. Even though we met the east coast timeline, the lack of communication as to when my images were due was frustrating. I also found a little defeat when I received a phone call at 6am west coast time, stating that I had submitted too many photos. Oops! NOW, grant it, I completely understand how difficult it is with the online submitter and the time difference. I also know that most of the mentors are volunteers and in no way am I bashing on them. I just feel in the past, I had great communication and this year not so much. It’s hard for me to sell this workshop to my peers if the workshop isn’t what it used to be. DONT get me wrong, I still think this is a great workshop and tons of wonderful mentors and speakers. I just believe that it needs to go back to the fundamentals, purpose and background of where the workshop came from. CHECK OUT THE WINNERS HERE:

Moving forward, I would love to help out in any way and will continue to stress the importance of the workshop to my peers. I hope to provide my knowledge and any assistance that the workshop needs.

ASIDE, from positive and negative review of the workshop, here is the images I submitted. With the help and brainstorming of Antonio Coffield, I decided that my photo story of juxtaposition would be the double life of two Drag Queens living in Hillcrest, Calif. Enjoy!!! Opinions and critiques are always welcome!!!!!! Not my best shooting, but such a wonderful time getting back into this type of photography!!!

I had a great time following these two around the nightlife of Hillcrest. Check there show out if you are even in town.

Aside from the photographs I submitted for the competition, here are the additional ones from the night. Again, I had a great time challenging myself and trying to show true emotions in my photographs along with having a written a paragraph in each pictures. Enjoy and see you at the next shoot off!!


US Navy QuickShot/TFTT Training

U.S. military combat cameramen train in combat tactics

I often get asked, what I do for the U.S. Navy Reserves… I just reply with ” I take pictures.” However, after going through this training for the second time, I realize that there is more to my job. I initially started off as an active duty member training as a Naval Aircrewman and Search and Rescue swimmer. That training was cut short when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter Savannah. I wasn’t allowed to finish SAR school, but still became an Aircrewman. This left me to rethink what I really wanted out of Navy career. I had initially joined to become a photographer, but was picked up for Aircrew at bootcamp. Now, pregnant, I had the opportunity to really focus on that skill. I started taking Advance Photography during my pregnancy at the local community college. I really began having an interest in documentary photography and it was then I decided that I wanted to be a combat photographer for the Navy. My journey getting there is a whole different story, but the short version was that, I started my OJT (on the job training) with Fleet Combat Camera Pacific. I took a year off after I had my daughter and went back as a reserve as a Mass Communication Specialist. I felt at home. Going back to my initial statement, “I take pictures,” I realize that yes, I take pictures, but I am a trained Combat cameraman, trained by the best of the best photographers I know.

The last two weeks I was able to experience for the second time around, this amazing training. I was able to build on my skills as a Mass Communication Specialist (Video and Photography) and my tactical firearms training. I had an amazing team leader and part of the best team anyone could ask for. Fleet Combat Camera Pacific’s Winter Quick Shot 2015 is a joint field training exercise in the Angeles National Forest near Azusa, Calif. Quick Shot is a semi-annual exercise that improves combat camera Service members’ abilities to operate in a tactical environment. West Coast COMCAM hosts two Quick Shot exercises a year. Combat photographers come from all over the military to learn small arms combat tactics from Max Joseph and his Tactical Firearms Training Team.  with my grumpy, bitchy and lack of sleep, I was able to build on team skills and amazing training. I was blessed with new friends, build on old friendships and most importantly walk away with some battlescars! Below I have included some photographs that I took over the last two weeks.

Here is a video from Brett Cote, a very talented and amazing videographer. Check out his blog, he has great tutorials on video editing as well as some amazing videos. You can check out the link below to see some great photographs from the training from all of the Photographers.

Thanks again everyone for all your help and the great learning experience. I even had a few images released and it was all because of the best team I had. Go team bravo!

#teamfour #teambravo aka #teambrown #tftt #quickshot #comcam #fccp #winterquickshot #nancycdibenedetto #dibenedettophotography


Photo Booth Projects from 2014

Photo Booth Projects from 2014

Since I started teaching as lecturer, one of my favorite assignments is the PhotoBooth Project. This project was introduced to me when I was looking into Grad Schools. A few years ago while applying to Grad school I met a wonderful young lady who was attending LSU. Her name is Mercedes Jelinek!! See her website here: mercedesjelinekphotography

She is an amazing photographer and I was so fortunate to meet her. I have been following her for quite sometime and I was fascinated by her Photo Booth Project! Check out what she had to say about the project on my blog: MERCEDES JELINEK Photo Booth Project.

The Photo Project allows my students to really engage with the community, push their comfort zones and work on there photography skills.

Here are the rules:

You pick a high volume location of people, Beach, neighborhood, campus, outdoor mall, parks, skate park, etc. You must set up a Photo Booth like area. Backdrops, camera on tripod with sign. You must record your process and the different people. You can do with with your cellular phone or videocamera and upload to the blog.  Each photo that is taken must be given to the person. (ie email or give them the link to your blog) I suggest getting a quote or some saying from the person that you photograph. You must have at least 20- 30 images.

Last semester, all the students did an exceptional job and exceeded all my expectations!!! I was so proud of my students. Check out their work! And if you have time, give them feed back!!! Thanks!



























Edward Weston’s Lost years in Los Angeles

Recently, this article was sent to me by a good friend. It was an article featured in the LA Times.  I wanted to share it those who like reading about other photographers.

Here is the link:

The Sunday Conversation: Beth Gates Warren

The author of ‘Artful Lives: Edward Weston, Margrethe Mather and the Bohemians of Los Angeles’ discusses the artist, his muse and his early years in L.A.

December 04, 2011|By Irene Lacher, Special to the Los Angeles Times

Beth Gates Warren, a former director of Sotheby’s photographs department, exhumes details about Edward Weston’s lost years in Los Angeles from 1906 to 1923 and his relationship with a highly influential model, muse, photographer and lover in her new book, “Artful Lives: Edward Weston, Margrethe Mather and the Bohemians of Los Angeles” (J. Paul Getty Museum).

Why was so little known about Edward Weston’s early years in Los Angeles?

He basically wanted it that way. He destroyed virtually all of his autobiographical writing prior to 1923 when he departed L.A. for Mexico. And most historians took their cue from him and began writing about his career as though he really began working in Mexico. And that was not the case at all. He actually spent a decade here in Los Angeles building his early career.

What piqued your interest in this?

I had read his daybook, which is what unpublished journals were called, and I learned that they had been heavily edited and that he’d destroyed a portion of them. And I became curious about why he had done that. And I also learned that a woman named Margrethe Mather had been his model in many of his early photographs, and yet he barely mentioned her in his journal. And I just found that strange. There was only one important mention of her in his journal and that was that she was the most important person in his life. And yet he made no effort to explain what he meant by that. And so that statement in combination with the fact that she appeared in so many of his photographs and the fact that he had destroyed so much of his own writing made me curious. I wanted to know why.

Who was Margrethe Mather?

She came to Los Angeles around the same time he did. She later told a friend of hers that she’d been a child prostitute and that she had to leave Salt Lake City because there were people who’d found out about her activities. In later years, she was a prostitute, but I doubt that’s why she left Salt Lake City. A friend of hers tried to find out more about her early life and couldn’t, but that was because Margrethe Mather wasn’t her real name, and I was able to track down several of her distant relatives and they told me her name was actually Emma Caroline Youngren.

When she came to Los Angeles, she became a member of the Los Angeles Camera Club and an amateur photographer. And she had an inherent talent for design and composition, so she very quickly became known because she showed some of her photographs in photographic salons, which were the only way photographers could get their work seen because photography wasn’t exhibited in museums in those days.

And so she met Edward Weston in 1913 through a friend and they very quickly became involved romantically, although Weston was already married and had two children. And she worked with him for an entire decade until he left for Mexico in 1923.

I had the sense from your book that you were at times more impressed with Mather because she was more focused on advancing her artistry and he his career.

Yes, that’s true. She was not a self-promoter. She did not need the kind of attention that Weston seemed to need, and of course he was trying to support a family and needed to build his reputation. She was on her own, but she was also less interested in fame and more interested in the art itself. And I think she was responsible for changing Weston’s attitude, because when she walked into his studio in what is now Glendale — it was an area called Tropico then — he was a very conventional photographer. And once he became more involved with Mather, he began to become an artist.

Did she influence his work more specifically?

I think her eye was in some ways more critical than his. She introduced him to the concept of arranging sitters in less conventional poses, and she encouraged him to utilize composition and line and texture to create a mood — in short, to think like an artist rather than a commercial photographer. And she was an excellent printer herself. And she influenced the way he looked at the world. She brought people from the literary world onto Weston’s horizons, and she was also a friend of Charlie Chaplin’s. She introduced him to dancers and actors.

Can you talk a little more about their circle of artists and bohemians?

There was a fairly large group of creative people who lived in Los Angeles in the teens and ’20s for a variety of reasons, and one of the key reasons was the movie industry, which attracted writers and designers and photographers. They came to California because they could actually make a living here. So the people who came here were after fame and fortune, and some of them succeeded, like Charlie Chaplin; others were not so lucky, like Florence Deshon, who was a reasonably well-known stage actress and model in New York. Samuel Goldwyn brought her out to become one of the premier actresses at Goldwyn Studio, but she did not persevere and she couldn’t make a living. She was involved with Charlie Chaplin for a while. But as soon as that relationship ended, publicity about her career also ended. And she wound up going back to New York City and committing suicide.

But some of the people who traveled to Los Angeles weren’t involved in the entertainment business. They were coming out here for political reasons. Emma Goldman came out to California on a regular basis. So did Max Eastman, who was the editor of two socialist publications.

Rudolph Valentino lived for a short time right across the street from Margrethe Mather. Boris Karloff lived up the block. There was an amazing array of talent descending on Los Angeles because of all the opportunities here. In a way, the area around Bunker Hill and Silver Lake and Echo Park was the Montparnasse of Los Angeles.

For a year Weston and Mather were equal partners in a photography studio. Why did their relationship end?

Their relationship came to an end because [actress] Tina Modotti walked into his life. Tina was then married — quote unquote, she wasn’t really — to Roubaix [“Robo”] de l’Abrie Richey. In spite of that, Weston never let a marriage license come between him and a romance. So he started a relationship with her. Robo went to Mexico and died there from smallpox. So now all of a sudden Tina wasn’t married or attached to anyone, and Weston thought Mexico was so appealing. Glendale he thought was dull and boring, and Mexico offered lots of artistic opportunity. So he thought that would be a good way to escape from Glendale and family responsibilities, and he and Tina went to Mexico in 1923.

Los Angeles Times Articles


Mercedes Jelinek Photographer

PhotoBooth Project

A few years ago while applying through grade school I met a wonderful young lady who was attending LSU. Her name is Mercedes Jelinek!! See her website here: mercedesjelinekphotography

She is an amazing photographer and I was so fortunate to meet her. I have been following her for quite sometime and I was fascinated by her Photo Booth Project! Here is what she had to say about it!

How did this project come about?
I grew up in a small town. I loved how everyone knew everyone else, people would wave as you passed by and I loved the sense of community but things changed when I moved to Baton Rouge.
I was finally charmed by Baton Rouge a few months after moving into my first apartment. It was just a tiny run down studio, in what was thought of as a drab and dangerous part of town – the longer I stayed there the more I realized the perception in no way matched the true nature of the neighborhood. I felt alone and separated from the environment outside my barred front door. I wanted that small town feeling back, I just needed to figure out how. One day I sat outside my front door near the street and greeted all those who passed by.

what artist inspired you to do it?
I am greatly inspired by Richard Avedon’s “In the American West” and Alec Soth’s ” Sleeping by the Mississippi” projects.

do you still continue to do the project?

Yes, I just had a show of both the Baton Rouge and Brooklyn Neighborhood Photo Booth in San Antonio Yesterday. It’s not really something I will ever stop. I am always shooting an much as I can ( except have been slowed down a bit by the good old New England weather). Once it warms up I will be right back out there between 1-3 times a week.

Why black and white? why film?

I wish I could remember the name of an artist I saw speak years ago… Anyway he was a ceramicist and he was discussing why he chose to only make black and white vessels for a large chunk of his career. He was actually quite heated when someone asked him why he would do such a thing when he had so many different materials at his disposal. He replied “Color has impure seduction.”. That really stuck with me. Our eyes are instantly attracted to colors… If we decide to get rid of that element you are left with focusing on just the light, line, shape and texture of a scene. This is really what appeals to me about the black and white medium. Another reason, is that the project has to do with being human. I photograph people from everywhere, with different backgrounds and experiences, but in the end we are all the same. We are just people trying to survive, trying to be happy, trying to figure out our next move. I think this is illustrated well by creating this kind of monotone connection between all the portraits. – (I can go on about this for hours in depth so let me know if you need me to elaborate on this later)

Why film?

Besides the fact that I still can see the differences when it comes to dynamic range between film and digital, I have to say it’s the tangibility of the materials. It’s something I can touch, it’s a beautiful chemical reaction that still translates into more megapixels than any (affordable) professional digital camera can offer. I can make something, I feel, is becoming more precious and rare in today’s instant gratification digital world. I want to make something more for the people who sit for me, something more then just a tag on Facebook.

Why the selection in the backdrop?

My backdrops are chosen from available materials bought or found from the neighborhoods I shoot and lived in. In Baton Rouge it was a grey sheet from my bed, in North Carolina it was a borrowed white sheet (more like a sail), and in Brooklyn in was some fabric I bought a few blocks away. I don’t want the backdrops to look like a professional studio or exactly like Avedon’s work. I love that the backdrops I used are placed loosely and move with the wind. This often gives hints of the neighborhood around my subjects as they do.

How do you get the prints to the people you are photographing?

I deliver them by hand or send them by mail.

Since I have been so inspired, I have decided to have my students at Cal Stat San Marcos University create their own photo booths in VSAR 302!! I am excited to see how they turn out!!!



The Portrait

Broad Lighting: the main/key/dominant light illuminates fully the side of the face turned toward the camera

Short Lighting: the main lighting illuminates fully the side of the ace turned away from the camera

Side Lighting: aka the hatchet lighting: only half of the face is fully illuminated, the other half is in the shawdow.

Rembrandt Lighting: the main light is at 45-degree angle to the subject, 2 to 4 feet above the subjects face ( on the shadow side of the face, there is a triangle of light, created by the nose shadow meeting the cheek shadow)

Butterfly Lighting: aka paramount lighting, front lighting. The main light is placed directly in front of the subjects face and cast a symmetrical nose shadow directly underneath and in line with the nose. The shadow from the jaw falls directly downward, covering the neck.


Basic Photography Lessons

Hello Everyone!

Thanks for Checking this out. These are just a few sheets of Basic Photography Skills and some suggestions on shooting assignments. I suggest that everyone try to shoot any of these assignments, as well as learn the terms of your camera.

Click on the link below and it will take you to a PDF file slide show. Any questions, please feel free to email me anytime. If I don’t know the answer, I will be sure to find out!

CLICK HERE: Basic Photography Lecture


Proof…… The Photographers on Photography

Recently, one of my mentors from the United States Navy posted this on her Facebook. Chief Jennifer Villalovos was one of the first female photographers I met at U.S. Navy Fleet Combat Camera Pacific (FLTCOMCAMPAC). I was in the reserve unit training with active duty, so that I could learn more about being a combat photojournalist. I learned more in those three years from handful of mentors than I did in my years of college.

This video speaks about the labor of love in the field of photography. The video interviews 44 photographers coming through the headquarters of National Geographic.  They talk about how they found photography and never left it. Much like me, I picked up my first camera at the age of 16, but didn’t take my first real class until my first year of college. From then on, I never let go of my camera.  I knew I wanted to do something with photography, but didn’t know what. It wasn’t until I joined the Navy, that I realized, I was born to document, capture and show the emotion of people’s lives through the click of my shutter.

The words of these 44 photographers makes  you feel like you are traveling to endless worlds without ever-moving an inch. ” From my interviewer’s chair, it felt like traveling to endless worlds without ever-moving an inch. These were not your typical interviews; they were shop talk conversations that didn’t seem to start or end in that room. We recently premiered this first installment, comprised of excerpts, at the international photography festival Visa Pour l’Image in Perpignan, France. Consider this a sneak peek of each resulting individual video portrait that is to come.” – Pamela Chen

Watch the Video. Its amazing.


Watch the video first. Then play the video without looking and LISTEN.. this is what I heard.




Princess Problems


As most of you know, in our home, we don’t do the standard annual sit and pose photos, we create our own! Enjoy a sneak peak of Savannah dress up themed photos!!!

Savannah has been my little muse since the day she was born. She opened up my world into seeing the innocence of her world. Always a good sport about having fun with photos and always posing so naturally. She allows me to enter her world of imagination as she continues to grow and let me play into her world of so much love!!! Enjoy these!!!

Please pass along! Facebook it, pin it, tweet it!! ( inspiration came from Cloud Dust Art and Imagery Thanks for the cute idea!! ) #sidaroo #sandiegophotographer #sandiegophotography #princessproblems #secondgradepictures #dibenedettophotography #nancycdibenedetto #disneyphotos #disneyfun


Ballerinas Everywhere

CAMY_28JULY20130066Let your light shine through. Do what you love. Love what you do. Whenever you can.


Finding the Creativity


“I am not afraid…I was born to do this.” – Joan of Arc

We all have a point in our lives, where we decide to stop facing our fears and realize what we are truly born to do. No matter how much I try to turn away, something always draws me back to my camera. It awakens me. It helps me to see who I am. No matter how long I have been away from it, some how it always helps me to keep moving forward. Maybe because it mainly helps for me to really take a look at myself and start to overcome my struggles. Mainly because it forces me to deal with the things I don’t want to or maybe the things I don’t want to see.

There is something about letting the creativity take over and helps me to keep moving forward. I am truly fascinated with the body and its transformation that it can take. Right now, I don’t think I seek the fascination with my own body, but my mind emotionally. Trying to learn more about myself. But I figured it was time to pick up the camera and really begin to look at myself again. Here goes.

I may be taking a break from Grad school because I was truly stuck. But my creativity has not left me just yet. I was scared for the year I was in Grad school because I didn’t feel like I was truly born to be an artist. But like Joan of Arc…. I was born to do this…


Its always nice to be Featured.

I worked with Karen Scaffman as an undergrad. Karen Scaffman is an amazing art performer. I had the privilege of working with her and her partners Eric Geiger and Liam Clancy. They are absolutely amazing to watch! AMAZING! I look forward to working with them again. She recently started her performance of BARK again. BARK investigates chance in its violent disguise and begs the question:  how ready are we? BARK is a production of PADL West (Karen Schaffman and Eric Geiger, Co-Artistic Directors).  The work is made possible with support from PADL West, CSUSM, and Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company.

If you get the chance, please check this out! Something different, but worth it!

It was nice to be featured on different websites and I appreciate the credit!