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!


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!!


Eddie Adams Workshop

The time is HERE!!! Apply Apply Apply! I can’t emphasize enough! Here is the link EDDIE ADAMS WORKSHOP

Celebrate Twenty-Five Incredible Years


Application process is now open through May 25th, 2012 for this TUITION-FREE Workshop. Read further for more information regarding eligibility.
The Eddie Adams Workshop is an intense four-day gathering of the top photography professionals, along with 100 carefully selected students. The photography workshop is tuition-free, and the 100 students are chosen based on the merit of their portfolios.
 Nikon is the Official Sponsor of Barnstorm: The Eddie Adams Workshop

Who is Eddie Adams?

About Eddie Adams (1933 – 2004)

With his signature hat, ponytail and unassuming disposition, one might not realize that photographer Eddie Adams covered 13 wars, beginning with a stint as a Marine Corps combat photographer in Korea in the early 1950s and ending in Kuwait in 1991. He did three tours of Vietnam with the Associated Press and won the Pulitzer Prize for photography for his shot of a Viet Cong lieutenant being executed at close range on a Saigon street by a South Vietnamese general. In his more than five decades as a working photographer, Adams received more than 500 awards honoring his work, including World Press, New York Press, National Headliners and Sigma Delta Chi Awards. He said he likes getting them; that they’re nice. But he didn’t display them. He didn’t display that famous photo from Vietnam, either. If he’d had his way, that photo would never be released for publication again.

Adams photographed some of the most celebrated people in the world: Ronald Reagan, Fidel Castro, whom he liked, and Pope John Paul II; Jerry Lewis, Clint Eastwood and Bette Davis; Big Bird and Mickey Mouse. All of them, and many more, have looked into Adams’ lens. He remains one of the most published photographers in the U.S., with his work gracing the pages of newspapers and magazines like TIME, VOGUE, VANITY FAIR and PARADE. His career spanned journalism, corporate, editorial, fashion, entertainment and advertising photography. He photographed leaders in all fields, from politics to the superstars of film, television, sports and high fashion. His portfolio includes one-on-one sessions with seven U.S. Presidents and sixty-five Heads of State. “Eddie’s genius is his talent for capturing tension in every photo, whether it be the still of a murder or the animation in the eyes of a movie star,” says PARADE Chairman Walter Anderson. “He is eclectic, incomparable and cantankerous. He is unyielding in the pursuit of excellence.”

It’s not the war photos or the celebrity photos or the awards that define what’s most important about Adams’ work. It’s the photos that have moved and inspired people to do good; the photos that have led to important change in government policy and people’s lives. He was proud of his 1979 shot “Boat of No Smiles,” depicting 50 Vietnamese on a 30-foot fishing boat fleeing their homeland. It was such a dire time for them, not even the children on board could find pleasure in a boat ride. It was Adams’ photo of these “boat people” that ultimately led Congress and President Jimmy Carter to open the door to the U.S. to more than 200,000 Vietnamese refugees.

In 1995, Adams created a photo essay for PARADE of some of “the most amazing, most beautiful children in America.” One image — that of a 3-year-old with leukemia, who was photographed with her security blanket — moved one woman so much that she started an organization. Project Linus, founded by Karen Loucks, is a non-profit that provides security blankets to children who are seriously ill, traumatized or otherwise in need through the gifts of blankets and Afghans created by volunteers. Today, there are more than 300 chapters of Project Linus in the U.S. and abroad.

Adams began his photography career as a high school student in Kensington, Pa., shooting weddings and other events for $20. He eventually got a job with the New Kensington Daily Dispatch. From there, he went to the Enquirer & News in Battle Creek, Mich., and the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. In 1962, he joined the Associated Press. After a decade, Adams left the AP for TIME magazine and freelance work. He rejoined the AP in 1976, where he was the first and only photographer to hold the title of special correspondent. In 1980, Adams became a PARADE magazine photographer and, from 1982-2004, was a special correspondent to PARADE, which has featured more than 350 of Adams’ photos on its cover over the years.

Eddie Adams passed away on September 19, 2004. His legacy continues in the annual photojournalism workshop, Barnstorm: The Eddie Adams Workshop, which he created in 1988, and is still running strong today.

Eddie Adams is a great photographer and I have taken a huge interest in his photography. He has definitely been a huge interest of mine and I have always enjoyed his work.I really hope to attend the workshop one day.