how to

All photos available for print and licensing >

Being from the east coast, I love our annual getaways to the west. Sort of like how birds migrate to the south for winter, I like to migrate the west and soak up the California sun and surf. Plus any excuse for a fresh acai bowl, amirite?

To be honest though, San Diego is one of my favorite places to be. I love the vibe of the city, everyone is super friendly and there’s no shortage of things to do. You have the beach life but also a fun downtown area if the city is more of your scene. It’s all of that plus a super dog friendly city. Frankie loves taking his morning walks on the beach, you basically have to drag him off the sand.

This was our second year in a row visiting around the start of the new year, but I have visited many times in the past too. This will definietly not be our last time visiting so keep checking back as I update this guide.

So if you’re heading to San Diego, here are the best places to take pictures:

The Beaches

This past trip we stayed at this beautiful airbnb right at the tip of Mission Beach. It was the perfect place for us because we were able to enjoy the beach in a less crowded environment but still have views of the water.  (If you’ve never stayed at an airbnb, I highly recommend it. Especially if you’re going somewhere for an extended stay. It’s all the comforts of home while you travel.) Morning runs were peaceful on the boardwalk and Mission Bay was right behind us which made it fun to fly the drone for a satisfying perspective of land and water. But if we wanted to check out some of cool restaurants on Pacific Beach, we were just a 15 minute scooter ride away.

One of my favorite parts about Pacific Beach was standing at the end of Crystal Pier. The pier allowed for unique, overhead shots of the wave riders and definietly provided a lot of great photo opportunities. And you can usually find the bubble man around sunset. I love watching the huge bubbles fly in the air and can’t resist trying to pop some if they float in my direction. The kids love them too!

(left) view from Crystal Pier (right) bubble from the bubble man framing a palm tree

Click here to read more

All photos available for print and licensing >

When people think about Washington DC, one of the first things that come to mind is the White House. But for some reason, it’s never a real go to spot for me to go capture images. There are several reasons for this regardless of who’s residing in the house.

  1. The White House is located in a spot where it’s not great at either sunrise or sunset. The only way to get a really nice sky in the background is if you are lucky with one of those days where the color takes over the whole sky. Those days are so hard to predict that it’s just easier to be closer to one of the monuments as opposed to the White House.
  2. The security around the White House keeps getting increasingly stricter. Since I first started out in photography, you could actually get pretty close to the gate and no one would say anything. Now, you have to be a least across the street. With all the tourists all cramped up in one little sidewalk, it’s so difficult to get a great shot.
  3. If you are want to take your White House shot, try to bring the biggest zoom you can. It will be the only way you can get a close up shot without a lot of people in your image. This image was taken with my 70-200mm at 93mm.

This image also happens to be an image I took just for my book, Snap DC and had never been published before. I definietly remember the day I took this because I remember I parked my car, walked all the way to the White House, and then realized I left my camera in the car. OMG how does that even happen? I swear, only me.

So if you’re interested in more Washington DC photo tips like this, check out Snap DC on Amazon. Just remember to bring your camera with you 🙂

My camera settings for this image is F6.3 at 1/200th sec and ISO 320 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm ultra zoom.

All photos available for print and licensing >

A little throwback to our trip to Norway earlier this year.

One of the highlights of the trip was going up to the top of Mt. Fløyen in Bergen. I loved riding the funicular to the top because it seemed like it would have been a pretty steep hike up. The views were nice but for the way down, Andrew and I decided to just do it on our own and walk it. I’m glad we did it that way because we were able to capture the things that we weren’t able to photograph on the way up. Plus it’s a whole lot easier going down then up.

So as we started our descent, Andrew and I were talking about how glad we were to be in Norway. Then I just stopped in my tracks. I saw this scene and knew it was going to make an amazing photograph but it needed a person in it. I asked Andrew if he could stand in the middle and he walked over without any hesitation. It was a little awkward because the city itself is so quiet while I’m over here trying to yell posing directions to him. Sign language worked a bit, but next time I know to pack the walkie talkies. LOL just joking. I don’t actually have walkie talkies and I’m sure Andrew would not like having to carry one, on top of all my other camera equipment. LOL.

The rest of the hike down was easy with a lot of switchbacks making it even easier. So if you ever find yourself in Bergen, I’d highly recommend just buying a ticket to go up and making the trek down.

My camera settings for this image is F5.0 at 1/40 sec and ISO 2000 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens.

All photos available for print and licensing >

The other day my friend called me and said “I can’t believe you don’t weigh 1,000lbs”. I laughed and asked why? Her reasoning was that she spent the last week telecommuting and working from home and she felt like she spent every hour on the hour in the kitchen. Each time she’d go in there, she’d find a snack or eat a full on meal which caused her to think she gained 10lbs working from home. All I could do was laugh even more and said, “you’re probably doing that because you’re procrastinating”. We laughed more about how much food she ate and it led me to think how lucky I am to be able to find a “work at home” balance. How many times have you had plans to work from home but wound up doing the laundry or cleaning your countertops because you were avoiding something? You can’t tell, but I’m raising both hands up in the air because it’s something I am constantly struggling with.

It has taken me years to figure out a schedule but no matter how much I think I’ve figured it out- when I’m most productive or what works best for me, it is a constant change. Something that worked for me last month, may not work for me today.

So here are a few tips I’ve come up with for those of you who work from home and still want to be productive:

  • Set a schedule and stick to it like a regular office job. Just like showing up to a job at 9am, you gotta keep to maintain that same mindset. Working from home is great because sometimes you can create the schedule with what works best for you, but you have to be honest with yourself. I used to think I was most productive in the mornings, but more recently I’ve found new inspiration in working in the evenings. So with that said, I will schedule my days to have my most creative times at night and do all the busy work like replying to emails and client work during the day.
  • Change your environment. Sometimes it feels like you are trapped in your house. You spend every waking moment in the house and it’s so difficult to get out in to the real world, especially when it’s cold outside. To break that up, I’ve actually been going to coffee shops to get things done. There’s something about seeing other people work on their computers that motivates me to work on mine. I’ve found myself more focused on my task. Whether it’s preparing blog posts or catching up on photography tutorials, I love getting out of the house with the intention of getting work done. Usually I’ll just leave in the morning and get as much done as I can until I start feeling hungry. I’ll go home eat lunch, reset, and will be eager to get back to where I left off at home. Even if you can’t leave your house, just changing rooms like working from the dining room instead of your desk can cause a major positive shift in workflow.
  • Take breaks. This is where I express my gratitude to Frankenstein. Having a dog has taught me and forced me to take breaks. Whether it’s for a short walk for him to go to the bathroom or a quick belly rub session, Frankie has taught me the importance of walking away from the computer to take a quick breather. These little breaks always put a smile on my face. Even when you really don’t want to, taking these quick breaks has taught me to refocus on what is important and how to prioritize my time more efficiently. I think if it weren’t for him, burn out could come way more easily and frequently.

Those are just a few tips. Don’t worry, I have plenty more. Let me know if you’re interested and I can definietly make this a series.

My camera settings for this image is F8 at 1.6sec and ISO 500 with my Sony A7II and 70-200mm zoom lens. It was taken during a full moon rising behind the US Capitol.

All photos available for print and licensing >

So remember how in May-ish I was so excited for lightning season? On the east coast, we can get some pretty crazy lightning storms in the summertime and the first one I captured this year was pretty cool. I had never seen a lightning strike sideways before. It has always been vertical. I’m not sure how it happened like that, maybe it was too cloudy or something like that? But either way I thought it was really cool.

But that wasn’t the whole image. THE SECRETS OUT! I cropped it. LOL. In that same exact image, I actually captured a second lightning strike. I thought it was really funny looking and really different because of how yellow it was. Even though it looked cool, I didn’t think it helped the image at all. I find it a bit distracting because it’s so bright. It’s kind of like two different storms going on at once. What do you think? Would you have left it in?

Anyways, I read somewhere that September is going to remain hot in the Washington area. Hopefully that will bring more opportunities for lightning. If not, it’s ok too. I’m looking forward to the change of season and everything that fall has to bring.

In order to capture this image, I was standing in between the columns of the Jefferson Memorial. The Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial are great places to go if you ever want to photograph lightning in the district. Its scenic with the perfect amount of shelter so you and your camera gear dont get wet. I don’t use any phone apps or anything to capture them. It’s all really just watch the lightning for a bit to figure out the pattern of lightning strikes and hope for the best.

My camera settings for this image is F4.5 at 0.3 seconds ISO 400 with my Sony A7II and 16-35mm wide angle lens on a tripod.

All photos available for print and licensing >

Going through some of my older images, I found this one. Man it’s been a long time since I’ve been to the United States Air Force Memorial. I think the last time I was there was almost 2 years ago when my friend, Navin and I were out capturing some lightning images. In my opinion it’s one of the harder monuments in the Washington DC area to photograph. I think I find it is so hard to capture because there isn’t a lot of space surrounding it. It’s hard to maneuver  your camera and tripod around in order to get the entire monument in one frame. The only way to capture was to I walk outside of the memorial grounds and stand on the sidewalk at Columbia Pike to get it all in one image. Obviously you can photograph it while in the grounds but it’s very difficult without cutting anything off.

My favorite part of the image is the light that’s hitting the bare trees. I think it looks really cool and interesting, especially the one on the right. I think it looks like it is made out of metal or something, right? Don’t get me wrong though. I still think that the United States Air Force Memorial is one of the coolest places to go to photograph a big sky. I love the hill the sits right outside of it. It’s a great place to sit with your camera and see interesting views of the Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument and the US Capitol. The best time of day to shoot this memorial is probably sunset.

My camera settings for this image is F5.0 at 2.5 seconds and ISO 500 with my Canon 5D Mark II and 24-105mm. LOL that’s how you know this is an older image. I shot it with my Canon. Ahhh memories.