I shared Hana and Mike’s engagement photographs a few months ago in my blog “The Lumberjack and the Princess“.  Well, the big day finally arrived last Sunday.  Hana and Mike got married. I was privileged enough to photograph their wedding. … Continue reading


Hana_Mike-0003-web-seo-keywordsONE OF MY FAVORITE things is getting hired to be the wedding photographer of one of my former students.  As teachers, we want the best for our students. We enjoy watching  them grow out of those high school drama years into fine young adults.  We want to see them grow up to be happy.  The bonus for me is that I get to capture and share with friends and family those images of loveliness and happiness that occur at the wedding.


In addition to taking my photography class, Hana ran 4 years of track for me at Apollo High School.  Her ability as a distance runner grew year after year.  Her running abilities were crucial in helping  Apollo win our region and earn a 2nd place finish at State her junior year.

Out of my many memories of Hana’s career, the one that I remember the most is her competition with a runner from Prescott.  This girl consistently had better times than Hana all year.  Except when she raced against Hana.  Every time Hana and this young lady ran head to head, Hana won convincingly.  Those races were truly remarkable to watch.  Lots of high fives all around.

I also fondly, I think, remember how many times in those 4 years Hana came up to me and said “Coach, you spelled my name wrong…again!”

Hana completed a successful 4  year career at Apollo and went on to attend NAU, where she eventually met her future intended, Mike. They both graduated from NAU.  She now works as a K-8 art teacher and he works for the State of Arizona in the area of environmental quality.

Hana and Mike were freshmen at NAU when they were introduced to each other by mutual friends.  They became close friends before they finally decided they were the right person for each other.

Hana describes Mike as a chef, a true gentleman, and tells me that Mike is “all things outdoors, like a lumberjack.”

Mike says that Hana always has an elegant look to her.  He loves to listen to her play the guitar, and describes Hana as “a tomboy and a pretty princess all at the same time.”

Together they enjoy cooking, “artsy stuff” outdoor activities, and of course their two dogs.

On Sunday the 20th, the three of us got together to shoot their engagement session.  I first met Mike at Katie and Jason’s wedding . Hana was one of the bridesmaids. Since I was a bit busy that evening, I didn’t get a chance to do much conversing with the two of them.  I found it nice to finally sit down, talk with them, and get to know more about Hana and Mike as a couple.  It was even better to go out and shoot the session and watch Hana and Mike interact with each other as they express their affection for one another in front of my lens.

You now know a bit about the princess and the lumberjack.  Here are a few of the wonderful, lovely moments from Hana and Mike’s engagement session.

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Shontionn is a former student and athlete of mine from the good old teaching days at Apollo High School.  Shontionns specialty in track was the hurdles.  I and his event coaches will always remember Shontionn as one of the hardest working and determined athletes that we have had the privilege to coach.  I was happy for Shontionn when he posted his engagement to Maria on Facebook.

Maria did not attend Apollo, so my first time meeting Maria was the day we shot their engagement session.  What a wonderful young lady.     I look forward to the day I get to photograph their wedding.  Best of God’s blessings to you, Shontionn and Maria.

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The Olympics are over.  One conclusion I have come to is that I gave NBC too much control over my life.  I let my hatred of their incredibly lame coverage affect my feelings toward the Olympics.  I let them suck all the joy of the Olympics out of me.  Yet NBC is crowing about this being the most watched Olympics.  Does the term “captive audience” mean anything to NBC?  That number has everything to do with the draw of the Olympics and nothing to do with NBC.  It really didn’t matter what channel the Olympics were on, the number watching would have broken records.  That would even include CNN, whose viewership is at a 20 year low.

Final thoughts on the 2012 Olympics, in no particular order of importance.

Beating the dead horse a little bit more just to make sure:  Why did NBC decide to show a 6th grade history lesson on World War II?  The History Channel does it, and a lot better.  NBC seemed to think that the reason we watched the Olympics was because of their cute little special reports, and not to watch the competition.  What about the closing ceremony?  I know a lot of people love the Spice Girls, but showing them and cutting out The Who? Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Who?  I am seeing some Gen Xer at NBC looking at the schedule and thinking, “The Who?  If the organizers don’t know the name of the band, we can probably show our special at this time.”

Why do announcers insist on telling us what the athlete is thinking:  I remember watching on of the Fab Five sprinting down the runway to perform her last vault.  The announcer is screaming at the top of his lungs “here she comes!  She is thinking that she has to stick this so America wins the Gold!”  Mr. Announcer, how do you know that?  How do you know she isn’t thinking “I hope I don’t miss and break my freaking neck!”  Or even “I hope that boy in row three thinks I’m cute.”  The cost of the Olympic announcers could be cut in half by getting rid of all the lame-o color announcers that are hired.

My favorite “this announcer is a dummy” moment”  Watching the gold medal women’s archery match between South Korea and China.  A South Korean archer was taking aim and the announcer is breathlessly shouting (why is it always shouting?) “She’s taking too long!  She’s taking too long!  SHE’S TAKING TOO LONG!”  Zing! Swoosh! Thunk!  The arrow smacks right dead center in the bullseye.  Announcer’s lame cover-up: “well, usually when you wait that long, it means you don’t get a very good shot off.”  If you had any integrity, Mr. Announcer, you would fire yourself.

The biggest travesty of justice in these games:  In women’s fencing, South Korea and Germany were tied in a match to see who would battle for the gold.  When the fencers are tied, 1 second is put on the clock and they fence again.  In their third overtime, the clock malfunctioned.  As video later showed, 1.17 seconds went by, yet the official match clock never moved.  The South Koreans protested and the SK fencer, Shin A Lam, had to stay in the piste, bawling her eyes out while the protest went on.  If she had left, it would mean she accepted the defeat.  The protest took almost an hour.  When it was finally over, the South Korean lost.  She had to be escorted from the piste and immediately fence for the bronze medal.  She lost that match.  Later, the powers that be finally figured out that, yes indeed, the clock did malfunction and Shin A Lam should have won the match.  They proposed giving her a sportsmanship medal as a “oops, we are sorry we screwed you” consolation prize, but the South Korean declined.  I am hoping she said something like this: “감사합니다,하지만 메달을받지 않습니다 …태양이 빛나지 않는 메달을 넣어”  (translation by Google Translate.  My words, not Shin A Lam’s)

The TMI moment of Olympic coverage:  I am referring to a special report by local news dude Mark Curtis and others about the mating habits of the Olympic athletes.  I don’t care if some additional Olympic events were being held on the grass between buildings.  Nor do I need the report that half way through the Olympics, the athletes had already gone through the 150,000 condoms that London provided for them.  In the first place, make them buy their own and chalk it up to training expenses.  In the second place, let’s give the Olympics the same treatment we give Las Vegas.  What happens at the Olympics stays at the Olympics.

Nanny state moment after the Olympics:  Gabby Douglass was on the Tonight Show along with 1st Lady Michelle Obama.  Gabby admitted that to celebrate the Olympic gold by eating an Egg McMuffin.  The First Lady commented “your setting me back, Gabby.”  It depends on your political point of view on how to interpret this exchange.  The Right is saying that FLOTUS was chastising one of the darlings of the Olympics.  The Left describes it as friendly teasing by the First Lady.  Like I admonish announcers to do, I am not going to read Michelle Obama’s mind or assign a motive to what she said.  Only she knows if she was kidding or not.  I just would have liked Gabby to have said “I already have a mom, and she does a great job.  I don’t need another one, thank you.”  I also wonder what FLOTUS thinks about Gabby and her endorsement of Corn Flakes.

You have the right to your opinion but let’s keep it civil #1  Continuing with Gabby Douglass, I am sure everyone is aware that she gives all the glory to her Lord Jesus the Savior.  Someone on the left wrote in tweet how this was disturbing.  I did see any responses like that when two of the women sprints medalists said the same thing.  I do not know why this profession of faith bothers some people.

You have the right to your opinion but let’s keep it civil #2:  Cory Cogdell is an Olympic skeet shooter and an avid hunter.  She only finished 11th.  Because of her enjoyment of hunting, she received some very disturbing tweets.  Just one example:  “CoreyCogdell I hope that someone someday shoot your whole family just practicing.”

Most useless made-up press controversy:  The Brazilian women’s volleyball team apparently danced around like it was Mardi Gras in celebration of their gold medal victory over the USA team.  The press thought this was excessive celebration and started asking the American players what they thought.  Most felt it was just Brazil celebrating the way their culture always celebrates.  Note to the press: America leads the world in excessive celebration in its sports.  We even had a girl take off her uniform top after the ladies won the World Cup, and that made the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Most useless speculation at the Games, but everyone knows the answer:  I think the Dream Team should have been no more after the original Dream Team.  We made our point.  Let’s go back to the college kids.  Having said that, one of the current Teamers suggested that the 2012 team could beat the ’92 team.  Although that answer will never be known, everyone knows the 1992 team would beat the 2012’ers.  Even the people who say the 2012 team would win are just whistling through the graveyard.  The only chance the 2012 team would have is if the ’92 team let Christian Laettner play at all.  Experience always trumps youth.  The only people who disagree with that saying are part of the youth.  Here is one example of this truism.  In the mid-eighties I was working at Glendale High School.  The basketball team was second in the state that year.  In the spring there was a charity basketball game between the faculty and this basketball team.  The word on the street was that the basketball team was going to rough up the faculty and win by 30.  Early in the game, one of the faculty came down with a rebound. The best player on the varsity basketball team came over and tried to body him.  The faculty player gave him a nice elbow into the chest.  Game over.  Faculty won.

So yeah, the new guys have LeBron, but he is the only one I think could play with the ’92 team.  And just think if they had taken Shaq instead of Laettner.  But the cool thing about these arguments is that the answer will never be known.

Most useless speculation at the Games, part 2.  Who is the best athlete?  Apples and oranges.  Swimmers have the opportunity to enter eight events.  Track athletes have the chance to only enter four events.  So I don’t believe medal counts  are a good indication.  Throw Usain in a pool.  See if Phelps can run a lap.  Apples and oranges.  Does being the fastest man in the world make a person the best athlete?  I am of the opinion that the decathletes and the heptathletes are the best athletes in the world.  Yet I would still like to throw them into a swimming pool.

Most useless statistic at the Olympics:  The medal count.  This is a holdover from the Cold War.  Not necessary in this day and age.

2nd favorite Olympic moment:  Watching Georganne Moline run in the Olympics.  I have posted about her earlier.  I don’t know her personally, but my high school track team competed against her track team for four years.  I may have even congratulated her on her victory once or twice.  It’s just nice to see some one you know compete.  One of my retired teaching buddies was getting his tires changed in Flagstaff.  The kid doing his tires had run at Thunderbird High School and was the boys’ captain when Georganne was the girls’ captain.  This young man texted Georganne “good luck from the Apollo High School track coaches.”  Nice of the kid to do that.

1st and best favorite Olympic moment:  The performance of the athletes.  Not only the winners and record breakers, but every single athlete that participated in the games.  They are the best of the best that their countries have to offer.  It sounds corny as all heck-i-darn, but everyone who participates is a winner.

I will probably remember something else after I am done and have posted, but this is all I have for now.  The next Olympics is in two years.  I fully intend to be blogging about my brides and my weddings and posting pretty pictures by then.  So cue the music and extinguish the torch.  I am done.

The best photograph of the 2012 Olympics by Reuter’s photographer Luke MacGregor

In honor of the performance I did not get to see or hear Sunday night, today’s inspiration were songs performed by The Who.


At the time I made my commitment to write one blog each day for 30 days, I was also in the process of posting one song a day for my 100 Ultimate Road Trips Songs as compiled by me.  As soon as I started blogging each day, I completely quit doing my road trip song posts.  So much for my ability to multitask.

It is exactly 13 days until my first official wedding shoot.  I would be less than honest if I didn’t say I am a bit nervous, yet brimming with confidence.  I have tried to get as prepared as I can for the big day.  I have taken three great classes from Diana Steffen.  I have also listened to a talk by Melissa Jill and taken advantage of an hour of coaching from her, as well as watched a couple of Creative Live session with Jasmine Star.  Not only are these women fantastic wedding photographers, but they all have outstanding business models and are willing to share their knowledge and expertise with aspiring young (and semi middle-aged) wedding photographers.

However, there was one little thing that was picking at the back of my brain during all of these classes and sessions.  The reality of this business is that it is all about the bride.  All the fabulous people I was learning from were either brides or potential brides.  My fellow classmates in the online classes were all brides or potential brides.  The nagging thought in the back of my mind was can a guy pull this gig off?  I mean, when the suggestion is made for me to  “giggle with bridesmaids before the ceremony,” I am just not seeing that happening.  For goodness sakes, my nickname at school was Grumpy Gramps.  How is G.G. going to giggle with anybody, let alone bridesmaids?

See folks, men and women are different.  I know that for a fact because Time Magazine told me this back in 1995.  I also am aware that there are extremely successful male wedding photographers in the business.  And in spite of all the wealth of knowledge I was learning from my teachers and mentors, I was concerned about being able to relate to the brides I would hopefully someday be shooting.  I had spent the last 31 years of my life teaching big, young men how to block and tackle.  Somehow that doesn’t seem to be a skill needed at your average wedding.   The bottom line is that I was getting the best information about the technical and artistic side of wedding photography, and excellent information about sound business practices.  There were just some aspects of the wedding that I felt I needed a guy’s point of view, like just how does a guy “giggle with the bridesmaids?”

As luck would have it, during the last three days Creative Live offered a workshop taught by Joe Buissink.  That’s Joe, not Jo.  The cool thing about Creative Live is if one can block out the time, one can watch the whole workshop live.  Just like the ladies, Joe takes great pictures and has a great business model.  But I already have a good foundation from the classes I took from Diana plus some of the tips from Melissa.  I really didn’t take the workshop for those aspects of the business.  I really just wanted to see the male perspective of how he works with his potential brides.

In Diana’s class she emphasized that ont of the most important things to do is to always be yourself, to be truthful and honest.  This is what I would call a first principle of the business.  This first principle was echoed by Melissa and others, and this first principle was practiced by Joe in his workshop.  After the workshop, I concluded it really doesn’t matter if one is a senor or senorita, a dude or a dudette, a mr. or a ms., one of the keys to success is to be true to oneself.

At this time I imagine that most everyone who reading this is mentally slapping the back of my head and telling me this is a no-brainer. But when I get a little nagging idea in the back of my head, I have to explore that option until I get the answer I need and the nagging in the back of the mind goes away.  It’s how I am.  If I didn’t try to fix the nagging voice, I wouldn’t be true myself.

I also want to say that I am happy the  workshop helped me with the whole “giggling with brides” dilemma.  Joe said the same thing, but from the man’s perspective.  He said. “talk to the bridesmaids with a sense of humor.  Get them laughing and smiling.”

Which leads me to conclude:

“Men are from Mars, Women from Venus”

“Men search Google+, Women search Pinterest.”

“Men say ‘sense of humor’, Women say ‘giggle’ “

Musical Inspiration:  “Mender of Hearts” by Sing Kauhr and Kim Robertson





I have posted something like this before, but I thought it would be nice to through out this little disclaimer again.  I am writing this blog as an aspiring wedding photographer.  I have no doubt that the word “aspiring” will be dropped as an adjective some day, when I get clients and actually have brides and grooms and pretty pictures to write about.  Until that time it is pretty much random free thoughts about those subjects that interest me.

I decided to continue with my break from the History of the Olympics as seen by Tim and just free write in my usual  thoughtful,humorous and light-hearted manner about  a couple of subjects that were on my mind.  But with the shootings in Wisconsin, I  decided to postpone my blog for a day.  Basically, this post is all the subjects I was going to write about yesterday, with a bit of a mention about the Wisconsin tragedy.

NBC’s coverage of the Olympics is horrible.  No Broadcasting Clue.  NBC chose not to  show the United States’ own Georganne Moline’s heat in the 400 meter hurdles.  Georganne won her heat, and had a better time than the other two Americans, whose heats NBC did decide to televise.  NBC did choose to rerun a segment of an interview with “Blade Runner”, that had aired the night before, and they also showed a segment on James Bond and Ian Fleming.  Could they not have cut back on the special segments and found the extra time to show the other two heats of the 400 hurdles?  Besides that, NBC shows three or four different replays of each race.  One and done, please.  Absolutely no reason to show a race from straight above.  Georganne apparently doesn’t fit into whatever template NBC  has for who and what that they choose to cover.  Much like NBC not televising the opening ceremonies tribute to the UK subway terror attack in 2005.

Like Olga, Nadia, Mary Lou, and Keri before her, Gabby Douglass has become the sweetheart of the 2012 Olympics.  I am happy for her.  It is well deserved.  And from listening to her interviews, she is very well grounded for a 16-year-old, and remember, I dealt with 16 year olds for 31 years.  Gabby now has a $90 million dollar endorsement deal and is on the cover of Kellogg’s Cornflakes. I may even start eating Cornflakes again.  But as is human nature, Gabby is getting her share of criticism about the stupidest things to be critical about.  Some are criticizing Gabby for her profession of faith when interviewed.  Others are criticizing her hair.  Soon, I predict that when it is figured out that 10% of her income will be donated to her church, that will be criticized too.  Go get ‘um, Gabby.

Yesterday, August 5th, is truly a “free day’ for American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee.  Three years ago on that date, Laura and Euna were released after almost 5 months of captivity in North Korea.  Their team was doing a documentary for Current TV on North Korean defectors in China.  On March 17th, 2009, they followed their Korean guide across the Tumin River and were briefly on North Korean soil.  The team was chased by two North Korean soldiers who caught up the two women on the Chinese side of the river and violently dragged them back into North Korea.  The women were put on trial in June and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in one of North Korea’s notorious prison camps.  Only after former President Bill Clinton met with dictator Kim Jong-Il were the girls pardoned and sent back home.  Laura Ling’s sister is journalist Lisa Ling.  Lisa used all her press and political contacts to eventually get the story out to the public and keep the pressure up to get the ladies released.  One thing she did was to post a tweet about how much she missed  and worried about her sister.  That tweet went viral and spread via the social media like wildfire.  From the networking on social media people began attending vigils, writing letters, signing petitions and communicating with each other via Twitter and Facebook.  A young writer named Lillian Wu wrote a letter on her blog in the voice of Hana, Euna’s 4-year-old daughter, from the perspective of 12 years later.  This letter on the blogosphere reached a lot of people and stirred them to get involved. That moving post is here. http://teenwritershaven.blogspot.com/2009/06/my-mother-is-hero.html

I remember in March hearing about North Korea arresting two U.S. reporters but I just figured they would be released in a couple of days.  I did not hear about them again until the verdict of the trial was handed down.  At that point I researched what I could on the story.  The primary reason I joined Facebook was to get connected and to keep up with the news.  I wrote some letters and sign some petitions.  When they came home, I remember watching their arrival live on tv at Bally’s Gym.  Laura and Lisa Ling wrote the book “Somewhere Inside” and Euna Lee wrote “The World is Bigger Now.”  I found Laura and Lisa’s book interesting because not only because Laura details her months in captivity but Lisa also gives us the behind the scene look at the negotiations and the struggles of the families at home with not knowing what was happening to their loved ones.  Euna’s book details her version of the story, but what makes it unique is how much her faith in God and her Christianity helped her through those dark days  And both books give the readers a glimpse into mind-set and the workings and beliefs of North Korea.  I would highly recommend reading their books.  They will touch your heart.

Finally, let me express my sympathies for the victims and families of the Sikh Temple shootings yesterday.