I’m posting this while sitting in Mexico, but I just now am finally editing photos from my last trip to Mexico in December and January. On that trip, I didn’t take out my camera very much. I had a busy fall and I think I needed a break from shooting. My girlfriend and I spent a week in El Potrero Chico and two weeks in Cienega Gonzales (El Salto) rock climbing almost every day. We were feeling pretty wrecked and were glad we’d planned to chill on the beach in Puerto Vallarta for the last week of our trip.
A friend in El Salto had told us to take a bus as far south as the city buses would go, then hike south along the coast. It was a great recommendation, and we found our favorite beach of the trip there.
I mistakenly only brought two lenses with me, I left the rest of my gear in Monterrey because of weight restrictions on the flight. Well, really, the mistake was bringing the wrong lenses. I packed the Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4 and the Sigma Art 85mm f/1.4. I forgot how much I love shooting landscapes at 16mm and didn’t need the shallow depth of field of the F/1.4. And my new 85mm was…ridiculously big and heavy…absurdly big and heavy. I somewhat regret getting rid of my Canon 85mm f/1.8 which is so small and light.
My lack of wide angle on this hike frustrated me to no end, but…I was able to use my 10x ND filter to take long exposures during the day to create some ocean landscapes that I love!
I’m really excited to share this shoot I did back in August with the Japanese running and compression brand, C3Fit, and Boulder advertising firm Mondo Inc. Shiro Hatori was the CD and Emily Choi, the Alpine Stylist, styled the shoot.
We shot around Denver’s Confluence Park and Lodo, then went up into Clear Creek to get some mountain shots. We had a great team, with awesome models and, even though it was a very long day, we had a fantastic time on the shoot.
I came across Charlotte Haertling‘s instagram and approached her about doing a yoga shoot. When we met up to go over ideas, we jumped on AirBnB to find potential locations to shoot. I found a gorgeous property with wonderful natural light and was about to write to the owner when we read the description: built by Boulder Architect Charles Haertling. Charlotte laughed to herself and said, “You know my last name is Haertling, right? That’s my grandfather, the architect. I’m named after him.” You can see Charles’ beautiful and unique structures all over Boulder. I relayed this information to the owner of the house, and she graciously agreed to let us use it for our shoot! Talk about serendipity!
Springtime is the season for long walks with your skis. The snowpack is generally more stable and you can hit big alpine lines. A couple weeks ago, I went on two long walks with skis.
I first tried to get to Flattop Gully with my old roommate, forgetting how far back Flattop goes. We didn’t quite make it all the way to the gully but skied a fun north slope I’d assume doesn’t get skied very often because of how long the walk is. The exit is one of my least favorite I’ve done, second probably to Silver Couloir on Buffalo Peak.
Bindu Pomeroy, of Vail, and I had been trying to get out since we met at Outdoor Retailer. Three days before the Loveland Pass area received somewhere around 20 inches of new snow, and he thought Citadel Peak would still be good. I haven’t skied too much in that area, so was open to skiing something new.
I left my house at 2:30am to be at the trailhead at 4am. Bindu and his fellow split-boarder, Jon Adgate, show up a few minutes after me. We shuttle a car to the Herman Gulch Trailhead, where we’ll finish, and drive to the gate at Dry Gulch.
The moon, while not full, was bright enough that we didn’t need headlamps for the start of our skin. You follow a low angle road for about a mile before turning uphill, pulling up your heal risers, and walking up the steep creek – hearing the water running under the thin snow cover. We had to traverse under a face that I would not want to be under in unstable snow conditions, then go straight up to the saddle between Hagar and a few false summits from Bethel.
I figured out with my Fritschi Ttecton binding, if I partially took it out of walk-mode the brakes would drop, which allowed me to walk almost straight up the hard-frozen steep face. I also found that this technique stops working when the sun warms up the snow, you just slide back down, the brakes sliding through like butter.
Bindu puts on his crampons for the final push, to the top of the rocky peak behind him
We walk the ridge and skirt to the northwest of the Citadel to find someone had oh-so-kindly already put in a boot pack up the steep snow slog. As we gained the summit ridge, we were finding the snow was softening up very quickly.
Looking to the northeast to Pettingell Peak
By the time we are set to go, a few wet slides and pilling are going off on east facing slopes. Bindu and Jon (carving in the photo above) choose the left route down the couloir (which looks far less steep at super-wide angle in the photo than it is in reality). After both of them are out of slide danger, I pick the shoulder on the right. It took me maybe 10 minutes to finish shooting and get set to ski and in that time the snow had warmed up considerably. I made a couple jump turns and set off a wet slide that pulled the top layer off the rest of couloir. I wait for it to settle before straightlinging out to the major slope. The east facing snow was some of the strangest I’ve ever skied in, both soft and crunchy, grabby and super fast. My skis sunk to ankle deep or so and the snow grabbed my tails, making it almost impossible to turn. I could make large sweeping turns which were not sufficient to control my speed. I’m not sure if I didn’t fully clip into my binding, but about halfway down the slope my right ski took off on its own. It took me too long to retreive it, wallowing in the wet snow in avalanche danger area. Getting my ski back on, I made it over to Bindu’s position, “Damn, it feels like I’ve never skied before!”. I hate that feeling. The snowboarders didn’t seem to have the same problem, claiming the snow was great for carving. I’m going to attribute it to their greater surface area and not sinking into the grabby mess (and not my lack of abilities…).
The ski out is 4 miles of generally downhill but very low angle skiing that goes by pretty quickly, except for the dirt patches you have to gingerly walk across. The last quarter mile or so we had to put the skis on the packs and awkwardly walk with ski boots (I guess the snowboarders less awkwardly walked in their more comfortable boots). High alpine adventures are fun, but I think I’m about ready to hang up my skis for the summer. It’s rock climbing and mountain biking season!
I found Asia Armon on Instagram and asked if she would want to do a test shoot while I was out in LA. I sent her my mood board, blending active life and architecture, and she was on board. When I shot at the LACMA with Natalie Duran, I saw some shots I wanted to try with Asia. So, instead of finding a new location, I came back to what I already had in my head.
Asia was so ridiculously easy to work with, incredibly professional and natural. It’s such a joy shooting with models like her, they make my job easy. Give her a follow at @asiaarmon on Instagram.
I met Lorry almost a decade ago (that is weird to say…) back in Indiana at a friend’s going away party, and we did a photoshoot when she was just starting as a model.
It was great to catch up in LA after all these years. She agreed to do an active lifestyle/running-ish shoot, and we decided to head towards downtown LA to find a location. Downtown was far too busy, but after driving around for a while we came across the Staples Center, which had the architectural elements I was looking for. We started shooting before we even left the parking garage!
Thanks, Lorry for being willing to run and jump around all over the place, and I’m thankful no security guards kicked us out!
And here’s a friendly reminder to make sure your models are safe!
I recently took a trip to Los Angeles for portfolio reviews at Fotoworks LA. I didn’t just want to be in LA for 2 days, so I booked an AirBnB for 7 days and set up a few personal shoots to fill out my week.
I met Natalie Duran (@Ninja_Natalie , frequent gold sequin-wearing, always excited American Ninja Warrior and Madrock professional rock climber) at a Madrock dinner during an Outdoor Retailer Tradeshow several…(6?) years ago. She liked the mood board I’d created on Pinterest and agreed to meet me for a shoot. We decided on the Petersen Automotive Museum and LACMA in Mid-Wilshire.
The red wall on the shade side of the building immediately struck me as the obvious location to start on, and Natalie started running and jumping, expending her endless supply of energy while wearing her new and very sparkly Bell Bullit helmet.
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I felt like I’d sufficiently covered Natalie jumping around like a Lara Croft video game, and she had just froggered her way through traffic to climb on construction scaffolding, so I thought we should move on to the LACMA where she immediately found steps to use the wrong way.
It was super fun shooting with Natalie! And it was great to see my buddy who moved to LA part-time, Parker Rice (aka Cinema Raven), who braved LA traffic to help out.
I’ll be posting a few more from my personal shoots. Keep checking back here!
I realized, as I was driving past the exit for Moab, that I had never driven further west on I-70. I’ve taken countless trips to Moab and Indian Creek since moving to Colorado, but I hadn’t explored anything beyond this area of the desert. I was heading to Hanksville, UT to meet up with my friend, CJ, to explore for a few days. First, we went to Capitol Reef National park. This not-so-popular NP has amazing and varied sandstone cliffs and painted desert badlands. You can drive back through some very tight canyons, and if you have a high clearance vehicle you can see many more things. We didn’t have a lot of time so we only drove down Capitol Canyon, and it was pretty close to noon, so the light was not great for photography. We did stop in one tight section of the canyon to play around on some boulders.
The national park was really interesting, but I was blown away by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land outside of the park. There are endless miles of playground and free camping. We stopped to explore an area of what I’m calling painted desert. I drove my Passat wagon down sandy roads (that I hoped I could get out of) that all ended at a river. After searching for a bit at the end of the road for a way to cross, we walked into the tall brush following cattle trails which led us to a fallen tree creating the perfect bridge.
I loved this section of road. It was too good to pass up! I want to make a giant print with this…who wants one for their wall?”
We found a quiet wash just far enough from the highway to make camp. In the morning, we were planning on leaving early, but I wanted to see what was hiding beyond the wash, so we just started hiking up to the top to see what we could see. Really, the BLM land was just as cool as the NP.
CJ had been wanting to check out Goblin Valley State Park for a while, and a friend had told me to do the Chamber of the Basilisk slot canyon. FYI Fees have gone up to $15 entrance and $4 for each person’s permit to do the rappel.
The approach through the valley is quite entertaining, with plenty of mud hoodoo “goblins” to explore (and even a cave!). I read the directions wrong and took us down a different slot canyon which was trying to deliver us back into the valley, so we had to backtrack to find the right chamber where a crowd of people was waiting to do the descent. We had to wait for nearly 2.5 hours for everyone to get down, including a woman lowering her friend and her brat of a son by hand with a very misused Guide ATC instead of having them rappel. #scarythingsyouseepeopledo. Finally, it was our turn. CJ couldn’t resist playing around while lowering.
By the time we were hiking back to the valley, the light was too good to get try and get some shots of the goblins. Such a unique and other-wordly place!
CJ is a BASE jumper and wanted to get a jump in at one of her favorite exits, at Black Dragon Wash. We got to the campsite well after dark, but it was warm and the wind was still. We went to check out the landing in the light of the full moon. The photo came out looking like daylight with stars!
CJ launching of Black Dragon!
We still had a whole day ahead of us to explore, and couldn’t decide what to do. We eventually found a county road that went further into the San Rafael Swell and just drove on four-wheel drive roads (in CJ’s Tacoma) till we found something interesting. We came to this large canyon with nearly 400-foot walls. CJ thought that she could jump one of them, so she grabbed her rig and potentially opened up a new BASE exit!
I had a great time exploring further west in Utah than I’d been (at least since I was a little kid and went to Bryce Canyon). I’d love to have spent more time there, but I had a shoot I had to get back to in Moab. I can’t wait to go back and see more of what else Utah has to offer!
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I hadn’t spent time in North Carolina since I was a kid, so when a friend from college asked if I would come shoot an economic project in Winston-Salem I was pretty excited to see the state, especially when the leaves were changing. Kristy works for Wake Forest Medical Center’s project trying to invigorate economic growth in Winston-Salem. They are building out abandoned cigarette factories, mixing old and new architecture in beautiful ways, and trying to get tech firms and innovative companies to come to the “Innovation Quarter”.
I brought my friend, Luis Carducci, a film maker in Miami, to be my assistant. Kristy had some very specific asks for our three days in WS, but she asked me to do something I rarely get asked from clients…”Just be creative! Go explore! Take photos of things that interest you.” I had so much fun with it, exploring the campus with Luis and getting some different angles of the beautiful architecture.
Abby Chan, the talented yogi/dancer/entrepreneur I photographed on the roof of the Hotel Monte Vista, connected me with Alex Pavon. Alex is a professional Enduro mountain biker who lives in Flagstaff and was kind enough to give up her New Years Day to shoot with me. She took me to a beautiful section of trail on Mount Elden overlooking Flagstaff, a trail called Sunset.
We had a couple hours to shoot up high before we drove further from Flagstaff, past Arizona Snowbowl (Flagstaff’s ski area), to some double-track trails in rolling hills with aspen tree groves. Alex switched kits and got out her gravel bike for something different.
I really enjoyed Flagstaff. Everyone I met was awesome, and the city had some pretty great reasons to come back – more climbing and mountain biking!
After seven days in Flagstaff, I headed north, through Monument Valley, Indian Creek, Fruita, and back home to Boulder, rounding out an amazing trip around the South West. I need to take more roadtrips like this!
Asking the people I met around Flagstaff, I asked for some awesome locations to shoot different sports. Someone suggested Pumphouse Wash as a nice place to shoot yoga, but on my last day in Flagstaff, I was set to shoot with Missy Verhaeghe, a runner. I didn’t know what to expect, but we found the “trail” after doing a few u-turns, not realizing you park at a bridge and just climb down to the streambed. The wash is a tight canyon, with featured sandstone walls 50 feet or less apart. We walked past a few fun looking sport climbing routes that would be awesome to go back and try.
Flagstaff hadn’t received any precipitation since September, so the wash was completely dry. I was also expecting a bluebird day, but we were surprised with clouds giving us pretty flat light, which gave us a different feel.
Still getting used to my Sony A7RIII, I was super impressed by the autofocus’s ability to keep focus. The Sigma 35 does the best of all my non-Sony lenses, with the Sigma adapter, but the Sony 85mm 1.8 really showed it’s crazy abilities with Missy jumping between the rocks.
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Thank you Missy, you were awesome for withstanding the cold!
When I reached out to the social InstaFacedIn to recommend active people in Flagstaff, Arizona for me to shoot lifestyle with multiple people sent over Abby Chan’s name. She’s one of those inspiring people that is good at everything. She owns Evolve Flagstaff, is a yoga, dance and aerialist instructor, mountain biker, and rock climber. She agreed to meet up on New Year’s Eve, and the weather was brisk but beautiful. Abby knew she could get access to Hotel Monte Vista’s roof, and I wanted to save that till closer to sunset, so we started in the downtown area where there is a lot of awesome mural art.
But the roof beckoned and I didn’t want to miss the light. Huge props to Abby for withstanding the cold.
Her beauty and grace in movement was awesome to watch. Thank you for being an incredible model!