HMB Chamber of Commerce Portraits

Chambers of Commerce are dear to us. We learned that they are deeply involved in the life of the communities they serve and are essential in helping with all sorts of activities: fundraising, non profits, volunteering and community engagement, spreading the word about local events, and so much more. Given that we live on the Coast and also have commitments in Los Altos, we are affiliated with both Chambers of Commerce. It was our pleasure to take some portraits for the charming staff of Half Moon Bay Chamber of Commerce . Thank you Krystlyn Giedt for the opportunity!


Shooting for the Skies

Time flies. It was just two or three years ago that I suggested to my wife that she take up photography as an outlet for her creative side. I had been editing images for years in Photoshop, but considered this a mere sideline. Laura had been taking really nice family shots for ages with her beloved Leica, but it had never occurred to her to take her skills to a higher level. We looked at each other and suddenly realized that this was something we might work at together. The question was whether we had the fundamental skills to begin with; we had to be realistic. We looked at each other’s work as objectively as possible and came to the conclusion that it might just work.

We devoted almost every spare hour to learning and above all practicing. Laura studied the fundamentals of lighting and - geek as she is - mastered the use of strobes in record time. I took her work and upped my technical skills in such recondite areas as dodging and burning and frequency separation. She got to grips with light meters; I mastered the use of a Wacom tablet, Most of all, we took tens of thousands of photographs and held shoot after shoot. After some debate our sitting room was remodeled as a studio and the house was besieged by a procession of friendly neighbors and models.

How to judge our progress? Well, most of our friends told us that our pictures were ‘awesome’ … but the they tell me much the same thing about my cooking, which I am well aware is breathtakingly dreadful. We needed some kind of objective standard and at this point, Laura discovered Portrait Masters, an internationally recognized training and accreditation body. She submitted some of our images and they were awarded the bronze award in three portrait categories: children, teens and contemporary. She was delighted that a team of expert judges had seen the value of our work. I was pleased but less ecstatic. “Next year we are going for Gold”, I told her.

Cinematic Influences

Laura was taking pictures of our clients when I noticed their delightful little boy wandering towards us through the trees in the misty dawn light. It triggered a memory, although I couldn’t recall what, so I took a few shots with my Fujifilm X100F, a camera some dismiss as semi-professional, but which the illuminati recognize as one of the most sophisticated devices on the market.

Days later I was in Photoshop doing the post processing on my wife’s work when I decided to look at the images I had captured and the sense of déjà vu  came back. I still couldn’t put my finger on the source but something guided me. Here is the first edit:


It was cute but something was missing. There needed to be a stronger sense of mystery. The white light of the early sun should glow in a fiery way. I hooked in Alien Skin, added the glow and tweaked a lot. I won’t get technical, but the curves and look up tables were involved. I then got to the final image:

The final image

The final image


It was only then that I realized what I had been thinking about all along. Of all things, it was Steven Spielberg’s 1977 film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind!

I won’t say that this is exactly a homage to the director - in fact, casting vanity aside, I think my image is rather better than the film sequence. However, it does show how an exposure to popular culture can help the photographer.


Senior Shoot

Recently we have been honored to capture lovely images of this beautiful, young ballerina. We took both in studio and outdoor images to show her character and talent, but also to remind her of the beautiful Coastside when she would have spread her wings.



One gloomy Saturday evening we decided to get creative and have some fun with my daughter in the studio. She has been telling me that soon her fancy dress won’t fit her so we went to work. We found some holiday props left around the house, we got out the lights, some makeup on and started shooting! Thanks to Mark’s beautiful editing, this is the result. I was so happy I took this image of her!



I have just finished editing a set of images for the absolutely stunning Aida, a young Bay Area lady of Ethiopian extraction. Laura took the images a couple of weeks ago and they looked fantastic. So how was I to do them justice? I decided on some rich color grading to emphasize the subject’s exotic beauty. It seems to have worked.