This is the world seen through my camera. Weird, wonderful and wholly original.

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Posted on Aug 10, 2017
Posted in Art!, Explore, My Life

I have lived in L.A. now for 18 years, and this year was finally my first trip to Catalina Island. YAY!! Finally! Catalina is a magical little island only an hour boat ride from either Long Beach or San Pedro. My BFF and I planned to backpack the Trans-Catalina Trail, or TCT. The length of the trail is about 37 miles, but because you have to hike back from the end back to where you’d catch a boat back to the mainland, it’s really more like 51 miles.

The most common way to do the TCT is to start in the city of Avalon and work your way to the other end of the island at Starlight Beach. Because of the heavy rains California was hit with this year, the last leg of the trail from Parsons Landing to Starlight Beach was virtually inaccessible. Technically we could have tried it, but should something happen and require assistance from the park service, they would not have been able to access it. Needless to say we decided against doing the entire trail. Instead, we decided on a three-day-backpacking trip. Here was our plan:

Day-1

Avalon to Black Jack campground: 17 miles

Day-2

Black Jack to Little Harbor campground: 7 miles

Day-3

Little Harbor to Two Harbors: 5 miles.

Although our hiking trip was three days, our actual time on the island was 5 days. We traveled from the Long Beach Harbor to Avalon on a Wednesday afternoon and stayed the night at Hotel Atwater. This gave us time to swing by the Catalina Conservancy office to pick up a map, walk around the city and grab dinner and a beer. Avalon is beautiful!! There are very few vehicles allowed on the island. Transportation is all pretty much on foot of by golf cart, which added to its charm.

1 mkp Avalon Harbor

2 mkp photographer selfie

3 mkp Hotel Atwater

When we were planning the logistics of the trip, everything we read told us to check in for our campsites at Hotel Atwater, which is why we picked that hotel for our accomodations. We booked our campsites at Reserve America and were able to print out our reservations from home and have them on our person. When we checked in at the hotel, they basically told us that things have changed a bit and that checking in with them per se there wasn’t necessary like it once had been.

4 mkp backpacking the TCT

5 mkp backpacking the TCT

When we checked into the Conservancy to get our map, we decided to work our way up to the TCT via Wrigley Botanical Gardens which shaved a couple of miles off of our first day. I think it was supposed to be around 15 miles from the hotel to Black Jack instead of the originally planned for 17. I feel I should say that going through the botanical gardens required a fee for entrance. Kristen and I were the only ones in the park that early in the morning and thus we were able to talk our way into not paying, ensuring them that we were not there for the park, but only for the access to the Trans-Catalina Trail. I think if it was later in the day and there were more patrons that we would not have been so lucky.

6 mkp backpacking the TCT

7 mkp backpacking the TCT

8 mkp backpacking the TCT

9 mkp backpacking the TCT

10 mkp backpacking the TCT

11 mkp backpacking the TCT

12 mkp backpacking the TCT

13 mkp backpacking the TCT

Foxes are the islands apex predator. They were pretty stinking cute… Except when they cried at night. Their cries didn’t have the terrifying element that the howler monkeys in Costa Rica did, but the fox yowls were loud and lasted quite a while.

14 mkp backpacking the TCT

15 mkp backpacking the TCT

16 mkp backpacking the TCT

This is the spot where we experienced our first setback. We were on a very clearly marked trail. The path narrowed a bit and then we saw a TCT sign with an arrow clearly pointing toward the trail we were on that ran parallel to the fence you see in the right of the frame. We followed it until there was basically no more trail… Only a steep mountain face that a skilled hiker could traverse without a backpack. Doing it with a backpack would have been near impossible. Where could we have gone wrong? We could see the trail on the other side of the fence and down a ways. We decided to backtrack a bit and eventually opted to hop the fence and work our way toward the trail we saw in the distance. Once we did, you could see where the TCT was and it went right THROUGH the fence. This fence had no gate mind you. We were like WTF? This is something that could have been communicated to us at the Conservancy Office when we got our maps. You know, something along the lines of “Hey ladies! Once you come up on Haypress reservoir, you can either opt to stay on the service road that accommodates vehicles, or if you choose to stay on the actual TCT like you intend to do, you’re going to have to jump a fence!” Either option would have been preferable to adding a mile to our longest day, but oh well. What’s one little extra mile? We’re tough chicks.

17 mkp backpacking the TCT

18 mkp grump face backpacking the TCT

We felt that the best way to alleviate our frustration was with a faux grump-face selfie.

19 mkp backpacking the TCT

20 mkp backpacking the TCT

IT’S JUST SO PRETTY!!!

21 mkp backpacking the TCT

22 mkp backpacking the TCT

This image pretty much marks the point when I stopped taking photos on Day-1. This is when the real adventure riddled with tears, disbelief, fear and triumph took place.

We had put the bulk of the day’s journey behind us… Or so we thought. We had just over 3 miles left to go to Black Jack Campground. We were tired, but in good spirits. Our bodies were sore, but there was that sort of numb euphoria that I like about backpacking. We began up a mountain that DID NOT LET UP. Holy shit. I am guestimating here when I say it was probably a good 1.5 miles with no reprieve and at a significant grade.

I’m not a big Justin Bieber fan, but his song, Let Me Love You, was on REPEAT in my head. Specifically that part where he goes “don’t you give up na na na, I won’t give up, na a na, let me love you, let me love you”. I’ve heard that song a lot on the radio and at various events but is that song in any playlist of mine? Nope. How that song and specifically that part just forced its way into my consciousness at that particular moment in time is a mystery. Would I classify myself as a Justin Bieber fan? The answer to that question would have been a pretty hard NO before this backpacking trip. I can’t say that anymore. I am a fan of yours Justin Bieber… You got me through that hill and that was no easy feat. Thank you sir. I am forever grateful.

Once we made it over the crest of what is the highest slope on Catalina Island, we were in the home stretch. Only a mile and half or so left. We got to a point in the trail where it opened up at the crest of a hill. We noticed several orange flags marking the only unquestionably clear part of the trail. It veered to the left. Straight ahead were only grass, rocks and weeds. Clearly that sharp left turn was where we were supposed to be. We were appreciating the beautiful terrain that rolled up and down as it led us down toward the waterline line in the distance where we assumed we would be setting up our tent soon.

The sun was getting lower and lower in the sky. It was breathtaking in its ever-quickening softer light beauty. We were almost jovial as our level of exhaustion was coinciding perfectly with our arrival time. We kept going.

And going…

And going.

Surely we were supposed to have come across the little pond that was only a mile away from the campground. We had gone about 2 miles before we could not ignore that sick feeling in our gut. We stopped to pull out the map and saw that our guts were indeed right. We fucked up. Big time. But how? It didn’t make any sense!

The sun was really starting to set now and we had to go back the 2 miles we came in error, and still had another mile and a half to the campsite.

Our eyes moistened from the tears that wanted to eek their way out. We were at the point of complete exhaustion. Our 15-mile day, which had already become a 16-mile day, was now shaping up to be a 20-mile day… If we were lucky!! We weren’t earning any gold stars for our accuracy so far. On top of it, Kristen’s feet had begun to hurt so badly from her shitty shoes that we were already discussing just how many toenails she was going to lose.

And the sun was sinking lower and lower. It was dusk now.

I have experienced a number of very physically challenging adventures, but this was my first ever experience with real adrenaline. Something clicked in my head and body that made me keep a pace that would have been fast with no backpack.

All I could hear was the quick pace of my steps as I got to as close to a run as possible. I felt strong. I was focused. We were going to make it. We had to.

We made our way back to the fork in the trail where the eye catching orange flags mimicked the “COME THIS WAY” kind of sign used by aggressive salesmen. This had to be where we went wrong.

Sure enough, we walked though the grass and weeds to edge of the hill where we could see down. There, far out of the sightline from where the trail split was a sign marking the TCT trail.

While I did not love the situation at the time it was happening, I will say I am glad it happened. I am going to start hiking the Pacific Crest Trail next year and that trail is nowhere near as clearly marked as the TCT. We will be relying on compasses and maps a lot more heavily. This was a good lesson to double-check our path even, and especially in those times of certainty.

Our 15-mile day had turned into a 20-mile day. We made it to camp just after the sun had set. We put our tent up in near darkness, made dinner, and promptly went to bed. As we lied in our sleeping bags before sleep overtook us, we spoke about being more responsible hikers the following day. We would not make the same mistakes on Day-2.

I told you we were so tired that no photos documented the epic experience we had endured. I didn’t even pull out my camera to shoot our tent the next morning! I did get a few shots of our food prep and gear packing.

24 mkp backpacking the TCT

Look at that amazing woman making breakfast! God love her.

25 mkp backpacking the TCT

Out of all of our backpacking excursions, this one marked a turning point in our food planning. We still over packed a bit, but nothing crazy like our first trip in the Grand Canyon.

26 mkp backpacking the TCT

(Insert angel music effects here) Look how beautiful our campsite was! Too bad our time at breakfast was our only time where we could see it since we got there in almost complete darkness the night before.

27 mkp backpacking the TCT

I had to take a picture of this bungee-hook thing because they are the bomb. They are so useful!! Never leave home without them.

28 mkp backpacking the TCT

After recommitting ourselves to doing what was necessary to stay on the Trans Catalina Trail, regardless or what the trail markers communicated, we began Day-2 with studying the map, packing up our gear and hiked out of Black Jack campground. Once we got to the main road/trail, we promptly took a right when alas, and this will probably come as no surprise, we should have taken a left. This little error was not super costly and only added 2-miles to what was supposed to be a 7-mile day to the Little Harbors Campground.

Way to go us! My BFF and I don’t call ourselves “Team Hard Way” for nothing. That title is earned dammit. Over the course of our lives, we have worked very hard to subconsciously make the more difficult choices, especially when the situation does not warrant such character building. That’s how we roll people.

29 mkp backpacking the TCT

We like to think that had we gone the correct way that we would not have been in a position to be right under the airplane flight path. That’s what we told ourselves, but truth is, maybe we would, maybe we wouldn’t have.

It was on this paved road to the airport that we met a couple whose flight had just landed. They chose to walk the “10” miles back to their home in Avalon rather than have someone pick them up. We talked with them about the island for a few minutes and we of course could not help but express our grievances with the way the island marks the trail. They casually informed us that all signs should be thought of as more of a suggestion, or an approximation as opposed to actual fact. Do you see a sign that says 10 miles? That could actually mean 9, 11, or even 13. Who knows exactly, but it’s for sure in that general area. Maddening piece of information noted.

31 mkp backpacking the TCT

We officially made it back to the Trans Catalina Trail! Woot woot!!

32 mkp backpacking the TCT

Catalina Island is home to a herd of Bison that have roamed the island since 1924. A film titled “The Vanishing American” was filmed on the island and one of the scenes required bison. 14 bison were transported from the Great Plains to Catalina Island with the intention of being returned upon completion of the film. That obviously never happened. Since their arrival on the island, the herds’ population has fluctuated from it’s original 14, to its peak at 527. The number now currently on the island is around 150.

They are really impressive up close. I believe we were encouraged/instructed to not approach the bison for obvious reasons. When we caught our first look at them, they were pretty far away. As we got closer they promptly ran in the opposite direction.  Great!

33 mkp backpacking the TCT Catalina bison

As we approached this group of bison, they didn’t really seem to move away from us as soon as the last group did. We didn’t expect that this herd would be different from the last batch of giant shaggy beasts so we stuck to the game plan. Keep calm, move slowly and don’t look them in the eye. I don’t know if that’s really a thing, but it felt right. Like, really right.

By the time we realized that they were not going to run away it was too late. We had committed to our game plan. It seemed like they would read our changing course as an act of fear, or danger in some way. Again, I don’t know what was going on in their buffalo brains, but rather than shuffling off (only my fellow tap dancers will appreciate this marvelous pun), we stayed calm and carried on.

We got through okay, but there was one giant muppet of a buffalo who appeared to be the leader. He didn’t trust us. We could see it in is eyes… Peripherally of course since we were adamant about not making eye contact. He started to slowly follow us and when he moved, the rest of the group moved with him. We kept going, cool, head down keeping the same steady pace. They followed us for probably 30 yards or so, seemingly establishing a perimeter daring us to step back in. We did not accept the dare and he finally relented.

Once we were a good ways away from the pack, we stopped to eat some lunch. We watched another set of backpackers approach the herd in the distance. How would they choose to navigate the beasts? They walked WAY FAR AROUND. Hahaha! What pussies! (Totally kidding, this was the correct maneuver.) Not long after said couple passed us on our break, a ranger drove up and spoke to us from his truck. He asked if the herd was on the trail when we came through and how we went around them. His facial expressions did not hide his surprise and horror when we explained to him our oxen-traversing method. He explained that they can get a bit grumpy at times to which we informed him that 15 minutes ago was in fact one of those times.

34 mkp backpacking the TCT

35 mkp backpacking the TCT

We made it to our destination at Little Harbors campground with plenty of time to put up our tent in broad daylight and enjoy the sunset on the beach. It was stunning.

36 mkp backpacking the TCT

I love this woman. She and I have been best friends since 7th grade when my parents moved our family to my Dad’s hometown in Carbon County Utah. It’s small town with its roots in coal mining… A town where everyone knows your name. She and I have been through more life experiences and adventures than we can shake a stick at. This moment enjoying the sunset after the bison-gods gave us the “thumbs up” was a great one to add to our ever-growing list.

37 mkp backpacking the TCT Little Harbors sunset

38 mkp backpacking the TCT camp dinner

We prepared and ate our dinner by the light of our headlamps. I love this picture because her hands are all blurred and positioned like she’s a magician magically making macaroni and cheese appear.

39 mkp backpacking the TCT Little Harbors campground

40 mkp backpacking the TCT

This is my very high-tech method of airing out my t-shirt. You gotta make sacrifices when you backpack. One of those sacrifices is overall body freshness.

41 mkp backpacking the TCT Little Harbors campground

By Day 3, Kristen had decided that she was going to call for one of the islands Sherpa companies to take her to the final campground. Her hiking shoes had wreaked havoc on her feet and her ability to use them. The third and final hiking day was supposed to be the shortest day distance wise at 5 miles from the Little Harbors campground to the one at Two Harbors. *

*5-miles is a mere approximation due in part to both the inaccuracy of the trail signs, and our personal unwillingness to follow a physical map.

We decided that if the cost of shuttling us to Two Harbors was more than $25 per person that I would hike it and meet her there. My comparatively inexpensive Solomon Trail Running shoes had taken such good care of my feet! They were so comfortable that I never even felt the need to take them off upon reaching camp both days. I cannot say enough good things about them. Solomon, I love you. Thank you for a product line that allowed me to keep all of my toenails.

But I digress. While we were breaking down camp, the same ranger who we had frightened with our Buffalo-Whisperer ability made an appearance to check the campground. We asked him about the frequency and cost of the Sherpa shuttles. He gave us the information we were after and added that he was heading over to Two Harbors in ten minutes. If we were ready to go in that time frame, he would be happy to take us.

42 mkp backpacking the TCT

We were ready!

43 mkp backpacking the TCT

RANGER DAN THE MAN! He rocked. He totally gave us a tour of the island. We learned so much!! The conservancy did good when they hired him.

44 mkp backpacking the TCT

It’s a good thing for Ranger Dan The Man that I had implemented the use of my high-tech shirt freshening technique.

45 mkp backpacking the TCT

46 mkp backpacking the TCTTwo Harbors official greeter

This is the official greeter of the city of Two Harbors. Between the bitchin’ Ranger Dan The Man and now this cutie, Day-3 was already shaping up to be a great one.

47 mkp backpacking the TCT Buffalos milk

Ranger Dan The Man educated us on a vast array of all things Catalina Island. One of which was Buffalo’s Milk, a cocktail that was concocted by Harbor Reef Restaurant bartender, Michael Hoffler, back in the mid-seventies. It’s an island version of a white russian. Ranger Dan The Man is so smart.

48 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors general store

The very small city of Two Harbors has a general store, a restaurant, a hotel, a campground, a visitor center and that’s about it. We decided to have a couple of drinks at the only bar in town before making our way to our final campsite.

49 mkp Two Harbors general store

Check out this little wooden buffalo tchotchke on top of the register at the Two Harbors general store!

50 mkp Two Harbors

51 mkp Two Harbors

52 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors campground

53 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors campground

54 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors campground

55 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors campground

56 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors campground

We really enjoyed our stay at this last campground. It’s about a half-mile hike from the harbor itself where the visitor center is located. The road there was kind of wonky from this year’s heavy rains. If you’re car-camping (not backpacking), you can pay the camp to transport your gear from the dock to your site by truck. I think it would be super fun to start an annual camping weekend with friends here.

57 mkp backpacking the TCT Harbor Reef Restaurant

We headed down to the dock with enough time to spend a couple of hours in town… And by town, I mean the Harbor Reef Restaurant.

58 mkp backpacking the TCT Harbor Reef Restaurant

I have no idea what these sketches are of, but I found them delightful. They were all over the restaurant.

59 mkp backpacking the TCT Harbor Reef Restaurant

Only a few beers on tap and one of them was a Utah beer! Uintah Brewing! Go figure!

60 mkp empty glass

61 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors

62 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors

63 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors

64 mkp backpacking the TCT Catalina Island

You can see from a distance just how steep some of the mountains are. When I look at this picture, my eye goes right to the highest one. (Queue Justin Bieber verse.)

65 mkp Catalina Island boad ride

Our boat ride back to L.A. was from Two Harbors. When it made a stop in Avalon this cutie boarded and sat in the seat right across from me. She had a fun time with the wind blowing her hair. I had a fun time witnessing the joy it brought her 🙂

66 mkp Catalina Island boat ride

67 mkp Catalina Island boad ride

Although we are collectively going back with fewer toenails than we came with, hiking the Trans Catalina Trail was an amazing experience. It was harder than expected, but also more beautiful. I feel like I really got a sense of the island, both the urban element and the backcountry. The people were welcoming and kind, the views heart-stirring, I experienced my first shot of real adrenaline and the bison were accommodating in their willingness to let us live. I look forward to going back and hiking it without any extra miles added on, going against the “Team Hard Way” credo. We can do it! We have to go back to symbolically burn and ceremoniously drown Kristen’s shitty shoes anyway.

Here’s a list of resources we found useful when planning our this trip:

Blog featured on SoCal Hiker

Blog featured on Modern Hiker

Boat ride to and from

Hotel Atwater in Avalon

Catalina Conservancy

Campgound bookings

City of Two Harbors

Part of the trail we omitted

Like what you see here?  Want information on my professional services and availability, or maybe to discuss a creative collaboration, click here!

Also, did you know I have a book out?  get your copy here!

 

 

 

Posted on Aug 04, 2017

Graduation days are so special! I still remember how it felt to be ceremoniously leaving my junior high for adulthood… High school. Yeah I called it adulthood! It was our first step out of our childlike existence into a world with more responsibility, choice and freedom. It was so exciting! I still get excited when I walk into what my high school called the “Grand Canyon”. It was kind of like a commons area that connected the classrooms to the big fancy gym. I mean a place to congregate with peers that didn’t involve having to sit on the floor or in the cafeteria?! (Okay, okay… Truth be told, we still mostly sat on the floor in front of our lockers, but we didn’t HAVE to. Choices people.) We were adults I tell ya!

I was hired to shoot the Beverly Vista Class of 2017 and it was so much fun. Many of the families were personal clients of mine so it was a little emotional watching kids I have spent a bunch of time documenting for their bar and bat mitzvahs over the last 2 years don their green gowns. The planning committee did not hold back any awesomeness. After the seriousness of the ceremony, the kids partied it up until late. It was the perfect mix of sentimentality and shenanigans.

1 mkp graduation day

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25 mkp graduation day

26 mkp schools out

27 mkp graduation day

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29 mkp graduation day

30-mkp-celebrate

31 mkp Busbys East

32 mkp wild parents

33 mkp magician

34 mkp graduation party

 

35 mkp graduation party

36 mkp graduation party

37 mkp party life

38 mkp bond, james bond

39 mkp la event photographer

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44 mkp dance party

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46 mkp Amanda Christine Stuart

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59 mkp Busby's east

Posted on Jul 28, 2017
Posted in Mitzvah's, Portraits

People often approach doing a portrait session on the beach with trepidation. They think it’s cliché or cheesy for a number of reasons that are different for everyone. You know why the beach is such a popular shooting location? BECAUSE IT’S BEAUTIFUL. End of story. It’s beautiful in the harshest of sunlight, and it’s beautiful in what we professionals call the “magic hour”. The magic hour is basically that time of the evening when the sun is so low it’s nearly set or it has already, but the light is lingering for a little bit before it goes dark. It’s also called twilight or crepuscule. I love magic hour and I love a beach location shoot.

This bar mitzvah client of mine decided on a beach in Malibu for a pre-mitzvah portrait session. Of course the young man was the first priority, but it really is a big event for the whole family, which makes incorporating the entire immediate family into the shoot even more meaningful. It’s also nice for my shooting style to have more people involved to encourage action and discussion amongst each other… Things that help to get people out of their “oh my god there’s a camera on me” heads. Here are some of my favorite pictures from this super fun session with one way-too-photogenic family.

1 mkp la mitzvah photographer family portrait

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8 mkp la mitzvah photographer family portrait

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10 mkp la mitzvah photographer family portrait

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21 mkp la mitzvah photographer family portrait

Like what you see here?  Want information on my professional services and availability, or maybe to discuss a creative collaboration, click here!

Also, did you know I have a book out?  get your copy here!

Posted on Jul 21, 2017

This girl rocks. She quite literally has it all… Brains, beauty, a sparkling personality, she’s thoughtful, fun to hang around and she’s got TALENT. Holy shit is this girl talented. If you don’t know her by name, there’s a good chance you’ve heard her play on something at some point. Google Leah Zeger, or better yet, just go to her website. She’s a bit of a superstar in her field, although she would never admit to such a statement, as she’s also humble and modest in the best way.

Because of her crazy touring schedule, her days in L.A. were limited and thus, we struggled to lock down a shoot day.  We ended up piggy backing on a music video shoot of hers for her new single, Plans Change. We didn’t know how much actual shooting time I’d get with her in between set ups for the video, but that kind of set up is really right up my alley. I’m pretty good with portraits under pressure and on top of it, the video production gave me a chance to do some fun documentary, behind the scenes pics. You all know how I feel about the photojournalistic stuff.

The day could not have been more fun. Abby Lyle just might be the best/coolest makeup artist I’ve ever met, and Rad Media Worx was fun as hell to shoot alongside of, and they killed the job they were hired to do.

Once you’ve looked at my pics, check out Leah’s music video. Once you’ve watched that, go buy the single.  Get your art on people. This one goes down smooth.

1 mkp behind the scenes video shoot

2 mkp behind the scenes video shoot

3 mkp rad media worx leah zeger shoot

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5 mkp Leah Zeger

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7 mkp Leah Zeger behind the scenes video shoot

8 mkp Rad Media Worx video shoot

This was my perspective from my very short-lived career as a test model.

9 mkp Rad Media Worx Leah Zeger behind the scenes video shoot

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17 mkp Leah Zeger behind the scenes video shoot

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19 mkp Leah Zeger and Abby Lyle behind the scenes video shoot

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23 mkp Leah Zeger and Rad Media Worx behind the scenes video shoot

24 mkp Leah Zeger

25 mkp Leah Zeger

26 mkp Leah Zeger

I made everyone come up on the roof for this next sequence of pics. I had to REALLY fight the urge to name today’s post “Fiddler On the Roof”. It wasn’t easy people. It wasn’t easy.

27 mkp Leah Zeger

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Like what you see here?  Want information on my professional services and availability, or maybe to discuss a creative collaboration, click here!

Also, did you know I have a book out?  get your copy here!

Posted on Jul 14, 2017

Okay, maybe the title of today’s blog post is a little misleading, as the young lady took her becoming a bat mitzvah very seriously. She is a working, professional actor and thus super charismatic, poised and completely comfortable holding her own in a room full of adults. Actually, I think maybe she does so well in her profession BECAUSE of her all around awesomeness. What came first, the chicken or the egg? That being said, when it came time for the party, the ENTIRE guest list cut loose. They partied it up pretty much from the grand entrance to the end of the night. Randy Lehrman and his team at Real Genius DJ’s definitely played a big part curating and nurturing the fun shenanigans. If someone sat down to rest for a bit, it did not last long. All the vendors killed it. Marcus Braswell, the videographer, and I darted and danced around the room documenting the delightful mayhem as if it had been choreographed. Stacy at Shindigs by Stacy absolutely hooked up the décor.

When the mechanics of a job run like a well oiled machine and the clients are as incredible as this family is, it almost feels like cheating.  For real… This family was just an absolute treat!! At every stage along the way from the planning process, to the portrait session and finally the event day itself, they were calm, thoughtful and emotionally present. They not only love each other, they genuinely all like each other. My inner sap just eats that stuff up.

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Also, did you know I have a book out?  get your copy here!

Posted on Jun 29, 2017

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.  I love love LOVE shooting live music.  It hits me in all my pleasure sensors.  That sounded dirty, but you know what I mean.  Being in the presence of live music is the bomb because you get to FEEL what the artist is giving you, no matter what seat you’re in.  Your body is literally recieving the vibrations as it’s happening.  I love that shit.  A very dear friend of mine who played violin for various orchestras was explaining to me what it’s like to be in the pit while we philosophized life over a bottle of something strong.  She took an “A” pitch fork, struck it on the kitchen table and put it on my skull.  My whole body felt the “A” chord.  It was a very beautiful, very literal example of poetry in action.  When an artist plays a chord, everyone in the vicinity is vibrating at the same frequency.  How bitchin is that?!  So anyway, shooting live music is an especially serene experience for me because I get to also be physically close to the artist to document all the incredible emotion and rawness while simultaneously feeling it in my body.  I FUCKING LOVE IT SO MUCH.  Unlike portrait sessions, I’m not responsible for putting my subject in the best light or setting up the perfect shot… It’s always true photojournalism.

I had the pleasure of shooting a couple of bands this past weekend at the first ever Arroyo Seco Weekend.  Here’s some of my favorite shots from the festival 🙂

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I think I was most excited to shoot the Alabama Shakes, but sadly I was coming from another job and did not make it to the stage in time for their first three songs which is what our alloted time is to shoot each act.  She peaked her head out for a whole 6 seconds on their last song… Just enough for me to get this shot.  Hey Brittany Howard!  Can I talk you into posing for this year’s “Feminine Project”?  Hey.  You can’t blame this girl for trying.

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This DOPE-ASS musician is G. Love.  If you don’t know him, do yourself a favor and listen to some G. Love and The Special Sauce albums.  The only harmonica we have in our house was his.  Kevin saw him at a show in D.C. almost 20 years ago and caught the harmonica he threw into the crowd after his set finished.  The band he played with this past weekend was Jamtown featuring himself, Donavon Frankenreiter, Cisco Adler.  They killed it.

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I did not get as many festival crowd shots as I would have liked, as it took all my energy to work my way from one stage to another after 2-full days of shooting other gigs before shooting the festival.  At least I got this one.

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So, I was not credentialed to go backstage, but I made friends with a fireman who made this shot happen…  Further deepening my love for all firemen everywhere.  This was taken a few minutes before Mumford & Sons took the stage for the final concert of the festival.

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Posted on Jun 22, 2017
Posted in Portraits

I’ve been trying to think of a title for today’s post that sums up this awesome woman, and then it hit me. She’s the bomb. That’s it. That’s all she wrote. This foxy lady is smart, thoughtful, kind and super caring. While there’s always a back and forth in a portrait session, she always brought it back to me, genuinely wanting to know my thoughts, goals and experiences. She was so sincere in her inquisitiveness and empathy. Basically just a lovely human being all the way around.  She’s also one hell of a dresser.   She was introduced to me by way of another incredible client of mine… I guess awesomeness travels in packs.  Here are a few of my favorite images from her headshot session 🙂

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Posted on Jun 14, 2017
Posted in Mitzvah's

I first met this lovely young lady a few years ago when I shot her older brother’s bar mitzvah. She was this adorable little girl who was bright and bubbly and danced with her girl friends pretty much the whole night. I about died when it was her turn for her bat mitzvah… I mean really! Where does the time go?! I’m pretty sure I did NOT handle that phone call with quiet professionalism. My client probably had to pull the phone away from her ear in response to my “WTF”-esq scream.

That sweet, fun little girl had grown into this beautiful young woman… Smart, kind, considerate, gracious, respectful and still fun. Basically, everything you’d want out of a daughter, or friend for that matter.

I feel like I have to start bracing myself now for the time when the youngest sibling turns 13. I’ve got lots of time til that call right?

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Greg at Maximum Impact Productions kept the party going the entire night.  The vendors were on point.  Check out Slippy Fox Video too 🙂

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I have this badass to thank for introducing me to this amazing family. I seriously love this woman for that and oh so many other reasons.

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Posted on Jun 07, 2017

SCLARC. It stands for South Central Los Angeles Regional Center. My heart seriously swells when I think about them. They are a private, non-profit, community based organization for people with developmental disabilities. The organization has hired me to shoot several donor events at their beautiful campus in South Central the last few years. The SCLARC staff and community of supporters are incredible. They are fun, gracious, kind and quick to give you a hug and mean it. This year they had a super hero themed event for World Down Syndrome day. It was my first experience with the members of the community that benefit from all those donor events I have done for them.

Like many events, I didn’t know exactly what to expect. I just knew I was going to spend a few hours with one of my favorite clients. That would have been enough, but I got way more than that. It was a pretty casual affair… It was basically one big play area, but almost everyone donned his or her favorite super hero attire. Captain America and Super Girl were in attendance leading the kids in games and teaching tricks of the super hero trade. It was amazing. Watching and documenting the interactions was so special (blast!! I’m tearing up as I type this!). There was so much love and support it was really something else to witness.

The thing that caught me off-guard, however, was the behavior of the siblings to the special needs kids. These young kids acted like adults, protecting and caring for their brothers and sisters in ways I didn’t see coming. You’d expect kids that young to be off running around playing on their own, but that was not the case. They were right there with their siblings the whole time laughing and playing with them. It was incredible.

As a full-on adult woman who can barely take care of herself, I could not imagine how hard it would be to take care of a child who was born completely healthy, let alone one who needed extra help. SCLARC provides a much needed service to a community that is better because they are there.

It’s really easy right now to look at our world and see countries and communities closing their borders and their doors to people in need from no fault of their own. It’s refreshing to know and associate with people that choose to navigate the world from a place of inclusion, compassion, grace and dignity.

SCLARC, I love you.

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Posted on May 31, 2017
Posted in Portraits

That’s what I call this hottie. YogaJOHN… All one word.

A friend and client of mine, the super talented Kristen Lem, arranged this photo shoot with yoga instructor, John Chen. When I was scheduling his session in my calendar that’s how I identified him. I knew he would be cool since he was coming to me from a woman I cannot say enough good things about, but I didn’t meet him until the two of them showed up to my studio ready for the session bringing with them coffee and bagels. He was so full of love and light that you couldn’t help but to love him! An Armenian woman whom I loved used to call me “MelissaJon”. She told me that adding “Jon” to someone’s name was a term of endearment so this YogaJohn thing really just happened organically.  If I’m being honest, I don’t know how I’ll call him anything else.

Here are some of my favorite pics from the session. If you want to meet the man in person, you can do by taking his class at Curative Yoga in Pasadena. You won’t regret time spent with YogaJOHN, I assure you.

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