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#Throwback Thursday: My first engagement session ever

Throwback to 2010. My career as a nightlife photographer was thriving, I was making the big bucks…you know, $150 a night vs. the average $75 that most other club photographers were making at the time.

In my eyes, I was “living the life.”

A client of mine, Evan – approached me to do an engagement session for him and his fiancé.

(A little bit of background – Evan regularly hired me to shoot photos for a local “scene” magazine.  That consistent work contributed a lot towards helping me sustain my career, and allowed me to use that money to invest in myself when it came to learning, practice, and upgrading my equipment.  And for that, I’m forever thankful to him.)

In response to his request, I said “Sure!  Why not?”

At that point, I was doing almost everything under the sun when it came to photography (architecture, families, sports, cat fashion shows) and I figured I could just “wing it”.

They requested to go to La Jolla cove for the shoot – assuming there would be some awesome photo opportunities as it’s one of the most popular tourist spots in town.  And granted, there were *would have been*.  (I crossed out “were” because had I known back then, I would have scouted the area beforehand and made sure the weather & conditions were optimal to get the best out of their shoot.)

But I figured I could “wing it” and everything would work out.

Long-story-short, we did the shoot in stormy weather and my posing came off-the-cuff.  As the saying goes, “a blind pig will find an occasional truffle”.  There were a few good photos from the set, but he didn’t end up hiring me for his wedding.  And I’m not surprised either.  Looking back, I noticed fly-away hairs I should have corrected, lens distortion on close-ups, people in the background, awkward posing, and several other characteristics that a beginning photographer would be oblivious to.

**My Lesson Learned**

When it comes to someone’s wedding, photographing such an important event takes on great responsibility.  And as my experience above can serve as an example, it makes me cringe when I hear of a couple that has a friend or family member with a ‘nice camera’ and just figures they can “wing it” on their big day.

It’s not just weather conditions or posing that your photographer should be familiar with, but several other factors.  They should have a STRONG grasp on their camera, settings, off-camera lighting, composition, ability to anticipate a moment, on-your-feet problem-solving, attention to detail like fly-away hairs or exit signs in the background, and very importantly – have a sociable attitude.  A lot of times the bride is with their photographer more than their fiancé on the day of their wedding.  Better be sure they’re not an “Andy Warhol” who creeps out your bridesmaids.  And bonus points if your photographer takes the time to scout your venue for the best locations, light, and variety for portraiture.

Here’s a photo from the session that I feel best represents my mindset at the time.  Here I am trying to be all “artistic” with all that negative space on the left.  To add to it, I thought, “Hmmm – let’s have you guys go back-to-back and look up towards god.”

To Evan – thank you so much for all your help early on in my career.  And thank you even more for not hiring me for your wedding – because looking back, it would have been a mistake.  You hired someone more competent and more experienced – in the end you received better photos.  And as a result, I have this experience to look back on and share as an example to all those out there thinking about hiring someone novice for their wedding day.

PS – I’ll be posting a current example of what a beach engagement session looks like with me on Monday – so stay tuned.  In the meantime, enjoy tomorrow’s Case of the Fridays.

Lisa - Yes. Why haven’t you posted Cat Fashion? Who isn’t interested in that?August 25, 2013 – 8:38 am

Phil Lambert - PLEASE tell me you saved some images from your “Cat Fashion Show” days?August 18, 2013 – 9:48 pm

How to make a bucketlist

2 years ago, I was sitting at an office desk in Madrid – distracting myself with plans to visit one of the surrounding cities.  I was working 9-6 Monday-Friday, so I wanted to be sure to “make my weekend count.”

I came across the city of ‘Pamplona’ during my search, and got carried away into reading about one of the cities most well-known traditions.

The running of the bulls.

I had always wanted to do this.  However, for some reason – it always remained in the back of my mind as an idea I would do “someday“.  It never set in as a REALITY of something I would actually ‘do’ at some point.

Maybe it was the fact that I was in Spain at the time…maybe it was the fact that it was only 5 months away…I’m not sure what it was.  But I decided right then & there – I was going to do what I had always talked about.  THAT VERY SAME YEAR.

So in a heat of inspiration, I jumped on Facebook and made an announcement to my friends to invite them to join.  (There’s something about telling the public that you’re doing something that REALLY puts the pressure on you to make it happen.)

How to make a bucketlist


With plans set in motion, a strange sense of accomplishment kicked in.  It felt good.  Committing to something that was a goal of mine for SO LONG…and finally putting it into action gave me a high.  A high that motivated me for MORE.

Over the next week, I went on a spree of searching online about “how to make a bucketlist” and “the best bucketlist ideas” so that I could make my own “BEST OF THE BEST BUCKETLIST IDEAS!”

And I found that when I posted my final list online, several people offered their resources to help me accomplish some of the goals.

Who knew doing awesome stuff could come so easily??  Just tell people what you want to do and see how eager they are to help you achieve it!

So with that…here’s how to make your own killer bucketlist!

(Note – I’m not claiming to be the expert on bucketlists or anything like that, but I’ve achieved a lot of success with crossing items off my list – and am happy to share the insight that I’ve gained during the process.  Don’t take my way as being the ‘ultimate way’, but rather a suggestion on how to make it the best – coming from my point of view)

1.  Find resources to start compiling your list

I strongly feel your best references will come from people you know and admire, and who’s experiences you’ve heard about on a personal level.

Think about the people in your circle, and make a list of the ones that are highly experienced in the different areas you’re looking to include in your list.  Ask them for recommendations of their most memorable experiences, and jot down some notes on what they say.  Most importantly, ask those that are interested in the same kinds of experiences as you.  

Are you into art?  History?  Maybe going skydiving over Everest isn’t in your bag of fun, but it is in someone else’s.  Are you into thrill-seeking & adventure?  Maybe going to the louvre and visiting the Anne Frank house wont be as exciting for you.  It’s important to get recommendations from people who lead a similar lifestyle, (or a lifestyle you’d like to experience) so that you don’t end up with a life full of unfulfilling adventures.

france bucketlist

Here are some great lists that I’ve come across that’ll help you get a good start:

-I’m guessing that if you’re a long-time reader of my blog, you like the things I do.  So first and foremost, here’s mine.

-My friend Bryan made a list categorized by continent.  He loves to travel (maybe even more than me), and it makes a lot of sense to try to knock out several on the same trip.  While you may not be interested in travel as a main priority, perhaps it will give you some ideas on how to categorize your own in a different way.

-1000 Bucketlist Ideas - it’s a bit overwhelming and diluted in terms of significance, but has some good ideas to get you started.

1000 Places to see before you die - my girlfriend got me this book and it has a lot of lesser-known places which aren’t so commercialized already.  I feel like the well-known landmarks are over-commercialized & their value is diminished as a result…so this is perfect for me.

Follow the Matador Network and The Coolhunter on facebook for original ideas and inspiration to help you continue your list.


2.  Organize your bucketlist

Most of the bucketlists you’ll find online will be divided into categories to help suit readers from all backgrounds.

The most important thing is that you make your items SMART.  Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.  Having vague goals or something on-going won’t give you a *definite* point to consider something ‘checked off’, so doing it this way makes the list easy to conquer & celebrate.

To give you a general idea, most lists divide items into the following areas of life:

-Health.   Think marathon, specific body composition, or how many pushups you can do in a row.  Goals like “eating healthy” or “do archery 5 times a week” don’t give you a certain point to look back on and say “I did it!” – so make sure it’s concrete and has a clear point of accomplishment.

-Travel (specific places/countries, a road trip across Canada or sail from Denmark to Sweden, run across the US like forrest gump)

-Work/wealth (earn a certain level of income, speak at an international convention, run your own business)

-Thrillseeking/experiences (skydiving, running of the bulls, bungee jump, swim with sharks)

-Relationship/family (get married, have a child, throw your parents a surprise vow-renewal ceremony)

-Learning (learn a language, learn how to play piano, learn how to stunt drive a car, learn how to dougie)

-Food (eat NY pizza, eat at IN-N-OUT, eat a foreign delicacy like guinea pig)

Russian Cuisine

3.  Write it out

When you write something down, it creates a difference in the way you perceive it.  It’s out of your mind & on paper, and taking it’s baby steps towards *action*.

My roommate wrote his out on paper and hung it up in his office to look at each day.  The feeling of ‘actually’ crossing off an item with a physical pen adds a little bit of satisfaction that you can’t get online.  (Someone told me about a pen that you can have custom made to include your own blood in the ink – if you can find it, let me know!)

I wrote mine out online so people can share along the journey with me, and use it as a reference point (such as this blog post).

Which brings me to my next point…

4.  Share it

Sharing your goals online often motivates others, and what better way to accomplish goals than as a ‘team’?

When I first set out to do the running of the bulls, I didn’t realize it – but 2 awesome friendships really grew as a result of the experience.  While I had known Bryan and Jason prior, we hadn’t gotten to know each other to the extent that we did on that trip.  Running for your life from 2,000 lb animals creates a certain bond you don’t find other places.

Since that trip, we’ve also gone to Iceland, Sweden, Peru, Chile, and Argentina together.  I actually photographed Jason’s proposal to his fiancé this past June.

Who knows what will come from you ‘putting it out there’…but I’ll tell you this – it’ll only be GREAT things.  I’m excited to see what you come up with, and I’d love it if you’d comment & link to yours once you have it posted.

An important note - while revising my current bucketlist, I realized that after having experienced certain things – my perspective has changed.  I no longer want to visit certain destinations and my priorities for what I feel will value ‘most’ in my lifetime have also changed.  And if your list changes after the first go-round, I’d be surprised if it didn’t!

Caroline - I’ve started a bucket list here : 29, 2013 – 7:57 am

Fiona Campbell - Good post! You have made me think differently about bucket lists, which I’ve always rather dismissed. I might even make one! In the meantime, I’d like to hear how the running with the bulls went??August 14, 2013 – 5:38 am

Vanae - Great suggestions for bucket lists! I’ve had my bucket list for a few years now and posted it on so that I can keep track of them easier. Love it! About to cross off “travel to Iceland” off my list!August 13, 2013 – 9:59 pm

Phil Lambert - I really just want to know if Law actually went???? I had started my bucket list at the end of turn of the year, I’m not getting any younger. My first item, that I will accomplish mid spring next year, is the Isle of Man TT race. I have wanted to shoot this event and found it to be a possibility and I am DOING IT! Your posts/blog is always inspiring sir, I wish I would have had the drive for my photography years ago and not the drive for retirement from a career. Thanks for keeping us looking up and not settling for a mundane life.August 13, 2013 – 8:26 pm

Jason Kirby - Great post and it is funny because I make it a lot into your blog posts, usually regarding bucket list type things, but yet, I do not have one. For me, life brings opportunities (or sometimes it’s Tim) and I don’t like to say no to opportunity. I could make my own opportunities by putting together a list, but I feel I have crafted a life surrounded by awesome people that I will get to do most of my what-would-be bucket list items with the people I care about. Maybe I will eventually create one, but for now…I will just keep saying yes.August 13, 2013 – 8:03 pm

Case of the Fridays – Corporate Jet Flight Attendant Erin Marie

I’ve chosen Corporate Flight Attendant and Chef Erin Marie for today’s post of “Case of the Fridays“.  Erin works wherever her job offers her to go – everywhere from Vancouver to Paris to Madrid to South America.  Her work is structured in a way that she can accept or reject offers for certain trips, and comes frequently and sporadically at times.

I chose Erin because her lifestyle has provided her with the opportunity to see the world, meet some pretty incredible people, and share her experience with friends back home.  Her kind hearted nature and outgoing personality that contains a never-ending curiosity has piqued my interest to find out more about her story.  When she travels, she makes it a point to ‘really’ explore the land, culture, and customs – and has some unique insight to offer anyone that’s curious about traveling.

During our interview she gave me a tour of the jet she works on, and got to meet a couple of the pilots as well.

Here’s an image to give you a visual for the following conversation taking place.

What is your name/age?


Erin Marie – 28


What is your occupation?


Corporate Jet Flight Attendant


Where did you grow up?


Santee, CA


How long have you been doing what you currently do?


3 and a half years


Did you have a 9-5 job before that?


I did.  Well before the flight attending, I was pursuing cooking…so I was pursuing being a sushi chef while working at Mr. A’s.


I also worked at a recycling center working as the office manager – it was NOT fun.


But it was because of the kitchen jobs that I got this job.


How did you become involved in the work that you currently do?


It was a referral by a friend – I used to do Tuesday family dinners and she would always come eat with us – and her boss was looking for a new flight attendant that could cook – that was the main requirement.  So I made him and his wife a meal…and they hired me!


How much longer do you envision yourself working in the field that you’re in?


I tell my friends that if I’m 65 and I get a call for a trip to Thailand I’ll probably take it.  Ha!


What level of schooling have you completed?


3 years of SDSU and I never finished.


What is it that you love about your work?


Everything.  I like meeting new people, going new places, experiencing different things.  I also get to make things nice for people on the plane and adding value to their experience – I like doing that.


You’ve also gotten to meet some pretty famous people doing what you do.  What are some of the more interesting ones that you’ve met?

I’ve flown a lot of very famous actors, actresses, and musicians – but unfortunately I cannot disclose any names as a confidentiality agreement I have with my company.

Some fascinating conversations that I’ve had have been just businessmen.  I have a favorite older couple that frequents SD, Vancouver, and Bermuda – they fist pump before they take off and they’re just so nice.  They met at University and used to have to split a hamburger and French fries because they were so poor.  But I’ve also flown businessmen that have innovated their industries and done some incredible things.  There was a motivational speaker that was just spouting off incredible quotes and was just SO well spoken.  One time we just took a flight to go see a Monday night football game and he took his most valued clients.  Really just an awesome guy.


What would you say is important to consider if you want to make a good trip for oneself?


Do a little bit of research beforehand of course – then spend as little time in your hotel room as possible.  Don’t be afraid to ask locals what they like to do…be friendly – it always leads to something interesting.  Be open.

Are there any places/experiences you’d recommend?


One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen – the most shocking – was when I flew into Calgary…I did the ice fields parkway drive…right past Banff – I was running on a glacier in my flip flops – it was the most intense scenes I’ve come across.


What is your least favorite thing about your work?


Oooh…hmm…maybe this one time where I had just been traveling like crazy where I was going 21 days non-stop…in a place where I didn’t really want to be…where I just wanted to be home with friends and those that are close to me.  Trips like that are just physically and mentally exhausting.


(As we’re talking she gets an inquiry for a trip to Cancun on her phone.)


Is there any place you really want to visit?


Yes, Japan, Austrailia, South Africa, Brazil.  I’d love a Morocco trip.  It’s funny – whenever I want to go somewhere, my mom will offer to help out by putting the destination as her desktop background – you know, to put the vibes out there.  And I think it actually works!  Haha


What are some of the advantages of your job compared with the regular corporate career?


Travel.  (We both laugh)  Experiencing life -to what I consider to be- the fullest.  I understand this job isn’t for everyone – my friends are getting married and having kids – our lifestyles just aren’t the same at all.   They wouldn’t be able to do what I do, and I wouldn’t be able to do what they do.

So in my case -being single with no kids- it really works to my advantage to have these opportunities.

Meeting some really incredible people – that’s pretty awesome too.


What are some of the disadvantages compared with the regular corporate career?


I’m not home on a regular basis.  Sometimes my good friends don’t even know when I’m in town – so I miss out on a lot of things with them.


The comforts of home…sleeping in your own bed.  Not having those things is a pretty big one.



How different is the dating scene for you?  Is it easier/harder to make time to be with your significant other?


That’s funny.  The dating scene for me period -with or without this job– is just all about timing.  Right now I’m really not searching for that – so it’s really working out just fine right now.

Destination dates right now, haha.

When I’m home – I’m really just spending time with my family and close friends.  Not really pursuing a romantic interest for the time being.


Do you tend to prefer to live paycheck to paycheck or with a savings plan accounted for?  Is your income predictable and regular, or entirely dependent on what you produce?


My income’s definitely not regular.  I get paid per day basis, so if I work 2 days a month, my paycheck shows that – if I work 22 days a month, then it shows too.  You definitely have to save some away in case some months people are just not chartering corporate jets.  There was a period 3 years ago where the market crashed and a lot of people were out of work.  You have to plan for that kind of stuff.


I’ve never been good with money though – haha.  I’ll never be good at it, but that’s fine with me.


How do you imagine your retirement, or lifestyle past 60?


A happy one.  Just relaxing and doing what I like to do – spending time with my family – making good dinners…sipping on a glass of wine watching the sunset.  Talking with the grandkids about past experiences.  I’m super nostalgic at 28 so I can only imagine how I’ll be at 78.


Do you see your career facilitating a lifestyle suitable for a family, or do you have the desire to have a family?


Women who do what I do definitely can have families – you can pick and choose your dates –but I really just don’t think it’s suitable for a family– or even just a boyfriend.  If you have a serious relationship it’s just not good for that.  It’s all circumstantial – I’ll have to meet someone first before I think about having a family.


What are your top priorities in the ‘big picture’?


Living a happy life.  Making sure that the people that I love are happy – genuinely happy.  Following my passions.  I try to leave the world a little bit happier before I got here.   Just be a good person.


If you had any advice to someone just graduating college or thinking about switching careers, what would it be?


I think the best advice I could give anyone (not that I am in any real position to give advice), is to be passionately curious about life, in all its forms.


Ask questions, be genuinely interested in the answers you’re given. To just try, to love what you do, to not make excuses.


My girlfriend Michelle just made a beautiful oak table and benches from watching a youtube video.  Now she has plans on making more and renting them out for weddings and events. Just like that, an additional income because she went down to Home Depot and gave it a shot. You never know where the day will take you in the morning or who you will meet. Our greatest lessons usually stem from getting knocked on our asses by some sort of failure. The fear of having a dream and not going for it, is much worse than the fear of failing.


I personally don’t want to be that awesome Granny on her death bed thinking about all my what ifs and should’ves. Be nice to everyone, smile, and be genuine. Work hard, and always push yourself to achieve more. Read Linchpin and watch Simon Sinek’s “How great leaders inspire action”. Sit on the shore, and feel humbled. Then go give a stranger a compliment and make their day.


If someone wanted to do your job, what is important to maintain a position?


You have to be a mind reader.  You have to be able to assess a situation and be what that person wants you to be.  Sometimes people want to talk my ear off and sometimes they want me to be a fly on the wall.

When you’re up at 45k feet, you have to anticipate the wants and  needs of other people.

You can’t dwell on a problem either – you just have to fix it right then & there.

Sometimes people aren’t so nice, and they’ll talk down to you or just be flat out rude and nasty – it’s that whole mind-reading thing…you still have to be cordial and give it your all to make them happy.  If they want to get mad at something I can’t control – that’s totally up to them.

What’s funny is that a lot of the time – those attitudes are coming from the pilot…there are some pilots that are very difficult to work with – they think that they own the plane.


Who inspires you?


A lot of people…a lot of things…I get inspired just walking down the street. (Laughs)  Mostly my family – I have a very small family.   My mom is like mother Theresa – the sweetest lady.   She has a heart of gold…same with my brother and sister.  Although I think that I take a little something from every person I meet, really.


What do you think of authority?


It’s fine.  I have no problem with authority.  Someone’s given them the position to have it, so I should probably respect it.


What is the personality type of most of the Jet’s clientele?


It really varies so much…some people want the filet, some want the open faced sandwich on wheat bread with Nacho Cheese Doritos.  Go figure.


What is it about travel that really opens people’s minds?


There are so many different types of travel – it humbles you a lot.  Sometimes it pushes you outside your comfort zone.  You’d be silly not to notice these amazing things about the world.  Especially when you travel by yourself because you don’t have the comfort of having someone to go to dinner with and have someone to latch on to – it makes you completely comfortable in your own skin.  It makes you more confident.  You start conversations with strangers at Sushi restaurants.  Nobody’s gonna just come to your hotel room and invite you to dinner.  You have to go out and make things happen for yourself.


I’m really glad you made that point – it really does make you more confident, and really makes you realize how to make things happen for yourself.  I never really realized that about those experiences, but it’s so true.


Have there been any places you don’t want to go back to?


Haha, yeah – downtown Detroit.  I’ve been a lot of places, but I’ve never felt as unsafe as downtown Detroit.  There were homeless people in our hotel lobby walking around – a friend of a friend came to pick me up because it was so sketchy…and on the way back he asked, “you want to see some scary stuff?”


There’s a great town called Birmingham or something – similar to South Coast Plaza in OC – but only 30 minutes south of there…it’s like a war zone.  Houses that had been bull dozed over, people walking around cracked out, spray paint all over the place, it was just…bad.  I’ve never felt like that before…it was such a crazy scene.






What did you want to be when you want to be when you grew up?


A chef.


What are some of your favorite sounds?


The ocean.  A plane engine starting.  Music.  Sometimes silence.


What’s your favorite curse word?


I like them all in certain contexts – I call people ass a lot.


What’s your favorite memory from your past? 


One of the first memories I have is watching MTV Paula Abdul and my dad would be mowing the front lawn – I’d peek over and watch him.  It just sticks out because it was just a perfect day – such a cozy home. He would always do a different pattern in the lawn – I was always excited to see what he would do.


If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be, and why?


Elephant.  I love elephants.  Growing up my brother called me Erwin Erwin the elephant that eats peanuts.  I don’t know why, but I probably cried.  I’ve grown to love elephants and have a lot of them in my house.  They’re big and sweet.


What are some of your favorite smells?


Campfires.  Santee at night – smells like my hometown.  Jasmine.  I love going for runs and smelling all the Jasmine around.


What did you get into the most trouble for when you were young?


I didn’t really get in much trouble…I was definitely a brat in my teenage years.  I never really had restrictions or had a curfew, and I ended up being the last of my friends to drink or smoke.


If you were a character in a famous movie, who’s role would you play?


Pride and Prejudice – Keira Nightly.  She plays Elizabeth Benent and it’s England – not sure what century – but I would have liked to live back them.


If you could go back to any point in history for a month, what time period would you visit?


I’d want to see Rome in its Hayday – or Ancient Greece when it was thriving.


If you had to obtain $1m illegally, how would you do it?


Thomas Crown affair – I’ll steal a painting with a handsome guy like that.  We’d be incahoots together.


Which long lost childhood object would you most like to find?


Maybe – (this might sound weird) – something that I don’t even know exists.  Like a letter that my mom wrote to me when I was 3 years old.


So are you gonna do that for your kids?


Probably, haha.  I’m really corny.


What age do people become “old”, what’s the secret to staying young?


It depends on the person.  I don’t think that age is how old you are – it’s a state of mind.  My landlord is 80 and in her head she’s not old.  There are some people that think that 28 is old, and I still feel really really young.


What’s your favorite quotation?


I’m a quote freak.  I have a lot…


Lately, the golden rule has been popping up a lot – like 3 times in the past week.  “Do unto others as others would do unto you.”


And then “life’s what you make it – make it good” – Daniel Tosh said that.  Before he was Tosh.0


I think lately what’s been resonating with me – is “get outside your comfort zone”.  Take that step outside your house and just go do something.  People always make comments to me telling me that they’re jealous or that I’m lucky – I got where I am today because I wanted it bad enough.  Of course I was lucky with certain opportunities, but the thing is – is that I’ve been open to them.

People have these dreams and they’re just not pursuing their passions.  Take the step out the door and you’ll realize that they’re actually attainable.


If someone wanted to get in touch with you and ask you more about what it takes to get involved in your career, what would be the best way?


Yeah, they can message me on Facebook.



On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to get back to them?


A 10, but it might take a few weeks depending on how busy I am.  Sometimes I have weeks off and sometimes I don’t have a day.  Sometimes I’m off on a trip and exploring – and the last thing on my mind is emails.  Even like my trip tomorrow to Kuai – I’ve already researched which hikes I wanna do and all that.


Giving the Gift of “Missing You”

When I was a senior in high school, I used to go to the gym religiously.  Everyday after school, my friend Andrew and I would hit the weights, and follow it up with a Jamba Juice chock full of protein.

My favorite was the Peanut Butter Moo’d.  (It had something ridiculous like 5000 calories per smoothie.)

But regardless – I loved it.  And if I wanted to hit my goal of 185 lbs, I needed to be consistent about it.

Gym + Diet + Rest = TIM GETS JACKED.

One day I decided that Jamba Juice was getting a little costly, and that I should make my own peanut butter smoothies at home.

I mean hell, it’s only a little Jiffy…ice…milk…and some protein powder, right?

So I did.  And I LOVED IT.

SO MUCH…that I decided to make myself ANOTHER smoothie after I finished the first one!

I know what you’re thinking…”Holy Shit…Tim was a pig!  That’s like 10,000 calories in one afternoon!”

And you’re right.  But you know what happened?

I went running shortly after…and suddenly realized the second smoothie was a terrible idea.

About a block down the street, I sputtered to a stop…put my hands on my knees…and felt a surge coming from my stomach like an exploding fire-hydrant.

My poor neighbors lawn.  I threw up what seemed like a gallon of peanut butter goodness all over their freshly manicured grass.  Being the inconsiderate teenager that I was at that age, I continued my jog and left the scene of the crime.

“What the hell is the point of this, Tim?” you ask.

Well here it is…

I learned a valuable lesson that day.  I learned that when you love something, it’s not always healthy to have it ALL-THE-TIME.

You have to spread out the desserts.  And by the time you’re done with dinner – it’s *that* much sweeter.

A couple of my friends have been having some tough times in their relationships recently, and it reminded me of this.  Sometimes for a person to FULLY understand how much they really care about their significant other…how much of a void is present when they’re not there…or realize the qualities that they MISS about a person…that it can do a relationship good to have a little time away from each other.

Not a separation – don’t get me wrong.  But just some “personal” time so that when you see each other again, you’ll be THAT much more excited to see one another.

Do your thing so that at the end of the day, you can tell them all about it, rather than give the play-by-play through text messages.

Hell, take a trip with your boys to Iceland – or have a girls’ weekend in Palm Springs.

Trust me – those nights you don’t have your girl in your arms – you’ll feel the void.  You’ll feel the space she usually occupies…and you’ll miss her.

But you know what?  That first night you hold her again – the soft touch of her skin, the smell of her hair, or hell – even the sound of her snoring…you’ll appreciate so.much.more.

And that feeling - is the result of giving someone the gift of “missing you.”

A lil’ bit of space ain’t always such a bad thing.  But to play the devil’s advocate – if you’re the one yearning for space…try to keep in mind that the ‘problem’ you’re having is that *this person cares SO MUCH about you…that they just want to be around you.*

And when you consider other couples’ problems out there & think about what kind of chaos they’ve got in their relationship…you’ve got it pretty good.  



So to tie it all together…did ya miss me?  :)

It’s good to be back writing again.  And I’m excited more now than ever about how I’ll be approaching this blog, and what kind of content I’ll be releasing on here.  To get an idea, these are some of my intentions:

1.  Writing for myself, not clients.  Sure, I’ll still be posting a lot of my work – but as a change, I’ll be describing my thoughts behind a shot, what kinds of things were going on in my head, and the more interesting experiences that happen during the course of my shoots.  They might not even necessarily be photos that I deliver to the client, but ones I thought worth talking about on here.  I can only say so much about it now – you’ll just have to wait and see.

2. #ThrowbackThursdays.  I’ve come to really embrace recounting stories of my past (no matter how humiliating they may be), and I figured it’d be fun to share an experience I’ve had in the past tied in with a bit of a personal lesson that I gained from each one.  These are actually some of the posts I’m looking forward to the most – I’ve got about a dozen ideas scribbled down of what I plan to share.  (Today’s post is an example)

3. Case of the Fridays.  I’ve got several interviews waiting to be posted (the first one coming tomorrow), and I’m excited about continuing this project.  If you know anyone that you think would be great for an interview, I’d love it if you’d contact me using the tab above.  (Please do not suggest yourself)

4. Weddings.  I can’t believe I haven’t posted more of these on here.  If anything, it’s what I love to shoot.  But going with what I mentioned in #1 above, I’ll be addressing them with my perspective.  Like a narrative and behind the scenes more than anything.  Might post one image for an entire wedding, or I might post 60.  Or I might not even post it.  I suppose it’ll relate to how much I want to talk about the experience or what was involved.

PS – I’ve been meaning to get back blogging again for awhile now…but you know what drove me over the edge to do it?  You guys.  The ones who emailed me, the ones who posted on my timeline, and the ones who got upset because their Friday morning coffees just haven’t been the same.  Thank you for the support, and I hope you like all the new content that I’ll be putting out.

I’m pretty damn excited myself.

To close the post, here’s one of my favorite images from my good friend Jason‘s engagement session that I shot a couple month’s back in Vancouver.  He and his fiancé have been doing long distance for some time now, and will be soon living together in the same city.  I really like this shot because I feel like it conveys that sense of connecting with someone after they’ve been away for so long.  Those hugs…are some of the *best* hugs.

Ryan Greenleaf - I second Vanae’s comment! Looking forward to seeing some rad weddings and more personal posts like this! Very well tied together.August 13, 2013 – 3:19 pm

Erin Oveis Brant - I’ve missed your voice here. Welcome back! Super excited to see what’s coming!!August 13, 2013 – 10:51 am

vanae - great post, tim! i say: absence makes the heart grow fonder and clearer.

looking forward to reading more of your work!August 12, 2013 – 2:10 pm

Phil - Great to see you blogging again, I will say I checked this page quite frequently and finally resorted to calling you out on FB, lol! Glad you’re back!August 9, 2013 – 6:17 pm

Tami Paige - Tim…this makes me really excited for your writing!! I LOVE it when photographers write for themselves…not clients. To me, that’s the most genuine, and I’m afraid I only really love genuine. :) Loved the story and hit pretty close to home. Keep up the great work and excited to read more!August 8, 2013 – 1:41 pm

13 Reasons why I’ve stopped referring work to specific photographers

First and foremost, I want to say that I’m no saint.  I’m guilty of a lot of the characteristics I’ve listed below, and this post is partly to share my lessons so that you can learn from my mistakes.

The other part is to help you stop acting like a dumbass.




So in my time as a photographer, I often run into scenarios where I’m either:

1.  Already booked on a date that someone has inquired

2.  Out of the price range of a prospective client.

In both of these situations, I want to help everyone as best I can and create a symbiotic relationship so everyone wins.  The client gets a quality photographer, the photographer gets new work, and I get to retain good customer service by connecting the two.  WIN WIN WIN.

However, I can’t begin to tell you the amount of stress that I’ve gone through in trying to find reliable photographers that I feel comfortable referring.  Like it or not, whoever you vouch for is an extension of your brand – and how they perform is a reflection on YOU!

So with that – I try to find photographers that I can stand behind and feel comfortable referring on a regular basis.  (Some might not know this, but I actually follow-up with those potential clients to find out how the experience was.)

If the photographer messes up, it’s a hard conversation to have to tell them what they need to work on.  A lot of times they take things personal, and it’s really unnecessary drama that I don’t really need.  Especially considering that I’m the one offering them work.  So most often now, I’ll just stop referring work without telling them why – and move on to another photographer.  (Or if it’s in an inquiry for an area of photography where I don’t know anyone that excels, I hate to say this…but I’ll actually just respond with a “sorry but I’m not available email” instead of referring them to a photographer that has shitty work/service.

I decided to create this post for my future/past 2nd’s to consider, and also to communicate my expectations for my referral circle – so that everyone can be on the same page.

(PS – if you’re a photographer who used to receive a lot of work from me and is now reading this, I will gladly explain why I don’t refer to you anymore – AS LONG AS YOU DON’T TAKE IT PERSONAL.  Sorry for yelling, but it just seems ass-backwards for someone to get upset at someone that’s trying to give them work.)


13 Reasons you’re cutting yourself short from getting more business


1.  Ego – I can’t even believe that I have to include this as it’s so ridiculous - but it’s also the most prevalent.  A photographer will communicate with the client in a way that comes across as pretentious or as if they wont take direction.  While you may very well know which shot may look better, or if the client suggests an idea that may not be the best…it’s important to make them feel like you’re on the same team.  Never come across arrogant.

2.  Ego (again) - However this time I’m referring to 2nd shooters at weddings.  1st shooter makes the call.  You listen.  That should be enough said already – but I’ll elaborate because I like you.  Don’t ever question the 1st shooters ideas/techniques (ESPECIALLY in front of the bride and groom) – and if you’re to make suggestions, do so in private and don’t come across as if you “know it all”.  Ideally, you want to bring it up so it comes across as if it were THEIR idea in the first place.  I know you want to show them how great you are, but the best way of doing so is to find what it is they particularly want out of you – and FOCUS ON THAT!  You can bet your ass you’ll be hired again, and maybe even referred a wedding that’s under their price range.

3.  Bad Product – This really should have been first, but it’s really a given.  A big lesson I’ve learned is not to judge a 2nd shooter’s ability by their portfolio.  Or ANY photographer at that.  While they may have some awesome shots on there – it’s more important to see consistency.  I’ve recommended photographers in the past that I thought were on top of their game, only to find out that they weren’t quite there yet – and were most likely just using some “lucky” shots on their portfolios.  Don’t be offended if I ask to see a few complete galleries or full weddings that you’ve shot.

4.  Bad Service – It’s like getting the wind knocked out of you when you hear that someone you referred has taken months to deliver someone’s images.  I vouched for you!  It’s like the scene in Tony Montana when he fails to kill the mark.  Sosa tells him “there’s not going to be a next time”.  And look what happened.  Point is, I’m going to expect reasonable turn-around, and reasonable communication.  Be professional on the phone, don’t answer just waking up at 11 AM, and don’t answer in a crazy party.  Make sure they know you’re attentive and alert, and they have your full attention.

5.  Unprofessionalism online – If you’re doing any of the things listed in #1 on this post, I’m probably not going to refer you.  But that’s just me.  Others might be different, but I hold online presence to a high standard – and I’d be embarrassed if a client I referred found you online and you had some alarming personality traits that would cause a client to question your stability.

6.  Being socially awkward - If you’re quiet in person and can’t make clients comfortable around you - that’s a deal-breaker.  Like I mentioned above, referring you to my potential clients is an extension of my brand.  My brand is fun, upbeat, outgoing, and ON TOP OF IT.  Be comfortable in your own skin, and I’ll be comfortable referring you.

7.  Unwillingness to try something new – I’ll actually use a specific time in the past for this one, since I still refer him.  About 6 months ago, I asked my friend Mark if he’d be down to shoot a PR event (awards ceremony/speakers/grip & grin) and he felt he wasn’t equipped for it.  I knew that he had the gear, he was just worried that he wouldn’t be able to get the right images.  I have no doubt in my mind that he would have done great, but he didn’t think so.  And often times I’ve been completely willing to bring them along on one of my events so that they’re comfortable with expectations – and THEY’RE STILL SCARED.  So in the end, their fear has gotten the best of them, and have missed out on growing and gaining more work as a result.  Their loss.

8.  Being a pain in the ass – I’m guessing this one is going to be bias on my end, but I really don’t prefer working with people who stress me out.  You’ll get paid.  Rest assured.  But if you’re constantly bugging me about $50 or something insignificant like the cost of valet at an event you shot for me, I’m going to remember it.  I haven’t *not paid* a single photographer in my entire career.  It’s bad business.  But I also believe it’s bad business to leave a bad taste in someone’s mouth and be remembered as “the annoying one”.

9.  Bad Presentation – You don’t dress professional, you’re unkempt, or your breath stinks.  Okay, I know the last part was a little harsh – but it stems from an experience I had in a nightclub one time.  I was talking to another photographer who’s work I respected, and his breath was terrible (you have to talk close because the music is so loud).  It was so bad, that while I had intention of talking business with him, I was more eager to end the conversation so I could get away from him!  It’s silly to think that something that trivial could affect an entire relationship, but it did.  (From then on, I made sure to bring gum with me whenever shooting nightlife.)

10.  I don’t like you -  I’m a part of an online forum based in San Diego, and I’ve had conversations with photographers who’s work is GREAT – but they argue with me and take things personal.  And while I don’t doubt they’re on top of their game when it comes to their business…if I don’t like them – I’m not exactly excited to help them “win” in a symbiotic relationship.  I know, it’s messed up – but I’m being real.  Also, if we come from different backgrounds (age group, lifestyle, perspective on life) – odds are I won’t be inclined to bring you on as a 2nd.  I like to vibe well with who I shoot with, as I just feel it helps the energy gain momentum and the process of the day flow smoothly.

11.  Price point – This is an essential factor, but one that’s expected.  To help ensure I’m sending you the right leads, if you change your pricing or just want me to be familiar with your costs, I’d love it if you would send me an info sheet.  I don’t want to mismatch clients with photographers outside their range – in the same way I don’t want to refer gigs to photographers under what they’d be willing to accept.  While this one isn’t surprising, it’s definitely one to consider.  And flexibility is always a benefit, as I’ll be more inclined to send more referrals your way.

12.  Style – Another given, but it’s important to make the distinction that it’s not something personal.  You might be a GREAT portrait photographer, but I’m looking for someone more photojournalistic and familiar with candids.  Nothing wrong with that, just not the right fit.  My friend Brett reminded me of this point, thanks man!

13. Biting business – This applies to both referrals AND 2nd shooters.  What an idiotic thing to do…bite the hand that feeds you!  There’s a certain photographer that I specifically wont refer to even though he is great at photography because he has a reputation for stealing clients, and never referring out.  When it comes to 2nd shooters – NEVER EVER EVER pass out your own business card when associate shooting or 2nd shooting.  This shouldn’t even have to be written – and it’s really unfortunate that people do this.




6 Reasons that Cause Me to Keep Referring to You!

1.  Awesome personality - My roommate has told me he’d hire someone that has a better personality but not as good quality of photos for 2nd shooting a wedding merely for the effect that their energy has on the day.  Pretty crazy huh?  Well, I agree.  Although I’m VERY picky with who I choose to come on board, so both better be on point.  I’ve got about 3-4 guys that I love working with regularly, and I’m so stoked that I’ve connected with them.

2.  Make it easy as possible for me - A 2nd shooter of mine in San Francisco arrived with coffee in hand when she met me to shoot a wedding last year, and it made a big impression!  I love things like that, and when a photographer makes the process ‘enjoyable’ rather than just ‘good’, it goes a long way.  That goes with payment too.  Accept Square?  Awesome.  Paypal?  Even better!

3.  Create amazing images I wouldn’t recognize on my own - This is actually a big factor in my thought process to hire 2nd photographers.  I’ll pay a higher price point for someone as experienced as myself or MORE experienced so that I can be assured good imagery from them.  If they impress me and show me something that fits with my brand but is something I’ve yet to try out – they’re “IN.”  Mark (who I mentioned above) really wowed me with some images at a wedding we shot last year, which led me to book him as my 2nd photographer for a Cabo wedding that I have this year.

4.  Being flexible in price, or willing to invest in themselves or ‘our relationship’ - There are times when I’m doing a shoot that I don’t necessarily have a budget for an additional shooter, but recognize that there would be a ton of value in bringing one on.  As I’ve done with some consistent clients, I really appreciate it when photographers will just opt to “help out” without worrying about payment.  Sometimes you have to take a step back, think about how much business someone is bringing you – and show them you appreciate it.  *Take note*

5.  Returning the favor - Another illusive obvious – but when someone regularly refers me work – I always think about what gigs I can send them to help them out.  I referred about 5-6 weddings to a photographer last year with no reciprocation.  Well, guess what…my referral circle has now changed.

6.  Going above and beyond when 2nd shooting - My friend Jeff Youngren wrote a great post about ALL of this kind of stuff, and really – he hits the nail right on the head.  Check it out if you wanna learn how to get in a photographer’s good graces.


If you got a lot out of this post, and think other photographers can get value out of it as well, I’d be stoked if you shared this.  And as always – love/hate mail is always welcomed in the comments below, would be glad to talk about any of these topics with you!




hiring 2nd photographers


(PS – this photo above is of my friend Jason Kirby when we were making our ridiculous holiday christmas card portraits last year.  And so you know – Jason currently gets a good portion of my on-site printing corporate clients.  He avoids all 13 points mentioned above very well, and I’m happy to refer him business.)

Lauren - GREAT post, Tim! “Make it easy as possible for me” is the part that gets me when I’ve hired 2nd shooters. If you’re running late, otherwise stressing me out, or just getting in my way, that’s it. No more chances. The other points are definitely valid but this is the one that’s a deal breaker for me.March 21, 2013 – 6:14 am

Joe McDonald - Good info Tim, might be fun to deliver as a video with graphs, & pics.March 20, 2013 – 10:22 pm

Tim - All – thank you so much for the support! It means a lot coming from so many well respected peers in the industry.

Mandy – when you show up for work, your attire is apparent to EVERYONE sees and makes an assessment on your presentation/appearance. I don’t write on my blog to please clients or try to gain new business – it’s really just an outlet for me to share my life experiences and help others that want the same. I’m sorry you feel my grammar makes such an impression, but I do hope you realize that being proper, being the best, or being the most liked isn’t what always results in the one who gets the business. I do thank you for taking the time to circle back and vent your frustration – it means a lot to me.March 20, 2013 – 2:30 pm

Brett - Well said Tim. Content is spot on and I think it will help a lot of photographers – new and seasoned – take a look in the mirror and become better at what they do. Thanks for writing this great post!March 20, 2013 – 12:23 pm

Mandy - So if you don’t dress “professional” then you’re out.

But I guess if you don’t talk or write “professional” then it’s ok because you’re an artist?

What a load of hypocritical BS to excuse sloppy writing and poor grammar.March 20, 2013 – 11:41 am

jeremy - Photography is such an ecoteric field, a layman rarely gets a glipmses to read it. Thanks for yet again, an insightful and interesting read. Keep ‘em coming. “Especially the bad breath party is so common in clubs” Slay the dragon-breather. Makes a HUGE difference at work.March 19, 2013 – 11:04 pm

Candice Benjamin - Another reason why you are awesome. Thank you for keeping it real. :)March 19, 2013 – 10:39 pm

Tim - Thanks Michelle! And as a matter of fact, I’m planning a couple additional posts on second shooting – one to explain the value to brides and one to talk about what I particularly look for in a 2nd shooter/assistant. (I’m actually considering bringing on 3rd shooters as well)March 19, 2013 – 6:29 pm

Michelle - I may be alone in this, but I like grammar errors. It is proof that you are human. One of the most intelligent men in my life is horrible when it comes to spelling and grammar and I still think he is one of the smartest men on this planet.

I think your points are SPOT on. Your referrals ARE an extension of your brand. I would also love to see a similar post where you expand on second shooting :)March 19, 2013 – 6:24 pm

Jen Jar - Tim, EXCELLENT post! It’s a sad truth, but in our industry there are SO many photographers who can’t control their own egos. They all need to read this and hopefully gain a new perspective :)March 19, 2013 – 5:12 pm

Rich - Hey Mandy,
Lighten up! It’s a blog, not the Wall Street Journal! He says right there at the top, first line in fact, he’s not a saint.

Get over the grammar and take in the message.

Great post Tim!March 19, 2013 – 4:23 pm

Tim - And come to think of it, I think it actually *is* proper grammar. “Personal” categorizes between objective/personal and “professional” refers to attire – professional/casual/etc. While they both work with the “LY” at the end, they function the same without.March 19, 2013 – 4:10 pm

Tim - Mandy, thanks for the comment! I appreciate the time and effort you put in to correct me. And while it may not be completely proper grammar, I actually don’t really think it’s completely necessary to be the best writer to be successful at what I do. I capitalize entire words – which isn’t proper either, but it makes the point. And that’s what’s most important to me.

I wasn’t the top of my class in English lit, but I have been pretty successful in my business and what works/what doesn’t. So in that sense, I feel comfortable talking about my personal/professional experience with others in the past, and point out what habits may be causing others to miss out on work.

I’m not trying to attack you, but clarify where I’m coming from. Hope it comes across the right way.March 19, 2013 – 3:59 pm

Mandy - Someone who is complaining about how others present themselves should really look at their own presentation.

People dress professionalLY
People take things personalLY

Both of those are adverbs. Adverbs modify verbs and end in -ly.

Please learn proper grammar and writing before you criticize others for how they present themselves. Your writing sounds ignorant and uneducated and it doesn’t leave you a lot of room to talk about others.March 19, 2013 – 3:52 pm