Covington park. Family portraits

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I have known Rachel since we both worked at a book store together ten years ago, since it closed down, r.i.p. Borders books and music, we have both put some life behind us.

A chance meeting at a coffee shop, lead to reconnecting over social media, and her telling me what has happened since.

A need to document the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one came apparent , and so plans were made to set up a shoot locally before the summer heat came on.

Becuase most kids are dressed up , and nervous when been introduced to a photographer, I suggested going to a park to burn off energy, and have them get used to a stranger with a camera been around them. Hopefully relaxing them and making it able to get true portraits of their personalities.

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As mentioned on a previous post, I think it’s always important to recognize stages in life. It’s said that every 7 years all of our cells has renewed and become new again. So in a literal sense , every seven years , you are a completly new person.

Rachel now has two kids, and graduated recently in criminal justice from school , and is pursuing further education in that field. And these pictures representing a stepping off point, that hopefully work as a glimpse of remembrance of what was, and what could be.

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A quick word about the location, straight from their website “Nestled among the Little San Bernardino Mountains in the Sand to Snow National Monument, the desert oasis at Big Morongo Canyon is one of the 10 largest cottonwood and willow riparian habitats in California. The upstream end of the canyon lies in the Mojave Desert, while its downstream portion opens into the Colorado Desert. There are numerous trails to walk and hike, including a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk through the marsh and riparian habitats. At 31,000 acres with elevations ranging from 600 feet on the canyon floor to 3000 feet at the top of the ridge, this diverse landscape has been an important part of the Morongo Basin’s natural and cultural history for almost two billion years.”

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Super bloomed

Full disclosure, I did this set of images kinda as a joke. The local desert has had an incredible amount of rain and weather this past season, see the previous post with the snow, obviously entitled snow joke.

This has meant that the California Super Bloom has come in , with full effect. In the vicinity to me, Lake Elsinore had all those wonderful California poppies spring up about a million and three wild flowers came out to seemingly drive my dormant allergies / hayfever into over drive, where im trying to scrape my eyeballs out with a rusty spoon.

For the first time in a long time, i saw the Yucca Trees/ Joshua Trees erupt out with flowers and buds. The National Park saw wave after wave of them, sitting as far as the eye can see. Been all new and old at the same time.

The joke stemmed from me trying to make a girl laugh, im not a huge fan of the pumpkin spice white girl flattening of highlights in photographs lately. I think its a trend that we will look back on and wonder why we are wearing bumbags and have rattails. or at least why we look orange and miserable at our weddings.but , like many things i dont understand i tried to be open to it . and see where it might lead me to .

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Snow joke

Terrible blogger, checking in. I havent done this in 4 months, so bare with me while i blow off the cobwebs. I think its just about only my mum that reads this anyway, so Hi mum, i hope youre settled into the new place properly, and dad has recovered from that cough.

At the beginning of this year it rained in California, like a lot , and then it snowed, and then it rained to the point where on valentines day , Palm Springs got its 3rd highest amopunt of rainfall in one day. Is this climate change ( hint ….yes) or does thing happen occasionally ? ( hint …also yes… its a complicated thing)

So after the buckets of rain, came snow again, flurries and flurries of snow visited the high desert. Joshua Tree national park, got a good glazing , as did Yucca Valley, and as shown here; at an even higher elevation; Pioneertown.

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Super hipster , home to Pappy and Harriets, and established in 1946 to support the motion picture love of the Western by actor Dick Curtis, back when guys could still be called Dick without everyone behaving like 13 year old boys.

Gene Autry and Roy Rodgers are amongst many who filmed either tv shows or movies there. Now mostly known as the town that Pappy and Harriets Cantina is at ( try the chilli fries !)

Anyways, I frolicked in the snow, i didnt make a snow angel, but i did go knee deep in snow as i trekked around looking for good spots to shoot from . I did scare a rabbit or hare, which was hiding out under a bush, Im sure if it was part of a movie , there would have been a metaphore realized , while some moving instrumental music slowly soared in the background. Sadly, i felt bad about making it leave its spot and then i went back to the car to get warm

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So , there you have it, a bit of history and knowledge of more california desert-y things, and i can use the experience to remind google that this is a fully operational battle station, and that i tried really hard to cram key words into spots to help its wee tracking bot. Enjoy the pictures, coz they are the best part of things .

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Portrait Session, Palm Springs, California.

The subject of this shoot actually blogged about it here "https://www.brelindawadley.com/blog/2018/11/1/getting-uncomfortable"

As a brief synopsis though, Brelinda reached out to me because she would like to work a little on been comfortable in front of the camera, learn a different way to pose people but in a much broader way, like a lot of people used the session to enjoy the skin they live in. 

I personally think that people should have documention done every few years , not just to be able to remember what they looked like at 28 or 33 or 67 but because it's an aid to how other see us. Not in a negative sense, more in the sense that If we arnt careful,  we see all the flaws in ourselves and it can be more difficult to see a positive. 

 

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 "That brings me to my next point in this uncomfortable post: what you perceive as uncomfortable and life altering, others can see as strength, inner beauty and inspiration. I’m not saying I inspired Andrew, but with this share I hope to inspire some people into taking at step in growth. I believe our voices and actions can give others strength, as well as yourself to do more of it. While Andrew captured some beautiful imagery, I still felt like a made up awkward blob. My eyes heavy with false lashes, my hair ‘naturally’ wavvy and big around a face that was covered in a well placed mask of make up and dramatic eyeliner. This bit of armor made me feel comfortable enough to look at the camera, which at one point I could see myself in the lens… and boy, that reflection took a nice hold of me and shook me up."

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Idyllwild, California

Last night i wrote for an hour, giving a rundown of the recent Cranston fire that happened up by Idyllwild. Spent a while choosing the correct images and pairing, placing them where i thought they would be nice and impactful. I wasnt SUPER happy with what i was saying, basically it was a regurgitating information about how big the fire was , how much it burnt and where.

It didnt feel like my voice but it matched the images as a documentation of the event, spruced up with a few stories i had heard from my friends who lived up there….

and then i went to hit post….and my finger slipped on the screen and hit delete instead. Instead of been frustrated , i decided that this was a sign i wasnt happy and so tried again today.

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Idyllwild suddenly started popped up all over my social media, with people visiting it and talking about how magical it is. And it is, since i first moved to the Palm Springs area, ive tried to get up there because its only a quick drive and it feels like nothing around the Coachella valley. Its green and lush and has green trees and rain!

This years fire was seemingly man made, and i wanted to see the damage that had been wrought. The Highway 74 road that leads to Idyllwild from Palm Desert had been closed off as that was where the fire had hit the hardest it seemed. From the rear of Garner Ranch and Lake Hemet to the beginnings of Idyllwild the landscape has changed from the aforementioned settings of trees and greenery, to burnt stubs and melted metal signs, and yet the gas station at Mountain Center had been magically saved as it seemed like the fire bisected that area for no apparent reason, hopefully because the homeowners there can cleared the area and watered everything down as much as possible.

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I had waited to go exploring until the clouds hung low and there would be rain, simply to give myself a break from the heat and sunshine. When its 100F in early October, you really want to see something different.

I hiked around the town for a few hours, found the fantastically named Suicide Rock, saw cabins and fat squirrels and ended the evening at a friends air bnb up there. the whole experience reminded me why i like it up there , even after seeing the devastation that had occurred during the summer months.

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Maternity portrait , Whitewater / Palm Springs; California

As a father of two boys, whenever i get asked to do maternity / pregnancy portraits, I always want to try something different than what traditionally is thought of. For some people , pregnancy can be uncomfortable and unflattering, so i try and bring something more body positive , choosing flattering angles and recognizing that the background is important.

I aim for the week or so before baby is due for the photoshoot, babies first condo is at its peak size, and there is a certain mixture of relief and vulnerability in the expecting parents to be that , when captured , is exactly how i felt each time before becoming a father.

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We split this shoot into two parts, one out in Whitewater, which is in between Palm Springs and Cabazon in California. The idea was originally to capture how the mum to be, connected with nature and with the timing, we got to experience the rare 2 weeks in Southern California were the leaves fall and the temperature hits the 70s in the daytime. Also , just as important, a place that has bathrooms RIGHT THERE. So, we went, the parents came to play, jumped, laid in and threw the piles of leaves, kissed , canoodled and talked about what they were looking forward to in the next few weeks and years.

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In the second part, i wanted to show the more intimate part of pregnancy. Its easy to forget the womanly part of been pregnant , as the focus can just be on baby and the body goes through so many changes . Hormones can do some odd things.

I also wanted to explore the connection of light and shadow play , with new expectations and the promises of what is to come. Luckily for me, the mother to be was open to this and the fact they were a good looking couple to boot worked in my favour.

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Ashley and Josh. Indio, California

Ashley and I met through a mutual friend years and years ago, so much had happened since we had last been in touch with each other,  that when she got in touch through Facebook messenger I had to cautiously make sure it was the same person. 

I was delighted to find out that she was engaged to Josh , and wanted me to shoot their wedding. Most of the time I don't think people remember me . I'm not sure how many other photographers have an English accent out here in the desert, but apparently enough that I might be mistaken for other Palm Springs settlers.

 

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Held in the home of one of Josh's friends (and as it turns out,  hater of English things,  especially their stupid accents ) the boys got ready downstairs , while a whole gaggle of ladies applied hair spray up stairs. Meaning that as i was covering both wedding parties, my calves got a good work out.

 

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The ceremony was been held in one of the little communal gardens between houses. Rather fantastically,  Ashley had been gifted a Cinderella horse and carriage, to take her and her three boys to and from the house and ceremony site.

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After the ceremony,  and in the 20 minutes before the sunset, we ran out into the desert looking back North towards Palm Springs where I had them make out and generally fondle each other before family members arrived. Often times , this tends to be the only time the couple has in the whole day , which means I try and build time in my timeline where I'm not there. Room to breathe if you would. 

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I wanted to show Ashleys big personality,  and Josh's complimentary one, so lots of laughing,  joking and general goofing around.  

Been English means I have a drier sense of humour,  and as much as I believe in hiring a photographer based on what he or she bring to the party so to speak, it should be obvious that nothing is more important than the bride and groom. Despite what the bride's mother may think.  

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The evening was filled with laughter , fun and tasty tacos.  I shown the hopefully short lived, floss dance.  Garters and bouquets were tossed, first dances had,  and champagne uncorked. 

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Caitlin and Mike get married. Joshua Tree, California

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Shot in Joshua Tree and Landers , this lovely couple really embraced the desert lifestyle. they reached out 8 months in advance to their October wedding, I scouted their locations, by the mountains in Landers and the Joshua Tree house , owned by Rich and Sara Coombs, in , unsurprisingly Joshua Tree.

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This was an elopement or tiny wedding , depending on who you talk to , originally the cast was going to be 5 people in total. but ended up been 8. One of the best things about this new style of wedding, from a photographers point of view, is that there is an open dialogue with everyone in terms of what will make a good , lasting image and how we can come up with it. Versus the bigger wedding where 250 people need to come and talk to the bride and groom . Both have their pros and cons, i prefer smaller, intimate ones, purely for the selfish reason that i like to become friends with the happy couple because then i will get more emotional images.

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Other benefits of weddings like this are the fact that Caitlin’s brother made the cake and we all went to Pappy and Harriett’s for the wedding dinner. I made a point of saying to make an reservation there, and how we needed to make sure we got there on time. I promptly missed the turn in the dark while talking to the mother of the Groom , took the long way round and got there with a minute to spare .

What is the moral of this story? Be careful of offering rides to drunk mothers and always order chilli fries.

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After staying with the couple until 1am , i turned up at their overnight crib in Joshua Tree at 6 am, where we had agreed to do a morning shoot , maybe post wedding morning shoots will be the new thing? Very much the boxing day to the weddings Christmas days opening of presents.

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