Friday, August 30, 2013

A Creative Solution to Family Members Not Able to Attend Your Wedding

Sometimes it is hard for everyone to attend your wedding. Families move around, travel is expensive, or in the case of Lauren's brother, he was serving a mission for his church and he could not leave.

This solution, while not perfect, I am sure everyone would have loved to have him there, was a creative way to acknowledge him and made for some nice moments.

The family was able to take photos of the stand-in and email it to him, so he was able to share in the fun, if only from a distance.

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Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Why I have not posted very often in the past month or so

Yesterday I had an assignment for the New York Times Travel section to this part of California called Suisun Valley. I had never been there, it was quite nice and eventually I will share the photos and story when the Times runs them.

But, it was this tree that stopped me in my tracks as I walked around Rockville Hills Regional Park I am no expert on trees, but as far as I am concerned it is a Manzanita tree.

Even if it is not, actually a Manzanita tree, it brought back a flood of memories of my father, William Swift. When I was growing up one of the things he loved to do was go for hikes in the Santa Cruz Mountains around Palo Alto and Cupertino where we were living and as I slowly followed behind I would always go up to the Manzanita trees and peel off their red paper-like bark. I was fascinated by them. My father would always figure some way to come up with an explanation, often made up on the spot, usually involving some obscure pun or made up Olde English word or phrase. 

Once he was accidentally correct, when I asked him why the area of Los Angeles was called Tarzana, he said it was because it was named to honor the author of Tarzan, turns out to be true, he was surprised when he found out that was indeed the case.

 I can not remember the exact story he told me about Manzanita trees, but it was something about Adam and Eve. It made sense to an eight-year-old, it made me smile, I wish I could remember what it was.

 It was a beautiful afternoon, the sun was setting, I was mostly finished with the assignment which I loved. Everyone was so friendly, I was driving my wife's awesome new car in the beautiful California countryside. Life is good.

This tree gave me a minute to remember my father who died in 2011, and more recently my father-in-law who died last month. So much of our lives have been on hold since that awful day when we heard he died. I have know there are no words to express the loss of a loved one, so I will let this tree, that means so much to me, speak to the love I have for both men and my entire family.

Food Science at the Culinary Institute of Ameriaca, NY Times Story

I did these photos a few weeks ago at the Culinary Institute of America for the New York Times. It was really interesting to watch the chefs and scientists try to understand the nature of flavor, how it changes over time and how many elements can affect how something tastes. 

Also it is just fun sometimes to watch chefs in action. I love the large kitchens, the high-end professional knives, the really massive stoves and cool looking bowls. And best of all, they have assistants to clean up after the fun is over.


And when liquid nitrogen is introduced the real cooking fun begins! Below is how the story appeared in the print edition. Here is a link to the  Online Version with slide show

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Sunday, June 30, 2013

My Weekend Along the Marin Coastline, New York Times Travel Section

Two weekends ago I spent a wonderful two days wandering around the Marin coastline, from Muir Beach to Bolinas thanks to the New York Times Travel section. The online (Here is the story online) edition did not run too many photos, but the print edition gave it an entire page. It was an interesting story where the writer took her two young children on a vacation not too far from home. Everyone I ran into when making the photographs agreed that it is a great idea.
Smiley’s Schooner Saloon
 I had never been to the town of Bolinas, it is quite interesting. Really crowded on one of the hottest days of the year to date. I had to wait 20 minutes for someone to move their car to make this photo ( I was eating lunch while I waited, good multi-tasking).

This place is called Muir Beach Lookout for obvious reasons. I would not go up on that cliff like these guys, it is really windy and a long way down to the rocky beach below.

Stinson Beach as seen from Bolinas, and this was one of the rare days you could see San Francisco in the distance. If you look really hard you can see the roof of our building.


Hey, the Oregon border is just a short hike from Marin County.

Bolinas being Bolinas. I especially liked the hand-painted sign on the garage can about what to do with your unused bait.

Part of the story was about the writer's and her kids' stay at the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center

The Zen center grows organic food that is featured at many local restaurants, including Greens in SF. The Zen students work the fields as part of their training.

The meditation center is built in the traditional Japanese building style, without nails.

 There are a lot of Buddha statues and flowers on the grounds. It is quite peaceful.

It was also Father's Day, and really warm and beautiful, so what better place to view the sunset than Stinson Beach.

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Friday, June 28, 2013

Scenes from an office event

This event was at the offices of a local tech company, great food, great atmosphere, great fun. It was set up by Aviva at The Adventure School they are based in Seattle, but do some work in this area from time to time.

Great use of color copiers.

I really liked the afternoon light coming in through the windows of the office.

Anything involving fire has to be good. Créme brulée by The Créme Brulée Cart

Great idea to hire a elevator operator for the freight elevator. Who knows what kind of problems can arise if you are not careful on these things. Also nice touch for the operator to dress in the cool retro outfit.

Great drinks by my favorite liquid artists The Bon Vivants

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The Asian Art Museum, San Francisco

I wish I had written down what this was. I am pretty sure it was a dish at a sushi table. It sure looks great. A reminder to all my photographer friends to keep good notes. I am very good at keeping notes on people's names, dates and locations, but can not find any note on what this dish was.

These photos are from the Asian Art Museum, with catering by McCalls Catering

Prior to the event the attendees were greeted with traditional Japanese drummers.

And led up the stairs by a Chinese dragon.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Wonderful Day!!

Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan, at San Francisco City Hall, just after their wedding.

This photo nicely sums up my feelings of joy on the ending of Prop. 8 and DOMA today.


Mrya and Sean were also married during that all-too-brief time in 2008 when everyone was allowed full access to marriage in California. So glad to be able to once again have all my friends and neighbors (at least here in California) have the same rights to marry the person they love.

Here's to love!

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Van Thomas Concepts Photoshoot

I am happy to share the photographs I did for Van Thomas Concepts earlier this year. I really like how they turned out and were used by the company. The photo on top was done in the office of the designer for the ad. He had this really great diffused light at the front desk. Especially in the late afternoon.


Above are the screen grabs from the website. The top and bottom photo were done in the designer's office. I am not sure about the middle image, it was either done in the office against the frosted glass with the sun back lighting the model, or it was taken outside at sunset and they removed the background. 

I also did all the little bottle photos and as a bonus was able to get a few samples of the shampoo, conditioner and other stuff to test. It is on my hair right now. The stuff works, Check it out!

Needless to say there was a great crew on the entire shoot, thanks to all who helped out, from amazing make up by Christina Gaudy 

Hair was naturally done by the man with the name on the bottle Van Thomas and his crew

Cynthia Marie gets one of the models ready for the photos

The models were all great, and I hate to admit I do not remember their names. She held this pose for quite some time, it is not easy, especially since it was kind of cold on this patio where we were doing this photo.

The sequence above is one of those magical things that can happen when you are taking photos.

 I was having the model walk through the crowd at about half pace as if she were thinking very deeply about something. As I was shooting a man walked up to her and said something about how interested he was in finding out what she was thinking about. He then asked her for her number ( I do not remember if she gave it to him or not). She laughed.

Afterwards she asked me if one of my assistants or the others in the crew had asked the man to approach her, to get her to laugh or something. We did not, she was flattered, and the bottom photo of her laughing is one of my favorites from the day.

Here the acting skills of the model were put to the test. It was unusually cold for Southern California and we wanted her to look warm, but she was not. She powered through and we got our sunset photo.

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