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Look what I made!

Is it weird that I think I can acquire skills just by watching other people perform them on T.V.?

I know it seems really delusional to think that art or craft can be learned by osmosis and I would certainly never attempt to rewire my living room after a marathon session of This Old House but there are certain things I have always been convinced I could do; the main one being cake decorating.

When I’m not photographing, I love to bake and when I’m too beat from shooting weddings all weekend, I love to plop down on the couch and watch the Food Network, especially those cake challenge shows. Just from watching, I’ve learned all the proper terms. I know there’s a difference between fondant and gum paste, I’ve learned that the first thing you buy once you win the ten thousand dollars is something called a sheeter and I know never to rely on an air brush machine because it will always fail when you plug it in on national television. See, I’m practically an expert!

Of course cake decorating is equal parts art, science and engineering and takes years to master, but I’m not joking about decorating this cake – I really did do that, with some help.

I have long admired the beautiful cakes that John and his wife Susan create at Cake Crumb in Encino. When I found out they taught workshops in baking and decorating, I jumped at the chance to try my hand at it. I was assured I would learn a ton and that I would have lots of one on one instruction, but when I walked in and saw the demo cake that we would be copying, I almost did an about face and walked right out the door. My decorating experience up to this point (except for the hours parked in front of the boob tube) consisted of piping gingerbread cookies on the occasional Christmas with my little niece and nephew. Often it was impossible to tell my handy work from the 6 year old’s – but no matter, I was forging ahead with this lesson.

Luckily, John and Susan could not have been more patient. They broke down each step into little manageable bites. The fancy little blossoms were cranked out quickly and easily under their gentle tutelage and even the big purple bow and sash came together in just a few simple steps. Admittedly, rolling out the fondant and getting it to lay smoothly over the cake form was pretty tricky and getting those diamonds on the bottom layer to line up was making me nutso but overall it came together much more easily and quickly than I would ever have imagined, and this is a testament to John and Susan’s teaching skills. It’s one thing to be incredible artists, which these two clearly are, but to also be able to communicate and demonstrate in such a clear way is truly amazing to me.

If any of you out there reading this have any interest in cake decorating, or if you are looking for a drop dead gorgeous cake for your next big event, Cake Crumb should be your first and only stop.

Well, now that I’ve mastered cake decorating, I’m onto my next challenge. Hmm, I watch a lot of Dancing with the Stars…how hard can jitterbugging in three inch heels be?

Warm summer sun…

“Warm summer sun, shine kindly here, warm southern wind, blow softly here”.
~Mark Twain

Lincoln’s adventures in Disneyland

Having a chance to photograph one of our favorite families at such a fun location as Disneyland is a dream come true. We were like kids in a candy shop with our eyes big and heads full of possibilities. I would say it was a tossup as to whether Larry and I or little one-and-a-half year old Lincoln was more excited to be there.

Lincoln’s emotions were running high, as this was his first visit to Disneyland and there were so many wonderful things to capture his attention. It was so much fun seeing the park through the eyes of a toddler. The iconic rides like Thunder Mountain or Dumbo were of no interest to him. Instead little things like smelling a patch of flowers or “driving” one of the many stationery cars had him completely enthralled.

When it came time to meet Pluto, he wasn’t the least bit scared like a lot of other children his age might be. He boldly held out his hand for a high-five before posing with his family.

Larry and I often shake our heads in disbelief at how lucky we are that this is our job. Having the opportunity to photograph this wonderful family over the last year and a half has been a wonderful experience and we look forward to documenting more of their history as the years roll by.

Just the way you are…

“When I see your face
There’s not a thing that I would change
Cause you’re amazing
Just the way you are
And when you smile,
The whole world stops and stares for awhile
Cause girl you’re amazing
Just the way you are”

~Bruno Mars

Polaroid Week

Did you know this is Polaroid week? I didn’t either until last night but I thought it appropriate to pay homage to this incredible invention so here is a very brief history adapted from savepolaroid.com

In 1929 Edwin Land gains notoriety by solving one of science’s long-standing unsolvable problems – polarizing light without needing a large crystal of an esoteric mineral. (I have no idea what that means either, but stick with me, it gets more interesting, I promise).

Polaroid Foundation is established in 1937 and his inventions and instruments manufactured by his foundation go on to play a major part in World War 2. For instance, he develops the first guided missile system and polarized goggles for airmen. (See, I told you it would get more interesting. Try bringing up this little factoid at your next cocktail party, you’ll come off as knowledgeable and slightly nerdy, an adorable combination).

In 1944 a simple question asked by his young daughter changes the face of photography forever. That question was, “why can’t I see my pictures now?” Land begins researching this possibility and the SX-70 project begins.

Two years later a Boston camera store sells the very first instant photography camera, the Polaroid Model 95 with Type 40 film. The camera is named for its $95 price tag (the equivalent of $850 today). After quickly selling out, the store began taking back orders for up to $150 or about $1350!

By 1962 four million cameras had been produced and sold all over the world. For many decades after that, a Polaroid camera and film could just as easily make an appearance on a typical family’s vacation as in the studio of a world famous photographer.

Sadly, on February 8th, 2008 Polaroid announces all instant film production will cease by 2009 causing many Polaroid fans like myself to go into hoarding mode.

So there you have it, a very brief history of Polaroid film. For a more fleshed out version check out savepolaroid.com

The art of God…

“The course of nature is the art of God.”
~Edward Young

Window Light

We all know that light is everything in photography. In fact, it’s built right into the word itself: photo – meaning light and graphy – meaning draw in Greek.

One of my favorite photographs to create is of the bride standing in front of a large window. This shot can be done in even the most nondescript hotel room and it always yields a dramatic, ethereal image. In this case, one of my favorite film stocks, Kodak’s Tmax 3200, yielded just enough detail in the shadow areas while delivering very delicious grain.

While this particular set up works beautifully for a bridal portrait, it would also be great for shots of your kids or pets. So next time your little one is peeking out the window, grab your camera and give it a try.

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