Category Archives: Blog

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

I had the honor of receiving another “Best in Class” award from Professional Photographers of San Diego County last night for my fine art piece, “Up Above the World So High”. The piece was really fun to do, and it has me thinking about other nursery rhymes I could depict, so I went to a site that has a whole list of nursery rhyme lyrics and their origins, and it is fascinating!!! Did you know that the original lyrics to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star are actually…

baby climbing above clouds to reach for a star
Up Above the World So High
©Spark Photography 2013

Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are?

Up above the world so high , like a diamond in the sky

When the blazing sun is gone, when he nothing shines upon,

Then you show your little light, twinkle, twinkle all the night.

Then the traveller in the dark, thanks you for your tiny spark,

He could not see which way to go, if you did not twinkle so.

In the dark blue sky you keep, and often through my curtains peep,

For you never shut your eye, ’till the sun is in the sky.

As your bright and tiny spark lights the traveller in the dark,

Though I know not what you are – twinkle, twinkle little star.

Beautiful, right? This one doesn’t have much of a history, except for the fact that it was first published in 1806, but some of the other nursery rhymes are political and have great backstories. Most people know about Ring Around the Rosy being about plague, but did you know that “Humpty Dumpty” is actually believed to have been a large canon in the English Civil War?

I think I’m going to keep reading up on nursery rhymes and fairy tales…such great inspiring imagery and stories!



How to be a spectacular client…like KPBS

Over the last several years, I have had the distinct pleasure of being the preferred event photographer for KPBS – the local PBS affiliate here in San Diego. I will admit it…they quickly became one of my favorite clients.

First of all, the people who work at the station are crazy good at what they do. I had been an avid listener to the radio station for years before I worked with them as a photographer, and I find that they give the best mix of hard hitting news and human interest stories around. The reporters are both personable and professional, and their commitment to the San Diego community is apparent. One of the coolest experiences for me has been to create images of local legends like Gloria Penner, Ken Kramer, and Huell Howser. They are interesting to shoot, at least in part, because they are interesting people…what is is that makes you interesting, and how can we capture that?

portrait of San Diego radio personality Gloria Penner
Gloria Penner
Huell Howser
Ken Kramer KPBS San Diego
Ken Kramer

Another reason it’s been so fun to work with the station is that KPBS really knows how to throw a party! From a 60’s-themed event for the station’s 50th anniversary, to a masquerade ball, to open houses where the public can meet stars like the Cat in the Hat, KPBS events are always a good time. The lesson? If we’re having a good time, you’re going to get great images.

photo of KPBS personality Erik Anderson at the KPBS gala
KPBS personality Erik Anderson
Cat in the Hat KPBS  003
The Cat in the Hat with two adoring fans

Finally, working with the people at KPBS is just a delight! They are all kind and accommodating, and they appreciate the work I do – which makes me want to create amazing images for them! Thanks, KPBS, for being so wonderful!

KPBS Staff  001
KPBS Staff



Dalo Family Fun!

I meet so many San Diego families who tell me, “We haven’t had a new family portrait taken since the baby was born!” The Dalo family was no exception. Baby Grace was almost a year old, and Mason and Shani decided they needed an updated portrait that included the whole family. It can be difficult to schedule portraits in a baby’s first year – much less portraits of your whole family! Fortunately, the Dalos scheduled just before the holidays, and we were able to capture a ton of great images of everyone. They were able to order prints for their home as well as create a really cute Christmas card full of professional images.

 mama and baby

A session of your “new” family doesn’t have to be long or complicated! Cooper, Grace’s big brother, enjoyed our session as an adventure! We went to a wooded location with a variety of trails where he could explore and pick up rocks and sticks to play with. The family made sure to bring simple snacks, so no one got grumpy, and we alternated between individual shots of the kids, shots of the parents, and shots of the whole family.

boy running on a path through weeds

It’s important to consider the ages of the young ones when creating a family portrait…guess what? You might not always get that “perfect” image with everyone looking at the camera with a smile on their face, but that’s okay! We’re capturing a moment in time.

san diego family photography in a wooded setting family photography san diego

As you can see in the image at the top of the page, Grace has a beautiful smile, but in one family portrait, she looks rather serious. Sure, if the goal is for you to get an image of the perfect family with perfect smiles on your faces, that’s what I’m going to try to capture, but believe me when I say it’s not worth it to belabor trying to get that

ONE perfect shot while missing other incredible shots that are so much more natural! I love shots that evolve from everyone just having fun or being silly.


Think about it…What does your family do naturally? – They interact!! – No wonder children don’t have patience for facing some stranger with camera gear and smiling like they are having the time of their lives! Remember, the photographer doesn’t always know which smile is your child’s “natural” smile. The more you coach it, the less natural it gets, so try to relax and have fun…I think you will be glad you did.

mother and son sitting together in a park father and son sitting on a low tree branch

Mason and Shani had such a great attitude about their family session, and we all had a lot of fun together. Their images turned out looking relaxed and natural because that’s exactly how they felt! Thanks for a great session guys!! Can’t wait for our next!

san diego couple at old steel bridge



Family Photos at the Beach

If you’ve lived in San Diego for a while, you’ve probably taken family photos at the beach. It sounds cliché, but it does provide a beautiful backdrop for your family’s portraits. There are several beaches in San Diego that work really well for portraits. Not to say that a flat beach with pretty waves won’t work, but there are more interesting backgrounds to be found. You don’t want JUST a beautiful sunset setting the scene…think about the surroundings and what provides variety in your family photos. Some beaches have cliffs, others, a nice hotel or the city in the background. If you go to some beaches a low tide, you can get a beautiful reflection in the sand, while at others you have a pier to work with. You and your photographer should discuss the goals of your beach shoot before you head out…there are all kinds of beautiful surprises out there!

family photo in front of golden cliffs at the beach

family photography on the beach San Diego

three boys running on the beach family photography


couple jumping in the air at the beach by Spark Photography


family photo in front of intense sunset at the beach




Professional Photographers of San Diego County

January begins the second half of my presidency of Professional Photographers of San Diego County (PPSDC). It has already been a wild ride, and it’s only getting better. So far, under my watch and the watch of my fabulous board, we have completed two image competitions, had photo-superstar Scott Robert Lim come to speak to our organization, learned how to do pinup with Holland and Alisha McGraw of Some Like it Shot Photography, and educated our membership with a business roundtable.

Coming up, we have several very talented speakers, as well as a membership drive in April and even more image competitions (starting January 8th!). Our membership is mid-sized but mighty, and we are proud to call some of the most caring, talented, and wonderful professional photographers in this county (or any other!) our members.

I am so proud to have come up through the ranks of this organization – one that values quality photographic education and fellowship. I have found mentors and friends, and I have improved my craft more than I ever thought possible.

Being president also means having to write more about the art and business of photography – good preparation for increased blogging on my own site this year. It has made me more reflective about photography and business, and I have been actively seeking out RSS feeds and books on both. I get an average of 30-50 blog posts in my Feeddler app each day. I skim most of them and send the ones that look especially interesting to my Evernote account for followup later. If you don’t use these apps or apps like them, you are really missing out – they are great tools for any tidbits you’d like to organize! (Maybe I will write another post on them later…)

At any rate, quality input + thought and blending of ideas, sometimes = serendipity, so I’m doing the work and putting my best, most authentic self forward into all that I do, and we’ll see what happens…




Thoughts for the New Year

It’s the new year, and it’s time to start thinking about what will change and what will remain the same. My goal for this year is relationship building – with clients, vendors, and organizations. A large part of this process is asking yourself what you contribute to the relationship and figuring out how to improve upon your current efforts.

In December 2012, I had the opportunity to work with some of the residents of the Del Sur neighborhood on a fundraiser for Del Sur Elementary School. What a great opportunity to get to know so many wonderful families and raise money for a great cause!! I’m still not sure how one community can have so many good-lookin’ people, but it was a true pleasure for me as a photographer. Here are a few shots…






In the new year, I will be looking for other organizations to partner with for fundraising opportunities. I will continue to support a select number of organizations with silent auction items. I also want to develop ongoing relationships that allow me to contribute to an organization by using my skills as a photographer…if you know of any who could use my services, please let me know!

This past year, I enjoyed shooting for the Foundation Fighting Blindness at their annual VisionWalk San Diego, gave an auction item to Young Audiences San Diego, and created images for various galas and golf tournaments. It is events like these that keep myself and my business connected to  the community, and I appreciate the opportunity to serve. Thanks for a great 2012, and cheers to an even better 2013!



Why do I need a family photographer?

The family photographer…a thing of the past? We are so inundated by images these days that our eyes gloss over and we lose the ability to distinguish between quality images and the rest. I believe that the family photographer is still relevant to our lives, and a good family photographer should be able to show and tell you why.

photo of family of three in 4S Ranch neighborhood of San Diego

A quality family photographer does more than just push a button. They are friend, consultant, comedian, resource, counselor, and artist. They should be able to pose you in ways that flatter your body type and provide lighting that accentuates the positive and leaves those extra pounds in shadow. They can tell you why white is NOT the best choice for portraits, but they also know that it is a better choice than mixing plaids and polka dots. The family photographer is makeup artist, too…even if you’ve tried to cover up that giant blemish, with two clicks, they can make it as though it never existed!

Not just anyone can photograph families. They must be patient, current on the latest teen and tween gossip, practiced in knock-knock jokes, goofy to a point, always focused and ready to immortalize that perfect moment. They make sure that everyone is represented in the images. (I can tell you who the image maker is in your family because they’re not in any pictures!) Family photographers capture character and personality in ways that sometimes mom and dad just can’t…have you ever been behind the camera and heard, “Geez, mom! Put the camera down!!!” or worse yet, they simply pull the hoodie all the way down to their lips?

A family photographer is a documentarian of milestones. A trusted ally as the family goes through life. The person to call when the baby is days old, the first tooth is lost, the senior is graduating, the grandparents want a multi-generational portrait…and it goes on and on.

This is why I love what I do. I build a relationship with clients that lasts beyond a single session. I am there for the long haul, at the ready any time, and I want to be your family photographer.



Five Great Reasons to have Family Portraits Created in San Diego in the Fall

San Diego is a wonderful place to have family portraits created at ANY time of year, but fall is especially nice for a variety of reasons…

#5 – The clouds…we don’t see them very often in the summer, but as fall rolls on, the clouds are puffy and pretty, and they diffuse the sunlight so shadows are not so harsh…clouds help to make yummy light!

#4 – The breeze…yes, it’s a little cliché, but the wind in your hair can make for a lovely photo. portrait of high school senior girl in a blue dress next to a pondIt can also be frustrating, if it is blowing in the wrong direction, but images with just a little motion in the hair just seem to pop.

#3 – Family is together anyway for the holidays in the fall, so why not make some memories? Family photography doesn’t happen that often anymore. We all snap images with our cell phones, but when was the last time everyone in your family was actually in the picture? Yes, the holidays can be stressful, but family photography doesn’t have to be. Just get together for a quick mini-session, and when not all of you can be together next time, you’ll be glad you photo at Balboa Park San Diego

 #2 – You can wear your snuggly clothes and cozy up to one another!

family in brown sweaters San Diego family photography

And the number one reason to have your family portraits created in San Diego in the fall is…

#1 – Yes, I’ll say it…there are fewer tourists in San Diego in the fall, and it makes having family pictures created so much easier! Balboa Park has emptied, you can actually find parking at the beaches, and you will have all that beautiful San Diego real estate to yourselves! The image below could not have been captured on an overly-crowded beach…

family photography on the beach at sunset



Who started this whole ‘holiday card’ thing anyway?

holiday card inventor henry cole
Henry looks like he needed a break from the holiday madness…

Holiday cards have been around for over 100 years…169 years to be exact! In 1843, Sir Henry Cole (an English civil servant and inventor) commissioned John Calcott Horsley to draw a Christmas greeting card. The tradition at the time was to pen personalized greetings to friends and family, but Cole was a prominent businessman and decided that, with his hectic schedule, he would do a mass mailing of uniform, hand-colored lithographed cards instead. (The more things change, the more they stay the same!)

The card that Horsley designed was a triptych (a three panel design that folded out). The two side panels depicted good deeds like feeding the hungry, and the center panel showed a family feasting and drinking wine. If you look closely at the image below, you can see a mother holding a cup of wine that her child is drinking! – According to some accounts, this did not make the British temperance movement very happy at all…

holiday card historic
Merry Christmas…wine for everyone!

The printer made over 1,000 cards, and once Cole got the number he needed, the printer sold off the extras, and a new tradition was born. Christmas cards became popular in many parts of Europe, but they didn’t make their way to the United States for another 30 years. A Boston lithographer, Louis Prang, began to make high-end cards that featured flower arrangements rather than traditional Christmas themes. He was eventually forced out of business in 1890 as Americans favored penny Christmas postcards imported from Germany. By WWI, the Christmas cards were the norm for wishing holiday cheer.
Continue reading Who started this whole ‘holiday card’ thing anyway?

Out with the old…

Who says fall isn’t a time of rebirth and renewal? Until yesterday, I had an old Flash website (with an injection of bare-bones html for mobile of course). I had been running the same design for five years, knowing that soon I would have to make the investment of time and resources to make a go at a WordPress site. Well, the time is here. My site is not 100% complete just yet, but it is getting there, so consider this a soft launch. People can finally find me on mobile, I will be more searchable by Google, and hopefully I will be able to integrate all of my social media in a much more fluid way.

This means you may be hearing from me more often, but I will try to keep my content relevant, timely and at least somewhat interesting or entertaining. Please dig around in the new site and leave me a comment. I know that some content still needs to be added, but let me know if you find a broken link or even if you just see something you like. 

Check out the new at



“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”  ~J. Pierpont Morgan