15 on 15

APRIL 2015


My first blog circle post! I was invited to join a group of very talented photographers, so saying yes was pretty much a no-brainer. I was in dire need of some blogging inspiration and this will be the perfect opportunity for me to share a complete set of images and not just single images like I post on Facebook and the CMpro Daily Project. Be sure to follow the link at the end of this post and follow the circle. It will not disappoint.

My goal is to shoot something special for this monthly 15 on 15 post. Try something new, experiment a little and pretty much push myself with the ever present deadline of the 15th in my brain. I do well with deadlines. I may not always be a rule-follower, but deadlines work for me. Otherwise the queen of procrastination wins every single time.

For this first post I'll share some street photographs I captured this past February when I participated in a challenge with 40 other photographers documenting downtown Los Angeles over a three day period. This was my first time spending three consecutive days out on the streets and I'm quite pleased with the results.

My top 15...

Beginning a 15 on 15 in 2015 is so fitting since this marks my 15th year in Los Angeles and I still feel like I've barely skimmed the surface of what this vibrant city has to offer. Stay tuned for more on the 15...

>>>   Please continue the circle with Jo's blog   <<<


Close, but no cigar.


I recently found out about Leica's online photography competition I SHOT IT. Lots of categories to enter and all very affordable. Each category awards one winner a Leica camera (model determined by category) and a cash prize (determined by number of entries). They also award 'Mark of Excellence' finalists for each competition. I was honored to receive this finalist award in the Black & White category last week. See all of the finalists here.

What I like most about this competition is that you can see the other entries. If you win or receive a 'Mark of Excellence,' the judge comments on your entry and you can comment back. I love reading through these comments from around the world.

I have my eye on a Leica M so I will keep entering. Nothing beats the praise of a judge who knows nothing about us. 



A few months ago I came across a call for entries by the National Museum of Animals and Society for their Fundraiser Exhibition: BUNNYMANIA. I had pet rabbits as a child and have always been a sucker for those sweet, soft, floppy-eared creatures. Since I had some time before the deadline I thought it might be a good time to shoot some new work. I posted this message on Facebook:  L.A. friends, do any of you have a pet rabbit or know anyone who does? I knew the chances were slim, but wouldn't you know, my friend Anna introduced me to the Grazioso family who have an indoor pet rabbit named Dave.

Dave is not just any rabbit, he's an unbelievably photogenic Flemish Giant rabbit. I was smitten the moment I saw him. So big and fluffy. He weighs almost 25 pounds! His favorite snacks are strawberries, blackberries and chard, and I was told he broke into a box of sweet potatoes one time and had a little solo feast.

While we waited for the girls to get home from school, Claudia shared a few of her favorite Dave stories with me.

"My favorite Dave story is when he first realized he could easily jump the gates we put up in the kitchen. One night, I woke up to thumping. I woke my husband and he turned on the light to go investigate and then shouted and jumped back. Dave had run up the stairs and was standing on his hind legs right next to Peter's side of the bed -- and since Dave is so big, they were pretty much eye level!  Dave was rather pleased with himself, and then took off running around our upstairs, evading capture for a good long while."

And this one?!!

"We had friends over one night and had neglected to mention that we have an enormous rabbit who just kind of runs free-range style around the house. After we had had a glass of wine or two, Dave hopped by, stopped next to our guest, stood on his hind legs, extended to his impressive height, looked at him, sniffed the air a little, and then continued on his hop around the house. Our friend paused for a moment, then looked at me a little stunned and asked, "Did -- did that just happen?"

Dave made my job easy, when he stayed still that is. Sudden bursts of energy resulted in a flurry of hopping all over the place and when he tired himself out it was snuggle time. When Esme + Addie bounded in from school, Dave went hopping right over to greet them. Having a family dog is pretty commonplace, but a family rabbit? Not so much. It could not have been more obvious, Dave is the perfect pet for this family. I can't thank them enough for sharing him with me.


I'm happy to report the first photograph below was selected for BUNNYMANIA, curated by Peter Frank and Delia Cabral. The exhibit will explore our perceptions of rabbits as individual beings, muses, companions, and as dynamic cultural symbols. There will be two HOP UPS (<-- how cute is that?), so please visit the event link for all the details. I hope to see you there.


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My Top 20 Street Photographs of 2014

Here we are, halfway through the second month of 2015 and I realize I never shared my favorite street photographs of 2014. I even made a slideshow complete with music to recap my street adventures last year which will hopefully make up for my tardiness. ;-)


This past weekend I participated in John Free's Downtown Los Angeles Challenge / Book Project and spent three solid days documenting the city streets. I must have walked over 20 miles and met at least twice that many interesting people. What an experience. Photographs coming soon. Until then, I leave you with my favorites from 2014...

2014 : The Year In Review

It was a year of study and growth. In an effort to define my style and find my niche, I decided to explore new areas of photography, while continuing in the areas I already love. I'm much better at the quick Facebook, Instagram or Google+ post than I am at actual blogging. So I thought I would record my 2014 triumphs here, on my own blog, where they belong. Just in case social media implodes or something. ;-)

In February I started an eight week Creative Portraiture workshop with the talented and fascinating Ken Merfeld. This guy stretched my brain and got me out of the preverbal box when it comes to portrait photography. Here are a few of my favorite images made during my time with Ken.


Throughout the year I continued street shooting. My friend Gail and I met up several times in 2014 and we'd jump on the Metro. We both like shooting solo so we'd meet back at a designated time, share our tales and ride to the next stop in search of THE perfect street moment.

In April, one of our adventures took us to the annual Blessing of The Animals on Olvera Street. I captured this photo, Bunnies and A Bird, which resulted in my first Los Angeles Times feature.


Also in April, I participated in my first curated gallery show, Poetic Perspectives – An Exhibition of Hollywood Photographers at The Perfect Exposure Gallery where my photograph, Birds On Broadway, was part of the show.


At the end of May I was invited to join a very cool new mentorship program dreamed up by photographer Trey Radcliff called The Arcanum which is based on a Master & Apprentice philosophy. My first "Master," Doug Kaye asked me to join his general photography cohort. It was there I met fellow street shooting apprentice and blogger Joe Newman, who took a liking to my Wigging Out photograph and blogged about it, which resulted in a feature on Huffington Post.


I worked my way through the introductory levels of the Arcanum and was then invited to join the street shooting cohort of "Master" Valerie Jardin (don't miss her Street Focus podcasts!) to work my way through Sphere 1. The cohort includes roughly 20 fellow apprentices from all over the world. Connecting with these talented people and sharing our work is pretty incredible. Assignments, challenges, and peer critiques all build up to one-on-one Google+ video critiques with Valerie herself. Damn, the internet is a beautiful thing!

I'm also an ongoing member of the LACP Street 3 group. It was Julia Dean who got me addicted to street shooting and taught me not only her technique on the streets, but in Street 1 and 2, the history of street shooting was studied as well. We meet up to shoot once a month for a few hours and generally hit a local wine bar after to talk about what we saw or didn't see and talk shop. On this particular August day it was excruciatingly hot and we all agreed the photo pickings were slim. On the way back to my car at sunset I happened upon this scene which truly hits home the saying, "you just never know." This photograph, Yes, Chef!, resulted in my second Los Angeles Times feature.


In September my photograph, Venice Beach Serenade, was a winner in the VOICE digital print competition in the street photography category. From over 8,000 entries, the judging panel selected 268 images for the collection. The collection was displayed at ClickAway, a conference for the modern photograp(her) in Salt Lake City, Utah.


And what a conference that was! After a few days of incredible workshops I left so impressed and inspired by the Clickin Moms organization, I decided to apply for CMpro. A portfolio of 150 images must be submitted and is judged blindly based on their evaluation rubric, which is broken into seven categories with six levels in each category. Not only was I accepted but I was thrilled with my scores. Receiving detailed feedback on both the technical and creative sides of my photography is so important. Being a CMpro will offer me some nice opportunities going forward.

On a whim, I decided to submit to the Life Framer International Photo Competition where October's theme was LOVE. This competition was to be judged by Peter Dench and I'm a huge fan of his work, so I went for it. I had a photograph, Hollywood Freeway Love, I worked hard for that I felt fit the theme well. I was pretty much speechless when I got the email informing me that Peter had awarded me third position. And in this very expensive world of photography this was also my first "cash" prize. But I have to say, Peter's words about my photograph (see below) were the real prize.

2014_wrapup-15 dench_quote

December was a fabulously busy month. I learned I was named as a Winner of the 2014 International Street Photography Contest sponsored by YourDailyPhotograph.com and juried by Magnum Photographer and 2013 Guggenheim winner Bruce Gilden. I love this guy's work. This dude is fearless, he holds nothing back. Watch this and you'll see what I mean. The fact he selected my photograph? Honored is an understatement.


In December I also attended a weekend workshop at LACP, Sharpening Your Photographic Vision, taught by National Geographic photographer Sam Abell. I signed up for this workshop almost a year in advance, and let me tell you, it was worth the wait. Two of my photographer friends who had already attended his workshop had been urging me to sign up. These ladies are very selective where they put their photography dollars. The words "life changing" were used. How could I not? Well, they were absolutely right. What I look for and how I approach a moment has definitely shifted. Pardon the cliché, but a lightbulb (energy-efficient, of course) went off for me. Sam is the man. Here is my favorite photograph, Union Station, captured that weekend. I can honestly say I would have missed this moment prior to the workshop.


And a few behind-the-scenes workshop shots...



Every year I say I am going to photograph SantaCon and every year it seems I'm so busy during the holidays that I just can't make it happen. Same thing happened this year, the Los Angeles gang of Santas were starting out at the Pig & Whistle right here in Hollywood at 11am and I missed it. So imagine my surprise when I ran into this rowdy bunch of red suits later in the day, completely by accident! Thankfully, I had my camera with me. I seriously would have cried if I had left it home. I could hear Sam Abell in my ear as I photographed this event. I think he'd be quite pleased with my use of layers.

And once again, Los Angeles Times featured my photo. The third time is definitely a charm and a wonderful way to wrap up 2014. Thank you Santa(s).


2014, you were really good to me. Thank you. Okay 2015, here I come! :D

Mommy and Me : Aurora + Halia




Mom's need to be in more pictures. But usually it's Mom behind the camera. And that's especially true when Mom is a pro photographer. And homeschooler... and homemaker… you get the point. Life is busy, but it only happens once.

You might remember these cuties, they appeared in my very first family photo session. Brave souls they were!

My goal here was to capture the bond between mother and daughter, at this age, right now. No husbands, no pets, (we'll include them next time) no posey-posey stuff. Just them. Doing what they do, which I have to say make for some pretty fine photographs. Pretty fine right now... absolutely priceless a few decades from now. Yessiree.

Tomato Month at Maude

Last night I dined at Maude for the first time. This tiny restaurant located in Beverly Hills is the creation of celebrity chef Curtis Stone. The restaurant is named after his granny who opened his eyes to cooking and food. As the website states: "Each month a single ingredient inspires a menu of nine tasting plates, and this celebrated ingredient is creatively woven, to varying degrees, through each course." I love tomatoes. I mean I REALLY love tomatoes. And when I heard September was tomato month at Maude I knew it was high time I check this place out. Happy to say I tucked my camera into my bag "just in case." It's fun to photograph restaurants, especially what happens in the kitchen. The flurry of activity. The syncronicity of movement. The plating creativity and precision. I found this tiny elegant space with an open kitchen impossible to resist and had to capture just a few photographs.

The tasting menu is meant to be a surprise. It's so exciting to see these gorgeous plates set in front of me not knowing what to expect. That said, you will only see one food photograph below since September is far from over and I refuse to spoil any surprises. A listing of courses is presented to each guest at the end of the meal along with a special take-home gift made with the star ingredient. The three hour dining experience did not disappoint, absolute tomato-y heaven!

PS: In case you missed me bragging all over Facebook last month, another one of my kitchen photographs was featured by the Los Angeles Times. :D

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Jack Of All Trades

Photography has always captivated me. But my love affair with the camera blossomed a few years ago when I decided it was time to stop messing around and really learn how to shoot. Back then I thought to myself: Hmmm, how great would it be if one day I could offer photography to my clients as well as design? Most of my professional life I have gone out of my way to work with people who were the masters of their trade. That old phrase: Jack of all trades, master of none plays in my head whenever I see someone who claims to be the best in multiple areas. And sadly, that saying usually rings true. A generalist, not an expert.

Is it truly possible to be good, no… REALLY good… at more than one thing?

Times are changing at warped speed in the creative fields. And it seems now-a-days being able to uniquely position yourself is more important than ever. I have been working with words and pictures my entire career so it was incredibly clear to me that this should be a natural progression. All I know is that it certainly feels right on.

One thing that has not changed is good old fashioned word-of-mouth. If anything, I believe a referral means even more these days. Through the referral of a dear friend who has championed this idea of mine from the very beginning, I was offered my first commercial shoot by a company who was more than happy to take their "chances" on me. Tsukihoshi children's shoes are bright and fun and so were these kids. The shoot was fast and furious and full of adorableness, chaos, smiles, tears, inspiration and perspiration. And let me tell you, working with my own images while designing the catalog (don't miss the interactive pdf at the bottom of this post) was pretty cool. I can't wait to do it again!  

*The small shoe images with descriptive copy in the catalog were shot by a studio photographer. The lifestyle images are 100% mine.

My Voice


A few months ago I entered the VOICE digital print competition. There were 14 categories and the judges (editors and image curators from the photography industry) based their decision on vision, originality, inspiration, creativity and overall excellence. 

My photograph, Venice Beach Serenade, was selected for the Street category. It goes without saying, I am honored to be included in such fine company. You can view a sweet little slideshow of the gallery here. Seriously great stuff. I'm at 2:10, don't blink or you'll miss it!



A bit about the photograph: The sun was setting at the beach and the marine layer was rolling in. I had been out shooting with my friend Aurora and we were headed to grab a beer and a bite with some friends. This guy was strolling along the strand singing. He had the most beautiful voice and exuded such positive energy. The light was beautiful. I clicked.

Next month I'm headed to Salt Lake City for Click Away, a 3 day photography conference loaded with educational programming and shooting sessions. The VOICE gallery will also be on display. I'm looking forward to meeting up with some dear friends, some I've met before and some for the very first time. We've learned and laughed together online for a few years, proving the internet can be a truly wonderful thing.

I hope you are enjoying your summer. I've been knee-deep in design work and photography classes. All good. I promise these blog posts will not be as few and far between as they have been. Lots to share... very soon. :-)

On Recognition

There has been a flurry of activity in my little photography world of late. It seems all of the learning and shooting and promoting I've been up to is starting to catch some attention. My friends have always been my biggest cheerleaders and I love them for it, but lately my photographs have been recognized by strangers. Yes, people I don't even know. People who have no obligation to like my work, yet liked it so much they wanted to share it. I coudn't be more honored. I've always been a big believer in sharing my images. What good do they do sitting on my hard drive? Yes, they bring me joy but I think it's kinda selfish to keep that joy all to myself. Facebook has always been my go-to place to share, but lately I've been having fun with my iPhone 4s (hurry up iPhone 6!) and sharing on Instagram. I'm still trying to figure out Google+ and slowly making some headway. Most recently I've embraced Flickr and some of the specialized groups found there… and was totally blown away last week when THIS happened!

Social media can be pretty fabulous, but let's not forget good old word-of-mouth. I think every single person in my neighborhood has a dog. And through my nightly dog walks I have met many fun and talented people. One such person, a photographer himself, suggested I submit my street photography for a gallery show spotlighting Hollywood photographers. What did I have to lose? So I submitted and was accepted into my first juried group show. It was such a cool experience.


I have been thinking about recognition a lot lately. Being recognized. And how good it feels. I think it's so important to let others know when they have done something extraordinary. Created something unforgettable. And that got me thinking about the community of creative friends I have and how being surrounded by creativity simply breeds creativity.

To follow is a gallery of images that have knocked my socks off during the past year and I would like to recognize the people behind the photographs. I have watched every single person featured here learn and grow and become incredible photographers. Yet, not a single one of them shoot professionally... just passionately. I hope you enjoy this gallery as much as I enjoyed putting it together. :D



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WIPED  Nikki McAnary

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