Crossing Paths


15 ON 15 MAY 2015

While out street shooting this week I came across these papered windows which provided an interesting "stage" for the people passing by. I slowed my shutter speed to capture just a bit of movement and documented the foot traffic in one spot for a few minutes to create this typology. The location is 5th Street between Spring and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles, an area that is rapidly changing, just like the people passing through it.


Homeboy Industries


15 ON 15 MAY 2015

Homeboy Industries provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women, allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of society.

Ever since moving to Los Angeles in 1999, I have heard and read so many many wonderful things about this organization. When the L.A. chapter of Atlas Obscura (cool international group doing very cool things) offered a tour of the Homeboy facility, I knew it was time I checked them out. I arrived to a bustling lobby and friendly smiles. 

Kendra Brown introduced herself to our group and let us know she would be our tour guide. We gathered out front and she began by telling us her story. The hows and whys of how she found Homeboy. And how Homeboy accepted her back into the program only a few months ago, upon her release from federal prison, even though she didn’t succeed with them the first time around. She was so real. And honest. And appreciative of every single opportunity she has right now. She is working very hard for all of it. She told us we could ask her anything. We did. I was so moved by her and her honesty. So was our entire group. There were tears and there was applause. This lady is on her way to a new life. She said she is ready this time and I could see it. The positive effects in just a few short months are making her and her two young boys shine.

From Monday Morning Meditation to Anger Management to Employment Services, a wide variety of classes and programs are offered.

After the tour we enjoyed lunch at the adjoining Homegirl Café. As their websites states: 

Homegirl Café & Catering is one of Homeboy’s six social enterprises, where young men and women are placed in what is often their first “real job,” learning to work side by side with their former enemies and gaining fundamental job skills in a supportive environment. The café assists high-risk and formerly gang-involved young women, and a few young men to become contributing members of our community through training in restaurant service and culinary arts. Homegirl Café has an 18-month training certificate program that empowers women to support themselves and their families while receiving needed services as they work toward a better life.

The food is fresh and delicious, I whole-heartedly recommend the tacos on grilled nopal (cactus leaf)!

The open and airy space doubles as an art gallery showcasing the talent found at Homeboy. I was especially taken by the photo-realistic paintings of Art Carrillo. 

Don’t forget to visit the bakery case packed full of delicious homemade treats and be sure to take home some of their incredible salsas. I can’t believe it took me so long to pay them a visit. Really great stuff is happening here and the vibe is so good. I'm now a regular.

Be sure to continue the 15 on 15 blog circle and check out what Lynn David Photography has been up to this month.

Woman in White

Last weekend Paris Photo made it's third appearance at Paramount Studios here in Los Angeles. I can't get enough of this venue. And I can't get enough of the people who attend this show. I think it's safe to say I enjoy the people watching a tad more than the show itself. But we'll just keep that between you and I.

Because this is a photography show, I left my big camera at home. I didn't want to be "that guy." And it was a good opportunity to see what my iPhone 6+ was made of. I always have the iPhone camera set to shoot in square format for Instagram. I only post iPhone shots there. Yep, I'm a purist and for me Instagram is all about the "Insta."

One of my favorite exhibits was CALIFORNIA UNEDITED! an exceptional collection of photography from late 19th century California. These rarely-seen glass plate photographs depict the community of San Luis Obispo through the eyes of one photographer, Richard J. Arnold. Shortly after I entered the exhibit I noticed a woman walk in. Every head turned. She was not only beautiful, but angelic. I immediately knew I should photograph her. The way she approached and enjoyed the exhibit was mesmerizing. 

I couldn't have styled this any better if it were a planned shoot. The dress? The hat? The gloves? The delicate magnifier necklace? I was totally captivated by The Woman In White. I honestly don't know if she knew what I was up to, but as you can see, I did get very close to her. If she noticed, she didn't seem to mind. I spoke to her as she was leaving and told her how beautiful she looked that day. I was rewarded with the sweetest smile. Kicking myself for not asking her name. i would love to know her story.

On Recognition 2015

Last year I created a blog post On Recognition, where I recognized six photographer friends and their photograph that knocked my socks off that year. It was one of my most popular posts-to-date and so much fun to curate I decided to make it an annual thing. 

I find entering contests and submitting for competitions a fun challenge. Every single time I do, I learn something. A piece one judge or curator considers worthy another may easily dismiss. Everything is subjective. And it's important to keep that in mind.

Lately I've been making a point to share my work as much as I can. It can be pricey but it doesn't need to be. I've found some pretty affordable (and even free) online sites I love which I'll share at the end of this post. My success rate so far has been pretty good. And nothing feels better than to be recognized… knowing your work, when put to the test, stood out and was memorable? Oh, yes.

[That guy, Jay Maisel, I just quoted? If you aren't familiar, Google him, and prepare to be amazed. I'll give you a head start HERE.]

Curating this post, I'm learning to see patterns in what appeals to my eye. I'm a sucker for clean lines and interesting compositions. But for me, nothing is more important than gesture. Dictionary.com defines gesture as "a movement or position of the hand, arm, body, head, or face that is expressive of an idea, opinion, emotion, etc." I'm pretty sure that's why I'm so drawn to documenting people and real life. It's almost impossible to coax a gesture. It just happens and if your timing is good, you capture something great.

Below are six photographs from photographer friends that turned my head this year. My first thought when I saw each one of these was "Wow." My second thought was, "Oh, I wish I'd shot that!" I love reading the story behind these shots and learning a little bit more about the photographer. I hope you enjoy this gallery as much as I enjoyed putting it together.


LITTLE LOVES   Beth Marchitello


HAPPY PLACE   Andrea Chivers

GOLD IS IN   Marilou Jaen

UNINHIBITED JOY   Sharra Liptack

I'd like to thank all of the photographers pictured above for participating, allowing me to curate another show-stopper post this year!

If you take photographs and are interested in entering a competition, these three sites are my favorites:

  • National Geographic Your Shot : Be sure to check out the Assignments & Stories section where documentary photographers, photo editors and photo producers create assignments and if your work is chosen it becomes a part of the online story. Best part? It's free!
  • Leica's I SHOT IT Photo Competition : An ongoing competition with tons of categories and the entry fees are very affordable. For each competition there is one winner and several Mark of Excellence (MOA) recipients which all receive comments on their winning entry from the judge. I've entered a few categories over the past few months and received a MOA in the Black & White Competition. And just this week I received another MOA and also WON the Dog Competition! I entered three images at $3 each. Those are my kind of entry fees!
  • LifeFramer : I found out about this competition last October when they were launching their second year. I subscribed for a year for $99 which allowed me to submit 5 photos to 12 monthly themes. They have several pricing structures to choose from and you don't have to subscribe. I won third position the very first time I submitted and was over the moon! Nothing since, but I love how the judge comments on the top selections. That kind of feedback is priceless, whether it's on my own work or someone else's.

I highly encourage you to get your work out there! If you do, I'd love to hear what happens, so please keep me posted. ~ S.

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.


dave-the-rabbit-1 dave-the-rabbit-2 dave-the-rabbit-3 dave-the-rabbit-4 dave-the-rabbit-5 dave-the-rabbit-8 dave-the-rabbit-9 dave-the-rabbit-10 dave-the-rabbit-11 dave-the-rabbit-12

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.