Creature from the Black Lagoon

My mother-in-law was down this week, which was nice.  The kids love seeing her, and she has made a point to come and visit often since our moving to Florida, which has been great for the kids.  With her here, I wanted to update her ‘Grandma/Grandkids’ pictures.  When she came out last year I took her and the kids out for a photoshoot, but the kids change so fast these days and my vision as a photographer continues to shift and sway and mold and so I wanted to capture new moments in new ways for her.

Besides, her last photoshoot took place in the woods, and you kind of need beach pictures if you’re in Florida.

Now, it never fails that my kids go absolutely crazy when they see sand.  They’re completely used to me following them around with my camera, but I rarely make them ‘pose’ for me.  I love capturing the real moments with them, so I let them do whatever they want to do and I just snap away.  That being said, I explained to them that we were going to try and get some nice portrait shots because their grandmother (they call her Gaga) wanted some nice sunset pictures for her wall.  They were dressed up, my daughters in big flowy tulle skirts and my son in dress slacks, hair done; everything in place where you want it for those ‘smile at the camera’ kind of pics.

And then we parked the car and it was all over before it began.

My son exited the car and within seconds, despite the screams behind him from everyone, he was in the water.  And, I don’t mean feet in the water; I mean head to toe soaked.  Of course, once you’re clothes are soaked they weigh about thirty pounds (yes, I know that’s an exaggeration, but this is my 4 year old I’m talking about) and so my son can no longer walk and instead he’s crawling across the beach back to his frantic family (well, my daughter’s thought it was funny, but I was about to pull out what little hair I have left), sand now caked to his body and clothes.

Normally this would not have bothered me at all.  I love those kinds of pictures.  I even think the idea of my son in a suit soaked to the bone and covered in sand is adorable and totally picture worthy, but those were not the kinds of pictures we were there to take; not yet at least.  That set the tone for the evening, for sure.  He didn’t calm down once and when the sun actually slipped behind the sea and it was time to snap that picture for the wall, he literally pushed his Gaga into the ocean, and she too was soaked from head to toe.

Despite the crazy (I should be used to that by now) there is always magic at the beach and that is usually reflected in the images I bring back with us.  Besides, sometimes it’s the pictures born in chaos that tell a more authentic story of your life.  Now my mother-in-law has an unconventional portrait shot that conveys who her grandchildren really are.

Monsters.

By the Sea

With my mother-in-law in town, we spent a lot of time at the beach, but it wasn’t all because of her.  With a babysitter in my house, my wife and I were able to slip out for a photoshoot on the beach, which took me out of my comfort zone and pushed me into territory I’ve been dying to go.  I’m so used to taking pictures of kids, capturing the random candid moments that light up my days, but as a lover of cinema I’ve been anxious to cross over into a more dramatic form of photography, something I’d love to use in future engagement and maternity shoots.

I’ll explain.

I love melodrama.  I don’t mean your soap opera ‘melodrama’, I mean your cinematic ‘melodrama’.  The Douglas Sirk, Jane Campion, Max Ophüls, Baz Luhrmann kind of melodrama, and I’ve always wanted to capture that in a photo.  The whole storytelling aspect of photography can slide so many ways, and there is something about a photograph that bleeds an emotion that strikes me at the core.

I can’t wait to share more from this shoot with you, but here’s a taste.

I also wound up exploring Lido Key for a family shoot scheduled this week.  I’d been to Lido Key once before when I ran a triathlon (BTW, this week has been BAD for my running schedule, but I’m planning on picking back up tonight) but I’ve never taken photos there and so I wanted to get out and test the waters, so-to-speak.  It’s a much different feel than Siesta Key, but I like new surroundings and I’m excited to work with this family to capture some of their magic.

The Silence of the Lambs

Now, I’m what one may call a foodie.  My obsession with food started at a very young age; ordering things like rabbit at age six and helping my mother prepare it shortly after for a school project.  I look at food in the same way I look at things like music, literature and yes, photography.  There are so many flavors and flavor combinations, not to mention textures, colors and aromas that every dish has the possibility of telling a very distinct story.

Yes, I’m one of those people who falls asleep binge watching Food Network and dreaming up things I’d like to try and ways I’d do things differently than the chefs on the screen.

Back when we lived in Texas, we would get together with likeminded foodies from time to time and have our own personal ‘Chopped Nights’.  If you’ve never seen the show Chopped, the basic premise is this: four chefs are given four mystery ingredients that they need to turn into a dish, on the spot, and it lasts three rounds (appetizer, entrée, dessert).  We would split up courses so that instead of competing we would simply be sharing a meal together.  One of us would cook an appetizer, one the entrée and the other dessert.  They were some of my favorite nights because they challenged us as chefs and brought us together over the stove.

Since moving to Florida I’ve discussed with friends having some sort of foodie night, but things kept cutting into our paths, but this past weekend we finally had our first ‘Progressive Party’ and it was a blast.  I’d never participated in one of these parties before, but it was a load of fun moving from house to house with a group of friends, bonding over food and laughter.

The way a progressive party works is similar in ways to how we did our Chopped nights, in that the appetizer, entrée and dessert are split up among couples, but it moves at a different pace.  We picked a theme (we went with Asian) and then everyone prepared whatever they wanted within that general theme.  I wanted to cook lamb, since I’d prepared it for a Chopped night in a plum sauce and it was incredible, but lamb was almost $70 a leg and I wasn’t about to miss a mortgage payment over dinner; so I went with chicken.

We started at one house, eating wasabi shrimp and steak cucumber wraps and drinking two specialty cocktails, one made with mint, vodka and cucumber and the other made with ginger beer and rum.  Then we moved onto another home where we feasted on homemade pho, a plum roasted chicken and ginger-mango shrimp, while sipping on red wine.  Then we moved onto our last house and indulged on red bean vanilla cake, mini key lime pies and coconut sticky rice with sliced mango, while washing it down with matcha tea!  Having the meals split up between houses made the actual cooking process much calmer and more enjoyable because you didn’t have three chefs in one kitchen trying desperately to get everything done in time.  I was able to spend my day doing something I loved (cooking!) and then relax as we moved from kitchen to kitchen and sofa to sofa.

I did leave my camera at home, despite planning on taking pictures.  Instead, I chose to enjoy my friends, our food and our conversations.

Oh, and all those Dua Lipa videos!

Speaking of Dua Lipa, I’m going to leave you with my playlist for the week…and she’s on it!

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