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Personal Photography Portraits

My experience with Vincent Van Gogh

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Do you know what happened a few months ago that made this man openly weep quietly alone in this room? Do you notice something different about this image? The first thing to note about this picture is that there are not endless people in front of the walls, why? This is the Musee D’Orsay and their post Impressionism gallery mostly filled with Van Gogh. A man I have always been drawn to over the years because of his self portrait work. The man drew over 30 of them over the years and they are amazing to look at. He had a mirror of course to see his reflection for some of them, which one should note is only the opposite way that everyone else sees you, and his own mind to create these representations of the self. Van Gogh had the power to choose to create over and over again this reflection of who he perceived himself to be in each moment of time. It’s powerful to look at, it’s not just a reflection of Van Gogh but the study of himself. More so, his self portraits started as a necessity for him to study how to paint other people’s portraits. The fact was that he was teaching himself to paint other people to make money for survival, while unbeknownst to himself, he was creating a deep and reflective series on self identity. The moment captured in this photograph was not the first time I had seen this painting, that first time was in a different room at this museum, as I cried a small tears as I stood staring at this man whom possessed many eerily similarities to myself. Red hair, a beard, and times visible wear on a mans body are just a few things that I see in myself and Van Gogh. Like all men Van Gogh had his own series of struggles in life. I too am a man filled with my own struggles.

 

A few years after seeing this self portrait for the first time, I came back to Paris, the city that had won my heart and this same self portrait was traveling to other museums. I was honestly torn that I could not see it again as I had found it profoundly beautiful the first time my eyes gazed upon that old colored canvas. I had never been brought to tears by a piece of canvas before in my life, but this image caused me to. I longed for that feeling again. I came back again a year later, this time with my then two and a half month old son held to my chest, and saw in person not one self portrait but a modern show representing Artaud and his writings on Van Gogh and suicide. I held my son against my chest tightly as tears rolled down my cheek, in awe of the beauty this man created, while endlessly struggling until the end of his life.

 

The real question though you should be asking is why was I standing alone in this gallery, alone, tears running down my cheeks staring back at a man with a relentless glare. I didn’t see myself reflected but willingly gazed into the Id of an imperfect man. I saw a human being who reflected, at times unknowingly in the beginning of his artist education at a minimum, about all those things that made him imperfect. I saw so much of myself and my own struggles I still have each day staring back at me, not alone in that moment but somehow connected to a man I would never know. I never asked myself what I was looking for, as I knew Van Gogh could not answer, and nor could I in this moment. Instead, overcome by the pure simplicity of the idea that I never will be perfect, and will only continue to have real struggles, I wept. I saw the fact in front of me that I have to look deeper into myself and to grow as an artist requiring me to push learning to the forefront of my everyday.

 

I wept because I was alone with Van Gogh. I couldn’t just call him Vincent of course, I never had the chance to be on a first name basis. My weeping came from what felt like an almost endless amount of emotion crashing in waves upon the shore of life in front of me. Pain and agony filled the beach.

 

I thought becoming a museum member to D’Orsay would allow me at least two minutes alone with him hopefully as everyone else would have to line up for tickets while I could quickly walk over to see him near steps ahead of all the tourists pouring into the building. Instead I was blown away and simply overcome with the experience that happened to me. I went over to the members entrance and presented my membership I had purchased two days earlier, yes this was the second time I had been to the museum on this trip, and entered into the building almost 15 minutes before it opened. The security kindly welcomed me into the old train station having me safely pass into this beautifully airy building. I looked on at the door ways to enter the actual museum, surprised it was me, and me alone entering. I then walked to the kind staff awaiting the museum’s opening hour to strike in a mere 10 minutes, and presented them with my membership. It was quickly scanned and faster then I could believe it I was kindly welcomed back to the museum and asked to enjoy my time there. I took that first step in, now 10 minutes before it opened, already overcome with feelings of amazement and wonder, as I was being allowed into a place that held special in my heart. Could I be alone as the only patron at that time? Yes there was plenty of security, and me. Some nobody from California alone in a museum filled with more cultural riches than any man can and should ever posses. I was floating on a cloud that can not be simply described in these words, but more importantly I collected myself and knew that I had to go see the man I was there to be with. I wanted to get to be in a room alone with Van Gogh. I walked up the stairs to the right of the entrance, knowing exactly where he rested, passing the first doorway that contained some of his work, and entered the second doorway. The security guard silently welcomed me in, camera around my side I quietly took it off, and moved to the back of the room. I wanted to see Van Gogh from as far away as I possibly could at first. Quickly overcome I knew I wanted to take a photo, mostly so I could posses a way to recall of this moment, I’ll talk about taking photos of painting some other time, but I wasn’t taking a photo of Van Gogh. I was taking a photo of an empty room, it just so happened he too was there with me. I needed this photo to become my memory palace that I could use to store all of the feeling and emotions that were happening. I put my Fuji Xpro2 up to my eye, looking through the eye cup, I made a couple adjustments and snapped a photo. I then made one more adjustment and took a second photograph. Knowingly, I then put my camera on the ground as it’s job was done I took a single step towards this man staring at me from across the room.

 

I later found out that as my camera’s shutter had broken three days before and I had my camera set in only jpg and these two photos would not allow me the amazing latitude of a RAW file. Thankfully I was competent enough to create a usable image. That being said after those two clicks, I put down my camera. At this time my stomach in knots as three minutes passed and me in utter shock of being here I took one step forward leaving my camera on the ground. The guard to my left was rotating out of this gallery and here I was now truly alone within this room. I looked deeply into those blue eyes as tears quickly filled my own, my chest tightened as i gasped for a breath of air and I sighed. This was far greater than the experience I was seeking. I figured I could get a minute alone if I was lucky, maybe two. Instead I was offered a solitude that dreams were made of. I could ask this man in front of me, as we were now alone, to tell me about his fears. Here I was, gifted somehow the ability to ask Vincent Van Gogh any question I could ever dream of, as there was not a soul who would think I was the crazy one asking a deadman questions. The caveat is that he refused to give up those secrets I asked for and instead chose to leave me alone with my fears inside my heart and mind. I had to stand there with all those struggles that were making me who I am today, alone with Van Gogh. But, I was alone with Van Gogh.

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Family = Love (mini-session wrap-up!)

This year was our first ever go at doing family mini-sessions. Truth be told we stay pretty darn busy throughout the year with weddings, so when we have people contacting us about family portrait sessions, we usually have to say no. But we were so excited this year to put on a portrait session marathon and do a whole bunch of awesome mini-sessions! It was amazing seeing so many of our past wedding clients, now with growing families of their own. We love that we get to photograph these wonderful people during so many special times of their lives. It only makes us feel grateful for our own little family and the joy and love family life has brought into our lives. We also got to meet a bunch of new people too! Here are some of our favorite moments from the mini-sessions we photographed this month. There were families of all types and sizes, which just goes to prove the only thing you need to be a family is love.
Be sure to like The Goodness on Facebook to find out when we will be holding our next mini-session marathon! 008017029 2028030083019 3015 3004 2006009019014018 2028 2a026 2022062027 3032084

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November Portrait Marathon!

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We get a ton of emails from lots of wonderful people asking if we do family portraits, and since we are so busy photographing weddings, we are not always available for them. This November you and all those wonderful people are in luck because we are putting on a portrait session marathon November 6-10!

These sessions are PERFECT for holiday cards, updating your family photos, or just because! Take photos with your kids, boyfriend, girlfriend, dog, cat, best friend, husband, wife, fiancé, yourself, WHATEVER!

SESSION TYPES

Session TypesWe are offering 2 awesome Sacramento locations for out mini-sessions — one is fun, colorful, and urban and the other is classy, green, and natural. Sessions are 30 minutes long and you will receive 10 high-res digital files for your printing pleasure within two weeks of your session.

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We are also offering a limited number of custom sessions — 90 minutes long at a location of your choosing (within 15 minutes of downtown Sacramento.) We work with you to select the perfect location for your session. You will receive 25 high-res digital files within two weeks of your session.

Session type

2 hour custom sessions with travel (Northern CA) A full 2 hour session with Lisa and Geoff (2 photographers) at a location of your choice in Northern CA. Think Apple Hill for some lovely fall foliage, Lake Tahoe for some gorgeous mountains, or San Francisco for a big city urban feel. We will travel up to 100 miles of Sacramento. We are happy to shoot in multiple locations (2-3) that are within 10 minutes of each other and feel free to bring a change of clothes! 2 outfits are perfect for this session.

All sessions limited to 5 immediate family members, $50 per person after 5. Session Shop

Click the button above to visit our online Session Shop for pricing and availability and checkout some of our favorite work below!

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We cannot wait to capture some fun and colorful portraits of you and you loved ones!

Session Shop

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A portrait session in Paris!

 

Justin and Lindsey are two amazing people! We actually met them when we had dinner with the amazing Stacy Reeves of L’Amour de Paris and her husband Jason. Lindsey along with Stacy happen to be amazing photographers, fellow Americans but living in Paris, and just wonderful people. Lindsey’s business is Pictours Paris. Lindsey was kind enough to offer us some babysitting if we ever wanted it while we were in Paris working on our children’s book. We loved having Bear with us every moment of every day but thought how nice it would be to have a fancy lunch together, just the two of us. I emailed Lindsey and Justin and came up with a great idea. I wanted to know if she would like photos of the two of them together. As a photographer we all love photographs of ourselves but do not have the chance to regularly have our photograph taken. It just so happened that Lindsey and Justin were excited to have some photos and to watch Bear. I think all of us were winning on both sides of this proposition. I was able to photograph an amazing couple and have an adult lunch with my wife and they were able to have photographs and enjoy an afternoon with a fun little three month old! We could not have been more appreciative for the chance to capture these two in love in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The first photograph is actually the hall to get to their apartment. They even brought their little dog Oliver with them! We love dogs and who could say no to a cute four legged friend.

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What more could one ask for but for the chance to walk in someone’s neighborhood with them. You get to see the nooks and crannies that make where they live special and unique. There is one nook in their neighborhood that is very dear to them both. It is only a couple blocks away from their beautiful apartment and this spot is never a sight for sore eyes. It is slender, tall, and made of a lot of metal. La Tour Eiffel is where work is, where rest is with a spring picnic, and where life together is for these two. When Lindsey told me how important the Eiffel Tower was in their everyday lives, I jumped for joy. It is important for pictures to be more than beautiful photographs but to have them tell a story of who you are at that moment in time. This next photo is one of my favorites from our morning together and really says a lot about who they are, where they live and what is one of the most significant things in their life today.
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Our little family is getting bigger!

Life is always an adventure in our household. We are lucky to have the opportunity to work really hard for our clients. They believe in us so much that they allow us into their lives to tell their story. We have been able to travel far and wide capturing the world through our client’s eyes as they come together creating their families. A wedding really is the start of one of the most special things we have in our society. Family is who we gather to celebrate our unions in marriage. We gather them for so many events that are special in our lives, birthdays, graduations, weddings, anniversaries and more. We are related to those we call family and sometimes our closest friends become our family. Family is where adventure begins for us. It is where our childhoods flourished and our lives started. It only takes two people in love to want to start this crazy thing called a family. The next step of creating a family together has Lisa and I beyond excited to say the least. It is a step that has sleepless nights, runny noses, dirty butts and smiles from wide eyes wanting nothing more but you to comfort them. It’s a step we have both dreamed of together and dreamed of before we found each other. We have spent countless hours talking about the family we could not wait to create together. That being said, we could not be more excited to announce that our next big adventure is coming January, 2014! Baby Bardot is on the way!!!

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As we take on every new adventure capturing our clients creating their families through marriage we had the idea to capture a single image of Lisa almost every week as our baby is growing. Below are a few of our favorites!

BabyBardot1BabyBardot2BabyBardot3The next two are from our 4th wedding anniversary this year!!

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BabyBardot5BabyBardot6BabyBardot7BabyBardot8BabyBardot9BabyBardot10If you want to read more about our personal adventures start following our family blog…Hello Bardot!

 

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Britni, the survivor

Today, we are happy to share something very special and close to our hearts. We met Britni a few years ago when we were just starting out in our wedding photography business. Britni was the event coordinator at Catta Verdera Country Club and we met when we shot one of our first weddings there. She was absolutely the sweetest, kindest person in the world and was such a champion for us and our photography. It was always such a joy to work with her every time, and her belief in us gave us confidence. We were heartbroken when we learned she had left her position there and even more so when we learned the reason why. Britni had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It was such a shock to learn that this had happened to someone so young and vibrant. She received treatments last year and everything seemed like it was going well and she was on her way to a recovery. Then, just recently she found out that the treatments were unsuccessful and she’d need to undergo chemotherapy and this time, she’d lose her hair.

She emailed Geoff and I to take some portraits with her boyfriend, Nick, and his son, Nicholas before chemo. Also Nick and Nicholas were going shave their heads with Britni and she wanted to get an after picture too. Of course we were so happy to do this for her! In fact we offered to come and photograph the shaving too (we called it the “Shave Party”!). We met up on a Thursday for the portraits, fittingly at Catta Verdera, where Britni and Nick met. We asked how their week had been and Britni joyously announced that Nick had proposed and they were getting married on Monday! We were so happy for them!

Brinti is such a beauty and manages to stay SO positive all the time!

Nicholas is one adorable ball of energy!

A little ove a week later we went to Britni and Nick’s home for the shave party! Here is our obligatory “before” picture!

Little Nicholas was next.

An then it was Britni’s turn…

When it was time for the last hairs to go, Britni took the reins.

I think she looks even more beautiful.

We also put together a little video of the whole thing!

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Britni, we cannot thank you enough for asking us to capture something so immensely special. Thank you for letting us share your story. Readers, Britni has kept a diary of her journey with cancer at her blog, The Princess and the “C”. Please send all of your thoughts, wishes, and support for a speedy recovery. We love you Britni!

 

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Greg and Melinda in Paris! (teaser)

Well folks, we are back stateside now and had an AMAZING time in Paris! Geoff and I certainly do miss it already and have visions of delicious French cuisine that dance around in our heads on a daily basis…sigh… One of the highlights of our trip was doing a portrait session with Greg and Melinda near La Tour Eiffel. We have more images from this fun day coming up, along with a post of some of our favorite photos from the trip.