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Category Archives: photography

SoulSpace Yoga Community | Fort Worth Yoga

As both student and teacher, I’ve watched the yoga community in Fort Worth evolve over the past fifteen years. It seems each owner has created what s/he’d like to happen upon. For these two co-owners, Lauren Wessinger and Shannon Haddaway, creating a space which emphasized community and the conscious capitalism model was important. SoulSpace Yoga Community is the manifestation of their unique vision. For their photos, I wanted to capture the elegance of the studio, who each of them are as inspiring individuals, as well as the essence of their unique, collaborative partnership.

SoulSpace Yoga Community, located in the Cultural District on West 7th Street, offers a variety of yoga classes, meditation, as well as infrared sauna therapy and life coaching. Lauren manages the teaching team and teaches yoga, while Shannon manages operations and has a coaching practice. I knew Shannon was also trained as a yoga instructor and asked her why she didn’t teach, and what she said was brilliant. I don’t remember her exact words but it was something like, “I needed to become masterful at one thing.”

It blew my mind.

That sort of focus and vision is one of the many reasons I love this place. I teach a couple group classes here each week, as well as private yoga sessions. And I collaborate with Lauren in co-leading Fort Worth yoga teacher trainings. So, all of this to say, I’m biased.

And still, this is my soul’s space. It’s why I created the hashtag: #thisismysoulspace

I’ve never developed a niche as a photographer; I’m dynamic in that in this shoot, I shot medium format film and used strobes to create light in the ambient studio space. But, I like to think I’m good at telling a story with a camera – whichever one I choose to use.

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newborns on film | fort worth family photographer

I’ve photographed this couple for so long that I can’t even figure out how to link to their photos…like that was a couple websites ago. When I walked into their home, I saw framed photos from a few shoots through the years, and I remembered.

Photographs create a visual timeline of this short, fast life.

I find families so fascinating. And, it’s so captivating to see how a couple comes together to help each other in those first months after bringing a new babe home. This little guy was actually a month old and so happy. I know it’s traditional for newborns to sleep during a shoot, but I rather like it when they’re awake. My approach is less of contorting babies into buckets and more of posing them in their natural simplicity. When I laid him down on a rug, he wiggled all over. Behind my cameras, I get to witness so much joy – everyone should be so lucky. I am grateful that people continue to invite me into their homes to document these special, vulnerable moments in their lives.

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affordable product photography uniquely styled for your brand

One of the things I love to do is to help other small business owners. For the past couple of years, I’ve been honing my skills as a product photographer. If you go online and search product photographer, you’ll find many sites where they – whoever “they” are – promise to create beautiful floating images for you. My experience with these sites – albeit, limited – is that you get what you pay for. And, you may get a guy with an iphone and a window who doesn’t quite understand your brand or the detail on your work or white balance for that matter. (You may not understand white balance either, and that’s ok…many photographers don’t…I like to think I do).

If you’ve been seeking quality stylized product photography and beautiful flat lay images for your work, send me an email, and let’s chat. I work with a variety of budgets. I research your social media feed and keep the content true to you. Here’s some recent work I’ve done in collaboration with MoonBox Co, formerly Gaia Collective.
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Joe T. Garcia’s | People Make the Brand

It’s always a joy to go to Joe T. Garcia’s. No matter the season. During this shoot, the weather changed a few times. Sunny to overcast…Texas…

Other than in Mexico, I’ve never seen a garden as beautiful. To step inside is to be transported to another place. People ask me when I’m there why I’m taking photographs. I think they’re afraid I’m going to photograph them with a mouthful of enchiladas or something. This family owned and operated Fort Worth landmark is a special place. The loyal staff goes above and beyond to ensure a stellar experience every time. They were the focus of this shoot. As we know, an organization is only as strong as the people who run it. People make the brand. If you are a business owner looking to elevate your brand, send me an email.

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my brother’s wedding | Destination Gay Wedding on Coronado Island

I’m retired from photographing weddings. It was the way in which I cut my teeth learning photography. I’m grateful for the experience because I’m rarely rattled at a shoot…ever.

This, however, was my final wedding. (If I keep saying that, maybe it’ll be true;)

My brother’s. And, it was on Coronado Island at a beautiful venue. I celebrated my own anniversary at the Marriott on Coronado Island last year. I love not needing a car. The wedding weekend was so beautiful that I had the fleeting thought that maybe I’d do more weddings if the climate and ambiance was so beautiful. Mostly, I’ve photographed weddings in Texas, which means that 6 months out of the year, I’m sweating and getting a sunburn. I don’t have a fitbit because I obsess easily about well, everything, but I’d guess I walked 5 miles to and fro the groom’s hotel rooms which were on opposite sides of the complex. People ask me often if I’m from San Diego because my brothers and father all live there. For different reasons, they’ve all landed there over the past few years, and I’m fortunate to visit frequently.

This was my first time traveling with a baby. And, well, I can remember the days when I used to pack…drunk…a couple hours before a flight. I began packing for this trip on Sunday. We left on Friday. With one of those rolling carts you rent at the airport, full of luggage – everything from camera equipment to a bassinet. You’ll see one photo of the top of his head. He slept through the ceremony and spent most of the weekend in the hotel because well, Texas born babies don’t understand how to switch over to California time.

What memories we made!

I loved this rehearsal dinner spot. Monello in Little Italy. So fresh and good!

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I took a yoga class the morning of the wedding, and I’m glad I did because man, I got my steps in.
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I pretty much forced my brother to do a first look. And, can’t you see why?!
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I was relieved to find out that a funny guest had these made – and not my vain brother. Haha.
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Special thanks to my wife who second shot for me. She’s my favorite second shooter and I trust her implicitly, which means I was able to shoot more film than I normally would at a wedding. And, of course, film holds up well in southern California high sunshine.

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There were a number of toasts. But, my favorite moment of the reception was when my new bonus brother danced with his mom. Isn’t she adorable?
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And then, of course, my mom whom I don’t mention much. I am the oldest child and have never liked to share. She epitomizes the proud mother always. She loves us so much.

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I knew my brother would begin to drink and dance…we joke that our little boy better not get his dance moves from Uncle Zach…and suddenly, he wouldn’t want to do any photos. But, when I photograph weddings – which is rare because this was my last one – I always try to steal the bride and groom…or in this case, the grooms…away for a few minutes. On your wedding day, you should have fun and remember why you’re there.

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And, I mean, it was a full moon, which is second only to sunsets in my favorite subject to photograph.

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And they ended up using this image for their holiday card. Aren’t they cute? (Trust your wedding photographer).

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I cherish the photographs I have from my own wedding. It’s a day I want to remember for the rest of my life. I’m grateful for the photography skills I’ve garnered through the years. And never have I been more grateful than to utilize these skills to be of service to my family and friends. So, unless we share a gene pool or I’ve coined you as my chosen family or you’re getting married in Fiji or somewhere comparable (and my growing entourage can join me…with all of our luggage), this was my final wedding. And, it was one of my all time favorites.

reflections on 2017 | what mattered most

Much of my adult life has been about learning to feel again because I spent much of my teens and twenties learning how to feel absolutely nothing. Numbness, as it turns out, hurts more. So, I put this on the page to remind me, when times are happy…when times are hard, I get to feel it all. A blessing. A curse. 2017 felt like a little or a lot of both. The good news and the bad news: temporary.

I’m fond of ending my yoga classes by saying, “Who you are and what you do – it matters…you make a difference in this world…simply by showing up.” Sometimes I’ll ask my colleague, Lauren Wessinger, in jest: “Do people really need to hear how great they are every class?” And we always nod. Yes. Yes, they do. This world is beautiful. This world is broken. You’re unique, but so is everyone else, so you’re really not special. As we bid this year adieu, let’s be confident; let’s be humble, too.

A few years ago, professor and marriage and family therapist, Frank Thomas, inspired me to reflect at the end of each year on what I did that mattered. Something I’ve only recently learned through my studies of both Buddhism and Christianity is that I can give in the spirit of generosity without any expectation about how my offerings are received. Therefore, certainly, I don’t always know if what I do that I think matters, actually does matter. But, here’s what I did this year that mattered, to me. I’ve always believed that what I give, comes back to me – tenfold. And, this year has been no exception.

In chronological order:
In Washington D.C. I marched with 500,000 people who were as heartbroken as I was.
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With my wife, I bought a house – a quiet place drenched in natural light where we can live.
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I watched some phenomenal sunsets with inspiring people. I taught a yoga retreat and planned 2 more retreats for this coming year. (https://thetravelyogi.com/teachers/amber-shumake/)

2017-12-30_0004.jpgI coordinated public yoga events to fundraise for my philanthropy. I volunteered more than I ever would have dreamed possible, sharing my talents in clinical settings to people who might not otherwise find yoga and meditation. Ebony Smith, founder of YOGA ‘N DA HOOD has been a great source of inspiration for me regarding how to bring yoga to people of color, in particular. As she says, “Wellness knows no race.”
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I spent a tremendous amount of time with inspiring human and fellow yoga teacher, Lauren Wessinger, preparing for our 200-hour yoga teacher training, through which we certified several people of varying ages and backgrounds to offer yoga and meditation in their communities. I ended a relationship that therapist(s), mentors, and friends have encouraged me, for decades, to end. It hurts. There’s enough pain to go around. And still, it hurts less than continuing to subject myself to abuse and the insanity that comes with doing the same thing, over and over again expecting different results.
2017-12-30_0012.jpgI showed up for my family, even when I was hungry, angry, lonely, tired or it seemed inconvenient. The people closest to us seem to get the very best and worst of us. (It helped that I wasn’t hungry as often because this year, with few exceptions, I ate food, regularly…as in every few hours, every *single* day. And, I said “no thank you” and walked away when people asked me if I wanted to do a cleanse. I hope in the time and energy that I used to expend obsessing about what to eat and when to eat, I’ve been able to do things that matter more.
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I showed up for myself, every morning, mostly before dawn, to my meditation cushion to sit. I struggled with chronic pain this year, which limited the freedom in my movement. And, as much as I hate that, the limitations always bring me closer to my meditation practice, which brings me closer to God and the ways in which God can work through me and you, too. I had a dream on the night of a full moon in May where Dana was holding a young boy. The timing wasn’t perfect; it never is for major life upheavals, but we filled out the paper work and took all the classes and became licensed to foster / adopt kid(s). We didn’t get the boy in my dream, and our hearts didn’t understand. We got another boy instead, and it wasn’t a fit; I grieved twice for boys I barely knew – boys I felt as if my soul knew well.

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We went back to the drawing board. My prayer has been, “God, if we’re to be parents, you’ve gotta make it really obvious, because I’m really busy, you know?”

And then, we got this boy when he was one day old.

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God, I love this boy. I love him, meaning I want the best for him and expect nothing in return. That’s the way I love for people to love me. I hope it’s God’s will that I get to love him up close for the rest of my life. I won’t answer questions about this part because the only honest answer is: I don’t know.

With just a day or so left in this calendar year, I’m tired. And, I’m more woke than ever. I ache. And, I’m ok. I feel the fear…and try to do the next right thing anyway.

This year I learned patience. I learned how to live one day at a time, all over again, which means that this year I learned to lean closer to my faith. Because if the highs and lows of this life have taught me anything…other than resilience…it’s that I’m never alone. Through trepid turns and smooth seas, thank you for continuing to navigate the full stream of life with me.

May 2018 be a year which brings peace and prosperity to all beings.

newborn twins | fort worth family photography

They asked for one; God gave them two.

I’ve known this couple through the yoga community’s six degrees of separation and enjoyed documenting their Journey.

When I photographed their maternity session, I had just lost – is that the right word? I didn’t misplace him…he was placed elsewhere – our first foster child. So when, I first photographed this couple at their maternity session, he’d just left with his garbage bag of belongings.

This path isn’t for the faint of heart.

I remember looking at her stomach and thinking how wonderful it must be to have a baby. A fresh start, a new beginning. In their case, two.

Not long after that, I received my own newborn baby. If it be God’s will, I pray that all obstacles to adoption with this one be removed.

Having a newborn of my own has softened me in a way I could’ve never prepared myself for. (As a friend reminded me, I was already pretty soft to begin with;)

This softness has infiltrated every aspect of my life, including my work.

I remember the year I got married, I photographed 10 weddings.

I hope this year – the year I adopt a baby boy for whom I’ve prayed – I get to photograph all the babies. This was my first time photographing newborn twins, and I was nervexcited. If you or someone you know in the Fort Worth or greater DFW area is in search of a newborn, maternity, or family film photographer, please pass my info along.

I’m not the photographer who’s going to pose your baby in a wooden bowl with a crown. There are plenty of those I can refer you to, too.

I’m going to capture the raw emotion your family interaction evokes. I’m going to tell your family story with my camera – a story you’ll want to remember because motherhood is a blur…a beautiful one. And, so much can happen in a few months time. This life is full of twists and turns. The good news is: nothing is permanent. The bad news is: nothing is permanent.

This nursery though. Whoa.

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I know that no mother – especially postpartum and sleep deprived – *wants* to be in photos. But, as Anne Lamott says, “Joy is the best makeup.” And, imagine how much these images will mean to these twins some day.

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Skipping Stones | Granbury Fall Family Photo Session

I am in the process of adopting a little boy. And, although I’ve always known that babies don’t keep and children grow up quickly, these past 5 weeks – whoa. I mean, it’s true: the days are long and this life is short. When he stuck out his tongue for the first time…at 4 am…I melted. Every day is new.

I was scouting locations for this shoot. This mom and daughter have made fall photography a tradition each year, so we’re always looking to raise the bar. She mentioned her parents’ place in Granbury. Would it be too far?

Let it be known that Amber *never* turns down the opportunity to shoot at sunrise. Most people balk about it, but I’m awake at 5 am teaching my guy to smile anyway, and the light is perfection at that time.

It feels like the privilege of a lifetime to watch children grow up.  This sweet girl is seven now, and I made her smile and show me her 7-year-old teeth. Her curiosity – for nature…the flowers, the water, skipping stones, and spider webs – intrigued me. I love when kids understand that their job is to play. That’s what my life feels like right now – a vacation from this chaotic and interesting, beautiful and broken world. It’s through the bond between mother and child that I’m reminded of the Love from which we are born and the Love to which we eventually return.

For my technical friends, I shot a mix of film and digital, portra 400 and portra 800. I’m in love with the results.

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