Saturday, September 27, 2008

Closing Time

San Jose, California
I love the night. It's quiet. Peaceful. All the doors close, the lights go out, and everyone sleeps, except for those few nocturnal souls like mine.

Cities truly shine at night. Here the lights never go out completely. The doors at Original Joe's stay open past midnight. Which was good for us since that's about the time we finally got to eat.

After the doors are locked and everyone leaves with full bellies, a lone worker remains.

Fresh crisp tablecloths adorn each table, perfectly in line with the next.

For those far from home, a bed and pillow await here.

Time to go.  Back to L.A.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Walk Like an Egyptian

San Jose, California
We met the lovely Dianne and Dominik for The Day After portrait session at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. I fell in love with the museum last year, and was happy to photograph here again.

We started at the house by the pond in the peace garden.

Dianne is simply gorgeous. I couldn't help but think of Cleopatra as we walked around the grounds which were adorned with Egyptian symbols like the ankh below.

All of the windows and doorways made for endless photo possibilities.

I can't decide which doorway photo I like the best.

I shot this one facing the sun which made an unusual lens flare.

Dominik has a strong, handsome profile.

I love this moment!

Leaving the garden...

Dianne's only photo request was that we take photos in the water. San Jose is far from the ocean, so we went to this fountain instead.

Dominik on the other hand, had absolutely no desire to go in the water.

But he ended up surprising his wife and going in anyway.

And we ended up with my favorite photo from the day.

It Is Her Love that Gives Me Strength

My sister's love is on the far side.
The river is between our bodies;
The waters are mighty at flood-time,
A crocodile waits in the shallows.
I enter the water and brave the waves,
My heart is strong on the deep;
The crocodile seems like a mouse to me,
The flood as land to my feet.
It is her love that gives me strength,
It makes a water-spell for me;
I gaze at my heart's desire,
As she stands facing me!
My sister has come, my heart exults,
My arms spread out to embrace her;
My heart bounds in its place,
Like the red fish in its pond.
O night, be mine forever,
Now that my queen has come!

~ from love poems found inscribed on The Cairo Vase,
a vase from the New Kingdom Period excavated at Deir el-Medina

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Do You Know the Way To San Jose?

San Jose, California
We met Katrina and Jeremy for an engagement portrait session.

The couple first met at The Cheesecake Factory, where they both worked.

Katrina and Jeremy are super cute together.

They weren't sure of how to pose but once we started shooting they were naturals!

I love Katrina's ring!

We found this cool old door...

and a funky spiky tree!

Thank you Katrina & Jeremy for a fun shoot!

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Friday, September 12, 2008

So Long San Fran!

San Francisco, California
It's time to bid this city farewell. Perhaps Walter Cronkite said it best, "Leaving San Francisco is like saying goodbye to an old sweetheart. You want to linger as long as possible."

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Little Fishing Village

Sausalito, California
My favorite cookies used to be Sausalito by Pepperidge Farms. Now I just look at one cookie and go up a dress size. Our calorie-free indulgence for the day was a quick trip across the Bay to Sausalito.

The streets were overflowing with tourists and lacking in parking. Even the seagull parking was full.

We made another quick stop at the Gates Cooperative house boat community.

The old bohemian neighborhood is characterized by its bright houses, many decorated with artwork from calaveras to what looked like nursery rhyme characters.

What all the houses had in common was that they were wearing down.

This boat and smokestack reminds me of Popeye.

I didn't want to intrude for too long. The residents seem tired of tourists coming by - and I don't blame them. It was time to get out of Dodge. But not before I took a photo of the coolest muscle car. Time to drive back.

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Meet Me at the Golden Gate

San Francisco, California
One of the challenges to photographing an icon like the Golden Gate Bridge is finding a different way to see it.

We took a drive across the bridge...

It was covered in a blanket of fog.

Neither rain nor snow nor fog will stop this photographer!

The sun started to come out...

....right at the end of the road.

We continued on to Sausalito, which was about 20 degrees warmer than San Francisco. By the time we drove back, the bridge was almost clear.

I'm so lucky Michael drove across and back so I could take these photos!

We continued on to Baker Beach for another great view of the Golden Gate.

Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.
- Pooh's Little Instruction Book

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

There's No Escape

Alcatraz Island, California
The Rock looks foreboding as we get closer and closer.

Just in case you feel drawn toward the island, this sign makes it clear you should stay away.

Alcatraz is only 1.5 miles away from San Francisco but escaping meant braving the cold waters.

Birds have taken over this island. It is home to many species, including seagulls, herons, egrets, and cormorants.

Walking into Alcatraz Penitentiary is like walking into a black and white photo. The deep blue waters of the bay and the bright green of the grass are all outside. Inside is gray.

Each inmate had his own 5' x 9' cell.

A list of regulations governed all the details of the prisoners' lives.

Regulation #30 CELLHOUSE RULES
At the wake-up bell in the morning you must get out of bed and put on your clothes. Make up your bed properly (as shown in the diagram on Page #8) with your pillow at the end near the bars, blankets tucked neatly under the mattress, and extra blankets folded neatly at the foot of the bed. Sweep your cell and place the trash in the trash basket.

Alcatraz was reserved for the worst criminals.

Among the baddest of them all, was the Polka of Alcatraz. Her quick shooting skills landed her in the joint for life.

Polka's partner in crime was Mike "Shifty Eyes."

There is no escape from the bars. Even the shadows mock you.

Regulation #42 YARD PRIVILEGES
Exercise yard rules: All inmates in good standing are allowed the yard privilege on Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays, if the weather permits.

I wonder how many only saw the outside world through these dusty dining room windows.

Regulation #33 DINING ROOM RULES
Meals are served three times a day in the dining room. Do not exceed the ration. Do not waste food. Do not carry food from the dining room.

The glass case surrounding a guard's uniform reflects some tourists.

Looking into the offices it seems as if time froze.

Regulation # 21 WORK
You are required to work at whatever you are told to do.

There's even a date stamp. I'm guessing it's from 1952, but I'm not sure of the significance. Anyone know?

Inmates who did not follow the regulations were sent here.

The prison hospital is the creepiest of all. I feel like I'm in a horror movie.

Medical attention is available to all inmates.

This looks like a torture chamber!

That hospital gave me the chills. I could not get out of there fast enough!

I believe that's the guard quarters, with San Francisco gleaming in the distance.

We finished the tour listening to some more prison stories.

The island no longer belongs to the Birdman of Alcatraz.

Regulation #3 STATUTORY GOOD TIME, MERITORIOUS GOOD TIME AND INDUSTRIAL GOOD TIME are types of reduction in sentence which can be earned only by inmates who establish and keep a good conduct record and a good work record.

Thank you to the National Park Service for all of their hard work in preserving history. I highly recommend the Alcatraz Tour for anyone visiting the Bay area. Quick tip: Be sure to reserve your tickets early as they sell out fast. We bought ours a month ahead of time and the night tour the day before ours was sold out.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

It's Chinatown

San Francisco, California
I love exploring new neighborhoods, especially old neighborhoods that are just new to me. Maybe it's just the mood I was in, but San Francisco's Chinatown had a mystical, ancient feeling to it, like the dragon guarding the gate. Is he a good luck dragon? Or will he lash out with flaming breath? Maybe he just needs an Altoid.

This is Chinatown: bright-colored signs competing for your attention, each building like a ribboned soldier standing in formation, sunlit lanterns bouncing in the wind peacefully ignoring the bustle below.

The dragon is in the details...

Have I told you I love photographing signs?

Michael's mission was to find Sam Wo's, a hole-in-the-wall cheap Chinese restaurant that's been around for over 100 years.

I love studying languages. One of my favorite B.U. classes was an archaeology course on languages and decipherment (taught by the incredible Prof. Paul Zimansky). I'm especially fascinated with the languages that use characters. Did you know that to be fluent in writing Chinese you need to know over 3,000 characters?!?! I wonder how many different characters a newspaper typically uses?

In the middle of Chinatown is Old St. Mary's, rebuilt after the 1906 earthquake and fire.

Below the clock is this bible quote: Son, observe the time, and fly from evil.

We didn't fly away, but we did take the cable car.

Apparently so did Humphrey Bogart. You can barely make out the scrawl in the front: H. Bogart rode on this car - circa 1946 - 47 (Dark Passage) I'm intrigued. I'll have to add that to my must-watch movies list.

It's not the end of the line for us!

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Bad Motor Scooter

San Francisco, California
Our adventures continue. We love this city. We were happy my mom and sister, Alicja, joined us for a few days.

We had brunch at a place we discovered last year, Liverpool Lil's. My favorite is their Monte Cristo but it's only available as a special and they didn't have it this time. So I had their delicious waffles instead.

All four of us thought we'd try a scooter tour of the city. It was fun - except for the times I had to get out and push the scooter uphill.

Alicja and Michael put their best face forward, with me in the middle, reflected in my mom's helmet.

We're always scouting new photo shoot locations like the one below.

And the sun goes down on the city...

Cafe Maritime boasts it has the best crab cakes in San Francisco. They're absolutely right.

It's the end of another day, as Michael and I kick up our heels.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

And the Sun Shines on the Bay

San Francisco, California
We met the adorable Melissa & Ryan for an engagement session at the Presidio.

We started out at the Palace of Fine Arts. I love these doors on the Exploratorium building.

The Palace of Fine Arts is undergoing construction but that didn't stop us from finding a few great locations.

The sun came out...

We headed over to Baker Beach for some more photos. Melissa and Ryan love hiking and spend many of their weekends either surrounded by trees or on the beach. This place has both.

Ryan is a firefighter and he effortlessly put Melissa over his shoulder.

I wanted to give this photo the look of an old postcard.

That is one sexy couple!

I love all the different looks and backgrounds we were able to capture in one session.

Thank you Melissa and Ryan for a fun shoot! We can't wait for your wedding next June!

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Wear White After Labor Day

Los Angeles, California
Just because it's Labor Day doesn't mean it's time to put your white clothes away. In fact, we dare you to take out your wedding gown and wear it again.

Polka Photos would like to offer 3 adventurous brides a complimentary portrait session.

Want to play in the ocean? Ride your Harley? Go hiking? Skydive? Not sure what you want? We can come up with some fun locations.

To qualify:
1. You must like having fun.
2. You must wear a wedding gown. If you don't want to get your expensive gown dirty, we can recommend places to buy inexpensive gowns.
3. You must come to the LA area for the session. But if you insist on flying us out to Hawaii then we won't refuse.

So go ahead, defy a cardinal fashion rule. And get the photos to prove it. We dare you!

Email us.

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Playing Dress Up

San Francisco, California
We met some brides in San Francisco who wanted to wreck their dress. We started out underneath one of the city's landmarks: the Golden Gate Bridge.

Tonie is a super cool bride who was up for anything... and up she went on this pedestal.

Fort Point has some interesting alcoves and windows. I wonder if a bride has ever graced its hallways before?

I was trying out a different lens for many of these photos. It has an interesting focal effect. Although the bride isn't sharp in the photo below - I still like it. It looks like it was taken through a fogged up window.

Our second stop was Baker Beach - one of my favorite places in San Francisco. The sun came out as we headed into the water.

While I was in the ocean with Tonie, Michael took this photo with the waves breaking behind her.

One of the perils of shooting on Baker Beach is that it is a nudist beach.

I was happy Tonie remembered a change of clothes. Of course I didn't follow my own advice.

After saying our goodbyes to the intrepid Tonie, we headed out to meet our other dress wrecker. Tricia loves exploring all the neighborhoods of the city. And she looks stylish doing it on her pink Vespa!

When Tricia told us about her cute doggie Anjou we just had to take him with us! Look at that face - isn't he adorable?

This is one of my favorite photos. I love how the fog is covering the Golden Gate while there's a spotlight of sunshine on Tricia and Anjou.

The gorgeous bride strikes a pose.

Tricia is a modern day Venus emerging from the water.

Thank you to both Tonie and Tricia - the most adventurous brides in San Francisco! You were so much fun to photograph!

Stay tuned for photos from a cute couple in San Jose.

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