The Mushroom House

One of my favorite parts about travel photography is that you find things, which you might not see on a typical trip. In a recent trip to San Diego I wanted to make sure that one place I didn't miss was, The Mushroom House. I had seen a few photos of it online, and knew that I had to see it out for myself. In a secluded part of Blacks Beach in La Jolla lies one of the wildest things I've ever seen. 

The Mushroom House, was built in the 1960's by the multi-million dollar owner of a local potato chip company as a guest house. It's build like a fortress, with the concrete surroundings and being able to withstand everything that mother nature throws at it. An elevator to the top of the mountain is the only way someone could have quick access. Completely round and what guarantees to have one of the best views in the world. Something like this would never be able to be built by today's standards - the beach laws would never allow it.

In doing my research people were saying you basically had three ways to access it. Either walk up the beach about 10 minutes across the rocks from Scripps Pier, hike the narrow and steep Ho Chi Minh Trail that puts you about 5 minutes away or walk down the beach from Torrey Pines Glider Port about 20 minutes (which also takes you through the nude beach). After taking a hard look at Google Maps, I realized that there was actually a 4th option. There was a service road that basically lead you directly on top of the house. 

You park along the street on Blackgold Road, and then walk down a steep but paved road all the way down to the beach. It's a very steep incline, but also offers some pretty incredible views at one point. This also must be a hot spot for locals to surf, because that is basically all the people we encountered on our way down.

If you are ever in San Diego and looking for a great adventure, and get a little exercise - I highly recommend checking The Mushroom House out.

Pro Tip: Check the tide before you go. I failed to and we went at high tide and it made the trek across the rocks that much more crazy, along with having to shoot most the my photos from in the ocean. (see below)

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4 Things I Learned About NASCAR Photography

Having grown up in North Carolina I have been around NASCAR my entire life. I went to my first race at age 4 or 5, and have probably been to 60 since then. I know the sport very well, but I've never seen it from the perspective of a photographer. I've had the chance to shoot races before and passed it up, so I decided this time I had to take the opportunity. I would be shooting the Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

1) It's Dangerous

Most photographers never have to worry about potentially getting hurt during a shoot, but that all changes when it comes to NASCAR. At times when you are shooting next to the track, you are a few inches to feet away from the cars that are going over 100mph. At anytime they could wreck and be coming right at you, you have to be paying attention at all times.

Return is both daunting and adrenaline filled, it's one of those moments in life when you are "living on the edge" or in a spot that is very non typical - these are some of the most exciting.

When you are walking around the outside of the track, the only thing between you and the cars are the catch fence. Then out of no where there is a hole in the fence that is designated a photo hole, at that point there is nothing between your lens and the cars.

2) It's Exhausting

One thing about NASCAR races is they are not short. You're in for a 3 hour race in most cases at minimum. You're walking around the inside of the track, making a 30 minute hike to get on top of the grandstands, and then walking the outside of the track. Luckily for me Phoenix is a short track, and I couldn't imagine what the guys deal with that have to walk around the mile or longer tracks.

During all this in my case, I was carrying 2 camera bodies and lenses, along with 2 extra lenses and accessories on my belt. Doing all this in the heat means hydration is a major key. 

3) It's Hard

I can deal with the danger and the heat, but for me the hardest part of photographing the NASCAR race was capturing the elusive motion pan shot. In order to get the full effect of the speed of the car, the goal is to get the car completely in focus while the wheels and back ground are in movement. No matter how many amazing photos you see from NASCAR races, just know - that perfect combination is NOT an easy task. I had done my research and knew basically what I needed to do to make this happen, but I was really shocked at how hard capturing a perfectly tack sharp image was. 

4) It's Rewarding

As with most challenges in life, waiting for you at the end are rewards. Once you start dumping your photos and in the mist of all the burry and out of focus photos you find the tack sharp gems - the trumpets of victory start sounding in the background and you let out an scream .. YES!

Thankfully I ended up with some shot's that I'll enjoy forever and a memories of one of the most challenging shoots of my life. I'm ready to shoot my next race and take what I learned it get better!

Here are some of my favorite images from the day.

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Hailee Stienfield Interviewing Hailee Steinfeld

When an artist makes a visit to a radio station, in most cases they are typically on whats called a "radio tour" or "promo tour". The entire goal is to do interviews, meet listeners, and get to know radio people. With so much of this industry being about building relationships, face time with each other are great for both the artist at the radio station.

The issue from a content perspective is that in most cases we are not the first station that they visit, so they've already been asked the same questions about a million times by now. You'll be able to see many videos of the artist getting interviewed, so the challenge is being unique.

When we heard Hailee Steinfeld was coming in, we knew we had to do something different. The fact that she has an acting background (Pitch Perfect 2, True Grit, Barely Lethal, and more ..) meant that we could probably go in a direction that we typically couldn't with most people. Enter the idea of having Hailee interview herself.

It was a lot of work to put together, but we came out with a very non-typical result.


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Phoenix, Arizona Time-Lapse in 4K

One thing that Phoenix is known for is it's amazing sunsets. I shot this time-lapse off A-Mountain which is above the Arizona State campus in Tempe. This overlooks Tempe, Phoenix, and South Mountain.

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4 Tips to Grow Your Instagram Followers

Currently Instagram is the fastest growing social media network, and with so many people jumping on the platform on a daily basis the biggest questions are either, how do I get more likes or how do I grow my followers. Typically these things go hand in hand, because if you have a larger following your likes will increase.

I've been on the platform since it started so here are my 4 quick tips to help grow your followers base on Instagram.

#1) Use Proper Hashtags

There are basically 3 ways to filter content on Instagram, by person, location, or hashtag. The hashtag is basically a keyword for your image. If you take a photo of the sunset, then a general good hashtag would be #sunset, but hashtags can go way deeper than that.

Certain locations or groups might have specific hashtags that you could use to get your content discovered by new people. For instance in Nashville, TN, a hashtag that will help you get wide exposure is #NashvilleTN. Doing your homework and searching out the proper hashtags to use when making a post, can really increase the amount of people that your images are exposed to.

If you take a lot of images around the same topic, save the hashtags in your phone so you can easily copy and paste them into your new posts without having to re-type them every time.

#2) Use Other Social Networks

Once facebook purchased Instagram, they quickly killed the ability to see people you follow on twitter that also had an instagram account. Now the only social network this works with is facebook.

Don't assume that everyone you know on facebook that has an instagram account is following you, it's completely ok to promote your instagram account on facebook, twitter, snapchat, or any other social network you use. Making sure people realize you have an account is never a bad thing and gives you the opportunity to potentially reach new people.

#3) Engage With Users

Social networks have the word 'social' in them for a reason, you have to engage with people. If you just post photos and expect everyone to like and comment on your stuff, without you doing it in return to others - you are headed down a lonely path.

Engage with the people you follow, and seek out people you don't that post content you are interested in. You'd be really surprised at how many new followers you will get from people you don't know, just by liking a few of their photos. 

Please don't be the creepy guy and go like a girls photo from 46 weeks ago, that's just weird.

#4) Be Consistent 

You can do all of the items above, but if you are not publishing consistent good content, you might not only not gain any new follows - you could lose the ones you currently have. Posting new images that people want to see is the backbone of the platform. 

Find a style and look that works for you and stay in that lane. Accounts that post completely random, whatever I want type stuff are ones that people are less likely to follow.

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