—  Ken and Vesta  —

Wedding and Portrait Photography

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Black and White, 1 to 25

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A Girl and Her Grandmother.

Here are Kelly and her grandmother, whose name I got, but I’m ashamed to say, I forgot. This photo was taken on Kelly’s wedding day, which was a couple weeks ago. It was bright and sunny when Vesta made this photograph and a little hot. But despite the heat, it was a great day.

I like black and white. I always have. People, trains, cars and planes, boats, mountains and trees—they’re different in black and white. Not better, but different. And I think we look longer at black and white photographs. And I think we expect black and white photographs to tell a story.

Color, it’s what we see everyday on our phones. We look at the photos and move on. And though they have black and white apps, most folks don’t use them and most of those who do, don’t really think about the photo.

I think about the photos I’ve developed in black and white. I stare at them, wondering if there is a story there and if I can make them better. And do they matter? And will anybody else care? But I care and I suppose that’s enough.

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Marian and Hugo.

Vesta made this photograph of Marian and Hugo exactly one month before their wedding day in Verdi, which is a small town about fifteen minutes west of Reno, near the California border.

We were supposed to go together, but as we were getting ready to go, someone called us about photographing their wedding, so we played rock, scissors, paper to see who photographed the people who were getting married soon and who stayed home to talk to the people who were getting married later.

Vesta won and she picked photographing, because she said I was a better talker. I objected, saying she was a prettier talker and I’d rather do the photographing and she said, then I shoulda picked paper, because her rock broke my scissors.

Then she grabbed her camera bag and left.

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No Mold Here.

To some this just might be a photograph of a bathtub. But if you look at the photograph for a bit and turn on your imagination, you can see more. Like how sterile it is. And when you think of that, or at least when I think of that, I conjure up images of insane asylums, the kind of which we don’t have any more in America, the kind of place where Rosemary Kennedy probably got that frontal lobotomy.

And I think of Josef Mengele and the death camps and I shiver, because that’s not what I wanted to think of when I made this photograph. So I pushed that horrible image out of my mind and my imagination replaced it with Janet Leigh in a shower. She’s nude and that psycho mama’s boy Norman Bates, played by Anthony Perkins is, well you don’t need your imagination to know what he was up to.

And now I wonder how I’m gonna feel when I finish this missive and take a shower in that very same tub, because you see, this was supposed to be a light hearted post about my Bathroom Fairy, who has been missing in action for the last seven years or so.

Anyway, around last Christmas, I noticed the caulking around the tub, my tub, was cracking and looking pretty shitty. That can happen when caulking gets old and I’m guessing it had been a couple three decades or more since it had last been done.

So I took a day and stripped it off and replaced it. I’m generally not very handy when it comes to fixing stuff around the house, but Vesta and I lived on a boat for a decade and when you live on a boat, you learn how to caulk.

Then yesterday, I noticed some black, ickiness growing in some parts of that caulking. I hadn’t noticed it before, but I noticed it yesterday as I was showering.

MOLD! It was MOLD!

I jumped outta the shower, eeking like a little girl who’d just jumped onto a chair, cuz she’d seen a mouse. Then I jumped into my undies, whet to the laundry room, got bleach. Then went to the kitchen, got Mr. Clean. The bottle was half full. I filled the other half with bleach.

I sprayed all around the caulking. Then I filled the tub with hot water and poured in about a quart of bleach. And every half hour for three hours, I sprayed that caulking with my Mr. Clean bleach mixture.

And while I was doing that, I scrubbed and scrubbed and cleaned that bathroom, with Mr. Clean Bleach, using sponge, rag, scrub brush and tooth brush too.

And now I have the cleanest bathroom in town. Heck, in Nevada. No, in America. No, not even that, I have the cleanest bathroom in the world.

And I’ve also wound up with a pretty creepy photograph, which has my imagination running wild as I’m about to take a shower in that tub.

Now, about that Bathroom Fairy.

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Who’s Next.

Samantha had a rather raucous reception and it was a whole heck of a lot of fun. Vesta and I like it when there is a fair amount of friendly drinking going on at weddings, because people tend to loosen up and relax in front of our cameras and we get a lot friendly pictures.

Plus, the dancing is so much better, which I really like, because I’ve been trying to take the perfect dancing photograph almost as long I’ve been in search of the perfect fajitas.

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Darkest Before the Dawn.

They say, whoever they are, “That it’s always darkest before the dawn.” And they say that to you when things are really shitty. You know, like when your faithful dog just died and your stock just tanked and your car’s just been repossessed and your cat has kitty leukemia and your house burned down a couple days ago and after all that you’ve just been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.

And when you tell your best friend all of the above and how you can’t imagine how things could get any worse, he looks you right in the eye and says, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”

Well, I usually find it’s darkest right around midnight and just before the dawn it’s really starting to get light. And if all of the maladies above had stricken me at the same time, I’d rather my best friend asked me out for about a dozen shots of tequila. At least that way, stage four lung cancer or not, I could greet the dawn with a smile on my face.

And I don’t know why I got off on all that, because I know looking at this photograph that there are homeless men and women, sleeping just across the river. Vesta and I see them in the morning as they’re waking up. We always say hello and about half of them, say hello back as they give us a weak smile.

But even as I know that, that silly idiom about it always being darkest at the break of day came to mind. I suppose they say that to cheer you up when you’re down. Anyway, it doesn’t work.

About being down, I was down a bit yesterday, not enough coffee I guess, cuz I really don’t have too much to be down about, except maybe the fact that we’re photographing a wedding today at 4:00 and we’ve been to the venue a lot at that time and we went yesterday to reconfirm that it would be bright and sunny right up until the 5:00 news starts on your favorite TV station.

Vesta and I wandered around the venue, looking for a shady spot that would be good for formal photos and there really wasn’t any. Sure we can take sunny bright photos of people, but overcast skies are always better.

So that was on my mind and I was worrying about it, because I always worry before we photograph a wedding. We’ve been doing it for a long time now and I worry about something each and every time and this time it was that bright sun that was going to make our bride and groom and their bridesmaids and groomsmen and their guests all squint in all our photos.

Then along comes Hurricane Rosa.

And she’s headed for Phoenix and Vegas. Can you believe that? A hurricane headed toward Las Vegas. It’s coming from the Pacific, gonna cross over northern Baja before it enters the States. The news people are saying it’ll probably weaken over Baja and hit Vegas or Phoenix as a tropical depression, pushing overcast skies and rain on ahead, all the way to Northern Nevada.

Yep, even right up to David Wally’s Hot Springs Resort. Those skies today are forecast to be completely overcast, with rain coming right in the middle of the 5:00 news. Right after the ceremony and the formal photos are finished and everybody’s inside dry and happy, smiling and hugging the bride and shaking hands with the groom.

So, for me and Vesta at least, another old saying might apply, you know, that one about the silver lining. Still, it’s kinda sad that Hurricane Rosa is gonna mess up so many lives, just so we can make good pictures.

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Maybe They Just Didn’t Like Us.

I took this photograph a couple years ago, when they were still building the new Virginia Street Bridge. You can tell by the wires in the upper left hand corner and the pole in front of the Artist Lofts, which was a place, once upon a time, Vesta and I thought would be cool place to live, cuz you know, we’re artists.

We like to think so anyway. I write and I photograph and Vesta photographs and she quilts.

So we went there and told ‘em we’d like to move in. This was before we knew they had writer’s living there, because if we’d known that, I might told ‘em about my ELEVEN published novels. But we didn’t know writer’s were welcome, so we just went with our photography, because we were pretty sure we weren’t gonna get in on account of Vesta quality quilting.

“We artists and we’d like to move in here,” I told what I thought was a nice gentleman there.

“What kind?” he said.

“Photographers,” I said.

“You have to have a portfolio, before we can consider you.”

“We have one,” Vesta said.

“You have to make a living with your art,” he said.

“We do,” I said.

“Any other income?” he looked skeptical.

“None,” I said. “Just our photography.

“You survive just by taking pictures? he said.

“Yes,” I said.

“We’re full,” he said. And I wondered how come he just didn’t call me a liar, because it was obvious to us he didn’t like photographers.

Anyway, we left and forgot about it, till we met a photographer from Nigeria, who didn’t make a living taking pictures, who lived there. And we met a writer, who hadn’t written anything in years, who was living there. And we met a painter, who lives there. The painter guy was good. And he made money with his landscapes.

So two out of three weren’t really artists and they lived there. Ah well, maybe they just didn’t like us. Hard to believe though, cuz we’re very nice people.

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Derek and the Dominos. Or maybe, Irreverence.

Either, I think, would be a good title for this photograph. The first, because the guy in the chair is named Derek and the second, because the photograph just says, “Irreverence.” At least it does to me.

Irreverence is a word I’ve never spoken and never written either, until now. But I know that it means, “A lack of respect for people or things which are generally taken seriously.”

Not that Derek is like that, you know, the way he’s depicted in this photograph. But he could be. I know I am, kinda.

Actually, when you think about it, being irreverent is a good way to be. I think so anyway. After all, too gosh darned many people take too much stuff way to seriously.

So maybe a good title for this photograph could be, “Derek and His Irreverent Dominos.”

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Brittney and Mike are Engaged.

I don’t know why, but when Vesta and I met MIke and Brittany at San Rafael Park to do their engagement photos, I thought of the Civil War. Not so much about the actual war, but what I imagined portraits would look like back then and I tried to make them look like that.

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Girl Getting Ready.

Here is Sami three weeks ago. Which was a very good day for her, Hunter, their friends and me and Vesta too. They got married at Weims Family Winery in Temecula, California. The setting was gorgeous as was the wine they served at the reception.

We met the bride and groom when we did their engagement photos in San Rafael Park in the snow. It wasn’t actually snowing at the time, but the ground was covered in white. And as we were coming to the end of the session, I told Sami about a girl we’d photographed in the snow and how much I like the photographs and I said it was too bad it wasn’t snowing now, because we’d like to photograph her in the snow too.

“I can make it snow.” She bent over, scooped up as much of the white stuff as she could get in her two hands, tossed it into the air and voila, snow cascaded over her. And she did it again and again and again as I made snowy, Sami pictures.

And during the course of our picture taking she and Hunter told us they were getting married in Temecula at a winery.

“We travel,” I said and they booked us and six months later we photographed their wedding on a bright sunny day. No snow in Southern California, especially in the summer. But they had wine.

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Here is another photo of Sami getting ready for her walk down the aisle, where she was going to marry the man of her dreams. I had two photos of her to post here and I couldn’t decide which one I liked best, so I’m posting them both.

Actually, I had a lot more than two photographs of her I really liked, because when we photograph a bride getting ready, we take oodles of pictures. We are wedding photographers, after all. But I had to narrow it down to one and I just couldn’t do it.

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The Girl in the Arena.

The arena this girl is in might not be grand, just a small calf roping event in Reno, but it’s an arena and she is in it. Most never experience the arena, because they fear failure. But failure’s not nearly as bad as one might think. Well, if you were a gladiator in the Roman Colosseum failure really would have sucked.

But for the most part, I think, you need to except failure, maybe not embrace or welcome it, but expect it on occasion, if your dreams are grand.

Anyway, that’s what I was thinking when I watched this girl not succeed at roping a calf. And she reminded me of a Kenwood Jack London Cabernet that I had on my desk. Vesta bought it for me when I started DEATH GLITCH and I vowed not to drink it till I finished the book.

I did finish the book and we drank the wine. Though I wish I hadn’t, because every year the Kenwood people put a quote of Jack’s on the back of their Jack London labeled wines and the quote on the back of mine was:

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.

I wish I still had that bottle on my desk, even empty, but I don’t. Anyway Jack’s words make me think of being in the arena, trying and failing and trying again and the photograph of this girl made me think of that.

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Cowgirl gets Her Calf.

Here is another girl in the Arena and unlike the girl in the first photograph I posted, this girl got her calf. Though it was only practice, as you can see by the empty stands, she had to feel the pride of success. I just can’t imagine how hard throwing a rope around the neck of a scared cow, who doesn’t want to be lassoed, really is.

Yeah, I said cow, because the calf being roped isn’t a calf at all. It’s a small cow. Yep, a cow. They breed them small, so they look like calves. Which makes sense, because the problem with using baby cows is they grow up, these little cows they can use over and over again.

But unlike real calves, these mini cows have been lassoed a lot and they don’t seem to like it very much, so they do their very best to avoid it. So, I’m thinking it’s a lot harder to rope these guys then it would be real calves.

They line these little guys up between two fences and they push them along, till it’s their turn in the arena, then when they’re let loose, they run like heck, because being roped by a cowgirl on a horse, has to hurt, at least a little.

Afterward, when all of the roping was over, I asked the guy who herds the cows how the cows live and he told me that other then their brief time running from the person with the lasso, they’re pretty doggone happy. And, he said, consider the alternative.

He had a point. I suppose being roped every now and then is way better than winding up as someone’s dinner.

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Bridge of Souls.

This is the Bridge on the River Kwai and when I see this photograph, I think about the souls of those who died building it. Vesta and I went over it on a train jam packed full of people and despite the cacophony of a train car full of a lot more humans than it was designed to hold, it still felt like all of those souls were riding along with us.

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Bridge of Souls, Dead Ahead.

Vesta and I arrived in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, which used to be called Siam, by small plane. Once there, we found a couple of busloads of tourists, who were going to take a train ride across the bridge, so we mingled in with the group, got on the train and rode across the bridge. It was a very short train ride as it let us off on the other side of the river and we walked back with the group, taking pictures along the way.

And we stayed with them as they walked toward a small museum in town with their tour guide giving them a history lesson along the way. The museum was sobering experience. A lotta people died building that railway and that bridge. So many, it made you want to cry.

After the tour buses left, we took a boat ride on the river, because I wanted to photograph the bridge from the water, even though we learned from the tour guide that the bridge had been destroyed by allied bombing during the war and this one was rebuilt in the same spot to look like the original.

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Steel and Death.

I made this photograph as we walked back across the bridge after the train dropped us off on the other side. It was a solemn walk. Even though there were quite a few people walking with us, we were all quiet. Of course, at the time we didn’t know the original bridge had been bombed to pieces during the war. We thought this was the original.

And when I made this picture, I thought perhaps the men who’d put the bolts in these girders could have been dead the very next day. Still, I like the photograph and what it represents.

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Could Be Rome.

Vesta took this photograph of a bridesmaid at Crystal and Troy’s wedding and when I was going through the photos after we got home, I stopped when I got to this one and stared at it for maybe five minutes or so.

I don’t know why, but it reminded me of Rome back in the day and I don’t mean back in the day a few years ago, when Vesta and I went there on vacation. I mean way back in the day, back when Romans chucked Christians into the arena with lions for entertainment.

Back when Romans worshiped more gods than you can shake a Roman candle at.

The girl in this photo could be a Roman goddess. Or maybe the keeper of a temple. Or some kind of well to do Roman woman at the very least.

Sure her tattoo and the groomsmen’s modern day suits put the photograph smack dab in the middle of present day. But I still see Rome back in the day when I look at it. I suppose that’s what an imagination is for.

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Romenesque Two.

Here is Haley, who is Amber’s daughter and was also one of her bridesmaids. Amber and Theron got married a couple of months ago and her kids, Haley and Hunter walked her down the aisle. She was a beautiful bride, Hunter was handsome, Haley was beautiful and she looked like she stepped right out of ancient Rome and into the present day, just to walk her mother down the aisle. Just take a long look at the above photo and you’ll see I’m telling you true.

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Romenesque Three.

And here is another photograph of Crystal’s Roman looking bridesmaid. Sadly, I didn’t get her name, but I did get her photograph.

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Off the Merry-Go-Round.

We are political animals, Vesta and me, but we’re burying our heads in the sand for awhile, because the politics in America have become so divisive. How this happened, I don’t really know. I suppose that’s for the historians to figure out. But we I don’t have to play, even though it’s hard not to.

We don’t have to watch the news, read the newspapers, see the plethora of political FB posts, which are so hateful (if you post that kind of stuff, we hide you).

Like the couple in this photo, we have jumped off the spinning merry-go-round, we have gone fishing. However, we will put our rods and reels down on the first Tuesday in November and vote.

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Scott and Callie Trash the Dress.

We offer a trash the dress shoot with all of our weddings and incase you don’t know, you don’t really trash the dress. A trash the dress shoot just means we do a photo shoot somewhere with a bride sometime after her wedding. It gives her a chance to get into her dress and have photos taken in the snow, at the beach, in the woods, someplace like that, someplace nice.

This photograph and the one below is of Callie’s trash the dress shoot in the Truckee River where it goes through Verdi which is near the California border. The picked this spot, because it was where they met. They’re anglers and they showed up with their rods and reels, but instead of catching trout, they caught each other.

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Anglers in Love.

This is a close up of Scott and Callie.

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A Happy Couple

Only ten days into this very long project and Sami is in it again, but this time she’s not alone. This photo was taken maybe ten or fifteen minutes after Hunter and Sami said “I do.” And it’s another photograph which needs no explanation, because no matter how much you turn on your imagination, it’s obvious this was taken on their wedding day and they’re posing for formal photos.

Still, you can look at the photo and wonder about them. Are they happy? They are, you can tell by looking at them. You can wonder how they met, where they’re gonna be in a year, a decade, when they’re in their eighties. Will they have children? If so, how many? Will they age well? Will they celebrate they’re 100th birthdays together?

There is so much to see in a black and white photograph. All you have to do is look at it and wonder. And if you’re a writer, you can even write a paragraph or two about where your imagination may have taken you.

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All Smiles in the Winery.

After Sami and Hunter’s ceremony and after we’d made the formal photos, the winery let us use their cellars for more photographs. So while their guests were having cocktails, we did photographs with barrels vats and bar in ‘em.

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Shawanee and Michael.

Here are Shawanee and her son Michael. Vesta, Amy and I met them yesterday evening in downtown Reno. They were sitting alone, admiring the Truckee as it flowed past. Actually, I’m thinking Mom was sneaking a smoke as they were in front of the Wild River Grill. They have an area there where you can go below the Riverwalk and be right on the river. Not a lot of people go down there. I think they just walk on by above, not knowing they can.

My niece Amy is staying with us for a couple weeks and we wanted to show her our small, but really nice downtown. Though she’s been here before and the last time we ate at the Wild River Grill, but it was dark and this was a chance for her to see the river while the sun was still out.

Anyway, we ran into Shawanee and Michael and started talking, because I just can’t help myself, when I come across new people, I always try to start up a conversation, cuz people are just so fascinating to me.

Shawnee and Michael are from Idaho and they’re they’re passing through Reno on their way home from Watsonville, California with Shawnee’s mom and her uncle and her uncle’s dog. Her uncle’s wife passed away six months ago and he’s not doing so well without her, so Shawnee and crew went to California to get him and he and his dog are going to live with them.

I asked her where they were and she told us they were up at the restaurant. That’s how I new she was sneaking a smoke. Well, maybe not sneaking, but she’d stepped outside to smoke, cuz you can’t smoke in restaurants anymore.

Then, while we were talking to them, I asked if I could take their picture. I didn’t have my camera, but Vesta had hers. They said yes and I made their photograph, cuz I kinda miss going downtown and photographing people.

And as I was taking their picture, I got this great idea. I can still photograph people downtown two or three times a week without starting a new people project. I can just make them black and white and fold them right into this project. So that’s what I’m going to do.

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Skinny Alley.

I took this photograph in Sausalito, which is a little beach town with a lot of artsy stores with high priced stuff in them, If you cross from San Francisco on the Golden Gate Bridge, you can’t miss it. We were walking the streets, when we passed this alley, and it made me think that there must have been a lot of alleys like this a hundred years ago or so in San Francisco.

Now, of course, there are hardly any skinny and dark alleys like this. San Francisco is barely affordable and for the most part it’s bright and clean and downtown sports a lot of steel and glass. But years ago, when Vesta and I used to visit, it wasn’t like that. You didn’t have to hock your first born to get a hotel room at the Wharf and you could park almost anywhere for free.

We used to drive up from Long Beach, just to stroll the Wharf in the evenings and eat at the restaurants there. We also used to come up once a year for MacWorld, which was held every year at the Moscone Center. But Apple put the kibosh on that so it’s no more.

Now we go San Francisco four or five times a year to photograph it, because it has to be in the top ten of most photographical cities in the world and we’re kind of ashamed of ourselves, because we lived in Paris for a year and though we took hundreds of photographs, they were mostly of ourselves and our kids. Which was a good thing, but sadly we didn’t photograph the city too much.

And since we live only three hours away from San Francisco now we don’t want to sin against her the way we sinned against Paris.

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