Yay for me…found it on my own!!!! Wow, I’ve impressed myself, lol. I think it’s installed in the header from Headers and Footers?
Five Creative Fall Photo Shoot Ideas, Other Than the Pumpkin Patch

Five Creative Fall Photo Shoot Ideas, Other Than the Pumpkin Patch

For the record,

I am a big fan of pumpkin patches.

But there are only so many holiday pictures at pumpkin patches until you realize you want to do something different – something unique – something with originality. Here are five creative fall photo shoot ideas for you and your family to savor through the years, that don’t involve wheelbarrows full of pumpkins and sitting atop hay stacks.

1. The beach!fall photo shoot creative brant bender photography

The beach is forever astounding because it is truly a wonder to see, especially if you have holiday cards to send out of state. You can (pumpkin) spice up your fall photo shoot with outfits involving plaid, boots, darker jeans, corduroy, etc. for a more seasonal vibe in front of those glimmering sands and cerulean waters. Nearby, beautiful, and classic, our local beaches are one of the best parts of living in San Diego – take advantage of it!

2. A winery

family photo with fall vineyard photoshoot

Consider a family portrait surrounded by green-turned-amber vineyards, as well as the rustic tractors, barrels, and barns that are part of a winery. The rustic woodiness of the cellars, combined with the turning of fall seen on the vines, will ring in the perfect seasonal feel you’re looking for in your family’s fall photo shoot. The Bernardo Winery is my personal go-to, where there is never a bad shot and its timeless setting fits any season, any weather, and any kind of day.

3. The town of Julian

julian san diego apple orchards brant bender photographer

There is nothing like the cozy and utterly delightful mountain town of Julian. If you don’t mind spending a little extra time and money on driving to Julian for your fall photo shoot, I’m here to tell you it is the small town photo op of your dreams. Julian is just far enough east to make visiting a nice day trip for the family, and to observe real seasonal changes in the environment. Think about scheduling your fall photo shoot at one of their historic landmarks, a picnic site painted in fall foliage, or their renowned Volcan Apple Farm. Not only will your family visit a town full of endless charm, but you are also guaranteed amazing photos here.

4. Railroads

railroad family portraits san diego ca

Railroads convey the warmth and nostalgia of “a simpler, easier time.” Their old-timey, resilient and age-old tracks are perfect for unique family pictures. And for all you new parents out there, kids love the train. A railroad photo shoot may give you the perfect chance to capture pure joy on your children’s faces, making for an authentic holiday postcard.

5. Lakes

creative family photo shoots brant bender photographyWhen the twilight sun hits a lake just right during autumn, photos of the scene can be breathtaking. Grab your family for a fun-filled day at a local lake, and capture the golden yolk of a falling sun on water illuminating your loved ones. For an added bonus, find a wooden dock or large rock to create an isolated, end-of-summer. nature-y feel to your photos.

A beautiful story continues – checking in a year later

A beautiful story continues – checking in a year later

This family continues to find their smiles, just like he wanted.

Last fall, I had the privilege of meeting Doug and his wife Jen, photographing their amazing family, and playing a part of Doug’s moving, inspiring story. It was my honor to photograph the family as a whole for one of the last times – Doug faced terminal cancer that would cause his passing a short time later. Their photo gallery visualized the bittersweet grief in losing so great a person too early. Yet, the same photo gallery proved Doug’s relentless optimism and positive outlook on life, which radiated in his and Jen’s kids through their smiles and characters.

I recently met up with this family again to capture a remarkable time for Jen and her six sprouting children. Look how much they have grown in only a year’s time! It is evident that these kids have a striking confidence, honest smiles from their hearts, and unbreakable bonds to their siblings and iron-strong mother.

I am thrilled to report that those kids are blossoming at exponential rates, and that Jen continues to lay the foundations to a bright future. And with tremendous support from their mom, their church, and Doug’s unforgettable memory, I have no doubt each family member will grow into an influential and uplifting individual.

Parents find so much pride in seeing their children grow, especially under different or sometimes difficult circumstances. Doug, they are all doing great.Jen, it is heartwarming and inspiring to see the phenomenal job you are doing with these amazing kids. I can’t wait to check back in on this inspiring story next time they visit San Diego. Until then, follow this family’s lead, and “choose to smile.”

Four Reasons Why Your Family Portait will Look Great in Gaslamp Quarter

Four Reasons Why Your Family Portait will Look Great in Gaslamp Quarter

I am a father first, a husband second, and a photographer third. With those three titles under my belt, I can’t stress enough how important it is to take professional family portraits. Family portraits give you a chance to freeze those beautiful points in time where life is moving faster than ever before.

And if your family lives in San Diego (SD), one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities, you’re collecting so much more than just memories of what “home” means to you. A professional portrait of your family in San Diego offers a piece of history to the city, an understanding of how locals enjoy their lives here, and visual examples of why San Diego is flourishing at sky-high rates.

One of SD’s most famous neighborhoods, Gaslamp Quarter is comprised of historical importance, trendy shops, social hubs, and pure fun. Yet it holds much more than shops, especially for my long-time clients, the Cruz family.

I captured the Cruz-es love story under the Gaslamp lights back in 2009. Once they became a family of four, they moved to Colorado. After almost ten San Diego-less years, theirs hearts demanded to visit SD yet again, and acknowledged the importance of taking time for a family portrait. With two little Cruz-es in tow, they knew they wanted their pictures taken in one of their favorite and most memorable places.

Here are four reasons why you need to learn from the Cruz family, and schedule your family portrait to take place in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter:

It’s growing.

San Diego is home to over 1.3 million people, and that number is still rising The city itself constantly improves its layout, infrastructure, and efficiency. Being part of a city that values growth and improvement hold deep value; blossoming with that city helps shape you and your family into original thinkers, creative individuals, and caring people. Why not take your family pictures in a place that shares the same values of growth as you do?

It’s glowing.

Gaslamp Quarter sparkles. Sunlight showers the area almost half the year. The other days include minimal rain and partly-cloudy skies. No matter what season or day you schedule your family portrait, chances are your pictures at Gaslamp will turn out fantastic, with the golden sun coating your family with the perfect natural lighting.

It values the old and welcomes the new.

Did you know Gaslamp Quarter is part of the National Register of Historic Places? Its historical importance adds an integral piece to San Diego’s story of growth. While preserving its historical roots, the neighborhood also flaunts the latest and greatest restaurants and stores. A family portrait in Gaslamp would show off the preservation of what made San Diego such a stunning place to live, as well as what currently makes the city a focal point for gathering and socializing.

It’s got it all.

Night life, sports, good eats, shopping, festivals, and more all reside in this trendy city. There isn’t a single street corner without a social gathering, a popular brewery, a fashion-forward shop, or a crowded restaurant. This neighborhood is far from boring, which is why families like the Cruz-es fit right in with their family photos’ surroundings. If your family loves fun and adventure with every turn, Gaslamp Quarter is calling your name.

Looking the part: professional head shots go a long way

Looking the part: professional head shots go a long way

He’s powerful. He’s successful. He’s a professional.

But how would you know all that, without a face to his name? Martin is a savvy business professional in the San Diego area, with hundreds of connections and thousands more people he influences daily. He has grown so much in his career, and he doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. For that reason, Martin took some professional head shots to look as capable as he actually is.

You’re networking, so you want to make a meaningful connection with another professional that can positively impact your career path. Picture these scenarios: you’re glancing at profile pictures on LinkedIn, reading the bio of a speaker at a seminar, or examining the lanyards of attendees at a networking mixer. The person you want to connect with will, most likely, look like they know what they’re doing. That look will be confident, polished, experienced, and savvy, and can all be conveyed on a professional head shot.

You’re hiring, and as you rummage through the list of resumes and do some web research on your top contenders, you come across some telling internet images. Good thing you looked up your potential employees online, because you sorted out those who like to party, those who are lyingand the one (with professional head shots) that stands out as smart, clean-cut, and valuable to your business.

You’re being hired, and you want to know what kind of boss and/or coworkers you might be working with. Because all you can do is snoop around online, looking at professional head shots (or unprofessional head shots) of your future team members can give you an idea of who will be shaping (or misshaping!) your career.

Martin is a leader at San Diego’s gem, the Town & Country Hotel. His professional head shots give him the representation he worked hard for, deserves, and needs. Whether Martin is networking, hiring, or moving up, he will be ready to portray himself accordingly.

Do It While They’re Young: the Importance of Annual Family Portraits

Do It While They’re Young: the Importance of Annual Family Portraits


How many times do you watch your child learn something new, get something right, or push through a struggle, and think, “when did my child grow up so fast?” The question comes up too many times to count.

As a parent, I could snap photos of my kids all day long. But then I rarely get photos of the entire family together, where my children can really see how much they grow, and how much their parents have as well. It’s so easy to place family photos on the back burner. Yet so many young families miss out on taking family portraits. It’s the best opportunity to show friends, loved ones, and themselves how they grow year after year.

The Browns have gotten together for annual family portraits the past three years. They schedule their shoot in the fall, where they get a cherished photo just in time for all those holiday cards. Perfect timing too…the past three years may have been the most eventful of their lives.

’15: The Browns were a couple of bright-eyed, new parents to their golden-haired son with a baby well on the way!

’16: Their baby girl is new to the world and new to the camera, although she’s a natural like her brother and parents. As the Browns’ little girl explores the sites and sounds around her, big bro is already practicing his tractor driving.

’17: With the youngest member of the family now walking the walk, the Browns go hand in hand to take on the world together. Will this happy family grow any bigger? Friends and loved ones will have to tune in next year to see the growth!

Family portraits tell so much about a family. The Browns’ tradition of having annual photo shoots lets them see the growth in their family, how time changed them, and the new things to celebrate since last year. Don’t miss out on your chance to start a tradition of annual family portraits. Show each member of your family how many things change in a year’s time, and then show them that your family sticks together through it all.

Taking the train – a unique photo shoot using the railways

Taking the train – a unique photo shoot using the railways

Next time, I’m taking the train.

The Cayford kids and I teamed up recently for a woodsy photo shoot along the railways. While my go-to’s involve the Bernardo Winery and San Diego’s gleaming beaches, these kids made my job look easy as they posed in front of some classic, yet original pieces of California history.

I enjoy utilizing many different, nontraditional locations as backdrops to creative images. Vintage, woody places are some of my favorite locations to shoot at, but the train station that the Cayfords met me at took that originality to a new level.

They had fun. Try not to laugh with three siblings who keep shoving each other off the rails of the rail road. No one could stay serious as the kids attempted to straddle the railroad’s width.

They stayed together. The Cayford crew is a tight group. It showed in every picture, where all three siblings would have a mind-melt on a similar pose or facial expression. That isn’t with every family, but with this one, it was second nature.

They were themselves. People sometimes feel obliged to wear clothing that fits the theme of their shoot’s locations. For example, a railway location might call for more of a country outfit, which is what I would usually recommend. But the Cayford kids wore what they felt their best in, a Hawaiian shirt, a stylish pattern, and some stripes. The results were more perfect than what I planned. By wearing what they would usually wear, the Cayfords stood out compared to their backgrounds, enhancing the images in a unique way.

This photo shoot took place at the Poway Midland Railroad. For tips on how to make your local railway the best portrait location of all time, feel welcome to contact me, I’d be happy to offer my (professional) two-sense.

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