Iceland Summer Trip

It’s time to board my overseas  flight to Iceland. The country is an unknown destination but a place I’ve wanted to explore for a long time.  Over the past few years. Americans have made Iceland a popular destination so I wanted to see the beauty myself.  Taking advantage of the affordable rates by Wow Air, I jumped on board and had a very pleasant flying experience. 

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Reykjavik airport is really lovely ! The small size, friendly people and organized immigration system made the experience a breeze . I picked up my car at Hertz very easily and began my journey by driving towards the capital. I was blown away by the incredible series of varying landscapes. The raw soil mixed with solidified lava looked like a painting with the moss and short grass growing on uneven fields. 

It’s a rainy day with wind and a grey sky is painted with dramatic clouds. Those formations are something I have never seen before. Just stepping out of the car for a picture is an adventure! It is all very surreal but fascinating experience at the same time.

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I booked a hotel in Downtown Reykjavik for the first two nights and picked a couple of suggested B&B’s in two different parts of the island for the rest of the trip. I realized that if I wanted to drive around all of Iceland it is not as easy and quick as I imagined and would take nearly two weeks. Instead I decided to spend my time on the Western and central side. 

I stayed at the Hummer Square Hotel right in the center of the town. It’s located near a small market with an excellent bakery and small restaurants. I quickly learned it this is the happening place during the long cold nights of winter where locals might get together for a drink and socialize. The hotel has been renovated and the rooms are pretty large with all the amenities: large bathroom, nice view, modern décor and WIFI. It is a great hub for young adventurers who love to start their experience in this unique country. 

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Two days here taught me that this could be a challenging place during the cold seasons which begins in September until April. During the summer months the citizens are focused on maintenance work. Roads, buildings, homes and even commercial fishing boats are all maintained in perfect shape and painted like new. 

I see quite a lot of tourists here who are curious to discover a place that until few years ago was just a small remote island on the map on the Atlantic Ocean. 

After wandering around under an heavy rain and cold wind, I was hungry and I found a little restaurant near the port. Reykjavik Fish Restaurant provided an excellent meal based on wild cod, red beets, salad and a hot creamy espresso. Even the presentation was top notch!

Expert tip: everything is pricey here so be prepared to use a credit card quite often. No need to carry cash, everyone takes credit cards. 

Note: As most tourist do, I stopped by the Blue Lagoon which was an experience. It was a bit too touristy and crowded, however definitely well organized.

I drove through amazing and unique landscapes. The sun finally decided to show up and it was already 11pm. Approaching the summer solstice, it’s always bright here and sunset happens at 12am while sunrise it’s a 2am. I am adjusting to these extremely long days! Bright and warm, getting up to 20C but nights could be cold for a summer weatheraround 4-5C.

The sun is coming out of the clouds and a group of traditional Icelandic horses are walking on the horizon. It looks like a renaissance painting! One of the horses was just standing up on the small hill looking at the sky and brushed by a strong wind. It was a perfect moment to take a picture. 

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Hills are smoother, the soil is greener and I’m surrounded by huge fields of blue lupins everywhere. This is a common flower hereat the beginning of the summer and the colors are dramatic, surrounded by  landscape that otherwise would be monochromatic without a clear sky.

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Our Flúðir B&B (is next to the “Secret Lagoon”, which is not that secret anymore but it is still small, cozy and more family style.  

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The B&B was more family style and clean, staff is friendly and I realized I’m right in the middle of the vegetable plantation area of the island. I was surrounded by ton sof greenhouses which use the geothermal waters to give the plants the heat they need to grow and lights on the ceiling to help the process of photosynthesis.

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Since it’s bright throughout the day, if you don’t look at the time you end up searching for a dining place at 9 or 10pm.

This is a part of Iceland that has milder weather and reminds me little more the hillside of Austria and northern Italy. Yellow flowers and the lupins are peekingup from the much taller grass that replaced the harsh lava.

The day after I decided to drive towards Vik which is the last famous spot of the Golden Circle. Heading there I found myself in a heavy rain and on a windy coast. I can barely stay still and I quickly walk towards this geometric natural wall of stone. With this weather and all tourists heading there, this is not what I expected. I jumped in the car and found a nice warm, old-style restaurant where I had a small fish soup and a local beer. I would have stayed here for few hours. Popular local music in the background and an old building that looks like a refuge of the fishermen during a cold storm. 

The day after I visited the Geysers (Geysir)  but really wanted to avoid all the tourists groupsso I went at night around 11pm. This was an intimate visit where I appreciated the beauty of this natural phenomenon of boiling water and a magnificent waterfall. The power of nature is just in front of me, showing off and yes, it was astonishing! 

The last few days I decided to go back to the Western side, only  ifty miles north of Reykjavik in the town of Bernagres. A cozy small town on a peninsula, I drove trough an amazing underground tunnel that goes under the ocean. Instead of building a bridge and ruin the beauty of the landscape, Icelanders built a mile long masterpiece that comes up on the other side of a large peninsula. How genius is that? 

 http://englendingavik.is

http://englendingavik.is

The clouds decided to stay away from the town and they are hovering inland. The B&B called Englendingavík  is owned and run by Einar, who is a multi-tasking entrepreneur. Small brand-new rooms and a mix of freshly baked bread with fish are just outside the restaurant situated on the first floor. An amazing location with the sea view ! Right on the gulf is where I experienced dramatic high and low tide which gives this perfectly located B&B a very different atmosphere.

 Midnight Sun in Borgarnes

Midnight Sun in Borgarnes

From here I experienced a majestic midnight sun with clear sky and I found a perfect spot to sit and look at this spectacular “show”. 

This part of the island is less touristic and much more interesting. A sunny day makes everything more colorful and vibrant. The close by hot springs are more unique and private, the wide and infinite green fields of grass makes you feel very small and the rivers are flowing from two large beautiful and equally dramatic waterfalls - Barnafoss and Hraunfossar.

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Horses and sheep will welcome you and they have a huge amount of land to enjoy and run free. 

Leaving Iceland makes you feel like you experienced a unique place that welcomes you with courtesy and kindness. It makes you feel safe all the time and shows you what raw nature really looks like. The population works hard and uses natural resources to survive while developing their society towards a much more advance system based on green energy and advanced services.

I met many young Europeans who decided to live here to experience this country and learn about green energy. I would love to come back for the Northern lights that begin at the end of August. I’d also love to spend some time in other parts of this unique remote island. 

 

Until next time, Iceland! 

 

Albertsons Lifestyle & Portraits

I always hope to have an assignment that would allow me to travel to different destinations in the United States. 

 Albertson exteriors in McCall, Idaho

Albertson exteriors in McCall, Idaho

 Asian Food at Pavillions in Rancho Santa Margherita, California

Asian Food at Pavillions in Rancho Santa Margherita, California

Last year I received a call from Ivie & Associates, the Dallas based agency for Albertsons Companies. (https://www.ivieinc.com). They had a very interesting project they shared with me and they wanted me to be involved. 

 Baker at Albertson Store in McCall, Idaho

Baker at Albertson Store in McCall, Idaho

The concept was to photograph real-life friendly associates that proudly work in their stores.

The first assignment was in California (since I’m based in Los Angeles this was a quick drive). Meeting Ivie's Executive producer, Sandra Ogden and her team was like being in a very family-like environment with very easy and down to earth energy.

 Bakery at Stars Store in Boston, MA

Bakery at Stars Store in Boston, MA

 Wine Shop at Stars Store in Boston, MA

Wine Shop at Stars Store in Boston, MA

 Deli in McCall, Idaho

Deli in McCall, Idaho

We met the client and we spent two full days at at Pavilions stores in Rancho Santa Margarita and Newport Beach, covering every aspect of the customer brand experience.

The employees I photographed  were so excited to have a photography group at the store to capture their environment. They were very proud of themselves and working for such a prestigious corporate brand.

 Stars Flower Section in Boston, MA

Stars Flower Section in Boston, MA

My task was to take photos but at the same time be sure everybody was comfortable and happy, natural in front of the camera and I think it shows in the imagery.
The client (Ivie) was organized and very easy to work with and this became the first of several assignments around the United States.  

So far we have shot in Boston, MA and McCall, ID. I enjoyed the city vibe in the Boston’s summer and the challenge of getting up in McCall in the snow. The experience has been very fun and I feel like l was able to capture the essence of the people working in these amazing stores.

 Deli at the Stars Store in Boston, MA

Deli at the Stars Store in Boston, MA

 Pavillions Bakery, Rancho Santa Margherita, California

Pavillions Bakery, Rancho Santa Margherita, California

With the extraordinary help of my producer Rose Cefalu, we were able to plan each shoot properly and hire local talents such as a makeup artist and an extra photo assistant. 

The project goes on and I cannot wait to know the next destination.

Thank you to Ivie, Albertsons Companies, Rose and Mat.

Buckhead Happy Hour and Lifestyle

When it comes to photographing lifestyle brands I always want to showcase the feeling and mood the area brings to your life.

This time my assignment was an exciting lifestyle photo shoot in Atlanta in the Buckhead area, featuring the new luxury residential building The Sutton. Reflections, "shooting through" and transparency were the keywords for this particular shoot.

 Happy Hour at American Cut - Buckhead 

Happy Hour at American Cut - Buckhead 

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Doing some shopping, going to yoga, riding a bike, having a good coffee and discover a lush and green flower shop.

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Thank you Wordsearch Agency for trusting my photography style for an outside the box two creative days.

Welcome to Bourgogne

During the month of September, I was flown to beautiful Burgundy, France on a photo assignmnet for Domaine de Cromey and Burgundy Wine Cellars. For five days I stayed at the property which sits above the vines at Domaine de Cromey, in the heart of the wine capital of the world. Located in Saint-Sernin-du-Plain in the center of the Burgundy region, it is a romantic and enchanting property.

 Domaine De Cromey Courtyard. Saint Sernin du Plain

Domaine De Cromey Courtyard. Saint Sernin du Plain

 Burgundy Countryside. My first Road Trip

Burgundy Countryside. My first Road Trip

The grounds are stunning with six bedrooms and vaulted wine cellar only open to those invited. Since the 1600s, the chateau has been home to a majestic baronial farm where the Lords of Cromey once lived. The stunning establishment is bubbling with the delicate knowledge of crafting perfectly balanced wine. It is obvious the best and most prestigious wines come from Burgundy, France.

 Araud Desfontaine

Araud Desfontaine

 Bernard at the Domaine De Cromey

Bernard at the Domaine De Cromey

My client, Dennis Sherman is married to the American chef and author Eleanor Garvin. Dennis is an American who has made a home for himself in France for over 30 years. He has been in the wine industry and has met with hundreds of winemakers in the area, gathering knowledge and connections across the valley. His wife, Eleanor, has a beautiful private garden in the back of the Domain de Cromey and crafts incredible meals for her guests. The bountiful garden is ripe with radishes, beets and greens. Her book, At Home in Burgundy is a collection of hand selected recipes and I was lucky enough to experience a few of these mouth watering dishes.

 Eleanor Garvin

Eleanor Garvin

 Her amazing beets

Her amazing beets

 And her incredible lush vegetables garden

And her incredible lush vegetables garden

The purpose of my trip and the project was to create a story about Domaine De Cromey and the magic that surrounds the historical establishment. It goes much deeper than the beautiful scenery with vast vineyards. Travelers can also explore the countryside, meet winemakers, chocolatiers, bakers and other local makers. The town takes you back in time, transporting you to a picture perfect French countryside where locals congregate for coffee or a warm meal from a nearby farm.

 Proud Marcel Arcelain in Pommard.

Proud Marcel Arcelain in Pommard.

 Marcel Arcelain in his beautiful cellar with his nephew Pierre.

Marcel Arcelain in his beautiful cellar with his nephew Pierre.

I was fortunate enough to have a driver that took me all over the place so that I could have the full experience of Burgundy. I was truly inspired and felt the images I captured properly tell the story of this untouched land. It was a fantastic experience to see the village through the eyes of a local.

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The timing of my trip was perfect, just in time for harvest. I was able to capture stunning images of the various aspects of harvest on the vineyards I explored. 

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After visiting several wineries on my trip, I came across my favorite, Michel Arcelain and Arnaud Desfontaine. What really took me away is their vast wine vineyards are set to the backdrop of a castle. You can smell the freshness of the soil which translates into their unbelievable wine.

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At the end of my time in France, I visited to Lyon, the French food capital. The whole experience was a fantastic time and I learned so much from my host Dennis and Eleanor! I was truly inspired by this project and the experienced I was able to capture. I look forward to taking another trip to Burgundy and spending time with my new friends in France.

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Hollwood Studios Portraits

Sunset Gower Studio is truly a Hollywood production staple. They have a massive 6-acre creative media production campus, right in the heart of Hollywood. The studio celebrates Hollywood’s history and is home to many of television’s most successful shows and award-winning movies.

Today, Sunset Gower bring together a diverse and unique mix of innovative creative companies. They also bring in content creators to use their independent, boutique studio environment.

My task was to photograph the employees of Sunset Gower Studios. The staff is made up of a welcoming crew who are nice and extremely funny. I got to explore the 12 sound stage facilities as well as 368,000 square feet of production space to find the perfect locations. The place is massive!

For this type of shoot, it was important to capture the staff in a natural state. Relaxed and not aware of the camera. They are not professional models so instead I wanted to get to know the employees to capture their personality through the lense.

It was a really fun days, a rare historical studios of Hollywood! Such a privilege.

See more images: http://www.sunsetgowerstudios.com/about-sunset-gower-studios

Coachella Lifestyle in Palm Springs

The desert always brings so much inspiration to fashion around the spring music festival, Coachella. My long time client, alifornia Moonris, had a beautiful Spring/Summer collection inspired by Santa Fe prints. We decided to shoot at the rainbow-hued Saguaro Hotel in Palm Springs to capture the desert colors.

The mountains can be seen from the pool and the neon colors that pop from the hotel are beautiful. It makes you get caught in the wanderlust vibe and get comfortable with the traveling lifestyle of California Moonrise.

The neon and brightly colored hotel offered a lot of amazing locations to shoot at. Additionally, there was a great deal of foliage and the natural light. This made taking photos on location much more creative and the day flowed nicely. We added editorial photos to give the lookbook context. The purple hues of the hotel mixed with the palm desert brought out California Moonrise full story behind their lookbook.

I worked with the same wonderful team, friend Ali Levine styled the shoot, makeup was done by Anthony Pazos team and Cristina Fabian styled the model’s hair.

Fashion Designer: Sylvie Huber
Videographer: Jason Gonzalez
Assistants: Mat Dunstan, Marco Paonessa
Producer: Rose Cefalu
Styling: Ali Levine
 

American Ninja Warrior for Emmy Magazine

A few weeks back  I was thrown into an action packed job! It was incredible to get to work with the staff and team on American Ninja Warrior. The athletes featured on the show have the strength, determination and ability to lay it all on the line - while on NBC in front of millions! To me, that takes massive courage and absolute strength. American Ninja Warrior hopes to capture the personal growth and development of individuals who are motivated to change their life!

 Emmy Magazine Article

Emmy Magazine Article

 Jessie Graff

Jessie Graff

 Ninja Stunts

Ninja Stunts

For me as a photographer, I got to take photos of people when they feel their absolute best. The level of confidence the warriors had during the shoot translates into the photos. Power and determination is in their eyes. I love capturing this raw emotion in my work.

I have found memories of the project. I particularly loved working with the hosts Matt Iseman, Kristine Leahy and Akbar Gbajajiamila who act more as coaches than host on the show.

 Kacy Catanzaro

Kacy Catanzaro

Flip Rodriguez

The Charles, Buckhead | Luxury Lifestyle in Atlanta

Back in August I flew to Georgia to work with The Charles in Buckhead, an upscale community in Atlanta. My goal was to get great, high end images that captured the luxury real estate lifestyle of Atlanta.

I had one full day of scouting with the client when I first arrived. We shot additional B-Roll that may be used for other marketing material. I love doing this because it gives the client options and additional content to use in a few months.

The Charles had many beautiful areas around the grounds, so we had a lot of location to use. My personal favorite was outside and around the building - I thought those images showcases The Charles beautifully.

The next day, we had several local talent and I really wanted to capture a group living their life in this exclusive community. There was a lot of greenery and the lush summer in Georgia helped the images come to life. The humidity gave everyone a nice glow on their skin and I felt the Southern sweetness in the air.

Italian Epiphany Tradition

Pignarul (or Fogolar) is popular tradition from Northern Italy during the epiphany time. It consist in a big fire where on the top sometimes it's placed a made-up witch with old clothes and wood. It cleans up the past and negativity and represents the end of the holidays.

Supermoon in Hollywood

I'm sure I will find thousand of amazing photos of the super moon on line today. I just wanted to capture something different and more storytelling. The location was perfect, just above the Hollywood hills, on Mulholland Drive. A lot of tourists, photographers, curious people hanging out waiting for the moon to raise from the horizon. 
I wasn't equipped with a long telephoto but I wanted to photograph this moment in the place where I live.

 From Mulholland Drive Vista Point

From Mulholland Drive Vista Point

California Moonrise Fall 2016

To celebrate the changing seasons and the beautiful colors autumn brings, I shot the Fall campaign for California Moonrise. The goal was to showcase the painted yet vivid colors of the season so we shot at the Malibu Creek State Park and Paramount Ranch. Both of these locations have lovely fields of tall yellow grass, bushes and nice tall oak trees. Truly a beautiful California fall. It was important for me to catch the soft sunlight and warm, rich tones of the two locations. Paramount Ranch adds a bit of the Southwest and equestrian character that California Moonrise wanted in their photos.

It has been an ongoing collaboration with the clothing company and I love to shoot each season’s collection for them. As always I have a wonderful team and crew to work with on set. The models were Faith Picozzi, Candy Waltrip and Sydnie Miller. My friend Ali Levine styled the shoot, makeup was done by Anthony Pazos’ team and Cristina Fabian styled the model’s hair.

Love and Sunflower 2016 | at the Arboretum

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to shoot with Love & Sunflowers for the third time. The boho, vintage fashion company is always a source of inspiration for me. The youthful spirit of the brand pushes me to capture candid and light images.

At this shoot we decided Arboretum Gardens in Arcadia, California was the perfect location. The 127 acres garden, is an arboretum, botanical garden, and historical site nestled into hills near the San Gabriel Mountains. It is absolutely beautiful place to shoot and has peacocks all around the property. Our models were Khia Lopez and Samantha Beining and they both had a natural friendship on camera.

To see some of my past work for Love & Sunflowers, click here.