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Seasets VIII: A Study in C Minor

Jake Reinig, travel photography

I’ve been having an incredibly difficult time getting motivated to photograph, well, anything recently, but especially Orange County. In an effort to shake off this couch related inertia, I assigned myself the project of going to the same location on multiple days to shoot the same scene and see what I could come up with. “Heck,” I reasoned, “even if I don’t want to shoot it’s better to enjoy a sunset at the beach than be at my apartment.”

“Me,” I said, “you’re pretty smart sometimes.” And then I gave myself a high five.

I decided to make little Corona Del Mar beach my target. Although I spent a considerable amount of time listening to French lessons and an audio book, I spent more time listening to amazing classical music. “Me,” I said, “that last piece was in C Minor, which is a funny nickname you could give to ‘Little Corona.’ You should call it that on your blog. Women will throw themselves at your feet, you’re so clever.”

I’ve seen nary a woman, but I do have some ok photos, so I thought I’d share them with you. Maintenant, je vous présente mes photos de la plage de plusieurs jours. 

Some kelp drifted into the neighborhood, so the crabs had a party. Except the big ones, who decided being in the open with a big target that said “My guard’s down, come eat me” wasn’t in their best interest.

How’s this for light pollution? I’m looking at you, Newport Beach.

Long exposure self-portrait.

And finally, a super long exposure about 30 minutes after sunset.

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In the Flower Fields the Poppies Blow

Jake Reinig, travel photography

My brother—the failed alchemist—and I went to the Carlsbad flower fields today. Despite having lived in San Diego for exactly 0 days, I never knew this place existed. I’m not sure what it’s actual purpose is, but it’s pretty cool. I do wish you could actually walk through some of the fields, but that aside, it’s still a nice way to spend an afternoon.

(Note: I don’t think there are any actual poppies. I just like McCrae’s poem about World War I.)

On the way home we swung by Trestles to see if any good sunset photos presented themselves, but not a whole lot came along. After a few bird photos we turned and trudged up the long path back to my motor coach.


The aforementioned brother takes a stroll.

There was a surprisingly small number of bees. With millions of flowers onsite, we expected to see more than the 6 or so we did encounter.

Signs everywhere tell you to stay out of the fields, but apparently the rules aren’t always adhered to.  :)

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Seasets VII: Rememberance

Jake Reinig, travel photography

Approximately one year ago I found myself frantically driving through an unfamiliar part of the world. Late for a memorial service for my friend Bobby Villanueva, I barged in the wrong door once I finally arrived.  I wish people had cared more about my faux pas, because that would mean what they were there for wasn’t all that important.  Unfortunately it was, and in seconds I was forgotten, left to stand awkwardly by myself in a place I figuratively and literally didn’t want to be.

Life and death has been on my mind a lot lately. My cousin Philip recently died, the anniversary of Bobby’s death is days away, and the brother of a good friend is fighting a tough battle against cancer.  On the other side of things, I adore my friend’s new son, I’m starting to travel more, the days are getting longer, and people I love are getting married.

At one such wedding this past weekend my friend’s lovely wife (and mother of four) scolded me for even considering whether or not I should have kids someday. I drifted momentarily to Iran and Israel planning to blow each other up because they don’t agree about what happens to the soul after they blow each other up, and about that time a pretty girl smiled at me from across the room. It was a strange moment to be my brain.

Driving home after the wedding at 3 a.m. through very uncommon sleet, I tried putting all of this together.  Why are we here? Where are we going? Why is my friend in a grave while I prepare to travel to Europe? Barely able to stay awake and mesmerized by the streaks of white slip-sliding at the corners of my vision, I didn’t come to any new conclusions.


Although not a religious person, I’ve always enjoyed reading Ecclesiastes. I intentionally went to the same place I did a year ago when Bobby died to remind myself that–like the book says–there is nothing new under the sun; there’s a time to die, and a time to be born. And while I live and Bobby died, the rocks before me have witnessed the same parade since the foundations of the earth.  My sorrow is nothing new.

I often have a desire to live forever, but I suspect that if I did life would become incredibly tedious. Experiences are sweet because life is short, and in our short time all things are novel.

Before driving away I lingered for a moment in self-pity about all sorts of things, but quickly moved past it. Let the rocks pity me; I have smiles to return, friends to remember, and a life to live.


I only took a few photos today, partially because a man randomly started talking to me about Kony 2012, and partially because I was short on time. The next posts from Europe should have lots more.

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2011: Year in Review

Jake Reinig, portrait photographer

Yes, yes…I know I’m late. Rather than bore you with words, here’s a small selection of 2011 photos from a myriad of different shoots. Apparently, I spent a lot of time on various beaches.

In 2012 I’ve got trips planned to San Antonio, New Orleans, London, Paris, Kiev, Chernobyl, and more, so make sure to check out the site from time to time.  You’ll only be mildly disappointed!






I took this next picture the day my friend Bobby Villanueva died. He was a good man who brought a lot of light to many lives. He’s still missed pretty badly.














Since I haven’t mentioned him elsewhere, I’ll mention him now: this is Dave Beck. He’s an all-around great person, cancer survivor, and soon to be an esteemed published author. You should buy him a beer sometime if you get the chance.













Remember that book entitled “The Monster at the End of this Book,” starring Grover? Well, just a heads up that in about 4 pictures there’s a photo of a lovely young woman that implies nudity. There’s no actual nudity, but since you might work at the Vatican or be looking at this post with your grandfather with the weak heart, I just wanted to give you a heads up. I think it’s worth scrolling past, but I don’t want to be responsible for murder.


Yes, we spelled “Death Valley” wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong.


Hopefully you’re still with me. If not, I hope the Vatican pays you well, although I suppose if you’re not still with me you won’t know that I hope this.

This is my friend Dave, a world famous linguists specialist. Although this isn’t my best photo ever from a technical  standpoint, it is a nice photo of Dave. And because it’s a nice photo of Dave and because he really is world famous, this photo is my most published one to date. It’s even appeared in a newspaper article in Estonia.






This is another one where I think I could have done better, but people seem to like it. Of all the photos I’ve ever taken, this is by far the most popular. I think it has something to do with parents connecting to a memory of their kids at a young, magical age. Before they had boyfriends or cars or credit cards, they let their parents push them in a swing.  In life, moments like these are over in a flash. Make sure to enjoy them while you have them.

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Random Jazz: “Srsly, Everything” Edition

Jake Reinig, travel and portrait photographer

Subjects: Women, children, butterflies, flowers, sunset, seascapes, Disneyland, beaches, friends

Another assortment of random jazz I’ve photographed in the last few months, but which I’ve not posted elsewhere. Enjoy. :)


You’ll notice in a lot of my sunset photos that they’re visibly vignetted at times. This is because I tend to shoot with stacked filters: a UV filter, a neutral density filter, and a graduated neutral density filter.  The filters become so “tall” that they show up in the photos.  This photo–which, by the way, my talented brother helped me with–is an example of getting the filters wrong. I forgot to rotate the graduated filter, which is why the left side is so much darker than the right. Even though it’s technically messed up, I still like this self-portrait.





I think we took about 10 of these photos, and I believe that this was the closest we got to smiles in any of them. :)





One comment on this photo: Danger was not cooperating for most of this shoot. Randomly however, he walked past me, laid on the floor, and let me snap this gem.

Oh, and one other comment: for reasons I won’t go into, I had a Justin Bieber star-shaped piñata at my apartment the night we did this shoot.  Danger’s dad decided to go through the mass of candy inside, and of course the kids were interested. Days later the family was passing near my place when Danger said something to the effect of: “Remember how Jake has candy in his star hole?”  Makes me laugh every time. :)






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Gettin’ High (and Low) in Hawaii

Location: Oahu Subject: Hawaiian Stuff

My little sister moved to the Hawaiian island of Oahu a few months ago to join a travelling circus or something. Plans I had to photograph the Grand Canyon fell through the same week as her roommate was out of town, so I took the opportunity to shack up in her clown hovel and take some time away from the day job.

Although Hawaii has never been super high on my list of photographic targets, the visit was pretty awesome. Jennifer lives on the north shore of the island and is literally a 60-second walk to some of the most famous beaches in the world. Her front yard consists of places like Waimea Bay, Pipeline, Sunset, and so on. Really, she’s living the dream, and I’m not exaggerating in the least.

In actuality she’s there on a Speech Pathology contract (do this if you want a good job that’s crazy in demand). I mention this because in addition to living in a super rad part of the world, she’s been fortunate enough to end up surrounded my some amazing people, many of whom are in similar situations. Big thanks to Emily, Erin, Carrie, the other Carrie, Jessica, “Scuba Drew” and Bret, and Susanna and Rusty for making me feel welcome. Also, to Colleen for entertaining all of us at First Friday.  :)

On to the photos!

This adorable sister and brother team, Pueo and Kalea, respectively, live with their mom Emily in the unit next to my sister’s place. They were super energetic and full of smiles, but it wasn’t until like the last 15 minutes of my trip that I got to photograph them. As you can tell, I didn’t exactly get them to keep the smiles flowing. Oh well; they and their mom were fun to hang out with.

This is hanging on my sister’s front wall. I’m not exactly sure what the theme is (is it geography, or just vocabulary?), but I thought it was cute and so now I’m forcing it on you.

On the second day of my trip we drove along the west side of the island. This part has a heavy native population and sadly, is quite rundown. We ended up doing a hike/walk to a place called Kaena Point which my sister claimed was about 1 mile. We did it in the dead middle (i.e. hottest part) of the day, and it ended up being about 5 miles. Oh, and the monk seals she promised me at the end were missing. At least the coastline was spectacular!

That night we hung out with her friend Carrie, who lives in the dreadfully beautiful town-thing-place of Ko Olina where Disney has it’s Aulani Resort. The next day we met Carrie again at Fort Knox the Polynesian Cultural Center. Then this happened:

Although my deceptively clever writing would you lead you to believe that Carrie was responsible for that gross allergic reaction, those bumps (I actually had about twice that number on each leg) are the result of swarming mosquitoes at this next place, called the Byodo-In Buddhist Temple:

I stood in one place near a small side lake for about 5 minutes desperately waiting for a single tourist to move so I could get a particular shot. I was the main course for the residents, apparently. How’s that for dedication? Also, I blame Carrie.

Oh, and this was taken the night before while we were getting drinks at the Aulani. Even though my sister is pretty smart by most definitions, she apparently thinks all sail boats everywhere line up in front of the sunset each night so as to be the subject of photos.

On Wednesday we hopped into a helicopter with no doors to fly around the island. I love helicopters so I jump in whenever I can, and while no doors is great for photography it can be a bit unnerving (read: fun!) when doing steep turns. The weather was pretty rough so the flight was bumpy at times. At one point we hit a big bubble o’ turbulance and the helicopter dropped rapidly. I thought Jennifer was going to cut my leg off when she grabbed it as hard as she did to steady herself.

This pleasant place is the Turtle Bay resort, where the helicopter took off from.

This is called the Stairway to Heaven. It’s really hard to convey how steep and high this staircase is.  Note the clouds. It’s illegal to hike it, so anyone doing so has dodged the security guard that works at the bottom.

Here’s an overhead of the USS Arizona memorial in Pearl Harbor.  Here’s another, much larger photo of the site (click the photo to close it).  Something like 900 fallen sailors remain entombed within her.

I shot this place, Sharks Cove, almost every day. It’s about a quarter-mile from Jen’s house and has some decent little food trucks that hang out by it. This is a great spot to go snorkeling or to take the kids for tide pool fun.

This is Emily’s second dog, a sweet little female puppy who was constantly under foot. I think she may have been trying to kill me, now that I think about it.

Two more of the keiki:

On one of the nights Jennifer, Jessica, and I drove down to the Barbers Point lighthouse. This idealic scene is a bit misleading; literally 8 feet to my right is a big luau restaurant/show, and the whole area is surrounded by a heavy industrial park that stinks of oil. The sunset was incredible, so I do encourage you to head down there. Just lock your car when you do.

This is a photo taken along the path to Waimea Falls in the botanical gardens.

On Friday I went to Waikiki to do some diving with Drew Wheeler, a very nice and capable dive leader at Surf n Sea in Haleiwa Town. Both of us (and his friend Bret) are trained in shipwreck penetration, so we planned to enter and explore some sunken ships. Unfortunately, conditions proved a bit too dicey to do the route we planned on during the first dive, but we were still able to explore the ship. Drew was kind enough to send me some photos of myself outside and inside the YO 257 and San Pedro wrecks. If you’re in Hawaii and want to dive, make sure to look him up. Oh, and check out his website for more cool underwater videos and images.

We hung out at Waimea Bay for a bit on Sunday. In addition to jumping off the big southern rock ourselves, I had a great time taking photos of others doing the same. This is our friend Susanna doing a flawless back flip, although it looks as though she might  be getting abducted by an alien spaceship.

Susanna takes a leap of faith from the jumping rock in Waimea Bay.

Baby balancing, a close cousin of cat juggling, is all the rage on the north shore.



Although I took a lot more photos, I’ll leave you with this one of Susanna and Rusty’s beautiful daughter Hanalei having a sunset swing. As one of the last photos I took of the trip, it’s also one of my favorites. How would you like to spend life doing this every day? :)

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Random Jazz: OC Edition II

Below is a collection of photos I’ve taken throughout Orange County over the last 4 weeks.

One note and then I’ll shut up: During weekend forays along random OC back roads, it surprised me how many memorials there were. Driver safer people; operating a motor coach isn’t rocket science.

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Seasets VI: Loss

The text below is adapted from something I wrote last Thursday. The photos themselves are from two different days at Corona Del Mar: the first is from a session the day my friend died, while the second was done in a “make up” session this evening.

My long time friend, Bobby Villanueva, passed away today, leaving behind a wife and two young daughters. In recent years Bobby had taken an interest in photography, and we spent a number of long conversations discussing lenses, cameras, and techniques. Like photography did for me, it opened up a new way of looking at life for him.

The quest to become an artist is not for everyone. A lot of people are content to take a simple photo, file it away, and call it a day. They’ve captured the moment, and now it’s on to the next photo. For those that paint, draw, sculpt, or photograph, I think there’s a sense that you could potentially create one image or piece in your lifetime that’s so perfect, it wouldn’t matter if you ever made another.

The issue though, is that you know you’ll never get there because real life is too beautiful, and memories too ephemeral to be corralled by a human’s coarse hands. It’s like trying to grasp at smoke. We critique ourselves, think about what we could do better, and go buy more paint, pencils, or film. What we’re trying to accomplish is impossible, but the pursuit is an extension of ourselves, and so we continue.


In a conversation with my friend Susan today, I explained why I don’t shoot a particular subject very often: “It feels too much like work.”

I was not being very productive at the office this afternoon, and decided that I needed to be somewhere else. My conversation with Susan in mind, I headed to the beach. The ocean has always calmed me, so it seemed like the right place to be. I photographed it for a while, failing miserably to capture everything I saw and felt at that moment. This was not work though, to be sure.

A few months back Bobby asked if I would donate some of my photos to a charity event he was doing for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. As with photography, he felt passionately about helping this organization and his daughter, who suffers from the disease. I’ve always felt like my photos just missed the mark, but for someone else to think them good enough to auction meant a lot to me. My passion was able to assist in his passion.

I felt bad for Bobby’s family, for his friends, for myself: all people who lost something in his passing. I thought about Bobby trying to create his own art, to capture the love he felt for his daughters. Passion to passion. How do you do it though? How do you possibly capture the magic of life and love with any real success?

The waves swept in and the water ran out, and I understood that you can’t. Life is in the chaos, in the brush strokes. The manifestation of love is the chase, the yearning to understand the world and the people around us. We’ll never create that single, unifying piece, because life is too big and us too small.

I tripped my shutter and froze the earth for an imperfect moment, trying to squeeze my emotions into some container that I could hold onto. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. I trudged up the beach cold and sad, knowing my memories will never do him justice.

And so, I hope we all have something in life that we can feel passionate about, something that doesn’t “feel like work.” More importanly though, I hope everyone has someone else to hold onto; someone to make each of these fleeting moments as permanent as possible.

Farewell my friend; you’ll be missed.

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An Uncut Weekend

My weekend started off with an early trip to photograph the US Uncut protest in LA. Unfortunately, the group never got very large while I was there, so I opted to take off and didn’t take any photos.  On the way home I stopped off in Long Beach to take photos of my friend’s puppy Gnocchi, and then met my cousin towards sunset to capture OC from on high.

My associate and friend Bruce arrived from the frozen lands of Scranton, PA Sunday morning. Whilst in the LAX area we drove to the Getty museum followed by the Huntington Beach pier so that he could tell his friends that he’s been to Huntington Beach. Also, to take photographs at sunset. Without clouds the pier sunset was sort of boring, but it was nice to be outside and not in the office.

This first shot is from Lemon Heights.

A view from the Getty.

Shooting puppies is more difficult than shooting hyper children. About the only time you can get a still portrait is when they’re too exhausted to continue. Here’s Gnocchi, dreaming of baby tennis balls.

Without much variety in the sky, I made my own. This shot has a slight shutter drag.

A resident at the Getty.

“Buildings on Mars.” An attempt at the unusual, looking inland from the shoreline in HB.

Lemon Heights again.

You got seashells in my pier photo. No, you got a pier in my seashell photo! (Sigh, I know I’m not funny.) My favorite of the weekend.

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2010: Year in Review

2010 was probably the most challenging year of my life, with a number of personal and work events that pushed me to the brink a number of times. But, it was also the most productive year of my life in a number of areas, certainly with respect to photography. By the time the year was over I felt that I had reached a new level in my ability to capture the world around me. Additionally, I found a new calling in life on a political and social level, traveled and “adventured” like never before, and most importantly, spent an incredible amount of time with a diverse group of amazing people. To all of you, even those who aren’t represented here, thank you for letting me into your lives during the best (and worst) year of my existence.

Even though this is a pretty darn big post, the photos below are only a small selection of some of my favorites from the year. Click on a shot to go to the full post it was originally found in.

Ireland and Italy

I traveled to Europe with my sister and cousin, stopping first in Ireland to visit my brother before heading off to Italy.

Robin and Laurie

Two incredible women who are a true pleasure to be around.

Section 8 at the House of Blues

I got to shoot my cousin’s band from the stage at the House of Blues in Anaheim. That was definitely a cool experience.

Corona Del Mar

I’ve spent a lot of time doing photography along Corona Del Mar. This photo seems to be the one people like best.

Los Angeles Arboretum

I made a number of trips to the arboretum this year. I started the year barely knowing what an orchid was, but thanks to the arboretum and Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, I’m pretty much an expert now. :)

These are from two different trips.

New York City

One of the most amazing places I’ve ever been to, and I barely scratched the surface.

Studio Chaos

2010 was the year that I finally got a handle on studio lighting. I’m certainly not an expert, but this once mysterious discipline has let me in on some of its secrets. The first two photos are from some of my first sessions at my new studio. The self-portrait of me isn’t published elsewhere on the site, but since it’s the most obnoxious photo I took all year, I figured I’d include it.

San Diego Ruins

I spent a long time scouring the desert near San Diego this year looking for ruins and pictographs. I didn’t find either; instead, I found this ghost train amid some adventures too crazy to share.

St. Louis

The weather in St. Louis was hot and miserable during my trip, but the stay was one of my best photo experiences to date.

Khmer New Year

Thanks to a connection through my friend Nita, a temple in Riverside asked me to capture their Khmer New Year celebrations.

Huntington Beach Pier

The third most viewed photo I took all year. Having grown up in HB and spent considerable time there, I actually find shooting the pier pretty boring. This one afternoon with my cousin and brother, however, made me feel like a first time visitor.

Scranton, PA

Pennsylvania is awesome. If it didn’t get to negative one million degrees in the winter, I might consider living there. Thanks to Aislinn and Bruce for joining me on some fairly crazy adventures.

Lake Shrine

An unusual retreat in the chaos of LA. Take a blanket and spend time reclining near Gandhi’s ashes.

Team Chaos: Action + Danger

I’ve been single forever, so taking photos of my own kids isn’t possible, given that I have none. Luckily, my good friends have two adorable children that I’ve been fortunate to photograph on a number of occasions. The first photo shows “Danger” Declan in James Bond mode, smooth talking the ladies already. The photo of “Action” Abby in her tiger costume is one of my top 5 favorites of the year.

Christmas with the Moores

In pursuit of a Christmas card, I spent a day with my cousin Dan and his lovely bride Kim, as well as their two very big dogs. After we were done for the day and driving home, we lucked into an amazing sunset and a great place to capture it.

Trenton, my favorite photo of the year

As part of a photojournalism project, parents Wendy and John let me into their family for a few weeks as I documented life with an autistic son. I haven’t published the full set yet, as I’m still working with some other families to get a larger body of work together. For various reasons, this photo of their son Trenton, a dynamic and incredible little guy, is my personal favorite  of the year.

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