Zorro Finds His Place In The World

Zorro Finds His Place In The World

  Jerry and Zorro Zorro06 Zorro01

I am having a ton of fun photographing free pet sessions with pets that have been adopted into new families!!!  Being allowed to come into a family’s home and share with them the joy of a new family member is an amazing experience.  The new pet knows how lucky they are and their new family is overjoyed.  So really it may be somewhat selfish of me to relish being a part of this personal time with these families.

It gets so depressing seeing all the animals waiting to find their “furever” homes.  The pounds are overflowing, and most rescues have stopped taking in animals, since they have no more fosters available to take them in.   The pound is a horrible horrible place, it is depressing, and sad.  Even the animals are depressed and sad. I personally can not go there as it is just too much to take emotionally.  Bless the people who work at the pound.  They are doing a job that really no one wants, and no one wants to see done.

So to go and photograph a pet in its new permanent loving home, well it is the bright side of what these rescue organizations and even the pound do. It is truly amazing to see these animals blossom in their new homes. They really are grateful for what they have been given,  you can see it in their eyes if you truly take the time to look.

I recently went and shot not 1 or 2 dogs, but 5 for Terri and Jerry Watson.  Three who were permanent members of this family, and two fosters. One of the fosters named Zorro, caused me to  leave with tears in my eyes that day.  This little dog (a senior chihuahua) would come and just sit next to me while I was taking pictures of his “temporary” family. He asked for nothing, no nosing for pets, no licking trying to get my attention. He just sat there as if to say “you know I am here and I am safe, and that is enough for me.”  At one point his foster “dad” picked him up and just loved him with so much emotion that deep down, I knew even though I was told he was a foster, that he had truly found his place in the world. A place with a warm bed, toys to play with, siblings to hang out with and a family that loves him more than anything else.   This my friends is why rescues do what the do, and why I LOVE what I do.  I was fortunate to get the picture of Jerry showing love to this foster dog, and it has truly become one of my favorite photos that I have ever taken.  (and to be clear I have taken tens of thousands of pictures).  I do not know if Jerry knew I was shooting him when he was doing this or not, but I am so grateful to him and his wife for showing their fosters as much love as they do their own dogs. If I ever come back as a foster dog, I want a family as kind and loving as they are. So thank you Terri and Jerry for allowing me to come into your home and share your “children” with me, I will be eternally grateful.

If you have adopted a new family member and would like more information on a free photo session with your new pet, please feel free to contact me, I would be honored for being allowed to share in this special event with your family.




Ok then,

It is now May 2nd and I have not blogged anything since December!!  What the heck? Who sped the clock up?  I was supposed to be doing my self-imposed schooling, starting in January and here it is May already…..  Now in my defense (here come the excuses!) I have been learning many of the things on my syllabus, maybe not in the order I was supposed to but, hey learning is learning ! Thank goodness I do not have any teachers to report to, I can just imagine the excuses I would need to come up with for not turning my homework in on time.  So here it is May, when my schedule usually starts to lighten up. But not this year! (this is a good thing I think). Two of the things I really wanted to concentrate on this year were A) learning more, and B) really pushing my business further.  Careful what you wish for, ’cause it may just happen.

I have met some truly wonderful people in tha last few months and have reconnected with many more.  Life really is a good time when you let it.  I have joined a couple of Meet Up groups. These are groups of people with the same interests that you can get together with and learn/share your passions. One that I joined is AZ Shutterbugs West where KC Costa and Norman Beer have pushed me to do more and to share my knowledge with the rest of the group. Everyone in the group is great fun, and we always are learing new things from each other. (see I really am learning). And I have to say working with models like Wendy West, Claire Hinder, Jessica Vargas and AJ Martinez make learning that much more entertaining! Thanks you to each of your for your help!! I will be posting photos of our MAD Cap Theater shoot soon, so stay tuned.  For now you all will have to settle for Chalupa…….

So back to the learning part – what I have been playing with (sounds more appealing than learning, don’t you think?) . Studio lighting (again MAD Cap photos to follow) and studio lighting for commercial photography.

     As well as lighting entire horse show arenas.  Which by the way requires LOTS of lights…..lol

Well, I am off to learn more and shoot more!!

Time to Get My Learn On (or just a refresher)

Time to Get My Learn On (or just a refresher)


I have decided to send myself back to school in a way.  Not the class room lecture type school, but rather one that I have imposed upon myself.  Some items I want to get better at, and some items are just good to do as a refresher course.  Life sometimes gets in the way of what we know and every now and again we need to step back and look at things again or even in perhaps a different way.  So I have made up my curriculum (which since I made it – I can change it if I want to!!! lol) and will be doing a “class” a week.  If you want to join me, I would love to have company – even if only in cyber space.   I will be happy to post  your assignments right along with mine, and I would even appreciate some critiques! So get out your red pencils and let’s have some fun.


Week 1     (Jan 2-8, 2012)               Fill Flash

Week 2     (Jan 9-15, 2012)             Fill and Reflector

Week 3     (Jan 16-22, 2012)          Flash Exposure Compensation

Week 4     (Jan 23-29, 2012)         Panoramas

Week 5     (Jan 30-Feb 5, 2012)    Light Diffusion

Week 6     (Feb 6-12, 2012)            Chiaoscuro

Week 7      (Feb 13-19, 2012)          Revealing Texture

Week 8      (Feb 20-26, 2012)        Transparency and Translucency

Now this looks like a pretty good start.  There are a lot of lighting “classes” here, but lighting IS photography. So time to get back to basics!!!  The panorama was thrown in there just for something fun and different.


Find the Truth Then Decide

Find the Truth Then Decide


So at the beginning of the month I posted a link by Mark America on my Facebook page in regards to horse slaughter….. Yep, I got some backlash and some people removed me as friends.  Makes you think that your friends should all have the same opinions that you do.  How boring would that be?  It is funny I never really put where I stand on the slaughter issue, I really only wanted people to be open-minded about what they were reading.

It is sad that so many people make decisions based on what they hear.  Not what they have researched themselves or what the facts are. When you meet someone new are you going to go by what someone else has told you about that person or do you want to make up your own mind based on what you yourself learn about that person? People should be aware of all the facts before they go ranting about an issue they have not really researched.

People have gone on the assumption that all horses that are processed are for human consumption.  This is not true.  Try researching tallow and see what you come up with. Another assumption is that the AQHA is responsible for the over population problem because they pay out incentives.  Perhaps reading how the incentive fund really works might be enlightening. The money does not come directly from AQHA. How about those that want more laws for those of use who have horses.  Yep just what we need more laws, and more restrictions.  Next thing you know we will have laws about having children too  (oh wait, maybe for some that may work….. wait, I better not get started on welfare etc…..). It is to bad that the majority people who are screaming about slaughter have not helped to come up with any viable solution.  My taking on another horse is not an option and I would imagine that most people who have horses feel the same way.  I have what I can afford to feed and take care of properly, and I have taken in and still have  more than one rescue dog.  Do I have any answers?  No I don’t but I am not going to condemn someone who does.  Instead, I will research their idea and come to my own conclusion as to whether or not it will work, or if it would work better with a little tweaking.

Another one that I like is that people should not have horses if they can not afford them.  While I agree with this statement for the most part, what about the good people who have lost their jobs and are choosing to feed their families before the animals. Are you going to tell me you would feed your horses before your kids?  Or spend $300+ to have a horse put down instead of feeding your children.(never mind those that have more than one horse).  Oh yeah you should put them down and not put your family first……yet, how many of you have tried to put down a healthy horse? All the vets that I know will not put down a healthy horse, it must have some kind of ailment. So now what?

Before anyone goes there, yes, I know that most horses are given drugs that make them  ineligible for human consumption.  But not all animals that are destroyed go to human consumption.  Dogs and cats that are destroyed do not end up on people’s plates.  And do you really know where your horse ends up when you have them put down and then picked up by a carcass removal service?  Processing plants.

With hay in my area fetching $17+ per bale for grass and $19+ a bale for alfalfa, (if you are lucky enough to own horse property).  Trims running  approx $50 (for a decent farrier). Yearly vet at about $300 (on a good year and a healthy horse….) and we have yet to add in – vitamins, special shoeing if needed, etc, etc. So how many rescues can you afford to take in?

Again I ask what HELPFUL solutions can you come up with?

As far as my stance on slaughter – if it is done in a humane way and regulated in some way then yes I am for it.  Delete me if you must, but please do your research before condemning anyone – each of us is entitled to our own opinions and I can only hope that your opinion is truly your own and based on RESEARCH and TRUTH.

Way Back When

Way Back When


For those of you that think photography is a relatively new thing for me – think again.  My first camera was one of those Kodak Instamatics with the cool flash cube! Then came the 110 camera. It was not until high school graduation that I got an SLR.  Yippy…..oh wait – I have to pay for the film and processing????  Hmmmm….. Not sure I like this now.  lol  So being a broke college student, I did not get to do much in the way of photography, I did not stop by any means, just slowed way down so I could afford to shoot!

Now I have digital SLR cameras and still have some of that cost per frame mentality (not near as much as I used to though!) I love the challenge of trying to get the shot right in the camera.  While I have a great abundance of respect for Photoshop wizards, I personally do not think that it makes you a better photographer.  I feel that comes from knowing your equipment, how to use it, lighting and knowing your subject.

It is funny to stop and think how long photography has been a part of my life.  I finally sat down and went through a few old negatives (20+ years old….lol) and decided to have them converted to digital.  Photography has come such a long way since 19??  (I can’t really remember the exact date I started my camera obsession so you are not getting the exact year!!) When they first introduced the digital SLR cameras, I was in college and can remember the photographers at the horse shows with these very, very expensive new fangled cameras that you could see pictures on immediately. I was so envious!!  Now I can not imagine anything else.  Yep I am now one of those camera geeks that waits for the new models to come out.  As of now I am saving my pennies for the new Canon 1D X which is set to debut March 2012. I can not wait!!!

So here are a few pictures that I recently had converted from 135mm negatives to digital……not bad for the negatives being well over 20 years old!!  lol

Enjoy This Ride Called Life

Enjoy This Ride Called Life


You have heard it a thousand times “enjoy the ride”, but have you ever stopped to really think about what that means? I mean really thought about it?  Life is short and you only get one ride through it, so why not enjoy it?  Everyone has problems, everyone has worries, stress, money issues, blah, blah, blah.  So and so is mad at you for doing something you don’t think is justified.  Guess what, if you are dwelling on it, then you are losing precious time you were given to enjoy life. I consider that a real waste of your own precious time, energy and well being.  Do you really want to waste a minute on something that is really only a blip on your life radar? That time you wasted could have been spent laughing with your friends or family.  Instead, that moment is gone – forever. Happiness really is a choice, you can decide to be happy, or you can decide to dwell on all the wrongs that have been put upon you. Me?  I choose to be happy in as many ways as possible. Next time you are out doing errands, take a minute to just enjoy the scenery around you, the flowers, the clouds, the laughter of anyone.  It really will make you feel better.  Then just keep adding those types of minutes to your days and you will be surprised how fast your out look on life will improve, and people will want to be around you because you are always happy. Now don’t get me wrong I have times when I am flat out pissed off at the world…lol but I try to remember to only let it last for so long, because who else really cares how bad a day you are having? and whose time are you really wasting??  That’s right yours, and every minute is yours to do with what you like, so wouldn’t you rather enjoy them then waste them?


Hug Your Family and Friends

Hug Your Family and Friends


It has been a difficult week to say the least.  When I saw the breaking news about the mass shooting in Seal Beach CA, it most certainly caught my attention since I lived there at one time.  Little did I know that I would be directly touched by this awful awful event.  On Wednesday, the day after the shooting I found out that a very dear family friend had been one of the victims.  My Mom was the one that called and told me.  I was stunned, I had no idea what to say to my Mom to make her fell any better, and I had even less clue what I was going to say to Dave’s family.  While we are not related, I consider each of them as close of family as my own family, and all I could do at the moment was to make that dreaded phone call.  It actually went better than I thought it would. Since this happened, I have tried to imagine what his family is going through, I find it impossible and then break down because I can not fix it for them. I have thought about how busy they are now with friends and family and police and, and, and…….. but then what? What can I do to help after all the immediate drama has gone and they are left in their own quiet space.  All I can do is offer myself and be there when I am needed. That next step that will come I see as a black hole, and I pray that they do not get lost there, and that they will soon see the bright sunshine and move forward – never forgetting, but really celebrating that Dave belonged to them, and they to him. What a truly lucky family they have been.

Dave was an amazing guy.  He would help anyone, and was always there when you needed him.  His family was his greatest asset and he knew it. They have a long road of recovery in front of them, but I know Dave will be watching over them, and protecting them.  The world could use a whole lot more like Dave Caouette.

His memorial service was on Monday at Patty’s Place next to the salon where the first seven victims were assassinated. Dave was shot in his car in the parking lot, three rows away from the salon. An avid Land Rover Offroader, Dave made many friends while exploring the state with the Land Rover group Wheels Events that he was a part of.  This group was amazing on the night of the memorial, they filled the parking lot with Land Rovers. It was a beautiful site, and a real tribute to Dave. Black tape across each one’s left headlight was their tribute, very simple, yet very meaningful. I would like to thank them all for all the good times they shared with Dave, and for attending the event on Monday – you guys and gals are awesome!!!

I could go on and on, but I will save you the boredom of my mediocre writing skills and share with you photos from the Memorials outside the Salon Meritage, Dave’s parking spot and some shots of the Land Rovers in attendance.

Please consider making a donation in lieu of flowers to help Dave’s wife, children and grandchildren, I know they would appreciate it.

Dave Caouette Memorial Fund
C/O Long Beach Police Officers Association
2865 Temple Ave.
Signal Hill, Ca. 90755-2212

The Dave Couette Memorial Fund is authorized by the Caouette family and 100% of all proceeds go directly to them.

Please always remember to kiss your family, friends or loved ones when they leave you and never let them forget how much they mean to you.  The old cliché is so very very true, you never know what will happen until you see them again……

I love you Dave!  and the entire Caoutte family.

Anyone Can Make a Difference

Anyone Can Make a Difference


Oh sure it is a bit cliché, but it really is true.  I am blessed to do something I truly love and am able to make a living at it. Am I getting rich? depends on how you look at it.  I think I am, but it is certainly not in the monetary way.  My photography has allowed me to immerse myself further into the horse and dog worlds than I ever was before, and along the way I have made some great friends and captured some wonderful moments for people. Yes, my photos have made some people smile, and  they have made some cry.  My images have allowed people to share great triumphs and even share great sadness and I get to be a bit selfish and feel good about it.

What really let me know that I had made a difference was the day I received an email that a rescued Jack Russell Terrier had found his forever home because of a photo I had taken.  The woman who adopted Max said she kept coming back to him because of his photo on the rescue’s website.  I was elated for Max, and once again I got to be a bit selfish and relish the fact that I had made a difference not just in Max’s life but in the life of the woman who adopted him.  Way to go Max!!!

There are many special memories I have that have all stemmed out of giving back through my photography. From donating my time (photos) to rescues, to giving back to the associations that have allowed me to become their photographers, I am eternally grateful and am humbled that I have actually made a difference. Have I solved the debt crisis? created world peace? no but it is ok, I can still make a difference one small photo at a time. What can you do to make a difference?  You may be surprised and humbled by what you can do and how it will make you feel.


Busy Busy Busy

Busy Busy Busy


Well, The last week has been swamped with shooting, shooting and more shooting! Am I complaining? Not a chance.  I love what I do. And I am so thankful to all my customers who like my work – you are all amazing!!! From barn shoots to horse shows, to just shooting for fun, what better job can there really be? There is still that thing called frustration that shows up sometimes, but the fun/good outweighs the bad. I am so truely blessed with great customers and fans.  The picture with this post is probably one of my favorites from the last week, (with two different edits) and while I wanted to share some of the funny ones I was threatened not too!!!  lol  If you want to see more of my pictures, go check out S. Sylvester Photography on facebook, and become a fan (ok – just “like” the page). Thanks to all my customers, many of whom I now consider friends I could not have done any of this without you.

Kyle and Preston

09/11 Remember and Honor

09/11 Remember and Honor

So it has been ten years since this beautiful country we call America was attacked.  Attacked and shaken to our very core.  I am sure everyone can remember where they were and what they were doing.  But have you remembered and honored what you felt that day?  Has it made a difference in who you are, how you treat people  and what you believe in?  I know it has certainly changed me. I was in a dark place at that point in my life, and then the planes flew into the twin towers, no longer were my problems so horrible, no longer was I so self consumed. I made a very concious decsion to be happy, to live life, and enjoy my friends and family and to be a kinder person to people I do not know. My father and grandfather had given their lives and many other relatives are still giving to keep this country safe. And yet here we were being attacked at our very core. It was not just landmarks that were attacked, but our whole belief system, our  values and  our faith. My heart was heavy with the grief I felt for all those people that we could not keep safe on our own soil.  So has it really changed you? I know it has changed me.