About Me – My Photographic Journey Over the Last Two Years

As of March 14th, 2011 I have been officially using the photographic medium to express myself for two years. This post is a look back at some of my favorite photos from each month of the last two years. It’s a look at how my photographic expression has matured over these last two years.

I have lot of people to thank for all that I’ve learned and accomplished these last two years. Praise God!

Thank you Lyndsie and Jason for giving me the opportunity to take your engagement photos. Thank you Amy and Orlando for supporting my venture into the world of photography, and for sharing so many resources with me. Thank you Thien Lai for helping me understand artificial light is a balance between natural light and the light you need. Thank you Breann Hotz for all the encouraging words you’ve shared with me. I’m honored that you call me your favorite photographer. Thank you Holly Brandt for giving me the opportunity to take your photos, and for all of your encouraging words. Thank you Felicia and Javier for taking a gamble on me. Thank you Jo Ramsey for all your encouraging words, and always making me feel like a “Rock Star”. Thank you Bruce and Rhonda Kane for all your support, for encouraging me to be open to doing a wedding in the first place, and then sharing so many resources with me. Thank you to my everyone in my Life Group (Dusti + Tyler Jones, Ryan + Sarah Reynolds, Kyle + Diana Reynolds, and Jason +Melissa Lincicum), for praying with Sarah and me, supporting us, and never abusing us. I would not be who I am if you guys weren’t part of my life. Thank you to my family for being my family and loving me. Thank you Dad for being one of my best friends. Thank you Anahy Ruelas for being the most inspiring self-portrait artist I know! I’m blessed to know you as my friend.

Thank you Sarah Allen for being my best friend, for being so supportive of my creative ideas and efforts. I love you!

Thank you God for giving me this gift of expression. Thank you for allowing me to express myself through photography.

Thank you everyone that I have been blessed to call “friend”. I’m glad you have been a part of my life.

I’m not as far along as I believe I’d like to be. But I do believe I am as far a long in this journey as God wants me to be. And I can’t ask for more than that.

-December 2008 Sarah and I bought a new car. It was our second car together, and well it was pretty much our dream car. In January I decided to take Sarah’s camera, a Nikon D80 with a kit lens, and our car out to Fresno early in the morning and take as many pictures as I could. I’d use every automatic setting, and every angle I could think of. Sarah had told me that the best time for photos was in the morning as the sun rose, in the evening as the sun set, or during overcast weather. So I figured getting to Fresno prior to sunrise and taking as many photos as possible, I was guarenteed to get a good photo. I got up at 4am and drove to Fresno. During that trip I captured the following photo.

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That same month Sarah and my service at our home church came to an end. We both heard Jesus call us to leave that church to serve somewhere else. I brought Sarah’s camera with us so we could get a few pictures of everyone, and a few of us with a few of our friends. It was a very emotional day for us.

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-February two of our best friends got engaged. I asked if I could “try to get them a nice engagement photo”. Just before doing their photos, Sarah and I went to the Bay area to visit family. While there we stopped at this old house we found and decided to let me “practice” for the upcoming photo shoot.

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-March 2009 I did my very first “official” photo shoot. We met two of our best friends Lyndsie and Jason and just walked around Hanford taking pictures. The goal was to get one good photo of them. We got a lot more than that. We got about 80 photos we felt were “keepers”.

 

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I’d become addicted. I loved the feeling of getting home and searching for the “good” photos. Playing with them in Adobe RAW to see just how good they could look. I’d spend 10 hours straight just “editing”. It was like a treasure hunt. I loved the feeling I got when I took a good photo. It was very unreal to me. It was hard to believe that I could take a “good” picture. I posted them on Facebook and put “Photo by Bill Baxter” as the caption. I didn’t think that anyone would believe I took the photos. They were too good to be taken by Adam Allen

Excited about my new found ability I sought a few of my friends in an effort to build a portfolio. I found one family, and two seniors and I offered to do photos for them. I also had not learned that “a touch of color” was something very taboo in the photographic industry.

 

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-May 2009 I held my first event. The “Aviator Projectis” I asked several friends to meet me and take pictures wearing a pair of Aviator sunglasses. I finally have prescription pair ordered. Hooray!

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-June 2009

 

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-July 2009 Sarah and I went to visit two of our best friends, Brook and Zack. While there we asked if we could get a couple of photos of them. They took us to retired Navy base. It was great!

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That same month I also did my first “paid” engagement session. This was with, our now friends, Emily and Alex. They are awesome people!

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I even did my first and last “child session”. Though I am very happy with this photo, I’m usually not satisfied with my photos of children, and therefore refer people to someone else.

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Our good (and beautiful) friend Leanna came to visit .

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I also came up with this idea for a photo in which I would wipe away the colorless world.

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-August 2009. I took photos of Felicia and Javier. The first couple to ever hire us to capture their wedding. They quickly became our friends. They’re truly great. I could not have asked for or picked a better couple to be our first wedding.

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I also held another event “Iluminous Projectis”. I hung a ton of Christmas lights from a pergola. About 80 people came out, we enjoyed hand made desserts, wine sampling,  and I took their photos. My favorite was this one of two of my best friends, Jason and Mellissa.undefined

– September 2009 Sarah and I photographed our first wedding. The wedding of Javier and Felicia. It went very well! After that we looked at each other and said, “that was hard, but I loved it! We can do this!”

 

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Sarah took this photo. I’m so proud of it.undefined

Our D80 literally died during the first photo I shot after the wedding. It was a miracle that it made it through the wedding. I learned that I had worn out the shutter in just the six months that I’d been using it. So we took it in to take advantage of the warranty (always get the extended warranty). In the mean time I needed a camera, so we purchased our D700. It was bitter sweet. It really signified the closing of a chapter for me. I’d been a guitar player for seven years and still didn’t (and don’t) have my dream guitar. But just six months as a photographer and I already had my dream camera. This photo is from the first photo shoot I did with my new D700.

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-October 2009 our friends Lyndsie and Jason got married. They’re the couple from the first photo shoot back in March of 2009. They were kind enough to let me bring my camera, hang out, and causally take pictures. Lyndsie looked absolutely gorgeous!

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During a time of prayer, Sarah was outside and took some pictures in our old backyard. I just really like this one.

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We also shot the wedding (vow renewal) of Kim and Tim. It was great times.undefinedundefined

Our gorgeous friend Leanna is part of a big family. Her family has been a blessing and very Godly influence on me for the past ten years. So while her brother and sister Garret and Bethany were in town I grabbed them for some quick photos. These two are still some of my favorites.

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-December 2009. Back in October, at Lyndsie and Jason’s wedding, our friend Breann stopped me and told me that she “loved” my photos. She really took the time to explain that she wasn’t saying that to be flattering or “nice”. That she really enjoyed looking at my work, and that I’d become her favorite photographer.  I later got a call from Breann’s mom. She told me that Breann had specifically asked if she could have me do her annual school pictures. This blessed me, because it meant Breann was very serious. She really did like my photos and wanted to be part of them. Since then I’ve done all that I can to honor anyone that claims to be a fan of my work.

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Our church held an “Ugly Sweater Party” and asked me to photograph it. I didn’t know it yet, but these two people would become two of my best friends. I spent most of the night hanging with them and a few other people at their table. Turned out everyone at the table was part of their “Life Group”, and Sarah and I would later  join that group. My life wouldn’t be the same without the people in that group.undefined

One of my best friends Chris Casarez came to visit.undefinedundefined

 

-January of 2010 I received an email from a young girl named Holly. She would be graduating from High School and hoped I would be willing to travel out to Arizona to do her Senior Photos. I was very professional and said “Crap Yeah!” So Sarah and I took the drive out to Arizona and met Holly and her family. They were all such great people. We really liked them. It was a very surreal moment for me. I couldn’t believe I was out in Arizona in this awesome dessert, taking pictures of this gorgeous girl. It was a dream shoot and I’d been “hired” for it? When did this happen? I know it sounds silly, but it’s how I felt, and still feel a lot of the time. This is what I love doing, and It’s hard to believe that people “want” me to take their photos, let alone go to Arizona to do it.undefinedundefined

 

– February of 2010 I got the idea for this photo. Breann was now my photographic “guinea pig”. I figure it’s one way to show my appreciate of her claiming me as her favorite photographer. So, needless to say, I grabbed her to try out my idea. It’s still one my favorite photos.undefined

We joined the life group in January and became close friends with everyone very quickly. Two of the people in the life group, Dusti and Tyler, would be moving at the end of February. This is the reason we were able to join the group. We were Dusti and Tyler’s replacements. It was very sad, Dusti and Tyler had become two close friends, and we were very sad to see them leave. We took them to ice cream and grabbed a few shots of them and their family.

 

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-March 2010 we photographed Emily and Alex wedding. Emily and Alex are just great people. We love them, we even stay at their house when we go to the beach. I’m so glad we met them.undefinedundefined

April 2010 For what ever reason April was the month I got a ton of Senior Sessions. regardless, I also took some of my favorite photos that month. The first one is of my cousin Marcus. I like Marcus a lot.undefinedundefined

This photo was a big deal for me. Adding the wings took several hours. You may not realize this but photomanipulation was something I loved to play with before I became a photographer. Advanced Photoshop for Professionals is a magazine I read religiously.  This photo was a landmark for me.undefined

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-May 23, 2010 the final episode of Lost aired. It was sad day. We watched every episode of the last season with these people. Our party wasn’t as elaborate as other people’s, but we did have a cake with a quote from Charlie, “Guys… Where are we?”

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-June 2010

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I met with my friend Breann and we put together a “fashion shoot” I love working with Breann.undefinedundefined

We also photographed Kate and Kyle’s wedding. We captured what are still some of my favorite images that day.undefinedundefined

 

-July 2010 we traveled to Seattle to photograph our friend Amber’s wedding. We hadn’t met Jack until the day before the wedding, but let me tell you, they were made for each other.undefinedundefined

 

During that wedding I met my friend Thien Lai. A great photographer from the area.  We hit it off right away, and he helped me understand how to use artificial light. The things I would learn that day would significantly change how I approach lighting, and give me a new, more mature, vision for the creative process. With my new knowledge I took this photo at the wedding.undefined

 

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This had been a photo I wanted to take for a very long time. Fortunately our friends Elizabeth and Kyle happened to have the perfect car at their wedding.undefined

-August 2010 Sarah and I sat down to build her make up portfolio. It was a big challenge for me. It was the first time that I purposefully turned the aperture up past f/6. No bokeh, just full on detail.

-September 2010 I purchased my 20mm lens. Another big change for me in my style. I fell in love with the way a wide angle lens can make things (especially skies) look epic!undefined

My friend Grace decided to “go wild” and dye one of her locks red. In effort to encourage her to do so, I offered her a free photo. It’s still one of my favorites. She’s definitely one of the coolest jerks I know. I like her.undefined

-October 2010 Sarah’s Mom and brother came to visit. While here we went to Yosemite. I just really like this picture that Sarah took, and the sentiment behind it.undefined

While they were in town my new friend Holly (the girl from Arizona) was going to be coming through town. I asked her to come by so Tony and I could do some quick photos with her.undefinedundefined

 

And we shot our last wedding of the year at the end of October. Julie and Joel’s wedding was most definitely the most fun wedding we’ve shot so far. People just would not stop dancing! They picked Joel up on their shoulders like 300 times!undefined

-September 2010 I took this photo of my Friend Hannah. I just really like it. It’s a good representation of my new love for wide angle and artificial lighting.undefined

-November I shot Jonathan’s senior photos. This is definitely one of my favorites. 20mm, two strobes, back lighting (another new favorite), and a guitar. It’s an accurate expression of myself.undefinedundefined

 

-December 2010 I took my favorite self portrait. 20mm, back lit, soft box, and a slow shutter laser pointer.undefinedundefinedundefined

-January 2011 Sarah and I made a decision to do one “Creative Project” every month for the whole year. It’s a serious challenge. But I believe it will make both of us better artists.

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-February 2011

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-March 2011 I was hoping to post a photo from our third Creative Project, but we haven’t shot it yet. But I definitely love this photo of our friends Raimey and Aaron.

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Thanks a lot for letting me share with you. I hope you express your heart in some way today.

God Bless You,
-Adam Allen

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Christina - Adam, I have been really impressed with your photography since you started. I would have never known that this wasn’t something you just picked up! God has blessed you. Thank you for sharing your journey with us, I look forward to seeing the photos to come as well. God Bless!

Jo Ramsey - You ARE a rockstar! No joke! And I’m probably your biggest groupie, haha!! I read the WHOLE thing, and am so inspired and encouraged, as always, with not only your photos, but with all the passion and heart that goes into them. I also think it’s super, SUPER cool, that it was your wife who started the whole thing, and that you two compliment each other so well in following this dream (and I am certain in every other area as well). I am just blown away by all of the time you invest in studying and practicing new techniques. It shows in your work, and has obviously paid off big time. But still, I believe that what you have that is making you so successful is your eye for the perfect shot. Take away all the fancy cameras, lenses, lighting, and software, and you still have what it takes to take those epic shots. When looking at every photo of yours, I’m always thinking “Dang! How did he think of that angle? (Or framing, or use of foreground etc….)”.
Thanks for including me in your credits – that is so stinkin cool, as truly I know I don’t contribute anything to your growth other than being a cheerleader! But apparently that does something! Ha!
You are totally my favorite photographer! I still can only hope that I can be a fraction as good as you when I grow up!
Props on remembering to give Jesus the credit. That’s your ultimate secret ingredient for sure.

TISHA MESTAS - Just beautiful photos..great job!