How Toastmasters Helped Me


How Toastmasters Helped Me

I am a strong believer in professional development. Any opportunity to learn and make an impact is time well spent which is why I became a member of Toastmasters.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs.

As a Professor, I have become accustomed to public speaking, however with my experience, I feel that everyone (even the most expert level speaker) can benefit from joining a group like Toastmasters. Not only does it provide the opportunity to speak in front of a group, it also helps strengthen core leadership skills such as listening, critical thinking, giving feedback, empathy, and time management.

Toastmasters begins your speaking experience by allowing you to talk about a familiar subject: yourself. This is called the icebreaker.


“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” --The Alchemist

This quote deeply resonates with me to this day. Paulo Coelho's novel, The Alchemist, shares the story about a boy who diligently seeks his life goal of becoming an Alchemist but along the way, he discovers the life lesson of trusting in the process.

I haven't always felt "the process" was as important as the final goal, and I've taken a long, windy route to understand this, but now it shines more true than ever.

I was born and raised in Reynoldsburg, Ohio and grew up living the typical life of any Mid-Western kid: kickball, tag, tubing on the lake, racing home when streetlights came on, catching fireflies in the front yard. At 13, my life was flipped upside down when my family decided to move to California to escape some of the turmoils that were plaguing our family. When we got to California, I became increasingly withdrawn did not have the strength or outlets to succeed. At the time, I felt like I was just waiting for time to pass by. I counted down for the day that I could leave this part of my life behind.

When I got into college I looked at the opportunity as a fresh start. This was my chance to reinvent myself and put any negative experiences in the past. I began as a business major with no direction. I switched my major to the Arts in my second year on a whim and started to see my grades rise. I felt excited to be in my classes and interact with my peers.

I realized Art was always my saving grace. Since childhood, I turned to Art to cope when forced to deal with negative thoughts or troubles. I was able to make something negative into a positive from channeling my creative mind. After pursuing my Masters in Fine Arts, I immediately joined the workforce at a prestigious photo agency before my father became ill. Eventually, I made the decision to return home to be closer to family.

The irony in coming home was that while at one time, it was the last place I wanted to be, this time around it afforded me the opportunity to reflect on my life goals.

I realized my purpose could be to help others who have felt negative emotions to find solace through pursuing Art through photography. After about three years of teaching photography in non-profit organizations, I began working with The David's Harp Foundation who strives “to inspire, educate and empower 'at-risk' and homeless youth to achieve academic success through music education, sound engineering and multimedia production.” We worked together to pioneer a photography program to accompany their music curriculum. Sony was a proud sponsor who generously donated photo equipment. Our partnership opened an opportunity for me to work at the Sony North American Headquarters in San Diego, California.


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At Sony, I am able to work with professional photographers and continue the growth of the Sony legacy while still serving my community through The Sony Foundation and their partnership with The Boys & Girls Club.

I am humble and grateful to see my journey come full circle and encourage everyone trust in the process. It may not always take you where you want to go but most certainly will take you where you need to be.


In sharing this story I was able to "break the ice" with co-workers whom I have not had the opportunity to have a conversation with. The result from sharing the ice breaker led to a greater camaraderie amongst our group. I am now excited to attend our weekly Toastmasters meetings! Each week, I am offered the opportunity to make new connections, listen and learn about each of the members, and challenged to use the word of the day.

Toastmasters is a great resource to build core leadership skills and allows one the opportunity to network with likeminded coworkers, all with the common goal of self improvement. This professional development program provides a space to share and listen to members of your company's collective team. Toastmasters helps to build trust, encourages spontaneous collaboration, and enhances communication. I encourage you to explore outside of your comfort zone, break the ice and join Toastmasters!



Grant Cardone: Sell or Be Sold


"Become so sold, so convinced, so committed to your company, product, and service that you believe it would be a terrible thing for the buyer to do business anywhere else with any other product."- Grant Cardone, Sell or Be Sold

Hanging with the man himself, @grantcardone  at the @clevertalksTactical Fest.



What Couples Regret After the Wedding


What Couples Regret After the Wedding

Don't get me wrong, our wedding day was perfect! Although, there were a few things that I wished had gone smoother. A few newlyweds (including Alex and I) would love to share regrets and advice to future brides and grooms.


Avoid a faint-like feeling by getting something in your stomach. Although it may be the last thing on your mind, trust your rumbling gut and have a bite before things get even busier. You will need enough energy to get through hair and makeup (which is already exhausting), to soak up the caffeine you will probably have, to face the jittery excited nerves, photoshoots, ceremony, grand entrance, and first dance. Whew!

I made it a point to have Lechon (a delicacy dish of whole, charcoal roasted pig) at our dinner reception... and I didn't even taste it! My groom was having so much fun, that he didn't have his slice of cake. Bottom line is: empty plates and cups is an ultimate no-no. Taste everything. You chose the menu and caterer for a reason! Blow kisses to your guests from your table and chow down.



Schedule a few minutes sometime during the day to have alone time together--sans the photographers, the bridal party, the wedding coordinator. Use this time to pray, laugh, dance, cry, or just sulk the day in. 

Ask someone in your wedding party to take your phones away from you for the day. Focus in on the moment. Everyone you love should be around you, anyway.



More importantly, decide what is most important to you. Communicate and delegate your requests to the vendors. White roses in the vase, red roses on the table? Got it. 

Tell your photographer exactly which shots you must have. They should be thankful for your input! Feel free to share that you admire natural lighting the most, which side is your “good side”, or that you must have photos of you and the flower girl--as a gift to her on her future wedding day. 

Share your expectations to all of your vendors--your florist, caterer, and DJ. Yes, they are professionals and know what they’re doing. But they ultimately want to make you happy. Let them know how. 



Lastly, the biggest regret that we hear. From our newlywed couple friends to you: don't hire your cousin's friend who just got a new camera. Sure, you might save some money--but does he really know what he is doing? Don't rely on your guests' iPhone quality photos and videos. 

Hiring a professional to capture the special memories of your day will bring you and your family solace and cheer. Let the memories of your wedding day live on through the photos and videos. Allow a professional to handle capturing these moments, so you and your guests can actually enjoy the celebration. 

We hope you take our advice into consideration and have an amazing wedding day. 

All photos featured above our from our LOVE IS BEING wedding collection. For book information do not hesistate to contact us at 


3 Essential Steps for Prom Photography


3 Essential Steps for Prom Photography

Prom night swag ☝🏾💯

The other night I let my wife pick a movie for our movie night date. She chose Lilo and Stich, a film I had never seen before but provided a great story and a break from my recent Marvel comic movie obsession. 🔥

The major theme from the movie was Ohana which Lilo explains means "family and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten." 🌊 
It was the perfect compliment to our Easter weekend filled with family.

The morning began with a maternity shoot for my sister in law and ended with a prom shoot for my nephew. 📷 

Bottom line is I would do anything for my Ohana. I am grateful to have a career that allows me to share in the day with them. 💯

I learned a thing or to from my prom photoshoot and wanted to share with you 3 tips to help you complete your first successful shoot posing and photographing teens.

1. Have a Plan

Make sure you have thoroughly scouted your site beforehand and have a good read for light! In many cases the dates will be leaving to the prom shortly after your short, meaning you have a tight schedule to shoot. Create a shot list of important photos such as putting on the corsage. 


2. But Shoot the Candids Too! 

While you have a plan, remember to shoot candid shots as well! Remember you are working with a young and youthful group meaning there are plenty of fun moments to be expected. Don't miss them because you were to busy sticking to your shot list.


3. Have Fun With It!

After you get all of the critical shots, you can up the ante and get the group to act silly and be themselves. Get them to laugh, dance, jump up and down, pick each other up. Anything that gets those natural smiles flashing and demonstrates that they are genuinely having a great time! 

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I hope this guides you through your first successful prom shoot! Best of luck! 

For more information on how to book your photoshoot or for more photo tips and tricks, head on over to to learn more. 



You look, but do you SEE?


You look, but do you SEE?

You look. But do you ever really see? 👀

Living in San Diego we have no shortage of amazing sights with a landscape encompassing mountains and beaches all under the vibrancy of the year round sunshine. ☀️ But just like any other city you can take the views for granted, looking, but never really seeing. 📷

This past week I had the opportunity to photograph a wedding at the Prado in Balboa Park though I've been there dozens of times seeing it illuminated in such a new light and for a different purpose made me reimagine the scenery. 🌴

How often do you go about your day just looking, missing al the details that frame the world around you, and never really seeing what is there in front of you? For the photographers who follow this page I hope this is part of our regimen already. For newcomers to photo or beginners I hope this gives you a chance to see in a new light. 


How Gratitude Can Change Your Life


How Gratitude Can Change Your Life



It is scientific fact the gratitude reciprocates. 💯

As a visual learner, photography has always clicked with me giving me the ability to document my journey. It was my practice in the arts that allowed the chance to create a seamless connection between motivation, instruction, assessment, and practical application leading me to a deeper understanding of the world. 📚

As a photographer, teacher, and professor I look to my studies in the arts as a blessing, shaping the way I see the world and creating a pathway to a career I love and the ability to connect with people on a genuine level. 📷

It is an amazing feeling to be able to give back to the San Diego community and inspire others to explore their talents and share their perspective with the world. A major thank you to the @davidsharpfoundation for allowing me to build this photography program with you, to @sonyalpha for the equipment and resource, and to @freebasephotos for assisting each week and making an impact in these students lives. 📷

Art Is Being was founded in the concept that the arts are what makes us most human. To create is to be. ARTISBEING.