Lover of brussels sprouts, chubby dogs, and theme parks.
My interest in photography began in grade school. I would set up my "portrait studio” in the living room by hanging a bed sheet and shining house lamps toward it. Fast forward 20 years and today I am living my dream as a worldwide photographer based in Los Angeles.
Here you will find some of my recent work along with adventures, personal growth, and other random banter.
I don’t consider my photo sessions a formal shoot, it’s more like spending an afternoon with someone. Be present and enjoy what you are doing first, photos second. To me, that is the only way to produce quality work.
Jeffrey Vincent Parise
Shot with Mamiya645 + Canon 5D MKIII
I had extra film to take the remainder of the photos below and they are the ones I love most. The inbetween moments that make you remember a day…
After the formal portraits we walked to Echo Park Lake to catch the sunset. Jeff told me he has good luck finding things he’s looking for, whether it be a piece of furniture someone is throwing out, firewood, or in this case, random produce. I call this LIVING IN ALIGNMENT.
Her vows: I promise to try to cook as good as your mom, and the food truck guy…
Early in my career I was assisting for another photographer who had luxury clients. Not to say all luxury clients are like this, but these people were NOT nice (I had to use everything in me not to use expletives right there).
Many things happened that day, but this one in particular stood out. It was cocktail hour. The patio was crowded, and by accident her mom got bumped and spilled a little champagne that landed on the bride’s dress. The bride yelled, “MOM!” with a furious look on her face, while her mom just stood there not knowing what to say. Her mom’s friend asked her what was wrong and her mom softly said, “She’s upset about her dress.”
Her mom tapped her daughter on the shoulder to ask if she would take a photo with her friends who traveled from far away to attend the wedding, but the bride would not turn around. She was mad and continued to ignore her. Her mom looked like she was going to burst into tears. It broke my heart into a thousand pieces.
Everything was about show, and nothing was about love. I knew from that moment that if I can help it, I NEVER, EVER want to be surrounded by people like that.
I am EXTREMEMLY lucky that from the way I brand myself, the only people who contact me are those with similar values. Jonalyn and Ed’s wedding last week reminded me of everything that I think is truly important in life:
1. Acknowledging others. Especially those who make you the person you are today.
During the ceremony, Jo and Ed took turns acknowledging both sets of parents in their native tongues (Ed learning Tagalog, and Jo learning Spanish). Jo choked as she started. “Mama, Papa…”
There truly is a correlation between how one treats their parents and how they treat their significant other.
2. Having fun…
Simple and easy, but sometimes we forget to do it!
3. Showing your love…
Jo bought Ed that guitar for his birthday. He surprised her with playing “Here comes the Sun” by The Beatles. She sang along with him. They often sing together at home.
4. And most importantly, being KIND.
One of Ed’s buttons popped off before the ceremony. Mama was there quickly with needle and thread in hand.
Thank you Jonalyn and Ed, for filling up my love tank!
One afternoon my friends and I went to Angel Valley. We sat down in the office for an informative lecture before checking out the grounds. During the site we learned that Angel Valley is known to be a landing site for extraterrestrials and angels. It is also home to gnomes and fairies if you choose to see them.
As the old man was saying all this, I couldn’t help but think he was crazy. I have a side of me that is extremely logical. It’s the way I grew up . . . strictly science . . . I’ll believe it when it when I see it.
I also have a very spiritual side and believe that not everything has to be understood or seen to exist. The way the old make spoke reminded me that anything is possible if you choose to believe it. Who am I to say he is wrong just because I’ve never seen it before?
The meditation labyrinth at Angel Valley. I can’t say that I do or don’t believe in mythical creatures, but I did not see anything out of the ordinary that day.
It made me think of a good old friend – Jay Pullano. We worked at the same restaurant when I first moved to LA 8 years ago. When it was slow he would come to the host stand where I stood and talk about all the spiritual stuff he was reading. Sometimes he would grab a spoon or fork off a table. He would stare at it for 20 seconds, close his eyes to meditate with it, open his eyes and stare at it, and again close his eyes to meditate with it…
This went on for lengths at a time. I would look at him with a question mark hovering over my face.
“What are you doing, Jay?”
“I’m learning to bend this with my mind…”
All I could do was shake my head and think - I love you Jay, even if you are going through this hippie, psychedelic phase.
We always got along great and have a high level of respect for each other despite our differences.
Jay ended up giving up all his possessions and moving somewhere off the beaten path. I didn’t know where he was. He got rid of his cell phone so we rarely talked. He came back a year later for my birthday.
I had everyone over for dinner. We were in my kitchen and he said, “Hey, guess what?.” He smiled and opened my utensil drawer to grab a fork. He balanced it lightly on his fingers and closed his eyes. I stared at him and felt the energy, but before I could say, “OMG….”
Whoooooop. The handle of the fork melted in front of my eyes and twisted into a loop.
He handed it to me. With his signature dimply smile and sparkle in his eyes he said, “Happy Birthday CC…”
One of my favorite clients of all time (Hi Teri!) got married for the first time in her 40’s. It can be hard when all your friends are tying the knot in their 20’s and 30’s, but she said, “I just didn’t want to settle…” Then she looked at me with her wide-set gorgeous eyes, and with a smirk said, “Don’t EVER settle.”
I watched her walk down the aisle to the love of her life and let me tell you, there was a confidence, a clarity, I had never seen before.
Tony & Teri on their wedding day in 2011.
What I’ve learned is that it takes courage to set your expectations, but if you do, those who can rise up to them will show up.
From my assistant shooters, to graphic designer, to photo album company . . . I work with people who are both talented and care deeply about what they do. That’s the only way the results will be high quality. I care a lot about my work and expect other people to, too! It is also extremely pleasant to be around people who are passionate about what they do.
People will do what is expected of them. If you expect people to be incapable and do mediocre work, that is exactly what you’re going to get. I set the bar very high with who I choose to work with, and I LOVE every single one of them.
From age 16 to 32 there has been a huge shift in the quality of people in my personal life, particularly men.
I used to have low self esteem and have dated some real Mickey Mouse Ding Dongs. It’s funny thinking back on it because it’s true! The last few years I set the bar to what I truly want, and somehow, magically, the ones who show up are smart, successful, funny, adventurous, handsome, treat me like a queen, and have all these other adoring qualities that I want in a partner.
It went from “You choose me? Ok…” to “I choose YOU.” Recently I went on the best date of my life, but more on that in a different blog post…
When it comes to setting standards and expectations, I learned these 2 things:
1. Set the bar. Ask for what you truly want and think you deserve. Life will give it to you! If you aren’t happy, perhaps it’s time to work on raising your self-worth. This took me years of ups, downs, and consistent personal growth. I still experience disappointment when something doesn’t work out the way I hoped, but that’s all part of it.
2. Set your boundaries. I think this is where it gets tricky. If someone doesn’t meet your expectations, you must have the courage to say no/no thank you/bye bye. The ideal person isn’t going to come into your life if you’re still hanging on to a MMDD because they’ll do for now. Make room so your YES can show up.
This is what came up in Google when I typed in “Mickey Mouse Ding Dong.” Hahahahaha.
Is there such thing as having too high standards? I don’t think so as long as you’re happy. Some people might tell you your expectations are too high because they believe it’s not possible, which brings me to another point – I only take advice from people who are where I want to be. Hence, listening to Teri when she told me not to settle.
And now, from surviving my teens, to building my photography business, to having AMAZING people show up in my life, I have proof that if you set high standards and honor your boundaries, you will be rewarded.