Jessica Tallman Photography: Blog en-us (C) Jessica Tallman Photography (Jessica Tallman Photography) Fri, 15 Jul 2016 02:57:00 GMT Fri, 15 Jul 2016 02:57:00 GMT Jessica Tallman Photography: Blog 120 80 What a Wedding Season!

It's barely July and that means wedding season is in full swing.  Some of you have asked what I've been up to since starting my photography journey, so I thought I'd share one field that I'm working in: WEDDINGS!  This year I have had the opportunity to develop my photography skills as a "second shooter," working alongside some amazing wedding photographers, most notably Lisa Richmond of Sunflower Field Photography.  Perhaps the thing I like most about this genre of photography (other than working with Lisa, and the dynamite chicken cordon bleu they serve at the Sequoia Mansion in Placerville) is that I get to capture cherished moments from a couple's big day.  It's a lot of responsibility, but it's also an incredibly rewarding experience to be able to use my talents to provide a lasting memory of a very important life event.    


We don't know how important photography is until a couple sees their images for the first time...maybe its a tender smile during the father-daughter dance, a wipe of a tear from the eye during the vows, a loving gaze during a private moment between bride and groom, a warm embrace from an old friend, or the bridal party whooping it up on the dance floor.  All these moments matter, and it's so wonderful that we have a means of "freezing" it in time with the click of a shutter.  With photography, a moment becomes an heirloom.


More weddings are on the books for summer and fall, and I can't wait to photograph them all!  HUGE thanks to Lisa for including me in the memories and the fun - and teaching me more than a thing or two about running a successful photography business along the way.  The learning experience has been unreal.  And thanks to Ming Yang of Diamond One Photography for the incredible experience at Kellie and Keiko's Grass Valley wedding.  Congratulations to Laura, Matt, Hayle, Mason, Kellie, Keiko, Anna, Justin, Nicole, Tom, Leslie, John, Amanda, and Chris for allowing me to participate in your wedding day - here's to a lifetime of pure happiness!


Take a peek below to see some of the beautiful weddings I have photographed this year.  


I'm currently booking Jessica Tallman weddings for 2017 - if you or someone you know is in need of a photographer with a natural and authentic touch, please drop me a line at!  Please also check out the work of my fellow photographers in the Placerville (Lisa Richmond Photography) and Sacramento (Diamond One Photography) area - their work is absolutely stunning.  


Love & Happiness,








(Jessica Tallman Photography) California wedding photographer Modesto photographer Placerville wedding Wedgewood Sequoia candid wedding central valley wedding photographer modesto wedding photographer Fri, 15 Jul 2016 02:57:20 GMT
Marianne and Cody's Portrait Session

On Mother's Day, children celebrate their moms for bringing them into the world, helping them navigate the world, and eventually being that one person who knows them better than anyone else in the world.  It's a HUGE responsibility and an honor to be a mother.  And really, a "mother" can be anyone who shelters, shepherds, and supports another being, providing them with endless opportunities to grow and giving them a place where they feel safe and loved.  People who adopt rescue dogs are some of the best "moms" (and "dads") out there!  And although my own mother is and will always be MY mom, I also have the privilege of sharing her with one fluffy 52-pound brother with four legs. ;-)

My mom Marianne rescued Cody over four years ago.  When she took him in, he had been living on the streets and was skin and bones.  His coat was dull and he had three broken ribs - no doubt an injury from getting booted, literally, from one place to the next.  Naturally, Cody had a lot of behavioral issues, but he also had a lot of LOVE.  Mom fell for him instantly and they have been pals ever since.  I wanted to give my mom something special for Mother's Day this year and thought a portrait session of her and Cody might be kinda cool.  Cody may have had his doubts - he almost made a Bond-style escape into the deep water channel - but Mom was all in, and together they made this a Mother's Day to remember. 

Among the different styles of photography that I enjoy, capturing the relationship between people and their pets is one of my favorite things to do.  It's such a pure and strong bond, without expectations (except to pet and be petted) and without drama (except when they pee on the rug).  It just is what it is.  It's beautiful.  Thank you Mom for allowing me to photograph the special bond you and Cody have.  You and my (*cough*) fur brother are definitely made for each other! 

My mom is so pretty.  And happy!  That little ball of fluff attached to her hip ain't that bad, either. ;-)

Geez, would you just LOOK at the face Cody is giving me?  I catch a hint of sibling rivalry in the air...

Ah, one of my favorites of Cody.  Here he is channeling his inner Lassie against a chambray blue sky.  I feel a Tim McGraw song coming on.

Aren't these two just the sweetest? <3

One of Mom and Cody's favorite activities is nightly brush time.  No wonder his coat is so soft and beautiful.  Technically, our outdoor session was over, but I just had to go and grab my gear again when I saw them getting cozy indoors!  Glad I did, cuz this is super cute.


(Jessica Tallman Photography) Wed, 11 May 2016 00:38:31 GMT
Denise and Maggie's Portrait Session

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of spending the evening with Denise and her sweet dog Maggie at a ranch in Livingston.  Both lady and her dog used to live nearby, so choosing this beautiful location for their portrait session held special meaning.  Rain clouds had threatened to spill earlier in the afternoon, but by the time we got started they gave way to a lovely spring sunset.  When the warm sun on the horizon lit the dark rain clouds behind us, it truly was a "golden" opportunity to take some beautiful pictures of these two friends.

Maggie has been with Denise over 2 years now and the two clearly share a strong and sincere bond.  Capturing the love and trust they have for each other was a real joy for me!  Maggie is an active pup, happy to play tug-o-war with her favorite frisbee, but she also has a sensitive side and is at home sitting next to Denise, looking up at her with one of those "wow, you are the most amazing humans in the world!" looks.  She was so cute with her little bandana, and so incredibly soft and cuddly after getting groomed that I couldn't resist squeezing in a few cuddles of my own.  Thank you Denise for allowing me to pay witness to the special relationship you and Maggie share.  Wishing you many more frisbee challenges, glowing sunsets, and of course - rainbows. 



(Jessica Tallman Photography) Central Valley Photographer Outdoor Portrait Session Pet Photography Fri, 06 May 2016 21:27:16 GMT
Earth Day in Yosemite Rocks Last Wednesday, I went online on a whim and looked up campgrounds in Yosemite for the coming weekend.  Much to my surprise there were a handful of sites available for Friday night, as rain was predicted and some folks had canceled.  Score!  Only problem was, there weren't any sites available for Saturday night (yet).  

I went back online a few hours later, and lo and behold, one site was now open for Saturday!  Double score!!  I hurried and checked to see how far we were going to have to relocate, because moving a quarter-mile away can be a real hassle, especially when you are tent camping.  The odds must have been ever in our favor, as the second night we were staying in the site DIRECTLY ACROSS FROM OUR FIRST SITE.  Seriously, what are the chances??  

I am so glad we got that site and were able to extend our stay.  If we had had to leave Saturday, I wouldn't have gotten to play like Ansel Adams and take this late afternoon pic of Half Dome.

We always tent camp, that's just our style, but decided that for this last minute trip, with heavy rains on the horizon, we'd forgo a wet bed and borrow Steve's parents' motor home.  Mila wanted to help drive the rig, but unfortunately her paws couldn't reach the pedals.

That motor home was a life saver!  We spent a peaceful night indoors, out of the rain, and then awoke bright and early to take the dogs for a walk in the dewy morning light.  It must have rained A LOT because there were waterfalls, rivers, and streams flowing in places where we had never seen water before in Yosemite.

There is about a 4000' elevation difference between the Valley Floor and the upper granite peaks, so sometimes it rains down below and snows up high.  This is exactly what happened Friday night.  It was so beautiful to see the dusting of snow on the trees above us.  Can you make out the giant sequoia on the rock ledge?  It looks so tiny from down here, but I bet it's a big'un.

I just love the muted tones of the mountains after a refreshing spring shower.  This time of year, the old growth gives way to the new buds of spring, and past and future coexist as one within the present.

We had never noticed these side tunnels that are on either side of the old granite bridges - why?  Such a perfect place to hide away from the weather, or pose for a moody portrait in the subtle, shadowy light.  I loved how the moss grew all over them, so green after all the rain the mountains have received this year.  

One attraction we were hoping to see this trip were the blooming dogwood trees, as this time of year is when their short, but lovely spring display occurs.  Although not technically "flowers," these pretty trees illuminate the forest with delicate, pure white blossoms that seem to float in midair.  Lucky for us, they were in peak bloom last weekend, and did not disappoint!

The campground was beginning to come alive when we returned from our walk.  I just love being able to look up at THIS VIEW while having my morning coffee.  Aaaaaahhhhhh.....

What else to do in Yosemite but hike around and explore?  We kenneled the dogs in the RV and headed out for a long midday stroll around the Valley.  When we arrived in Yosemite Village, we discovered it was Earth Day.  Really??  Cool!  There were many booths set up in the Village square with fun outdoor and national park information, as well as a wildlife exhibits and even a celebrity sighting.

To add to the Earth Day festivities, the rangers had parked this restored Power Wagon within view of thundering Yosemite Falls.  

Speaking of Yosemite was pretty majestic.  No words.  Just pictures.

As we left Yosemite Village, we literally stumbled into the cemetery were several dozen of the valley pioneers have been laid to rest.  Now, some of you know this, but most of you don't - I love love love headstones and monuments.  Whenever possible, I find a cemetery and I take a few pictures.  There is just something so raw, authentic, personal, and beautiful about a monument to a loved one.  Each cemetery has a sense of place that can be communicated through the edifices that are erected there.  Take the two headstones below, for example.

We kept walking and ended up at the Le Conte Memorial.  I have never been inside this building, but have always admired its architecture.  Maybe the next time we come up it will be open and we can take a peek inside.

Mid afternoon and it was time to check in on the dogs.  On the way back we passed through the camp entrance, where I couldn't help but notice this cool vintage bike with climbing helmet in the basket, or the old phone booth with its worn Yellow Pages.  Takes you back a few.

Mila is not new to this camping thing.  In fact, she's pretty experienced.  We figure this was her 12th trip or so - and perhaps her favorite.  After camping in an RV, I'm afraid she won't camp in a tent ever again.

That evening, the conditions were shaping up to be pretty nice for a twilight hike on the Mirror Lake trail.  With all of the water, there would actually be a lake to reflect the mountains!  And I simply love the blue light of dusk on a mountain lake.  We packed a little gear and headed out to the trail, which meanders along a river edged with blooming dogwood trees.

On one side of Mirror Lake, you see the reflection of Half Dome in the water.  We accidentally took the opposite trail and had to hike ALL the way around to get to the Half Dome viewing side.  Still, the view of the opposing granite wall in the lake wasn't too shabby.

On that trail, one thing that always gives me the heebie jeebies is the part that passes through the huge rock slide of 2009.  Once, during the winter, on a sunny day when the ice within the rock fissures starts to melt, we heard rocks tumbling down from way up high as we passed through the quarry.  Shivers.  This  time, I felt we were out of the seasonal danger zone, as most of the ice had already melted.  No sooner had those words escaped my lips than I heard a loud rustling from above.  And just about jumped out of my skin.  

It was a BASE jumper deploying his parachute, sounding eerily like rocks tumbling from above.  We watched him glide down and land on a small clearing in front of us.  I wonder which 8000' peak he leaped from?

To get to the other side of Mirror Lake, we had to cross the Merced River.  So good to see it rippin' and roarin' like this.  And so glad I didn't have to cross it by tip-toeing across a fallen log.

Ah, the blue light of dusk and the soft reflection of granite in the calm waters of Mirror Lake.  Although the top of Half Dome was shrouded in clouds, it was still an absolutely gorgeous sight to see.  Peaceful.  Quiet.  There are very few people on the trails this time of day, which really makes you feel like you are at one with nature.  There are still places of solitude, even in a park as heavily visited as Yosemite.  You just need to get off the beaten path, arrive a little earlier, stay a little later, or all of the above. ;-)

For Steve's birthday last month, I gave him a propane-powered fire pit.  I never thought I'd see the day when we'd forgo the smoky, ashy, burning embers of a wood campfire, but I must admit being able to flip a switch and get instant outdoor heat and ambiance is pretty sweet.  And my hair doesn't smell like smoke all weekend.  And you still get the lovely glow of real fire.  Ok, that's it, I'm SOLD!

The next morning we awoke to another fine spring day.  After a double-oatmeal-packet-with-a-spoonful-of-almond-butter breakfast, we headed off for a quick hike of Vernal Falls before packing up camp.  The power of these waterfalls is absolutely breathtaking, and worthy of respect.  I am always on guard around them, especially when hiking the Mist Trail and its slippery, wet steps.  It was all worth it though to get some shots of the waterfall doing its thing.  And what a treat to see a rainbow arching through the spray on our way back!  I think you can only see the rainbow during certain times of the day, standing in certain parts of the trail, as the sun has to hit the spray just right.  Didn't find a pot of gold at the end, but I found my husband standing in the middle.  

And so ends another awesome camping adventure in Yosemite National Park.  Earth Day in Yosemite officially "rocks."  What better place to celebrate nature and the environment than among the natural wonders of California, right?  I've been here many times, and I still can't wait to come back. ;-)



(Jessica Tallman Photography) Half Dome Yosemite Yosemite Falls hiking national parks outdoor photographer outdoors photography travel travel photographer Wed, 27 Apr 2016 22:30:45 GMT
Katie & Brent's "Bun in the Oven" Announcement! Is there anything more special than announcing the happy news of your pregnancy to family and friends?  Katie and Brent are expecting their first child and asked me if I would photograph an announcement session for them.  OF COURSE I said yes, and once we settled on a darling little "bun in the oven" theme I knew I was in for some sweet fun with this cute couple. :-)

I loved the airy, breezy spring sunshine that lit the kitchen in these baking scenes.  It really illuminated the joy and excitement that these two parents-to-be have about the new addition to their family!

Isn't Katie the picture of a beautiful mommy?  So lovely, I can't wait to see her sweet little baby.

Of course, if we're gonna talk BABY, we must show BABY!  Katie and Brent brought their first sonogram picture so we could do some picture-in-a-picture styling for their baby announcement.  It really is a beautiful miracle how a baby can go from a tiny "peanut" at 3 months to a full-grown infant at 9 months.  I bet these two can't wait to count tiny toes and hold those little baby fingers for the very first time. :-)

Katie loves succulents, so we made sure to get a picture of the baby nestled in between some pretty rosettes in my garden.

Katie and Brent have such a relaxed, easy-going style.  It was a joy to capture the love and affection they have for one another - lots of whispers, nuzzles, giggles, and long loving looks.  They are going to make amazing parents!

Here's to you Mom and Dad!  Congratulations on your little bun in the oven.  :-)  I can't wait for the maternity and newborn sessions!  





(Jessica Tallman Photography) Fri, 15 Apr 2016 23:35:33 GMT
New York City - Part III On our fourth and last day in NYC, we tried to cram as much fun and sightseeing as we could into a 24 hour period.  No better place to start our adventure than 5th Avenue, right?  

The previous night, Mom had surprised me with tickets to the Broadway musical The Book of Mormon.  So the next day, I surprised her with a 2 hour pedicab tour of Central Park!  Photo credits of any pictures with me in it go to our most excellent driver, Richie Costello, of Richie's Central Park Pedicab Tours.  Here we are seated in Richie's cab with our matching turquoise purses nestled between us.  Richie thought that was some pretty cool mother-daughter stylin'.

Below is a fun shot of my mom and Richie at The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir with some pretty fabulous Upper East Side apartment buildings behind them.  Richie is a lifelong New Yorker with a strong passion and love for the city, the patience of a teacher, and the manners of a true gentleman.  I couldn't have imagined a better tour guide to show Mom and I around New York City on a balmy summer day.

Aside from Richie's excellent commentary on the history and people of Central Park and its surrounding environs, my favorite part of the tour was visiting Bethesda Fountain.  What a wonderful oasis of beauty and calm in the middle of this bustling city!  The fountain is so big, and its terrace so spacious and inviting, that hundreds of people can sit close by and enjoy its splendor while still maintaining a bit of peaceful solitude.  Can you see the pretty purple blooms of the waterlilies blooming in the pool?  I felt like I was in Paris.

Just beyond the fountain is a lovely tunnel that runs beneath the main road, connecting the two sides of the park together.  Light from the south floods in to the tunnel, softly illuminating the sandstone columns and colorful wall and ceiling tiles.  New York never fails to offer up street art in the most beautiful places, and this tunnel was a fitting venue for this man's musical performance.  Acoustics, lighting, architectural drama, and high traffic - I can certainly see why he chooses to perform here.

A few more street performers were holding court on the opposite end of the tunnel.  Their amazing acrobatics really turned a few heads (pun intended). ;-)  

Richie also drove us around the residential streets near Central Park and clued us in on some local history (and gossip).  Did you know that at the height of his career, Billy Joel was not allowed to purchase a penthouse in the luxury apartment home pictured below?  Same goes for Madonna.  Apparently, it doesn't matter how much money you have, if the neighbors don't want to live next to you, you ain't getting in!

Mom really wanted to see Strawberry Fields.  Many, many people still flock to this part of the park to pay homage to John Lennon at the Imagine mosaic, which is set in a clearing surrounded by many large shade trees.  Even though I don't really have a strong connection to Lennon or the Beatles, I found his memorial to be a peaceful and reflective place.  

Did I mention that Richie is an excellent photographer?  Rarely do I hand over my camera and get a picture back of THIS caliber.  Thank you Richie for capturing the happiness of this special day for my mom and I.

We ended our tour at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, where I snapped this picture of a woman perched on top of the John Purrey Mitchel memorial.  I could really get into this street photography thing in New York - so many beautiful and unique people doing so many interesting things!  Walking the streets of New York City is a glimpse into what it's like to be human.

Richie was kind enough to plan our tour route so that our drop-off point would be the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is on the East side of Central Park.  He even recommended a great lunchtime spot, the rooftop gardens on top of the museum.  He was absolutely right: the views of the city from up here were pretty hard to beat.  

The Met is an impressive art museum with more galleries than we had time to peruse on our lightening-fast schedule.  We did, however, make time for two of my favorite genres, Impressionist paintings and sculpture.  How cool is it to get up close and personal with Van Gogh's work - so close that you can see the three-dimensional texture in the paint?   

At the Met, there is a gorgeous sunlit gallery where many of the sculptures are featured.  A setting like this really shows off the natural beauty of these fine pieces of art and invites contemplation and relaxation.

Showing some leg in the sculpture gallery.  Mom is checking her email on a bench, just under the statue's right knee, unaware of the charlatan just to the left of her.  Hey, it's New York, you'll see weirder things before the day is over...  

I really liked this sculpture called "Winter."  Does she look cold and sad to you too?  Perhaps it is because she is nude except for the shawl wrapped around her head.  Inappropriate attire for winter, methinks, but makes for some compelling art.

Like I said, I'm a major fan of sculpture, but frankly, this homicidal-looking little girl with the soulless eyes really freaked me out.

These funny little porcelain bird figurines are cute on their own, but the innovative way the museum chose to display them really drew my eye.  

After leaving the Met, we headed to Midtown Manhattan to our apartment.  On the way back, I spied Grand Central Station and knew I would regret it if I didn't pop in and have a peek before we left.  While Mom continued on, I hopped off the bus and got a good look at this beautiful building that was nearly demolished.  Luckily, with the financial backing and support of many influential New Yorkers, most notably Jackie O, this architectural gem was saved and restored to its former glory.

This trip would not be complete without a visit to the 9-11 Memorial.  It was so humbling to see how the city still remembers and honors the people who died that terrible day.  Look closely at the door of the firehouse below and you will see the photos of three firefighters who died in the 9-11 rescue mission.  American flags are still quite common all over New York, and made me think that patriotism out here must be much stronger than on the West Coast.  Experiencing a national tragedy up close and personal, and then rebounding from it, is bound to create a sense of national unity that lasts a very long time.

Making my way from Midtown to the World Trade Center was an adventure in subway navigating.  Because it was late at night, the subway stations near Wall Street were a veritable ghost town.  I tried not to worry too much about getting mugged.  To be honest, I felt quite a bit safer walking the streets of New York than I feel driving in my own home town!  

Visting the 9-11 Memorial was a sobering and important experience for me.  It wasn't something I necessarily wanted to do, but something I felt I needed to do after enjoying all the riches of this city.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  When I finally found the site, I was disappointed to see that it had just been closed for the night and that 10 feet was the closest I would be able to get to the reflecting pools.  I leaned over the barrier as far as I could, set my ISO up super high, and snapped a few pictures.  The images were dark and not all that evocative, but I thought I'd hang on to them and see if i couldn't clean them up with some editing.  Imagine my surprise when I lightened up the background and an American flag, blowing straight in the breeze, emerged.  I don't remember seeing it that night, but I am not surprised that in this one image that I kept, it is there.  In the picture below you can see the near edge and far side of one of the reflecting pools, with the inscription of the names of the deceased, and the flag flying just beyond it, behind the memorial trees.

I stayed out pretty late that night, cramming in as much of New York as I could before getting on a plane back to California.  Around midnight, I made a final tourist stop at Rockefeller Center and enjoyed watching the water and light show at the fountain.  On my way back to the apartment, I made one last pit stop in Times Square, where I had a bleu cheese burger at an Irish pub called the Long Room and listened to a one-man Irish band play covers of contemporary pop and rap, all with a thick Irish brogue.  At 2am in the morning.  Nothing could have capped off my trip to New York City any better!

That's about it for me and my Mom's first trip to NYC.  We had a great time and although it was a short trip, were still able to do and see many memorable things.  I'm already wondering when I can go back!  

(Jessica Tallman Photography) Thu, 14 Apr 2016 23:07:06 GMT
New York City - Part II On our second day in NYC, Mom and I decided to do a little sightseeing in the morning and afternoon - because that night was reserved for the Billy Joel concert!  We made our way down 5th Avenue to St. Patrick's Cathedral, which just-so-happens to have a great view of the famous Atlas statue from the cathedral's front steps.  

Of rings and wheelsIt takes some major guts to cycle the busy streets of Manhattan - but thankfully, unlike San Francisco, it's a pretty flat ride.

Pictures just don't do justice to the gorgeous Gothic architecture of this stunning church.  The Pope was visiting the United States the following month, and was scheduled to give mass from St. Patrick's, which really turned up the heat on the ongoing cathedral renovation project.  The church was teeming with construction and restoration workers, like this man walking through the impressive knave.

Giving it the Midas touchA restoration worker walks by the main altar with its gilded canopy.

How DO you clean a cathedral of this size?  With Kleenex and a toothbrush, of course.  I marveled at the amount of detail work this woman had to contend with on the parapet - and from 6 feet in the air, too.

A little dab'll do yaCleaning the intricate carvings of the parapet is demanding work, requiring a skillful eye - and a scaffold!

Every view in this cathedral was impressive, like this one looking down one of the side aisles.  The symmetry is incredible, and gives the impression of stepping into an M.C. Escher picture.

The illusion of infinityOr a hall of mirrors...either way, the feeling of eternity is clearly conveyed in the architecture of St. Patrick's, which was no doubt a consideration in designing a place of worship.

If the intricate rose window at the entrance to the church (or back of the church, when you are inside) doesn't drop your jaw to the floor, the huge pipe organ placed in front of it certainly will.  Towards the end of our visit, we were treated to the haunting melody of live organ music.  Look down towards the bottom of the picture and you will see the organist - and get some scale for the size of this massive musical instrument.

Pretty pipesSymmetry, symmetry, beauty, and symmetry. The symmetrical balance in this cathedral is unbelievable - and for a shape lover like me, very soothing.

For a small offering, you can light a candle in the church.  My mom lit one candle each for me, my brother, and my sister.  I didn't catch her in the act, but I did see many other people lighting candles.  It makes you wonder for whom all of these candles were lit - so many hopes, dreams, and prayers in each tiny flame. Light in the darknessA man lights a candles at St. Patrick's cathedral.

After leaving St. Patrick's, Mom decided she wanted to try out a "curly hair" haircut.  Convenient for her, only 1 mile away was the flagship Devachan salon, where they ONLY cut curly hair.  We headed there and Mom got perhaps the most expensive haircut of her life - but also a great 2 hour experience at a Manhattan salon, where everyone looked like they had just come back from lunch break photo call.  Her stylist, below, was tres chic!

Curls just wanna have funMom and her stylist showing off their lovely curls at the Devachan Salon.

After the salon, we took the short walk to Central Park, heading to the Museum of Natural History.  On our way, we saw this beautiful building that looked like it had its own crop of curly locks gathered loosely around it.

Rapunzel, Rapunzel......let down your green locks! If you don't have a yard, why not frame your home in lush emerald vines?

The Museum of Natural History was insanely huge, and surpassed any expectation I could have ever had.  The sheer number of galleries was mind-blowing.  We only had 1 hour to visit on our whirlwind trip, so Mom and I opted to spend most of our time in the dinosaur section, since you can't really see a full-size T-Rex skeleton every day.

Move along buddy...This T-Rex skull is massive, with eye sockets as big as your head. And oh, just marvel at those rows of 4-inch-long teeth.

Prehistoric pedicureYou can't really get an idea about the enormous SIZE of these dinosaurs until someone stands next to them and is dwarfed by a toenail.

Flight at the museumThe Ben Stiller movie "Night at the Museum" was filmed here. I can see why - imagine walking through a dimly-lit gallery after hours and seeing this behemoth flying through the air!

That night we went to see Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden.  On a whim, I purchased first row seats in a newer section of the arena called the "Chase Bridges."  WOW.  There you are, suspended from the ceiling and cantilevered over the top third of the balcony section, with only a plate of plexiglass separating you from the stage below.  It was wild.  If I had it to do all over again...I would.  And I would sit in the same exact seat.

Garden of fansBilly Joel hasn't released new music since I was in diapers, but he can still sell out Madison Square Garden 7 times a year. New Yorkers love this guy!

I left my camera back in the room, but I did manage to get a few blurry shots of the Piano Man on my iPhone.  Kind of gives it an early 60's film quality that I don't entirely dislike.  Billy played a 2 1/2 hour set (!!!) and of course, saved "New York State of Mind" for one of his last songs.  And the crowd went NUTS.

Have piano, will travelWith a spin of the wheel, Billy Joel played to all sides of the audience. When he faced our direction, we got a head-on view. Again, awesome seats!

Wow, how do you top that??  With another day in NYC, of course.  To make the most of the NYC CityPASS we purchased, we spent the next day touring the Intrepid Air & Space Museum and took a 3 hour boat cruise around Manhattan Island.

Now, that is a BIG shipThe aircraft carrier Intrepid, home of the Intrepid Air & Space Museum. Even without the aircraft to bring scale, it still looks immense.

I loved getting to see the Staten Island Ferry.  It was such a cheery splash of orange coasting along on the blue water.

Bridging the gapThe Staten Island Ferry transports New Yorkers to New Jersey, and vice versa.

And really - is there anything like seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time?  

The most photographed lady in NYCWhat is it about Lady Liberty that brings happiness, awe, and reverence to tourists and New Yorkers alike? Freedom.

We got to see all sides of Manhattan - and its surrounding neighbors - on this boat cruise.  Although it was a little too long, it was a lot of fun.  Below is a view of Brooklyn Bridge with flag flying high, and One World Trade Center in the background.  

Landmark line-upOld and new landmarks blend together in the New York City skyline.

The next installment has some of my favorite images (and memories) from this trip: Central Park!  Broadway!  And the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  



(Jessica Tallman Photography) Big Apple Madison Square Garden Museum of Natural History NYC New York City One World Trade bucket list mother daughter trip summer vacation travel Thu, 07 Apr 2016 21:09:55 GMT
New York City, Part I Last August my mom and I went on a quick trip to New York City.  Neither of us had been before, which is reason enough to go, but what made it even more special was that it was the realization of one of my mom's bucket list items: a Billy Joel concert at Madison Square Garden!  Now that I have some time on my hands to dive deeper into photography, I thought there could be no better photo album to practice my editing skills on than this one.

Peace, love, and liberty from NYCNothing like a 10-foot-tall statue of Lady Liberty flashing a peace sign in Times Square to make you feel like you've arrived in NYC.

We arrived in NYC first thing in the morning after a red-eye flight from Sacramento.  I was prepared for the jet-lag, but not for the stifling humidity!  The first day was the worst, and I couldn't WAIT to hit the showers after a day of touching shoulder-to-sticky-shoulder with the swirling mass of humanity that makes up this amazing metropolis.  While Mom caught up on her zzzz's, I ventured out into the city.  With new camera in hand, I eagerly hit the streets and caught one of my favorite images of the trip, a roasted nut vendor crossing a busy street with his serving cart, humidity-driven sweat beading on his brow.

NYC is NUTZThe Big Apple, in a nutshell - literally!

I had never been anywhere before where there were buildings as tall, and as tightly packed together, as NYC.  I am used to seeing the horizon, at least at some point in the day, but for meany people living in New York the horizon is one building, and then another.  If you can't look out, you must look up, which is what I did at the Ernst & Young building on my way to Times Square.

City SkywayAlthough the views looking down from the Empire State Building are pretty sweet, the views from the bottom-up aren't too shabby, either.

Times Square is the ultimate sensory assault.  If you've been there, you'll know what I mean.  And if you haven't, then these pictures should give you a good idea.

Fashion In MotionThe amount of color, texture, detail, and activity in just one square meter of NYC is mind-blowing - and often makes for some interesting tableaus.

I just loved the people watching in Times Square.  There was always someone doing something or wearing something interesting, and just as many people taking pictures, so there was an endless supply of willing subjects to practice street photography on.  Below is a sweet one of a young girl on vacation, petting a police horse.  The police presence in NYC is very noticeable, as you would expect for a city this big and dense, but they are also very friendly.  I especially love the mounted police because the interaction between the public and the horses encourages conversation between the public and the police.  They have a hard job, so it's nice to get a positive gig like this to reconnect with everyday citizens.

Mom, can I have one?The quality of light in this picture really surprised me, for an overcast day in the shade. The look of wonder on her face is priceless.

Ah, the ubiquitous selfie stick.  It seemed like everyone in Times Square had one.  But really, what better way to include yourself in your travel pictures?

Just a little more to the left...A man taking a picture of himself with Times Square in the background.

When you grow up with a backyard, a front yard, or property that extends beyond the four walls of your home, you forget that people who live in big cities don't have that.  So where do they go to relax outside, take in fresh air, and interact with other people?  Outdoor esplanades such as this one outside of the flagship Macy's store, which pop up during the warmer months.  

Takin' it easyI liked how this man was gazing upwards, deep in thought but also deeply relaxed on this hot, muggy day in New York City.

After checking out Times Square, it was time to rouse Mom up for a trip to the Empire State Building, which was located conveniently around the block from our apartment. 

I will never forget when I first caught sight of the Empire State Building from the street.  I rounded a corner, and there it was, a masterpiece in Art Deco!  Every night the top floors and observation deck are lit with colorful lights that change depending on the season.  One night they were a red, white, and blue beacon guiding me home after an evening run.  Spectacular.

Deco for daysThe Empire State Building is Art Deco architecture at its finest.

My mom and I getting windswept on the Empire State Building's observation deck.  Ladies, watch your skirts - it's breezy up there!

What a view!Not us - the cityscape, silly! But we are certainly flattered. ;-)

Even with the limitless views looking OUT from the observation deck, I still couldn't help but continue to look UP.  With its geometrically intense design and flat, steel-gray color, the top of the Empire State Building looks like something off of the Death Star.

The Empire Strikes BackFrom this perspective, it looks like NYC has its own Death Star, lunar rocket, space capsule, interplanetary laser...etc, etc. Cosmic.

And yes, when you DO look OUT, the view is positively breathtaking.  From here, you can see the northern tip of Manhattan, with New Jersey across the river.  And that tall building far away, gently lit in the early evening glow?  One World Trade Center.

How all of this fits into one little photo, I will never know...NYC is a busy, bustling, densely populated city that apparently never sleeps. But from up here, it looks so small and fragile. And lovely.

That's it for this installment.  Part II follows Mom and I as we journey to St. Patrick's Cathedral, take a Manhattan Island boat trip, hit a play on Broadway, and see the incomparable Billy Joel perform at Madison Square Garden!  And I may shove our epic trip to Central Park in there if I have the time.  Or a New York minute.




(Jessica Tallman Photography) Billy Joel Madison Square Garden NYC New York City bucket list mother daughter trip summer vacation travel Thu, 07 Apr 2016 05:12:34 GMT
Sutter Creek CHAOS Last week was Steve's birthday and we decided to celebrate it in Sutter Creek.  Both of us have lived in the Central Valley for most (me) or all (Steve) of our lives, and for reasons unexplained have not spent time in this charming Gold Country town.  Man, were we missing out!  This little gem has now become our new favorite weekend getaway spot.  It's quaint, friendly, historic, accessible, interesting, relaxing, fun, affordable, and best of all, NOT YET DISCOVERED BY THE BAY AREA!!!  Shhhh...


Just between you and me, let's keep this hideaway our little secret. ;-)


There were so many cool things to see and do - which I'll post about in due time - but one memorable stop was at CHAOS Glassworks, which is just off of the main drag and close to our hotel.  Not only are they an amazing glass arts studio with gobs of totally breakable colored thingymagibs, but they are also 100% DOG FRIENDLY.  This was great for Mila, who has never broken a wine glass in her life (I'm currently in the dozens shattered camp), and she eagerly trotted in to check out the wares.  Of course, when no dog biscuits were offered, she quickly lost interest.


Sky full of starsThese glass ornaments hanging under the workshop skylight were irresistible!

I can't help it, I'm a color lover!  Being surrounded by thousands of pieces of art glass in all shades of the rainbow, gently illuminated by the mid-morning sun, couldn't help but put me in a great mood.  


Check it out: the colors are so bright, Steve's gotta wear shades.  Here he is admiring a patch of blown glass pumpkins.


Baubles, baubles, baubles!Steve contemplating pumpkins vs. paper weights.


This place is an absolute riot of glass, glass, glass, and more glass.  I hope they aren't on a fault line.  And that they don't do grade school field trips.


Workin' itIf this studio picture doesn't scream "appropriately messy for an artist get meticulously clean enough for customers", I don't know what does.


There is a second story showroom for additional art glass, too - the inventory in this place is amazing!  I especially enjoyed the view from the upstairs looking down on the workspace, which was just the right mix of organization and, well, CHAOS.


The next time I am in the market for a nice piece of art glass (that isn't a Canon L-series lens, haha), I will definitely get it from CHAOS Glassworks.   


Crooked crackSomething about the pattern and color of this glass lampshade, and the juxtaposition of the jagged crack, really caught my eye.


Next up from this Gold Country trip: more images of Sutter Creek, or maybe the dilapidated and time-worn beauty of Fiddletown.  Hurry back!

(Jessica Tallman Photography) CHAOS Glassworks California Gold Country Sutter Creek blown glass foothills travel Thu, 31 Mar 2016 23:44:22 GMT