Welcome to our blog!  Sierra Blanco Photography is committed to creating progressive wedding and portrait photography with an artistic flair.  Our blog is an extension of our business, designed to bring you the latest in our professional and personal lives.  Enjoy and please feel free to participate by leaving your comments!

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October 31, 2012 // Personal
Happy Halloween from all of us at Sierra Blanco Photography including our new addition, Kiva, of course Bump and last but not least, Yoshi, who may no longer be with us but is always with us in spirit :-)!  Have a safe and fun holiday!

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9-5-12 Kiva First Photo Shoot 00.jpg

As many of you know that follow us on a regular basis, we got a puppy at the end of June we named Kiva.  Unfortunately, the "breeder," Margarita Madina, of El Paso, TX, was not a reputable breeder and Kiva came down with the Parvovirus within the week.  After nine harrowing days in the hospital and nearly dying when her blood cell count dropped from 26,000 to 500, our baby finally came home.  That wasn't the end of it though.  Kiva couldn't get the shots she needed to keep her healthy and safe until her immune system built itself back up.  She had to stay isolated at our home for almost two more months before this could happen.

While Kiva was in the hospital and I was so uncertain of her fate all I could think was that this was a puppy and puppies are supposed to be leaping and bounding gleefully through colorful fields of wildflowers.  They should be free to explore their new world, living happy and carefree.  I looked into her eyes, which were nearly dead with sickness, and promised her that if she gave it her all, I would take her to those fields of wildflowers so she could run and play like a puppy should.

In early September I honored that promise and we headed up to Flagstaff to a field we know well.  It is at the end of the road we used to live on and for the five years we lived there we would watch that field explode every summer in a stunning display of gold and purple.  This was where I wanted Kiva to run ... and she did!

Our other pooch, Bump, went along too and we all had an amazing time!  A dream that I was unsure would come to fruition did and I watched my puppy for the first time as she ran and jumped and explored her new world and it brought tears to my eyes.  The last photo of this posting sums it up well.  Kiva is sitting in a field near the end of the day, looking to the sky with glee as the warm sun sets behind her.  She deserves to feel that sun's warmth and bask in it's glow.  We love you Kiva!

We must extend a special thanks to our dear friends, Melissa and Kristen, of Tangled Lilac Photography for taking these amazing images for us!  This shoot meant the world to us and they gave us images that are truly priceless ... thank you both for that!!


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May you always bask in the sun's glow Kiva :-).
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Melissa Dunstan:

We're SO happy you love the photos!! Your family is so adorable and you guys mean the world to me. I'm so blessed we're friends. I love you!!

(10.29.12 @ 09:38 PM)
5-26-12 Destination Wedding Photographers LJWed00.jpg

We are posting this story, our story, for both photographers and brides alike so that you may hopefully learn from one of the worst experiences we have ever had personally and professionally.

This occurrence took place on May 26th, 2012 at Leah and Josh's wedding in downtown San Francisco.  First let us begin with the very kind and compassionate letter Leah sent us a few days later.

"Hi Tina and Kevin,

I am writing to tell you what an amazing job you both did last weekend at our wedding....I truly couldn't have asked for a better day!! Josh and I had the time of our lives and we were so happy that you were there to share it with us!

I found out the next day about the break in that happened outside the venue just before the wedding and my heart literally broke thinking about how devastated you two must have been.....especially after the hard week you had back in Arizona. You two were so professional the whole time and didn't appear the least bit distracted or upset which is so incredible to me. I would have been in tears and unable to go on if something that tragic happened. I can only imagine how hard that day must have been for you both and I can't tell you how sorry I am for what happened. I am not sure how I can help out but if there is ANYTHING I can do at all, please let me know. Thank you, thank you, thank you for everything you did that day!

Take care,

This email brought me to tears!  The previous "hard week" Leah refers to goes back to the fact that five days earlier we had to put our 14 year old dog, Yoshi, to sleep.  He was like a child to us and as anyone who has gone through this knows, it is terribly traumatic.  So we didn't think things could get any worse, but they did.

A couple of hours before the wedding was to begin, Kevin and I parked in front of the venue - in what we believed to be a safe neighborhood - and we took a walk to get some lunch.  When we returned, now an hour before the wedding was to begin, I walked to the driver's side of the car and noticed shattered glass laying all around the ground.  My eyes darted around and fixed on the back passenger window, now gone.  At first, I simply couldn't process what I was seeing.  Then it hit me.  I frantically began searching through the car and realized it was all gone ... I told Kevin, "It's all gone!"  All our photography equipment and two laptop computers were gone ... tens of thousands of dollars gone.  Words really can't adequately describe how one feels when faced with this type of violation.  All at once you feel bewildered, defeated and helpless and that helplessness to change anything leads to extreme anger.  To top it off, it really didn't help when a local woman walked by and exclaimed, "welcome to San Francisco."  Needless to say, I had a few choice words for her.

We have been asked if our equipment was in view.  No it wasn't in view, however we did drive from Arizona to San Francisco for the wedding and our rental car was packed full.  This probably helped to make us a target and there are some that feel we may have been targeted before reaching the venue.  We had stayed in a hotel just around the corner and had checked out and loaded our equipment into the car minutes before we took the short drive to the venue.  Whatever the reason, it happened and we quickly had to pull ourselves together and come up with a plan to photograph this wedding.

This was not the easiest feat, being in a strange city and not knowing anyone we could turn to.  Had this taken place in Arizona, we could have called on one of our many photographer friends to lend us equipment, but that was not an option.  Renting was also not an option as we had to immediately leave the wedding and drive overnight back to Arizona to be at another wedding the following day ... needless to say, it was a long drive back.  Fourteen hours of driving at speeds of 80mph with a garbage bag swooshing and banging against the vacant back window the entire way, all with no sleep for over 24 hours.  Long indeed.

To complicate matters it was a holiday weekend and we were terrified we would not be able to find any professional photography stores open.  Luckily we remembered that Calumet, a large nationwide distributor of professional grade photographic equipment, was based in San Francisco.  That was our saving grace!  We were able to get there, purchase enough new equipment to get us through the wedding, and get back in time to begin our jobs.  We were only about 15 minutes late.  Luckily Leah didn't even notice.  We were also lucky to get the same exact cameras, lenses and flashes we had stolen, so there was no learning curve as there would be with different equipment.  We simply moved on, put the whole ordeal out of our minds for the time and concentrated on photographing this beautiful couple on their wedding day.  FYI, everyone, guests and family alike, new what had happened with the exception of the bride and groom.  It was not the time to tell them ... it was their day and we wanted them to be free to enjoy it.

Since then, we have also been asked if we had insurance on our equipment.  The answer is yes, we did, however ...

Photographers, learn from our mistakes.  Update your insurance regularly.  We took out our policy when we first started our business eight years ago and we never really gave it much thought again.  We simply payed our premiums each year and forgot about it.  As you add new equipment, you need to increase you coverage.  We did get money back but not nearly the equivalent we lost.  Also, be very cautious of your surroundings.  We thought we were.  In the same year we had been all over the U.S. and even to Rome and Nigeria for weddings.  We were so cautious, especially overseas, but we let our guard down in San Francisco and we paid a heavy price.  For the record, we were fortunate.  We didn't lose any previous weddings or shoots.  Everything had been backed up at home before leaving for this trip.  Always think about things like that.  Back up your files in multiple locations and if you have memory cards in your cameras that haven't been backed up, take them out and keep them with you until you do.

Brides, PLEASE make sure when looking for a wedding photographer, that you do your homework and hire a professional.  We can't stress the importance of this enough.  There are a lot of people out there these days who have picked up a camera, charge very little for their services and call themselves professionals and we know how tempting it is when planning such a costly event to try to save money when possible.  Sadly, many of these people are not professionals and you will pay the price in the end if something like this happens as they will not have the means to handle the situation.  A true professional photographer is established in their business and has the industry connections and monetary means to replace equipment last minute if necessary.  They also have the experience to handle something this horrible and carry through to produce the same wonderful photos you hired them to produce ... all with a smile on their face and a positive attitude.  Do your research and remember, you really do get what you pay for.

Again, we wanted to share this experience in hopes that those reading it may take something away from it in order to help them avoid pitfalls in the future.  Take it for what it's worth ... a cautionary tale.

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8-5-12 Kiva01.jpg

As many of you know by now, our new little puppy, Kiva, ended up with the Parvovirus.  Unfortunately we bought her from a breeder who cared more about money than delivering a healthy puppy to us.  It was a devastating diagnosis and we had to prepare for the worst as she was only 7 weeks old when she was admitted.  She spent 9 days in the hospital and we almost lost her on the 6th day.  Throughout, it was a horrible roller coaster of emotions, going from optimism to dread and back every day.  She is a fighter though and she rallied through the worst of it.  She came out of the hospital on July 12th very weak and only weighing in at 4 pounds (very small for an Old-English Sheepdog.)

Since her release she has steadily improved, gaining weight and energy each and every day!  We are overjoyed and blessed to still have her in our lives.  Below are some photos we have taken since he release from the hospital.

We love you Kiva ... our sweet little fighter :-)!!

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6-27-12 Kiva00.jpg

We are so excited to introduce Kiva to you!!  We picked her up from El Paso, Texas last week on June 27th.  She was 7 weeks old, weighed in at just under 5 pounds and has one bright blue eye and one soft brown eye.  She is so tiny right now, but she won't stay that way for long.  She is an Old-English Sheepdog just like my beautiful Yoshi was.  And though no dog could take the place of Yoshi, we know Kiva will bring us years of happiness just as he did!

These photos were taken the first day we got her and are a document of her first epic journey to her new home in Arizona :-).

Wondering where she is going.
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Exploring at a pit stop in New Mexico.
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Looking tiny in a sea of large feet.
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Our first portrait together.
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More exploration of the badlands of New Mexico.  It was very, very hot so exploration stayed at a minimum.
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Relaxing in Kevin's arms.
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Finally, we crossed into Arizona ... still a long way to go though.
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Home sweet home!
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Meeting Bump for the first time.
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Discovering the pool for the first time ... yes, she fell in :-(.
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All dry and a beautiful Arizona monsoon sunset (and duststorm) to welcome Kiva to her new home.
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It was a very long day for a little, little tiny puppy.  Good night Kiva and welcome home.  We love you!
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I finally found the really cute puppy photos, she is adorable, enjoy. She looks healthy now, hope she stays that way. Love Mom

(08.13.12 @ 02:28 AM)
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