San José State University Nurses Graduation

I was excited to be invited to photograph the 2009 graduating nurses from San José State University this year.  They had over 80 graduates from the program this year and I just wanted to say a big congratulations to all of those who worked so hard and persevered to complete the program. What a wonderful Christmas gift that was for them!

Below are just a few images from the day, and I invite you to take a look at all of the images by visiting

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Angel Flight West, Watsonville Airport

Angel Flight is an organization that helps connect pilots with people who need transportation for medical reasons.  Often when someone is receiving treatment, the specialists or facilities they need the most are hundreds of miles away.

Traveling in cars for many hours can be very uncomfortable for those patients, but a flight in a small aircraft can easily cut that travel time in half, often cutting off even more time than that! And, with the speed of transport, the patients are often able to return home that same day saving the expense of a night in a hotel or in a distant city.

Angel Flight West is the branch of the organization that covers our area, and a collection of member pilots at the Watsonville Airport were recognized for their assistance to the organization. I was able to photograph the group of pilots and provide the image for the Santa Cruz Sentinel article discussing their recognition.

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Loma Fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains

Early in the morning on Sunday, October 25th I got up to let the dog out and happened to check my email and see the news of the morning.  I quickly saw reference to a wildland fire burning off of Summit Rd. in the Santa Cruz mountains.  In October?  A few days after a massive rainstorm?

So I quickly gathered all the information I could find on it, got the radios turned on, headed to pick up a few additional pieces of photographic equipment and headed up the hill before the sun had even risen.  I could see fire burning from Felton as I headed towards Highway 17.

I arrived on scene a little after 7 am and joined a group of neighbors on the side of the road, they were watching the progress and making their own determinations of when they would head down the hill and evacuate their homes. I heard things such as, "If it crosses that ridge over there..." or "If it makes it to the road..."

Winds were extremely heavy that morning, so heavy in fact that the aircraft only made a few drops before being called off of the fire for several hours.  They were able to contain the fire without much damage to structures.

Since I had recently acquired my Canon 5D Mark II camera that also shoots HD video footage, I was able to record some video of the fire and quickly distributed that to local media outlets. I know almost all of the local news stations, their websites, and some print editions ran my still photos and video online. I heard reports from Sacramento and even Hawaii that my footage was being used in the reporting of the fire.

Below are a few of the images and video from that fire.

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Dr. Mark Joiner Orthodontics Office Portrait

I have known the team down at Dr. Mark Joiner Orthodontics for many years after having braces and Invisalign as an adult (A very happy customer! Don't hesitate to ask me if you have any questions about my experience!)  But once the office found out I was a photographer I was able to use some of my talent to return the favor! My association with the office has brought about several weddings, portrait sessions, and their annual Christmas card portrait sessions.

This year they were able to secure the Carousel at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for their portrait, that was definitely the first time I had the entire thing to myself!

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Amber & Roberto's Wedding in Monterey

Had an excellent time working with Amber and Roberto at Lover's Point in Monterey.  We had met up a few months before and shot engagement portraits around the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor and the surrounding area.

The weather worked out perfectly and it sure looked like Amber & Roberto had a great time!

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Jessica & Jason's Engagement, Seacliff

Jessica & Jason were having an engagement party and decided they wanted to have some pictures put together into a book for it. We headed down to Seacliff State Beach and had some fun.  We did all of the usual couples shots, then added in the rest of the family, and they wrapped it up by actually getting in the water as an amazing sunset lit our backdrop. Thanks for such a great evening!

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Hope & Mark's Wedding, Seascape

I had met Hope at Dr. Mark Joiner's office several years before, and after shooting some of the other weddings of his office staff I was privileged to be a part of Mark & Hope's wedding at Seascape Resort in Aptos.

They say rain on a wedding day is a sign of good luck to come, and we certainly think that's the case here!  It was lightly raining all morning but that didn't have a lot of impact on the wedding day, we moved the ceremony inside and kept right on shooting. Congratulations Hope & Mark!

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Photography of Dan Dawson featured in Santa Cruz

Following the recent exhibition of my work in Santa Cruz related to the fires we had early in the summer, I received an invitation to show more of my work at a new venue that just opened on the Santa Cruz Wharf a few weeks ago.

It is the Vino Prima Wine Bar located directly above the Marini's candy store, and directly across a walkway from Olita's Mexican restaurant.  The details of the location are:

Vino Prima Wine Bar
55B Municipal Wharf - 831-588-5342
Reception – Friday, October 3rd, from 5pm – 9pm

This new show opens as a part of the Santa Cruz Institute of Contemporary Arts (SCICA) and their "First Friday Art Tour" series.

Each month a collection of local galleries and venues hangs new art, and then on the first Friday people will tour from location to location visiting all of the art.  They even have a bus pained like a spotted cow to drive you around all evening for a small donation.

The images I chose for this show are generally landscapes from the Santa Cruz and San Francisco areas.  I included a mix of aerial imagery, as well and landscapes and sunsets from our amazing area of the state.

My images should be available for viewing from October 2 through approximately November 5th, 2008.

A few samples of images included in the show are shown below.

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Burning Man 2008


Over the past several years I have attended the Burning Man event in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. If people have heard of it before, they generally think of it as a bunch of naked drunk people using drugs and partying in the desert. Well, for some people, that might be what they choose to do, but many of the other nearly 40,000 people have various other things in mind.


People often wonder why I, a fairly conservative Christian would ever want to go to such a place, and there are actually quite a few reasons. Burning Man is known for having a lot of art and music, and most of all, people willing to be creative and break out of some of the constraints of the "default world."

I think of it this way, you've probably heard people say things like, "If you knew you couldn't fail, what are some things you might try?" Well, at this event, people do some of those things... they build massive art, they paint pictures, they take the stage and sing, they drive silly cars, and they they wear funky costumes.


I think of our God as a very creative God, look at the examples of plants, people, and animals around us every day, that is a lot creativity. I think most people miss the creativity and willingness to express that creativity that we often experienced in our childhood and then put away when it is time to be a "grown-up."

This year was the first year I was able to have Ellen join me, I skipped last year since it was just a few months after getting married and she had just started her job. This is also the first year I drove to the event instead of flying in. We drove up to Reno the first day, then got up early and headed in to the event.  The dust storm on Monday was really bad and not much fun at all... if the forecast was for it to continue we probably would have left early Tuesday morning. But instead, we knew winds were going to calm down and stay nicer through much of the week.

On Tuesday we were able to travel around and see much of the art and camps, and it was Tuesday night that I was finally able to get to some of the more serious photography. I was so thankful to have Ellen along for many reasons, but one of the minor reasons was that she was able to assist me with the night pictures and with lighting on them.

On Wednesday morning we packed up our camp, took some final pictures on a walking tour, and then headed for home since she had a class she had to attend on Thursday back in Watsonville.

Attached are a few pictures from the event, and if you are at all interested in seeing more please feel free to check out my Flickr page with many more images from the event:

As with previous years, I've given permission for people to use my images for non-commercial uses through a Creative Common's license, and just today I've already spotted some of my images being used to illustrate blogs and newspapers. Here is a link to a French website that linked to several of my images:,4942.html





And remember, many more images from the event are available here

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Santa Cruz Fires followup

This post is quite a bit delayed, but thought I might put a follow-up post on the topic just to wrap it up.


Early this summer when we had various fires popping up around the county we all really feared this was going to be a really bad summer for fires. Luckily we have had milder temperatures, our regular summer fog cycle, and very few fires since those original three.  The rest of the state wasn't as lucky but I'm thankful our local communities have been spared.

As a part of the Mill Gallery show, Kirby Scudder had asked me if I would be willing to be interviewed for his radio show announcing the gallery exhibit.  I'm usually the "behind the scenes" kind of person, but I learned long ago when asked to speak publicly it usually ends up being a lot of fun and quite interesting, so I said yes.

I guess I talked too much, as Kirby ended up splitting my interview over two episodes of his show, the first one covers more of the fire photography and gallery exhibit, and the second covers a bit more of my amateur radio (ham radio) experience and how I find out about the fires as quickly as possible.  Feel free to take a listen if you'd like, the shows are available on the KUSP Art Studio web page or directly linked here:

Aug 4, 2008 (mp3) KUSP Wildfire Photography Interview: Dan Dawson (1 of 2)

Aug 11, 2008 (mp3) KUSP Wildfire Photography Interview: Dan Dawson (2 of 2)

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