Category Archives: Personal Photos


Make It Personal


I always have ideas brewing of image concepts that I want to see come to fruition. Finding time for personal projects is hard but important for creative growth. I find that the process of shooting personal images helps influence my professional work as well.

I have always loved using donuts as a subject. They are delicious and unique with a rich history. I find them fascinating. For this recent series, I wanted to shoot large prints of donuts around San Francisco. It was cost prohibitive to actually print out the images and place them in the settings, so I placed an 8’x8’ square of white foamcore in each location. My assistant was the lucky one who got to watch over the foamcore once it was leaning in the photo. We had a couple of times where it almost blew away!

By shooting the images with the actual large foam core in location, I was able to capture people’s reactions or lack thereof one. I was surprised with how many people just ignored us and just walked around.

Shooting donuts is always fun and satisfying. I never know where or how I’ll shoot them next!

Peter-Belanger-47A0131_PB-FLAT Peter-Belanger-47A0027_PB-FLAT Peter-Belanger-47A9942_PB-FLAT Peter-Belanger-47A9732-PB-FLAT Peter-Belanger-47A0234_PB-FLAT


Stop Motion Fun

Donut Fun

I love donuts and I love stop motion so why not combine them? That’s what I’ve done with this playful video, it’s short but sweet—just like the donuts in it. The creation of the video took several days. It may look simple but it took lots of planing and strategizing. One issue is that donuts change their appearance over time. I had to plan each part to be completed within a day. If I wasn’t able to get the shot done, I had to wait until the next day to start again with fresh donuts. Another issue was that the donuts left a sugar/grease trail as they moved. Rather then clean the surface after each move (which I did in the beginning) I backed each donut with cardboard. This made it much more efficient to move the donuts around without the hassle and mess.

Another big part of completing the video was finding some great music to set the tone. Thankfully Craig Bromley was on board for creating some custom music for the video. I am amazed he was able to develop such a range in the relatively short time span of the video.

View on Vimeo:
View on Youtube:

Pump It

I was inspired by my son’s weekly soccer games for the theme of this stop motion video. I wanted to create something fun and simple. While I was attracted to the basic theme of the idea, I learned simple things are not always easy! In this case, making the pump hose move fluidly was tricky. I needed to be able to move the hose in small, precise steps. Rather then run a wire in the hose I used a metal rod to hold each position of the hose in place. Later the rod was digitally removed. Hopefully the result looks simple and fun.

View on Vimeo:
View on Youtube:


Made in the USA


I’ve always been interested in knowing where things are made—it is a fascination of mine. I’m especially passionate about things being made in the USA, since it seems so much manufacturing has been outsourced to other countries. Given the option, I would always choose items made in the US—even my clothes. I want to support the companies that make the effort to keep the manufacturing in the USA. Often I would be wearing at least one American made item, but along the way I became compelled to try and have a fully American made outfit (including socks, shoes and underwear!)

I continued to research and source American made clothing, accessories, shoes, etc. I found some really great options…some are even being made right here in San Francsico, which is very cool. I feel so passionate about supporting these efforts that I’m committing to buying only American made clothing going forward. I’ve been so energized and inspired by the process that I decided to start a new personal photo series of made-in-the-USA clothing and accessories. This photo showcases my first completely American made outfit. (Sources below)



Shirt: Hlaska They just stopped apparel but still have bags made in the USA
T-shirt and underwear: American Apparel
Belt: Sole Survivor
Jeans: Lucky Brand  only some jeans are American made.
Socks: Wigwam






iPhone Photo Apps Revisited

If you’re like me, you can never have too many camera apps. I’m always asked what my favorite photo apps are. Here’s a run down on some of my favorite and some that I’m just trying out.


Picture show is my favorite photo app. If I could only have one photo app this would be it. It has so many great customizable effects from very basic to crazy. With PictureShow, you have total control of your the outcome of your image.




This is my seconded favorite app. It has really nice effect and borders. What I don’t like is you can’t import a photo into the app. I put up with this because the app is fast and processes in the background so you can keep taking photos. It also has some nice photo taking tools like a level.




This app excels at changing the color of your photo. It makes the photos look amazing. Another plus for this app is that you can import a photo from your iPhone library. I wish this app had an option for a basic white border and an option to bypass the “lab” developing gimmick. It’s cool the first few times seeing the mixture of chemicals in the darkroom but sometimes you just want the results instantly.



Cross Process

When I need a quick, good looking photo with out having to think about settings I use this app. It’s made by the makers of Shake It Photo.




This app lets you make small posters. Who doesn’t like to make posters. It comes with lots of templates that have customizable text.





Normally I use this app in-conjunction with another app. It has a lot of flare options to choose from.




Not only is this app free, it has great effects and borders. It also has a built in social network just for sharing the photos you take. The one negative, and this is a big one for me, is the files are small. If they add support for full size output, I would use this app much more.




When I first got this app I used it all the time. I still like the results but I don’t like how long the whole process takes. I would use this app much more if I could import photos from the iPhone library. That being said, the results from this app are like no other.



This app was recently redone and much improved. The big feature of this app is that you can take a photo with the focus point and the exposure points separated. It also has nice borders and effects.


Snow in San Francisco, crazy. This app is all about the effects, some unique like this snow effect. It’s not a “Go-to” app. It’s more of a secondary app that you mess with if you want to explore options for your image.


Has a nice collection of camera tools for taking photo and video like a level, split focus and exposure. You can use a photo taken by the app or from the iPhone library to apply effects.


I downloaded it hoping for lots of cool effects but most of them are like a rusted piece of metal superimposed onto the image. I wasn’t very happy with this app and do not plan on using it any further. The 100 cameras can be narrowed down to 10 cameras.


IncrediBooth is made by the same folks as Hipstamatic. The effects are done really well. It only uses the front-facing camera but that’s all I need it for. My kids and I love it. If you prefer to use the back camera, then try Pocketbooth but I don’t think the output is as nice.



my studio is a playground

I have fond memories of visiting my parents at work. They may have seen their offices as unexceptional, but I thought they were a wonderland. Their everyday office tools were fantastic objects that held much intrigue for me. So many different types of pens, paper, copy machines, snacks, and my favoritethe staple remover.


Now that I’m a dad, my own kids visit me at work. My studio may not be a traditional office, but it is my place of business. What I view as everyday tools, they see as amazing playthings. Wooden apple boxes become large legos, stands become rocket ships, carts are cars, large backdrop tubes are matchbox raceways. They even have a contest to see who can make the postage scale read the highest. Seeing my studio through their eyes is incredibly refreshing and exciting.






Top 10 iPhone Camera Apps

I’m obsessed with camera apps on the iPhone. I love running a photo through different apps and seeing how different they can become. No one camera app works for me. I need several in order to find the one that will work best for that situation. Here’s a list of the top ten camera apps that I keep coming back to.


Here’s the original unaltered photo from the iPhone.




I use Hipstamatic all the time, it’s my number one camera app. I love the very original images it produces. Great borders, color and contrast….what else can I say, I love it.
On the other hand, I do wish I was able to import a photo previously taken.



What makes this camera app great is it’s lack of options, point and shoot at it’s best. When I need a great looking photo fast I use this app. Another nice thing is that you can shoot an image with the app and it also saves an original version of that image in your library.



TiltShift Generator
When I don’t want to drag my 4X5 around, I’ll use this app to produce a similar selective focus effect. The interface on this app is really well done and a pleasure to use.



I love the selection of retro film border in this app. The newest version now lets you turn on borders and effects. This is great when you want to use an photo processed in another program and use a border from lo-mob.



HDR is always fun to play with. TrueHDR does a great job alining the photos and keeping the detail.



What makes this app unique is you can add type to your photos. It’s like sending someone a postcard. The interface is nice and simple to use. It has standard pretest like Lomo and some unique ones like multi exposures.



This app is made by the creators of Hipstamatic. There are endless possibilities for effects, which is why I’m glad you can import a photo. I take a photo with the iPhone camera app then bring my pick into SwankoLabs for processing. Unlike Hipstamatic I can try out different effects on the same photo until I find one I like.



This is another simple and fast camera app. The options are simple, straight forward and render nice results. They also make a desktop app for the Mac which is fun to use.



Panoramic images are awesome and this app is great at stitching everything together. It works best with things at a distance. You can see in the photo below that the car in the foreground didn’t stitch together well.



When just one photo won’t tell the store I use this app. The downside is even when the capture rate is set to slow, it’s still a little too fast for me. I need more time to think about the next photo.


Weekly photos Jan #3


Weekly photos Jan #2


Weekly photos

As much as I’d love to share the behind-the-scenes details of every project, sometimes the clients don’t want to be written about. I’ve started a new series of images taken while working, but not showing sensitive content. Most days I’m in the studio shooting, and I have the curtains drawn for 10 hours. That really limits the subject matter of the images! It’s kind of a fun challenge. I’ll post my favorites at the end of each week.




Photographing my kids for Halloween is fun, but isn’t without challenges. One of the biggest issues is that it is so dark that the camera can’t focus. Another challenge is that the kids move so fastrunning from door to doorthat it’s hard to get them in focus! In the past I’ve used manual focus with a higher aperture which worked okay. I’ve also used the flash pulse to light up the scene so the camera can focus. This also worked okay, but overall I wasn’t that happy with it.


This year I used my Surefire flashlight to light up a scene so the camera could focus and it worked great. What I like about the Surefire flashlight is that the light only stays on while the button on the back is pressed. When I let go of the button the light turns off instantly. This makes it easy and fast to turn the light on just long enough for the camera to focus. It is no surprise that this precision flashlight is what police officers carry.


It was convenient to be able to hold the light just under the lens and point it where I needed focus rather then have it mounted on the camera. Without the flashlight the photo above would have been completely out of focus. And for the record, I chose the photo above as an example simply because no faces are visible. I have more interesting shots, but not with usage permission of all the trick or treaters.