Memorial Day Weekend

I am so proud of my Mom! She’s always appreciated my talent and the images I produce, but she never really got into photography herself – until today.

My Aunt and Grandma and Mom were all in the same place at the same time – it is Memorial Day Weekend, and Idyllwild is perfect this time of year, so of course I was going to do some spontaneous portraits! And then it happened, she asked if I wanted her to shoot a couple of me. Now my Mom has always been one who rations shots – whether it was film or digital. Growing up she’d shoot exactly one frame of each event – maybe two frames if you got lucky. And she’s always astonished at the number of images I take. And when I said yes, and handed her my camera, she was a little surprised at how heavy it was, and how hard it was to hold up and press the shutter at the same time. I had an 85mm 1.2 lens on it, so she wasn’t wrong, it was heavy, so I expected her to shoot maybe four or five frames, just to be nice, and then be done. But I was wrong! She ended up shooting 40 frames! She started a little slow, but before long she was telling me to tilt my chin, look up, and smile like I had a secret. I was laughing so hard, and loving it so much, I had a hard time following her directions. But she was patient with me, and kept at it, determined to get the perfect shot – and she did! She actually got a shot of me that I really love. And to be honest, most of what she got is good. I really do like the majority of the stuff she shot.

So my Mom is now a photographer! Amazing things happen every day…

Vicki // Photo: Cheryl SpeltsSharon // Photo: Cheryl Spelts
My Aunt Vicki and my Mom, the new photographer!

Cheryl SpeltsGinny // Photo: Cheryl Spelts
Me and and my beautiful Grandma

Memorial Day Weekend // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

And the three of them in front of the cabin. Doesn’t the yard look magnificent? It’s amazing when you think about how all that was under three feet of snow not that long ago.

Sneak Peak!

Tracii Guns // Photo: Cheryl SpeltsLeague of Gentlemen // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Last weekend I got to see a brand new band on the first night of a new tour – Tracii Guns’ League of Gentlemen at the 710 Beach Club, in Pacific Beach – and it was a fun show! Some familiar music, and some unfamiliar, and some familiar music done in an unfamiliar way. If you get a chance to see them, wait until you hear one of L.A. Guns’ biggest hits done in a totally new way – it’s worth going, just for that one song!

I’ll have more images from this show later in the week…

What am I magnetically attracted to?

One of my favorite blogs recently has been Danielle LaPorte’s White Hot Truth. I’m always attracted to passion, and she dials it up to eleven every time she posts. Today I read her post about figuring out what you’re magnetically attracted to – and what that says about you – and thought it was fascinating.

What am I magnetically attracted to?

1. Black nail polish
2. Orange blossoms
3. Hot sun and hot nights
4. Skin – tanned or pale
5. Great bone structure and pretty lips and wide open eyes
6. Hair that swings and blows and shines
7. Old houses
8. Wood floors and windows and doors
9. Great shoes
10. Silver gelatin prints
11. Silver jewelry
12. BIG colorful canvases of my images or paintings by contemporary artists
13. A soft cool breeze on a hot summer night
14. Old trees
15. Sand, and surf, and the ocean
16. Expensive leather purses
17. Water, in all it’s forms
18. Convertibles
19. Portraits shot at a wide open aperture
20. People who are smarter than me
21. Men just out of the shower, who smell like soap
22. White teeth
23. Wrap-around skirts
24. People who dance well
25. Dark chocolate
26. Concerts
27. Passion in other people

What does it all say about me? Not quite sure yet, but since most of those things are in my life, on a regular basis, I definitely think I’m headed in the right direction. What is that old saying? Follow your bliss… Okay!

Officially spring in Idyllwild

Pollen // Photo: Cheryl SpeltsSpring comes later up in the mountains. We still had snow when the wildflowers started appearing in the flatlands. And even within Idyllwild, spring came sooner in the downtown area, and later further up the mountain. The altitude change makes a difference in so many different ways… In late summer, when it’s cooler up here, we’ll be grateful for that difference, but for most of the last few months I’ve just been wishing spring would hurry up and get here!

Then this weekend, as I drove up the hill, everything seemed to be in bloom. Wild lilac that bloomed in March in Fallbrook, is at it’s peak right now up here – both versions too – purple and white! And masses of yellow flowers bloom around every corner. And the yuccas? So many of them this year! It’s a really beautiful drive right now between Banning and Idyllwild.

But today there was a brand new sign of spring – pollen! Yellow-green pollen from the oak trees is covering everything.

I grabbed my iPhone to take a photo of my car, when I saw how much pollen was on it – intending to just document it. But then I got into the way the light was reflecting off the shiny paint, and reflection of a rock wall, in the surface, and pretty soon I was more into the art, than in the documenting. Typical!

So yeah, that really is pollen, on the hood of my car – believe it or not. And if you don’t, come up to Idyllwild and see for yourself! It really is pretty up here right now – and cool!

Sunglasses from Marty Casey’s Silver Elements

 // Photo: Cheryl SpeltsMarty Casey just added sunglasses to his Silver Elements Collection!

To get a pair, click here, and be sure to check out “More Views” for three more images. We shot them on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood last week, and they’re totally cool and so very very LA!

All items purchased from the Marty Casey Silver Elements Collection support the “Marty Casey Elements of Nature Fund” where every $ plants a tree in conjunction with American Forests “Global Releaf” Ecosystem Restoration Projects. American Forests ( helps people improve the environment with trees and forests. It is the nation’s oldest nonprofit citizens’ conservation organization.

L.A. Guns at House of Blues on Sunset

Some people think that a photographer just shoots what is. If there’s beautiful stuff in front of you, just click the shutter, and voilà! Instant art! But it’s not quite that simple. Yes, if there’s beautiful stuff in front of you, you’re halfway there, but the artist still has to chose where to point the camera, and what moment to capture – as well as a myriad of other more technical choices. With every shot, that artist is telling his own story and showing you his vision. And no two photographers, if presented with the same beautiful subject, will come up with the same way of presenting it. And honestly, even the same photographer on different days, will make different choices. That’s art!

I shot LA Guns last week at the House of Blues on Sunset, which is a great venue, with nice light – my favorite kind of place. And they sounded great and looked great – it was just the best of LA Guns, in every way. So a perfect night to shoot. And lucky for me, I came to that show so wiped out and exhausted I could hardly see straight. Lucky? Yeah lucky. Because shooting a concert is like crack to me – so of course I’m going to rise to the occasion. And of course how I’m feeling is going to shape what I see, and how I shoot – and that’s a good thing!

Earthy, sensual, and wild are how I’d describe my images from that night. I usually go for the extreme, but that night I was attracted to the moments in between – the moments when you take a breath. Not necessarily the moments when the musicians take a breath, but more the moments where you, the viewer take a breath. So go ahead, just breathe… and enjoy!

Marty Casey/ Photo: Cheryl Spelts

LA Guns // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

To see the slideshow from that night, go to:

And remember to maximize your browser window – the images are large, and deserve to be seen that way!

There’s a discussion thread at RBL, too!

If I Could Be With You (One Hour To-Night)

I’ve written about my grandfather’s cousin before – Ruth Etting – who was arguably the most popular female singer in the 1930’s, but lost her career due to scandal – her ex-husband shot her new boyfriend. Today a scandal like that would likely give her career a nice boost, and cement her place in history, but back then it was the kiss of death for an entertainer’s career.

She made quite a few films, and so there’s lots of footage out there of Ruth singing – but not all of it has ended up on YouTube yet – although I have no doubt it will eventually! But this is the first time I’ve found a clip of her on a stage, with just a piano. I like the simplicity. And the song. And the fact that at the end of the song she plays with the phrasing. It’s definitely stylized, and definitely torchy, and definitely an acquired taste, but if you like a good torch song, she’s the best!

For more on Ruth Etting, go to