My Hearts Holidays Inaugural Season
One of my most satisfying moments of the My Heart Campaign so far, took place this holiday weekend. I had been asking for donations for the past month or so for our first My Hearts Holidays "care" package delivery. Our goal was to put together as many gallon sized baggies of food and personal hygiene products that would then be handed out to the homeless on Christmas Eve. Once the idea was set, I started to recruit family and friends to lend a helping hand. It all started at home where we came up with a list of things that we thought would be essential for a care package. We came up with several food items and some personal items including clothing that would help them stay warm out on the streets. We took to social media to ask for donations and thats where the magic began to happen. Donations came in slow to start, but the closer we got to Christmas, the more donations we began to see. We received everything from knitted hats, gloves, sweaters and jackets, to food and basic personal hygiene products. In the end, we had enough items to put together 40 bags completely filled with a variety of goodies. Thanks to our My Heart Campaigns troopers who made the sandwiches and helped stuff the bags.
We hit the streets on Saturday afternoon with a trunk full of bags, blankets and clothing. We went straight downtown where we knew we would find plenty of people in need and to our delight, many of them had already been fed. We went around to some of the more known places in search of people who had not received any help, and found more groups who were out helping. It warmed our hearts knowing we weren't the only ones out there trying to help, but at the same time it was heart breaking just to see the vast amount of people on the streets. We expanded our circle and headed over towards the nob hill and university, where we ran into more individuals who were in need of a helping hand. It didnt take us too long to get most of the bags out, but we did notice that some people were missing from some of the spots we were used to seeing them at. We all hoped that some of them had a warm place to stay for the night. I then returned on Christmas morning to deliver the rest of the bags and see if there was anything else we could do. We could have probably handed out another 40 bags that morning if we had them. Next year we will return with double the amount of bags.
This was an experience that I will never forget. Those that know me well, know that I am a man of my word and that I will not only aim to make this a yearly thing, but that I will be looking to make it bigger and better next year. When you get out there, you really take a lot back home with you. You see those you helped differently and you definitely learn to appreciate what you have. I will never look at another person in need the same way. Next year our goal is not only to double the amount of care packages, but hopefully gather up some sleeping bags for our second year. There were many people out there in need of something to help with freezing temperatures at night and many asked if we had sleeping bags instead of warm clothes. I think it gives us a great place to start for next year.
Thank you all who donated and helped with our first year, lets keep it going for 2017.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
My Hearts Heroes Donations
David Montes Photography and the My Hearts Heroes Campaign are proud to announce that we have chosen a charity for all our campaign donations. While there are many charities out there that we hope to support in one way or another, this was a charity that we were very excited about. Paws and Stripes is a non-profit organization providing service dogs for wounded military veterans with PTSD and traumatic brain injury through integrating service dog training and education with mental health support. Another important reason why we believe this is the right organization is that these dogs are chosen from our local rescues. This organization has found a perfect way to help our vets and these dogs all at the same time. Lastly, it was also important for me to find a local charity. One of the most important goals of the My Heart Campaign is to make the world a better place through my photography, and there is no better place to start than here locally. Paws and Stripes has everything we were looking for in charity and we hope that our campaign is able to raise some money for this wonderful cause. Remember to get those old military photos over to me for restoration and we will donate a percentage of any prints ordered to Paws and Stripes. I also want to thank Paws and Stripes for there work and for communicating with us to begin this relationship.
My Hearts Holidays
The season for giving is upon us and some recent events this past week and the upcoming holidays have me in a charitable mood. As a child, I was always excited for this time of year because Christmas meant gifts and no school for two weeks. (Ha!) As I get older, I tend to look forward to much more than the gifts. My heart fills with happiness just spending time with my family and giving back to those less fortunate. Having young ones in my home, I would like nothing more than sharing that feeling of giving and being thankful for the things that we sometimes take for granted. This year, I will be launching My Hearts Holidays with a goal of feeding and adding a little bit of happiness to those in need. In the next few weeks, we will be collecting items from family and friends in order to put together "care" packages to deliver on Christmas. We will be accepting food items for paper sack lunches and small sized personal care items for men and women, such as lotions, toothpaste, tissue, and women's hygiene products. We will also be taking donations of clothing items such as knit gloves and scarfs. If you also have a coat, sweatshirt or small blanket, we will take those in case we encounter someone who might need them on the streets. All in all, we are willing to take in just about anything that could be put to good use and that we can transport easily in our cars. I prefer not to take in monetary donations as we are not a licensed charity, but if you are willing to give, we can find a way for you to do that. The bottom line is giving and any food items that we cant use will go to our local food banks and we will also find a charity to donate any clothing items we have left as well.
My Hearts Heroes
In my continued effort to make the world a better place through my photography, I have decided to add another service to an already great cause. I have been offering free digital touch up and restoration services of any and all military photos and portraits for my clients and followers. After seeing so many wonderful photos of loved ones on Veterans Day 2016, I thought it would also be a great idea to expand the My Heart Campaign to include this service. It will be similar to my original concept of giving back to those who sacrificed so much for us. The plan is to take these photos that are being touched up and digitally restored and provide their owners and families a link to order copies and prints of that photo to share with loved ones. Then I will take 10% of those sales and donate them to a charity benefiting our troops and their families. I will announce which charity as soon as I get permission from them to do so. I do not need the originals and the photos can be sent to me digitally. However, the best results would come from a high resolution scan, which I can do if you decide to trust me with your photos. Get those photos over to me and I look forward to seeing them and working on them to preserve those memories for your families and generations to come.
My Heart Campaign
When I first got into photography, I told myself that I wanted it to serve a purpose in my life. I have used photography as a release on life. The stresses of busy schedules and work all seem to disappear when I pick up my camera and hit the road. Whether its a landscape or sky that I find myself looking at, or even a beautiful creature that I am trying to photograph, I have come to find that none of this would be possible without their existence. If it wasn't for our State and National Parks I wouldn't have a place to photograph such beautiful landscapes. If it wasn't for our local Zoos and Gardens, I wouldn't have a chance to photograph amazing animals and colorful flowers. Unfortunately, while visiting these places, I realize how much hard work goes into keeping these places enjoyable and how much help they could use. Because of this, I have decided to start the
My Heart Campaign.
I hope to use the power of photography to help raise money and donate to a variety of causes. I have started by offering a 10% donation from all print sales of photos that have been watermarked with a heart in the upper right hand corner as you can see in the photo above. Moving forward, this will also always include all photos in my Wildlife Gallery section. The watermark will not appear on any of your final prints. Those donations will go to the ABQ BioPark and Botanical Gardens, where most of those photos were taken.
I envision expanding the My Heart Campaign to different causes that also mean a lot to me. I plan on finding creative ways to support and donate to our local animal shelters, adoption agencies and youth sports and music programs.
Dream Come True
About a month ago, I posted my "Petroglyph Storm" photo on my Facebook page when I was really excited about the rounds it was making on Flickr. It was the first photo I have ever posted to get so many views and comments. I saw it as an opportunity to open doors for my photography and draw attention to my work from some of the best photographers in the world. If you are not familiar with Flickr, it is one of the premier photo hosing and sharing sites on the internet, with an incredible upload rate of more than 7,000 photos per minute. Its where some of the worlds best photographers showcase and share their photographs. For all the photographers who post their images to Flickr, the highest honor is to make it on to the EXPLORE page of the website, where 500 of the best images around the world, are chosen daily to be viewed by thousands of people. Some of the worlds best photographers have been blessed to have several of their images shared on EXPLORE and some of us could only dream of it. Those who have followed my photography have heard me mention the EXPLORE page more than once on many of my posts. This morning, as I do most mornings, I decided to open https://www.flickr.com/explore to view the photos. Just before I got to the bottom of the page, I noticed my "Cielito Musical" photo was there. I sat there stunned for a minute before getting teary-eyed and emotional knowing I had just realized a dream of mine had come true. To make it on a page with so many amazing photographs from many very talented photographers has been the pinnacle of my short time in photography. I have always tried to stay humble with my work and try to express the feelings I have about my photos and what I see in them. I share them because it makes me happy and I appreciate every single compliment I receive. Stephanie always gets on me because she tells me how great my work is and I never want to believe her. I guess as artists or professionals, we expect to hear good things from our loved ones and for some reason it means so much more when you hear it or see it from complete strangers. I tell her that all the time and when others do acknowledge my work, she gets a kick out of telling me "I told you so." Like with most things, I guess she was right. Even knowing how much it was going to mean to me to get EXPLORED, I found myself checking and googling how difficult it is to make it on EXPLORE. I guess that part of me just wants to continue to doubt myself hoping I will keep the fire inside and continue to want to take amazing photos. I ran into these metrics from Flickr. "Flickr receives about 6,000 uploads every minute -- That's about 8.6 million photos a day! From this huge group of images, the Flickr Interestingness algorithm chooses only 500 images to showcase for each 24-hour period. That's only one image in every 17,000!" When I see these stats, it all become real again. Where do I go from here? Do I let my foot off the gas? Do I lay off the dedication? Should I spend less time? Not a chance.......on to the next goal.
Master Sergeants Gabriela and Raymond Jaramillo
I still remember that day, some twenty plus years ago. I remember going into my room and sobbing because I had just said goodbye to my sister who was leaving for bootcamp. I was young, I didn't really know what to expect and when I would see my sister again. A few weeks later we received a letter with a few photos of her that she had taken in a photo booth, she was holding a sign that read "I'm in hell." I knew it was a joke but it still made me worry and about her and what she was going through over there, then I remembered who my sister was. You see, the women in my family have always been really strong and determined, it wasn't a matter of if she could, it was a matter of how great she would be at it. Soon after, we were blessed to find out that she would be based at Kirtland Air Force Base here in Albuquerque. Most military families don't have the comfort of having their loved ones close to home, so it eased many of our worries. My sister always told me that she wanted to join the military so she could travel the world, and for some reason she ended up back in Albuquerque. A few months after being back home, she brought that reason to a family gathering. I still remember meeting Raymond at one of our family gatherings, he was a bit quiet but fit in immediately. I wasn't sure what to think about my sister dating a military man, but it didn't take her long realize that this would be the man she would spend the rest of her life with. It was the beginning of a marriage that would produce two amazing children and which they got to help one another make it through the ups and downs of military life. Its fitting that this journey would end not too far from where it all started. This weekend, I had the pleasure of witnessing what 20 plus years of military life looks like. I could sit here and brag about all of their accomplishments, the places they went and the jobs they took on. From my sisters humanitarian trip to Bolivia, to my brother in law taking on a job as a TI. They made many sacrifices and accomplished many things in all that time, but to me, nothing was more evident this weekend. They didn't do it for any of those things, the reason they did it was sitting in that room with them. It wasn't about what was in that hall, it was who. Their families, their co-workers, their loved ones. People came from as far as Florida and places like San Antonio where they had spent so many years just to be there when they retired. Throughout all those years, they touched many people. All weekend I read about and talked to people who they touched, who they were there for, who they even took in as family when they were too far from their own. Nothing says more about them than this photograph above, two completely different personalities. My sister with her heart of gold who always wears her emotions on her sleeve, and my brother in law with his stern discipline to never show his. The United States Military isn't just losing two of its finest, they are losing two mentors, two leaders and two amazing people, but frankly, its our turn. I am proud to call them brother and sister and I thank them for serving us and our country. Thank you for all you have done and being there even from far away and when it was difficult for you. The Air Force appreciates you, your fellow service members appreciate you and lastly, I appreciate you. I love you both very much.....and sis, now we can go see the world together.
June 12th, 2016
I have to admit I was a bit nervous going into todays photo shoot. Taking photos of a toddler is one thing, but taking photos of a 3 week old baby is a whole different ballgame. The biggest thing I learned today, is that I better set an entire afternoon aside for these shoots in the future. I had also been wanting to make up for not being able to get maternity photos of one of my closest nieces Monica and Enzos father Joseph. We ran into bad weather on our photo shoot day and ended up with a fail on the lighting and even some rain. Going into todays shoot we started out with a hungry Enzo, but once he got some food in his belly, he was ready to go. This little one was a trooper, just like his momma on the day and the day before he was born. He laid there and let his uncle stick a camera in his face all afternoon. These newborn photo shoots are more like marathons than a session. Now I know why most photographers only get a handful of shots when doing these types of shoots. Luckily, I was with family and we had all day to shoot as we pleased. That is if Enzo would let us of course. I gotta say I was extremely happy with the results and I believe this was one of the shoots that I can seriously say I walked away with a ton of hands on knowledge from. I really want to thank Stephanie for not only finding some beautiful throws for Enzo to lay on, but she was great with getting Enzo in the right positions and assisting with lighting as well. Thank you love.......Like usual, this is only a sample of todays shoot and most of you know you have to follow me on my Facebook page in order to see more of these photos in the upcoming days. We were able to get a few family photos in as well, so make sure you visit our page to see those.
May 31st, 2016
I was honored when my sister asked me to take my nieces senior pictures, a very important part of why I got into photography was moments like this. So, when we visited Clovis New Mexico for the Memorial Day weekend, we thought it would be a great opportunity to get out there and enjoy the beautiful weather. This will probably be one of many senior photo shoots I do of this amazing young lady who has had my heart since the day she was born. I could go on for days bragging and talking about what an amazing young lady she has turned out to be, and what an amazing job my sister and brother in law have done raising her. I do however think that I would rather try to show that in all the photos I will be taking of her this following year. Jasmine has an incredibly busy senior year as she will work to continue her outstanding academic goals and serve as Drum Major and President of her high schools State Champion marching band. I look forward to following her journey this year and documenting it through the lens of my camera. To begin, we visited some of the more known sites in Clovis and managed to get some great shots. The photo above is just one of many that I will be sharing on our Facebook page in the next few days. Love you Jazzy!
When I decided I was going to get serious about photography, I never imagined what it would actually feel like to be in certain sessions. I told myself that I just wanted to take beautiful pictures of places and people, it sounded easy enough. As I grow, I try to take the opportunity to do as many different types of shoots as possible and hope I don't screw anything up. Well, Isabella was one that I will never forget and that I took so much pleasure in doing. You see, Isabella is my nephews daughter. Bella, which means beautiful, is a very special little girl and the first of a new generation in our family. As you will see in some of these photos, she's so adorable and it was easy to capture her personality in her First Birthday Cake Smash shoot. It was pretty easy, since Bella was posing for her favorite uncle to take photographs of her (that would be me). Most photographers would probably have some issues grabbing a 1 year olds attention, all I had to do was get out from behind the camera and just be "Tio". We sat her down without the cake, hoping we could grab a few shots of her before she got ahold of it, she went for the balloons instead. When she decided the balloons were no longer entertaining her, we put the cake in front of her. To our delight, it took very little instruction to get her to dig into that cake. The photos tell the rest of the story. I was very happy with the photos we got to take, I look forward to doing the same for every birthday of hers I get to be around for. You can see more photos of Isabella on our Facebook page a we will feature some of her photos her on davidmontesphotography.com
Trip of a Lifetime
As a photographer, I find myself browsing hundred of photos daily trying to learn as much as I possibly can and seeing some of the most beautiful and amazing places on earth. At times I wished I lived in cities like New York or Tokyo, where you could go for a walk and have a million of things to photograph. Travel to places like Europe and Asia and see once in a lifetime landscapes that only a few are lucky enough to experience. Fortunately, we have a place a short drive from away from us that many photographers around the world would love a chance to photograph.........The Grand Canyon. As excited as I was to take photos, its hard just to get past the beauty and size of it all. How do you capture the beauty that only your eyes can see? How do you compose a shot when the entire frame is full no matter where you turn? All you can do is try your best and hope that you are able to capture the place and the moment. While talking to a young lady at the front counter of our hotel, I joked about how we had just spent a long day at the Grand Canyon and I preferred to order food to our room instead of go out. She replied "really? Most people that come through here spend like 20 minutes there and then leave." I thought to myself, I wish I could have stayed out there for a few more days. What I did leave with, was a better understanding of why photographers are always pushing the limits to their photography. Its not that I believe that I wont feel accomplished after taking a similar photo to someone else, its more the thought of wanting to see something bigger and better. Can you really get bigger and better than the Grand Canyon? No, but you can take several more trips there and end up with several different photos than the previous trip. We can plan to hike down into the canyon or visit the North Rim which has different views. That's the beauty of photography, there is always something new and exciting to take photos of. I feel truly blessed to have been able to see such an amazing place and I hope that my photographs remind those of you that have been there, how beautiful it is. I also hope that it inspires those of you who haven't been there, to get out there and see it while you still can. I am happy to share some of my favorite shots from the Grand Canyon, you can also see more at our Facebook page where you can leave comments or questions. (credit Stephanie Sutton for the photo above)
This weekend has been a special one for me. I got a taste of what the near future might look like having two events on the same weekend. It was even more special when I was asked to come and take photos at a baby shower for my niece Monica. Oh sure, I made a big fuss about going to do a party which is usually planned for women alone. The truth is that I deep inside I was looking forward to be a part of another special moment in Monicas life. Those that know me well, know that Momo (which is what we call her) and I have a very special relationship. I have been fortunate enough to see this young woman grow up through the years and develop into an amazing woman and one that I can say I am so very proud of. Proud of who she has become and proud of all the things she has accomplished at such a young age. I was asked to do a photo booth type shoot, which was nice because I got to hang out and mingle without having my camera in hand all afternoon. Stephanie, who spent an incredible amount of time planning the event, took some time and put together some small props for the booth. The experience leaves me anxious to expand that service for future events in which I will bring in more props and possibly a variety of backdrops. In the end, it turned out to be a great weekend of events and photography.
When I was a young boy, I used to watch a lot of movies with my parents. I remember watching one about a pretty little girl who runs away and hides in a car, which ends up belonging to a couple of thieves. I haven't seen that movie in over 30 years, but I remembered it as soon as I got a call to take some photos of a pretty little girl named Savannah. I can still picture the little girls face from the movie and even a few of the characters as well. Turns out that this Savannah was just as pretty and had some eyes that were made to take photos of. I was excited to take on my first portrait shoot, not having a clue what to expect, I decided to google some advice for photographing toddlers. Safe to say, they were all spot on. You can take all the props you want, set up your lighting, and even take a few practice shots of your lovely assistants(Thank you Stephanie). When you decide you are all set and ready to go, it all goes out the window. The best thing you can do is hit the ground, and start taking as many photos as you can, then it becomes a sprint from there. When you are taking pictures of such a beautiful little girl, snapping pictures isn't the hard part. Trying to remember everything you have learned in order to compose and find the right exposure is what gets tricky. Many photographers use the expression, spray and pray. Take as many photos as you possibly can and hope you get some great shots in there somewhere. When photographing toddlers, thats exactly what you have to do. Happy First Birthday Savannah, and to many more to come. Welcome to the first ever published blog at David Montes Photography. It is here where I will be posting previews of my photoshoots and documenting my learning process along the way. My goal is to document my progress and to give my friends and clients a place to see my photographs and see what services I offer. Don't forget to like our page on Facebook to see more photographs of individual shoots and services offered. Thank you