Divided Line Photography: Blog https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog en-us (C) C.J. Varela | Divided Line Media 2013-2023 (Divided Line Photography) Sat, 16 Sep 2023 07:23:00 GMT Sat, 16 Sep 2023 07:23:00 GMT https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/img/s/v-12/u39499334-o953050266-50.jpg Divided Line Photography: Blog https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog 96 120 Celebrate Love at Every Stage https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2023/9/1-year-anniversary-photoshoot-anyone M&B_09062023-111M&B_09062023-111 Sullivan-08312023-71Sullivan-08312023-71

I recently ran across a woman while in the middle of an engagement shoot who asked, "Do you think engagement photos are really worth it?" 

I was perplexed that she asked me that question... like the guy holding the cameras would ever respond with a negative answer. But I thought about it for a second and confessed that I do think there certain aspects of portrait photography that aren't entirely necessary or maybe
go a little over the top at times. But engagement photos aren't one of those categories — it's a beautiful time in life to capture a young relationship (or sometimes old) because, A. death comes to us all, B. aging isn't always kind, and C. an engaged couple's life is going to change in so many ways in the years to follow that it would be a shame to not celebrate that time in their life together. So do it, and do something fun!

The same holds true for anniversary photo shoots. Life is short and love is sweet. Celebrate the good things in life :)

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(Divided Line Photography) adventure carson city photography CJ Varela couples Divided Line Media divided line photo engagement photography lake tahoe lake tahoe weddings laketahoe northern california northern nevada photographer photography portraits reno photography tahoe tahoe wedding photographer wedding wedding photographer wedding photography https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2023/9/1-year-anniversary-photoshoot-anyone Sat, 16 Sep 2023 13:30:00 GMT
Time to Take a Hike https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2017/8/take-a-hike

I love wedding photography and I am in the thick of it right now.  But usually around mid-to-late August it starts to press on me like weight that stifles the fun and creativity of it all.  So it's super important to me that I don't stop shooting other things that I love.  Whether it be my daughter, landscapes around Tahoe or anything else, maintaining 'photography-as-fun' is crucial for my well-being and passion for what my clients pay me to do.  One of the ways that I discipline myself to keep this mindset is by taking a weekend.  And by weekend I mean a Monday and Tuesday (usually) to do anything I want.  Sometimes I just rest, or relax at the beach, hang with friends, or take care of household stuff like anyone else.  Other times I make it my goal to do something that inspires me.  Backpacking in the high-sierra, for example, is one of my favorite things to do.  Surrounding myself with mountains, lakes, streams, and wildflowers; hearing the sounds of frogs echo through the night as the milky way passes over me and even swatting and swearing at the mosquitos that bite like a son-of-$&%^@ in the morning.  I love it.  I love the surprise around every corner in the trail and the way things come to life when the sun rises and then glow with an encore when it sets.  I also love that being in the outdoors encourages me to wake up before sunrise -- something my soft bed at home won't allow me to do.  But I hate mosquitos.

Here's a little sample of what I'm talking about (Change the quality to HD -- bc it's worth it): 

There is a stigma, though, with taking time off.  Especially, maybe, for small business owners/sole proprietors like myself because the work is never done.  I've never checked off a to-do list and had nothing left to do.  The work is always there.  Always.  I've had to come to this point where I can be comfortable with never having a clean slate.  Even if the slate is relatively clean it is more the feeling that the work is never done that I'm talking about.  The feeling is real and it can feel like a monster on my back if it's not managed by deep breaths and a realization that there are more important things in my life than work.  
Here's a short list of more important things in life than work:

  1. Family/friends
  2. Healthy living (good food, exercise, Living with less stress, etc.)
  3. God  (This one is more personal but very helpful for me to remember.  The important part about it that could be helpful to anyone is to know the part in the bible where God created everything and on the 7th day rested from his work -- Which is where we get the sabbath, our day of rest, and a gift from God for our benefit).  

I believe that if we don't take the time to rest, to enjoy life and the fruits of our labor, we will literally drive ourselves to the grave.  And life is just too short for that isn't it?

Here's some pretty pictures of what I've enjoyed recently...enjoy :).

Milky Way over Bonsai RockMilky Way over Bonsai RockLake Tahoe, NV Lake Aloha Sunset BurstLake Aloha Sunset Burst Aloha Star ReflectionsAloha Star Reflections Aloha Lake CampAloha Lake CampBackpacker with a headlamp under the stars in Desolation Wilderness


I have a number of these photos, and more, for sale in my landscapes gallery.  Prices are competitive and large prints bring any room to life.  Throw one in your office to keep you inspired during all those dull moments answering emails and such.  Please contact me in advance for questions, tips, and/or suggestions on what would look best for your space.  Then get out of the office and enjoy some time outdoors, with your family and with your friends; The office isn't going anywhere :).







(Divided Line Photography) photography divided line media divided line photography family photographer lake tahoe photographer lake tahoe wedding photographer landscape photography landscapes photographer portrait photographer real estate photographer tahoe landscape photography tahoe wedding photographer wedding wedding photographer https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2017/8/take-a-hike Thu, 17 Aug 2017 20:30:00 GMT
Hello, Stranger. https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2017/7/hello-stranger It certainly didn't take long for me to let the blog go by the wayside.  My last post about some Tahoe locals' weddings was back in April, and since then I've traveled to Scotland and Ireland, and then jumped in the full swing of wedding season here in Tahoe.  I could write ten articles to get you up to date with all I've been up to lately, but that's too big a monster for me to tackle right now.  So I'm starting with a re-cap of a wedding at Riva Grill I shot at the end of April.  I've only shared one image from the wedding on my instagram feed and Dorothy and Daniel deserve far more attention than I've given them.  

Writing the vows. Lots of beautiful images from Dorothy and Daniels wedding @rivagrill.

A post shared by CJ Varela (@divided_line_media) on

Spring weather in Tahoe is about as unpredictable as anything and usually the best advice to give someone hoping for an outdoor ceremony is to hope for the best and expect the worst; so always be ready for a backup plan.  That being said, I've had tremendous luck in most of my spring shoots and Dorthy and Daniels wedding was no exception.  

Dorothy gets her makeup touched in at The Hard Rock Hotel.

Daniel and his 'best-man', also known as Dad, look on from their balcony at The Hark Rock Hotel.  

Dorothy transferring her vows from her phone to a note pad.

Their first Look.... and to the ceremony.

And party group shots are always a good idea.

The above picture was a tough moment and one I wasn't sure about photographing.  Dorothy and Daniel and both recently experienced some losses in their family that were fairly sudden and one of which was close to their wedding date.  When the guests cleared and they had moment to breathe they took this time to grieve their losses.  It was a deeply personal moment and I didn't take any photos for along time, but then I realized that I was there to capture their day and this was part of it; so this is part of their story.  It might not be a moment they'll look back on with fondness, but I don't believe that only the best memories are worth keeping.  Weddings are a time of celebration, for sure.  But when there are special people that you've always imagined being there on your wedding day -- who have passed on -- it's also a time where those losses are most intensely felt.  I can only imagine the whirlwind of emotions they were both going through.

The empty chair left in memory of Mom.  

Dorothy's parents, Daniel and Debbie, love Riva Grill and when it came time to finding a place for their daughter to get married they didn't have to look long.  

A candid moment of Dorothy's sister bustling the dress in the ladies room.  
Emily's Memorial Horse Show - Haylee -47747 Friday Aug 25Emily's Memorial Horse Show - Haylee -47747 Friday Aug 25
We went out to the beach for some sunset photos and they were up for the challenge.  The gate to the end of the pier was locked so we went around it.  The consequences to a mistake here, as Dorothy hangs on to the railing, would have changed everything.  But it was their idea so I said "okay."  

Congratulations to you both, Dorothy and Daniel! I feel honored to have been able to capture your day and wish you all the best.  

As a photographer, some weddings stick with me longer than others, and this will be one that I'll remember for a long time.  I have lots more to share to get the blog up to date but that is it for today.  Thanks for checking it out and check back soon for more updates.


(Divided Line Photography) cj varela divided line media lake tahoe lake tahoe weddings laketahoe photography riva grill tahoe tahoe wedding photographer wedding wedding photographer wedding photography https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2017/7/hello-stranger Tue, 25 Jul 2017 20:00:00 GMT
Locals Rule https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2017/4/locals-rule It has been longer than I've hoped for since my last blog post and it has me worried about my goals to post once a week as summer approaches.  I've already decided, though, that I'm just going to do my best and not beat myself up for failing.  That's all I can do :|

Needless to say, I have been busy since my last post just before the Something Blue Wedding Expo at Mont Bleu.  It was my first time getting a booth at a wedding expo so I wasn't sure what to expect exactly and I can't say for certain (at this point) whether I will see a profit from it.  I will say, though, that regardless of my profit margin I think it was a great experience and I believe it was worth the investment.  Above all else I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with couples and the whole process of getting to know each other before the wedding is not something I get to do all the time.  I had no idea how much I would appreciate and enjoy that time like I did and I think that alone will bring me back next year; and I'll possibly look to get in to some other area wedding shows too.  The second part about that process that is cool for me is that the couples are coming up to my booth because they liked something they saw.  They see my style in the photos I have on display and they like it and want to know more.  Admittedly, after writing that it sounds very common sensical.  My reality though is that a lot of the weddings I've shot come from resorts in the area where initial contact at best is my website, and probably often times I am booked simply because I'm recommended.  So to have the opportunity to talk to couples about what I do and share my passion for photography with them is a cool opportunity for me and I'm thankful I was there to have the experience.  And one last benefit of all this is that the couples who do book with me are now excited for their wedding photos and I can't put it into words how much fun that makes it for me.  It's a big deal to me.

A highlight for me in the past couple weeks was having the opportunity to shoot two 'locals' weddings; As in, people who live in Tahoe getting married in Tahoe.  That also doesn't happen as much as I would like but I hope that maybe, just maybe, this is the start of a trend.  I'll keep my fingers crossed.  It's just a ton of fun being apart of those weddings because I know that there is a much higher opportunity to grow lasting relationships (for personal or business) with people who share the same community with me -- and that's another thing I feel I miss out on sometimes being more of a "destination" photographer.  

The first one was John and Greta at the West Shore Cafe.  I've known John for a couple years and have worked many of the same weddings together (he's a videographer).  I was stoked when they asked me to shoot their wedding and more so when I started to cull the images... There are a lot of great images from their wedding and I don't want to make this post unnecessarily long so if you want to see some more check out the post on my Facebook page posted on April 1, 2017.  


Then just the other day I got to capture this mid-week-on the bank of a river-with a fairy-tale vibe wedding.  The weather was perfect and the light was beautiful and Scott and Macy were down to adventure.  They were also real naturals in front of the camera and they made my job way too easy at times.  


Congratulations to John and Greta and Scott and Macy!  After seeing these images again I can't help but feel honored and blessed by you guys.  I love my job :).  

That's it for now.  Thanks for reading the blog and please post a comment if you'd like me to answer any questions.  Cheers!


(Divided Line Photography) CJ Varela couples Divided Line Media lake tahoe lake tahoe weddings laketahoe photography portraits tahoe tahoe wedding photographer wedding wedding photographer wedding photography West shore Cafe https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2017/4/locals-rule Fri, 07 Apr 2017 13:00:00 GMT
Know What Your Getting With Your Wedding Photographer https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2017/3/Know-what-to-expect  

     Greetings!  My last post about flash photography got me a little fired up this week.  I spent some more time thinking about the perils that so many engaged couples face when it comes to choosing their wedding photographer and I recounted my own experience in choosing one (before I was a photographer).  My choice came down to price and availability.  Our photographer was a friend of a friend who was just sort of starting out and was excited to give us a great deal.  The deal was okay, but in hindsight I can see it was overpriced for a couple reasons.  

Reason one being the photos themselves weren't that great.  There were lots of images that were out of focus and the editing was amateurish with lots of overused effects.  Just not sweet.  And, again, I know things now that I didn't then -- which is the point of this blog post that I will get to shortly.
Reason two the photographer was overpriced was because the experience wasn't great.  It wasn't terrible, by any means, but it just wasn't memorable.  The wedding was memorable, of course, but any memories I have of our time with the photographer are either poor or non-existant.  And if that doesn't seem like a deal-breaker to you then give me a second to tell you why it could be.  

The wedding photographer is responsible for capturing those magic candid moments but also creating memorable and magical moments when they get the bride and groom alone.  Obviously, the latter part about creating memorable moments is an opportunity and a challenge that your wedding photographer should take.  But the former part about capturing magic candid moments requires something else beyond a keen creative eye for composition and 101 poses for the bride and groom.  Capturing those special candid moments requires a sensitivity to the relationships around the bride and groom in order to look for them in the first place; because those images aren't always obvious.  In that sense, then, a good wedding photographer should find themselves completely immersed in those emotional ties in the room as they walk around looking for something special to capture.  Be it a smile, a burst of laughter, or tears -- those are the moments a good wedding photographer should constantly be on the hunt for.  Those are the images we remember and those are the steps you will remember your photographer taking or not taking.  

And lastly, your wedding photography experience should be FUN!  Right?  Listen... I'm not the type of person to overuse exclamation points in an email to make it sound like I'm always upbeat and excited.  Not everything in life is exciting or fun.  And for lots of people, being bossed around by a photographer on their wedding day sounds like the opposite of fun.  And to make the experience more annoying they'll tell you things such as, "act natural" (I'm totally guilty of that :/). I know because that was me once too.  
My experience the last 4 years as a wedding photographer leads me to this point.  Having fun at weddings is my mode of operation.  Personally and professionally, I wholly believe that if I'm not having fun doing what I'm doing then I should do something different.  So it's my goal to have fun and I always do; and I believe it helps create memorable experiences that have the potential to turn into timeless photos for my clients.  
I didn't have that....

So, back to square one and the point of this article.  In my post-blog-thoughts last week it dawned on me that people need to be educated on what they're getting when they shell out too much money for a photographer that doesn't put forth an effort or too little money on a "photographer" who should be thankful for the practice (because any money is too much for bad photos).  I think this is where the personal contact or a phone consultation with the photographer is so crucial.  I would encourage couples to interview their potential photographer and to ask them questions relevant to you and your wedding.  You should have a clear understanding of what your getting from your photographer because the price your paying doesn't allow for ambiguity. 

Then after you've done your homework and have booked your photographer, be at ease and trust that you're in good hands.  The hard part is over and it's time to have fun.

Now for a little shameless self-promotion...

Come say 'Hi' at the "Something Blue" Wedding Expo on Sunday, March 12.  I'll have a booth with some big-beautiful prints on display ;).  

See you there....


Find South Lake Tahoe's best wedding vendors at www.TahoeWeddings.org 

(Divided Line Photography) CJ Varela Divided Line Media couples engaged lake tahoe lake tahoe weddings laketahoe photography tahoe tahoe wedding photographer wedding wedding photographer wedding photography https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2017/3/Know-what-to-expect Fri, 03 Mar 2017 07:17:45 GMT
Flash Photography https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2017/2/flash-photography HershfieldWedding-1157Ashley and Jason's First Dance

Flash photography is important.  I still hear lots of professional photographers say things and market themselves with phrases like, "I'm a natural light photographer."  My advice to anyone looking to hire a photographer for an event or project is to interpret statements like that as caution flag at the very least.  While there are lots of "natural light" photographers who create beautiful work, work that actually makes me say "wow", there will be a time and a place where natural light isn't enough.  What happens when there is not enough natural light?  What is that photographer going to do?

I've worked weddings where I was hired for videography and the photographer they hired switched to another, more light sensitive camera to photograph the reception because they didn't want to deal with flashes.  In my opinion based on experience, this is not a stylistic choice -- the choice for them is based on their lack of understanding of flash exposure.  In this one particular case the photographer said to me that they "like to capture the natural ambient light of the room" and flashes are too "harsh" in their photos.  That again is a clear sign of their lack of understanding and how to expose their cameras for the ambient light while incorporating flash.  

The internet is full of a gazillion resources to learn the basics of flash photography so I'm not too keen on adding to the noise with my own tips or strategies.  Even more, all camera manuals (that thick book that explains the camera's functions) have a section dedicated to understanding flash photography.  Read that people (to my fellow photogs).  If you're looking to hire a photographer this might be an important question to ask them: "How do you incorporate flashes in your photography?"  It should be fairly easy to gauge their level of understanding of camera exposure and flash exposure based on their readiness to incorporate flashes in their photography.  If in their answer they are hesitant to use flashes or they give you one of those "natural light" statements then that could be an indicator that they don't fully understand the basics of exposure.  

RobbinsWedding-459Kate Showing off her dress.This photo of Kate was taken in the middle of the day at the beach; what is typically a terrible combination for photos turned out pretty great with a little shade and a reflector.

Understanding the basics of exposure is crazy important especially in regards to wedding photography.  A wedding day might require photos under a harsh mid day sun, unflattering tungsten lights indoors, scenes with intense highlights and dark shadows, sunset or dusk photos, and then the dark dance floor with various and inconsistent lighting.  While flashes aren't necessary in all of those conditions, having the understanding of how to use a flash or manipulate an available light source can assist in the photographers ability to manage the light and turn 'good' photos into great photos.  

Here are a few examples from last week's wedding at The Ridge Tahoe... 

The above photo is a great first example to show the power of flash.  While the bride and father share a special moment, another important part of the story is happening right behind them.  The mother of the bride is watching her youngest daughter dance with her dad on her wedding day and tears are bellowing up in her eyes.  These emotions in the special moments are what I love to capture and it would be completely impossible without a flash.  The use of light that I've created makes her stand out from the background and the focus of the image is unquestionable.  Without the flash she would be just as dark as everyone in the background and the image would be a whole lot noisier (as in camera noise, but more so a noisy image with too much going on).  The flash enables me to capture more impactful images that tell a story I want to tell. 

This image is another one with flash that serves to make the bride and groom stand apart from the background.  The ambient light is super orange while the spot light effect I've put on the subjects is more natural (closer to daylight balanced).  With a correct flash exposure and camera settings I can mix the two so I retain the natural ambient light while adding a pop to what I want to emphasize.  

With the use of flash this image went from mundane to interesting.  The weather was terribly cold and windy and the snow banks were so high that it limited  where we could take photos.  Most couples who get married at The Ridge stay in the Tower building so it made sense to put them in front of it as part of their story.  The flash off to the side, camera left, clearly makes them the focus of the image while incorporating a wide shot of their surroundings.  And while there is a lot going on in this photo, the focus of light makes the focus of the image unmistakable.  

Flash photography is very important to what do and an invaluable tool in my story telling; it's also super fun :).  And the reaction from my clients is usually always some form of "wow!" and that's exactly what I strive to achieve no matter what the conditions and variables at play.  So to future brides I say this: Choose your wedding photographer carefully and examine their portfolio to see if they can create compelling images in a variety of lighting conditions. If you see it then go ahead and book them with confidence.  Happy planning!




(Divided Line Photography) Divided Line Media lake tahoe weddings laketahoe photography tahoe tahoe wedding photographer wedding wedding photographer wedding photography https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2017/2/flash-photography Sat, 25 Feb 2017 19:01:40 GMT
Printing; an Artsits' Journey https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2017/2/printing-an-artsits-journey My journey as a photographer has not been straight.  Nor has it been planned, anticipated, or at any point have I ever had the thought that I have it figured out.  Even the title of this blog post, "an Artists' Journey", is a concept I have struggled with since I began pursuing my dream 4 years ago.  Over the years I have watched innumerable youtube videos and tutorials, I've tuned into a number of CreativeLive sessions taught by weddings professionals, adventure photo/video pros, wildlife photographers, Landscape photographers, and business minded pro's trying to help the typical photographer/creative person understand the business world and how to make a living out of doing what they love.  All of this education I've received as been online and at no cost to me; only time and energy I've spent absorbing it and they have all proved a great source of learning and inspiration along the way.  

The concept of me as an "artist", however, was never something I had a firm grasp of until I watched a course taught by Joel Grimes on CreativeLive.  Joel Grimes is a famous portrait photographer that has branded his own look over the years.  He's a compositor -- meaning he uses multiple images to create one realistic, though fantastical, image to portray people in a scene that tells something about them.  I followed along in his course taking a couple pages of notes, and used some of his techniques to create a few of my own portraits.  They're not perfect and problems can easily be detected in my composites, but it was a process that I really enjoyed and now try to incorporate one or two composite projects a year.  The part about Joel Grimes' class  that stuck with me is how he talked about his artistic process.  While there will inevitably be critiques of anyones art, he talked about how there came a point when he realized he should do what pleases him instead of others.  He wasn't bound to a formula or photographic rules, or any photographic standard of integrity either (as with the press/photojournalism).  Instead, he reasoned, "I am an artist" and can do what I want essentially.  The moral of the story, I believe, is that people pleasers don't become great artists because they aren't in touch with creating something out of what is stored inside them.  Make sense?  

It was then, anyway, that I realized for myself it would be acceptable to call myself an artist.  And it was the first time in my life I ever did that.  

Here's a few composites I've created (hover over the image to read the caption):

Now getting back to the beginning: my creative process continues to evolve and when I look back on it I'm not sure how I got to where I am and I'm even more unsure of where I will be next year.  I have not pin pointed my area of expertise that so many professionals urge photographers to do because I don't want to pigeonhole myself to one thing.  I enjoy so many aspects of photography and appreciate that I get to do something different when I choose to.  

For 2016 I made it a goal to start printing more.  I have a gazillion photos that never see the ink and that just seems wrong.  And in the era of digital, the line between photos and art seems to be further apart than ever -- so I needed to start seeing things on paper, tangibly and in my hands.  Great photography seems to saturate our lives on Facebook or Instagram so much that I wonder if great images have diminished in value like a flood of paper money devaluing a currency.  Especially when everyone is taking the same photo and can all create that gorgeous image on the desktop of our computers.

But then I had a thought while listening to some music on headphones at the gym.  I thought of the music industry and all that has changed in the era of the internet: downloading, file sharing, pirating, subscription only music that you can't buy (that drives me nuts!), etc.  The music industry has been flipped upside down.  New artists can record professional studio style recorded music in their bedrooms and sell their own albums or singles on iTunes, band camp, noise trade, and who knows how many other platforms.  Music, however, is not devalued.  The options of music styles and flavors for us to listen to is so vast that it demands and encourages growth and creativity that the money driven music labels of decades past could never have nurtured.  And now we, the listeners, benefit from the grass roots growth and competition that characterizes the market.  From what I can tell, at least,  the influence of music in our daily lives has never been stronger.  

What does that have to do with printing?  I'm not sure.  I suppose in thinking of the flood of good photographers all around us and the digital noise in we live in, photography can seem like a cheap commodity; overplayed and undervalued.  We can take so many photos that we don't critically think about what we're capturing and why it's important to us.  It's like consumer shopping with no regard to what this new 'thing'  will add to our lives.  And so we just keep collecting crap, hoarding our belongings in storage facilities because we don't have enough space for more the crap that we think we need.  It's gross.  

Printing my photos is fun; That's number one.  Printing makes it real and tangibly valuable when it's hanging on your wall -- 2.  
The process of doing the math, cutting a mat, backing it, framing it, attaching the wire to the back to hang on the wall, has become another creative escape in my photographic career.  I log too many hours on the computer and in front of other screens.  Creating something from the computer to the printer to my wall has been one of the more rewarding experiences I've had as a photographer.  That's 3.  Need I say more?  Now who's buying it?  ;).  

Secret Cove Winter 16:9)Secret Cove Winter (16:9)

p.s.  I came across an article a year or so ago that talked about photographers, titled "Nobody Knows What The Hell They Are Doing".  I loved it.  It breathed so much life into what I was doing and continue to do.  If you can relate to this blog in any way I encourage you to check it out and apply it to your own path.  Peace. 




(Divided Line Photography) CJ Varela Divided Line Media artist artistic artistic process creative framing lake tahoe lake tahoe weddings laketahoe landscapes matting photography portraits printing tahoe tahoe wedding photographer wedding https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2017/2/printing-an-artsits-journey Thu, 16 Feb 2017 21:11:59 GMT
January Snowmageddon https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2017/2/january-snowmageddon Good news... my back is completely recovered from shoveling all the snow we received last month.  Holy smokes though, we got a lot.  For a solid three weeks my time was split between shoveling and snowboarding, and I figured out how to mix in work related activities when shoveling wasn't necessary and snowboarding wasn't possible.  School was canceled for about a week as well so I had plenty of play time with my daughter.

Here's a little movie I made during one of my daughters snow days at home -- and look at all the snow at lake level!
The song I chose for the video is called "White as Snow", by Jon Foreman.  I chose the song for the title (go figure) but also because I love the sound of it and I thought it matched the mood of the video.  I also appreciate the simpleness of the lyrics, which are taken directly out of Psalm 51.  

When we finally had a break between storms I skinned up to Emerald Bay to snap some photos.

Snow Covered Pine over Lake Tahoe and Emerald BaySnow Covered Pine over Lake Tahoe and Emerald BayI like this photo for it's simplicity and intersecting lines. I'm always trying to look for compositions that are clean and uncluttered and only wish I had a longer lens to nail this one in camera; I cropped it. Winter in Emerald Bay, Lake TahoeWinter in Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe Emerald Bay in WinterEmerald Bay in Winter Emerald Bay Winter Vertical PanoramaEmerald Bay Winter Vertical Panorama Snowy Panorama with Cascade Lake and Lake TahoeSnowy Panorama with Cascade Lake and Lake Tahoe

A couple days later we were finally greeted with a full day of sun along with some temperature inversions.  The resorts around the lake all broke records for business as the tourists flocked for the holiday weekend.  When the town gets crazy busy I either hunker down at home or head into the hills, and lucky for me, my good friend Nick called me and wanted to go for a hike.  With lunches packed and beacons checked we were onward and upward to Echo Peak, and the views were as epic as the turns going down.


Winter PineWinter Pine Angora, Fallen Leaf Lake, Lake Tahoe, and Mt. RoseAngora, Fallen Leaf Lake, Lake Tahoe, and Mt. Rose Angora, Fallen Leaf, Lake Tahoe, Mt. RoseAngora, Fallen Leaf, Lake Tahoe, Mt. Rose Echo Peak Panorama of the Tahoe BasinEcho Peak Panorama of the Tahoe Basin

Unfortunately I don't have any photos of the descent of Echo Peak :(.  The light was low and we had to make it quick.  I do however, have some shots of the next powder day where we had deep snow, no crowds, and unlimited refills all day.  Someone has to do it so it might has well be me, right?

It's been an amazing winter so far for us left coast folks and I'm thankful for the opportunity to share it with family and good friends -- that's what it's all about.  Next week I have my first wedding of the year so I'll have some wedding shots to share soon enough.  If you have any questions on any of the photos please leave a comment below.  

Cheers for now, see ya next week


*Some of the photos you see in this blog are available for purchase in a variety of print options in the Landscape Gallery.  Please check it out and if you have any questions you can  e-mail me.  Cheers!

(Divided Line Photography) hiking lake tahoe laketahoe landscape photography photography snowboarding tahoe tahoe wedding photographer winter winter photography https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2017/2/january-snowmageddon Thu, 09 Feb 2017 16:04:43 GMT
2017, Here I come! https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2017/2/2017-here-i-come I realize it's a tad late for this sort of post, being the 2nd of February and all, but it has been on my agenda and I'm finally getting around to revisiting the old blog.  Writing in the blog has long been one of those things for that I long to do but it's the first thing on the list to go when I have something more important to do; or something more fun to do -- like snowboarding.  Guilty.

But here I am again.  For the past three years I've been working hard to build my photography portfolio and streamlining my workflow while working more than 60 weddings each year.  There might be photographers out there shooting more than that, and thats good for them (maybe, maybe not) but it's what I've figured is about my max load.  I've also figured out that my max work load is probably not my optimum work load.  There comes a tipping point for me when the work load stifles creativity and, most importantly, joy.  So after a long and "successful" 2015, I went into 2016 ready and willing to say "no" when deemed necessary and focused more attention to a better work-life balance; all in the name of maintaining my joy in life and in work.  And I did that for the most part.  Yay me :|.  

But with a new year comes new challenges and new hurdles to jump.  One of those hurdles is why I write today -- The Blog.  I have a lot of reasons to make this a weekly 'thing' and I need to remember that when I'm tempted to put it off.  For starters, it's good for business. Writing in the blog gives me a platform to share with you and/or possible clients about me, my work, my passion, and all the photos and projects I do for work and play.  

I take my camera with me everywhere and am therefore trying to capture something or tell a story about something pretty much always. So on top of sharing my 'work' I can and should also share the work I do for free -- for fun.  I once heard someone say not to trust a photographer (or not to hire a photographer) who doesn't photograph for fun.  In other words, what I photograph for fun should tell people more about me than the work I do for a paycheck, and it should also tell people that I truly love what I do.  Because I do.

So in the following months I will be posting something once a week.  If I can't think of something new to post then I will go back into the vault to show and write about something I've done for 'work' or for fun; I'll do this because I'm late to the game, so to speak, and I have a lot to share.  So in the meantime, and if your new or a first time visitor, check out the About page to learn more about me and browse my portfolios.  I am now accepting reservations for 2018 dates and still have few openings in 2017 to fill.  I would love your feedback on images in the galleries and here in the blog and if you're reading this and your a fellow pro in the industry, please reach out because I would love to get connected with you!  

Cheers for now, see ya next week!


(Divided Line Photography) Divided Line Media Lake Tahoe Professional Photography Lake Tahoe photographer lake tahoe weddings photographer photography tahoe wedding photographer wedding wedding Photography https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2017/2/2017-here-i-come Fri, 03 Feb 2017 01:21:39 GMT
Lake Tahoe Storm Surf https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2014/12/lake-tahoe-storm-surf December 11, 2014 was a day that will be remembered for possibly the best surf-able waves Lake Tahoe has ever seen.  Wind speeds exceeded 100mph over the sierra crest and sustained 60mph over the cold blue waters of Lake Tahoe.  The waves that started on the south shore of Lake Tahoe turned into 6-7 foot waves by the time they reached the north shore.  Surfers, kayakers, and other water enthusiasts sprinkled the waters of nearly every north shore beach with ridable waves.  

The following photos were taken from a beach in Incline Village, NV.  


The best waves on the lake, however, were probably in Agate Bay near Tahoe City.  Here's proof.

Surf's Up, Tahoe Vista, Lake Tahoe, CA-2014-1211 (10:32:53AM) from Keith Thomas on Vimeo.

(Divided Line Photography) lake tahoe storm surf lake tahoe surfing storm surf surf surf lake tahoe https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2014/12/lake-tahoe-storm-surf Mon, 15 Dec 2014 16:00:00 GMT
Mount Shasta https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2014/6/mount-shasta Last month my good friend Paul turned 30 and wanted to do something big.  Being that he's now living in Redding and stares at the peaks of Lassen and Shasta on a daily basis, the 14K foot Shasta became the obvious choice.  

Paul and his two buddies, Vlado and Jeremy, met with one of their contacts who used to be a Shasta guide and once summited the lone peak something ridiculous like 16 times in a 24-hour period.  I'm not certain on that specific number -- just know that it was something ridiculous and, no, the mountain is not that easy.  It's a big mountain with snow year-round and is infamous for creating it's own weather patterns.  Shasta has 7 glaciers and many of the routes have dangerous crevaces that require real mountaineering knowledge and experience -- most of which I lack completely.  

The route discussed was the south-western route, the popular route, up Avalanche Gulch and up through the notorious Red Banks.  I have a backcountry ski and snowboard guide book, however, that recommends the eastern route instead starting from the Brewer Creek trailhead.  The snowboard descent from the summit is one long continuous run that descends 6 miles and 7K vertical feet; and is considered by many to be the best ski and snowboard descent in all of California.  I sent Paul some emails, text messages, voicemails probably, trying to sell the Wintun-Hotlum Ridge route (in between 2 of Shasta's 7 glaciers) after they had their plans already in place.  It wasn't hard to sell and they jumped on board.  

I met up with Chris Gallardo from Splitboard.com at his home in the foothills, packed up the sled in the back of his truck, and headed out.  Chris became the selling point for this trip because he was the only one with experience on the mountain and with the Brewer Creek trail-head  specifically.  The road to the trail-head was still snowed in so we brought his snowmobile to shuttle us up to the forest boundary.  We shared some laughs and a few "take aways" from the car ride before meeting the other three guys in the town of Mount Shasta.  After renting crampons and axes, and filling our bellies with a burger and a pint, we headed for the trailhead.  Oddly enough, Chris had me navigating because he didn't know how to get there -- having been there twice you can bet I gave him a hard time about that.  

(For the best viewing experience it is recommended to use a computer, as a mobile device won't allow viewing of photo descriptions).

[Tangent]  I want to make a quick mention that this was my first time meeting Chris.  Splitboard.com has a great forum where you can read trip reports and also meet others in the split-board community to join or invite on trips.  Chris and I met, however, through a different online community -- Instagram.  I know a lot of people are sick of all the social media platforms out there and the level of narcissism in our society has reached an all-time high; it gets a little tiresome and obnoxious, I agree.  But Instagram, for me and other photographers, has turned into this place of community that serves as an inspiration for creativity.  Anyhow, that's how I met Chris and I think it's pretty cool.  I hope to do more trips in the future with him and others in the photography and split-board community.  

Back to Shasta: Shortly after arriving to the point of going no further in the truck (which was about a mile from trail-head to where we would set up camp) we learned we weren't alone on the east side; 4 Irish guys from the bay arrived with the same plan to summit the next day, and we were the first groups of the season to climb and ride the east side.  We woke at 1:30 to boil water for coffee and oatmeal before breaking trail.  The Irish guys passed our camp just as we began to break trail and we stayed pretty close to each other all day.  

We were blessed to have clear skies all night and the stars became the focal point for the first 4 hours of hiking.  After we came out from tree-line the show in the sky was lit up and on center stage.  The challenge for me was capturing it enough without stopping too long and losing time.  I could have photographed there for hours until the sun came up but we had a mountain to climb.   In all of my photos I try to process them in the way that honors the setting.  And for me that means keeping it as realistic as possible.  It's so easy to get carried away sometimes in post-processing but I generally like to be "safe" with it and not over do it; and more often than not I error on the side of not doing enough instead of over-doing it. I assure you that the night sky as we climbed Mt. Shasta was the most impressive one I've ever seen.  I live in the Tahoe basin and see stars and the milky way on a regular basis and it's always impressive, but this morning on Shasta was like nothing I've seen before.  It was magical.  

This is where I break the sad news that we did not summit.  And it pains me to say that :(.  It was due to a couple factors really; the wind had us pretty gripped at times where we would be hugging the slope and holding on for sometimes minutes on end it seemed.  We would wait for the gusts to subside and then continue climbing.  As we got higher, however, I think we wasted a little time and energy hiking to a point we didn't need to hike to.  The snow became harder to kick into and every step became that much more stressful with the windy conditions.  And maybe more than anything else, I was absolutely 'knackered', as the Irish say.  It was the hardest thing I've ever done and it was also my first time using crampons and an ice-axe.  I think my inexperience made each step more stressful then it should have been and I ended up burning more energy and focus than necessary.  The other factor was that we were the first group of the year to ascend that particular route meaning every step we took was the first one and breaking in a trail is significantly harder than hiking in a well used boot path.  We got to a point with about 1K vertical ft. under the summit that only covers a distance of 400 meters, or something like that.  It was straight up and that last section would have taken 2-3 hours alone.  It would have left us summiting around 3 or 4pm which was a little too late and we opted to end it there and save what energy we had left for the descent -- which was awesome by the way!  I'll let the photos speak for themselves from here on out.  


There's a few photos I would like to post on here that Chris took and as soon as I receive them I'll update the blog.  Climbing Mt. Shasta was one of the more difficult things I've ever done, but the reward is second to none.  I hope this trip marks the beginning of a new tradition for me because I can't wait to do it again.  

*Update on July 7th, 2014:

Here's some photos of me, from Chris Gallardo via Splitboard.com"



(Divided Line Photography) adventure camp climb hike milky mount shasta shasta splitboard.com splitboarding stars way wintun-hotlum ridge https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2014/6/mount-shasta Tue, 03 Jun 2014 15:54:24 GMT
Welcome https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2013/12/welcome Welcome to the third blog I've had in the last year. My last blog was in brief existence when I moved from blogspot to my own domain, cjvarela.com. I then moved here because I needed a better and more efficient way for clients to proof their photos. I'm glad I did because my life just became a whole lot easier. 

I have a lot going on at the moment with different projects that keep my from blogging as often as I'd like to so this might be a boring and un-updated blog for the next month or so.  I'm really thankful though because Im excited about what's happening and what's coming up. 

I'm in collaboration with a trusty and talented partner to launch a page dedicated to video projects, among other things, highlighting wedding cinema.  Part of that for me at the moment means finishing a wedding highlight reel.  That will all be revealed in the coming weeks. 

In addition, I'm collaborating with my good friend, Derek Taylor Fine Woodworks, to build custom frames for fine art prints.  We are currently waiting for our first piece to arrive for mounting with a hopeful delivery to an awesome client by Christmas. I can't wait to see how cool it looks. I'll definitely take some photos of it to share here and for our marketing purposes as well. And hopefully custom framing will supplement Derek's blossoming business of making beautiful pieces of furniture. 

At the same time these fun and exciting projects are developing I have a few wedding photography jobs that are needing my editing attention.  So I'm going to get to it.

Have a great day!  And stay tuned because Divided|Line media has a lot more to offer than what you currently see here. 

-- cj

(Divided Line Photography) https://www.dividedlinemedia.com/blog/2013/12/welcome Tue, 03 Dec 2013 17:26:35 GMT