Archives for posts with tag: photography


I love to attend photographic seminars to gain new insights and learn more about the craft that fills my passion. I’m signed up for one with Scott Kelby on May 12 in San Diego. He’s a pretty gifted photographer and Photoshop guru, and I remember the last class I took from him in which he gave me some really good pointers.

One was: if you photograph a beautiful subject, you are starting on third base.

I had the pleasure of photographing a young woman last week for her college graduation announcements (she is also an Aztec). But I have also known her since she was a very young girl, as she’s one of my niece’s best friends. I had so much fun with her and her mother as we started shooting on campus, then headed east to the mountains, where she was raised. These two are so much fun and just pleasant people to be around.

I loved photographing Kelsie because she is so nice, but also, because she is so beautiful. I was able to capture some images that pleased her and her mom (and even me) because of her natural beauty. With Kelsie, I started on third base. She made my job easy by being blessed with great genetics. But her true beauty is in her lovely and kind soul.


Congratulations on your upcoming graduation from SDSU, Kelsie Rae. In a little over three weeks you’ll be an Aztec alum. I’m proud of your accomplishments, but mostly I am proud of the young woman you have become.



Roberta Steampunk

There are people we meet in life, through business, social situations, family and friends — the ones who are the loud, boisterous people who dominate a room. They speak to hear themselves speak and try to impress anyone who will listen. Then there are the quiet ones. Those who don’t say a lot, but once you get to know them, they awe you with their talent, their intellect, their kindness, and their humanity.

Roberta Niederjohn was one of those quiet ones. She was so amazingly talented with her art, her writing, her Photoshop skills, and her love of animals, that she left you in awe. She was incredibly quiet. Humble. Kind. Gentle.

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So much so, that I didn’t know she passed away a year ago until just recently. She didn’t announce her cancer; not a word was ever said. She didn’t announce her absence from work. Nobody at SDSU, where we were colleagues, ever said a word about her sickness. And sadly, nobody said a word about her passing. She didn’t get the major hoopla those in the power seats get. Not the major news story. Not a single word.

She was one of the most gentle souls I had the privilege of working with. A kindhearted human who did not speak ill of anyone. She loved animals, probably more than humans — but what sentient human doesn’t?

Roberta won many awards at the Del Mar Fair for her artistic endeavors.

Roberta, you were loved, admired and appreciated more than you know.

Top photo: Roberta received an Honorable Mention at the 2014 San Diego County Fair for this Photoshop portrait of herself in a Steampunk fantasy land. She titled it “Madame Awaits Her Airship.”

Bottom photo: Kim Lamke Calderon, Sharon Penny, and Roberta Niederjohn after presenting at the SD/PEN Program Meeting in July, 2014.





Who would have thought there would be two relatively stress-free weddings in a row? I sincerely hope this is a trend away from the over-the-top, expensive “events” that have been part of the last couple of decades. I like the idea of having fun, casual, friendly weddings that don’t send the couple (or their parents) into debt.

On October 12, I had the pleasure of photographing the wedding of a young woman I have known since she was four years old. She was my niece’s first BFF when they were preschool age. Now these two are both lovely young women embarking on different but awesome paths in their lives.


This particular wedding was held on a Monday. Many may ask why? It turns out it was the fourth anniversary of the couple, Ashley and Ryan, declaring their love for each other, next to Lifeguard Tower #9 in Huntington Beach. So both the date and location had symbolism: the ceremony was held next to Lifeguard Tower #9 in the late afternoon, providing some great sunset shots.


What kept it stress free, from my perspective, was simplicity. They kept the ceremony about the marriage, enlisting family and close friends for the details. They weren’t trying to make it an over-the-top event, but a simple declaration of their love and commitment to each other.

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I really hope this is a trend away from elaborate weddings. Or maybe I’m just lucky in connecting with couples like this. I like it.

Cheers to Ashley and Ryan! I wish you many decades of happiness together.     IMG_3105

Photographers are always looking for inspiration, traveling far and wide for those shots worthy of keeping. I’ve heard many say “don’t forget your own backyard to find inspiration.” This morning I walked by a dog hole (one of many holes dug by the Border Collie), when I saw a subterranean cobweb that had captured raindrops from our recent storm. We had a very light drizzle yesterday morning, so those drops had to be close to 24 hours old.

I don’t have a dedicated macro lens, but I do have a macro adapter, so I grabbed it and put it on the lens.

Here is what I captured:



IMG_0349SmallI’m going to head back outside with that macro adapter and look for some interesting bugs or other things that may be lurking close the ground. It’s amazing what we can see when we look from a different perspective.


I’ve recently been “ghostblogging” for, a new venture that provides affordable photographers for families and events, plus provides marketing and ease-of-use for local photographers.

I had my first photo gig with them about a week ago (see my last post about Kids Expo). I love that I get to combine my two passions here: photography and writing. Now if they only wanted some of my jewelry designs, I’d be batting 1000!

Togally Halloween post


I had the pleasure of photographing the San Diego Kids Expo last Sunday (for So many forms of entertainment for today’s kids!

I particularly loved this colorful bubble, hamster-wheel contraption that spun around in a pool of water.

Not to sound like an old person (which I am), we didn’t have cool things like this in our childhood. We had a sprinkler on the lawn that we ran through on summer days.

I might even try this myself next time. I didn’t see an age restriction, so why not?


My main vocational passions are writing and photography. Those with such skills and desires are often required to use those talents in marketing, which is what I did for most of my 35-year career in communications. Ironically, as a freelancer, marketing as been at the bottom of my list of activities. Who has time to market when there are images to document and words to write? A baby to nanny, dogs to play with, jewelry to make, a garden to grow, an old house to fix, and nature to enjoy. Not to mention Kathie Lee and Hoda every weekday morning.

I took an easy step last night in an effort to help market myself with my photography goals. Now I could spend the next 18 years + documenting every growth spurt of Miss Maylee (and I sincerely hope to do that), but I do crave other assignments. In order to market myself, I became a Tog.

I joined a start-up venture called Togally, which makes me an official Tog. Unlike so many other marketing endeavors, no money is required up front (NOBODY should ever pay in order to find leads). I’m looking forward to getting out there, meeting some new people who want my services, adding to my portfolio, and growing as a photographer.

It’s an interesting and affordable concept. Right now Togally is only in San Diego county, but may be expanding soon. I wish them luck (and as a by product, luck for myself).



What can I say? I have been smitten and this girl is my favorite model now. I can’t tell you the joy of being able to watch her grow, learn and change.

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I’ve been lagging on my blog and falling short of my goals. Time to get into gear, Sharon. No excuses. Just do it.

Today gave me a good reason to blog: some photos from a seminar I attended today.

Part of my problem is I am scattered. Unfocused. AADD. I love doing this; wait, there is a nice, new shiny thing to do. Let’s go there. I want to be a photographer on the scale of Annie Lebovitz; a writer like Mark Twain; a jewelery maker; a potter; a gardener; a glass artist; a weaver and knitter; an interior decorator; a master carpenter; a biologist; a bird watcher; an astrophysicist; and of course, a rock star (but I can’t sing or play an instrument).

Since semi-retirement, I think I have all the time in the world, but each day only holds 24 hours, and they really fill up quickly. I know, I “p’shawed” all those retirees before me who said that. But I am busier than ever. Again, I realize part of that is the AADD aspect of my personality.

Today was great. A nine-hour photography seminar. I loved it. It seemed like three hours. I want to continue to grow and be better at it. I need to stop letting all the other distractions get in my way. I learned a lot today and had the chance to briefly photograph two beautiful models.

Goal this weekend: practice, practice, and then practice again. Oh wait, there is something new and shiny over there.






I wonder how many people still order prints to make old fashioned photo albums? Or scrapbooks?

And how many of you order photobooks instead? Or do most of you leave your photos as digital images out there in the virtual world? With Instagram, iPhone photos, and everything digital, my guess is that the vast majority of photos remain virtual images. Am I wrong?

I love photobooks. Besides vacations and special events, I make an annual yearbook. Part of this is to capture memories and tell the story of that year. I usually have this done by the second week in January, but creating the 2013 yearbook took me longer.

As time goes by, the details on those memories fade, so having a hard copy book brings back those details. BTW, I always wait until there is a sale on the books, usually 50%. Never pay retail! Here is a link to bore all of you with, but I hope it inspires someone to create a tangible documentation of your memories:

2013 Yearbook

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