harnessing the power of photography for good

Military Family Portraits

Choose Wisely :: Using Photography to Bless and Encourage

DSC_3499Our goal is to use photography to bless others, serve our fellow man, and bring glory to God in all we do.  Last weekend we had the honor of photographing Military Families in San Diego.  Many of the families hadn’t had formal portraits of their family in some time, due to the demands of Military life…

Dunhill has created a series of videos, Dunhill “Voices,” highlighting people who exemplify  “elegance and achievement.”

This video of photographer Don McCullin is quite extraordinary.  He is known in the photography world as a “war time photographer,” a term he hates.  His words are haunting and compelling.  A reminder of why we choose to photograph the good, the beautiful…things that encourage and bless.  You don’t have to be a photographer to appreciate this little video.  There a lessons to be learned on many different levels.  Thanks to David Sims for creating this beautiful video.

We want to Bless Military Families in San Diego!

We want to Bless those who serve or have served in our US Armed Services!  We will be offering Free Family Portraits for Military Families several times this year.

Our first Portrait sessions will be Jan 25th.  If you are in the San Diego area and have served or are serving, email us.  We want to bless you! Photo sessions for Jan 25th are limited to 20 Families.   mission.focused@yahoo.com


Christmas 2012 :: Free Portraits for Military Families

08We had a great time on Saturday, December 8th, blessing Military Families in San Diego.  MISSION focused gathered up a bunch of talented photographers to offer Military Families in San Diego an opportunity to have their Family Portraits taken at Liberty Station.  We had 36 families, representing the Navy, Marines and the Army, come join us Saturday morning.  It was a beautiful morning to bless those who serve our country and their families.   You can see more photos HERE.

Serving Those Who Serve Our Country

CruzFamily_MF 2010-7117


Today MISSION focused has the honor and blessing of photographing Military Families in San Diego.  It’s a small way we can say “Thank You” to the brave men and women who serve our country in the U.S. Armed Forces by offering free family portraits.  It’s gonna be a great day!

Free Military Family Photo’s :: December 8th

Cruz Family :: June 2010

The Cruz family were the first family we photographed back in 2009 when we started photographing Military Families, as a way of thanking them for their service to our country.

On December 8th, 2012 at Liberty Station in San Diego we are offering active and retired Military Families from all U.S. Armed Services, Free Family Photos.   It can be just the kids, the whole family, gramma & grandpa with the grand-kids or just the 2 of you…We are here to serve and bless those who protect us through their service in the Armed Forces.

If you would like to take us up on this offer, please email us at MISSION.focused@yahoo.com to reserve a time slot.

December 8th,   8am to 11am at Liberty Station in San Diego.  All Military folks welcome.  Please help us spread the word:)

Free Photos for Military Families in San Diego

We want to bless Military Families in San Diego.

If you know any Military Families who have been wanting photos but just haven’t found the time…send them our way.

We will be at Liberty Station on December 8th, 8am-11am

You can contact us at MISSION.focused@yahoo.com to reserve a spot.

We Love to Shoot Military Families…with our Cameras

We began serving military families by offering free family photos as a way to thank them for their service…it has become something we all look forward to doing.  Take a look at some of the photos we have taken recently…God Bless our Military Families!

If you are in the military or have friends & family that are, please feel free to tell them about us.  They can email us at MISSION.focused@yahoo.com or they can leave a comment at the end of this post.  We want to shoot them…

Military Family Portraits: The Williams Family

I had a great time photographing the Williams Family this evening.  Every Monday night the team at Mission-Focused serves our military through offering free family portraits.  We have now been doing these shoots for the past 6 months, it was exciting to hear tonight how much this means to the families and how quickly the time slots are filled up, sometimes within minutes of the schedules being posted.

Military Monday: Mendoza Family

Energy. Happiness. Love. These three words summed up my session with the Mendoza family on Monday. They harbored so much affection for one another and joy poured out of their smiles like rivers! Arlette and Jesus looked adoringly at each other as their little ones ran around the field, trusting that they wouldn’t go too far. Sure enough, Sofia and Alex came sprinting back, laughing and rolling around in the grass. This family truly knows how to have fun!

I was happy to join in! I found myself laughing with each click of the shutter and I thanked God for such an enjoyable experience. I love it when families invite me into their world and for just an hour I get a taste of who they are. Sofia was sweet and giggly, Alex was a clown and goofy, and Arlette and Jesus still share that puppy love for each other. They were a beautiful family.

I pray that God continues to bless the Mendoza family… that the sun always shines this strong in their lives and in their hearts. Thank you Lord for Jesus who serves our country and for Arlette, Alex and Sofia who sacrifice him being away.



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A special thanks to Trevor Stolebarger and Lisa Ronco for helping out with this shoot. It’s always a pleasure!

I’m Batman

I had a great time shooting Bruce’s 1 year photographs tonight, he was kind enough to bring his daddy Bruce and mommy Alicia, his uncle, and his grand parents who came all the way out from Tennessee to celebrate his 1st birthday.  I had shot their family portraits a ways back so I was excited to get to see the Estep family again tonight, it’s fun to see how fast kids grow up.  Anyways, I had a great time shooting tonight with Malia and Lisa, we decided to break the mold to avoid a creative block (sort of like writer’s block) so we shot around Liberty Station this evening.  It provided us with a lot of great backdrops to work with and we were glad we made that decision.  I got to learn more from Malia who is great at posing which is something I am wanting to get better at. anyways, here some pics from tonight. . .

this military monday we say “thank you!”

scotty passed these 2 videos on…certainly worth sharing this 4th of July weekend.

the other video can be seen HERE.

Military Monday…. Jordan Family!

Lately, I’ve been praying for God to put me in different situations where I can minister to others, bless others, pray for others, and share the Gospel.  Since then, I’ve been finding myself unexpectedly coming across people in need and God whispers in my ear and says, “Here you go.”

Tonight, I walked into the room where we have our Military family portraits to find Brother Joe, Lisa and Trevor sitting with the Jordan Family. Little did I know that I was about to do their portrait session. I was planning on just sitting back and relaxing but God and Brother Joe had other plans. In the end, I was blessed to shoot Gabriel, Becca, Claira, and Tyler. I was both surprised and pleased because I recognized Tyler from my Pebbles class. He often sits on my lap during large group and his thing is that he always puts his name tag on his belly and likes to hide it from the teachers!

Thank you so much Gabriel for serving our country! It is undeniable that you love your family and I hope these pictures bring you as much joy as it was for us to capture them!


dad and kids

mom and kids





hanging kids



He is My Refuge and My Fortress…

pete passed this on to me.

pete and some other men from the rock go to MCRD (Marine Corps Recruit Depot) once a month to lead sunday chapel for the recruits.  petes comment was “this is why we serve at MCRD.”  to which i will add, “this is why we have military mondays!”

RESCUE AND PROTECT: Staff Sgt. Edward Rosa reads the Bible and extends a cigarette to Pfc. Jorge Rostra Obando, who was stunned by an explosion in Afghanistan’s Arghanab Valley. One comrade was killed and two injured in the blast. Pfc. Rostran asked the sergeant to read Psalm 91,a favorite from his childhood.

(photo: Ricardo Garcia Vilanova for The Wall Street Journal)

Psalm 91

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,

6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.

8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge-

10 then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;

12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

memorial day 2010: in appreciation

Thank You !

mondays are military mondays.  its a chance for the photo family to bless those who serve in the military and their families. for obvious reasons we join the rest of our country in honoring those who are serving and who have served in the military this weekend.

the above was from the memorial service for sgt federico borjas.   sgt borjas was a army reservist, who was killed in combat in afghanistan in 2008.  he was a san diego police swat officer and a marine before reenlisting in the army.  it was a powerful ceremony with members of the army, marines, sd police and swat, along with representatives from law enforcement agencies from around the state.


I had the pleasure of taking pics of my good friends Angie and Parker, their first pics since being married a few years back.  Angie and I worked together in the past, and although she is still working on her accent I can finally understand the majority of what she says 🙂  Her husband Parker recently got back from deployment and I have enjoyed getting to know him as well.

My 1st Military Monday

I actually went to the church on Monday to shoot the Prayer Week event but when Trevor reminded me that it was Military Monday, I went early to see what they do. When I got there, I noticed they didn’t have any studio lighting set up so they had to settle for speedlights. Unfortunately, this posed a pretty heavy white balance problem and they ended up shooting mostly in black and white. It’s beautiful to see that even through these challenges, patience and grace prevails beyond the circumstances. The family was still excited to see what images Trevor and Jim were able to capture and they loved the black and white. This goes to show that even though things don’t work out as planned, God always makes a way and can turn a negative situation into something glorious.

This is Ava. She was a little firecracker as most two-year-olds are! Unlike her little brother, Logan, getting her to smile was a little tricky. I managed to get this shot of her while the guys were shooting her parents and Logan. One reason I love shooting in RAW is because this image out of camera was as neon yellow as you could imagine. But Camera Raw 2 fixed it with just a touch of button!

I can’t wait to free up my mondays and continue to serve and bless the military community with these free family portraits. It’s great doing more and more with our gifts to build His kingdom and bring joy in the hearts of these families! Great job to my fellow Rock Photographers!


Here to Serve

Jim, Malia and I had a great time shooting with Issac, Megan, Ava and Logan last night. It was a true blessing to shoot Logan’s first portraits and capture some memories of the family that Issac can take along with him as he is being deployed this Monday. We appreciate your service and hope the pictures bless your family. Thanks for allowing us into your lives.

Monday Nights Aren’t Just For Football

We were blessed to spend time with the Shaw and Sweet families and continue our military family portraits this past monday. We also had Lisa and Drive By come by and hang out and experience what a blessing it is to serve these families.

M.M.: you can call me “ensign”, just dont salute me…

military mondays!  whata blessing.    my pops served our country as a navy supply chief, which made me a navy brat.  some say the chiefs ran things in the navy, and more specifically, supply chiefs.  supply chiefs controlled everything, and there are rumors of a “supply chief underground”  where they would trade and move things across the globe, via the navy, to get what they wanted.  my dad has kept quiet about that…

as trevor has mentioned, we had some lighting issues, but we managed. the lights we have been using we dont have access to right now.  so i ran up to calumet to rent some lights, since i couldnt wait for a decision on whether or not we could get the lights.  as we started setting up, there was an umbrella missing.  no where to be found.  but thankfully i had this old (and i mean old) school umbrella that miguel had given me that we had to use to get by.  but once we got that problem solved, it worked out fine.

if you look closely at this pic of trevor shooting chris and his boys, in upper left corner, you can see the ghetto fabulous umbrella.

i had the pleasure of shooting chuckie & rachelle ensign.  as we got to know them a bit, i had asked if he was an officer or was interested in becoming one.  an ensign is the first rank you receive as an officer in the navy, so chuckie would be ensign ensign.  before chuckie could answer i could see rachelle shaking her head “no.”  she doesnt want chuckie in the navy any longer than he needs to be.  shes not fond of the 6 month deployments.  they were high school sweet-hearts, which is always cool to me.  i think chuckie knew rachelle wasnt fond of the military, since he told her he was enlisting on their prom night.  rachelle mentioned it was hard to be mad at him on their prom night.  it was a blessing to meet them and have the chance to serve them.


I find it odd looking forward to Mondays. I always loved letting my team at work know just before the weekend that “it’s almost Monday,” just to get a rise out of them, but with our Military Monday shoots I actually look forward to Mondays. I had the privledge of shooting the Lavaux family last night, we had some lighting issues with the rentals but we found a way to make it work, that’s the fun part about photography, finding ways to shoot a good picture in less then ideal settings. Anyways here’s a few pics from last night . . .

Military Mondays

We were blessed to continue with our Military portraits with the Bell and Marianaccio families. These shoots are an amazing experience that I hope some more of our photographers get to experience.

Bruce Almighty

We were blessed to continue our military portraits tonight with Bruce, lil Bruce, and Alicia. It was a race to see if we could beat them posting the pics on facebook, thanks again for giving us the opportunity to spend time capturing memories of your family.

We Salute You

The Rock Photoministry has been blessed over the last month to capture family portraits of Military Families who will be soon facing deployments as well as awaiting homecomings.  During these times families are often too overwhelmed to focus on taking photos.  Brother Joe was able to discover an opportunity for his photography ministry to serve those who serve our country.  Nelson Photo jumped on board to donate an 8×10 photo and a discount on additional prints to bless these families as well.  Originally this had been planned for a twice a month event, but after the first week we realized the impact and need and it quickly turned into a weekly event.  What I love about shooting these portraits is getting the opportunity to meet amazing families. We’ve shot egagements, newlyweds, to families eagerly awaiting their love ones to return as well as loved ones getting ready to deploy.  I personally would like to thank Brother Joe for allowing me to help him fulfil this vision God had put on his heart, we truly are having a blast as we simply wanted to DO SOMETHING.

Here are shots from the last few weeks, thanks again to the families for giving us the opportunity to preserve memories for you.

What a Blessing!

it doesnt get any better than this!   to be able to use a passion of ours, photography, to bring joy and to bless others…afterwards trevor and i were talking about how much fun we had.   and as terry joined us near the end, the 3 of us had a chance to talk and pray with eli, who is about to deploy with the navy.  praise God for allowing us to take pics for the crane family, and to capture  memories of mackenzie that they will have for years to come.

id like to thank the rock military ministry for allowing us to serve them, and nelson photo for partnering with us by donating a free enlargement for the crane family.  what a blessing!

mackenzie in dads lap, ready for 1 more pic