harnessing the power of photography for good

Trevor Stolebarger

Support Trevor!

trevor rawSupport local art and artists by attending RAW at the House of Blues San Diego.  Our own Trevor Stolebarger is going to be showing off some of his photographs.  Purchase tickets via http://www.rawartists.org/firstkiss to help support Trevor.

Cut that out! Trevor’s surgery is scheduled for tomorrow…


Tomorrow our friend Trevor Stolebarger will have the last remnants of cancer cut out of him.  Please keep him and his family in prayer.

If you want to help Trevor’s family offset some of the costs of battling cancer, you can go HERE to donate and you can read his thoughts as he has been fighting cancer.  We will keep yall updated here and on our Facebook page.  Thanks for keeping our brother in prayer!

Praying for Trevor is Great! Wanna do more?


Trevor with his wife Alicia and their 2 kids


#trevortime #BeatThis #cancersucks

Go to the following link below or go HERE, to learn more about our friend Trevor and how he learned he had cancer.   We all know somebody who has battled cancer or has in the past.  Please read, pray, share and consider how you might help…

We believe in a big God who still does miracles today!  Please continue to pray that God would heal Trevor completely and that the Trevor would continue to be a light to those he encounters who don’t know Jesus yet.

Friends of Trevor have set up a Give Forward page to help alleviate the costs of battling cancer, here is the link> http://bit.ly/1qlAgho





Praying for our friend Trevor

Our friend Trevor is battling cancer.  He was diagnosed earlier this year and has begun chemo and radiation treatment to beat down the cancer. Then the Doctors will go in and cut it out.  Please join us as we pray that God would fully heal Trevor.  That the Doctors would have the wisdom and discernment to know how to best treat Trevor and that God would be glorified in his life.  Pray for his wife Alicia and their 2 kids as well.   All Glory to God!  Thanks!



Congratulations Stolebarger Family!

The MISSION focused family would like to congratulate Alicia and Trevor Stolebarger as they welcome their new daughter, Juliana Haven, to the world.  We are so excited for y’all!

Much love and prayers to Alicia, Trevor, Hayden & Juliana

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…

Raquel & Bayani :: Hitched!

Our friends Raquel and Bayani got married on 11:11:11.  Time to party…mixin it up on the turntables!

What to do with a bunch of photographers “attending” a wedding…watch out!

The Rock Photographers and MISSION focused wish only the best for Mr. & Mrs. Bayani Atienza as they begin their new life together in Christ!   Thanks for sharing your lives with us!


I had the pleasure this past Saturday to share my love and passion for photographers at the youth Alliance Conference held at Horizon North County this past weekend. It was fun to encourage these teens to do more with their photography along with the opportunity they have to really give back with photography. I don’t usually realize that I’m growing up until I notice some gray hairs starting to show up which I usually blame on the Chiefs performance as of late but I did realize it when trying to explain what photography was like for me at their age. Yup, that means film, paying a ton for 1 hour photographs, and no internet to share the photographs I had taken. Hopefully I was able to inspire some to start using facebook and twitter and really share their photographs and continue to document the good going on in the world along with the stories behind the photographs they create.

I had an amazing time with the Mission Focused team, check out the images on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.287693614594345.75820.169983526365355&type=1


I had the pleasure of shooting the wedding of Julius and Leah with the Mission Focused team. This was an amazing opportunity to use our talents to truly bless a wonderful couple. Having 4 shooters endured that every angle was covered. It was such a blessing to show Lea and Julius their photographs last night, they were truly blessed as was our team.











julius & lea lewis…wedding foto phun

wedding phun…reception was over and we all went to take a few more photos of the bridal party.  trevor, malia and cyndy were with the bride and her entourage…i was chillin the the julius and the guys.  a little direction and bam!  let the photo phun happen!

part of the phun of shooting with friends, is that there are more eyes to see and get the shot…i think we all took the foto above.  i tend to shoot underexposed but in the above photo it was a little overexposed.  so i cranked up the saturation and overexposed it in lightroom to blow out her dress.  its a nice counter balance to the nice proper fotos the others shot of the bride.

proud dad!

father of the bride, waiting to walk his daughter down the aisle…this is a classic mike diggs foto!  big smile, squinting eyes and chewing gum.  thankfully the gum stayed hidden in most of the family fotos, but not the smile.

trevor and i got to meet with julius and lea this afternoon and present them their wedding fotos (unfortunately malia & cyndy couldnt make it)…its always phun to be there to show the bride n groom all the hard work yall put in to document this beautiful day for them.  always a huge blessing.

Julius + Lea Lewis

weddings are such a beautiful event…a time of celebration and new beginnings.

on saturday may 7th, mission focused was honored to help document the marriage of Julius + Lea.

congratulations to the happy couple!

to see more of these sneak peak photos from their wedding day please go HERE

A Night To Remember

The Mission-Focused team joined forces with Eastlake Church this past Friday to help document “A Night to Remember” which is a prom for students with special needs. I have been at a crossroads in terms of ministry photography lately with a desire to truly make sure the photographs being taken are making an impact and not being buried. I’m excited to continue to work with the team at Mission-Focused as well as serve with the team at Eastlake. The prom was very well covered, there were so many volunteers serving the event that at first it seemed to be too much. What I later realized was that with the abundance of help I truly got to experience the event. The faces on all the students is not something that I’ll forget. The night truly was one to be remembered.

To view all my photographs please visit: http://www.firstkiss.smugmug.com

To view all the images from the event please visit: http://eastlakechurch.smugmug.com/





The first thing I find myself doing every morning as soon as I wake up is I check my email, then go onto facebook. I read past all the complaints going on and look for someone who posts something funny or creative, maybe just my desire to be inspired. I then check the few comments on my usual smart ass postings and then check the photos of Hayden to see how many people decided to comment on how cute he is. I then ask myself, am I using facebook to it’s full potential? Am I missing out on an opportunity to be “liked” and reach a broader audience and show them my work? People have become professional facebookers in the photography world, and we can no longer deny the fact that it works! People are wiping out their advertising budgets and are generating new clients through social media, so why am I just sitting back and watching it take place?

As a new photographer establishing a business my first thought was to work on my brand. After having a class on branding I was asked to think about what is more important to focus on, branding, or your reputation? My initial thoughts were that branding and reputation are synonymous. What I realized is making that the case is the goal.

To me branding is projecting who you are and what you want your business to be. Your reputation is who you really are, you can’t fake a reputation. We are at a crossroads between the old and new, brought mainly about by social media. I’ve come to recognize that the brand I build and project online will mean nothing without the reputation that must be the foundation. Foundation means everything to a business, do I want to rush mine and build on sand?

Reputation is built differently then branding. I can’t go online and post something funny that get’s a big response and stop there and have a reputation built. Anyone can post 1 great photograph out of 100 taken, but realize your client will see the rest, and it’s those remaining 99 that will establish your reputation.

I realized that I have made a lot of groundwork already in building a reputation. From the start I’ve treated every customer like they we’re my best despite what package price they ordered, something I will continue to do. I’ve been blessed to serve and donate my time and talents with free military family portraits as well as working with the team at Mission-Focused to document God’s work being done. Again, the fact that there was not a penny paid does not reflect in what I provide them. I am blessed with some great testimonials from my clients stating that I went above and beyond their expectations. I have a good foundation to work with, now I need my brand to represent that.

So my bottomline is this. I absolutely believe photographers need to build their personal brand. I believe that like it or not people will book a photographer based upon your image, your personality. They are booking YOU. If you ignore that then you will get passed by. However, don’t let building that be your end result, succeeding at your craft and exceeding expectations should be. If you achieve that then your clients will have lasting memories, and you will have repeat business. Make sure your brand and reputation do become synonymous. Have better use of time management – could the time you and I spend on facebook / twitter / linkedin be used to provide an even better product and experience for our clients? Lastly: Be Original – it’s very tempting to copy someone’s branding tactics that work. To be honest people are getting rich off of encouraging others to mimic them, truth is they know they will fail because it’s not authentic. People can tell when you’re being you and when you’re trying to be someone else. Find yourself.

– Trevor Stolebarger
First Kiss

last frame…take 2

Can you handle the truth…

ive been mulling over the idea of branding in my head and in conversations with trevor this past week. Last week trevor lead a sharing session on the idea of branding in relation to getting your photography business up and running. We had some interesting discussions and it started me thinking…but that was just the beginning. On wednesday of last week i heard an interview frank luntz on the dennis prager show, frank has a new book out titled Win. The book is about taking your business from ordinary to extraordinary.

As he was sharing about his book, frank said something like if he could get rid of one word from the english language it would “branding.”

branding is defined by websters as the promoting of a product or service by identifying it was a particular brand.

Frank explained the branding is about creating an “image” of yourself that you want others to believe in, its about marketing yourself. its about how you want others to perceive who you are, who you want them to believe you are, whether its the  truth or not, it doesnt matter.

Its style over substance.

He believes that style and substance need to go together. And we should desire and covet “reputation.”

websters defines reputation as an overall quality or character, as seen or judged by people in general;  a recognition by other people of some characteristic or ability. Or a place in public esteem or regard, a good name.

reputation is based upon the truth. its about character and who we are as a person, organization, or business. You cant fake or hide who you are at the core, all the time.   The truth will come out!

Your reputation is your name. Its what will give you meaning and purpose as a person in business.  People will want to be associated with you (or not) because of your reputation.

The problem is that you can create a brand around yourself pretty quickly, but reputation takes time and patience to build…and it really must be earned.  But as we all know, your reputation isnt always good.

i saw this photo online today. In the original photo, hes holding a firefighter helmet. But a ny law firms pr/ad agency decided to use it for a company ad, switching the helmet for a photo of the world trade center. The problem is that the model in the photo is a real fdny firefighter, who didnt join until 2004, upon seeing the ad it made him feel like a “scumbag”…needless to say, the ad was pulled. You can see the article online HERE

after seeing this article and the photo, i thought, how easy it was to switch out the helmet… think integrity.

branding isnt necessarily bad, it just that if done without integrity or character, its fake…like the picture.  This all fits into the ongoing discussion of the last frame.

As followers of Christ, are we using the gift of photography to the fullest of our abilities? Am i helping fulfill the great commission? Are the photos that i take being used for good or evil?

I think, and this is just my opinion, that in the same manner that God is gonna hold me accountable for my actions & the words i speak….he is gonna hold me accountable for the photos that i take.  The good, the bad, the meaningless…along with the AWE inspiring, God honoring photos that i take.

i think run-dmc said it best… “calvin kleins no friend of mine, dont want nobodies name on my behind.”

i dont want to be a brand!  i rep Jesus!!



Mission-Focused is having a series of classes for anyone who is interested in the business aspect of photography. We are a team of young growing professionals who meet everyother Monday and discuss the various aspects and challenges of setting up a photography business. We will be meeting this Monday (March 21) at 5PM in Kearney Mesa at 8525 Gibbs Dr. Ste 206 San Diego, CA 92123

This upcoming Monday’s discussion topic is branding. We will be discussing the following:

A. Logos
B. Website (hosting, domain names, templates, etc.)
C. Blogs
D. Packaging
E. Emails / Correspondence
F. Business Cards
G. Graphic Design
H. Promo Videos

If you’re interested please email Trevor at: firstkissproductions@gmail.com for further details.

Last Frame


While shooting an event last week I had a philosophical photography talk with Brother Joe. The topic was complicated but really came down to what do you want to shoot, if you had 1 shot left to take, what would you want it to be that would represent your photography? I’ve stayed awake at night thinking this through and I don’t think it’s a coincidence this came up at the same time I am re branding myself and my business.

Digital photography has changed photography, in my opinion for both good and bad. I will be negative and dive into the bad. I really feel that digital photography has led photographers to no longer really concentrate before taking a shot because digital allows us to fire off a bunch of shots and find a few that work. For me it takes the thinking out of photography. For me it went so far as to take out the thinking about what I was shooting. This led to a lot of meaningless photographs that are now stored on my computer that I don’t see any value in. There hasn’t been a whole lot that I’ve shot in the past 2 years that I’m really proud to attach my name to. Not that the photos are bad or anything, it’s just they don’t really serve a purpose in representing me.

I used to photograph a lot of models. Aside from coming up with a unique concept there wasn’t a whole lot to it. Pretty much anyone can take a decent photograph of a person who knows how to pose. During that time in my career I wanted to show beauty in my photography. I was lucky to shoot celebrities at events which just pushed me more towards that side of photography. But what I recently realized is that I was taking photographs of people who are considered “beautiful” but I didn’t see beauty in the shots, and the reason was the shots didn’t mean anything to me.

I found beauty in shooting photographs that really meant something to the person I was shooting for. I found beauty in shooting love. There doesn’t need to be a pre-conceived idea, there doesn’t need to be a professional pose or expression because love doesn’t need to be posed. Shooting photographs for someone to just add to a portfolio is now meaningless (to me). Shooting family portraits for military families who never had time to get photos means a lot. Dedicating time to shoot a wedding for people who can’t afford to pay normal rates and seeing them cherish their images is what I want to continue to shoot. Those are the photographs I want to start putting on my website and blog. Those are the shots I want to represent me. If I had one frame left, I would want to make sure I captured love, because isn’t that really where true beauty lies.

My goal in 2011 is to revamp my entire portfolio. I look forward to transferring a lot of my work onto an external hard drive and freeing up space on my computer so that the frames I shoot have meaning. One of my camera’s is nearing it’s end, in shutter years the camera is quite old. I let that camera down by not making sure each click of the shutter had been thought through. I won’t make that mistake with my next camera!

– Trevor Stolebarger
First Kiss

Rock Photo Peeps Class Tonight


I shoot people!

Brother Joe has asked me to fill in for the next 2 weeks. Bring along your favorite 2 images taken in 2011 and we’ll discuss how to build confidence in shooting people in the face. We’ll also discuss some great photography resources online and how Nikon is supreme. I look forward to meeting with y’all and undoing some of the brainwashing you may have experienced through Brother Joe. 3 simple things you need to know about me.

1. I love my creator and that He made me creative
2. I don’t think Scarlett Johansson is ugly
3. I listen to Taylor Swift

I’ll see you tonight at 7PM in room 353

October Wall Calendars are here!


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September 2010 Calendar

Howdy All,

September wallpapers are here, enjoy . . .


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August 2010 Calendar

Howdy All!

Our August Calendars are now available for your desktops. Enjoy!

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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. . .

Rock Photo Classes Summer Break

The Rock Photo Classes will be on break for the next 2 weeks with Brother Joe and Terry down in Oaxaca. Be sure to check this site for photo updates from their trip!

Next week I will be shooting Comic-Con as a member of the press for my 5th year. Time to shoot some celebrities, in the face 😉