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Wine Country Photographers

December 11, 2018

Paso Robles photographers capture images that inspire and showcase the beauty of Wine Country.

Dina Mande


Tell us what got you into photography and how long you’ve been capturing moments? I’ve been capturing moments since the first moment I hit the flash on my old childhood camera. I’ve always been drawn to finding the essence of a person’s personality, coaxing it out, and showing it to the world. This is the beauty of photography—it exposes all of the qualities that make each of us unique. You can take the shyest person in the world, pamper them, and put them in a light they feel comfortable in…and bam! There’s their soul. It still excites me every single time.

What other career paths would you have chosen? Film director! Which is a good thing, because that actually is my second career. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but I have accepted the fact that I enjoy being busy and working on many creative endeavors all at once. I’m a film director and work through my production company, Juice Media, based here in Paso. My most recent film is a documentary about the winemakers, brewers, and distillers in Tin City. I also direct commercials for brands and work with many wine brands. It was my dream back in 2009 to “escape LA” and immerse myself in a whole new world. Paso Robles took me in and I am so grateful for the new life I’ve been able to create here. In some ways, I think I am helping show the essence of Paso Robles with the world through my visual work.

What has photography taught you about life? Life is for celebrating and taking photos helps us do that. What else in life is that instantaneously gratifying yet lasts for generations? This life is fleeting and we need to lift up and appreciate the people in our lives now. I think we all have that realization, looking back at photos: “Wow! Those were the good old days.” We are all living in our own version of the “good days.” Let’s preserve that. When I look back at portraits of my grandma Nora I am filled with so much connection and joy. Leaving a beautiful portrait for future generations is one of the greatest gifts you can give your family.

Selfies – are you a fan? Absolutely, although I’d say it would be a shame not to have a few professional photos of yourself at every age. There is a fierce and fabulous spirit in all of us. I believe that. There is no age that is “too old” for a good selfie or a good portrait. I look at pictures when I was in my 20s when thought I was fat. Now I am like, “Wow, wish I had celebrated that bikini body a little more.” Selfies can be a really cool snapshot of a particular time in your life, not just your dress size.  Just don’t go overboard with the “duck face.” That’s a look that history will probably not remember fondly!

Tell us about a favorite image you’ve captured: I recently photographed a family with three generations: a grandmother, mother, and her daughters. I can’t even put the experience into words—it was pure magic. You could see what this portrait meant to every member of the family. You could see it in their eyes and in the amazing photos that came out of that shoot. These are the family heirlooms that get passed down for generations. These are memories worth saving and sharing.

Photos are also great to see yourself in a different light. This weekend I’m going to do a boudoir session with a woman who’s recently lost 90 pounds! I’m going to help her feel fun and flirty. Owning her new shape will be very powerful for her.

Give us amateurs one key tip on snapping pics? This will work wonders, I promise: Lift up your spine up nice and tall, then push your forehead toward the camera, chin down slightly. “Find the light” and take a little breath and let it out. Click! See, that was painless, right? Oh, and if you’re wondering which side is your “best,” where you part your hair is often a good go-to (but not for all). This is why my photography studio has a hands-on stylist to make sure we capture the perfect angle that really makes your spirit come alive.

Where is your favorite place in Paso Wine Country to snap your shots? In my portrait studio! I have a huge collection of couture dresses and gowns for my clients to wear, professional hair and makeup artist and hand-painted backdrops. My backdrops come from Oliphant Studios in New York, the same artist who paints backdrops for Annie Leibovitz and Vanity Fair photoshoots. They are exquisite! Just like you.

Luke Udsen


Tell us what got you into photography and how long you’ve been capturing moments? I I think what ultimately got me into photography is the realization that everyone sees things differently, we all have a unique perspective. As a result, there are endless combinations of ways to capture the same moment, which for me keeps it from becoming mundane. I’ve been taking pictures in some way shape or form since I was in High School but have dived much deeper into the art in the past 4 years.

What other career paths would you have chosen?  Probably something in the music industry, which is probably why my favorite thing to photograph is live music!

What has photography taught you about life? Photography has completely altered the way I see the world, to an extent that kind of blows my mind at times. It has really taught me to be observant, present and aware of the nuances and details around me. The only downside is I’m constantly thinking to myself “oooo that would be a cool shot” and then to whoever I’m with “sorry, what were you saying?”

Selfies – are you a fan? I am not a selfie guy, I’m not anti-selfie, I just prefer to take photos of things around me over taking pictures of myself. Selfie addiction is a real epidemic, especially when sticks get involved and I think I’m best off keeping my distance for now.

Oooo that is a really tough one, mostly because I’m very critical of myself. If I had to pick a favorite thing to photograph in the vineyard it would be Castoro’s Charbono in the Whale Rock Vineyard. Every year the colors are incredible and the clusters are dense, dark and interestingly long. Definitely, some of my favorite photos have come from that vineyard block.

Give us amateurs one key tip on snapping pics? Pictures almost always look more intriguing when shot through something, find your subject and experiment with angles that add elements to the foreground. For example, instead of taking a picture of a cluster of grapes, take a picture of the cluster through the gap in some leaves or branches in the canopy etc. Don’t be afraid of taking a bad shot, the digital trash can is endlessly forgiving.

Where is your favorite place in Paso Wine Country to snap your shots? Whale Rock Vineyard at Castoro Cellars hands down.