The Soldier and the Squirrel introduces children to the Purple Heart

through a loving story of a friendship between a newly wounded soldier

and Rocky the squirrel with his backyard friends. This story began as a

blog during my first year in bed after my incident. With much

encouragement, it is now a book and has been placed in the

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum. Please watch the video

on the About page to learn for the Soldier & Rocky are changing children's






Glorious Rejoice Dots Glitter





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How do I Choose My Photographer?

You are finally ready to talk to photographers.....AH the joy of meeting someone new, who you hope can match their artwork on their site, who you pray won't steal your money and run off to the Bahamas....
All the stories about friends who's photographers didn't get their images to them for a year, or had their associate show up instead of themselves....FUN!

Truly, the experience doesn't need to be stressful, and these things happen less often than you think. However, there are ways to ensure that the enigma that is the wedding photographer is not necessarily a Trojan horse, but could possibly even turn out to be a lifelong friend.

First and foremost, decide how important photography truly is to you in the overall scheme of your day. How much of your budget should be alotted to photography? On average, 10-15% of your budget for your wedding day should be set aside for the customary photographer. Nowadays the average wedding runs around 28-30,000. So...consider that to hire an experienced photographer with a good reputation you should expect to pay around $2800-$3500.
This is usually for wedding coverage only or they may be including products with such a rate, this will vary.
One of the most important questions to ask are:
  • Does your rate include bridal preparation, putting on the dress?
  • Is this fee for a set number of hours? (My wedding day coverage is 12 hours, with an overtime fee above and beyond this. This is important to ask, as photographers are only human, and equipment, the camera bodies are heavy and physically we can only go full steam ahead for so long.)
  • Does this fee include a "High Resolution disc of Jpeg images"?
  • Are the images I receive color corrected?
  • How many of the images that I receive are fully mastered? (Some photographers on do levels and color correction without the artistic enhancements on their images. Some do levels and color correction on all of the edited images, but only Master 40-60 of their favorites.) DO make sure that the disc of images are not only edited (meaning they take out all the bad ones of Aunt Milly with her eyes shut, and Uncle Joe drunk in the corner) but that they are color corrected. This is industry standard. The alternative is practiced by low end photographers who "shoot and burn", meaning they shoot the wedding, and burn a disc.
  • Is there a list of their product and pricing before you book. Pricing changes from season to season sometimes as vendors change, lab fees go up, etc. so make sure you have documentation of the set pricing at the time of booking.
  • What is the photographer's rules regarding copyright? Is it ok to use your images on your engagments announcements, website, etc. without permission? Some are very flexible about this, others charge a fee per usage of the images, others simply request credit with the image(s). Always ask about this issue as for some it is a sensitive issue.
This is just the beginning, but hopefully this bit of information is helpful in your search for the perfect photographer. MOST importantly, if you love photography, if you are inspired by the person's art, an in-person meeting is just as important to ensure the proper chemistry is present between all of you. You are not only interviewing the photographer, the photographer is interviewing you ;0) Life is precious and short, and this is the most important day of your life, and a day of passion and efforts in the photographer's. The right photographer will "click" immediately. Ask yourself when you meet him/her, would I like this person as my friend? Could I see myself inviting them over for a BBQ? It seems silly, but it's true that chemistry is essential to a positive experience. The bond of loyalty and inspiration is birthed by the connection between all of you. The end result, a wedding day captured not only by a photographer you hired, but by a friend who truly cares about you, your day, your memories....

Shallan & Linus / Cancun 2010


The Zen of Photography

The ZEN of photography

In essence, the secret to your success has a lot to do with an ability that few of us think about when we first decide to get into photography; The ability to become one with the environment….. This is the Zen of photography.

That feeling that you are so in sync with the world around you that you could sense a misquito about to burp in the other room. It sounds funny, but it’s true.

A good photographer captures what’s happening around him. An awesome photographer becomes one with what’s around him, enters the middle realm of reality and grabs the shot from the inside out essentially grabbing the soul of the moment and holding it for ransom.

Ok, maybe not to that extreme, but think about the last “great” photograph you took. The one that when you first saw it, it spoke to you. It told you that you alone owned that moment in time. Then you thought it was kind of cool so you showed it to a friend and for a moment there was silence, you sat wondering if it was really good or not. Then they said it, “That’s really good…, you know that could be in a magazine. You should enter that in a contest or something….” And for a moment all was right in the world. The economy could crash again and worlds could collide but for that moment nothing else existed or mattered. For that moment, you realized you created something special all your own, that no one else captured. In some ways photography is a selfish, lonely existence. The irony is that we make a living providing memories for others.

The art of photography comes in creating beautiful imagery, but does this come from shooting for the client or shooting for yourself?

A good photographer balances shooting for himself first and then for the client. I know, this goes against all logic and everything you’ve ever heard about wedding photography. Of course you must shoot for the client, but don’t forget the reason they hired you: They like your work, they like you, and most of all they trust you. Yes, a successful photographer must be mentally unbalanced to the point that you become 2 people at the same time. One part of you is shooting what FEELS right to you, it’s that sweet spot, that moment when you hit the tennis racket and the ball just pops off through the air and crosses the net perfectly. The other side of you wants to cross-dress, I mean must cross over the aisle to the perpetual aisle and shoot from the head, not the hip. Being able to capture both what you desire and what the client expects traditionally makes you a good photographer. Doing both of these things at once make you a great photographer.




Middle Realm...


Nine Groomsmen in Mexico


Lovin' Mama


Cancun Wedding

Just returned from shooting Shallan & Linus's wedding in Cancun; a mix of business and pleasure, I took don and the little ones with me!
Storms permeated our week, with clouds parting for the ceremony. Shallan & Linus ROCKED the beach shoot after the ceremony, weathering droplets and taunting storm clouds. The images captured offer a glimpse to the grumbling heavens, but allowed for an ambiance photographers can only dream of.

Tibet to Everest

Bensko Photojourneys for the Soul
bringing the world together one shot at a time...

Conquer the Great Wall
Venture through the Tibetan Countryside
Embrace the Ancient Dwelling of the Dalai Lamas
Chant with the Monks
Overnight at Everest

Dear Friends,

I am officially launching my inaugural photo expedition Photojourney for the Soul, Tibet to Everest 2009, with the emphasis on cultural appreciation through immersion and imagery. A limited number of positions will be offered to individuals with a simple love for photography, as well as openness to embracing the intricacies of this multicultural and spiritual adventure.

Bensko Photography will contribute photographic support, with cultural guidance by Jim Hagan of Wisdom Tours who has personally created life-altering experiences for his clients in the region for over 30 years. This itinerary is built to emphasize the photographic and spiritual elements of the region culminating in the arrival at the most majestic place on the planet, the foot of Everest.

One week after this journey, a reunion will occur in Los Angeles where I will personally conduct a Photoshop and File Organizing Seminar, resulting in a personal Coffee Table Book for each individual with 100 of your favorite images from your Photojourney.

A portion of the proceeds from Tibet to Everest will benefit the SFK Foundation (Spirituality For Kids). SFK teaches kids tools for life to end the cycle of conflict for children at risk - emotionally, physically, and spiritually. It begins by teaching the tools that will help them realize their full potential and change the course for them and future generations.

In our ever changing world, there is opportunity for growth and enlightenment of the cultures which enhabit our planet. For years I have appreciated mankind through the lens, it is time to do so through the soul.

Photojourney for the Soul is a way to bring people together through the love of imagery to discover the beauty in cultures beyond our own.
Tibet to Everest is a collaboration between Bensko Photography and guides with over thirty years experience in the region.

Photojourney for the Soul,

Live your dream along with mine...



Tibet to Everest

August 1-11, 2009

Day 1
Arrive in Beijing, transfer to hotel and meet up with the group. Overnight - Beijing

Day 2
Full day of exploring Beijing, the capital of the People's Republic of China. Beijing is a city with a history stretching back more than two thousand years. We explore some of the treasures of this magnificent city such as The Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China. Overnight Beijing

Day 3
Depart the colorful city of Beijing on a flight to Lhasa, the heart and soul of Tibet and once the centuries-old home of the Dalai Lamas. On our first day, we will browse Lhasa's ancient market and bazaar - the Barkhor, where we will see pilgrims from all over Tibet circumambulating Tibet's holiest temple, the Jokhang. Overnight Lhasa

Day 4
We begin our day of exploring Lhasa at the Potala - the Pure Land of Avalokitesvara - the embodiment of compassion and the former winter residence of the Dalai Lamas. Constructed in the 17th century by the great Fifth Dalai Lama, this fantastic masterpiece of Tibetan architecture has more than 1000 rooms that include a collection of sacred Buddhist art second to none. Centuries of sacred art - statues, stupas and paintings are contained in the many shrines, temples and prayer halls. The history of Tibet is portrayed here in the Potala, on its walls and altars in this magnificent former palace. In the afternoon, we visit Sera Monastery, north of Lhasa. This Gelugpa monastery was once the home to 5,000 monks. Founded in 1419, Sera has a superb collection of sacred art. The highlight of our visit to Sera is experiencing the monks perform their afternoon debates. In the evening we visit the Jokhang Temple, Tibet's holiest of temples. Here at the Jokhang, we will have the rare opportunity to sit and chant with the monks. Overnight Lhasa.

Day 5
Early morning departure for Shigatse. On the outskirts of Shigatse, we will visit Shalu Monastery, located a few miles east of Shigatse. This beautiful small monastery, with its Chinese style green tiled roofs, dates back to the 11th century. Shalu is noted for its 14th century murals that fuse Chinese, Mongol and Nepalese styles. Shalu is a treasure house of Buddhist art and is one of my most favorite sites in Tibet. Overnight Shigatse.

Day 6
Early morning departure for Mount Everest. We are treated to one of the most spectacular mountain drives in Tibet. Driving through small remote villages we come to one of the highest mountain passes that offers us our first magnificent view of the massive Himalayan range including Mount Everest. With our first glimpse we come to understand why the Tibetans refer to it as Chomolungma, the Mother Goddess of the World! Overnight - Everest

Day 7
In the morning we will explore the world's highest monastery - Rongphu Gompa. We then depart Everest and drive back through the Tibetan countryside to Shigatse. Overnight - Shigatse.

Day 8
After breakfast we visit Tashilhunpo Monastery, once the seat of the Panchen Lama, who was declared an incarnation of the Buddha Amitabha by the Fifth Dalai Lama. Tashilhunpo houses a brilliant collection of sacred Buddhist art especially with its 86 foot-high statue of the future Buddha Maitreya. After lunch, we return to Lhasa. Overnight - Lhasa.

Day 9
Our wonderful adventure of Tibet comes to its conclusion as we have our last look at the Tibetan countryside as we travel to Gongar Airport for our return flight to Beijing. Arrive in Beijing and transfer to hotel. Overnight Beijing.

Day 10
Full free day in Beijing to rest, shop and prepare for our next day return flight back to the States. Overnight Beijing.

Day 11
Homeward bound. We depart Beijing for the States.

One Week Later
A reunion will occur in Los Angeles where Bensko will conduct a Photoshop and File Organizing Seminar, resulting in a personal Coffee Table Book for each individual with 100 of your favorite images from your adventure of Tibet to Everest.

$6500 pp Includes rt airfare from LAX to Tibet, Transportation, Accommodations, Meals

Elope to Everest

Coming Soon~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If it is your dream to stand at the foot of Mount Everest, imagine beginning your lives together in that very spot. Beginning 2009 Bensko Photography is offering packages for weddings from 2-24 people at the foot Everest. Life is about stories, this will be one which will echo for generations to come.

Kindly Contact Bensko Photography for Details and Booking


phone: 310.990.8389
201 South Santa Fe Ave. Suite 301, Los Angeles, CA 90012


Pic of Mic

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