Best Valentine’s Day Gifts for Photographers

 It’s Photo Gifts We Want!

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching! Here is a list of some great photo-themed gifts for your camera keen loved one this year. I have scored each idea with a price scale (1=low budget, 5=high budget), planning scale (1=little planning, 5=extensive planning), and Love Points (1=you completely forgot about it, 5=personal, thoughtful, useful, and amazing). You can make these gifts memorable in any circumstance.

Photo Centered Vacation
Price 5/5 Planning 5/5 Love Points 5/5

Honeymoon Beach, St Tomas, Virgin Islands.
Honeymoon Beach, St Tomas, Virgin Islands.

This gift tops the chart with the budget but is very thoughtful as well. When planning a vacation, lots of things are taken into consideration. How many days? What location? Which activities? However, when planning a vacation with the purpose of photography in mind, certain priorities take precedence over others. For instance, when choosing a hotel for your perfect Paris photography trip, you’ll want to book one closer to the Eiffel Tower if you’re trying to get that perfect sunrise shot. That way it is easier to go out in the early mornings, and then back again without too much time out of your day. Maybe your priority will be transportation. In order to visit some out of the way, secluded beach during golden hour, you may choose to rent a car rather than rely on a bus or taxi. Even a day trip can be a perfect photo outing together. Being able to stop at every scenic overlook gives your loved one multiple opportunities to use their camera. Some fresh air, beautiful sights and time together can double every photo outing into a couple outing.

Book a family photo session
Price 3/5 Planning 3/5 Love Points 4/5

Texas Blue Bonnets Kids


Now I know what you’re thinking, “We just had photos at Christmas. I had to wear that dumb sweater!” Most people think about family photos when holiday cards need to go out. However, winter is the worst time to do photos. The weather is crummy, your family is stuffed tight with layers, and if you’re lucky enough to get an outdoor session the landscape is all dead. Not to mention the budget is usually tight because of all the holiday festivities. Tighter finances usually mean corner cutting, so only digital copies and cards are ordered. Plans are made to purchase more in the future, but then you never do. Then it all repeats the next holiday season. With some proactive thinking, book a family session NOW. Spring is stunning with flowers bursting with color and new leaves with extra vibrant hues. Your clothing options expand from cardigans and boots to sandals and dresses. These are images you’ll proudly display through all four seasons. You will also have the budget to do so.

Some tips on how to do this. Make a down payment. Don’t try to skid by with a flimsy coupon. Actually, commit to taking photos. Now, you might be thinking, “Well my significant other is already a photographer, why should I buy photos from someone else?” When you are committing to taking family photos, you are giving your loved one the gift of rest. It is great to just be able to show up and not worry. The same reasoning applies when you take a chef out to dinner. Sometimes the chef doesn’t want to make every meal. And sometimes the photographer doesn’t want to take every photo. Relieve the stress, and let them be the one treated instead of treating. Do your research and find a photographer that they love/follow/talk about and book them. It’s not rude, its an honor. (I will book other photographers all the time for things I’m not willing to do. My own maternity or newborn photos for example)

Make a Photo Book.
Price 2/5 Planning 3/5 Love Points 3/5

A photo book is a budget friendly gift that still has that perfect personal touch. You have made it through another year together. Celebrate your moments of love and laughter by memorializing them in a book. Photo books can be as simple as linking your social media account with a photo book website. Or you can go as far as designing a book that is completely unique. There is a spectrum of options that can fit your time and budget. All will guarantee a beautiful memento of your time together thus far. I have linked a couple of simple companies that will build cute, little photo books for you. If you are planning on going this route then do not wait! This is not a day before the gift. Plan ahead so you have time to collect the perfect photos and have it shipped before your special day.

(Now I’m going, to be honest, I use a large printing lab for all my albums so I have never personally used any of these companies. That being said, I feel confident you’ll be happy with any of these for a small custom book as a gift and the prices are great.)

Simple Photo Gifts
Price 1/5 Planning 1/5 Love Points 2/5

Ok, so you totally forgot and have only a few days left until Valentine’s Day. To make matters worse, the budget this year is tight. Don’t lose hope, you still have options! I have found some of my favorite photo themed items and am sharing them with you. The photographer in your life will love any of these unique gifts. Help them tie their craft to other avenues of life with everyday items that proudly display their artistic interests. Amazon provides lots of shipping options depending on how close the deadline is. Prime items usually ship in two days. Next day shipping is also an option if things are really down to the wire. I gave it low marks on the love points, but with a nice dinner, you might be able to make those up.






 Travel Mug


 Graphic Tee


I just bought this sweet tee for myself just a few weeks ago! The best way to combine my love of Texas with my love of photography! This is not an amazon item so be aware of shipping times.

I hope this list gave you some ideas on how to make your holiday together extra special. Good luck on your Valentine’s Day endeavors!


Top Ten Images of 2016

Vintage Creek Photography Top Ten Images of 2016

Before 2017 shifts into high gear, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite images from 2016! This list will be covering my Top 10 Land Images of 2016. I’ll be posting my Top 5 Underwater Images of 2016 in a later blog post.

Number 10 – The Carlson Family

Vintage Creek Photography - Schertz Tx, Lyndon B. Johnson State Park
Vintage Creek Photography

This stunning image was taken out at the Sauer-Beckman Farm located in the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park. For me, it’s an hour drive through the Texas Hill Country, and is an amazing location for photos. The Carlsons are also my relatives! Not only do I love when I find a cool location to photograph, but it’s even more meaningful when it’s of people I love. The peach and blue color scheme they used for this photoshoot is perfect for spring.

Number 9 – The Eckman Family

Vintage Creek Photography - Schertz Tx, Camp Huaco Springs
Vintage Creek Photography

These are the Eckmans. They lived across the street from us when we first arrived in Cibolo, Texas. Rachelle and I became best friends almost instantly. This year for her family photos I decided I wanted to try a new location, and I think we struck gold with this one. Camp Huaco Springs is a campground located off River Road in New Braunfels. They were extremely nice to let me shoot there. The campground was very quiet the week that we took this so we had lots of open space just for us. The colors of the clothing match perfectly with the river. This photoshoot earned me a new favorite location. You will definitely be seeing a senior session here in the next few months!

Number 8 – The Favorite One – The Cheney Family

Vintage Creek Photography - Schertz Tx
Vintage Creek Photography – Schertz Tx

Sometimes I like to get really creative. This image is very nontraditional but sometimes helps draw the focus to the most important part of a family. In this case, it’s the baby! Being born much later than the rest of her siblings, she holds a very special place in her family that I wanted to showcase in this image. Not an average family photo but a top ten image nonetheless.

Number 7 – Ethan at the River Walk

Vintage Creek Photography - Schertz Tx
Vintage Creek Photography – Schertz Tx

This strapping young lad is my nephew. We decided that the hustle and bustle of Downtown San Antonio’s Riverwalk was just what we needed for his senior portraits. Keeping things relaxed and cool, we were able to get some amazing shots. Ethan is currently serving a mission for our church and is set to return in 2018!

Number 6 – Mother and Daughter

Vintage Creek Photography, Bracken Village, Garden Ridge, Texas
Vintage Creek Photography – Schertz Tx

There is a very special bond between mothers and daughters that I always try and get on camera. A sweet touch, a little kiss. Taken at Bracken Village in Garden Ridge, Texas, this sweet exchange is what candid moments are made of. It just takes being prepared at the right place at the right time.  

Number 5 – Gabby!

Vintage Creek Photography - Schertz Tx
Vintage Creek Photography – Schertz Tx

This young lady is Gabby. I always make it a point to get individual images of every family member at a family session. It is important to find that one image that truly showcases each family member’s unique personality. Gabby is all laughs and jokes. She’s full of life and a joy to be around. I’m in love with the soft look that this image gives her. The cool grey of her sweater is complimented by the soft blue of the river. A classic image for years to come.  

Number 4 – Jordan the Lucky!

Vintage Creek Photography - Schertz Tx
Vintage Creek Photography – Schertz Tx

The photography gods were looking down on us this day. Dealing with rain and thunder meant for some difficult decisions when choosing our locations. Just as we were ending the afternoon, the skies opened up and offered us a stunning ending to the session. I kid you not, just 15 minutes later was one of the craziest storms I have ever seen here in the Texas Hill Country.

Number 3 – Maddie in New Cibolo

Vintage Creek Photography - Cibolo, Tx
Vintage Creek Photography – Schertz Tx

Here we brought new life to an old location. I took this image in Downtown Cibolo. It is brimming with brick, corrugated tin, and old doors. It’s definitely a hot spot for local photographers…Which makes shooting a unique image a real challenge. But this image would never suggest such difficulty. Not only was there another photographer there at the time I was shooting, but it was a friend of Maddie who was ALSO getting her senior photos taken. With some quick thinking and willingness to try something new, we got some stunning images that distinguished Maddie’s senior session to be uniquely her own.

Tied for First Place – Audrey and Emmi

Vintage Creek Photography - Schertz Tx
Vintage Creek Photography – Schertz Tx
Vintage Creek Photography - Schertz Tx
Vintage Creek Photography – Schertz Tx


Ok, so I might be biased and put my own children at the top of my list but who wouldn’t! Look how cute these girls are! Something that is very difficult about being a photographer is taking photos of your own children. They are so desensitized to your directions that they may fight you every step of the way. So the chance of me capturing two stunning images of both my girls smiling ON THE SAME DAY is a miracle and totally worth sharing.

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of my favorite images from 2016. I had a great year behind the camera, and can’t wait to show you what’s in store for 2017!


Check back soon for my Top 5 Underwater Images of 2016. 

County Fair Time

Roger here. Big day at Vintage Creek. Today we deliver our print entries to the county fair. Brittany and I are each entering seven prints and there are big things at stake. The loser (in terms of ribbon count) has to buy Slurpies and the winner has bragging rights for the whole year.  I thought i would share a few of each of our entries. Mine first:

Here are some of Brittany’s entries:


2012 Placer County Fair Prints

It’s always a good day when Brown comes to the door. Today is an especially good day because he brought our Placer County Fair entry prints. Between my father and I, we have five prints to enter in to the fair. Here is a peek at what we choose.

Keiki- Hawaiian for Child

I took this photography of my daughter, Audrey, the seconded to last day in Hawaii. This was her  two year birthday photo shoot.  One of my favorites.

Boy and Chick

You may have seen this one from when we did our Easter post back in April. We just loved this so much I wanted to include it this year. This is my nephew Shawn, cutie!


This rock star senior is a good friend of mine.  I knew when I took this photo that I was going to enter it to the fair. She had the most sunning eyes…. Love you Jacqueline!

Vintage Bride

This beauty is Brianna. We actually printed this image on metallic paper for the fair. It’s hard to go looking for images that will lend them selves to metallic paper. Sometimes you are just in the right place at the right time. We happened to be so lucky and with a stunning bride no less!!!!  The photography gods were looking down on us that day. I’m hoping the judges will too.

Hanauma Bay

This tropical sea scape is my father’s only enter this year. Taken while on our vacation to Hawaii, this bay is one of the best places to snorkel on the island. It’s his favorite I know because it also is currently his PCs desktop background.

Here is a shot of Dad last year with his First Place and Best of Show winner–the old truck! You would think we have some attraction to old trucks.   Dare I dream?





Aylstock Photography is now Vintage Creek Photography!

Brittany polishing the new logo!

How exciting it is for me to tell you that Aylstock Photography is now…. drum roll please…. Vintage Creek Photography! This has been a concept of ours for quite some time and we are so thrilled to announce it to all of you now.

I have had such a privilege to work with most of you but for the few clients that I haven’t met, I’d like to take a minute to introduce myself. My name is Brittany Butler and I am Roger Aylstock’s daughter. I have been working with the photography business for a few years now but starting today, I will be the primary shooter! Yikes! I’ve got a lot to live up to. I’m thankful and honored that my father feels that I’m ready for the promotion and am diving in head first. Roger will still play a huge role in Vintage Creek Photography so you can still expect to see him.

Not only are you going to be seeing more of me but the whole business will have a different feel and look to it. We have given the name and look of our new company serious time and thought and feel it best matches our new direction. Plus we’ve been told that “Aylstock” is pretty hard to pronounce and spell. Vintage Creek is now specializing in Children’s, Seniors and Family photography. All of our sessions will be custom tailored to you and your individual likes. Our goal is to offer exclusive, one of a kind photography and photo products that you can’t get anywhere else.

Thank you for being our loyal friends and I look forward to seeing you this summer.

Brittany Butler

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Fort Ross, California

I had the pleasure of taking a photo excursion with two of my good photography buddies last month. We headed to the coast to get some ocean shots and some sunset images. We stopped for a few hours at Ft. Ross along the northern California coast. Ft. Ross is about 30 minutes north of Bodega Bay. It was the hub of the southernmost Russian settlements in North America in between 1812 to 1842. It was the site of California’s first windmills and shipbuilding, and Russian scientists were among the first to record California’s cultural and natural history. It was a nice excursion and gave me a little insight into a little known era of California history.  It seemed that all these images looked better in a sepia tone.

Brittany’s Top Ten from 2011

Brittany here and I’ll share my top ten images from 2011.

#1 Audrey Baby – I know you must be surprised that an image of my own daughter took the top spot…. Well I can’t help it. She’s just so cute and I hardly ever can get a decent smile from her. It makes mommy proud too that she wants to follow in the family business.

#2 Carli Stone – I love her expression. We took so many wonderful photos but if you knew Carli you would say that this one is her. She’s always laughing and smiling.  Her nose is so cute too!

#3 Baby Gemma – This one was hard to shoot but the reward was worth the effort. Love the cute baby hat!

#4 Feet – My clients say I have a foot fetish… so what, it makes for amazing art! Look how cute this triptych turned out. I am considering this one photo because I knew when taking these images they were always meant to go together.

#5 Point Cabrillo Lighthouse – This is the first “professional” image I took. I’m not a huge landscape fan but I’m really happy with how this one turned out. Unfortunately my ISO was cranked through the roof  (3200) giving it an unusual texture. I love it all the same.

#6 Baby Violet – I love this family photo. It is so intimate and sweet. Love photo’s in B&W!

#7 Congratulations Paul & Ashley! This was the last shoot of the year for us. It turned out Amazing! The couple hasn’t even been in yet to see these images. I just knew I’d love this one as we were taking it! I bet the wedding photo’s will make next years top ten!

#8 Cowgirl – Once again I’m drawn to B&W. She was so much fun to shoot! Beautiful smile and such a sweet girl.  Loved everything about this day.

#9 School Time – He’s such a little stud! Rosy cheeks and everything. These were close friends of ours that moved east this past year. I’m so sad for that too…. I could photograph him everyday!

#10 Wedding Bells – I am such a fan of unique images. This is very typical of my style of shooting. Not just because it’s feet, but of the composition and color. It goes best as a cluster with three or four other images but I just had to add it. LOVE IT!!!!

Roger’s Top Ten from 2011

Brittany and I thought it might be fun to dig through our archives and post our favorite images from 2011. Most of my images from 2011 were of family and landscapes since Brittany did most of the client shooting with maternity, newborns, kids, and high school seniors. I know she will have a real tough time narrowing it down to ten images. Without further ado, here are my favorites for 2011. I hope you enjoy a few of them. We’ll post Brittany’s top ten tomorrow.

I started 2011 with a short trip to Tahoe with my wife. We happened across these paddleboarders on the lake in mid-January. I caught them with the sun going down and captured this.

In February, I took a short trip to Napa with my photography friends Karen Schmautz and Steve Batz to shoot the mustard flowers. I captured the next three images there. The first won me 1st place and Best of Show in the Placer County Fair. The second was selected for the Schools Financial Credit Union 2012 calendar. The third image won me a 1st place in the Placer County Fair in the Black & White category. I manipulated the original image to look like an old image in a scrapbook.

Next are two images I took on a vacation to Ft. Bragg. The first image was an idea by Brittany to use her daugheter as a photographer. A variation on this is now on Brittany’s business card and maybe it will make it into her top ten. The second image was an experiment in light trails on the beach.

Next are a couple of portraits of my grandchildren. First is Shawn with a new background we made. Second is a concept shoot that I did with both the boy grandkids. We set them up as cool skater dudes and they carried it off well. CJ is the skater dude.

Next is an image from the Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg. Very interesting location to photograph (assuming you like grungy old buildings.)

Lastly is a image from a photo shoot up in Williams setup by my friend Mark Behrens. I really liked how this turned out in black and white.

That’s it for me. I hope you enjoyed them. Check back tomorrow for Brittany’s top ten!