Erin Brooks is one of my favorite photographers.

She is constantly capturing amazing, candid shots of her two daughters. Her iPhone photos have been featured by Apple. And she has a style to her photos that is really unique.

The reason Erin has been an inspiration to me is because of how well she tells stories and stays vulnerable in her photography. Not to mention the fact that she is constantly finding new and creative ways to make amazing photos right in her own home.

Last year, Erin wrote a guide for The Sweet Setup on how to take great holiday photos. I have definitely been taking her advice and finding inspiration in the photos that she shares.

Here are a few of my own holiday photos from the past couple of years…

(Looks like my photo skills still have a long ways to go!)


As we head into Thanksgiving, I asked Erin if she would update her guide for 2019. She added some new ideas and tactics, plus new photos as well.

Here are a few tips and tricks for how you can take better photos of your family. Happy holidays, and happy shooting!

How to Take Great Holiday Photos

At a Westport Bookstore

My wife and I recently went on a date downtown near Westport. And there is a cozy, local bookstore that I love to stop in whenever I’m nearby. We walked around for a while, perusing the new and old books that lined the shelves. I love how places like this have books falling out of their ears.

At a Westport Bookstore

An Unexpected Google Search Trick

I’m not sure if it’s the changing weather, or something else, but whatever the reason may be, my personal interest in photography feels like it has been exploding over the past few months.

And so, much of my free time at home has been spent reading through reviews of the Leica Q (and Q2) to get some inspiration for how others are using my same camera.

Also, of course I have been itching to get out more than normal to take some shots. And as I think about what 2020 looks like, I’m considering a personal goal of traveling to at least 2 unique destinations for the sole purpose of making some photos. So if you have any suggestions, please do let me know.

Anyway, as I’ve been reading, there is an interesting “trick” I employed for the Google search results as I have been searching for camera reviews and stories….

Most of the best camera and photography reviews that I have found are on pages 3 and 4 of the Google search results.

You see, I wanted to get some real life, normal-person, story-based reviews of the camera — as opposed to the sterile, press-release regurgitation articles that are on so many of the high-ranking websites that appear on page 1 of Google results.

And so, in order to get to the good stuff — the articles that were written by normal folks with normal blogs who had been using the camera for a while before they wrote their review — I had to skip past the first page.

Whodathunkit?

An Unexpected Google Search Trick

Golden Hour at McKenzie Pass

McKenzie Pass shot with the Leica Q

Earlier this summer my family spent several days in Fort Robinson, Nebraska for a huge family reunion on my wife’s side.

On the second-to-last day, I woke up extra early in order to get out for some sunrise and golden hour photos at the Red Cloud Buttes which were nearby to our cabins.

I had already scouted the route via Google Maps on my iPad, and so I had a pretty good idea of where I was going. So I woke up before the sunrise, brewed a cup of coffee, and hopped into my car to get going.

When I got to the trail head (which was a turn-off from the main highway out there), it was blocked by a chained-off gate. However, as I inspected it the gate I discovered that it wasn’t locked at all. The chains were just dangled around one another to help keep the two swinging gate doors closed.

McKenzie Pass shot with the Leica Q

So far as I could tell it was a public trail. So I opened up the gate and drove on through to get to McKenzie Pass.

I spent a couple of hours up there, walking around, shooting some photos and just sitting in the quiet with my coffee.

The weather didn’t quite cooperate with me, as, it was a very cloudy sunrise morning, so I didn’t really catch any epic shots. Though there was a moment where the clouds parted a bit, and the sun was shining onto one of the rock faces. It looked amazing and I tried to snap some photos, but none of them quite turned out the way I saw it in person. But that’s okay.

McKenzie Pass shot with the Leica Q

I’m glad I took the time to drive up there and was able to do some shooting. There are several more photos I took around Fort Robinson that I’ll share later this week.

McKenzie Pass shot with the Leica Q

McKenzie Pass shot with the Leica Q

McKenzie Pass shot with the Leica Q

McKenzie Pass shot with the Leica Q

McKenzie Pass shot with the Leica Q

McKenzie Pass shot with the Leica Q

McKenzie Pass shot with the Leica Q

McKenzie Pass shot with the Leica Q

All these photos were shot with my Leica Q, and then edited on my iPad Pro using Lightroom CC.

Golden Hour at McKenzie Pass

Breckenridge Whiskey Barrels: Wallpaper Background

Breckenridge, Colorado is one of the best towns in Colorado.

It’s beautiful. It’s full of great things to do. It has a bunch of excellent food and drink spots. And, arguably, it’s home to one of the best bourbon distilleries in America.

I grew up not far from Breckenridge, and used to go up many times during the winters in order to snowboard. Nowadays I usually visit Breck with my family during the summer. And I’ve been hosting a small mastermind retreat there for the past 3 years in a row.

Earlier this summer as some friends and I were touring the Breck Distillery I snapped this photo of some of the stacked, aging barrels. It’s been my iPhone’s Home screen wallpaper for a while, and I wanted to share it for you to use if you’d like.

Download the full version directly here and save it to use as a device wallpaper on your Mac, iPad, or iPhone. Cheers!

Breckenridge Whiskey Barrels: Wallpaper Background

I can’t remember the last time I used my iMac to edit a photo. All my photo editing happens on the iPad Pro.

The iPad is an ideal tool for perusing and editingyour photos. So, in a sense, picking the best photo editing app for the iPad is actually picking the best photo editing app, period.

Two other personal side-notes about Lightroom:

  • If you are using Lightroom, you should check out the presets that Rebecca Lily has to offer — they are fantastic. I have sets IV, V, and VI. As a long-time VSCO user, there are several bold and moody presets in Rebecca’s Pro Sets V and VI that I think are great.

  • Paying a few bucks a month for Lightroom cloud storage syncing and backup is worth the price alone to have a second layer of cloud backup for my entire Lightroom catalog.

The Best Photo-Editing App for iPad

Dam Foggy

Bull Shoals Dam

Over the summer, some friends and I went to Bull Shoals for camping and spearfishing.

After our first day there I noticed that in the early mornings and in the evenings the river would get a huge blanket of fog. So I spent part of my afternoon scouting out some spots that I wanted to shoot from. And then, once the evening fog rolled in, I would be prepared — knowing exactly where I wanted to be and what shots I wanted to get.

Here are a few of those foggy dam shots. I have some other shots of the river bank that I’ll post later.

Bull Shoals Dam

Bull Shoals Dam

Bull Shoals Dam

Shot with the Leica Q and edited in VSCO on my iPad Pro.

Dam Foggy

View From the Top of Nashville

A few weeks ago I was in Nashville for about 24 hours to briefly visit an old friend and connect with a new one.

We had dinner at Bourbon Steak. A restaurant that sits on top of the JW Marriott in downtown Nashville.

Despite the name, the bourbon selection was unexpectedly average. But no matter! The steak was fantastic, and the view from the top of the city was incredible.

Shot with the Leica Q and edited in Lightroom an my iPad Pro.

View From the Top of Nashville

A Few Photos from The Talk Show Live at WWDC 2019

The Talk Show Live at WWDC 2019

The live podcast events at WWDC are turning into the main events, second only to the keynote. I was just barely able to get tickets to the Talk Show, and I only managed to do so by setting an alarm on my phone for a few minutes before they were scheduled to go on sale, and then furiously refreshing the web page.

But it’s worth it. This year’s The Talk Show Live show was fantasic.

I’ve been to nearly every live Talk Show. And, aside from the year when Phil Schiller showed up completely unexpected, I thought this year’s show was definitely best. John’s interview with Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak was just excellent — both insightful and entertaining.

The Talk Show Live at WWDC 2019

The Talk Show Live at WWDC 2019

The Talk Show Live at WWDC 2019

The Talk Show Live at WWDC 2019

These photos were taken with the Leica Q and edited in Lightroom CC on my iPad Pro.

A Few Photos from The Talk Show Live at WWDC 2019

Photos from WWDC Trip, Day 0

Yesterday, Sunday, I flew in to California for WWDC. Here are a few photos from my first day at WWDC 2019.


Even though the conference is in San Jose, I first flew into San Fransisco to meet with a friend for dinner.

At my layover in Las Vegas.

My WWDC travel bag. (Read here for more details.)

Outside Marlowe restaurant in Soma.


After dinner in San Fransisco, I hopped the Cal Train to San Jose and got in just in time to meet up with a bunch of other Apple nerds…

Stephen Hackett and me. (Photo by Mike Hurley.)

With Federico Viticci and “Underscore” David Smith. (Photo by Mike Hurley.)

Myke Hurley.


Side note… I forgot my iPad’s SD Card reader! And, to top it all off, there’s a bug with the Leica Q app on my iPad that is keeping me from being able to import photos.

So let’s just say my photography workflow this trip is a bit convoluted. Here’s what it looks like…

I am using the Leica Q app to connect the camera to my iPhone via the camera’s built-in WiFi. Then I transfer the JPG files over to my iPHone. And then I transfer them via AirDrop to my iPad where I can edit them.

Normally, I’d just plug in the SD card reader dongle and transfer the RAW files directly to my iPad. Ah well.

Photos from WWDC Trip, Day 0

More Blurry Photos

A few weeks ago when I was in downtown Kansas City, I was shooting some photos and my Leica was missing focus a few times. The photos came out blurry, but I really love the aesthetic.

So last week when I was out for a friend’s birthday, I took the Leica of course, but this time I took shots that were intentionally blurry.

These photos are of a few great places here in Kansas City. Come visit and I’ll tell you all about them.

More Blurry Photos

Blurry Kansas City

Kansas City Power Light Leica Q Street Photgraphy

Kansas City Power Light Leica Q Street Photgraphy

I was recently downtown in Kansas City’s Power and Light district to go see the new Spider-Man movie (which was absolutely amazing).

Of course I took the Leica Q with me to snap some nighttime shots of the area.

Several of the shots missed focus, but I love how they turned out.

You can download a high-res version of the above two images here and here.

Blurry Kansas City