Just for Fun, Photography

Wedding Photography Featured on Offbeat Bride

0 Comments 06 October 2015

Yes, it is is wedding season here in Santa Barbara and I’ve been busy documenting my favorite kind of wedding–the casually elegant outdoor kind, for great people at great venues.

Montecito Beach Wedding Photos

Beach wedding photo near Montecito

Same Sex Weddings in Santa Barbara

Same Sex Wedding in Oxnard












If you look at my wedding photo portfolio you will see that some of the images are funny and quirky and have an offbeat and fiercely unique quality, so it makes sense that I would be a featured vendor in the online directory called Offbeat Bride.

Offbeat Bride is a blog devoted to the mission of “altaring your thinking” and is “an ongoing celebration of couples who dare to walk off the beaten aisle.”  Those are my peeps!


VW Microbus Wedding

VW Microbus Destination Wedding in Tucson

You can check out my professional wedding photography listing by clicking this groovy badge:




Facing Your Photo Fears through a Transformational Portrait Session

0 Comments 10 April 2015

At first glance, having a professional portrait made might seem foofy and frivolous, but after c0-creating them for almost 10 years now, I can attest to the  layers of awareness and insight that can happen on both sides of the lens. Learn and see how Santa Barbara pilates instructor and Santa Barbara Sentinel journalist Jacquelyn De Longe (pictured right) faced her photo fears and healed some PPTSD (post photographic traumatic stress disorder) by allowing herself to be seen and photographed in downtown Santa Barbara.

Fun and happy portrait sessions in Santa Barbara

smallacrobatlogo Here is the link to the article as a PDF.



Just for Fun

Top 5 Films That Make Me Want to Take More Risks (and Five That Make Me Glad for the Status Quo)

0 Comments 13 January 2013

I love documentaries and indie films because the way life reveals itself in our habitats, lifestyles, and relationships is in many ways is more beautiful, fantastic and weird than anything that could be fabricated on a huge Hollywood soundstage.

Watch a movie like Hands on a Hardbody or even Indie Game and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

This round-up is a sequel to my post called “Strongly Inspiring Documentaries about Strong People: My List of Oscar Nominees for 2011”, although these are not all Oscar nominees (or all documentaries), I thought I would share a few of my top 5 lists.

I recently discovered a site with free and often obscure documentaries called Top Documentary Films. Check it out.

Top 5 Films That Make Me Want to Either Take Bolder Risks in Life or Curl Up in Shame for Not Taking Bolder Risks in Life

1. The Cove
2. Gasland
3. An Inconvenient Truth
4. Thrive
5. Suicide Tourist

Top 5 Films That Made Me Wish I Had Been Born Earlier so I Could Have Been an Actual and Official Hippie

1. Easy Rider
2. Surfwise
3. George Harrison: Living in the Material World
4. Joni Mitchell Woman of Heart and Mind
5. Ram Das: Fierce Grace

Top Five Films That Make Me So So Grateful For My Current Life and Its So Called Problems

1. Glen Gary Glen Ross
3. Hands on a Hardbody
4. Requiem for a Dream
5. Beasts of the Southern Wild

Top Five Quirky and Evocative Fun on Several Levels

1. Inside the Actors Studio: Robin Williams
2. Bob, Carol, Ted & Alice
3. Defending Your Life
4. The Workshop
5. Truman Show

Just for Fun, Photography

One Photographer’s Prayer

1 Comment 27 June 2012

My main intent when “writing with light” is to express your basic goodness or celebrate your essence and to create favorable conditions for that to emerge.  I stand for the healing power of deeply seeing and being seen and the courage it takes to live in those infinite moments.


One Photographer’s Prayer

May our time together be a living prayer.

May it evoke your true nature and reflect your true gifts.

May it celebrate your miraculousness.

May our love and nature express itself in this moment.

May I experience you as if for the first time, wide-eyed and awe-struck.

May I be fully present to your light and reflect it as light.

May my head, hand and heart go together.

May I see deeply for deep seeing is loving.

May our stillness shine forth.

Just that.

Who could ask for anything more?

–Doug Ellis, 2009

Staff photographer for the Transformational Leadership Council, Doug Ellis has photographed such luminaries as the Dalai Lama, Jack Canfield, John Gray, Lisa Nichols, Marianne Williamson, and Rev Michael Beckwith. He specializes in heart-centered, light-filled environmental portraits on location and  travel and lifestyle photography of sacred ceremonies, events and workshops.

Doug’s photography portfolio may be seen at www.dougellisphotography.com.

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

—Antoine De Saint Exupery

Just for Fun, Life Coaching, Spirituality & Transformation

Little things that keep me sane

0 Comments 05 May 2012

Esalen garden in SpringThis list is of a different focus than the longer list of favorites and sponsors, and is instead a short list core practices I use to shift my state and  re-connect me to what is essential, life-affirming and self-renewing. In the book Leadership and the New Science, Margaret Wheatley writes about how nature and life in general heals itself by reconnecting itself to as many parts of itself as it can.

If the quasi-ness and pace of modern life has you thinking that peace of mind is no longer a choice, but a distant, out-of-reach memory or fantasy, and your nerves are too frazzled and tweaked to take Timothy Leary’s advice to “trust your nervous system” take a few moments to play with one of these.

Go barefoot. Get barefoot onto some ground or (non sprayed) grass, ideally early morning dewy grass. Being barefoot in dewy grass is actually an ancient Qi Gong move and one of the oldest natural treatments is to strengthen immunity, stimulate intestinal functions, relieve   chest and throat irritation and headaches. Walk slowly, breathe into your belly and feel deeply into your feet while  paying attention to the beauty all around you.

Listen to Music. Find some great music and even better create some or combine some of your favorites. I like listening to Bach when I work and have found Hyperion Records a tremendous source for hard-to-find and excellent classical music. Pandora and Spotify are also fantastic sources for streaming/internet music, and if you want to be entertained with a stream of entertaining and often humorous words, check out the This American Life App, available from the Apple store.

Laugh. I haven’t actually done laughter yoga yet, at least not in a formal way with a group, but I have seen some funny youtube videos of it. But what I do like to do to make myself laugh is hang out with funny friends and also scan Netflix for funny campy comedies and also look on Hulu.com for episodes of Portlandia or Modern Family.

Touch and be touched–with bodywork and energy work. It is surprisingly easy to lose touch with your body and the power of being touched in a loving. healing, non-sexual way and there is something deeply restorative and revivifying about being touched just as the soft animal of your body loving what it loves.

Have some Chocolate. I go for the hard dark stuff..72% or higher and Chocolove is now offering an organic 73% Cacao chocolate with cherries that is primo.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). Also known as tapping. When I really need to clear and discharge some feelings and negativity I do some EFT, usually with some videos by Brad Yates.

Meditation and Releasing. I’m really enjoying Jack Kornfield’s CD of his top 6 meditations and the free guided meditations by Aleya Dao and Craig Hamilton. I also listen to a variety of guided Sedona Method releases in the car to and from work. You can check out some releases as mp3 files here.

Run, Jump, Dance.  It is hard to be in a funk or bad mood when you are moving your body, whether that is running, jumping, or just dancing around the room. I include yoga in this category of movement, and occasional sessions of deep breathing or breath work, like the powerful and short guided sessions by David Elliot.

May these little breadcrumbs along the trail to help make your journey more joyful and give you some new ways to be gentle with yourself. Feel free to add any tips or tricks below.

Life Coaching, Spirituality & Transformation

Legacy and Lineage Off the Clock

0 Comments 01 January 2012

My  birthday falls just  four days after New Years Day, so a kind of “double whammy” of cultural and personal aspirations sends me into a frenzy of trajectory-setting this time of year.

It is strange, lacking both progeny and a wife, to have a strong feeling of wanting to leave a legacy, but here it is. I want to become and express the best version of myself in service of something larger than this life. 2012 I think will be key for that through synthesis, synthesizing being and doing, time and timelessness, and melding the experiences, influences, and talents of 43 years into something deeply personal enough to be universal, and vibrationally true enough to be timeless. With ease and grace.

Yes.. let me be known for following, with clear-eyed compassion, a heroic, even mythic life journey, with an ease and lightness that inspires others to do the same. People after can live it forward.If and when space/time pancakes in 2012 like some expect it to, I say let it collapse into something great. Let my life being a living puja that the world is meant to be free in and life was made to be enjoyed. If it is enjoyed in the 5th dimension beyond the grid of space and time, all the better.

I’ve never expected anything, especially relationships, to last, and often pretend I’m nearly dead, so its not so strange I consider legacies.

What is a little strange is how rarely our legacies relate to our personal goals. There are so many seen and unseen forces that can live through us and leave a breadcrumb trail behind us on our behalf even when we forget or choose not to. I’m proud and excited for my sister who recently, at 40, discovered the gift of silence and spaciousness and has learned to love the very same unstructured time that used to tyrannize her.

If  I have a choice/influence in the matter of a legacy at all it is in paying attention to the people and places that open me to new frontiers of experience and ways of being.

I think that is why I have lived most of my life in beautiful and inspiring places like Aspen, Esalen, Ojai, Santa Barbara and Carmel.

Why my pantheon of influences is multi-clultural, multi-dimensional, and both incarnated and not.

Why I don’t use an alarm clock or carry a watch. With people, slow is fast and fast is slow.

I don’t think it is a coincidence that Eckhart Tolle spent the two years on the park bench, Joseph Campbell 5 years in the cabin with his books, or Julia Butterfly-Hill 2 years in the branches of a redwood named Luna.

There’s something there.  In the commitment to the chrysalis. This post is to the people who inhabit and tend those sacred places and inner spaces and fires, who organize their lives around them and soak them into the marrow of their bones in a way other people can feel and recognize.

In 2012, here’s to renouncing entitlement and sacrifice and living true lives that burn hot and leave a glow for others to see by. See you around the campfire.


Life Coaching, Spirituality & Transformation

Whats So Cool About Esalen Institute?

0 Comments 29 October 2011

You mean..
Apart from being the birthplace of the Human Potential Movement, and resting on 22 acres of some of the most ruggedly stunningly beautiful coastline in North America?

Apart from the hot springs and schmorgasbord of every kind of movement/artistic/creative/spiritual/deep change workshop you can imagine?
The long smooth slippery and patented strokes of the Esalen Massage, and the fact that their 50th anniversary is coinciding with this whole 11/11/11 thing?

Well..there are quite a few other cool things, things I learned when I spent five weeks there as a work study participant in fall of 2005. If you haven’t dropped out of society yet, try it, you’ll like it!

  • There is amazing wholesome and nourishing organic food, grown a few steps from the kitchen.
  • There are the famous natural hot spring tubs and glass-walled showers on cliffs above the Pacific.
  • There are great conversations with fantastic people who have lived there on-proprerty or are visiting from all over the world.
  • There is a fantastic meditation hut over a creek, a quiet and private beach and lots of room to just meander.
  • There is an outdoor early education preschool called Gazebo Park School that looks super fun.
  • There is an intellectual/research brain trust called the Center for Theory and Research that was started by Michael Murphy in 1962 and is still going strong.

But to me and my Apollonian temperament, the best of the best is that the whole place (its values, buildings, people (past and present) and future vision is organized around supporting and accelerating the evolution and transformation of individuals and scoiety.  Something in the air, the light, the place fosters that inner alchemy in just the right way for you, whether that takes the form of a gentle and private retreat and soak, dramatic play, somatic work, meditation, or some esoteric woo woo sister Moon practices to rock your whole personality structure to the core and shake your Etch-A-Sketch clean.

This about says it: “It is a place, as Thomas Wolfe said about America, “where miracles not only happen, but where they happen all the time.”

All this and more and more is why, starting November 10th, I am excited to become the new Marketing Communications Manager at Esalen. You’re invited to celebrate that and yourself, by nourishing yourself as deeply as you care to.

Oh, and here is the link to the PDF of the new catalog that just came out.

And you can get a print version mailed to you too. How cool is that?

See you soon.

Doug E doug ellis signature



Photography, Uncategorized

A Photography Invocation

1 Comment 22 September 2011

Photography to me is both a celebration and quiet vindication for all the ways society tries to keep us small.

As the subject, it is an opportunity to presence yourself consciously and step into and be witnessed in your unified greatness.  It is a rare and healing thing.

How often are us grown-ups seen and appreciated for the miracle we truly are?  Photography gives one permission.  Light is the language unity speaks.  Everything else is a bad translation.

This is the start of a new incarnation.
How you presence yourself is a choice.

You’ve earned the right to live
as a triumph of light.

You’ve earned that face
and Life’s weathering upon it.

Why hide it?

Step through and let
your eyes smile with mine.

I see you.

doug ellis signatureAlso see: One Photographer’s Prayer.



Just for Fun, Photography

Why Do Photographers Wear Black?

0 Comments 07 September 2011

Why do Photographers Wear Black?

Doug Ellis a Different Kind of Photographer

Doug Ellis Not Wearing Black

They’re grieving what might have been.

Why do Photographers Wear Black?
Nostalgia–like being in the darkroom but with a slightly different sour smell.

Why do Photographers Wear Black?
So they don’t accidentally bounce light off a lighter fabric.

Why do Photographers Wear Black?
Because it looks so artsy and darkly European.

Why do Photographers Wear Black?
Peer pressure and habit.

Why do Photographers Wear Black?
It is the city color of Manhattan and don’t all photographers want to live in LA or NY?

Why do Photographers Wear Black?
Because it matches their equipment.

Why do Photographers Wear Black?
Because they may need to subtract light and can slip it over a fill card in a pinch.

Why do Photographers Wear Black?
For invisibility and stealth.

Why do Photographers Wear Black?
To hide the flash powder.

Doug Ellis is a professional light-bringer, photographer, and spiritual/somatic life coach. His life is dedicated to heart-centered expression and the healing power of deeply seeing and being seen. He still wears black, mainly to photography conferences and workshops in New York or LA.

Just for Fun, Life Coaching, Spirituality & Transformation

Thoughts: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

0 Comments 31 August 2011

I don’t believe in beliefs but if I did one might be that our brains secrete thoughts the way our other organs secrete hormones or neurotransmitters. They’re not really good, bad, or ugly, that was just a catchy title that squirted through.

Sometimes I’ll secrete  a thought that seems like a fantastic point of departure to a faraway land–an eccentric is a pioneer turned inward-– and I’ll wait on the dock with it and enjoy its company while it rattles around looking for a happy home in a photo, journal or blog.

Other times I’ll have a judgement disguised as an observation–people who wear leather vests are lost in a haze of Harley noise, bourbon, and cigarette smoke–so I’ll add another repentant  thought over the top to cancel it out: I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you.

Still other times I will think something prideful about how thoughtless I am–Wow, so quiet. Like a  cat or a zen master. Oops wait, they don’t think that.

Less frequent but more fun are the times when I consciously  take advantage of the mind’s infinite innocence and naivete and slip it a placebo–Sting is on his way over for breakfast.

I cleaned my apartment in just under an hour this morning with that one perched on my shoulder.

What is your relationship to thought? Can you say me what your next thought will be?


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