all-american photographer based in tel aviv, israel


"You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club." - Jack London

This Is Adoption | A Day in the Life of The Johnsons

Laguna Beach, California

With this project, I wanted to convey what a normal day in the life looks like for a family blessed by adoption. Thank you Tim and Niccole for opening your home and allowing me to document what it's like for you raising your two handsome boys. 

After hearing rave reviews from friends for months, the other night my wife and I finally got around to seeing the movie Lion and were blown away. (side note: Ashley literally cried throughout the entire movie. Literally.) For those of you who are unfamiliar with the movie, it tells the story of a seven year-old boy from rural India who gets separated from his family and finds himself nearly a thousand miles from home all alone in the big city. After a while of living on the streets, he is picked up in an orphanage before being adopted by an Australian couple who raises him as their own. Eventually, he tries to put together the puzzle of his past and find the family he left behind.

It's an absolute tear-jerker and a must-see. One thing I loved about it, though, was how effectively it portrays the context of his adoption. There's a long story both for him and his adopted parents that brought them together in that moment in history. The weaving together of their stories into one family history is something that moved me in ways I had not before considered. All parties involved were forever changed.

Inspired by the movie, I reached out to my friends Tim and Niccole Johnson--the proud parents of two awesome (and crazy adorable) adopted sons, Ollie and Thurston--to see if they would be willing to allow me to document a day in their life. My hope is that our neighbors here in Orange County, California can see first hand what the blessings of adoption mean to families like the Johnsons, right here in our neighborhood. 

For our "day in the life" session, the Johnsons went to the Laguna Niguel Skate Park, got dinner at their favorite spot at Whole Foods, stopped by their friend's skate shop before making their way home for the evening to read, put the kids to bed and wind down with some vinyl records. 

And no--they were not putting on a show here. They really are this cool. :)




Last-minute Sunrise Wedding at the Newport Beach Pier

Perhaps my favorite thing about photography is the opportunity to meet and interact with people I otherwise would never have met, learn about their lives and what they do, and then try to convey some aspect of that in the product I deliver. That's what keeps me coming back for more, and that's also what led me to say yes when I got a strange text message late Friday night...


Ashley's aunt Stephanie happened to see a Facebook post from her friend Toni who, in a panic, was trying to help her friend Keisha track down a photographer who could shoot her sunrise wedding the next morning. Apparently her photographer bailed/went MIA(??) at the last minute and left Keisha in a bad situation.

But luckily, through the magic of Facebook and strong social networks, she got my number and we were able to fill-in at the eleventh hour.

While weddings in general can be stressful and highly regimented, this one was neither. We arrived bright and early (actually, it was still pretty dark upon arrival...), found a little spot on the sand near the pier and all of a sudden, we were having a wedding.

And it was magical in every way. 

This experience was wild and was an awesome reminder that people are good and friends are everywhere. Do good. Be kind. Make a friend. Blessings will flow.

Danny Rasmussen
Museum of Ice Cream Tour + Photos | The Rasmussens

(scroll for photos!)

Three years in and going strong! You know when Ashley plans our anniversary because it's fun and beautiful and memorable. This year, we went to the Museum of Ice Cream in Los Angeles which I learned is a really, freaking cool place.

When I think of museum tours, I thought of old paintings or skeletal findings from archaeological digs or those audio tour sticks you hold up to your ear to figure out what's going on. Most museums are in large dark buildings with high ceilings and a general tenor of reverence and wonder.

Well the Museum of Ice Cream bucks those trends in every way. It's loud, bright, bold, fun, vivacious, playful and interactive. The staff dressed in their pale pink uniforms are without exception the type of people you want to hang out with.

The Rooms

Each room booms with the stuff that makes life fun and together provide an experience that inevitably leads to smiles. The tour flowed as follows:

  • Welcome Room
  • Scream for Ice Cream Telephone Room
  • Strawberry + Vine
  • The Banana Room
  • The Mint Chip Room
  • The Sherbet Room
  • The Popsicle Room
  • The Gummy Bear Room
  • The Charcoal Ice Cream Room
  • The Indoor Sprinkle Pool
  • The Breakfast Ice Cream Room
  • Gift Shop


While I loved just about everything about this place, here are some of the highlights.

The Mint Chip Room

In the Mint Chip room you not only get to see real mint growing in real chocolate (well, cacao beans/chips) but you also get a sample of this mint chip mochi that is out of this world good. Thankfully the lady behind us didn't want hers so I got the hookup.

The Gummy Bear Room

For me, this is where the party turned up a notch. They blast the music in the Gummy Bear Room (but thankfully it's not that Gummy Bear song with a billion YouTube views...), give you a handful of gummies and make it a party. Plus, who doesn't love gummy bears?

The Sprinkle Pool

The Mike Trout of attractions at this place, the Sprinkle Pool simply can't be missed. It's weird, and bright, and just pure happiness. PSA: You will come home with sprinkles in places you didn't think the sprinkles could find. Just the other day I put on a pair of shoes that I didn't even wear to the MOIC, and found a green plastic sprinkle inside. Sorcery...

The Breakfast Pancake Ice Cream Sandwich

My feelings about this final treat on the tour can be summed up by this Homer Simpson GIF. I still have dreams about that sandwich.



Danny Rasmussen
The Pumpkin Carving Personality Test | Family Home Evening

It rarely rains in Southern California these days, but the clouds gathered just in time for our annual pumpkin carving and fall soup Family Home Evening session with the Hansens. Chrissy decked out the dining room table with a diverse array of pumpkins, a legitimately creepy candelabra and a halloween-themed spread. The dimmed lighting, stormy weather and killer halloween Kidz Bop playlist made it actually feel like halloween. 

There might be something to the idea that the way you carve/decorate your pumpkin is somehow a reflection of your personality. For instance:

 I will write-in Mitt Romney in every election through the end of time in protest of the tragedy of 2012.

I will write-in Mitt Romney in every election through the end of time in protest of the tragedy of 2012.

  • Naomi was calm, deliberate and thorough as she methodically painted her pumpkin
  • Grant vacillated between wildly splattering paint around his (and others') pumpkins and meticulously coloring his
  • Gideon eagerly chose the most difficult carving pattern and handed off the tool to his dad to execute
  • Luke, unsurprisingly, couldn't say no to Gideon
  • Ashley helped everyone make theirs prettier and kept the peace
  • Chrissy made the fanciest pumpkin and got the party started with the playlist
  • Mack stabbed the pumpkins and got paint all over the room.

That tells you a lot about our family.

Of course, I didn't carve any pumpkins since I peaked back in Fall of 2014 when I carved my pièce de résistance: Mitt Forever (pictured). That, and my OCD acts up when the pumpkin slime hits my hands. But I'll take the photos.

One final note. I picked up my costume-that-shall-not-be-named in preparation for Monday, though you can catch a teaser at the bottom of the post...

Some metaphors on self-confidence

1. The bathtub

Takes forever to fill up, but as soon as you pull the plug, it’s gone. And it leaves a nasty residue. Scrub, rinse, plug it up and turn it back on.

2. The balloon

One pin prick in the right spot and BOOM. Down it goes. Back to the pump again. The first breath is the hardest. From there it’s more about sustained effort. Once you get it ready to show off, avoid cacti or kids with safety pins.

3. The tire

Under-pressurize and you lose your grip; over-pressurize and the tire blows. Keep it chill in the sweet pressure level—don’t under do it, but don’t pump yourself up and be in danger of blowing out.

4. The souffle

The delicate dessert when done just right—when the conditions are optimized and in the hands of a master chef—is second to none. Miss one thing and POOF! It collapses.

5. The transmission

Shifting gears when going up hill isn’t easy, and if you’re in too high a gear as you approach one, you’re bound to flounder. Stay in a low gear while ascending, don’t let the extra time it takes to do it right get you down.

President Donald Trump Would Be an Unmitigated Disaster for Literally Everyone
Donald the clownish, unserious candidate / foil to Jeb! = funny
Donald the GOP frontrunner = not funny
Donald the President-elect = buy fire insurance

For the sake of our future children, I hope it never comes to that because electing Donald Trump would make America—the greatest social endeavor in human history—into nothing more than a tawdry, tired joke.

Are any of the other candidates any better? Yes, in at least one sense: each of them holds at least some modicum of dignity for the Office and reverence for what America ought to stand for in the world. Donald has none of that. He has an ego the size of Jupiter and proven track record of brutal abuses of the "little guy" he claims to be championing. At the very least, all of the other candidates would bring a degree of soberness to what ought to be the most serious of responsibilities. The American Presidency is better than Donald Trump. But if we can't see that, the joke's on us.

Donald fans who persist are the political equivalent of the guy who always takes the joke too far, who lacks the tact to know that there's a line that for the good of everyone around just shouldn't be crossed. 

It's time for the joke to end. Don't be that guy.

Still unsure? Read this from the not hyperbolic Charles C. W. Cooke:  

How, one wonders, will future generations look back at this behavior [of conservatives allowing Trump to hijack conservatism]? How will they comprehend that at the end of February 2016 under 10 percent of all super PAC spending had been trained on Donald Trump? How will they see John Kasich’s admission that he doesn’t know if he should even be president, or process that Ben Carson put the construction of his own political shopping network above the country he supposedly loved? And what will they make of the fact that Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio wasted so much time pretending that they meaningfully disagreed with each other? Now is the time to throw everything at Trump, and to stop this disaster in its tracks. Will our children wonder why we were so reluctant?
Tomorrow night, as they stand on either side of Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz must find their resolve and all-but-machine-gun the man to the floor. Incidentally, when I say “everything,” I really do mean everything. Tomorrow night, as they stand on either side of Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz must find their resolve and all-but-machine-gun the man to the floor. Without breaks for water or silence for applause, they must explain that Trump is an entitled mess whose business record is so questionable that he managed to bankrupt a casino; that he is an unashamed fraud who didn’t even wait to be elected president before folding on Planned Parenthood and Obamacare, exactly like the “feckless” Congress he is running against; that he is feigning religiosity to appeal to people he believes are rubes; and, above all, that whatever he may be pretending now, he has spent a lifetime screwing the little guy. They must repeat verbatim his previous words on amnesty; they must outline in detail how his policies will make life worse for everyone; and they must point out that a Trump nomination designed to “mix things up” will result, eventually, in more of the same.
Why the New LDS Policy Change Is Actually Pro-gay Family

When my wife and I first saw the Washington Post’s salacious headline last night claiming the “Mormon Church makes same-sex couples apostates, excludes children from blessings and baptism,” we looked at each other in horror.

We went to Facebook and saw similar sentiments from other faithful Mormons lamenting what appeared to be another dagger to the hearts of our already suffering LGBT brothers and sisters.

We didn’t want to believe that we would be part of such a cruel and exclusionary organization. 

And thankfully we aren’t. 

As we take a deeper look at the implications of the LDS Church’s policy change, we see that the Post’s headline does not even begin to tell the whole story.

The leaders of the Mormon Church are not villains. This policy is not as heartless as the headlines make it out to be. 

In fact, the policies in question not only protect the interests of the Church (as you would expect any policy to do), but actually serve to protect the interest of the families of same-sex married couples.

Think about this idea for a second.

To understand the policy change, you must first understand the foundational truth of Mormonism: that families are at the very center of God’s whole plan for us. Everything else revolves around the divine model of the family. Put in simple terms, the teaching looks like this:

Heavenly Father + Heavenly Mother produce and tenderly instruct their children to grow up to become like them

In life, we feebly attempt to follow this model. We grow up in homes with flawed, imperfect parents who pass-on their flawed, imperfect ways to us, hoping they didn’t mess us up too bad. Then we go on, still as fallible humans who, with the help of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, might have the hope to not repeat history. But—let’s face it—it’s inevitable. We’re pretty weak.

Despite these imperfections, the home serves as the primary means and model through which little humans learn how to not only become healthy adult humans, but also to become like God. The Church of Jesus Christ is here to support families in their efforts to do exactly this—to teach us the values and principles that, if applied, will help us overcome all of our many human weaknesses to become more like our Savior. The family is everything.

Nothing comes before family—no matter its form

Children are best reared in a loving, unifying environment. There, they can learn and grow and come to understand how to make decisions for themselves. Parents are the ultimate teachers in this process. The Church is always subordinate to families—even to non-traditional families!—and always takes a supportive role. In economic terms, the Church and families are complements, not substitutes. 

Ideally, the critical moral education for children occurs in the home as parents lead their children in family prayer, scripture study, meaningful service, family home evenings, etc. Each of these activities is designed to help children learn the principles that, when applied, result in real, meaningful happiness. All the Church programs are designed to reinforce this spiritual education.

This is precisely why this policy change is consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ. It puts families—specifically the parent-child relationship—above the earthly administrative body of the Kingdom of God.  

Everyone avoids any perceived “custody battles”

Divorces are always ugly and sadly the ones who often pay the heaviest price are the children. The tug-of-war between the parents leaves emotional wounds that some never quite recover from.

The divergent values of LDS theology and same-sex marriage are not changing any time soon and will thus continue to be a source of pain, not only for the children of same-sex couples who choose to pursue Mormonism and their parents, but to all of us who love them. 

The outpouring of pain and confusion and love for those who have to personally grapple with these matters, leaves all of us wanting to help lighten our brothers and sisters heavy loads, not add to the burden. 

With this policy, the Church, understanding the supremacy of the family, defers to the parents and by so doing preempts any potential “custody battle” between the primary caregiver (the parents) and the outside support system (the Church). 

Again, this is a good thing for the families of same-sex marriages and all of us who love them.

Lets Children Be Children

Children today are forced to grow up way too fast. The formative years of a child’s life should be defended not just because of the significant impact it has on the child’s longterm psychological development, but more importantly because those years can—and should!—be some of the happiest of our lives. 

The new policy encourages the children of same-sex married couples to walk the journey of life at their own pace.

All life is is us choosing every day to walk toward the light. Each day we do this, that light will grow a little brighter. We keep doing that and eventually we’ll all get there. 

But life is very long, and eternity is even longer. Mormon doctrine reminds us that the long arc of life extends well beyond the constraints of birth and death and that because of that, we will each have the chance to enjoy eternity. We’ll all get there.

Let’s not rob kids of those precious years by forcing children to grapple with emotionally-taxing values/doctrinal divides between his/her own mortal parent’s and LDS doctrine before they are ready and mature enough to handle such a struggle. 

For goodness sake, it’s hard enough for us “grown-ups!”

Of all the issues Mormons face with making sense of Mormonism in the context of modernity, perhaps none is as painful as the Church’s teachings on homosexuality. We see our gay brothers and sisters face overwhelming struggles reconciling their identity, orientation, and biology with Mormon theology amidst vocal pro-gay messaging and unyielding pro-traditional marriage and relationships messaging from the Church. 

For children of parents who have gone through this wrenching experience, the struggle will continue. They will be uniquely exposed to the hardest of those questions to grapple with them before they make serious covenants or family-altering (dividing?) decisions about becoming Mormon.

Protects Children from Unwise Local LDS Leaders

So what would happen if the Church did allow the children of SSM couples to be baptized at age 8? 

Ward Council members would actively encourage children to attend primary and church meetings in preparation to be baptized. Here, they would learn materials that directly conflict with the teachings they were raised with and had modeled for them in their own homes. Having friends, local church leaders, etc. actively lobbying young, impressionable children to jump aboard the Old Ship Zion and renounce their parent’s lifestyle before really understanding what that entails seems distinctly anti-Christian. 

Understanding this minefield, the Church is wise to put a policy in place that protects same-sex married families from the whims of local lay leadership. 

I would much rather have Presidents Monson, Eyring and Uchtdorf consult with the Lord on whether or not the child of a same-sex couple be baptized before age 18 than a new, inexperienced bishop, bless his heart. 

Allows the Church Be True to Their Standards

The Church’s teachings on marriage are not part of a throw-away doctrine. It’s crystal clear that “marriage is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children” and that that truth isn’t about to change in Mormonism.

The policy reinforces the Church’s beliefs while respecting the boundaries of the same-sex parents.

Why it matters

The division between progressive sexual mores and the teachings and doctrine of the LDS Church seems to grow wider every day. The Church has made and continues to build bridges where possible to enable gay members of the Church, their loved ones and all others to navigate the chasm. 

While policies like these appear to be, at best restricting or cruel at worst, they in practice actually help protect the interests of all parties involved. 

One always-thoughtful LDS friend of mine put it this way: 

I feel comfortable assuming this policy was well-intentioned. Not because I’m a Pollyanna, but because it actually seems like the most likely explanation. Put this in context with Elder Holland’s talk and Elder Oaks speech on Kim Davis, it seems a particularly odd time to retrench through an intentionally hurtful policy. It also seems unlikely that the motivation behind this was *merely* to draw a moral line in the sand, considering how this policy is of a piece with the other policies we have that render the church subordinate to families (parental consent to baptism, spousal consent to baptism, etc.)

We have a long way to go in healing the wounds around this issue, but the policy change as  articulated in the new Handbook 1 is likely our best hope of raising the happy, well-adjusted children of the next generation who will help sort it all out down the road. 

One final thought. 

Someday we will all understand 

I picture the day when each of us will return to the presence of our loving Heavenly Parents and Jesus Christ, each will embrace us and in that embrace, melt away all the pain and sorrow and anguish we had to bear here on this earth. We will understand with perfect brightness the errors of our ways, the folly of our selves and our fellow humans and finally comprehend the magnitude of the ineffable grace of a Savior who never, ever gives up on us.

Of course, Jesus Christ is the answer. So let’s do our best to emulate His perfect example and give our brothers and sisters who have different perspectives the benefit of the doubt.


The new Church policy requiring the children of same-sex marriages to forswear same-sex marriage, no longer live in the same house as their parents, and … is actually a big win for gay families. 

1. Same-sex married couples can trust that their child will not have to prematurely choose between them and the LDS Church.

2. Children of same-sex couples can enjoy their childhood years without being stuck in a tumultuous moral custody battle.

3. The Church maintains its policy that it’s role is always supportive to the family unit and protects itself from getting in the middle of things.

Great Things

"All I want is the chance to do something great." - Chicken Little

I've been afraid of this blog for a long time. 


The idea of actually putting my thoughts out into the universe is downright terrifying.

When said out-loud, the reasons are silly. I'm afraid people will confront me argumentatively. I'm afraid I will not be able to give a satisfactory answer to someone who disagrees with my take. I'm afraid that people will hate on my writing and thus delegitimize my English degree or my three years as a writing tutor at BYU. 

Maybe most of all, I'm afraid to fail again. To have this blog fall into disrepair and someone down the road will stumble upon it, laugh and point out to me how--once again--another one of Danny's crazy ideas flopped before it could even take-off.

People can be cruel, but none is more cruel than I am to myself (a truth that my wife, my therapist and those closest to me are kindly helping me to overcome). It's amazing, actually, how ruthlessly I can tear apart anything that I do as worthless and a complete failure, and in the same breath genuinely laud even the most meager accomplishments of others. I'm hoping that somewhere in this writing exercise, I can develop a little more self-love in an attempt to manage that voice.

That said, I'm not naive. Trolls are gonna troll, especially on controversial (i.e. interesting) material. But I know that they don't matter, even if they are fomenting the caustic inner voice tearing apart my insides. I still believe that the goodness of fellow humans always wins out and that in all likelihood, there will be people who actually enjoy reading what I have to say and share here-and-there.

Of one thing I am sure: if I never put myself out there, I am guaranteed to lose. By doing nothing, I will guarantee the very fate I most fear: failure. 

So this is my attempt to connect--to be heard and to listen, to put myself out there in ways that make my little palms sweat and cause my stomach to sink in terror. 

I'm not sure what you can expect from this blog. I have no idea how regularly I'll be posting, nor can I say for sure what the content will be. There is a good chance it is filled with everything from rants about my quasi-abusive relationship with the Angels (Mike Trout, excepted of course) to my reactions to the latest political happenings to ruminations on eternity and The Bachelorette.

I guess we'll find out.

Danny Rasmussen