SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The next time you visit Sunset Cliffs or the beach in that area, you might see a local man who loves to take spectacular scenic photos. But that's not all he takes pictures of.
Chris Mannerino describes something that recently struck him. “The sun had just come out from a cloud and this golden light hit the bride in her white dress there.”
The way Chris saw a bride and groom on that day is how he sees the world, bathed in light, color and beauty. “There were birds flying all around them and it was really neat to frame them in the shot.”
Chris took photos of the bride and groom he just happened to notice on Sunset Cliffs as he prepared to shoot the sunset. The couple was there with a wedding photographer, but Chris can't resist when he sees something special. “I just see a memory that I can create for them and they can hold on to and who doesn't want a nice picture taken of them.”
This isn't the first time he's done something like this. Chris estimates he's taken and given photos free of charge to almost 100 families over the years, and he's not a professional photographer. He's a realtor.
Chris says, “For me my main job feeds my family, this feeds my soul.”
He says he has resisted turning it into a business. “For me it's just a nice, fun hobby that brings me a lot of joy and I'm glad that it brings others joy as well.”
It started five years ago so he could learn to take real estate listing photos himself. But then, the practical became a passion. His breathtaking oceanscapes are inspired by his love for San Diego. His photos of people he doesn't know, inspired by something more poignant.
Chris says years ago his wife met a photographer on a plane. That photographer offered to take photos of Chris and his family after she learned he and his wife Carmen had lost their newborn son to congenital complications at 19 days.
“I still have them 20 years later hanging up in our house,” Chris says, “so that kind of stuck with me to pay it forward, in that sense as well, because I appreciate it so much, I knew others would as well.”
He says everyone is grateful for the otherwise fleeting moments he captures. “The pictures I have on my camera, what am I going to do with it. I'd rather bless somebody else with it and kind of make their day.”
Chris says, “I don't think about anything else except being in the moment, and actually gratitude for seeing what I'm witnessing on a daily basis.”
Chris says he and his business partners put out a calendar of his photos every year and deliver them free to every home in Point Loma. He says the response has been so positive, people across the country are buying them and he donates the proceeds to the local Ryan Family YMCA.