Dear Loved Ones,

( a letter written to family and friends back in February)

As some of you may know, my father has been experiencing stiffness in his right leg. The symptoms were similar to something he had around twenty years ago. After falling twice, first while walking the dog, second inside our home, he was confined to bed rest due to painful spasms that overtook his body. The medicine that helped so long ago, was not as effective as we’d hoped. On January 26, my parents decided to admit him to urgent care.

IMG_0684 (2)There, it was discovered that he’d lost half of his blood supply over the course of the last few months. After being transferred to the ER later that day – X rays showed a fracture in his femur. It had occurred more recently than either fall, we were told, perhaps even while he was being treated at urgent care. My dad was given four blood transfusions in those first couple days and since he’s been admitted to the hospital, the number is closer to fifteen. There have also been lots of tests, scans and procedures. At first there was talk of a metal hip replacement, then eventually a possible amputation.

IMG_0695 (2)At the end of last week we were told the biopsy results came positive for angiosarcoma; an aggressive form of cancer resistant to chemotherapy and radiation. After an internet search, I found that there may be a connection between angiosarcoma and the arsenic water + pesticides that my family was exposed to while we lived in Central California.

IMG_0689 (2)My mom has been at father’s bedside every single day. She prays for him, watches out for him and cheers him on all while somehow maintaining her work schedule. She is also thankful, as am I, for your prayers, support and visits during this difficult time.

IMG_0700 (2)At this moment, my dad is undergoing a surgery that is expected to last 6.5 hours. The doctors will be removing the affected area. Amputation is still a possibility depending on what is found. My dad is nervous about the procedure but we are rooting for him and hoping for a swift recovery.

IMG_0686 (2)

Please keep him in your prayers. Thanks!

Sincerely,

JQ

 

UPDATE:

My dad ended up getting a hemipelvectomy, which is an amputation that includes the lower pelvic region. They removed a large tumor and declared him cancer free at the time of the surgery. It was amazing to see how quickly the procedure benefited him. He no longer had high fevers, the pain was manageable and there was no longer a need for blood transfusions. He had twenty two in all!

Recovery took a little longer than expected – mainly in the strength  gaining department. He was initially frustrated in  having to relearn tasks as mundane as walking, however, my family and I are super excited that he is finally able to get around when for months he was confined to a bed.

He came home about two weeks ago and although he is doing remarkably well, several things have come up. The most crucial is that he developed an infection within the incision while he was in rehab. Personally, I feel that not enough was done to get rid of it initially. If it is not gone within two weeks, he will need surgery again.

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Project [abitazione]

“So we are looking at this area, and this guy comes out with a machete and a bowl of cereal.”

“What? I thought it was just a bowl of cereal.”

“Nope – he also had a machete.” And thus goes the story of how we met our first contact.

  • Location of Interest: a property simply known as “Joe Joe’s Camp” on Google maps 
  • Project Goal: create a living room setting outdoors
  • Estimated Duration: three days
  • Anticipated Cost: $300

COUCH ProjectButterfly BreakThree weeks later, I stood under the trees with my guy friends. Armed with yellow gloves and pink for myself, we stared at the tires, shopping carts, candy wrappers and Bratz dolls littering  the ground. Clearly, this had meant home to somebody and the thought of it was disheartening.

The further we got, though- the darker items became. Bio hazardous waste, stolen goods, records of criminal activity and the worst-  a graphic message  written on two halves of paper with the words “Dear visitor, please read”…

CleanUp CrewWe piled as much as we could away from the center; there weren’t enough bags to scoop it up, there wasn’t enough daylight to try. Thankfully, the spot where I wanted to set up was void of rubbish. The rest of it we would just have to deal with… at five forty-five in the morning.

At that time, various living room props were brought and set up at Joe Joe’s camp. They’d been acquired from all sorts of different places. The first was a vintage television collected from a neighbor’s yard. It was this item that I’d centered the vision for Project [abitazione]. The boat, lamp and memory box were borrowed from friends’ storage units. The couch and typewriter came from the local RE:Live Thrift.
Couch (1280x954)

We met up with our model later that morning. She prepared for the shoot on location with a floor length mirror  we’d provided. Originally there would have been a professional hair and makeup person available but do to a miscommunication, the model and I did our best to recreate the look ourselves. There were a couple issues trying to reflect light into the space, but after bit, we kinda figured it out. Lacking the 5 in 1 reflector, we used  the  mirror instead.

IMG_0207bWe tried to portray two story lines within the project, the first being a pensive  writer  and the latter being more of an army wife longing to hear from her loved one. I incorporated the writing theme due to the model being a creative story writer herself. We actually met during a screenwriting class and I felt that adding her personality into the shoot really brought the images to life.

After the shoot, the most important props were gathered. I started putting up crime scene tape around the furniture but was reprimanded by one of the assistants. Ended up stuffing it in the memory box which was hidden next to the TV. My point with the tape was supposed to ward off people from messing up the set. Anyways, we were gone for a few hours and upon returning – the memory box was gone. The rest of the set remained untouched.

There were more people available for the second half of the project. A local business was using the set for an advertisement project. They ran electricity through and having a working living room lamp to challenge the night was the coolest thing ever! The rest of the evening was a blitz of filming for the advertisement and doing doughnuts in the dirt lot.
Butterfly BreakThe final day, furniture was returned to storage units and thrift store. Afterwords, the guys and I stared at the mess as it dared us. We spent several more hours loading bags, tires and broken things onto the truck. These were turned in at a local dump.

In the end, one of the locals came by. He explained that our first contact was no longer in the area. We also found out more information about those who used to live where we’d just cleaned up. It was a relief to find out that there where no children involved despite the toys that had been left behind. Our second contact and his dog moved in that afternoon.

Couch Project (3)

Later that day my dad asked  “was it worth it?”  It took a while before I could say “I’m not sure”. For a long time, I was under the impression that the project had failed. Didn’t even edit the photos until months later when the model asked to use them as Christmas pictures. It’s it’s been over a year now; enough time to reflect on the outcome.

Initially, the project was supposed to kill two or three birds with one stone, so to speak.  Not only was it creative portraiture but also a set for the local business’ advertisement and a community service with the clean up and all. It was not an overzealous goal but I was disappointed that our efforts where not as organized and impactful as desired. The final cost totaled several hundred dollars. The rental of the U-Haul  alone was enough to enduce a mini heart attack. Although the project was mostly sponsored, I’m troubled over the costs involved and whether or not the pictures alone where worth that amount. An investment of some sort would have have been nice but I haven’t figured out how to do that sort of thing yet.

The editing process did bring bit of contentment. The images are not bad at all but they left me wanting more; a series of pictures depicting, a kitchen, a bathroom, a bed room in the great outdoors. They also left me wondering how it could be done again in a more productive and organized matter.

-sigh-

 

Photography by:
JACQUIE ROBINSON
Model:
Victoria Shavlik
Onsite Assistance:
Erwin Ferguson
Paul Marovitch
–Special Thanks to —
PC Place & Re:Live Thrift for the set design.
Onsite Contacts: Keith & Justin
and
Hannah Kahrs, Brisa Ibarra & Leroy Lima for their time spent on this project.

Abstract Love

"Out of all the fish in the sea…" 🐟🐠🐟 #grammasters3

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Pictures of couples are a tricky thing. Those in them are usually in such a hurry to share with social media that little thought goes towards potential consequences. Think about that awkward Myspace phase in which teenagers kept posting closeup pictures of themselves french kissing. That was embarrassing right? Well so is the moment a Facebook user is caught ‘not in a relationship’ because they and their ex-muse have impulsively untagged all significant pictures between them. It’s the absolute tattle tale sign of the end. The end of couple spam and the beginning of unsolicited private messages requesting the latest gossip. Am I right?

"…I've found someone to share coffee with me!" #justkidding #nocoffee #redcups

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As a photographer, my distrust for couple pictures developed from a high school neighbor who requested portraits. I underestimated her chronic bad luck boyfriend syndrome. A couple check marks on the calendar and I was introduced to a new guy, another portrait request in hand. The amount of time and effort put into the first set of images was upsetting, especially because it was done at no cost.

This experience lead me to believe that couples, especially the younger ones, often post pictures of themselves for the wrong reasons. They may want to prematurely validate their relationship, make others jealous of their adventures, post private thoughts directed at each other…etc. Of course, if the couple terminates their relationship – the images risk disappearing. Alternatively, they may stay through multiple relationships as timeline of past conquests. Both scenarios risk causing turmoil among respective friend groups.

As photographer, it may sound a bit weird but I crave the privacy of keeping certain memories to myself. With my current boyfriend, I’m always tempted to upload pictures of us on Instagram. However, if something were to go wrong, I don’t want to look through my feed and see painful reminders. Instead I want to look back at memories that I’m proud of did I don’t mind having lived. That’s why when we started dating I started taking pictures of little things that put us as a couple but not in a big extravagant sort of way.

There’s a lot of people who post intimate pictures of themselves and their significant other, but imagine when they break up… would it be best to delete everything or to keep it for the record? What kind of reaction will the images cause amongst oneself, friends and family? Was it worth the instant gratification and the amount of likes that you got for the first 24 hours after posting? That’s definitely something to think about before posting.

Light show 🔦 before the storm ☁ #optoutside

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Faces of Omar

Met up with Omar at a local coffee shop downtown. It was nerve-racking because this was my first time meeting up with a stranger at a public venue. We’d been initially introduced via phone by a mutual friend, so it wasn’t completely random… but still a first.IMG_2267

Our friend wanted us to met up because Omar needed head shots and I wanted to learn more about Middle Eastern culture. Having lived in various of these countries, Omar provided me with insight that one could seldom find online.

Then it was picture time

 

Since Omar needed to evoke various emotions within the head shots, I used a technique from film school. Essentially,  the model is thrown into a mental scenario and their emotional response is captured on camera. Interactions with the model depend on what kinds of results are needed. Depending on how much is known about the subject or how they feel about certain things, situations can be mentioned to trigger the required mindset. For example, if the photographer knows that the model is dying to visit Hawaii, the photographer needs to describe  sun, sand, waves…. and have the model imagen themselves sun bathing, surfing, ect. This would trigger the model to appear genuinely content during the next couple shots.

However, it is important that the model understands what the photographer is doing. Once, I needed a somber expression and the model was not cutting it. I pretended to receive a text from the model’s sibling that their dog had runaway and been hit by a car. Let’s just say that although the shots turned out, they refused to speak to me for the rest of the week.

Anyways, I explained my technique to Omar after he told me what kinds of photos were required. After a couple shots, we would compare facial expressions and converse over the emotion that these may convey to the audience.

Though it came naturally to him, Omar was very much aware of his facial positioning throughout the shoot. Because of this project, I have come to pay closer attention to models expressons and what these convay.

Set Fire to the Brain

OriginalTheir comments flow freely through the feeds of many photographers. These being thoughts and critiques from those who believe that photography’s brilliance is limited to it’s original exposure; straight  from the camera if you will. They say that an image is otherwise ruined when it no longer represents the truth of the situation in which the photograph was taken. Essentially that the image is a fib… a misrepresentation of reality, thus defeating the purpose of capturing a moment.

Photography is an art in which everyone has the right to defend their preferences, and within this post, I will defend mine.

This is the thing; I’m an artist. My art is a reflection of me, my feelings, imagination and innovation. It’s a self prescribed therapy, more beneficial to the artist than the viewer. A chance to explore areas that cannot be audibly spoken.

When taking a picture, I don’t just see what’s before me. There’s always potential for mood change; different lighting, maybe even a different time of day. I love manipulating sun flares, dotting the sky with stars, and these are just a few of my favorite things. Sometimes one can also get carried away with butterfly wings and dragon spells. It’s all part of the adventure.

To that individual who claims to appreciate my photographic skill but also spends ample time criticizing technique if they find that the photo of their interest has been post processed – maybe you should look into finding other photographers that suit your visual needs.

I will set my creativity in a roaring fire and it will burn for as long as I desire. Set Fire to the Brain

Blog Signiture

Ode to Mami

(Featuring pictures I took for Mother’s Day)

Mami

Hands soft with a touch so tender,

head held high with a sunrise gaze,

of another woman, I couldn’t be fonder,

for it is her who leads me through the haze.

Dress Up

Dressup.jpgShe needed to get her portraits done and when her mom gave me the liberty to choose a theme, my little cousin and I went to the drawing board. Being a tomboy, she automatically went for the gun and camo theme. Although at least an evening was spent deciding on the type of combat boots and belt – we ultimately decided to go with the ‘white dress’ idea.

That’s where everyone started getting carried away. Now we weren’t just tossing options from our closets into a pile of ‘maybes’ in the corner. My little cousin and I were literally running down the aisles of thrift stores in gossamer wedding gowns, testing to see which would flow better in the wind.

Location of choice? That was another problem. We started with Joshua tree and were suddenly plotting to sneak out of state.
IMG_20151023_141517“So, Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Zion, Vegas and then back home – all in one weekend?” the fifteen-year-old texted.

“Do you think we can do it?”

It was a mess. A hot mess. My cousin and I had spent the majority of an afternoon coming up with an insane road trip adventure. Four states, three national parks and one night at the Entertainment Capital of the World. All we had to do was convince the driver and our parents that it was a plausible itinerary.  But even when there was success with the driver and somewhat with the parents –  we had yet to convince ourselves that the planning and financials of the trip where sound. In the end, we stuck with the original plan of going to Joshua tree.

Joshua Tree

So, how did that go? Well, I spent the majority of my Friday evening laying on rocks, watching the stars graze the earth and wondering where my little cousin was. She, meanwhile was in Big Bear with the second half of the group. They didn’t arrive until the sun peeked over the horizon.

Breakfast was sizzling back at camp when the girls and I snuck away. We walked by families still sleeping in their tents, crossed past rock climbers adjusting their harnesses and even came upon a camp with a lingering sent of cannibals. The repulsively large clown statue in the center of their encampment encouraged us on our way until there was nothing left but an empty desert field.

This was the result:

Lighting was a bit of a challenge, but with a reflector in hand, the images came out decently.

Butterfly Break

After the pictures, my friends and I went climbing, and on to enjoy the rest of the park.11028351_10205817098690534_7699403564599388923_nBlog Signiture

Memories of Last Year’s San Diego Fashion Week

Hours were spent at the mall trying to find the perfect outfits… and finally it was paying off. Karen and I were headed to FWSD! Anticipation was building; this was my first non-REVO runway event.

Once there, Karen and I met up with fashionista Heidi and photographer Samantha Lyn. S.Lyn and I compared lenses and cameras. Even though we carried different brands, they were comparable in format. This was a relief to us both since the other photographers at the event seemed to prefer telephotos and heftier models.

(From left to right: Samantha, Karen, Me and Heidi)

SDFW Group PicsWe walked through the booths before the show. The variety presented at the event was a bit surprising for my inexperienced self. Of course, I was looking forward to meeting designers, maybe even getting makeovers… but admiring an art gallery, then glancing at lingerie was something I hadn’t expected.

How similar to a REVO show it was all was after all; the booths, activities, drinks and everything inbetween.
SDFW

AND THEN, THE SHOW BEGUN:

1 2 3 4 6S.Lyn and I avoided the press box from the start. It was crowded with zealous photographers shoving  massive equipment onto each other. Instead we opt to capture the outfits from a slight angle. I wasn’t able to capture every single design, but over all it was a fun experience.

I don’t know when I’ll have another chance to visit a fashion show, but hopefully that will be sometime soon!

Confessional

As Written in 2014, While I Lived in France:
Our visit to Château De Chillon along Lac Léman proved to be quite amusing. Guess we’ve been visiting a lot of castles lately.  It’s the same routine every time. Everyone goes in at once. We are handed these little audio tour guides and spend a couple of hours crossing off the numbers on the brochure.  Not gonna lie – it’s gotten a little old.  Confessionala (1280x851)But what happened at Château De Chillon was a little different.

Grace walked over to the ancient structure dominating the room. She stroked it gingerly as the rest of us gathered to observe.

“This pole,” she stated as a matter of fact,”is older than our country.”

A very confused little British boy stepped out from behind. We couldn’t control the laughter. It’s true though, the US is younger than most the architecture anywhere out here.

As we continued on with our self guided tour, Grace, Collin and Mackenzie took turns recounting some very imaginative accounts of the castle’s history. At one point, a crowd of strangers gathered around Grace as she described how the castle’s pet dragon used the fireplace to roast it’s food… thinking she was a legit tour guide, the others blinked in disbelief before chuckling as the act became less convincing.

So anyways, that’s how we passed the time at Château De Chillon. Here is a video my friend Grace made on the experience:

* I started writing this post two years ago and am now using it as back up since I’m currently stuck in a blizzard in Utah 😛

Blog Signiture

Mountain Selfie Addicts

It’s no secret; social media nurtures an obsession with images of one’s self. It’s contagious and while evidence shows an increase in narcissism and mental disorders, selfies are unlikely to go away for a very long time. If you can’t beat them, join them, right?

Bad Selfie Game

make the most of your Outdoor selfie game
  • -PREPLAN your shots-

If you are familiar with the itinerary, make a quick list of the types of pictures you would like to accomplish throughout. Let others in on your intentions so that they won’t be completely horrified when say, you show up to a hike wearing a wedding dress or an astronaut suit.

  • -Have someone else pull the trigger-

If there are other photographers in your crew, or otherwise decent picture takers, have them take the shot. Yes, selfie is short for ‘self portrait’ but unless you are equipped with a tripod, your buddy might get a better picture in a decent amount of time.

  • -Don’t get carried away posing-

If you are new at something, for example rock climbing, don’t climb up a rock without a rope and stretch your leg way up in the air towards an invisible hold. Those who rock climb on a regular basis will see through the ignorance. This applies to any other sport or hobby.

  • -Put your camera away after a designated period of time-

If you plan to take landscapes, keep your lens out. If you were only interested in getting shots of yourself and your friends in certain compositions, but it away when you are done. Nature is best enjoyed live, without the distraction on a tiny screen featuring an imperfect copy.

Blog Signiture

Trading Game

Photoshoots aren’t always in exchange for green dollar bills. Sometimes the trade is model’s time for prints.  Other times, my photo buddies trade photoshoots. It’s a ‘you shoot me, I shoot you’ sort of a deal. We both get our pictures taken, everyone is content. Social media gets spammed. Then there are occasions where it’s far more unique.

One time I traded headshots for a plane ride. He was a pilot who pursued acting on the side. I think this was by far my best trade – but it’s also one that never got fulfilled due to stormy weather. Another one that didn’t get sealed was a dinner at a fancy restaurant in St. Helena. I was hospitalized the week we were supposed to do it. That person now lives in a foreign country.

Lunch are dinner are actually fairly common in addition to the monetary amount. Sometimes it’s ice cream from à la minute, other times a picnic or dinner at an Indian restaurant. It’s fun to hang out with the people who become subjects in future projects. It’s great to get to know them and plan on who their personalities will shine best on film… fine… maybe Facebook.

There have been trips too. One to Napa, and another for a camping trip in Mexico which gave me a pretty awesome cover photo. May not have been the most glamourous ordeal, but it was definitely a lot of fun.

Sometimes the agreement involves props onset. Typewriter borrowed from a thrift store in exchange for exposure. A U-haul truck and furniture for a customized film shoot after pictures were taken. A flower crown that would have otherwise cost $78… the list goes on.ContrastIn a recent photoshoot, I asked the model if he could help me with Arabic. After the pictures were taken, we sat around a library table. He provided the Arabic book he had learned on as well as journal pages from a stay in Egypt.

After he had gone, a fellow patron asked if the model was a French tutor.

“No,” I responded, “he was actually helping me with Arabic. We both just happen to speak French.”

Butterfly Break

You just never know what kinds of cool things you might end up acquiring as a photographer.

Blog Signiture

Royalty on the Staircase

Some time ago, Abbee asked me to do her Senior portraits. I was thrilled, especially after learning that she would be wearing a traditional Pakistani outfit for part of the session! IMG_8980aThe original location of choice was an archway overgrown with vines. Unfortunately, lighting made it almost impossible to find the right moment to take the pictures there. Obviously the sun was too strong in the morning and by golden hour, the foliage covered archway was absolutely bleak.

We decided to try another time and for that, Abbee chose a classy library downtown. We met up an hour or so before sunset and caught the rays of light peeking through the arches. There was a bit of shuffling around to avoid a motorist and various library patrons. Overall, these were minor conflicts and did not obstruct the general composition of the images.

As the sun slipped over the horizon, we tiptoed towards the police station to investigate a staircase. It was truly by curiosity that we wound up there, and in the end, it turned out to be a blessing.
IMG_9080aI’d like to add one of the images from the session to my ‘Once Upon a Fairytail‘ album, but I don’t know which one! The cover image with Abbee walking through the archway looks like it could go for ‘Jasmine’ while this one of her laying on the staircase suits ‘Sleeping Beauty’.

IMG_9104aIt may not have been a conventional ‘Senior Session’, but hey, we got some pretty awesome shots, didn’t we?

Oh to Be a Rebel

“The greatest pleasure in life is doing what others say you cannot do.”
– Walter BagehotTunneling (2)It started with a Facebook post…Untitled

Someone commented that unless I was interested in exploring the sewage system, such an adventure could not go down in my area. Oh yeah? My little cousin  messaged me about a tunnel she’d found near her home. Challenge accepted! We made plans to hang out for the weekend.

Originally my cousin and I were supposed to meet up during Sabbath School to go hiking.  A misunderstanding, however, landed us on a whole different adventure. Somehow we ended up at a birthday party and crashed a wedding all in one afternoon. That evening we climbed up to a perch on a rock face and watched a movie with our guy friends. After that, we all spent the night ‘tied in’ to prevent ourselves from falling over the cliff on which we were sleeping.

The next morning, the guys had to work so they dropped us off just in time for the Sunday service.  My cousin and I got covered in chalk while trying to climb a fence to get to church. The hall monitor questioned our intentions as we searched for the Collegaite class but since it had just let out, I posed as a high schooler for the rest of the morning. Such had been the events of the previous twenty four hours.

The  conventional approach would have been relax on  living room couches after such a crazy weekend. Then again, that wasn’t as exciting as the possibility of exploring underground tunnels. Thus, after a quick lunch and a farewell to the parents, of we were, ready.Tunneling (3)Accompanied by her younger brother, my cousin and I found ourselves walking along a waterway. On the way back from church, I’d skipped barefoot along the sidewalk. Now, even the thought of testing the road with my toes shot a negative response down my spine. Our only comfort from the heat grew in the form of greenery that had replaced the water below. This included the shades of trees that grazed our cheeks momentarily as we walked through.

Finally, the time to explore an underground tunnel arrived. “There it is,” my cousin said, pointing to a structure in the distance.  We climbed over concrete bricks and pushed weeds out of the way in order to get there. Once inside, there was immediate relief from the sun within the concrete walls of the pipe.

“Graffiti Tunneling (4)on the outside says ‘find the dead rat’.” the other girl said as she took out her knife,  “I didn’t find it last time.”  She turned on an LED light on the edge of the knife’s handle. “Maybe we’ll find it today.”

I took out my own knife just in case. The little brother was suddenly not as amused by the newly acquired hideout. “I don’t want to go, I don’t want to go!” he cried, running towards the entrance.

The child wanted to sit outside on the concrete ring but this point, the tunnel was safer than being further exposed to 100 degrees weather.

“Wait, can you stand there?” I asked. The camera clicked. “You have to come see this! It looks really cool.” The little boy came running.

“Can we do another one?”

And thus we spent a good forty five minutes shaping our silhouettes near the entrance of the tunnel. Pretty soon the child wanted to take pictures himself. I secured the camera around his neck, and despite my cousin’s warning, stepped away to give him space.

The result was not bad at all:

Tunneling (5)A ways into the tunnel was a turn that my little cousin was determined to check out. Being the braver of the three of us, she held her knife and ran directly into the darkness. With the separation, everyone became more sensitive to the sounds that vibrated within the walls of the pipe. The siren from a cruiser, for example, seemed like an army of police out to get us.

When the younger girl returned, she handed me the lit tactical knife, saying that the tunnel continued beyond the turn without an end in sight. “Also,” she said, “I didn’t find the dead rat.” Well, that was comforting. I traded her the tactical for my girly Femme Fatal.

Running into the structure reminded me of temple run. There was limited visibility and one had to be ready  for anything. Passed the turn there was nothing and so I returned, much to the joy of the youngest child.

Afterwords, we sat by the entrance reading the vandalizing notes of previous visitors. By now I felt to urge to leave but my little cousin did not agree. She sat transfixed by the words on the wall and wouldn’t budge. It was the part of being a teenager that I felt I’d neglected; rebelling against the rules without caring about potential consequences. I started reading the notes too. A particular scribble stood out from the rest. It had the letters R-A-T scratched out above it. My cousin and I glanced at each other in disbelief.

“I think that’s the dead rat.”

Seriously? We went all the way in when all along this was the dead rat!? Well, if anything, now I can’t complain about not exploring underground structures in my current area of residence.

At last, we stepped into the sun, but it wasn’t without discussing which our guy friends we could lure in. Wouldn’t it be fun to find out where the tunnel could lead?

The First 25 Hours of my 23rd Birthday

I woke up Sunday morning, unable to move with ease. After a quick inventory, I discovered that my left leg was covered in scratches  poignantly stinging at the slightest touch. Among the other discoveries was a swollen right knee highlighted in a shade of purple, mosquito bite on the left arm and soreness creeping across my right shoulder. It took a few hours before I noticed the poison ivy…

ƸӜƷ

“What are you doing on the 19th?” they’d asked, and while I’m the kind of person who favors a walk in the wilderness on the anniversary of my birth, there was nothing specifically planned. “Ok, good. Don’t make any plans, we are going to kidnap you.”

The night before the birthday, my guy friends showed up and off we headed. Upon my request, my little cousin came along as well. I cherished her company as we were the only girls. My parents thought we were headed for Vegas, but I knew better.

Friday – 8:00pm

Originally, the guys planned to go rock climbing. Unfortunately, there was a home invasion in which the suspect fled at 100 mph on the wrong side of the freeway. A helicopter shot down the vehicle and as a result we almost got stuck in an overnight traffic jam.

9:45pm

We dislocated our vehicle’s bumper by venturing into a desolate mountain path in an attempt to reach our destination. A group of drunk men looked up in surprise as we successfully reemerged from the rocky experience.

Saturday – 12:32am

After playing catch with a tennis ball in the living room, it was decided that I needed a few lessons in the art of wrestling. You know, in case I decide to visit Skid Row or something.

3:51am

My little cousin, myself and one of our friends wanted to go for a walk in an orange grove. Our other friend who’d accompanied us did not want to take chances among the trees. Instead, we explored the neighborhood and even climbed up a tree in someone’s front yard.

4:43am

The younger girl and I ran ahead of the boys so they wouldn’t see us venturing into what we thought was an orchard. We returned when they flashed us with a spot light. Next, my cousin and I jumped a fence into a playground. The boys joined us after they noticed the fitness contraptions we’d discovered along the edge of a field.

5:25am

We climbed on top of the monkey bars and drifted off to sleep while searching the sky for shooting stars. Thankfully nobody fell from the bars, the fall would have been devastatingly high.This probably tops the time I fell asleep on a table in the middle of a cow field while photographing stars.

Saturday – 11:59am

After Sabbath School, my cousin and I climbed over a wall into the church’s preschool. We talked about ‘acting mature’ but then proceeded to try out the freestanding teeter totter and raced tricycles down a hill. We somehow managed to sneak out without tearing our dresses.

3:10pm

Group nap during another friend’s goodbye party. We woke up to people taking pictures of us sleeping.

5:00pm

I decided to take a nap on the side of the road while the guys were trying to figure out the directions to a climbing spot in the mountains. My cousin knelt besides me and the next thing we know, a police van full of inmates stopped to ask if we were ok.

6:37pm

We climbed down to the ‘Creek of Misery’ and stopped questioning the name after getting tangled in blackberry vines and attacked by swarms of gnats. The scenery was beautiful though.

We couldn’t find the rock climbing spot so some went bouldering while others climbed trees or learned to whistle on acorn shells.

6:37pm

The driver stopped at place that usually has hammocks. This time, there were none up. Instead, we swung from rope swings and emptied our pockets before turning cartwheels on the grass. When the sky faded into darkness, they turned on the spotlight. Some sat on bleachers while others took turns wrestling.  Then they showed my cousin and I how to jump into a roll. We took Slow-Mo videos of the guys doing tricks. When it was our turn, my cousin was able to jump over someone laying on the grass. I couldn’t do it for the fear of falling while diving for the roll after the jump.

8:30pm

The group drove up to a friend’s house but instead of going in, we hung  out on couches the neighbor was trying to give away. The guys became upset when my little cousin and I placed a couch in the middle of the road as one of them had jokingly suggested. Hey, hey, it was a photo concept I’d like to recreate in the future!

9:05pm

I climbed on the back of a Vespa for a ride around the neighborhood. I was enchanted by the lack of hair blowing in my face as it does when windows are rolled in a car. At some point we tried to race a car up a bridge and almost won.

9:42pm

Upon our return, I was lead into the house. The inside was decorated with pink and green ribbons hanging over the biggest olive and pineapple pizza I’ve ever seen in my life. The boys wished me happy birthday. We laughed at each other as some used casserole dishes, pot lids or paper towels to substitute for the lack of plates.

10:30pm

I walked into the kitchen and my friends started singing happy birthday. They handed me a card and let me cut the first slice of oreo cake. The rest of it had to be meticulously calculated to allow everyone an even slice.

Sunday – 12:15 am

My friend’s mom walked into her son’s room to find us all passed out on the floor. “You guys can spend the night,” she invited, but we got up reluctantly because three of us had already missed curfew.

Exhausted, I fell asleep in the trunk of someone’s car because they’d laid out a blanket.

Sunday – 1:05 am

One by one, everyone got their back-packs from the back as they were dropped off at their homes. My little cousin didn’t get in trouble because her parents weren’t home. One of the guys though, got a call from his dad in China in regards to his whereabouts. I got a text from my mom but didn’t see it because I was stumbling trough the gate into my house.

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The next morning, I texted my little cousin:

“I feel like we kidnapped you this weekend, getting you home all late and stuff.”

“It was fun though.” she said.

“I’m so glad you were there! Otherwise it would have been JQ and the five guys O.o”

“I noticed. Those guys must really like you.”

Despite all the minor injuries which could have been prevented, I love my guy friends to death. They are certainly the best and their company was more valuable than a trip to Vegas.  I’m not sure who else would have been down to keep me entertained for more than 25 hours!

Wind Storm

We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. – Dolly Parton

This is one of the pictures taken during that top secret scouting trip a couple months ago. I’ve since been teased endlessly for wearing a wedding dress… for questionable purposes.

Wind (1024x683)It’s not like I’m in such desperate need of a marriage ceremony that I must carry proper attire should the opportunity present it’s self. No, it’s just that the dress makes for epic pictures. It’s a great reason, right? This is probably the third dress. The way fabric flows seemingly without gravity is delightful. I’ve always wanted to replicate the look from my Pinterest board but wasn’t sure how until now.

How we got the shot:

My friends and I left home in the wee hours before the sun kissed the earth. Eventually, we reached an area known as ‘Olancha’. At the time, the weather was so bipolar that we’d experienced snow, rain, sun and scorching heat all in one morning.

At Olancha, the wind blew our vehicle back and forth across the road. We were almost stupid for getting out of the car. Our bodies were slapped around like reeds and the reflector was useless, least someone go parasailing with it. Tripods for a self portraits were also out of the question, even with sandbags, the whole contraption would have been knocked over. For a couple minutes, I ran up and down the road like a nut house escapee until we were satisfied with the shots. Then it was time to go; we weren’t really interested in joining the approaching tumble weed convention.

In case you haven’t seen the other pictures from that day, the dress’ train isn’t actually as long as conveyed through the image. In the original (not shown) the dress actually blew up past my ankles, exposing black leggings. I extended the fabric in Photoshop by adding segments of the dress from other pictures taken with the same lighting conditions.

Then ta ta! I’m actually excited about this one, it’s a Pinterest success!

California Postcard

A British girl sat across from me during a rehearsal dinner a couple days ago. I found out she’d spent the last couple weeks visiting her grandmother in Belize and was now in the States for her cousins wedding. During the ceremony, I got a shot of her looking out the window and across a Californian port. We talked about doing a photoshoot, but were too busy to follow through after the ceremony.

IMG_3611a (683x1024)

As far as this image goes, Abby is silhouetted because the background is brighter than the room we were in. A lot of times, when people try to take pictures in that sort of lighting, they become frustrated when the images don’t work out. My best advice, is to take advantage of the situation.

The person is too dark? Ok, turn them around so that their profile shows. You may not see the details of their faces, but at least you’ll get an interesting image.

These Three

August means I get to hang out with these three bundles of joy for a couple hours. 281709_2059379927986_278416_nIt’s been about five years since I took the first picture of my little cousins  together.  Comparing the two shots side by side, one can see an improvement in both composition and editing.

Photography Tips: 
  1. Remove as many distractions  from the background as possible.
  2. Remember that eyes draw viewers to the image.
  3. Don’t be afraid to enhance an image with editing.


Cousins! (2)
Speaking of editing, I don’t think either of these are straight out of the camera. Not sure what the process was for the first image, but you can see the visual progress tCousins! (1)hat took place as I worked on this last one.

Because the girls were in the shade, I changed  ‘curves’ on the image to make the girls stand out. Of course, there were also a couple other things such as color adjustments and stuff. Finally, a sun flare was added for pizazz.

Now that I look at the image, there are even more things that could be changed to make it look better. See the random pole, the red thing and maybe even the tree? They could all be edited out.

Oh well, maybe next time! There is always room to grow 🙂

Contrasto en Haute Couture

While normal portraits are always in, sometimes it’s fun to contort the angles and play with lighting. That’s what high fashion photography is all about; dramatic lighting, strong facial expressions and unique body compositions. Might have even made up a new phrase to describe such images in black and white. Just kidding – but really though… ‘Contrasto en Haute Couture’ is a mixture of two languages. ‘Contrasto’ is Italian for ‘contrast’ while ‘haute couture’ is French for ‘high fashion’. Voila, the exact phrase to describe these images.

I remember the first time figuring it out. My friend’s mom kept a collection of fashion magazines and during a beach trip, she brought them out for Anastasia and I to gaze.

“It’s abnormal,” Anastasia started, “here they look stunning, but if we were to do this, it would look weird.”

At the time, it seemed like a logical recipe achieving the high fashion look.
Contrasto

This is Bronsen.
International traveler, Professor, aspiring model.

We met up a couple weeks ago for a quick shoot in the middle of the day. While midday photography is usually a no-no, the lighting works quite well for dramatic effect. I barely even used a reflector.

Bronsen wore mostly black that day which contrasted quite nicely against the backgrounds used. The images were transformed into black and white during post production. It added to the drama and removed any distractions caused by ambient color.

Blog Signiture 

Downtown City Stroll

City Boy  (1)City Boy  (3)Here are a couple of my favorite shots from a downtown photoshoot a couple summers ago. We shot twice that day with locations ranging from a court, an alley and the top floor of a parking structure. Though the shots from the latter didn’t come out to my liking, going up there was probably the highlight of the project. The view from the tops of buildings is always the best part, especially around sunset.

City Boy  (2)A combo of natural lighting and reflector were used to achieve illumination throughout each shot. Since I was working alone, a tripod held the reflector in place. This worked pretty well until it tipped over and attempted to roll down the street.

Ah well, never a dull moment 🙂

Cat and Mouse

Cat (1)IMG_9574 (683x1024)At first there was just a couple droplets on the windshield but by the time we’d arrived, the sky was crying at a steady pace. Serena and I got out of the car. It was either now or in some uncertain future moment. We chose to go ahead with the plan.

It’d been forever since we’d worked on a photoshoot together.

We tried to shelter ourselves from the rain in an old greenhouse, but the lock on the door refused to budge. Well, that’s ok. As it turn out, the plants lingering around the glass structure were greener anyways. Cat

The picture taking process went relatively well. Originally, lighting had been a concern  but thankfully the cloudy sky provided us with even lighting. Of course, due to my 50mm lens, space was limited. At one point, Serena climbed over a fence so we had more room. Taking pictures against the glass was easier there.

Within fifteen minutes, it was time to run. Hopefully, we get to work on another project soon 🙂

#‎jayaramsmiles‬

“Hello? Can anyone hear me?”

There was no reply, not even in cheerful melodies usually sung by birds. I dropped the sound kit on the forest floor and ran further along the dirt path.

“Hello, Hello!?”

Again, nothing except the eerie buzz of silence. I turned back, but every direction seemed a mirror image of it’s self. The only comfort came in the form of sunbeams piercing through the canopy. Even then, it was awfully dark for a Sunday morning.

“Jacquie?”

Searching for the voice proved unsuccessful until it’s owner emerged from the trees.

“I thought you might have missed the turnout.”

Indeed, we had to walk back quite a ways before finding the hidden route among the branches and leaves.

“I found her!” Zach called when the ground started rising into all sorts of ramps and rails. In the distance, Jayaram snickered. He knew it was hard to find. The bike trails had remained unmarked for years and it was exciting to be let into the secret world they created.

Jayaram showed us around. I remember specifically the rack where bikes were hung and the deck on which he and his friends spent countless afternoons. One couldn’t help but marvel at the structures that had been so carefully built and wonder how long it had taken. Coming out to watch the guys or even reading a book in the morning seemed like a good idea. Jayaram said it was ok as long as we kept the location on the down low. 

That day, there was no time for leisure reading in the woods. Instead, I glanced at an instruction manual as we set up tripods, cameras and sound. It was the second time in less than twenty-four hours. The first had been for Video Yearbook, this time Zach was filming for his ‘Group Production’ project.  I recorded sound on an R-44. Jayaram, an expert at his sport, was not short of tricks to perform. #‎jayaramsmiles‬We interviewed him afterwards and he told us about his childhood and passion for the outdoors. I was especially thrilled because I hadn’t realized how much he cared about nature. He seemed to be a genuine person to be friends with. Unfortunately, despite the various classes I shared with Jayaram, this was the only time that I got to hang out with him.

Two years later, while returning home from Central California, an unsettling post made it to my newsfeed. Fingers were crossed and prayers were sent wishing for a misunderstanding. Too soon, the social network was overflowing with messages confirming the fact. Jayaram was gone as a result of a tragic accident.

In the following days, I searched for the external drive containing the images taken of Jayaram during the shoot. I wanted so badly to post them on his wall, but felt uneasy since I didn’t know him like the others. Regardless, in those couple hours that we worked on the video, Jayaram’s character shown through and left an impression.

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The footage we took in the woods was used during Jayaram’s memorial. It starts off in the beginning and again at 06:11. I chose to post it today since it’s graduation weekend and he would have walked with a Bachelors in Communication.

This unfortunate event has left me thinking. Mostly, I realized that when treating with people – strangers especially – it’s wise to uphold a positive attitude. Life is unpredictable; one can never tell when the last memory will be shared or what will be the most lasting impression. Let it be a good one 🙂

Cowgirl Up

Let’s rewind about a year to the first photoshoot I worked on after moving back from France.

During the first couple weeks of summer, a photographer specializing in cosplay asked if she could shadow me. Of course, that was fine, but since our subject matter differed, I wondered how that would work out.

Within a couple days, we started sharing our progress on personal projects and eventually decided to work together on a Western editorial. Planning was a most frantic affair as everything had to fall into place at just the right time. In addition to models and a horse, an abandoned building was also on the wish list. There were a few dead end leads on properties but in the end, we settled on a ranch that our friend Erwin had found while hiking. It was supposed to have bats and everything!

The day of the photoshoot, we meet up with our friend Jonathan, Caitlin who’d won the title of Sheriff’s Rodeo Queen several years in a row and a horse named Bella. The thing about Bella is that she’d been washed and groomed to perfection; she was ready for the show. Our crew was not big enough to appease her yearning for cheering rodeo fans. Although Bella didn’t kick anyone or try to gallop off, she became increasing difficult to work with. I felt bad but there was nothing we could do about it.

Other than that, the photoshoot went well and we stayed out till the last rays of light touched the earth. Getting ourselves and equipment back to our vehicles proved to be quite a trek though. That’s ok – we got good shots, it was worth it.

*Pictures in collaboration  with Juntsu Photography.

  • Models: Caitlin and Johnathan
  • Location Scout: Erwin
  • Horse help: Caitlin’s Dad

Joie de Vivre

Sometimes, the best moments are unplanned. There is no room for being let down and no time to think up better circumstances.  Instead it’s a magical experience that can never be recreated to uttermost perfection. To some, it’s a lifestyle. To others, it becomes an addiction in which they crave the feeling of bliss.

Adventure.

Speed.

Not getting caught.

Of course, it’s not always about frights and increasing heart rates. Gazing up at the stars or watching the sunrise adds to the same effect. Shooting stars and dancing rays of light, they are all part of the adventure. It’s living life for oneself, rather than through characters in movies.

Instagram.

Facebook.

And other social media.

Off Roading (1)It must be because of this that they say “Everybody dies but not everybody LIVES”

So, go on and make everyday  as epic as can be 🙂

Primera Pasarela :D

The last time I attended a REVO Fashion show, it was from behind a bush and with a telephoto lens. This time, Veronica asked if I wanted to be in it. Of course, such opportunity could not be missed.

Dress fittings, alterations, song choosing practices…preparation was much like that of a wedding. Even in the hours before the event, the girls lounged in sweatpants and make up, much like brides maids on the day of the wedding.

Make up by VanessaFinally, when everyone’s nails were dry and every curl was in place, the girls tipped toed across the campus. Backstage we got dressed and in the larger of the rooms, practiced once more.

Music came on and the models peeked through the newspaper covered windows in attempt to see. The runway was a little different than we’d been lead to believe. We had to try again with the new setup in mind.

La Sierra Revo Then at last, it was our turn to walk the walk.

There were only two other lines after ours. I ran out to the back to see if there was the opportunity for a good shot. Only got one. The rest were the result of the wrong shutter speed.La Sierra RevoWhile being a part of the show was wonderfully experienced, a part of me still longed to hold a camera. Guess sometimes a choice must be made.

This time I’m glad to have been a part of the action 😀

South of the Border

There was something exciting about seeing the rays of sun touching on the hillside of a country not my own. It had been a while since I’d crossed an international border on foot. In Europe, it was as easy as an afternoon stroll, but in the states, it’s gotten more complicated than that. Despite the research and fading memories, getting to Tijuana required guidance from a young man who pointed towards the right direction.

Baja (4)The hope of seeing an international border line marked across the road faded the further we walked from the gates. Unlike previous occasions, there were no red light check points or soldiers poising their high caliber weapons. Instead, American tourists and Mexican school children mingled in the street. The sight of it was beautiful and in some ways deceitful of the  issues that have presented themselves in that area.Baja (5)I’d gone south of the border for various reasons. The first was quickly resolved after walking into the immigration office. That would be the first Baja California stamp on my passport. Chihuahua, Zacatecas and Distrito Federal have already been stamped on there.

Of course, I’d been to Tijuana on various occasions, but considering the border zone, I didn’t realize one could get a stamp for visiting.Baja (7)Also, I wanted to get pictures of Tigger in Tijuana. Of all the road trips through Mexico and the year he accidentally stayed behind, Tigger had never been to TJ.

To my delightful surprise, the Mexican soldiers did not poke his shoes as they did in Zacatecas and they did not pretend to cut him open as security at Sainte-Chapelle, Paris  had done. The thing is that since I’d gone to Mexico with a friend, and wrapped Tigger like a baby, many of the locals thought we were newly weds. Definitely had to turn down offers of tequila and fine dinning.

Baja (2)

Instead, I was set on getting a Mexican blanket! The sky was too cloudy to not have one. Research on buying souvenirs was done before hitting the shops. Of course, it was the usual – don’t purchase anything on the bridge because it will be more expensive, avoid this and that.

Honestly, the marketing strategies used in attempt to get sales were quite universal:

The Flirt – 

Individual appearing to be attracted to customer. Often complimenting, smiling and giving discounts biased on physical or linguistic appearances. [Previous encounter – Brussels, Belgium, when a group of Moroccan salesmen thought it was cute that I spoke French.]

The Creeper –

Individual who disrespects customer’s personal space in attempt to get a sale. Often appearing out of  nowhere, intimidating, grabby, pushy and loud.  [Previous encounter – Paris, France, when a group of vendors demanded that I buy Eiffel Tower souvenirs… also encountered in San Francisco… and Los Angeles, but without Eiffel Tower souvenirs.]

The Storyteller –

Individual who shares personal stories during business transaction. Often entertaining, friendly and sometimes distracting. [Previous encounter – San Andres, Colombia, when a hotel owner became friends with my family during our weekend stay.]

The Bored –

Individual appears indifferent to customer. Often looking off in the distance, talking on the phone or watching TV. [Previous encounter – Amsterdam, Holland, particularly in the red light district with the girls doing their nails behind the glass.]

The Genuine –

Individual who attends customers from a neutral standpoint. Often courteous and attentive but basing interactions on customer’s needs. [Previous encounter – Geneva, Switzerland, when a guy friend was shopping for boots. The store employees were helpful but didn’t follow us around or provide unsolicited information. The third visit was very conversational.]

Baja (6)One little souvenir that could not be resisted was this engraved keychain. When first seeing samples of the artisan’s work, I was upset that I hadn’t brought along my fountain pen for the treat. After watching the process, which consisted of sawing out the negative space, perhaps it was best not to have repeated it on the pen. Nevertheless, the finished product looked absolutely amazing, especially since it was done by hand. Couldn’t help but get two of the customized key chains.

As for the blanket, it was suggested that we take a cab to Avenida Revolucion. Not wanting to miss out on the colorful walls and alleys, we made our way on foot. All along, I asked for prices which ranged from $40 to $25 for the same product.

Haggling was the name of the game in Tijuana. That being the case, perhaps the stories behind the marked down prices were falsified. Vendors always appeared to be in a hurry, plummeting  discounts up to 50% off. Some claimed to have prearranged meetings, other had to pick up their kids from school and so on.

When someone quoted $20 as starting price, I just wanted to purchase the blanket immediately. By then, I’d given up on speaking Spanish as a way to disguise tourist status. Strangely enough, the owner – a fluent  English speaker -thought I was Mexican. Got it down to $17 by the help of my friend. Even if we could have gotten the blanket for a lower price, the sales man deserved to get something for it. After all, everyone’s got to make a living.

Baja (3)

As soon as I bought the blanket, a woman came up to me at the store entrance.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” she said, trying to steer me towards her booth.

Frightened by her sudden approach, I answered in French, saying “Désolé, mais je ne comprends pas.”

Her facial expression didn’t change. “You must come with me.” Dang, she was persistent! We walked away and mingled into the crowd. Blanket in hands, it was enough shopping for one day.

Maybe Viking?

It was the result of bad planing: the camera was forgotten at school, the model wasn’t contacted on time and I wanted to take a nap and forget about the time that a certain snowboarding trip had ended in tears. Nevertheless, Hannah agreed to be in the pictures. Since we had yet to see her in a dress, everyone was more than excited to carry on with plans.

After dropping off the snowboarders, Hannah and I found ourselves hiking through the snow in dresses. While funny at first, the feat proved rather unfortunate as I fell and caused the entire crew to slide down the mountainside. Those observing from the warmth of their cars laughed nervously, most certainly judging our choice of attire.

Vikings (3)

With fur, a husky, knife and the texture of Hannah’s hair, the theme developed somewhat of a Viking undertone. Gretchen, our stylist also had her try on a white snow coat, but it was decided that the coat did not match Hannah’s personality.

While the rays of light touched the earth, Erwin reflected them onto the characters. We raced from one location to another as the sun danced between the trees. When it was finally gone, the ISO was adjusted to compensate for the lack of light.

In post production, blues were accented in order to add to the coolness of the pseudo Norse winter. I also did some research to see if the images at all resembled the assumed appearance of a viking girl. The trees didn’t even make the cut. The Nordic forest lacks the bushiness displaced by Californian evergreens. Then there is the matter of the dog which looks a tad bit Americanized. Well… it’s not historically accurate, but hey, close enough right?

After the photoshoot, we headed to the slopes for some night skiing/snowboarding.  While Hannah was totally conquering the steepest drops, people had a hard time believing that I’d ever skied down the Alps. Yes, it was that bad.

For the record, the ALPS are amazing!

Don’t Get Carried Away

If you want to do a photoshoot from an aerial perspective do you:

A. Use a drone

B. Take images from a helicopter

C. Have entire crew jump from a plane and capture the shot mid air

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For the traveler, airports are the worst but for a photographer, they are an ideal playground. Whether it’s sticking a DSLR out the window or sneaking onto the runway, there is so much potential in everything that deals with flight.

IMG_0308People don’t realize how much I enjoy doing photoshoots in which planes are involved. My first official fashion shoot took place at an airport and I’ve done three others since. The thought of working on a fifth project is just as exhilarating as the previous ones have been.

Runaway Gypsy Child

This past weekend, I found myself on an air strip in the mountains, bouncing ideas with friends.

  • Work with a male model, since the previous four shoots have been with females.
  • Have the plane in a grassy field with a group of friends picnicking in the foreground.
  • A father with a child who dreams of becoming a pilot.

The whole grassy field thing would be amazing, but it seems like something that might be difficult to pull off, at least in California. I have yet to get past photographing aircraft in their parking spots.

By the time we finally made it into the office, the airport was already closed.  Thankfully, we did get the chance to talk with a pilot from a helicopter tour company. One of my friends asked if it were possible to go up for the specific purpose of taking pictures. To our surprise,  the pilot said he could remove the door so we could  get better quality images. In addition, he said that if we wanted to photograph a specific location, he could fly us over at the same rate as the tours. AWESOME!  Minds went traveling wild.

“We could totally put a model in a long dress on a peek and have him fly over.”

“Hey, that’s what I was thinking.”

Thus for the rest of the day we talked and talked and talked about how cool it would be to do such a thing. IMG_9922On the way home, I was like “Wait, we don’t need a helicopter; we could just use a drone.”

There were a couple disheartened sighs until someone brought up the possibility of the drone falling on the model and thus injuring and damaging all. Though such an incident would be anything but funny, there were certainly  laughs to go around.

“Ok, so back to the helicopter?”

Judging from that picture I took while flying a Cessna, there are definitely some other concerns besides cameras and things falling on people. Like what if the model looks like an ant and when the pilot agrees to descend, the she falls due to wind force?

When I told my parents later that day, my Dad suggested that I don’t push for the idea unless it’s of monetary value. After all, as a whole, this project would be more expensive than the rock climbing idea from last week. While I still think the experience is worth it, my Dad does have a point.

Well, it’s ok to reach for the stars. Only time will tell what opportunities might come up. As I found out yesterday, this group proved it’s possible to do a photoshoot in mid air 😀

Glamping

For a long time, I knelt on the floor of the cage recounting the sandbags with the professor. The numbers were always different but there never seemed to be enough of them. We walked around the set, but again, there was nothing. The scenario in which a crew member had walked out with the sandbag as a purse was highly unlikely. Equipment check-ins, camera checkouts, tears, the missing sandbag, broken headphones, low audio levels, otherwise successful production, a student loosing privileges and me without a job. That was more or less the summery of the day.

“Of course, you will be working for the rest of the year.” The professor stated.

I looked up in disbelief, especially after everything she’d said earlier. As a film TA, my only fault had been to arrange so that  students would have access to cameras for their final projects. As she put it, this had cost me my job because making sure the cameras were available was not in the best interest of the department.

Oh really? Here I was, thinking that students made up the department. Not entirely sure how hindering final projects could be considered beneficial. Good thing school was out for an entire week, because I didn’t plan on sticking around for much longer.

My friends picking me up that night. Within twenty four hours, we were so far removed from civilization that even cell service was extinct. Thus began a new series of projects; mixing camping and fashion photography. The first trip was so loosely organized that everything kind of happened spontaneously. Behind the Photos (1)While most stayed in tents, a couple of us slept under the moon and stars. In the mornings, we’d wake up to the guys cooking breakfast with machetes. Throughout the day, some would go swimming while others ventured to climb rock formations. It was that kind of blissful atmosphere in which time and date didn’t exist. Everyone could pretty much do whatever they pleased.

It wasn’t till the afternoon before the last day that we realized that the photoshoot had yet to be done. Panic swept across the group. We stumbled into the van and set off to chase the light. Except for the driver, no one was quite sure where we were going. Those who couldn’t make it were left at camp.

PhotoBackstage (2)In the van, the girls curled their hair and retouched makeup. None of us had ever heard of using a curling iron in the car. Thankfully everyone survived without a burn.

We ended up on a desolate path and hopped into action. The first couple shots didn’t work out very well because the girls had nothing to do. The van was scavenged for any items that could potentially be used.  We found a knife, a walkie-talkie and a flashlight.   Cave dwellers? Search and rescue? Something like that.

Behind the Photos (3)

Given the limited amount of time, its surprising that we were able to do a total of three different locations. By the the sun finally slipped under the horizon, we’d gotten our fill of shots. It would be up to post process to finish up the job.

Here is one of the mock runway shots. From left to right: Original, Windows Live Photo Gallery, Photoshop.

Mexican Sun (3)

Although the girls wanted the shots right away, I no longer feel comfortable with with giving away SOOC. Too many times I’ve allowed others to edit their own images only to be credited with the lousy results. Also, sometimes they use these before I get around to posting them.

Currently, I’m trying to come up with a workflow that will satisfy both myself and those in the pictures. So far, I’ve been using the following:

  1. [Photoshoot]
  2. Sort images into folders.
  3. Go through folders and delete unwanted shots.
  4. Crop, color correct and adjust lighting. Cloning or other details if absolutely needed.
  5. Choose favorites and edit RAW files on photoshop.
  6. Upload favorites to Facebook.
  7. Dropbox client/model/friend.
  8. Create post for WordPress.
  9. [Do it again]

Going through the images will only take a couple hours, but finding the time to do it takes forever.
PhotoBackstage (4)

Growing Up

It started because of a misunderstanding.  Someone suggested that we do a photoshoot Downtown Los Angeles, near Skid Row. These’s a catch; it had to be around midnight and we could bring tents and ‘camp on the street’.

“Hey girls, just wanted your opinions in regards to something that came up…”  I asked of those who shared my previous record of sleeping in caves and climbing up cranes.

“I would go if there would be other street smart sturdy big people, especially if it was a “safe” neighborhood. I’d be most comfortable going if I had a personal connection to someone in/from the area who would be there,” came the first response. The other agreed with a ten if conditions during the campout matched the stated description. Fair enough.

Unfortunately, due to distance, cave dwelling buddies wouldn’t be able to make it. Never the less, two of my local friends were down. We spent hours plotting the perfect street light campout. Week one would be location scouting before the real deal. Everything was going to be perfect.

Skid Row (5)As weekdays were checked off the calendar, certain flaws became more evident. Most specifically, my fourteen year old cousin’s excitement surpassed the rest of us. Problem was, her parents didn’t know about it. In order for her to come, we would have to say the right combination of words … no lies of course, but definitely nothing about sleeping on the street in the most dangerous part of town.

Because of a prior commitment, my cousin was unable to make it to the location scouting. Instead, I messaged Pallas on the way to LA. She was totally up for it.

“Don’t wear makeup,” I told her “you need to be as under dressed as possible”.

Funny thing is, no matter how badly we’d tried to dress down, it wasn’t enough. Our guy friend, the one who drove us, was much better fitted for the occasion. He lent us t-shirts and beanies to further the effect.

“Do I look bad?” I asked Pallas.

“No, you look like a bank robber.”

“Great.”

We watched boys ride across the street on low riders, women walking dogs and men bouncing basketballs. They all seemed to know their ground and were confident in what they did. The didn’t glare or threaten but instead went about their business. As we opened the doors, the fear that we would get swarmed like the characters in World War Z faded away.

We strolled up, down the streets and among their residents. Eye contact was avoided with the locals but I did smile at a few of the dog walkers. The first smiled back but after a while, I realized that many were weary because of how I was dressed. It was our cheery attitudes that gave our true identity away. Interestingly enough, this was only spotted by those we tried so hard to impersonate. The others didn’t see it because to them, we – the unfortunate, were all the same.

Skid Row (3)The three of us returned after dark out of curiosity, just to see if the ambiance would change. This time, it was the rodents that gave us away. They roamed the sidewalks like cattle on the range. Normally, I’d take a rat over a hamster, but these were no ordinary creatures. I almost tripped in my attempt to stop. Pallas screamed. The furry things seemed unfazed as they continued scampering across the concrete jungle. From then on, we were very aware of where the rodents were.

Skid Row (4)Some exploring and a couple pictures later, we were back on the freeway, facing the red and white streaks. Overall, Pallas and I decided that the streets weren’t as scary as they’d been painted. In fact, the worse thing we’d encountered was a menacing character stenciled into a wall.

 Our friend said that although we’d survived this adventure without incident,  it wasn’t guaranteed that we’d have the same luck the next time around. We concluded that perhaps the rainy weather had contributed to the lack of violence on the streets.

We were indeed lucky. The next day, police shot a man five times near one of the spots we had visited. It was infuriating. Five times is  rather excessive force, especially when a man can be killed through a single bullet. The threat hadn’t been felt the day before. The people had been peaceful then. Now an unrest grew among the crowd. It would not be wise to spend the night.

The day after the shooting, I met up with the person who had suggested Skid Row. He was very concerned that I’d gone in with such a small group.

“You need to take guys, lots of guys with you.”

As it turns out, it wasn’t supposed to be for a photoshoot but rather for filming a humanitarian project in which people could choose to camp out among the homeless.

Ooops. Well, guess that actually makes more sense.Skid Row (1)

The friend who drove us down to LA got in huge trouble as soon as his parents found out. I too was scolded in regards to wanting my fourteen year old cousin to come along.

“You know that she is better suited to stay out there than me,” I protested.

“Yes, but she can’t legally choose for herself,” came the reply “If her parents are ok with it, fine, but you should not be encouraging this behavior.”

I agree, but now that is the problem. My little cousin knows me as a friend, not a mentor. She knows how I respond through the lack of authority and in a concerning way, she looks up to me.

“What are your goals?” I asked her, thinking that maybe I could encourage my cousin in the right direction.

“Break into somewhere, not someone’s house (but) explore an abandoned building, for pictures.”

Her other goal of entering college by the age of sixteen or seventeen was much more appropriate.  She sure knows how to get me, though! Regardless, I hope to be a better influence on her in the future. If anything, I want my little cousin to be better than me 🙂 

Now You See them, Now You Don’t

We were lured towards the Mexican/US boarder with the promise of hot springs. For weeks, that’s all I could think about; swimming, warm water, no school. We arrived at the campground much too late for a dip, but the next day, we were all there. The lighting inside the pool housing could not be ignored. I ran back to grab the 5D and a reflector.

As any improve shoot, we had to work with the elements present. Of course there were other people at the pool during the time the pictures were taken. At first, this wasn’t a problem. We tried to stay out of their way as much as they stayed out of ours. Unfortunately, towards the end, we attracted the attention of some older men. One specifically came up to us and started offering tips. We smiled polity until he grabbed the reflector and  shone it at one of the bikini clad assistants.

He was probably just trying to be helpful, but we got a little creeped out. This isn’t the first time something like that has happened. I’ll probably have to come up with a way to keep non crew members from getting involved.

Anyways, the first set of images came out something like this:Agua Caliente (1024x391)

Cute girls by the pool just wasn’t cutting it. I ran back to the campsite and scavenged through my things. A scarf from Switzerland,  cowgirl hat for attending rodeos in Mexico and sunglasses made it back to the pool.IMG_9794 (1024x683)

Yes props, that was it! They added dept to Pallas and Karen’s characters. We didn’t learn the lesson soon enough. The next time I needed to fetch props, we were out in the middle of the desert. Knives and flashlights were the only thing in the car. The machete the guys used to cook breakfast would have been much more epic!

After the Rain

Once, when I was young enough to hold my mom’s hand, we stopped to talk to a man on the street. They reminisced on old times and laughed about childhood shenanigans. Sometime into the conversation, my mom checked her wrist for the time. Her watch wasn’t there.

“Sorry to ask, but do you have the time?”

As it turns out, it was midnight. At first my mom seemed appalled but then she commented on how safe it was to be walking around in the middle of the night. The man agreed with her that the town was safe and in the times that we visited before my 17th birthday, it seemed steadily the same.

My cousins and I would run off during the day. I’m surprised our parents hardly noticed. They always assumed we’d be at someone’s house when in fact we were not. Sure, there was a time we got surrounded by vagabonds and another in which we got chased by a man at the carnival, but in general, we felt safe.

During a wedding in 2010, my cousins and I asked our parents if we could go downtown instead. At first they agreed but when one said no, the rest were quick to change their minds. “It’s too dark therefore its dangerous,” they’d concluded. We tried to leave anyways but stayed put when security appeared. Instead, the group huddled and spoke about the rumors in hushed tones. Some were skeptical. Adults can sometimes be known to exaggerate.

A couple days later, my cousins and I walked across town around 2am. The streets were not as dark and isolated as one can imagine. There were two big parties in town that night and others were constantly walking to and from the festivities. We even played ding-dong-ditch at one point. It was the last time we enjoyed that careless freedom. The next time we walked home late at night, we may or may not have witnessed a kidnapping.

In the years that followed, I went from going downtown by myself to being accompanied everywhere, even to friend’s houses down the street. If the children dared play outside, they were often seen running home in fright. There was a shooting at an elementary school, a man was killed inside his home a couple blocks down and others went missing. Even in the light of day, the streets were empty. The bliss was gone and everyone was left afraid.

Mexican StreetsIt’s been a couple years since I saw the streets clear in the presence of danger.  Now everyone just walks around minding their own business. Is it that the violence has gone down or has the community been desensitized? It’s the difference between the eye of the storm and the sky clearing after the rain.

Mexico (1)Mexico (2)Mexico (3)Once, I chased a guy down this alley in the middle of the night. It’s a story for another time though. For now, I’m just happy to feel safe in walking down the street.

In Theaters, Literally

The amount of times I’ve been to a theater can still be counted on fingers and toes. Weird that I’m a film student, isn’t it?

The Cameo in St. Helena is particularly special; I’ve watched my own films play on the screen and my cousin got married there. Guess who got the privilege in photographing the event? This is not the first wedding I’ve ever done but it’s definitely the one with the most involvement.

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It started with the movie posters a few months before the event. There were seven total but only four made it to the Cameo for display. Movie PostersA couple days before the big day, I got to stay at my cousin’s house. We had never hung out before. In fact, his wife knew we were related before he did! The day after, we all made the long drive up to Napa. I spent that night with the Bride’s family and friends. Hanging out with both sides of the family made me more comfortable in taking their pictures. The actual event was a lot of fun!

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Here are some tips that helped me keep sane throughout the process.

Take note:

  • Have alternatives for each piece of equipment. It doesn’t matter if you don’t use it, its better to be prepared than ill prepared. Also, keep a list of all the equipment you are using to make sure you don’t lose any of it.
  • Don’t expect lighting conditions to be ideal. Do a pre-wedding scout to determine what kind of lighting you will be working with. If you are unfamiliar with the conditions, do test shots with friends under similar conditions.
  • Have a buddy! If at all possible – hire someone to go with you!
    During this particular project, the videographer and I worked together to get a lot of the shots. This is not recommended because both services should provide unique visions into the wedding and not the same one.
  • Get a list of the shots needed along with the program and plans for the wedding. Use these to make yourself a schedule before the wedding.
  • Become friends with the participants in the wedding.

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I’ve since been asked to do three other weddings. Two of them were politely turned down. Honestly, that kind of photography still scares me. Around the age of ten, I attended a different cousin’s wedding. After the event, my aunt was pretty upset when she explained how the wedding pictures had to be retaken because the photographer’s images hadn’t turned out. I’ve been paranoid ever since. No one wants to be that one person who ruined the memory. There is always a chance that might be me.

Ewwk, what an awkward ending!

Straying from the Truth

They say that one should not lie because more lies will be created to cover. I have never understood this as well as last Saturday. Eventually, I will have to explain to my parents. Las Vegas + wedding dress? What a scandal.

It started when Erwin suggested that we drive to Death Valley to check the venue for an upcoming camping trip. He told four others. Anastasia thought it was cute but impossible. Hannah is underage. Gretchen was appalled. Pallas understood, she agreed to go and I just wanted to get away.

Glendale, Ca -4:28am

Parents thought I was at school. Classmates assumed I was going home. Took advantage of the confusion and left before the sun rose. Later, Pallas and I saw rays of cream through charcoal atmosphere.

Inyo, Ca – 10:04am

Wind, Maybe SnowThe sky turned so blue that it made the scenery pop out of a postcard. Pictures were mandatory; I threw on the white dress. The wind wrestled with the fabric, pushed me up on my toes and hassled the others.

Stovepipe Wells, Ca – 11:12am

“Inquiring Minds would like to know if you are going hiking.” Erwin’s Mom texted. She thought he was in LA visiting Lindsay.

“I won’t be able to make it.”

There was a pause, then “I greeted Lindsay, she is at church today…?”

Salt Creek, Ca – 12:09pm

Salt Creek“Jacquie isn’t  here either,” Gretchen texted, “It’s so pretty here, you are missing out…”

Badwaters Rd – 3:40pm

The car drifted off the road. “Why are you stopping?”

I turned around and saw the lights. Pallas looked out and saw the uniform.

“Do you have any weapons?”

“Yes,” but we didn’t list them all.

CA 190, Near Zabriskie Point – 5:30pm

“Did it bother you to invite two girls younger than yourself and tell them to not to tell?”

Erwin laughed, “Sounds so wrong when you put it that way.”  It would have looked worse if he’d told the ranger about the machetes in the trunk.

Las Vegas, Nv – 8:00pm

Las Vegas at Night

“You’ll fit right in,” they said, so I kept the dress. We strolled down the strip but even the lights couldn’t compare to infinite sparkle splattered above the desert.

Somewhere – 11:45pm

“We heard you talking with a guy.”  I scrolled down to see when my mom had called.

“Oh, just went out for a walk.”

La Sierra – 3:01am

Finally made it home after 813 miles in less than 24 hours. Perhaps it was immature for us to go scouting unbeknownst to the other campers. I didn’t necessary lie about what was going on – but I said things that lead people from the truth. Even worse, as a group – we started creating an elaborate cover story in case we got caught. Seriously? It’s easier to be honest.

The campout is in a week. We shall see what happens between now and then. Normally my parents would understand, but me wearing a wedding dress in Vegas?

Ending note: My mom dreamt that I went to Death Valley without her, yikes!

War of the Greats

Once upon a time during a wedding, four boys and four girls stood on opposing sides of a rut.

“We are your aunts” one of the girls stated.

The boys straightened their cowboy hats and shook their heads in disbelief. “We are older than you.”

As it turns out, however, even the youngest of the girls was older than all four of the boys. They shifted and frowned in discomfort until one of the youngest rendered a challenging smile.

“Well, we are uncles too!”

At this, the girls cringed nervously. “Oh no! That makes me a great aunt!” The oldest of them cried.

And this perfectly describes the relationship between the grandchildren, great grand children and sometimes great-great grandchildren of Don Ignacio and Doña Petra. Anyways, here are some of my nephews and nieces from various families in no particular order.

Emiliano – Great Grandson

Children of Mexico (6)Fernanda – Great GranddaughterChildren of Mexico (4)PJ & Child – Great Grandson & Great, Great Grandson

Violetta – Great Granddaughter

Children of Mexico (5)Cousins Annette, Valeria, and Bryan – Great GrandchildrenChildren of Mexico (3)

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Grandpa

*Don Ignacio passed away on January 13th 2015.

Scars Behind Grins & Smiles

They ran for their lives and in the mist of the chaos, were silent as they fell. The men walked away with blood on their hands. It got to the point that one could no longer tell the red from mud.Scars (2)Disgusted and unable to stop it, I walked away with the child. We went to an empty cornfield and watched the clouds contort as the last rays of light warmed the earth. And then, as night fell, trucks rolled in and the army arrived.

Scars (3)

Frightened, I picked up the child and left again only to be faced by the presence of high caliber weapons held by those who were meant to protect us.

#animalcruelty #drugwar #bloodeverywhere

UP

My roommate and I walked into Starbucks on a quiet evening. As we walked up to order, one of the guys studying waved hello. He’d bulled the heck out of me during a previous class and I’d chosen to remain aggravated. Nevertheless, a polite nod was returned in acknowledgement. We ordered, sat down and I started drawing in my sketchbook.

All of the sudden, the young man was standing by my side.

“How dare you come in and not say hi!!?”

My roommate and I stared back up in confusion. Some more loud interactions and a couple expletives later both of them where somehow discussing Pixar’s “UP”.

“I  (insert explicit language here) hate UP!” he said.

“What!? You are a horrible human being!” she retorted.

The rest of Starbucks glanced at the developing drama with a little more than mere annoyance. The young man grabbed my sketchbook .

“What is this? You draw in it like everyday.” He  leafed through it. “You must have so much (insert explicit language here) time.”

“I get bored.”

“See that’s what happens when you (insert explicit language here) study something like film. You have too much (insert explicit language here) time.”

“Common’ don’t you get bored in class or church?

“I don’t really go to church.”

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

 A couple weeks, several more interactions insulting my major (and what my Austrian friend called ‘a bold confession of interest’) later – I sat in worship with with fellow students. Topic of discussion was tough; does God answer prayer and if so, why doesn’t he always intervene? Towards the end, we watched a short film involving a car accident and a pastor talking about the matter. The idea of human loss hung in a cloud over my head for the rest of the day.

Church didn’t help much either. Eyes widened as I entered through the double doors. Balloons. So many Balloons!  Enough to question whether the design team had recycled all the red ones from  Carl’s home in UP.  For some reason, probably due to all the references, there was an whelming feeling that death ‘was near’.  Foreshadowing (a film technique), seriously!

In an attempt to comfort, I responded by drawing :Drawing Up

Unfortunately, during the announcements fears were confirmed as we were informed that someone was being treated in ICU after being pulled from an intense car accident.

And then… this … utter shock and disbelief. A young woman from a nearby congregation passed away during the birth of her child a some hours earlier!

To make matters worse, the pastor’s sermon happened to also be themed on death. Normally it would have been funny – but saying something along the lines of:

Which story line would you prefer?… a young couple married, they had kids… then they died. Or a woman liked a man but he got married to a different girl… then they died. (Inset more scenarios in which everyone dies).

Everybody dies! *nerves chuckling*. “

It was not funny. I closed my sketchbook in absolute horror and even considered the possibility of returning to my room for a nap. It was (and I will say this honestly) lust that kept me through the rest of the service. Lust over the hundreds of red little balloons.

True to my expectations, at the end of the service the children ran up to the stage and received balloons in bunches of ones, twos and threes.

“Are you trying to get rid of all of them?”

“Yes, did you want them?”

I explained a sudden revelation for a  photoshoot. Fortunately, they decided not to give me the rest of the balloons. I walked out with about thirty while surely hundreds continued swirl around the interior of the building. Thirty was enough, it was an amusing struggle to get them back into the dorm!

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

 Eyes fluttered open. The room was dark. (wanted to insert explicit language here). I stumbled over to check for any new messages but there were none.

Ooops!

At least an hour later my model and I ran outside. She had also fallen asleep. TG for ‘days of rest’ though!

There was not a speck of heavenly light on the horizon. We walked nervously towards the nearest source of light. My tripod has been missing for a few weeks. It was gonna be hand held or nothing. That kinda worked. Those first couple of images exposed some serious shake. Eventually, we leaned the camera on the ground and that did the trick.

UP.And that is how this photoshoot came about. Weird huh? A beautiful result to a spontaneous decision.

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With a heavy heart, I’d like to note that baby Lennon, passed away earlier this week. He’s story is one that has reached many homes in America and across the globe. The Huffington PostBuzzfeed, the UK’s DailyMail (just to name a few) have all featured it. Even though I can’t specifically remember meeting them, the news has deeply touched me. My heart goes out to his family as they go through this rough time.

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And then the tables were turned. My assistant asked me to be her model for a project. Cool. I showed up to the studio with my favorite stuffed animal, cat ears and cork screw curls. Photoshoot went well. We rejoiced at the natural light which streamed through the ceiling and added a soft touch to the studio lights.

Sometime towards the end, the teacher’s aide for that class walked in. Don’t remember exactly where the conversation was going but she jumped in and said “I’ll do it! I’m already wearing a mask.

“You do it.” Jacquelyn said as she handed me the camera.

“Really!?”  Three little hops for joy followed.

I took a couple shots within the last couple minutes we had in the studio.

People are always saying to be prepared for everything. That one can’t jump into a project without having everything figured out. Yes, it’s good to plan, but did you know what to do when you had your first kid? Sometimes things just kind of come together. Sometimes everything works out.

Honestly, random photo shoots are the funnest because the bring in the biggest surprises.

When Modest is Hottest

So… A couple days ago, I was meeting up with some people regarding a film project. They were looking for my photography page so I told them to look it up on Facebook.

Whaaaa? These are your photos!?”

I scooted over to take a peek. The surprise was certainly more enjoyable for them than it ever would be for me. First results page – pictures everywhere… Especially a dramatically enlarged image of my girlfriends and I dressed in either onesies, boxers or swimwear.

“Are these your bikini caroling pictures, Jacquie!?”

The Santa hat on one of the girls’ heads confirmed it. What the heck Facebook!? Did you seriously need to bring up slightly inappropriate images from like two years ago on the front page of a search result? The answer is NO, you most definitely should not be doing that.

Had to go online later on to figure out where and why those images had appeared in such unsolicited manner.

I’d like to believe that fashion is a form of art and self expression, but sometimes one has to plan beyond personal preference. Sometimes modest is hottest. Especially when you don’t want professors, dad, future/present boss, stalkers or otherwise sketch individuals staring at pictures of you in a bikini.

Yes, that is a definite no, no.

The next day, I self consciously covered up from collar bones to the tippy tips of my toes. The air was a bit chill before morning light. Ah, yes – sweater weather and the perfect opportunity for a selfie. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to focus with a 50mm lens. My roommate was asked to take the picture instead.  Guess it can’t be called a self portrait any more!
Modest is HottestFor editing, the image’s original color was replaced with a more blueish purple tone. This adds a more nightly/early morning feeling. The picture was then cropped using the rule of thirds. Justification; truly centered images are rarely more interesting. In addition, the light and door frame needed to be removed. I also tried to remove the sweater’s excessive bagginess but it came out a little unnatural in the final result (Notice how the armpits are lopsided) .

This image was taken from what I believe is a neutral angle. The future calls for experimenting with lower angels. It’s very interesting how different lenses and camera angels modify the subject. You can never see a perfect refection, not even in a bathroom mirror.

Homeland Revolution

Victoria and I discussed various media projects at the beginning of summer.

Goal: rise awareness about human trafficking and advertise for the Homeland Revolution at the University of Redlands.

As we talked about the cause – one of the things that kept coming up was the realization that anyone could be a victim but no one may ever know. Too many times, people associate trafficking and slavery with the images of girls tied and bound overseas. Unfortunately, human trafficking is a world wide problem and is not always as stereotypical. Yes- that means that it happens in your city too, maybe even to someone you know. Because of this, it was decided that all the models we used for the project would remain anonymous unless they choose otherwise. The point is that we don’t know who the victims are – and it literally could be anyone.

I think our original plans were a little too ambitious. Out of the six media projects we came up with, only two have been completed. It takes time though, and people. People are hard to communicate with over the summer.

This particular photo series was scheduled for one day and funny enough the one I couldn’t make. Taryn Sutherland, a photography major at the U of R, took over for the day.

Unfortunately it was impossible to  complete all five images in one day. Yeah, I know, what were they thinking!? Well, apparently the actual photoshoots for the two images took less than 15 minutes.

Victoria asked me to finish up the project so I went over last Thursday to work on the last three shots.

There was a time limit. We hurried from one location to the other. Pictures were taken in such record time that even I was surprised. The only issue we had was with the image out on the field. It wasn’t late enough in the day to be taking pictures. Even worse, the sprinklers came on!

Oh, it was bad!

In the evening, Taryn came over to meet me and work on pictures. We edited the backgrounds: desaturation, color correction and words. Sometime later, I added chains to all the models by Victoria’s request.

On Friday morning, we put in the rest of the information. Originally, the font was all the same but I decided to use the logo font for the name.

All done! Posters should be printed and up in no time 🙂

How to Scare Off a Cowboy (or Any Guy)

Scaring off cowboys is a backbreaking activity because it requires an enormous amount of time, dedication and insanity to complete the desired effect. Cowgirls or not, many are willing to sacrifice their reputation in order to win the affections of a dashing gentleman. Little do they know what a challenge it is to catch a cowboy’s wink. It is much more entertaining to scare him through strategic manipulation. The cowboy is sure to notice the girl … and keep a distance.

To frighten a cowboy, a girl must begin by appearing at locations that he frequently visits. It is important for him to know who she is. Even better, he must know her by name.  Cowboys are close-knit with their friends and family. For this reason a girl does not have to interact with him directly. Instead she can mingle within his social circle so his closest companions can become comfortable in her presence. Most importantly, the girl must become close enough to the cowboy’s family that she is invited for dinner. This is an excellent place to start. A kick here and a kick there, pretty soon she might have a full-fledged game of footsies under the table cloth.

While attending the many events surrounding a western lifestyle, a girl will find that a pink lasso can be her most amusing companion. Girls not familiar with the art of roping must have the desire to learn the techniques. For best results, she can ask her target cowboy for assistance. He will gladly hold her hand as she twirls the rope. Learning to swing the lasso is frustrating. Being able to rope the cowboy’s feet makes the effort worthwhile.  At first, most cowboys will find this gesture cute. With time, they will grow weary of being tripped. In anger he might question the purpose of her teasing. The girl can simply say that she is practicing what the cowboy himself has thought her. In the future, the young man will disregard her attempts to tighten a rope around his ankles.

During these roping events, the girl must take the opportunity to photograph her cowboy. Cowboys love to have their pictures taken, especially if they are on the job. The girl needs to make sure that the pictures are clear and enjoyable. Another approach is to have a friend photograph the cowboy then upload the pictures. Either way, once the pictures are online, the girl must have her friends comment on them. She must be generous with her own comments as well; often mentioning how handsome the cowboy is. Her posts might become mushy. This will only add to the desired attempt to scare off the young man.

By this stage, if the girl doesn’t already know where the cowboy lives, it is important that she finds out immediately. She might even discover that he lives nearby. If this is the case, she can take advantage and obtain pictures of his house from the comfort of her rooftop*.   For best results, when he asks to see his roping pictures, the girl is obligated to lend him her camera. She might want to have another camera at hand. In this way she can capture his reaction when he recognizes his home among her photography collection. The girl may admit to taking the pictures or she may act surprised that he discovered them. The cowboy will take a good long stare at the girl and he will never think of her in the same way again.

Next, the girl must create a web page directed especially towards the cowboy. She must include pictures of him and even Photoshop herself into some of the shots. The webpage will be all the more appealing if it includes poetry and love quotes. The girl might choose to use the webpage as some sort of diary where she can express feelings towards the cowboy. When page appears to have an adequate amount of mushiness, the girl must make sure the targeted young man (or his friends) ‘accidentally’ get a link. Most likely, the cowboy will be appalled when he discovers the online tribute.

To further the effect, the girl must get her friends involved. On a lovely afternoon she can direct them to create hordes of posters. Each poster must include: the cowboy’s name, hearts, and most of all, glitter. Pictures of him may be included but are not necessary. In the dark hours of the night, the girls must sneak into the young man’s property. The posters can be used to decorate the exterior of the home.  If the home itself is unreachable, then the posters may hang from the fence, gate, trees or shrubs. What a surprise when the cowboy wakes up in the morning!

Most girls may choose to stop at this point. However, it is possible to become friends with the county sheriff and asked for permission to steal the cowboy’s horse. If he grants permission, the girl must also share her intentions with the horse’s legal owner (provided that the legal owner of the horse is not her cowboy). After formulating the perfect plan, the girl is welcome to carry it out. The best time to steal a horse is on the day of a roping event. The girl can remove the horse form its stall and transport it to the event before the cowboy has the chance to notice the horse missing. This of course, is a suggestion that might be carried out by any girl who is desperate to scare off a cowboy.Playing With Color (2)

Another thing a girl can do is to spread rumors. She can say that she is so infatuated with the cowboy that she intends to kidnap him.  For better results, she must include spine chilling details; the use of chloroform, a stolen vehicle, some desolate ranch, etc. Obviously by now the young man will be horrified by her conduct and will go out of his way to keep a distance.Playing With Color (3)

After the girl realizes the extent of her inappropriate behavior, she will be ashamed of her actions. Embarrassment may cause her avoid any contact with the cowboy. The young man will miss the previously unwanted attention. He may only see the girl through nightmares. He will question her absence and become curious enough to look for her.  Needless to say, it’s hard to rope the heart of a cowboy, but with constant pestering, a girl is sure to be on his mind daily!*

*Option only available under certain circumstances.

*All examples taken from real life experiences, thankfully not my own.

*Pictures in collaboration with Juntsu Photography.

  • Models: Caitlin and Johnathan
  • Location Scout: Erwin
  • Horse help: Caitlin’s Dad

How I Almost Died Chasing Peter Pan

“To die would be an awfully big adventure.”
J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

We were supposed to be climbing the mountain, but somehow wondered off trail.  Since Colin and I were planning a photoshoot, location scouting didn’t seem like a bad idea.  The luscious undergrowth scraped at our ankles as we raced across the forest. We jumped up onto stumps and boulders, even considered climbing a few trees. It was like a city kid’s dream but to us – it was almost like reliving childhood memories.  For him it was the Oregon Coast while for me it was walnut orchards in Central California.

Somewhere along the afternoon, we came across a rather large mound/formation within the mountain. Naturally, it needed to be conquered! He got to the top first, with me not far behind.  The  summit was rather interestingly slopped and it took a bit to go from one end to the other, which actually brought us above the tree canopy.

Wow! Definitely almost like a scene from Jurassic Park. Birds flying overhead, almost no sign of civilization, the steady hum of unseen insects…  Being able to rest our hands on the tops of trees as if they were merely bushes. It was as if we were on a little island in the middle of a jungle, the green spreading up the face of the mountain. Fail. I can’t even describe how amazing the view was.

Unfortunately, as the saying goes, what comes up must go down. Colin somehow gracefully managed to slide his way to the bottom. I, however, clung fearfully to a large rock the size of my torso. When almost underneath it, the rock shifted.

“Colin, this feels loose!” I shouted while desperately reaching a nearby branch.

He looked over. “Yeah, that branch won’t do much good. You might want to grab on to the rock right there.”

“I can’t, that’s actually what’s loose. OMG, I’m stuck! How do I get out of here!?”

Colin climbed back up as he carefully instructed how to lift myself up and away from the rock. Once safe, we sat on either side of it and he gave the rock a little shove. It trembled precariously over the edge.

“Oh, that’s really bad.”

“Should we just push it down?” I asked.

“Might be a good idea.”

I truly expected to put some good effort into getting that thing to fall but it gave way so quickly that I screamed in shock. It squashed all the little green buds, tumbling and crackling as it went.

A split second of awe and silence followed the tremendous -BOOM- at the end.

But not for long.

“I could have died” I shouted, “I had all my body weight on that!!!”

“But you didn’t.”

“But -”

“Almost dying would have been if the rock had fallen on you.”

“It could have! I was holding on to it from underneath!”

“It’s getting late, we need to get home for dinner.”

Fine, I couldn’t get him to agree and honestly it wasn’t really worth arguing. The good thing was that I hadn’t fallen down with the rock. No need for search and rescue. No need to alarm and scandalize the situation. No one was hurt, not a scratch. Ok, well maybe one or two…  or five. Fine. Life is good.

A couple days later, Colin dressed up as Peter Pan and once again we ran across the French forest. This time we were more careful. It wouldn’t do to break my camera!

 

 

Drama Behind the Scenes

“This is probably the best still I have ever taken as a set photographer” read a post from last year which never quite got published… and so I’m just going to emancipate it from the drafts box:

The image was taken during a cinematography class project. We were supposed use a K3 film camera but nobody imagined that using it would be such a hassle!  At first, we couldn’t even get the film into the camera… it took six different people like two hours!

These are some other stills from the class project. We took great care on set design for that first shoot.  Costumes, poker chips and smoke, we had it all. Dolly tracks were set around the table, actors arrived and the tripod was set. Like I said earlier, it was two hours and 6 people before that camera saw the light of day.

As the problems with loading it became apparent, several suggested that we filmed on a HVX or Cannon T3i for backup. Unfortunately, it was decided to only film using the K3, as to save time. The director was freaking out and the rest of the crew and actors was stressed out. We needed to be done as soon as possible.

Being done as soon as possible turned out to be the least of our worries. Apparently the film was loaded incorrectly and the gadget responsible for pressing it against the shutter came loose during production. Fingers were crossed as we decided to move on.

The story evolved from the class’ desire to get slow motion shots of flowing fabric.  “What better way than a runaway bride in a gossamer dress?” They thought.

Being chosen as the bride was an interesting mix of fun and tragedy. Several class periods were spent running down the halls of the art department in a lime green dress. The rest of them regressed into the childish psychological mindset of ‘cooties’.   Yes, I did say the dress was lime green. In fact our costume designer did a wonderful job of creating it out of sheets and a slip.

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The last scene was supposed to have the bride die gracefully into a body of water. What was not graceful was the ungodly hour at which the cast and crew met up on a chilly, cloudy Sunday morning. In February. IN FEBRUARY!!!  This was not plan A – a heated pool in someone’s fancy Napa villa, this was more like plan Z and a half –a visit to the school’s fountain.

The director actually waded into the water in an attempt to coax us in. She succeeded – but as the frigid water engulfed my body, I found death wasn’t as beautiful as the shot had been described.  The groom’s shirt suffered a make-up imprint in a desperate attempt to muffle my unwarranted screams.  No one wanted to attract campus security!

The crew watched in horror as the fountain was vacated and cloths came flying off bodies faster than bullets.  The campus may or may not have witnessed an underwear clad person being chased by an ice soaked individual who in turned was followed by someone who’d been slipped into cloths at the last minute >.<  We are all running for a position within the Student Association. Good thing the administrators didn’t look out the window during their meeting!

The film was promptly sent to be developed. I jumped into a waiting vehicle and spent the rest of the day avoiding paint balls at a shooting range.

“There was some good footage and some bad”  our professor wrote, “but among it was a few MAGICAL slow motion shots of a fleeing bride”.

Of course, our poker scene is ruined because the film was loaded incorrectly – but you know what the worst part is? One of the rolls is missing. Specifically the roll featuring a ‘not-so-dead-someone’ in the fountain. There were many unhappy faces  and under breath comments to go around.

Deep breath. It’s ok. Our grades WILL survive.

As discussed in class, there were other factors that affected the success of this project. Some commented that the director wasn’t getting along with everyone on the team. Others mentioned that the producer wasn’t contacting the right people. Several glared at the bride & groom knowing that our ‘none speaking terms‘ attitude during production had ruined the chemistry.

Regardless of the outcome, this film making fiasco has brought many lessons along with it:

  1. Have back up lined up so if plan A fails at least you will be able to rock plan B (and not get to Z1/2).
  2. Group effort is needed so work with your team regardless of personal differences.
  3. Enjoy whatever it is that you are doing and have fun while you are at it.

As for my film loading abilities -thankfully one of the TAs decided to take the time to teach me how the camera worked. I took two freshmen into the darkroom with us so they could watch him load the K3.  Besides the occasional flicker from the little red lights on the enlargers, you can’t see anything! Nada. Rien. The poor TA must have rolled his eyes as the freshmen and I spent the next 25 minutes trying to figure out why we could all ‘see’ and were seemingly running into a fictitious pole in the middle of the room. Other opportunities to load the camera were much appreciated and encountered with eternal gratefulness. Trial and error does pay off and by finals week I could load the K3 by myself with a record under 10 minutes. No time to run into imaginary poles there!

Take Me to Africa

Like I’ve previously said, I’ve always wanted to travel to Africa. But sometimes, when one can’t go to Africa, it’s ok to bring Africa to wherever you are.

Africa (1)Meet Leila, my lovely and very wise roommate. Also the first person to gladly teach me how to tie head scarves the right way. When I told her about my 9 countries, 9 photo shoots, 9 months project she was willing to help out. Obviously, I was way to excited about the whole scarf tying thing. Told her she had to wear one for the pictures!

Originally, this was supposed to be the photoshoot for ‘France’ but boy does it look geographically incorrect! Where are we? Perhaps in a Francophone? Could it be somewhere in Africa?

Yes, for the sake of this project and my current failing status – I should probably just say yes. A little quick internet search for an African country with similar landscape. Uganda? Not a Francophone but sure. Now what about this cow? It does not look very Africanized! Ok, we shall just say that it’s an imported English cow.

Done. Just like that. We are in Africa.
Africa (3)Now, how did we really end up with this shot? Well, you see, the mountain behind our school supports several herds of cattle… and I’ve always also wanted to do a photoshoot involving cows.

One sunny afternoon we set off to conquer the mountain! Unfortunately, when we got to the top, the air was chilly and the sun played hide and seek behind the clouds. Cows were easy to spot. All of them wore Swiss little bells that clinged and clanged with every step. We tracked them down and set up for the shoot. The reflector was useless. The sun was really gone.

And then the cows got a little tricky to handle. They were getting a little grumpy, looking at us funny and even doing a little stomping. Thankfully, Sarah was there as cow wrangler. She stated that she disliked hows, but she did a better job with them than either Leila or I could have done.

Africa (2)Here we are, a blotched attempt at a group picture. Nobody was dressed appropriately for the sudden temperature decrease. We ended sooner than expected and ran down the mountain, shivering as we went.

Oh well! Some good pictures were taken!

Now that my nine months abroad are are almost done I only have four of the nine photos needed for the project. USA, France, Belgium and Monaco.  Switzerland is just a 25 minute walk from my room so that’s easy. Mexico might be a thing before the summer is over. But the rest? What if I pretended the models were in diffrent countries. What if this one was in Uganda and I did another photoshoot for France? Might be a thing. I don’t just want to give up.

Unplanned Exploration in the Leaf Tunnel!

This image was totally spontaneous and unplanned. Thats why I love it so much.Leaf TunnelThis was actually taken on Easter Sunday. Not sure what country we were in at the time, although I have reason to believe it was Switzerland. We were walking along the side of the road when we came across this. It was just so beautiful. Walked right in, took a picture and left. That was it.
But the moment was magical.
It would be amazing to go back and do a photoshoot in there. Just imagine someone in a long red or black dress!
I’ll add other images from that day later on, but you can see the pictures Kaelibeth took. So many fond memories. By far the best Easter ever!

Durango Falls

Camping is fun. Experiencing different cultures is fun.  So, when I was invited to go camping at La Concha Durango, how could I say no?

We got there by bus. Everyone unloaded their belongings and got ready to set up camp. But not everyone had come well prepared. There were only two tents to accommodate the group of 30 something. Several families decided to rent hotel rooms instead. Everyone pretty much chose their own thing. Someone may have even stayed in the bus.

Durango Falls (1)A group of boys tried to set up the larger of the two tents. It wasn’t really working out.  Someone tossed out the tent I’d be staying in. To my surprise, it was the exact model (Long story- but it was probably the exact tent) in which I’d camped so many times as a child. In less than 10 minutes, it was set. The boys were shamed and I felt bad.  In the end, my little tent was shared between 8 people. Now I can officially say I have cuddled with strangers!!! Other girls and kids thankfully, lol.

A short walk from the campsite was the reason we’d come. Public baths. A mix between civilization and nature.

Durango Falls (2)In Mexico, these are a little different than your typical public pool. Yes, sometimes people actually shampoo and wash themselves. The pools are usually connected to an outside water source (like a river or stream) and thus the water is always flowing through. Sometimes fish live in the pools to help keep them clean… and also to eat the dead skin off people’s feet.

La Concha Durango has public, private and natural pools. We jumped right in! The water was so warm! It was like a gigantic jacuzzi!

Durango Falls (3)This is Jonathan. His parents weren’t on the trip. I was supposed to keep an eye out for him. He is an awesome  kid. Big eyes with the longest most enviable eyelashes.

Durango Falls (4)Here we are looking over the blue bridge. Seems like an infinity pool. Sometimes people swim along the edge… but it wasn’t very common.Durango Falls (5)On the other side there is a series of waterfalls. It’s not jacuzzi status, but the water is unbelievably warm!

Durango Falls (6)A lot of the girls were afraid of getting sun tanned/burn. Although there was a small shop nearby, I don’t remember it selling sunscreen. Offered mine, but the girls didn’t think it would help if they were already burned. There needs to be more sunscreen available, everywhere! You can never use too much!
Durango Falls (7)Anyway – this is my favorite candid shot. It looks like some guy was walking by and suddenly a bunch of girls peeped out from behind the waterfall, lol. It wasn’t like that. He was with us, but I don’t remember who he was exactly.

Most of the men didn’t go swimming. They hung out together and discussed life and stuff. There conversations and stories were rather amusing.
Durango Falls (8)I guess it is kinda interesting how groups naturally separated by age and gender. Age is understandable, but gender seemed to be more of a cultural thing.

Durango Falls (9)Trying to remember this little kid’s name. He is Jonathan’s little cousin. Took this image because he looks so adorable and cute, right out of the pool.

The men told us that they had gone exploring and wanted to show us what the canyon area looked like. We walked along the river for around an hour… even crossed it a couple times. Well more like seven.

Durango Falls (10)There were several interesting spots along the way. I really enjoyed the hike, but many of the other women got angry and started complaining. Crossing a river seven times can get to you!

Durango Falls (11)Instead of going back, we did a full circle and walked on a dirt path. The clouds were lovely. Just love that cotton candy look.
We spent another lovely afternoon in the pools before returning. It was a lot of fun, I’d love to go back sometime.

Kind of a Triptych

Just a couple pictures  from a project sophomore year.  I was asked to take three images, one per quarter – each representing an ideal quality of our campus.
Running out of Time (1)Originally, I was very excited about working on it. The first caption, ‘A place to Serve’, was actually the last image I was able to obtain. It had been suggested that I have a group of students helping someone pick up their books. That whole idea didn’t work too well. It wasn’t real.

Weeks went by. The student community carried on with their daily lives, often going out of their way to help one another. I was just never at the right place at the right time.

It wasn’t until halfway through the year that I caught this young man teaching the young woman how to skateboard. They gave me permission to take a couple shots. I was really happy about finally being able to capture an image worthy of carrying it’s title.

Running out of Time (2)This one was actually the first I took, and probably the only semi- staged. We’d been invited to dinner off campus. Right as we were about to leave… I was like “Wait! Get in a circle and hold hands! I need a picture for something!”

Such a wonderful group of people!  We’d spent the night before singing in four different languages… in a mud cave. “C’est dommage” that this group never got together again as a whole. It’s was a coincidence that we hung out that weekend. Hummm… or maybe not. People of similar interests do seem to find each other. I just realised that four of us have lived in the same city in France within the last couple of years.

Running out of Time (4)

 

Days and weekends at school where always adventurous.  I can’t exactly say that my time there was relaxing; we lived life too spontaneously for that. Here, we’d randomly gone out for a day by the lake. I snapped the image and decided it would do. Maybe I should have had them lay down or something. Napping on blankets is a pretty common activity among the students.  Not really as a couple thing but rather something to do with friends.

Anyway, these images were never really turned in or used for their original purpose, so I thought I’d post them here.

Gypsy Me

We’ve been trying to execute our circus photoshoot series for three whole months.  Every time we schedule; it rains, it snows, and it pours! Finally, we decided that rain or shine the first of these circus photoshoots would be done before the end of March.

Of course, the morning of the 30th, I woke up with a groan. The sky was dark and bleak. Piles of homework layed on my desk. Why was this a good idea?

All of our models,  were sitting on the edge of their chairs. They knew that the cooking class had to get out before 4 and the weather must contain itself in order for everything to flow as smoothly as planned. Around midday Kaelibeth, our photoshoot organizer/planner asked if we were still on. Thankfully, she was able to sneak out of class  in order to do makeup for our two clowns and juggler.

Meanwhile, Sarah and I visited the location. It looked a little different and it was a little further than we remembered. Nevertheless our minds were made up to proceed with the project.

IMG_0198a (786x1280)After, I dressed in my gypsy outfit… maybe a little too early. A North American highschool was visiting and my outfit definitely needed an explanation!

Sarah and I tied sheets filled with pillows and scarfs onto a long stick. We also added a chair since one of our clowns has yet to recuperate from a twisted ankle.

Up the road we went, gathering plenty of stares and smiles to go around. Can’t even imagine what everyone thought. A van full of people from our school came by. They were pretty surprised. Maybe Sarah and I were running away from school! Somewhere along the line, as we waved to a group of cyclists, our stick broke and we had to scramble to gather everything.

After about an hour of confusion, trips and setting up, things were finally starting to look up. Sarah had actually built a boho tent for me, the clowns and juggler were styled and in full make up. Maja, our clown with the twisted ankle was carried to the location… we’d gotten permission to borrow a different lens… (mine is broken)

Thus our photoshoot proceeded with great success.

And we all ran off on the account that dinner was served half an hour early…

IMG_0229 (1280x813)We ate in a hurry hoping that no one had stopped to rest in our little tent. The pillows and cushions were deceiving; if anyone had sat on them, they would have gotten their butts nailed.

We stared at our creation. Not wanting to take it down, we played cards and started planning. What about a gypsy campout in the mountains? Wouldn’t that be fun? We shall see, lol. I’m actually really excited!

It was getting dark. We finally loaded all of our stuff on a longer, stronger stick.

How to carry Things (995x1280)This time the three of us, Kaelibeth, Sarah and I, carried the stuff back. It was funny because we entered our dorm right in the middle of a Tahitian party.

People were like “What where you doing?” XD

Light bulb ON.

Back home, I used to take self portraits whenever my roomie was out for the weekend. She’d come back and there’d be all sorts of weird pictures on Facebook.

Here, I don’t really wait for my roomate to leave. She has made it a thing to take a daily picture documenting her outfits… so we’ve gotten pretty comfortable about it.
Running out of Time (3)This image was taken about two weeks ago. Sad day. I was actually supposed to be somewhere else… that place being church.
Throughout the week, I’d felt like ideas were running out and time was not far behind. It’s kinda funny how this image reflects that. What a coincidence. At first, I hadn’t even noticed that there were light bulbs in my head! Good thing for double exposure. It actually looks kinda cool!

Ok, well time to turn them on.

Ice and Sky

We climbed up high hopping to catch a glimpse of the setting sun. The days had been getting warmer, thus we were truly surprised to find a blanket of snow. Live Life (1)

Even more amusing was the team of paragliders standing next to the edge. The sun pierced through their gliders. The colors spread throughout the sky. It was so beautiful.  Hopefully these extreme sports fans weren’t bothered by our presence. We may have gotten a tad bit too close.

It would be an absolutely amazing experience to try it out. Unfortunately, Kaelibeth and I won’t be able to go paragliding anytime soon. We have to wait till the end of the school year. Fingers crossed!

Live Life (2)In the meantime, we should probably hike more often so we can enjoy the view!  It is truly inspiring.

 

Heaven… as Seen from the Entrance of the Olympic Museum.

We got the chance to visit the Olympic Museum Lausanne, Switzerland. It was actually a pretty amazing experience to get to see everything from memorabilia to actual costumes worn by the athletes. Strangely enough, my favorite time was spent outside the museum.

Switerland (1)The scenery was just amazing. Absolutely jaw dropping. Clouds hovering over the water… sun in the distance… It’s a shame that a camera cannot always mirror the beauty in a moment.

IMG_9414a (680x1024)I took pictures of Kaelibeth and Tobar doing handstands in front of the museum. I got carried away and edited an artificial sort of rain surrounding them…  it’s more of a conceptual photograph than a realistic one. Balance your inner child.

Switerland (2)

Just a few minutes ago, my friends and I were watching the winter Olympic Final… so I thought I should hurry up and post this… before it became irrelevant.

Window Light, Window Flight

Growing up, my parents would make me stay in my room if I was naughty or needed to clean up. As a rebellious child, I’d remove the screen, flee the house and hide in my tree house. They caught on and Dad nailed the screen to the window. Well, that was the end of that.

My dorm back in the US finds removing screens a punishable crime. But in France? The windows here are just amazing. No screens and automatic blinds. Freedom! So much freedom! Of course, we had to take advantage of the photographic opportunity.

Originally, I planned to have someone floating out the window while birds were fling in. That totally didn’t work. The angles between the tripod and the window were weird.

The final image is actually composed of four different shots: Background, Tigger, Sarah and I. 

Spring (1024x683)After the final image was edited, the girls and I discussed it’s symbolic meaning. Sarah and I were both raised in conservative households; hers being to a greater extreme. As soon as she was able to, Sarah emancipated herself and wondered from her family’s traditions. I on the other hand haven’t strayed far. In this image, it’s almost as if I’m wondering out from my sheltered life while Sarah is returning from a wild adventure. It’s a very fitting picture, actually.

Pianos in Abandoned Buildings

While we were location scouting for group production projects, we found an abandoned building.  I’m not sure what it was supposed to be.  Inside we found a school chair and desk, a working radio, the back seat of a car and best of all, a piano.  There were several trailers just outside filled with random things. It was all very bizarre.

After filming one day, Ben invited Serena and I to help him out with a photoshoot. It was funny because that was the day Serena and I had run off to go swimming in the lake. As we chattered in the water, Ben asked us what his model should wear. I said elegant. Long elegant dresses. On the way home, we all agreed to do a rebellious theme instead. Long dresses were a little difficult to come by, apparently.

That night Ben drove the girls and I out to the photoshoot location. Place of choice: Abandoned building with an abandoned piano.  He set up three point lighting with blue filters. It was the coolest set up I’ve ever seen.

Abandoned Houses (1) (1024x669)I walked back to the truck to fetch my camera. It was a mess. Shirts, skirts, dresses, makeup, hair products and even a bra or two. Victoria may have been the model, but Serena and I were also dressed up. Oh what a mess we all made!

Rap, hip-hop, reggeton –the girls and I turned up the music. It was really hard not to break out in dance. Ben was not happy with his assistants, lol.

Abandoned Houses (2) (1024x662)Everyone was in such a hurry to get back before curfew that the location was left with all the equipment set out. Just before midnight, Victoria, Serena and I ran to our separate dorm buildings. Given our interesting choice of attire- everyone was wondering what we had been up too. Well, now you know.

This past summer, Victoria helped me with a photoshoot within hours of returning from her summer job in China. We realized that I have yet to shoot her… but after moving to France, I found a random picture(top) that I took of her during Ben’s photoshoot.

Came out ok, don’t ya think?

Like me on FACEBOOK 😀

Gargoyles in Space

Project 9 countries, 9 photo shoots, 9 months… how is that going? Well it’s definitely not a thing to randomly walk up to some stranger that does not speak the same language and demand to take their picture. Does it count if the model looks like they are in another country? Is that a thing? I have many pictures that look like they were taken in Africa!

Brussels (1024x683)Well this one was definitely not taken in Africa but obviously somewhere in Europe. Where? Belgium of course! We arrived in Bruxelles expecting rain.  Indeed, the clouds hung heavy over our heads but thankfully only a drizzle came down.

We headed straight to the church. The doors closed soon after our arrival.  We lingered outside by the steps. Josué tried to teach me how to do a handstand. It didn’t work out very well.

He climbed on to the railing and waited for me to adjust the settings on my camera.  The town’s square was beautifully lit behind him. I captured the moment in black and white – couldn’t tell if he was a gargoyle or a super hero. The full color RAW file was used to edit the final image.

Brussels

When the camera was ready, Josué stood on his hands and walked down the railing. Grace went around and took this picture from a different angle. She loves taking pictures of people taking pictures. Pictureception!

Note: The image at the very top, taken from the side is also by Grace Romstad 🙂

Bare Feet, Snow and the Pre-Alps

Walking on Snow (1024x683)

Of course, everyone in California is bundling up for the cold. By cold, I should probably specify that they are experiencing temperatures in the 70s… But when the sun shown over the French Pre-Alps and the temperature rose up to 43◦, we grabbed black dresses and ran barefoot across the snow.

Again, I borrowed Grace’s camera because mine is broken. Unfortunately, it ran out of battery. Ankle length silk dress, tea mug in hand, Sarah went to get a fresh one. She was seen running down the mountain side by a very confused French woman.  (Sarah was later seen in a red dress lugging a boulder… this girl! XD )

Anyway, the final image was a composite of four different images. The first was of the landscape. Afterwords, Sarah, Kaelibeth and I took turns in front of the camera.  Camille lighted us individually to make sure that we would pop out in the image.

At the end of the day Grace edited the pictures to make sure we all fit together.

I’m now recovering from a cold… but I already had it when this picture was taken.

 

Moroccan Vagabond

At the end of Freshman year, Ben asked to exchange a plane ride for headshots.  I was worried because I’d never done pictures for a guy before.  Turns out that should have been the least of worries. Yes, it was easy to take nice pictures, but during that photoshoot, I found out that I had no idea how to use my camera. Didn’t know how to adjust the settings for the proper exposure . . . didn’t know how to white balance accordingly…Etc. Thankfully Ben liked the pictures, but it was so embarrassing! It wasn’t until February of the next year that someone took the time and patience to stay after work and show me how F-stops, exposure and depth of field worked together. (No wonder I’ve had Cs in photography!!!) Morrocan Vagabond (1)During sophomore year, Ben changed majors from aviation to film. We’ve since collaborated on a ton of projects for both film and photography.  These pictures were taken during production for his brother’s film project. Morrocan Vagabond (2)It was funny because throughout the project, I’d be like ‘Wait, OMG! Photoshoot!!!’ and pop out the reflector.  These images show the striking improvement within a year. Especially since they were taken on the go rather than carefully thought out. The pictures were uploaded to Flickr under the names ‘Vagabond’ , ‘Le Long Voyage’ and ‘Morocco’… hence the name of this post.

Fire Sparkles and Blue Flashlights

Filming Fireworks (4)Got a text from Arve during an after vespers tea party. Were we up for some night photography? With sparklers? How could we say no? Headed to a nearby field. The fun was just about to start.

Filming Fireworks (3)The most important part of night photography is making sure enough light is coming in through the lens.  We made sure our cameras were set to the correct settings before moving on to the sparklers. Didn’t have very many of them!

Filming FireworksThe top picture with Matt waving the sparkler was taken by Zach. He set the shutter speed at just the right setting for capturing stars.  I took the one at the bottom.  Behind the scenes yo!

Filming Fireworks (2)Here’s one of Regina with a flash light. Tripods were probably used for all the shots. Definitely hiking up that long exposure.  There was not enough light to do it any other way.

Filming Fireworks (1)My favorite picture is the one that Zach took of Arve with all the stars in the background. The light was created with a lighter.  It took so many tries but the final result was way cool.

My SD Card was misplaced shortly after the pictures were taken. Glad to have finally found them! I’d actually like to try some night photography in Geneva. We’ll see how it goes. Wish me luck!

Running from Grace

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Ok, so the tittle of this post isn’t supposed to be because we are running from a church… but because we are running from our friend Grace.

These images were taken during our school’s trip to the small French town of Annecy.  They just dropped us off and allowed us to roam where ever we wished.  Naturally, we were attracted to the church’s high steeple. It was a lot of fun to run around the outside, trying to get the best group picture.

We did go inside as well. There’s always something – can’t tell quite what – about those giant buildings.  There was no service, so we walked in silence to admire the art.  And then it was time to go.

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Literally Posted on My Wall

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Soon after arriving at my new room, I walked down the hall to my friend Grace’s room. She had decorated one of her walls with pictures from last year. I gasped in surprise as I noticed a particular image of myself,  guy friends  on either side, all eyes crossed, spoons hanging from our noses. Hadn’t seen that one before!

Grace reminded me that the day that image was taken, she had promised not to post it on her wall. Her Facebook wall, but that she liked the image so much that she had literally posted it on her bedroom wall.

I tried to go without pictures. Really did… but after two weeks in my new room – I had to get it decorated.  So I went down to Geneva and got my favorites printed. Ha ha ha. For future reference, NEVER print out pictures in foreign countries if you can avoid it. It cost me three times the price of having them done in the US.

Grace helped me put them up.  The room is a lot brighter with all the pretty colors.

Can’t belive it… I actually moved to France!

My Room Window

This is my room window in Collonges-sous-Saleve. Can’t belive it… I actually moved to France!
Ok, so the whole trip was actually less stressful than going to Mexico. No joke. The couple sitting next to me on the way to London were really nice, and figuratively adopted me for the length of the trip. They appeared to have a lot of friends in the film business. Directors living in France and what not.

Switzerland

The weather report lied! It is freezing out here! I was stupid to have brought so many summer cloths. Can’t wear any of them. But I’m surprised I fit everything in one suitcase. People brought like two, three and I’ve even seen four.

Geneva

On my birthday, which was a few days after my arrival, a group of us went to Geneva. Strangely enough, the boarder between France and Switzerland is a walking distance from where we live. In less than an hour, we lost people on the bus, on the tram, in the city and within the shops. Here are the girls standing on a bridge after we crossed the border back into France. The freeway  leads to Milan which is 326.0 km away.

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Oh, and then theres my roommate. Never met before, but…We are both art majors. My Dad and her parents are from the Caribbean. They studied together in Mexico. Isn’t that crazy weird!? O.O

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Anyway, it’s so gorgeous out here. I just want to stay forever. It’s like Napa but it also reminds California’s central valley… and you know I was never quite fond of SoCal’s lack of agriculture.

Campus Adventiste du Salève

The internet at the school doesn’t work as well as I’d like. It’s been a month and I’m still unable to upload pictures to wordpress. I hope this changes soon!

“Punk Rock” and “Glamour”

IMG_0125a (683x1024)A few years ago, during a road trip around the US, I realized that it would be amazing to do fashion oriented photoshoots around the world.

Project Idea:  9 countries, 9 photo shoots, 9 months.

I’m not sure if this will work out, because so far it’s not going so good…   but at with least one photoshoot per country I visit during my school year in France would be something, wouldn’t it?

So, even if I don’t get to all 9 photoshoots, at least it’s worth a try.

Country of and Place Origin: California, USA.

I’d made a deal with someone that if they got access to the local airport, I’d shoot for free. As it turns out, I was able to get permission myself.  Unfortunately, neither of my original models were able to make it.

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After contacting my assistant, Amanda, we decided to use [Sarah] as our model.  During the actual photo shoot, Amanda became second photographer. She was also in charge of video/photo documenting the event. If this project succeeds, I might create a mini documentary, it worked very well with my [last project.]  Amanda’s sister, Lisa, helped Sarah get ready and stuff.

My friend Bryan, who had just arrived from a year in Guyana, was our onset pilot/flight instructor.  He made sure that we didn’t do anything dangerous. He was also there in case anybody had any questions and needed to talk to someone official.  His younger brother Mark was in charge of the reflector.

Victoria who had just arrived from a summer in China, watched or stuff during the photoshoot.

The first couple of shots were supposed be that of an artist about to go on tour.  As the photoshoot went on, I decided that it wasn’t the best combo. Pictures still came out pretty good though.

Sarah changed and Bryan lead us down the airport. As we were taking pictures by a small helicopter, a gocart pulled up. Roger told us come by his helicopter and he would set it up for us to use.

It was so cool! They opened it up for us and everything!

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An airport is a good start for this project. Airports always lead to adventure and world travel.

I’m looking forward to working on these photoshoots. It’s gonna be a challenge. In the USA, I have access to just about everyone and everything I need for my photoshoot. In Europe… I’m not even sure how to find people willing to model. It’s not always easy talking to strangers.

Unexpected Turn of Events

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As you get distracted here, by these lovely images of my friend Pumulo, I’d like to share with you about the strange events that occurred that day.

We had decided on doing the photoshoot at an abandoned train station. It’s quite the popular shooting location around here.  As soon as I arrived, Pumulo pointed out that we would not be the only ones visiting on such occasion.

She had arrived earlier than I and was quite frightened by the behavior of three individuals who were resting in the shade. Two of them, a man and a woman, where engaged in a cycle in which they would argue, fist fight, make out and then cuss each other out.

We tried to go on with the photoshoot as planed – but left very quickly when the man stormed through the set and caused yet another reason to argue.

Later on, Pumulo wanted to try out her skills at photography and asked me to model for her.  – which I’m terrible at, by the way.-  A woman came up to us and started giving me tips on how to pose correctly.

As the woman was about to go away, she suddenly returned and asked if we had change to spare “So I can buy food at Vons for my daughter. She is two years old”.

Pumulo and I looked at each other. The only change I had was for the bus fare. Pumulo reached into her purse.  I had a better idea. I told the woman that we would go with her to Vons and I’d purchase the groceries she needed.

She seemed to feel really bad about straying us from our photoshoot and making us walk so far.  But never the less she agreed and led us to the store. Pumulo and I started freaking out … we had never walked through so many back alleys before!

I floated through the store in a daze. Pumulo asked several times if I was ok and if I was really planning to pay for the woman’s groceries. “Yes,” I told her, but I had never done this before.

I was able to keep the woman from getting unhealthy food such as soda… but I couldn’t convince her against the chips!  She got some breakfast and dinner items as well personal hygiene products.

The woman was very grateful. She thanked and hugged us several times. In addition, she got us large iced water from Starbucks.

It felt good to help her, especially with actual things, instead of throwing out random change.  It was a great ending to a photoshooting day 😀

4 Passport Pictures for $0.19!!!

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So, I needed passport pictures, but didn’t feel like paying someone to do them for $8.  I already had passport worthy pictures from an earlier photoshoot.

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Why not do them myself and save a few dollars? Why not, it was a good idea. After some research (and looking at examples like this image from Williams Passport Photos) I edited the pictures to suit the requirements.

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Then there was the matter of printing the images. Walmart had a passport printing option… but they charged over seven dollars for the service. I didn’t even know if I could provide the pictures or if they had to take them.

Passport3Instead of  choosing the passport option, the pictures were edited into a 4×6 and ordered as such. It was only $0.19!

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I headed to Walmart to pick up the pictures… to my discovery I was in for another surprize – but that’s a story for another day 🙂

Dream’n by the RailWay as the Sun Slips Away

IMG_8603aThe first time someone directly mention these images, they described them as “girls by the train”. Of course, I was super confused… I hadn’t taken any pictures near any train of any kind. Or had I?

IMG_8542aAfter looking at the pictures again, I realized that the background did look like a train! It was so weird! In reality the structure was actually an old shed standing near a hiking trail.

IMG_8583I’m surprised that the girls where able to get up there, given that they chose to walk up in heels. IMG_8598One of the biggest challenges was reflecting the light onto the girl’s faces. Not only was the sun behind them, on the other side of the shed, but it was also sinking lower and lower by the second.   I tried to balance a reflector on the tripod.  That worked for a little while, until it was time to move further away from the shed.

IMG_8697aFor this image here, I actually used photoshop to blur the background and add a flux ray of light. I like this picture very much because it makes Anaida look like a doll.

IMG_8652aWe also took this one with the sun behind her. Anaida asked me to edit it for her but I couldn’t really change much except for the saturation. Well, her bra straps where also removed from the final composition.

I definitely had a lot of fun working around the lighting conditions through out this project. This is probably one of my best photoshoots so far. It can only get better. I look forward to working on similar project in the future.

Linea Caffe

Working With the Coffee Guru 029Woke up early on a Sunday morning  and headed down to San Francisco. Mission: To help film  Linea Caffe‘s Kickstarter.

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On the way to San Fran, I talked to my professor about my interest in becoming a set photographer.  Tag gave me lots of advice. He said that the most important thing was to stay out of the way of the crew but mange to capture quality images of the set.

While I did take a bunch of images on set, my main job was to capture sound with an R-44.  Boy was I scared! I had spent the night before looking up information on how to properly capture sound. Of course, I had already survived one quarter of sound design, but it was better to be safe than sorry.

PicMonkey Collage2It took a while to get used to the jest of things; to properly set up the equipment, to make sure it was working and such things.  I had to be ready, hiding under counters or next to the camera ready to capture even the slightest wave of sound.  Ben and Zach, who where doing lights and grip work, also watched out for me and made sure I was doing things right.

All three of us were amazed by our professor’s ability to quickly get the task done.  The shots would be called out, we set up for the shot, filmed and were ready to move on.  It was such a professional environment in comparison to the sets of student films.

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We shot for a total of two days in three different locations.  I think my best memories of this project was the interaction between the crew and the public.  It was very interesting to see the reactions of people as we filmed on the streets. Some chose it as an opportunity to start fights while others wanted to hog all the attention. There was also some confusion with the word ‘shoot’ as several individuals related it to a gun rather than a camera.

f84b0fe981990e789f4ebbbb2282ba11_largeTo see the final product, click on the image above and watch the video from Linea Caffe’s kick starter page. Enjoy!

San Fran Pooch

Walking down the streets of San Francisco and look what I find: San Fran Dog

An older man was walking him and allowed me to get a shot.  Classy!

This other dog, Rocky, walked into a cafe. It didn’t take long to figure out that it was the same dog as the painting on the wall! Same markings and everything.

SanFran dog 2Over the course of my SanFran adventures, I was overjoyed to find that people really care about their pooches. It really hurts to see the unethical treatment of these household pets, but I’m glad that in some places it’s none existent.

All Dressed in Sunday Best

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The title of this post makes me laugh because Anastasia and I actually go to church on Saturdays instead of Sundays.

When we were younger, Anastasia and I would sneak out of church to do photoshoots.  One time we climbed over a fence to take pictures in a playground. On another occasion, we walked to the firehouse and dressed up as firemen.  This time we decided we were too old and mature to be doing that kind of stuff… so we attended church and scheduled the photoshoot for a Wednesday morning.

Russian We picked out our finest dresses and headed downtown to the library. I found it amusing how people reacted to us taking pictures.  We encouraged them to go ahead and walk through but most would go around or turn the other way. Still there were others who stood at a distance and stared.

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We had plenty a good time and learned a few lessons about photography and modeling.  Afterwords we headed to Anastasia’s house to go over the pictures.  I edited some of them for her right then and there. Others I saved till I got home.

I’m a little upset; my power chord ended up at school so I’ve had no access to photoshop since the summer began.

Chillin’ in Vintage America

IMG_8398bOh, you know, chillin’ on the porch sipping ice cold lemonade.  “It’s like the life people wish they had.” Anastasia said about the pictures we were taking.

We had just finished up with a photoshoot downtown.  We walked back to Anastacia’s house and decided we wanted a couple more shots on her front porch. Complete with the American flag and our outfits, we felt that we looked like typical American housewives (from several decades back), living the American dream.
Sipping Lemonade

For a finishing touch, we used lemon concentrate to pose as lemonade.  Unfortunately, the heat caused us to drink down most of our prop before we could add sugar to it!

We were able to take the pictures using the new remote control I had purchased the night before.  The remote’s inability to respond promptly caused us to look distressed in some of the pictures. Especially if the shutter was not being pressed as the photo was taking!

Like my photography page on Facebook 🙂

UnderWater Dreaming

Underwater Dreamin 026aIn my portrait photography class, we were assigned to take wedding or engagement pictures. I had asked our professor if the wedding pictures could be done underwater, but he disagreed, saying that the bride’s dress would be ruined.
My friend Ivy decided to give it a try anyway. He invited me to come along.
I was super happy to help out with the photoshoot, since I’ve always wanted to do one underwater. It was a lot harder than we thought! I definitely have more respect for photographers such as Elena Kalis.
Since we traded the camera on and off, I’m not for sure who took which pictures. I did take this one though, and I’m very happy with the results.

Might be getting some snorkeling gear for the next one though!

 

Rocking the Cat Walk, You See?

Sad story. I’ve designed my own cloths since like forever. Some of them get made, some of them don’t.  After attending the REVO fashion show last year, I wanted the opportunity to design something for it this year.

Well, they didn’t let me do it. So what did I do instead? I filmed for my group production project, took pictures for a photobooth, felt sick, took a nap then ran to the fashion show.

I arrived just in time to see the start. The runway stretched out over the the fountain. The crowd surrounded the area with no possible way to get in. I got out a telephoto lens and took the images from the stairs oh so far away. The first could images didn’t come out so well because the camera wasn’t set yet.

Several people asked why I wasn’t part of the show. With a shrug, I said I tried. Gotta say that I’m still upset, but recognize that not designing for the fashion show has given me time to work on film. It’s ok, some lady asked me to model for her project in San Francisco this summer. Humm, we shall see. That sounds kinda sketch.

Anyways, here are the best shots I captured of the night:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8If you would like to see the images individually, please visit:

REVO Fashion Show ’13

La Sirenita

Mermaid Time 225Ok, so remember how I said in my ‘About Me’ that my career choice as a kid was ‘mermaid’?  Well my parents made me a mermaid tail for Christmas! I didn’t get to try it out till a couple of weeks ago.  The tail is super heavy underwater, and the fact that I can barely swim doesn’t help either. I feel that the other mermaid tail I had was much easier to swim in.

PicMonkey CollageMy friends and I got to go to Dillon beach a couple weeks ago. Queenie, Cassi and I snuck away so I could get some pictures with my new mermaid tail. We only took a couple; I was a little too self conscious – people were staring.  The pictures were pretty good but I decided to edit them to make them better. It’s almost magical to see the image transform.

A Photoshoot with Ariel

Mermaid Girl

In my digital photo editing class, we were supposed to choose a fairy tale and recreate an image using photoshop.

I choose ‘The Little Mermaid’ because I wanted to try out my new mermaid tail on someone. The problem was finding Ariel.

Well that wasn’t too hard – I ran into Cassi during breakfast and even though I didn’t know her at the time, I asked if she was available later in the day to take the pictures. Thankfully she was willing to do it.

Cassi  ended up coming to the studio early because my photography professor did not approve of a different photoshoot I was supposed to be working on. I needed an excuse to be in the studio!

With the help of the professor and two  guy friends, we were able to create the proper lighting, angles and wind effect for Cassi. Afterwards I set to work on photoshop, transporting Cassi from the studio to the beach.

In order to make her look even more like Ariel, I had to change the color and texture of the mermaid tail as well as her top. Sebastian was also  added to the picture.  Looks a lot more like Ariel, doesn’t it?

Mermaid Photoshoot

Barefoot Through the Woods

On the way back to school, I got the opportunity to take a break from the eight hour drive and do a photo shoot.
Originality, Mrs. Bond and I had agreed to do the photoshoot at a local park, but secretly we both liked the idea of shooting in a walnut orchid.  Thankfully, that’s what we ended up doing! 😀

We walked down the street, past the young walnuts and into the thickest part of the orchard. Having grown up in a walnut orchard, I felt right at home.

Barefoot in the WoodsTaking pictures of the kids was a bunch of fun. We ran up and down the woods, careful not to step on any walnuts.

All too soon I had to leave and start the long journey back to Napa Valley.

Midnight of the Magic Flashlight

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Here goes to DAY2 of shooting midnight pictures at Lake Hennessey. This time it was seven of us on a Friday night after vespers.

We didn’t go onto the main dock because a group of fishermen beat us to the spot.  Instead we parked by the side of the rode, went through a gate and walked down a path to the water’s edge.

Having been there earlier in the week, the possibility of taking midnight shots was exciting. This time we decided to try out our skills at light photography.

Light Photography

From top to bottom: Our Group split in two. Grace, Victoria and Zach chatted under the stars while Ben, Larissa, Harrison and I took pictures.

Our first model was Larissa. We tried all sorts of different designs on her. The favorite resembles the popular ‘Nike Winged Victory’ from Greek Mythology.

I think Harrison was supposed to be holding a whip. He looks rather magician like, maybe a young Merlin or something.

Victoria came over for a quick picture. Well maybe the 34Sec shutter speed doesn’t imply ‘quick’ but compared to the other pictures we took – we did this one in one try.

Light ArtIt was a lot of trail and error.  Not only was it difficult to figure out the right way to carry a design, but the photographer and light artist needed to coordinate their actions. Both of us being film majors, Ben and I came up with an idea. Ready, Set, Action.  I pressed down on the shutter until he signaled to cut.

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Beyond the Scenes

Sophomore year, we had a Group Production assignment for a ‘fictional narrative’.    We were to work in pairs, each with our own project, alternating directing and cinematography positions. Zach and I actually stayed through spring break to work on our short films, but he was both director and cinematographer for his own project.

Beyond Production (1)Because his story was post-apocalyptic, we actually considered filming in a ghost town. Unfortunately, the nearest one was several hours away.  Location scouting proved that many locations nearby would work just fine.

Beyond Production (4)We did have minor difficulties getting access though. For example, Zach found a tractor graveyard but had the hardest time contacting those in charge.  He finally got the keys, and we moved right inside.

I was often distracted and wanted to do spontaneous photoshoots of Ben. He played the main character and his outfit went fashionably well with the locations.  Had a camera and reflector ready just in case.

Beyond Production (2)Kélanie did sound design for our first shoot. We were glad to have her on campus while the rest of the school was gone.  I’m not 100% sure, but this may have been one of her first experiences using the sound equipment.  She also went location scouting with us, and we pretty much hung out the whole break.

Beyond - Production

Funny as it seems, location scouting was not the biggest challenge. We needed to find a girl! Kélanie agreed to play the part as a last resource. There weren’t many options, since EVERYONE was out for the break.

We waited till after break to film those scenes. Serena played the girl. Serena was so much fun to hang out with. We were always up to some sort of mischief or another.

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The second day we shot at the lake was intolerably hot. The water looked so pretty and inviting from the bridge!  Serena and I told the boys that we were ditching production to go swimming. They were fine with it as long as we had bathing suits. We told them we didn’t. One of the boys had just asked if we were planning to go skinny dipping when the police showed up to escort us off the bridge.  It was so awkward.

The next time we returned to the lake, Serena and I were ready. After filming was done we grabbed the car keys, stripped to our bikinis and ran off screaming. We didn’t see the boys for a long time. When they finally appeared, they found us shivering and unable to get out of the water. Thankfully they weren’t upset.That Friday night, we returned with blankets, glows sticks and a larger group of friends. It was loads of fun and thankfully, this time the water was warmer.Beyond (2) (683x1024)

It took forever, but Zach was finally able to get all the footage for his film. We got to see it at the Vineyard Festival at the end of the school year. I didn’t post anything till now because the final video didn’t get uploaded to youtube till recently. Feel free to take a look!

Faceless Reflections

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Over spring break Zach, Kelanie and I found a magical field of grass. We spent the afternoon running up and down the hillside.

We spent most of our time taking pictures. While the sun was high in the sky, we used reflectors to light each other. As golden hour rolled in, we used the reflectors as props.

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I ran out of card space and Kelanie forgot her camera, so we took most of the pictures with Zach’s 6D.   This type of thing is a common occurrence. Sometimes my friends and I have to mix and match each other’s batteries, SD Cards or Cameras so that we have at least one working picture taking device.

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Both this and the picture above were taken by Kelanie. All three of us have copies of the images and we each edited them our own way.

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I can’t really decide what category to fit these images in. They are obviously portraits,  they are fashionable, artistic and arguably conceptual.
Oh well, whatever, they were fun to create 😀

Lady with an Ermine

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For my portraiture class, we were supposed to recreate a well-known image.

I chose to do Lady with an Ermine. I asked Amanda to help me out with the project. She is usually helping me behind the camera, but this time she would be in the spotlight.

After doing a little research, I found out that a lot of people mistook the ermine for a ferret. That gave me an idea. I asked my teacher, Amy, if I could borrow Phoebe for the project. She agreed 😀

Lady with an Ermine

I researched and looked at other recreations for inspiration. Some of them were closer than others to the original image.

IMG_0271Brandon and Sam came in to help with the photoshoot.

It took a little while into coaxing Phoebe into modeling for us, but once she was ready, we got some really good shots.
This was definitely a fun one.

Behind the Scenes of Harrison & Gregor

For our Intro to TV Production Class, thought by Tag & Rodney, we were asked to make a short segment for a children’s show. Our group was determined to make something better than the other team, so we set to work.

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We decided to use a green screen for our project because our lab hours where late at night and it would be too dark to film outside.
Hannah did make up for our actors. It was a bit exaggerated due to the nature of our short film. Nothing was supposed to look realistic.

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Connor was our director. He read over the lines with the actors. Chloe didn’t need to read from the script, she wrote it!

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We had plenty of time to mess around. Mostly because we had to get our lighting set up just right. There couldn’t be any shadows or anything in the background otherwise our green screen effect would be ruined. Charles, a upperclassman with much more experience came to help us out. We figured that the lighting formula was similar to that of high key lighting in photography.

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But we weren’t just using the green screen, we also had to set up studio space to look like a playroom. Morgan was in charge of production design.

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She did a good job. We got a little carried away there. Group coloring time, just like the good ole days, lol! Some of the girls and I also chased the guys and colored the tips of their noses with the make up sticks. Naturally, they didn’t like that too much!

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But soon, we all had to get back to work. We had to make sure all the equipment was ready to use. Half of it we hadn’t quite used before. Kalle did sound for us. He and his brother usually team up on film projects but this time his brother was chosen to be on the other team.

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The actors got ready…

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And Grace clapped the clapper board.  Are you ready to see our final result?
Here it is, brought to you by Chole’s youtube channel.

Mud Caving & High Key Lighting

The way I was able to get these shots has to do with mud caving,PicMonkey Collage1Meeting new friends & hanging out

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Rides in the back of Ben’s truck and discovering extraordinary modeling talent

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So we scheduled a photoshoot. I took pictures of Manny. Chloe took pictures of Larissa.

PicMonkey Collage3

This was actually the biggest studio project I have ever worked on. It lasted from 8pm till almost 1am. We had two photographers,three models,Kelanie was documenting, Shyana was doing hair and makeup, Amanda was assisting, Neil let us borrow his scooter,  Zach connected the camera to the tv and Ben brought guns.

PicMonkey Collagea PicMonkey Collageb

PicMonkey Collagec

Actually – Ben brought the fan too and while I wanted to achieve the same effect from the tuck ride it was Ben’s idea to use the fan on fabric. Flowy Fabric and Guns-158c

That totally worked for recreating pictures in the style of Barbara Morgan. I used Maya as my model because she really knows how to work her body. I worked with her the most through out the photoshoot and we got a bunch of great shots. I put several of them together and Voila!

You know, Barbara Morgan’s models portrayed a lot of motion and emotion as they danced. Here Motion is portrayed in the way that the three images of Maya are put together. She was happy, she was full of confidence, she was spinning in blissful joy.

To view more images visit:

High Key XD

Sunset Shore

These are the results of my first ever on location photoshoot with studio lighting. 

Chloe and I had this crazy assignment for portrait photography. We needed to shoot on location with a lighting kit. Now this might sound easy but for a first, it was not so much. Especially since the kit was large and pretty heavy.
Chloe drove myself and our two models Sarah and Melissa out to Lake Hennessey. Once there, we tried to set up our equipment on the dock. We got the lights set, but the wind picked and threatened knock them  into the water. Thus we decided to shoot on paved ground, just in case. The wind refused to stop. It just kept acting up, pushing the lights this way and that. It was so bad that someone had to hold on to the lights at all times to make sure they wouldn’t tip over.
The wind was not our only concern though! Chloe and I had no idea which camera would connect to the light kit – we  brought multiple cameras (like five of them!) Thankfully one of them was able to connect, otherwise our project would have been a disaster.
Although we were in a hurry, we had a wonderful time on the shore of the lake. The boaters and tourists probably thought we were crazy. There was way too much equipment spread everywhere.
I really wanted to get a picture of Melissa from another side of the shore. We debated taking the lighting kit but decided against doing so.  Best choice ever made because the path to the specific location was super muddy and rocky! Oh well I still got some pretty shots 🙂
To view more of them please visit Sunset Shore.

Making Dreams in Film and Digital


I recruited my roommate Cheyenne to help me out with a film/digital project. In between studying, I did her hair and makeup. The carnival inspired eyeliner and hair bow made her look like a little kid. Had her dress in a pretty blue dress, got some baloons and we were ready to go!

The point of the photoshoot was to capture angel lighting on film, but I decided to take advantage of the situation and capture some images on Digital that could later be manipulated.  The Result: 
I call this one “Underwater Dreaming”

Within it, Cheyenne’s reflection can be seen, as if she was resting right beneath the water’s surface.

This one is “The Fairy Tale Dream”
It’s the happily-ever-after she is dreaming.
I am super glad that Cheyenne’s boyfriend, Boris was able to dress up and come help! He actually held the reflectors so we could light up Cheyenne’s face. On the account that it was their 6th month anniversary, I took an extra series of pictures just for them. They looked so cute!

This last one is titled “The Nightmare”
It’s when she wakes up form her beautiful dream.

During the photoshoot, one of the balloons accidentally popped.  Chey immediately made a sadface and I was like “Hold it, this is perfect!”  I later had to alter the image digitally in order to get her and the grass in different degrees of light.

A few days after the  photoshoot, I went in to develop the images captured in film pictures. I have to admit, this was my worst experience in developing film ever!
To being with, I was worried about something else and was not focused on what I was doing. Halfway through the process, I absentmindedly opened the canister,  freaked out then closed it as soon as I realized what had happened.

Soon after, I spilled fixer all over my shirt and had to take it off and let it dry in the ‘film drying closet’. While the film it’self was drying off, Kelsie came over and we took pictures in the studio just for fun. Unfortunally, and because I was wearing my hoodie, I forgot about my shirt drying…
OMG – what if someone came in and just saw it chillin’ there!? Ahhhh the embarrassment! I ran to the film and television department up stairs and explained my situation.  “Do you mean to tell me that you are not wearing your blouse under the sweater!?” Sho asked.  Thankfully he had a master key that opened the door!