Friday, June 30, 2006

...who later become friends

There are days—much like today—when I wake up and I’m thankful for doing what I love. Days when I pour over images, learn from mistakes, and pick my favorites. It’s as if each picture shares a story, emotion so real it can melt right into the palm of your hand.

And it’s days like this I’m extra appreciative for the people I’ve met along the way. Role models become mentors, who later become colleagues, who later become friends. It’s funny how it all worked out really…it’s as if from one day to the next, I walked past the curtain of confusion and malcontent and into the realm of happiness. It’s surreal.

I’m spending the evening with Liana in LA, who’s flown in from Atlanta. We’ll most likely spend the evening catching up with each other’s lives and businesses in detail. We’ve grown close over a relatively short time, so it’s wonderful to bounce ideas off someone who really cares about where I’m headed. The best part is that I’ll be flying to Atlanta for a week in August to shoot an Indian wedding with her…and a televised wedding she was commissioned to photograph as well. Role models become mentors, who later become colleagues, who later become friends.

I’ll be shooting a wedding tomorrow and I’m excited because each nuptial is a new chapter in my life anthology. A book that barely has the makings of complete prologue, but a ream of naked pages waiting to be filled.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

New School

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting with Mike Colon and we discussed the varying nature of photography approaches and philosophies. We sat in his studio and talked business, particularly how he operates his. The best part of our conversation is that he wanted me to write an article for possible publication.

Our conversation morphed into differences between conducting business “Old School” versus “New School” and we delved into how the industry has changed, what a photographer can do to avoid subscribing to the former school of thought, what younger photographers are doing to differentiate themselves, and the ramifications for photographers who won’t change with the new movement. It was truly enlightening.

Be on the lookout for excepts posted here in the next week or so…and—hopefully—in a magazine sometime soon! ☺

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Little People

So, when I blow up some day soon, I won’t forget to thank the little people. That’s what Jason told me at the end of our photo session. It was his way of saying thanks for the headshots. He’s recently moved to LA to pursue his comedy career and realized he needed updated pictures for his portfolio. A friend of a friend recommended me, so we met yesterday in LA for an understated photo shoot.

When you thank the little people, I sarcastically replied, be sure to thank the people who have equally succeeded along side you…because I don’t plan on being considered little for too much longer ☺

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Because I Can

I don’t know why but there was an interview on a British television station that I can’t get out of my mind. This might not seem like a big deal, but the interview occurred over three years ago. A British anchor person interviewed Monica Lewinsky in regard to the allegations brought against her in American courts and the possibility of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment. When asked why President Clinton would jeopardize his career and engage in certain acts, Lewinsky responded, “Because he can.”

After all these years, that statement has yet to leave my mind. Because he can. I supposed I’m dumbfounded by the amount of power one person can wield and the lengths he will go to protect it.

I started thinking about the power I possess. Things I can say “Because I can” about. I became frustrated because I realized there aren’t too many elements in my life that I can make reference to as being ‘can’ properties.

Why are you opening the pickle jar that way?
Because I can.

Why do you leave the faucet running when brushing your teeth?
Because I can.

Why are you setting the alarm clock so early?
Because I can.

I started to realize that I do not possess power in things that matter. If opening jars, running water, and setting clocks are indicative of my potential, I’m in trouble.

So I made a decision. Well, you know, because I can. I decided that in order for me to achieve what I desire in photography—to get to where I want to be—I need to make decisions that matter. In lieu of this, I met with a couple people last week and decided that I’m ready for a website…and a logo…and business cards…and marketing material. It’ll be simple, but it’s a start.

And when asked why I’m doing things this way, I’ll respond by saying: “Because I can.”

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Shanelle and Joe

The sky was clear blue and the sun stretched across it, as if waking from a long nap. The Victorian Gardens and Schoolhouse sat on a patch of land from the 1800s. The house was bright yellow and the flowers, which sat below the wrap-around porch, blossomed in its garden.

Shanelle and Joe recited their vows to each other against a mountainous backdrop and tears flowed freely from their guests’ eyes. The ceremony was beautiful and it was as if the sun and sky agreed to bless a stunning couple with equally stunning weather.

Here are a few from last Saturday…

Their rings sitting in a window...

Shanelle putting on her garter...

The cutest kids ever...

Shanelle and her bouquet....

A sneaky kiss...


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Eyebrow Smoother

I was grumpy today. And for no apparent reason. I just felt the necessity to scrunch my forehead in uni-brow solidarity—a la Freida Kahlo, or Bert—and remain grumpy. There was no reason to carry a grey cloud over my head, but I did. I carried it the way an African woman might carry a jug on her head after visiting a nearby well. Except without the keen sense of balance.

Wanting something, or someone, to cheer me up, I called JD. Because he’s good at that type of thing. He can find the good in any situation. Like the time our tire blew out on the 5 Freeway at one o’clock in the morning…why, it was good because we got to snuggle under a freeway lamppost. How many people can say they did that?! Or the time we missed our overnight train in Europe and had to sleep on the station floor. I was beyond frustrated. But, Jaz, JD said as my eyes were closing, there’s a vending machine here with American nuts!

Yes, he has a gift.

As I wait for him to answer my call, I think of how I can evoke pity…how I can use his sympathy to make me smile again. When he answers, I hear laughter in the background. Where are you, I ask. I don’t want to know the answer because I know it’ll make me even grumpier. I discover he’s lunching at Panera…without me. This makes me grumpier. How can you eat there without me, I gripe into the phone. Bewildered, JD stutters what might seem like an answer, but I cut him off. And I have to eat a packed lunch, I complained. The outrage!

If you’ll excuse me, I said tartly, I have to go eat out of my Tupperware. Good-bye.

Two minutes later, JD calls me back. I know you’re probably having a bad day, he cautioned, but you don’t have to be upset with me. In fact, you were the one who insisting on packing your own lunch today. I’m sorry you’re hurt, he continued, but I’m more than happy to bring you here tomorrow if you’d like.

How could I be mad?

In true JDesque, he reminded me that there’s good to be found in this situation. I’m sure he went on to say that the Ciabatta bread is baked fresh just before lunch or that he found the perfect table away from the crowds, but I found something even better than what he addressed. I discovered that the good in any situation is JD. He’s my silver lining, my cloud-lifter

Because even when my eyebrows imitate those of Frieda Kahlo’s, JD will find a way to smooth them out.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Boy-Brain Attachment

You can’t do that, Jasmine. You need to think like a boy. JD was talking to me from the opposite side of our room. And I was, well, trying to ignore him. JD continued by saying, girls get attached to things and boys are a little more cut and dry.

Oh, yeah, riiiight. This is coming from the same guy who was disappointed when his mashed potatoes weren’t creamy enough at tonight’s dinner. And the asparagus? They were good, but they lacked in presentation. Those were his words, not mine.

So, when I hear JD talking about using my boy-brain—which was retired at the age of 12 after I broke a boy’s collarbone—I scoff. I was trying to put together a slideshow from a recent wedding and I had too many pictures, or at least that’s what he said. I know he’s right, but I just can’t choose. What can I say, I’m attached. I’m a girl…and I’ll break another collarbone to prove it ☺

Here are a few more from Lisa and Riki’s wedding…
Lisa's shoes

Riki shielding his bride from the Orange County sun...

The guests eagerly opened their amazing (i.e. pink!) parasols...

Lisa kissing her father...

A view from the distance...

Riki getting ready to walk down the aisle...

Lisa in the ballroom before the ceremony...

The bouquets...

Just as the bridemaids made their way into the reception, they left their bouquets alongside Lisa's veil...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Te Quiero, Papi

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for everything you’ve given me, for who you are, and the woman you molded me to be. Because of you, I am opinionated…I love more…I have a quirky sense of humor…I have a strong jaw line…I roll tortillas on the palm of my hand right off the comal…I drive fast…I never want to be wrong…I like club Soda…I read books like they’re on the verge of banishment…I like the way mom’s head smells after not taking a shower for three days…I pray more…I have a loud laugh…I’m proud of how far I’ve come…I never overlook the small things in life…I pretend to know the words to a song, even when I don’t…I love the United States of America for its liberty and freedom…I am a leader…I poke fun at people and imitate their idiosyncracies…I love mom…I like spicy food…I depend on God…I animate my voice when reading a children’s story…I prefer a home-cooked meal to eating out…I am strong…I love my spouse…I forgive…I forget…and, most importantly, I love the Lord with all my heart, soul, and mind.

Dad, I am who I am because of you. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Thank you for continually sacrificing yourself for the family. I notice how often you bite your tongue; how often someone pushes your buttons and you’ll just let it go. I notice. You’ve only gotten better at these qualities over my 26 years of life. I want to be more like you, but as each year passes, I realize I’ll never be able to.

Growing up I thought that one day we’d be married. I don’t know what would’ve have happened to mom, but I wanted to ensure that we’d end up together forever. Perhaps I thought all three of us would marry. Either way, I wanted to stay with you because I felt love. I felt love emanating from your hands when they touched me, your arms when they cradled me, and your eyes when you told me I looked beautiful in my patent-leather shoes and ruffled dress. Although I’ve grown and ended up marrying another man, I still feel your love. Your emanating love.

Thank you for being such a wonderful father and role model. Everything I am, and everything I aspire to be, is inspired by you. If one day God blesses me with a child, I pray I am just half the parent you are…because if I am…I will be a success.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A few from Saturday's wedding

Lisa gracefully walked the ballroom as it was being dressed for her reception later that evening. Her languid fingers touched the linen napkins and china as she passed each table, as if knowing the night’s meal would be much different than those of the past. The Presidential East Room chandelier hung from the Nixon Library ceiling and cast tungsten shadows from overhead. Did you know these are exact replicas, she asked me earlier that day.

She made her way to the corner of the ballroom where a Steinway silently resided. She pecked the ebony and ivory keys, then—as if under a spell—she looked around to see if anyone was watching her. She quickly bundled her ReemAcra dress under her curved arms and placed the layers of silk and chiffon over the piano bench. And then she played.

Chopin emanated from the piano and Lisa worked effortlessly to seduce listeners. She swayed side to side and closed her eyes. Her husband-to-be looked at her from across the ballroom and knew that she was playing for him, for them. Just as a Siren, she lured him away. Away from the wedding coordinator, away from his groomsmen. He sonorously clapped for her and beamed with matrimonial bliss.

The ballroom stopped when she played, so when the song ended, she looked up coquettishly and smiled directly to Riki, who hadn’t stopped clapping.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Simple Photo Minute with Mike Colon

I've been so blessed to host this week's Simple Photo Minute, so click here if you'd like to watch the podcast. I had SO much fun making the episode with Mike and I really owe him big for allowing himself to be subject to my humor, questions, and quirkiness.

Mike, I know you're probably enjoying wine, brie and the Eiffel Tower in Paris right now, but I just want to say "Merci Beacoup" for helping me find my way to become a better photographer!

Monday, June 12, 2006


And her dresses are made by the same designer who styles the contestants on Dancing with the Stars, Christine’s mother bubbled. We were talking about Christine’s debutant ball next month—an event I’ll be photographing—and the multiple costume changes she’ll be making. I’ve never been to a debutant ball, much less photographed one, but I’m excited because it’ll be a pretty big deal. Various dance instructors have been summoned and Christine will have four costume changes, finally spending the rest of the evening in her designer formal gown.

And the musicians will perform the music live, her mother continued, but it won’t interrupt the D.J….and there’ll be filet mignon, you like filet don’t you? She didn’t give me the opportunity to answer because she spoke about the handmade invitations and the videographer who has yet to furnish his contract. Christine's mother apologized for going on and on, but there wasn't a need was apparent she only wanted the best for her daughter.

Christine stood patiently by the door, waiting for us to leave and our shoot to begin. Christine patiently reminded her mother that her choir banquet was that evening, so we had less than an hour to shoot. Blushing, her mother apologized again and shooed us out.

Christine and I are like two peas in a pod. We spoke about her nationally ranked high school choir, where she’ll go to college, and how her older sister was doing. That’s how I met Christine; at her sister’s wedding. I shot the wedding a few months ago and ended up getting booked for the ball shortly thereafter. The conversation flowed easily and we spent 45 minutes at a nearby park to get photos which will be blown up and displayed at the entry wall to her ball.

The 45 minutes flew by, but we had a ball roaming the park. She proffered picture ideas and asked whether she was doing the right thing. And she was. Doing the right thing, that is. Christine just being Christine was what I wanted most, and she didn’t let me down.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Looooong Time

Last month parents visited Boston for a speaking engagement my father was spearheading. Between brief transcontinental phone conversations, we caught up on each other’s lives and exchanged I-love-you as if these words were a substitute for ‘umm’.

And don’t forget to bring me back something, I told my dad. I like gifts. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cheesy snow-globe, a silk-screened shirt, or a rock. It makes me happy to know someone thought of me while away on a trip. And even if I had to remind my father to think of me, it wouldn’t matter because I’d have a trinket or keychain to remind me of his love.

I have random trip-gifts that I just can’t get rid of. Like, a Pieta from Italy, a Big Ben shot glass, a puka shell necklace from Kauai, a stone from Israel’s Masada…the list goes on. They all mean something to me and to part with them would be like throwing away a photograph--and throwing away a photograph is sacrilegious in my book.

When my parents recently returned from Boston, and my mother handed over a bright yellow New England shopping bag, I was thrilled. In it was Boston emblazed pens and a t-shirt for JD, the Harvard University sweatshirt I always wanted, and…this:

I almost couldn’t believe it. Why did my mother have the conviction to purchase me a “Future Harvard Graduate” baby onesie?!? I nervously chuckled as I pulled the pink garment from the bag. Mom, I asked, are you trying to tell me something? She laughed and said not to take it seriously, but, you know, she wasn’t sure if she’d be back to visit Boston before she had a grandchild.

WHAT?!? I honestly love my mother. She’s wonderful. As in wonderfully crazy, wonderfully belligerent, and wonderfully out-of-her-mind ☺

Mom, I know you read this blog, so please don’t be hurt when I tell you you’re your wish for grandkids is the equivalent to my wish to win the lottery, my wish to host The View with Barbara Walters, and my wish to be as good a photographer as David Jay. These wishes may happen…but not for a looooong time! ☺

Friday, June 09, 2006

A "Studio" Shoot

It’s funny how friendship can break down walls of communication. By this I mean that words are often unnecessary to communicate a friend’s thoughts.

She didn’t have to ask me, in fact, she hardly did. She casually mentioned how she’d love pictures of her son before she left with the Olympic softball team to China and left it at that. She didn’t have to say anymore because we communicated telepathically—on a wavelength only best friends can tune into.

I’ll do the best I can, Jennie, but I can make no promises, I skeptically told her. She flashed me her I-just-won-the-gold-medal smile, and I was sold.

I had my camera in the car, so we feverishly worked together to form my “studio” by moving furniture and positioning various lights around lil’ baby Ace. He was a total gem, sleeping for a bit, gurgling for a few minutes, and crying for a tad. He completed the session by relieving himself on my background…but I couldn’t be mad because he was such a cutie!

Jennie thanked me profusely but she didn’t have to because we communicate without using words. It’s a language huggers and kissers and laughers only know. And it’s a language Jennie and I share.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Doing Palm Springs my way

He stopped by for lunch this afternoon. We spoke briefly about his day and planned what the rest of our week looks like. Photo shoot…meeting…client care…editing. We spoke back and forth much like a ping pong floating back and forth.

JD made me lunch before he left the house this morning, the way he always does. Today it was my favorite salad: A crisp mixture of butter and red-leaf lettuce, diced vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped shallots, crumbled blue cheese, slices of avocado, topped with an organic Mediterranean dressing. We ate the salad together and continued the ping-pong.

What are you doing on October 30th, he asked me. Why, I asked. This is the way it always is. He asks a question and I return with a question. I never answer without knowing all the details. Yeah, I’m sort of a kill-joy that way.

Well, JD said, I wanted to keep it a surprise but…

That’s JD for you. Always wanting to keep something a surprise, but never can. I know every Christmas gift, birthday gift, Easter gift, anniversary gift ahead of time. He’s so excited to give the gifts, that maintaining a tight lip is like a rare form of torture for him.

JD went on to explain that he appreciated my presence in Palm Springs this past weekend with his co-workers. He acknowledged that the weekend wasn’t really about us, so he was thankful of my ability to hang out by myself while he golfed and played poker with the boys. I felt my head swell and made sure to bank my good-wife-points away for a rainy day.

So, JD continued, I just want to tell you that I want to take you back to Palm Springs on the 30th for something special. I started guessing what this special thing could be, but he just hid a smile and continued shaking his head no to every guess. I give up, I said. He loves playing cat and mouse, so he asked me to think back to our car ride home from Palm Springs this past weekend. So I thought. Well, I said, we listened to music, and we slurped noisily on Jamba Juice, and I read aloud to you to in order to keep you from falling asleep. I don’t think we did much more, I said quizzically.

Who was the author of the book you were reading to me, JD asked. I gasped audibly. I choked back a sliver of avocado and said, David Sedaris! JD laughed out loud at my knotted eyebrows and then told me he got us tickets to see him read his published works live in Palm Springs.

I couldn’t have dreamed of a better gift. No, really, I was beside myself with this news.

So, it looks like we’ll be doing Palm Springs again, but this time it’ll be more my pace. A pace that entails tanning to a crisp, reading a until my eyes hurt, and looking at photographs online. Now, that’s a vacation. And David Sedaris will be the cherry on the cake!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Dan and Elizabeth

Dan and I go back to law school, to the days when I would sit at the front of the class taking notes as if my life depended on it and he, inversely, caught up with his fantasy sports team. I’ll never forget the day when Professor Yeazell employed the Socratic method and called on me in Criminal Procedure. I felt my legs melt into my chair and my heart skip nine beats. Fifty pairs of eyes stared at me, most of them thanking God they weren’t sitting in my chair. And then there was Dan. Looking up from his laptop—most likely taking a break from—I knew he knew the answer. Dan always knew. He was one of those law students…the kind who was born to be a lawyer. Whose mind was programmed to chew up law books like beef jerky and gnaw on case briefs like T-bones. I’m a vegetarian. Both literally and metaphorically. Even though I answered Yeazell’s question correctly, it was as if Dan knew the answer before Yeazell even thought of the question.

Unpredictably, Dan and I ended up in the same study group and became good friends. We’d compare outlines, case briefs, and notes. He helped me stay focused when we were writing to get onto the Entertainment Law Review, and even made
sure I had dinner at his house every Tuesday evening. His fiancé, Liz, would make a big meal and a regular group of us would get together to eat a warm meal, catch up on law school gossip, and religiously watch Scrubs. It was the way we stayed normal. The way we didn’t lose ourselves to Supreme Court decisions.

When Dan and Liz asked if I’d take their engagement pictures a few weeks ago, I was honored. They’ll be married in Maui this summer, so I was excited I was able to take part in such a special moment. We met at the Santa Monica Pier and spent the afternoon in the sun. We rode the Ferris wheel, bumped on the bumper cars, and walked along the beach…I’m not sure who had more fun! ☺

Dan and Lizzie, I’m happy and honored you consider me a friend and I wish you the very best as you embark on marriage. So much has changed since our days eating dinner and watching Zach Braff, but it’s nice to know that we have something deeper than mere food and comedy. Here are a few pictures from our day…

Saturday, June 03, 2006

112 the shade

It’s about 100 degrees right now…and it’s close to midnight. JD and I made our way to Palm Springs this weekend and it’s nice to take a break from our busy schedules. JD’s CEO is celebrating his birthday this weekend, so he rented beautiful villas for a group of his closest friends. Our villa is right on the 18th hole, so JD is in Heaven. No, really, he lost his breath when he stood out on the balcony.

Okay, this is a par four, JD said as he animatedly pointed to the soft green grass below our balcony.

JD continued talking about golf, but I just nodded and smiled. I’m not particularly fond of the game, but seeing how JD loves it, I’ve learned how to smile and nod. Birdie, bogie, eagle…it sounds more like a fancy aviary than a bonafide sport. However, if he’s happy, I’m happy too.

I’ve spent most of today in the sun and catching up on editing a recent engagement session and baby shoot. It’s also been nice to catch up on reading the books I’ve been promising myself I would finish.

We’re heading back to L.A. tomorrow—back to the rush and hustle of life—but it’s nice to have spent the weekend relaxing and enjoying the sunshine.