Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Ripple Effect

There’s something amazing about dropping a stone into a body of water. First the soothing sound of the stone breaking the barrier between air and water, then the pseudo seismic waves that follow. First one, then five…ad infinitum. I suppose it’s nature imitating life.

There are certain people whose life is a smooth stone—refined by generosity, grace, and kindness—who make ripples. First one, then five…ad infinitum. These ripples are felt by those who surround the stone and whose lives will be forever changed.

David Jay is a stone on which many rely and whose ripples continually resonate. He celebrated his 27th birthday and I was honored to have shared in his big day. Surrounding myself with amazing people and loving every minute made my trip to Santa Barbara unforgettable and I’m indebted to their kindness. Being around such amazingly talented and wonderful people made me want to make ripples of my own and cause seismic waves of generosity, grace and kindness. And I suppose it’s no longer nature imitating life, but life imitating life.

Many thanks to Amy and Janey for making my trip SO much fun!! While I’m thankful for getting credit for making DJ’s birthday cake, I think the only thing I did was take out the cake from its baking tin. But, really, could anyone have taken the cake out better than me? Yeah, I didn’t think so ;)

Click here for a slideshow Janey put together of DJ’s two-day birthday celebration!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Engagement: Christina and Danny

Christina emailed and asked if we could do shoot her engagement photos in Laguna Beach—where she and her fiancé Danny will live after they wed next month.

As she made her way down Diamond Street, Danny trailed just a few steps behind her. From the first time I spoke with Christina, I knew she would be the type of girl I love photographing: Happy, beautiful, energetic and charming. And in love. From the first click of the lens, Christina and Danny proved that the love that began six and a half years ago was the real thing. It was evident in the way he gently held her hand as they climb coves, navigated tide pools, and caressed her back when he thought no one was watching. And she, in response to his touch, would smile broadly and look at him as if he was the only man on the beach.

Here are a few from Sunday…


Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Weekend

Yesterday was the most relaxing day I’ve had in a while. I absolutely loved it. I didn’t do too much, but I did happily buy a new book:

Bought JD a new pair of sunglasses from Jack’s Surfboards:

Headed to Huntington Beach with JD:

And spent the day toasting in the sun. We drank our favorite smoothie from Jamba Juice and people watched in between chapters most of the afternoon. When the sun began to set, we made our way to back to our car and sang out of tune with Bob Marley on our way home.

I absolutely loved it.

To make this weekend even better, I just got back from an engagement shoot in Laguna Beach and had a blast! Back-to-back days at the beach is just one of the many perks of photography…gosh, I’m SO blessed!! :)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Two Things

Two things happened yesterday to which I am so pleased. First, I finished a book entitled History of Love by Nicole Krauss and I can’t rave about it enough. I bought it spur-of-the-moment on my way home from Atlanta while waiting in the airport. By accident, I packed my reading material into my check-in luggage, so I was forced to buy another book because a flight without a book is like a meal without a fork.

I had seven minutes to choose a book and I was upset because I never pick my books that way. I don’t randomly thumb through a book like it’s on some smorgasboard conveyor belt. Where everything is the same, just with a different sauce. Rather, I choose my books like the way one might choose a puppy at a pet store. The book, much like a puppy, has to call me. Tilt its proverbial head and paw the window. That’s how I pick them.

Anyway, I grabbed this book based on the title and began scanning the pages. The airport intercom paged first-class passengers to Los Angeles, so I hastily paid for my book and darted for my gate. Before taking off, I knew I found a book that would change my view of the world and writing. It’s that good.

I finished half the book before landing at LAX and when I saw JD waiting for me at the baggage claim, I hugged him tightly and cried onto his shoulder. Hey, he confoundedly said, I missed you too. I told him that, yes, I missed him, but the book I was reading involved characters who survived the Holocaust and their coping mechanisms for lost love. Still slightly confused, he hugged me and said everything will be okay.

On Thursday night, JD walked into our room and found me engrossed in the final chapters of the book, still in my gym attire. One running shoe on, one running shoe off. Laying on our beige carpet. While he strummed his guitar, I finished the book and cried. It was that good. And then I cried again trying to explain it all. It was that good. The 251 pages made me love more, want to write more, and appreciate life more. It was that good.

Yesterday I also had dinner with Jessica Claire and Shyla. We met at South Coast Plaza for some good ‘ole fashion shopping and chilling out. We tried in vain to find fashionable photography outfits (do they even exist?!), but took solace buying a bunch of goodies from the MAC store. Make-up, not computer. I was tempted to buy DJ some blush to match his new foundation from a recent shopping stint at Estee Lauder, but decided not to ;) Oh well, I guess I’m going to have to think about getting something else for his upcoming birthday!

I’m going to try and post again from my Nothing Day. Because that’s what I intend to do on this beautiful Saturday. Nothing. Lay out at the beach, watch a movie, buy a new book. Nothing.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Patrick and Mariela

I needed the extra rest, Mariela said, as she strolled into the salon an hour late. She smiled genuinely and clutched her bottle of water. More than anything, 'Mari' realized the weight of the day and wanted every moment to pass at the speed of molasses. There are times when I just want a moment, she said. As the day passed, Mari made sure she closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and inhaled deeply, as if smelling the San Clemente air for the first time.

Patrick, the groom, surfed somewhere along the coast and could probably see his wedding site, Casa Romantica, from the water. After hitting the waves, he and the groomsmen held a Last Supper of sorts at a local Mexican restaurant, consisting of tacos and margaritas. Although not the traditional bread and wine, it still indicated a significant life alteration.

There were times throughout the day when Mari would ask for a moment. A moment. Closed eyes, deep breaths. A moment. Before she walked down the aisle, she turned and said, I just want to remember all of this. By the appearance of it, Mari did. Remember the day, that is. She knotted her freshly ringed finger with Patrick’s and made sure to have a moment with every guest, greeting everyone during the cocktail hour and absorbing the weight of the day.

Just as the newlyweds sat to eat their first meal as husband and wife, Mari and Patrick turned to each other. Mari closed her eyes, pressed her forehead to Patrick’s lips, and had a moment. Closed eyes, deep breaths. A moment. Her first moment as a wife, and by the appearance of it, she absorbed the weight of it all.

Here are a few from Saturday…
The shoes

Getting ready...

The AMAZING flowers by Enchanted Florist...

Just before the ceremony...

On her way to the ceremony with her bridesmaids leading the way...

Mari's dad waiting to walk her down the aisle...

Just Married...

Happily Ever After...


Monday, August 21, 2006

Stephanie and Matt

Stephanie ushered us into her hotel room with fondness usually reserved for close friends. She introduced us to her family—who later ordered us pizza—and we began the day shooting to the melodic sounds coming from the alarm clock. Her room was littered with wedding bell glitter pieces and white “I Do” balloons, so we carefully dodged the memorabilia.

Stephanie and Matt were the lucky contestants for Atlanta’s NBC affiliate for “Going to the Chapel”—a contest where television viewers choose everything from the couple, to the dress, and menu. More than anything, Stephanie appeared to me the most grateful bride I’ve encountered. She said Thank You more often than she blinked and was more concerned with everyone else than herself.

Stephanie and Matt had a beautiful wedding and spent the evening dancing, loitering at the chocolate fountain, and thanking everyone involved with their special day. At the end of the night, they walked through clouds of bubbles blown by their guests and hopped into their limo. Just as they left, Stephanie leaned over her husband and told everyone within earshot, Thank You!

Here are a few from Sunday…


The Color of Love

On my way home from Casa Romantica last Saturday, I knew I was ill. After spending the afternoon with Melissa and Kacy Jo shooting a beautiful wedding, I left the reception a little early because I felt a wave of nausea hit harder than those that were slamming the coast. I called JD and asked him to pick up the refillable antibiotics and painkillers because I knew I was in for a doozey.

JD was waiting outside as I rolled my car to a stop. I got your bag, JD said as he opened the trunk, just go lay down. On the nightstand was my medication along with a myriad of other things to make me feel better: Crackers and Perrier for the nausea, a sliced nectarine (because nectarines make me happy), and a terrible picture of JD and me in college. I laughed slightly as I got under the comforter and held the photo in my hand. We looked horrible. I’m pretty sure the picture is from the time in college when JD stayed up with me all-night helping me study for my International Economics class. My hair was greased back into a tight ponytail, no makeup, the visible signs of sleeplessness manifesting themselves as crow’s feet along my eyes…and I made him pose for a picture. So we never forget this night, I said.

I'm here if you need anything, JD said as he lowered the lights. I spent the entire night tossing and turning…hugging the toilet…praying for deliverance…shaking in pain…then falling asleep around six in the morning. JD made me tea, sliced another nectarine, rubbed my back as I spoke into the toilet bowl, and served up my medication like the soup d’jour. When I woke the next morning, our bedroom windows were covered with red throw blankets. JD creased the blanket corners into the white window blinds to keep the sunlight out. When JD came into the room, I muttered from underneath my 17 pillows, Our neighbors are going to think we’re running a division of the Red Light District here.

Feeling better, he asked.
Just slightly, I moaned.

I asked JD to keep the red blankets up for the remainder of the day. As we sat and watched a movie, he asked why I wanted the windows covered. Because our room is now the color of love, I replied.

And that’s how I felt…loved. And the color that spilled into our bedroom was just proof of it.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


This is what JD looked like when I told him I'm shooting another wedding today:

While he's usually very stoked to see me shooting a wedding, or second shooting for another photographer, I'm guessing he wanted to spend today the way any other normal American might…sleeping late, eating banana pancakes, and lounging at the beach. I've been so blessed to shoot a wedding every weekend since last May, but JD is looking forward to end of wedding season.

The good news is that I'm off next weekend, and I plan on doing what any other normal American might…sleeping late, eating banana pancakes, and lounging at the beach!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Lucy and Jeevan

Lucy's home looked like it belonged in a Norman Rockwell painting, or as if Beaver Cleaver might pop out of the bushes that lined her driveway and ask to play ball. The brick edifice stood proudly, with its grey shingled roof pointing Heavenward and large bay windows reflecting the envy-colored grass. When we stepped into the foyer, the three-story ceiling loomed much like a tent and the walls were adorned with beaded Indian tapestries. Lucy's father escorted us to the oversized room where Lucy and her bridesmaids were preparing. The tip of a crimson-colored sari peeked from the doorway and the clinking of jewelry could be heard as soon as we rounded the corner.

The girls took turns lining each other's eyes with thick eyeliner and adjusting the gold piece that adorned their foreheads. Although her bridesmaids wrapped themselves in saris, Lucy wore a traditional wedding dress and was to be married in a Catholic church. Ironically it was same church she first met her fiancé a year-and-a-half before. Lucy and Jeevan's families are from a small region of Southern India where Catholicism is practiced, so marrying someone with similar traits is a must. When Jeevan and his father saw Lucy at the wedding the year before, they asked Lucy's father if they could have lunch with he and Lucy. Lucy's father--having approved of Jeevan as a potential mate--agreed to lunch knowing food was the last item on the agenda.

Lucy and Jeevan amicably met and later fell in love via long-distance phone calls and letters, later deciding to marry in the same church they first saw each other. It was all very romantic and seeing the two of them throughout the ceremony and reception was proof that love wasn't just about two sets of eyes meeting from across the room. Their love sprung from culture, family and religion which later blossomed into a thriving relationship.

Here are a few from Saturday…

Jeevan with his father

Lucy on her way to the reception

The happy couple

The belle of the ball

Lucy in her wedding sari for the reception


Monday, August 14, 2006

Everything's Better Fried

And then I ordered sweet potato soufflé, I blubbered into my cell phone as I recounted my southern dinner to JD.

And potato cakes.
And creamed corn.
Oh, and we started off with Pot Scrapers.
What’s that, JD asked.
It’s collard greens broth served with homemade corn bread, I described

And green beans.
And spiced apples.
And whipped potatoes.
Oh, and I had fried okra!
What’s that, JD asked.
It’s a vegetable eaten here in the South, I explained

And fried tomatoes.
And Liana ordered chicken dumplings.
And Mary Mac’s serves cinnamon rolls BEFORE dinner even starts?!! I’m telling you, JD, this city serves nectar and ambrosia like I’m a demigod.

Wait a minute, JD asked skeptically, are you saying you ORDERED all that?! I thought you were just reading off the menu?!

I laughed at how outlandish it must’ve sound, but it was all true. Liana and I didn’t eat all day, so sitting in the brightly colored room with celebrity pictures covering the walls, made my experience that much better.

One thing I did notice though was that Southerners sure love their food fried. Everything’s better fried. The okra. The corn. The tomatoes and potatoes. I’m sure I could’ve found fried Oreos if I looked hard enough! ;)

I've had a fabulous time here and I can't wait to come back soon.
Here are a few pictures of today...
The Food

Getting my grub on

Being a tourist

Liana and Me

Turning Southern

These past couple of days have been whirlwind of weddings and shooting…and I’m loving every minute of it! Liana and I are off to downtown Atlanta in just a few minutes to submit pictures of her most recent weddings to Professional Photographers of America Magazine for publication, and then we’re off to eat some real Southern food. So excited! I’ll try to write blog again soon and include pictures of my hushpuppies/grits/sweet potatoes/collard greens experiences…and don’t forget the sweet tea. I cant' get enough of that stuff! I don’t know what’s happening to me, but I feel like I’m morphing into a true Southern girl, everything from my dietary cravings to the way I’m speaking. Just last night I turned to Liana while looking through her images and said, “Thadt pehcchure is mah fahvoret.” We both sat for one second in stunned silence, then busted up laughing.

I’ve been scanning my pictures from Saturday’s wedding and these sort of piqued my interest…

Friday, August 11, 2006

Sweeeeet Tea

My alarm yelled at me this morning. It was as if she was angry for disturbing her before the sun peeked over the horizon. Fifteen minutes past four this morning, I rolled out of bed and into the shower. I don’t remember too much because I’m sure my eyes were closed the entire time.

JD and I walked into our apartment just past midnight the night before—after having dined with my best friends at a jazz restaurant where my best friend Melanie performed—and I stared at my empty suitcase, wishing the pile of clothes sitting around it would get up, fold itself into a neat square and sit politely in zippered compartments. No such luck. At two this morning, I blinked what felt like a pound of sand from my eyes, and turned off the light.

Then my alarm yelled at me.

In a frenzy, JD and I made a mad dash to LAX for my 7:40 flight to Atlanta. I got teary eyed as he waved good bye from the third story balcony. The words, Have Fun, floated down toward me, barely audible above the crowds. I blew a kiss and ran to Gate 58.

When I arrived in Atlanta, I walked out of the airport and was smothered by a 92-degree pillow made of humidity and passing car fumes. When Liana pulled curbside, I sat in the passenger seat and let the A/C engulf my clammy face.

My Atlanta experience thus far has been phenomenal. Liana and I ate at the Hand-n-Hand, an Irish pub in Midtown. Instead of seeing a menu comprised of all things Irish, I saw hummus, spring rolls, and a wide array of fresh salads. I knew right then that the South and I were going to be best friends. Like let’s-watch-girly-movies best friends. When I ordered iced tea, the waitress asked if I wanted regular or sweet tea. Dear Lord, I’ve died and gone to Heaven.

When I arrived at Liana’s beautiful home, there was a Tiffany colored box on her dresser. Jasmine, Liana said softly as she sat in her canary colored room, that’s for you. Puzzled, I gingerly opened the top and found what could’ve been the best gift ever: A Canon 50 mm lens. I almost cried. No, I’m not going to lie. I cried. It was the nicest thing anyone could have done for me! I’ve been kinda in a funk lately, so seeing the miniature lens glass reflect my pathetically sheepish smile, I was elated.

I can’t wait because tomorrow we’re shooting an Indian wedding, complete with an American wedding dress, and a traditional sari! I’ll hopefully post some pictures soon.

I think we’re off to grab a late night snack…and if I’m lucky, I’ll have another glass of sweet tea to celebrate!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Smiling with Approval

After a welcomed break from the unusual humidity, a slight breeze rustled the trees along the Marbella Country Club golf course, their arms waving against a turquoise sky. After passing the buzzing wait staff—swirling around the outdoor tables like bumble bees—A was found sitting and staring at herself in a three-way mirror while the stylist pulled tendrils away from her porcelain face. She glanced at using only her eyes and smiled brightly. The beauty about A is the fact she doesn’t know how beautiful she really is, or at least doesn’t act like she does. She didn’t fuss in the mirror when the stylist was finished or insist that something—the hair, the makeup, the nail polish—was wrong. She just leaned toward the mirror, tilted her pensive face, and smiled with approval.

A’s smile remained throughout the course of day but was most vibrant upon seeing her groom at the altar. P, who was just about as stunning as his blushing bride, reciprocated A’s smile, as if the two were staring into a mirror.

Throughout the evening, A would look up from her sweetheart table and ask the coordinator to ensure we had eaten, had drinks, and were situated comfortably. She was almost more concerned with us, than with her guests. Once the reception was full-swing, she danced over and asked if there was anything she could do for us. That’s A. Always wanting to smile with approval. When we promised we were very well taken care of, we did what she probably wanted most: We smiled with approval

Here are a few from Saturday…

**Thanks, again, Jessica for inviting me to shoot along side you**