Saturday, December 30, 2006

Wife of the (End of the) Year

Today JD and I spent the day in Palm Springs. Now, I usually love spending time with JD, but today was extra special. It was extra special because I earned some major cool points...yup, I was most definitely a candidate for Wife of the Year. Too bad this year ends tomorrow! :)

One of JD's Christmas gifts from me this year was a Garmin Navigation System.

He's been wanting a navigation system for what seemed like forever, so when he unwrapped his gift, he raised his clenched fists and began pumping them wildly above his head. He then screamed, Yesssss....Yessssss...Yesssss, each corresponding with a fist pump. He then looked at me with moist eyes and trembling lips and said he was undeserving of such a wonderful, generous, and thoughtful wife.

Okay, okay, so things really didn't happen that way, but, still. He was happy.

Anyway, today I insisted he called me Thomas (as in Guide), because I wanted to show him all the cool things the nav system does.
*What, did you say you felt like Jamba Juice?! Let little Thomas here find that for you...
*Need gas? No? Well in case you did, there are four stations within three miles of us...
*Hmm, wow, we're only five miles from the mall...and it'd take us only 7.34 minutes to get there! We should just go to the know, to see how accurate this thing reeeeeally is.

I seriously can't believe we've lived so long without a navigational system. It's so fantasitically amazing that I think everyone should go out a get one immediately. And if you wives out there are smart, you'll wait until after tomorrow...that way you'll be able to be Wife of the Year a heck of a lot longer than me!! :)


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Eating My Business the Way I Eat My Oreos

There are two types of business people: 1. People who will only do what they love; and 2. People who will do whatever, as long as it yields enough profit…or pays the bills. I happen to fall into the first category. Thankfully. But this makes me feel guilty. Or blessed. Perhaps a mixture of both. Like an Oreo cookie—two dark sides of chocolately guilt smushing my sugary blessings.

As I approach the New Year, my often myopic eyes are able to look back and see how delicious this past year has been. Sugary blessings. The people I’ve met and the weddings I’ve photographed have made such an impact on my life…so much so that they’ve allowed me to wake up in the morning and love what I do. I love LOVE. So being able to capture special moments on a wedding day has been the highlight of this year.

Today I met with a group of photographers to talk about our businesses—what makes our different and/or how approach our business models (essentially what category of businesspeople we fell into). A consultant stopped by and gave a presentation about how to refine what we do, but at the end of the presentation, I don’t think I walked away with what I was supposed to. Instead of the desire for financial gain and an increased business prowess, I am more assured that if I want to remain in love with what I do, I need to focus on people, and not numbers. Don’t get me wrong, I have a business degree, so I fully understand how important running a profitable and responsible business is, but at the end of the day if I’m more focused on the bottom dollar, I’ll lose sight of what has become my passion over the past year: People. If I become so business driven, I’ll easily become the businessperson who will do anything to yield enough profit…and this is the last thing I want! I could’ve stayed in law school if that was the type of life I wanted. I need to stay enamored with what I do or else it will become a job. And I don’t want a job; I want a passion.

The best part of today’s business presentation is that it can easily be viewed much like how I enjoyed my Oreos as a kid: I unscrew the top and eat only the white center, leaving the chocolate cookies in the tray for my father to later eat. And I think that’s how I’m going to approach my business into the next year…enjoying the sugary blessings. I’m drafting my 2007 business plan and I intend on keeping people in my mission statement and in the forefront of my mind because people have become my passion.

JD took this picture of me just before I left this morning. I have a hard time posing for pictures, so I often find myself doing something ridiculous instead just a good 'ole fashioned smile. Sometimes I'll do the Kid-N-Play dance (I call it my Soul Train pose), other times I'll look off in the distance and pretend I'm picking my nose (I call it my paparazzi pose). Well, today I flashed a new pose. It's in honor of Ryan Seacrest. At the end of American Idol, he always says, "Seacrest Oouuut", so I'll call this pose, StarOoouut :)

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Emily and Johnny

Last Thursday I had the distinct pleasure of shooting alongside a great friend and photographer, Amelia Lyon. There’s something fantastic about watching photographers capture moments, so whenever I’m free to assist a peer, I’m always excited. Seeing Amelia in action was awesome because she wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty. Literally. In a matter of 25 minutes, she had managed to hunch, crouch, lay, and roll in the wet grass…at the end of our time at the LDS Temple in Newport Beach, Amelia’s pants were soaking. One thing’s for sure: If Amelia ever decided to quit photography, she could make a living as a contortionist. Or as a Capoeira instructor :)

The beautiful couple we were fortunate to work with was Emily and Johnny. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered such a genuinely sweet and laid back couple. The afternoon passed pleasantly because Emily just let us do our thing and trusted we’d produce the type of images she wanted. Working with Emily made me feel like I just an old friend who just happened to be taking pictures on her wedding day…I had such a great day!

Here are a few…
This is Emily's radiant face after walking out of the temple with her new husband

Here is Johnny trying to kiss his wife in public for the first time...he was more than a little nervous :)

I think brides look gorgeous when they laugh...and Emily is no exception

After leaving the temple, we when to Fashion Island to get some pictures on the carousel


Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!!

Every year, I try not to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, but I don’t think I did too well this year. This Christmas season I felt inordinately busy with shopping, shooting, and sipping hot cocoa (okay, that last one wasn’t really the case, but I thought the use of the triple S’s was cool in a third grade kind of way). This past week was spent catching up with friends and family…and eating waaaaaay too much. Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year and I always feel so blessed to be surrounded by people who make me a better person. I don’t deserve the beautiful people in my life, but I continually thank God for their patience, love and support. Every year I’m reminded of how fortunate I am and Christmas is a time for me to reach out and say THANKS.

Merry Christmas and I hope everyone had an amazing day!!!

Here's a picture of my two favorite boys...JD and my family dog, Juny :)

I'm pretty sure this is me after the early morning gift explosion and my dad's fabulous breakfast


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Raising the Bar

It takes one to know one. I suppose my mother’s right.

It takes one to know one. Or at least that’s what she always said when I told her my sister was a liar. Whenever she said this, I wanted to quip that my sister was also a budding genius and a future spandex model, but I refrained. Because mothers are good at setting cheese on traps and I wanted to show her that I was no rat. Afterall, I was a budding genius.

It takes one to know one. I wanted to tell this to Mike Colon as he adjusted the lights in the studio. I’ve always suspected he was a perfectionist, but yesterday my hypothesis was confirmed. Much before the model appeared on the scene, Mike was testing the lighting and moving each stand to just the right spot.

Mike was shooting a cover for the fabulous Bride and Bloom Magazine and I was there to assist him. I can’t write too much about the shoot itself, but when it debuts, I’ll holla. However, what I can write about is my experience. And, well, I could go on and on about it, but I’ll try to spare the details and highlight the most important thing I learned. In a nutshell, a photographer can’t take short cuts. There’s no hard and fast rule, but consistently obtaining beautiful images comes not from luck nor a I’ll-Photoshop-it-later mentality…rather, it comes from taking the extra step to get things right and never settling for less. This was proven repetitively as Mike would move a light stand a fraction of a millimeter to the left or carefully instruct the model on how to catch the most favorable light. He’d hold out a cupped hand away from his body and invisibly guide the model’s face by merely angling his long fingers. Like a facial traffic guard.

We spent the entire day shooting many wedding accoutrements, yet over and over, Mike took the time and effort to make things perfect. This may seem like an inherent notion, but I was ashamed because I’m not nearly as established or successful as he and I questioned whether my bar was set as high. As we left the shoot late last night, I knew my standards were raised.

So, yes, Mike’s a perfectionist. However, I didn’t feel overcome or ashamed with this notion because my mother’s right. It takes one to know one.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Marco and Hayley Engagements

On Saturday night they worried the rain might ruin their plans to spend the day at the Huntington Library the following afternoon. On Sunday, when the crisp air was so cool it hurt to breathe too deeply and the sun shined so brightly one had to squint, Marco and Hayley happily walked the historic grounds.

Walking hand-in-hand one could’ve guessed they were in love, but what most wouldn’t know is that they were engaged a month after going out on their first date. They just knew. Hayley saw Marco during a concert and knew he was her type—tall, dark, and athletic—so she made her way over to him and struck up a conversation. Little did the small Texas girl realize she was meeting her future husband.

As they made their way around the beautiful gardens, Marco would often pull Hayley into his chest and squeeze her tightly. She fit perfectly into his over-sized arms, like a key into an old-fashioned lock.

I’m so excited to shoot their wedding next February in Los Angeles and I’m honored to be a part of their special day…here are a few from our shoot…

The ring on Marco's hand is from his time with the USC Trojans when the team won the national title

Hayley is one killer salsa dancer (and was a professional cheerleader to boot!), so here she is showing Marco her moves...

They couldn't resist the gorgeous fall leaves :)

An intersection kiss in Downtown Pasadena

**To see the shoot in its entirety, CLICK HERE**


Happy Birthday, Alexandria!

Amidst the thousand and a half things I have going on right now, I met up with my family to celebrate my sister's 22nd birthday. If you were to meet Alex, you'd never guess we were sisters. She's the part of me I sometimes wish I could embrace--she's free-thinking, passive, artistic, and covered in tattoos--but we compliment each other in the oddest of ways. She completes our often linear family and adds swirls where they wouldn't exist.

Happy Birthday, Alex.......I LOVE you!!


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Zoe's Blog Debut

Just last night, my little sister was viewing my blog and asked a perplexing question: Why haven't I been on your blog? I looked at her blankly and said I didn't know why.

Well, tonight Zoe Belle was part of our church's annual children's Christmas play and I thought there was no better way than to make her debut :)

Here she is with fellow cast mates as celebratory town's people (I didn't make up that was what was written in the program):

Here she is as an assistant to one of the Three Kings :)

JD bought Zoe flowers for her theatrical performance and I thought I'd give her a little blog lovin' for a job well done!


Friday, December 15, 2006

Website Launch

The night before Christmas has always held a special place in my heart. Growing up, I’d have a hard time falling asleep knowing Santa would climb through the dryer’s lint trap. The houses on my street didn’t have chimneys, so the neighborhood kids came to a consensus: Santa visits through the lint trap. It made total sense back then.

I’d leave cookies, milk, and a detailed letter explaining that while I appreciated his kind gift-giving gestures, I knew that Christmas was really a celebration of Christ’s birth, and not about elves in the North Pole toiling away on my behalf. Oh, and he could leave the Strawberry Shortcake Doll in my stocking. Thank you very much.

Despite the modest gifts my parents were able to provide, we always had a great time opening our presents under the tree and eating a delicious breakfast afterward. It was a day I looked forward to all year and it never failed to disappoint.

There’s been few times since childhood that I’ve been able to wait in eager anticipation, but last night was one of those nights. I received an email from my web designer and, after months of waiting, my web site is ready to launch.

I have SO many people to thank (and I mentioned few in my BIO section), but I have to thank three people especially right now:
*Alan at Palladian Solutions for working so diligently on my website and dealing with my random “Can you change the dangling thingy after the fade-out thing” requests :)
*Jessica Claire for giving the site to me. Yes, I said give. She was absolutely gracious in blessing me with this site, so I owe her a plethora of kudos and a basket of heartfelt ThankYou’s!
*Lastly, I have to thank JD…again. Although words will never suffice, I must thank the human that has morphed into my backbone. Without him, I’m sure I’d resemble an amoebic mess throughout this process, so I’m stapled to his heart for his kindness.

It’s funny how life works. I’m older now, so I know Santa doesn’t visit through lint traps (although I have a chimney should he want to stop by!), but it’s nice to have that feeling of anticipation settle into your stomach. I woke up this morning not to wrapped presents and a Strawberry Shortcake Doll, but to a new website. And I’m so thankful for the many gifts in my life.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

SB Party Crashers

This past week I’ve been feeling a little ‘blech’. You know, ‘blech’. That’s an emotion somewhere between ugh and argh. Nothing’s wrong and life is still beautiful, but I was just feeling a little blech. And just when I wanted to throw a pity party— and RSVP just myself—I got a call from some friends.

Justin and Amelia Lyon called and invited JD and I to take a drive to Santa Barbara for the PUG Christmas Party. It was totally random and unannounced, but just what I needed to hear. Sure, we’d show up late, but who cared?

As we hobbled through traffic, we talked, laughed, debated…it was wonderful. The night could have ended with of our conversation and I would have been completely happy! However, the night only got better when we met up with a great group of Santa Barbara photographers. Michael and Anna Costa hosted a wonderful party and considering it was their first official duties as the new PUG leaders, they set the bar really high ;)

After the party, a group of us went to Arigato for sushi. It’s hands down the best sushi I’ve ever eaten and I make it a point to eat there at least once when I’m in Santa Barbara.
Here are a few pictures (taken by Amelia, Justin, JD, Ricki, and Michael)

A self portrait of me and Amelia

Justin and Ricki hated the sushi

Tim Halberg is one of my favorite he is loving his sushi ;)

The night finished at DJ’s where people sat around a cozy fire and talked. And I have to say that DJ is quite the barista…he has this new fancy schmancy espresso machine and made drinks for all who were willing to watch his coffee making skills in action ;)

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Personalized Bridal Swimwear

It’s winter. Almost Christmas time. And, well, I’m scouring the Internet for a swimsuit. Random, I know. I’m not the biggest fan of prancing around in what appears to be a thicker nylon version of my undergarments because, well, bearing my legs ranks right on up there with root-canals and broken bones. Ahem, painful.

Anyway, on a lighter note, I came across a designer from New York (Malia Mills) who custom designs bathing suits to one’s dimensions, yielding swimwear made perfectly for the owner. That’s less-painful news for those of us who don’t match up to our Heidi Klum counterparts who skip along the beach ;)

I’m posting this here because I think my brides will get a kick out of Malia Mills’ Bridal Swimwear. She does the “Just Married” bikini bottoms as well as personalized “Mrs …” bottoms crafted from Swarovski crystals. So cute!

Happy Monday!

Friday, December 08, 2006


We met under a canopied restaurant in Los Angeles. It was a warm summer day, so JD and I cornered ourselves into a plush booth, surrounded by overstuffed pillows. Orange rays crept into the patio through the slated canopy and took on womanly silhouettes when mixed with a neighbor’s cigarette smoke. We were waiting for our friends to arrive at Joseph’s and casually dined on Mediterranean appetizers. That’s where I met Pamela.

I was struck by her natural beauty. And her height. We started a conversation and discovered she’s originally from Miami, but relocated to Los Angeles to pursue modeling and acting. Obviously. As my friends slowly trickled in, Pamela and I exchanged contact information, said goodbye, and hoped our paths would cross again.

Well, four months later, they did.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of photographing Pamela along with Greg and Britney.

Here are a few of my favorites…


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Benefits of Worry

I’ve been struggling with something lately. I can’t help it. Anyone who knows me well can tell you I’m a worrier. I worry about paying my bills online in a timely manner, then I worry about the Internet hackers who are going to steal my identity, then I worry about my tainted credit, then I worry about never being able to buy a house again, then I worry about living out of my car, then I worry about gas prices, then I worry about the US-Middle East Peace Talks, then I worry about nuclear threats…can you see where this is going? I know. Please don’t take the time to tell me I’m walking a thin line between genius and crazy. Because my mother’s already told me a thousand times I’m a genius.

So, lately, having the strange urge to worry about something, I began to worry that something will happen to preclude me from doing what I’m doing with my life. I can’t think of a time where I’ve been happier and more content, and I owe most of it to the amazing people who’ve allowed me to photograph them. Photography has opened so many doors and it’s as if my dreams were crafted for this specific cookie-cutter.

Yesterday, as I sat in traffic along the congested 5 freeway coming from Newport Beach, I reflected on what an awesome day I had. Then I worried. What if I fail? What if the publishers don’t like my work? What if my work reads like hieroglyphics? What if I’m struck with writer’s block?

You see, I had a meeting for an upcoming project I’m working on for a bridal magazine and, as I sat at the circular glass table surrounded by images of gorgeous wedding dresses, I couldn’t help but feel so blessed. This project is allowing me to combine my love for writing and fashion…and photography. I’m working with New York based photographer who shot Fashion Week for publication, so I’ll be keeping everyone posted when the magazine is available.

As I sat in traffic on my way home, my worries were just about to reach their pinnacle (What if I forget how to spell?!?), then JD called. He wanted to know what he should make for dinner, but ended up walking me away from the ledge of psychosis (Jasmine, if you forget to spell, you can run a Spell Check or use a good ‘ole fashion dictionary).

So the moral of the story is to always worry. I mean, the benefits are obvious: Your mother labels you a genius, your spouse will offer soothing words, and you’ll have a warm dinner waiting for you when you get home ;)

Here are a few from my day...

The main purpose of the article is to define brides into seven different categories and proffer the perfect stylist choice of wedding dress...

There were so many different designers represented, but I have to admit that Melissa Sweet and Reem Acra's collections were just stunning...


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Beauty, Scrooge, and the Ability to Melt My Heart

He stood next to the noble fir with his left arm extended, holding the center. No, really, JD said, this one is perfect. He reminded me of a Barker’s Beauty, but instead of standing next to the Plinko game, he was standing next to a Christmas tree. Our Christmas tree if he had anything to say about it.

Umm, I hollered from 15-feet away, I don’t think that’s the one. I turned down another aisle to see if I could find the perfect tree. JD remained standing with the tree. It was the third tree I asked him to untie (well, because the untouched trees are obviously better!) and, after dragging him out unexpectedly to buy a tree, his patience was wearing thin. But, honestly, I didn’t care. It’s Christmas and this is just part of the process. You know, the process of standing in lines, sludging through crowds, humming along to Frank Sinatra’s version of Jingle Bells, calling dibs on parking spots 16 cars away. You know, the process.

On Sunday night, as we drove home from shopping at The Grove in LA, I expressed that he hasn’t really been Mr. Jolly-Good-Tidings lately. And it hurt my feelings. He apologized, but not without listing a litany of non-holiday caveats. Jaz, he said as we drove through Little Ethiopia, it took us nearly 40 minutes just to drive down Fairfax, only to wait another 20 minutes to get a parking space, only to wait another ten minutes for an elevator to descend from the sixth floor parking garage. Okay, I conceded, but shopping with you is fun and, well, today it wasn’t.

I should have known better. He wasn’t in the mood to shop and I was. And I also wanted to buy a new book. While this may not seem like an ordeal, with me it always is. You see, picking a book is like adopting a puppy. I have to touch my books. The covers. The pages. The author’s photo on the back flap. I have to smell my books. I have to open the book to a random page and if the writing moves me in that single paragraph, then I know it must be mine. But I go through this process at least 100 times before narrowing it down to three. Then JD helps me decide. Last Sunday, by the time I narrowed my book search, JD was ready to leave. Not the only the bookstore, but The Grove. He didn’t do or say anything to tell me, but I could tell.

Okay, I said as we descended the Barnes and Noble escalator, just one more stop at Crate&Barrel for ornaments and we’ll be done. He smiled and rubbed my back, but I felt like muttering, Hey, Scrooge, Tiny Tim called and wants his crutch back! ;)

We navigated the North Pole labyrinth filled with crying children waiting for their 22 seconds with Santa Claus and finally reached Crate&Barrel. A very crowded Crate&Barrel. We chose new ornaments and bought servingware and made it out as sanely as possible.

After Sunday night’s conversation, JD promised to be filled with more holiday cheer. So, last night I decided to take him up on his offer. That’s how we ended up in a tree lot late last night. JD instantly gravitated to the Charlie Brown Christmas trees (thin trees that reached my kneecap?!), but I wasn’t having it. As my Uggs trampled the loose pine needles, I wanted to find the perfect tree (preferably one that surpassed my belly button)…while Barker’s Beauty stood by his Plinko game. Frustrated after not being able to find a good fit, JD and I agreed on the tree in his hand and waited in line to pay. Just let me look ooooooooone more time, I said to JD, just in case I missed the perfect tree. I darted out again through the aisles of trees and that’s when I saw her. This beautiful noble fir with her arms stretched wide with a full waist and heavy bottom. She was perfect. Seven feet of beauty. I dragged her to JD, and when he asked if I was sure this was the one, I nodded and smiled while wiping the sap off my fingers.

Just as the tree lot attendants took my glorious tree to cut the base, a strange thing happened. They let her fall on her head, the tip where her star is supposed to rest. After they netted her, JD was strapping her to the roof of our car, when he turned to me and said the tip was broken. What?! My beautiful tree maimed?! The outrage! I gently patted her thistled arms and said I’d still make her pretty with my new ornaments ;)

So, last night JD and I stayed up until it hurt to blink. We decorated our tree, hung our stockings, and spread a little Christmas cheer. Before we went to bed, we stood back and gazed about our pretty little tipless tree. JD swung his arm around my shoulders and thanked me for making it feel like Christmas.

Even as a Barker’s Beauty wannabe, he can melt my heart with a few words.
These are the new ornaments JD bought me this year. Every year I get new star ornaments and I loved these from C&B!

Whatever, it may be tacky, but I liked this discoball ornament. Alright,'s tacky. But I liked it!

Okay, because I've been giving my ornaments some love, I had to make sure and give a shout out to JD's snowmen. I can't figure out why, but JD insisted on buying these guys last year. He loves them. I don't know why, but he does.

The end product....