kafei qing.

That was really the only thing I knew how to say when I arrived in Shanghai. “Coffee please.” Well, that, and, “I’m sorry, I do not speak Mandarin.”



Now, the trip to Shanghai was very comfortable — we were able to use miles to secure seats in Business class, and those lie-flat seats make all the difference on that 12 hour flight — but there’s something very disconcerting about being somewhere new and being completely illiterate. My dad has traveled enough at this point that I think he’s gotten used to being lost. I, on the other hand, have only ever been places where I had at least a slight grasp of the language and culture, or I was just too young to care about the stress of not knowing. This time was very different and I found myself pretty shell-shocked over the first couple of days. Everything was so fast-paced and completely unfamiliar, but I gradually found a way to relax and really appreciate my surroundings. Shanghai is really interesting because there’s a lot of really modern architecture mixed in with some clearly older, more dilapidated structures.



We spent a little bit of time at the Shanghai Zoo, but not a lot — it was WAY too hot!


We ate a ridiculous amount of food throughout the whole trip.





I did a lot of sight-seeing in Changzhou, Nanjing, and Shanghai.





I always find it interesting to just watch people and photograph them as they go about their business, hopefully without them noticing that I’m doing so. Maybe it’s all of the theatre stuff I’ve done, but I just can’t help but think about what their story is and try to figure out as much as I can about them before they’re out of sight.
Well, apparently in China, people were finding it interesting to watch me. In Shanghai and Nanjing, I encountered this less, but in Changzhou, people would just stare at me as I walked by. The difference being that Shanghai and Nanjing are far more accustomed to tourists than Changzhou, which is primarily businesses and families, and a lot of relatively new developments. The watchful eye of the locals was definitely off-putting at times, but never as startling as in one particular instance…

I was wandering around a park in Changzhou with my dad and his business partner, Steven, when this guy came up behind us. He said something in Chinese to Steven, who replied, and after some (completely incomprehensible) banter, Steven turned to me and said, “He wants to take your picture.” Apparently he had been following us for a bit and watching me take photos before deciding to actually approach us. Now, when he did, he didn’t actually have a camera in-hand. I assumed he would pull out a cell phone or a small camera, take a quick shot, and be on his way. Instead, he pulled that monstrous Canon out of his bag and started ushering me about the park, posing me, and taking rapid-fire shots until Steven finally told him we had to leave. For the life of me, I could not figure out his story, but I asked to take a few photos of him before we left. It was a strange moment, and definitely a story I’ll remember for a while.

All in all, the China trip was a success. Lots of memories, photos, and food was my goal, and I definitely achieved that. I wish I hadn’t been sick the entire time, but I still tried to make the best of it. Hopefully someday, I’ll make it back there, maybe when it isn’t so unbelievably warm. And maybe I’ll have expanded my vocabulary to be able to order tea as well as coffee.

The photos here are a mere fraction of the number I took during the trip. I will be uploading many more to my brand new facebook page! That’s right, now you can press a little ‘Like’ button as well as add me as a friend. Keep an eye on that page for more China photos and other updates!

summer days, drifting away.

So, school has been out for a while. Why is it that I haven’t posted since late May?

I have been taking photos. I have been wanting to post them. I just haven’t done it. School really took it out of me this year, and I guess I’ve needed some time to recuperate and breathe. But let’s be honest — two months is more than enough. So here I go. Let’s make a post.

As I mentioned, school was really rather hectic this year, but I made it and I am extremely proud to say that I got A’s on all of my finals and maintained my 4.0 GPA throughout the year. I even did well at my new Japanese school — aced that final, and got third place in the speech contest. With all of that hard work done, I’m actually really excited to be going into my senior year. A little apprehensive still, I suppose, but definitely excited. Time to go out with a bang.

But enough about school. What have I been doing this summer? Let’s see…

I went to Katy’s graduation party…


I took Noel’s headshots in Griffith Park…

I’ve hung out with my friends in the valley…

Wandered around Little Tokyo with Emily…

Went to the beach…

Practiced using studio lighting…

Drove up to Big Bear with my mom, Chris’s family, and the dogs…


On the 4th of July, Kira texted me and said she’d be visiting from Minnesota for a grand total of 48 hours, so I met up with her in West Hollywood the next day…

And now? Now I’m in Shanghai!


I still can’t really believe I’m here. I fly back to California the second week of August, but until then, I’ll be exploring China, taking lots of photos and eating tons of food. Once I’m home, I’ll be scheduling shoots and getting back to my regular posting. To help me get back into the habit of blogging, I’ll be posting trip updates and photos throughout the next couple of weeks, so keep an eye out!

Hope you all are having a lovely summer! Zàijiàn!

chris – sneak peek.

I so badly would like to put up my full posts, but this is better than nothing. And hey, school is almost over, which means lots more time to take care of these things! Even with school and finals going, I thought I’d take a minute between taking chemistry notes and writing a poem based on The Pit and the Pendulum to give you all a sneak peek of my awesome senior portrait session with Chris (and his dog, Mindy!).

I have a fairly long story to go with this photoshoot, but that will come later. I hope you enjoy this little preview!

fiona – sneak peek.

It is late, and I have to get up early tomorrow. But I haven’t posted in a really long time, and I’ve needed to. Several posts that I need to write and put up, but school has been crazy and finals are imminent.

That being said, I really wanted to share with all of you a little peek at what’s to come. If you follow me on twitter, you probably know that I just shot my first senior photo session on Sunday. Really excited to post those. But last month, I had a super fun little fashion/editorial kind of shoot with Fiona modeling and Kelsey doing makeup and styling. Details on that soon, I hope. For now, enjoy these two shots from that awesome day.


cristie.

Cristie is a lovely and exuberant girl — so full of energy and always taking life by the horns. She is the catering manager at The Tea Gardens and is training to be an opera singer. Cristie and I met up for a quick portrait session at the beginning of last week. When asked what she was hoping for out of the shoot, she shrugged and said, “Pretty pictures?” I did my best to follow those guidelines, and I’m fairly certain we achieved just that. It was a very simple shoot, but so much fun. It was also my first time shooting with a 5D Mark II, which I borrowed for the shoot and for Watson and Mindy’s party. I am hoping to be able to use it for several more future shoots, and eventually get my own. The combination of the 5D with my 50mm L is just amazing.

But enough about that. Let’s look at some pretty pictures of the stunning Cristie!



I love this location so much. These were taken not 20 feet away from where I had my shoot with Clare, but you’d never guess. So much versatility in look, feel, and lighting, and in such a small area. I like to call this particularly spot my Terabithia.

Is this girl a natural in front of the camera or what?









The lighting here was so beautiful. I love it when I can catch the sun at just the right spot in the sky.


I can’t even handle how beautiful she looks in these. Those eyes!



She brought so much personality to the shoot. So many simple little poses and facial expressions, and they all worked out so well.


Oh, lens flares… how do I love thee?





And the last few frames of the day before we packed up and she went off to her singing lesson.



I am so happy with how these shots turned out, and I’m thrilled to have finally gotten a chance to try my hand at using the 5D! Thanks for a fantastic session, Cristie!

watson & mindy – happy 1st birthday!

Yesterday was Watson and Mindy‘s 1st birthday! We wanted to celebrate this red-letter day right, so we threw them a party. Call us crazy, but I have to say: it was pretty awesome. There were pink (Mindy) and green (Watson) decorations, doggy-themed desserts, and even a cake for the dogs! Enjoy these photos of our ridiculous tribute to the best puppies ever.

Poop cupcake anyone?


The doggy cake consisted of over 5 pounds of meat (ground beef and lamb) with mashed potato frosting. Mmm… tasty…

Watson knew there was food being prepared…

… but was unamused when told he had to wait to eat it.

The cake looked awesome, as did the decorations.



Mindy and family!


Cake time!





And finally, a quick picture my mom took of me and my puppy. I love him so much. I can’t believe he’s already a year old! I am so very much looking forward to celebrating many, many more years of Watson.

keep calm & drink tea – the tea gardens.

School has been so completely insane. I have a few exciting posts I would like to put up, but I’ve been so lacking in time. I take my last two midterms today and then I will be done with school until January. I have so much to say about all of that, but for now, let’s talk about The Tea Gardens.

The first word that comes to mind when I think of this place is “warmth”. It just has such a warm and comforting vibe. Such charm and whimsy from the moment you walk in the door. Then, of course, there’s the tea. I love, love, love tea. There are so many different kinds with so many different flavors. From the light and refreshing iced teas, to the rich and soothing hot teas, The Tea Gardens really succeeds at providing something for every mood and every taste.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to take a few photos for their brand new catering menu. It was a very quick shoot with very little prep time, but I think we pulled it off.

This is their boxed lunch, which gives you the option of a sandwich, wrap, or salad, with a side of fresh fruit and a scone. They opted for the egg salad sandwich for the shoot, which happens to be a favorite of mine.

Next is their dessert gift wrap, which you can add on to any box of their tasty desserts.

Lastly, their scone box, which you can get with an assortment, or choose any two types of their scones.

Such a fun little shoot. I love opportunities like this. Last weekend, I went back for Clare‘s birthday party (I got croissant french toast, which was awesome) and got to take a look at the new catering menu. It’s so much fun to see your work in print. Such an amazing and satisfying feeling.

Speaking of print…

The holidays are fast approaching, and with it, a new year. What better gift to give than my Puppies! 2012 wall calendar? It’s full of fluffy cuteness, and 10% of the profits go to ACT V Rescue & Rehabilitation. There are some other totally adorable puppy products here, and my art prints can be found here. After you get a calendar or print, you should go get some tea and croissant french toast (oh my goodness it was so good).

Thank you, Tea Gardens, for this totally fun shoot and all the tasty food and drink! See you again soon!

The Tea Gardens
www.theteagardens.com
Santa Clarita, CA

clare.

In the first play I ever did, there was a girl. She had an amazing laugh, a powerful singing voice, and an adorable smile. She was ever so talented and ever so sweet and ever so… strange. Let’s face it: she was really, really strange. So naturally, we became friends.

It’s been six years. Six years of laughs, tears, countless inside jokes, numerous random walks, and late night phone calls. We are avid Harry Potter fans and we solemnly swear we are up to no good. We survived my grand Minnesotan excursion and now that I’m back, we will continue to put up with each other. -sigh-

She was the first person I ever had a photoshoot with (back when I still had my Lumix!). She’s always been incredibly easy to photograph. She was born to perform and she takes that same presence from the stage to the camera. And she’s purrrrdy.

I am pretty sure I am posting way too many photos from this session, but I can’t help it! I am so proud of them and had so much fun with the shoot. I can’t believe this is the first time Clare has been on my blog. It certainly won’t be the last.



This next one is one of my favorites. How freaking beautiful is she!?

Couldn’t resist a hipster photo to show off her Deathly Hallows necklace.





Another favorite. Her eyes are amazing.




These next three are so very Clare. I can’t help but laugh every time I look at them. Once a theatre kid, always a theatre kid.



Always up to something.







I am so happy with this last set. The lighting was pretty much perfect. Plus, I decided to play around with some editing techniques on a few of them, which is always fun.





That smile!



Yup. Way too many photos. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did, though. Thanks for an awesome evening, Clare! Can’t wait for our next shoot!

vedera – the farmhouse.

A little over 2 years ago, I went to see the Plain White T’s at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis. I only had my dad’s little point-and-shoot (which I didn’t know how to use very well and kept accidentally firing the flash — oops), but I took a ton of photos during the show. I also took a ton of photos during the preshow, when an amazing band called Vedera played. I had never heard of them before, but there was no way I was ever going to forget them.

On Wednesday, my mom called me into the kitchen to ask me if I thought I’d be busy that evening. She went on to say that Vedera was doing a free house show at The Farmhouse. That night, as the sun set on Hollywood, I found myself under a giant avocado tree with 20 other people, listening to… well… magic. There’s really no other way to describe their music. It’s just magic.

The yard was amazing, and when I say ‘giant avocado tree’, I really do mean a giant avocado tree. We all stood under the canopy of leaves, surrounded by a string of lights and some tiki torches. It was beautiful.


There was a slight problem when Jason Douglas was tuning. One minute, there was sound and light…

The next, everyone was wandering around with flashlights, trying to figure out which fuse blew.


Once we got the power back on, though, things went swimmingly. Everyone finished tuning, they finalized the set list, and the show began. Someday, I hope to get a press pass to a show with stage lighting and the ability to get whatever angle I want on the band. However, this was a truly unique experience that I would not have missed for the world. The show was amazing, the band was incredibly nice, and I am extremely happy with the photos I got, given my lighting and positioning circumstances. Also, I kind of fangirled out and bought a t-shirt and a CD, and then got the band to sign them both.

Thank you Kristen May, Brian Little, Drew Little, and Jason Douglas for an evening beyond all compare. Hope to see you all again soon!















Vedera
www.vederamusic.net
twitter.com/vederamusic

something to look forward to.

I had two fantastic shoots today — an adorable session with 6 amazingly cute puppies and an awesome portrait session with the wonderful Clare. I have so many photos to go through, but I wanted to post a quick sneak peek to tide you all over until I can get the full posts up.

Believe it or not, these puppies are all from the same litter! They are all so different in every way and were such a joy to photograph. Enjoy this shot of them, and one of their lovely mom, Ginger.


My session with Clare was a such a dream. The lighting was perfect. Our locations were wonderful. And of course, Clare is absolutely stunning. I can’t wait to share the rest of her photos, but here are just a couple from this amazing shoot!