under the sea.

My mom tells this story of taking me as a little kid to see The Little Mermaid in theaters. I had watched it countless times at home and had always loved it. But for some reason, that day in the theater, I completely melted down. Ursula scared all the sense and composure out of me. To this day, none of us know why that happened. Ursula is now my favorite Disney villain, and life under the sea is totally fascinating to me. So, when the offer came to go on one final field trip as a high school student, I was thrilled; we were going to Aquarium of the Pacific.

I do still have one problem with aquatic life, and therefore aquariums. Looking at the various tanks of fish, I start recalling what I have eaten, and wondering if the things I haven’t eaten would taste good sliced up and put over rice. Seriously. Being a sushi addict in front of a tank full of Yellowtail is dangerous. Other than that, an aquarium is one of my favorite places to be.



I really love taking pictures of jellyfish. These were so tiny, I had to use the macro attachment for my Lensbaby.

My love for jellyfish pales in comparison to my love for penguins. The day of the field trip, I was wearing one of my three penguin hats. I follow Avery, one of the Aquarium penguins, on twitter. I really, really, really love penguins.



This was such a fun day. Make sure to check out the rest of my aquarium photos on my facebook page.

I am starting my last semester of high school today. I’ve got an intensely heavy workload, but I’m so excited. I got straight A’s this past semester, so I just have to stay focused and do it one more time. Also, I’m taking Advanced Digital Photography, and I plan to post my photos from the assignments. Keep an eye out!

wedding store 24.

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a great New Year’s!

As usual, my schedule has been jam-packed with school, school, and more school. Unfortunately, that means this blog gets neglected all too often. On the upside, however, I have been doing a lot of photo work recently. My semester project for my British Literature class had me staging and photographing scenes from Shakespeare. I spent the end of the year in Washington, wandering around Seattle with my aunt Maiya, eating tons of food (60 cent dim sum? I think yes), and taking pictures of everything. My first photoshoot of 2013 was a portrait session with little 2-year-old Erica. This past weekend, I had a session with newlyweds Annie and Greg, and I’ll be shooting their reception on Saturday. 2013 is shaping up to be quite an exciting year and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

Before I post any of the photos from those events, I’d really like to share some of what I got at the Wedding Store 24 bridal expo. I attended this show in October with Kristine of Ambrose Weddings, and it was an absolutely amazing experience.

The main setup was in a ballroom which had been divided into three environments, each uniquely decorated. The lighting was incredible and I spent quite a while just meandering through. After a stunning performance by Karmagraphy, everyone headed upstairs for the fashion show.

The entire event was held at The London in Hollywood, and the fashion show took place on the roof as the sun set. It was a great backdrop for the fashion show, which featured more performances and some truly beautiful designs.


I am so happy to have gone to this event, and thrilled with some of the shots I got while I was there. To see more, be sure to check out my facebook page!

I know I said I would get to photo editing, like, last weekend. That was before I came down with the plague.

… okay, maybe it’s not the plague. And as a friend pointed out, I seem to think I have the plague every time I come down with something. In my defense, I never seem to just get a little bit sick. You see, I am very stubborn about being sick. I never want to admit that it’s happening, so I fight it and keep on working long past the time I should. I don’t rest and I don’t take medicine until someone is forcing me to. I know, I know… I need to stop that. I’m only perpetuating the problem and making myself sicker. I just really want to be able to get my work done! Instead, I end up down for the count with what I can only assume is something fatal, once or twice a year. It is very disruptive to my life plans, not to mention my weekend plans.

I’m slowly getting back into the swing things, and I got photos off the camera and into Lightroom. I’ll do some heavy work on all of that soon. Just glancing at what I have from the bridal expo and the aquarium, I am very, very excited to share these photos.

Looks like I’ve got a busy week ahead of me!

happy halloween.

Cannot believe how close to the end of the year we are. That is probably the creepiest part of today. Still, I am pretty excited. School is going well and I am getting all my ducks in a row to apply to college soon (they’re all due in a month–yikes!). Things in the photo world are great, too. Along with my own work, I recently started interning with Kristine Ambrose of Ambrose Weddings! This is such a great opportunity for me, and I am so thrilled about it. We kicked off the internship with me tagging along with Kristine to the Wedding Store 24 bridal expo at the London Hotel in Hollywood. I had a blast shooting there, and I can’t wait to get those photos up, hopefully sometime this weekend. As always, I have several other posts to make, too. Keep a look out for updates here, on Twitter and on Facebook!

Along with work, interning, and school, I am trying to start adding in more of the things I like to do in my free time. I’m back at Kung Fu, which is great. I started teaching myself French, because, well, why not? Yesterday, my parents and I went to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, which was lovely. And finally, I’m trying to get back into taking more photos just for the art. I learned so much that way from when I started taking pictures in 2006, and I really love having it as an outlet for whatever crazy ideas or emotions I have at any given time. I just haven’t had room in my schedule lately. I’m tired of that, though, so I’m making room. I’ll be doing this even more as school lightens up a bit, but I did do a little something creepy for Halloween.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

chris.

In July of 1997, my parents and I went to Disneyland. We went to Disneyland a lot in those days, since my dad worked for the Mouse, but this day in particular was of great importance. This day, standing in front of the Walt and Mickey statue, I met a little boy named Christopher. Our dads worked together, and since we were all new to California, it was arranged for us all to have a Disney day. Christopher and I were 2 years old, so to be frank, I don’t really remember much from that day. I do remember that there was a photo of us from our dinner that night at Goofy’s Kitchen on our fridge for 9 years. I remember several other Disneyland trips, one that included a giant dill pickle and one that made him wish he had never encouraged me to go on Tower of Terror (I love it now… just… not so much the first time). I remember us playing with Legos. I remember arguing over who got to wash their hands first. I don’t actually remember the gymnastics classes we took together, but thank god for parents and their natural instinct to document every embarrassing endeavor of your childhood. There are videos of every class and every birthday party. Photos of every Halloween costume and every ridiculous face.

No, really. We made ridiculous faces. That’s me on the left, Christopher on the right, and my aunt Maiya in the middle.

I’m fairly certain that, 15 years later, we all still make those faces. It’s just that now, Chris and I are taller than Maiya.

Christopher and I grew up together. We spent hours on Neopets and MapleStory together, stayed up late watching Harry Potter movies in the living room when we were supposed to be asleep, took my dogs for walks, made grilled cheese sandwiches, and made up insane stories about the world domination plan of gerbils everywhere. I remember when he first started going by Chris, and how hard it was for me to remember to say that instead of Christopher… it’s still a little difficult now. I was there when his siblings were born. He was there when I moved away to Minnesota.

A couple of months ago, his little sister asked me, “Are we, like, friends, or are we family?”
I’m pretty sure we’re both.

So needless to say, getting to take his senior photos meant the world to me. During the early stages of planning, we talked about a lot of elaborate shoots, including one with explosions in the background. In the end, we had a simple shoot with just him and his dog, Mindy. He turned 18 today and left for college, so it seemed about time I share his photos with you all.

It was a really fun session. Every set of shots would start out serious and end up with him making faces.


Mindy loves her boy.



Serious… happy… aaand silly. Every time.


We did a few that were a little more artsy.


But then he went back to being silly.

Really, really silly.

Still, we got a lot of nice formal shots. Y’know, to make his mom happy.


I’ll put a bunch more on my facebook page soon — we took a lot. I had so much fun with this, just as I have with every day I’ve spent with this crazy guy as my friend.

Happy birthday, Chris! Good luck in your new college digs.

nihon, daisuki.

I may have already mentioned my love for Japan… but seriously. I love Japan. 14 hours was not nearly enough time there. My dad and I woke up as soon as we could and ran out of the hotel to find some food. We made our way to Ajinoya, as was recommended we do. I have to say, it was a fantastic recommendation. I ordered for the both of us (okonomiyaki, yakisoba, and onion omelet). Japanese food is my favorite, and this place was absolutely amazing. We ate way too much and then headed back to pack up our stuff and go to the airport. It was a bittersweet farewell. I was so happy to be going home, but… Japan. I love, love, love Japan. And I cannot wait to go back.

I took as many photos as I could while I was there, and a bunch of them have been uploaded to my facebook page. Check them out, and don’t forget to hit that like button!




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!

hello, osaka.

Again, a very quick update. I should really be asleep, but I’m so wired right now. I haven’t been to Japan in something like 11 years and now that I’m here… wow.

I wish I could come here all the time. I knew I loved Japan, but I guess I had forgotten just how much. I desperately wish I could spend more time here. Being here is also making me miss my Japanese class even more. I’m so looking forward to that starting back up again.

Prior to the flight tomorrow, I’ll be going for okonomiyaki, which is a traditional Osaka dish. My dad has never had it before, so it should be fun to take him there. I was also heartily amused and proud that I managed to get through immigration whilst talking to the guy in Japanese. I also managed to find out where to buy tickets for the bus and get the convenience store employee to heat up my sandwich before I left. It’s extremely validating to know that I actually can use this language I have been studying so passionately for so long, and it’s just inspiring me to work harder and learn all that I can. Hopefully soon, I’ll be able to come back for a much longer trip.

I only managed to take a couple of photos before my CF card filled up — guess I forgot to clear it in Shanghai (whoops). The first was overlooking an area filled with b-boys. I’m not really sure why that spot in particular seems to be b-boy central, but it was entertaining to watch them briefly. And the second is just a little shot of our view from the hotel using a tiltshift lens.


Alright. I’m out. Oyasuminasai!

Just a quick update before I go to bed.

My grand Chinese adventure is coming to a close. I am back in Shanghai after spending a week in Changzhou and tomorrow evening, I fly to Osaka for less than 24 hours, then back to California. The trip has been quite a whirlwind. I’ve unfortunately spent a good 90% of it sick and consequently have been sneezing and coughing and gagging my way all over China. Still, I’ve managed to pack quite a lot of exploring and photo taking into the amount of time I’ve had here. It’s been amazing. I wish I had been healthier so I could have maybe appreciated it a little bit more, but nonetheless, I feel so incredibly lucky and happy that I’ve had the opportunity to do this. It has been an all around phenomenal experience and I can’t wait to write a bit more about it and share more photos. Hopefully I’ll have a chance for a small post in Osaka, as well as a larger one back in the US. Until then, good night!

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!