Trials & Triumphs: A Year of Growing Pains

All throughout elementary school, I was the tallest girl in my class. I remember lying in bed wondering why my legs were hurting. My mom told me they were growing pains. Once the 6th grade hit my classmates experienced their own growth spurts, surpassing me for the most part. To this day I remain at the same height that I was in 7th grade, a very intimidating 5' 2".

2012 has been a "growing pains" kind of year. I've experienced heartbreak, doubt and regret. I've also experienced an abundance of grace, reminders of hope and a place in a community.

I don't believe in New Year's resolutions but this year I do hope for certain things - to have courage and perseverance to work towards my dreams, to continue to seek truth and spend time with the people and things I value. Above all I hope to love others, especially my sweet husband who has been an example of selflessness to me in all the little and incomprehsible ways. Thank you David, for choosing to spend not just this year, but your life with me.

Happy New Year everyone, may you be blessed with hope, grace and love. Thank you to all of my clients for being part of my dream, wishing you a wonderful year ahead.


Just Some Words

You know that moment when you come to the realization that something's different and it won't ever be the same again? Is there a word for that? Perhaps there's not because it's such a full feeling that can't be explained with something so simple as a single word. A word would be too easy, almost a cop-out from the vulnerability and bravery it takes to face the fear of change and all that it brings.

I was never really one to be scared of change or committment and now that I'm confronted head on with these emotions I feel like I'm in new territory that I haven't a map to. I know this is all vague and the point isn't ambiguity, but to share that sometimes we all need a little pocket of space to catch our breath, validate our feelings (if we're lucky enough to identify them), and count on our friends and loved ones to guide us as we take steps to move on in this newfound land.

Little Islands

I was born with an unusual birthmark on my left arm. It begins on the top of my hand, travels its way up my arm in sporadic splotches, and if I crane my neck far enough I can just see the last little mark on the back of my shoulder. It's one of those things that never really bothered me though. As a kid I would tell people they were the Hawaiian Islands because there are eight little "islands" on my arm.

I have a memory from when I was seven or eight playing at a friends house. I could feel her eyes staring at my left arm and could tell she was trying to figure out what it was. I responded to her looks with, "no, I didn't get burned, it's just a birthmark." Caught off-guard, she mustered up some wit and courage and said "it looks really good on you."

Don't be ashamed of those little physical inconsistencies or "islands", allow them to take on a little role of what makes you, you. Don't hide those birth marks, freckles, beauty marks or whatever your "something different" is, because honestly, it looks really good on you.

Fell in love yesterday with Kate's freckles

On blogging, or the lack thereof...

So, it's true...

I'm not very good at blogging, especially weddings. And by "good" I mean, I don't update frequently and I take forever to blog a full wedding. I feel this pressure when posting photos of a wedding that the goal is story-telling. It almost becomes more of a slideshow, a chronological approach to documenting the day. If it were up to me (who is it up to, btw?) I'd just post my favorites, in any order. But instead of sharing the images that move me, the ones that give me that quiet excitement in my chest, I end up taking months to post because the pressure of "perfect story-telling" has become the finish line. If photographers really wanted to be great story-tellers, wouldn't video be a better medium anyway?

I read the artist statement of my photo professor at Biola and it resonated with me in my approach to blogging.

"Photography is not good at very many things- it is a poor storyteller if what you want is a didactic or linear narrative. You can read a book for that. Rather, photography is uniquely suited for addressing the 'ever-passing present moment' - which really means it's more akin to poetry. It is good at emphasizing certain notes, tones, elements, and emotions - and lingering on them in time and space long enough to feel awkward, compelled, agitated, soothed, or simply paused... even struck... urged to reconcile with the moment that you are viewing." - Kurt Simonson

I realize this isn't that best business tactic and it's probably on a no-no list for ways to get more followers, nor is it a good tip to share with other photographers, but at the end of the day I have to enjoy what I do and I want to share those things, even if the order is non-sensical and it takes a few more moments to understand what's going on.

As Sam says in Moonrise Kingdom, "Poems don't always have to rhyme, you know. They're just supposed to be creative." With that said, enjoy a few snippets, a poem with no rhymes.

Morten & Tanya. Los Angeles, CA. April 2012

Josham & Ali. Vero Beach, FL. March 2012

Ed & Jesse. Canyon Lake, CA. June 2012

John & Alex. Highland Springs Resort, CA. April 2012.

Starry Night, Starry Kitchen

I know I've been a bit MIA, but rest assured, I have lots to share in the next few weeks!

But today, I was able to attend Creative Mornings and the guest speaker was none other than Nguyen Tran of Starry Kitchen! If you haven't been to SK and you live in LA - SHAME ON YOU! It's one of our favorite places to eat and my husband, David, even ate there when it was still operating "illegally" back in 2009. The talk today was honest, hilarious, and inspiring with the message essentially being work hard, play hard, take risks, and do what you love. The thing that tied it all together for me as a "creative morning session" was that Nguyen doesn't do things the most conventional way and typically, a more complicated way, but by doing that he's able to connect with more people to build relationships. He loves people and food and has found a way to marry the two in a fun and surprising space, Starry Kitchen.

Back in March, I was scheming up a plan for David's birthday. Since it's our first year of marriage I felt some sort of unspoken added pressure to make it special. It's tough because David can be a bit reserved and doesn't like the spotlight and as an introvert myself, I understand. I thought of doing something just the two of us, but I really wanted others to celebrate with us. I decided we should go to SK with two of our food-loving friends. Then, I got a little creative. I emailed SK and asked if they'd be up for making a special dinner for us. I gave them a budget and said, create whatever you want, I trust you completely! Sure enough, they took on the challenge and made us an amazing feast. David still talks about the pork belly, I rant on about the dessert and our friends always bring up that "subtle, yet full of flavor" soup. I emailed David the day of, telling him to meet me there and that Phil (his boss) said it was okay. Since David works in the film industry he tends to work long hours and I always tease that Phil said he could leave early :)

It was such a special birthday to remember for David and myself. The Kitchen Ninja was amazing, we were in awe each time a new course came out. They even brought in their special Zojirushi rice maker from home just for us! Of course Nguyen took the time to explain the process and ingredients of each dish and made sure we were lovin' it all. Everything was so so so good, I don't know if I've even been that full!

Thanks again to SK for making our night one to remember, we love ya'll, balls and all! (If you don't know what I'm talking about, just go visit SK for yourself!) 


No Monday Blues Here

It was a difficult weekend, not the one I thought I'd have or hoped for, but His mercies are new every morning and that's something I can hold on to. I have a hopeful heart.

On a lighter note, my husband just sent me an email telling me he updated one of our Google calendars, it brought a smile to my face :::

Looking forward to our 1 year anniversary next month and every year after. Love him.

Happy Valentine's Day ::: Year 1

Happy Valentine's Day to my one and only! Looking forward to many many more and seeing our love grow! And also Happy Valentine's Day to all of my past and current clients, wishing you all a splendid day with the ones you love --- I'm thankful to be a snippet in your story.

*photo from our wedding day via Angi Welsch

And the Holidays are officially over

David and I just got back from an 8-day trip to Hawaii. I shot a wedding there for a dear friend, did a couples session in North Shore and a family session in Ko Olina - - - I really loved shooting in Hawaii! I haven't done much work there so it was really nice to be able to do what I do here in LA, back home in Hawaii for a change. We got to spend quality with all of our ohana, but we are definitely tired! But, I'm really looking forward to going over new images and showing ya'll a bit of my Hawaii Nei. Hope you all have a good short week ahead! 

*Photo from the couples session in North Shore in the pineapple fields, I got about 25 mosquito bites trekking through the red dirt but it was worth it :)

Hau'oli makahiki hou ::: Happy New Year!

One pro to working at a University is getting a week off between Christmas day and New Years, thank you academic calendar. David and I spent our first married Christmas here in LA and decided we should establish a few of our own Christmas traditions :::

1. First being, Christmas Eve candlelight service at our church.

2. Present on Christmas Eve. We could each open 1 present, but no stockings. David said Santa brings the stocking gifts, even though neither of us ever believed in Santa. Too logical for our own good. 

3. Sleeping by the tree. On Christmas Eve we slept in the living room with the tree lights on and watched a holiday-ish movie, which ended up being "The Holiday" which we both fell asleep through.

and lastly, but definitely NOT least...

4. Hawaiian breakfast Christmas morning :) Eggs, rice, portuguese sausage, spam, taro pancakes and guava juice - - heaven!

We also started one New Year's tradition - - - making mochi! It's a japanese tradition to ring in the New Year and I am all for anything Japanese, and well, doughy and delicious.

Having time off gave us more time to walk the dog together around our neighborhood and decide which streets we liked best, which houses we wished we could live in, which neighbor really needed to clean up their yard... those kinds of things. We were also able to go to the dog park and socialize our crazy pup. If there's one thing that vacation teaches you is that time = money. Having time to rest and spend with family and friends is pretty priceless.

All in all, weeks off should be more frequent. I took naps, everyday. I slept for four hours after breakfast on Christmas morning and kind of kept the tradition going throughout the week. My body was so grateful, my mind was rested, and I'm thankful for the time I was able to spend with my little family.

Mele Kalikimaka!

Merry Christmas everyone! This has been a year of Thanksgiving for me personally, celebrating my marriage, starting a new life with someone, a successful year of work doing freelance and also designing for Biola. I have so much to be thankful this year and I'm so lucky to say I have family and friends who care about us and love us deeply. This is my first Christmas away from family and Hawaii, which feels a little weird, but it'll be fun to start some new traditions and enjoy a stress-free Christmas, as it should be right?! I hope all of my newlyweds have a great first married Christmas and we will too!

Bed Post

This isn't something I'd typically post about but I'm just really excited :)

For those of you who don't know me, I can be am most definitely, picky (I prefer particular), but to sum it up, I pretty much just CARE about everything a little more than the average person, INFJ anyone? Sometimes the hard work of finding that perfect whatever it is, pays off, although usually it doesn't and stress ensues, but this is not one of those stories.

For the past few years I've been sleeping on "the mattress you get in college" (literally, the one they give you freshmen year) and graduated to "the futon your friends mom gives you because they feel bad that you don't have a bed."

Being a newlywed, I knew this would have to change, but not of course without getting a good deal and getting the bed I knew I'd love for years to come. We were married in May and waited until the 4th of July mattress sales to buy a mattress. I'm a sucker for a good deal and need the satisfication of knowing I didn't overpay. Now that we had a mattress all need is a bedframe, easy right??? NO.

There are so many different kinds of beds, who knew? At first I wanted to go the Mad Men route and get a tufted headboard, but decided it was too feminine and wouldn't be as allergy-friendly. Then I thought a salvaged wood bed was they way to go, and then I saw the prices and decided that was not an option, plus we have hard wood floors and it just might be a little too much. Then I saw this beauty on Pinterest, and I knew, this was my, our bed.

I did some digging and apparently this bed is somewhere in Europe and who knows where I could find one similar. I did tons of research looking into wrought iron beds made here in America, reproductions and originals and nothing came close. Most beds were too ornate or the bars were really thick and it gave the bed a different look. Finally, I found a local company in Malibu, only 45 minutes away that restores wrought iron frames. I sent the owner a photo of this bed asking if they had any similar in their inventory. A few days later I received a response that they just picked up a bed in Pittsburg dating back to 1840. Sold!

This bed looked very similar to the one I had sent and it was the lowest priced bed in the inventory (extra points). I was excited but also thought "It looks really rusty.. I'm not sure if my tentanus shots are up to date". I spoke to the owner and he talked me through the entire process of sandblasting, refinishing, painting, distressing and all these other foreign options involving crackling. We decided to paint the bed a smokey grey to match our dresser and added on brass finials like the one in the photo I had originally sent. Basically folks, this is my bedframe dream come true - - - antique, CUSTOM, and affordable. We couldn't be happier. If you'd like something similar, check out Cathouse Antique Beds and ask for Craig, their Facebook page shows many before and after photos. It's pretty fascinating, seeing the twin beds converted to king size beds. I know I must sound like a wrought-iron bedframe nerd but I will sleep soundly tonight, knowing I have our perfect bed, at a great deal of course :)

Sweet dreams all,

Happy Birthday Maps ::: 1st Birthday!

Happy 1st Birthday my sweet baby dog Maps!

Maps was found on the streets in Orange so the shelter didn't know when her birthday was. They guessed she was about 10 months old at the time, so we decided her birthday would be on a Sunday, because it's our favorite day :)

We love when you tilt your head at new things, watch dogs on tv, and wake us up in the morning, maybe start waking up an hour later ;) I love that you remind me of a fox, panda, cat, rabbit, ferret, and dog - - what more could I want?? We love you our little birthday girl!

Meet Maps ::: Our very own panda bear

Meet Maps.

Not Max, Mat, or Nap. 

Maps. Because we love em, it fit, and she has little black patterned spots all over.

David and I rescued a pup from the OC Animal Shelter this past week. If you know me even a little, you'll know I LOVE Pandas, so I couldn't resist this little one! I've missed having a dog around ever since I left home to go to school. Last year my childhood dog, Mele, passed away so we knew once we got married we were going to get a pup ASAP, we even went to an animal shelter on our honeymoon - - - yeah, we're THAT couple. She has already learned "sit" and "fetch" and she's learning "stay" as seen in the first photo. I couldn't get over how cute her little bandage was from her blood test at the vet. I'm looking forward to seeing her personality unfold in these next couple weeks and to finally be able to visit all the dog parks and beaches with a dog. I'm also excited to have a new model in the home. I love the light our apartment gets during the day so I'm sure you'll be seeing much more of her this summer :)

Camping ::: Thornhill Broome Beach

David and I went camping with some friends last weekend a little north of Malibu. I've lived in California for 6 years now and I've never been camping in this state. We arrived late, played a risky little game with the severe tire spikes trying to get in after the gate had been locked, shared a tent with four people, I wore a furry snow jacket to bed due to our lack of camping supplies, made s'mores and had a fun time. We even saw some dolphins in the morning - - - it felt good to be near the ocean again.

Enjoy your weekend everyone, be safe and spend time with those you love. I almost got into a really ugly car accident yesterday on my way to work so I'm a bit on the sensitive/sentimental side :) I'm second shooting a wedding for a dear friend of mine today and THEN, hubs and I are preparing our apartment for our newest little member who will be joining us this next week! Can't wait to pick her up from the shelter and pick out all her new puppy things (seriously, I am SO excited :) Lewis will have a camping partner next trip!

Big Island ::: Red

Two images from our honeymoon on the Big Island of Hawaii - - first being my feet on the black sand beach, Punalu'u which was full of sea turtles; second being the Lehua flower, the official Island flower of the Big Island and yes, my name :)

It was a beautiful place, a beautiful time. I have never felt so tied to Hawaii before - - the wedding definitely brought out a hibernated sense of nostalgia for me. I miss the way of life, the friendliness, the concept of everyone being family, the FOOD, hapas, pidgin, being able to drive anywhere and everything being so beautiful. I love LA, but Hawaii still holds my heart. No place quite like it.

I'm a MRS. now!!!

Back from the honeymoon, back to work, feeling a little low since I've been with my hubby 24/7 for the past two weeks and now we are parted by work, but nonetheless, I'm happy we are married and starting life together - decorating, cooking, puppy shopping, etc etc. Here's a photo taken from a friend's iphone :) Glad to have a new    H O M E.

I miss vacation and small spaces

I've been feeling a bit tired and weary, frustrated and overwhelmed lately. I can't pinpoint or put blame on any one thing or circumstance. Hopefully this is growing me into something better, something stronger. Since I can't retreat and run away from all cares and responsibilities, I turn to my archive of memories. A couple shots from the room I stayed in during our vacation to the South last Fall.

Oh, by the way... ::: Engaged!!!

On November 20, 2010, my love proposed and asked me to be his home. The big day is May 29, 2011 in Hawaii! Can't wait for it all... a new family that I already love, a new place to live, a new committment, new beginnings, a new home.

Wedding theme::: gold & home. You'll see what I mean, eventually ;)


P.S. My real ring is gold-eous, perfect, lovely ---I couldn't have imagined a better one for my particularly picky self, but I thought this illustration was cute. Pictures of the real deal doesn't do it justice, I'll just have to show you in person :)