Friday, May 28, 2010

117 - Workshop!

So, I'll be taking a mini-vacation from the blog these next few days... but don't worry, I'll be taking plenty of photos!

Why might I be taking an "official" break, though? Don't I normally just get behind and then try to make up for it? Well... yeah. =) But this time, I'm announcing the break because I'm going to be spending all weekend attending  Me Ra Koh's Confidence Photography Workshop! Aaaaah!! I'm so excited!!!

Me Ra is a friend of my sister, Airika, and does a few workshops across the nation each year. I've known about the workshops for a few years now, and wished I could attend, but never had the chance or funds. This weekend the workshop will be held in the NYC area (technically Jersey City since it's so much cheaper than Manhattan), and I am going to be there!

It's still pretty unbelievable to me.

Oh, and did I mention that Airika and Gerald (my sister and brother-in-law) and my parents BOUGHT ME THE SEAT?!

Yeah, um, read that again! It basically says: I HAVE THE MOST AWESOME FAMILY EVER!!!

Like I said, it still seems unbelievable! 

The past couple of years have had a lot of ups and downs as life does, but with a lot of emphasis on the downs. While I absolutely LOVE Josh and being married has been pretty much the most awesome and incredible and wonderful thing ever, I've really been struggling with just about, oh, well, everything else in life. I won't go into details, but the quick summary is that I've felt pretty trapped and really struggled with simply finding everyday joy in life (which, um, is sort of what I'm all about).

So, there have been a series of pretty important, tough, and significant events over the past few months, and one of the most exciting by far, was this incredible gift from my family. It only happened about 4 weeks ago, but I've definitely been counting down the days. (And considering this workshop was announced back in October, knowing for 4 weeks is a relatively short time to wait... I don't know what I would've done if I'd had to wait 4 months!) 

I think the most humbling and wonderful part of it all for me is not even the workshop (if you can believe that). It's what my family said to me with their action of giving me this gift. It's not just giving me something I've wanted... it's loving me very tangibly. They're affirming my hopes, my dreams, and me. They're saying that they absolutely believe in everything I am, and everything I want to be. They're showing that they have confidence in me, and that even if I end up going a different direction, that they want me to continue to be creative, find inspiration in art, and simply be happy.

I told you they were a pretty awesome family. How many people nowadays tell their kids to go be artists, huh? Or even encourage that past the age of about 10? Anywho, I'm saying goodbye to Philly for a few days, and heading out to Jersey City, then NYC. I'll be back here next week (Tuesday or Wednesday), and hopefully have some pretty fun images for you!

In the meantime, say goodbye with me to Philadelphia's City Hall -- at least until Tuesday...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

116 - Baseball with Isaac

Get ready, guys, it's time for some baseball! And when Isaac's involved, this means there will be an abundance of tongue-hanging-out happiness, "baseballs" of all shapes and sizes (including beach balls and mini basketballs), great instruction from Mom & Dad, and no shortage of cuteness.

Check out this intense concentration... totally an MLB player in the making...

Look how willing to share he is! Or, as he would say, "Gook at me! Gook at me!"  And what... you've never played baseball with a beach ball before? =)

And when it's all over? Heading home with Mom. It's all in a day's work, folks, all in a day's work.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

115 - Bonus Look

I love capturing moments of people that are so "them". You know -- the moments where you catch a laugh or a glance, and you just see that person's character in the photo. And often, the ones I personally love most are the ones that show sides you don't get to see all the time.

This is one of those photos for me. Don't know why exactly, but it intrigues me. Jen and Kevin, maybe you guys see this look all the time... but maybe you don't! Is this just a "Why's Hannah got a big black thing in my face?" moment, or do you see an "Isaac-ism" in it?

Either way, I love it. =)

Also... quick vote... do you guys prefer this in color or black and white? Give me your thoughts! =)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

114 - Blowing Bubbles

I promised you a little more info in the last post... so here it is! Some of it, anyway.  ;-) 

This weekend I had a little adventure in the park with Isaac and his parents, Jen and Kevin. You might recognize Isaac from one of my earlier shots -- is he not just one of the cutest little guys ever?! He's quickly approaching 3 years old (which is so hard to believe), and so stinking cute.

We know Jen, Kevin, and Isaac from church, and they're also part of the leadership team for our 2nd service (along with Josh and I and 3 other couples/families). They work at another urban, Christian school here in Philly -- Jen does development and Kevin is the principal. They're pretty cool people. =)

So, with that in mind.... on to today's photos!

I know what you're probably thinking -- I've posted these bubble photos backwards. It'd make sense to go from blowing bubbles, to chasing bubbles, to bubbles on the grass, right? Well, of course... but that's just not how I do things. Sometimes, it's more fun to start at the end. A storytelling twist. Like sneaking just a few sentences from the end of the book at the beginning. (Don't try to deny you've never done it.)

All that to say... here's to blowing bubbles. Especially with a super ridiculously cute and wonderful family like these guys. And there just might be some more bubble chasing involved, because hey, that's definitely a big part of the joy of bubbles, of which there was no lack whatsoever.

Which one reminds you most of you when you blow bubbles? =)

Monday, May 24, 2010

113 - Bubble Chasing

Alrighty, I told you yesterday's bubble was a preview of things to come this week... well, here's your first glimpse:

There are definitely more details to come, but in the meantime, doesn't that just make you want to go chase some bubbles?!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

112 - Grass Bubble

This is really a preview photo for some of what's to come this week... but I thought it could stand on its own for today's photo. I wasn't intending to get a shot of a bubble landing on some grass on a windy, windy day... but hey! Stranger things have happened. =)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

111 - West Philly Architecture

One thing Philly has a lot of is impressive architecture. Some of the buildings are sadly in pretty bad states of disrepair... but they're still simply beautiful. I've never lived anywhere where I'm constantly surrounded by towers, turrets, arches, and intricate iron-wrought designs. I thought I'd give you a *little* taste of it today with some shots from West Philly (the area where I work).

There are a lot of rowhouses in Philly, but a unique design for some of the West Philly rowhouses is this arch between sets of houses. Here are a couple views -- the one above makes me think a little bit of The Secret Garden, and I just like the one below.

There are also iron gates, fences, and decorative pieces (like faces) all around...

And that's your bit of Philly for today! Which one is your favorite?

Friday, May 21, 2010

110 - Ayuda Art Show

Tonight was the Ayuda Community Center Youth Art Exhibit & Gala. This is the event I was asked to donate prints to, and asked for your help with. Anywho, here is a very quick snapshot of the photos in frames before they were rushed off to Ayuda in the non-existent time before work this morning:

They did sell (woohoo! I was definitely pretty nervous about that...), and they're off to a good home. Hooray. =)

It was a pretty great evening, with tons of artwork by both students and "patrons" available, and a number of really fun performances by the kids. Josh and I managed to win the silent auction for a piece of student artwork (though, admittedly, I fought for that piece and was watching it like a hawk, hehe!), and we also grabbed a $100 gift card for a site that does canvas prints -- for $30. Not bad!

Here are a few shots from the night:

Ayuda does amazing things with and for our community, and if you're looking for a way to help out, definitely check out their website. But, quick plug -- if you're looking for a free, easy, and quick thing you can do, go to the Pepsi Refresh contest website and help vote for the Hunting Park murals entry! One of the murals they're hoping to get funding for is one that was designed by youth in the Ayuda mural class, and it's a pretty cool one. Alrighty, that's my plug, and with that, I'm done. =)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

109 - Couch Potatoes

Today was a pretty crazy, draining day (though it definitely had some good moments), and as I finally took a moment to rest on the couch, I realized I hadn't taken a single photo all day. I've been doing my best to take my camera out at least once and take a photo (or five) of something... even if it's not the photo I end up posting (like when I substitute and take a few days to post various events). I still take some photos each day, though, and it's been good practice even when I'm feeling out of it.

Today, though? Well, it just seems like the most honest and authentic thing to post this photo of how our evening's wrapping up. Josh had a good amount of credit at GameStop after he returned a bunch of games in January, so he just picked up a new game yesterday that he's pretty excited about. So, he's playing, I'm posting, and it's not such a bad way to wrap up the day.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

108 - Live Teal (for Maura)

Today marks the one year anniversary of Maura Cassiana DeSouza going to be with Jesus. She is missed beyond what words can even come close to saying.
Maura and me during a super-cold Thanksgiving parade.

You really couldn't be around Maura without smiling. She had an infectious and ready laugh, kind and humorous words, and truly just made you feel at ease in the world and happy with who you were at any given moment. Life was just good with Maura around. That's a rare gift. 

And you know what? Her love is still pretty evident today. She touched so many lives that her love really is just still continuing to give today.

Today's photo is to honor and remember Maura, and to continue spreading her love. Above is my Live Teal bracelet. For a little bit of background on Live Teal, and an incredible story of faith, courage, love, and struggle, visit her mom, Erin's, blog: Maura. Life After

And don't worry, Maura (or Lydia, or Danielle, or Erin, or Joel) -- we'll keep living teal, and we won't ever forget.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

107 - Pit Row Pre-Race

Yup. I was there. It was pretty awesome. And the full size versions totally look cooler.

(Especially the last one, which I can't fit at a larger size than it currently is... but it just looks so sad and lonely that small. Click on it! Make it bigger!)

And the Winner is...

Alright, the moment is here...

It's time to announce the winner of the Purple Orbs contest! 

I know I'm a couple days late, but better late than never! It just builds the suspense, right?  =) So, without further ado, the winner is...

... #5, Miah!

I used the random number generator, and she's the lucky winner!

But... well, here's the thing... I appreciate the feedback you all gave me, and I really like when everyone gets something, so this is what I'm going to do. For everyone who participated, you can choose one of your favorite images from this blog. Then, leave a comment on this post, email me, send a message on facebook or twitter, and let me know which you'd like. I'll then send you a high-resolution copy of the image.

And Miah, since you are the rightful winner (and it is fun to be the "big winner" -- c'mon, I know that!), instead of one image, you can pick out three images to get hihg-resolution copies of, should you wish. =)

Now, here's a quick explanation as to why I needed your help with those photos...

One of the ministries that's come out of our church is Ayuda Community Center. It's about 3 blocks from where we live, and they have all sorts of fantastic programs and services available to the community (check out their website - it's pretty awesome). One thing they do every year is an art auction as a fundraiser.

So, this year they asked me to submit something! I was honored but also a bit intimidated! It's really the first time anyone's asked me for anything... and I didn't know what to send! I tend to like photographing people best (even though it's been a challenge to "find" people lately - but more on that some other time), and plus, if it's not "fine art" or from another place (say, India), who wants to buy a photo of another person, right?

I started looking through some of my stuff, and found the "purple orb" photos to be some of the most interesting/creative, in my opinion. I know other people like different things... but I personally found them kinda cool. I just wasn't sure which one to choose, so I needed some help!

Above are the three photos, in order from #1-#3. (You can also see them larger here - this is just a quick reference).

I was leaning towards #1 from the beginning. I will probably end up submitting that one, as it seemed to be the most popular with those of you left comments, as well. Actually, I plan on submitting #1 and #2, and letting Ayuda decide if they want to use just #1 or do them as a series.

But here's the secret (and Miah, you pretty much caught on to this) -- #1 and #3 are actually the same photo. I just rotated #1 ninety degrees counter-clockwise to "create" image #3. Josh also noticed and asked me about it. I just wanted your feedback because I liked it at both angles and was having a hard time choosing. It's always great to get feedback, and it's so helpful hearing what other people think and why. It helps make me better!

So, thanks for all of you who participated and helped me out - I appreciate it! Perhaps I'll have to try another contest sometime... with more prizes, of course. =)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

106 - NASCAR

Would you believe me if I told you I was down on the Dover Downs speedway, on pit row, and in the garage for this Sunday's NASCAR race? 

Well, you don't have to believe me... but here's a photo to prove it: 

And yes, there will probably be more from this event, but at this point, I haven't gotten a chance to look through them all. =)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

105 - Brunch(aliciousness)

Today, we had brunch with some friends. It started out here:

Then we moved here:

Next we had some of this: 

And did good amounts of this: 

It was fun. The end!

Friday, May 14, 2010

104 - Book Fair

Just in case you need some good books to check out.

I tried to find the table that most captivated me. What does it say that I've read pretty much all of those books... and that I still love reading them? Two of my all-time favorites are also included (I still read each of them at least once a year), as well as a "newer" fun series (the discovery credit goes to Josh -- who got himself, me, my brother, and probably my dad hooked on Rick Riordan).

Thursday, May 13, 2010

103 - Airika (and her Camera)

Today is my older sister Airika's birthday. She's pretty much awesome. And a great big sister. I wish we lived closer (3,000 miles does make it rather difficult to hang out on a regular basis), but I'll get to see her before too many more months go by. And then, I'll give her a big post-birthday hug. Though to be honest, it'll probably have nothing to do with her birthday at that point. It will still be a "post-birthday" hug, though! Ha! Ok, I'll stop now.

Airika, I love you so much, and I am so glad you're my sister. I love our 5:30/2:30 phone chats, and I'm so grateful for all the love and advice you give me. You're sort of one of my biggest cheerleaders, and you'll never know how much I appreciate that. You help me realize parts of my dreams, and I wouldn't trade you for anything. I love that you're not only my sister, but one of my best friends.

I also wish I had far more fabulous photos to share of you to match how wonderful and amazing you are... I guess now I'll just have to do that session with you and Gerald next time I see you. =)

Oh, and in these photos, Airika was giving me some tips on shooting using manual focus (I don't mind shooting in manual, but I do often just use my auto-focus feature). Also, she can't mind these photos too much because one of her favorite felines in is them (whose name happens to be 'Camera' - pronounced 'Kuh-meer-uh').

P.S. Don't forget tomorrow is the last day to help me out and vote for your favorite photo in the mini contest! Thanks!