Friday, December 19, 2014

From Hobbyist to Budding Photography Pro

I wasn't planning on staying at SMC another semester, but due to paperwork errors, well, here I am.

When I found I had to take another semester at SMC, most classes were filled. So I did what most students do in times like this: First panic, then sign-up for any class I could find open. One of these classes was a total crapshoot: Photography.

Actually, it was suggested by my dear friend and Blogger Ashley, "you could always use photography skills for your blog."

So I signed up for that class with an iPhone, Canon prosumer camera, and 35mm Olympus travel camera stashed away. When I say that I was completely UNPREPARED for this class, I am not exaggerating by no means.

The first day in the class, some folks showed-up with cameras and lenses I had never even heard of. Models, brands, prices and features rolled off my classmates tongues like Chinese to my ears. By the end of the class I was told I needed a camera. I real camera. A DSLR...and handed a scary syllabus and overwhelming list of cameras that were appropriate to complete the class assignments.

I stayed behind to talk to my professor after that first class, and gave her an overview of what I planned to shoot outside of school: "Beauty products, food tastings, vacations and random family photos."

The professor explained that cameras on the high-end were better suited for students that wanted to take a professional route, while a hobbyist, like myself, is better suited for a starter camera.  I settled on researching four mid-range models, two Canon (a brand I was familiar with) and two Nikons (the "dark-side of photography brands" as a fellow blogger told me).

I started with online researching on all the models I originally expected to choose from, then added a couple more as I expanded my research. I also stopped by several photography shops and my mainstay, Bestbuy, to "play" with the cameras and ask questions.

After a few days of research, various store visits, the day before my second class, I walked into Bestbuy with a solid choice: The Nikon D3300, and immediately connected with what would become a major part of my life for the next four months.
An overview of some of the photos I took this semester
Each week during the semester I was assigned various exercises and had to submit my work to be graded by my professor and also reviewed by my peers. Surprisingly, each week a photo or two of five selected by my professor received rave reviews by my peers.

As the weeks went on, I learned to love photography more and more; and started to see things differently. Within three weeks I purchased a new lens. Less than a month later, I added a few other accessories. By the end of the semester I accumulated filters, a remote control, tripod, bounce, gray card, and many other tools that have helped me take these photos.

My required class assignments have turned into a passion that has been fueled, like with most artists, with the feedback and praise of others. So much so, that I was invited to continue at the schools photography program!

Last night I submitted my first portfolio and today I proclaimed that I will be working not just in media, blogging and writing, but that photography will fuel my creativity in 2015 and beyond.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Forgive Me

I had plans, but life got in the way.

Not only did school and work play a tizzy on my schedule, then health and family deaths really broke my spirit.

This week I was planning on focusing on finals and then update ya'll with a few last minute gift ideas, Holiday celebration activities, things-to-do and what not - but then I got a call...

Another death...someone near and dear. Someone special. Someone that I have many memories about. Someone that flew to be with me when my dad left us.

Someone that I loved.

As much as I want to be poised and put together, the little energy I have left is spent on the simple motion of being up and awake.

So right now, as much as I hate to do this, I need to be away and focus on what I can immediately deal with.

I hope you can forgive me and come back when I'm in a better place.

With much love,

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The 20s in my 80 20 Life

A couple of days ago a friend asked me about a mutual contact that we had both lost touch with. "Shelly (name changed) was a bit odd," my friend added.

While I wanted to agree on her personality assessment of Shelly, I don't think it was entirely her doing that weaned our relationship. Mostly, as I told my friend, we were in her 20%.

Let me explain...

The 80 20 rule, or Pareto's Concept, is something that I was unfamiliar with until another friend brought it up when I was sharing my frustration over Bertha (name changed) that, try as I may, she just.doesn'

In very basic terms, my friend told me, that for every ten people you meet or come across, two of those people won't mesh  or like you, while eight of those people will. I imagine that both my friend and I were the two out of the ten for Shelly, and Bertha was in my 20.

My friend asked me about the moment I figured out that I didn't want to be part of Shelly's life. To be honest, there wasn't a pivotal "let's-end-this-right-here-right-now" moment with Shelly. Maybe because I know what it's like to have days where your hormones take the best of you, or there are day's were stuff just gets in the way, that I am quicker to just vent about someone, than cut them off completely.

The same went for Shelly.

Sure, she said a few annoying things, but rather than avoiding her completely, I figured that in the small world that L.A. is, we would eventually run into each other, or at worse, end-up working together.

So I did what most people in my situation would do, I scheduled a Skype call.
When Shelly logged into the call, she was late and possibly hadn't changed in days. Even remotely, Shelly couldn't look straight into the camera and her eyes, instead, darted from her keyboard, to an invisible something on either side of her screen. 
I wanted to see her face as she told me about her business, her professional background, and ways that we could potentially collaborate. I was, as I usually am in situations like this, very open minded.  
When it was my turn to share, I told her about "the type of clients I work with," I then listed my client roster, which, at that time was quite enviable. From Macy's, to Time Warner Cable, to Disney, and a few others, I was, my company was, doing well. 
"The type of collaborations that work for my clients include," I I way to open up the opportunities for her as she had told me earlier in the conversation that she was interested in transitioning from a small business consultant, to a freelancer focused on corporate clients. This was, at least on paper, a possible opportunity for us both to work together. 
"I am open to training you and guiding you as you work with our clients..." I then mentioned the NDA's that were required by my clients, to the admin paperwork we had to submit on a weekly basis, and all the procedures that were required to work with clients of this level. 
"I work with small and local businesses...and we don't do any of that." She stated matter-of-factly, looking straight at me through the screen before she...rolled her eyes, then said "I don't think we can work together."
That was the moment, I told my friend, that I knew we wouldn't mesh. Not because we ran our business differently, but because she didn't have an open mind and wasn't interested in learning why corporate clients worked differently from the moms-and-pops she was used to working with.

From that moment, err, that Skype call, our social media shares about work had less and less in common. Her circle of folks, her 80%, was my 20%.

We, coincidently haven't run into each-other since that interaction - or haven't in years. She was not willing to learn, and I, being the hard head that I am, was unwilling to let a faux pas go unnoticed.

Eventually, we were each others 20%...and that was, and is, OK.


A year, or two, has passed since Shelly and I have seen each-other or connected on social media. Truth be told, I quickly forgot about her until my friend brought her up recently.

But when she did bring her up, I thought about Bertha and the other Bertha's of the world, that easily make a 20% judgement with no other reason other than, well, nothing.

While Shelly, a card carrying member of my 20%, has a reason. She didn't hide behind the fact that our professional differences were the reason I would be in her 20%...and for that, although we might not mesh, I respect her.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

"Light & Noir" Exiles and Emigres in Hollywood, 1933-1950

This is a sponsored post. All opinions my own.

I haven't mentioned, until now, but I directed my first two mini-documentaries this semester. The one I'm proudest of, is the one that was inspired by my treatment of a student History Department thesis about the "dirty business" of the film industry in the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Within this thesis I found a rough gem that I wanted to explore further: The Hollywood Production Code, also known as the Hays Code of the 1930's; a morality code and precursor to the TV & Movie rating system.

Although I was already a huge fan of this era, I was ignorant to what went on during this time behind the scenes. Through my documentary research and re-watching films with a new perspective, really brought to light stories that I was completely unaware of.

Another Hollywood behind-the-scenes history lesson is coming in the place of a special exhibit at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles aptly titled "Light & Noir" Exiles and Emigres in Hollywood, 1933-1950 which is open to the public until March 1, 2015.

This exhibit explores how the experiences of German-speaking exiles and emigres who fled Nazi Europe -many of them Jews- influenced classic films of Hollywood's Golden Age, such as Sunset Boulevard, Double Indemnity, Casablanca, to name a few. 

The exhibition will also spotlight acclaimed of actors, directors, writers, and composers, focusing on their impact on American cinema and culture; and through a never-before-assembled selection of film footage, drawings, props, costumes, posters, photographs, and memorabilia.

Light & Noir tells the story of Hollywood’s formative era through the lens of the émigré experience, focusing on genres in which the exiles and émigrés were especially productive: the exile film, the anti-Nazi film, film noir, and comedy. 

The exhibit features costumes worn by Marlene Dietrich, Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Joan Crawford; as well as the Max Factor Scroll of Fame, and the original props from the set of Rick's Cafe in Casablanca.

The exhibition will also demonstrate how the experiences of exodus and exile affected the lives and work of emigres in many different ways - just as it does now...and just like my story and my perspective on the past influenced how I viewed the thesis that inspired my first mini-documentary.

In addition, various activities and film screenings will take place to further explore this era through the eyes and experiences of experts. I will be at be at the History of Fashion and Makeup talks on Sunday, December 7, and hope you can join me!

If you are a lover of film and obsessed with history and Hollywood as I am, you will not want to miss the exhibit


Gabriela Hernandez—Bésame Cosmetics*
Sunday, December 7, 2:30 p.m.
Somewhere in the Night
Tuesday, January 6, 1:30 p.m.

The Woman in the Window
Thursday, January 8, 8:00 p.m.*

The Stranger
Tuesday, January 13, 1:30 p.m.

Confessions of a Nazi Spy
Tuesday, February 3, 1:30 p.m.

Act of Violence
Tuesday, February 10, 1:30 p.m.

The File on Thelma Jordon
Thursday, February 12, 8:00 p.m.*

From Hitler to Hollywood
Sunday, March 1, 11:00 a.m.


Admission to this special exhibit is included with your Skirball Cultural Center Admission, or Free to all on Thursdays.

This was a sponsored post. All opinions my own.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Holiday Shopping in a Westside Wonderland

This is a sponsored post.

Start the holiday season off right when you join me and my hubby at the premier 
Holiday, beauty, gifting and shopping fundraiser on the Westside: the 

Celebrate the season on Sunday, December 7th, with live music, wine and food tastings, fashion shows, pampering, special discounts from retailers and more; and feel good knowing that 100% of proceeds benefits local community organizations including Westside Family Health Center, Ocean Park Community Center, Westside Food Bank and Homeboy Industries. 

The Westside Pavilion will be dressed in a dazzling winter wonderland experience with amazing live entertainment, fashion shows, food and libations, a beauty lounge, dessert bar, wine and beer tastings and more.

Westside Wonderland Activities Include:

With seasonal looks from favorite retailers, including Macy's, Cotton On, Banana Republic and more
Provided by Fill R Up LA, Sixth & Pine, Hollywood Candy Girls & more
Hair styling and touch ups provided by Carlton Hair and  Free makeup application, samples and consultations from Nordstrom, Macy’s Cosmetics and bareMinerals.
by live band, Erik Hammer & Special Guests and celebrity DJ Casey Connor
Participating retailers offer the best discounts of the season so you can finish your holiday shopping with no stress! Gift wrapping will also be available on-site by the Culver City Women's Club.
Festive Attire Encouraged!

Buy your ticket HERE, or enter to win your own pair:

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