Christmas Surprises + Post-its

Four post-its scribbled with notes. I like to plan things on paper. And because I'm detail oriented it's usually a whole pad of post-its.

I was a little bummed it snowed three flakes last winter which was a surprise since it felt like 20 below zero and naturally assumed we wouldn't go boarding, something we waited all year for. So when Jin surprised me with a trip to Whistler as my Christmas gift I was psyched! I love taking random trips as is, even if it's to the park down the street so you could imagine my excitement when he told me were going to Whistler. Don't get me wrong I love unwrapping presents but I'm beginning to realize that I also love gifts that allow for some good ol' memory-making, something you have for a lifetime. So I really appreciated this thoughtful gift and we had an amazing time from drinking wine in Lululemon (holiday party) on our way to Sushi Village (amazing!) to waking up to inches of snow on one of the mornings. I thought an eskimo from the north pole had moved their igloo onto our hotel balcony.

So the post-it notes are my game plan for this Christmas. This year I'm planning something for Jin. I surprised him with a W Seattle getaway and burlesque show last year but this time it will be a little different. I wanted to keep it a surprise because I love surprises, giving and receiving. Plus I have a little feeling he might find out if I tell you what it is :) But I'm excited. Let's just say it will be our first Christmas away from home. I'll really miss that feeling of waking up under a Christmas tree but this will make it that much more memorable!


Starlight Family Portraits

Linda and I wanted to make time to volunteer this holiday season and we got off to a good start by volunteering as photographers for the Starlight Children's Foundation. In a span of about a month, we along with other fellow photographers provided roughly 300 families in the greater Seattle area with family portrait sessions as a gift for the holidays. It was a huge endeavor that was coordinated by Earnie Glazener of Seattle Smug so much respect to him for all the hours I know he put into it. The photo sessions were conducted as far north as Mukilteo and south as Graham. This turned out to be a lot more time commitment and work than I first thought when I signed up as team lead for one of the days but in the end it was worth every minute seeing the project through. Personally it was a very special experience that warmed both Linda's and my heart as much as it did for the families who were so excited and thankful for the gift. Seeing the kids walk in curiously and shy at first then warming up and filling the room with more smiles and personality than we knew what to do with was one of the special highlights for me. We just wrapped up post processing and all the families will be presented with a large 24" x 30" canvas print donated by Bay Photos along with digital copies of the rest of the pictures next weekend. It will be fun to see the families again and be there to present them their gift. I'm also looking forward to meeting all the other photographers that helped out and to see the work they created. I'm a bit nervous though because we won't get to see the final canvas prints until the same time the families do so yikes!

Photographically for both Linda and I, it was such an amazing learning opportunity by having jumped into unknown territory of family portrait photography. It's a very different ball game than say an engagement shoot or personal portrait shoot but what a rush it was! We learned so much by diving right in head first and just doing it on the fly. For example we ended up only having about 20 minutes to setup the studio when we were supposed to have a whole hour to get ready before the first family was scheduled to arrive. Then to top it off, because nobody replied to my several emails prior to the shoot to get a feel for what kind of team we were made of, I found out there that nobody was familiar with setting up or using studio strobe lighting....Luckily Linda and I were able to get it setup from all the hours of home schooling we've taken through YouTube University and the likes. Maybe you've heard of it? =) It was a huge task for us working with the challenges family photos present like for example, getting all the model release paperwork filled out beforehand, group positioning, ensuring everyone was in sharp focus, capturing enough keeper shots where all members of the family actually looked into the camera with nice expressions, catering to the kids that had special medical considerations, getting everyone lit evenly without hot spots or unwanted falloff, and finally building rapport with the the family and kids making sure they were getting guidance and felt comfortable throughout the whole shooting process. In all, it was absolutely touching, rewarding and exhilarating!

| About Starlight |

When a child is diagnosed with a serious illness, the day-to-day joys of childhood take a back seat to the rigors of treatment and hospitalization. For more than 25 years, Starlight Children’s Foundation has been dedicated to improving the quality of life for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses and life-altering injuries by providing entertainment, education and family activities that help them cope with the pain, fear and isolation of prolonged illness.
Starlight understands what families go through when a child is sick, and how important it is to find relief from constant worry and isolation. Its programs have been proven to distract children from their pain, help them better understand and manage their illnesses, and connect families with others facing similar challenges so that no one feels alone.

A few of the pictures...


One productive week

Days can blend together when there's a lot going on and your mind doesn't have time to reflect. It's easy to forget everything you've done until you lay it all out but fulfilling to know how much can be done in just one week if you make the effort. Here's to one fun, busy, tiring, exciting, fulfilling, productive week!

one week:
five breakfast and lunch preps
forty hours at work
one band shoot
one family and portrait shoot
one concert
one chinese take out night
one night location scouting
one birthday party and dancing
one christmas party in our dream house
two homecooked meals
one happy hour
one mexican dinner
two hours basketball
ten hours post processing
one christmas tree purchase and decorating


How do you know...

How do you know if you're genuinely passionate about something, something like photography?

Is it when your Marc Jacobs purse fund turns into a Canon lens fund...

When your idea of a celebrity turns from David Beckham into Chase Jarvis...

When you rationalize every potential purchase with, "Well, this could go to camera equipment"...

When you go to a photography seminar on Friday night after work...and Saturday, and Sunday...

When you start popping in the One Light lighting DVD over season 3 of Glee...

When you go to a concert but not to listen to the music...

When you have enough lens caps lying around that your guests mistake them for coasters...

When you start eyeing the engagement shooter's L-lens over the Audi R8 on the street (and fantasize jumping him for it)...

When you dream about camera settings, shoot locations, and flattering poses...

When you live your dream and dream your dreams...

Maybe this is when you know.