what up?! i'm michelle one of the curators at the coco gallery {gives hug}. i work out of orange county. i'm also "grin" of frexNgrin. "frex", the other half, would be curtis. he used to be my favorite subject but now we have our lil coffee bean, kaya and our lil blonde roast, dia.

welcome to my blog where i share my life, my latest adventures, photo projects, random nuggets and the occasional stray thoughts.

for clients: to view my portfolio just click on this link - theCOCOgallery.com. to book sessions please send me a message through theCOCOgallery.com or contact me via michelle@thecocogallery.com | 949.734.0604



Sunday, June 22, 2014

Driven by Need, Enlightened by Necessity

i was driving home friday and in looking at the time realized that i had a little under 30 mins before i had to be anywhere. i found myself considering tucking off to a bar somewhere and just having a cold beer. then it hit me. wow, curtis! N O W i really do get it.

people always give me a look of incredulity when i tell them that curtis gets to go out every friday night. yes, EVERY friday night. it actually used to be thursdays. doesn't matter, the point is he gets one night a week to go spend as he pleases (within reason) and he chooses to spend it bar hopping in search of pool tables. just like other bread winning men, curtis plays full time employee, full time dad/husband and full time brother among other roles. for a social butterfly, it gets awfully tough on the system to not have a section of time in there for himself. and by that, i mean, he needs space to go have fun unencumbered by responsibility to anyone. honestly, i get it. when he doesn't have space to decompress his ability to perform the required functions of breadwinner, spouse and family counselor starts to deteriorate. he has his own version of meltdown and it's not pretty. so i give him space. mind you, i don't always give willingly. there have been times when the space was begrudgingly accommodated and that's usually when i'm exhausted but i  know that when he comes back from his night out he's ready to step in (full force) again. i need him at peak performance as much as possible ready to take over when i fall into my own meltdowns.

these last three weeks have been a serious challenge to my system. i've been pulling off full time employee then running home to be full time family girl and squeezing in photography entrepreneur somewhere and everywhere. rinse and repeat. there's michelle time in there. i've found them in the little gaps between responsibilites ... shower time, toilet time, drive (by myself) time, fb mins, sleep. they aren't much but they are sacred to me so don't scoff. those 30 mins i suddenly found last friday was a heavenly chunk that i didn't even know what to do with. it made me giddy with possibility. i considered, target, costco and a beer. 

i've got a few more weeks of this required level of performance coming. there's a light at the end of the tunnel i know, but while i'm in it, the tunnel seems to be getting longer. i know i can do this. i might cry a couple of times along the way out of sheer exhaustion and throw myself a pity party (coz well... somebody has to). but i'll make it. curtis has been pulling this shift for over four years now. so yes. now i really really really get it. he totally deserves that one night off a week and when things wind down a little for me i might be scheduling my own one day a week to get balance again.


shot with a sony rx100 mkii . edited with LR VSCO presets







Thursday, May 8, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

dear mom,

it's been a while i know. i've been busy. yeah, i always say that. but it's true.

so.. you have 3 grand kids now!! holy cow! who would've guessed? i remember when i thought i wanted to have a baby at 27 just like you did. that didn't quite pan out. it's definitely one of my greater regrets that you and mama weren't around for the first set of grand kids. had i followed through with that notion you would have at least met my first child but then .. it wouldn't have been this child. engh, things happen for a reason right?  i still wonder what you would want to be called coz i know it's not "lola" hahaha!

kaya just turned 4 mom! i can't believe how quickly that happened. one moment she was prancing around in a tutu and next thing i know she's telling me quite clearly that she hates pink, won't wear anything with flowers and unless it has pockets i can forget it. was i ever that head strong? little dia is almost 2 and she's gotten to be a bossy little thing. tita clem swears that all their tempers came from you. i'm definitely not the one to refute that. i can see it for sure! but they also have your dimples so maybe it's a balance?

ina has a baby now too. that just blew everyone away. we were so surprised and i was so worried. her pregnancy was so tough and she had me in knots. well, ina always makes me worry but i can't always tell her coz you know how she gets. i can't upset the balance. i'm not supposed to play mom coz you know.. nobody can really replace you. turns out there was nothing to worry about. she's an amazing mom! little yuki is a smart little cookie and whiter than milk! adorable and cheeky and just so full of smiles. nobody eats better than that kid and anyone of us would sign up to take her plate in a heartbeat! ina's such an awesome cook. i don't think you even ever got to experience that talent of hers. it would have made ina so proud to have you try her cooking.

fourteen mother's days ago i would never have thought that ina and i would be celebrating mother's day without you and much less that we would be mothers ourselves. it really would have been nice to sit down to a photograph of three generations with you, me and ina and our girls. more girls. we are such a strong family of girls. thank you mom. for the strength. tita candy and tita clem do a great job of picking up where you left off. managing us and keeping us strong. we miss you lots.

happy mother's day.


three generations of strong, happy women

Saturday, February 22, 2014

review time



i'm sure everyone has their own approach to editing. mine begins with taking some time away from the images i shot. i usually cull the set within a day or two of the shoot when the details and plans are still fresh in my mind. but the emotional high from the shoot colors my perspective and i select more than i should. it's a good practice for me to walk away from the images for at least a week. when i come back, i'm usually more objective. i'm also usually busier which means i don't have as much time (or patience) to devote to secondary images. this ensures that i really only select the best ones of the set and my efforts are intentional.

phillip and i had not discussed how or when i would be back to sit with him. only that we would go over the images when i was done and ready. so i went through my routine and process as i normally would. it took me a little over two weeks to get back there. i held off sharing pictures with the model, stylist and the world as much as i could. well.. i might have taken a shot of my screen with my phone and tweeted something about it but that was the extent of my share. i wanted to hear what phillip said about my work before i put it out into the world. i was a wee bit apprehensive on what he would say. as artists, i think this is probably normal. i walked him through my final set, showing him the before and afters of each image. we discussed the merits and strengths of each piece. i stated my intentions and we discussed them. he pointed out some things i missed but they were minimal modifications, perfection details more than anything. overall, i fared well. i'm not gonna lie, it was both a relief and an affirmation.

and so we move forward. i'm planning my next shoot deliberately.










Friday, January 31, 2014

The First Time with Phillip Ritchie

i am a photographer.  a good one. i don't always believe it. it seems to be the norm around creatives and i'm no different. i do weddings and i shoot women.  i love shooting women  i find it to be the most rewarding.  that said, i shoot the photographs to please my client (after myself) but in the end, the target audience is my client. 

when i met phillip ritchie he explained his process to me and it was such a deviation from my own process that i was intrigued. he had a vision and pieced everything together around that vision. he got the model, the mua, the set design, like pieces in a puzzle and shot the necessary number of images to get the vision. if he got it then he was done.  it's such a different approach from the photojournalist process of a wedding day or the flow posing and experimentation of boudoir photography.  and the only person he aims to please is himself. it seems so selfish and yet the results are amazing and the process is efficient.  

phillip has taken me on as student, he my mentor and last night was our first session. i had no idea what to expect. i don't think we really talked about it or defined it which put me to a disadvantage. the unknown is a scary thing and the imagination can go crazy. i was intimidated to say the least. the man is a master of his craft and i would be vulnerable in sharing my process or lack thereof. how much i was going to share on the first round was one of my concerns. do i come to the table with my usual arsenal of how i do things or do i break myself down completely to open up to his process entirely? i opted for the latter with one exception. i didn't put much thought into the model and mua situation. as i usually do with my clients i gave carte blanche to my model to take care of her clothes, styling, etc. my only request was that i wanted something glamorous and trusted that she would pull through as i knew she would. whoops. mistake number one and phillip was quick to point it out. "who are you doing this for and why are you doing it?" it was a reminder that if it's my portfolio build and my shoot (with no client to please) then i need to be the one directing everything from head to toe. TAKE THE TIME TO PLAN.

i learned three things from him last night:
  • shoot with intent - plan the image and work towards that plan
  • be meticulous - care about it enough to think about every aspect that would make the image good
  • be tenacious - work towards the best possible version of the image 
i made myself completely vulnerable, prepared to take on his process as he walked me through it. i tried holding off injecting my own usual methods because the point was to learn his. it was humbling, humiliating and effective. as we progressed it started to dawn on me that many of the things he does, i already do. our environments are little different, our subjects and purpose are different, but the method itself has the same foundation. like any student, i cannot take his method in its entirety and make it mine. i have to find the pieces that work for me and insert it into my style and make it my own. 

after breaking myself down for this i had to put myself back together and evaluate what just happened. the biggest lesson i learned as i tucked myself into bed and reflected on the night ... i am a good photographer. there's always room for improvement and last night i was given some lessons to help.

original post here