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

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

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

starting the year off with contentment

a trainer once told me that my biggest stumbling block to toning and overall physical fitness is that i'm not overweight.  what he meant was that i didn't have any major motivation or leaping changes that would push me to that goal.  what he was telling me was that my wishy-washy attitude was a product of my ability to easily hide what i didn't want others to see.  had i been motivated by a fitness contest or a more solid goal like running a marathon or something like that i would have been more successful.  he was right.

this thought, as random as it is this afternoon comes to me after watching a video about lizzie velasquez.  lizzie was once labeled the "world's ugliest woman" because of a rare condition that she suffers from that we don't even have enough understanding about.  this woman is now a motivational speaker and she says her condition has brought her strength, resolve and the ability to pursue her dreams.  part of me instantly jumped to my random thought ... she's an extreme case who used her extreme circumstances as leverage to motivate herself.  all my life complaints are so average.  i have stuff to complain about but then again, i really don't. but then again .. i'm kinda content.  there's goals here and there but nothing HUGE.  they are all attainable.  lately, my life has just been a happy little ramble.  just like this entry.  is it bad that i'm wishy washy right now?  i have a general path but nothing totally committed.  i'm taking opportunities as they occur and i'm just enjoying them.  i'm savoring moments and picking and choosing as i go.

i'm getting my feet back into the corporate world because i enjoyed my IT life and i enjoyed the money i made doing it.  i'm in the middle of reorganizing COCO gallery with a renewed focus on shooting women, glamour and families.  i'm stretching my wings on the artistic side of photography; shooting with a purpose (artistically).  i've joined a team of amazing photographers at lin and jirsa studios as a second photographer to round out my year of wedding photography.  it gives me an opportunity to learn from an amazingly talented and technical group of photographers.  it humbles me to no end to watch such talented people do their thing and for me to know that i still have so much to learn.  i work for SLR lounge doing video tutorials and product reviews, extending my reach and exposure in the photography world.  and i've been blessed to be associated with nice prints photography of the philippines who have been sending me to weddings internationally and exposing me to locations i would never had access to on my own.

all in all, things are WELL.  i'm content and there are no words to express how grateful i am to all the people that have provided me with opportunities.  and so we begin a new year.  this contentment has led me to where i am ... without even a resolution to start the year.  well ... maybe one.  savor every moment.  that's ok right?

this photo was taken for nice prints photography.  a outdoor winter wedding in england with a warm family full of love and kindness.  they've embraced me into their family and i look forward to seeing them again.

Friday, December 13, 2013

freedoms, priveleges, rights and taking it for granted

last night we saw 12 Years A Slave.  there were two other couples in the theater with us and one of them left before the half way mark.  i was emotionally shredded by this film and i'm grateful.  curtis and i are both so fortunate to live in a time and place where we are free to be who we are and to be with each other.  being born into freedom such as ours does not allow us to truly appreciate the pain of those before us who lived and fought for the freedom we have today that we take for granted.

we are an entitled society.  nobody can raise a finger against an animal without being called cruel.  the workplace is a bed of eggshells between men and women who have to tread cautiously with their words and relationships lest the gender bias be an issue.  media is full of sensitivities regarding race and color.  and now, finally, sexual preference is getting its protection from discrimination.  we've come a long way.  some issues still require resolution and we aren't done with working out exactly what equality means but we've come a long way.  and yet, not enough has been done and not enough time has passed for the wounds that have festered to be healed.

curtis and i watched that movie, fingers gripped, shoulders tensed, tears streaming down our faces.  aghast and in disbelief over the senselessness of it all. how one human being can treat another so inhumanely defies logic.  that movie was set in 1841, one hundred seventy two years ago.  that's not that long.  that's maybe three lifetimes.  that's curtis' grandfather four times removed, living in that life.  let's put that into perspective, i myself, met my grandmother three times removed.  so yeah, that's not that long ago.  when you consider how close that still is historically it rips the mind to understand where we are as a society today.  to look at the existing issues with color and race and in some countries, gender and class.  all this mind bending really put me into a funk and we've been having discussions including the effect of all this on our own children.

lots of ranting, lots of perspectives and i'm rambling but then at one point i paused.  curtis and i have closed the circle in our own way.  i am a product of the privileged class.  the spaniards ruled over the philippines for over 400 years.  they had their own version of oppression mostly based on social class and foreign influence.  my spanish lineage puts me on the side of the oppressor and curtis' lineage we have known to be on the side of the slaves.  the two of us marrying freely and having been accepted openly by our families and communities, there is justice in that.  all of a sudden, in my head, our union has so much more weight.  it bears significant value.  that gives my mind a peaceful harbor from the chaos this movie has rent in my soul.

so many lives have suffered and fought for the freedom we have today.  the legacy of our parents and the generations of parents before them is the life i have now.  i am humbled and grateful.  this thought brings me to another pause.  no matter what differences i may have had with my parents.  there is one truth that should be known.  they gave up their life of luxury to give my sister and i a chance.  i hope that they can say their sacrifices were not wasted.  i may have taken the freedom for granted but i feel that i have lived my life well and that they can be proud.  for all the opportunities open to me, i am forever grateful to my parents.  may i have the strength to give to my children as they have given to me.

from my phone :. instagram