hi there! i'm michelle, southern california based photographer and curator of the coco gallery.

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

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

la union surf break 2008

la union hosted it's surf competition right down the beach from us this last weekend. it was a party EVERY night from friday till sunday. on saturday some bands from manila came down to do the battle of the bands. the stage was setup on the beach and the sandy dance floor heated up with bodies as the music pumped from giant speakers.

we were out till almost 3 am that night. i honestly didn't think we would make it home in one piece. i probably had about 2 1/2 bottles of redhorse in my system that had me buzzing for hours! before you cough out lightweight... consider that this brand of beer is actually a beer n gin mix and i was on an empty stomach. so there!

anyways... curtis had waaaaay more than me. we were like drunk drivers trying to walk home on the coast. it was a perilous walk home i might add as i had to use ALL my weight and the laws of gravity to keep curtis from falling into the dark rocky abyss. he actually did a full on face plant not once but twice! the first one more embarassing than the second since he did it right next to a quiet couple who were trying to make out in the dark. i tugged on the sandy boy, pulling him to his feet for a good 2 mins (tho it felt like 15), profusely apologizing to the couple for intruding on their privacy the whole time. all this between laughs and sand in my teeth. we have a new rule now. only one drunk person at a time. ALWAYS need a designated driver even if there is no car to speak of. yeesh! we woke up w hangovers the next day. there was a party on sunday night but both he and i were good little kids and walked around w bottles of water sans alcohol.

the very first "surfing bodies" competition was held on sunday night. it was a beauty pageant of sorts. guys and girls, 10 contestants on each side. it was an interesting thing. i've seen my share of runway shows when i worked at pacsun oh so long ago. boys just don't know how to work the catwalk. it turns out that when they are dressed down to their skivvies it gets worse. the really sad part is that someone (who should be fired) decided to dress these poor boys in some scantily clad speedos (2 out of 3 outfits) that didn't have enough lining!!!! i was scandalized. to make matters worse... one outfit was white and the other a nude color! the girls' bikinis were well done... but those poor boys. trust me when i say that even i felt squeamish for them. well known designer or not... men's swimwear should be tasteful, revealing without being see thru and flattering. these were neither and i'm no prude.

partying up with our lovable companions from garden plage. shown below are joanne, ate lisa and lorraine. btw... lorraine swears her feet are a size 5 but curtis and i are thinking that the philippines has its own sizing scale and a 5 around here is like a 3 1/5. this has to be true since my american size 3 body seems to fit in in the philippine large or xLarge.

GSM is the local vodka. P72 per bottle ... that's like a buck n a half in dollars my american peeps.

curtis with the surf and bball boys of surfmaid.

someone calls out volunteers for free beer and curtis bolts faster than superman. they had a drinking contest. curtis didn't even understand the rules since they were given in tagalog but who cares? he got free beer!

at some point all this drinking means gotta go pee. we made our way over to one of the surf resorts to avail of the restroom. i was gone just long enough for our favorite social butterfly (curtis) to make a whole table of new friends! and thank god for frances, irish and rico whose names came to me the next day despite the hangover due to their international link. they adopted us for the rest of the night. introduced us to a new concoction --> beer + vodka + lime juice = yum! seriously folks.. give this one a try. after a few rounds of the yum, more beer and a bag of chips later we were ready to hit the sand and join the throng of pulsating bodies dancing the night away on the beach.

it wasn't until the next day when i uploaded the pictures that i realized just how drunk i was. these were the ONLY pictures that semi-came-out. the rest were too blurry or too dark or too shakey. yeesh! it's a miracle that my camera survived the ordeal. alcohol was shooting thru the sky as dancers were creating beer fountains on the floor, sand was flying everywhere and me just hopping along w everyone exposing my poor cam to the beach party elements.

nobody yell at me but this is the only picture i took of the surf body competition. and don't ask about the actual surf competition which occurred sunday morning. we were so exhausted from the night before we couldn't even get up to watch the actual competition!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

my inspiration

nate + jaclyn are the photographers behind "the image is found". they mostly do weddings and portraits. i've been pimping out their work to everyone i know. i absolutely love what they do. i came across them thru my good friend katie. katie, blog stalker and fellow photographer, was the first to respond to their call for a couple to model for them. they were conducting a one on one workshop w another photographer. how lucky is she to get a free photo session? after checking their work out i was completely hooked on them myself. i especially love the photobooths they set up at receptions. i need to try doing one of those.

there are soooo many talented people out there and i'm overwhelmed by how insignificant i am in comparison. all i can do is draw inspiration and keep shooting.

i love communities like flickr where people can share the love of the art... and help each other along. i am glad for friends like katie, hanssie and ming who are incredibly supportive in our shared passion. thank god for the seasoned photographers like jasmine star and david jay who remember what it was like starting out and gladly share their experiences with us newbies.

i've come a very very long way since my first dslr shots back in oct'06, every shot i've taken since then has been a lesson. and there's still so much room to grow.  this blog isn't just an online journal of sorts, it's also my way of sharing my photographic journey.  i want to give back as much as i take.  thanks for listening and supporting and loving.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

where the sky meets the ocean

the horizon is varying shades of blue. a line separates air from water. the sky is so bright i have to squint to look out. the temperature here is a constant (perfect-for-michelle) mid 80's. even the water is at room temperature. it's 7 am, the surfers have been out on the water since 5. i haven't even had coffee yet. thankfully i'm not one of the can't-function-without-coffee people. it's just too hot for anything brewed right now.

2 reasons for the series of shots shown above. i re-committed to a project on flickr. it's called 365. i have to do a self portrait of some type everyday for 365 days. the last time i tried this i got to day 170... then life took over. at first i thought it wouldn't be too bad of a project but lemme tell you. i've woken up in the middle of the night horrified that i forgot to take a shot. ran to the camera, clicked the shutter without even bothering to wipe the drool off my face or the sleep from my eyes and called the obligation done. other times i would get bored with the same picture over and over that i would push myself to get more creative. and actually... perfectionist that i am, it takes more than one shot to get the one i want. or i might get over enthusiastic about a concept. whatever. it's been a really great excercise to help improve my craft. i got close to halfway thru the last time now i'm trying again. i've already gone in a month deep. so expect to see more pictures of me than you are probably comfortable with. chalk it down to peristence, an innate need to share and a slight hint of vanity.

oh... and the other reason for the pictures above is to share with you the quality of my new toy. i have the olympus sw 1030 point and shoot camera. it's a waterproof, shockproof compact camera. really fun in the water and so far so good on the quality of the pictures. i only have 2 complaints about it right now. the shutter is on the top left corner (kind of) of the camera... i like to take pictures from unusual angles and it makes it hard for me to estimate the shot because the shutter is in an unusual place. my old point and shoot was a canon elph (which i loved but died after 4 years of abuse) and it's shutter was smack middle.. where it belonged. the other thing i don't like is that in their attempt as user friendiness, it seems that they made the application more cumbersome than useful. other than that... i'm liking it quite a bit.

i've obviously tried out the waterproof claim, i'll share more underwater pictures on another post, but the pictures so far have been clear. i haven't taken it thru to deep waters yet. i'll let curtis handle that QA process. but olympus claims that it's good up to 10 meters. the shockproof feature is supposed to be for up to 5 feet... i don't think i'll be testing that feature at all. i don't relish the idea of tossing my camera to find out the claim was false. i'm too far from home and the olympus repair center for that. i'll count waves crashing as a good enough test for this little toy's resilience.

that's it for now! till next time!

Monday, October 20, 2008

first impressions

we arrived in san juan, la union after a looooooong 170+ mile drive from manila.  we left at 4 in the morning to avoid the usual traffic.  it was a sleepy 5 hour drive for curtis and i who had been up all night drinking and playing pool with my cousins. thank god for mang willie, our driver, who got us there safely and quickly.  for my cali friends and fam.. i know that 5 hours for 170+ miles sounds kinda long.  try to remember that the roads here are not as smooth, wide or accessible as the long stretches of CA freeways.  trust me when i say 5 hours was fast.

we arrived on a saturday morning and despite the beauty of it all, i am embarrassed to say that we spent the next 4 hours in bed fast asleep.  when we got up we hastily put our belongings away and started exploring the new diggs.  it's the weekend, people are in from the city ready to enjoy the scenery and get some surf lessons.  our new home is right on the beach and a few steps away from a string of surf resorts.  we sauntered over to observe the activity and get our bearings.

the series of pictures below gives you a taste of our first week here ...

a jeepney over looks the ocean like a contemplative surfer.

kids are kids no matter which side of the world they are on.  these two are new found acquiantances exploring beach life together.

to the left is a reef diver coming up for air.  on the right is a daylight shot of the moon watching over the surfers down below (taken at about 7am).  hold your surprise... yes, curtis and i have been getting up at 6 am almost every morning to get him into the water and ready to surf.  eat your heart out bobby! :D

creatures large and small, our companions in this new home.  btw... isn't that an interesting mohawk on that caterpillar?  (i'm talking about the yellow thing not curtis).  i've got a video of it too.

an ocean filled with treasures.  our collection of finds.

the beach entrance, the gateway to home.  please note that the 2 pictures below are not photoshopped at all.  the white balance setting on the camera was set to auto.  the yellow tinge on those pictures is what brought us out that afternoon with a camera.  i thought for sure that there was a fire nearby.  the last time i saw the sky this yellow was when the fires were blazing in the california mountains.  as it turns out, the only blaze was the sun setting and the clouds were reflecting all the color around us.

the view from our favorite spot, a hammock in the palapa.  it's the best place to have a nap.  the wind rocks gently and the steady sound of the crashing waves play in the background lulling you to peaceful sleep.

and as the sun begins to set we are thankful for another day and look forward to more fun tomorrow.  oh and we need to decide what's for breakfast.