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

Friday, October 10, 2008

starting over

i was 30 years old with 12 years of fashion retail in my back pocket when i finally got my college degree. i graduated with a bachelor's in programming...worlds away from my work experience. unless i wanted to throw all my school loans and hard work out the window i was going to have to walk away from everything that was familiar to me and start over.

oh to be at the bottom of the stack again... to be the newbie, the little fish in the giant bowl, to be the nobody, to re-establish, to prove myself and to take that painful pay cut. it was enough to lose sleep over. but i did it. now i look back fondly at the fear and stomach churning memories thinking it was the best move ever. no regrets.

when i started up with my photography hobby it was an accident. i had a little canon elph -- a christmas gift that showed up in the mail in time for a new year's party. i took the first picture and couldn't put it down for a whole year. there were a lot of shaky blurry pictures that first night (some in part to lack of experience and some might remember that i was a little too tipsy and maybe too giggly to take sharp photos). i fell in love with photography that night. i told myself that if i was dedicated enough to it i would buy myself a big girl camera in a year.

big girl cameras didn't seem to expensive when i looked into them at the time. the kits seemed affordable enough. i didn't know the difference between the lenses and rationalized that i was just playing. i didn't need anything over the top. i developed another hobby on the side, making earrings. pretty soon i was selling enough of those to pay for my new toy. i graduated into my big girl camera by november of 2006.

love had grown into passion. i took pictures of everything and everyone that would let me. one of the girls in our office found out about my new toy and asked if i would take her engagement photos and i gladly acquisced rationalizing that it was just play time. she wasn't paying me so it wasn't a risk for either of us. to my surprise... she loved them! but then she asked if i would take her wedding photos. that was no longer a playful question and i backed down. a wedding was more responsibility than i was ready for at the time but it certainly got me thinking.

it's been a year and a half since soraya's engagement photos and i've been busy building a network of clients and growing my portfolio. i've done events, portraits, headshots, a few weddings and even a magazine ad since... all this while i held down a more than full time job as a business analyst. the hobby has been paying for itself and my bag of goodies has grown. but i never had the opportunity i have now which is to focus more of my time and attention to my photography. but as life would have it... nothing comes easily.

back in the states i could network more easily since i had started the process a year and a half ago, starting from ground zero in the philippines proves to be more than challenging. and so now i come to the whole point behind this entry.

i'm starting over. again. and with that comes some sacrifices for the love of the art. i'm considering doing a couple of weddings this year for no more than cost + the equivalent of $100. cost being travel expenses (since the price of gas is the same everywhere in the world), the album and the 2nd shooter. is anyone out there? is anyone listening? if you are in the philippines (or some country close by) TWO WEDDINGS that i'm willing to do where the photographer's labor is PRACTICALLY FREE! email me... email your friends.. email them to email me. everyone cross your fingers hope that i get somewhere. i'm starting over. i hope i look back on this blog some time in the future with a smile too.


  1. Good luck girlie. I hope you meet lots of new people over there!

  2. Starting over...us too, Monterey, CA June '09!!!!!! Probably a 3-4 yr. assignment.

    I'll pass on info to whomever I know with Pino connections. T