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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

mila | 20.20.20

20 bucks . for 20 minutes . on the 20th

have you noticed how EVERYONE you know is on the net now? facebook, twitter, myspace, eharmony, chemistry, linkedin, IM .. the cyber community is taking over the world. people even access their networks via phone these days. face time is replaced by electronic communication and your profile picture is your handshake.

what does your profile picture say about you? do you even have a picture or did you post one of a cute puppy coz you couldn't find one you liked? hmmm? if you don't have one, need a new one, know someone who needs one or just want a spare one for yourself... come join me for this special session.

the pimp out your profile session

i've got the studio booked and i have 10 slots. for $20 you, me and my camera spend 20 minutes havin a blast jazzin up that profile. we'll get a new picture of you that says "oh yeah!!" on the next cyber handshake.

interested? here's the details...

  • THE DATE | 06.20.09
  • THE TIME | you decide. i have slots from 11 - 3
  • THE PLACE | fullerton, CA
  • THE PRICE FOR A SWEET NEW PROFILE?? $20 -- it's a great deal... promise!

you know you want to! just send me an email at michelle@milaPhotography.com and i'll send you ALL the details plus answer all your questions. hurry hurry! don't wait too long. 10 slots fill up super quick.

mila | stray thoughts . tripping over words

i guess the words "sweep" and "close-out" are not the same as "blow-out". i'm trying really hard to keep up with the basketball terminology. hell, i'm trying to keep up with basketball period. i was getting into an engaging conversation with curtis over how the lakers won the 6th game of the semi-finals (curtis just corrected me again, apparently it's called the western championship).... and we were talking about how they kicked some major a$$. but this is how our conversations always go.

i'm constantly reaching for the words or the proper colloquialism to express my thoughts. somehow i hardly ever get it right. i'm always shoving the wrong phrase into the right sentence. i totally get my point across coz curtis knows what's up (people i talk to usually do). in fact, he'll smilingly correct the verbal trip and we can both hope that i'll remember it the next time but it's not likely that i will. but that definitely means that he understood my point. i like to attribute it to my american pop-culture age (since i arrived here at the end of my teens i missed out on all the foundation years of TV, music and pop-culture) or it could be my ESL but it's most likely my awful memory. it's been pretty bad lately. anyone got a pill i can take to cure that?

took this picture with my phone. we were at the costa mesa speedway yellin an hollerin after dirt bikes with a bunch of fun friends. what a great night! sux that i can't make it bigger :(

Friday, May 29, 2009

mila | stray thoughts . going green

i so wanna go green.  i want to join the quest to be kinder to our environment.  one of the things that saddened me as i walked through the beauty of the philippines was finding trash in the most remote beaches.  there wasn't a soul for stretches of sand and yet the beach was littered with empty bottles and plastic.  it was clear that these items were brought in with the tide.  how could we be so careless?  sometimes i think i'm just oblivious or ignorant or just plain ol lazy.  even for simple things like bringing your own bag for groceries seems like a chore.  i seriously put bags in both cars so that at the drop of a hat i was prepared but i would walk into a store and completely forget to bring them down.  how lazy am i that i would rather just buy another bag than walk out to the car?

before you throw tomatoes at me i want you to know that i'm working on getting better.  baby steps...
  • i now have a compact cloth satchel in my purse at all times.  
  • i keep giant blue ikea bags as well as grocery bags in the cars and i'm training myself to make it second nature to take them down with me.  
  • i'm weaning myself off of bottled water in the house and instead keep a pitcher of lemon/orange water in the fridge.  the agua fresca approach is my biggest incentive.  
  • i WALKED to the farmer's market today and bought produce from local farmers... that's two stars in one sentence!  
  • i received some info from the anaheim public utilities about how to save water, energy and money in the mail last week and i'm reading up.  
anyone have any other suggestions?  remember... baby steps 

Sunday, May 24, 2009

mila | stray thoughts . passing tests

cammie (my camera) and i had to go in for a sensor cleaning yesterday.  i've been wanting to do this since we got back from the PI (philippine islands).  a camera's worst enemies are salt, dust and water... all of which i've exposed my camera to in vast quantities these past months.  the humidity alone gave me pause for concern.  coming in and out of airconditioning and shooting in the heat caused condensation.  shooting on small boats with salt water splashing around me was a little disconcerting.  partying in sandy beaches with dust getting kicked up along with beer fountain splashes.... whoo!  yeah... 7 1/2 months of all that and cammie needed some cleaning attention i was pretty sure.  calumet was having a $10 sensor cleaning day so i thought i would take advantage of it.

i walked in, told the guy at the counter what cammie and i had been up to (i wanted to make sure he didn't judge me too harshly when he looked inside).  and then asked for a simple sensor cleaning.  10 minutes, $10 and a big smile later he tells me ... "whatever it is you've been doing, keep it up.  there really wasn't much in there at all".  wow!!!  wooow!  it seriously one of those moments ... like going to the dentist and being told you don't have cavities despite your lack of regular flossing.  what a relief!  i was so ready to be judged and the gavel came down on cotton.  phew!

here's a shot of some of the things cammie and i have seen.  there's actually a whole story to this photo but i'll tell that one another day.  it's part of a project i'm working on.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

mila | portraits . the berry's

who do you wish you were more like?  the answer to that question for me has been kari b.  she's either rolling her eyes right now or covering her grin in disbelief.  i bet she never knew how much i looked up to her positive personality.  we used to work together back in our retail days.  she was such a down to earth, super honest, super duper easy going, positive person.  don't get me wrong... she's totally normal.  she can cuss like the best of us (yes, i said us).  but her sunshine puts a sparkle in everything even the bad words.  

we caught up yesterday.  she's pregnant with her 2nd!  i met her first man brett who is perfect for her and her 2nd man blake who is everything a kari baby would be.  they are the ultimate pottery barn sunshine family and they are fo real!  anxiously awaiting the arrival of the newest member whose sex they opted not to find out, we went ahead and took family pictures and maternity photos.

i'm frowning coz i worked on an awesome slideshow but my website is under construction and i couldn't upload.  booo!!!  so just the stills for now.

p.s. blake had these killer froggy boots that i could totally rock!  i just need to find them in my size.... and convince curtis that they would look kool on me.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

mila | random nuggets . personal prisons

"we in prison depend on those we have left outside for our very existence. without their support and acknowledgement we cease to exist in the outside world. ... and half the time the people that supply you with vital elements of life and hope get tired or too busy or simply don't care anymore." 
                                                                                                                         -- sunny jacobs --

a couple of months ago i read stolen time by sunny jacobs. anyone remember jesse tafero? he was wrongly accused of murder and sentenced to death by electric chair in florida in 1990 where the process was botched. sunny was his wife who was also convicted (as an accomplice) and sentenced to death row. the book was her story, written after she was finally released. it's an amazing tale. one that i drew inspiration from. there were a few quotes i had to write into my journal but this one really stood out.

remember myspace? when that application first came around (not too long ago) i cautiously and curiously peeked in then quickly got hooked. i would stay up till 2 or 3 am doing god knows what since it's really not that interactive (or it wasn't back then). but i lost interest when it became a medium for spam and when i realized that the profiles were more fantasy than reality.

at around the same time i found flickr. it was and still is an awesome community for photographers to share their work. i lost interest when i only got feedback if i joined contests and provided feedback for others. not that i minded the exchange, the challenge is that even in a cyber community there is decorum that needs to be maintained. you get notes like "great job" and "nice picture" that are hollow at best and completely untrue half the time. i tried to be more truthful. it's a lot of effort and i get tired easily.

now i have twitter, facebook, my blog and a list of blogs on my rss that i keep up with like my own newspaper feed. it's a little more real. i won't say that it's entirely true. we tend to make our own "truths". needless to say, i'm hooked again. i resisted drowning myself in all of these new applications after the previous experience and the burn out ... but i'm back. i wondered what it was about these applications that stoke my obsession. i think that i sometimes retreat into a prison of my own creation and these applications are my connection to the real world. like jesse i reach out to remind everyone that i still exist and responses feed my need for interaction.

on the topic of isolation ... swine flu was a big deal the week we left.  on the trip back from manila (to the US) we took china airlines.  curtis and i decided unless the price diff is significant, we'll never take them again.  we didn't like the service ... and then fact that the entire crew had face masks on because of the swine flu thing wasn't comforting at all.  at least offer the passengers the same "protection" if you insist on being that hyped about it.  then we had a stop over at taiwan where practically everyone was walking around with them and in some cases they had designer face masks on!  it was bordering on ridiculous.  i know that the epidemic was (and still is) something serious but come on!  so anyway... we were at a bar in the airport waiting for our flight and in typical curtis fashion (who refuses to be out done) he decided to make his own face mask.

Monday, May 18, 2009

mila | stray thoughts . art surge

i've always had a creative streak in me.  how many of you know that i bought my first (and current) big girl camera using money i saved from selling the earrings i used to make?  i am a junk pack rat not just coz i'm sentimental but because i see potential use for EVERYTHING.  i'm a frustrated artist.  i can't draw, i can't paint but i can put things together like jewelry and mixed media pieces (hell i try anyway).  and i thoroughly enjoy immersing myself in art.  i love the inspiration that comes from being surrounded by it in all forms.

on friday we took a walk around santa ana's art district and picked up some flyers on events around the hood this month.  btw, for those of you that didn't realize that santa ana had an art district you need to look it up.  it's way kool.  the residents host an art walk every 3rd saturday of the month on santiago street .  it's a great display from a variety of artists -- photography to clothing to pop surrealism.  curtis always gets an itch to pick up his pencils whenever we take these art walks.  btw, how many of you know that curtis is an excellent charcoal sketch artist?  

on saturday i met up with a couple girlfriends (and their munchkins) to take a walk around the lot next to bower's museum where they were hosting patchwork.  it's an indie arts and crafts show -- like etsy in the real world!  how awesome is that?  good thing i'm on a budget these days coz i coulda blown half a paycheck on that lot.  i caved in and picked up a couple more trinkets that now hang in my awesome accessory center {big grin of pride}.  

walking around all that creativity infused me with inspiration and bubbles.  i know it sounds funny but i just feel bubblier after being there.  don't mock the silly moments.  i get giddy when i find artist like patricia lucas and her husband mike pedersen whose art pieces make me smile.  and danni hong of oh, hello friend whose accessories i couldn't get enough of.  btw, mike pedersen is also a photographer and his artistic talent is evident in his collection.  his gallery of photographs makes me want to strip my website down in shame.  he's amazing.  i wish i had a tenth of the artistry he has.  next to him i'm just a shutter clicker.

anywayz.... here's a new hair clippy for my growing mop.  something from danni hong's shop.

Friday, May 15, 2009

mila | adventures . los angeles

i was telling curtis that morning as i left to join some new friends on an urban adventure... "i feel like it's my first day of school and i just want the kool kids to like me".   he smiled, "you'll do just fine love."  then he packed me off to the train station and away i went.

i met up with a group of photographers from the [b]school for a day trip around los angeles.  we took the train from orange county to union station and then the walking commenced.  what an amazing day!  i might not have been at the top of my form with inspiration since i prefer to shoot people not places per se and i was A LOT BIT intimidated by the company i was keeping that day. some of these guys were major pros.  and i needed bandaids for my left foot since it got into a huge argument with my shoe... ah but i had fun none the less.  

meet the crew {geeks on a train} ...

check out the sights around town ...

mila | business

hello friends and family!  milaPhotography will be undergoing some changes in the next few months.  we are entering the process of rebranding.  one of our first steps will be changing our pricing structure to be in line with industry standards.  does that sound uber formal or what?  no worries, it's still michelle here behind the wheel.  anyways, just wanted you guys to know that the fees will be going up on june 15th.  i'm giving my friends, family and loyal supporters an opportunity to get bookings in before the prices go up.

book your session before june 15th with a $75 retainer fee to lock in with the old prices.  the session date itself doesn't have to be before 06.15.  also please note that the retainer fee is non-refundable and will go towards your total bill.

drop me an email at michelle@milaphotography.com if you are interested or go thru the website.  don't procrastinate and don't say i didn't tell ya!  hope to hear from you soon!

and because i miss my cousins already...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

mila | occassions . mother's day

before we left for the philippines curtis and i had to clean house to consolidate two households into manageable boxes to be stored in my garage while my cousin moved in.  we threw out so much stuff!  buried deep in the bowels of my garage was a large box of clothes.  they were my mom's clothes.  we sent all her clothes to goodwill after she passed but there were a handful of pieces that i simply couldn't part with.  just looking at them reminded me so much of her.  her favorite floral dress, a gown she hand beaded and wore as a lounge singer, her wedding dress.  seeing them again made me cry that day.  i tucked them all back into the box after going thru each of them.  i put the box back under the stairs, and gave them a loving pat... till the next time.  

this week we have been moving back into the house and i've had to put everything away and reorganize like crazy.  i've made room in the closet for curtis and cleaned out more stuff from the house.  then i decided to rearrange my accessory center.  yes... i have an accessory center.  it's sooooo kool looking now!  it almost looks like an accessory counter at urban outfitters or something.  anyway, in the process of all this i had to go thru my mom's jewelry box.  and there i was crying AGAIN.  some pieces just leave a lasting impression -- you know what i mean?  and my mom... she WAS an impression in herself.  i miss you mom.  i miss tita enda, her sis who's gone now too and was a great mom to me after mom passed.  and i sooooo miss my mama (grandma).  happy mother's day to you three wherever you are.

and to my two other favorite moms who count me as their eldest child -- i have to remind them sometimes that i am coz sometimes they forget.  tita candy and tita clem, happy mother's day!

some things will always remind me of my mommy.  these were a few of her favorite things.

and finally... check out my new accessory center!!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

mila | stray thoughts . food = pounds

between all the activity and the difference in our food consumption curtis and i lost some weight after all the travel.  actually curtis lost a lot of weight and i lost a couple of pounds sweating in the heat.  anyway, it was a welcome change for both of us.  now...  we walk into a restaurant and we feel alarmed.  the portions are much larger.  the food itself is a pile of weight waiting to be added back on. things were much fresher and less saturated in badness back in asia it seemed. and then there's the price.  oh god i don't know that we'll ever get used to the prices here again.  we're trying our hardest not to convert back to pesos or rupia or whatever else we used in asia.  we fed ourselves with amazing fares at a fraction of what it costs here.  i feel like we're dishing out big dollar so i can run to the gym and work it all off.  lol.  i think i miss asia already and it's only been 5 days since we've been back.  thank god for shabu shabu which is what we had for lunch today.  much healthier than the in-n-out i was craving last night.

yeah... i'm thinkin we're getting hit with culture shock.  the roads feel soooo wide.  the air is crisp.  we're feeling cold in the california weather.  curtis was freezing in the water when he went surfing yesterday.  i still hate the dmv.  the cost of eating healthy is atrocious (which reminds me... i need to sign up for some excercise).  i fell in love with target again.  i want to shop!   all that and we still need to restart our careers.  we're almost done moving into the house (from the garage).  next week we begin job hunting and i need to start lining up some photo sessions.  it's time to make money again.  

and on that note... we headed over to the library today and got ourselves some library cards!  it's been eons since i've gone to the library for books.  you know what???  it's changed a lot!  you can rent movies and mp3 tunes and books on mp3 now!  boo-ya!  and it's just a block from my house!  free books and free excercise if i walk over!  can it get any better than that?  

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

mila | stray thoughts . fighting is good

well... we're back in the states.  curtis and i were discussing the trip last night and i asked him if he had any regrets.  he said no.  then i asked... what about the fights?  (oh yes, we had arguments... a couple of big ones even.  it was a long trip and patience runs thin at times.  it's normal.)  anyway, he says that he was glad we fought.  i don't particularly like confrontation (although an occassional release of frustration feels damned good) but you can image my confusion at this statement.  when asked to explain further curtis gave me two reasons.  first, he said that we got along so well that it seemed surreal at times.  the fights gave the relationship a healthy dose of reality.  in other words... it wasn't a hollywood movie set of perfection and confection.  secondly, everytime we worked out our differences it meant we communicated and resolved our issues...we were forging stronger bonds.  wow!  i couldn't argue the truth in both of his reasons.  i was won over.  so rare coz i'm miss realistic, over analytical and always right.  lol.  but now ... i regret nothing as well ... well ... maybe my tendency to overpack but whatever!

so this picture was from new years.  check out my rocking eyelashes!!!  don't you love glue-ables?  anyway... i was possessed by vanity (and the need to relive this flutter moment) before i left the philippines.  i went to the salon and i paid the equivalent of $14 to have these kick ass eyelash extensions put on and they last for 3 months!  oh yeah!