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

Saturday, January 30, 2010

mila | baby news

i have not had any cravings... odd or otherwise.  curtis has not had to rush out in the middle of the night to pick up food.  as far as the food stuffs goes, other than the miserable nausea of the first trimester, it has been uneventful.  and then we had last week.

there are some foods that i know i get hooked on that i make a conscious decision not to buy and bring home.  snyder's pretzels is one of them.  those bags of yumminess are EVIL.  curtis, bad boy, snuck a bag of mustard flavored heaven into the grocery cart without my knowledge.  last week he busts it out as we're on the couch watching season 2 of dexter.  one whiff of that stuff and my fingers were clawing for the bag.  3 bites later and the sickness sinks deeper.  not only am i hooked on this stuff like it's crack ... now i'm wanting a coke too!  (um, no pun intended).  i'm desperate.  i tell curtis that i MUST have a coke ... NOW!!!  he's looking at me like i'm joking.  he doesn't believe me.  i'm close to hysterical.  i argue that i haven't had cravings, i haven't asked him to run out for anything.  i've been a good preggy!  all i want is a coke!  i know ... no caffeine.  i've been good this whole time!  but i NEEDED it!  he's still looking at me like i'm kidding.  i take matters into my own hands.  fine... i'm going to jack-in-the-box (one block away).  i asked him if he wanted anything.  now he knows i'm serious.  now he offers to do the run.  and now something else occurs to me... while i'm there i can get bacon cheddar wedges too!  muwahahhahah!  so i decline his offer to go (coz i cringingly didn't want to tell him what else i wanted)  he has a knowing grin.  he KNOWS!  he says he's gonna go and i run to get the keys and decline the help as i run out the door.

it's pouring rain out.  i'm still in my jammies but who cares... i'm just doing drive thru anyway.  it's a quick trip to the jack and before i know it i'm home again.  cozy on the couch, dexter is back on the screen and i survived curtis' tease about the bacon.  fork in hand, smile on face, i'm content.  i take a sip of my coveted soda ... and just about spit.  EFFFFFF!!!!!!  WTF!!!!  more cuss words spew out.  dag nabbit!  they gave me rootbeer!  AAGGGGHHHH!!!!

i'll tell you.  that story is funny now but right at that moment i was LIVID.  

here's the latest picture of my baby girl.  flippin the ultrasound tech off.  that's what she gets for poking her into awakeness.  yep... definitely my daughter.  hahah!  oh and the due date has been confirmed.  we're running on schedule and expecting her to show up on march 11th.  nevermind that my ob thinks i'm tiny.  apparently this baby is the right size in there.

naughty girl covering her smile.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

mila | the calendar

holy canoli!  there's a lot going on in the next few weeks!!!  come hang out with me ....

  • venue | mesa verde country club
  • time |  7pm
  • speakers |  i'll be doing introductions and this month we have the socal photog shootout crew (hanssie trainor and matt saville) and the photo sharp shooter crew (nancy ramos).  
  • venue | tranquil tea lounge in fullerton
  • artist's opening planned to be on Feb 5, exhibit will be shown for the entire month of February
  • my very own photo exhibit!!!  during our stay in the philippines last year we visited the slums and got to know 25 families living under a bridge.  it's amazing how happy people can be despite being destitute and hungry.  it really teaches you that all these worldly possessions are nothing in the equation for happiness.  come support the cause.  all proceeds will go towards missions supporting the slums in the philippines.
  • venue | pasadena
  • The purpose of the SoCal Photog Shootout is to connect photographers with different strengths, abilities, and talents to learn from each other, to network and make new friends.
  • to register for the next shootout be sure to join the club on facebook

  • venue | irvine fine arts center
  • time | 6.30 - 9.30 pm
  • fee | $99
  • i will be teaching a one evening intensive LR crash course.  learn how to edit faster and more efficiently using adobe photoshop lightroom
  • register here
  • venue | cafe tutu tango at the block (in orange)
  • time | 6 - 9 pm
  • hangin out with people, chowin, talkin, chillin, sharin camera info. perfect for people that just got their cameras and want to know how to be the boss of it. also perfect for people who've been around the camera block a few times and just want to share all that knowledge.  super informal but a great time for some geek speak and food.
  • this month's topic | still taking suggestions but i'll be showing some photoshop magic for sure.
  • join us on facebook
  • venue | irvine fine arts center
  • time | 6.30 - 9.30 pm
  • fee | $99
  • i will be teaching a one evening intensive LR crash course.  learn how to edit faster and more efficiently using adobe photoshop lightroom
  • register here

  • venue | dana point yacht club
  • time | 11am - 4 pm
  • it's a bridal event at the dana point yacht club.  come check out an awesome venue and enter to win prizes!

here's a photo you'll be seeing at the BRIDGING THE GAP exhibit.  i really really really hope to see you there.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

mila | portrait photographer . studio sessions

i actually really enjoy doing studio work.  it's a controlled environment, the lights are easy to manipulate and i don't have to run around as much.  at this stage of the pregnancy all that is major awesomeness.  

becka adams, a model i had worked with before, had posted on facebook that she was itching to shoot again.  i had been toying with a one light studio scenario that i've been wanting to experiment with (in black and white) and offered it up as a session concept.  kim bragalone, makeup artist amazingness wanted in on the whole thing too...apparently she needed black and white photos for her portfolio as well.  after that... magic just happened.  

check out the photos below.  i must say... i am IN LOVE with them!

oh.. for my photog friends.  here's a factoid for ya.

did you know that when shooting on black and white mode in your camera if you are shooting in RAW the photos are viewable as black and white on the LCD of your camera but are stored in color.  to keep that black and white data and upload it on your computer as black and white you must shoot in JPEG.  only JPEG mode will "cook" that information into the file.  

i personally prefer to do the black and white in post process however, when put in a really tight low light situation (like wedding receptions) i find that the black and white mode (in JPEG) on the camera sometimes does much better with low light.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

mila | MY baby bump week 32

only 8 weeks left or so we think....

went to see the doc last week and her comment was ... where are you keeping this baby?!  i'm like waddya mean?  there's a giant bump right there!  apparently the fact that i can see the tips of my toes at this point makes her think that i'm running small.  we've got an ultra sound scheduled in a week to confirm delivery date.  mm hmm... i knew their initial calculation was a little wonky.  

one day we were laying in bed and curtis cups his face to my belly.  i'm totally relaxed thinking aww this is sweet... he's gonna whisper to her.  ummm no.  he sent a sonic boom into my belly!  he wanted to see if he could startle her into kicking him.  geez.  our daughter is gonna come out deaf before she's even born. 

speaking of kicking.  at this stage one is required to do kick counts.  so at the same time every day i have to see how long it takes her to produce 10 kicks (or movements).  the chart says a minimum of 10 mins is good and can take up to 2 hours.  my child is definitely my child.  she's so regimented.  at 10 till 8 everyday (as in no kidding... like clockwork), she begins to fuss.  i can feel her moving.  our 10 kick count is completed within 2-3 minutes.  i love that!  i may just be able to plan my life around this kid after all!  nobody say anything to burst my bubble please.  

one last random thought and i'm done on this entry.  my girlfriend jenny kim announced her pregnancy after curtis and i arrived back in the country last may.  jenny and her hubby steve had decided it was time and got to work immediately.  as we squealed in delight she interrupts our elation with another statement... "i want one of you to get pregnant too so we can do this together".  pffft!!!  i instantly declared that that was so not a good reason to get preggo.. puhleeze!  two weeks later curtis and i found out we were pregnant.  oh $h1t.  naturally, when i called jenny to let her know the news she was off the wall happy.  at the time i was just in shock.  she was carrying the excitement for both of us.  that's all changed since then.  and jenny who was due to have lil dylan on january 21 has already given birth to a healthy 8 lb boy.  

i can't believe how much life has changed for her.  it's surreal to me.  and even more so is that i'm right on the heels of it coz in 8 weeks (maybe) we'll be bringing home our own lil bundle of joy.  i think i know what i'm in for but really... i don't.  it's scary and exciting all at once.  ah but we will survive... stay tuned.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

mila | wedding photographer . dana point yacht club

arrrrrrgh ... shiver me timbers ... i shoulda brought me eye patch an me captains hat along wit me black n white striped tights.

hanssie and i got invited to shoot down at the dana point yacht club.  the spirit and the pilgrim were both docked that day and we got to shoot on the boats themselves.  what a kool-i-o idea to have a wedding on those boats!  oh and check out the amazing tablescapes that mary lallande of jay's catering whipped up in a jiffy.  seriously... the woman has the awesomest collection of table decor.

venue: dana point yacht club
coordination and table design: mary lallande of jay's catering
florals: sussanna of french buckets
brooch bouquets: amanda of fantasy floral designs
makeup: kimberly bragalone
hair: jennifer whitlow
model: ashley 
           steven peterson
           kimberly bragalone

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

mila | geek speak . equipment labeling

maybe it's coz i'm nesting.  maybe it's coz i found an awesome deal on the new label machine i just had to buy.  putting it to use justifies the less than $20 purchase and makes me feel good.  whatever it is ... here's some best practices for my photog friends....even the ones without label machines.
  1. label your equipment.  i mean everything.  your lenses, lens caps, batteries, cards, etc.  look around you.. you and your friends have the same stuff.  picking someone else's stuff (by accident) isn't unheard of.  actually getting things stolen isn't unheard of either so after you label all your stuff get it insured.  i got my p-touch label maker from buy.com.
  2. insurance ... you've spent big dollah on all that stuff you've acquired.  everything from the laptop and hard drive you work on to the camera n lenses to the memory cards.  insure it!  i pay about $500 / yr to insure everything and that includes liability, international travel, equipment replacement for damage or loss.  do it and sleep better at night and travel with ease.  i have my insurance through TCP & Co.
  3. memory cards
    1. keep them in a multi pack, waterproof container.  the way i store my cards mean something.  face up and they are available for use, face down and i just used them and they need to be uploaded.
    2. number them.  this allows you to rotate use so you aren't always using 1 or 2 cards out of a pack of four.
    3. mark the dates for your memory cards.  this one is a tip from my friend matt saville -- techie geek n camera master.  although cards don't have an expiration date it is good practice to retire them every couple of years.  so label them with the month n date of purchase.

michelle can be reached at 949.734.0604 or by email michelle@milaPhotography.com  |  www.milaPhotography.com

    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    mila | fullerton portrait photographer

    have you heard of model mayhem?  it's kinda like facebook but the members are in the modeling and photography industry including all the supporting cast like makeup artists, stylists, etc.  it's a another great way to connect with people and trade services to fill your portfolio. 

    brenda found me on model mayhem.  she's actually from new orleans but was in town for a couple of weeks and hit me up for a shoot.  so we hung around old town fullerton and got a quick hour session in.

    michelle can be reached at 949.734.0604 or by email michelle@milaPhotography.com  |  www.milaPhotography.com

    Thursday, January 7, 2010

    mila | zero to 60 in a blink

    How the hell did I get here?

    May 2009, just 8 months ago we were flying back to the US after a 9 month sebatical from life.   I was living the dream.  After years of grinding my teeth in the retail industry and then jumping into the frying pan that was the IT world I was burn out, spent and at wits end.  A “life break” was the only solution.  So Curtis and I travelled thru the Philippines and countries close by for 9 months.  It was the best decision of our lives.  Then we came back.

    Reality has a way of setting in and taking over even when you don’t want it to.  I battled the idea of going back to the corporate world.  I really did love that job but it ate me alive.  Curtis encouraged me to start anew.  Photography was just a hobby but it showed so much promise.  It was time for another plunge, a new chapter and a new career.  As with any major change, I was a fish out of water, feeling lost, alone and intimidated by the little that I knew and everything I didn’t know.  There was so much to do, so much to learn, so many different directions I could take and nobody to help me.  All this was JUST 8 months ago.

    Today I am surrounded by a warm circle of friends, a welcoming family and a battalion of comrades.  I look back now and I’m in awe.  How DID I get here?  Social skills were never my forte but somehow I got my foot into a few welcoming communities and the rest is an amazing litany of experiences, love and sharing.  If I can do this, anyone can.  Let me tell you how it all started.
    I found a group of 4 friends that were like minded.  We share the same goals, same challenges, experiences and although we are in varying degrees of success in each of our individual business endeavors the gap isn’t too wide.  We lunch, meet, bounce ideas off each other, vent, gripe, push each other forward.  It is a group that supports me and that I support.  These people are my “office mates”.

    Outside of my core group I joined several communities to help me grow.  Being in southern California has its advantages.  Its true that this is the hub of so many photographers.  It’s true that competition is stiff but it is also true that we are good at building communities.  But this can happen ANYWHERE!  if there isn't a group in your city then it's a spot waiting to be filled.  Start one of your own!  Here’s some of the groups I joined that have really helped me develop my photography to what it is today.

    FEO – For Each Other
    ·         Started by dane sanders and fostered by amazing leaders, there’s bound to be one in your city.  It’s a circle of photographers gathering to discuss every aspect of the photography business.  It’s an open forum, round table discussion.  It’s a no judgment zone and a perfect haven to ask even the silliest questions.  You’ll be surprised how many people share the same thoughts as you.  Here I learn about the business aspect of photography.  Find one near you.. http://blog.fasttrackphotographer.com/localgroups/

    ·      Need to practice your shooting skills?  These groups set up photo shoots with models, themes, makeup artists in different locations.  From novice to expert, the experience is a fun one.  Group leaders are available to help you with all your shooting questions.  Meet some amazing people in the industry to share ideas, tips and tricks.  Lectures from industry leaders are sometimes available.  The best part is that no matter where you are in your skill level you will ALWAYS be welcomed.  A nominal fee is charged to pay for food and the artists’ tools. 

                 Find these groups on facebook
    o   Photog Shootout Group – find one in your city (http://www.photogshootout.com/)
    o   For socal photographers
    *  Photo Sharp Shooters
    *  Shoot This LA group
    *  Shoot Around

    • Again, if there isn’t one in your neighborhood it’s a great opportunity to start a group.  Just think, if you’re looking for a group like this there are other people out there that are looking too.  All it takes is one person to start it and it's not that difficult.  Email me if you need ideas. 

    MUG to MUG (smug mug gatherings) and PUGS (pictage user groups)

    ·         Not a Smugmug or Pictage user?  It doesn’t matter.  The doors are wide open.  Join the group as they listen to amazing industry leaders and their inspiring stories.  Meet your idols and shake hands with fellow photographers.  Don’t forget to connect with at least 3 people before you leave.  There’s a smug mug or pug group in your city I’m sure of it.  Just visit their website to find them.

    This is where I started and let me say that my calendar today is full and my photography has blossomed!  8 months ago I didn’t know anyone.  I was afraid, intimidated, shy, and ready to say no to all social gatherings.  I pulled up my socks, stuffed some cards into my pocket and went out there with a smile.  Surprisingly people smiled back….and hugged me and called me and ... now count me as friend.  The keyword is CONNECT.  don't just trade cards or walk in with a "networking" mindset.  Find people that you get along with, follow up with them.  share your strengths and learn from each other.  

    Today I give back to this loving community by hosting a monthly gathering of my own.  Clix + food is for the novice, the hobbyist and the photo lover.  Once a month, over a meal I do a brain dump on any photo topic my guests come up with but mostly it’s about being the master of the camera rather than the other way around.  When I was learning my way around that technical beast all I had was the internet and a stack of books.  People and food make that experience so much more fun.   

    some photos from the last shootout

    many thanks to the contributors for these shoots
    The shootout group (matt, hanssie, wai and garett)

    Tristen, Kevin, Lisa, Alissa, Chelsea, Teran, Becka, Steven, Curtis
    michelle can be reached at 949.734.0604 or by email michelle@milaPhotography.com  |  www.milaPhotography.com

    Tuesday, January 5, 2010

    mila | portrait photographer diamond bar

    ending the year with family portraits!  13 people ... generations of smiles.  check out nadine and her energetic family.