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

Monday, February 1, 2010

mila | photo exhibit

  • ·   Art will be up for the month of February at the Tranquil Tea Lounge in downtown fullerton | 106 w Wilshire ave fullerton, ca 92832
  • ·   All proceeds go to the assumption missions in the slums of the Philippines
  • ·   Artist’s reception: 02.09.10 @ 7pm
  • ·   first 30 guests will receive a voucher for tea


I was born and raised in the Philippines, land of plenty and yet impoverished, a Catholic country mired in superstition.  I lived in opulence but was raised by nuns who hammered in humility, simplicity and sacrifice.  I was in want of nothing and yet something in me wanted to make a difference.  My life has been a life of contrasts.  This body of work is an attempt at bridging the gap.
Half my life has now been spent in the US.  Explaining the poverty situation in the Philippines to my American friends is like telling them about the oppressive giant in the fairy tale.  It’s not real.  When I took Curtis (my fiancé) home for the 3rd time I wanted to make sure that he experienced more than just the beauty of the Philippines.  I wanted him to go past the vacation.  I wanted him to see what was behind the fairy tale.  I took him to the slums.  We invited some of my old high school buddies for the ride.  The biggest surprise for me wasn’t the horrors of the conditions.  I knew what was out there, what was a surprise was that my Filipino friends who came along had forgotten what was beyond the gates of their lavish homes.  The story was just as much a fairy tale to them as it was to my American friends thousands of miles away.  Being there jogged their senses, it marked a sense of awareness in Curtis and reminded me of my life of contrasts. 
25 families living under a bridge, wading through sewage and water, living their lives, raising their children on nothing.  All their belongings stacked on pieces of plywood and yet their smiles were more genuine than the one I would paste on my face as I greeted a co-worker “good day”.  Again, I was reminded.  I seek now to be constantly reminded and I choose to share the reminder with you

Michelle Cunningham, a wedding and portrait photographer based in Anaheim is the camera clicker girl behind milaPhotography.    She chose to name her business after her mom to whom she attributes her love for flair and fashion.  Her journalistic style is touted as quirky, fun and genuine.   A native of the Philippines she makes every effort to go “home” as often as possible; as a citizen of the world she endeavors to travel as much as she can.  See more of her work on www.milaPhotography.com or read all about her on www.frexngrin.blogspot.com.


  1. Congrats Michelle, can't wait to see it!

  2. So exciting - my calendar is marked ;)

  3. What a great idea to give something back to our people! I'll be there to support you :)

  4. This is awesome! I was just in the Philippines last year....you forget your blessings here. Joe+I plan on being there to support you!