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, March 29, 2011

mila | money woes + wedding pictures

the current economy is killing budgets across the country ... well, everywhere except for north dakota i hear.  it sucks to be an artist trying to make money right now because art is not a necessity for most.  it also sucks to be a bride planning a wedding.

curtis and i finally got married this month!  we kept it very very small and very very private.  to be quite honest, it was just a formality for us.  we've both been through this before and we really didn't want to do much OR spend much.  we would have opted for just a sibling each to invite since we needed witnesses but if you invite one you should invite all.  so four turned into sixteen but it was still beautiful, intimate, fun and memorable but very very chill and affordable.  it was a courthouse ceremony and a sumptuous dinner.  i'll have to share all the gorgeous details when the photos are ready to be shared which....as a photographer, it was the one thing i couldn't sacrifice.  and nobody should!!!  so i asked my good friend katie of katie neal photography to take our pictures.  she was the one who introduced me to the wedding photographer industry a LLLOOOOOONNNG time ago.  or so it seems anyway.

this process of planning a wedding in 2 months really made me appreciate that brides who want something simple and affordable don't have very many options unless they are willing to sacrifice quality and reassurance.  by that i mean that there aren't very many qualified photographers willing to book weddings far in advance for budgets under $2500.  i want to help this little segment of gals out so i have a proposal.  i'm going to offer 2 options to choose from at a magic price of $1500 for one 2011 budget bride a month .

i was there and i get it and you shouldn't have to sacrifice your memories  *  you need help  *  i might be available 

it fills my need to be generous   *   the economy sucks for all of us  *  it's limited time so i finish your wedding and i still get home to my daughter at a decent time    

i'm not doing this just for anyone  *  i need to know that you truly value photography  *  i will only do this for small, intimate weddings like mine or the brides that are real victims of the budget crunch  *  i need to know that the effort will be appreciated  *  i need to know that i'm choosing to help you instead of making money elsewhere or having fun with my family for a very good reason  *  you need to convince me that we are right for each other  *  i will only do one of these per month for the remainder of 2011  *  acceptance is subject to availability of course and is at my discretion   

email me and i'll send you all the details.

send an email to michelle@milaPhotography.com
 on the subject put WEDDING CRUNCH
tell me some details about your wedding and WHY i should consider you
expect a response at most after 3 days.  if i haven't responded you should follow up w a nudge of some kind.

please don't email me wanting in on this very special deal and then tell me you are expecting 300 guests or that you have a vera wang gown.  all that tells me is that you and i don't agree on the value of photography in which case i'll either send you my regular price list or refer you to a fellow professional.  please, this is a special deal for the people caught in the middle of a financial storm but still deserve to preserve memories of love.  

and now i would like to share a sneak peek of our own intimate wedding.  photos courtesy of katie neal.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Location: Outdoor Education Center at Irvine Regional Park 2 Irvine Park Road Orange, CA

IMPORTANT: don’t pay the parking fee. use the gate code. there are 2 keypads by the gate look for the small silver one and enter #0328 … follow the road till you see the SMALL signs to Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center.

Imagine a place where every step you take in your business is FORWARD. That’s Jeff Jochum’s world, and he’ll show us how we can make that our world, too. Recently, Jeff founded Startup-Strategy, a company dedicated to helping every photographer business learn to succeed using goal-based strategies. At the next SMUG, Jeff will show us some of the ways we can use these powerful concepts to gain some clarity about how to turbo-charge our businesses. Bottom line: This is a business-centric presentation, so you can leave your cameras at home. And, come prepared to have your tree shaken, because Jeff’s is a pretty straight-shooter and won’t pull any punches if it’ll help you get clear on how to better succeed. As Jeff says, “Clarity is the new black.”

We will also be fortunate that Jeff will lead a FREE 2-hour “Selling” workshop (10am-noon) the next day followed by a PAID Biz Clarity 1 workshop (1-5PM). Info on registering for the PAID workshop are on the site.

About Jeff Jochum

For over 20 years, Jeff has enjoyed continued success in the computer technology industry. Today, he is a sought-after Community Builder & Marketing Strategist and has most recently been the Chief Marketing Officer at SmugMug.com. Jeff has been fortunate to hold senior executive positions working with amazing teams at many successful technology startups, including as CMO at deviantART.com (top 100 website in the world); SVP Marketing at Pictage.com (sold to Apax for $29 million in 2006); and VP International at Homestore.com (now Move.com). He also co-founded EBZ International, Inc., creator of ‘eBIZ in a BOX’ – 1999′s best-selling e-commerce website development & hosting product.

A SMUG is a place where you can learn, teach and meet up with other photographers who share your passion. It’s also how we can tell you what’s happening in our world and discover what’s happening in yours. SMUGs are a great way to connect with other photographers and add a few weapons to your creative arsenal.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

mila | WPPI the review

i was in vegas for 8 days.  EIGHT DAYS!!!!  i don't even like vegas!

2009 - first time i heard about wppi.  i wanted to go but i was in the philippines.  a loooong way away.  couldn't make it.  

2010 - hanssie was making plans.  we were gonna hit coyote ugly and dance on the bars.  i had to slow her roll and let her in on a secret.  i was pregnant.  that would NOT a good table dance make.  kaya was due the week of wppi.  i pouted and pouted.  couldn't make it.

2011 - as soon as i could, we planned the dates.  i tacked on a couple more at the end, told curtis he was coming after it was over for a mini vacation, bought the tickets, then paused to think.  CRAP.  what am i doing?  i'm not a vegas person!  what the hell am i gonna do there for 8 days?!?!?  ... but it's wppi!  and it's gonna be fun?  oh god.  what did i sign up for?  i'm gonna get black lung.  but it's like spring break for photographers!  umm... i'm actually anti-social and slightly awkward.  but there's all the vendors to check out!  i'm gonna miss kaya!  this is gonna be expensive.  what the hell am i doing?  

no lie.  i approached the week with trepidation.  i seriously thought that after a half day there i would try to figure out a way to get back home early.  never mind that i planned a mini vacation with curtis at the end of the week.  turns out i had nothing to worry about!  i had a BLAST!  i'm an education junkie and that was the place to see all these amazing speakers in one venue.  i was inspired, rejuvenated and yes liquored out but it was great!  i also got to take a really good look at a lot of the products that are available but had never "met" up close.  i'm a tactile shopper and this was perfect for me.  i was actually so busy running from one thing to another that at one point i had to stop and remind myself to call home.  i was being a bad mommy.  i got caught up in all the uninterrupted fun.  the "freeway" from my room to the classes and the showroom became my catch up on home time.  i was up as early as i could roll out of bed to go to platform classes then rushing off to the showroom floor then hurrying back to get ready for parties.  i shamelessly consumed more than my share of liquor and danced nights away.  surviving on 3 hours of sleep and fists full of almonds during the day and getting an ungodly amount of walk-a-thon-ercise.... i lost 4 pounds in vegas that week.  oh yeah... i had  it all!  and the best part was yet to come!  curtis was coming to wind the week to a close for me.  sigh.  

i met so many amazing people that week, people i will never forget and hope to keep in touch with for a very long time. mind you, this is hard for me coz i'm just not the most diligent at keeping in touch or remembering people's names but some connections can't be ignored.  thank god for fb!

worries out the door, on to the review..

the speakers i got to see that week that i now gush about
  • jonathan canlas - if you've been following my blog then you know that i've been on a mission to reintroduce myself to film photography.  here's a guy that has tried to leave film behind and failed.  his love and passion for this medium are apparent in his work.  he's brought me even farther around.  i'm now on a hunt for some great cameras to add to my collection.  his mantra ... "film is not dead".   thanks to my friend katie neal for telling me about him.
  • john mireles - edgy, real, raw, editorial.  that's how i describe john mireles' work.  and i LOVE it!  he spoke to my heart when he said that your photography should be a reflection of you.  
  • jesh de rox - i'm a sap.  i love dramatic influence.  i love emotion.  even in silence i want to feel an impact.  jesh taught me how to get there.  he's a poet and i was BLOWN away by his method.  i warn you though... it's not for everyone, but it's definitely for me. 
  • julieanne kost - this woman rocks!  anyone that can teach technical anything (which lightroom and adobe are) with humor injected into the lesson is a goddess.  
the speakers i wanted to see but missed :( i curse myself for not rolling out of bed in time (due to over partying) or for having to pick some other awesome speaker who's schedule overlapped with these guys.  
  • jennifer hudson - her art is a breath.  it's ethereal.  it's beautiful.  it's amazing.  i want to take a workshop with her.  thank you to my friend cheryl for telling me about her.
  • jerry ghionis - i wish i could gaze through his lens from inside his head.  his view is just so different and unusual.  i really enjoy how he sees things outside the box.  luckily i got to see him just last week in long beach when came out on a tour.  thanks to my buddies at smugmug for getting me in.
  • joe buissink - a legend in wedding photography.  who doesn't want to see him?
there were soooo many people i could have seen but not enough time and not enough me to go around.  i literally had to do my homework before deciding.  first i had to be inspired by their images coz let's face it, if i didn't like their work i wouldn't learn anything and preference is sadly subjective.  then i had to make sure that the topic would be beneficial to me.  lastly, it had to be someone that i hadn't already seen or could see easily in the future.  running smugs and living in socal gives me wonderful access to a host of amazing photographers.

then there was the showroom floor which was like going to toys r us for the first time.  luckily my retail shopping savvy kept me from being overwhelmed and inundated by the assortment although it still took a couple of days of saturating myself in all the options before i could distill the information into the usual categories ... want, need and ignore.

next year i want to sit in on the print and album judging.  i think it's a world of information that can only help me understand better how to master my craft.  i also intend to submit images for judging.  my mentor scott robert won 11 awards this year including 3rd place over all!  and get this...  his mentees that turned in submissions won too!  so inspired!

gosh i really can't wait till next year.  oh and btw, that mini vacation with curtis at the end of it all... really was the best part of all.  it was the perfect way to end an awesome week.  

and now for some party photos care of scott jarvie

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

a year ago today... we were blessed.  here's a slideshow of the journey sprinkled with some recent photos.  it's finally time to share it.  happy birthday kaya!  our little love.

thanks regis for the memories!  thanks to all who followed as i tweeted through the birthing.  if you want to read about it we recapped the journey.  find it in the archives 

digging through twitter... here's the tweets from that day

milaPhotography michelle 
So it was 17 hrs of intense labor despite the epidural n after all that we ended w an emergency c. All is well. Just need sleep
16 Mar 10 

milaPhotography michelle 
Like there wasn't enough excitement this morning my room started raining! Someone flooded the tub upstairs.
16 Mar 10 

milaPhotography michelle 
6 lbs 15 oz 20.5 inches... Kaya is out!
16 Mar 10 

milaPhotography michelle 
Oh happy place.
16 Mar 10 

milaPhotography michelle 
15 Mar 10 

milaPhotography michelle 
@hanssie I dunno abt almost
15 Mar 10 

milaPhotography michelle 
Oh shit.
15 Mar 10 

milaPhotography michelle 
@hanssie its never too late
15 Mar 10 

milaPhotography michelle 
Ok...we are starting to feel things now. Breathe.
15 Mar 10 

milaPhotography michelle 
Curtis n regis had to take a break n go to starbucks. We're still waiting 4 the action to start
15 Mar 10 

milaPhotography michelle 
http://twitpic.com/18v4ms - regis in the delivery rm w us
15 Mar 10 

milaPhotography michelle 
@hanssie damn straight! But they haven't started yet
15 Mar 10 

milaPhotography michelle 
@hanssie congratulations!
15 Mar 10 

milaPhotography michelle 
Ok so I guess I really did break the sac. At the hospital waiting for the pain to start...we might be here a while.
15 Mar 10 

milaPhotography michelle 
Hiya everyone! Thanks 4 all the wellwishes. Waiting to confirm that I didn't just pee my pants.
15 Mar 10 

milaPhotography michelle 
Ok... I think my water broke. Guess its time to go to the hospital
15 Mar 10 

milaPhotography michelle 
in case you missed it. my last preggo picture on the blog. week 40 http://frexngrin.blogspot.com/
15 Mar 10 

milaPhotography michelle 
the signs have begun! she's still taking her time but she's definitely on her way. debating which mall to walk today.
15 Mar 10 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

mila | family . goodmote

family photography keeps me on my toes.

  • you can't always tell kids what to do or where to be ... so "posing" is out the door.  creative positioning is in.
  • asking kids to smile can get you anything from the big cheesy grin to the unsure lopsided smirk.  finding that genuine laugh requires carefree fun, lots of energy and attentiveness on my part.  admittedly i can sometimes go trigger happy.  i don't care - judge me.  i call it finger exercise.  
  • keeping parents from stressing about their kids is a biggie and is waaaaay key.  so i try keep the kids entertained while my mommy senses  (pushed to the max) tries to keep track of where they are and then my customer service demeanor is set to red alert to keep parental moods in check.
  • timing is everything.  staying sensitive to everyone's moods, demeanor and limits is essential.  know when kids need a break or a diversion.  prepare everyone for the possibilities of pouts, tantrums or just exhaustion.  be ok with it and know when to call it a day.
i get a lesson EVERY time i shoot one of these.  so yeah... i'm not giving up family portraits anytime soon.  

here's some photos of a family that made my job incredibly easy.

Friday, March 4, 2011

mila | from right to left . getting married

it was finally time to change my name.  yep, we finally did it.  don't pout that you didn't get an invitation.  we actually weren't even gonna invite anybody but our siblings wouldn't leave us alone.  we didn't even tell anyone.

today, surrounded by our family, curtis and i moved our rings from our right hand to our left to symbolize the final step in our commitments to each other.  today i became michelle ford.  today, on our anniversary ... we got married.

oh and here's some amazing pictures of my lil family taken back in november by the awesome and new mommy to be jessica claire.  congratulations jess!