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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

mila | published . fasionberry

we got the front cover of fashionberry magazine!  whoot whoot!  yeah... our team rocked!

also, check out our behind the scenes video!  cassie put this together using footage from our kool videographer friend greg lynch and some from her lil handi cam ;).  mmm hmm yeah that's right.  the girl is MULTI-talented.

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

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

mila | tales from the delivery room part 2 . curtis

you guys have read my delivery room tales.  i thought it would be interesting to hear a different point of view on how that day went down.  so i've asked both curtis and regis to write their version of this long tale.

curtis, for those of you that don't know, is a HUGE star wars fan.  he's read pretty much all the books and there are a lot of them!  his approach to the story is kinda like a star wars gone maternity.  lol.  

btw.. i'll warn you right now.  i laughed and i cried.  bring out the tissues kids.  oh and see if you can make out who the cast of characters are.  

mila | frex, grin N munchie . the update reloaded

dramatis personae (in order of appearance)
hanz holder 
ima n. distress
the boss
papa razzi
nurse nice
nurse ino kare
dr. doolittle
kaya simone "munchie" ford (special appearance by)

7:34 AM
...and who is this?! you never told me about her. a friend? a friend from where? wait. why are you two naked?! rabbit? what rabbit? we don't have any pets...

7:35 AM
bzzzzz.. bzzzzz.. bzzzzz.. bzzzzz.. bzzzzz.. (seriously?!)
ima n. distress: "honey are you gonna get that?"
pfft! damn bosnians. why in the world do we always dream in that minute before waking? it's fine when you're falling, but when you're not...

7:46 AM
the boss: "HI HANZ!"
hanz holder: "ribbit" [Good morning]
how in the hell can you be this happy this early in the morning?
the boss: "what are you working on today?"
hanz holder: "ribbit, ribbit... ribbit" [Project Server, a couple of merge workitems.. CIC]

9:30 AM
i'm off to work. well in the office anyway. 7:45 AM conference call with the bosnians, work from home for a bit and then in to the office. not so bad but i am not a morning person. guess that's gonna change real quick in a few. when is that little one coming anyway? she's overdue. figures. black father, filipino mother.. poor thing never had a chance at being on time.

3:15 PM
ok, finally getting hungry. just about time for lunch... bzzzzz.. bzzzzz..
hanz holder: "what's up sweetie?"
ima n. distress: "ummm... don't make fun of me but either my water broke or i just pee'd myself. i'm not sure. but i'm really hungry so i'm gonna eat. i'll call you back in 10 mins, just giving you a head's up."
hanz holder: "uh.. ok."

3:17 PM
bzzzzz.. bzzzzz..
hanz holder: "still peeing on yourself?"
ima n. distress: "i think you should come and get me."
hanz holder: (WOOHOO!) "ok, i'm on my way."

4:20 PM
(what time is it? is anyone else hungry?)

4:45 PM
ima's settled in and we forgot the laptop.
ima n. distress: "..why don't you go get it and get yourself something to eat."
hanz holder: "ok, i'll be right back."
nurse nice:  "don’t worry we’ll take good care of her."
a stop by triunfo, a shower. ok i think it's time to drop the chin cushion. hmm... should i wait? nah. shock factor. whoa! where in the hell did my chin go!? well that's interesting.

5:49 PM
oh it's dr. tran. that's wierd. she looked right at me. not even a hi. oh well, she must be in a hurry.
hanz holder: "hi baby!"
ima n. distress: "OMG!"
yep, remember me?
hanz holder: "how are we doing?"
ima n. distress: "we were waiting on the pitocin until you got back. can you let nurse nice know you're here?"
yeah, let's get this party started...

6:30ish PM
hanz holder: "hey nurse nice, when can i get a band?"
nurse nice: "umm.. you have a visitor's band on already."
hanz holder: "yeah, but how am i gonna get to see my baby? i need the daddy band."
nurse nice: (does a double-take) "OMG!"
oh. yep, remember me?

6:45ish PM
hanz holder: "what up papa(razzi)?! i think you're gonna be here awhile..."

9:00 PM
hanz holder: "ok, papa and i are gonna grab a starbucks and some food."
ima n. distress: "sure. still nothin' goin' on so i'll see you in a bit."
papa razzi and i head over to the block, end up at the corner bakery and try to figure out a way to play some poker while we're waiting. papa hits up [b] who happens to be just up the street (how fortunate, he always has chips..). text.. reply.. text.. reply. "let's grab that starbucks."
papa razzi: "double frappa whippa something, ..sticks and snails and puppy dog tails. in a big gulp cup, with just a little ice.."
hanz holder: (my god! this guy's gonna be up until easter) "grande mocha latte, only 2 pumps please"
too much ice. take two. vanilla latte. take three. and we're off...

11:17 PM
SNAP!!! the camera shutters and so does ima. Looks like the gloves are off now. papa's already tapped his keg of coffee and he's all over the room. the little lady's face looks like i just burped up triunfo. Uh oh, here comes ino kare..
ima n. distress: "shit!"
nurse ino kare: "ahh sohowwee doon?" [???]
ima n. distress: "let's talk about that epidural."
nurse ino kare: "weh wegotta cuppa option. da one.."
ok look, she really didn't mean let's talk about it. she meant get it going.
nurse ino kare: "...anden da too..."
ima n. distress: (wispered) "if she doesn't f#@*in shutup.."

11:53 PM
looks like i'm gonna lose the bet. secretly i know i've won cause i said she'd be here after the 15th but she thinks i said before. i'll go with it, i'm just happy she's coming. "ok... deep breath in 2.. 3.. and out 2.. 3.."


12:30 AM
ima n. distress: "moan..."
hanz holder: "ok... deep breath in 2.. 3.. and out 2.. 3.." (chorus)
rinse and repeat every 2 mins for the next 7 and a half hours...

8:00 AM
trade papa for a couple nurses. he went to get water.
nurse 1: "We need to get her to roll over."
hanz holder: "ok. love..?"
ima n. distress: "hold please.." (doo doo doo doo... doo doo dooooo...)
nurse 2: "we really need to get her rolled over NOW."
sure. i understand. baby's on the cord or something. i remember this from lamaze class..
hanz holder: "ok love, we gotta roll over.."
what the? where'd all these people come from? dr. doolittle? what do you all see up on thet monitor?
dr. doolittle: "...ok let's get her rolled and prepped..."
nurse 1: "...just wait here... i'll get you some scrubs..."
WHOA! where are you taking her? i need to be there. HELLO?! look, i'm the hanz holder! that's my job!
hanz holder: "ok."

8:04 AM
nurse 9: "i'll come and get you when we're ready for you."
hanz holder: "ok."
i'm standing in the hallway... i think. i feel like a paper doll. you know the ones where you cut out different outfits with those little tabs and wrap 'em around. i'm currently dressed up like the school cafeteria lady only i ain't servin no pizza. keep it together kid. wow! that's alotta people. what's going on? how come you get to peek in that window and i don't? i'm the hanz holder.. not doin my job...
hanz holder: "papa!" i see him up the hall. nobody home in that room. the party's over here.
papa razzi: "what's going on?!"
hanz holder: "umm.. problem. she's in there, uhh.. lemme see.."
i gotta know what's going on! why are they taking so long?! uh oh... i'm about to lose it... what if i never get to see her again? what if kaya doesn't make it? what if she has brain damage from lack of oxygen? what if... what if... what if... mila.
what's behind those blinds? just a peek...
hanz holder: "OMG!"
is that a scalpel? wait i'm not in there! WAIT!
hanz holder: "o... m... g..."
nurse 83: "ok we're ready for you. just step here.. and over that.. sit here."
ok kid, back to work, everything's fine. don't let her see you rattled. be strong. be strong.
hanz holder: "hiya baby."
ima n. distress: "hi."
hanz holder: "never could do things like everyone else could you?"
weak smile.
hanz holder: "everything's fine.." i think she's starting to see the cracks. steady boy.
wow! she's awake for this?! they're tugging at her like an ocean liner being pulled to sea. i can't believe she can't feel this!
dr. doolittle: "ok she's almost there.."

8:15 AM
dr. doolittle: "ok baby's out!"
she's out! she's out! wait... where's the cry? c'mon where is it? OMG! where is it?!!!
hanz holder: "..everything's fine, love.. everything's fine.."
munchie: "eh."
munchie: "eh."
munchie: "ehh."
so little.. a breath. but i could hear that sound from the moon. there's nothing but that sound. and with it i'm gone. at 8:15 AM on a tuesday morning, my life ceased to exist. it was given away with pain. it was given away with fear. it was given away with pride. it was given away with love.
munchie: "eh."
hanz holder: "she's here baby. our little girl is here."
another weak smile.
ima n. distress: "hiya munchie"
all we could do was cry.
dr. doolittle: "..some of us are going out.. oh, and are you going to lunch with us tomorrow.."

8:20 AM
oh. i still have that camera from the nurse. take a picture you idiot! hi love. click.
where's kaya? oh.
click. click.
bye baby. i need to stay with mama. we'll be up soon.

it was a loooong night. but we're here. all three of us. me with my freckles. her with her grin. and now kaya... with our hearts.
yeah, it was a long night…
the first of many.

ugh... i'm gonna cry every time i read this.  i just know it.  i was so calm about the whole experience.  curtis is the only one who can make me cry.

curtis wanted me to show you these next 2 photos.  i didn't even know he had these!!!  visual tales from the delivery room.

and a little video you might like.

Monday, March 22, 2010

mila | wedding photographer . los angeles celebrity center

here's to giving you guys a break from all the baby news....

this was the blog i was getting ready to post when my water broke.  

i met cassie betts a few months ago when we did the mcCharles house vendor shoot in tustin.  i reached out to her thru the internet and begged her to let me shoot some of her wedding gowns.  she so trustingly said yes.  thank god!  the woman is talented.  she's also a bundle of energy.  so much fun and so much spunk packed into this diverse package.  oh... and as we were talking about my lil bundle of joy that i was cookin up in my belly we found out that she's blackapina too!  actually.. she refers to herself as "negrapina".  

a few weeks ago she called to say she needed photos for a fashion spread.  woohoo!  i was all over that!  check out the line up of amazing talent that cassie setup for the day.

this is our dress designer .. cassie

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

Thursday, March 18, 2010

mila | frex, grin N munchie . the update

hello everyone!!!!  first i want to say thank you so much for all the well wishes.  it was awesome of you guys to stay on with me as i tweeted through the labor and delivery for as much as i could... when i could.  i had my phone on one hand and curtis' hand on the other and really had no idea whatsoever who was out there watching or listening to the tweets.  i have my tweets going thru hootsuite and that updates all of my facebook pages (even the fan ones) so i bet i was duplicating messages all over the place.  i just finally today took a peek at who was out there suffering thru the whole thing with us and i'm in shock!  holy cow you guys!  we feel loved.  

so lemme tell you what happened but be warned.. i'm still super sleep deprived so if the spelling goes awry or the words turn to gibberish i either dropped my forehead on the keyboard or drooled on the keys. 

kaya was actually due on thursday the 11th, the same week that the whole photography community was out to WPPI (i'm still bitter about missing out on this).  our friend, regis chen (child photographer extrordinaire) signed up to do our labor and delivery photography but of course, like everyone else, he was going to the annual pilgrimage to the desert.  so we promised him that we would either push the girl out early or keep my legs crossed till he got back.  if you guys had read my last blog post you would have seen that the last visits to the doctor were telling us that kaya was running late.  funny that the timing was working out and initially we were pleased.  but as you all know, the discomfort was starting to take over and pleasure quickly turned to impatience.  kaya's due date came and went, the WPPI krew had returrned from the raging party, stories were getting swapped and life was moving on.  it was time and i was looking up ways to get kaya out of me.

there were 3 things that could help with getting a baby out or so they said.... walking, spicy food and sex.  i made sure we had all 3 items in our daily routine :D  i was gonna work this system and work it good.  

sunday night (march 14) i was startled by something that i had to look up on the internet.  shame on me for not knowing about the mucous plug.  i passed that phase sunday night.

monday (march 15), curtis was off to work, i was finishing up some of my side job items -- i still do a little bit of BA work here and there (BA stands for business analyst).  i had a roster of vendors to talk to, clients to email and paperwork to do.  some of the documents were in the garage and the computer was upstairs.  i think i did 3 trips up and down 2 flights of steps within a couple of hours (walking - CHECK).  by the time i hung up the phone with my last call i was starving.  it was way past lunch and i could tell that i was going to be needing a long resting nap after i ate.  i took the first bite of my leftover indian food (spicy food - CHECK) when i felt a tiny gush.  now people... i have learned that with pregnancy you lose control of your body.  incontinence is NOT uncommon.  so my initial thought was ... ugh.  i peed my pants.  then i thought..  ok, 2 more bites ... i'll change real quick then come back and finish my plate.  but then i remembered that i passed the mucous plug the night before and so i figured i better call curtis to come home.  you know, just in case.  at this point i still haven't had any contractions, it's 3.15 PM and i'm still hungry .. oh ... and i was leaking again.  hmm... i guess i really did break my water.  (tweet - CHECK).

curtis was on his way home, i've changed, eaten and made a call to the hospital.  they wanted me to come in for sure.  

4.18PM yep, that was my water that broke but we're not dilated at all and still no contractions.  i've been checked into the hospital.  

education time:  when the water breaks it means the seal that protects the baby from infection is ruptured.  both mom and baby have to be carefully monitored until delivery because of the risk of infection.  

5.10PM regis called, he's on his way.  he wants to document EVERYTHING.  he's in for the long haul.

6.30ish doctor is administering pitocin to induce labor since i'm still not contracting. 

9PM regis needs a starbucks and curtis needs food.  i'm still waiting for the action to kick in

11.17 PM  oh shit.  that's what contractions feel like!  3.5 cm dilated hook a sistah up!

11.46 PM epidural has been administered.  at this point i'm at a happy place but something is weird.  it doesn't take long before i'm in severe pain again.  WAVES of severe pain and there isn't much time in between the sets.  i'm getting hit and i'm getting hit hard.  they are giving me more stuff for the pain but it's just not working.  so much activity around me.  i can hear the nikon shutter clicking away in the distance.  it's regis, he's getting all of this.  the sound is reassuring.  curtis is rubbing my head, holding my hand, soothing me.  i love him.  his voice is the only thing that's keeping me together.  he knows what i need.  he's been keeping the nurses at bay when i needed a break from them and let's them thru at just the right time.  we're in sync.  thank god.  lord there was pain!  

after that point i can't remember much past the waves of owwies.  i know that they checked how far i was dilated --  twice.  the first was at 4 cm and i was told i was doing good then the last check showed 7 cm and it was around 7 in the morning.  i was shaking terribly and felt ridiculously cold.  but i remember touching my leg and was surprised at how hot my skin felt.  i could hear someone telling me i had a fever.  then chaos.  lots of activity around me and then a doctor calmly telling me that they wanted to do a c-section.  they were worried about kaya's heart rate.  they were worried about mine too.  my heart rate had gone up too high and stayed there.  they couldn't make it come down.  i wanted to tell them that it's coz i'm in pain and i can't stop the shaking.  they said kaya's heart rate was up too high too then came down too low and wasn't coming back up fast enough.  they wanted consent and they wanted it fast.  i just nodded my head.  i was in pain.  of course they knew what they were doing.  who was i to say no?  

i'm getting wheeled into the OR.  the expressions on the faces around me are full of worry.  i don't even know these people.  they're all rushing around like mad.  i whispered to the nurse who was closest to me... calm down.  it's ok.  you guys got this.  she smiled then she told me that she loved my eye color.  i had to tell her they were contacts (i had the blue ones on).  then curtis was there.  so relieved to see him.  he looks worried. then lots n lots of numbness and talking and i'm awake and i'm feeling them push and pull in my belly then a release of weight.  it was kaya.  they got her out.  she's not crying yet... where's the cry?  i can't keep my eyes open.  i'm sooooo tired.  then i heard her.  curtis is crying too.  he got to see her.  he's crying and i'm so happy.  i got to see her for a moment and then they take her for tests.

while i'm in recovery curtis and regis go to find kaya.  the doctors were cluing me in on what happened while i ate popsicles to keep me quiet.  in a nutshell...

          [my heartrate + fever + infection] 
       + [kaya's heart rate + possibility of infection due to early water break] 
       + slow dilation pace  
        = emergency c-section

kaya was born at 8.15 AM 03.16.10 -- 6lbs 15 oz 20.5 inches long

since then i've been doing some recovery and kaya is under observation and antibiotics.  it was confirmed that she had an infection as well but doctors are happy with her progress.  she'll be going home on tuesday.  

she has a head full of hair.  big hands (let's hope it means she's gonna be tall and grows into them), curtis' ears, my toes and we're not sure whose nose.  she's perfect.  she's got her daddy so hooked on her already.

a funny note... i love UCI.  it's a great hospital with the bestests awesomest staff but the labor and delivery wing is currently (partially) under construction.  my temporary room after the surgery was a tiny lil closet of a room.  it was pretty cozy until i heard what sounded like a dripping noise.  i called to the nurse to inquire about it and right before our eyes the drip turned into a pour and the pour turned into a waterfall.  a pipe had burst over my bed and half of my bed was getting rained on.  more chaos and adventure.  i can't seem to get enough.  an omen for the future?

regis has all the awesome pictures and i can't wait to see them and share.  for now... here's the one i tweeted.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

mila | MY baby bump week 40

kaya, our lil nugget was due to show up yesterday.  she is, as of today, still being uncooperative.   i'm not surprised really.  she's a blackapina, and by virtue of that special genetic combination cannot be expected to be anything short of tardy.  sigh, groan and miserable pout.

we had a doctor's appointment this morning and that sweet doctor of mine gave me an apologetic smile.  shook her head and said ... "if i were a bettin woman i would say one more week for sure".  cereal?!?!?!?!  (that's michelle for "seriously??!?!").  up until the last couple of weeks the whole preggoness, third trimester thing hasn't been all too bad but the last couple of weeks have worn me down.  i'm sore, uncomfortable and cranky.  my sciatic hates me and i hate it right back.  

february was jam packed with activities and it all came to a screeching halt by the 28th.  i made sure to keep my march calendar clean of all obligations.  i wasn't taking any risks.  thank god!  who knew that i would wake up one day just miserable.  and now add to that ... BORED.  this waiting game is for the birds!  

at week 38 it felt like she had dropped lower, at week 39 it's like she crawled back up again.  we've had talks, walks and conversations she and i.  i'm not trying to be mean.  i love this kid...  but cooking time is over.  we haven't even gained any weight in the last 2 weeks so what the heck is she doing in there aside from rearranging my insides and deforming my ribcage with her butt nudges and hitch-kicks?  

since kaya decided not to show up yesterday i decided i was tired of waiting and got my hair did today.  so there!  and after the news from the doc this morning i looked up the top 3 things to help this process go faster...
  1. walking
  2. spicy food
  3. sex  -- no lie btw.  this one has scientific backing to it.  
so if you wanna hang out with me i'll likely be scouring the malls (walking .. and prolly shopping too).  if you wanna meet me for lunch or dinner the menu options are korean, thai or indian.  and if we don't answer the phone when you call it's coz i'm putting curtis to work and i hung the "do not disturb" sign on the door so you just leave us a vm and we'll get back to you when we're done.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

mila | exhibit . bridging the gap

last month i had my first ever gallery exhibit called bridging the gap.  it was a fund raising exhibit to support the missions in the philippines .  we had quite an awesome turn out for the artist's opening and i just wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone once again for coming out and supporting the cause despite the pouring rain.  also, i wanted to share some of the photos from that exhibit.  special thanks to hanssie's daughter mackenzie for being the official photographer for the night!  she did such an awesome job.  curtis is already working on her brand and logo lol. 

if you would like to view the work, it's not too late!  the collection is moving to the violethour studio in fullerton.  old town fullerton is starting a new tradition.  they have an artwalk on the first friday of every month and the kick off is this week!  don't miss it and make sure to stop by and check out the bridging the gap exhibit.

Violet Hour Studio & Gallery

225 West Santa Fe Avenue
Fullerton, CA 92832-1829
(714) 441-1504

photos by mackenzie.  take note of the shoe shot, the "make my parents kiss" shot and the unique point of view of a 5 year old.  LOVE it!

my pictures are nearly as fun...

Monday, March 1, 2010

mila | my baby bump photos by [b]ecker

10 days.  that's it.  at least... that's all that would be left if we were going off the calculated due date.  but in reality, kaya could show up ANY day now.  


I had my first "full", "real" ob exam 2 fridays ago.  that's when it reaLLy, ReALLy ... as in REALLY hit me.  i was waiting in room number 2, waiting for the doc to enter when panic just attacked.  i wanted to hit the pause button.  rewind maybe.  something?  be Hiro from the TV show Heroes.  time travel... take it all back.  OMG!!!!  all of a sudden this isn't something that's gonna be happening a few months from now.  i can't just let the talks of pain, epidurals and life change go in one ear and out the other anymore.  this is seriously happening now.  our time is almost up and we're up to bat any second.  PAIN... it's coming my way whether i want it or not.  oh god.  i'm scared.  trying not to hyperventilate.   i know i know.. i can ask for the meds... but i have to wait till i'm 4 cm dilated!  i have no shame in admitting i'm a woos when it comes to pain and you better believe i'll be demanding for meds.  but it's the fear of the unknown that makes it worse.  i wish i wish i wish... i wish i could just go to sleep one night and the next morning she's in the crib already.  hell, whatever happened to the stork thing?!  or why haven't those scientists figured out a way for guys to do the labor thing yet?!  


so to get over the panic i focus on all the goodies that come after the painful part.  there's sooooo many things i miss.  sleeping on my belly.  being able to turn over in bed without breaking an aerobic sweat.  never losing my balance when i sit on the toilet.  seeing my feet.  feeling my feet. sushi!  soft cheese!  mojitos!!!!!  beer!!!!!  running.  hip hop dance class.  taking pictures from the ground looking up.  wearing jeans.  breathing freely.

all that and a bag o chips!  but the best part will probably be meeting kaya finally.  seeing her.  talking to her and hearing her coo back.  watching curtis with her.  feeling my finger in her grasp.  knowing that she's here.  

for all the effort it's been to lug around this giant belly and all the awesome things to look forward to i think i'm gonna miss the bump.   i know i'm going to miss feeling kaya in there.  there's an odd reassurance to knowing that while in there, she's safe.  i'm almost thinking that when she's out... i'll feel ... lonely.  


but like i said... we have 10 days to go.  and if we went by what the doc said last friday... we may go longer.  she seems to think we might be running a couple of weeks late.  

so we might be posting the bump pictures for week 40.  be on the lookout.  in the meantime, here's my set of favorite photos from our maternity session with the super fly [b]ecker.  who i have to say truly captured the essence of our lil family through this pregnancy.  curtis + me + the bump (kaya).  it's been a lot of love and happiness.  we are complete.

a quick note on this maternity session.  i was inspired by a photo that i saw online.  i WANTED a trailer trash themed session.  all surreal like .... hair in curlers, beer in one hand, cigarette in the other.  i know.. i crazy gurly... anyway, i was digging through my closet for 2 hours trying to find the right clothes for the look.  every time i emerged curtis cringed.  i finally had to give up on it.  so instead we did a throw back to michelle style of yesteryear.  obnoxious pig tails, flower in the hair, long socks, short skirts, combat boots and makeup.  lots of grin and lotsa fun.  thank you so much to my favorite hair girl jen whitlow of AG salon and carina of flawless faces for completing the look for me.

and coz i gotta get my signature look in there... oh and a headshot ;)