Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Open Show, Photo LA And Saying Yes

I am a loner for most of the year and a very shy person so the thought of standing in front of a large group of people to talk about my work is terrifying to me.  A week ago, I took the chance and stood in front of an audience to do just that.

I am at ease with a small group and even better at one-on-one conversations but standing in front of a crowd full of eyes isn't something I jump at the chance to do. I was asked to talk about my work at Open Show Los Angeles and after saying no in my head, my fingers typed "yes" in an email.  I am glad I did the opposite of what my fear told me to do. 

It would be easy to tell you that I am a pro at public speaking and that I feel it's a piece of cake.  That would be...in my mother's words, "a fib." 

Even though I minored in Speech in college, It doesn't come naturally to me. It's easier and more comfortable for me to be alone on the road for months or approach a stranger in an alley at night to take their photograph, than it is to enter the safety of a room full of people staring at me waiting for me to speak.  I am telling you all of this to let you know that it's ok to say yes to something that scares you to death. I promise you that you will feel on top of the world once it's over.  Chances are great that you won't actually die.

At Open Show Los Angeles with fellow speakers (L to R) Chang Kyun Kim, Clay Lipsky, Elizabeth Preger and Benjo Arwas
A few days later, I attended Photo LA for the third year in a row.  Just three years ago, I attended Photo LA for the first time and didn't know a soul. Last year, I knew a handful of people and this year, I was fortunate to be one of the top 20 finalists in the Emerging Focus competition.  They had a reception for all of the finalists on Friday to announce the winners.  All the judges were on hand to announce the winner, including David Schonauer, David Vincent Wolf, Gerd Ludwig, Joe Schmelzer and Scarlet Cheng.  I was thrilled to hear my named called as the 3rd place winner.
At Photo LA with Emerging Focus winners, Gina Cholick, Andy Lerner, Elizabeth Preger and myself.
Thank you to Dan Shepherd for asking me to do something that terrifies me and for all of the judges at Emerging Focus that chose "Brothers" for the 3rd place prize.  I would recommend doing things that scare the hell out of you.  The feeling you get after it's over is so well worth the stress from the fear.  Remember, the good feeling comes AFTER the task is completed.

All of the top 20 images will be on display at ICON, Los Angeles now until the closing reception on March 10th.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Clemson University Architecture Villa in Genoa, Italy

Clemson University's School of Architecture hosts what it calls a "Fluid Campus."  One semester during students' third year of school, they'll spend it abroad in either Barcelona, Charleston, or Genoa, Italy.  The Genoa, Italy program is the oldest (40 years this year!) and began when CAF purchased a villa in Genoa, Italy - a town not so accustomed to tourism (especially not at the time) that would provide students with an authentic Italian living experience.

I had heard on and on about the wonderful villa that we got to stay in while studying architecture in Italy.  However, I'd seen very few pictures of this amazing villa online.  So I set out to document it and share it with everyone curious.


As soon as you step out the front door, you're practically on the street.  And the street goes one way... both ways.  It's interesting to watch as two cars come in opposing directions in front of the villa.  One will give way and back up, letting the other through.  It's such a smooth process - no bickering about whose turn it is. It just happens.


When you first enter, there's a bell.

Dinner Bell!

And then you have two options.

You could turn left and go up to the kitchen -

Entry - to Left (leads downstairs)

Or you could turn right and go upstairs -

Entry - to Right (leads upstairs)

Up the stairs...

What fascinates me about this is that within the circle cut-out is actually the kitchen area. You can tell this villa was designed by an architect.

Opening to Kitchen

Continuing Up...


The service staircase goes directly to all three levels of the villa.


There are three rooms for studio on the main level.




A classroom/lounge area -

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And a library -




Outside is the garden -



Fruit grows in the garden.



This terrace is actually off-limits because it overlooks the professor's suite. We didn't know at the time... oops.

Rear Terrace


Downstairs is the dining area -


A lounge -

Downstairs Den

And a kitchen and pantry which I need to photograph.

The garage with the laundry machines (which is detached) -


The students live on the third floor.

Staircase from Main Level to Student Rooms

2-Person Bedroom

2-Person Bedroom


My Room

Balcony off my Room

The closets are all IKEA. Everyone got their own, but there were only 14 of us.

My Closet

There are four full bathrooms and one shower room at one end of the third floor.


The shower room is kind of useless for two people because not many people want to hop in the clear showers side-by-side together.


There are four toilets upstairs, and they all flush differently.


There is also a guest suite upstairs which can be rented out for 40 Euros a night per person.

Guest Room

The guests who went the suite get exclusive use of the side terrace overlooking the garden during their stay.

The villa is amazing, and we're so lucky to have this and be able to use it for Clemson architecture.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Moving to Genoa

I had heard, even before I arrived in at Clemson, about the architecture school's program in Genoa.  Everyone who had been or had heard of people who had gone said it was amazing - something I must do - and that the villa was awesome.  So from the beginning, I had my heart set on Italy.

At the first study abroad meeting, my junior year of college seemed so far away.  And I liked it that way.  Italy was something to look forward to, something to dream about.  And then it crept up on me.

I, by no means, felt ready.  Even though I'm 21 years old, I still feel very much like a child.  How can I be this old?

Packing was my biggest concern.  And none of the meetings we attended were very informative about packing.  At the meeting where a student who had been to Genoa in the spring the year before attended, I asked her questions like, "What are you glad you brought?  What did you wish you brought?"  But I could tell that this girl wasn't that similar to me.

I am not one size fits all.  I'm 5 feet tall, size 32DD bra, size 00 jeans, and size 2 (yes, children's) shoes.  I'm basically Dolly Parton, except with no one to custom  make glitzy clothes for me.  It took me years to learn where to shop and what to buy in the US, so you can only imagine the lack of comfort I feel when I'm told, "Oh, you can buy clothes and shoes while you're abroad."

So I didn't stress too much about packing light.  I packed enough clothes to get me through at least a month without washing anything.

I Packed:
  • A ton of sweaters and tops
  • T-shirts and cardigans for layering
  • 2 pairs of jeans (wore 1), black pants, black metallic pants, and gold pants
  • 3 knit dresses
  • A nicer high-low dress
  • 2 dressy shorts
  • 5 skirts
  • 5 jackets (warm jacket, trench, military jacket, leather jacket, and raincoat)
  • Lots of shoes (3 pumps - black, nude, gold; 2 ballet flats - black, gold; brown mules, black oxfords, black sweater Uggs, natural canvas Toms, black oxford heels, and brown boots)
In my defense, shoes are rather difficult for me to find, so I brought a lot.



As for toiletries, I brought all of my travel necessities, as well as smaller bottles of my regular shampoo and conditioner.  What I really wish I would've brought is body wash and a washcloth or loofah.  We were told that we could buy toiletries here, but the only toiletries I've found are pretty expensive (it's cheaper to buy a bottle of wine...).  We also weren't given washcloths.  I assumed that since we were given towels that we'd receive washcloths, too, but I was wrong.  A shower caddy also wouldn't have been a bad idea because we have to take our things out of the showers everyday to make it easier for our housekeeper to clean (can't really complain...).  There are a few in the closet of things left behind by previous students, so if I get desperate enough, I'll take one of those.

Another thing I wish I would've packed are Command hooks.  I actually almost brought some just because they were already in my suitcase, but I took them out.  We could really use some hooks to hang our purses, belts, and bath towels.

I didn't bring a hairdryer or a hair straightener because I had heard the horror stories of people blowing theirs up.  There are several European hairdryers in the villa, so that hasn't been a problem, but no one has left behind a hair straightener.  I'm going to need to purchase one ASAP.

I checked two large rolling suitcases, as well as a rolling carry-on and my camera bag.

Our plane arrived 30 minutes late at the gate in Charlotte, so our flight was terribly delayed.  When we got to the airport in DC, we had to run 40 gates to make our connection.  Yes, we were those people hustling through the airport.  I would say it's not funny when it's happening to you, but I was laughing the entire time, so I suppose that's a false statement.

When I realized how soon we took off after getting on the plane (I believe we were the last people on), I had  a sick feeling that our luggage wasn't with us.  But I refused to think that.  I had never lost my luggage before.

When we got off the plane at the tiny Genoa Airport, we waited for the bags to come.  It was very strange how they did it.  They started one conveyor belt which was apparently just to mess with us because everyone looked very disappointed when it stopped - and then they started the other one and everyone hustled over there.  Then that conveyor belt stopped about as quickly as the other one.  And we didn't have our luggage.  We stood around for a minute until it was apparent that there was no more luggage to be found.  So we made our way over to Lost & Found.

The woman working there was of course Italian.  She did speak English, but with a strong accent.  They were having trouble with their system, but she was able to locate our bags... they were still in DC, but were going to be sent on a plane to Munich that night.  They could be delivered to us tomorrow morning at 11:30.  We then had to each describe our bags to her, and she wrote us each receipts.  It took like five minutes per person to get this done.  I think we spent over half an hour at lost and found.

She fussed at us for taking this picture... no photos allowed.

The next day, we waited and waited for our luggage.  We finally got a call around noon that our luggage would be there at 4:30, and we had to wait for it because there isn't really any parking outside the villa.  4:30 came and went... no luggage.  Finally, around 7:00 PM, it arrived!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Emily and Steven's Christmas Engagement Announcement Photos

I've known Emily forever.  Our mothers are best friends, so we grew up playing together during their get-togethers.  We've gone on several vacations with her family and basically grew up together.  One thing I love about Emily is that she's so genuine and sweet - beautiful on the inside and out.  Her happiness is infectious  If you're having a bad day, she'll cheer you up.  If you need a hug, Emily is there.

Emily and Steven have been together since high school.  Steven is absolutely hilarious.  He tells the best stories and never fails to make you laugh.  He's absolutely the perfect guy for Emily - the two are so adorable together.  And what's exceptionally awesome about Steven is that he's so involved in the wedding planning process.  Steven was actually the one to call me to set up the photo shoot and who I communicated with about the Christmas cards.

Emily and Steven were engaged last May, and I shot her brother, Jay's wedding last August.  Steven and Emily wanted photos for a Christmas card that also announced their engagement.  Besides that, they really left a lot up to me, which was awesome.

We shot their photos on a variety of locations on Emily's family land.  I loved the outfits that Emily and Steven chose.

We started at the "Old Home Place."  The colors there were beautiful.




The horses weren't too fond of the camera, but one did venture over to say hello.





Steven kept us laughing the entire time -



We then moved to Grandma's farm.






And we ended at Emily's house.  We were battling a light rain towards the end.  But Emily had a very positive take to it - the dark skies made it look more wintery for their Christmas photos!

Emily and Steven entered their church's Twitter competition wearing their Newspring "Fully Alive" shirts.  What's more alive than Christmas lights?

The submitted (and winning!) photo -



Steven texted me earlier that week asking if I had any Mickey gloves. It just so happened I did!



Once Emily's mom came home, we got a case of the giggles...what's funnier than a future mother-in-law peeking in the background?



And the final product -

Christmas Card

Emily and Steven, I really loved doing this shoot and thank you both for the opportunity!  Congratulations, again, on your engagement!