I'm so glad you found me! I'm a San Francisco photographer, and this blog charts my journey in the ever-evolving world of photography. One of the things I love about photography is that it's a journey, not a destination. I'm constantly learning and meeting wonderful people. Please peruse the blog to your heart's content, then check out my website and feel free to contact me! (I love hearing from you.)

“Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow." – Imogen Cunningham

“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” – Edward Steichen

I Had an Amazing Thanksgiving Weekend, How About You?

A portion of the SF skyline. This photo has nothing to do with this blog post. I just liked it. Shot on film, Fuji Acros 100.

Seriously, it was pretty epic. Aside from the new recipe I tried out that almost poisoned everyone (how was I supposed to know that two tablespoons of ground pepper is totally different from two tablespoons of cracked pepper? Apparently, it's a lot spicier) and the bear that made its way into the house it was a very relaxing weekend.

We sat around, ate pie for breakfast, wished for snow, and went for not-too-strenuous walks. And did I mention the pie for breakfast? Mmmmm .  .  .

Certainly, one of the highlights was when a baby bear wandered into the foyer while we were barbecuing one evening. We all banged on pots and pans to scare it (and probably its lurking mama bear) off, but really I just wanted to invite it in and pet it. So fluffy! And definitely fat enough to survive the winter.

So yeah, it was a wonderful weekend. And now it's hard to get back to the daily grind (witness how long it took me to write a blog post about the weekend). I hope you all had an equally relaxing time.

Street Cats

Saw these two in Zanzibar.

Christmas Cards!

It's become a bit of a tradition now, I guess, and I'm certainly not one to complain. What started off innocently last year as a marriage between a dress-up party and a photoshoot seems destined to continue, with each year getting a little crazier than the last! What can I say, Barrie and Ed certainly seem to know how to have a good time!

This year, we added new roommates John and Seth to the mix. They got into the mood in no time flat.

Of course, furry family members Killer and Lupe were included (whether they really wanted to be or not - thanks for your patience, Killer!). And Maggie and Megan joined again.

What we ended up with was almost too much holiday spirit to be contained in one room! Luckily it was a pretty big room.

And of course, I couldn't help but leave you with another shot of the furballs.

*Want your own Christmas/Holiday card photoshoot? It isn't too late to get it all done before the holidays! Contact me to plan it out!*

How I Feel About Film Right Now

Kodak Tri-X

This photograph almost perfectly illustrates my current feelings about shooting film (you know, that floppy plastic tape-like stuff). When I saw these heart-shaped leaves while we were in Africa I visualized what a great image they would make: the lighter new leaves against the background of the older leaves, a gentle arc, and as always, three is a powerful number in a photograph. So I took the picture and I waited to see the result.

And when I did, I'll admit I was a little underwhelmed. For me, part of the problem (maybe the whole problem) is certainly the black and white - in real life these leaves were such a vibrant green, and of course that doesn't translate at all in this image. But what's also missing for me is the detail that was present in the original. All the veins and texture that were present in the leaves themselves are nowhere in this photo. And I think that's the other part of the problem, the fact that I'm not familiar enough with the film I'm using to know what it's going to photograph well and what it's not.

So far, I'm not a big fan of Tri-X, even though I know that many other photographers swear by it. Fuji Acros, on the other hand, I absolutely loved almost all the shots from the one roll I've used of it so far.

So black and white continues to kind of elude me. And so whenever I stick a roll of it in my camera, my film shooting speed crawls to a standstill. I feel like it's very subject specific - great for people, patterns of light and shadow, cityscapes, and unpredictable for other uses, such as landscapes or, for example, photos of leaves.

So I guess I'm kind of asking a question here. Does anyone else out there shoot film? Black and white film? And if you do, do you have any insights?

I'm all ears here.

Blue, Blue Sky

I hope you're all enjoying this day after Thanksgiving, whether sprawled on comfortable sofas, or off on an adventure, or braving the shopping malls (better you than me!).

This weekend is the perfect time to sit back and look around and realize how great our lives really are - how lucky we are to have friends, family, clean air and water, and the freedom to change our own lives and make our own choices. Also (from time to time) blue skies! This really was the color of the sky a couple of weeks ago in the Mission district of San Francisco.

Nothing better than a blue sky, am I right?

I'm So Thankful For . . .

Yeah, he's pretty great.

My wonderful husband
My two adorable and rambunctious cats
My warm, safe, beautiful house
Hot water showers
Hot coffee with steamed milk in the morning
A glass of red wine in the evening
Clean water to drink at any time
All the opportunities I have had to travel
My amazing, amazing friends, who continue to amaze and inspire me
A warm bed at night
Fresh fruit in season
Carbonated drinks
The amazing, vibrant city we live in
Good smells
YOU, my wonderful, fantastic blog readers and commenters
My AMAZING clients - thanks to all of you!
And so much more!

New Arrivals at the Shelter

I always enjoy photographing at the shelter, but this time I had a particularly good time.

First off we had Tia, who wasn't so into the idea of staying on the white paper and being flashed at (oddly, it's not really a popular concept with most of the cats!), but she eventually warmed up enough that I was able to get a few good shots of her.

Then we had this dapper gentleman, Bonsai, who is as charming as he is handsome. I don't think he'll have any trouble finding an amazing home.

Then came Cira, who had to move out of her home because her owner was allergic. Talk about a personality! Cira likes to talk, she tells you exactly how she feels all the time. But she's also very affectionate, and she'd be a great cat for someone.

Then we moved on to the kittens. This is Sergio, who was really playful and fun.

And this is Snow, who stole my heart. For good. Seriously, I almost adopted her on the spot. Mouse, Chee, want a new friend?

We finished up with Liza, who has the cutest little mustache. She's a bit shy, but in the right home I can tell she'll blossom.

Come on, you know you want to adopt one!

Poha/Cape Gooseberry/Ground Cherry Jam

I first discovered this intriguing fruit when I was in university. I studied in Montreal, which is about as far away as you can get from California and still be on the same continent, both geographically and also culturally.

People wear fur coats! That's one big cultural difference. Also, French. It's a different language, and a different mindset. On the whole, I absolutely loved living in Montreal. It's a city that has a zest for life, and an energy that even -40 degree days can't quite chill. Plus, I just love being anywhere that's different. Makes me happy.

One of the things I found that was different was these ground cherries. I was in a little fruit and vegetable shop, just outside of one of the metro stations, and there were baskets of this strange looking fruit that came with its own brown paper wrappers! Pretty cool. So I bought some, and enjoyed the mild, vanilla-y taste they gave off, and then I didn't think that much more of them.

Until this past week when my uncle handed me a whole grocery bag full of them that he had grown in his garden and invited me to try my hand at turning them into jam.

As you probably know, I've made jam before. Peach, plum, rhubarb, raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, no fruit is safe from me! But ground cherries, or pohas as they're called in Hawaii, or cape gooseberries as they're also known, seemed like a whole different kettle of fish.

First off, there are those adorable papery wrappers that they come in. Adorable, yes. Practical? Probably. I do think they help the fruit stay fresher longer. But. oh. my. word. They take a bit of time to take off. I spent somewhere in the vicinity of three hours separating wrapper from berry, and I consider it a true testament to my powers of self control that I didn't throw in the towel or run out on the street and commit a berry-induced murder. So if you make this jam, I highly recommend recruiting a friend to help you 'shell' the berries. It will go much faster, and then you also won't have as much risk of having a psychotic break caused by small repetitive seemingly meaningless small movements.

Once they're unwrapped though, it's pretty much a cinch to make the jam. I rinsed them and put them in a covered pot on low heat with a bit of water for a few minutes. Then once they started juicing up I uncovered the pot, brought them to a simmer, added two split vanilla beans, and started the process of cooking them down.

Along the way as I tasted I was a little dubious. The flavor is so subtle that it's hard to know what you might want to add. Do they need extra sugar? Actually mine were already pretty sweet. Lemon or lime juice? I was afraid of overpowering the delicate taste (and worried that I had already done so in adding the vanilla). Some online recipes included chamomile, but I didn't have any on hand.

In the end my ingredient list looked something like this:

-One paper grocery store bag half-full of ground cherries/pohas/cap gooseberries (sorry I can't be more precise with that measurement!)
-1/2 cup of water, added at the beginning to prevent scorching
-2 vanilla beans, split and tossed in
-3 to 4 tablespoons of lime juice, to taste (or lemon juice, I only had lime on hand)
-4 tablespoons of honey
-1/2 cup of sugar (which I added because Evan tasted the jam and said, "It's good! It's not supposed to be sweet, right?")

I simmered the jam for probably 90 minutes, give or take, until it passed the cold plate test. (Put a dollop on a cold plate. If a circle of water appears around the jam, it's not ready. No water circle? You're good!) Generally I don't add pectin to my jams, but ground cherries already have a pretty high pectin content, so in this case it's really not necessary. Also, I usually hold off on adding any sugar or honey until the jam is the consistency I like, as this helps with pectin formation.

Then I fished out the vanilla pods, licked them clean (mmm!), poured the jam into clean jars and boiled them in a hot water bath for 10 minutes to seal them. Then I left them out on the counter overnight to let the seals set.

Sadly, one little jar exploded in the hot water bath (I think because I let the jars cool for a few minutes - you should really boil them immediately so there's no temperature differential). Still, from half a grocery store bag of ground cherries, I ended up with 4 pints of jam. Not bad! Now I just have to think of lots of delicious things to eat it on!

(Pictures of the finished jam are coming. I ran out of daylight because it took me so long to unwrap the little suckers!)

Happy Sunday

Today is my day of rest: a day to relax, drink warm coffee, eat delicious food, and snuggle with my cats.

I hope, wherever you are, that you can find some time to do the same.

Happy Caturday!

A kitten at the shelter. So cute! Extra toes on each foot! I really wanted to take her home. More photos from the shelter coming tomorrow.

Square Magnolias

I figured it might be time for some more square crops, and these magnolias I shot just after the rain last week seemed like the perfect subject!

Elephant Drinking - On Film!

Happy Wednesday! I thought since it's hump day, that day in the middle of the week when it feels like the weekend might never arrive, we could all use a little more elephant love. I know I could!

Fun fact about elephants: they can hold as much as 10 liters of water in their trunks at a time, and they can drink up to 200 liters in one sitting! (Or standing, really.)

These were shot on Tri-X, just like the zebra from last week.

Morgan and Daina - California Coastal Wedding Photography

When Morgan and Daina emailed me only a few weeks before their wedding asking me if I wanted to be their wedding photographer I didn't hesitate a second before saying yes. A wedding in Malibu on the coast? Sign me up!

I also really love photographing weddings of friends and family; there's nothing that makes me happier. Morgan and Daina are family and they're friends, so that made it all the sweeter.

The day started out at a seriously amazing beach house complete with surfboards and an Airstream converted into a surfboard shop.

And of course their awesome cat Sam was along for the ride, chilling on the floor wishing for food. (Such is the existence of all cats.)

The guys stayed at the beach house, while the ladies and I made our way to the venue.

Can I just mention how much I love this chalkboard wall and how sad I am that we don't have one in this house? Evan, are you listening to me? Chalkboard wall, stat!

Don't trust penguins. So true.

So while the guys were eating a leisurely breakfast and playing competitive games with ever-evolving rule systems, the ladies were hanging out, sipping champagne, and taking a little longer to get ready.

Some seriously beautiful sparkle.

Does Daina have great taste in shoes or what?

And a cute little dress to slip into for the reception. With some sparkle too, of course.

Meanwhile, the guys got ready a little differently . . .

These guys were just so great, all day. So much fun.

Morgan and Daina chose to see each other before the ceremony, which I always love to photograph. It was a beautiful moment.

The day was running a bit behind schedule, but we grabbed a few quick portraits before the ceremony began.

And may I just say: Daina, you are stunning.

Doesn't Daina kind of remind you of Ginger Rogers here?

A few of the pretty details from the day (there were so many).

And a pool!

They said their vows with the vastness of the Pacific stretching below them.

I just love the look on Morgan's face when he saw Daina!

Morgan's father Bruce did an excellent job officiating.

I loved the sand ceremony.

Finally, time for the kiss!

Then the party moved to the reception, with delicious food, a really great DJ, and a fun candy bar.

I think we can all agree that Daina is beautiful. But one thing I loved, and I saw this all through the day, is that Daina just simply glows when she looks at Morgan. There couldn't be a simpler, or truer, proof of great love than that.

Thank you, Daina and Morgan, for an amazing, heart-stoppingly beautiful day. I wish you both the best of luck as you push forward in your new business, but I know you already have everything you need right there in each other.