Expanding my Photography Horizons


{ PREFACE: I apologize that I haven’t been very frequent on here lately. I have 4 jobs, and am going to school in the evenings for my Teaching Credential. Needless to say, my life is extremely busy at the moment. BUT, I want to make it sure I post at least once a week from now on. So I give you the OK to be on my back if I don’t 🙂 }


I am currently the Community Leader at Athleta Pasadena. We are a women’s fitness & lifestyle apparel clothing company, which focuses on empowering women to be their best. We did a fitness blogger highlight the other month, and I was asked to take the photographs of my wonderful friend, Rachel Baker. She is the creator and author of The Love Fit Life blog.

From a photography standpoint, this was really the first time I’ve really branched into professionally photographing people instead of landscapes and fish 🙂 I had a BLAST taking all these portraits of Rachel for Athleta. We were lucky to snap some pictures in a variety of locations -> Pure Barre Pasadena, Central Park, & Pasadena Fire Station 31. 

I am really interested in getting more portrait photography experience – so if you or anyone you know needs to get any portraits taken – please comment on this post 🙂

Seeing The Good Happen All Around You

Photo: Felipe Jacome

Photo: Felipe Jacome

Sometimes when you are feeling down, or having self-doubt, you see something that makes you instantaneously feel extremely inspired.

When I went onto my computer recently and saw what my friends and family were accomplishing, all I could do was smile from ear to ear. It’s a reminder that there are good people in this world, and they are making a difference in their special own way.

I just found out my very own uncle is going to be the assistant coach for the Haiti 2014 World Cup Amputee Team. With my father’s side of the family being full-blooded hardcore successful Slovakian soccer players & coaches, I grew up loving and playing that amazing sport. Unfortunately after 2 knee surgeries, I am unable to play the sport any longer. To see these men – these survivors – these lovers of the sport – getting a chance to represent their country in the World Cup – it’s inspiring the say the least. These young men have gone through such horrific tragedies, but that doesn’t put a damper on their passions and dreams. They just acquired 1 new fan to root them along on their tireless journey to the World Cup. Hopefully you will join me too 🙂

My uncle is an amazing and talented soccer coach – the team is so very lucky to have him on their side. Here’s the summary listed on the Pursuit of Hope’s website and the trailer for the video that will make about their journey to the Amputee World Cup in Mexico:

Nearly 1 million people in Haiti are amputees or have disabilities. They are largely outcast. In many cases their families consider them cursed. Dealing with severe poverty and joblessness, these individuals experience the worst of living conditions. They are disregarded, and even discarded.

Pursuit of Hope is a feature-length documentary that tells the story of the Haitian amputee football team as they seek a spot in the 2014 World Cup of Amputee Football.

More than that, Pursuit of Hope tells the story of team members as they seek acceptance in their own country and desire to become models of hope for Haiti and the rest of the world.

 

Now onto another group of men doing good.

For the past couple of years, I have become quite good friends with the Pasadena Fire Department, in particular Fire House 31. They have been super helpful whenever I needed them for anything – helping get rid of a crazy huge wasps nest in my doorway – help get my keys that I locked into my 2nd story apartment unit – star in a promo video for a contest I was competing it – and so much more.

One firemen, Tony Zee, has been a huge supporter of mine ever since I met him. He is always smiling and inspired by accomplishments, but I am also of his. He is an individual you know is genuinely such a kind-hearted and caring individual. He has two wonderful young daughters, and a beautiful wife.

The Fire House 31 was just recently featured on segment for ABC 7 Eyewitness News in Los Angeles. They focused on the department’s participation in the ‘Movember’ movement to raise awareness mainly for men’s health issues such as testicular and prostate cancer. I am so happy that they are participating in raising awareness for these persistent issues for men.

WATCH THE SEGMENT HERE

 

From this video segment, I learned that my friend Tony had battled cancer. I had had no idea! He battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which unfortunately took the lives of close to 19,000 individuals in the United States in 2014 (cancer.gov). He stated that it is one of the top cancers for firemen, and as a survivor, he feels like he should promote and make other firefighters aware of cancers in the fire service industry. Thank you Tony for spreading the knowledge!

So keep your eyes open, and appreciate those all around you who are doing something to make the world a better place. 

Top 10 Reasons Why LA is Awesome

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LOS ANGELES!

The City of Angels turned 232
on September 4, 2013

LA Sunset

* My Photograph was Featured on DiscoverLosAngeles.com *

My mom and I moved to South Pasadena – only a 15 min drive from the heart of downtown Los Angeles – when I was in 4th grade. I spent the majority of my youthful years in LA, that is until my mom moved back to Texas when I was a sophomore in college. While going to college in Monterey Bay CA, I cherished the clean air and beautiful coast line each and every day. But after 4 years of foggy days, cold blistering winds, and rainy days, I was ready to move back to LA so I could be reminded of what the sun looks like.

I’ve spent 14 years of my life in the City of Angeles, and it truly holds a special place in my heart. There really is NO PLACE like Los Angeles 🙂 In saying that, I’d like to share a couple of key factors that make LA so amazing:

Top 10 Reasons Why LA is AWESOME:

 

  1. ALWAYS SOMETHING TO DO: There is never a week that goes by in Los Angeles that there’s not a festival, event, concert, or some kind of exciting gathering. If people say they are bored in LA, tell them they are crazy and lazy.
  2. SUNSHINE YEAR ROUND: After living in Monterey where there was only about a week of sunshine for the entire year, I learned that LA was in fact where I belonged. I’m a child of the sun and sea – and thanks to the 292 days year round of sunshine in Los Angeles – I’m a happy camper!
  3. LOTS OF HIKING: Yes this is a large city, but we’ve got hills and mountains galore! There’s even a waterfall 5 minutes of the street from my house. If you consider LA a concrete jungle, let me treat you to a hiking tour around the area to change your mind.
  4. MIXING BOWL OF PEOPLE: It’s true that there’s a lot of struggling grads trying to get into the film/production/screenwriting/acting/music industry, but there’s also a lot of other people that make up Los Angeles. There’s more to LA than “Hollywood.” So many people move here from around the world to start a new adventure in their lives!! Never judge a book by its cover in LA – you never know who you are talking to and who they know and what they could do for you.
  5. BEST STAYCATIONS: Everything in LA is a basically a 30 minute drive away. You can be at the beach in the morning splashing around in the ocean, and have a bonfire in the evening at the top of a mountain all in the same day. Palm Springs is just 2 hours away, or Santa Barbara for that matter. It’s easy to escape for a staycation when you live in LA. (Heck, Vegas day trips have been made before..)
  6. ENDLESS AMOUNT OF PALM TREES: Yes this might be strange reason, but you can’t help but love flying into LA and seeing the streets lined with palm trees. It is just a reminder that the beach is just a short drive away from the hustle and bustle. Plus their silhouettes make for some fantastic photos when the sun is setting on that big blue Pacific Ocean.
  7. YOUR TASTE BUDS WILL LOVE YOU: LA has one of the best food scenes in the country. We’ve got such a vast variety of cuisines, we have multiple festivals a year just to showcase it. People travel from all around the world to visit restaurants in LA.
  8. FITNESS CULTURE: People in LA like to look good. A lot of the time it’s for superficial reasons, but hey, who is complaining? Thus, there’s a huge amount of fun fitness activities to participate in. From Crossfit, to Barre classes, to Yoga, to BootCamps – everyone can pick and choose which method to keep them fit and healthy!
  9. DRINK UP: The beer, wine, and mixology scene in LA is fantastic. Which ever beverage you are in the mood for, you can definitely find the hidden bar that specializes in your specific thirst quencher. From dive bars, to breweries, to wineries, to mixology bars, to historic renovated locations, to new and up and coming innovative establishments..you can’t go wrong.
  10. ROLE MODEL: Los Angeles is often times a role model for other cities. Whether it be in the terms of passing a significant bill, changing a law, dealing with environmental issues.. LA is a frontrunner.

If you have any other reasons to add why LA is fantastic – feel free to comment!

Hoping For The Best

KoalaFood

G’Day Mates! We are starting the final 24 hours before Australia’s Best Job in the World Top 3 Finalists for each job are announced (AHHH!). Needless to say, I am filled with a multitude of different emotions. This process has been so amazing thus far, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I will go more into all those emotions and experiences in the next post, so be on the look out for that! I wanted to update all you bloggers out there with my latest video blogs seen below:

When I completed the second phase of the contest last week, I turned in a presentation summing up my Referee (supporters/social media) campaign. I accumulated a large number of support letters during this phase of the contest that I turned into the judges as well. I am so humbled to have received kind letters from law enforcement officers, wildlife trainers, CEO’s/Presidents of large companies, and even important high-profile media individuals. I want to personally THANK each person who submitted a letter in support of my dream job – it meant the WORLD to me 🙂 

Also included in my presentation was the video as seen below. Here, I filmed a heart-to-heart to allow the judges to view me in a more personal light. My life is dedicated to educating others about conservation and environmental sustainability of our planet. I don’t see this position as just a 6-month job, I see it as a stepping stone towards living out my passions in life. 

SUPPORT CHANEL FOR WILDLIFE CARETAKER:

FACEBOOK – Like / Share / Comment

TWITTER @PSChanel #ChanelWC #BestJobs @Australia – Tweet/RT Why I Australia Should Pick Me!

INSTAGRAM @ChanelWildlifeCaretaker – Like and #ChanelWC

CONTEST PAGE

The Final Puzzle Piece

Yesterday, I had a phone interview with the South Australia Tourism representative regarding being a Finalist in the Best Job in the World contest. We had an amazing conversation; it actually felt more like a chat with a close friend than an interview for my dream job – in a good way!

After our conversation, I was filled with excitement! The position of Wildlife Caretaker, REALLY IS MADE FOR ME. I am everything passionate about animals/environment, ecotourism, traveling, blogging, photography, video editing, being in front of the camera, conducting research, talking with strangers, and exploring new places. All of the qualifications and characteristics they are looking for, I possess. I feel like the final piece of a 1,000 piece-puzzle (that makes up a map of South Australia of course), ready to placed in its unique spot to complete the masterpiece.

LoseSightOfTheShore
This week really FLEW by! Let me tell you, throwing a huge social media blitz for a job opportunity of a lifetime is a 24/7 job. Time is of the essence, and I am utilizing every second of the day.

Throughout this campaign, I have had the pleasure of connecting with some amazing people. Even if the cards aren’t in my favor for this competition (but I hope I’m dealt a FULL HOUSE), I will be pleased to leave with a new group friends from around the globe. I am convinced I am on this journey of a lifetime for a reason (or two, or three). Surrounding yourself with inspiring, supportive, and positive people will only lead to great things 🙂

I HAVE A THEME SONG! A well-known band based out of Orange County, the Saints in Rehab, got creative and wrote a quick little theme song to support my dream job of becoming a Wildlife Caretaker. I met these guys one year ago when I went on a cruise to Mexico for my birthday, and we’ve remained good ever since friends. It’s amazing to look back and count the number of blossoming friendships I’ve created by just starting a conversation with a stranger on my travels! Needless to say, they are a great group of talented guys! THANKS SO MUCH 😀 Hope you can come visit me Down Under and play a ‘real’ didgeridoo.

We’ve accumulated over 1200 likes on my Contest Facebook Page – if you haven’t liked it yet and want to support me – please click the link above/below and like/share with your friends! It only takes 2 seconds I swear, but your actions could make a 20 year dream become a reality.

SUPPORT CHANEL FOR WILDLIFE CARETAKER:

FACEBOOK – Like / Share / Comment

TWITTER @PSChanel #ChanelWC #BestJobs @Australia – Tweet/RT Why I Australia Should Pick Me!

INSTAGRAM @ChanelWildlifeCaretaker – Like and #ChanelWC

CONTEST PAGE

Stop and Smell the Roses

Our lives are so non-stop busy on a daily basis, many of us forget to stop and enjoy the little things in life.

When you’re walking down the street next time, take a second to look up at the world around you. So many people focus down at their feet and rush to their destination to avoid awkward eye contact with strangers passing them by. Or they are enthralled on their phone making sure their social media life doesn’t diminish on the 4 minute walk  they have to the store (and thus increasing their chances of accidentally running straight into a building, pole or tree).

If you start to open your eyes and notice the world around you, you might be surprised at what you find. I love staring up at the rich blue sky and the massive San Gabriel Mountains in Pasadena whenever I take a walk around Old Town (where I work). The buildings in Old Town date back over 100 years, and the architecture is so beautiful and unique on every building- but so few people ever look up and acknowledge it.

Last weekend, my mom was visiting from San Diego and we went to this beautiful rose garden in Downtown LA. I haven’t posted my photography in a while, so I thought it was about time to get the ball rolling! I truly enjoyed stopping and smelling the roses (so cliche but so true)- some were so pleasantly fragrant I wanted to bottle it up!

Life is too short to not stop and smell the roses. Our world is beautiful; find the beauty in your life.

Conversations with Strangers

Recently, I’ve been a lot more open to sparking up conversations with complete strangers in my day to day life. That might sound a little weird, but what I’m trying to say is that I wouldn’t be the one who initiates a convo about how great these pre-made salads are at my grocery store when a woman stands there pondering which one to get (do you get the hint that this happened recently? haha) – but now I’m more open and engaging with those around me. I told the nice lady what type of salads I love and she thanked me for my helpful opinion. It’s kind of amazing the stories people are willing to share with you if you open your mouth and just say “hello” to them once in awhile.

My mom is a very friendly (and nosey-sorry mom, you know it’s true) person, so she definitely has minimal boundaries when it comes to approaching a stranger or strike up a conversation if you are sitting next to her. I always felt embarrassed to be around her when she made these encounters with people we don’t even know, but I’m starting to learn that most of the time, good things come stem from it.

On Friday, I went to True Value to get some supplies for work. I got into a conversation with a man working there and basically what key point stemmed from it was that we should do things for OURSELVES that make us happy and not for anyone else. If you want to paint your room green, and your sister doesn’t like that color, it doesn’t matter! It’s not your sister’s room, nor her house. Paint your room green if you want to! You don’t need someone else’s approval for wanting to do something that you like. Even though it’s a simple concept, a lot of people don’t really abide by it. Think about it.

A good encounter story with a stranger happened while I was actually in the middle of writing this post. I went on a walk after work while I was waiting for my friend to meet me in Old Town Pasadena. On my walk, I went by this little coffee shop with an outdoor side patio which was featuring an ‘open mic’ night. I kept walking and after I was a block away I heard someone running… I turned around and saw this guy and thought ‘oh, he’s just going to put more money in his meter for his car.’ Then as he got next to me, he stopped and told me that he was at Cafe Alibi and saw my walk by and just wanted to tell me how pretty I was. I was kind of blindsided by the whole thing- not in a bad way though. This kind of romantic thing never really happens outside of a movie theater…He said he was going to read some poems he wrote at the open mic night and so I decided to go back with him and listen to his poems. (I mean it’s the least I could do right? The man came running after me for gosh sake!) When it was finally his turn on the mic, both of his poems were about women and being heartbroken (oh no..). He walked me to the bar where I was going to meet my friend, and he hugged gave me a big hug and kissed me on the cheek. Then he went in for a second hug and kiss on the cheek because he said it felt ‘so good.’

Afterwards I thought- seriously? Did that just happen?? I’m not going to lie, it was kind of refreshing to have someone literally run a block after me to tell me I was pretty. Being single for over a year and half has led me on some interesting dates with some interesting guys. Meeting people (as in ‘people I’d consider dating’) in LA is not an easy task-  the guys here really are 98% of the time: actors, screenwriters, film makers, or a bar tender/waiter- which isn’t a horrible thing at all if that’s your profession, but sometimes I’d just like a little more variety. Speaking about dating, my friend just started writing a blog called Live & Love in LA – she’s a dating/love guru with lots of fun stories and advice. Take a peek at her blog if you get the chance!

So I came across the other day another blogger’s post full of inspirational quotes and images. I picked one of my own photos (35mm film taken in Monterey Bay) and inserted this quote that really stood out to me: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”- Plato

No matter what point in life we are in- we all have some sort of battle we are facing. Life is never easy, nor perfect, for any one of us. So just remember next time you feel like snapping on a stranger because you’re having a crappy day, just stop and remember that person may be already having a crappy day too. Be kind to everyone!

When One Door Closes…

“When one door closes, you have to open all the windows because it gets so hot!!” – Said my lovely friend/blogger Rachel Barker who took me out after I found out I didn’t get the dream job I spoke about previously. It was to be a Naturalist for the Ambassadors of the Environment program at the Ritz Carlton in the Grand Cayman Islands (I know..that would have been AMAZING huh?!). After a couple months of interviews and back and forth emails, I find out I came in 2nd place and if they had one more spot open I’d be in for sure. This job was PERFECT *or what I thought was perfect* in terms of jumping back into the boat with marine science field.

It was a big bummer for sure, but this quote helped me realize that this isn’t the end of the world..

You can’t let one ‘let down’ be the end of your hopes and dreams. There are SO MANY amazing opportunities just waiting for me out there that I’m super excited to stumble upon the next one.

One opportunity that fell into my lap recently was to be part of a blog team for this fantastic workout studio that I’ve been attending since August, called Pure Barre Pasadena. The other half of the blog team is my friend Rachel, which got me hooked on Pure Barre in the first place. But lucky for Rachel, she got asked to be an Instructor for the studio as well as their marketing coordinator. So basically, the Pure Barre Pasadena Blog was thrown into my lap as my own little project. The site is live and doing great – Meet Me @ The Barre  – check it out! Pure Barre is a wonderful workout that combines yoga, pilates, and ballet barre techniques. I’ve seen faster results after 2 weeks of classes than 6 months of the gym. Look for a studio near you 🙂

Another opportunity was to become a part of the Pasadena Jaycee’s (Junior Chamber of Commerce). Rachel is an active member of the program and recruited me to be part of their huge event Operation Santa this year. Instead of traveling during the holidays, I’ll be staying in Pasadena and passing out gifts (where we all are dressed as Santa, Mrs. Claus, and Elves) to children who write letters to Santa (which is re-directed to the Pasadena Jaycee’s Office 🙂 ). I’m such a giving person in the first place- Operation Santa will definitely be a lot of fun!

Getting a little more sentimental- just wanted to say life really works in mysterious ways. This year so far I’ve gained so many new long-lasting friendships, lost what I thought were very strong friendships, worked with some of the most amazing people who have become my family, completed three 5K runs, have had such a supporting family in times of uplift,  dramatically expanded my blogging career, and so so much more.

To say that this year has monumental for me would be an understatement. I’ve GROWN so much. I’ve LEARNED so much. I’ve SEEN so much. Keeping positive, healthy, and confident has only lead me to great things. Right now, I’m happy 🙂 I hope you are too!

Officially a Gladiator.

(UPDATED!)

I’ve been training for the past couple of months for the Gladiator Rock n Run event held at the Pasadena Rose Bowl on Saturday October 6, 2012. The event raised money for a great cause :  TACA- Talk About Curing Autism. You could also donate your running shoes after the race- which is exactly what I did 🙂 I originally found out about this race through a Groupon deal that I quickly sent to my good friend Rachel and said = LET’S DO IT! I’ve ran 2 5K’s already this year- but this one was going to be VERY different.

I definitely needed to train more for this type of event. Besides running, there were multiple obstacles we’d have to overcome throughout the course. My training encompassed hardcore workouts at the fire department up the street from my house (lots of CrossFit activities), group workouts at the high school track, continuing pure barre classes to keep my muscles strong, and then my regular gym routine. (The training helped A LOT!)

Let me tell you a little more about the event- we signed up for the 5K – but there is also a 10K option as well (probably will do that one next year). In the midst of running 5K, you have to overcome 14 obstacles which included: running the stairs inside the famous Rose Bowl stadium, crawling through thick mud into metal tubes, concurring a tire mountain, climbing a 14 ft rope and ringing a bell, a polar plunge into freezing chest deep water, climbing in and out of dumpsters, crawling under barbed wire through a mud pit on our stomachs, carrying a 40lb bag of rice 40 yards, monkey bars, up and over a huge cargo net, and a tilted wall rope pull over. Basically some crazy obstacles! You can see the course here. 

My great friend Rachel Barker, writer of LoveFitLife, and I rocked our Black Swan/Pink Flamingo tu-tus and sports bras as our costumes for the race. You can check Rachel’s blog for some in-depth details about our trainings! We had a couple of friends who trained with us as well, Nick and Nicole, who ran the 10K before us- they sported awesome gladiator and fairy costumes! We all met up at the finish line and enjoyed our free beer for completing the race. It may seem silly to drink a beer right after a big run, but it’s actually a good way to get carbs lost from the exercise.

The hardest part of the race definitely was the stairs in the Rose Bowl at the beginning (mostly because of the weird high height of the stairs), and the polar plunge where your body literally feels like it is shutting down. But the most important part is that I didn’t give up (although my hands were so slippery on the monkey bars I couldn’t go all the way across without slipping- but I tried enough times to make up the same amount of bars in the obstacle- so I’m ok with that :P). The final obstacle was supposed to be the hardest and encourage teamwork. It was a slanted wall with only a thin rope to help pull you up and over. Although, after 100’s of people covered in mud went before us, the wall was slippery than ever. Happily I will confess that both Rachel and I climbed over that wall all on our OWN on our FIRST try! We saw so many “macho” men try and fail and try and fail this obstacle. I’m so proud of us for kicking butt 🙂

Rachel and I crossed the finish line together- hands up in the air and smiling 😀

UPDATED RESULTS:

OVERALL: Finished 353 out of 1622 (top 4.5%)

DIVISION: Women Age 21-27- Finished 27 out of 227 ( top 8.4%) 

Our time was 1 hour and 4 mins- which rounds out to about 20 mins/mile divided by 14 obstacles..not too bad. This kind of race was not something you focused on finishing under a certain time- it was more about team work with helping others out with the more difficult obstacles to overcome. I’m so thankful to have finished uninjured and to have had both our mom’s in the crowd cheering us on! Although, I’ve got some great bruises and scratches on my knee the day after the race- I’ll wear these battle wounds proudly!

I encourage all of you to try something new- and give it all you’ve got! You really do never know until you try. Have faith in yourself and you will accomplish whatever you please.  

I ran, I climbed, I crawled, I conquered.

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Welcome to LA Space Shuttle Endeavour!

I felt so lucky to be able to witness history as the Space Shuttle Endeavour flew over Pasadena last Friday September 21st, 2012 on its way home to the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

My coworkers and I headed out to the Colorado Street Bridge to get an excellent view of the Rose Bowl, JPL, and Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Could you ask for a better background?! I think not 🙂 We definitely weren’t alone- there were many other people who congregated on the bridge to get that perfect shot of the shuttle pass by us!

I can’t even begin to describe the amount of excitement and exhilaration it was to see this magnificent historic shuttle fly in the air right ABOVE my head! My hands were literally shaking while I was taking pictures with happiness. I joined in the “Wahoooooos” with the rest of the spectators on the bridge. I’m surprised that no one started chanting “USA USA” or at least “NASA NASA.”

It was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget. Although, I’m not too happy that in order for the Space Shuttle to drive from LAX to the California Science Center they had to rip out 400 trees along the streets…horrible. The California Science Center said that they will plant double the amount of trees that were demolished- but I don’t think that will justify the historic 100-year-old trees that were displaced.

On a brighter note- please enjoy the photos I snapped below of this momentous occasion!