photo diary | San Francisco (& a video)

My mother and I were very blessed to get out of the house for the weekend and experience the wonders of San Francisco. With the keys to a rental car and a list of must-see places, we were on a mission.

We started our journey with the very famous Golden Gate Bridge. We drove over it and ended up hiking up some mountains to obtain views that took our breath away. Literally.

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Amid our adventures, we stumbled upon several tiny gardens. The flowers were so vibrant it made our hearts dance with joy. My mom is featured in the photograph above feelings the grass between her toes. We were simply living.

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This is the famous Lombard Street: a one-way street in the heart of San Francisco that literally resembles the curves of a snake. Did I force my mom to drive us down it? Yes. Yes I did. She may or may not have screamed the whole time.

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The Painted Ladies- featured on the intro of Full House!

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Day two: We headed to the Piers/Fisherman’s Wharf by the Bay. The sunshine was in full force and the sunflowers danced in the wind. The energy alone gave me life.

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We decided to take a spur of the moment boat ride under the Golden Gate Bridge. IT WAS GRAND. We saw dolphins, a humpback whale, cruised next to pelicans and took a ride around Alcatraz island.

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A wonderful addition to the Piers is the happy guests who have made themselves at home. Most of them were either sleeping and sunbathing, or competing to see who was the better Alpha-male. These guys were hilarious. My mom and I took a solid 15-20 minutes to just observe them.

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Ghirardelli Square; home of the original Ghirardelli Chocolate factory. It also had cute shops and nice views- you can’t beat that.

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Baker Beach around golden hour. Charming, but absolutely freezing.

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Twin Peaks; daytime and at night. Appreciating San Fran from that high up was the best way we could’ve possibly ended our trip. We made beautiful memories together and I’m more than blessed that I was able to do so with my best friend.

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photo diary | San Francisco (& a video)

2017 Solar Eclipse

I had obtained Solar Eclipse glasses from my Astronomy professor months prior and was well prepared for this life-changing day. With a camera in my lap and adventurous minds, my dad and I set off on a journey from Florida to South Carolina. We drove and drove until finally pulling over in a tiny town. I set up my tripod, put on the glasses and waited.

The sky began to dim, frogs croaked and the crickets started chirping. It was truly as if the sun had set midday. I can’t quite explain the rush this all gave me, nor can my photos do a justice. However, just as my Astronomy professor predicted: I’M HOOKED. I hope to experience more Solar Eclipses in my lifetime- one of the beautiful gifts our universe gives to us.

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2017 Solar Eclipse

photo diary | foodies take NYC (& a video)

Processed with VSCO with g3 presetAhh, yes. Another visit to the ever-so-magical New York City. I was given the opportunity to go with my friend and business partner, NateDoesFood. We spent four days scouting the city for the finest food spots and coffee shops. This was a unique experience for me, as I’m particularly used to Starbucks and corner hot dog stands.Processed with VSCO with g3 presetThe snow-covered scenery practically took my breath away. CollageWe started off our trip with a 5-course lunch at Bouley. The first room you entered was filled with beautiful flowers and a wall stacked with fresh apples- the smell was indescribable. Processed with VSCO with g3 presetThis is the main dining room. It immediately transported me to a castle in France- from the smells, to the architecture, to the paintings on the walls. The men were required to wear suit jackets and I felt disrespectful if my pinky WASN’T in the air every time I sipped my beverage. Needless to say, it was a very classy place.Processed with VSCO with g3 presetFresh green apple sorbetProcessed with VSCO with g3 presetLater on that day, we had reservations for a 15 course private Chefs Table at Empellón Cocina. Processed with VSCO with g3 presetInverse Taco al PastorProcessed with VSCO with g3 presetIce Cream TacosProcessed with VSCO with g3 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetThe following morning, we beat the sun rise and ran to the hotels roof top to catch some spectacular views. I was sleepy, but completely in awe of the golden morning views of the city skyline.Processed with VSCO with g3 presetProcessed with VSCO with g3 presetThe first stop of the day was at Devoción Coffee Shop in Brooklyn. The vibes were inspiring, from the brick walls to the giant plant walls. I definitely felt at ease here as I sipped my beautiful Latte. Processed with VSCO with g3 presetProcessed with VSCO with g3 presetThe next stop was a small hole-in-the-wall place called Sweatshop. We filled our bellies with yummy Avocado Toast and Acai Bowls. Processed with VSCO with g3 presetThis was easily the coolest plant shop I’ve ever been in. We came in here simply to warm up from the frigid temperatures outside and found ourselves inspired by the aesthetics.Processed with VSCO with c1 presetRoberta’s Pizza in BrooklynProcessed with VSCO with g3 presetvsco-photo-5Mountain Province Espresso Bar in Brooklyn. I was a happy gal sipping on a warm Chai Tea Latte. Nate ordered a Taro Latte, which had beautiful purple tones.Processed with VSCO with g3 presetD.U.M.B.O, Brooklyn; The transition from day to night absolutely blew my mind. What was once a pastel orange sky, quickly faded into deep, dark tones, illuminated by sparkling city lights. I will forever be in awe of this view; this view is what keeps me going.Processed with VSCO with g3 presetvsco-photo-4 2Ludlow Coffee SupplyProcessed with VSCO with g3 presetStopped at the Chelsea Market for some tacos! It was my first time here, and I’d definitely recommend it if you’re in the neighborhood and looking to try new foods.CollageeThe Solomon R. Guggenheim museum. Another first for me! I enjoyed walking around this spiral museum and being delighted by the some of the worlds most famous pieces. I was particularly taken back by this letter written by Vincent Van Gogh. While museums are typically filled with artwork, it’s not every day you see handwritten letters from the artist.  Processed with VSCO with c1 presetA Beet Juice Latte from Bluestone Lane Coffee. I was a bit nervous to try this, but new it would be extremely photogenic. To my surprise it was actually delicious!Processed with VSCO with g3 presetWe spent the last day meeting up with Jae NYC eats- Janice de Castro who is a Queens-based pastry chef and creator of ‘Cakies’. She took us to New Territories- an ice cream place known for their monstrous creations.

Overall, I had an overwhelming, but wonderful experience. My taste buds were enlightened; I will forever have a newfound appreciation for food.

photo diary | foodies take NYC (& a video)

an intro to astrophotography

As a little girl, I’ve always been fascinated by the stars and moon. My nose pointed up at the night sky soon became my nose in books- reading about and memorizing planets and constellations.

Flash forward a few years and I’m sitting in a college Astronomy class, wide-eyed at the plethora of information being presented before me. I fell in love. My professor, Dr. Mike D. Reynolds happens to be just as passionate as myself, if not more. I formed an immediate appreciation of his passion and took it upon myself to email him some of my Lunar photographs. He instantaneously responded, discussing how much he admired my work- even sent the photographs to the President of the college.

After much thought, my Professor decided to launch an Astrophotography class for the following semester- and here I am. Once a week we come together with an army of DSLR cameras, tripods and telescopes. Us nerdy Astro-folk find ourselves getting chills by the views that we witness and are fortunate enough to photograph.

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Waxing Crescent Moon. Taken with Celestron telescope; ISO 400, 1/400

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Prior to this class, I used a telephoto lens (300 mm) to photograph the moon. However, I have recently discovered that you can literally mount a telescope onto a DSLR camera to counteract as the lens. This allows for crazy details and incredible deep space photographs.

While this is just the beginning, I am quite proud of the photographs that I’ve achieved. I hope to do another update by the end of this course to showcase further work.

 

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The Orion Nebula. Taken with Celestron telescope; ISO 1600, 15″

 

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Captured movement of the International Space Station. ISO 100, f/4, 30″
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Long exposure taken from my backyard. ISO 2500, f/5, 13″
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Daytime lunar photograph. ISO 400, f/9, 1/1000
an intro to astrophotography

hello 19!

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With my birthday being the first day of August, the day always seems to pop up abruptly and surprise me. However, that didn’t stop my family from planning a weeks worth of fun and adventures.

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It started on the 31st of July with a lovely dinner party at my house. Some of my closest friends came over to eat, laugh and make memories. We didn’t take many pictures, because we were all too busy living in the moment, but I did manage to find this gem. It truly captures how full of joy I was that night. I think those are the best types of photographs- ones that capture rare moments and raw emotions. They speak for themselves.

I took the whole week off from work to relax and find my inner zen. We all deserve to find a peace of mind and make time for yourself, so I considered this a little birthday present to myself. It felt nice having time to focus on me again, doing the things that I love and the things I never get a chance to do.

Processed with VSCO with g3 presetThe next thing on the birthday week list was traveling to Orlando, FL! We stayed in a hotel that was a walk away from Disney Springs (AKA the newest part of Downtown Disney). I must say, Disney really outdid themselves. I’ve always loved the atmosphere of Downtown Disney, but this new portion carries you away to another world. Sometimes I questioned if I was still in Florida.

The next day we had an early start and headed to Discovery Cove! We were greeted at the entrance by a friendly sloth. I was honestly freaking out because how often do you get to pet a sloth??Image-1.jpgWe all geared up in our wet suits and set off for a day of adventures. We snorkeled with fish, sharks and stingrays and we relaxed in lazy rivers. It was absolute bliss.

Processed with VSCO with m3 presetProcessed with VSCO with m3 presetProcessed with VSCO with m3 presetProcessed with VSCO with m3 presetHere’s the squad geared up for our SeaVenture. We put on a huge helmet/tank over our heads; they kept our faces completely dry and provided us with lots of oxygen. We walked around on the sandy floor as fish and stingrays swam above us, under us and right by our sides. DSC_0086Our last stop was Sea World! We got rained out towards the end, but still saw lots of awesome fish and rode crazy rides.

Overall, I had a lovely birthday. It was filled with so many surprises, from trying new things to spending time with the people I love dearly. Heres to 19!

hello 19!

lost & found

One year out of high school and life is much different. While on a roller coaster of ups and downs, I have realized a lot about myself: my strengths and weaknesses, what I want out of life, and especially what I have lost and found.

One year out of high school and I have lost great friends. Friendships that have faded out with time or distance; friendships that were only strong due to being in each others daily lives via school. I have lost a sense of time- a schedule, a routine. The days have become lazier and more relaxed. I have lost a lot of creativity and inspiration. My elective classes in high school really helped to keep me on my toes with ideas and being able to pursue them. In AND out of school I was constantly challenging myself to excel with a photo project, a painting, a song on the piano or even a yearbook page spread. Without those classes there are no assignments to tug at my creativity. Without those amazing teachers I am no longer inspired on a daily basis.

However, with any hardship comes experiences and lessons learned. Deep within the vast layers of myself, I have found the ability to be more outgoing and proactive with making plans. Sometimes you truly have to be if you want them to follow through. I have found that sometimes schedules will conflict- for months- but if the friendship is true and genuine, then you can pick up right where you left off. I have found that some days my body wants to stay in bed until the afternoon, and that it is okay because my body deserves it. I have found that keeping a big calendar on my wall helps me to stay organized with what I have to do and when something is due. While college material is a challenge, taking the initiative to keep track of your assignments and complete them on time is an even bigger one. Something that I am constantly losing and finding is inspiration for creativity. Some days I find it through social media while other days I cannot. Lately I’ve found a lot of inspiration within this Earth: nature, cities, humans- you name it. While I may not have the time or materials to pursue some of my ideas, I DO write everything inside of a journal. The things I see, the things I love, ideas, goals- they’re all written within the pages of this journal. I’ve found that this alone keeps my creativity/inspiration in check. Something else that has helped me is this blog! I set a tiny goal to post material at least once a week, and it truly does wonders for me. It keeps my passion for creativity alive and thriving. As much as I post for others I am very much doing it for myself, as well.

And I guess that’s the most notable thing that I’ve found: that you come first. That as much as you may lose yourself, you will surely find yourself again. Because these ups and these downs are what make you, YOU. Because this life is all about learning- about losing yourself in the things that you love, but finding yourself in them, too.

lost & found

spring break: unplugged from the world

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I’m the type of person that tends to store negative feelings inside of me in order to move on with my life. I don’t really know how to react to bad situations. Instead, I quickly turn on a fake smile and resume living. Sometimes life can become so overwhelming that ‘brushing things off’ is no longer an option. With that being said, last week I decided to take a break from every aspect of my social life and take time to focus on me.

With no phone, no one to talk to and nothing to see, I was able to dig deep inside of my brain and find strength in unfamiliar places. Every morning I struggled to stay away from my phone. Checking social media and talking to people are things that play an important role in my daily routine. Not only did I feel left out, but also forgotten about. For whatever reason, it killed me to know that I wasn’t showing off what I was doing or even where I was eating. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s the truth. As the week went on I had many life realizations. First and foremost: we live in a generation that thrives off of showing off. I feel as though people are slowly forgetting how to live their lives without showing everyone else. While it IS a blessing to share with others and document your experience, I think everyone should have their limits. Sure, take some pictures, but then put the phone away and live in the moment. Even as a photographer I struggle to do this. So often I find myself more focused on capturing the moment rather than experiencing it.

Through living unplugged for a week, I was also able to find a sense of freedom. It was such an odd, yet inspiring feeling to live my life without documenting it. My spring break will forever remain a mystery to the world. This has inspired me to change my habits and how I go about life. While I adore taking pictures and videos and sharing my life with the world, I am definitely going to cut back. I want to take more time for myself and for this beautiful life that we only experience once. Ultimately, I realized how important your own well being is. It’s not selfish to take time for you, because at the end of the day life isn’t going to be wonderful if you don’t feel wonderful; you are your first priority.

spring break: unplugged from the world

photo diary | artwalk

On the first Wednesday of every month, the city I live in holds an event called ArtWalk. ArtWalk features dozens of artists, seeking to show and sell their work. You can find anything from jewelry to paintings, or even fire mixtapes. During these nights, the artistic community really comes together, putting aside any negativity or judgements, to simply appreciate art.

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In this photo set I focus mostly on the artwork provided in the MoCA, or Museum of Contemporary Art.

This month inside the MoCA, everyone was handed wireless headphones. A live DJ on the ground floor controlled what music was heard through the headphones. This created such an abstract experience when appreciating the artwork. Rather than hearing whispers or chatter- it was just you, the art and the music.

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‘1001 Dreams’, by Sheila Goloborotko. This artist runs a website in which people can submit dreams. She then prints your dreams onto pillow cases, exhibiting them in art museums and all over urban cities. You can submit a dream here at http://1001dreams.net/ .

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‘Ruby Lichen’, by Jill Parisi

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Makenzie Ebert and Keany Lannuier observe a piece by Taryn McMahon.

photo diary | artwalk

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

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“January 18, 2016. For most people today is a free day off from work or from school. Martin Luther King Jr. Day does not hold a  true meaning to many Americans. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a husband, father, minister, activist, and – more importantly – a leader in the African American Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King practiced nonviolent civil disobedience and served as a voice of hope for people of color from 1955 to the day he was assassinated in 1968. Dr. King delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963 at the March on Washington in Birmingham, Alabama. This speech has gone on to represent the hope African Americans had and still have that one day the world will not be classified by the color of one’s skin, but by their actions and their character.

Fifty-three years after his death, his “dreams” are gradually becoming more and more noticeable in everyday life. In the work place, a person cannot be turned away from work due to the color of their skin. Schools consist of students pertaining to almost every race possible. Everyone is granted access to the same bathrooms and water fountains. The race issue is finally over isn’t it? No, racism and segregation are still very prevelent in today’s society and are still just as hurtful.

 I was given the opportunity to sit down and talk to an interracial couple who are beginning to make the climb into the social media spotlight. Joshua Henderson,20, and Kayla Catalano,18, have recently made their two-year relationship more public to their followers on various platforms such as Phhhoto. The two take their followers on adventures with them and create a situation where the followers are left wondering “what’s next?” Between the two of them, they have accumulated 5336 followers and over 80k likes in just thirty weeks, however most of the content is featured on Kayla’s constantly growing account.

 I took my seat in the self proclaimed “hipster coffee shop” across from the couple. Their body language confirming the idea they were crazy about each other. Joshua complimented Kayla and she grinned. Their playful flirting continued as we waited for our coffee to brew. I found myself wondering how someone could look at the two of them and not see two people sharing innocent love, but black and white- not even humans- just colors. Immediately my mind was thinking of more and more questions to pick their brains on and I could not wait for the interview to begin.

 Five minutes later our coffee arrived and it was go time. I wanted to see what it was like having a relationship be something people looked up to but at the same time looked down upon, and once I started asking questions I couldn’t stop.”

What was the initial response when you told your families you were dating a person of a different race?

Joshua:
“My parents didn’t really care. In my family there are a bunch of interracial couples already. My uncle’s wife is white, my aunt’s boyfriend is white, and I have a bunch of mixed cousins. They really didn’t care. It was normal.”

Kayla:
“My parents were like ‘What?'” *chuckle* “Yeah, they weren’t really thrilled because they didn’t know him. It was also my first boyfriend too so that didn’t help. It was like ‘Boyfriend! What? Black! What?’ They love him though, they hang out without me. It was just shocking at first.”

Do you believe racism still exists?

Joshua:
“Most definitely”

Kayla:
“Yes!”

How does the public on social media generally take seeing an interracial couple?

Joshua:
“Yeah, interracial couples have become such a, not a trend, but, a big thing now and you know its more smiled upon than frowned upon and people love it.”

Kayla:
“They are happy for us and excited and ‘Yay, Interracial!’

How does the general public usually take seeing an interracial couple walking down the street?

Joshua:
“It’s a lot of looks from older people just from a different time. Younger people usually just judge our outfits.”

Kayla:
“We get a lot of weird looks, A LOT. Like double takes. It’s mostly from older folk… older white folk. I’ve even gotten some looks from older black people. It’s really just older folk in general, you know, the older times. They’re usually like ‘what?’ Younger people are okay with it because they know that it’s okay now and older people are like ‘back in my day..'”

How do you guys feel when people consider you as playing into the stereotype of the “Black guy dating the white girl”?

Joshua:
“It’s about to get pretty serious. I feel like today everyone wants to go with the whole ‘Black guys only want the white girls and white girls loving the black guys’ type of thing, but for me I was attracted to her personality before anything else and hopefully she was attracted to my personality before anything. I think we were both raised to see color, but for it to not be a big factor or anything like that. So, when people are ‘Oh, you’re doing the whole stereotypical- you only like white girls’ No, I think every one is beautiful in their own way. I only like Kayla, but it’s just like that. I don’t know, people are weird.”

Kayla:
“I feel like it’s super messed up because they don’t have the right to judge us, they don’t know us, they don’t know the type of people we are and how respectful our relationship is.”

What advice do you have for other interracial couples or for people who are thinking about getting in an interracial relationship, but are scared of what other people might think?

Joshua:
“Just do it. You love who you love and screw what other people think. Make sure you tell your loved ones and don’t keep it a secret because that’s just adding to racism.”

Kayla:
“Do what your heart is telling you. The heart knows what it wants.”

How do you guys keep your relationship strong?

Joshua:
“The main thing is to always be honest and trustworthy. We go out and make it exciting. We make sure that spending time together never dies, never gets dull, and never gets boring.”

Kayla:
“Oh wow, well, honestly it took a lot of time to become strong- almost two years. We had to really learn about each other and what we both want from each other and how to respect one another. But, honestly the keys are to just be honest with your partner and yourself and to have trust. We just love each other and have fun.”

To view the whole interview, visit Jenn’s blog here: http://jenayalauren.wix.com/jennuinethoughts

All credit for this article goes to Jennuine Thoughts©

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

2 years with him

We started as best friends. We were inseparable- only through texting of course. I knew his favorite color: forrest green, and he knew mine. If that’s not friendship then I don’t know what is. We remained best friends from my freshmen year all the way until my junior year. I was there for him while he vented to me about his girl problems. If only he knew I had the biggest crush on him, I would think. However, I bit my tongue and accepted the role as ‘The Best Friend’. In November of my junior year my family and I took a week long cruise. Joshua and I realized that our texting streak would soon come to a halt. It was during this period of separation that we realized our true feelings for one another. On January 6th, 2014 he sat me down and asked me to be his girlfriend. Two years ago I didn’t understand how much of an impact the word “yes” would have. I didn’t know about the beautiful memories that we would soon make together. But I also didn’t know how difficult relationships could be. The first year together was filled with many ups and downs. Not only was the transition from best friends to a couple difficult, but awkward as well. We quickly had to learn how to deal with one another on a much more intimate level. We both experienced very personal emotions and feelings together. He learned things like how cranky I get when I’m hungry, while I discovered how often he forgets his wallet at home. Being together for two years taught us to ensure I’m always fed, along with a reminder to bring his wallet- all done with smiles on our faces. Ultimately we’re growing and learning together. The more experiences and hardships we go through, the stronger we become as a team. I couldn’t be in a happier place with him, though. With the love and care he provides me, every day is a happy one.

 

2 years with him