Photos from Los Angeles

Posted 4 CommentsPosted in photography, Travel
In an LA prop shop, Hollywood sign
Lights. Camera. LA!

In the last post, I mentioned I’d share pictures from our 24 hours in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles
Our first glimpse of the city

When we arrived, the first thing on my mind was food. And because I kept hearing about it, we headed straight to Pink’s Hot Dogs.

Pink's Hot Dogs
Pink’s Hot Dogs

Since there was a long line and it was a hot day, my husband stayed in the car with Giada while I waited in line. (Not that she was allowed to be in line since it leads into the restaurant.) We were here on a Saturday, which probably contributed to the 40 minute wait. From what I could tell, the person who takes your order is the one who assembles and completes it for you, which allows you to customize your order (cool) but doesn’t provide fast food speediness (hopefully, you’re not in a rush!). I left with a chili dog, the Giada De Laurenttis dog (of course), the Rosie O’Donnell Long Island dog, fries and onion rings. The food went down fast. If there hadn’t been a line, I probably would have gone back and ordered more.


Pink's Hot Dogs

Pink's Hot Dogs

In case you’re wondering, I thought the Rosie O’Donnell dog was better than GDL’s dog. (I know, I can’t believe it either!)

After we ate, we headed over to Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) to check out the outdoor art installations I had heard about.

Urban Light at LACMA
Giada enjoying some Urban Light

dog at urban Light

I assume that dogs are allowed on the grounds because the security people either nodded and smiled or actually came over and petted Giada. There were a lot of other people who wanted to pet and get their picture taken with her as well. My dog needs an agent. Ha!

People in LA love Giada
Giada on tour!

When I was able to get Giada away from her fans (ha ha), I got to see one more installation:

I was also a fan of Penetrable . When I came back to Chicago, a white version of this installation appeared at the Art Institute. I was pretty excited about that.
I was also a fan of Penetrable. When I came back to Chicago, another version of this installation appeared at the Art Institute. I was pretty excited about that.

We also checked out La Brea Tar Pit, which is not a part of LACMA but they share a campus. I must have been tired at this point because I can’t find any pictures of it on my hard drive. And the next series of pictures included the view from our hotel room, so I assume that was the point we went to check in and relax. 🙂

A few from the Hotel Palomar (it's dog friendly!)
A view from our room at the Hotel Palomar (it’s dog friendly!)

Wow, this post has more pictures than I thought I was going to share. Since this is getting long, I’ll include photos from our evening in LA in the next post!

Photos from Highway 1

Posted 3 CommentsPosted in photo book, photography, Travel

With the PCH photo book done, here are a few more images from our Pacific Coast Highway road trip last summer:

dog on road tripShe loves hanging out the window. I must have 100+ pictures of Giada like this.

road trip
On the open road. I wish I had gotten a picture of one of us running down this. 🙂
Redwood National Park
Beach area in Redwood National Park
Seagulls with Alcatraz in the background in San Francisco
Seagulls with Alcatraz in the background.
Presidio of San Franciscco
A wedding party at The Presidio of San Francisco. We were here on a weekday, so I was surprised to see this. (Maybe it was a photo shoot…although I’m doubting that.)
Along PCH
Along the coast
Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz. Makes you wish you were here today, doesn’t it?
Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara
Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara
San Diego Waterfront Park
San Diego. I think this is Waterfront Park. That’s the Maritime Museum in the background.

I wouldn’t recommend waiting a year before revisiting vacation photos, but I did enjoy looking back and having my memory tested. 🙂 Luckily, there were a few notes in an accompanying Word document that helped. Next time, maybe I’ll blog about my vacation in real time, so that the stories are fresh and have more detail. (I liked this post I saw on The Travel Hack about why you should keep a travel blog although I think this applies to anyone who wants to blog on a topic that is most interesting to them, i.e. your blog doesn’t have to be travel focused.)

Since we spent more than 24 hours in Los Angeles, I will share a few of those images in a future (next?) post. And on that note, I wouldn’t mind a vacation in the near future. 🙂

Write On

Posted 3 CommentsPosted in Design

DIY notebook design

I’ve been at my current job for two years, and at the last two Christmas office parties, I’ve neglected to bring holiday cards for everyone there, which seems to be the thing to do. (I don’t fight tradition, especially the good ones!) I always felt bad leaving the office post-party with a stack of cards and accompanying candy. This year, I’m finally on my game and created a fun little gift for each of my coworkers. Using InDesign to create the pages and Blurb to print them out, I’m giving each of them a 204-page notebook with motivational quotes and a place to write down whatever they feel like writing down. (Although I hope they don’t see this article I saw late last week. Ha ha ha ha, I guess it would just be a bad reflection on me. 😉 )

front cover of Write On notebook
Front cover






Travel Photo Books: What To Include?

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Design, photo book, photography, Travel

I finally finished the Pacific Coast Highway photo book last week. About time! So obviously, I’m feeling like I’ve become somewhat of a pro in travel photo books. (Ha!) I mentioned in a previous post, I had taken about 2500+ pictures during our weeklong trip (because I’m that photographer). How did I whittle that down to 200 pictures to fit in a 136-page book? Here are a few things I took into consideration:

I included images that….

I was proud of

Angry cows in Utah
Aside from my dog, I don’t shoot too many animals. So when we saw these ladies, I asked my husband to pull over (this was somewhere outside of Salt Lake City). To say that they were not happy to see me is an understatement. I nearly crapped in my pants, but I was so happy with how it turned out. (It was the first picture on our trip that made me go, “Yes! YES. YES!!!!”)

Brings back fond memories

Family portrait in Utah
Another random stop in Utah. I liked the scenery and how quiet the road was. I was 16-weeks pregnant and thought I would use this picture as some sort of Facebook announcement (“There are four of us in the picture!”), but I chickened out. (I did share the picture, but without the announcement.)
Prada Marfa
I saw a sign for “Marfa” while we were headed home and it immediately clicked that the Prada Marfa installation was (miles) down the exit. It was a 40-minute detour, but we took it. This is one of my favorite pictures of the three of us ever.

Is a place that I’d be happy to revisit and see over (and over) again

Giada enjoying a little taste of San Francisco
San Francisco – need I say more?

Triggers some sort of emotion

Salvation Mountain
We are not a religious family, but something about being at Salvation Mountain was moving and spiritual. And with this being our last stop as we left California, I knew that next time we returned that there’d be another family member with us.

I just felt like including…no other reason (it is my photo book after all!)

Giada the Saint Bernard in Berkeley
I can’t get enough pictures of Giada. 🙂

On the flip side, I excluded pictures from the book when:

I had no reason to add them other than feeling like I had to include them.

Big Sur
I did include this picture along PCH. But I must have taken about 1,000,000 images along the coast – all of which I considered adding to the photo book. But I decided to be selective and added the pictures that highlighted the areas we saw.

They fit the “embarrassing images” category. [If you think I’m showing you an example here, you’re crazy.]

I didn’t feel feel like I needed to share with others (e.g. my pregnancy bump pictures. But who wants to see those pictures anyway?). While your photo book is personal, people will (want to) see it. Keep that in mind before including pictures that you don’t want others to see.

What about you? What would you include or exclude from your travel photo book?

Forgotten Pictures

Posted 1 CommentPosted in photo book, photography, Travel

The main reason I started creating my own photo books was so that I would have somewhere to put my images. For example, the week-long road Pacific Coast Highway 2014 road trip yielded over 2500 pictures. While we were on the trip, I took the highlights from each day and posted them to Instagram. When I got back home, I dumped the files onto my hard drive and continued to post a few more pictures in the days that followed. Basically, I only made use of 30 pictures.

Thirty???? Yikes. That’s baaaaaad.

In the last month, I’ve been revisiting our trip through Lightroom and then subsequently, the pages from the (finally finished) PCH photo book. Sometimes, I find myself looking through the images and smiling.

a page from my PCH photo book
My husband and Giada at the USS Midway Museum in San Diego. He’s telling her to stay. (I liked this candid moment better than the resulting posed shot.)

And sometimes I chuckle.

a page from my PCH photo book
Dinner time. Because when is In-N-Out ever a bad idea?

And often times I think, I need to go on more photography adventures.

page spread of Salvation Mountain from my photo book
But what I find happening most often is stumbling upon pictures and places I had forgotten about.
Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery page spread from my photo book
Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery: seriously how does one forget seeing something like this????


And this?

Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara pictures in photo book
Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara

I thought I remembered most of my Santa Barbara stop (there was a homeless lady that followed us down the street yelling that we were going to you-know-where. If it wasn’t so frightening, it would have been funny), but how did I forget stopping by the beach? How????


What really helped was turning on the GPS feature on my phone and camera. OMG, if you have the feature, use it. Once it goes into Lightroom, you can click on Map and see where the picture was taken (and also how many pictures you took at a certain spot). It also helps to jog your memory when you go back and revisit those vacation pictures a year later. If you happen to be one of those people that looks at pictures a year later. 😉

So….how many pictures do you take on vacation? And how do you organize and use them when you come back home?


Kate Middleton Takes Pictures

Posted Leave a commentPosted in photo book, photography

I heard a few years ago that Kate Middleton had an interest in photography and was working on a family photo project. I don’t remember where I read that but I recall being excited that we had this common interest and was like, I want to go shooting with her one day. (I may have a slight girl crush her….) Still, I don’t think there was any evidence that she was a photography enthusiast since her work – as far as I know – has never been shared with the public.

Until this morning.

Kensington Palace released pictures that Duchess Kate had taken of her daughter Princess Charlotte – and it looks like she’s a great family photographer! So Kate, if you need help on a photo book for Charlotte you know how to find me. (And yes, I’ll go shooting whenever you’d like!) ♥

Princess Charlotte photo book covedr

mockup of Princess Charlotte photo book
Being commissioned to do a photo book for Princess Charlotte? This would definitely be a dream project. [Get in touch, Kate. 😉 ]

California ♥

Posted 1 CommentPosted in photo book, photography, Travel

I woke up early this morning and decided to do some photo editing. Who knew that it would get me going faster than coffee? 🙂 (I still had coffee though. Come on now, I’m still human.)

As I was laying out the pages of the Pacific Coast Highway book I’m hoping to get done by Tuesday (did you hear that Blurb is having a sale?), I thought I was being hit with wanderlust. But no, it was something else. Man, I mumbled to myself, California has to be the most photogenic state. Maybe that’s too big of a statement, but for the moment I’m feeling this way. ♥♥♥

A few page spreads from the PCH photo book I'm currently working on

A few page spreads from the PCH photo book I'm currently working on

A few page spreads from the PCH photo book I'm currently working on

A few page spreads from the PCH photo book I'm currently working on

A few page spreads from the PCH photo book I'm currently working on
A few pages from the PCH photo book I’m currently working on


Happy and Thankful

Posted Leave a commentPosted in photo book, photography

It took me a while to figure it out, but in the last couple of years I’ve come up with an equation to my happiness.* Here it is:

Family (with Giada at the top of the list, of course) + friends + good food + little adventures here and there + doing creative work = a honky dory life

(I am making this sound like a walk in the park, but it really did take a long time to get here. Helpful hint: surround yourself with positive and supportive people.) Near the start of the year, my husband and I welcomed a new roommate into the family. To say that my heart has been bursting with love would be an understatement. But I will say this: I’ve never felt more thankful for family (and I repeat: Giada remains at the top of the list) than I do this year.

travel and family photo book, visiting San Francisco

baby photo book page spread

A few page spreads from my son’s Year One photo book (which has been a labor of love and currently a work in progress)…and wow, I cannot believe his first year is coming to a close.

On that note, I’m very much looking forward to the dinner spread tomorrow. Yum.

Before I sign off, I want to wish you a Happy Almost Turkey Day! I hope you have a wonderful, fantastic and awesome Thanksgiving. 🙂

*Doesn’t work for everyone since we all have different formulas for our own happiness. What’s yours?

A Chicago Wedding [Photo Book]

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in photo book
A Chicago wedding photo book, anniversary present
Starting their story together

Don and Jacky are such wonderful friends to my family. I am especially amazed with how thoughtful and selfless Jacky is. She consistently remembers birthdays and anniversaries and makes it a point to come over on those days (“I’ll only stop by for a few minutes”) to drop off a gift. We live about 45 minutes from each other, so this is especially touching. Back in May, I texted Don asking if he could send me a few photos from their wedding back in 2009 so that I could put something together for her birthday. “Sure, she’ll love it,” he replied. “Great! By the way, when’s her birthday?” I texted back (of course, I’m not as good as a friend as Jacky so I didn’t know the answer to this question). “Next week.”

Well, that was a bummer.

Fortunately, with their anniversary in November it would give me more time to work on the photo book (and be able to gift it on a more appropriate occasion!). I swore Don to secrecy and waited for him to send me pictures.

I didn’t expect a package with a stack of CDs to arrive.

CDs with wedding photos on them

OMG. I had a hunch these were all their wedding pictures…with no other copies in their possession. Their photographer probably had a backups, but I was pretty nervous about holding these files. (Too much pressure, Don!!!) I might have imagined them perishing in a house fire – aka thinking of the worst case scenario. [Note: when you have the original – and only – copies of your wedding pictures, make sure you create a back up before sending them off to anyone. I uploaded all the photos to Amazon Cloud Drive just in case that fire happened. So Don and Jacky – if you’re reading this – I got you guys covered with any potential future fires! LOL.]

I had a ball going through their pictures because there’s nothing better than a Chicago* wedding images of two beautiful, happy people in love. Especially when they’re your friends.

Bride and groom wedding photo book

Chicago wedding photo book pages

Chicago wedding photo book


I gave the finished product to Jacky this past weekend. She loved it and was amused that I had the CDs. (“I didn’t even realize they were gone!”)

Don, on the other hand, had forgotten about the project. (“It was six months ago!”) Ha ha.

This is one of two wedding books I’ve done, and I’m hoping the next ones will be just as much fun to put together!

*This local acknowledges that she is biased.