Monday, February 26, 2018

The Streets Of Hanoi

Two flights and 20+ hours of travel later we found ourselves standing outside of baggage claim at Hanoi International Airport looking for our driver. We spot him with a 8x10 sheet of paper with Ian’s last name scribbled on it. We quickly exchange greetings, verbal passcodes and were on our way to Hanoi’s Old Quarter.

From the airport we drove on a quiet highway passing fields of rice paddies, going over bridges and weaving through traffic. I could tell we were getting closer to the city as more and more motorbikes appeared out of nowhere joining us in the weaving game. I was so nervous my stomach felt queasy. I tried telling myself this is normal, they drive this way everyday and then BAM! a motorbike hits our car. Our driver pulls over to check on the biker, they get into what seems like a squabble, the biker gets back on his motorbike while our driver returns to the car. He casually apologies for the delay as he puts on his seatbelt and off we went. Ian and I looked at each other with a, ‘What the hell just happened?' expression.

The car pulls up to the opposite side of the road in front of our hotel. The doorman sees us and quickly crosses the street to our rescue, grabbing our bags and ushering us through traffic. I scream while crossing the street completely embarrassing myself and Ian. While we settled in the lobby over a welcome drink and wet hand towels the concierge hands us some reading materials on Traveling Advice. My attention goes straight to the section, 'How to Cross the Road’. Step 1: Be relaxed and self-confident. Step 2: Look two ways or keep your eyes on the drivers. Step 3: Keep the speed and walk slowly. Step 4: Never step back.

We checked into your room, refreshen up and went searching for Pho. I tried to put into practice what I had just learned about crossing the road. Ian was an instant pro, me not so much. I continued my screaming while dodging motorbikes. After enjoying a bowl of Pho we stumbled upon Hoan Kiem Lake and happily learned the streets were closed off to traffic. I was able to let down my guard, relax and enjoy myself. It was Christmas Eve. Christmas music was playing all around us. Parents were watching their children (dressed up as Santa) ride battery powered Toy ATVs, Quads and Motorcycles. It was so cute! I even saw a bad Santa in tears being consoled by his dad. Teenagers gathered with their friends on the open streets. We joined the lovers walking by hand in hand on a romantic stroll. It was a perfect Christmas Eve.

As the days went by I eventually got used to walking the streets of Hanoi. It started to feel more comfortable and I shifted my focus and energy towards my photographs. Here they are: the streets of Hanoi.

Hanoi | December 2017

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Smith Tower

I was about to lose it with the short daylight, rain and gray and then the sun broke through the clouds and saved me. Seattle had the most beautiful weather this past Saturday. I had a day out with my nephews planned and the sun made it all the better. We had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, spent a few hours at Gameworks and then went for ice cream at The Smith Tower. Ian was a sweetheart and tagged along. He even joined in on our occasional shenanigans.

My nephews are pretty much my own babies. I was there hours after they were born through all the milestones up to this point in their lives. I cannot believe how quickly they’ve grown. Time is going by so fast reminding me to savor moments like these.

Since they were little I would pack them in my car and take them out for what we’ve coined, 'a fun day'. We’d go get lunch, catch a movie or go the arcade.  No fun day was complete without a stop at Toys "R" Us. I’d return them happy, exhausted and asleep. 

Visiting The Smith Tower is worth it. The 35th floor of The Smith Tower was under renovations and closed for what felt like a long time. It reopened in 2016 and is one of our favorite spots to grab a drink and watch the sunset. The observation deck has a gorgeous 360 view of Seattle. If you stand at the corner facing the Great Wheel there's a sweet spot you can see the Space Needle. That is my favorite spot to see my three favorites: the water, the Great Wheel and the Space Needle.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Quiet Morning on HaLong Bay

I stir awake drifting out of a dream. My eyelids feels heavy as I attempt to bounce them open. I see a streak of light pouring into the room. It must be morning. I reach out to the night stand blindly searching for my phone - 6:30am. It was morning and much earlier than I thought. I put my phone down and return under the warm sheets. As I lie in bed listening to the silence, memories of the previous day starting flowing: the four hour drive from Hanoi to HaLong Bay, checking into our room, visiting the floating village, the delicious five course dinner and squid fishing in the dark. I remember seeing other cruise ships anchored around us and asked our guide about it. She mentioned in the evenings all the cruise ships are required to anchor in this specific location. Remembering this, I slid out of bed to find out if we’ve moved.

I quickly freshen up, collected my photography gear and tiptoed to our balcony. I was greeted with scattered limestone islands, cruise ships and fishing boats. In the distance, the limestone islands were covered in fog but it was surprisingly warm and so quiet. All I could hear was the humming of the engine. I discovered we were no longer anchored and cruising at a very slow speed. I sat there appreciating the moment, the silence, the view and all that was passing by before picking up my camera.

Here are my photos taken on my Hasselblad on that very first morning I woke up on HaLong Bay.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Time & Imperfection

I wanted to shoot a still life that reflected time. I went gathering around the house for miscellaneous items that represented it. The watch I often glance at while at work running from one meeting to the next. The two hourglasses on my desk, one measuring a five minute break and the other measuring thirty minutes of focus. The Chanel face cream I apply in the evening in hopes to delay the evidence of passed time on my forehead and underneath my eyes. A camera pencil sharpener representing the cameras I've used to capture a moment in time.

On my first attempt I used a soft box with a white background. It turned out pretty awful but that didn't discourage me. Instead I appreciated how terrible it was. In my mind I had envisioned: dark mood with hard shadows and bright highlights. Instead I got something that looked like direct flash on some office supplies. It was bad but it gave me so much joy to know that I have so much growth and learning ahead of me.

I’m starting to understand and appreciate the process more so than ever before. And the relationship between time and growth, vision and execution. I considered this my creative rock bottom and from rock bottom there’s only one way to go. Instead of packing it all up and never bring my idea to fruition I slept on it and waited for daylight.

When the morning came, I jumped out of bed and gathered all my things. I sat on the living room floor studying the light before deciding where I would set up. After playing around with the lighting and rearranging some of my props I got much closer to what I had envisioned.

My goal for 2018 is to create. That’s it. To trust that I will grow and become better over time. Every time I pick up my camera I’m learning something new. It’s not perfect but it’s progress and that’s what I’m striving for in 2018.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Le Painer

LePainer -8

On my 31st birthday my sisters came over to spend the day with me. Ian was away on a trip and they didn’t want me spending my birthday alone. The older I get the more introverted I seem to become so the idea of a birthday alone wasn’t terrible. I didn’t mind it at all but having the company of my sisters is always a great time.

The day consisted of my favorite weekend activity: brunch and a visiting to the market. They insisted I should have cake for my birthday but I didn’t want cake. I felt it was too formal and stuffy for the day I was having and the mood I was in. Instead I suggested macaroons from Le Painer. We picked up about a dozen, one in each flavor and brought them home. Over a cup of hot tea we enjoyed the macaroons, cut in half, family style to share and exchange tasting notes. It was perfect.

This past weekend we stopped by La Panier to pick up a few thing: macaroons for a Christmas party with friends, a turkey sandwich for lunch and chocolate croissants for my sisters. I brought my camera with me; something I’m not proud to admit I haven’t done in awhile. I take so much joy in thinking of different ways to photograph a place I frequent or to see it through the way of the camera. However the best thing for me, as I was looking through the photos I took, were the memories that came up, such as my 31st birthday spent with my sisters.

LePainer -9LePainer -1LePainer -3 LePainer -4
LePainer -5

Le Panier is located at Pike Place Market. Everything I’ve tried has been delicious but my regulars are the macaroons, the turkey sandwich made on their classic baguette and the chocolate croissant. It doesn’t matter what time of the day you go, you will always find a the line starts at the front door but it moves fairly quickly.

LePainer -2LePainer -10 LePainer -6 LePainer -7

La Panier // In Pike Place Market
1902 Pike Place
Seattle WA 98101