Archive for 'My Life'

Posted on Sep 20, 2017
Posted in Art!, Explore, My Life

In this case, the subway is a 9-mile hike in my home states’ Zion National Park. I love having friends that ask me to go on these adventures that require permits and an experienced guide. Why did we need an expert you ask? Because this hike through a slot canyon involved 3 rappels! 3!! It also involved swimming through parts of the slot canyon that filled up with water.

A true adventure you guys. Holy shit. I’m already sad it’s behind me.

I’ve been rappelling a handful or more of times over the course of my life and I’ve always found the experience thrilling. I’m not sure if it’s because there was no belay the bottom of the ropes this time (an actual person serving as a back up to stop the ropes if you make a mistake), or if it’s because it’s been a good 6 years since my last time bounding down a mountain attached to a rope, but this time it was scary! I don’t mind confessing to y’all (look at the slang I’m picking up from my trip to Memphis!) that I don’t like being as scared as I was. I definitely need to re-familiarize myself navigating heights like that on a more regular basis.

This awesome hike had some other scary elements.

#1 scary thing: Slot Canyons.

For those of you that aren’t familiar, slot canyons are usually narrow spaces in between rock faces. Sometimes they are just small enough for a person to squeeze through. My BFF and I had a memorable experience with another one in southern Utah last year. Feel free to read about that adventure here.

This slot canyon was not the claustrophobia inducing one we navigated in Escalante, but because it was still a slot canyon, there is always the “point of no return” element.

I am not being dramatic here. Should a flash flood come while you are anywhere in the “point of no return” zone, you will most certainly die. Now, I know the likelihood of death from a car accident is much higher than drowning in a slot canyon, but try telling yourself that when you cross that “these might just be your last steps” threshold… Especially if you see rain clouds, or even think about how quickly rain clouds can swoop in out of nowhere. These quiet, almost meditative moments that come with these kinds of adventures are some of my favorite moments in life. That connection with your breath you feel as you make the conscious decision to go forward forces you into a state of being completely present. The possibility of death seems to do that no matter how small that possibility actually is or how seemingly silly.

# 2 scary thing: My camera’s wellbeing.

There was NO WAY that I could do this trip and not bring my camera. I decided on one camera body and one fish-eye lens (Look at how far I’ve come!). I put it inside a gallon-size freezer bag, and put that inside of a dry bag that upon the touch seemed just as susceptible to water absorption as a delicate linen. I was freaked the fuck out you guys.

It was like Schrodinger’s Cat when I fully submersed myself in that first pool. The camera might be the fully functioning piece of equipment needed for my livelihood or it might be a water soaked antique trinket. Who knows?! It’s too late now! Keep swimming!

It made it through okay. Woot woot!! Thank you magic fabric for protecting my camera. I feel I should also pay thanks to the REI guy that patiently gave 4-minutes of his life answering the same question…

“THIS fabric is waterproof?”

“Yes.”

“Waterproof, like if I put something in it, dunk it in water and it will be dry inside?”

“Yes.”

“THIS fabric.”

“Yes, that fabric.”

“Waterproof, like the contents inside will be completely dry?”

“Yes.”

“THIS fabric, are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“You’re sure that if I put something valuable inside, completely submerse it in water, that what’s inside will be okay?”

“Yes.”

“THIS fabric?!”

“Yes.”

… And so on for a solid 4-minutes.

I also decided to buy a GoPro camera for the trip since I would not have access to my real camera for a good portion of the hike. It was a good purchase.

Here are the pics from my Subway adventure. Special thanks to my friends who let me tag along. I’m one lucky girl.

1 mkp zion blm land

My hosts. We camped out on some nearby BLM land the night before the hike. Sleeping under the spectacular Utah desert sky was worth the drive from LA on it’s own.

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I had to press the shutter with my left hand since I needed my right hand to rappel down. I still like this shot even though my hand covers half the frame.

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One of the many slot canyon swims! Oh my god it was so fun!

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I did NOTHING to this picture in post. It came out of my camera this way. It’s so cool!

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21 mkp subway at zion

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30 mkp subway at zion

31 mkp subway at zion rappel

This was the third rappel and the scariest. You really had to take it slow because the rock was kind of slick and it curved in, so it wasn’t hard to kind of smack into it as you worked your way down. As soon as I made it down, I wanted to do it again but do it better.

30 mkp subway at zion

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35 mkp hiking subway at zion

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I’m so glad I got the GoPro. The underwater shots are my favorite from the trip.

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45 mkp subway at zion

46 mkp zion reflection

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48 mkp zion river reflection

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50 mkp hiker at zion

51 mkp river zion

52 mkp hikers at zion

53 mkp hiker at zion

54 mkp sunburst reflected in river zion

Come on!!! Look at all those sunbursts reflected in the water! I love it so.

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Epic staredown.

59 mkp frog at zion

The tiny frogs were so cute!!! I just want to squeeze their little bodies. I had a dream about them the other night I liked them so much.

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It’s safe to say that this is my favorite picture from the trip, but it might be one of my most favorite pictures ever.

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73 mkp zion

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Like what you see here?  Want information on my professional services and availability, or maybe to discuss a creative collaboration, click here!

Do you need a new headshot, but don’t have the time or the money for a full session?  I offer shortened, discount headshot sessions at my studio in DT LA on the Second Sunday of every month.  Click here for information.

Also, did you know I have a book out?  get your copy here!

Posted on Aug 10, 2017
Posted in Art!, Explore, My Life

I have lived in L.A. now for 18 years, and this year was finally my first trip to Catalina Island. YAY!! Finally! Catalina is a magical little island only an hour boat ride from either Long Beach or San Pedro. My BFF and I planned to backpack the Trans-Catalina Trail, or TCT. The length of the trail is about 37 miles, but because you have to hike back from the end back to where you’d catch a boat back to the mainland, it’s really more like 51 miles.

The most common way to do the TCT is to start in the city of Avalon and work your way to the other end of the island at Starlight Beach. Because of the heavy rains California was hit with this year, the last leg of the trail from Parsons Landing to Starlight Beach was virtually inaccessible. Technically we could have tried it, but should something happen and require assistance from the park service, they would not have been able to access it. Needless to say we decided against doing the entire trail. Instead, we decided on a three-day-backpacking trip. Here was our plan:

Day-1

Avalon to Black Jack campground: 17 miles

Day-2

Black Jack to Little Harbor campground: 7 miles

Day-3

Little Harbor to Two Harbors: 5 miles.

Although our hiking trip was three days, our actual time on the island was 5 days. We traveled from the Long Beach Harbor to Avalon on a Wednesday afternoon and stayed the night at Hotel Atwater. This gave us time to swing by the Catalina Conservancy office to pick up a map, walk around the city and grab dinner and a beer. Avalon is beautiful!! There are very few vehicles allowed on the island. Transportation is all pretty much on foot of by golf cart, which added to its charm.

1 mkp Avalon Harbor

2 mkp photographer selfie

3 mkp Hotel Atwater

When we were planning the logistics of the trip, everything we read told us to check in for our campsites at Hotel Atwater, which is why we picked that hotel for our accomodations. We booked our campsites at Reserve America and were able to print out our reservations from home and have them on our person. When we checked in at the hotel, they basically told us that things have changed a bit and that checking in with them per se there wasn’t necessary like it once had been.

4 mkp backpacking the TCT

5 mkp backpacking the TCT

When we checked into the Conservancy to get our map, we decided to work our way up to the TCT via Wrigley Botanical Gardens which shaved a couple of miles off of our first day. I think it was supposed to be around 15 miles from the hotel to Black Jack instead of the originally planned for 17. I feel I should say that going through the botanical gardens required a fee for entrance. Kristen and I were the only ones in the park that early in the morning and thus we were able to talk our way into not paying, ensuring them that we were not there for the park, but only for the access to the Trans-Catalina Trail. I think if it was later in the day and there were more patrons that we would not have been so lucky.

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13 mkp backpacking the TCT

Foxes are the islands apex predator. They were pretty stinking cute… Except when they cried at night. Their cries didn’t have the terrifying element that the howler monkeys in Costa Rica did, but the fox yowls were loud and lasted quite a while.

14 mkp backpacking the TCT

15 mkp backpacking the TCT

16 mkp backpacking the TCT

This is the spot where we experienced our first setback. We were on a very clearly marked trail. The path narrowed a bit and then we saw a TCT sign with an arrow clearly pointing toward the trail we were on that ran parallel to the fence you see in the right of the frame. We followed it until there was basically no more trail… Only a steep mountain face that a skilled hiker could traverse without a backpack. Doing it with a backpack would have been near impossible. Where could we have gone wrong? We could see the trail on the other side of the fence and down a ways. We decided to backtrack a bit and eventually opted to hop the fence and work our way toward the trail we saw in the distance. Once we did, you could see where the TCT was and it went right THROUGH the fence. This fence had no gate mind you. We were like WTF? This is something that could have been communicated to us at the Conservancy Office when we got our maps. You know, something along the lines of “Hey ladies! Once you come up on Haypress reservoir, you can either opt to stay on the service road that accommodates vehicles, or if you choose to stay on the actual TCT like you intend to do, you’re going to have to jump a fence!” Either option would have been preferable to adding a mile to our longest day, but oh well. What’s one little extra mile? We’re tough chicks.

17 mkp backpacking the TCT

18 mkp grump face backpacking the TCT

We felt that the best way to alleviate our frustration was with a faux grump-face selfie.

19 mkp backpacking the TCT

20 mkp backpacking the TCT

IT’S JUST SO PRETTY!!!

21 mkp backpacking the TCT

22 mkp backpacking the TCT

This image pretty much marks the point when I stopped taking photos on Day-1. This is when the real adventure riddled with tears, disbelief, fear and triumph took place.

We had put the bulk of the day’s journey behind us… Or so we thought. We had just over 3 miles left to go to Black Jack Campground. We were tired, but in good spirits. Our bodies were sore, but there was that sort of numb euphoria that I like about backpacking. We began up a mountain that DID NOT LET UP. Holy shit. I am guestimating here when I say it was probably a good 1.5 miles with no reprieve and at a significant grade.

I’m not a big Justin Bieber fan, but his song, Let Me Love You, was on REPEAT in my head. Specifically that part where he goes “don’t you give up na na na, I won’t give up, na a na, let me love you, let me love you”. I’ve heard that song a lot on the radio and at various events but is that song in any playlist of mine? Nope. How that song and specifically that part just forced its way into my consciousness at that particular moment in time is a mystery. Would I classify myself as a Justin Bieber fan? The answer to that question would have been a pretty hard NO before this backpacking trip. I can’t say that anymore. I am a fan of yours Justin Bieber… You got me through that hill and that was no easy feat. Thank you sir. I am forever grateful.

Once we made it over the crest of what is the highest slope on Catalina Island, we were in the home stretch. Only a mile and half or so left. We got to a point in the trail where it opened up at the crest of a hill. We noticed several orange flags marking the only unquestionably clear part of the trail. It veered to the left. Straight ahead were only grass, rocks and weeds. Clearly that sharp left turn was where we were supposed to be. We were appreciating the beautiful terrain that rolled up and down as it led us down toward the waterline line in the distance where we assumed we would be setting up our tent soon.

The sun was getting lower and lower in the sky. It was breathtaking in its ever-quickening softer light beauty. We were almost jovial as our level of exhaustion was coinciding perfectly with our arrival time. We kept going.

And going…

And going.

Surely we were supposed to have come across the little pond that was only a mile away from the campground. We had gone about 2 miles before we could not ignore that sick feeling in our gut. We stopped to pull out the map and saw that our guts were indeed right. We fucked up. Big time. But how? It didn’t make any sense!

The sun was really starting to set now and we had to go back the 2 miles we came in error, and still had another mile and a half to the campsite.

Our eyes moistened from the tears that wanted to eek their way out. We were at the point of complete exhaustion. Our 15-mile day, which had already become a 16-mile day, was now shaping up to be a 20-mile day… If we were lucky!! We weren’t earning any gold stars for our accuracy so far. On top of it, Kristen’s feet had begun to hurt so badly from her shitty shoes that we were already discussing just how many toenails she was going to lose.

And the sun was sinking lower and lower. It was dusk now.

I have experienced a number of very physically challenging adventures, but this was my first ever experience with real adrenaline. Something clicked in my head and body that made me keep a pace that would have been fast with no backpack.

All I could hear was the quick pace of my steps as I got to as close to a run as possible. I felt strong. I was focused. We were going to make it. We had to.

We made our way back to the fork in the trail where the eye catching orange flags mimicked the “COME THIS WAY” kind of sign used by aggressive salesmen. This had to be where we went wrong.

Sure enough, we walked though the grass and weeds to edge of the hill where we could see down. There, far out of the sightline from where the trail split was a sign marking the TCT trail.

While I did not love the situation at the time it was happening, I will say I am glad it happened. I am going to start hiking the Pacific Crest Trail next year and that trail is nowhere near as clearly marked as the TCT. We will be relying on compasses and maps a lot more heavily. This was a good lesson to double-check our path even, and especially in those times of certainty.

Our 15-mile day had turned into a 20-mile day. We made it to camp just after the sun had set. We put our tent up in near darkness, made dinner, and promptly went to bed. As we lied in our sleeping bags before sleep overtook us, we spoke about being more responsible hikers the following day. We would not make the same mistakes on Day-2.

I told you we were so tired that no photos documented the epic experience we had endured. I didn’t even pull out my camera to shoot our tent the next morning! I did get a few shots of our food prep and gear packing.

24 mkp backpacking the TCT

Look at that amazing woman making breakfast! God love her.

25 mkp backpacking the TCT

Out of all of our backpacking excursions, this one marked a turning point in our food planning. We still over packed a bit, but nothing crazy like our first trip in the Grand Canyon.

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(Insert angel music effects here) Look how beautiful our campsite was! Too bad our time at breakfast was our only time where we could see it since we got there in almost complete darkness the night before.

27 mkp backpacking the TCT

I had to take a picture of this bungee-hook thing because they are the bomb. They are so useful!! Never leave home without them.

28 mkp backpacking the TCT

After recommitting ourselves to doing what was necessary to stay on the Trans Catalina Trail, regardless or what the trail markers communicated, we began Day-2 with studying the map, packing up our gear and hiked out of Black Jack campground. Once we got to the main road/trail, we promptly took a right when alas, and this will probably come as no surprise, we should have taken a left. This little error was not super costly and only added 2-miles to what was supposed to be a 7-mile day to the Little Harbors Campground.

Way to go us! My BFF and I don’t call ourselves “Team Hard Way” for nothing. That title is earned dammit. Over the course of our lives, we have worked very hard to subconsciously make the more difficult choices, especially when the situation does not warrant such character building. That’s how we roll people.

29 mkp backpacking the TCT

We like to think that had we gone the correct way that we would not have been in a position to be right under the airplane flight path. That’s what we told ourselves, but truth is, maybe we would, maybe we wouldn’t have.

It was on this paved road to the airport that we met a couple whose flight had just landed. They chose to walk the “10” miles back to their home in Avalon rather than have someone pick them up. We talked with them about the island for a few minutes and we of course could not help but express our grievances with the way the island marks the trail. They casually informed us that all signs should be thought of as more of a suggestion, or an approximation as opposed to actual fact. Do you see a sign that says 10 miles? That could actually mean 9, 11, or even 13. Who knows exactly, but it’s for sure in that general area. Maddening piece of information noted.

31 mkp backpacking the TCT

We officially made it back to the Trans Catalina Trail! Woot woot!!

32 mkp backpacking the TCT

Catalina Island is home to a herd of Bison that have roamed the island since 1924. A film titled “The Vanishing American” was filmed on the island and one of the scenes required bison. 14 bison were transported from the Great Plains to Catalina Island with the intention of being returned upon completion of the film. That obviously never happened. Since their arrival on the island, the herds’ population has fluctuated from it’s original 14, to its peak at 527. The number now currently on the island is around 150.

They are really impressive up close. I believe we were encouraged/instructed to not approach the bison for obvious reasons. When we caught our first look at them, they were pretty far away. As we got closer they promptly ran in the opposite direction.  Great!

33 mkp backpacking the TCT Catalina bison

As we approached this group of bison, they didn’t really seem to move away from us as soon as the last group did. We didn’t expect that this herd would be different from the last batch of giant shaggy beasts so we stuck to the game plan. Keep calm, move slowly and don’t look them in the eye. I don’t know if that’s really a thing, but it felt right. Like, really right.

By the time we realized that they were not going to run away it was too late. We had committed to our game plan. It seemed like they would read our changing course as an act of fear, or danger in some way. Again, I don’t know what was going on in their buffalo brains, but rather than shuffling off (only my fellow tap dancers will appreciate this marvelous pun), we stayed calm and carried on.

We got through okay, but there was one giant muppet of a buffalo who appeared to be the leader. He didn’t trust us. We could see it in is eyes… Peripherally of course since we were adamant about not making eye contact. He started to slowly follow us and when he moved, the rest of the group moved with him. We kept going, cool, head down keeping the same steady pace. They followed us for probably 30 yards or so, seemingly establishing a perimeter daring us to step back in. We did not accept the dare and he finally relented.

Once we were a good ways away from the pack, we stopped to eat some lunch. We watched another set of backpackers approach the herd in the distance. How would they choose to navigate the beasts? They walked WAY FAR AROUND. Hahaha! What pussies! (Totally kidding, this was the correct maneuver.) Not long after said couple passed us on our break, a ranger drove up and spoke to us from his truck. He asked if the herd was on the trail when we came through and how we went around them. His facial expressions did not hide his surprise and horror when we explained to him our oxen-traversing method. He explained that they can get a bit grumpy at times to which we informed him that 15 minutes ago was in fact one of those times.

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35 mkp backpacking the TCT

We made it to our destination at Little Harbors campground with plenty of time to put up our tent in broad daylight and enjoy the sunset on the beach. It was stunning.

36 mkp backpacking the TCT

I love this woman. She and I have been best friends since 7th grade when my parents moved our family to my Dad’s hometown in Carbon County Utah. It’s small town with its roots in coal mining… A town where everyone knows your name. She and I have been through more life experiences and adventures than we can shake a stick at. This moment enjoying the sunset after the bison-gods gave us the “thumbs up” was a great one to add to our ever-growing list.

37 mkp backpacking the TCT Little Harbors sunset

38 mkp backpacking the TCT camp dinner

We prepared and ate our dinner by the light of our headlamps. I love this picture because her hands are all blurred and positioned like she’s a magician magically making macaroni and cheese appear.

39 mkp backpacking the TCT Little Harbors campground

40 mkp backpacking the TCT

This is my very high-tech method of airing out my t-shirt. You gotta make sacrifices when you backpack. One of those sacrifices is overall body freshness.

41 mkp backpacking the TCT Little Harbors campground

By Day 3, Kristen had decided that she was going to call for one of the islands Sherpa companies to take her to the final campground. Her hiking shoes had wreaked havoc on her feet and her ability to use them. The third and final hiking day was supposed to be the shortest day distance wise at 5 miles from the Little Harbors campground to the one at Two Harbors. *

*5-miles is a mere approximation due in part to both the inaccuracy of the trail signs, and our personal unwillingness to follow a physical map.

We decided that if the cost of shuttling us to Two Harbors was more than $25 per person that I would hike it and meet her there. My comparatively inexpensive Solomon Trail Running shoes had taken such good care of my feet! They were so comfortable that I never even felt the need to take them off upon reaching camp both days. I cannot say enough good things about them. Solomon, I love you. Thank you for a product line that allowed me to keep all of my toenails.

But I digress. While we were breaking down camp, the same ranger who we had frightened with our Buffalo-Whisperer ability made an appearance to check the campground. We asked him about the frequency and cost of the Sherpa shuttles. He gave us the information we were after and added that he was heading over to Two Harbors in ten minutes. If we were ready to go in that time frame, he would be happy to take us.

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We were ready!

43 mkp backpacking the TCT

RANGER DAN THE MAN! He rocked. He totally gave us a tour of the island. We learned so much!! The conservancy did good when they hired him.

44 mkp backpacking the TCT

It’s a good thing for Ranger Dan The Man that I had implemented the use of my high-tech shirt freshening technique.

45 mkp backpacking the TCT

46 mkp backpacking the TCTTwo Harbors official greeter

This is the official greeter of the city of Two Harbors. Between the bitchin’ Ranger Dan The Man and now this cutie, Day-3 was already shaping up to be a great one.

47 mkp backpacking the TCT Buffalos milk

Ranger Dan The Man educated us on a vast array of all things Catalina Island. One of which was Buffalo’s Milk, a cocktail that was concocted by Harbor Reef Restaurant bartender, Michael Hoffler, back in the mid-seventies. It’s an island version of a white russian. Ranger Dan The Man is so smart.

48 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors general store

The very small city of Two Harbors has a general store, a restaurant, a hotel, a campground, a visitor center and that’s about it. We decided to have a couple of drinks at the only bar in town before making our way to our final campsite.

49 mkp Two Harbors general store

Check out this little wooden buffalo tchotchke on top of the register at the Two Harbors general store!

50 mkp Two Harbors

51 mkp Two Harbors

52 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors campground

53 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors campground

54 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors campground

55 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors campground

56 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors campground

We really enjoyed our stay at this last campground. It’s about a half-mile hike from the harbor itself where the visitor center is located. The road there was kind of wonky from this year’s heavy rains. If you’re car-camping (not backpacking), you can pay the camp to transport your gear from the dock to your site by truck. I think it would be super fun to start an annual camping weekend with friends here.

57 mkp backpacking the TCT Harbor Reef Restaurant

We headed down to the dock with enough time to spend a couple of hours in town… And by town, I mean the Harbor Reef Restaurant.

58 mkp backpacking the TCT Harbor Reef Restaurant

I have no idea what these sketches are of, but I found them delightful. They were all over the restaurant.

59 mkp backpacking the TCT Harbor Reef Restaurant

Only a few beers on tap and one of them was a Utah beer! Uintah Brewing! Go figure!

60 mkp empty glass

61 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors

62 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors

63 mkp backpacking the TCT Two Harbors

64 mkp backpacking the TCT Catalina Island

You can see from a distance just how steep some of the mountains are. When I look at this picture, my eye goes right to the highest one. (Queue Justin Bieber verse.)

65 mkp Catalina Island boad ride

Our boat ride back to L.A. was from Two Harbors. When it made a stop in Avalon this cutie boarded and sat in the seat right across from me. She had a fun time with the wind blowing her hair. I had a fun time witnessing the joy it brought her 🙂

66 mkp Catalina Island boat ride

67 mkp Catalina Island boad ride

Although we are collectively going back with fewer toenails than we came with, hiking the Trans Catalina Trail was an amazing experience. It was harder than expected, but also more beautiful. I feel like I really got a sense of the island, both the urban element and the backcountry. The people were welcoming and kind, the views heart-stirring, I experienced my first shot of real adrenaline and the bison were accommodating in their willingness to let us live. I look forward to going back and hiking it without any extra miles added on, going against the “Team Hard Way” credo. We can do it! We have to go back to symbolically burn and ceremoniously drown Kristen’s shitty shoes anyway.

Here’s a list of resources we found useful when planning our this trip:

Blog featured on SoCal Hiker

Blog featured on Modern Hiker

Boat ride to and from

Hotel Atwater in Avalon

Catalina Conservancy

Campgound bookings

City of Two Harbors

Part of the trail we omitted

Like what you see here?  Want information on my professional services and availability, or maybe to discuss a creative collaboration, click here!

Also, did you know I have a book out?  get your copy here!

 

 

 

Posted on Apr 17, 2017

I know it’s the middle of April and I’m just now getting to this post. Don’t judge me… Okay. You can judge me.

1 mkp rocking chair

This was a test shot for a shoot I did for the AMAZING Leah Zeger. I loved the test shot, what can I say?

2 mkp Leah Zeger

Here is the same shot as above with the intended subject. This girl ROCKS in so many ways. Do yourself a favor and google her. Full on blog post for this shoot coming soon!

3 mkp Los Angeles city hall

This was an exterior shot of a venue for an event I shot last month. You can see the very beautiful LA City Hall in the background. You can see the blog post for this event here.

4 mkp polaroid picture

I love this so much because he actually took a real Polaroid picture of me! To see his photo and the rest of the pics from this fun event, click here.

5 mkp two wild and crazy girls

This shot cracks me up. It was taken at an event for Five Acres last month. It’s become a tradition at the end of each and every event I do for them to get two shots of the organization’s Senior Leadership Team. One shot is a nice tame one they can use for professional purposes, and the other is a crazy one. I can’t remember the crazy pose I suggested, but half the group was into it, and the other half was not. Let’s just say the gorgeous woman on the right was into it and tried to physically coerce the defiant one in her grasp into agreement. It didn’t work out, but the struggle was oh so good.

6 mkp Dana Calvo

This incredible woman is a client and friend. Her parents came into town for Grandparents Day at her daughters’ school, which also happens to be a client of mine. I snapped this pic of the two generations delightfully engaged in a classroom discussion. Like mother, like daughter.

7 mkp family beach photo bomb

This shot was taken at a family portrait session I did at the beach. Although it was a family portrait shoot, the main focus was the middle child for his upcoming bar mitzvah. This shot made the cut because the young man with the ball and his sister photo bombed what was supposed to be a shot of the parents with their brother. The oldest wasn’t super into the shoot at first, but I knew then that I had broken him. Shenanigans tend to make for the best moments.

8 mkp soccer head

Dude. Same shoot as above! This was a complete accident! It might be one of my favorite pictures ever. Full blog post from this portrait session coming soon!

9 mkp World Down Syndrome Day brothers and sisters

The South Central LA Regional Center, or SCLARC, is an organization in South Central that helps people in the community with special needs. They hired me to shoot an event they held for World Down Syndrome Day. This event was so special… I don’t even know where to begin. Up until this particular event, SCLARC had only hired me for donor events geared toward the fundraising arm of the organization. This was my first experience seeing for whom that money is raised. The super hero themed event is one I will never forget.

10 mkp World Down Syndrome Day twins

This and the following 2 photos are also from the event for World Down Syndrome Day. These twin sisters had a private moment while their parents checked them in for the event. The girl on the right whispered something into her sisters ear that made her smile.  She immediately put her head on her shoulder after the exchange.  It was so sweet; I totally teared up while I was taking it.

11 mkp World Down Syndrome Day brother and sister

I didn’t realize how sweet this shot was until I was editing the whole job. The way this boy his caring for his little sister makes me cry as I type this. Dammit! Why am I such a sap?!

12 mkp World Down Syndrome Day Superman

There’s just too much awesomeness going on in this shot. Full blog post from this event coming soon!

13 mkp girl with her grandma

This was taken at the same Grandparents Day event from the photo of mother/daughter pair a few pics above. “Sweetness” seems to be what drove my favorite photos from March. This girl holding her grandmothers hand as she shows her her school gets me in my sappy core.

Sappy McSapperson here guys. Now you know, if you didn’t already.

Like what you see here?  Want information on my professional services and availability, or maybe to discuss a creative collaboration, click here!

Posted on Feb 20, 2017

I had the absolute PLEASURE of going on a helicopter ride with the Pasadena Police Department. Colleague, client and friend, Jill Hawkins of MHP Events, was my partner in crime. IT WAS SO FREAKING COOL!!! It was no joyride for the guys working and there were quite a few things going on in the city that required the helicopter that day.  Seeing what they do and how they work was facinating.  Because I had my gear with me, I was able to photograph a particular street corner of interest to the cops at one point during the ride… Sooooooo basically I’m like an honoree PPD officer. All in a days work folks!

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17 mkp pasadena rose bowl

THE ROSE BOWL!!!

18 mkp pasadena police pcc aerial view

19 mkp pasadena police pasadena aerial view

20 mkp jill hawkins

21 mkp pasadena police santa anita race track aerial view

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23 mkp pasadena police helicopter pasadena aerial view

24 mkp pasadena police helicopter pasadena aerial view

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27 mkp jill hawkins

These mofo’s took one of my cameras when I was taking pics inside the cockpit.

helicopter book - 30 of 30

I have been emotionally wrecked since the outcome of the presidential election. I don’t think that any politician has the power to really change the world, so it’s not as if I looked to Hillary, Bernie or Obama as saviors. I believe that change comes slowly, most often quietly, from the ground up.

Even so, what occurred here has been upsetting to many of us. I have cried a lot. Like with any tragic, or shocking event, I’ve gone through the various stages of grief. Anger, denial, overwhelming sadness… All of it. I have been trying my best to process the whole thing, working toward that point where I climb out of the despair, put on my big girl panties and move toward the light. While I understand the need for battles in life, I personally am most effective when I am actively working toward progress no matter how subtle.

Hate and taking sides NEVER works. EVER. What is the saying? Love begets love. Hate begets hate. I totally believe that shit. So on inauguration day this 2017, I was presented with an opportunity to spend the day in love and light and I jumped in headfirst.

An event planner colleague of mine, Rose Forbes of Two Tree Events, married two couples at no charge at Pasadena City Hall and I documented it… Also free of charge. Both couples surrounded themselves with a small gathering of their closest friends and family. We all congregated on the most scenic part of the covered patio where we were protected by the POURING rain. The rain seemed to amplify the intense emotional aspect somehow in the most beautiful way.

(Shit. I totally started crying typing this…. Get it together Melissa!)

The whole thing was so special, and so beautiful; I am grateful to have been a part of it. Although the act itself was a sort of quiet protest, it was really more about making a stand and committing ourselves to the love we want to see in the world. While it was about the individual couples and their love for each other, it was bigger than that.

It was a collective, audible affirmation to hold our heads up and our hearts open to the goodness that abounds even in times of turmoil.

(Dammit. I just started crying again. Ugh. I talk tough, but I’m so sensitive!)

Here are pics from the day. Please share this post. This is not about being against anything or anyone. This is about choosing love and inclusion. We need to come together in order to push the needle forward.

I believe we have the power to do it.

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7 mkp emotional bride

Soooo, this is where I lost it the first time. As soon as her bride turned the corner, she gasped, “Oh my god, she’s so beautiful.” My poor little heart just exploded.

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10 mkp emotional bride

11 mkp Rose Forbes

I panned over to Rose and she was clearly experiencing a similar emotion.

12 mkp Pasadena City Hall wedding

13 mkp Pasadena City Hall wedding

14 mkp Pasadena City Hall wedding

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20 mkp first kiss

21 mkp i do in the park

22 mkp emotional outburst

23 mkp emotional outburst

24 mkp cutie pie

25 mkp happy couple

26 mkp happy couple

27 mkp Rose Forbes

28 mkp i do in the park

Rain on your wedding day is lucky!!

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30 mkp text from mom

While at lunch in between weddings, our mom’s both texted at the same time with the same “I love you, I’m proud of you” type text. Mom intuition, check!

 

Wedding number 2! Rose prepares while the happy couple poses for their loved ones.

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41 mkp Pasadena City Hall wedding

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44 mkp beautiful bride

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46 mkp Pasadena City Hall wedding

47 mkp Rose Forbes

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49 mkp Pasadena City Hall wedding

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51 mkp beautiful bride

52 mkp beautiful brides

53 mkp Pasadena City Hall wedding

54 mkp Pasadena City Hall wedding

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57 mkp beautiful bride

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The last two days turned out to be an unforgettable weekend filled with so much love and hope… two emotions I didn’t see coming. Seeing all the peaceful marches across the country and being a part of “I Do In The Park” will forever be remembered as one of the most profound moments of my life.

 

Love will always win if we choose that option over the alternative.

Posted on Dec 28, 2016

Third quarter favorites! Here we go!

1-mkp-cali-bride-and-groom

We had to sneak out of the house and go into an alley away from the guests for a quick, 15-minute portrait shoot before the wedding started. This happy couple was ridiculously cute with all their affection for each other. To see more from this wedding, click here.

2-mkp-pigs-eating-my-sandals

This was taken at a job for a kid’s birthday party. They had a full on petting zoo! Those are my feet in the frame that the pigs are trying to eat. I can still feel them tickling me with their cuteness.

3-mkp-goat-with-teeth

WTF. THIS GOAT’S TEETH. They’re so prominent!  I didn’t notice them when I was taking the photo. It wasn’t until I was editing the job at home that I became aware of all this awesomeness.

4-mkp-cute-little-girl-and-her-dad

Same kids party as the pics above. This little girl was so cute and so tiny compared to her dad sitting across from her. This photo just gives me the warm and fuzzy’s when I look at it.

5-mkp-a-bunch-of-hams

Still the same kids party; The girl hamming it up for the camera front and center was the birthday girl. This picture cracks me up because of the birthday girls face, and the little one behind her tumbling over in her yellow dress. To see more from this job, click here.

6-mkp-natasha-wood

This was taken at the very talented Natasha Wood album release party.

7-mkp-griffith-park

Kevin talked me into shooting video for two of his music videos this year. It was my first time doing video, not just stills. We went down to Griffith Park to test out a prop for one of the videos, and I took this photo to test my exposure for the test shots. I just love it. Sometimes test shots are the best shots.

8-mkp-feel-my-muscles

I don’t think I need to say anything about this picture.

9-mkp-jazz-hands

This man asked me if I would take a photo of him and his sons at a bat mitzvah I was shooting. I did not see this killer choreography coming.  Well done sirs.

10-mkp-griffith-park-observatory-trail

My best girl on one of our favorite hiking trails.

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I do this trail like 3 days a week! It’s so close to our house. L.A. Is just the bomb. To see more from this hike, click here.

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15-mkp-southern-utah-slot-canyon

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17-mkp-watch-the-road

He’s really driving… Too fast for all of us in there car when he had his eyes on the road. Us backseat passengers needed a little something to take the edge off.

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19-mkp-southern-utah-hiking

The previous 8 photos were from a hiking weekend with my best friend and some very close friends of the family in Southern Utah. To see more photos from this adventure, click here.

20-mkp-mother-and-son

This was taken at my Aunt and Uncles house in Spokane WA while we were there for my cousins wedding. The gentleman in the photo is my cousin and friend, and the foxy lady in the photo is my Aunt, his mother. My VERY talented Uncle Dan took the photo of his wife. I love this shot. The next 9 photos are from the wedding weekend.

21-mkp-pretty-bride-and-her-crazy-groom

My pretty cousin and her crazy groom.

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23-mkp-first-kiss

No need to adjust your eyes… Those are in fact dinosaurs in the right of the frame standing in as the only wedding party.

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25-mkp-ladies-and-their-shoes

So this spunky young lady is I guess my first cousin once removed? That always sounds weird to say. Anyway, she’s wearing her much older aunt’s shoes… The bride’s shoes. This pic makes me laugh because you can see the lady dinosaurs shoes in the background.

26-mkp-bad-parenting

Same cutie as the previous photo. She was telling me something when her Dad walked by, gave her his beer, and then fell on the ground for dramatic effect knowing that I would snag the best shot ever. High five cousin… We totally nailed it.

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Two of my favorite people on the planet dancing.

28-mkp-jack-kobe

This handsome gentleman is my Dad. He has the best smile, but you’ll never see it in photos because he loathes the posed shit. I got this shot of him dancing with my Mom.

29-mkp-weepy-sister-of-the-bride

This emotional woman is my cousin and sister of the bride. She was balling her eyes out when her sister was dancing with their Dad.

30-mkp-taking-the-l

The same weepy woman in the last picture started an arm wrestling tournament at the wedding that went on for some time. This shot makes me smile because of the defeat/win in the foreground, and my family laughing in the background. My Aunt Maureen is laughing so hard it makes me smile every time I see it. To see more from this wedding, click here.

31-mkp-student-life

This shot was from one of my campus shoot sessions with one of my favorite clients, Flintridge Preparatory School.

32-mkp-dancer

Flintridge Prep again! I don’t need to tell you that I’m all up on the ground to get this shot.

33-mkp-show-off

This is from a job I was hired to shoot for a senior living home. The company wanted some lifestyle and architectural shots for their website. This lady was using the renovated dog run. Let’s just say her pup was a total show off.

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35-mkp-reflection

Same senior living lifestyle shoot. I thought I was being sneaky with this shot, but I’m quite sure he spotted me in his rearview and gave me a big smile.

36-mkp-best-friends

Another one from the senior living lifestyle shoot. These BFF’s take painting classes together. They didn’t have an actual class the day I was there shooting, so we staged this one. They basically talked shit about each other’s work the whole time. It was hilarious.

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38-mkp-badass

This was taken at the Pasadena PAL annual golf tournament. This badass is a friend and client, lieutenant Vasken Gourdikian. I love this shot of him. To see more pictures from this job, click here.

39-mkp-a-serious-golf-lesson

Another photo from another golf tournament! This was from the Five Acres annual golf tourney. The woman being “helped” with her swing is actually a really good golfer… The fabulous woman giving the tutorial is not.

The last and final quarter for 2016 is next!!! Sooner than I’m comfortable with regards to my blog posting schedule.

Posted on Dec 21, 2016

Ta-da! Second quarter favorites are here! I don’t mind telling you that I am exhausted after going through all these pictures for the year. If I didn’t make it a point to do this end of the year countdown thing, I might never have gone through everything. I’m glad I’m doing this, but damn. I cannot wait to sit down with some whiskey, and a record and do some yoga, or some nothing! I’m so close… Two more quarters and counting.

1-mkp-washington-monument

The Washington Monument from a visit back east to visit Kevin’s family. It looks so beautiful doesn’t it? Let’s just admire it while it’s still standing shall we… You know, before Russia claims it as it’s own when they move into the White House come January.  To see more photos from this trip, click here.

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3-mkp-gesticulation

These beautiful hands belong to my dear friend and client, Marina Kolaric. To see more photos from this session, click here.

4-mkp-wild-child

Ah! I love this pic so much! This kid just kills me. This was taken at a job I was hired to shoot for a children’s birthday party. This cutie pie is the eldest of three awesome kids (he was not the birthday boy). Side note; the family hired me to shoot his brothers birthday party last year and he totally licked the candle on top of his birthday cake. Everyone around him was getting louder in their attempt to urge him not to do so, but I think he took the grumblings as a dare. He lived. It’s a pretty kick ass picture. If I had done this count down thing last year, that pic would have for sure been in it.

5-mkp-raul-pacheco

This is musician, Raul Pacheco of Ozomatli performing original music for a play. It was an incredible experience to document. For more photos from this shoot, click here.

6-mkp-cutie-pie

This was taken at a baby shower I was hired to shoot for some very special clients. While this photo is super serene, I think she was still for all of 20 seconds before she bounced up off the chair and continued her running around the yard with friends.

7-mkp-ladies-laughing

Same baby shower party as the above photo. To see more photos from this shoot, click here.

8-mkp-advancing-confidently-peter-bachmann

The gentleman in the photo is the Headmaster and history teacher at Flintridge Preparatory School. He is revered, and rightly so as he takes his job seriously. So seriously in fact that while he understands that certain things are needed of him personally for PR purposes, he does not like doing it…  He’s anxious to get back to his students.  I really dig that about him.  I usually get all of 2 minutes with him for portraits, and all other times have to be careful to stalk him without him noticing me so that I may get him in action with his students. This photo was one of those staged 2-minute photo sessions where we needed to get him with the book he wrote. It made the cut because his smile in the background is so big and real! It really feels like I accomplished something. I pat myself on the back every time I come across it.

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Flintridge Prep clock tower.

10-mkp-deep-thinker

This photo was taken at another private school client of mine. I had to go into a specific classroom to shoot because the girls were presenting projects to the class. This one 13-year-old girl legitimately blew my mind with her concept. The philosophy behind her idea was that of communication, and how we translate and perceive actual words. She found an old typewriter and put paint on the keys so that when typing out a sentence, instead of letters, colors would appear on the page. It was so beautiful and poetic in it’s simplicity. 13 years old I tell you!!!

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12-mkp-red-flower

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14-mkp-happy-bride-and-groom

15-mkp-dirty-dancing-lift

These guys did the ACTUAL Dirty Dancing lift at this wedding reception. I caught this shot as he swung around. I don’t need to tell you that this group was wild. I love wild.

16-mkp-grandma-kiss

This and the previous 4 photos were at the same wedding. To see more from the day, click here. I was hired by members of the same family to shoot the wedding anniversary for the woman being kissed by her grandson. To see pics from that super special event, click here.

17-mkp-waiting-to-play

The Pasadena PAL is my primary charity. I was there to shoot some portraits of their team one day and snagged this shot while I was putting my gear together. I can’t tell you what about it I love so much; I only can tell you that I do.

18-mkp-kids-getting-in-trouble

Kids reprimanding/being defiant to other kids just cracks me up every time.

19-mkp-epic-dance-off

This was taken at a b’nai mitzvah I shot. What you see here is an EPIC dance off; adults on one side, kids on the other. The adults in the pic aren’t even the mothers of the kids they’re throwing down against which makes it even funnier. From this photo, you’d think the adults had the win on lock, but the girls came back with some cheerleading stunts that could not be matched. To see more photos from this job, click here.

20-mkp-prize

This photo was taken at a marriage and family therapist conference job. The lovely lady/book model in the picture is my boss since she is the one that hires me. She was presenting one of the prizes for the daily raffle drawings held each evening. The book title and her face are priceless.

21-mkp-wild-and-crazy-adults

Same conference as above. I throw out the suggestion for people to pick up a person so he/she can pose all sexy like often… Usually with bride and grooms and their peeps, but this situation was just calling for it! This group went for it even before I could finish asking the question.

22-mkp-grrrr

Same conference… This guy was one of the sign language translators for a couple of deaf therapists in attendance. He was all business and then just looked at me and made this face. It totally caught me off guard. This conference was filled with fun people.

23-mkp-chief-phillip-sanchez-lieutenant-vasken-gourdikian-and-jill-hawkins

These are 3 of my favorite people, and they also happen to be clients. I caught them in a lovely candid moment at an awards ceremony I was shooting. To see more photos from this job, click here.

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My lovely Marina. To see more photos from this shoot click here.

28-mkp-bat-mitzvah

The beautiful mom laughing in this special moment at her daughters bat mitzvah ceremony is one of the ladies throwing down in the epic dance off above.  To see more from this event, click here.

29-mkp-crowd-surfing

This guy. You’ve seen his face, and probably his naked torso from SEVERAL parties that were featured on my blog. When I see him with a shirt on, I feel like something is wrong somehow. I love this family.

30-mkp-booty-booty-booty-booty-booty-everywhere

The gorgeous ladies in this photo are bigwigs at Five Acres. Every event I shoot for them, I have to get a photo of their Senior Leadership Team. We always take a nice, serious shot, and then we get a fun one. Tradition is tradition after all. I snagged this in the midst of some shenanigans once they thought we were done. I always keep shooting after posed pics to get these kinds of moments when they go back to having fun.

31-mkp-birds-eye-view

This was an amazing experience!!! Jill Hawkins of MHP Events and I got to go for a helicopter ride along with the Pasadena Police Department! This blog post is still yet to come.

32-mkp-rose-bowl

The Rose Bowl! Oh man, the helicopter ride was so freaking cool!

33-mkp-the-biltmore

The famous Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel.

34-mkp-german-shepherd-hug

Family portrait shoot centered on the most beloved family member.  To see more from this session, click here.

35-mkp-photo-bomb

The lovely lady in red totally photo bombed this romantic photo. To see more photos from this wedding, click here.

36-mkp-youre-drunk

Full disclosure. The bride, groom and event planner each pulled me aside separately at the reception to tell me they were going to get me drunk. There comes a point when shooting events where those drinking add to the photo greatness, and then it will inevitable take a turn to moments that are not so flattering. Luckily, my being drunk coincided with this turning point, so nothing was missed. This photo cracks me up because the woman is taking great delight in telling those around her that they got me drunk. She’s pointing/yelling at me.

37-mkp-cheaters-do-prosper

This was taken at my family’s annual brew and pie festival in Oregon. This was at the award ceremony for best pie. The winner totally cheated. Ces, you know what you did.

38-mkp-real-life-portraiture

The youngest two boys in these photos are my nephews. Their parents wanted some photos of all of them together.

39-mkp-real-life-kids-portraiture

Why would you want a boring picture on your mantle when you can have this instead? To see more from this mini-shoot, click here.

Next week, 3rd quarter favorites! And by next week, I mean a few short days since I was late with this post.

Don’t judge me.

Posted on Nov 24, 2016
Posted in My Life, Weddings

AH HAHAHAHA. I kid, I kid… This happy couple is big time in to Star Wars, not Star Trek. I mean, if you can’t poke fun at your little cousin and her now husband, there is nothing right with the world. Yup, this beautiful bride is family; the blood kind. She and her crazy man had an intimate backyard wedding at a dear family friends home in Spokane, Washington. Today’s post is a little longer than usual, but I guess when I know so many of the subjects in front of my lens, that’s bound to happen.

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3-mkp-wedding-dress

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5-mkp-bride-getting-ready

6-mkp-first-look

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8-mkp-bride-and-groom-portraits

9-mkp-bride-and-groom-portraits

THIS IS NOT THEIR DOG. This friendly guy totally came when called and was not stingy with his love.

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LOOK HOW BEAUTIFUL MY COUSIN IS!!!

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12-mkp-bride-and-groom-portraits

13-mkp-air-guitar

14-mkp-bride-and-groom-portraits

15-mkp-bride-and-groom-into-the-woods

16-mkp-siblings

17-mkp-star-wars-wedding

18-mkp-star-wars-wedding

Look closely at the bride’s wedding ring. Total nerds. I had way too much fun staging this shot. Just look at that background. I picked up the W on this one.

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20-mkp-crazy-family

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22-mkp-backyard-wedding

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26-mkp-grandpa

27-mkp-dinosaur-wedding-line

So, this happened.

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32-mkp-backyard-wedding-dinosaurs

33-mkp-pretty-bride

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36-mkp-backyard-wedding-dinosaurs

37-mkp-bride-and-groom-kiss

38-mkp-best-wedding-party-ever

39-mkp-wedding-details

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41-mkp-home-brew-wedding

42-mkp-wild-child

43-mkp-couple-dancing

44-mkp-backyard-wedding

45-mkp-backyard-wedding

46-mkp-2-crazy-kids

47-mkp-couples-dancing

48-mkp-best-friends

49-mkp-best-friends

50-mkp-father-of-the-bride

51-mkp-backyard-wedding

52-mkp-father-of-the-bride

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55-mkp-sister-of-the-bride

The bride’s older sister maybe had dry eyes for like 5 minutes.

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57-mkp-bride-and-groom-dancing

58-mkp-backyard-wedding

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An epic arm wrestling tournament ensued! I am sad to say that I competed many times, and won NONE. I think that’s why I kept getting asked challenged.

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I love you both so much! Congratulations! You’re just crazy enough to make it 🙂

Posted on Oct 27, 2016
Posted in Art!, HoneyBe, My Life

I’ve dove deep into the archives for today’s blog post! This is exactly why I have this blog… To show pics I love if for no other reason than the love alone.

These self-portraits were done for a “painting with light” project when I was in school several years back. I set up a black backdrop over the shower door in the bathroom. With the lights turned off, I set my camera for a 30 second exposure and shone a flashlight on myself while holding a pose for a several seconds before switching to a different one. The result is these weird, ghosted images. I recently found them while cleaning out my files and messed around with some colored filters for fun.

It’s good to be reminded that not knowing what you’re doing or having a desired outcome is a good place to be.

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Posted on Oct 21, 2016

Today’s blog post features photos taken on an actual film camera. Can you believe that?! They still exist! They were taken on a 360-degree camera, which is so freaking cool. It’s a toy camera that only has 2 settings, F-8, or F11 so you can’t get fancy with the details. You pull the string, and it spins a full 360-degrees using 8 frames of film to make the whole picture. It’s so bitchin’.

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I took this from the INSIDE of a hot air balloon before they blew it up.

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