On Land But at Sea

September 29, 2008
The lights went out at about 12:00 am on Friday, September 12th. Hence it was decided that this was a good time to go to bed. About four hours later we awoke to what seemed like a monstrous, roaring ocean. Trouble was that we live about 50 miles away from the sea.

Imaginary waves pounded against the sides of our house, relentless and unmerciful. The wind howled and the trees reproachfully bowed their branches back and forth, with moans of protest against failing flexibility. Our home was built in the late 60s, so our trees have had well over four decades to outmatch our house in such a storm. The thought raced through my mind in a hurry and the sounds coming from outside instantly convinced me to move into a small hallway of the house, with pillows and Matisse in tow. Blake crashed on the chaise in the living room. I couldn’t be as brave. There the french doors seemed to creak and rale with menace, threatening to suck me out into the yard with the full contents of the house. The hallway seemed safer.

In the distance, flashes of ghastly, blue-green light shot into the sky while thunderous BOOMS echoed through the smashing wind. Transformers were exploding on every block, and thus we were swallowed by complete and utter darkness. The total absence of light, coupled by the fiendish wind, made it all too easy to feel completely alone and abandoned by the rest of the world. I felt as though I were aboard a failing ship in an unrelenting squall. Sound, instead of water, threatened to drown me. I thought about family and friends in other parts of town. A plan to place a call was swiftly thwarted by the outage of my cell phone. Network busy.

Falling limbs crashed on the roof and on the ground. Some ran their twigs over the windows like fingernails on a chalkboard. Cracks and thuds, booms, rasps and roars – all of the unworldly noise was almost unbearable.

I filled my ears with headphones and listened to a small handheld radio. Through the mess of bad transmissions I found a station reporting on the storm. The eye of the hurricane had reached parts of Houston. It was 5:30 am. Callers described the eerie silence while the host warned solidly against going outside. We were on the other side of IKE and though we would not know it then, the horrible sound would prove better than the deceiving silence on the other end.

I propped the flashlight face up so that the light could bounce off the ceiling. It’s soft glow a small comfort, somehow allowing me to convince myself about the impossibility of our roof blowing away, or the trees smashing down on us. It will pass. It has to pass. I closed my eyes and tried to concentrate on nothing but this one thought.

The radio station lost power and the white noise bounced in my headphones trying hopelessly to masque the whipping wind. I fell asleep again, but only shortly. When I awoke, almost an hour later, we were in darkness again. The flashlight had gone out. But the noise outside had lessened. Shortly after, a cold, gray tone throughout the sky offered the only evidence of sun. The trees still shook, but the windows didn’t rattle and the rain seemed normal again.

Blake and I looked out the windows and dared to open the front door. The hurricane had passed to the right of us. We would find out soon enough just how lucky we had been.
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I’m so glad and thankful to be back! It has been a trying couple of weeks! Alas, my chocolate stash could not outlast the number of days in darkness, discomfort, and boredom. There were so many!

Still, we have escaped with not much over busted fences , LOTS of fallen trees, and a heap of perspective.

There is so much to tell about this IKE misadventure. Nothing I’ve experienced before can compare. As in everything, there is good and there is bad…but mostly good. We are so very fortunate. I hope, with all the hope I have, that those still left in darkness, literally and figuratively, will have the light back in their lives soon.

I’ll be checking back to tell of my travels through IKE-land very shortly. I just couldn’t wait any longer to check in!

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Hunker Down!

September 12, 2008
A much awaited social event for Morgan Stanley was cancelled yesterday evening. I got the call midday that the Berings & James Gallery was shutting its doors due to an unwelcomed visitor. Thus guests and photographer alike will be planning for a future date.

With Mr. Ike bearing down on us like a Mac truck on NOS, I’m thankful for not having a wedding this weekend. I can’t help but wonder just how many couples in the Texas/Gulf Coast area are missing their blessed day due to the wraths of Mother Nature. Such is life. But I guess it will make for interesting stories for their future kiddos and grand kiddos. I pray that everyone in our area is out of harm’s way and that the damage that is to come is only material and replaceable.

Things have been a bit panicky in the area. Yesterday people were flocking in hoards to retailers for building materials, water and non-perishable items. I found myself in the thick of it and was glad to see that the past week was used most adequately to overstock on all things Pro-Hurricane Preparedness. Though lines were long, there was no fighting for the last case of water or gallon of gas. Now, we do the sit-n’-wait. And try not to focus too much on the news images of the 20 foot swells already pummeling Galveston Island — a mere 50 miles from where I sit and type. Ike is still miles off the coast, but he’s wasting no time on making his entrance.

Today, a much calmer scene at hand…reminiscent of images from The Happening. As they say, the calm before the storm. My street is quiet and desolate, an eerie wind rustling the trees and urging a quick shut of the door. It’s a little scary, this waiting game. The best we can hope for is a non-lengthy power outage and perhaps some flooding in the vulnerable areas. Not too bad considering other places…then I think about the power outage again. It’s HOT in Houston.

I’m already assembling a computer withdrawal package: complete with books and magazines I’ve been meaning to read, enough candles to light a monastery, a hundred lbs. of ice (literally) to sustain my perishables, and a few items of the chocolate persuasion…to keep the nerves down. I’ve also got a brand-spankin’ new set of brushes and paints that I’ve been meaning to break open. Funny that it should take an on-coming hurricane to bring one’s attention back to basics, eh? Live and learn…with an emphasis on the live.

My best wishes to you all out there braving this thing head on, travelling with loved ones to get away, and those who will inevitably be dealing with broken homes or otherwise damaged property. Remember, no loss is greater than the loss of life. Godspeed.
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It was a typically hot August day in Houston. But you wouldn’t know it by looking here.

I met Kristina & Yaniv in front of the Japanese Gardens in Herman Park and began documenting their love story through the lens of my camera. Both will tell you that at first it was a little bit of a shy start. I saw model material from the get go…but both of them are ever so modest of their good looks. :)
Kristina took special care in the details of this day’s shoot. We chatted by email about poses, and clothing, make-up, hair, photo angles…by the time the day came, I was super excited to put in practice what we’d been theorizing. It was playing out to be a slew of exciting possibilities.
I just loved how they both came dressed to the shoot. In my mind, I saw two Roman gods. Her delicately flowing, ivory gown and both of their classic and elegant features made for stunning shots. We strolled and danced through the park and talked about how they met, the house they are looking to buy, Yaniv’s creative business and just good ol‘ fashioned chit chat. It was a great morning, spent in the company of a great couple.

KJ1 Kristina & Yaniv: Engagement Portrait Photography I love this part of the garden. It’s like being in another part of the world.

KJ2 Kristina & Yaniv: Engagement Portrait Photography KJ3 Kristina & Yaniv: Engagement Portrait Photography
Nothing like laying in the grass.
KJ4 Kristina & Yaniv: Engagement Portrait PhotographyOr strolling down a pebbled lane under a canopy of lush trees.

KJ5 Kristina & Yaniv: Engagement Portrait PhotographyThey really are this cute in person. :)

KJ6 Kristina & Yaniv: Engagement Portrait Photography Model shots…

KJ7 Kristina & Yaniv: Engagement Portrait Photography
KJ8 Kristina & Yaniv: Engagement Portrait Photography Kristina’s gorgeous ring.

And my favorite out takes…

KJ9+OT Kristina & Yaniv: Engagement Portrait Photography This was the first in the series. I told them to give me their “Zoolander“.

KJ10+OT Kristina & Yaniv: Engagement Portrait Photography
I don’t know what he told her…but he cracked her up pretty good! She tried…but there was no fighting such a burst of laughter!

KJ11+OT Kristina & Yaniv: Engagement Portrait PhotographyHere’s where she says…how can I look like a model, when you’re making me laugh!?
Thanks guys, for such a fun time! I love how you turned out in your photos and I hope you do too.

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Summer Memories

August 17, 2008
I grew up in the ocean. The Atlantic, to be exact. And when I say “in,” I mean my caboose was actually in it over half of the time.

I remember many an afternoon spent lulled by the meandering waves, watching the most amazing sunsets, being kissed by the warm and gentle Caribbean breeze. I was just a tyke then, but the memories of those moments are forever frozen in my mind, as clear as the waters that I bathed in.
By birth, I am Ecuadorian…by heart and heritage 50% Venezuelan. The other 50% belongs to Chile…but that is for another story. As luck would have it, for the better part of my childhood I was reared in the most beautiful Venezuelan beach fronts.
Every chance my parents got, they would take us kids to the beach. There I would play in the surf, diving in and out of the waves. Before I knew it, a whole day would be gone, but those days you’d be hard pressed to find me out of the water before nightfall. Even as a child, I lived for that moment in which the sun parted ways with the earth, casting shadows and the most unbelievable colors over the water and my skin. There was no fear of sun burn as I always wore a perfect tan for protection. The sand was my welcomed companion as was the constant breath of salt in the spray and air.
Castles, holes to China, boogie boards, fishing, digging for hermit crabs, floating on the waves, there was an infinite number of ways to find amusement at the beach. Alone, or accompanied by friends and family, there was no wrong way for me to enjoy being by the water’s edge or inside the arms of my beloved ocean. Back then there were no fears of strangers, or getting lost. Every soul by the seashore had a happy and benevolent disposition. There was always some sort of music emanating from under the cover of the most luscious palms. People swayed in their hammocks, enjoying the lazy pace of the world, smiles a constant accessory on the myriad of faces.
The freshest seafood was just a catch away or sold for pennies by an assortment of locals that paraded the beach with bucket fulls of tasty treats. My favorite were the raw oysters with a tangy kick of lime juice, the acid perfectly cutting the edge of the salt on my lips left over from the waves. Those were the days of true freedom. In my innocence it did not cross my mind that they would end, but oddly enough, as is so rare the case, I took them in as thoroughly as anyone ever could. Perhaps in some unconscious way I knew that they were fleeting.
There’s still a little bit of a beach bum in me, and as often as I can, I find my way back to my old friend. But when I cannot physically make it to the shore, I thank Jack Johnson for taking me there in heart, as the unmistakable sounds of the sea are always present in his music. And while I will never be a kid again, I will always feel those moments as if I was, with innocence and purity, and the knowledge that they are indeed as swiftly passing as the ocean’s breeze.

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(or woman)…then what’s the big stink about the potential first ladies?

Aren’t there more important things at hand???

I’m just saying…

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As far as fun engagement shoots go, I have yet to top these two! Chris & Lisa are one of those dream couples for photographers. They were up for anything I suggested! Whether it was pretend-going down a slide, climbing up giant-sized rubix cubes, getting muddy in the bushes, or even completely soaked in a fountain! I had a blast photographing them and getting to know their love story. I can’t wait for the wedding! :)

This was them the whole time…all smiles and giggles!

LC 1 Fun with Chris & Lisa: Engagement Portrait Photography

I found it funny, that she would do the spotting! ;)

LC 3 Fun with Chris & Lisa: Engagement Portrait Photography

I just love their facial expressions in this one! xD

LC 6 Fun with Chris & Lisa: Engagement Portrait Photography

Lisa’s gorgeous smile and hair are killer!

LC 14 Fun with Chris & Lisa: Engagement Portrait Photography

This shot makes me think of Shakespeare… “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.”

LC 16 Fun with Chris & Lisa: Engagement Portrait Photography

And…the perfect end to a hot and humid, Houston photo shoot…LC 18 Fun with Chris & Lisa: Engagement Portrait Photography
Thank you for being such great sports!

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13. Thirteen is my favorite number. I don’t have a “lucky” number, though. Hmm…

12. When I was 8 years old I ate PB sandwiches exclusively, three meals a day for six straight months. I’m still so sick of them I’ve probably only had 3 more in my life since then.

11. My favorite Menudo band member was Xavier Serbia. I swore to be Mrs. Serbia at the age of six.

10. I had MC Hammer pants in Junior High…and actually wore them.

9. I’m a total germaphobe when it comes to little sick kids…the sight of snotty noses sends me into a MONK-style panic.

8. Ahh, college. I once drank so much I could not stop talking with a British accent —- that bloody Captain Morgan!

7. My Junior year in H.S. I pretended not to understand Calculus so that I could get tutored by the boy I had a crush on…but he never caught on.

6. I color code my closet and organize my shirts by sleeve length.

5. At the age of 16 I wanted to be the next Jane Goodall. Me: a germaphobe. ??

4. I can NEVER watch a movie more than once with the exception of The Mummy or Goonies…”hey you guyyyysssss!”

3. I love to sing…mostly to myself.

2. Inexplicably, when I fluff the sheets, I get the same feeling of vertigo as when driving fast over a hill. True story.

1. My instant trigger for uncontrollable blubbering: seeing an old man crying. Gets me every time.

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It’s up and running folks! There’s a brand-spanking new social network where you can interact with fellow photogs who are inspired and have a lot to share! I’ve just been fired up since attending the Free To Succeed seminar with Jasmine Star and David Jay.

It’s been great meeting some of you in person, getting comments on the blog as well as a the wonderful exchange of emails. There are so many other questions and ideas to share…so, if you’d like to continue, come join!

Just email me at patricia@plumtreestudios.com for your invitation.

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As I drove my Element back home feeling like I’d just captured one of life’s little miracles, Rob Thomas bellowed “Little Wonders” most appropriately from my speakers. I could not help feeling that the Cosmos had aligned and the stars were shining down on me with all of the graces of the universe. The song, the moment, the experience…everything could not be just coincidence.

I was blessed two years earlier with a wedding that changed my life and gave Plum Tree the boost it had so desperately needed. As I struggled to understand my purpose in this world and the contributions that I yearned to lend to others, I came across Carolina. Sure, I’d photographed several weddings already for friends and family. I had 14 years behind a camera for various purposes, but I could not count any of it as part of my job. In truth, two-and-a-half years later I still cannot call it merely a job, for a love it so. But I digress.

Carolina walked into my friend’s cake shop looking for a cake for her wedding. At the time, I was searching to find myself and spending time assisting my friend in her shop. There I found a lot of cake, a few pounds and a little perspective. :) On this occasion, when Carolina left the shop she had her cake…and a wedding photographer. It was all so serendipitous, so meant to be. With great excitement, I photographed the wedding and kept a very soft spot in my heart for Carolina and Alejandro.

This year, as Plum Tree celebrated with wondrous growth, I remembered my friends and thought to send them a thank you message. After all, I felt so blessed to have been given this gift, this push into the light of what life had (has) in store for me. To my surprise, two years later, her work email address still worked and even better, Carolina and Alejandro were expecting their first child.

The emotion, love, elation…no word I can think of can describe what I’ve felt in being given this once-in-a-lifetime moment (again) in their lives. And so, I am incredibly humbled by this miracle, this “little wonder,” if you will…that is Valentina.

Their newborn daughter:

VA 42 Little Wonders: Baby & Family Portrait Photography I marvel at the love a child holds in their parents’ hearts. Alejandro is so completely in love with his little princess.
VA 43 Little Wonders: Baby & Family Portrait Photography …they both are. It warms my heart.
VA 46 Little Wonders: Baby & Family Portrait Photography Favorite dress…a fashionista already!

VA 5 Little Wonders: Baby & Family Portrait Photography My favorite moment with mom…
VA 14 Little Wonders: Baby & Family Portrait Photography Basking in the Houston heat…yeah…
VA 28 Little Wonders: Baby & Family Portrait Photography
VA 29 Little Wonders: Baby & Family Portrait Photography And my favorite shot of the day…all of the peace in the world can be found here:
VA 31 Little Wonders: Baby & Family Portrait Photography Thank you three, so very VERY much for giving me this piece of your life to share in. I hold it with much love in my heart, for all eternity.

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