Sunday, August 31, 2008

Grand Mayan with the Fam..

Summer Vacation!!!

Just some pics from my vacation with my family (but Tristan wasn’t there) to Nuevo Vallarta… Vaness was able to come along for a time of relaxation and bit of getting’ to kno’ ya’…

I actually didn’t realize I was gonna take so many pictures, but I suppose while teaching my dad a few subtleties of the trade – I couldn’t seriously not shoot a couple shots myself! Enjoy! Well at least I hope you enjoy – hey it’s way better than me forcing you to sit through a 2 hour slideshow... Here are a few shots from our little tour of Puerto Vallarta…



Tequila!!!


So what did we do while we were there?? Well – Short story even shorter – we ate… and went to the lazy river... then we ate… and then we lounged around the balcony… Here are a few from a beauty of a restaurant that we at at, Vista Grill (the group shot of us above was at this restaurant) and a little ‘taste’ of the yummy food/ambiance…




And some more food from a local spot!

Here are a few from the festival we enjoyed right on the beach at the Grand Mayan.


Speaking of the GRAND Mayan – Here is the lobby entrance… My head reaches the ankle of that statue!!!

No vacation with dad would be complete without his legendary/notorious/infamous Cube. But, admittedly good conversation with the family and Vaness was sparked! The starter of good times, haha, who woulda thought…

And for the grand finale – check out these beauties.. I probably can say with confidence that I had never seen what I had seen in this pictures until that day.. The bolts where so huge, so strong, I swear they probably would have hit us… There was one that I didn’t catch on camera that probably hit about 100 yards of the beach in front of the resort.. Here is one striking the water in the distance!!! Crazy!!!

And here is one crawling across the sky!! Vaness was soooo scared!! Okay okay, I was kinda jumpin and running like a little baby too – but if you have ever experienced what we did – you would have too.. believe me. I seriously still can’t believe we saw this… And there were more that I didn’t even catch a shot of!

Thanks mom and dad for the great vacation! You both are rockstars.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I love you Lola...

Loving and Devoted

I don’t really know if there is a right way to say everything I want to say… or even if this is the right place... but I feel safe using this blog as a space to share some of the things on my heart at the time - even if it is "personal"... I’ll start by saying that my grandmother – well, she is just something else. My cousins and I – there are 16 of them, all close, all know each other well – could share hundreds and hundreds of stories about her… she was a strong one. She has an inspirational, faithful, and powerful woman. She was strict and as my cousins so eloquently put it – she made some great lemonade. Her 6 o’clock Anglus prayer time, making rosaries to store in her blue tin, insisting that ghosts would be out to get us at 6pm if we didn’t come in from the park, sneaking late night video games while she slept, going to the corner store with a blank check to buy a stick of gum and a twix bar, church on Sunday – and Monday, and Wednesday, Thursday and sometimes Friday, telling us to not be so happy (I think she really meant LOUD – because the cousins were really loud – we always laughed when she said that)… We shared so many stories this weekend, it was a side of my mourning and remembrance I actually neglected. I didn’t really know how to bring up all those memories of her… In truth I spent most of my time up here in San Francisco staring at picture after picture while putting together the dedication slideshow for her and our family – in tears at times… I think it just hurt to see my strong and fighting grandmother’s declining health finally get the best of her…

Here is a picture of her in 1939… beautiful..

She made a trip out with us to – I think - Sea World when I was a little boy. Here is my grandma with my cousins and there I am on the bottom left.

She was a traveler at heart. My mom, who had the duty of caring for her administrative details in the past few years and really took the time to care for her and visit her almost every weekend, was able to go with my grandma on a pilgrimage in 1988 to Italy. I know my mom loved her so so much…

My auntie said that she loved all her grandchildren equally – no matter how much she saw you, or how often you visited. Here is a legendary picture – the one with all of the cousins in 1997 on her birthday! Jesse and great grandchildren Kaylin and Jelani weren’t born yet…

Here is a picture that I never actually saw until now… I know I had the blessing of being able to spend a lot of my time in my childhood knowing her and it all started from the very beginning…



My grandma really did love all of her grandchildren. Here are some of us on her often pictured stairs…

and nowadays… with the number of cousins growing (and just us growing too – we can’t fit three to a step like before) we can barely fit in the picture – only 11 of 16 cousins are pictured and we’re missing a great grandchild Kaylin too…

She always prayed for us. I think, though, I had this small feeling of sadness in these last few years for not visiting as often as I could. But, I know that no matter what, she always had all of us in her thoughts and prayers…

Even though she wasn’t able to speak or say much as her health declined, I know that she could still feel us there. You could still tell she was upset when we were too loud, haha.. and if I could just look at her and smile, she would try her best to give a smile back.

I hope I’m just making her proud in heaven. I just really wish I could put a good piece together for her – to really take the time to write something… I don’t have a piece written, but as is my way these days.. I do have pictures, and for me – as I am now – this may be the best way that I honor her memory. I may not have written something, but my cousin Kaye Kaye (who may arguably be the closest to her) wrote one. It was an incredible piece that she shared with the family - it was really good – the kind that you start to listen to while you are staring at the floor then end up with your head up shedding tears with her… Here is a picture of my cousin Kaye Kaye and my grandma…

She was, by all sense, raised by grandma along with her late father, my uncle Marc. Being raised by grandma must have been both a blessing and difficult. The first for just growing with grandma and second - for living with grandma! She was strict – it almost seemed that she picked on Kaye. She lived with her as part of her fulfillment of a promise by her dad to my late grandpa to take care of her til the end… and although other cousins were over the house, she was always the one to take the brunt of the chores and the constant requests for help… In grandma’s way, it was lessons learned - what my auntie Josie called “tough love”. Indeed – with love being the operative word.

I don’t really know what to do with myself still. It is surreal. It has been hard to hold tears back at the most unexpected times. We have been to Lola’s house a few times already and I still feel like she is still there…

I was honored to be able to be a pallbearer for grandma at Skylawn Memorial. We had her service at Immaculate Conception Chapel with Father William who has been with our family and my grandma since the 70s. She has a really beautiful plot right next to my grandpa overlooking a valley with a view of the ocean just a few miles away… I hope to visit soon.. and often. Lola – the woman who I knew exemplifies faith. She is faith. She lived it. I know it was because of her prayers and thoughts that my entire family has been lifted up. She was so strong in her faith – she pushes me to be that much more… She strengthens my faith… I’m gonna miss her – so much.

Goodbye for now Lola. I love you.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Katinas at the Rock

A band of total passion…

Some stuff from the Katinas DVD shoot at The Rock… Really good Christian band – I love their sound and focus… They have a good harmony and original tracks that aren’t formulaic. They are honest, energetic, and Spirit led. I really love the colors when the venue turns concert-stadium (VERY difficult to shoot though, with all the blaring lights flashing and changing)…



I’m really beginning to like shooting concert events. The big pluses – the energy, the lights and show, and the crowd – I feed off of it… but, the BIG minus – no personal connection with the subjects/performers… I think that is one of the big reasons why I want to become a professional wedding photographer – for the personal connection. At least for a moment, really getting to know the people that I am serving… and if I already knew them before, even better! It just produces more of a meaning to the topic of shooting… and for me, it just helps me perform better as a photographer when I am connected... It’s kinda like DJing - you really gotta have a connection with your crowd for it to be a positive experience for everyone. Portrait shots do have that personal connection, but it doesn’t have that intensity and emotion of a concert event that I feed off of… I imagine a wedding to be the combination of a portrait shoot and a concert event… Fast paced, high energy, lights and d├ęcor, with all the personal connection / posed-shots of a family photoshoot… ha… or maybe I’m totally off! Haha… well either way – I’m excited for this passion… The more I think about it, the more I want it. Clarity of vision comes very strong to me – not the way to get there – just the vision… the clarity of this feeling and lack of hesitation/reservation with the inclusion of a heavy dose of fear of failure almost always culminates in a head strong dive into something that changes my life completely… take for example, my choice to play HS football – extremely clear vision, plus zero football preparation, combined with total fear results in one of the biggest character builders in my life… or my choice to go to UCSD – With clear vision I stepped forward without an idea what the steps between ‘my life at the time’ and ‘the accomplishment of obtaining a UCSD degree’ would look like… I see the vision, not the steps – and when I step out on faith, BANG, God shapes me in ways I couldn’t imagine – all the way to the goal He gave me in the first place… Alright, back to pictures... :-)



Pastor Miles greeting the many people who came forward for altar call that night...


The Katinas are real good – a Christian band that brings total passion… if you ever get a chance to hear them live, I think you’ll love it… Hope you enjoyed this last set!! Feel free to say hello! It’s always nice to hear from anyone who stops by :-)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Tone's Rock 'n Roll Marathon

Winner of the Stud of the Year Award...

Tone would far and away easily win my Stud of the Year Award just by being Tone… and now he goes and runs a marathon in just about four hours and totally just grabs the award from the trophy case before I have a chance to even think about how the award ceremony should go! My original intention was to go to several waypoints along the route and catch him at different points of the race… unfortunately, the time of 5am is not very friendly to me… So, with the end in mind, I was at least able to document the momentous occasion of that crossing of the finish line…



And there is Tone waving to his adoring fans...

So I have never been to a marathon, nor ever plan to actually participate in one, but there was something about being at the finish line that gets you – a bit emotional – if you will… Not in the teary-eyed sort of way, but a way that has to grip you no matter how much you loathe the idea of running a mile or two, or twenty six point two… You are standing at the peak of the Everest of thousands and thousands of - in my opinion – crazy people and watching as each minute and day given up for this one moment completes itself in a ceremonial crossing of one line. It’s nearly spiritual, and if you ask Tone – it was. A consistent battle between two powers in your mind – one telling you to finish, the other telling you to completely quit now... one telling you that the cheering and supporting crowd is helping, the other telling you that all that support is just downright annoying… it screams spiritual, the same battles that run through the mind on a daily basis – it’s biblical… my post conversations with Tone later that night yielded the insight to an event that I may never experience in my own lifetime.. The closest I can liken his experience to is a season of playing football… that voice in your head… and you don’t realize the battle is over until your supporting fans greet you at the end for a meeting which verbal explanations can’t explain why/how you do what you do… I think we were all speechless.





That last picture of the writing on Tone’s arm was his feeding schedule… “goo, water, goo, water”… I’m telling you – completely crazy… I’m not too sure what motivates you to run so far, so hard, for so long, but there is a level of discipline, determination, and sheer guts that can only get you across that one line… I can’t even imagine... What a champ though…

And the last shot of Tone - slowing down behind the group just to soak it all in, pained and tired, ice on the calf - is a shot of a superhero… This guy did it somehow… and although I don’t think I’m crazy enough to run a marathon – cuz I swear it takes some kind of crazy - it kinda makes you wanna get up and run - towards anything, for something…

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Night Concert and Final Jamaica Post

May 2, 3 2008 – Nighttime

The night had all the energy of a rock concert, with all the Message of three Sundays of church. The artists of both nights, Israel & the New Breeds and Papa San to name a few, were some of the best concert praise teams that I have ever seen. They were straight FIRE. Just total heat and you could feel it... and see it... and I was one of the blessed and fortunate few to experience this whole thing ON STAGE for one of the evenings… That was a shot in a lifetime, and I took full advantage… Enjoy!




















Pastor Miles shared the message to nearly 25,000 the first night and 35,000 the second night! Thousands raised their hands to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, so many that our volunteer staff was overwhelmed with the number of people that wanted to come forward. The whole week was the most intense week that I have ever had. I loved it.

I hoped you loved all the images in this 7 part series! It is definitely an experience I am always going to carry with me… God bless!