The holidays have been really busy for me finishing up a few projects and then visiting my family in Texas for Christmas, but I’ve finally caught up on one of my personal trips to share with you today. Back in October, Matt and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary (of dating!) with a trip to New Orleans (aka “The Big Easy” and “NOLA“). The city is located along the Mississippi river and was established 1718 by French colonists. The city is known for their distinct music, Creole cuisine, and big street festivals like Mardi Gras. (Wiki) Back in 2005 they were also hit hard by hurricane Katrina that flooded 80% of the land, changing it forever. It was interesting to see how much of the city has recovered and how much still remains as it has always been.
Below are a few of the highlights from our trip. Please enjoy!
Pictured above: Live jazz bands playing on Bourbon Street.
We went during the week in mid October and stayed 3 nights/ 4 days at a cute hotel in the French Quarter, a couple of blocks from Bourbon Street. Over the balcony we could hear horses clacking by and music playing on the streets. I really loved seeing all of the ornate architecture with cast-iron balconies.
For our first dinner out, we went to Brennan’s, home of the bananas Foster cooked table side! The best thing I ate was a duck dish. We also got a personal tour to see their wine collection upstairs (see below).
One of the most popular sights is the The St Louis Cathedral. On my first visit, it was overcast and grey but the next day it was sunny and blue skies, so I photographed it again! This is one of the times I wish I bothered to ask someone to take a picture of us together. 😆
Right across the street from the cathedral is Cafe Du Monde- a pretty big deal for beignets (an English “fritter” is made from fried dough and covered in powdered sugar). I think they were filming a travel/food show while we were there.
More sights around the city below including along the river, city parks, and faded signs on an old brick building. There was actually a lot of filming all around the city.
Our second night we visited Commander’s Palace for a nice dinner in the beautiful garden district.
After dinner we strolled through the neighborhood to see the beautiful homes. We stumbled across the women’s boarding house from American Horror Story season 3 and the Eiffel Society with parts made from the real Eiffel tower in Paris!
A block away from our hotel was a great breakfast find at Café Fleur-De-Lis. It is where I ate the best shrimp and grits for breakfast (twice)!
Neighborhood sights down Esplanade. I love the colorful homes and ornate entryways. We even found some “X” codes from the Katrina flood.
The Kitchen Witch Bookstore where we talked with the shop owner for a bit and picked up a couple of rare Creole cookbooks. I’m really hoping to find a good recipe for bbq shrimp and grits!
Mc Hardy’s and Willie Mae’s and for delicious fried chicken.
Steamboat Natchez took us down the Mississippi river and back, it was really cool seeing coastline (and smelling) the Domino Sugar factory.
Last but not least, we took a tour of St Louis above-ground Cemetery #1, home of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau’s tomb.
Over all, I would say NOLA was a great experience and somewhere I would definitely like to visit again! A couple of places I would like to see next time include the Oak Alley sugarcane Plantation house and the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone.
If you’re planning on visiting the NOLA area sometime soon or would like to see more things about the history of the city here are some of my recommendations:
So, a couple days ago, my talented artist friend Naomi invited me to attended a taping of Let’s Make a Deal. It’s one of the shows you have the greatest chance of winning something like cash and prizes including trips, furniture, jewlry, and cars! I’ve acutally never been to a show taping in Los Angeles in the 10 years I’ve lived here, so I thought why not!?
Overall, I’d say it was a fun experience! If you’re intersted in attending the show, read this post before going.
SJP’s Top 4 Tips for attending Let’s Make a Deal
1) During the first round of Interviews, I noticed that all of the contestants chosen for the show had outgoing personalities, interesting jobs, and fun costumes. During the check in process they do a short group interview. Some of the questions they asked include your name, where you’re from, and what you like to do for fun. You should speak clearly and be engaging! They also like long answers and not just one word answers so if you say you’re from somewhere like “Chicago” give a little more details like “my name is John, my hometown is Chicago and I’m a huge Cubs Fan. In my free time I like to travel.” I think they try and match up the games and prizes based on your interests. They will also ask you what you like most about the show. I suggest at least watching a few episodes of the show before going so you have an answer ready!
2) Wear a fun costume! Since the show is on CBS, I would recommend wearing something their TV advertising would agree with (like, don’t wear a HBO show Game of Thrones costume or a costume promoting a show on ANY other network.) It seems the homemade costumes were most appreciated. Contestants for our show included a) retired banker dressed up as the Monopoly Man b) Gladiator Girl who was a nanny c) Yoga Teacher / Newlywed dressed as a red hot fairy d) a woman who worked with children with mental health issues, dressed up as a green fairy e) guy dressed in scrubs who was in school to be a human lie detector f) a collage aged girl from family set of 4 costumes they made to look like those tall balloon things they have in front of car wash places (no clue what it’s called but you might know what I’m talking about?!) If you don’t have a costume, don’t worry! They have some for rent after you go through screening. BUT, if you want to get noticed during the first round of interviews you should be in costume when you arrive. The doors open at least 60 minutes before the call time, so make sure to be early too!
3) Check the “LetsMakeaDeal” Twitter account a day before the show to find out what “secret item” you should have in your pocket! Be sure to keep the items in your pocket a SECRET until asked for it. If you are chosen and have the item, you will win $500 cash! For our show they asked us to bring an unopened bandaid, bottle cap, and nail file.
4) They ask everyone to be positive, have high energy, and dance a lot. They take phones away during filming, but you can have your purse or backpack under the seats. Bring snacks since it’s a long process! I was there from 8am-2:30pm for a 9am call time. They have a couple oppertunies for people to purchase snacks like chips, pasteries, coffee, etc.
Even though I did not get picked to play any of the games, I had lots of fun dressing up, hanging with Naomi, and attending the show! I will definately be on TV in the shots with the studio audience! I will try and find out more when the show will be airing and share that with you so check back for updates.
If you live in the Los Angeles area or will be visiting sometime soon, you can GET YOUR FREE TICKETS HERE! Currently, tickets are available until the second week of June 2018.
Some of my best friends are photographers. Often times, the way I make new photographer friends is attending meetups where we hang out and take pictures of each other. I find the experience to be both fun and challenging! Being on both sides of the camera helps me as a photographer to gain more experience on the technical side… and as a model to better understand relationships with my own clients, ultimately creating better images!
For this week’s adventure, I hung out with 30 creatives at a meetup in Brea. (Information attached at the end of this post, in case you’re interested in joining the next one!) Location: Carbon Canyon Regional Park with lots of good light! I especially love all of the natural backdrops with mountain views, big trees, wooden fencing, and small garden area with little paths through the canyons.
Gear: I bought my new Canon 5DM4 camera with 100mm macro lens, 16-35mm 2.8L, and favorite 50mm 1.2L. Post processing done in Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC. Here is a highlight of some favorites!
Last picture is a fun group shot of the attendees! Taken by: Will Chiang. If you are interested in attending a photography meetup, I suggest joining our facebook group: Photographers Social: Meet / Shoot / Eat open to both full and part time professionals in Southern California. Meetups happen about 3-4 times a year in the LA/OC/IE area.
One of the things on my bucket list has always been a trip overseas to Europe. I’ve heard so many great things about the food, history, and art. Well, for the past couple of weeks I’ve been on Cloud 9 traveling around Italy and France! Overall, I took about 355 images during my trip- I will eventually make a little coffee table book or a couple of prints for my office. For now, here’s a little highlight of my adventures to share with you today. 😄
First, traveling from Southern California to Europe meant that I had to dress much warmer than normal (forecast predicted some rain and snow) and light (I didn’t want to mess with checking in a bunch of luggage on the way there, in case it got lost and also lugging it around on boat/ train/ plane getting to the places we were staying). After some obvious basics like electricity converters, layered winter clothes, and personal items… I have a couple of my favorites for winter clothing and photo tips to share with you:
Silk Long Underwear- these were kinda hard to find, but luckily REI had some in stock. I just got 1 pair of the bottoms, but next time I would may take an extra set of bottoms and get a couple 2 silk tops as well- this would make doing laundry so much easier. (Thank you to Lisa for this tip!)
Yoga Leggings- sometimes I wore two of these together to double up on the warmth. I guess I’m a big baby when it comes to the cold, because I saw a few people in Paris walking around with bare legs or maybe just sheer tights. I, on the other hand, usually opt for comfort over fashion.
Waterproof boots- I got my suede boots soaked in the wet snow looking for Grom’s gelato in Venice and we happened to walk pass by a little shoe shop still open at 9:30pm. Lucky me! I found a cute pair of ankle boots made by MÉDUSE for about $50. I like that they are light weight and made of rubber.
Photo Gear- I wanted to take lots of pictures of the scenery, landscapes, and streets. For these pictures I brought my widest lens- 16-35mm 2.8L. Then for detailed shots like food, night time, and portraits I brought my 50mm 1.2L. Camera body was Canon 5DM3, with a couple of memory cards, batteries, and small video light (ended up not needing the video light at all). If I were to check in a bag for luggage I would consider taking a tripod, but passed on bringing it this time because I didn’t want to lug it around.
Please note, most of the pictures on this blog post were either taken with my professional camera or iphone6 – with the exception of the palace in Venice, which has been credited with source to the property’s website. Images from my blog post are not to be copied, printed, or published without written consent. Please contact me directly for usage.
For our stay in Florence, I found a cute Airbnb in the middle of the city with a balcony view of the Duomo! Every morning starting at about 7am, we could hear the church bells ring. Our host Guia was very helpful with travel tips from the airport and a gave us a great restaurant recommendation for delicious steak dinner close to the apartment. O’Vesuvio is my favorite pizza spot for the boar and truffle pizza- ready in 5 minutes! (Fun fact: it also happens to be where the cast of MTV’s Jersey Shore spent their summer working.) Next the cafe “Eatly” was where we found morning snacks like fresh croissant sandwiches, espresso, and it also has a great wine selection. Lastly, is afternoon tea time at Santa Maria Novella (apparently their products are made from nuns and the pomegranate soaps and candles are kind of a big deal.)
We visited the Duomo a couple of times, climbing up the tower and inside of the dome. The exterior of the Cathedral was just beautiful with green, white, and pink marble. Visiting during the “off season” gave me a few clear shots in the early morning.
Below- some street views. I thought it was cool they had nice paintings on the exteriors of buildings protected in glass cases.
One of the best things I ate in Florence was the Truffle Pasta from Savini Tartufi at the Mercato Centrale (pictured below). I also have a little YouTube video of the chef’s making the pasta HERE.
Pictured below is the state of David- masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture created between 1501 and 1504 by Michelangelo (who’s tombstone is in a church and pictured second). I spent some time at Palazzo Vecchio looking at art including the last 3 images below of classical paintings on the high ceilings. When I’m at an art museum, I especially love seeing how the art is displayed with their ornate wood carved frames.
Pictured above is the Ponte Vecchio– an old bridge with jewelry shops. On our second night in the city, we visited the bridge again to see the holiday Firenze Light Festival with the bridge lit up with color and classical music playing (captured below top right). I liked seeing the shops closed in the evenings because the storefronts looked like medieval treasure boxes. Is that even a thing?
Below- it was fun exploring the city and finding street art.
Venice is a city in Northeastern Italy consisting of 117 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges. To get anywhere in the city you either have to walk or take a boat. There are no bikes, horses, or cars. I found it fascinating that most of the city was built on a lagoon. It’s very common to see the tall towers tilting on an angle due to the unstable foundation. Some popular sights include the San Marco Square, Grand Canal, Cathedrals, Gondolas, and the Rialto Bridge.
During out time in Venice, we were lucky to stay in a beautiful Palace! It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Perched on the top 2 floors, we had 360 rooftop views of the city including the Grand Canal. (A very big thanks to my boyfriend’s mother Sue for hosting us and giving me a personal tour of the city! 💕)
(Above pictures of the Palace were taken from the property’s website. Check out those wood beams on the ceiling and red kitchen and dining room.) Below, Matt and I peeking out our bedroom window.
My first view of the Piazza San Marco Venezia was at night time. Over the course of a couple days I saw lots of cool stuff happen to the square, including the one rare day it flooded (pictured below). A fun little history about Venetian masks, according to The Mascherade’s website: “The masks are typically worn during the Carnival (Carnival of Venice), but have been used on many other occasions in the past, usually as a device for hiding the wearer’s identity and social status. The mask would permit the wearer to act more freely in cases where he or she wanted to interact with other members of the society outside the bounds of identity and everyday convention. It was useful for a variety of purposes, some of them illicit or criminal, others just personal, such as romantic encounters.”
Pictured above the Doge’s Palace and below is the Bridge of Sighs connecting the Doge’s palace to the prison. (Note: most people visit Venice, do it in one day and get the view from the bridge towards the tower. I was able to get 2 angles of the same canal with entry into the Doge’s Palace- over the course of a few days.)
Above is slippery steps into Giudecca channel, taken around sunset time. Below is the Ponte de Pugne (Fighting Bridge) near where Katharine Hepburn fell in the water in the movie “Summertime.” (I’ll admit, I haven’t seen the movie before, but now it’s on my list.) One of my biggest fears while walking around the city, was falling into the canal. I’m guessing most Venetians are pretty good swimmers. 😝
The Island of Burano was my favorite sight in Europe. Burano is a fishing town where the homes were all painted different colors to help drunk fisherman return home after being out all day on the water. To get to the island, you can take a private water taxi or public boat that will get you there in about 45 minutes. I say, it’s definitely worth the trip!
We had the most delicious seafood feast at Al Gatto Nero with fresh caught Halibut, razor clams, baby clams, scallops, risotto, crab, Prosecco, Soave from Veneto (white wine), grappa, sgroppino (a lemon slushy dessert), and coffee dessert. Lunch and formal dinners in Europe usually last a couple hours, so we just talked and ate and ate until our bellies were full! On the way back to the boat the sun was setting. I walked over a bridge and photographed my favorite picture from the whole trip (below.) Just WOW… right?! 😍🌈
Another gem from Airbnb was a cute apartment right on Rue Cler 7- a lively street full of cafes, markets, and small shops. While in Paris, we visited lots of museums including the Musée de l’Armée (they had lots of Napoleon things including his last Horse), Musée du Louvre (to see the Mona Lisa), Cathedral of Notre-Dame, a day trip to Château de Versailles, and night showing of Moulin Rouge (let’s just say it was nothing like the movie). Also lots of great food including 2 visits to La Fontaine De Mars (which just so happened to be the same restaurant President Obama and the first lady visited in 2009). If you ever go to the restaurant- be sure to try to the Ile Flottante dessert (kinda tastes like creme brulee, but fluffier.)
The next few sets of images are taken with iphone, because I didn’t want to bring my big camera.
Below- Matt and Sherri both doing their favorite things. Wine and Photography. 🍷📷
One of my biggest goals for Paris, was to get an amazing shot of the famous Eiffel Tower- an iconic landmark built for the 1889 to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the French Revolution. Paris is known as the “City of Light” but I’ve always considered it to be the “City of Love!” On my first visit, we went a few minutes before 7pm. While I was waiting in line to get to the top of the tower, the lights on the tower started to shimmer! Apparently, the lights shimmer for 5 minutes every hour. I planned for better pictures with the lights another day.
I scouted a couple of angles and decided wanted to get a view of the tower with carousel. I went out on my last evening and got these:
For those of you wondering why I might not have more pictures of myself during my travels… this is why. My camera only likes me. 😜