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Category: Personal & Travel

New Chapter, New Country

This post is a bit overdue I’ll admit it. Back in January of this year I had my last day in the newsroom of the Albuquerque Journal. A newsroom that had come to feel like a second home. Journalists, we’re funny people. We know our city or our beat all too well, way better than our non-journalist friends. We become a second family when we spend such odd hours with our coworkers, sometimes on last minute road trips, sometimes just filing and editing late into the night racing to the final deadline. We eat (free) pizza on election nights together as the results come in. We celebrate when our coworkers have family milestones: marriages, births, and graduations. And also support each other when harder times hit.

I was only supposed to be in Albuquerque for six months. SIX MONTHS. I arrived in the summer of 2007 and almost immediately started counting down. Not that I didn’t love it. I did. However, I was in my “intern” part of life and expected to move on to another internship in six months and thus wanted to make the most of my short time there as most interns do. I had a blast. I took every opportunity that came my way. I climbed a crazy peak, flew in a hot air balloon, drove all over the state whenever asked, and tried my hardest to make some cool photos.

I ended up staying nine and half years. The Land of Enchantment really was the Land of Entrapment. I became a staff photographer, then the assistant photo editor, and then the photo editor. A lot changed in that window of time as well. A newspaper that was so focused on the print product, finally started paying attention to the web. (I feel like I can say this as a GenY-er who saw the writing on the wall from the day I walked in the door.) And with the push to web, the photo department had a chance like never before to be seen.

But, I’ve gotten off track…

About the same time as my maternity leave was starting with my son, my husband was offered a post-doc at the University of Montreal. So it was finally time to say goodbye to my Journal family and start a new chapter in Canada. So on a bittersweet Friday afternoon, I brought my 4-month-old son to work with me and said my goodbyes to the people and building that had welcomed me nine and a half years earlier. It’s been a few months now, and I still miss the journalism adrenaline rush, but mostly I miss my co-workers and comrades who made the daily battles worth it.

So, here I am, now in Montreal, missing New Mexico a little, but also enjoying this new wonderful city. If anyone needs a photographer, or a journalist, I’d still very much love to tell your story.

Holiday Photo Gift Guide 2015

It’s the time of year to make and give gifts! As a photographer, every Christmas one of my favorite things to give to family and friends are photographs.

Why? Because more often than not, the photographs that document our daily lives are forever hidden to the world on our phones or on our computers, unlikely to ever be printed and hung up in our own homes. Everyone appreciates a photo gift. Here is my personal gift guide with my top four options to give photo gifts for 2015.

1. Chatbooks

I discovered Chatbooks only recently. I ordered my first book yesterday, and even though I haven’t received the book in the mail yet, I have to admit, I’m pretty smitten with the concept and the interface (it’s an app for your phone).

Through Chatbooks you can assemble a series of books from your social media accounts (instagram and facebook) or your camera roll on your phone. The program produces books in 60-page volumes. Each of these books is only $8 (add $5 if you want a hardcover). This is great if you’ve been on instagram for a while and never made a book! Suddenly you can have all your photos in volume by volume editions!

I have already been making instagram books by year, actually the last I printed was 2012, so I’m a little behind. I created a custom book in the app and chose all my instagram photos from a year. I was done in 5 mins from start to end. Custom books start at $8 for 30 pages, then +$1 for each set of 10 pages added, and an additional $5 for hardcover.

You can also create a book from a hashtag. For example, if you wanted a book of just photos you’ve taken of your dog and posted on instagram, and you always use the same hashtag of #myfavoritedog, you would type that in when making a custom book. Poof. You have a book of just the photos with that hashtag!

The company also sells gift certificates, which would be great to gift someone you know who’s posting lots of photos on instagram or facebook!

*You’ll want to order by Dec. 14 for orders to arrive by Christmas.

gift guide

2. Artifact Uprising

Artifact Uprising is both an app and a website where you can print numerous photo related things: gifts, cards, prints, wall art, and even albums. I haven’t ordered anything yet, but after shopping around, a few friends and family will likely get some custom photo gifts from Artifact Uprising this year. If you create and edit through the app you have a few less options of gifts to create. The Artifact Uprising Mobile app lets you pull images from instagram, dropbox, your photo library, and your VSCO library.

*You’ll want to order by Dec. 14 for orders to arrive by Christmas.

My two favorites for gifts: the Wood Calendar ($29.99) & Wood Block + Prints ($23.99)

gift guide gift guide

3. Tree Ornaments

This has become a tradition of mine. Every year I head to Michael’s Craft Store and buy photo frame ornaments (approximately $5 each). Every year the selection changes. Some end up being kinda cheesy, but there’s always enough that are a bit simpler and more classic. I give these as a yearly gift to my close friends and always make one for our tree as well. I love taking them out every year as we decorate the tree and remember the past years. It’s a tradition I plan on continuing as long as I can.

photo gift guide_ornaments-4225

4. A classic – framed photo print

And the classic staple. A framed (or more modern, mounted) print large and proud, ready to be hung on a wall. I always suggest this gift, but make sure your recipient has wall space or is ready to switch out some wall art with some new photos before you hit BUY. No doubt these can be a bit more expensive, but they are worth every cent.

As far as where to buy prints from, I know everyone has a different budget out there, but if it’s a professional photo you had taken, I strongly recommend purchasing through the photographer. Most photographers have a preferred print lab that their computers are calibrated to and produce the best results in the end. Nothing’s worse than ordering a large print, opening it up and seeing that the skintones look nothing like the original photo. Grandma won’t be happy if her skin is looking a bit green.

Wondering what size photo to order for grandma? Here’s a handy guide to help you decide.

Photo Size Comparison - gift guide

Looking back

Growing up my mom took photos all the time. And each one was printed out and put in a photo album. Photo albums upon photo albums grew until the digital camera world took over. We now have an entire dresser full of photo albums at my mom’s house that I still love to flip through every time I go home. The special photographs were printed larger and displayed with pride throughout our house.

But what will my stepdaughter look at when she’s older and wants to remember her childhood in photos? Will she go dig up my old facebook profile to flip through photos? Maybe, if facebook is still around. Will she sift through terabytes of photos on old harddrives? Probably not. But that’s where all the photos live. I’ve made it a point to make books of my instagram photos; year by year editions that I love to flip through. Other than instagram though, I have to admit I’ve slacked on printing photos. I want that to change. I’ll start by giving memories to family and friends so they too remember that photos need to live on in print.


I hope this gift guide has helped you. Leave me a comment with some of your photo gift choices for 2015!

Why I’m a Fujifilm fangirl


Disclaimer: This is a post that is at least a year overdue.

The last camera to have the privilege of me hauling it around everywhere I went was my Canon 5DmkII, with my 50mm attached when I wasn’t on assignment. This all changed almost two years ago. My co-worker and staff photojournalist at the Albuquerque Journal Roberto Rosales had purchased the Fuji X-Pro1, I borrowed it and then couldn’t get it out of my mind.

It was like the first time I held my medium format Yashica 635 and knew that camera was going to be attached to me for a long time. However, with that love affair I was dealing with film. Which I love. But didn’t have the time and energy to keep up with the developing and scanning. I still have undeveloped rolls from it in my desk, more on that another time. But that camera went with me everywhere at the time. I hauled it around on many of my assignments for the paper and snapped one frame every once in a while. It was magical. It made me stop, plan, and focus.

This Fuji was in that playing field. The realm of “magical” cameras. I don’t believe a camera can make you a better photographer, oh no, but sometimes when you hold a camera you realize it has the potential to be a bigger part of your life than just a small piece of (often expensive) equipment. I jumped in and bought the Fuji X-E1 with a 35mm lens, right before hitting the road for the summer in 2013. I also packed my Canon 5DmkII, not yet convinced I would be completely devoted to using the Fuji. I used my Canon twice on that road trip. Once for long night exposures and once because I needed a wide angle lens. Other than that, the Canon was buried way in the back of the car under camp equipment and my new Fuji was glued to my hand.

Maybe it was just the thrill of a new camera you say? Almost two years later I’ve since upgraded to the Fuji X-E2 and added two other Fujifilm x-mount lenses to my bag. It’s still glued to my hand. Sure there are some small limitations and I do occasionally still drag out my Canon 5DmkII, but my Fuji is always with me. The color profiles, the size, the un-intruding nature of it, the built-in wifi, and the quality of the images SOOC are all amazing. I could gush more, but there are more technical reviews for that. When I shoot an assignment or an event with both my Fuji X-E2 and my Canon 5DmkII, the Fuji wins every time in my book. The Canon has been retired to the huge camera backpack I leave at home. I only use my Canon for shooting dance events, and even in that case I’m starting to use it less and less and trying to rely solely on the Fuji. The Fuji’s auto-focus system has improved leaps and bounds in the past two years, but for fast action it’s still not quite perfect. I hear word the Fuji X-T1 can keep up in fast action situations, so I have high hopes for future software and camera upgrades.

Updated 4/15/15 : I realize I completely forgot to mention one of my other top reasons for loving Fujifilm. The amount of firmware updates for the cameras and lens are astonishing. Unlike Canon and Nikon, both which I’ve shot with extensively, Fuji releases updates more often with great new features and bug fixes. So even if you’ve had your camera for over a year and they are releasing a new camera with new features, often (not always) those features will be available to your older camera as well through a firmware update!

For last summer’s travels I only used my Fuji X-E2 and I couldn’t have been happier. I drove out to California with my fiancé and then had many short weekend trips to California to visit him throughout the summer. When traveling so much, the Fuji didn’t weigh me down. And I didn’t feel limited. By then I had added the 18mm to my bag and could get the wide angle shots that I had wanted my Canon for the year before. Not that I really needed the 18mm by the way, one can always walk backwards to get a wider shot, unless there’s a cliff behind you.

The camera doesn’t make or break photography for me, as I’m sure another camera will come along and makes me just as happy. Practically speaking, it has also helped me eliminate the back pain I was having from carrying my DSLRs everywhere, so there’s that too. In the end, a camera is a tool and this tool is a great match for me.

Photos from summer 2014 travels.

Zion National Park Grand Canyon Zion National Park Yosemite National Park Las Vegas DSCF5949aa Montano de Oro State Park