Blogust 2014 : Happy and Healthy Firsts

August 1, 2014

Dr Visit

It’s that time of year again! The time where your comments (and shares and likes) are currency, quite literally. I believe it was the bright and beautiful Liz Gumbinner who coined that phrase 3 years ago (brilliant, yes?) and that idea was the impetus for Blogust; the inspiring and life-changing project created by Devi Thomas supported by the entire Shot at Life team and brought to life by bloggers like you and me. I can’t begin to tell you how much of an honor it is to be an “alumni” of Blogust, having the pleasure of sharing my story on Aug 10 2012. A story, not unlike all the others shared by the Blogust team, where each comment someone shared actually translated into a vaccine for a child who desperately needed one. A simple comment gave a child the shot at the healthy and happy life they so deserve.  And so the torch is passed.

Today, August 1st, I’m thrilled to announce that myself and all the other alumni are kicking off Blogust, round 3 with posts and Instagram pix and a Twitter kickoff party (Aug 1st 1pm ET- Join us)!  Blogust is a blog celebration where each day of August, a new inspiring blogger shares a story about the happy and healthy firsts that they have experienced in their own lives. Follow along each day and leave your comment on each post to be sure you’re contributing to the cause. It’s an important one. And all it takes is a comment to donate a vaccine (thanks to the help of Walgreens). It’s that easy.

In honor of the theme, I wanted to share a window into my world of happy and healthy firsts. Of course, when I think of that phrase, my mind immediately goes to moments like “first steps” or “first tooth” or even “first day of school”. I’ve long passed those milestones with my girls and am grateful for every one. Ironically, the firsts don’t end there. They just keep coming. And regardless how grown up my babies are getting, these more grown up firsts still feel as huge, as exciting, as monumental as those precious early firsts (if not moreso). And with that, I want to share just a few of the images that I was getting in real time via my oldest daughter’s instagram feed just a few weeks ago. Her First College Tour Road Trip. Happy and healthy, as she maps out the course of her bold and brilliant future.

College Pix on Instagram

How amazing is that? Be still my mama heart.

OK, I shared mine (sniff sniff) now you share yours. How about it? Leave a comment here today sharing your favorite “first” to date (or just to say hello) and in exchange, a child will be vaccinated.

Thank you

 

During Shot@Life’s Blogust 2014—a month-long blog relay—some of North America’s most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share stories about Happy and Healthy Firsts. Every time you comment on this post and other Blogust contributions, or share them via social media on this website, Shot@Life and the United Nations Foundation pages, Walgreens will donate one vaccine (up to 60,000).  Blogust is one part an overall commitment of Walgreens donating up to $1 million through its “Get a Shot. Give a Shot.” campaign. The campaign will help provide millions of vaccines for children in need around the world. 

Sign up here for a daily email so you can quickly and easily comment and share every day during Blogust! For more information, visitshotatlife.org or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Now, let’s get this happy and healthy party started!


A Story about the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration

June 23, 2014

On the eve of my departure for the Disney Social Media Moms On the Road event in Phoenix, I thought I’d post a little Disney Story featuring some highlights from the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration in April at Disneyland.

Needless to say, there were some magical memories made!


I’m looking forward to more moments filled with magic over the next few days in Phoenix where I’ll have the honor of sharing some photography tips and tricks with the attendees (squeeeee!).  I can’t wait!

Wanna create your own Story? Download the free Disney Story photo app. It’s super easy and so fun!


Photo Fun at Disneyland and #DisneySMMoms

June 3, 2014

It’s no secret that I’m a Disney fan. In fact, it runs in the family. But, you probably knew that already. What’s been so much fun is that it seems now more than ever so many of our many Disney paths are coming together. I can’t help but envision the Hub at Disneyland. In case you don’t know that story, all roads within Disneyland lead to the hub. Yep. It feels kinda like that. Disney people, places, events, opportunities have been popping up like hidden Mickeys. It feels, in a word, magical.

For one thing, I’m really looking forward to getting to share my passion for photography at the soon-coming Disney Social Media Moms On the Road Celebration in Phoenix.  I honestly can’t think of two things that go together any better than photography and Disney. Which got me thinking. What is it about Disney (more specifically the Disney Parks) that makes it so much fun to get ridiculously snap happy? Let’s see…the key word here has got to be happy. The Disney Parks are quite simply, my family’s happy place.

Being So Cal natives (yes, 99% of my family and extended family lives here) certainly works to our advantage when it comes to visiting the Disney Parks. Which means, we’re there a lot. And we’re taking more pictures than we know what to do with. And why not? Nothing could be more fun to capture than magic and make-believe! Am I right?

To celebrate the kick-off of the Disney Social Media Moms On the Road Events this summer, I thought I’d share a few of my Favorite Phone Photographs from Disneyland, plus a few words on the shots that might inspire you to shoot more on your next visit! Bonus: Over at Disney Sisters, we’re sharing phone photos captured at Disney California Adventure. Just because, we love both parks so much!

The Iconic Shot

Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland

True, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle has been photographed a gazillion times but you gotta get the shot! I have noticed that shooting it almost every visit, there are always external variables that change the way it looks. In this case, I was lucky to have some interesting clouds to add some drama. Capturing it from inside of Fantasy Land (instead of from Main Street) brings a little something unique.

On a Ride

Autopia Ride at Disneyland

It’s not always easy to capture a moving target. In other words, ride shots aren’t always that easy. In this case, we pulled up at the end of riding Autopia, waiting in the traffic (it is So Cal afterall) and as the car began a slight curve, I was able to call to my daughter so she’d peek her head out. The cars were still so I could capture a prefect moment of her very first solo-ride on Autopia. Focusing on her happy face turned what could have been a regular snapshot into something a little more special.

Sweet Treats

Dole Whip at Disneyland Park

After all these years of visiting Disneyland, I can’t recall ever getting a Dole Whip. That was, until recently. Now, I’m hooked.  When it comes to capturing a shot like this, I wanted the main focus to be the treat itself (which it is because of the cropping) but my favorite part of the shot is my daughter’s smirk. So began our Dole Whip love affair.

Timeless

Main Street Disneyland

Rarely would you consider processing pictures from a trip to Disneyland into Black & White but in this case, the monochromatic pallet made for some good old fashioned Disney magic. My daughter’s high tops against the texture of the Main Street grate helped up the classic factor.

 

Night Shots

King Arthur Carrousel at Disneyland Park

Disneyland at night is fill of wonder.  The way the park is lit up at night will make anyone a believer. I have such good luck shooting night shots with my iPhone, I never hesitate trying my hand at capturing a magical glow. From the glow of dusk to the darkness of late night, photos of Disneyland at night are some of my all time favorites. In this case, I choose to blur the lights with the selective focus tool in Instagram. It gave it just the effect I was after.

Giveaway time:

Phone Photography Project givaway

Now for some more fun! All you need to do is leave a comment here on this post, sharing your favorite Disney photo subject  (could be anything) and you’ll be entered in a random drawing to win a spot in the online summer photo class The Phone Photography Project and a copy of Elevate the Everyday: A Photographic Guide to Motherhood. If you love taking pictures as much as I do, you will LOVE the class and the book.

You have until Sunday 6/8 midnight PT to enter. I’ll announce winner on Monday. YAY!

I did mention that Disney Sisters are sharing photos too, right? Go check them out. They’re rad. My sisters and their pictures!

 

Updated 6/10: Congratulations Stephanie! You won the spot in class and a copy of Elevate the Everyday!


Breaking Barriers (and Other Things my Grandfathers Done)

May 7, 2014

When I tell people that my grandfather is a hot rod legend, I get a lot of curious looks. Legend? Hot rods? I know, it is curious. When people—in the ‘hot rodding’ know—ask his name, they are floored.

It’s a funny thing growing up hearing stories about your grandparent’s lives; it’s hard to imagine that they have a life outside of being (in my case) “Papa”. Fast forward to hearing these stories now as an adult and they take on a whole new meaning. When it comes to my grandfather Alex Xydias (Papa Alex) our family has been fortunate enough to have many of his stories documented for us. From articles to books, TV shows to documentaries, his inspiring story has been told in so many ways. And what’s even more lucky is that at 92 years old, he is still sharing stories—hell, he is still driving his roadster—AND is able to enjoy all accolades he deserves. Founder of the So Cal Speed Shop (1946), first to break 200 mph land speed record, film maker (The Hot Rod Story), etc. etc, “our Papa’s famous”, my girls like to brag. Indeed.

Photo of movie poster by my sister Jessica Fuselier

Photo of movie poster by my sister Jessica Fuselier

Tonight at 8pm on Nat Geo Channel the new documentary Breaking Barriers airs. My grandfather is one of the 3 incredibly inspiring men being featured in this movie that goes way beyond racing cars. My family and I had the privilege of seeing an early screening at the Petersen Automotive Museum the other night so I am confident when I say that Breaking Barriers is about passion, determination, creativity, courage and drive (pun intended).

Sponsored by Pennzoil, created by the Bandito Brothers, hosted by Tim McGraw and featuring Alex Xydias, Craig Breedlove, John Hennessey, Breaking Barriers is a fantastic film about the magic that can happen when you pour your heart and soul into something you believe in.


Alt Design Camp Los Angeles Coming in May

March 27, 2014

Alt Design Camp for Photography

I am beyond thrilled to be teaching the Los Angeles Design Camp in May. The focus? Photography, of course.

A few things: The Bing property is fantabulous (off the chain photogenic), the location is adorable (Venice is super-cool) and the things I’ll be covering include some of my favorite topics from working with natural light, to compelling composition, and of course, making photo magic, to name a few. The best part? We’ll get to hang out, talk shop and shoot together! Seriously. It’s going to be awesome. So, who’s in?

There are some more details about the LA Design Camp and some specific information that is Universal to all of the various Design Camps on the Altitude Summit website.

If you want to get a feel for the Alt instruction vibe via the Alt Channel, I encourage you to consider the April Alt on Topic which is all about photography and curated by the amazing Justin Hackworth. I’ll be there too!

So many great things happening, I can hardly wait.