Cassi + CJ Baby Boy Announcement

Cassi and I became best friends in home room on our first day of high school. We bonded over sharing our first period class together, math with Mr. Litzie. And now, the old soul is having her first born baby boy! 

You can view this gallery on my Gallery Page

Belles Spring Photoshoot

Loyola University Maryland's all-female a cappella group, the Belles, had their photoshoot Sunday evening to create posters to promote their upcoming spring concert, ChordBusters. ChordBusters is a spring concert split between the all-female and all-male a cappella groups. Purchase your tickets for their concert April 28th or 29th!!

Relay For Life, Loyola University Maryland

You’re much stronger than you think you are, trust me.
— Superman

The morning begins at 7am in front of McGuire Hall for Relay for Life committee members. 

All hands on deck

We start by organizing the decorations that we have been working on for the past two semesters. Every Sunday, Spirit Committee (our lovely sophomore co-chairs Sophie, Jeff and Madison) hosts a decorating event at 8pm. During this time, we create LUM bags and hope quotes. What are LUM bags? Hope quotes? These are essential Relay terms that you grow to learn and love. LUM bags are paper bags that can be purchased by anyone to then decorate like the ones below in memory or in honor of anyone who has been affected by cancer. These bags are used during our Luminaria ceremony at the event, where everyone at the event joins together to walk laps around the track illuminated by lights glowing from within the white LUM bags. While walking around the track, everyone is either holding their eyes shut to keep tears from rolling down their cheek, looking down at the LUM bags, or up to the walls surrounding them; walls that are filled to the brim with white construction paper painted through the love and hope of committee members. The papers are filled with motivational quotes, drawings, and uplifting sayings that support everyone attending the event. 

By meeting together each week and creating the event by hand in a small classroom, we build a community within our club. Each person who puts in the effort to help relay come together, makes it that much better for each survivor and caregiver experiencing Relay with us. 

At the event, our over-enthusiastic Entertainment committee creates the event timeline. This includes performances from our a cappella groups, the ukulele club, gospel choir, dance team, Irish step club, a 12-hour long scavenger hunt, karaoke, real life Mario Kart… and too much more to list off. Relay runs from 3pm-3am, and there isn’t a second where you stop moving. Friends and family come intermittently, there are two arenas to roam through, and no one can stop talking about all the good that’s going on around you. Relay has become an iconic event at Loyola. 

Once the countdown reaches 3am, all the walkers, participants, committee members, and guests who have stood 12-hours through the event gather to sit down and watch the Relay executive committee chairs reveal how much was raised over the past six months. Starting from the right side, they reveal to the crowd backwards the amount that was raised.

At the 2017 event, Loyola raised more than $160,000 for American Cancer Society. 

 

 

Adobe MAX

It's almost unbelievable that I have the honor to write a first-hand account of the Adobe Creative Cloud MAX conference. The week spent in San Diego seemed to have gone by more quickly than the plane rides taken to get there in the first place. The personalities met, hearing creative's wisdom, and the amount of information and inspiration I took in is something I have put aside for a couple of weeks, but am now ready to reflect on.

Getting There

First and foremost, I have to thank Loyola University Maryland for this invaluable experience and learning journey. I was sitting in my Studio Lighting class during the first week of *October* and I had just received a weekly email that was sent to my clutter folder from Adobe. I thought - oh, just another Adobe email about some super expensive software package that's on sale for 4.89% off. Nope. The subject line read "Don't Wait Until It's Too Late". And as I opened it, I read: Adobe MAX. The Creativity Conference. November 2-4. This is one month away. Maybe I'm naïve, but I had no idea Adobe had this ginormous, epic conference. I looked into it and started clicking through the conference's website. I said aloud in a joking manner to Professor Skeen that I should ask Loyola for money to send me to this conference. And she said "do it." 

And we did it - but not at first. Margaret Wroblewski and I wrote a descriptive proposal and sent it to various departments informing them about the conference, what it was all about, what we plan to take back from the conference, and what we plan to contribute to Loyola for sending us to the conference. We first submitted our proposal to The Center of Humanities and were rejected. It hurt, and we lost hope, and were told by many that we now have "practice for writing proposals" and "never know what it can lead to."

The Center of Humanities recommended us to talk to the Communications department to see if they could help us in any way. With the generous amount of money the Communications department gifted to us, we still needed more if we wanted to have money in our personal savings accounts when we got back. We were recommended further to Dr. Barnett, Professor of Psychology and Associate Dean, who enthusiastically offered Margaret and I a large sum of what we requested for funding in our proposal. Dr. Barnett offered us the funding so enthusiastically that I almost wasn't sure if he was being serious or not, and needed another confirmation email from him to ensure that he was really giving us this opportunity.

The Associate Dean's Development Fund, the Communications Department, and Education for Life were kind enough to back Margaret on our endeavor. They funded our travels, our housing, and our conference ticket at the student ticket price - which was significantly cheaper than any other admission price. I vividly remember yelling like a 10-year-old at a One Direction concert when I got off the phone with Margaret as we both read the email sporadically out loud to one another. We got this email less than a week before the conference. And on the to-do list was: book a flight across the country and find a room to stay in for five nights. 

West Side of Things

It took two flights and a 4-hour layover in Dallas to get to San Diego. Margaret and I found the cheapest round tickets possible and booked what we could to get there, even if it meant leaving at an ungodly hour to get to the airport, having an extra day before the conference, and ending up with a 7-hour layover in Las Vegas on the way back home.

We got to San Diego in the late afternoon, ran to a CVS to get some toiletries we could throw away by the end of the week, and slept off our exhaustion. 

The following morning we decided to get up early (which came naturally with the wonderful time difference) and explore what we could of San Diego while we were here. In one day we hit: Coronado, The Hotel Del Coronado, Balboa Park, Museum of Photographic Art, Cafe Coyote, Old Town, The Whaley House, La Jolla, visited some sea lions, Belmont Park, Mission Beach, Sunset Cliffs, and *deep breath* In-N-Out. We took a combined 1,800 photographs that one day and spammed our Instagram followers with multiple posts a day of the beauty of the West Coast. 

Spending some time in Ubers going from one place to another, we were able to speak with a handful of locals that thoroughly enjoyed talking about San Diego and the people that inhabit it. One thing that was said the most about a San Diegan is that the conversation starter with anyone is "how are you doing" - as a genuine question, opposed to asking "where are you going to college" or "what do you want to do with your life." 

The Conference

"The world around us is changing faster and more intensely than ever before. I think we could easily dwell on what's wrong in the world around us and feel hopeless. Or, instead, we could choose power - the power of creativity and design to make this world a better place. The power to captivate us with breathtaking color and to immerse us in the beauty of art on display…… to teach people young and old, and to raise awareness and advocate for change. To connect to the human condition halfway around the world and to move us and change our prospective and to bring surprise, joy, laughter, and to make someone remember this exact moment. This work, and all the work you do, reflects the artistry, the craft, the fashion, of people who are never satisfied with the status quo."

The opening keynote speaker Adobe CEO, Shantanu Narayen, set the bar of inspiration that rattled through me throughout the entire week, through every session, on my walks home, on my ride up the escalator. It made me ponder about how much creativity is within me and how much I want to show other people - I was literally on a creativity high. It drove me to want to execute my creative thoughts more, and to act on impulse. I felt this way especially when I heard genius creatives (as I like to call them) speak about their own work and how they believe they have impacted others with their thoughts, ideas, and passion projects. We (10,000 MAX attendees) heard from Zac Posen, Lynsey Addario(!!!!), Janet Echelman, and Quentin Tarantino on the big stage. The one speech that surprisingly stuck with me the most was Janet Echelman's, an experiential sculptor who genuinely wanted to bring comfort and a sense of place in public spaces. This particularly meant something to me as I am in the midst of completing a year-long Senior Project, a passion project that I was able to create on my own while also having it count towards course credit.

Ikigai - A Japanese concept for the reason for waking up

"Cultivate the Creative Spark" by Julieanne Kost and Chris Orwig was the first session Margaret and I attended, and it ended up being my favorite session of the entire conference. Julieanne and Chris are both photographers themselves, and I think this is why I felt myself so connected to the two of them as they were speaking about how they keep their creativity at a steady level, and not ever something that feels forced. Their session was balanced around the word ikigai, a Japanese concept for the reason to wake up. This word stuck with me as I began to think about my senior project.

Julieanne and Chris told us to create our own mission statements, ones that incorporate your own ikigaisomething you live out daily, and can keep to as you work creatively throughout your life. By exploring this type of mindfulness, I kept recalling my weekly meetings with Professor Schlapbach, my mentor for that senior project I mentioned earlier. Professor Schlapbach has spent multiple meetings with me reminding me to be mindful to my surroundings before I photograph them, to meditate over the space and/or place, and to call to mind what you are photographing and the reason for the photograph before I follow through. These particular meetings came to mind when Julieanne and Chris brought up the aspect of how our passion projects will be most successful when they are woven into what we do daily. Once we break down our own personal time, straighten out our priorities, and and reduce the chaos, clutter and drama in our lives, we can access our raw creativity more easily without all of these distractions. 

Being inspired by creative geniuses kickstarted my week in San Diego, is still driving me to do so today, and has helped me reflect on my own work inside and outside of the classroom. I am thrilled to be able to share more of what I learned, and images from San Diego with the Loyola community come Spring Semester.

 

 

Black Rock Farmer's Market

I don't want to talk about it, but I'm just going to mention that I really shouldn't be writing this post right now. I really should be packing up my room to go back to school. And no, I'm not including a photo of what my room looks like. My mom (the pretty lady holding the bag of kale and carrots) would hide under a rock with embarrassment.

Instead of getting my life together, I'm uploading a few photographs from the Black Rock Farmer's Market in Bridgeport. Yeah, Bridgeport. Despite popular belief, Bridgeport has some cute nooks and crannies. And my best example of one nook is the Farmer's Market. 

Let me tell you. If hipsters knew about this place, they'd be flooding here. A small, open grassy field with food trucks, homemade jewelry, fresh produce, a coffee stand (!!), henna tattoos, and many more small vendor tents with various personal items for purchase. There were even two younger girls selling their twisted gimp. That was a total throw back to girl scouts for me. Why wasn't I as smart as they are? 

Lastly, but most importantly, had the best egg sandwich I've ever had from The Tasty Yolk.

Below you'll see a glimpse of the market. You should come see it for yourself! The market is open through October 15th and is running from 9am - 1pm on Saturdays located at 481 Brewster Street, Bridgeport CT. #buylocal

Ferris Acres Creamery

Appropriately nestled on Sugar Street in Newton, Connecticut, this is one of my favorites places to visit while I'm spending time at home.

Not to give you a history lesson, but Ferris Acres Creamery came to existence in 2003, more than 100 years after the farm property was purchased. Yet, one would think this creamery must have been established long ago. The ice cream is too good to believe that such perfection could be crafted within such a short period of time.  To be honest, I can't look at other ice cream the same way. There's just something about Ferris' ice cream that has every other ice cream shop falling short. 

I can remember my first visit to Ferris. It was only a few summers ago, and I waited in line for what felt like an hour. The more often you visit the creamery, the longer of a wait you expect, and the shorter it seems to feel. You get used to it. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough has my heart. But don't let the average sounding name lead you to think that this is average tasting ice cream. Another favorite of mine is PBC squared. Yep, you read correctly. Chocolate ice cream, fudge, peanut butter swirls and peanut butter cups. Sold. 

Ferris doesn't only attract the kids, it's for the big kids and even for the pups. They have a special ice cream they serve just for their furry customers. 

I felt the need to capture the way I experience Ferris. Most often at dusk on a summer's night, tightly knitted inside a long and eager line, and with plenty of shadows I can't see beneath from the glare of car lights. 

I'm a 20 year old who loves ice cream with the heart of a 4 year old.

Take a peak :) 

J

Relay for Life

Just under a month ago, my home college of Loyola University Maryland raised over $180,000 for the American Cancer Society through a popular fundraising event called Relay For Life. This semester I came back from a semester long trip to New Zealand and sporadicly decided to join Relay for Life's event committee as a mission subcommittee member. On mission, I have the chance to sit at an info table outside of our dining hall and inform kids and professors about the event, how they can raise money, raise awareness, and sell t-shirts to fundraise. After a few weeks of being on the committee, I was asked by a sophomore, Katie Ferrone, one of the three amazing sophomore co-chairs, to create an Opening Ceremony video. A video? I'm a photographer, not a videographer. I wasn't sure if I could do it, but I agreed to the responsibility. I took the challenge, was in a total panic when it came to only four days until the event and the video was still being put together, but successfully created a short film that I was proud of that incorporated true heart in why students at my school continue to fundraise, relay and fight. 

Sherwood Gardens

As a transfer, I'm pretty late to the game in understanding everything that goes on at Loyola. This week, my two friends, Amanda and Emma, insisted on taking photographs at some tulip garden. This week was the first truly nice week of Spring and I kept constantly hearing from my friends that this tulip garden is beautiful and that I needed to go. It was evident from social media posts that this place was a great location for beautiful photographs. Amanda and Emma knew what they were doing to say the least. We picked our favorite colored tulips and hopped from garden to garden. The gardens are only a quick walk across the street from school and ended up being filled with students and people from around the neighborhood either walking their dog, going on a stroll with their children, or just relaxing in the park with some food or a book. The weather was perfect and so were these tulips! Check out my Portraits under Projects for more photographs from their shoot.

This is a real "laughing pic"!

The Belles

Photographing 14 girls in a fairly small studio was... extremely fun and entertaining. Loyola University Maryland's all girls a cappella group, the Belles, were in need of some photographs to advertise their upcoming concert which they perform with the all boys a cappella group, the Chimes. Chordbusters, the concert performed by both groups together at the end of each semester, usually sells out within a few hours of the ticket booth opening. The girls were extremely excited for the photoshoot yet some of them (the seniors) were feeling bittersweet about their last time in front of the camera and anticipating their last time on stage. 

Excellence Weekend

Starting on Friday, April 8th, I was able to photograph student's presenting their individual or small group research. There are various different divisions of research offered for students to delve into: arts, business, education, humanities, natural & applied sciences, and social sciences. Whether through an oral presentation or a poster presentation, each student was able to explain thoroughly their research in a clear and cohesive way. With each research project being the student's own, each student was 100% committed and interested in what they produced on their own. I was impressed with my peer's work and how excited they were to present their findings. More info about the 17th Annual Loyola Undergraduate Student Research and Scholarship Colloquium can be found here.

That same evening, I was able to photograph in our beautiful business school's atrium, The Sellinger School of Business, for the Apprentice House Reading and Book Party. I've always been intrigued of the architecture of the building, as it's referred to by some as Noah's Ark. I was able to photograph Loyola's published authors, Karl Dehmelt '18 as well as Wes Peters '16 as they spoke about their process of writing, read excerpts from their novels, and discussed what drove their passion towards writing something much longer than an assigned 10+ page paper for school. Each of the two boys were published by Loyola's own book publishing company, Apprentice House Press

Beginning later in the day on April 9th, I warmed up in the Humanities Building in the Hug Lounge & Refectory. Through a dim and intimate setting, students were able to share their prose and short essays about life on softball field, sneaking out of the house their senior year of high school, to finding spiders in a washing-machine. Each poet spoke with more confidence than I expected and had pride backing each word they wrote. The refectory was a perfect capsule for the Coffehouse Reading. 

Last event, but certainly not least, I photographed the Dean's List Reception in the afternoon on Sunday up in McGuire Hall, the place where usually important, big events take place such as guest speakers and big lectures. Families drove from out-of-state to enjoy the weekend with their child to support their recognition and accomplishments. Loyola's very own Jazz Combo also performed! Shoutout to my good friend Stephen Vanyo on drums!

Just Four Days

My sanity has been put to the test. I volunteered to create the opening ceremony video for my university's Relay for Life fundraiser.

A few weeks ago, I was referred to by a friend for someone who was looking to create a promotional video. I kindly stepped back and referred them to our school's video-production program, Greycomm.

I was then approached last week by the Relay for Life committee that I joined this year. One of our brilliant & bright sophomore co-chairs asked me to create the opening ceremony video. I sat on the email for a few days, tinkering back and forth between thoughts about how I've never created a video before and would be completely unsure of how to go about it and how much I'd probably let anyone down.

It's now 12:35am, 8 (technically 7) days until relay, with 2 days left of filming before having to turn my video into Event Services for preparation. I'm feeling rather confident with the footage I've put together so far.

The little moments like these help me remember inspiration usually comes when you're not looking for it. 

Last Trip

Sometimes, when you’re overseas, some of the best memories are made from times you spend with your friends just enjoying time with one another. It’s always memorable to be visiting the “must see” spots all around the respective country, but when you spend time with those you’re “stuck” with, you find a few in the bunch that stand out, - the ones you get along with well enough to get a bite out to eat together every few days, which end up turning into a nightly routine that you begin to look forward to.

A necessary weekend trip to Hahei, Coromandel was the perfect getaway for spending quality time with those that I’ve become close with on my abroad excursion. Staying in a two room cabin just feet away from the beach gave us the weekend to relax, barbeque, and get rather sunburnt. We’ve already been to Hahei before, at the start of the semester, and decided to re-visit our favorite getaway to finish off our grand abroad experience.

We stayed for two nights. We didn’t sleep much between going to bed late for the stars and waking up early for the sun. We hung out on the beach, drove to the ferry to take to town to pick up groceries for our barbeque and ate our fresh burgers on the beach and watched the sunset. We had spent weeks hiking up so many different trails, spent hours driving to our beautiful destinations, and a lot of money just to get to those places. We figured we wanted somewhere to relax this time at the end of the trip to kind of, almost, start saying goodbye to the country we had called home the last few months.

Both nights, we all ended up on the beach once the sun went down and the stars came out. I think this is what I enjoyed most about this final trip to our Hahei cabin. Although in sweatpants and sweatshirts, the cold sand on our backs served as a nice cushion for our star show.

I never thought I would see as many stars as I did when I was in Lake George in the summer of 2012. I was completely shown wrong once I sat on the beach in Hahei. I saw too many shooting stars to keep track and felt as if I was in a planetarium. I saw faint stars, bright stars, flickering stars… more “types” of stars than I could see from my backyard. 

Although not a photo from Hahei, this is a photo from Tekapo during my trip to the South Island, and the stars were just as bright.

Story of a Sunset

I think a sunset (or a sunrise) is as routine as something gets. It's funny though - it's a routine for the sunset itself, but it's not watched every day by the same people, in the same place, or even at the same time. While in New Zealand, I was able to watch the sunset from various locations all over New Zealand while the sun streamed out different colors from each place I was able to watch it. 

Watching the sunset became a routine for me. I was able to watch it from my window in my dorm and watch the sun warm up the clouds to a light pink. When we were away on the weekends, we made it a point to try to watch the sunset in our hometown that weekend. Some of my favorite sunsets were actually just within Auckland, just a short walk down to the pier, and the sun set underneath the harbor bridge. 

North Wharf, Auckland

Paihia, Bay of Islands

Mt. Victoria, Wellington

These are just a few of my favorite sunsets I saw in New Zealand. There were too many too count, too many to take photos of, and some that will just be engraved in my mind and will exist nowhere else but there.

By adding the act of watching a sunset into my daily routine, it added some kind of order to my day. As spontaneous and crazy as study abroad can be, the constant of a sunset helped keep me calm and was something I was able to look forward to - every day. 

Uni

Yes, it's pronounced exactly how you think it would be. Uni is short for University, which is what kids in New Zealand refer to as their college. 

Being at Auckland Uni was a complete shock to me. Just looking at it briefly, I was attending a University with 30,000 kids total, had lecture halls with up to 600-kids in attendance, and had only two papers that determined my grade for the class. No homework that was counted in, no tests, no quizzes - just two papers. That was difficult and a change, but a new way of learning.

My campus was located up what seemed like a giant hill by the end of the semester. The short climb each day had me break a sweat every time. The few of us found a shortcut somewhat around it very quickly and made it onto campus through a completely different route. Every campus building was located off of this one main road that had daily traffic traveling throughout it - which meant cross walks and even underground cut throughs. 

Auckland Uni was beautiful in the spring time once the trees that lined the street started to bud with green leaves and the grass became vibrant. The streets surrounding the buildings never rested with students bustling in and out of them between classes and appointments and study sessions. Even with a very business feel, I still felt at home and comfortable within Uni - I even started to reference school as Uni.

The building behind Ryan was our business school building, a very new building that took a lot of money to build...