BTS: Travel to a Happy Place

Oh boy, where do I begin… In March of this year, I traveled to Houston to be present at the opening night reception of my very first gallery exhibition. Three of my images where selected, and my work was displayed amongst 29 other artists that I proudly now call my friends. It was a monumental moment for me, and many of us, as we have never exhibited our art before. The funny thing is that I hand no intention of even submitting my work. I saw the announcement in our FB group, and thought, oh that’s cool, and left it at that.

Enter Bonnie Al-Rifai…. AKA “The girl who changed my life”. Through the above mentioned FB group, Bonnie and I met and quickly became FB Buds. We chatted frequently online, shared critiques, and the did the occasionally cross promotion ahhh shucks… we were becoming FBBFF’s =) She asked me what images I was planning on submitting to the gallery exhibit, and I told her I wasn’t…. well, she was all over me like white on rice! I won’t repeat the colorful words she wrote to me, let’s just say, I felt the smack upside the head in real life. It’s what I needed, someone to push me to just go for it!!

After I received my acceptance email, and peeled myself off the ceiling, I jumped online and booked my flight to Houston! This girl was NOT going to miss the chance to take a selfie in front of my very first exhibit. Plus, a whole bunch of other photographers from that group where flying down for the event, so I was going to have the chance to meet them all in person.


A few days before I left, Bonnie and Gabe (her husband and P.I.C.) video chatted me about this new idea they have brewing… the idea called “Creators Blok” – Here is how it worked… They chose 4 photographers (ME, Jenna Martin, Tatiana Lumiere, and Joshua Malik to be apart of this photography challenge where we all watched the same movie to draw our inspiration.  Once we had an image in mind, we shared it with the group, and together we all added our special something to make that image come to life.  The movie we watched was “Girl Rising”.  If you haven’t seen it, you MUST!

My inspiration was the story of Wadly.

Wadley is just 7 when the world comes crashing down around her. Haiti’s catastrophic earthquake destroys her home and school, but it cannot break her irrepressible spirit nor extinguish her thirst to learn, even as she’s turned away from the schoolhouse day after day.  Even though the world around her was destroyed, she found happiness in everyday.  See more of her story here:  http://girlrising.com/about-the-film/wadley-in-haiti/

After I sketched my image, I made a list and provided it to Bonnie and Gabe.  Here is what I needed:

  •  White Dress
  • Swing
  • A hole in the ground
  • Rubble
  • Ladder
  • Model age 6-9

When I arrived in Houston (after lots of hugs and “I can’t believe I am actually here with you’s”) we all gathered together in Bonnie and Gabe’s living room and got to work.  We shared our images, ransacked their house looking for props, and jumped on Facebook to send out casting calls for our models.  With post’s being shared like wildfire, we found the PERFECT little girl for my shoot! Kendall Felton.

When I first saw Kendall running across the field to join us my heart almost exploded… she looked just like me!!!  Same skin color, curly hair, bright smile, and go get’em attitude.  I just LOVE HER! and the TALENT in this girl… let’s just say that one day when she is famous, I hope she will hook me up with tickets to her concert!



So here is the image that we created.  My idea, but by no means could I have done this alone.  The friends and creatives that have come into my life are such a blessing!  I <3 you guys!!!




A video about the whole experience will be release in the future, but here is a short snippet of my editing process on how this image was created.