Friday, June 27, 2014

Monterey & Santa Cruz Family Vacation {My Family Photos) Shelley Dee Photography

Last week for our twins, Thomas and Katelyn's 14th Birthday we decided to take a little family vacation to Monterey and Santa Cruz.   We started our vacation in Monterey in which we met up with the kids grandparents at Cannery Row.  We had a nice lunch, followed by some ice cream at the famous Dippin' Dots.  Being a photographer, you know I brought my camera :) I made sure to take some photos of the kids with their grandparents while we were all together.

I am so thankful my in-laws made the 2hr drive to come to see us while we were on vacation.  After spending the majority of the day with them, they had to head home.   We had a few hours before our dinner reservations so we drove to Pebble Beach in Carmel for the beautiful 17 mile drive.  The one thing I really wanted to do while we were on vacation was to get some good family photos and Pebble Beach is a beautiful place for them.

Vacation is the perfect time to get family photos because it is a time where families can get dressed up, they are relaxed, happy and most likely at a beautiful destination which is the perfect backdrop for any photo.  I was going to try to hire a photographer, but with our time being so limited I decided to set my camera up as I would take a few photos of just our kids.  If I saw someone that was also taking pictures of their family I would offer to take a photo for them and then ask them to use my camera and take a photo of us.   This is something that can easily be done in the Pebble Beach area, there were a ton of photographers out and about taking photos.

After we had a few family photos taken, we headed to a special birthday dinner at the famous Sardine Factory.  This restaurant is very fancy and the food is spectacular.  We all enjoyed the service and the food.  The service was beyond what we ever experienced, as a mater of fact right after we ordered I was starting to get an allergic reaction to something (most likely from my new facial sunscreen I used), the waiter had someone from the restaurant run to a nearby store to buy some Claritin for me so we didn't have to leave.  How amazing is that!   I HIGHLY recommend this restaurant if you plan on going to Monterey.

After a full day and evening in Monterey we headed back to our hotel in the Santa Cruz area.  The next day we had a nice relaxing day at our hotel.  We went swimming and ordered lunch by the pool, it was very nice!  The hotel had such beautiful grounds that I wanted to get one more family photo in front of their pond and garden area.  The colors of the trees and all the flowers were stunning! I am so glad I asked a staff member of the hotel to take a picture of us.  It is one of my favorite family photos of all of us.

The reason I am sharing this post is to let you know the importance of trying to get family photos while on vacation whether you hire a photographer or set up your camera and kindly ask someone else to take them for you.   If you do plan on doing this make sure to search for different locations in the area you will be vacationing, also packing a few coordinating outfits is a plus.  The last thing you want to be doing is trying to find/buy clothes for photos while on vacation.

I hope this helps encourage you to take the time on your next vacation to capture the special time your family is spending together with photos you can look back on for years to come!!

Here are our photos from our vacation…

 I Love that Papa still wears the shirt Thomas and Katelyn made for him over 11 years ago.

If you are out and about in bright mid-day sun I would recommend finding some shade
 or covered area's.  These photos were taken in a covered area at Cannery Row.  
I love how the light is streaming in through the walkway entrance.

 The Lone Cypress Tree at Pebble Beach

My husband took a photo of me so I could have a new profile photo for my website.

Dinner at the Sardine Factory in Cannery Row, Monterey
Love this one our amazing waiter took of us!!

and then I got one of our amazing waiter.

The beautiful grounds at our hotel the Seacliff Inn 
 Aptos, Santa Cruz area
By the way mention you are a teacher which I am a homeschool teacher and you can get a great discount on your room.  You have to show a valid teachers ID which I received from the HSLDA

An evening at the pool…

I am so glad I was able to get so many photos of our family vacation between these with my 
Canon 5d Mark III and my iPhone, I think I am going to make a Blurb Book for my coffee table!

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Success {Women in Business} Marin, Napa, Sonoma County Commercial/Business Photographer...Shelley Hohe

Being a woman who owns their own business I know it takes a lot of dedication and passion to grow your business.  When I received a phone call to take business photos for Lana "Svetlana Kim" an international business woman, speaker, political refugee and author of "White Pearl & I", I just knew I wanted to be a part of a new project she is going to be a part of called "One Red Lipstick".  One Red Lipstick is a documentary film, book and conference for woman that exposes the truth about becoming successful even when you feel it will never happen for you.   I can see why they wanted Lana to be a part of this because she is such an example of a hard working woman who overcame obstacles to achieve success.

When I met Lana I was amazed by her beauty and grace.  Even more I was so touched by her story and all she went through to get where she is today.  As a woman who owns their own business I know there have been difficult times where I felt like "am I doing the right thing?"  or "is this business really going to succeed?" Sometimes as woman we are the ones who are hardest on ourselves because as woman we are prone to compare ourselves with other woman.  I know I have been guilty of this myself.  Even though I have been in this business for 6 years, it doesn't mean it has all been easy but I am glad I stuck with it and pursued my dreams.  I am a huge believer that overcoming obstacles in your business just grows you even stronger to achieve success!

After learning more about Lana and her story it really motivated me to keep pushing onward in my business.  Meeting Lana and talking with her was just confirmation that if you truly love and have a passion for what you do, you should never give up!  I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to meet Lana.  Her faith, hope and love was such a great reminder that with God ALL things are possible!!

Today on my blog I would love to share her story in her words below.  You can also find out more about her by clicking on the title of her book above.  So it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to Svetlana Kim…

"My grandmother always reminded me, "Anything is possible."  I arrived in New York City on December 18, 1991, with literally one dollar in my pocket.  I had one dollar, and a dream.  I didn't speak a single word of English.  I didn't have a rich aunt or uncle to greet me at the airport.  I had no place to stay.  I tell you this because I know very well what it means not to have a steady job, and to have to clean restrooms for five dollars a day.  I know what it's like to have no change for bus fare, and to go hungry for three days.  I know what it means when fear controls your life.

Fear:  It is one of the greatest obstacles to achieving success.  There's no number—no limit—to the kinds of fears we must face every day.  And just think about the damage unchecked fear does to us.  Think about the tremendous energy we waste just thinking about fear!  Does it really deserve that much attention?  No!  That's why I call fear a "spoiled child"—it takes and takes, distracting us from our real goals.

When I came to America, I did so with an open-date airline ticket.  After three difficult months in American, the night before my return ticket to Russia was due to expire, I didn't sleep at all.  My pillow was wet with tears.  This was my last chance to go home.  Making decisions is difficult, but making a decision that will affect your life once and forever is nearly impossible.  I agonized all night long.

My flight was leaving at  nine o'clock the next morning.  When morning came, I made a cup of coffee and went outside.  But instead of heading for the airport, I took the first bus I saw and ended up in a nice part of the city, where I saw a woman pushing a stroller.  On impulse, I followed her.  A block later, she entered a building and posted a note on an announcement board:  Nanny wanted.

I could read her note!  Even though I still knew very little English, I understood what this woman was advertising for.  "Nanny" in English sounds like the Russian word, "Nannya."  I understood that she needed some help.  But when I turned around, she was gone.  I ran outside, screaming, "Hello!  Hello!"  The woman stopped.  I did my very best to speak good English—and I got the nanny job!

I came to America, like so many others, because I believed in the words of the Declaration of Independence:  That "all men are created equal" and that they have incredible rights—including "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."  I had faith in the American dream:  a faith in things unseen, the courage to embrace one's fear.  I had many fears, but my dream was bigger than my fear.  I learned to embrace my fear, and to release it.

My greatest inspiration through every difficulty I've faced is my paternal grandmother, Bya-ok, which is Korean for "White Pearl."  She has always believed that I can do, be, and have anything I want if I dream big, and pursue those dreams.

The word "failure" did not exist in White Pearl's vocabulary.  Instead, she called life's difficulties and challenges "life lessons."  I once read that every single pearl evolves from a central core.  This core is simply an irritant—a fragment of shell or fishbone, a grain of sand.  To protect itself from this irritant, the oyster secretes multiple layers of nacre, which, over time, form a beautiful pearl.  I think of this process when I think of my grandmother:  She experienced some very difficult events in her own life, but despite it all, she became one of the rarest and most beautiful of pearls.

My grandmother's parents were the first generation of what we call Koryo-Saram, which means "Korean person," the people who came to Russia during the Joseon dynasty.  They came to Russia in 1900, after a poor harvest and famine in Korea, to pursue a better life.  They were country people, very down-to-earth and hard-working.  They had no electricity or plumbing, no bath or shower.  These are the people White Pearl and I are descended from—people of courage, of tenacity.

The wisdom of White Pearl's parents was passed down to my grandmother, who passed it down to me.  Now I want to pass this wisdom to you.  I want to share seven life lessons I've learned from White Pearl, and have mastered on my own.  I still apply her lessons to every situation I face today.  Her wisdom kept me strong and kept me going.  I am who I am today because of the lessons I learned and lived.

As White Pearl would say, "Face every situation with faith, hope, and love.  Embrace all that life throws at you, good or bad; neither will last forever.  Life is a gift from God, and it's up to you how to use it."

Secret #1:  Embrace serendipity

My life is often a string of serendipitous events and good fortune.  And sometimes, when you embrace serendipity, you achieve greater dreams than you dared to expect or hope for.

Just as serendipity helped me get my first job as a nanny in America, it also set off a chain of events that helped me write my first book.  When I first moved to Washington, D.C., in January of 2006, I met a woman named Jean C. Palmer.  Jean was surprised to hear my Russian accent—she wasn't the first one, and won't be the last!  I told her the story of my ancestors:  How they moved from Korea to Russia 106 years ago to escape famine; how, in 1937, Stalin designated all ethnic Koreans enemies of the State and with barely a day's notice, had people packed into cattle trains and forcefully deported.

I also told Jean about my own journey to America—how I was a fourth generation of Koreans raised in Russia, and how I dreamed of coming to America, and made that dream come true.  I told her about the single dollar in my pocket when I arrived in this country, and about the difficulties I faced and trials I went through—and how all of this resulted in me being hired as a stockbroker and, eventually, moving to Washington.  Jean looked at me with astonishment and said, "You must write a book!  You must write your book."

Serendipitously, after Jean's encouragement, I met a surprising number of great writers.  They walked into my life at seemingly random moments, and each one asked me, "Are you writing a book?"

Jean connected me with her friend, Sam Horn, bestselling author of POP! Stand Out in a Crowd.  Sam also believed I had a story to tell, and she invited me to her house in Virginia.  But two weeks after my first conversation with her, I received a blow:  The company I worked for had closed my department; I was without a job.

I sat at my desk, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath.  I was saddened, but my guts told me that this was the best thing that could happen to me.  I cleaned my office and organized all my files, making sure that there were no bills left for my clients.  Then I walked into the CEO's office, calm and with a smile on my face.  I told them that I was grateful for the promotion I had received two weeks before, but that I had recently been considering my resignation because I wanted to complete the manuscript that I had begun to write.

They were surprised but appreciative of my work for them.  The offered me a severance package, and even joked that I should have my own TV show.

I began to write my book.  Life had brought me serendipity, disguised as difficulty!

Serendipity had brought Sam Horn into my life, and she encouraged me.  I told her about the time I purchased cat food at a Safeway for my dinner.  We eat a lot of canned food in Russia.  In Russia, we didn't have bread—and here, in America, I discover food for cats, in a can!  Sam said, "This story goes in your book."  I told her about the time I deposited my first check into a trash slot at Wells Fargo bank because I'd never send or used an ATM before.  "It goes in the book," Sam said.  "Oh, no," I said.  "I will look silly."  I was laughing—but I put it in the book!

Serendipity also led me to two more important friends:  John Tullius and Ron Powers.  One day, while looking at Sam's website, I read a post about the Maui Writers Conference.  Sam encouraged me to submit my manuscript—but the deadline was that very day!  I submitted fifteen rough pages and a synopsis about my potential book.  In less than an hour, John Tullius, the founder of the conference wrote to me:  "I love the story of the breadline and the mafia guy in the fancy car scalping airline tickets!  But each scene needs to be more fully exploited."  He gave me advice about including details, and conveying the challenges I faced as a young girl struggling to find my dream.  He advised me on how to expand twenty pages of manuscript to fifty, seventy, even one hundred.

Finally, he said, "Pour your heart out to me.  I am your reader.  I want to crawl inside your heart.  Let me know every intimate detail, even the stuff you don't want to tell.  Then you'll have written a blockbuster sensation that people will want to talk about.  Remember one thing a you write:  Fear nothing."

In Hawaii, at the conference, though, I was not myself.  Suddenly, my confidence was gone, and my attitude diminished.  All my classmates were seasoned writers and had completed manuscripts.  And twenty minutes before class, I discovered the worst:  My name wasn't on the list!

The instructor, Ron Powers—the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Flags of Our Fathers and  Mark Twain:  A Life—allowed me to sit beside him in class, despite the fact that I was not on the list.  The next day, he arranged for me to officially be in the class.  After my graduation, we became friends.

He told me, "The best way to write is to write, write, write and to read, read, read."  He urged me to interview White Pearl.  When the conference and workshop were over, I flew to Washington, D.C., went home, switched my luggage, and was on my way to the airport to visit and interview White Pearl.  Writing my book, I learned more about my grandmother and my family than I ever thought I would.  When I finished my book, my grandmother said to me, "Thank you for your courage for giving voice to my people."  My vision for a book was bigger than receiving royalties.  I wanted to share the story of 480,000 ethnic Koreans who live in the former Soviet Union today.  Until the era of glasnost and perestroika, the topic of the forceful deportation of Soviet Koreans was prohibited.

Serendipity led me to the people who inspired me to include my own story of success—and the story of my grandmother, and of the Soviet Koreans.  And with my grandmother's permission, the photographs that I used in my book were donated to the Asian Division of the Library of Congress.  Today there is a new collection with my book, and all the future studies and books on the topic of ethnic Koreans in Russia will be added to that collection."

With gratitude,

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Friday, May 16, 2014

Audrey + Charlie {Their Wedding Story} Marin, Napa, Sonoma County Wedding Photographer...Shelley Hohe

I met Audrey and Charlie through a friend of mine at church and when we met for the first time to discuss details I just knew this wedding was going to be exciting, beautiful and fun!  I love their story of how they met.  They were both going to the same church and when they first laid eyes on each other they both knew that they were going to one day marry each other.  Well this one day finally came for them and I could not be happier for such a wonderful couple.

This wedding was so special because everyone in the wedding party was family! There is just something that is so special to have your two daughters helping you get ready and standing by your side on your wedding day.  I could just feel the love this family had for one another and it was an honor to be a part of Audrey and Charlie's special day!!!

Thank you Audrey and Charlie…Congratulations!

Lifestyle, Portrait and Wedding Photographer serving Marin, Napa, Sonoma and Beyond!
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