The Coolest Thing I've Ever Done // Kissing at Santa Maria del Fiore

OK.  So. The story I'm about to tell you happened a year ago and honestly, I never intended to post this on the interwebs.  I didn't want it to scream "look at me! look at me! Attention! Attention!"  HOWEVER, after much consideration, I decided it's such a fun story and if it can inspire someone out there to be fearless and live a little, why not?  So, you know what? I'm doing it.  The time I kissed a stranger at Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy.  Here we go.

My friend Jackie and I had been traveling in Italy for about three days.  We had just hopped off a train from Rome to Florence the night before, not the least bit tired from our adventures together.  We pride ourselves on being the perfect travel partners.  We give each other space, we're easy going and zero control freaks about what to see next or what kind of agenda should be had every day (the only priorities are espresso, wine, food, repeat).  We let the wind take us and we easily meet people so it really is a match made in heaven.  Anyway, I digress.

On this particular day we decided that we wanted to see the infamous Duomo and The David.  We also decided that I needed to ask a local Italian man to kiss me.  Yes.  That is correct.  It was decided that I would ask a local Italian man to kiss me.  We would go about our day, enjoying all the wine, all the food and any spontaneous kisses that came my way...

We stopped for espressos and saw the Duomo in all its glory.  We waited in line to see Mr. David and agreed it was worth the wait (It's amazing.  Don't miss it if you're ever in Florence).  We stopped for lunch, a glass of wine and talked to a group of people traveling from Dublin while we we were at it.  We payed the bill and wanted to make our way to a rooftop view so the journey continued.  We turned a corner and found ourselves in the middle of a piazza and realized we needed to ask for directions.  Suddenly, the crowd parted (do you like the dramatic affect I'm building here?) and there he was.  An Italian man straight out of Vogue magazine sitting on his ricksha looking our way.  Jackie and I looked at each other and quickly mumbled, "he's the one."

We walked up to him and asked him for directions.  He wasn't having any of that though and tried to convince us to pay for a tour.  Jackie gave me a look and then backed away slowly, camera ready in hand because she was not about to let this go down without proof.  She's good like that.  Now it was just me and him.  Standing in a VERY public place.  This was it.  I turned to him and said the following, "Listen, I have this goal, which is I need to kiss an Italian guy before the day is over."  His eyebrows went straight up.  "And I was wondering if you would want to be that guy?"

His eyebrows went up even more.  He then lowered his sunglasses and said in a very thick Italian accent, "like...on the lips?" HAHA I'll never forget that. "Yes, is that ok?" I asked.  He adjusts his sunglasses once again while blurting out, "well yeah!" He pulled me in, brought his face close to mine and all of a sudden I hear Jackie yell, "yeah Liiiizzzzz!!!!" and then this happened....

Goooood times.  After what seemed 10 minutes, we came up for air and then just stood there for a minute in silence (not the awkward kind.  The good kind).  Jackie came back to gather my weak in the knees self so I thanked him for his delightful, sexy kisses and disappeared into the crowd of people (not before looking behind me a few times).   It's hands down the coolest thing I've ever done.  I'm laughing as I write this because it's also something straight out of a romantic comedy, which is ridiculous in the best way.

I guess the point of me telling you this story is a) it's my favorite story (ha) and b) to inspire you next time you're somewhere far away from home to do something outside of your comfort zone.  I hope you run faster towards new experiences.  I hope you say yes to things you usually say no to and I hope you walk away from that week or two weeks, or three, with a new fire inside of you.  I hope you return home from your travels not just rested or rejuvenated, but different.  I always look at traveling as a chance to get closer to the person I want to be, but more importantly, I look at travel as a way to KEEP my childish sense of self. I.E the story where I once kissed a stranger in the middle of Florence. 

The last five photos are courtesy of my daring, hilarious, beautiful, free spirited friend, Jackie.  We all need friends who encourage mischievous, wild, fun behavior, such as kissing boys in far away lands.  Jax, You are my own personal little gift in life and I'll cherish you always.

Frenching with Liz // Part Two // London + Amsterdam

Oh hey!  Remember when I got on a plane and flew to Europe and had the best time ever?  That was only three months ago.  I know, it's crazy.  Time is flying by, but in the best way.  We're all getting back to work and filling up on coffee and early mornings are a bit painful now.  Am I right?  Morning people....don't answer that. Well, here they are for your enjoyment.  The last of the Frenching with Liz series.  London and Amsterdam await your eyes and slow scrolling.  I hope this helps your Tuesday back to work and inspires you to do something spontaneous this year.

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Frenching with Liz // Part One // Paris

It feels wrong to be posting about my magical time in Europe in light of the sadness that is happening there right now. I almost didn’t, but then I thought, what if I kept that magic alive despite the current circumstances? What if I walked you through a 10 day trip that changed my life?  A trip that inspired me like never before? That is what this post is about. It’s about remembering the good when everything seems to be falling apart. Frenching_With_Liz_001.JPGWhen ones think of Paris an insane to-do list comes to mind.  My list however, didn't involve what you would expect.  I didn't focus on specific paintings, sight seeing or shopping.

My list involved an attitude I would live and breath when I got there.

 

// I wanted to stay present, wake up when I wanted, enjoy morning rituals, taste all the things I had been dreaming about and meet as many people as possible. I’m happy to report I did all those things and more.

 

// I woke up with the sun and walked to a new place for coffee almost every morning.  I walked aimlessly and let myself be surprised by the next corner block and what it had to show me. I introduced myself to random strangers who ended up sharing an afternoon with me. I rode a bike along the river and met a lovely woman who lives in Texas (hi Elise!).  I indulged in a crazy amount of sugar and bread and felt absolutely no guilt about it. I met up with a dear friend and instead of just having dinner we spent three whole days running around the streets of Paris together.

 

I let go. I allowed things to just happen organically. I was patient and let the day unfold without putting any restrictions on myself.  I was free.

That’s really what this trip was about I guess. Freedom. I left my camera at home (shot everything on my iPhone) and embraced that kid in me. You know what? It was easy.  It felt good to have no expectations. It felt good to sit at a cafe for 2 hours with nowhere to be.

 

I brought back a fierce desire to stay young at heart and always focus on the simple things in life. Things that matter. I may never see every dream or goal come to fruition, but what I do know is that I live my life to the fullest and that means I’m making my teenage self proud.

 

// Now please enjoy a lot of pretty pictures...

I hope they inspire you and remind you to take a friend to lunch or plan that road trip you’ve been “meaning” to do.  I hope you call that girl you’ve been thinking about and can’t seem to swallow your pride enough to do it. Listen, life is happening now. Right now! Don’t wait because before you know it it’s going to be five years from now. xo

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You can see more photos from the trip on Instagram here!  Photos from London and Amsterdam coming soon...

P.S I’m currently working on a new website and you’ll be able to buy prints directly from the site!

Cali to Paris // Solo Travel

When I was 14 years old I became obsessed with two things.  Frank Sinatra and Parisian culture.  I poured over books on Frank and how he got his start and of course bought every album he's ever made (that's a lie.  My dad bought me one every Christmas).  However, what I think had an even bigger impact on me was the way people lived in France, especially Paris. The pace of every day life // the language // the passion // the architecture // the sophistication and pride in how they carry themselves.  I fell in love with all of it.

I would sit in my teenage room and spend hours reading about what there is to do there, the history behind the Eiffel Tower and obsessed over the incredible fashion.  I just loved how looking like your Sunday best is a part of every day life.  Something I feel we lack in the states.  People wearing pajamas to the grocery store hurts my soul.  I'm sorry, please don't send me poison in the mail.

I vowed to myself that as soon as I could, I would go to Paris and walk the streets I had read about late in the night.  I would drink every cappuccino and eat every croissant and ride every bike and create every picnic imaginable and photograph every bridge I came across.  What can I say, the romantic in me can't be controlled.

So, the day has come.  I leave in a couple hours.  A COUPLE HOURS.  I will take a direct flight and step foot on that magical land.  I always thought I would go with the man in my life or a close friend, but as it turns out, I've decided to go alone.  There is something that happens to you when you take a trip solo.  There's nothing like it and i'll be experiencing it in a matter of hours.  Sleep deprivation here I come.  Give it to me.

And that my friends is my eat pray love chat for the day.  I'll see you on Instagram with updates on all things Paris!!  #frenchingwithliz

 

// A few photos from my trip to Italy four years ago.  A trip that time stamped so much growth for me, brought me closer to a friend and taught me to slow the f down.  I've been wearing lipstick, buying flowers every weekend and never get annoyed when the waiter takes longer than expected since then.  

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The Beauty of Doing Nothing + Mexico

I took a trip to Italy four years ago and one of the beautiful sayings they have there is "la bellezza di non fare nulla," the beauty of doing nothing.  It's something that has stayed with me because it's so simple, so true and so necessary.  Somehow, our culture in the states celebrates working endlessly and filling our time with countless to-dos as a wonderful thing.  Why?  I've never understood why non stop days seven days a week is always celebrated.  Don't get me wrong, I love my job and I pour over images daily with pleasure, but I don't want it to ever take over my life completely.  It doesn't define me.  It is a part of me.  

I think we often forget how important it is to regroup and just be still with ourselves, to be alone, to be quiet even if that means sitting next to someone you love and just be.

We can't be 100% in everything if we want balance in our lives.  That goes for our careers.  That goes for our relationships.  Love.  Family.

 

I want to live the most balanced life possible and that to me means napping (gasp!), cooking for people I love, taking editing breaks (even though I love it) or watching that girly movie on my couch for the fifteenth time with no guilt.  It can also mean driving out of the city with friends and purposely leaving my camera at home (no guilt).  

 

What does it mean to you? 

 

*Photos (taken on my iPhone ) from my recent trip to Mexico with two of my best friends.  We sipped moscow mules, took naps, danced, watched dolphins swim in the ocean and enjoyed each others company.  Doing nothing never felt so good. Beatufy_of_Doing_Nothing_001.jpg Beatufy_of_Doing_Nothing_002.jpg Beatufy_of_Doing_Nothing_003.jpg Beatufy_of_Doing_Nothing_004.jpg Beatufy_of_Doing_Nothing_005.jpg Beatufy_of_Doing_Nothing_006.jpg Beatufy_of_Doing_Nothing_007.jpg Beatufy_of_Doing_Nothing_008.jpg Beatufy_of_Doing_Nothing_009.jpg Beatufy_of_Doing_Nothing_010.jpg Beatufy_of_Doing_Nothing_011.jpg Beatufy_of_Doing_Nothing_012.jpg Beatufy_of_Doing_Nothing_013.jpg Beatufy_of_Doing_Nothing_014.jpg Beatufy_of_Doing_Nothing_015.jpg Beatufy_of_Doing_Nothing_016.jpg Beatufy_of_Doing_Nothing_017.jpg

Sailing Through the 4th

My friends and I thought it would be great to spend the 4th of July sailing in San Francisco and watch the fireworks from the boat.  It all sounded so romantic and fun, but alas, we all found out I don't have sea legs so I spent the day dizzy and extremely nauseous.  Has this ever happened to you??  It's pretty awful and I don't think I'll be sailing again any time soon, ha.  I guess what I want to say is thank God for good friends.  They managed to still have a good time despite constantly checking in on me, bringing me water, avoiding the high current as much as possible and helping me in ways I don't even want to get into...I'll spare you the details ;) Annnnywayyyy...I snapped a few photos when the day started (you know, before my world got fuzzy) so I thought I would share.  I'm also excited to share a fresh new look here very soon so stay with me, k?  Here's to good friends and a better 4th next year.

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A Day in Seattle

We all know travel changes you. It makes you better and reminds you of all the things you want to do with your life and for yourself.  You walk the streets of a new city and take in all the people and how their every day culture is a little different than yours (so much different?). You are able to put into perspective what really matters (yes, wifi and hot water always matters, but that's neither here nor there). Perhaps you figure out what you think does matter. a day in seattlea day in seattlea day in seattle a day in seattle I've been traveling a lot this year, especially to Seattle and its quickly becoming very special to me. I'm usually there alone, wandering around exploring, sipping coffee (God bless coffee), stopping for a glass of wine (God bless wine) and of course, shooting. It's almost as if the city is my friend I go visit every month. I sit at coffee shops and watch families go by with strollers and couples kiss across the street. I often visit the beach, which is always so crazy to me because there the beach is made of rocks, rather than sand like LA. People bonfire all day long there and I can hear music in the distance.  There are sail boats in the ocean and I wonder if they're having as lovely a day as I am. Are they thinking the same thing about me?  I sip more coffee and think about home and write down all the new things I want to accomplish (the list keeps getting bigger...). a day in seattleseattle photographyI grab dinner at some adorable quaint restaurant as I'm waited on by the sweetest person alive.  So typical in Seattle -  adorable restaurants and nice people.  Then I meet my clients as the sun sets. We laugh and get to know each other better.  I ask them if they're willing to run across train tracks and climb up to the freeway pass so I can get the shot and they say yes without hesitation. They want to get wild with me and play and have an adventure and that's when I know they're my people.a day in seattlea day in seattlea day in seattlea day in seattlea day in seattle

We say goodbye and hug four times (because once just isn't enough. Am I right?!) and I head back to my hotel, exhausted and happy.

The next morning I head to the airport a bit nostalgic, but inspired from my weekend. I think about how being an artist can be challenging, even lonely sometimes, but when I get home and face plant on my bed fulfilled with new images, new faces and new goals, I just want to eat a bowl of ice cream in my underwear and say...life is good.

And then I do.

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A Nod to Summer's Ending + Photos from Cancun Mexico

Oh Summer.  It really IS all it's cracked up to be.  Every spring I think to myself, this summer is going to be better than the last and you know what?  I'm usually right.  I was so inspired this summer and I realized that I shot more these past few months than ever before.  I went on more trips, I saw more friends, I threw more parties, I mended a broken heart (including my own), I watched dolphins swim in the ocean and I ate my way through LA.  The list goes on and on.  I hope the following reminds you of your summer and perhaps inspires you in some way.  

* The sun coming in through my window every morning telling me to wake up and get outside.

* Iced coffee I chilled the night before.

* Welcoming home friends that moved back to LA from the east coast and beyond.

* Dinner parties in my apartment filled with music, laughter, hugs and twinkle lights.

* Days at the beach that started at 11am and ended at 7pm (or longer).

* A Road trip with the windows down to watch two of your most special friends get married.

* A Road trip to your cousin's wedding in Palm Springs and being honored with the responsibility of photographing it for her.

* A sweet, short flight to San Francisco to visit your friend that moved and forced everything to change.  That first beer together in the bar never tasted so good.  Maybe it was because we missed each other or maybe it was because catching up over a beer felt familiar and that in itself felt like nothing had changed.

* Driving to the desert to photograph a girl with the most stunning skin I've ever seen and capture that beautiful warm light.

* Allowing myself to cry due to a broken heart, but better yet, allowing a friend in during such a dark time to comfort me (something that is hard for me to do at times).

* Taking walks at night with my girlfriend who lives next door to buy salted caramel ice cream followed by long talks on my couch.  Sometimes we laugh so hard I wonder what life was like before we shared a wall.  There is nothing like a delicious laugh attack.

* Singing on the top of my lungs while driving to orange county with the sun roof open and all the windows down.

* Getting to orange county and being greeted by an old friend who reminds me every single day that I'm worth it.

* Taking a long overdue trip to a beautiful country to lay in the sun with a friend.

* Stumbling upon a new friend at the beach who not only makes everything better, but shares cupcakes with me on a weekly basis and realizing they are one of the best surprises that summer could bring...

* Letting go of the past and allowing that sweet, warm summer air to take the pain away.

* The ocean whispering to keep my heart open because anything can happen if I just listen.

* Watching my bedroom turn bright tangerine orange as the sun sets over the city and then just like that, it is dark, cool and I am fast asleep (kind of like falling in love).

* Getting all your friends together for no reason at all and enjoying cocktails under a blanket of soft lights.  Looking around the room that night my heart was full and never have I been more proud of the friends I have made in my life.

 

Photos I took on my mini digital camera in Cancun last month.  We stayed at The Grand Mayan Riviera Maya and it was by far the most beautiful resort I have ever been to and I can't wait to go back.  We made nothing but warm memories there.  Here's to summer...

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