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.

Christy & Jess // Ten years

It blows my mind when I meet people my age who have been together for ten years. I love getting to know them and their story.  Learning about their kids, how they met, how they wanted to do something special to mark this new chapter in their lives.  

// We walked around the neighborhood and did just that.  

A few favorites of Christy and Jesse.  Happy anniversary you two :) 

Shoot for You // Stay Inspired

Sometimes as photographers we tend to fall into a pattern of only producing work we are hired to do.  It's important to step out of that and create work that's just for us.  Bringing to life those images that are floating around in our heads and into the camera.  Bringing together the people you love to work with, or in this case, you've never worked with, and create something you love simply for the sake of staying inspired. 

Always, always, always shoot personal work.  Always, always, always stay inspired.

A big, beautiful thank you to my team who came to my loft and worked their magic with me. 

Model // Marlee Olsen

Hair and Makeup // Karla Alvarez 

Stylist // Claudia Brady

Inspiration on the Streets // Seattle

Oh Nicole.  She came into my life at just the right time.  She pushes me, teaches me and always makes me laugh.  We spent four days together, shooting anything that inspired us and having one adventure after the next.

// Find your people.  Don't let go.

BFFs in Seattle

Best friends, Judianne and Kathleen.  Traveling from Canada and wanting someone to take a moment to let them breath, have a good time and have photos to take with them.  They asked me if I would be that person and I'm not mad about it.  

// Seattle as their backdrop and them as the show.  I'm into it.

Shoot for Flytographer

Seattle a la Liz // Pioneer Square (my new hood)

Hi guys!  It's been a while since this column was showed some love and since spring has officially come to Seattle, I thought it was a perfect time to shoot and show you what my new hood looks like.  Que the alleluias...

Three months ago (Cali peeps, can you believe it's been three months???) I moved to Seattle and settled into the most charming new neighborhood in downtown Seattle, Pioneer Square.  I had shot weddings around these parts over the last couple of years and never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever live here.  But I do...and I LOVE it.  Anyone who knows me and knows Pioneer Square would say it's so me and I couldn't agree more.

One of the first things I loved about my new little nook in the world is how convenient it is.  I can literally walk around the block to the post office.  I can buy the most delicious sandwich I've ever had (Delicatus you are something straight out of my dreams).  I can walk across the street and work at a coffee shop any time I want for a change of scenery (I love Cherry Street Public House). Sometimes my desktop computer and pajamas gets to be a little much - know what I'm sayin? Working until the sun sets and watching the cafe turn from gold to a pretty shade of gray is my favorite.  I can meet someone for happy hour at Good Bar any day of the week just by walking a couple blocks. Above all else, I have a beautiful blank canvas to shoot clients or for my own pleasure whenever my heart desires.  It's fucking magic.

When I first moved here I explored more north of Pioneer Square and deeper into downtown (I'll be posting about that area soon!).  It wasn't until I was here a good month or so that I started exploring my actual neighborhood and let me tell you, I'm obsessed.  I'm right by King Street Station, which is this beautiful train station with white walls, white ceilings (we all know how I feel about that) and beautiful original crown moldings (see wedding portraits I shot a year ago HERE!).  I mean, what?  I can't handle it.  Sometimes when I'm on one of my walks I go there and just sit for a while and marvel in all its beauty.  I like to people watch and wonder where they're going and honestly it's only a matter of time until I plan a trip myself just so I can take a train ride out of there.  Trains make me feel like I'm in Paris and we ALL know how I feel about PARIS.

I love seeing people walking the streets and how much life is going on right outside my front door.  It reminds me of my life in LA and that always puts a smile on my face. I've noticed how different things are when you live in a city that has actual seasons. Yay seasons! Although, I moved here in the winter and man, that was rough.  I'm built for the heat, yo!  People hibernate in the winter and aren't outside as much for obvious reasons (I've never been colder in my life #wuss), but wow, the sun comes out, flowers start to bloom and forget about it.  People scatter immediately outside to enjoy the sun and a beer.  Quality Athletics is a great place to do just that and it's walking distance to the stadium.  You can often find A LOT of pre game festivities happening there. There is also the most amazing little boutique next door (Velouria) that has all the jewelry a girl could ever want.  It's becoming a problem.

My favorite thing about living where I live?  The fact that my building faces the water.  I can see West Seattle in the distance and I'm just a water taxi away. The light reflects off the water onto my street in the most beautiful way and it seriously gives me life.  Taking in all these moments; the way the light hits my window at dusk, the lush green everywhere, the architecture, the way it smells like fresh cut grass on the way to a friend's house.  These are the things that make me happy and remind me I'm doing just fine. xx

// NEXT UP is Capital Hill \\  If you have places you think would be great to feature let me know!  Email me or leave a comment.  Ciao!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alana & Matt // Married at Strands Beach

My beautiful Alana and Matt.  They waited and searched with patience for the right person.  The frustration of dating, the doubt that sets in, the question if it will ever happen.  One day, in the middle of the desert, surrounded by mutual friends, they took one look at each other and suddenly, understood what the wait was all about.  

// Cut to five people on a beach getting married. A couple who can't stop kissing.  Vows that were said with tears in their eyes (meanwhile I was trying to see through my viewfinder through my own tears). It was like watching a movie you get completely lost in and all of a sudden it's over and you're snapped back to reality. 

A wedding heavy on the ceremony (plus a mini ceremony for guests) because that's what Alana and Matt are all about.  They focus on each other and what is important to THEM.  Expressing exactly how they felt about each other that day was the priority, which only made me love them more.  Couples who do what they want and not what is expected.  

No crowds to entertain, just the two of them making each other laugh and when they realized they forgot the rings in the hotel room, it didn't matter.  Enter seaweed found in the sand for a makeshift ring instead. 

A year ago when Alana asked me to shoot her wedding I told her I could see her wedding already in my mind.  I just needed to show up and press the button.  I was right.

Guys.  I love you so much.  Every single little cell.  I'm so happy and honored to have captured your beautiful day for you.  You inspire me, always.

Be Still My Heart // Alana & Matt

I can't express enough how much of a difference it makes when my couples trust me, let me do my thing and just let go.  When I know that they love my work and can't wait to see their photos.  When we can just play and I can let my mind run with idea after idea.  THAT'S when I produce work I can't wait to share with people the most.

So, with that said, there's more where this came from, but I just couldn't wait to share some of my favorites.  Part two of this beautiful day coming soon...

How I'm Doing // Seattle Life

Two months ago today (happy anniversary to me!) I packed up my entire LA life into two U-Packs (I encourage you to look these up.  I had never heard of them before, but it's crazy that my whole life fit in them), got on a plane and landed in Seattle.  I'm going to be honest with you.  The minute the plane landed I burst into tears and held onto my mom for comfort and reassurance that I made the right decision.

FYI - I did.

If you've ever moved to a new city/state before you know how daunting the task of moving is and how stressful it is to decide what to take, what to leave behind and what to expect when you get there.  You anticipate loneliness and an endless to do list in order to get settled and you lie awake at night wondering if this is a mistake.  You also know that every other day is the complete opposite and you're just bursting with excitement for your new life and looking forward to the change you know you desperately need.

Oh.  I know.  I felt alllll of that.  My family and friends were amazing and never got annoyed with my constant need for reassurance and hugs and late night packing sessions and bottles of wine to keep things light.  This all may sound ridiculous, but when you've never left the city you grew up in and suddenly leaving everything you know it's a lot and much harder than you imagine.

// I did it though. I'm here and I'm HAPPY.

The past couple of months have surprisingly gone by slowly, but in the best way.  The inconvenience of not knowing how to get around was hard at first, but I quickly learned how to use public transit and where the closest Target was to my loft (priorities).  It's so strange not having a car anymore, but I'm actually loving it.  In LA I sat in a car all day long to get from point A to point B and now I sit on a bus or take longer walks and feel more present.  I listen to music and take more photos and SEE more.  My eyes are wide open.

My friends here have been amazing and have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome.  I anticipated seeing them a lot less because, well, life, but they have not stopped checking in, making plans and scheduling work days together. I haven't felt alone a single day and that is a gift my friends.  I literally moved from one beautiful home to another.

However, I do spend a lot of time alone, but that's just part of being a freelancer, working for yourself and being a business of one. It's actually one of my favorite parts about what I do.  It's even more important to me now that I'm in a new city and constantly being forced to reflect on my surroundings or meeting someone new or planning shoots. I feel so inspired.  I was lacking so much of that back in LA and wasn't sure how to change things.  Well, I think I figured it out, guys.

I'm growing, I'm changing, I'm doing great.  I walk around my new neighborhood sometimes and can't believe I did it.  I finally got the balls to leave all my usual comforts and do something different with my life.  I went with my gut and it was the best decision I could have made.  

Can I get an amen?! If you've done something similar or have been sitting on an idea for a long time and not sure how to move forward, please tell me about it!  Cheers to grabbing life by the balls.

Friends in the City // Seattle

A friend of mine visited me just three weeks after I moved to Seattle (separation anxiety is real kids). One night I suggested we find a rooftop and enjoy a glass of champagne, because well, I'm always full of great ideas. As we walked to our destination I had this idea of shooting a group of friends doing exactly what we were doing.  A walk to a rooftop.

Two weeks later, the opportunity came my way.