August 19, 2012

An Afternoon with Ace Fanning Photography

A few days ago I had the awesome opportunity to spend some time with a professional photographer (and as you can see above, a professional model) & his sweet sweet girlfriend. They are awesome. I could spend all day writing about how talented Ace is & how much everyone loves his work but instead I'll just tell you to see for yourself. Check out his website here or his facebook page here. I promise, you'll be inspired by what they do.

As you might know, I really enjoy taking pictures. And lots of them. But I felt pretty unequipped to do much with my camera & I wanted to learn more. I had seen Ace's work because a few of my high school friends have used him & since then, I have followed his work. One day, I messaged him and told him that I loved his pictures & would like to have the opportunity to shadow him for a day to see what he does & how he does it. Because Ace is awesome, he said "Of course!" but when the day came for me to shadow him, the weather was terrible & he had to cancel his shoot. So instead of watching him work, we met up and he spent 2 hours showing & teaching me all about what he does! 

I must say, it was such a cool experience & to anyone who wants to learn more about photography, do it. I came away from that short time feeling so much more comfortable with my camera & I feel so much more prepared to take quality pictures. In the short time we had together, here are just some of the things I learned:

Basic functions and capabilities of a Canon Rebel
The meaning of the shutter speed, aperture, & ISO & how to change them
How to focus on an a subject & how to change the focus
Where to position a model in a setting & how to position their body so that they look their best
How to take action shots & silhouettes
The difference between shooting in open lighting as opposed to the shade

{Thanks to Ace for being such a good model}

Anyway, if you're looking to improve your photography skills, I definitely encourage you to reach out to someone who's work you respect or admire & simply ask if you can shadow them for a day. The worst thing they can say is "no" but most likely they'd be open to the idea & would love to have you along for the ride. 

Also, for all you folks in Texas, he'll be in Dallas September 21-22 & October 26-28! Email him at to reserve your spot!

Again, here's his contact information so check him out:

August 16, 2012

Count Your Blessings

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Like so many, sometimes I forget to be thankful. I'm not just just talking about taking things for granted (which I am guilty of as well), but I'm talking about actual gratefulness. A gratefulness that creates a humble and content heart. A gratefulness that causes a person to stop in the middle of their day to thank someone for a friendship or thank the Lord for a blessing.
So I'm working on it. And I thought I'd share just a few things that I am so grateful for. 

{Awesome People}
Even though my family might be hard to handle at times, I couldn't have been blessed with a more generous mom or a dad who makes me laugh more than I already do. I also have awesome friends. I know everyone says that... but I seriously have been so blessed with friends that hold me accountable, tell me the truth, and are always so quick to pray for me & my family.

{Faith, Prayer, God's Word, & Beautiful Feet}
Without the feet that brought me the good news (Romans 10:15), the support system & accountability I have been surrounded with, & the incredible opportunity to communicate with the creator of the universe (pretty neat if you ask me!), I would be a very different person in a very different place.

I consider my creativity such a gift. It has allowed me to be able to do so many things and is the reason I have never felt limited.

I have been so extremely blessed with the opportunity to travel the country & the world.
More on this later, but it truly is something I am so thankful for. So, thanks mom!

I go to one of the best schools in the country & couldn't be more proud to call myself a horned frog. 

I am so grateful for the ability to choose joy. I am not saying that I always do, but being able to choose joy in any circumstance is wonderful.

Visiting Florence

As you might be able to tell from reading my blog, I spent a semester studying in Florence, Italy.  I have posted tons of pictures & stories from my time abroad, but I wanted to dedicate a single post to those who are traveling in Europe & only have a limited time in Florence. A couple of my friends have asked me about things to do & places to go around the city & so I figured I'd share!


{Piazzale Michelangelo}
This is a MUST. High up in the air, you are able to look over the entire city & its beautiful. I recommend going to see the sunset! Look up the time online & then make sure to leave plenty of time to get there because there are a LOT of stairs (you might need a break during the walk hike & people get there early to get a good spot. There are vendors once you get up to the Piazza but I'd bring a bottle of wine with you so you're prepared & don't have to pay 3 for a tiny bottle.

{Piazza Repubblica}
I love this Piazza! At night it is so lively & has such a neat feel to it. Most nights there is live music & there are a few restaurants that have outdoor seating bordering the area. Grab some gelato, find a seat & take it in.

{Boboli Gardens}
Everyone that came to visit loved the Boboli Gardens & I definitely recommend going! Its the backyard of Palazzo Pitti, an old palace but its literally one of the coolest things! When the weather is nice, people will take blankets & have picnics there. (I went on a first date there!)

{Climb the Duomo}
Your legs might not like you the next day, but its definitely worth it. The view is awesome & its definitely worth the 8. Make sure to wear tennis shoes & be ready for the hike! The lines are usually shortest early in the morning.

{Massimo Leather}
If you're looking to buy leather, Massimo sells the best leather jackets in Florence & gives really good discounts to American students.
Address: Borgo la Noce 13-15/R  Number: 0039-55218634


{Best Panini in Town}
You can't beat this 3.50 panini! Located at the intersection of Via Faenza/Via de' Conti & Via del Giglio (close to the Basillica San Lorenzo), you'll find one of the best sandwiches in town.

{Gusta Pizza}
Gusta Pizza is a must! Its located on Via Maggio which is one bridge north west of the Ponte Vecchio. 

Dantes Pizza is a great dinner option. They have great pizza & pasta and they serve free wine with dinner to students! They usually get pretty busy in the evening, so either stop in earlier in the day to make a reservation or have your hotel/hostel call for you to set it up for you.

{Acqua al Due}
They are known for their blueberry steak! Everyone I know absolutely loves this place.

If you've been traveling for some time & are craving American food, Astor has really good burgers & there are always a ton of Americans & English speakers there!

{La Rinascente Cafe}
On the roof of La Rinascente (a department store) there's a cafe where you can get a light lunch or dinner and it overlooks Piazza Republica. Make sure to call ahead because they close relatively early.

Tons of bars/restaurants have an aperitivo early in the evening. If you get a drink (usually 7-12€) you have access to a buffet with tons of food for the evening. 


{Old Stove}
There are a few around Florence. They are all unique & fun but I would suggest them for a pregame or a casual night out for a drink or two.

{Uncle Jimmy's}
Uncle Jimmy's is an Irish Pub & is located near Piazza Repubblica. Some nights it gets pretty packed but its a fun place to hang out before going to the clubs. Make sure to take a pen/sharpie with you so you can sign the wall!

{Lions Fountain}
Lions Fountain is a great place to watch sports, drink beer & see tons of Americans. If you're looking for a place to meet locals this is NOT the place for you but if you're in search of some English speakers, good music, & cheap alcohol this is the place for you. There are tons of t-shirts on the ceiling from universities over the US & signatures all over the wall so if you're missing your favorite college bar, this is perfect.

{Night Clubs}
YAB, Red Garter, Twice & Space are all popular clubs around Florence. Some are more popular certain nights of the week so check before hand to be sure you don't show up at an empty club while the real party is going on down the street!


{Tourist Traps}
Be careful about eating around the Duomo or other touristy things because you'll probably end up spending double what you would down the street a little ways.
The leather market will get you if you're not careful. Make sure you bargain with the vendors & if you're looking to buy a fake bag from one of the guys with all of their stuff on a sheet in the middle of the street... BE CAREFUL. Its illegal to buy from them & if a police officer sees you, you will be fined!

There are a few places around town where you can refill your wine bottles with your favorite wine for pretty cheap. Ask a local where they are located & they'll be happy to help you out.
Grocery stores are also a great place to buy a bottle of wine. Italy has no laws against drinking in public, so feel free to go sit on a bridge or in the park with a bottle of wine. Its totally acceptable. 

{Other Important Stuff}
People won't move out of your way. This was a total shock to me because for the most part in America, people walk on the right. All I have to say is either move out of the way or don't be afraid to hold your ground & possibly bump into a couple of locals.
Pick-pocketing exists in Florence. Don't be a victim to this. Be smart. Be aware of your surroundings. Putting your passport or $2,000 camera on the outside pocket of your backpack... bad idea. Don't let your paranoia ruin your experience but be aware & don't underestimate what people are willing to do to take your money/stuff.