Travel

MABUHAY FROM THE PHILIPPINES

Things slow down around here in December. It's one of my favorite times of year... and I'm finally able to share about our trip to the Philippines. I'm not even sure where to start. Tyler and I traveled to Zamboanga City, Philippines to celebrate my brother and his wife. They got married and it was beautiful. 

We took a redeye from JFK to Manila. It was a 20 hour flight, with one stop in Vancouver. It was my first international flight and the longest flight I had ever been on. My biggest concern was the long plane ride, but it was unexpectedly pleasant. I watched movie after movie, and the flight attendant brought lots and lots of food. The hardest part about our flight was not getting to lay down when I was super super tired, haha. 

We landed in Manila with a 20 hour layover, then we had another redeye to Zamboanga City. We arrived as the sun came up. It was the first time I would be seeing my brother for almost 2 years and it was also the first time meeting Michelle, my brother's new wife. It was a lovely reunion and an amazing trip. We stayed at the Garden Orchid hotel, which I would highly recommend. I would also recommend that you take a trip to the Philippines. :)

Our first day started with a 6:00am breakfast. After breakfast we had a short bit to unpack and settle in. Later that morning we were off to the church for my brother and sister-in-laws baptism. We had our first lunch with all the in-laws were we had amazing food and amazing company. I ended up crying at the table because I was so exhausted, but managed to pull my self together, haha. I felt like I had been up for two days, whew. 

Our our second day we went to Santa Cruz island, known for it’s beautiful pink beaches. Everything was amazing. We took a small boat to the island and I was just sure we were going to sink. ;) But we didn’t. We were only on the beach for a few hours, but it was beautiful and peaceful. We met locals, took pictures, sat under trees and had the very best time. 

We did a variety of things while we were there and all the days are running together now, whew. A few of our our favorite highlights included riding in a Jeepney, this was one of Tyler’s favorite things ever and I will agree, it was so fun! Jeepney’s were originally made from US military jeeps left over from World War II… if you were wondering. :) All the jeepney’s we saw had open seating and we jumped from one to the other. When someone wanted to get off, they simply tapped the railing with a coin. 

The wedding was on Friday, so we had the week to explore the city and have lots of fun. We had breakfast that Friday morning, followed by hair and make-up... my first time ever having my make-up done, and our attire was all ready for us. Tyler and I were apart of the wedding party and slightly unprepared, haha! We were considered sponsors for the wedding and we were in charge of the veil. Both of which are traditional in Philippine culture. During our part of the ceremony, neither Tyler or I knew what to do, so one of the wedding planners helped us. During the reception we both had to give speeches too… and we were unprepared for those as well. I got up on stage and was completely speechless. My brother coached me from the side as I stared at him. 

My brother and Michelle, went above and beyond to take care of us and make sure we had an amazing time. Michelle’s family was so open, generous, and kind. Our favorite part of the trip was the culture and all the people. 

Another random thing… Tyler and my mom were a hit with everyone. Zamboanga City doesn’t often get foreigners, so the fact that they were obviously foreigners (they are white, haha) they sure brought a lot of stares. We had a great time and it was one of the most amazing experiences! We definitely plan on going again. xoxo. Samantha


THE MACY THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE + PHOTO TIPS

LOCATION: GRAND CENTRAL STATION 

OUTFIT DETAILS: Keen Boots  ||  Keen Socks || Fleece Lined Leggings  || Long Sleeve Base Layer (similar)  || North Face Triclimate  || Red Beanie  || LowePro Photo Hatchback  || Hydro Flask 

There was this one time that I went to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and cheered Tyler on as he walked the parade as a balloon handler for Blue Sky's Scrat balloon... ;)

This was our first year at the parade. We figured at some point since we now live in New York that we would venture down one year and experience it all. This year was extra special though, because Tyler was able to be in the parade! His studio had a balloon in the parade and he was selected to be one of the balloon handlers. 

Tyler had to be in the city at 6:30am, which meant we were catching the 4:55am train... it was so early. The city streets were quiet when we arrived and Tyler walked with me to a place in the parade route that I could park and wait for the parade to start. I planted myself right across the street from Bryant Park and then I waited there for the next three hours, haha! I anticipated needing to stay warm so I had plenty of layers on including base layers and Keen socks, ha!

I was thinking about all the different things I wanted to share about the parade, but I didn't want to give away any spoilers for those that may want to go, so I'll share some of my favorite moments. The marching bands were by far one of my favorite things, I think I just really like music and seeing all the kids march along the street blowing their brass horns and drum their drums. It took me right back to high school when my brother was in marching band. The balloons are maybe the best part because you actually get to see how big they a really are. And watching the parade unfold is really cool too. Seeing all the police officers come out and line the streets. Seeing people start to file up along the barricades... it's the little things. :) 

TIPS FOR WATCHING THE PARADE

THE EARLIER THE BETTER: As I mentioned above we arrived in the city about 6:00am. We had never done the parade before and I thought I would arrive to the parade route seeing empty streets and just sit there sad and alone, haha! But, boy was I wrong. The parade route was already lined with people... at 6:00am. Tyler and I walked the route only a bit before we found a place across from Bryant Park were we thought I could probably see. There was already a solid line of people in front of the street barricades. Those first row people, as I lovingly call them, arrived at the parade route around 4:30am.  

DON'T BOTHER BRINGING CHAIRS: The streets of the parade route get crazy packed and they don't allow chairs. If you show up at 4:30am, you are more then welcome to sit in your folding chair and hold space, but once it's near time for the parade to start they have you fold up your chairs. No chairs mean more people can fit, ha!

BE PREPARED TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBOR: Getting to know the people your standing near is beneficial because then you at least have someone to talk to. Because I was there alone I felt much better once I made friends with the people I was standing with. They were all very kind, all out-of-towners, and we did our best to protect each others spots as the parade route became more packed. Speaking of the parade route being packed... we were packed in like sardines. When I first arrived I was in the second row of the parade prospectors and we all had plenty of personal space and elbow room. As the parade got closer, and the streets began to fill with more people, everyone started getting way, way closer, haha. 

DEHYDRATION IS CONSIDERABLE: Once you arrive at the parade route you really don't want to leave. Once you have made friends with your neighbors they will most likely hold your spot if you need to run to the restroom or grab breakfast but then you have to go through the trouble of actually finding a restroom or standing in line for food. I ate breakfast on the train and had a little bit of water, but once I arrived on the parade route at 6:00am I didn't eat or drink anything until the parade was over and I was back at Grande Central Station. I went about 6 hours without eating or drinking and I wouldn't change it. Some of the ladies I was standing with didn't leave the spots either and they were there a little bit before me. 

TIPS FOR PHOTOGRAPHY THE PARADE

FRONT ROW IS BEST: If you are able to get to the parade early enough that you can be in the front row then you're golden. Being in the front row means you can actually look down the parade route and get different perspectives of the parade. Because I was in the second row and kind of short (haha!) I was only able to take photos as the parade passed right in front of me. When Tyler's balloon got close the friends I had made, made room for me to squeeze up into the front row so I was able to snap photos of Tyler's balloon coming down the parade line. 

CAPTURE THE ACTION: Some of my favorite photos to take were of the marching bands flag team because I was able to actually capture action in the photo. There were plenty of times when a band or group walked by and they were doing just that, walking. But the times when a group was performing, being able to capture them in action brings your audience right to the parade with you. 

BE CAUTIOUS: ... With your elbows, haha! But seriously, things get really snuggling on the parade line. There were a few times I accidentally ran into someone. When things get crowded ask with kindness. There was one time I really wanted to look down the parade line to take a photo. The girl in front of my was standing on the street while I was on the side walk. She was just short enough that I was able to lean over her and snap a photo. I asked kindly before just leaning over her because that would have been creepy, haha! 

KNOW YOUR GEAR BEFORE YOU GO: Unless you are taking multiple camera bodies, switching out lenses really isn't ideal. Once I took my camera out of my bag I didn't get into my bag again because it was too crowded. I determined ahead of time which gear I would take and which I thought would best for the parade. I took my Nikon D700 (it's counterpart) paired with my 50mm. Because the D700 is full frame the 50mm is a good pair to get everything in frame. If you are shooting with a crop sensor camera body the 50mm, might be a little tight and I would recommend the 35mm

Once the parade ends the crowds disperse and everyone goes their separate was. Because Tyler was in the parade he was a part of deflating the ballon. We had planned at meeting somewhere after the parade, versus me just waiting on the parade line. I hung out in Bryant Park once the parade ended, but didn't stay long as it started to rain. I was so proud of myself because I was fully prepared for rain, haha! The outer shelf of my North Face Triclimate is a rain jacket and my LowePro Photo Hatchback has a rain cover. I walked down the city streets towards Grand Central and waited for Tyler to catch our train home. We had the very best time! xoxo. Samantha 

P.S. Shout out to Lauren, Tyler's co-worker, for capturing Tyler holding the Scrat balloon! 


BEHIND THE SCENES AT LOYAL COFFEE

You know you've found your tribe when...

If the majority of your blog career has been spent alone (no other bloggers live in your town) and then you find your self spending a weekend with other bloggers and photographers... you finally feel like you've found your tribe. 

There's nothing like spending time with a group of others who completely understand what you're doing and why you're doing it. They know why you're pulling out your camera. They know why you're taking a photo from five different angles. They know why you keep staring up at the sky... I look at the sky a lot, haha! They understand why you've spend a whole hour in one place just taking pictures. 

Conversations about the best lighting are normal. Conversations about where to sit are normal. Asking to move a drink, shift just a little to the left, look a little to the right are normal. Asking someone to sit tight or hold that pose for just a bit longer... it's all normal. I just love that. 

Those moments, were these moment at Loyal Coffee and it's a perfect opportunity to take a peak behind the scenes. I love the two pictures just below. Meg snapped a picture of me taking a picture of Beth's drink and you can see the "after" photo just below of Beth's drink.

What I loved most about these moments was watching how everyone's creativity unfolded. Seeing how each person viewed an experience and seeing how they chose to capture that moment through their lens. For the most part, I shoot rather methodically. I think through what the light is doing, I look around at backgrounds, distractions, people, and composition. I'll actually hold my camera up to my face and see my surroundings through my lens. Not all moments I capture are like this, sometimes I simply see the moment, like this one. But a lot of the time is methodical. 

One thing I loved watching, was Beth. Beth see's people and moments and captures them unabashedly. She'll view one moment and capture it 5 different ways. This was so inspiring to me, it challenged and encouraged me as a photographer. It helped me to see things differently through my lens. 

Look at that photo below... that might be my thinking face, haha! One thing I love about this collection of photos is that you get to see what it looks like behind the camera. In one of the photos below, I was snapping pictures of Beth and Meg was trying to sneak through behind. You can totally see her trying to get by. I love the photos below of MegBeth did an amazing job capturing great lifestyle photos.  

Featured Items: (Me) Between Two Pines Pullover c/o || (Me) AEO Denim Skinnies || (Me) Punch Vintage Leather Cuff c/o || (Me) Natalie Borton Necklace c/o || (Beth) Punch Vintage Leather Cuff c/o || (Beth) Let's Get Lost Tee c/o || (Amy) Mountain Time Tee c/o

*Save 10% on Natalie Borton jewelry when you use this link! Woot!

Moments like this weekend are important and necessary. Jim Rohn once said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.” This really makes you think doesn't it? Who are those five people in your life? How is the time your spending with them effecting who you are? If I could spend time with these friends all the time I would and I definiltey believe it would change the way I grow and how my business grows, but I'll take what I can get. ;) xoxo. Samanth

Photo Credits: Elah Tree || Oak + Oats || A Love Photography || Rivers + Roads


GOLDEN COLORADO ASPENS

Blue skies and golden aspens, that's what Fall is made of, right? :) If I could hang out with photographers and bloggers every weekend I would be over the moon. Hiking out next to the water, stopping to take photos, getting lost under the swinging branches of golden aspens, and laughing until we can laugh no more.

Meg and Beth had planned a few specific outings while we were visiting and Crystal Lake was one of them. It was absolutely beautiful; the temperature was just right, we had bright blue skies, and beautiful golden aspens. I totally stole this quote from Meg's insta, because it's just put so well.

"And all at once (they never knew exactly how it happened) the face seemed to be a sea of tossing gold in which they were floating, and such a sweetness and power rolled over them that they felt they had never really been happy or wise or good, or even alive and awake before. And the memory of that moment stayed with them always, so that as long as they both lived, if ever they were sad or afraid or angry, the thought of all that golden goodness, and the feeling that it was still there, quite close, just around the corner or just behind some door, would come back and make them sure, deep down inside, that all was well.” -The Magician's Nephew

We had the best time snapping photos. I took pictures of Beth. Beth and Amy took pictures of me. Amy took pictures of Meg. Meg took pictures of Amy. We laughed, we learned, and we loved every minute of it.

One of the best things about visiting Colorado was getting to spend time with Beth, Meg, and Amy. I learned so much, was inspired in so many ways, and I laughed until I couldn't laugh anymore. xoxo. Samantha

Photo Credits: Elah Tree ||  Oak + Oats || A Love Photography