My Photography

Monday, June 29, 2015

You know you're home in the US when...

...the huge South Dakota sky greets you with beautiful skyscapes,

that constantly change.

...giant baskets of candy greet your supermarket entryway.

...this is your parents' new house, long-awaited and more perfect than anyone dared to hope for.

...this is the place where you learn of the existence of strawberry salsa, make it, and almost die from the pleasure of being able to eat salsa for the first time in five years! get a haircut for the first time in two years and a lil sis does a before and after pic. (My hair in the after picture is a bit funky but hey, it happens.)

...this is where you eat breakfast.

...your breakfast is the best yogurt ever, the best honey ever, blackberries and strawberries,

including a homemade latte made with frothed almond milk. Mm mm delish.

...this gorgeous dining room is your current workstation,

and this is your inspiring view!

I'm so incredibly happy and thankful to be home for two months this summer!! I've been extremely busy up to now with daily walks around our new historic neighborhood, garage sale-ing, taking tons of pictures with phones and cameras, including of visiting Isabel and her friends (stay tuned for that!), doing tons of summer reading, and of course eating delicious food. It's gonna be one good summer.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Photographing a family of three

I'm in the USA!! I had a veeery long but surprisingly smooth trip, and am so happy to be home, and in my family's new house! They moved just a week before I got here, and we're all thrilled with the house (they were house hunting for almost two years while living in temporary housing, so this move has been long awaited). I'll be doing a nice big post about it soon, but before I get too far from Morocco I want to share the pictures I took of my beautiful friend Jessica and her family last Friday!

The photoshoot was a breeze and we all really enjoyed the time we spent doing it. Can you believe that all of these were taken in their living room? I couldn't ask for better light. My sister thought it was in a studio!

Recognize these??

Little Noor is just the cutest.

I see Noor at least once a week, and now that he's 3 months old he recognizes me and smiles huge when I come to visit. It's a wonderful feeling.

They have such a beautiful family.


Here's daddy being a model...

and now it's mommy's turn!

 He's getting so big, at just three months, it's incredible. But seeing the way he eats it makes sense!

Noor is an incredibly alert and curious baby. From the very start his eyes have been open wide, staring at the world around and taking everything in!

Family peace, family love.

Snuggles with dad,

snuggles with mom.

He just recently discovered his hands, and watching him look at them and play with them is so funyou can feel his fascination!

Thank you Jessica, Ahmed, and Noor! I feel so privileged to be able to capture your family's growth and development like this! We've done a pregnancy shoot, a three week old shoot and now three months, so I guess six months in September is next. I can't wait to see how much he'll have grown by the time I get back to Morocco!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

On the road... except not.

I'm almost on the last leg of my crazy 56 hour journey from Casablanca to Brookings, South Dakota, currently sitting in my big brother's apartment in Chicago. It has been quite a trip, but (knock on wood) everything has gone smoothly so far! Here are some picture highlights.

On the 8 hour flight from Casablanca to Doha, flying over Saudi Arabia. These are irrigated crops. I always have fun flying over Saudi because I play a game looking out the window trying to find signs of human life. Most of the time there isn't even a road! We don't realize how huge and empty the country is.

Arrived in Doha! I thought it'd be a lot like Dubai but it was a bit less ostentatious and gargantuan. I quite liked it actually.

The architecture there was very cool.

My hotel, courtesy of Qatar airways, was goooooorgeous. Here's the lobby (decorated for Ramadan).

And again.

Going into my room...

I might've only slept for 4 hours, but let me tell you, I slept WELL.

The room was huge and wonderful. I took an amazing bath and had a room service dinner. Thanks Qatar Airways... I'll be flying with you again!!

The Doha airport, Hamad International, was hands down the best airport I've been to. The staff are incredibly helpful and nice, there was lots to see and do, the layout was very user friendly (unlike the sprawling Dubai airport) and even the gift shop prices were good! Maybe I'm giving the airline/country free publicity, and I'm pretty sure that's what they want since my ticket was so cheap (they just want people to like and be familiar with Qatar prior to the world Cup!), but hey I'm just telling the truth.

14 hours later....

Even though big bro is out of town, I am lucky enough to have a wonderful friend, Rene, who lives in South Bend (see above map) and who came and got me from the airport and hung out and took me out for dinner! I was only halfway coherent so the poor guy heard a lot of half stories and idea with no ends, but it was just lovely to see him. Back at Patrick's apartment, here's the view:

And the sunset.

And at night! I slept super well last night, and woke up in a panic around 5:30am thinking I was late for my flight. I have to leave at 10am, and 5:30am was 10:30am Casablanca time... I guess we know where my body still thinks I am!

Today... HOME!!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

1, 2, 3 paintings!

Having been working freelance at five jobs since January, I haven't really started or finished any big painting projects lately. This one from back in the winter looks very different from when I started, but it's not done yet. I want to work on the highlights and possibly change the background a bit, but I just haven't been able to get around to it.

Before, from January...

and after!

However I have done a couple small painting projects recently! This first one I did on whim one day... I started  with the brown color and let it develop from there I didn't have a clear idea of what I was painting at the start. But sometimes that's the best part. Othman really likes it, but I'm ambivalent— it was really just me experimenting with techniques.

The second project I started and completed yesterday. Othman got me four little mini canvases last Christmas, and from the start I knew I wanted to write a word with them. A while back I came up with a background idea and tried it out, but in the end I didn't like it at all. 

So yesterday I got them out again to start over, wanting to make a gift for my friends Jessica and Ahmed and their lovely little Noor. I'm very happy with how it turned out!

These were actually featured in a photoshoot I did of their family today... stay tuned for those photos!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Riad Quara in Marrakech

As I mentioned  last year, Othman and I have a tradition of spending a weekend in Marrakech just before I go to the USA every summer. Well I'm off to the US on Sunday, and we stuck to tradition last weekend! I was actually lucky enough to have won a free night for two at Riad Quara during a themed photo contest held by PAGES in late April, so we had somewhere to stay for free, which is of course never a bad thing. We had heard a lot about the riad and were very excited to go.

We left once my Saturday classes got over at 5pm, and were in Marrakech around 8. The riad is located in the middle of the medina, behind Jmaa El Fnaa, and for those of you who have ventured there you know what kind of twisty alleyways that area is made up of. Despite Othman asking the way many times we walked with our bags for almost an hour trying to find it, and by then I was in a thoroughly bad mood. But then... we walked into this:

The employee who greeted us was calm and sweet, and brought us into a small room lined with Moroccan couches to rest for a bit. She came with a huge teapot and intricately decorated silver receptacle that was essentially a bucket (but I can't call it that because it was so much more) and poured orange blossom scented water for us to wash our hands. A few minutes later she reappeared with tea and cakes.

By now you might be able to imagine that my bad mood was quickly dissipating. The longer I stayed on that couch, listening to the trickle of the fountain in the open air courtyard, still smelling the orange blossom, sipping my tea, the lighter I felt. As I looked around I started appreciating the details of the architecture and decor.

I wasn't the least impatient to get up to our room. But when we did, and were greeted by this, Othman and I looked at each other, totally impressed, and oh-so-thankful to the riad's owners for having chosen my picture in the contest! 

The little bathroom wasn't to be outdone by the bed though!

One thing I loved about the room was its lack of a TV it would have been so incongruous with the rest of the place and an eyesore for sure. And who would want to watch TV in a room like that? We also never even inquired about wifi, which is usually the first question we ask. I guess we were enveloped in the riad's charm right from the start.

We had a wonderful, fancy dinner out that night, and woke up the next morning well rested and refreshed. Breakfast was included in the stay, so we made our way up the stairs...

through an open door...

onto the balcony.

We thought it couldn't get much better but clearly we were wrong! While Othman went downstairs to talk to the employee about my food allergies, requesting different things for breakfast than the standard fare (which she obligingly said was no problem at all), I hung out taking pictures, noticing this lil guy.

I guess we were hungry, so I didn't get a nice picture of all the breakfast laid out (it was fit for a king let me tell you), but you can see my contented face at least!

I loved this touch the Moroccan tea glass covers. Tea glasses get burning hot and there's a method to holding them, but many (most?) tourists wouldn't be aware of that, so it's very thoughtful of the riad to save our fingers! I might be used to drinking tea but I was happy with the adjustment!

During breakfast Othman made a friend too!

By the time we were done with breakfast and ready to go out shopping in the medina it was nearly time for us to check out, but our car was far off and we didn't want our things sitting in it roasting in the sun. The riad once again was incredibly accommodating, and let us keep our things in the room while we shopped. When we got back a couple hours later, they let me wait downstairs with our things while Othman went and got the car to bring it closer. The thick walls created a real oasis, and the only sounds I could hear were the neighbor kids playing, birds singing, and the fountain bubbling. I wasn't even tempted to distract myself with my phone-- instead I wandered, taking pictures of the details, and when I was done with that, simply sat and enjoyed the peace for what it was.

I photographed the beautiful walls,

the intriguing lamps,

the courtyard I couldn't get enough of, now with a daytime view,

the room we had been welcomed into the night before,

and the flowers that were bright, beautiful, sweet smelling and everywhere.

When Othman arrived, saying the car was now in the nearby parking lot, I was sad to leave, but not too sad. I know we'll be back.