I wasn’t the girl who spent high school desperately looking forward to turning 18 so that I could get a tattoo. Yes, I couldn’t wait to turn 18, but getting a tattoo was far from my thoughts. I didn’t start even thinking about it until the end of the summer, that’s when the excitement grew. I had so many ideas for tattoos that I might possibly want, how to choose?! I also battled the idea that if I did get a tattoo it would always be on my body, forever. Well, decisions were made and on September 26, 2016, I got my first tattoo. I had a friend draw it out 3 weeks before getting it done. Then, one week before, I went with another friend (who has plenty of awesome tattoos) and made an appointment for the following Monday. Shoutout to my roommate for making me think about the design for an extra week AND going with me to get it done! It hurt like CRAZY, but only took about 5 minutes total!
People still ask all the time what my tattoo means to me. Here is a longer version of what I tell them.
First of all, it’s based on two bible verses:
“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine…”
Song of Songs 6:3a
“…her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.”
In the summer of 2016, my dad went to Israel. Among the beautiful gifts that he brought back for my mom, sisters, and myself, there were five identical silver rings with Song of Solomon 6:3a inscribed on them in Hebrew. He told us that he got them for us to remind us that not only are we his beloved, but more importantly, we are Yahweh’s beloved.
I’ve always loved the English word “beloved”. Have you ever noticed the two different ways that people pronounce it? The first way is /bee-loved/ and the second is /bi-love-id/. The first one reminds me of someone calling you out and saying, “Hey you, BE LOVED!” The other one feels like a gentle, loving term of endearment. Both are exactly the reminders that I want at different moments in my life.
For the two months before I got my tattoo, I had been getting so many tiny reminders that I am beloved. A couple people prayed for me and asked Papa God to remind me that I am His beloved. Then at a worship night on campus they played a song that quoted Song of Songs;
“And I am my beloved’s and He is mine, so come into Your garden and take delight in me.”
-Cory Asbury, Where I Belong
My last reminder came from hearing a song I hadn’t heard in two years. The singer, Jason Gray, only once explicitly says the word “beloved”, but the video “says” it clearly.
“If I’m your beloved, can you help me believe it?”
-Jason Gray, Remind Me Who I Am
One of my life goals is to see and treat every person that I encounter as Papa’s beloved child. That’s how He sees each and every person that he created: as His beloved child.
I’m still learning to live like Papa’s beloved daughter, but that isn’t something that I will or want to ever stop learning. Each morning when I wake up, I look down at the beautiful script that says “beloved” on my foot and I’m reminded again that I am Papa’s beloved and that every human he created is a beloved child of His. I’m so grateful that I get to live in this concept of “belovedness”. I’m thankful that I get to spend my life learning what it means even more than I already know. I am Papa’s beloved and that will NEVER change.
So with that, happy 1 year to my little tattoo that means so much to me.
I've been in Paris, France for almost an entire week. It has been the most exhausting, exciting week. As soon as I arrived, my team began orientation immediately. I slept very little this week, but the jet lag wore off after a few days and I'm thriving here.
I adore the French couple that I am staying with. They have already taken me in and made me part of the family. I even have my own cloth napkin, something très French, I'm told. Every morning at 9 am, I enjoy a breakfast of bread, honey, and coffee with my host dad. They only speak in French to me, which means my brain is always very overwhelmed, but it will help me learn the language faster. I love their little apartment in the most international part of the city. I have my own room, with a gorgeous view of Parisian windows full of flower boxes. It takes about 35 minutes for me to get to school on the metro every morning and return every night. The first few times, I got very lost, but I know how to use the system and feel like a real Parisian using the metro now!
I love our little group here in Paris. It's so fun to explore together, learn the culture together and enjoy life here in Paris together. It's shocking how quickly you have to rely on people you may not know so well when you are all in the same new situation. At one of our group dinners we gave each person a superlative, so for example, "most likely to be taken", "most likely to be pick-pocketed", "most likely to become addicted to French bread" and more. I was voted "most likely to marry a Frenchman", something that has turned into one of the group jokes. Everyone is on the lookout for my French husband; it's quite amusing. Classes started for all of us this week and I already love the ones I have had. They are all so interesting and unique courses. Next week I will begin my internship, with my friend Stephen (above), at a local coffee shop/bike shop.
The food here is absolutely incredible. Everything is smaller, but more delicious. Cheese is better and cheaper. Coffee is different, but I love it so much. It's more like shots of espresso rather than large cups of coffee. The bread and pastries are to die for. I've already found the boulangerie in my neighborhood that I love and I frequent it often. Even the food at the school cafeteria is tasty! I will be well fed while I am here.
Here are some things that have surprised me/made me laugh:
With all that being said, I love it here. It's a beautiful city, full of life. And it's my home for the next three months! I feel so lucky and grateful to be here. If you want to see more photos, check out my galleries.
My parents lived in a town called Chambéry in the French Alps for a couple years before I was born. They were there to learn how to speak French before going to French-speaking Africa. I only lived there for three months after I was born in January of 1998. Now almost 20 years later, I am going to live in France for another three months. This time I will be in Paris, the city of lights!
This past spring, I applied to go on the Paris Study Abroad Semester through my school. Being both a French major and Photography/Graphic Design minor, I figured that this would give me a lot of class choices in Paris. I got in and was ecstatic! It almost seemed surreal at the time, and it kind of still does! I leave in less than a week and will be there for three months. While I am there I will be taking classes at St. John's University. These classes include: Art History, French History, French Religion and an internship at Bike About Tours/Le Peloton Café. I speak French somewhat fluently, but I am very excited to use French and learn more.
While most students going on this trip will be staying in the dorms at the university, I was given the option of staying with a French family. This will give me the opportunity to be more fully immersed in the French culture and language. I am so excited to meet the couple that I will be living with for the next three months!
Some of the places that I am looking forward most to seeing are:
During the last week that I am in France, my mom and sister get to come see me. We will get to go back to the town I was born in and visit my "French grandmother" (pictured above), who I haven't seen since I was a newborn baby.
I read this quote in a book a couple years ago, but it is exactly my goal for this semester in Paris:
Dance in the streets.
Take French lessons.
Walk the wrong way home.
Don't play it safe.
-from Passing Love, by Jacqueline E. Luckett
I am so grateful to everyone who has supported me and encouraged me. This has always been a huge dream of mine and I now that dream gets to come true! I will be updating this blog as a primary way of communication with friends and family, so make sure you follow!
I've been super excited about this post! Instagram is my absolute favorite social media platform, which makes sense considering I love taking pictures. I have two accounts that I run, my personal account @chantymaria and my photography account @chantalmphotography.
The accounts that I follow consist mostly of friends of mine, awesome photographers (some that I know personally!!), and bloggers. I'm so excited to share my current 12 favorite accounts with you!
This account has some of the most magical photos that I've ever seen of the beautiful country of France. That top middle photo is my absolute favorite!
The framing of each photo on this account has me inspired. She also has an awesome blog that just launched! And she goes to my school, so that's awesome.
This incredibly photographer captures every adventure he goes on with skill. Follow him, you won't regret it!
The first time I met this photographer, I fangirled a little too hard. But, he is an awesome guy and an even more awesome photographer. I love the black and white aesthetic of this account. Also check out his other account: @maxwellboileau!
This wedding and portrait photographer has some of the most beautiful, sunny photos of brides. How she works with lighting is incredible.
This guy takes the best landscapes- especially at sunset and sunrise. He also does this thing in his story where he breaks down his Instagram aesthetic and it's equally entertaining as it is awesome.
This guy lives in Paris and takes the most incredible photos of famous places all around the city of lights. The reflections in so many of his photos are beautiful. Also, his Instagram story is pretty fantastic.
This lovely lady goes to my school and her Instagram is goals! The gorgeous white aesthetic of her account has my attention.
I love this account. Beyond running a beautiful, Parisian account, she is the author of the book "The New Paris".
My wonderful friend, Betsy, runs this account. She is an incredible portrait photographer (among other things). I am so grateful to know her and be around such talent!
This is one of my all time favorite accounts. Carin, who runs the account, is an incredible photographer, blogger, model and traveler. Her account makes me want to go to Paris ASAP.
Mallory's account is the most lovely account. Beyond her many artsy coffee photos, she has the cutest family and a wonderful hipster aesthetic.
Thanks for reading and make sure to follow these accounts!
This past weekend, I was a second-shooter for a wedding. This was my second time being a second-shooter, my second time being a wedding photographer, and my second time working for Elizabeth. I had a blast and am so proud of how things went. Though two weddings isn't very many, I've learned a lot about being a second-shooter. Here are some of my tips and secrets!
1. Be on time and dress nice.
You are getting paid to do a job. So, do not be late. Dress the part; wear something that looks nice for the type of wedding you are shooting, but make sure it is also comfortable- even better if it has pockets (unfortunately I haven't found a dress with pockets yet).
2. Be organized.
Have a list of what you need to capture. Have your camera bag packed well. Bring other things you might need in a small bag- you never know when you'll need tape or safety pins. This is especially useful when taking photos of the dress/veil!
3. Assist well.
Be aware of what is going on. Be ready to hand the lead photographer anything he/she may need. Know where his/her equipment and bags are. Wear a watch or have your phone available so you can check the time. You are important in keeping everyone to the schedule. Don't be annoying, but remind the lead photographer of the time.
4. Help the photographer stay hydrated & fed.
This one is super important. If the lead photographer is dehydrated and hungry, nothing will go smoothly. Water is so important for both of you, especially on hot days. At the reception, take over for a minute so he/she can go grab a snack and some water.
5. Don't be afraid to take photos!
You are a second-shooter because the lead photographer believes in you. Take photos; he/she needs your help. Just make sure that when you are shooting, you stay out of the lead photographer's shots. Try to shoot from a different angle- you might get some really unique shots.
6. Use a different lens.
Be aware of what lens the lead-photographer is using. If he/she is using a 50mm, you use a 70-200mm, etc.
7. Don't pose people without asking the lead photographer first.
This is pretty explanatory. Just don't take charge unless you are asked to.
8. Pay attention to detail.
One of the most important jobs of a second-shooter is watching out for details. This means both taking photos of details that the lead-photographer may not have had time to capture (like the rings and flowers) and helping the wedding party make sure they look great in photos. Make sure ties are even, hair is out of faces, and everything is exactly in the right place.
9. Be ready to take over in case something goes wrong.
Confidence is key. If something happens to the lead-photographer or they need to use the restroom right when the cake is being cut, be ready to take over as the substitute lead photographer.
10. Get photos of the lead photographer working!
One of my favorite photos I took at the wedding I second-shot this past weekend is a photo of Elizabeth taking a photo of the entire wedding party. These are awesome photos to have.
Hope this helps you to be the best second-shooter you can be!
For as long as I can remember, my dad has sung "Summertime" to me and my sisters. When we aren't in the same place, he sends an audio file of him singing it. Of course, he changed the lyrics a bit, but "the catfish are jumping" does sounds better than the original, "the fish are jumping". Despite the heat, summertime is a magical time of ice cold drinks, colorful flowers, and general happiness. The livin' really is easy.
My summer has consisted of...
-not being able to find an actual job
-lots of photoshoots
-more iced tea than healthy for a human (kidding)
-staying up until 2am binge-watching Glee with my sister
-sleeping in late (because of the binge-watching)
-getting ready for a semester in Paris (more on that in a later post)
It may not be the summer I was expecting, but the livin' is usually pretty easy.
If you're looking for a delicious iced tea, try my summertime favorite: Tazo Iced Passion.
As the rain fell outside, my family of six struggled to find something to do other than watch another movie or play another game. We had already read books and played in the rain, so baking seemed like the next best option. My family has watched almost all of the cooking shows available to watch. Both of my parents are incredible cooks and have taught my three sisters and I well. So naturally, doing our own version of a cooking competition seemed like the only thing to do. We split up into two teams of two and picked two judges. I teamed up with my sassy 10-year-old sister. The judges gave us four ingredients that we were required to use in our dishes, much like the show Chopped. Our ingredients were: Cheerios, baby carrots, apples, and keifr. We were given 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete the competition. My team lost, but we still had a lot of fun on a rainy day and our cake tasted delicious!
Here is our recipe!
Glazed Carrot Cake with Apple Compote
-1 cup cheerios (ground)
-1 cup flour
-1 TBS cinnamon
-1 tsp nutmeg
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-2 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp baking soda
-1/4 cup applesauce
-1/4 cup oil
-1/2 cup grated carrots
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl, mix wet ingredients well. Combine ingredients and bake for 45-60 minutes at 350 degrees in a greased loaf pan.
-1 apple diced finely
-1/4 cup butter
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-2 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 cup water
Mix all ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer for 15 minutes.
-2-3 cups powdered sugar
-1 tsp vanilla
-1/4 cup plain keifr
Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.
Spread compote onto cooled loaf cake. Then, drizzle glaze over cake. Enjoy!