Photography: Santa Monica Pier at sunset

Photos taken at the Santa Monica Pier, LA on January 4th.

Photography: 798 Art District

The 798 Art District in Beijing is a jumble of art odds and ends. There are showcased works by famous artists, sculptures by the lesser known and visitors and locals adding in their own arts and crafts. There’s something unique just about everywhere.

It’s one of the biggest hubs for art in Beijing, no matter what the medium and this quirky little spot is quite an interesting place to spend the day.

From what I gather it’s a lot more touristy than it used to be, but there’s still enough unusual odds and ends to keep one interested for hours. Not too big (about three warehouse-lined streets with lots of side alleys), but there’s so much stacked upon one another that it takes a while to get through everything (or not be able to get through everything, as was my case).

I can’t go into much detail about the work I saw, as I most went just to observe, reflect and photograph, so as is the case, I’ll let you enjoy my photos and feel free to take away from it what you like:

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(Traveler tidbit: The app Beijing Gems has some pretty good recommendations for 798).

Going big before going home. The Great Wall, Beijing.


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Go big or go home! It was our last full day in Beijing together and before Josh went home, it was time to tackle the greatest of the greats. Any guesses as to what that might be? We decided to … Continue reading

Photography: Leshan Buddha

Leshan Buddha, the largest stone carved Buddha in the world.

Here I was thinking we were taking a two hour trip from Chengdu just to see some big ole buddha. Wrong. There was more than just Leshan (aka big ole buddha), there was a whole slew of Leshans (well, not as large, but still hugely impressive) and Leshans brothers, sisters, compadres, who’s-it’s and what’s-it’s, as well.

This place is absolutely incredible and a definite must-see while visiting Chengdu. The trip took the entire day and we hiked probably more stairs than the great wall (not exaggerating), but I have to admit I actually enjoyed Leshan and his chums more than the pandas. I know right? Can’t believe I just put that in print.

Anyway, enough of my jabbering- my words won’t do the photos justice. So here you are, a mini-scrapbook of our day chilling with Leshan:

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How to get there:

Honestly, if you’re not familiar with navigating through China, it might be easier to just book a tour.

On the other hand, if you can work your way through a Chinese Wal-Mart without having a mild panic attack, you should be fine.

Simply go to the South Bus Station and purchase a ticket for about 53 RMB. (This is easily done by saying ‘Leshan’ and pointing to a picture of the buddha on a map of some sort). Wait until your approximate departure time, or until someone comes and taps you on the shoulder, recognizing that you soul laowais in the bus station are supposed to be on his bus (or 6 person van in our case) and get in said van.

Ride an hour-and-a-half out of town. Change vans (no cost). Another 20 minutes and you’re there.

Leshan Entrance Fee: 160RMB (Although, if you have an ISIC card, bring it. Fairly certain you can get a 50% discount).

Leaving Leshan: Don’t worry about purchasing a ticket back. There’s plenty of people that offer rides at the exit. We caught a bus back for 45 RMB that made several drop-offs throughout Chengdu.

Tips: Pack plenty of snacks, it can be expensive. Didn’t do the boat ride for the ‘best view of Leshan,’ have heard it’s a ripoff and you only have about .2 seconds to snap a photo. Who knows though, could be great. Either way, the choice is yours. Have fun.


And after all that hiking, traveling and climbing of stairs there’s no better way to end your packed-full day than with a little sichuan specialty: Spicy Hotpot.

Cupcake Dress photo shoot- Funny photos around Wenzhou

Living in China, my days tend to consist of random, yet hilarious, events that make me question, well, my life. Que ‘Did that really just happen? Is this real life?’ Mostly it’s the day to day normalities of China that give me a good chuckle, but every once in a while (okay, that’s a lie, pretty often actually), us foreigners create our own fun.

For a while now, the girls and I have been planning to take funny photos around Wenzhou. India came up with the great idea to dress in our fancy, custom-made, ‘cupcake dresses’ and parade around our slightly less-than-beautiful city. I kid, I kid. There are at least 10 trees and several types of wildlife, such as bats and cockroaches. See? It’s really not that bad.

The day turned into one amusing (at least to us) adventure after another: dancing with hairdressers, breaking up illegal gambling (whoops!), terrifying children (that’s kind of typical), trying out new exercise equipment, getting attacked by pigeons, playing poker and a whole slew of other activities.

For a few good laughs (or just a sigh and shaking of your head with embarrassment), scroll through this slideshow of our ‘Cupcake Dress’ photo shoot:

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Photos taken by David Gordon
Edited by Lauren Hogan (that’s me, yo).

Photographing Shanghai’s TianziFang

Out of all the places I visited in Shanghai (which really weren’t all that many), I fell in love with TianziFang. The quirky little shops, the twisting alleyways that don’t seem to have any organization, the friendliness of all the shopkeepers (especially if you can speak a little Chinese to them). The cafes, the people the watching, the faint hint of a Parisian atmosphere with the color of China stamped all over. Art, food, unique little knickknacks, curious twists and turns; enough to keep one (and one’s camera) occupied for hours.

Here’s my collection of curious photos I took while walking through the winding streets of TianziFang:

Space Shuttle Discovery- Photography in Motion.

During the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery I was invited to sit with the media- the closest anyone is allowed to be during the launch of a space shuttle.

After the crew send off, we road the bus back to where the media had gathered to watch the shuttle launch. Finding my spot in between two other photographers, I watched in awe as Shuttle Discovery roared into space. Not only could I see the shuttle lift off, I could feel it as well. It was incredible.

I’ve combined the photographs I took during the launch with music to create a short movie. It doesn’t remotely compare to physically being there, but it’s still pretty amazing to watch:

What does a photograph tell you?

I’m sitting here trying to think of what to write for my simple photo of the day when it occurred to me, why should I have to write anything?

A photo should speak for itself. A good photograph should exhibit something intriguing. Asking, wanting the viewer to stop and absorb everything. Simple, intricate, mysterious, captivating. The viewer will want more, but everything the photograph could present is right there and it shall reveal nothing else. When examining the art of photography, there are no words, no legible story, merely the images presented.

The need for words is irrelevant

Lately in photography we’ve had numerous discussions on how words can take away from a photo or what the photographer was trying to capture. In one instance, a student placed his photo upon the wall. It was a simple black and white of a table, sunglasses and an umbrella with a vignette around the edges. Very simple, very antiqued, very retro. Everyone agreed it was one of the top five photos of the day.

When the artist stood up to give his statement, he admitted he had printing issues and in reality the photo was much darker, didn’t look aged and had no vignette. Looking at the photo after he gave his statement, none of us really appreciated it anymore. Not that it still wasn’t a good photograph, but learning that the photograph that was presented before us was due to a technical mistake, made it lose it’s appeal.

Now on the other hand, sometimes an artists statement can work to a photographs advantage. What on first-glance you might see as an image that is too blurry or out of focus, could be what the artist was aiming to capture. After learning the direction the artist was aiming for, you might rethink your opinion. It’s fine art vs. commercial.

Although words can alter your perception or change your view, when you see a successful photograph, there’s a reason behind why you thought it was successful. Artists statement or not, a truly good photograph is a truly good photograph.

There you have it, a blog post on why I shouldn’t have to write this blog, that I just wrote.

Fashion Photo-shoot Round II

Normally I try to switch up my blog for my photo of the day, but the fashion photo-shoots that we’ve been doing in class have just been so much fun. So, instead I’m just going to post some of the photos I took today:

Some knives in a Christmas tree? Psychedelic

A few weeks ago my photography professor assigned us a project where we had to emulate a famous photographer’s work. So for the past few weeks I’ve been trying to figure out who I would emulate.

I had some ideas, but nothing that I was too crazy about. So I waited and waited and thought a bit, but still nothing. Then this morning rolled around and the project was due.

Nothing like waiting until the last minute.

One photographer I had been eyeing is Jan Groover, who has done several series using kitchen utensils in her photographs. Her photos have a very vintagey-vibe and really focus on the light reflecting off of the props she uses.

So what artist did I emulate three hours before this project was due?

I grabbed some stainless steel knives and a spatula from the kitchen, stuck them into our Christmas tree (Yes, we keep it up all year long) and afterwards, threw some of the utensils into a vase with roses.

I was going for a hard-edge feel compared to something of beauty or something you would normally associate happiness with. Kind of like Black Christmas?

Not the best I’ve done, but at least something to turn in.

As I watched everyone put their photos up in class, I turned to my friend, shocked at how good some of the photos turned out and telling her how I did mine three hours ago and how they weren’t even comparable to my peers work.

Finally, it was my turn. Honestly, I was a little embarrassed to even walk up there, but it’s not like I had to give a terrible speech or anything. It was just some photos.

I'll let you be the judge

Funny story. Everyone loved them. I got the most ‘psychedelic’ award, and my professor told me I could choose any of them to print because they were all very well done. That absolutely made my day; nothing like waiting until the last minute.

Afterwords I stayed behind to help out with our photo-shoot project.

DJ Earworm raging. Studio Lights on. Jumping, twirling, ‘blue steel’. Photo-shoot Round II

This was the end-result of my photography-filled day.