Monday, January 28, 2013

The Look and Trends of 2013

With the new year comes new fashion trends to help give you the look that is in vogue. On January 25, 2013, Le Ciel Salon and spa presented an event called "The Look and Trends of 2013" at The Huxley in Washington, DC. There was a Fashion Showcase by Sheyla provided from SLS Sheyla and Jewlery by Traci Lynn provided by Alica Estela Guido. Claire Connelly of Exclusiva Eventi and Co-host Denyse Gordon Ms. Veteran America 2012 moderated the evening and also featured DJ Moh Ducis with a Special guest set by DJ Cesar Sanchez.

Models included: Special Guest Model Bianca Chardei from America's Next Top Model; Shannon McAnally Miss VA USA 2013; Mary David, Miss Wyoming 2013; Ayesha Gilani, Miss Pakistan World 2009; Sheila Kash, Asta Liutkute, Allison Maryan, Gilda Villela and Mani.

Photos by Vithaya Photography. To see more images go to this gallery:


Monday, January 21, 2013

Inauguration Day and Martin Luther King Jr Day

Today was a monumental day with the second inauguration of President Barak Obama and it was also a holiday with Martin Luther King Jr Day. As the day unfolded I watched media coverage and then decided to just bike down to DC to be a part of the experience. It was nostalgic being there as I was at Obama's first inauguration. As a native Washingtonian I felt even more proud just see all these people from all over in DC, enjoying it and being a part of history. However you captured this day, whether in a photograph, video, souvenir or just your memories, it's something to treasure. I just wanted to share a few photos from inauguration day today and one from a visit last year to the MLK memorial in DC. I'm reminded of how precious life is and despite challenges, to have a optimistic view and keep on keeping on.

Visitors watch Inauguration Day 2013 in Washington DC

This colorfully clothed guy attracted a lot of attention
A lady takes pictures from a Pedicab
Lincoln Memorial
Washington Monument with the U.S. Capitol in the distance

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Today is a very special day for me because it is the anniversary of the day I officially entered the U.S. Army as a 19D Cavalry Scout (Combat Reconnaissance). It was during wartime for the U.S. and at that point in my life I felt like my life would best be used serving my country. Even though I didn't really know what to expect going into basic training, I knew I was going to become a new man and discover my potential. Growing up I wasn't very productive in terms of who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do in life. I spent a lot of my time just having fun and playing games, and I didn't really apply myself in school, just doing what I needed to do to pass. I wanted more than that. I wanted to change. I wanted adventure and yes, I wanted to be all I could be. You could also say I was inspired by military movies, such as Top Gun. I did what I could to get ready for the Army, but I could only do so much. I would have to go in and face a new world, do what's required and even above and beyond that.

I was stationed in Fort Knox, KY and for most of my tenure I drove a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Although the training and the emotions throughout my service was challenging, it shaped me, and I enjoyed being a soldier and the results of my experiences. I enjoyed the camaraderie and operating by a code of conduct. I wanted to be a good soldier and felt I did well, although I always wondered if I could have done better. Yet I was just doing my part, however small and big that role came out to be. I was rewarded for my appearance in uniform and my area and was also a candidate for Soldier of the Month. I was also the fastest in my platoon to disassemble and reassemble a machine gun when we had that challenge given to us. The Army identifies what skills you have and they utilized my artistic skills and made me the unit artist. Toward the end of my time in the Army, they switched things up a bit and gave me other assignments such as driving a fuel tanker and spending a little time in the graphic arts department. During my short tenure on active duty I achieved the rank of Specialist (E-4) and acquired Three Army Achievement Medals and a Good Conduct Medal. I can relate to the saying: "Once a Soldier, Always a Soldier." I have so many wonderful stories of my time there and it felt good to be appreciated and rewarded for a job well done. The training and experiences are ingrained in me, as they took the old me away and built me up as a soldier. I believe it made a positive difference in my life.

I was honorably discharged and although I could have stayed in longer on active duty, I felt that I had done what I came to do. Now, instead of wearing a uniform and carrying a weapon, I'm a photographer and wear photography gear and a wield a camera and lens. After my experience in the Army and at the start of my civilian career I wondered what I would do for a career and naturally transitioned into doing administrative work, and then went into Graphic and Web Design. I worked for several years as a defense contractor and felt comfortable where I was at, but still longed for adventure. So I took up photography again and got serious about it. It's been exciting but also a lot of work. I still wonder if I might do something else for a living, but my heart always compels me to follow my passion.

My passion and love for travel have taken me to several places I've always desired to visit and there's still so much more I want to see and experience. Some time ago I visited CA and there were times when I thought I might want to live in CA or at least it was a place I just really enjoyed visiting. I became fascinated with the culture out there. I heard about this photographer named Aaron Chang and his surfing photography and subscribed to his email newsletters. Yesterday I got this subscriber email from Aaron and it started out saying "This is the most published cover photo in the history of surfing. And it almost never happened…" Then I read his blog post about it and could relate to it. You can read it here and see a video about it: I also like the quote he put at the bottom of his post: “Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.” ~ Anon

So I'm encouraged to keep on, keeping on, progressing in my chosen career path and continuing to work at it. You never know when that magic moment will come and turn the tide. Stay afloat, get back up and get ready to ride.

Remembering my time in the U.S. Army, one of the best experiences of my life
and something I am proud of and continue to integrate into my life.

Monday, January 14, 2013


Washington DC is preparing for the President's second inauguration on January 21st and the world will be watching and some will be visiting DC during this time. While staying inside all day yesterday watching NFL football and the Golden Globes, I saw on the news how Sunday was a cold and foggy day and yet it was dress rehearsal day for the inauguration. There is so much that goes into planning an executing any event, especially something as important as the Presidential inauguration and there comes with it an incredible sense of excitement and lots to offer to everyone.

Our nation's capital has many attractions year round and with such a popular event as the inauguration, visitors and metropolitan DC area denizens will be looking to visit or revisit many attractions and bring along friends, family and relatives. While I was in a store I noticed a Washingtonian Welcome Guide on the magazine rack. I leafed through the 136 page guide to museums, restaurants, nightlife, events, itineraries, travel and more. I found it to be a well done and fascinating guide that is chock full of ideas, beautiful pictures and even some maps. I enjoy Washingtonian magazine and have gone to their Best of Washington events.

Inaugural Special: Washingtonian Welcome Guide Winter 2013
Although I was born in Washington DC and have lived and worked around it for most of my life, one would think I have a handle on all things DC. That's understandable yet I feel that I will never stop exploring DC and DC is a thriving district that is always bringing something new to the world. Honestly, there are times in my wanderlust when I've had a sense of disdain for living here for so long and have wondered what it would be like to live elsewhere. The truth is that I can still enjoy traveling the world as much as possible while still calling DC home and enjoy a fulfilling lifestyle. It's taken me awhile to arrive at that realization and embrace the fact that I will likely be around here for a very long time. I've grown to enjoy wherever I live at the time because I try to make the best of it and stay adventurous. I just feel thankful to be able to live with freedom and have so many options and choices that I can make. I hope visitors old and new will enjoy our nation's capital and the plethora of things it has to offer in all it's seasons. I'll close this post by sharing a couple pictures taken in DC last year and I look forward to taking many more pictures in DC this year.

Washington Auto Show
Washington Convention Center - 1/31/2012

GameChange - DC movie premiere - Newseum - 3/8/2012

Red, White & Blue at The Wharf - Washington DC - 7/4/2012

Friday, January 11, 2013


On Thursday January 10th nominations for the 85th Academy Awards (The Oscars) were announced and the film Lincoln led the field with 12 nominations. With "Lincoln," Steven Spielberg portrays two-time Academy Award® winner Daniel Day-Lewis in a masterfully revealing drama that focuses on the 16th President’s turbulent final months in elected office. The 85th Annual Academy Awards are on February 24th.

It so happens that this same day the nominations were announced that I was set to photograph an Inauguration Media Preview event at Brooks Brothers in Washington DC where guests learned the time-honored tradition of tying a bow tie and to view a collection of inauguration essentials. The event was from 6 to 8pm and Presidential cocktails and Hors d'Oeuvres were offered, along with specially decorated cupcakes. As the Inauguration of the President nears, Washington DC and the essentially the world over is preparing for this landmark occurrence and Brooks Brothers is proclaiming it's title of being the clothier that has outfitted 39 out of 44 U.S. Presidents, "turning gentlemen into presidents since 1818." The effects and influence of President Lincoln were present in pictures and manifest in the style of the clothing displayed in some parts of the store.

Everything in Brooks Brothers had a distinguished look and feel to it and the event catered well to it's guests. Tying a bow tie and wearing one properly is surely noticeable to a trained eye and pleasing in appearance. In a metropolis so ingrained in politics, fashion plays a favorable role and adds confidence and flair to the everyday life as well as formality to the pomp and circumstance of special occasions. From the decor to the clothing, to the treats and conversational trysts, Brooks Brothers helped make the evening a standout experience. May you enjoy the tradition and timelessness of this inauguration season. With freedom, enjoy life to it's fullest. As Lincoln said: "In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."

Friday, January 4, 2013


January 4, 2013 - For many people there is so much anticipation and expectations for the New Year. It's a chance to start new or start over and to some it may seem like any other day. Change doesn't have to be limited to a certain day or time, although it sounds nice to start from the beginning of the year. Any day and time can be the start of changing things and changing ourselves, and I'm evaluating myself and how I do things. If the past hasn't been a success, then it may be time for a new way of doing things. It starts with the person in the mirror. 

I've long been inspired by and enjoy watching a couple shows for inspiration in my career and life: America's Next Top Model and Kitchen Nightmares. These reality-based TV shows can help people to not only be inspired but also take a look into their own lives to make necessary changes for success professionally and personally.

With America's Next Top Model (ANTM), you have 10-14 young ladies competing to be the winner and have the title and benefits of being America's Next Top Model. They do things that models do such as getting photo shoots, doing commercials, going to go-sees with designers and many other things which are all judged till there is only one person left. The first episode was on May 20, 2003 and has become an incredibly popular show and is part of The CW network. There is a lot of pressure and emotions that go along with competing. The models learn a lot about the modeling industry and themselves and it's interesting seeing the transformation that models make during the competition and hopefully continuing on in their careers.

With Kitchen Nightmares, restaurants in America invite Chef Gordon Ramsay to their restaurants for a week in order to help them revive or restart their failing businesses. This is based on the British show Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares in which I watch reruns of it on BBC America. It's amazing to see the transformation that these restaurants go through and it's because of the transformation of the people who work there.

With both of these shows, I think they can teach lessons on doing what's needed both on the job and personally to become the person needed to be a success. Sometimes it's lack of knowledge or motivation and sometimes it's stubbornness and other relational issues. Many times we can't change unless either someone shows us the problems or we see them ourselves and want to change. I like seeing the changes that these people make to become better people. After seeing these shows and other things in life that motivate and encourage me, it makes me want to make decisions and take steps to being successful in my career and in life.

I wanted to share some pictures from the America's Next Top Model Cycle 19 Casting Call in the DC area from last year and also a couple pictures from the Fashion Beauty & Lifestyle Expo from last year with fashion photographer Nigel Barker hosting, and he was a judge on ANTM for many seasons. It's amazing how our lives can change in an instant and sometimes it takes awhile, but in this one life we live, transformation and forward progress to becoming better and living well is all worth it. We may come to realize that we can't do it all on our own, so share your goals and dreams with others and have relationships that can positively help you to succeed. We can't forget about focus and perseverance. All the best to you this year.

Fashion Beauty & Lifestyle (FBL) Expo at the Washington Covention Center

Fashion Photographer and former ANTM judge Nigel Barker

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Whenever January 1st comes around, the world is inundated with the "Happy New Year" wish. Of course we want everyone to have a Happy New Year, but after hearing that phrase so many times it makes me wonder if people are happy. I think it's an optimistic way of looking at the very real possibilities that the new year can make goals and dreams a reality, even if it takes longer than expected to materialize. I'm going to just have to take things one day at a time and face everything "head on." There are times when we may feel like giving up, but I've learned the importance of perseverance and I think the world has not seen enough of what everyone has to offer yet.

On New Year's Eve I woke up a bit later than usual and there was so much I wanted to accomplish in finishing out the year. I had this penchant for wanting to do laundry and clean up around my room and house. I was editing photos and wanted to also post a new picture of myself for the new year. You could say this was a way to put a face to what I was feeling at the time. My last self-portrait photo was for Christmas and it took on a more solemn tone because of all the losses in 2012. So I knew it was going to be a different kind of Christmas. I had my camera on a tripod and used the self-timer and a 35mm lens. I used one flash with a mini beauty dish light modifier and a window was my backdrop. It's not always easy being in front of the camera, even in taking self-portrait photos. I can understand how people are "their own worst critic" or can be harsh on themselves, or perhaps don't really know how to pose and express themselves for a photograph. It took me many takes to get a shot I felt would work well and I was more pleased after seeing the results after the editing. 

For the self-portrait shot I just used one medium-sized softbox and put it about three feet from me at a 45 degree angle and about two feet higher than my head. I had my camera on a tripod and self-timer of course. It was important to not have the softbox too high or low or at too severe an angle, as the one light needed to show myself in the right light so to speak. It was also about the right expression that I wanted to convey for a new year self-portrait. I wanted to look optimistic and positive. I was running out of time before I had to leave the house by 10pm to get to my destination in DC to celebrate ringing in the new year. I did a quick edit job and wanted the photo to have that timeless yet new look and feel to it. I like the way the image turned out, as I gave it a black & white quality to it with a twist of color toning to make it appear silvery and cool in temperature. I've posted my self-portrait picture for Christmas and for New Year's below and I'm just reminded of a song: Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There Is a Season). So whatever happens in life, I'm going to try to face it and persevere.