Thank you for visiting! You are AWESOME! I often meet great people or from time to time visit interesting places that I would like to share with you. I hope you enjoy it and leave feedback. Thanks again!
It's that time of the year in Phoenix, when temperatures drop down to 80 degrees, and families schedule their portraits. This is also the time for engagements, weddings, graduation pictures, and family reunions. It's my favorite time of the year, but certainly busy from now until June, when temperatures return to the 100's again.
I got wrapped up in the spirit of the season and decided to attempt our family portraits now as well. Brooke from the Japanese Friendship Garden said that we could have the garden to ourselves in three days time, so I took that as a sign that it's now or never. Three days was not much time to prepare, but I knew this would be worth the effort.
First, I quickly scheduled hair appointments for us at the Drybar in Scottsdale Quarter. There was no time to shop for new clothes, but we have plenty to wear. We threw the clothes on the bed to see if we were color coordinated, and we decided that we were ready. My only mistake was that I didn't take time to prepare my equipment for our session. I am ALWAYS prepared, but, for us, I thought I could just throw everything in the trunk and go.
Needless to say, nothing went according to plan. We arrived late, as we had to stop for gas and refreshments on the way there. I truly don't know how my clients make it on time for every session with me! My husband kept reassuring me that we would have plenty of time, but I wanted time to set up. Once we arrived, I realized I was missing two very important pieces of equipment for the shoot. The sun was going down quickly, and I panicked. All this time and effort in getting ready, and I felt like I let my family down. Thank goodness for Robby, our guide at the Japanese Friendship Garden, who offered to help fill in what my missing equipment was supposed to do.
Without further ado, here are a few of our favorite images from the shoot. Technically...not my best work. But, what matters is that we made the effort to set aside one afternoon to come together and celebrate us as a family. I hope our girls will always remember that we took the time because we are important to each other.
And, as stressful as it was at first, we had fun together and we made a great family day out of it. I hope you take the time to celebrate your family and schedule a family session, if you haven't already. Of course, I hope it is with me! And, I promise, I will be prepared for you, and it will never be stressful.
Thanks for stopping by!
Monika Cheang Photography, LLC.
Call to schedule a photography session: 480-229-6252
Have you heard of Soleri and his WindBells at Cosanti and Arcosanti in Arizona? Paolo Soleri was an Italian architect, artist, and philosopher who designed his studios as well as other sites around town. Paolo Soleri first designed his Design and Craft Studios in 1955, tucked under Camelback Mountain, in Paradise Valley, and named it Cosanti. It remains there today, as an Arizona Historic Site and is open to the public. Cosanti means "Things Before", or "Against Things," which supports Soleri's anti-materialist stance and designing a home to minimize the destruction and impact of the earth. Cosanti remained his residence until he passed away in 2013. In 1970, Soleri built the experimental town called Arcosanti, about 65 miles north of Phoenix. He taught and influenced many architects and designers for generations.
I had the pleasure of photographing Cosanti last week, and wanted to share it with you. My favorite part of Cosanti were the world renowned line of bronze and ceramic Soleri WindBells and Planters by Paolo Soleri. If you come at the right time of the day, you will get a chance to see the process of how the bells are formed. It continues to be a proud artform for the skilled artisans at Cosanti and Arcosanti that carry on the legacy of Soleri's WindBells. They are so stunning, that I couldn't resist and had to own one myself!
You can learn more about Paolo Soleri when you visit the current exhibition at The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Now through January 28th, 2018. https://smoca.org/exhibition/paolo-soleri-the-city-is-nature/
For more information and to visit, go to www.Cosanti.com
A Wedding... and then a Baby!
The sweetest thing ever is photographing a wedding in 2015, and then being asked to come back and photograph the couple's first baby in 2017!
I met Denver and Kalie in December 2015, when they married at Cave Creek Chapel. It was a very special Winter Wonderland...Cave Creek style.
Then just a month ago, I received the news that Kalie and Denver were expecting their first little girl! Wynter Finley was just five days old when I got to meet her and take her first baby pictures!
What a joy! This made my year! Please welcome Winnie!
Just when I think I love to photograph weddings best, I get to capture the first days of a baby's life,
and fall in love with baby photography all over again.
Meet Stephen, as his family welcomes him into his home.
What a beautiful family they make!
I admit, every wedding I get to photograph is forever special to me.
Carrie & Trevor will stand out most of all in a way that may surprise you.
I first met Carrie and her parents to discuss the details of her wedding and immediately knew we were a good fit for each other. Carrie picked Cave Creek Chapel, officiated by Rev. Randy Williams. She wanted a quaint chapel with character and charm. Reverend Williams made the ceremony personal and memorable.
We continued to correspond through email with details and final arrangements, when I noticed something special about her family name. The name John W. Peterson came up in the email and sounded very familiar. I realized quickly how extra special this bride and her family would be to me. You see, John W. Peterson was a songwriter, Carrie's grandfather, and he wrote a song that saved my life.
When I was about 12 or so, I heard a recording of a song from an album my mom brought home. We didn't usually listen to evangelical music, but this happened to be a record sung by a lady she knew. The words of that song were like words from God to me, as she sang, "It Took a Miracle" , written by John W. Peterson. The words and that song saved me that day, and keeps on saving me time and time again ever since. John W. Peterson had a major influence on evangelical Christian music, especially between the 1950's to the 1970's. He wrote over 1000 songs and 35 cantatas. It took only one to change me forever.
The fact that we met was no accident. What are the chances that this couple would find their way to this beautiful Cave Creek Chapel for their destination wedding, and choose me to be their wedding photographer? No accident, right?!
As expected, this wedding was magical, the bride was stunning, the couple very much in love, and this wedding day was absolutely beautiful. So much so, that I too got tearful with everyone else there. As a bonus, I got the chance to meet Carrie's grandmother, too!
As I was leaving, I noticed the most beautiful sunset and stopped to capture it. It took a miracle for me to get this far in life, to be able to do what I get to do, and to be a part of such amazing stories, like this Wedding Day Story of Carrie & Trevor. I wish them both many years of happiness together!
I promised my family that the professional cameras would stay home, so I made due with my Iphone 7 and waterproof point-and-shoot. Nevertheless, we made some memories, and I want to share them with you. The moment we arrived to our VRBO, we knew we were in paradise. Honua Kai is absolutely stunning, kid friendly, and centrally located. I had never used VRBO before, but would do that again in a heartbeat. The condo was fully stacked with supplies and beach gear. All we needed was food and clothes. Konea Tower is brand new and beautiful. Every room has a gorgeous view.
Of course one of the best parts of any island, is the beach! That was my favorite part. The snorkeling is around every corner, but Molokini Island is a fun day trip, if you like sailing. That was my favorite part as well. I was surprised that I didn't hear the waves, but they are so calm on this side of the island, that you don't hear them at all. It is very relaxing.
The Road to Hana was a 50 mile stretch of glorious green jungle wonder. Our friend suggested a guided tour through an APP, and that was all we needed. It begins at the Mile marker 00, is connected to your GPS and takes you through all the stops before you get there. The Seven Sacred Pools are closed due to flooding, so check with the park before you go. https://www.nps.gov/hale/planyourvisit/kipahulu.htm But, it's still fun to see, if you want to pay $25 just to hike to it. Across the road is a bamboo forest that I heard was worth the walk, but I couldn't convince my kids of that. The eucalyptus painted trees are not really painted. They grow that way!
Start your travels at 7 am and take your time making all the stops. It's the journey, not the destination, right?! You should make your way back by 4:30pm, so you don't drive in the dark in the winding road. There are over 600 turns and no lights!
On the way back, the APP talked about the history of Hawaii. It made me so sad and ashamed to be part of a country that takes over by force just to make a profit. Read more about that here, if you're interested. Not sure of the source, but the content in this article is true. http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/HAWAII/hawaii.php#axzz4kVN7i3Gm I wasn't born an American, but I feel very sorry for what Native Hawaiians went through.
Black Beach on the Road to Hana was magical! The lava cooled so fast that the rocks stayed black, but not for long. They are smooth and beautiful to walk on, but water shoes are helpful if you want to walk into the caves and hike up to a blowhole. We ran out of time to see the blowhole, but that is why you should leave for the road to Hana early.
Lahaina is a town full of character just south of where we stayed. This is a place to just hang loose and relax. Great food and shopping too! We met the sweetest lady at the Chinese Museum & Gift Shop. She is a researcher of Chinese history and told us her story of how her family came to this country. She showed my girls how to pin up their hair. There are a lot of different missionaries here, and so much culture. The trees are so big! The Banyan Tree is located here at the park. It's better to visit during the day to see how it has spread throughout the park. At first it seems like a forest, but it's actually one tree, with 10 trunks, 50 feet tall, spanning 2/3 of an acre. It was brought from India in 1873 at only 8 feet. Our favorite restaurants were Babba Gump and Cheeseburger in Paradise. Island living is so very nice! I would visit them all. I hope you get a chance to see Maui! Mahalo!
Why Hire a Certified Professional Photographer?
It assures you of this photographer's professional knowledge and experience, while also declaring that photographer as one who has achieved and maintains a higher standard.
See the Difference Certified Professional Photographers Make
CPPs know how to achieve great results—every time. You get a strong collection of images that tell your story, not a few lucky snapshots, and you will work with someone who knows how to produce a quality image under any circumstances.
CPPs are more than picture takers. They are students of art, lighting, posing, fashion and even interior design. They combine these elements to create images that fit your unique style and become works of art you will treasure for generations.
CPPs have the skills to create unique, customized works of art—not cookie-cutter pictures. They follow an artistic vision. It’s your story captured as a collection of art.
When you hire a CPP, you know you're getting someone who is willing to go the extra mile to deliver the best possible images. They are business owners who thrive on customer service and satisfaction, and they continuously aim to produce products that exceed your—and their—best expectations. These images are keepsakes whose stories you'll tell time and time again and treasure forever.
Just about anyone can take a good picture every now and then. But when life's biggest moments are unfolding and there's just one chance to capture that perfect memory, don't risk it. Entrust your photography needs to a Certified Professional Photographer and see the difference for yourself.
Monika Cheang, Certified Professional Photographer
Phil And Monika
I had the pleasure of capturing Phil & Monika's Wedding Ceremony at the Carefree Resort and Conference Center this past weekend.
Phil's a tough cowboy, with a heart of gold.
Monika looked absolutely stunning in her wedding dress!
It was no surprise that, when Phil saw his bride, he wept.
They met country line dancing four years ago. After a year of friendship, fireworks flew! Monika says, "Whenever we danced together it felt like there was no one in the room but us. Four years later, it still does."
I am completely moved by the love they share.
May you spend a lifetime dancing together!
It's almost here! You're almost done!
What better way to celebrate and honor your senior, than with a portrait session?!
Here's to Mandy! An Honor Student, Swim Team Captain, and theater enthusiast.
Congratulations on your accomplishments!
Best of luck at U of A!
Call to schedule your portrait session!
As I reflect on this past Holiday Season of family portraits, I stop to consider if all that effort to create a family picture is worth it. Without a doubt for me the answer is YES! Definitely! But, I'm a family portrait photographer, you might say, so I may be a little biased on the subject, right?! Well, yes, as a photographer, of course I love seeing families take time to look their best and capture the moment. It is a great privilege for me to be the one doing the capturing and I thank you for choosing me to do it!
However, as a wife and a mother of two young girls, I get it. It seems like a lot of work, time, and effort. We insist on a family picture every year and I try to make it as fun as possible. I take the girls to get their hair done, we pick out new outfits, and we plan on doing something fun after it's all done. They insist I take our own family pictures, because they claim it doesn't take as long and I'm the best. My family is very smart!
The pictures we take that day will be used on our annual holiday card and sent out to many of our friends and family. But, it's so much more than that for us. These pictures will be treasured all year long, and for many years to follow.
That short session will provide me with images that I can use to create gifts, make wall art, and screen savers. I can use them on my phone case and take them with me everywhere I go. My family is always with me and I think of them every second of the day. My husband does the same. I truly believe that the cohesiveness of our family begins with our family pictures. There is nothing more powerful than a visual reminder of what comes first.
I have a background in family studies, psychology and counseling, and although I have no statistical evidence to prove it, I know from personal experience, that a family picture keeps reminding us how important we are to each other.
I hope your family pictures are just as meaningful every year. That is what I always want to help create for you!
Enjoy the Outtakes from our family day!
Contact Monika for details and available times
Refer a friend, and receive a $25 discount when booking an hour session
Visiting ground zero was profound for us as a family. No words can describe the pit in my stomach as I felt the loss. When I feel such sadness, I usually look up, and somehow even that didn't help me that day. Why can't we all just exist on this earth together and tolerate our differences? It's big enough for everyone. So sad.
As we continued on our visit of New York, I realized that hope was in everything as we looked around. Hope and freedom has always been represented by the Statue of Liberty. But, hope is in everything. Hope is in the city, the buildings and the people we meet, the new food we try and the traditions we learn and create. Hope is reborn in our children and the things we teach them. New York remains a beautiful city, representing strength, history, and hope. We must never forget that there will always be hope in our world, no matter what.
Before and after the Orlando nightclub shooting.
SEDONA and Son Silver West
Sedona is the place I go with my family if we want a quick escape to relax and re-energize our spirits. How can you resist such beauty and serenity?!
Aside from the hiking and being with nature, we love to shop. One of our favorite stops is the Son Silver West. This is not just a shop, but a Galeria that has been family owned for 36 years! This truly is a landmark, and worth stopping for! Recently this family business has been threatened with a Notice of Violation by the City of Sedona Director of Development. It would be a shame to lose such a special place. This is what Sedona is all about, and I hope they stay for at least 36 more years! Here's to local family business! Enjoy these images from our stop at Son Silver West. We are rooting for you!
Clay and Stephanie
Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a moment between two people that you knew would change you forever? I did when I photographed Clay and Stephanie. I worked with Stephanie at Banner more than ten years ago. We were both young counselors and learning from each other. We stayed in touch, living just a mile apart. I knew Clay as Stephanie's husband, a kind man who invited us to his home once for a Christmas Party. Little did I know he was a published author, a national speaker, and the Chairman of Gold Standard Management House Institute.
Then, in December of last year, I received an email from a representative at Ionis Pharmaceuticals in Carlsbad, California, requesting a photo shoot with one of their patients, a Clay Sherman and his family. Do you believe in accidents? Well, I don't. Immediately I reached out to Stephanie, asking her if I have been commissioned to photograph her and Clay. It was a bittersweet reunion, as Clay was diagnosed with a terminal illness. I want to share with you my photo session in this video. Stephanie and Clay's love and care for each other brought tears to my eyes. Nothing is more important than the moments you get to spend with the ones you love.
I wrote this blog post last December, and I can't help but post it again because it is SO important. Family comes first, so take time to capture the moment...at any time of the year. Here is a video of just a few of my favorite families I was lucky enough to capture from this 2015 season. From my family to yours, Happy New Year!
May 2016 bring you lots of pictures!
The other day I heard on NPR News that Holiday Cards are dying due to social media. According to the broadcasters, it takes way too much effort to get the family together for a photo just for an annual photo card. They argued that it takes way too much time and effort to locate everyone's current address, to stamp the card, lick the envelope, and mail it out.
But, is a family photo really just about the card? Coming from a counseling background, I think it does matter that families take the time to schedule a family photo session. It is not just about the final product, but the process of getting there. It takes thoughtfulness to plan on what to wear as a family, and to take the time to pick the location and style of the session that best represents who you are as a unit. That photo session together is not just for an annual card to say, "this is what we look like right now." Family portraits are just as much about the process of spending that time together to say that we matter enough to take the time and capture who we are as a family. I have no doubt this annual ritual of family pictures bonds families and creates lasting memories. My own family knows that if there is a family photo opportunity, we are there and ready to pose.
I hope you take the time to take your family pictures, because whether you choose to send a Holiday card of not, family portraits do matter. Here are a few of the latest and greatest families I had the privilege to capture. I hope you enjoy this video in honor of all families out there.