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!
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.
It's no wonder this location attracts the most photographers and their clients! It's absolutely beautiful, and has just about everything for any occasion. You have the green grass, desert landscapes, bridges, walkways, stairs, textured walls, windows, fountains and barn doors. No two corners are the same, and photographers can get creative with angles, lighting, poses, and mood. I hope you take advantage of this time of the year when you can celebrate your family and take time for your family portraits. Even with our internet driven society, the Family Holiday Card is not dead, and they still bring joy to anyone who makes time to create and send them. I keep every one I have ever received!
My Job: To make your photo session a fun experience and create images that will be treasured for generations!
It was a last minute decision to go hiking that morning, and I had a hard time finding anyone to join me on such short notice. The weather was in the 70’s and PERFECT, so I felt compelled to go anyway. My friend, Erin, told me, “Enjoy your climb with Him this morning!!” with Emoji kisses and hearts. I have never been told that before, so it got stuck in my head and I couldn’t let it go. I was very excited as I approached the trail, feeling well prepared for my first hike of the season. I had my water, after all.
I am a private person when it comes to my faith, but as I approached that trail, this is what I saw instead of the "Got Water" sign that is posted for hikers at the trail head. I had to look twice!
This is what is there… and this is what I saw.
So I got the message clearly and made a conscious decision to Climb with God, as I continued on my hike. It was a beautiful morning! I felt His presence and didn’t feel alone at all.
And even as the climb got harder, I felt full of joy and gratitude…
Because, seriously, how lucky am I to be hiking this gorgeous place?!
I have done this hike many times, but this time, walking it with God, I noticed how the tired cactus leaned on the rock, just like I lean on Him when I feel weak. And the tree that grows despite all odds in the hard soil, provides a place for the birds to build a home. Maybe you will find this corny, but I was really having a moment.
The road may be at times difficult, and long, and winding, and filled with criticism and doubt, but God is always there! Isn’t it great to know he is the only judge that matters?!
On my way up I noticed that my favorite cactus lost one of its awesome curvy arms, which made me sad. But, on the way back down, look what I saw that was hidden to me before! The cactus was growing again! Isn’t it cute?! His living energy carries us through our losses.
May you Climb with Him one day as well. I hope you do! It’s an awesome trip! You might see faces in the rocks smiling at you, and roads laid out just for you...
And may you always look up and feel grateful to be alive.
What Freedom Means to Me
We moved to this country from Poland, which was communist at the time in 1983. When I was young, I wrote poetry about how great it was to be free, feeling the significance, yet not quite understanding as a nine year old the magnitude of my amazing opportunity in this country. I have often felt other Americans did not value their freedom as much as I had, because it was something they were born having, and didn't know life any other way. I grew up during a time of civil unrest, with tanks passing by my home in order to keep people from revolting against the government. I was scared and I didn't understand why riots were breaking out in the middle of town and people were being gassed.
I was my daughter's age at the time. I officially became a citizen when I was in high school and it was one of the proudest days of my life. It meant to me that my freedom was official and permanent. There are people all over the world still today who wish for the same thing.
So, today, like every day, I feel grateful when I take time to reflect on what freedom means to me. I was one of the lucky ones who got that chance to live in a free country.
A day like today is a reminder, I hope, that freedom isn't free. It takes ongoing effort and sacrifice to keep it so.