Cause Beautiful

After almost two years, two Emmy's, a Super Bowl and a World Series, it's time.

I'm excited to announce that I will be leaving my job at the San Francisco Chronicle and joining the team at Hipstamatic as the president and 'Director of all things good', for their philanthropic foundation, Cause Beautiful.

I'm so excited for the opportunity to bring my love for multimedia storytelling to the next generation!
Stay tuned in the coming months to see how we empower the world to cause change with a camera.

Photo by the fabulous Sarah Rice

Photo by the fabulous Sarah Rice

Emmy(s)... plural

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On June 14th, my partner in video crime Mike Kepka and I walked a red carpet and wore fancy clothes. We drank champagne with his lovely wife Sara and dazzled at all the fancy T.V. girls and their sparkly dresses. We over annualized what being seated at table 46 meant and then got nervous when we saw it was a table all the way on the right-hand side of the room. As our nerves got the best of us, we ate melon wrapped in prosciutto and drank white wine. 

After about 45 minutes and 20 pages in, it was our first nomination. A video we made last year about an all boys school in Oakland was up for an Emmy in the News Feature Category. Mike being the rockstar that he is, pretended like he wasn't nervous but I could see it on his face. I myself wasn't hiding my nerves very well either. The presenters took the stage. Our name flashed up with the other nominees spotlighting amazing work. That made me even more uncertain. Then, it happened, "The Emmy goes to Mike Kepka and Luanne Dietz of the San Francisco Chronicle." Mike and I jumped up from our seats, and simultaneously cheered and hugged each other. We took the stage and I was shaking. I mumbled a few words of an acceptance speech that people later told me made sense and we got off the stage.

After some more squealing and a selfie, I took a minute to soak it all in. Mike and I were so excited for this Emmy win particularly because it meant that the top of our industry recognized the importance of the story we told and how we told it. A big high five goes out to Lacy Atkins who paved the way for this story with her stills, we couldn't have done it without her.

That being said, we literally had time to give our behind the scenes red carpet interviews and get back to our seats before they called our name a second time. Wait what... I get to take two shinny ladies home with me, this is unreal.

The second Emmy was to honor our Batkid video of Miles Scott. I still to this day get chills thinking about recording from the top of the Macy's building and seeing San Francisco rally together to support him and turn the city into Gotham City. This award for Mike and I was the epitome of teamwork. It was an award that shed honor on our strengths and weaknesses complimenting each others. It was the award that said our hard work and storytelling skills made our video stand out amongst all the others from that day. Not to mention it added validity to our make shift studio set up in the hotel lobby.

There was a moment at the end of the night as Mike and Sara and I were walking back that I felt the true weight of these awards, sure in real life they are actually heavy and my feet were hurting so I might have complained about it, but the weight I felt was the responsibility to continue telling stories at this level. To keep finding a way to use our art to make a difference.

I couldn't be more humbled to have this moment, and to share it with Mike who inspires me daily, was just an added bonus.

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5 Questions

The wonderful Melissa Lyttle gets inside my head over on the A Photo A Day blog.

It's always a fun challenge when someone asks you to put on paper why and how you do what you do.

To read the full interview.. click here.

1. You’ve done everything from work at a small paper to fly to Israel to work on a personal project to teaching kids at an inner city school to covering the World Series and editing photos in Newtown and at the Super Bowl this year for a major metropolitan paper. Can you tell us about your career path and how each step led you to where you are today?

Well when you lay it all out like that, lol. All I can say is it’s been a crazy exciting ride.  I literally can look back at the last 12 years of my life and see how every decision, every job and every move has gotten me to this place where all my passions have combined to be my career.  My first “job” in communications was working at my local radio station. I was in high school. When we were doing live broadcast at concerts I use to sneak down in front of the stage to take pictures. Once I realized how awesome it was to be somewhere not everyone can be, and bring back a story that not everyone witnessed, I was hooked.

 

Harsh Light

One of my favorite things about the future is that it has potential to make all the tough lessons of the past, worth it.

With a new year always comes the chatter of resolutions and things that one wants to do different. For me this next year is not about doing different, it's just about doing.

I spent the day today in my quiet house searching through old hard drives and notebooks trying to make sense of this last year professionally.

From covering my first Superbowl to documenting history with the overturning of Prop 8 and DOMA to spending a semester in an East Oakland school shinning light on young boys fighting to beat the odds, to creating a video that went viral showcasing the human side of Batkid, all the way to the very last week of the year capturing the final 49ers game at Candlestick, this year has seen it's moments. (Not to mention making my first music video and international commercial.)

But today, what struck me the most, is a little folder on a forgotten hard drive from about four months ago titled Oakland. This past year Oakland has become home. I've laughed, cried, created and dreamed in Oakland. What I found in that folder was not what I expected.

A trend, driven by harsh light. The kind of light that illuminates new friends and total strangers. Light that makes you feel from negative space. Light that reminds me, through it all, to continue to see how I see... and see it more deeply.

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Farewell Candlestick

December 23, 2013 was the final game of the 49ers regular season at Candlestick Park. It's because of the 49ers and their fan base that I am even in San Francisco working at the Chronicle. Leading up to the last game we knew we wanted to do something big to commemorate a park that has been a part of so many for years. I had the idea that we focus on the faces of the Forever Faithful. I thought it would be powerful to tile them across the page and really show who these people are that make up the most colorful and loud fan base int he NFL. I'm so thankful with the support of our D.O.P. and Managing Editors that my idea had the opportunity to come to life.

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On Monday night, for the final game,  I took a few extra minutes to enjoy the stadium I've come to know so well over the past two seasons. It truly has been an incredible ride.

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Winter Solstice

Impromptu adventures do something to a person. I love the idea of leaving everything behind and running away to the top of the hill, where you can be above it all, even for just a few hours. 

Then you add great company, awesome conversation and beautiful light and it's just the perfect day.

So cheers to a Saturday adventure just because.

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Batkid

On November 15, San Francisco turned into Gotham City. Make-A-Wish foundation along with the city of San Francisco went above and beyond to fulfill the wish of 5-year-old Miles Scott.

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What no one could have anticipated is the global reaction to such a wish. Make a Wish SF Director Patricia Wilson is quoted in saying " I think this wish just struck a cord with people." She went on to say "A lot of people remember from their childhood wanting to be a super hero, and here he is, battling leukemia."

About a week before the event, Mike and I sat down to make a plan.

We knew we wanted it to be more than just a documentation of what was happening in SF, we wanted it to be about who Miles is.

After a few dead-end leads we finally were able to connect with Particia at Make-A-Wish. After setting up a make-shift studio in the hotel, we had a few minutes to hang out with Miles and his family the night the landed in SF.

Putting together a video with depth beyond the "this is what happened" on such a short timeline is always a challenge. We decided to approach this story with some smarts. Tuesday we did the interview, Wednesday we spent time with Miles, Thursday we locked story and knew exactly what we needed for Friday.

Friday morning, Mike and I split up around the city. Mike started at the Bat Cave, I caught up with Miles at his first rescue and then Mike and I meet for Union Square. From there I grabbed all our cards and went back to the office to start editing. Mike continued to shoot the final ceremony with the Mayor at City Hall. By the time mike got back with the final cards, I was close to done. Mike worked on pulling music while I laid in the final b-roll, we swapped roles and he took over for some final massaging of the footage. After some final touches it was out the door.

It hit the internet at 9:30pm. Before I could even get out of the office we were over 3,000 views. In the first 24 hours we had 118K views. It was named a Vimeo Staff Pick, where it would stay at the top of the site for the next three days. Jezebel and Digg.com also featured the video along with the L.A. Times photo department sending it out via twitter. People and Publications from all over the world were seeing it, and sharing it. By Monday morning it had been seen in 146 countries. Currently it tops off at 741K views. It is currently the top search for BatKid on Google.

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This entire process has been a bit surreal to witness. As a storyteller the dream is always that  an idea becomes reality, and then is seen or heard by the world. Watching these numbers grow and receiving comments and e-mails from viewers really has encouraged us to look at our audience and the way people are consuming and sharing stories. It's all about powerful stories captured in a way that allows the audience to relate and feel.

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I think a friend of mine summed it up pretty nicely when she posted: "ALLLLLLLLLLLLL THE FEELINGS. ALL OF THEM."

I'm so thankful to have been given the opportunity to tell Mile's story, and bring a little bit more depth to who he is, then what everyone was seeing on the nightly news.

Click here to see the video: http://vimeo.com/79541124

Elana and Marlene

Some of you might remember Elana and Marlene from earlier in the year when Mike Kepka and I spent time with them to document their families journey to marriage equality for the San Francisco Chronicle. (To see the video click here.)

This week I had the awesome opportunity to be at the court house as they exchanged their vows and were legally married by Oakland's Mayor Jean Quan. In true Elana and Marlene fashion, the ladies promised to remember to close the dresser drawers after getting ready, to wash all the dishes, and to be by each others side until the end of time.

It truly has been an honor to document the journey of this loving family.

To Elana and Marlene I say thank you. Thank you for opening your life to us and sharing your love for each other with the world.

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Year One

I've officially been at the Chronicle a year and in no way, shape or form could I have expected such the incredible ride that it's been.

Through every large sporting event or breaking news event that I've had the opportunity to be a part of this year, I've been super fortunate to find a way to mold my passions together. Be it picture editing and multimedia, or education and storytelling, I've somehow found a way to do it all this year.

There is no real way to sum up what this year has been in words, so I will resort to images and links. Please take a minute and click through the links. It's been such an important year in news, and I am so honored to have been a part of it.

Here's to the next year... may it bring more curve balls and in depth stories that will not only grow me as a person, but as a storyteller.

 World Series  

During Game one and two, Mike Kepka and I set out to AT&T Park to see what we could see in moving pictures. This was our first collaborative piece and the start of something truly incredible. On the print side of things, Pete Kiehart and I got to work the desk with our D.O.P. Judy Walgren the night of the final game of the World Series. It was pretty incredible to go from the police scanner to calling photographers and letting them know where things were going down, to editing special sections and books on deadline.

We Are Giants: https://vimeo.com/52138556 

Giants World Series Parade (which went on to win a POYi award for sports multimedia): https://vimeo.com/52598480  

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Newtown    

I had the honor to fly to Connecticut to represent the Hearst Corporation as a visiting picture editor at the Connecticut Post. It was my first time picture editing for print without a safety net of other editors over my shoulder. Not only did I feel a  huge responsibility to the community to do my best to choose images that not only captured the tragedy but the strength of a small town, I also felt a responsibility to the corporation who took a chance on me.

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 49ers  Super Bowl

I've been a huge sports fan my entire life, so this was truly a dream come true. New Orleans is such a beautiful city with a captivating vibe that makes creating images and video almost easy. I had such an amazing team of photographers with me that spent the days before the game covering everything from the NFL experience to setting up remote cameras in the cat walks.

Then game day happened and it was the biggest rush I've ever had as a picture editor. Five photographers positioned around the field with a card runner making sure the images got back to me on time so I could in return process them all and get them back to the desk for our print deadline. And a big thanks to Beyonce for the power outage that added an entirely unplanned level of difficulty and urgency to the entire experience. 

Sure the experience of being in the dome and the rush that comes with picture editing on a  tight sports deadline was awesome, but I think my favorite part was sending multiple photos to my brother and cousins bragging about the fact that while they were working on Wall Street and enhancing people's lives in med school and the classroom, I was living every teenage boys dream on the football field!

Oh right, did I mention Kepka and I made a multimedia piece too.  

Football is America:  https://vimeo.com/58866833

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Too Young

Kepka and I joined forces with San Francisco Chronicle photographer Lacy Atkins who had been working on a story in Oakland about teen homicides. She spent a year running on almost every police scanner call that involved a teenage death. Lacy is such an amazing person and beautifully sensitive photographer. Being with her on the streets to film for the multimedia piece was like walking with an untouchable. The amount of respect she was able to gain on some of the most dangerous streets of Oakland was humbling.

Lamont DeShawn Price: https://vimeo.com/60608114

Sfgate Feature: http://www.sfgate.com/tooyoung/ 

Prop 8 and DOMA 

So in between big projects and daily editing/producing shifts I was waking up at 7am to check the SCOTUS blog and see if a decision on Prop 8 and DOMA had been made. The entire staff was on call.  We all had our spots to head to once the decision was made. Kepka and I had been working on a multimedia piece about a couple and their daughter that ran the week before the decisions, so we knew on that morning we wanted to be with them. After updating the multimedia piece, Kepka and I headed into the Castro. I was working on a daily video and he was out to find a city exposed. We even got to high five our summer intern Ian Bates who was making features! (he also likes to make funny faces)

Marriage Equality Elana and Marlene (1st place NPPA Multimedia): https://vimeo.com/68893184

Castro Celebrates (2nd place NPPA Multimedia):  https://vimeo.com/69214380

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Even Odds

After working with Lacy on Too Young, I jumped at the opportunity to work with her again on a continued story in Oakland. Lacy had been working on three different chapters of a story that visualized a statistic that stated, being male and black in Oakland means being about as likely to be killed as to graduate high school college ready.

This project had a lot of first. It was the first time the Chronicle created a campaign page for a story that lead with visual presence and centered around distinct chapters that would release by day to coexist with the print display. It was also the first time that Kepka and I had devoted extended time to an in depth multimedia piece that required multiple interviews. We spent in total six months documenting life and education in Oakland. For this use-to-be teacher that still has a huge heart for inner city education, it was such a joy to get to know the students and teachers who are setting out to beat the odds.

Even Odds campaign page: SFchronicle Even Odds 

100 Black Men of the Bay Area Community SChool: https://vimeo.com/72860470 

Oakland High School Manhood Development: https://vimeo.com/71470459 

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Crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214

Literally the day before the crash a photo editor friend of mine had called and joked that he didn't think anything else monumental could happen in my first year of picture editing. The next day he text me to say he was wrong. I was working the desk on a  Saturday morning when we got the call that a plane had crashed. Our D.O.P. took over on the photography side and I was able to focus on making a gallery of the important images that were coming out of our staff that day. There is such a responsibility with breaking news to be accurate and efficient. People from all over the world were looking at the Chronicle to see what was happening in our home town.

Photo Gallery: http://www.sfchronicle.com/multimedia 

 Outsourcing a Life

One of our picture editors Nicole Frugé had the opportunity to go to India with a family from the Bay Area that were on a long journey to having a baby. While in India, Nicole gathered video along with BEAUTIFUL stills that wound up in the first special section the Chronicle has done in many years. Kepka and I stepped in to help produce the multimedia piece. Along with Nicole's footage, Kepka and I interviewed the family and got to spend time with them and their baby Kyle. 

Outsourcing a Life campaign page: SFChronicle Outsourcing

Outsourcing a Life: https://vimeo.com/75419717 

 

SF Pride

I finally emerged from the multimedia world I've been encompassed in lately to make some still pictures at this weekends Pride Parade.  

San Francisco is known for it's long line of history when it comes to Gay Pride and Marriage Equality. This weekends events got even more interesting after Wednesday's Supreme Court decision to dismissed Prop 8 and rule DOMA unconstitutional.

I was already looking forward to this year's festival, but after the rulings, this truly was the best place to witness this year's Pride weekend.

Here are a few snaps from the big black box that makes pictures, and a few from my phone as well.

This has to be my favorite rectangle I've made in a while.  Just waiting along the parade route.

This has to be my favorite rectangle I've made in a while.  Just waiting along the parade route.

Spent some time on the parade route with the lovely Elana and Marlene. So honored that these ladies are welcoming us in to tell their story. If you haven't seen the video Mike Kepka and I made, check it out here.

Spent some time on the parade route with the lovely Elana and Marlene. So honored that these ladies are welcoming us in to tell their story. If you haven't seen the video Mike Kepka and I made, check it out here.

Elana with her happy baby Nia along the parade route.  

Elana with her happy baby Nia along the parade route.  

Following the parade I headed to City Hall where they had extended their hours allowing for same-sex partners to be legally married over the weekend. Marlene Gallo signs as a witness following the wedding of Matthew Pfeuffer and Michael Stoops.

Following the parade I headed to City Hall where they had extended their hours allowing for same-sex partners to be legally married over the weekend. Marlene Gallo signs as a witness following the wedding of Matthew Pfeuffer and Michael Stoops.

The scene at City Hall was multiple couples getting married simultaneously wherever they could find floor space to stand and face each other. There were many Deputy Marriage Commissioners, dressed in black robes, spaced around the room waiting to declare "spouses for life."

The scene at City Hall was multiple couples getting married simultaneously wherever they could find floor space to stand and face each other. There were many Deputy Marriage Commissioners, dressed in black robes, spaced around the room waiting to declare "spouses for life."

Color Pop - iPhone photo from the parade route

Color Pop - iPhone photo from the parade route

Dress Up - iPhone photo from the parade route 

Dress Up - iPhone photo from the parade route 

Sidewalk Strangers - iPhone photo from the parade route

Sidewalk Strangers - iPhone photo from the parade route

Skater Boy - iPhone photo from the parade route

Skater Boy - iPhone photo from the parade route

Assless Chaps - iPhone photo from the parade route 

Assless Chaps - iPhone photo from the parade route 

Other Half - iPhone photo from the parade route 

Other Half - iPhone photo from the parade route 

I just want to go on the record and say that I am falling in love with San Francisco. Never have I lived in a city where you can be whoever you want to be, do whatever you dream of doing, support whoever you want to support, and rally behind a community that is living life to the fullest just like you are. Whether it's orange for the Giants, Red and Gold for the 49ers, Blue and Yellow for the Warriors or a rainbow for Pride, this city knows how to show it's support for its community. 

I just want to go on the record and say that I am falling in love with San Francisco. Never have I lived in a city where you can be whoever you want to be, do whatever you dream of doing, support whoever you want to support, and rally behind a community that is living life to the fullest just like you are. Whether it's orange for the Giants, Red and Gold for the 49ers, Blue and Yellow for the Warriors or a rainbow for Pride, this city knows how to show it's support for its community. 

49ers Clips

I had the awesome opportunity this past football season to become an expert in all visual things 49ers. By the end of the season I could describe to you almost every photo taken of Colin Kaepernick and find in an instant, a photo from 6 games ago of coach Harbaugh.

The sports desk would come to me and say we have a vertical hole on the right side of the page and we need Frank Gore. Without even running through the wire, I could visualize the perfect image I saw of him throughout the season and then hit the wire to find it. Not necessarily saying I'm proud of this, just saying that this is what my life was for 22 weeks.

That all being said, I've come along way in my 49ers knowledge given I had to have a friend fill me in on who the top starters were the week before I began the job.

Here are a few photo editing clips from Special Sections that I worked on near the end of the season. It's such an incredible feeling to be able to recap a season and dig into the archives to draw parallels.

I think one of my favorite pairings is in set 2 on the third page. I had the privilege of working with Peter Hartlaub on a then and now gallery. He found the Then's, and I spent some time in this year's take to package the Now's. More can be seen online here. Such a fun way to see Candlestick.

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Eddie Adams Workshop

It's that time of year again. If you are a student or a young professional looking to grow your skills and talents, make sure to apply for the Eddie Adams Workshop. Applications are open until May 31.

If you're interested in my story and how I got to be apart of the EAW family, you can read it here on Scott Kelby's blog. good luck everyone!

Meet Eugene. He's who I got to hang out with and photograph at the workshop! To see more click here.

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49ers Insider Digital iPad Magazine

I want to start this off by saying I Love Football.

I was hired at The Chronicle on the basis that I had to have a strong understanding of sports photography as I would be live editing the 49ers home games and in charge of culling over 130 plus Niners images an issue for the iPad magazine. For this sports loving girl, it was a dream job description.

San Francisco has had a great run at sports this year.  It wasn’t long before I was saying coach Jim Harbaugh’s name more times a week then mine.  Once I got my bearings with the new iPad platform and how design and photo integrated, It was time to have some fun. I challenged our team to cover everything from behind the scenes features at the stadium to multimedia pieces that encompass what football truly is.  If you're interested in checking out the App, you can find it by clicking here.

Team photo at our last home game at Candlestick this season.

Team photo at our last home game at Candlestick this season.

I had the privilege to collaboration with our photo team in Atlanta to cover the 49ers NFC Championship game and then ultimately onto New Orleans for the Super Bowl. In Atlanta we had a team of five covering the game and the surroundings. We set up remotes in the catwalks and we all had our beige colored vest, we were ready to go.

In New Orleans we set up triple the number of remote cameras in the catwalks, had five photographers, a card runner and me editing it all.  I was sitting in the photo workroom putting together our multimedia piece hours before the game when I got a call from a photo editor friend and he reminded me to enjoy the moment. I hung up the phone, left my spot in the workroom and went to check out the field. He was right. That moment was pretty great.  I was at my first super bowl. I took a deep breath, snapped a photo and went back to work.

Flash forward 4 hours. The workroom is filing up and the first sets of pregame photos are coming through. Things are running smoothly and it’s go time. I give final high fives to our photo team and say have fun. The guys head out to the field and our rhythm begins. I know that I can trust them to see what they see, and they know they can trust me to make sense of their voice tags and send through the images that tell the story of the game the best.

That being said, I can’t neglect to mention the power of strong selection back on the photo desk in San Francisco. It was the constant communication between them and me that kept us all on the same page (even through the black out!). 

It wasn’t until after the game, when we were on the field making confetti angels and taking the coolest team photo ever, that that last six months hit me. It's been an amazing adventure.

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The 49ers might have fallen short of the trophy, but our staff really came together to make a super strong paper for the next day. I can’t say enough about how proud I am of the photographers and how hard they worked that week in New Orleans. 

Oh yeah, Beyoncé performed at half time too. This is what it looked like from the catwalks. Enjoy! 

POYi

So honored to be recognized (with my partner in video crime Mike Kepka) by POYi in the category of sports multimeida. It was such a rewarding moment to watch judging and see them bring our piece in then out then in again. 

One of my favorite things about journalism is the conversation that strong visuals bring to the table. It was inspiring to listen as the judges shared thoughts about the winning pieces. 

To see our video that placed, click here.

POYi

POYi

Welcome 2013

With a new year comes a new blog.

2012 was crazy exciting. So many new people, places and experiences. My new years resolution last January was to be more present. Live in the moment, not in the wish of being somewhere else. Might have been the best resolution I've ever made and probably the only one I've ever kept!

Here's a look at the top 12 highlights of 2012.

1. January 29, 2012 I built a kitchen table. First thing I've ever built in my life.  (Shout out to the wonderful Melissa Lyttle. I couldn't have done it without her challenge and help!) "Tell me I can't."

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2. April 16, 2012 The W.H.Y. Project was born.

3. May 11, 2012 My students placed first at the EMA's for their documentary video "Fighting Chance."

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4. July 9, 2012 First day of The W.H.Y. Project camp #WHYTB. 15 students in 12 days created 5 multimedia stories form idea to final videos. So proud. (Photos by Trentin Shreeve, Will Vragovic, Ben Corda and Carolina Hidalgo)

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5. August 10, 2012 College girls week in L.A. I truly have the best friends possible. (And of course the lovely Zach showed his face a time or too!)

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6. August 20, 2012 Accepted a job as a photo editor with the San Francisco Chronicle and decided to make the bucket list trip of driving cross country. Just me and my VW heading into the unknown. #StPeteToSanFran

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7. September 1, 2012 Arrived in my new home of  San Fransisco. An awesome city with amazing friends.

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8. September 16, 2012 First of many 49ers games at Candlestick for The Chronicle.

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9. October 24, 2012 Covered my first world series. Go Giants.

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10. November 22, 2012 Hosted Thanksgiving dinner in SF.

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11. December 8, 2012 Participated in my 5th Help Portrait event. 5 years, 3 states. This dream is much bigger than any one of the photographers involved, proud to say I've been a part since the beginning.

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12. December 20, 2012 Flew to Connecticut to cover the Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy. Such a honor to be asked to help photo edit the Hearst CT papers.

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