iPhone photograph from my Instagram (Diane Cu) : “Never alone”

I wouldn’t be honest to you all if I said that I was doing fine. I hope you don’t mis-understand, life has been treating me very kindly. I have an wonderful and supportive partner, a bubble dog that loves me un-conditionally, a garden of heirloom tomatoes and a growing list of clients that I love photographing with. I’ve been satisfied, content with waking up every day excited about what I hope to accomplish, discover and create.

But over the last 6 weeks, I’ve been feeling a void, a missing piece of the puzzle that kept me awake at night more than normal. My instagram pictures (Diane Cu) were a reflection of how I was feeling during those early hours and many of you reached out to me, comforting me and I thank you deeply for that.

I believe I need to share with you, my friends, an explanation of why I was photographing the way I was. This is all part of my healing.

You see, I made a decision to close my photography studio of the last 10 years. This company I started was one of the most fulfilling projects of my life and I nurtured it every single day for the last decade. It was a business that specialized in portrait, family, kids and special events photography. My clients became friends and many evolved into family. Having clients trust me with their precious family moments was the biggest compliment anyone could offer.

Over the last 2 years or so, I was feeling burnt out and losing some creative juices when my shoots were scheduled. I stayed incredibly busy with the photography work for the 8 years prior, that I wasn’t able to explore more personal projects. I worked so hard to build my business and making my clients happy and wanting to return to me for their next sessions that I completely forgot about personal self.

I worked so hard and feeling tired, overwhelmed with all the daily commitments it took to maintain my business. I started to yearn for other creative, personal outlets more and more. It became worse when I kept wanting to be in a different place and doing different things.

Then an opportunity came up for me to leave the business, to close my portrait studio without any further lease obligations. It all happened so quickly, feverishly and within 48 hours, I made the decision to give up this business without selling it or my special event accounts to anyone else.

I just didn’t want to have anything else to do with it anymore. I ran out of creative fuel for this part of the business. And most importantly, I needed to take care of my self, my sanity.

The lease allowed me 30 days to close my studio, clear out my belongings and shut the chapter of my life that I made helped me grow and nurtured me for the last 10 years.

My head was pounding with fear. My heart was aching to pain to say good bye to all that I worked hard to build. The risk I was taking to change my career path scared the shit out of me.

Foolish was the word that was whispered within my family circle. I don’t doubt that the decision I made was risky and abrupt, but I was liberating myself from something I wasn’t happy doing any more. The thoughts of Todd and I having to work every single Friday, Saturday and Sunday exhausted me. Holidays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Prom and Graduation seasons had us working 16 hours a day.

The freedom I felt from letting all this go was liberating. I was going to take care of my personal self, my sanity again.

My multimedia business I started with Todd kept me busier than ever before. Finally we were able to take jobs and assignments that allowed us to travel more and this was where the new creative energy thrived and continued to explode. Life was finally surrounded by what I wanted to be doing, producing new visual/video content and the new list of clients was fresh and fiercely exciting.

Still, I was feeling like something was lacking, the missing piece of the puzzle I kept searching for.

This photograph that I captured above with my iPhone spoke everything to me. While on a road trip up the CA coast this weekend, I witnessed this little excited child being cradled between her 2 elders. I watched her for a few minutes and it made me happy to see how she frolicked in the water, how she managed to splash her little legs past bigger waves and how she always made sure her Mom was close by for comfort.

I had that surge of happiness again, like when I was photographing kids a few weeks back at the studio. Witnessing the togetherness of family and children was so wonderful and it was an even bigger privilege to be asked to capture their special moments.

So there it was, right in front of me, that happy little child on the beach reminded me that my heart belonged there. Photographing kids, in their environment, doing what made them happy, sad, play, cry, jump or fall. I need to go back to photographing kids. Their free spirit, innocence and wonder with the most simple of things makes me happy and to be able to capture that on camera completes me.

I found it, my missing puzzle. I need to go back to photographing kids. Their free spirit, innocence and wonder with the most simple of things makes me happy and to be able to capture that on camera completes me. If I can return back to more of what 10 years at my studio taught me, then I’ll feel complete both professionally and creatively.

I implore you to find your missing puzzles. We all have missing pieces to the whole picture and we owe it to ourselves to never continue the journey to fulfilling the vision of the life that we want to live. I’m confident that I’ll be missing more puzzles over the years, but I’ll always be exploring and searching.

My hope is that I never finish my life puzzle. I continue to find challenge, hope, creativity and answers to my frustrations when I look for these missing pieces when they appear lost. My life is often like a scavenger hunt and often finding those little things is all it takes to get me back on track.

Thanks for listening,

diane

 

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An Open Letter to Pay It Forward, a simple reminder

by White on Rice Couple July 21, 2011
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A few weeks ago we gathered in Utah to present at Evo Conference in stunning Park City . We presented at 2  photography  and 1 food styling workshop to some of the most amazing and generous attendees.  The setting in beautiful Park City was beyond beautiful and it was hard to not be inspired by all the community and support that the organizers at Mom It forward and Today’s Mama had set for everyone.

Part of why we love being part of the online »

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iPhone Video #1: On Assignment with Penny – Chef Joanne Chang, Boston

by White on Rice Couple July 11, 2011
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On Assignment with Penny: Chef Joanne Chang, Myers + Chang
Video completely shot on iPhone

A photographer often dreams of traveling the world to document stories like our friend, food and culture photographer Penny De Los Santos. Geared up with a  camera strapped to her shoulder, a seasoned passport and a heart open to seeing the world in front of her, she travels on magazine assignments making photographs of food, people and the culture that surrounds it.

Each documentary image shuttered from her camera and »

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Freaking Good Home Made Blackberry Ice Cream & Stehly Organic Farms Story

by White on Rice Couple July 3, 2011
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Know the difference between an average blackberry and a Stehly Organic Farms blackberry? Amazement.  Pure eye-rolling amazement. As if Mother Nature herself reached down and handed you a blackberry and said, “Here. This is what a blackberry should be.”

Plump. They have a deep, round sweetness that is counterbalanced perfectly by the classic blackberry tang. But just a subtle tang, not enough to overstay its welcome and overshadow the flavor of the berry.»

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My Summer Vacation, where I’m going to be fed

by White on Rice Couple May 16, 2011
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I haven’t taken a personal vacation in years. To be exact, it’s been two years and 9 months. To be even further precise, dramatic (and redundant), it’s been 1,015 days, which feels like a lifetime for me.

Every time Todd and I plan on a vacation, an opportunity arrives at our door step and we accept it, putting our personal vacation aside till next the next month. Our choice to take these gigs over vacation isn’t because it’s about the money, but rather, they’re jobs »

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Food Photography Manual by Matt Wright, Giveaway – 2 copies

by White on Rice Couple April 21, 2011
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We’re so proud of our amazing friend, Matt Wright of Wright Food. Not only is he a wonderful dad, husband, cook, blogger and charcuterie meister, Matt is a wonderful food photographer as well. His generosity and hard work are further obvious in his latest project for Japan’s devastating earthquake aid.

Matt has been working for months on a food photography manual, detailing is workflow, set-up, tips and tricks to his beautiful food photography.

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On Failure

by White on Rice Couple April 13, 2011
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iphone image at sunset

It’s one of those months where some things just don’t seem to go right.»

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What is Mezcal? Tasting Notes from Mexico

by White on Rice Couple April 8, 2011
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Mezcal. Beyond the worm…

Until recently I’ve never had much inclination to try mezcal. In the youthful and stupid years, we were more of a Jack Daniels crowd. Then as appreciation and a slightly more sophisticated palate developed, the worm-laden fire water Mezcal didn’t have much attraction. Or so I thought.

Fortunately, I’ve gotten a little less stupid over the years and have began to challenge my preconceptions. Many culinary nemesis are now favorites. “Why bothers” are “How did we ever live with-outs?”

In the »

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What we’ve been up to…. in Mexico

by White on Rice Couple April 1, 2011
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With a few thousand images to filter through still, we’ll eventually get to our mega posts about our Mexico trip we just returned from. We’re excited to share with you what crazy eating adventures we’ve been up to at the Food and Wine Festival in Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo Mexico.»

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Shooting the Chefs

by White on Rice Couple March 19, 2011
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Good people. A couple of our recent photo gigs have reminded me of why I diverged off of the University path to follow a life in food. I really like the type of people which gravitate to this industry.  They are good people.

One of these recent jobs was for the Terranea resort, shooting the chefs, interiors, and food of their signature restaurant mar’sel. In general, chefs don’t like have their photos taken. They are blue collar, 16 hour day working dudes.  Or chicks.  The »

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The Whole Family Cookbok Promo Video

by White on Rice Couple February 21, 2011

How can you not love a family who’ve named their chickens “Kung Pao, Soup, Cacciatore.” ? These are our kind of people.

The “Kung Pao” family mentioned is none other than Michelle Stern of WhatsCookingWithKids.com and her lovely clan. We had a great time with them filming a promo for Michelle’s upcoming book, The Whole Family Cookbook.»

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Happy Lunar New Year 2011!

by White on Rice Couple February 4, 2011
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It’s the year of the Rabbit/Cat 2011 ! Happy Lunar New Year to you all from San Francisco.»

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Portrait of a Gourmand: Story of Allison & Son

by White on Rice Couple January 30, 2011
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Portrait of a Gourmand A gourmand is simply, someone who takes pleasure in food and eating. This is a continuing photographic series of gourmands, from all walks of life. There are many gourmands that inspire us in profound ways that make us experience and think about food differently. These portraits essays share their amazing stories.

You’re looking at two lovely and multi-talented people. Allison Day, founder of Sushiday.com, is a dancer and a web developer. Her boyfriend Phu Son Nguyen is also web developer, »

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Food Photography Shoot Out Event-Giveaway

by White on Rice Couple January 25, 2011
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*This giveaway has ended, thank you to all who have entered, it was vey very hard to choose. Rather than select only 2 people, we selected 8 and they have all been notified.  Your comments below will be put on our waiting list for next events!

Trust us, we understand the frustrations that many of you experience when photographing food.

Being self taught photographers, we struggled with many technical and creative issues related to food photography, but we didn’t give up. The two of us »

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Portrait of a Gourmand: Michael Procopio

by White on Rice Couple January 16, 2011
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Portrait of a Gourmand A gourmand is simply, someone who takes pleasure in food and eating. This is a continuing photographic series of gourmands, from all walks of life. There are many gourmands that inspire us in profound ways that make us experience and think about food differently. These portraits essays share their amazing stories.

Please welcome writer Michael Procopio, author of the witty  food blog: Food for The Thoughtless.

There are those who write, and there are writers.  It only takes a »

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Michael Ruhlman Had Something to Say: The Dance

by White on Rice Couple January 14, 2011
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Michael had something to say again. Previously he shared personal thoughts about cooking and how to not be an asshole, then followed up with a second, eloquent insight on Chef Thomas Keller.

It’s hard not to be fascinated by Ruhlman’s ideas. Whether or not someone shares his views, his thoughts are provoking. We find ourselves drawn into his pensive mind and want to know more.  That is why we teamed up with him to do this video series.

Make sure you head over to Michael’s »

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Food Blog Camp 2011 & Dancing Video

by White on Rice Couple January 12, 2011
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mobile version

We’re still buzzed with energy from last week’s Food Blog Camp at Grand Velas Riviera Maya, Mexico. There was plenty of beach time, pool hopping, margarita sipping and dancing at gorgeous Grand Velas Resort. Like we mentioned before, Food Blog Camp is a yearly event that we consider to be a workshop-vacation, or vice versa.

There’s always plenty of laughter, great conversation, good food and new friendships forged in Food Blog Camp events. These are just some of the highlights of the wonderful »

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Koyasan, Japan

by White on Rice Couple January 2, 2011
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Retreats are often moments of personal time that we don’t often do enough for ourselves. When we planned our trip to Japan, a mountain retreat was instantly on our itinerary. On our memorable Japan trip, we took a few days to travel up to the secluded mountain of  Mt. Koya to stay at one of the Koyasans and the experience was amazing.

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A Thanksgiving Story – The Hungry Travelers Video

by White on Rice Couple November 24, 2010
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Many folks we know are thankful for a warm meal at Los Angeles Mission this Thanksgiving. We’re thankful for that, along with our families and dear friends.

What are you thankful for?

Hope you all have a warm, safe and terrific meal with loved ones. Everyone deserves such basic human compassion and sustenance.

-Todd & Diane


More Thanksgiving posts from our Fall Fest Friends:

  • Food Network:  Thanksgiving Bounty We’re Grateful For
  • Caron of San Diego Foodstuff: Bounty to Be Grateful For in the Form of
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Mu Haiku

by White On Rice Couple Photo November 7, 2010
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Haiku by Mu

Sunrise golden light,
Sorrows Shared.
Precious life goes on.

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