Los Angeles // May 2017

It's cold guys. Like reeeaaally cold. And the only thing getting me through it is looking back through pictures from my trip to Los Angeles last May. Me and my main babes booked some super cheap tickets to SoCal last winter ($130 round trip?! Thanks google flights!). And I'm finally getting around to blogging our adventure and I'm filling you in on all the best shiz we did! I'm pretty go with the flow when traveling and luckily Hannah and Emily were on the same page. We really didn't have anything planned before we left but thanks to instagram, pinterest, google, and our charming personalities we found a bunch of cheap, fun stuff and made lots of friends. 
We stayed at the most wonderful airbnb in Inglewood. It was close to the airport, super spacious, comfortable, and clean. We were also really close to a Trader Joe's. Score. Our hosts were absolute angels. They were super flexible with our check in/check out times and they had lots of suggestions on things to do. We rented a car while we were there which I'd definitely recommend. Traffic can be a little messy but it wasn't nearly as bad as I imagined and parking was honestly a breeze 90% of the time. 

pacific coast highway free things to do in los angeles

Since we rented a car, we took a day to drive down the Pacific Coast Highway all the way to Laguna Beach. We walked by the ocean every time we had the chance and stopped for coffee and drinks in a bunch of the towns. The Boy and the Bear in Redondo Beach had some of the best cold brew I've ever had and Emily got a pretty stellar drink that was a mix between a mocha and a chai latte and it was magic.

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free things to do in los angeles pacific coast highway
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After driving south to Laguna, we decided we should probably head north too. We spent a day driving up into the Santa Monica Mountains and hiking around. Honestly, I couldn't tell you where exactly we were. We ended up asking some guys working in their driveway to point us in the direction of a trailhead and that was that. And yes. We were terrified of rattlesnakes but that view...

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verdugo bar bars in los angeles outdoor patio

Los Angeles's night scene is just slightly better than Central Wisconsin's... Even if the drinks are three times as expensive. Our favorite place, hands down, was Verdugo Bar. Outdoor patio, free stand-up (aka Friendship Buddies) on Sundays, good drinks.  Footsie's is another bar in the same neighborhood as Verdugo. It felt very Madison-esque hipsters, $4 PBR's, and a porch off the back where everyone was smoking cigarettes. Lucky for us they were also celebrating Steven Patrick Morrissey's birthday with all the Smiths tunes you could dream of. And we got some mean burritos from a food truck down the road soooooo...

Venice Beach was a pretty quick drive from our place so we usually ended up there for drinks in the evening. Larry's was a favorite with some pretty good beers on tap and pizza with ten pounds of arugula. Another favorite of ours was Bank of Venice where we accidentally pissed off Lori Petty... whoops. She's a regular so if you unknowingly end up sitting at a table next to her just keep your obnoxious laughing to a minimum. We stopped in Animal House about 5 minutes before they closed which was probably a good thing. Because if we had had more time I probably would have spent all my savings on bad ass vintage clothing. Seriously. It was like heaven in that place.

grand central market where to do eat in downtown los angeles

Grand Central Market might be one of my very favorite places in the whole wide world. If you're ever there hit up Valerie for a bomb breakfast sammie or a salted caramel croissant and then call me and thank me. Then go right back and get some beer and deep fried avocado from Golden Road Brewing. You're welcome.

grand central market where to do eat in downtown los angeles

Just walking around downtown LA with iced coffee was pretty phenomenal. If you look closely at the photos below you'll spy a Fin Dac mural in the background. Be still my heart!

And apparently since we needed to spend about 98.75% of this trip eating and drinking we swung into Spread. Please please please, whoever was in charge of the decor at this place, come to Wisconsin, take all my money, and transform my apartment. K thanks. I devoured some of the best falafel ever and sipped on a fig infused rye old fashioned that still haunts my dreams.

spread mediterranean food downtown los angeles foodie travel tips
the last bookstore free things to do in downtown los angeles

And then I died and went to heaven aka The Last Bookstore. Sculptures made from paper and tunnels made from books and old vaults and a huge record selection and galleries and artwork and everything good. Amen.

the last bookstore free things to do in downtown los angeles

And this. The whole reason we went on this trip. To spend Mother's Day pampering the women of Skid Row. For the past 11 years Justin Mayo and Red Eye Inc have been throwing crazy awesome amazing makeovers for Mother's Day. I worked with Red Eye in 2015 and always knew I'd go back. Justin and his team have this passion and love and empathy that is contagious. They are the real deal. The first time I met Justin I asked him "Why?" and without missing a beat he said "Because this is home. This is my family." If you aren't familiar with Red Eye you need to check them out, follow the story, donate, and if you're ever in LA volunteer. They have youth mentoring in Watts every single Saturday. And it's definitely the most fun you'll have. 

We forget so quickly that we are all people and we all just want to be treated with some freaking dignity. The stories these women told me could very easily have been my own. A bad relationship, job loss, health issues, depression. The only difference is that I've had people to lend me a hand. So let's all remember to look at each other and really see one another. Because there isn't a person you wouldn't love if you could read their story.
I wouldn't have wanted to celebrate Mother's Day any other way. Seeing women feel beautiful and important and loved and empowered is my absolute favorite thing. And I got to watch my friends use their gifts and talents to help make that happen. Which is why they're my best friends. Because I said "Let's do this." And they jumped in without hesitation or any questions asked. And then we danced in the street. 

Peace Out 2015

oh 2015. it's definitely been a year. we're gonna try to do this obligatory end of the year post as quick as possible. 

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chloe ann photography 2015

 

I turned 25
Eden finished kindergarten and started first grade (scary)
Hannah, Eden and I moved into the an apartment affectionately known as The Lady Lounge. 
I read a lot. 
I lost my grandfather.
I saw a lot of live music. Bush. Theory of a Deadman. Promised Land Sound. Alabama Shakes. Asgeir. Hozier. Rob Zombie. The Rolling Stones. Ivan & Alyosha. Noah Gundersen.
I went to Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Zion National Park. 
I spent time doing more of what I wanted to do like reading, cooking, being outside. I let go of some unhealthy habits and relationships and made new healthy ones.
all of the weddings I shot this year were amazing. adored them all and I really felt like I was being connected with my ideal clients. and I got to photograph some really bad ass boudoir. 

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chloe ann photography 2015

 

here's goals and things I'm excited about in 2016- 

MEXICO! (duh)
drink more water
consume less meat/animal byproducts
more hiking and back packing!
more kayaking!
more date nights with the man
more date nights with the little
shoot more boudoir
dream trip in August!! (am I allowed to talk about this Bonnie? oh well. no location disclosed to the public yet. more on that later.)
watch all of AFI's 100 Greatest American Movies (is this even realistic? who knows.)
start an effing book club! 
Chicago
start lifting again

ok I think that's enough. 

chloe ann photography 2015

Peace Out 2015!! 

i thought that i could change you. but you changed me.

it's always disappointing when things don't turn out the way we imagined them isn't it? i mean, it doesn't turn out bad. just different.  we preconceive a situation and it just doesn't play out the way it would in our heads. automatically we are displeased. our hopes are defeated and our pride is hurt. then we spend an insane amount of time measuring the reality against the expectation. we dwell on it until we have convinced ourselves that the actual situation we have been given is lacking. that we were ripped off. 

i went to los angeles telling myself "i'm going to change the world. i am going to make a difference. i am going to make sure these people know that they are seen and important and significant. and i'm going to use my camera to do it." 

well the first day at the dream center we were sent to pick up furniture that was donated for foster care prevention. then we went and distributed food from a food truck. and you know what i only took one picture. on my phone. and it wasn't even a good one. the next day we walked around sunset boulevard and picked up trash in the afternoon we went to venice beach and passed out meals and spoke to the homeless. i didn't take a single photo. afterwards we did some touristy stuff. walked around, shopped, ate food. all the while i was thinking "is this it? is this really what i am going to be doing all week. this is not what i signed up for. i am making no difference. i have done nothing. this is a bust. i have been robbed of what was supposed to be a life changing event." and then you know what happened? things got worse. much much worse. 

i had a gallbladder attack in a starbucks bathroom. yup. i won't give you all the gory details. but basically what happens during these attacks is i am violently ill for 30-60 minutes. next to childbirth it's the worst pain i have experienced. sometimes i pass out. sometimes i break out in hives all over my body. and even after the attack is done i am out for the count. i am weak. i am in pain. i am dizzy and nauseated. so on our third day i got to lay in bed and recoup. all day long. alone. 

and of course i sat there replaying side by side my expectations for the trip and the reality of what it was. i was disappointed. i was supposed to bring back these glorious photos and footage to change these peoples lives! 

then i stopped. and realized how completely selfish i was being. i asked myself "why are you doing this? are you doing it to make a difference or are you doing it to show people that you made a difference?" what the what.

i seriously said out loud "this is not about me."

since i was young i wanted to make a difference. i wanted to fight for the underdogs of the world. i said i was going to go places and help people. and lately that passion has been at the front of my mind. i have been begging God and the universe to use me. use me. and when i was presented with an opportunity to be used i looked at it and said "eh. not exactly what i had in mind. thanks but no thanks." 

it's amazing what a change of perspective will do for you. the more i thought about it the more i thought maybe the reality is better than the expectation. i realize i was not out there taking pictures and being photojournalist of the year. but i got to come in contact with people. i got to talk to them genuinely and love on them and show them that they are important and not just a museum piece not just a project that i was there to document. These people are at the lowest points in their lives. And I realized I wasn't going to make them feel significant by shoving a camera in their face and saying "hey let me just go ahead capture how awful your life is." The people I met are amazing. Their sense of community and selflessness is unlike anything I have ever seen. I would never want them to feel disrespected or exploited. 

Am I saying I'm glad I didn't take photos and videos? No. It's still slightly disappointing. But I am glad that I was able to take a step back and get my priorities straight. I realized my heartbeat, my desire, is for people to feel loved. All people. Keith. Ricky. Lisa. Will. Loppy. and everyone else I had the honor of meeting in LA. And everyone else that I will meet in the future.

I really thought I was going to change LA. What I didn't expect was for me to be changed in such a radical way. My priorities and goals and desires have completely shifted. It's extremely difficult to put into words. I would love to go back and tell their stories. But first I need them to know they are loved and they have value. To do something like that you have to build real authentic relationships. The things that I want to do can not be accomplished in one week. So don't worry. I will have stories to tell. It's just going take a little longer than expected. 


I can't really write down all of the insane experiences I had. Lots of people have been texting messaging emailing me asking about my trip. If you'd like to hear stories let's get coffee. I never get tired of talking about Los Angeles. Also I was able to connect with and learn about some crazy awesome people who are doing great things. If you want to make a difference but don't know how go check out these organizations, donate, or if you're near LA go volunteer. 


http://2hands2cans.com/ I heard about this group our last day in LA. I am crazy in love with what they are doing. Providing people with resources to better themselves, resources that they would not otherwise have, is huge! 


http://www.dreamcenter.org/- The Dream Center is where I stayed and worked when I was in LA. So I can tell you first hand that what these people do is no joke! They do it all. Food truck, rescuing women from prostitution, transitioning families from homelessness, foster care prevention, and so much more. It's insane. 


http://www.redeye.org/  These guys. I got to meet Justin and do some youth mentoring in Compton while I was in Los Angeles. I can not say enough good things about him. His vision is beautiful and his passion for people is contagious. He is one of the most down to earth and genuine people I have ever met. And he has a wolf puppy. So.. Please please please go check out what he and his team are doing. Help out however you can.