Leavesden Studios! Like yes….for real…

Perhaps my favorite part of Europe. After my master’s test Sunday, I was sitting in the airport trying to find out how to get my tickets to Leavesden Studios. It said preorder only, ok, that works, but they’re sold out until 2015…..WHAT??? I refreshed it and they had ONE ticket left for Monday night. As I’m putting in my credit card info, they start boarding my plane…..rush rush rush, type fast. As the last 5 people are boarding (myself included), my payment goes through. I’m in.

Monday night, I get on the train to go to the studios. There’s a late departure, and we stop in the middle of the route for like 20 minutes, thus putting me at the final stop at 4:55. My tour starts at 5…. At the bus stop (the Studios have their own bus line shuttling from the train station to the studios, aka Harry Potter double deckers ha), they have somebody manning the bus stop. Luckily, tickets are more a guideline, the times aren’t set. So I’m good. I get there, and there’s a tour starting at 5:30, I get in line and I’m the last one in the door. YES.

I walk past the cupboard under the stairs, and into a waiting room. They bs for a while here, then we go into a theater. They show us a short movie from Dan, Rupert, and Emma telling us how we’re about to walk through their childhood home, then the screen goes up into the ceiling and we’re staring at the entrance to the Great Hall. Thus begins the tour…

The doors open to the Great Hall, where I lingered forever. I was the last out, determined to get a photo of the wide open people-less amazingness that is Hogwarts, luckily the staff liked me already and held the next tour 30 seconds more so I could get the photo. Next we’re into the set/prop room. Yule Ball, Gryffindor Common Room, Leaky Cauldron, Dumbledore’s office, the Clock Tower, the Gates, Potions classroom, Hagrid’s Hut, the Burrow, the Ministry of Magic, Malfoy Manor, Umbridge’s office, masses of props from Hogwarts and the Room of Requirement, Paintings of Hogwarts, the Gringotts cart, Sirius’s bike, brooms, Quidditch props, Horcruxes, broom makers (actual dudes who made movie props making brooms), dragon skeletons, there’s so much in this room. It was impossible to list everything. The next part took us outside to the Hogwarts bridge, the Knight Bus, the Riddle grave, Number 4 Privet Drive, chess pieces, and Harry’s parents’ house. You could also get Butterbeer here. Yes it was fantastic! The final station was the art department. Full of models, white cards, mini’s, concept art, robotics, actual masks and creatures. Aragog was huge. After the creature effects department, you end up in the white card room, full of models of EVERYTHING. Then the whole concept art room, AAAAH so much. Diagon Alley was wild too. Walking down the cobblestone streets and standing in front of Olivanders, the REAL Olivanders. Checking out Florean Fortescue’s and Madame Malkins. It was surreal. You finish in the room with the model of Hogwarts. Which I posted first here. It was HUGE. This is the 1/4 scale model that they used for exterior and aerial shots. It was wild! I stayed here forever. Every angle, every nook and cranny that I’ve ever wanted to see I could actually see. I dorked out for sure. You walk out through the walls of wands, each labeled with every name of every person who worked on the movies, ending up in the gift shop. Yes I spent a lot of money. No, I don’t care. When am I going to get back there? So I justified it haha

Seriously, I still can’t believe that I went here. Anyone who knows me knows how big of a Harry Potter fan I am, and this was the experience of a lifetime. It was seriously so cool.

London!!!

London was my last stop on my European travels this summer. I must admit, it was a HUGE focus of going. Yea, I was going to Portugal, but how could I go all that way and not stop at London (mostly to visit the Harry Potter film studios….pics to come….)??? And apparently travel is quite easy and affordable once you hop across the pond. After my master’s test in Portugal, I jumped on a plane and flew an hour or so to land in London.

I admit it’s not quite what I expected- a lot more modern than I’d have liked, but so easy to get around, and the old is mixed right in with the new. It’s amusing really. I felt completely at ease getting around. Only being there for two days, I had to pick and choose what I did. I took a stroll through Regent’s Park in the morning (by stroll I mean an hour plus walk haha), it was absolutely beautiful, and if I hadn’t known I was in the middle of a city across the ocean, I would have sworn I was in the countryside. The coolest part was the zoo was located inside the park- and this zoo could give any in the United States a run for their money. The exhibits were amazing, and several, the animals had free reign. That night I went up to Leavesden Studios and wandered around the Great Hall of Hogwarts (this trip deserves its own post). Day two took me to Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and finished the night off at the Lion King (where I sat seven rows back, so it was kind of awesome). Even now, it feels completely surreal. Here’s a look at my escapades in London. And keep your eyes peeled for my photos of Leavesden studios!

2014 International Tang Soo Do Federation World Championship

This past July (yea I know….I’m behind posting…..lol), I traveled over to Lisbon, Portugal. I already posted the photos from my travels there, but the real reason for going was the ITF World Championship. I’ve trained in Tang Soo Do for about 14 years now, and it happened that my master’s test coincided with the world tournament. Soooooo, I went to Portugal. HA! It was great being around so many martial artists for a few days, and I got to know some really cool people from around the world in the meantime. The tournament was a long day, as always, but it’s awesome seeing so many great athletes doing their thing. Yes, people can fly, they flew all day long haha. I ended up judging a lot, so I didn’t get AS MANY photos as expected (like 500+ wasn’t enough…), but I got some great ones. SO, without further ado, here’s my coverage of the championship!

The beginning of a “thing”

This past summer, I had the opportunity to venture overseas for the first time. I headed over to Lisbon, Portugal for the International Tang Soo Do Federation’s World Championship. Naturally I took tons of photos, after all, how could I not??

Portugal is definitely a whole new world, while I could get bits and pieces of the language well enough to get around, the actual city is completely different. EVERYTHING is paved, and not by blacktop. It’s miles and miles and miles and miles of individual 3”x3” ceramic tile. It’s mind blowing. Seriously, we use blacktop like it’s water, and they lay billions of little tiles. And there’s graffiti everywhere. Not just tags or initials like we have here in America, I’m talking whole building sides, giant murals filling every available space. It takes some serious planning, and while maybe being a crime like it is here, it’s incredibly beautiful.

Just the fact that it’s so old too, like our country only goes back a few hundred years, Europe is OLD. Buildings centuries old, buildings on top of buildings, generations of architectural styles. There’s just so much. I only spent a few days there, but came away with several thousand pictures, so here’s just a few! I may post more on my Facebook page eventually, so keep a look out on there, too!

Family Craziness

Here’s a look at 2014’s family sessions. It’s been a great time getting to know these guys, and they’ve been incredible to work with. So many great moments.

Seniors of Fall 2014

This year has been full of photos. I know….kinda the point, right? ha! But it’s been super cool. I’ve had the opportunity to photograph several 2014 seniors, all of whom I’ve known for years. Some since they were 2 (ha sorry Jordan, not really- she was 10). So this was a huge pleasure getting to photograph the young adults these kids have grown into. Here’s a brief look at this season.