The Skyscrapers of California’s Coastline

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The towns on the central and southern coasts California enjoy a different kind of “skyline.”

City skylines seem to have become an icon in graphic design and photography, and it’s not hard to understand why.  For me, I’ve grown accustomed to remembering my trips to London and New York City whenever I see an outline of the London Eye and Big Ben or the Empire State Building.  While city skylines remind me of my travels in the world,  I’ve found that I feel more deeply connected with a different silhouette on the horizon line.

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Palm trees have always been a part of my backyard.  Literally speaking, my earliest memories of growing up in Southern California consist of running around in my yard with my little brothers, where we have three large palm trees lining our driveway and two tall ones in the back.  Little orange seeds would fall from the palms onto the driveway.  My dad would sweep them up every week, sweeping from one end of our driveway all the way to the other.   Our dog would try to eat the little seeds.

Outside of our yard, we’d always pass the many tall, skinny trees lining the beach walk as we drove to school.  When we went to the park to fly kites, one of our kites got stuck in a tall palm tree across the main road, thus, making it impossible to retrieve.

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A view from my yard of one of our palms

It’s kind of weird to be glorifying a bunch of wonky trees, but I just never noticed how often they came up in my pictures and memories until now.  Looking at my Instagram profile and Flickr, I saw a lot of sunsets and beach scenes, but a palm tree always made its way into a picture.  I don’t know why.

Maybe it’s because, unlike a lot of other trees, palm trees have a really distinct silhouette.  Profile-wise, they are mostly a really long trunk with huge fronds that fall like the hair in a girl’s high ponytail.  Fireworks on sticks?  But I also love looking upwards into a palm tree and seeing the fronds splash out like a giant sun.

I also believe these trees to be extremely iconic.  Kids always add a palm tree to their drawings of tropical islands.  I know.  I draw with them at daycare.

There’s also this street in LA that is lined with palm trees that always appears in television and movies.  Characters who are originally from the big city, the midwest, or even central CA roll down this street in a convertible, wearing sunglasses.  They pass the tall trees, basking in the sunlight and enjoying their travels in sunny LA.

Whatever it is, either the shape, the symbolic nature, or something else,  I am truly thankful for and in awe of these giant wonders.

See more pics at www.frankievictoria.com!

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Real Versus Fake: What Does it Take to be a “Real” Anything?

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As I try to break into the field of writing, I have thought a lot about the tools and experience I would need to be a “real writer.”  Real writers seem to spend a lot of alone time.  Real writers have awesome cameras.

After seeing a call for submissions on a local magazine, I thought about writing a piece about Pacific Coast Highway – my boyfriend and I had driven down it the a few weeks ago on our way home from Santa Monica.  It’s beautiful and would be a great subject for writing because of its familiarity and beautiful scenery, but I couldn’t imagine the spread without some great pictures of the water and local tourist traps.

As I imagined myself driving down and taking some great pictures, I thought about the shots I could take, but for some reason, I felt limited by the camera I have.  It’s a Canon Powershot, a digital, point-and-shoot camera.  I received it as a gift from my parents on Christmas a few years ago after I expressed the desire for a camera.  They bought it specifically because it takes great close-up shots – I was really into taking pictures of flowers at the time.  It takes really crisp, clean shots and is a great little camera, except for a couple of things.  It’s a bit on the heavy side and I feel as though the lighting is off a lot of the time (which might or might not be a camera issue).

However, when I think of “real photographers,” I think of people with DSLR cameras who know about shutter speed and aperture and lighting and Photoshop stuff.  One of the things I thought I needed to be a journalist was a good camera and maybe more photography experience.  I have always wanted to take a photography class, so I looked into taking a class at city college during the summer so I could get my bearings.  I even shopped Craigslist ads for DSLR cameras.  In my mind, to be a real photographer, I had to get a camera with a real shutter.

I called someone who was selling a Canon Rebel and talked to him about potentially interning for his event photography business.  It seemed sketchy – I called him about a camera, he started asking invasive questions about why I wanted the camera, and then he was directing me to a website about his business.  I still wanted to do it anyways.  It meant doing “real photography” and becoming more than an amateur.

My mom was really worried – not just because it seemed like a total stranger was looking to take advantage of my naiveté, but also because it seemed like I was jumping at any chance with some desperation.

“Just take it easy,” she said.  “You have plenty of time to get where you want to be.  You don’t have to resort to Craigslist.”

And she was right.  In just the last two days, I’ve gotten the opportunity to take loads of pictures through my current internships.  And I’ve done just fine with the camera that I have.

In my last post, and even the one before that, I have talked about taking risks and slowing down. It’s clearly not easy for me.  I still have that vision, that goal, and I am hell-bent on achieving it.  I’m desperate, even.  I’m slowly learning that It’s not really about the tools that I have, but the experience that I am gaining.

So, I don’t need a new camera – it would be great to get one.  But, my parents bought my camera for me to take pictures with because they knew I had an interest in taking pictures and they thought I had an eye for it.  Just this alone gives me the opportunity to be a real photographer.  I’m not going to say that I am a real photographer – I don’t think I’m even close to it.  What I can do is take that belief that my parents had (and hopefully still have) in me and use it to add it into my life’s work.

I’ve got a lot under my belt – I just took some pictures at a fancy charity event, and I’ve got the support of my family and friends.  I don’t need to be a real journalist with a real camera and everything else.  It’s actually more simple than I ever imagined.  I just need to do my job with the tools that I have.