2018 Manifesto

When I was eight, my friend Anna and I cut down mistletoe from the walnut tree in my backyard. We wrapped it in ribbon, attached small bells - basically just decked it out with various holiday-themed accoutrements. We carefully placed each mini bundle in a basket and walked all around the neighborhood with my dad, going door-to-door like traveling saleswomen. We took whatever we'd made from the 10 or so sales and donated it to a homeless shelter. When I was nine, we made potions in my bathroom. Toothpaste, glittery body spray, shampoo, hair gel, costume eye shadow – nothing was off limits. Into a little jar it went. We put the camcorder on a tripod and made long, rambling sales pitches about why our potions were the BEST – infused with a bit of nine-year-old "comedy," of course.

Around the same time, Anna and I spent weekends scavenging the sideyard at my parents' house, looking to "invent" things. We marveled at our transportation-related inventions: a steerable "wagon" of sorts made from wheeling plant dollies and a cardboard frame. A second iteration made out of an existing gardening wagon that was now a rocket, thanks to the addition of some cereal boxes and some shiny paper. I remember feeling so inspired by the fact that we'd empowered ourselves with a vehicle in which we could roll ourselves down the driveway. I told my parents I wanted to be an inventor.

When I was ten, we collected all our unwanted "little kid" toys, carefully displayed them on trays, and set them on a table next to some lemonade. We sat at the bottom of Anna's driveway, patiently waiting for cars to turn the corner – in a very un-busy neighborhood. When a rare customer dared entertain the offers that our hand-drawn signs promised, we sat poised to pitch them our unique selling proposition: while you're buying lemonade, would you like to buy a toy? I'm sure we were the only lemonade stand in town selling lemonade AND toys. Needless to say, it wasn't a very successful venture.

Throughout high school, I immersed myself in music. I musically directed a play, led a band, learned music theory, composed songs, and I even played keyboard in my middle school's production of Beauty and the Beast (and got paid for it!). While this wasn't truly entrepreneurial, I put all my creative energy into music and felt the same passion for it that I now feel for photography.

When I was twenty-one, I spent hours at the beach after class, scavenging the shores for sea glass. I had jars of sea glass segments, some common, some rare. I watched one video on wire wrapping, and off to the jewelry store I went. I calculated the cost of each necklace's store-bought materials, combined with the perceived value of the glass (based on size, color, degree of smoothness), and I was in business. I launched a sea glass jewelry store and sold my handmade necklaces at a craft fair, to people at my college, and, of course, to friends and family.

When I was twenty-three, I launched a photography app on the app store. It was intended to be a location-based platform for people to share their photos and their favorite locations, so it would be easier for photographers to find a place to shoot with specific parameters in mind. It was short-lived, because I simply didn't have the time or money to maintain the app, but I consider it my brief foray into Bay Area tech.

From the time I was able to conceptualize what a nine-to-five job was, I knew I didn't want one. Without knowing it, throughout my childhood I was fostering an entrepreneurial, creative spirit that I am now realizing cannot be suppressed. I have always been filled with an intense drive to create, to strive for success on my own terms. And there has never been a time in my life where I have not been brimming with creative energy. If I try to walk away from a creative project that's been plaguing my mind, I can't. In high school, I would sit in my room for twelve hours straight without even remembering to eat because I was writing a song. I find myself addicted to art, addicted to the flutter of my heart, the way it feels when I've just created something. Sometimes, it's music. Sometimes, it's writing. Lately, it has just so happened to materialize through photography.

It also just so happens that photography is a viable business idea for me.

The intense creative fulfillment I derive from photography, combined with the potential it has to be my main financial lifeline, is why I'm here, writing this post.

Starting in 2018, I will be attempting to "make it" in photography. Full-time. No other steady paycheck of my own.

It's really hard to walk away from the benefits, predictability, and all around simplicity of my current job. I don't mean that my job is simple, but that my taxes, my healthcare, my all-around finances are all part of one streamlined system that makes it easy. I guess I just like to torture myself with things that are hard.

Being my own boss will probably be ten times harder than having a boss. There's no one to deflect to, I'm personally liable, and I don't have the option of calling in sick. Sure, I may have a more flexible schedule, but my sustenance is based on me pushing my business forward and not just giving up even when the rest of my life gets difficult or busy.

That's why I need your help. Friends and family, please understand that my photography is not just a hobby anymore. I need to charge professional rates to survive in the Bay Area, where the median cost of a house is $645,000. I love helping out when I can, but please don't feel slighted or surprised when I quote you a rate that may feel high, or when I can't shoot you for free because I need to spend the time on paid projects.

Fellow photographers, and strangers around the globe, I need your help, too. All of you who watch my YouTube tutorials or buy my presets, I am so thankful for your support of my efforts to share what I've learned with the photography community. Don't sell your own work short, and be mindful of the true cost of photography. In a world where everyone is a "photographer," our industry is diluted and needs professionals to stay true to their value and reflect it in their pricing.

The good thing is: I'm ready. In 2015, after I graduated college, I felt like I was ready to launch into my own business then, but looking back I was a bit naïve and definitely not ready. I hope I don't say the same thing in 3 years! :D

I don't know if this will work out. Maybe in five years I'll find myself pining for the predictability of a 9-to-5 job. But what I do know is that I need to try. I need to follow the instincts that have been slowly manifesting since I was a child.

I'm going to try to follow my own advice that I tell myself when I face a difficult project – to "make it happen." Making my dream of being self-employed in a creative field happen. Making a lifestyle of flexibility and choice happen.

So – that's what 2018 is all about: making it happen.

I can't thank you enough for the support you've shown me so far, and now I'll need it more than ever. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for the adventures that are sure to come.

[On that note, Padraic and I will be kicking off this new chapter by traveling in Europe for six months starting at the end of February. So book me for shoots in Europe! Or reach out to me if you want to collaborate! We'll post our itinerary soon. :) ]

Padraic + Diane | Dublin Regional Hills

Sometimes it's hard to want to bring out the camera for more everyday moments. But I'm trying to do that more because I know it's more important than all my other work in the long run. I 5-of-a-kinded myself and Padraic. Enjoy these beautiful green rolling hills with puffy white clouds on a crisp day in Dublin (California - not Ireland, unfortunately).


Flower Beard! Editing an iPhone photo in Lightroom | Video Tutorial

Over the weekend, I went home to my parents' house and saw that this bush - I'm not sure what it's called - was just starting to bloom. It was begging me to take photos with it somehow, but I hadn't even brought my camera.flower beard

Luckily we all have high-quality photo-taking machines in our pockets these days, so I pulled out my iPhone and asked Padraic if he'd mind getting in the bush for some "flower beard" photos. Because he is as nice as he is, he agreed without hesitation. I was super happy with the results!

flower beard 2

However, since I also hadn't brought my laptop along to edit with, I was limited to editing on my phone with the VSCO Cam app. Because there were some more complex details I wanted to alter, I gave up on that and waited to pull the photos into Lightroom when I got home. Here is a brief editing tutorial/behind-the-scenes video! Hope you enjoy it!

Yosemite & Hetch Hetchy

This past weekend my family and I took a trip to Yosemite, where there was much less snow than we were expecting. We had perfect weather on Saturday and did about 6 miles of hiking, and then it was raining all day on Sunday, which is when we went to Hetch Hetchy and got soaked. I love shooting in dreary weather, and I think seeing wisps of fog lingering in the crevices of canyon walls is one of the most beautiful sights. YosemiteSpring-001YosemiteSpring-028YosemiteSpring-039YosemiteSpring-040YosemiteSpring-043YosemiteSpring-047YosemiteSpring-050YosemiteSpring-059YosemiteSpring-063

Milkbath + Smokebomb

I'm going to be honest: I don't love these images. I had an idea and a vision that didn't necessarily materialize in the way I was expecting. In fact, I liked my first milkbath photos better, even though I had a worse set-up. That said, this shoot was a reminder that experiments drive art forward. I'm a huge advocate of staying busy with personal work in between paid jobs because personal work is the core of my art. It's what has honed my style and sparked my ideas. So, if there's one piece of advice I could give, it would be: never stop shooting. Not every shoot will produce images you love, and that's okay.

Milkbath2-017 Milkbath2-010 Milkbath2-025 Milkbath2-053 Milkbath2-049 Milkbath2-057 Milkbath2-058 Milkbath2-043 Milkbath2-045 Milkbath2-047 Milkbath2-048 Milkbath2-060

Spring Box Trail Hike

Yesterday, Padraic and I checked out a spot I've been meaning to explore for a while: the Spring Box Trail in Santa Cruz. It runs adjacent to the UCSC campus and rambles in and out of redwood forest and open trails surrounded by oak trees. I don't know what the history is behind these spring boxes, but rumor is that locals set koi and goldfish free in these concrete boxes, and the fish some how manage to avoid getting eaten by raccoons. There are also lime kilns from the 1850s nearby! Needless to say, I left with inspiration for another photoshoot. :)

SpringBox-010 00DIP1 SpringBox-041 SpringBox-065 SpringBox-067 00DIP2 SpringBox-126 00DIP4SpringBox-07200DIP3 SpringBox-142 SpringBox-145 SpringBox-150 SpringBox-238 SpringBox-210 SpringBox-255 SpringBox-326 SpringBox-339 SpringBox-353 SpringBox-362


Cacti Self-Portraits


I was inspired by a senior session the night before (photos to come) to return to this spot and take some self-portraits with these cacti. Aren't they cool? It's all around a great spot because there aren't many people around (the most awkward part about taking self-portraits), and it's right by the UCSB lagoon – you don't have to go far around here to find a variety of biomes.

Also, I'm not a fashion blogger, but I just have to say that this whole outfit was purchased at Crossroads (at different points in time) for less than $20. That's a Lucky Brand shirt and a J. Crew sweater right there. Boom.

DianeCacti-089 DianeCacti-155 00DIP1 DianeCacti-099 DianeCacti-129 DianeCacti-174 DianeCacti-249 DianeCacti-288 DianeCacti-261 DianeCacti-311 DianeCacti-244 DianeCacti-207 DianeCacti-196

Self-Portraits | A Study in Orange


In September, the vision for these photos came to me in the form of a fine art painting. I pulled out an old dress that my mom wore to a wedding once, and the colors beckoned to be combined with the wall in their bedroom that we had just painted "Cavern Clay" in September. It may have taken a few months to materialize, but here it is: a study in orange. (Or, more accurately, Cavern Clay.)

OrangeWall-125 OrangeWall-048 OrangeWall-034 DIP2 OrangeWall-036 OrangeWall-013 OrangeWall-056 OrangeWall-064 OrangeWall-083 OrangeWall-110

And some "behind the scenes," because you can only have so much seriousness.

'OrangeWall-094 OrangeWall-109 OrangeWall-112 DIP1 OrangeWall-098

Pyracantha Self-Portraits

I wanted to plant succulents to take to my apartment at school, and I had to trim the burro tail one to transport it. Since there were these pretty long strands of succulent, I couldn't let them go to waste. I also didn't have a model handy, so I decided to wear a succulent crown myself. However, the self-portraits were much easier said than done. I haven't taken outdoor self-portraits for a long time, and when I last did so, I was shooting on automatic, which was way easier. But shooting manual to get the exact effect you want requires you to be constantly adjusting settings, so even with a flip-screen and a remote trigger, it was a struggle. I even decided the crown looked kind of dumb, but here are the few surviving images.













Summer 2014 |From My iPhone

Lately I've been wanting to do something with my mobile photos. Sometimes there are portfolio-worthy shots; more often, Instagram-worthy shots. But what about all the in-betweens? The cat photos, the giant ice cream cones, the feet shots...will they just rot away in my cumbersome Flickr grids? (Which I use as my cloud back-up...)

I thought about ordering monthly prints of select mobile photos, but that would be relatively costly and would require me to either file them away in an album or post them on a wall (which would fill up quickly). Perhaps that will be an option in the future, but for now I think I'd like to occasionally (maybe monthly?) post a personal entry of my life's in-betweens.

So here's my first sampling of iPhoneography. Some odds and ends from the past month or so as I stopped working and went on vacation. Captioned and all.


Starting off with a cat picture, just to grab your attention.


^^ Next, a day at "work." Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Taking photos of kids at an English language learners exchange camp.


^^Still at work. Giants' game.


^^ Right: Me trying to look like I'm not taking a selfie while eating a Ghirardelli chocolate cone at the Giants' game. I paid $9.00 for that cone. It was worth every cent. Left: Padraic and I doing dishes. Because there was no better placement for this picture.


^^ Extreme drought conditions at the lake I've been going to since I was 6 months old. I've seen this lake with water up to the trees, but I don't think I've ever seen it this low. This entire stretch of land with the road is usually completely underwater. Currently we're having to use the "volunteer ramp" to launch ski boats with only a few feet left to go before there's no place to launch boats. To put it in perspective, there are three to four other ramps that cater to higher water levels. That's a lot of missing water.


^^ Padraic + the Tigé.


^^ Me + the Tigé. Volunteer ramp in the background.


^^ Self-explanatory, but I'll caption it anyway: pretty sunset!


^^The weekend Padraic learned to double ski. In the span of about three weeks, he progressed from learning to swim to cutting pretty nicely on slalom ski.



^^We took Mormor to Henry Cowell again after I'd been there with the camp. It was a nice stroll in the redwoods.


More kitty pictures


^^ Me meeting my best friend Alice's baby brother for the first time + a wild sunflower in Nevada.


Another fun boat weekend. Everyone else was sitting in something, so Cody decided the kayak would make a nice place to lounge.

IMG_2407 DIP8

^^ Padraic and I left the boat the following Monday morning and started our journey to the cabin (near Tahoe). We stopped at an amazing spot along the Mokelumne River.

IMG_2525 IMG_2534 IMG_2591

^^ Made it to the cabin and went on a walk down to a more permanent residential street, which has pretty houses like these. Lover's Leap in the background (I prefer to notate that with an apostrophe before the 's').


^^ Another shot from the residential loop + some vintage waterskis in an antique shop in Carson City.


^^Padraic in The Walk Shop in Berkeley (random) + random cabin


^^The day after we got to the cabin, we went on one of my favorite hikes, Horsetail Falls. I love the greeny-blue pools in the waterfall.


^^Comparable to a view of Yosemite, don't you think?


^^Padraic boldly scaling the rocky face.


^^A totally random picture I wanted to squeeze in here to separate some diptychs. Sitting on the porch, waiting.


^^Our dinner after the Horsetail hike. I always feel happy about making a substantial meal on my own (can you tell I'm still 21?)


^^On our way to Tahoe to visit with my aunt and uncle. They have a timeshare on the Nevada side and were gracious enough to host us for a few days.


^^A very attractive selfie on the river.


^^Me in the lake + a casino. We were heading up to eat at the top floor buffet of this casino, and let me tell you, that buffet was incredible. Especially the seemingly endless dessert cases.


Keep Tahoe blue.


^^A little road trip to Carson City. Stopped in Genoa, the oldest town in Nevada.


^^Padraic in front of a raspberry wall.


^^Really creepy antique store in Genoa (we think that's a real skeleton in a casket).


^^ "give me time to walk over"...#seemslegit


^^ Me in front of a raspberry wall.


^^My uncle told me these might be hawthorn berries.


^^Stopping at Camp Richardson for ice cream has become a requisite part of going to Tahoe. That is a split single scoop.


^^Posing in/at rivers seems to consume a large chunk of our lives.


Some back at home shots.


^^ Grand finale. The Fritz helping us pick accent wall paint colors for my parents' room. Can it get more adorable?

Hope you enjoyed this post! Look for more mobile updates in the future!


Well, this afternoon I was struck with another photo idea, based off of some other milk bath portraits I had seen. I asked Padraic to help me with it, and of course he said yes - even volunteering himself to be the recipient of the milk bath portrait. But instead I wanted him to assist me with some self-portraits, which you could technically just call portraits now, since I wasn't the one pressing the trigger. (I didn't think that attempting to suspend my camera over a tub of warm milk and pressing a remote trigger was a very good idea.)

So off to the store we went for a box of powdered milk and some cornstarch (one recipe advised the use of cornstarch for increased opacity...but it didn't end up contributing much). I filled the tub with as little water as possible - after all, we are in a drought - and figure I've made it up by not showering for the past 3 days (TMI?).

Though there was nothing inherently provocative about this shoot, I guess the whole in-the-bathtub-not-wearing-too-many-clothes thing may give that impression. Just to clarify, as you'll see in some of the shots, we were each adequately covered. Next time, I think it would actually be cool to wear MORE clothes. Think about it: clad in a floral button-up with pearl earrings & swimming in milk. I might just have to do that.

MilkBath-007 MilkBath-002 MilkBath-003 MilkBath-004 MilkBath-005 MilkBath-006 MilkBath-008 MilkBath-009 MilkBath-010 MilkBath-011 MilkBath-012 MilkBath-015 MilkBath-013 MilkBath-001 MilkBath-014 MilkBath-016