For Your Very Own Pleasure


There are so many opportunities than any ever before to be creative and make a living out of it. This is the generation that can finally work in the creative field and feed their family too. Its an exciting time but also it can be a dangerous thing for the heart of a creative person. Its so easy to get caught up in make money that you forget the love of photography, video editing, writing, cooking, whatever it may be that you love to do.

May the motivation not be a dollar but for your very own pleasure. You’re worth it and your art is worth it.You will find happiness once again in your work. And if you haven’t gotten to the point of being paid for what you love to do, then may I remind you it is possible and not to give up. The world needs you to do that thing that you are good at.

Enjoy your work, and enjoy life.

David, my nephew, never fails to remind me of this.

33 Years and Counting

My parents have been married for 33 years. 1979 the story began for them. I look at their younger photos and wonder if they knew they were the right people for each other. Maybe they didnt even think of that. I hear of stories of some hard times. My mom was pregnant at age 26 and my dad was still in to partying with his friends. My mom than gave her heart to Jesus and asked God for help. My dad loved my mom so much he didn’t wanna lose her. He said he knew he had to make a decision so he asked her to marry him on  Jan 1, 1979. Seven days later they were at the local chapel saying their vowels.

From that point on it wasn’t “They Lived Happily Ever After” , but “They Worked Hard Ever After.” It wasn’t until their second child, my sister Sarah, did my dad gave his heart to Christ. From that moment on he was sold out, gave up drinking, partying, and even lost many of his friends because of his decision.  By the time I came around in 1983 my parents were deep in love with God, loved  going to church and enjoyed helping people.

My dad told my mom last night, ‘It feels like we are still dating and I’m trying to get you to marry me.” My mom answered him, “I always wanna be near you even if we aren’t doing anything.” I sat there watching the love between two people who I call my parents. I sometimes take their love for each other for granted. Their love for each other is such a matter of fact to me. But how I am thankful that they both gave their lives to Christ. I grew up in a peaceful home never seeing them fight or hate each other. I know its because of God’s love that they are able to still be in love 33 years later.

The Last Paragraph


I finally finished C.S. Lewis’, “Mere Christianity”. I must say, it is indeed a deep book. I have to share the last few lines with you. The book was overall beautiful. I highly recommend that everyone reads this book, no matter how deep it is, you will get it by the end.

“Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end; submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him and with Him everything else thrown in.


Do you hear Him?

Everything speaks, and everything is saying something. It all  depends if you are listening.

Dec 18 2010 : While hanging out with my friend at the Thrift store we found ourselves exploring the electronic section. We began to find old electronic that used to be part of our daily lives. The once cool popcorn maker was now an artifact from the past. The phone with a cord was now a part of a distant memory. One moment I was a kid playing with a radio recorder and the next I am 27-year-old looking at the same radio recorder at a thrift store.

I began to think about time and how fast it passes us by. How we don’t even notice it’s going by. This is what I heard that night as I thought about my day,  “Monica, what are you going to do with the time given to you? The years are flying by, you don’t have time to let fear control you.”

Dec 22 2010: In the morning I checked my Facebook and saw a christmas card a friend had posted up. It was a photo of him and his wife with a little chiwawa dog. I wrote a comment about how I dislike those dogs. He wrote how I would love his dog. I responded, “I was bit once before and ever since then I’ve been scared of those dogs.”

That night at church I was reminded of that photo and my responds, “I was bit once and I’m now scared.” I started to think about the things in my life that have “bit” me and I am now scared of. I heard this in my heart, “Just cause you got bit once doesn’t mean you will again. Its time to let go of fear.”

Dec 23 2010: My mom came in to my room and showed me picture of my great grand parents. I’ve seen this photo many time hanging on my grandpa’s wall but for the first time I noticed something new. As I held the photo in my hand and looked at my great grandmothers face, I noticed I had her jaw. Looking at this woman, my great-grandmother, who is a stranger to me, made me wonder what other elements I have inherited from my ancestors.

I wondered where I got my creativity from, or my love to travel, my nose, my ears, my eyes.. I then heard, “You are unique, many generations took part in making your DNA make up, you were created for such a time as time.”

Dec 26 2010: Every song on my ipod was annoying me during my drive home from my friend’s house. I couldn’t seem to find a song that I enjoyed. Finally the worship song, “None but Jesus” came up. It reminded me of 2005 when I was living in Australia. I was at Hillsong Church when they recorded that song live. I remember standing on the side of the stage just worshiping and loving God with all of my heart. I had worked so hard to get there and I wasn’t going to take it for granted. Everyday that I was in Australia I thank God for making a way for me to live there.

I began to remember how hard I fought for that dream. Everyone said it wasn’t going to happen but God would always remind me not to give up. I fought for that dream and I thought, “Its time to fight for my dreams again.”

Dec 27 2010: This morning I woke up with a heavy heart. I then was reminded, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverb 4:23. I drove to work thinking how I need to protect my heart from all the negative things I have been thinking about myself.  When I got to work I knew I needed to listen to something positive. I opened a podcast and saw, “Guard Your Heart” by Kong Hee. He then mention 2 Timothy, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Everything that I have heard from God this month, was summed up in this little verse. At work one of the Pastors came and said hello. We started off with small talk, but with a Pastor small talk always leads to a deep conversation. We then began to talk about exceptions that I might have for my future husband. We made jokes but before he left the conversation he said, “Who ever you marry, make sure he can hear from God.” And that my friend, has been echoing inside of me all day.

I began to think over how God speaks to me. The interesting thing is that God speaks to me all the time and yet I’ve never heard His voice. I wonder how God speaks to you, and if so what is He saying?

He is speaking to you all the time, do you hear Him?

My Playlist of the Year

My Playlist of the Year
For me music carries feelings, memories, dreams, and inspiration.
Each season I find that I come across a new artist that takes me of a journey.
Here is my soundtrack for 2010.

January: Winter Mix: The Yeah Yeahs //Miike Snow

February: Crystal Castles

March: Ian McIntosh

April: Two Door Cinema Club

May: Simon & Garfunkel

June: Passion Pit

July:  The XX

August: Local Natives // Hammock

September: Autumn mix: Jack Peñate //The Submarines

October: Ellie Goulding // Eva Cassidy – Autumn Leaves // Azure Ray – November

November: Winter Mix: Empire of the Sun//Caspian

December: The Hundred In the Hands//The Honey Trees

You can listen to my playlist on youtube:

Its strange going back and listening to my favorite songs by these artist . The emotional reaction that it sparked actually made me relive the season I passed through. They did indeed play a role in my life. Most of my songs made me think of a friend that I no longer keep in touch with.

Creative juice where art thou?

Creative juice where art thou?
My soul has been sucked dry
My inspiration has vanished.

Its been to many days
since i last flew the blue skies
I can no longer give out
what i have not taken in

He is the source of my heart
I desire is to find Him
I have not seen Him for days
which feels like years.
He is above universal time and
yet I can’t seem to read His hands.

I look at the kite,
admiring its freedom,
but yet can’t help notice the string that holds it in place.
Even birds have a nest.

A Monday

7am – Last night I had so many dreams, to many to remember. I saw faces that I haven’t seen in years. I time traveled back in to the history of my life, and felt feelings I had felt since the moment they were real. I woke up not wanting to leave my bed. “Oh, if my dreams could be true.” I thought about where I would be if I could be anywhere and be doing anything. I imaged myself in Iceland waiting for the train, observing the people around me. I could see small children in their handmade colorful sweaters looking up at their parents and then looking towards me, wondering why I was looking at them. I felt the cool air on my face and I could see the large shadows the small town buildings were making from the bright morning sun.

740am – I sat in traffic looking around at my city. All the building seem more than 50 years old. Most of the businesses don’t even exist anymore. There is this funny little sign that sits in the window that says, “Do not put your teeth on the wall.”  I laugh every time I see it but then wondering what it means. It looks like a child wrote it but then again some people are odd.  A homeless man walked across the street. His hair looks like it hasn’t been washed in months, his clothes are dirty. He looks young but walks hunched over like an old man. I wonder about his life, where he went wrong, when did his family give up on him, when did he give up on himself. I tried to guess what drug he is on. My guess is methamphetamine, since it’s San Bernardino most popular drug.

8:30am – Work. I begin to research for a new video project about some of the greatest headlines in the 20th & 21st century. I start with 1930 and begin to make my way up. For the first time these major events were coming to life.  Looking at old photos and watching video clips made me experiences each event as if it were breaking news. What gets me every time is reading about when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Then watching the video clip of his murderer getting shot on national TV makes it feel all so real.  I read about the youth rebellion, when drugs became a movement, when abortion became legal, when the Vietnam War called for a draft. Now that generation are the leaders. To think they were once so out of control. My parents tell me stories of how they found God. I love the fact  my parents made the decision to follow Jesus. In the 1970’s the Time magazine had a cover of Jesus with the subtext, “The Jesus Revolution.” Oh history, how we are all connected. Each generation.

1140am – Lunch. I left my office thinking about history. I wondered if my parents generation have regrets. I wondered about the people who fought so hard for something that they believe in like, Abortion and now being older  if they have the same perspective. Do they ever think of all the millions of lives that have been affected? In history there have been so many key people who have changed the world for the bad and for the good. When Bill Gates developed Microsoft in his garage, when Steve Jobs and his friend started Apple.

1210pm – I parked my car at the market and switched thinking gears. My stomach now was in control of my thoughts. As I shopped around I text my friend, “I wish I was a writer.” He responds, “Then WRITE.”  I grabbed a few things and then stood in line. When it was my turn the cashier guy didn’t say hello. It made me sad to think people don’t even say hi anymore. I stood there looking at his eyes, he finally noticed and looked at mine. I swiped my card wondering what was wrong, why was he so sad. I told myself to look in to his eyes again. I felt like he needed to know I see him. We again make eye contact and I walk away.

450pm – I look at the clock and it’s already time to go home. I walked to my car wanting to do something with my day. I come home and my bed looks at me. I know she wants me to go to sleep but chose not to. I have dinner with my mom and listen to her talk. I awkwardly ask her if a boy can come visit me for the weekend afraid she is going to ask a million questions. She says sure and I hurry and change the subject. I talk to her about Polaroid film.

600pm – I watch some of the Office and text my friend. He calls me on his break and I tell him about my history filled day. As soon as we get off the phone I go outside and ride my bike. As I ride I wonder what my neighbors must think of me when they see me outside their window. The site of a 27-year-old girl ride her bike as if she were 14 years old girl. I push myself to do another block and then returned home. It felt great to exercise. I felt inspired.

800pm – I turn off The Office and make myself a cup of tea. Time to write. And so I do.

923pm – More than an hour and a half later. I’m not a writer but hey would you look at that.. I wrote my first blog using words.  Now enjoy the music and tell me about your day. 🙂


Chapter 1: Portrait

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A friend and I were hanging out at the local book store when I said to myself, “I want a photography book that isn’t just about great photos but tells me how to capture my own.”  I then picked up a book “The Complete Photographer” by Tom Ang.  The moment I picked it up I knew I had to buy it.  After reading the first chapter I dramatically saw the difference in my photos.  I have also started a photography club with some young girls from church.  I want to impart in them creativity and to inspire them to capture some of life’s greatest moments.


A Portrait: When the subject is the center of the universe they can be anyone and anything.

Here are some photos where I used different techniques.

Storytelling: To kick off the photo shoot I told my friend a story and explained the character she was going to play.  I told her to pretend she was a servant girl who had been working all day. When she sat in a pile of rocks she quickly began to role play. Her facial expressions began to come alive right before me.

Peeping Through: This creates a dramatic effect which conveys a sense of alienation.

Back lighting: In this pose that was created I noticed the great light that was behind her and told her to stand where her hair captured the glow.

Soft Focus: I used the technique Soft Focus for the Panda Mask so the viewer’s attention would see her reaction before they saw the mask.

Capturing Action: Even though the focus isn’t sharp, I didn’t disregard this shot. Her running added great energy to this fairy tale image that I wanted to display.

Lighting Character: I noticed the sun was peaking through the bushes so I had my model run over and stand right where it was hitting. It created this great dramatic look to her and bought out her eyes.

Unique Mannerisms: To deliver a sense of character and personality, I used body language and played with some unique poses.

Here is my favorite photo that I made into a poster and now hangs on my wall.   I love the purity and beauty that it displays.

I left the shoot feeling very proud knowing that I put into practice some of the new information that I had gathered from this amazing new book.

You can check out the complete set on my flickr where I used other techniques.

<<back to tutorial Archives


San Francisco

San Francisco is a city that inspires creativity and individuality. I decided to take a small road trip up north to practice some photography. I knew there would be a million things to take photos of, and I was right. It’s such a great place to take photos of people as well as landscape.

You can click on any one of the images and see more from this set on

I love my film camera.

I love my film camera, or should I say LOVED.

Today I found out this amazing camera of mine, officially doesn’t work. Surprisingly, I wasn’t sad when I heard the news. Instead  I know that a new season of photography is about to begin for me.

A year ago I took the risk on this old outdated thing called film. Since then I have grown as a photographer and as an artist. I have finally discovered my personal style. I am one of those young artists who was schooled before I was able to explore my creativity. Photography started out as a personal outlet for me. It was in photography that I was able to be me, to take photos because I like to. This camera also helped me see the art of capturing personal moments that life gives us all the time.

And now I finally believe in myself. I believe in myself enough to invest in myself. I have saved the hard earn dollars and finally purchased a digital SLR. The Canon 7D. This large purchase wouldn’t have been possible without the risk of the purchase of the vintage film camera. Whoever the photographer was that owned this film camera, passed on their love and gift to me. They had to let go in order to go forward on their journey. And so I close my journey with this beloved camera and start a new one with the 7D. I am excited to learn and I’m ready to make mistakes. But one thing is for sure, I will always remember to use whatever God puts in my hands.

I do admit, I will keep an eye out for another great film camera. Because FILM IS NOT DEAD.


Las Vegas Strip

Las Vegas Strip, originally uploaded by Monica Briano.

‘Sin City’ – or so they say. I recently went on a small holiday road trip to Las Vegas, NV to visit a friend. We snapped photos all night long of lights, people, anything that caught our eye.  I had three rolls that didn’t come out due to being expired or possibly just bad processing.  The few that did came out, captured the life of the strip and of the community of people who live in the suburbs.

In the midst of the busy lights and shallowness of The Strip, there are people who live beyond the city trying to raise their families.  It was nice to see this side of the city of Vegas. I realized Las Vegas was most likely given the “Sin City” nickname  by a marketing team who wanted to attract tourists not by those who call it home.

Funeral Photos?

My cousin was recently killed by a drunk driver.  The driver and my family will never be the same.  At the funeral I knew a lot of my family who I haven’t seen in years would be there.  I thought this would be the perfect time to capture them on film.  At first I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate to snap photos, but I think with respect and good taste, having photos taken at a beloved’s funeral might actually work.

In loving memory of my cousin.
In loving memory of my cousin.Click for Slideshow

In loving memory of my cousin.
In loving memory of my cousin. Click for more photos.

You can read more about the creation of this video

Life Slide Show for a Funeral