Slowing down, when life give you an opportunity

Written and Photography by Monica Lopez / Model: Hannah Rangel

submitted piece to Bella Grace Magazine

It’s nice when you get a chance to stop and take life in, sometimes it can look like a set back; unemployment, or even an accomplishment; the day after graduating school, or sometimes it’s something beyond your control.

Last January, I wasn’t feeling well , I left work early to  see the doctor. After the medical check up the nurse walked in casually and said, “Congratulations, you’re pregnant”. I sat there trying to picture what my life would look like with a baby. I’ve always been a free spirit, traveling around the world, or spending all day at the office. My husband and I been married for two years, and we talked about having a baby all the time, he would warn me how much our life would change.

Every month I was psychically changing, and so was my life. I couldn’t move as fast as I once did, my productivity suffered as I slept most of the day. I could no longer focus reading, multitasking on my phone made me nauseated. I was forced to slow down.

The pace of my fast food, running out the door, grabbing a coffee  and climbing towards success  was on pause. Once my daughter was born my focus was on taking care of her. I was lucky if I was able to get out of the house. I no longer had the luxury of spending hours in front of the computer making things, the moment I would start a project she would wake up from her nap. When it was time to go back to work, I had the expectations life would go back to normal, but my normal no longer existed. I couldn’t help and feel my new purpose in life was to take care of my daughter. It’s a decision that every new mom has to make whether she wants to work or stay home with the baby. To my own surprise,  I made the decision to resign and be a full time mom.
After a few months at home, I started to see someone else in the mirror looking back at me.  I no longer had a title with a team to lead to make me feel special. My inbox was zero and days would go by without receiving a text messages.

I wondered what else could I do with this new pace of life. I now had time to give attention to the things I always said I’m too busy for. I started to ask myself questions; What do I enjoy doing? How can I help others? What do I want to do with my creativity?  For the first time in my adult life, I could use my skills of photography, and producing videos for the pure enjoyment.

When I would take my daughter to the park, I would take my camera with me and take photos of the trees.  I would film my daughter when my husband and I would take her out for walks and edit videos about her. When she was busy playing with her toys, I started to spend time writing on my blog.  After her bath, we would discover new stories as we read together. Because I was home all day and trying to save money I had to learn how to cook healthy food for my daughter and us. I also had to think of new things to do as entertainment now that I was on a written budget. I started to scrap book and document every month. I returned to my love of journaling and writing about the things I’ve learned.

My daughter gave me the gift of slowing down.  I was discovering how passionate I am about creativity and the role it plays in our health.

My life is completely different from a year ago. My daughter is growing so fast and I’m able to take the time to be with her, teaching and playing with her everyday. She is seeing the world for the first time and showing me how to the same. 

I needed to lose myself in order to start all over and rediscover who I now am. My younger self never thought this far, now that I am living it, I’m not sure where to go from here. My story isn’t done. Life has given me the opportunity to create adventures I haven’t even dreamt of.


Bellagrace is a magazine written by its readers. The magazine accepts articles and photography submissions so I wanted to adventure out and tell the story of my transition to a baby centered world while staying creative.

Behind the scenes photos:

How to Make a Music Video —

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I received an email asking how to make a music video. I may not be super qualified to answer this question because I make all kinds of other videos but that doesn’t mean you or I can not make a music video. It just means we gotta learn how to complete the task with what we have.

Here is the first part of the question:
“so as you know im trying to be a video editor but since i dont have video footage to edit 😦 i am trying to learn you have any advice or path as to where i could learn to be a good cinematographer/ you have any crash course on cinematography or pointers on making a music video”

I know how you feel! I often say I will write and direct my own film just so I can edit it. I saw that I too needed to get better at my video cinematography back in 2009. I figured the best way to do this was to learn photography. I called photography the braces for camera operators. When we shoot video we are so use to moving, but with photography you have to stay still and make your shot interesting. You are now focusing on lighting, composition, exposer, the background, and the message of your photo. I challenged myself by buying a film camera. Now I only had 24 frames to use, and each one was costing me $1.50. My first major journey with film was when I traveled to Puerto Rico. Here are some of my shots.

When you get in to photography you will also learn a lot about focal length and how the lens you use is part of the story telling.

Using a fisheye lens makes thing appear distorted and from another world, it also brings focus to the center of the frame. I see this lens use a lot in music videos.
The type of lighting that is use sets up the mood. Hip hop videos love using lights, it makes things look flashy and adds contrast. Using the natural sunset light can make the video look romantic and hopeful.
The fun thing about making a music video is that anything goes. You can create a story to the song, or you can make it random. The task is to make it entertaining for the eyes and to follow the music. Some famous music videos cut every three seconds and some are of one continues shot. I’ve seen some where its just a girl singing, and others where its a party dancing. Watch videos from the 80’s and the ones of now – take notes on what you enjoyed and what you liked. Then gather all those ideas and let them inspire your own creative thoughts.

Keep in mind that when creating a music video – the more footage the better. Have fun and share what you create!

Here are some interesting examples:

multi- screens

using real elements

visual multiplication

One shot

What are your favorite music videos and why? Which ones stick out in your memory? Share them with us.

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Holiday Photos with a New Camera

I saved up this year to buy a fancy point and shoot camera, the Nikon CoolPix P300. As a photographer, no point and shoot camera will ever be good enough but what makes it special, are the people in the pictures.

Here are my holiday photos.

The drive home from Big Bear I told my friend, “Don’t fall in love what you don’t have but what you already do.” Pictures help us see the real beauty in life… Friends and Family.

Happy New Years.

An Interview with Monica by Karina


My friend Karina asked if she could interview me for a school paper. The assignment was to write about someone or something creative. She said she thought of me right away. I was honored and yet nerves.

I’ve been friends with Karina since middle school. She has witnessed me as a sky awkward girl become a confident creative woman. She has seen me grow in my photography and as a person.The questions she asked were very unique so I was very curious on how she would put it all together.

I asked her to send me her paper so I can post it on here. Reading it warmed my heart that someone would notice such details about me. Karina is one of the most sweetest person I know. She was one of my first friends in middle school and always made me feel cool. Here is her paper.

Monica Briano

Monica Briaño is a professional video editor and an up and coming photographer, simply said she is a creative young woman. I have known Monica for almost 15 years, and I am sure when I say that Monica does not wear her heart on her sleeve. In all honesty, I believe that most visual artist hold a part of who they are within themselves, and Monica is no exception. However, I must commend her, that even through her fears and insecurities she continues to follow the path that will eventually lead her to her true dreams.

Monica considers herself a creative person, whom without an artistic outlet would be a quiet, moody, mean and an unhealthy individual. When I met her, she was quiet and petite. She is still petite, but thanks to her high school friend, Veronica, she is not quiet about her artistic gift. Monica has called Veronica her soul mate, due to the fact that they share many of the same artistic qualities, and through Veronica’s support Monica began to cultivate the creative ideas within herself early in her high school career.

In regards to becoming a video editor and a photographer, Monica believes that, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and in an over sexed and self-indulgent world, she likes to capture the purity and innocence that this world still has to offer. Creating something out of nothing by putting stories into physical form for others to understand, is Monica’s goal through her art. Although she uses her surroundings as creative inspiration, Monica feels the most creative when the sun hits her face because she can hear G-d whispering in her ear, and her creative ideas become clearer. In these moments, her heart and G-d connect and she is able to see His perspective. Well founded in her spiritual beliefs, this point of contact with her Creator is very important to Monica.
Monica’s success is not only due to her G-d given creativity, but also to the wisdom that He has instilled in her through His many avenues. Monica has big dreams, and she knows what she needs to do in order to accomplish them. Ideally, she would like to travel the world and become a film maker. However, she is wise enough to know that for her dreams to become reality she has to be financially ready and continue to perfect her talents. Instead of sitting around waiting for the money to inexplicably appear, and for her talents to perfect themselves; she is consciously saving for her travels and challenging herself to become a better visual artist in more than just video editing and photography.
Monica Briaño is a creative young woman, and she loves to share her talents with others. Her devotion and creative spirit will take her beyond the finish line. It has been an honor to candidly talk with a friend who is open about her creative talents. Many blessings to you, and I hope I’m there to greet you at the end.


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