photography

Some People Call Me Foreign Kid | Getting To Know Me Series by Rachel Abrahams

I am a big believer that our life's stories shape how we view the world and especially how we create art. I realize although many of you appreciate my photography and enjoy reading my stories, you may not really know all that much about me. Today is my first post in a series I’ll be doing in the hopes of giving you a chance to “see behind the curtain”. Along with these fun facts, I have decided to share some of my favorite photos I have taken so far in this photography adventure.

I spent the majority of my childhood until I was 9 years old living in the Middle East. We lived in Turkey and then Saudi Arabia and by being there I missed the 80’s (as I jokingly say). When I came to the United States, New Kids on the Block and L.A. Gear were all the rage, I had only seen a Nintendo once before, and I had no idea what MTV was (let alone a Bon Jovi or Def Leppard). Immediately upon my arrival in my class the girl I sat next to grabbed me, shoved a Teen Bop magazine photo of New Kids On The Block at me, and pointed at Danny telling me “we all picked our boyfriends and he can be yours”. I just wanted to fit in, despite my weird clothes and moving from a country none of the kids in my class had heard of, so I just nodded my head and said “Uh, sure, ok” and let them sweep me up into their play world of dating boy band celebrities I had never heard of (by the way – I figured out quickly the girls had given me the leftover member of the band, the one they didn’t think was cute. So generous). It helped to have this group of "friends" during this transition where kids would say "You lived in Turkey? Like INSIDE a Turkey? I bet that smelled AWFUL (yuck yuck yuck)". Smart kids, I tell ya. 

I pretty much spent the next 15 years of my life having people reference phrases, movies, and pop culture I had never heard of and then getting the wide eyed look when they would incredulously say “You’ve never seen THE BREAKFAST CLUB?!?!?!?” in a tone only dogs could hear and then they would take me by the hand to educate me on whatever essential U.S. pop culture I had missed out on.

Living overseas for my childhood is something I cherish every single day. I wear it like a badge of honor and embrace how it altered my perception of the world around me. I saw a mixture of cultures so very different than what I now knew as home (Florida) and, as a result, it made me constantly question the WHY of doing things. I push hard at the answer of “we’ve always done it this way” because I have personally experienced how others do things and know there can always be a better system to get stuff accomplished.

It also put me slightly on the fringe of my peers which, instead of hiding it away and trying to make myself blend as much as possible (like most teens), I embraced it fully and actually made it part of the package deal of my friendship. Oh, you want to be friends with me? Be forewarned I can sometimes be a bit of a foreign kid, local news doesn’t interest me but international news does, sometimes I have no idea what movie/phrase/pop culture you are joking about, and I will tell stories of things I experienced as a kid which you will think is SO WEIRD (Oh, it’s NOT normal to see camels riding in the beds of trucks down the street? You don’t sit around a platter using pieces of bread as silverware? There’s more than 2 TV channels here and they are ALL in English???? My mind = blown). You’re good with that? Cool – let’s do this.

I credit this altered perception of the world for influencing my photography as well. I feel like experiencing something so distinctive automatically gave me permission to just push my boundaries and not fear the possible negative feedback saying it’s too much or too different. I’ve SEEN different. I’ve lived in a world completely unlike where I am today – and I loved it. I know I am incredibly lucky. I realize not everyone has this freedom automatically ingrained in them and I wish they did. I feel like it’s for the better when we push back. Push the envelope, live on the fringe, think differently – because absolutely beautiful things come from behaving differently and embracing being the weirdo.

I like to think I am a good example of that.

P.S. It is definitely a small world. In high school I figured out the girl in my math class also went to the same school as I did in Saudi Arabia, at the same time, and I found her in my yearbook. Also, I am currently friends with someone who lives near me here in Florida that ALSO went to the same school in Saudi Arabia, although we were several years apart. In this tiny Florida town, twice I have found people who had similar adventures to mine. 

Pull Over And Have An Adventure | California Photography by Rachel Abrahams

Before going to California, the number one question I was asked was "Are you planning on driving the Pacific Coastal Highway?". I was told repeatedly how it is beautiful and definitely worth taking the extra time to drive it. We decided to drive it from Los Angeles to San Francisco and it was absolutely worth every minute of it. Some parts were isolated, other parts were nerve wracking (high cliffs and teeny weeny ledges for the car), and almost all of it was gorgeous. We didn't have a detailed plan other than wanting to be at a certain point before sunset so we took full advantage of stopping wherever we saw beautiful sights. My husband was fantastic and kept scouting great photography locations to explore.

Not too long into the drive, we came upon this beach. It was isolated and there was only one other car there so we pulled over to explore. There was a large drop off from the road down to the sand and without my husband's assistance (both down and up the drop off), I never would have been able to get down onto the beach to explore. It had everything you expect from a beach on the Pacific Ocean - rocks, huge piles of seaweed, driftwood, and the water was so COLD. Not like Florida ocean water - this was wet suit required cold water. Plus, I'm a big (Floridian) wuss when it comes to cold water.

I am proud of the fact I was running around in capris and flip-flops while it was 50 degrees on the beach. That didn't bother me. Swimming in it would.

It was so lovely to be on this beach, scouring for treasures, with no one really around. The wind was blustery and the sun was strong. This situation was an example of something I read once that said to take pictures no matter what the light is like. As photographers, it is repeated over and over to us to always take photos in the best light - which is typically around sunrise and sunset. Well, I didn't have that option and had to work with the sun light directly over the water and the ocean reflecting it like a huge mirror onto my camera. The article was right - just take the photos. Don't miss out just because the light isn't perfect.

My favorite aspect of traveling is seeing how different things are where you visit and I could not get over how FLUFFY the seagulls were in California. Are they seeing some specialty bird hairdresser we don't have in Florida? Maybe it's all the celebrity beauty treatments and some weird seagull keratin feather treatment? These guys actually looked cuddly. Of course, I still can't stand birds so they didn't look cuddly enough to actually try to get near one. The day that happens, the people close to me know it's time to check me in for old-timer's disease or senility. I've tried but birds and I don't mix. Trust me.

Although it felt really isolated in this nook of a beach there were two houses within view. I cannot even imagine what a gorgeous vantage point they have every day. I waved in their direction in case anyone happened to see this little redheaded hobbit climbing around the rocks like an idiot. If someone did see me, I guarantee they were placing bets on me falling. FYI - I didn't. Well, I nearly did trying to climb back up the drop-off to the road. Hubby saved me though so it doesn't count.

What's the best place you discovered while meandering off the beaten path? Would you (or have you) dare(d) to swim in the arctic cold of the Pacific Ocean waters without a wet suit? Am I the only one who isn't a fan of birds?

Beautimous Florida Sunset On The Beach |Beach Photography by Rachel Abrahams

I live on the East Coast of Florida which means we have sunRISES over the beach - not sunsets. In other words, to see the beautiful light on the water I need to get up early and, well, that's really hard for me. I always promise myself I will get up really early on the weekend (cough), especially since I am up that early anyways during the week (cough cough), and go down to the beach for some sunrise photos (cough cough cough). I'm sorry - I keep coughing at my own good intentions (that I keep sleeping through). When I was invited to visit the West Coast of Florida, which meant I would finally see the sun set OVER the ocean, I was a happy little camper.

I do admit almost every time I visit the beach and see the sun setting, I think of my friend Justin who visited us "east coasters" when I was in college. We all went to the beach and to maximize our sun bathing time, we turned our towels toward the sun (away from the water) and Justin just laughed at us. He wanted to know why we would waste a perfectly good beach visit by not facing the actual ocean. Then he plopped down his chair into the sand, facing the water, and continued to make fun of and cracked up at us. I had to remind him our sun doesn't set over the ocean. When he pointed out he's from the west coast of Florida and they get the joy every day of seeing the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico, I was quite green with the jelly monster.

Ever since having that conversation, I craved seeing the sun set over the ocean and wasn't going to miss my photographic chance when I finally got to see it.

Getting back to my west coast visit; A storm passed through prior and its remnants hung around during sunset. The colors were intense and began as pastels, deepening into amazing blues, and then ending the light show in purples. Each time I'd think I saw the best the sunset had to offer it would shift into a new color level. I stayed down on the beach for close to an hour - which did result in getting eaten alive by the sand fleas. I didn't care and called the bites my badge of honor.

Looking at these photos, it was definitely worth it.

Fantabulous Fall Fun At The Magic Kingdom | Disney Photography by Rachel Abrahams

AspiringImagesbyRachel-WaltDisneyWorld-MagicKingdom-FallDecoCastle

During the fall season, I get very jealous of the beautiful weather happening up north. Florida's fall weather consists of cooler temps (70's), some rainy days depending on the fronts moving through, and the official ending of Hurricane season (yes, we Floridians celebrate the end of Hurricane season - especially the "dry" years). The major photographic bonus of fall are some amazing sunrises and sunsets.

As a result, I fill my home with red/orange/yellow hued fall decorations to help get myself in the spirit of the season and I also make the time to go to Disney to see their wonderful fall and Halloween decorations. When I see their decorations up, then I know fall has arrived!

Magic Kingdom always adds the sparkle with multiple decorations, especially up and down Main Street. Mickey pumpkins are in every corner, fall leaves abound, and it definitely gets you in the spirit. When these decorations go up, it's not only seasonal but it indicates Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party has arrived! This is a specialty party requiring a separate admission ticket and I love going because it means adults can dress up too and trick or treat! I'm all about socially accepted adult trick or treating. Yet another reason why Disney is awesome (yup, just letting my Disney nerd flag fly right now).

At night, the park gets even more into the Halloween spirit with specialty lighting and Halloween music playing. I truly believe Disney's most magical time in the parks is at night. If you haven't seen the park at night (or only when you're crazy exhausted from hoofing it through the parks all day), then you're missing out. I am such a fan of visiting at night. Can you tell?.

........And here's a bonus set of pictures showing my cousins and I dressed up for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. We had a blast coordinating as a group and made lots of people smile and laugh with our colorful nerd costumes. EVERY SINGLE character we met tried to spin the propellers on our hats. Buzz Lightyear did it repeatedly, which cracked me up. It was loads of fun. We have already started throwing around some ideas for next year.

FYI, I'm in the green.

20131112-105125.jpg