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Making Spirits Bright

San Diego Bay, Christmas Skyline © 2011 Gary Allard All Rights ReservedIt’s been a crazy month around here — lots to do, places to go, and people to see. It’s also important to pause and soak in a little bit of what we do it all for. I am so thankful to be surrounded by fantastically creative people and to live in a city that allows me the luxury to do what I love — be outside with a camera — nearly every day of the year. I spent a little time wandering the San Diego waterfront and made a few Christmas skyline photos of the city in all its holiday glory. Enjoy the season, friends. Let’s make 2012 the best one yet.San Diego Holiday Skyline at night, Photographed from Harbor IslandSan Diego waterfront holiday lights in lens blur © 2011 GaryAllard.comAll photos © Gary Allard / GaryAllard.com

Painting for a Cause, Filming with a Phone

Here’s a fun little mashup of things: An artist who is a Content Strategist painting a canvas for a charity auction hosted by an advertisers organization and a fashion design school to benefit teen girls in need of clothing. What does that look like, you ask? Well, I made this 1 minute video with my iPhone to document the process.

Here are the details: My partner Shelly Bowen, a content strategist  (and sometimes painter) was asked to create a painting along with some of San Diego’s top ad and marketing people for the AD2 San Diego Cause Marketing Night to benefit My Girlfriend’s Closet. The paintings will be auctioned off for the charity on November 17, at the FIDM campus downtown. I thought it would be fun to document the process and make a quick video. One catch: I’m not a video producer and do not have a bit of video gear. Enter my phone. Shot entirely with my trusty iPhone 4 and edited down to 58 seconds of fun.

And, for anyone interested in getting a taste of  making video, I suggest doing something like this. It’s a great way to understand the process, build your story and make edits that are effective. Even with a phone camera.

Italy: Planes, Trains and Automobiles

The second half of our European trip was possibly a 180 degree turn from our Paris experience. Where Paris was all about the two of us in a small city apartment, Italy was about meeting six of our friends at a 4,000 sf. villa in southern Umbria.Riding the sleeper car on Eurail, Paris to Rome

We left Paris by train. Settling into our sleeper car for the night was a unique experience. While it had its moments, I do recommend taking a night train through Europe (just be sure you have the right Eurail passes … I have a story). We brought snacks, music and plenty to read. Sadly I forgot the bottle of wine in Paris. Halting sleep and about 12 hours later we are in Rome. We take an express train to Leonardo Da Vinci Airport to pick up our rental car and two of our close friends arriving from Minneapolis. Our timing was impeccable.

I head our rented Opel north on the Autostrada and we arrive at the villa Laguscello. A giant farmhouse recently renovated into a modern rental complete with swimming pool, game room and wood pizza oven. Ample space for the 8 of us to base our daily adventures. Orvieto, Montepulciano, Siena, Todi, Bagnoregio, Montefiascone – All beautiful places with their own unique look and feel. Regional wines, meats and olive oils made every meal fantastic and different.

Waiting for the train to Rome, Orvieto, ItalyEmpty wine bottles at the farmhouseStairs and street in Todi, Umbria, ItalySeaside Condos in Ostia, ItalyOstia beach, Mediterranean Sea, Italy

We end our trip in Ostia, a small coastal town near Rome. We have an early flight and a rental car to drop off the next day. The sites and vibe in Ostia are far different than anything we have seen so far and it’s a relaxing change. We enjoy our final meal in Italy sitting on the waterfront feasting on fresh octopus, prawns, squid and rissotto and wash it down with a bottle of prosecco. Buona notte, Italy.

All photos ©2011 Gary Allard / GaryAllard.com

Paris Perfect

Man sells miniature Eiffel Tower statues in the park at the Louvre, Paris, France.I’m recently back from a couple of weeks off in Europe. It was a pleasure trip but as a working photographer I find it hard to turn off the camera in my head. Best to just run with it and be sure I’ve got some sort of picture-making device at all times (I had several). These are a handful of photos from the Paris portion in late September. We spent six days exploring the city, indulged in art of all kinds, fantastic Parisian meals, and practiced our very poor broken French on unsuspecting locals.Chairs arranged for a concert in Église Saint-Merri‎Restaurant St. Regis, Paris, FranceBe happy you didn’t receive a postcard from me. I watched this little dog trot down Rue Sant-Louis where he stopped to pee on postcard displays outside the shops. Rue de Rivoli, Paris © GaryAllard.com

Finding our way to the Metro near Jeu de Paume (a really fantastic photography museum).

Tourists haggle with Eiffel Tower statue vendor, Louvre, ParisTourists haggling over Eiffel Tower statues. Louvre, Paris.

Cobbler's shop and Oriental resaturant, 13 arr., Paris
The smallest cobbler ever. The front door hits the back wall. Rue Bobillot

Train moving through Paris Metro station

The Metro is the way to go. We went everywhere and did it quickly and affordably.

Fresh goat cheese and baguette for dinner

One night, too tired to go out, we pick up a baguette, bottle of Rhone and chunk of fresh goat cheese as an impromptu dinner. We lounged in our room, explored maps and planned our next day. That simple dinner may have been one of the best meals of the trip.

I would be remiss If I did not thank our lovely host, Marie at La Villa Paris. This beyond-charming little B&B in the Maison Blanche area (13 arr.) offered so much more than we expected. Fabulous breakfasts of croissants, cheeses, fruits, yogurts and my favorite, a soft-boiled egg with fresh baguette to dip. We left every morning full of great food and solid local knowledge given by Marie and Alex. Merci beaucoup!

Next up: Italy – Trains, Planes and Automobiles

For more Paris and Italy photos visit GaryAllard.com and browse the Traveling Life portion of my gallery.

Photos © 2011, Gary Allard – All rights reserved

Getting Naked: Pop-up gallery show this week

This week I am proud to have my work hang in a one-night popup gallery show alongside some mega-talented photographers which include Art Streiber and Kerry Mansfield. The show, entitled Naked, is organized by APA | SD and represents the top 30 images chosen by prestigious judges Carol McCusker and Crista Dix.  The exhibition will run this Thursday night (9/15/2011) at Subtext Gallery and all artwork will be available for silent auction. Proceeds will be donated to the  organization AjA Project which provides photography-based programming to youth affected by war and displacement.

These are a few of the images I entered for consideration. The last image, “Blue Dress,” will be included to hang in the show. The final selection of images spans the gamut from classic nudes to the decidedly unglamorous visions of what “naked” could mean. The possibilities are both endless and clearly defined – Naked can be interpreted a million ways.Copyright Gary Allard, All rights reserved© Gary Allard, 2011 All rights reserved© Gary Allard, 2011 All rights reserved

If you are in San Diego please come by, say hello, tip a glass and enjoy the great art. Oh, did I mention live music by the fabulous Red Fox Tails too? Yea, don’t miss it. See you at Subtext this Thursday.

All photos ©GaryAllard.com

Comic Con Portraits

Last week Comic Con 2011 plowed through San Diego like a giant cartoon steamroller. One of the largest – if not the largest events to be held here, it brings all manner of comic, anime, movie, fantasy and fetish you can imagine. I don’t go. But I do enjoy walking around the city to experience the craziness. I like to take photos, too.Comic-Con Convention, 2011 San Diego CA © Gary AllardBoba Fett and Darth Vader, big pimpin’

Comic Con, 2011 © Gary AllardElven Archer

Break time for the Stormtroopers, Comic Con 2011 © Gary AllardBreak-time for Stormtroopers

Homemade characters Comic Con 2011, © Gary AllardHomemade dedication

Lara Croft and Catwoman characters, Comic Con 2011 © Gary AllardLara Croft and Catwoman

All photos © Gary Allard / garyallard.com

Odds & Ends, Vol. 1, No. 3: Wheels

I get some of the most random photos when I travel. It’s all happenstance. Odd moments like running across an exotic car meetup while beer tasting at the Redhook Brewery or spying a moss-covered Bentley on my way to dinner are what make me always carry a camera. Ferrari 250 GTO, Woodinville WA © Gary AllardFerrari 250 GTO Detail © Gary AllardLamborghini LP640 and Redhook beer sampler in Woodinville, WAMossy Bentley T-Series in Ballard, WA © Gary Allard

Other Odds & Ends Posts: No. 1 and No. 2

All photos ©  GaryAllard.com