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San Francisco Magazine’s “Best of San Francisco” // Best Wedding Photographer 2017

so much has happened in my life over the last 10 months, i don’t even really know where to begin. all i can say is that when something happens to you — whether it breaks your heart in a million pieces or makes it feel like it could burst from overwhelming gratitude…

YOU SOAK IT UP. YOU FEEL IT. EVERY LITTLE BIT OF IT.

in this case, my heart could burst from joy and gratitude. why? because the july, “BEST OF SAN FRANCISCO” issue of san francisco magazine is out and I was named best wedding photographer. me?!?! little ol’ glady?!? i cannot believe it. sometimes, life throws you a real nice surprise and you think, “WHAT IN THE WORLD?!?” but i’ve also learned the last 10 months that you cannot question so much. you accept it.

i am overwhelmed with gratitude for this recognition. honestly, i thought it was a prank when the editor first reached out. i still can’t believe it. i am completely blown away and honored. all i can say is THANK YOU. i know how much talent there is out there. and to be recognized with incredible, extremely talented people in the industry — i could burst. from the bottom of my heart, i am grateful. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.

here’s a peek into what’s written inside…

gladys allen makes it her mission to document weddings with the intimacy of a family member or friend. she defuses the staginess of the whole situation by making it a policy to scrap that first round of awkward, just-getting-warmed-up photos and asking questions that get the pair focusing on each other, not the camera. the result: effortless, fly-on-the-wall photos of people wearing their feelings on their faces, not a superglued smile in sight. 

:)

honored. grateful. blown away. thank you.

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photo below is from the best of san francisco party :)
my husband, sister, and best friend made me stand in front of the wall of “best of” covers and took what felt like hundreds of photos. it brought me so much happiness to see how proud they are. love them so.

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Note to self //

This piece written by my favorite singer / songwriter, took my breath away while sitting on a beach in the Dominican Republic. Chris was playing volleyball with new friends, and there I sat, tears slowly filling up my eyes. I’ve always been a fan of Sara Bareilles’ words & music. When she came out with a book, I didn’t even question it. I knew I needed it.

Below is from a chapter called ‘Beautiful girl’ …

“I am your friend and I wouldn’t lie to you. This will be a conversation you can count on having with yourself forever and ever, so get comfy. There are always going to be reasons to doubt your own worth; the question is, how far do you allow yourself to go down that road before you look up and realize that, just like that girl in the ruby-red slippers, you had the power to come home all along?

Things evolve into other things. Emotions do the same. Forever. Your best ally in all of these shifting seas is your faith in the fact that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Stay put. Stay soft. Stay gentle and kind. Listen to your instincts. Meditate. Pray. Laugh as much as humanly possible. Pain is okay too. Say thank you for all of it. Feel proud that you have spent most of your life’s energy on cultivating a strong connection to your own soul and the will of your heart. It is leading you somewhere deeply satisfying but never perfect. Observe what is painful right now and see if you can stay courageous enough to share it wholly and honestly. Invite it into your house and be a good student. You are a patchwork quilt of all these past selves, all these wounded little girls, and they are all here too, listening in some form or another. You have grown into someone I am very proud of, and though I wish I could give you the gift of knowing we won’t ever need to have this conversation again…that’s not really the point, and probably not true. The work is learning to love whatever it is, so for now let’s do that, shall we? “

It’s like she knew what I needed to hear. Then, wrote it in such a way that hurts & heals your heart at the same time.

I’m putting it here because maybe you need to hear it too.

xx

gladys jem

Photo of myself in Cap Cana, Dominican Republic.

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Barcelona, Spain // Part 2 – 35mm Film

We haven’t even been in the city for 3 hrs. I could barely keep my eyes open, but I felt rejuvenated at the same time. I will never forget the feeling. We were seated outdoors at Espai Mescladis, and I felt a sense of peace come over me. It was light, sort of like I was floating. Something I hadn’t felt in a really long time. I don’t know if I can quite describe it, really. All I know is that it was familiar, and I was so happy to feel it’s return. All because of you, Barcelona.

I fell in love just like that. It’s hard not to. The city is vibrant with energy, and one hell of a feast for the eyes. Not to mention, a feast for the tummy. Oh, goodness!

You’ll find images shot throughout the week that we spent there. I love documenting travels with my 35mm film camera. There’s something about it. Especially when you receive the prints. Holding every moment & feeling, in your hands. All those feelings. Almost tangible.

Street wanderings, photos of the places we stayed in, little Uma, selfies, a blurry photo of me that my bff shot (lolz), and of course, abuelos & abuelas.

Part 1 through my iPhone can be seen here.

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Barcelona, Spain // Part 1 – iPhone

I flew out a few hrs after returning home from shooting a wedding. US -> CANADA -> SPAIN. We texted all week and planned to meet at a specific part of the airport. Turns out, there were a few of those “specific” spots. I scrambled to find wi-fi at baggage claim so we could connect. Minutes later, tap tap tap. There she was. I could’t believe it. My best friend, Andrea. In person, in another country. What?!? The?!?!? Heck?!?! We exchanged squeals, hugs, and off we went…

They say traveling with friends strengthens friendship and brings you closer together. I was about to find this out.  Aside from a few local trips, we’ve never traveled internationally together. Truthfully, I was expecting us to get in a fight. (love you andreaaaaaaaa) None of that happened. It’s true what they say, you know. We left closer than ever.

We spent our days getting lost in Barcelona’s vibrant calle’s. We stayed with locals, and learned about what life is like for them. We were left breathless by works of art. We cried. Okay, I cried. We laughed. We laughed hard. We walked miles and miles and miles on that damn sweltering beach. We shared heart to hearts, and one too many ridiculous jokes and quotes. We ate our way throughout the city. We didn’t go to la boqueria enough. We chatted about how we could possibly pick up our lives in SF and move them to Barcelona. We got lost. We found our way again. We saw pick pockets on the job, and she saved me from what I thought was a man pick pocketing me. He wasn’t. Just trying to share his restaurant menu with us. Ha! We drank refreshing beer, and endless pitchers of sangria. We savored late night dinners. We took our time. We had a blast!

Below are some of the snapshots I took with my iPhone 5s. I love and hate my iPhone all the same. It is hard sometimes, to be in the moment with it on. BUT…BUT.! It’s quite nice to have for snapshots that don’t need to be fancy. A simple camera for little moments like selfies with your best friend…<3

We stayed in El Born for a few days, then made our way to Gracia. Andrea had one full day there. She’d been traveling Europe for two weeks so she left earlier than I did. In and out of the placas, the mercats, and the streets. That’s how I spent my last days there. I loved Gracia. Especially since it’s mostly locals. It’s away from the city center, and the only tourists you see in the streets are the ones on double decker buses. At first it gave me anxiety given the fact that I don’t speak Catalan / Spanish. So before she left, I made Andrea give me a few spanish phrases to get me through : ) Oh, and the elderly. Don’t get me started. The abuelos and abuelas. They were my favorite to photograph. As you’ll see below.

The majority of the trip was photographed with my 35mm which I’ll share on another day. Until then…

x

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filed in:Personal, Travel
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