October Editorials: SF Magazine, Refinery 29 and Design Mind

October has been a very giving month, having photos published in three magazines, both online and in print. I love shooting lifestyle and portraits for editorial content, and looking forward to be doing more of that. For inquiries, email me at hello@monicasemergiu.com

First off, I was interviewed for a travel story that got published in the October issue of San Francisco magazine. I am talking about battling anxiety, taking long solo road trips, camping alone as a woman. To see the photos and read the story, click here.

Design Mind is the prestigious design blog and magazine published by Frog Design. In October they published an article about connected motorcycle riders, and how to embed technology in designing for the motorcyclists lifestyle. To read the entire article and see which of my images they used, click here

Last but not least, Refinery 29 released an online article profiling some of the best known San Francisco baristas and I have two portraits in the slideshow. To read the entire article and see the photos, click here.

Really excited for these great exposure opportunities, as well as for what the rest of October has in store, photoshoot-wise.

Shooting for Hipcamp at Under The Stars

Under The Stars is an annual event organized by the fine folks at Hipcamp, an online travel company designed to help people discover and book camping experiences. Since nothing could be more up my alley than camping + photographing the outdoors lifestyle, I was beyond excited to document the event, which took place at a magical organic farm / retreat center in Mendocino. Here are some of the photos I took for Hipcamp last weekend. I hope they get you in the mood to get outside and do some exploring of your own. 

Interview with Discovery Seeker Network

Hello everyone! I haven't blogged on my website in almost a whole year, mostly because I published content on other social channels and because I focused my efforts on other areas of my business. Starting today, blogging is back and I will try to do one post every week, to keep you updated with both commissioned work and personal projects. I've been working on a lot of interesting things lately, yet I've lacked the discipline (and let's face it, time primarily) to show them to the world. 

A couple of months ago, the Seeker Network, a new channel launched by Discovery Digital Networks earlier this year to cater to those adventurous at heart, featured some of the photos I took at Babes Rideout last year. They turned the interview into a rad video, which you can watch here. I am honored to be one of the first photographers featured in their series, and very excited to go back to and document Babes Rideout again this year. 

Beach Portrait Session with Cristina

Last Sunday my friend Cristina and I went to the beach in the city. It was a last minute decision and we arrived there around 4pm,  just in time for some golden hour photography. We didn't plan to take any photos, but I had my camera with me, and a white dress that I recently purchased for a few dollars at a thrift store.  We took a few snaps for about 30 minutes, all natural light, 50mm lens, wide lens aperture (thus some blurry images), and this is what came out. 


Inner City Exploring with Gritchelle

One of the things I love about learning to get better at making photos is meeting and shooting together with people who have the same passion for the same thing as you do. You feed off each other's energy, time has no meaning anymore, and freezing in the cold at odd hours to get the right shot is expected and understood. Yesterday I had the pleasure to shoot together with Gritchelle, a super talented photographer and graphic designer, avid cyclist, and patient subject of my photo endeavors below. I modified the images in Lightroom, as the grass and trees around us were too vividly green for my taste. So I muted the greens and lowered the contrast a bit. The fog and the trees were already so dramatic, that there was barely need for any other adjustments. 


Indigo Dyeing Workshop

Last Sunday I had the pleasure to attend and photograph an indigo dyeing workshop, led by the lovely Joya Rose and hosted by Motley Goods at Work and Leisure Club. At this workshop students learned how to dip-dye indigo table napkins. The process is interesting and fun, and it made me want to do more research on its origins and history. I strongly recommend reading the Wikipedia article on this topic. Among the things I didn't know: the process originally comes from India, thus the name, given by Greeks and Romans: indikum > indigo. The dye was a luxury trade item for centuries, as the plant can only grow in tropical climates. It was one of the main crops on slave plantations in Jamaica and South Carolina. 

As for photographic process, I shot all images with my 50mm lens and super high ISO. It was relatively dark inside and the event took place in the evening, so not the ideal lighting for an indoors shoot. It made me realize that I need to acquire an on-camera flash and start bringing it with me at such events. 


Laura & Jacques Wedding Photos - Bucharest, Romania

July has been a very busy shooting month, with a few commercial gigs, a 3-week trip to Romania and Italy, a wedding and a big backpacking trip. With such a backlog of shoots, I have a lot of editing work to fill these foggy San Francisco days and evenings. I've counted 9 distinct events for which I'd like to make individual blog posts, so stay tuned for all the new work coming out soon. 

As some of you may know, I am originally from Romania. I moved to the States 11 years ago. My entire family and some of my best friends in the world are still on that side of the world.  Laura is one of my dearest friends, so I could not pass up attending her wedding to Jacques. I bundled up a visit to see my parents, with Laura's wedding, and a short visit to my cousin in Italy. Laura hired a photographer for her wedding, as she wanted me to enjoy myself as a guest and not have to work. I did however snap a few photos in-between all the dancing, eating and catching up with old friends. I didn't have a flash unit, so most of the indoor images were made at a super high ISO. I'm still quite pleased with the results. Enjoy!


The Eastern Sierras Dream

A 3-day trip over Memorial Day weekend to Bishop, Bodie, Owen's River Gorge, some hot springs in the desert, and then back to SF via Yosemite. Climbing, off-roading, driving long hours, getting car-sick, star gazing, skinny dipping in hot springs at night, drinking beer in hot springs during the day, primitive camping in the middle of nowhere, karaoke-ing in the car, photographing, loving life. 


Escape Plan Part 4: The Return

A few photos taken on a trip at the end of March, which I completely forgot to look at and edit until now. The colors were extremely rich and saturated in most of these photos, and since the photos were mostly taken around noon, they seemed too flat and boring. I decided to turn them all to grayscale and edited the contrast and histogram a little. All photos taken with a 16-35mm lens (mostly at 16, and you'll notice some distortion in some of them), and edited only in Lightroom. I would have gone crazy with dodging and burning if I opened them up in PS, so all the editing you see here is pretty basic and mostly copied/pasted across the set. This was a very special day for me, spent in a majestic place (Point Reyes) with my love. Hope you enjoy! 


Steep Ravine Portrait Session with Allie

The Steep Ravine Campground and Cabins have been on my to-do list for years. To my shame, in the 10 years that I've lived in San Francisco, I haven't managed to get there, despite their proximity to the city. Located about 45 minutes north of SF and a few minutes south of Stinson Beach, the cabins can be spotted if you look down from one of the many vista points on Highway 1. As the name says, they are perched on a cliff at the bottom of a ravine and facing the ocean.

The only issue is that reservations often have to be made a trillion months in advance. Imagine my excitement when, a couple of weeks ago, my friend Allie invited me to camp with her at Steep Ravine. As I was going through some hard personal times, I jumped at the opportunity, also jumped in the car, and at 7pm, right before sunset, I arrived in paradise. Here are some photos to prove it all: 

Behind that mermaid hair, dreamy blue eyes, delicate wild flower bouquet (which I later found out I was not allowed to pick) and soft poncho, Allie is one of those badass babes. When you first meet her, she comes off as too straightforward and maybe a bit abrupt. But later on you realize she's one of those purely genuine people, wearing her heart on her sleeve, telling it like it is. You want an honest opinion? Ask Allie. I've also noticed that the women I regard the most are like that. Blunt, but genuine. We need more of them in this world. Allie was going to camp at Steep Ravine all by herself for 2 nights, hiking Mt Tam during the day as training for hiking Mt Whitney later this summer. Allie also has an MA in Marine Biology, she's a professional scuba diver, climber, teacher, and mermaid hair owner. 


Friends Travis and Brannan visited us for a brief moment, sharing a beer on the beach and catching up. Travis is one of my dearest friends, and sadly I don't get to see him often enough. He's also one of the most talented photographers I know. Check out some of his work here


The next day in the morning we walked around the campsite and I took some photos of Allie, which you can see next. 


The cabins are the perfect getaway from the city - and oh so conveniently close located. However, the few camp sites next door seemed to me the secret treasure of the place. If you look at the last image, our tent was located under the big tree on the right. You have tons of privacy and isolation, you fall asleep to the sound of the waves, and you wake up to chirping birds and expanding ocean views. Not to mention that at sunset we saw a goose family roaming around, and at sunrise we had baby rabbits next to our tent. 

If you've made it this far, thank you for reading and looking at my photography. As I press onward with pursuing my dream, I come face to face with challenges that sometimes discourage me. I know that focus, hard work and persistence will eventually pay off. In those difficult moments I remind myself that doing what you love is the only way to true happiness and self-fulfillment. Thank you, again!