Anna Shinoda

Archive for the category “Photos”

Guess Who Turned Six Months Old Today???

Oh Learning Not to Drown, it feels like just yesterday that I was anxiously awaiting your arrival, pacing my office with on the phone with my editor, agent and  publicist, obsessively checking Goodreads for any reviews, preparing for a my very first book signings and parties with.. itchy skin and an upset stomach… as well as brand new sharpies.  And look how grown up you are now!

I’m 6 Months Old!!

Maybe it was because of the sheer amount of people who came to welcome you into this world or maybe it was from the lack of sleep when you arrived, but  I kind of forgot to post pictures here of your first week in this world.  It’s a good thing, actually, I was so wrapped up with being in the moment of having my debut novel come out that I forgot to chronicle your arrival.

So to celebrate your 6th month birthday I am finally posting pictures of your release week.

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Photos, Doubt, and Bobby Hundreds

I am an author.  I represent myself through words, through stories.  I am not a model.  I am not an actress.  When you turn a camera on me, I’m most likely to make a funny face, or at the very least, smile.  In fact, I can probably count my posed, serious photos on one hand.

And yet, as an author I have written a serious novel on a somber topic, and when my publisher asked for a picture to represent me, and my novel, I needed to take a serious photo.  The hair was flat ironed, the make-up was applied, the dress was put on.  I did it all myself, and second guessed it the whole way.

A candid picture captures a moment, but a portrait is set up to make a moment.  We all try to look our best in a portrait.

And what if our best isn’t good enough?

Isn’t pretty enough?

Isn’t skinny enough?

Isn’t perfect?

I found myself on a trail I liked to hike, feeling like an asshole because I was wearing a dress and heels instead of my familiar Nikes and running shorts and tank top, pressured to take a photo that I know will represent me in a way I’ve never been before: as a published author.  It all seemed so far out of my comfort zone – except behind the lens was my friend Bobby, and next to him was my husband and we were chatting like we would any afternoon.

It morphed from a photo shoot into a hang out, and I paused often from the smiling and laughing and swatting at the thousands of gnats on the trail that had taken to surrounding the three of us.  I paused to think about my book, to think about Clare and Luke as Bobby snapped pictures.

As expected, Bobby’s work was beautiful and we had several shots to choose from.  He did what he does best – tell a story.  A little about me, a little about my book.  The mood is right, a mix of hope and sorrow, captured in lighting, focus, and composition.

His work is perfect, but I’ve been raised to pick apart my flaws.  Always seeing the beauty in others, struggling to see in myself that perfection is in the imperfection.

The photos sat on my desktop for months, shared only with my publicist for the Atheneum catalog, while a pancake I decorated with whipped cream, chocolate chips and marshmallows continued to be my visual representation on twitter.

And they sat, and I waited.  For the right moment, I guess, the moment when I was ready.  Being ready might mean that the book is coming out soon and I don’t have an option.  Being ready might mean that I’m tired of having a pancake represent my face.  Being ready might mean that I need to stop worrying about being judged, because the scrutiny my picture gets will not matter to me as much as the scrutiny my book will get.   It’s a good warm up.  So here they are.

Anna Shinoda photo by Bobby Kim 1

Anna Shinoda Photo by Bobby Kim 3

Anna Shinoda photo by Bobby Kim 2

South Africa

South Africa was as incredible as I had hoped it would be.  A visit there did nothing to quench my thirst for going.  Rather, it has made me preoccupied with wanting to return.  For now, I have pictures to gaze at, and on occasion, my subconscious mind is kind enough to transport me there in my dreams.

Here are some of the photos:

On top of Table Mountain, overlooking Cape Town.

On top of Table Mountain, overlooking Cape Town.

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In My Remains

I’m not sure why I love visiting old graveyards, perhaps it comes from running though the one near my grandparents’ house during lighting storms in the summer – the open roads were surrounded by cornfields and soybean fields, leaving me feeling tall and vulnerable.  In the graveyard under towering trees I felt safe.

Perhaps that, but more likely it is a fascination of what we do with our dead.  I think most people hope that there will be a person who loves us who will do something unique and inspiring with their remains.  A nice gravestone.  A statue above.  For some, during times of great plagues and war, there are less desirable ways to dispose of our remains:  mass graves.

Some of these eventually were dug up and stacked to line the catacombs; now miles of bones under the streets of Paris.  Perhaps even more interesting is a graveyard outside of Prague considered so holy that there wasn’t enough room for all those wishing to be buried there, so to make room, the older occupants were dug up, their bones used to decorate the chapel.

Regardless of where our shells end up, eventually every person who truly knew us will pass, and the real memories of who we truly were will fade, leaving only statues, or tombs, or gravestones… or chandeliers made of bone.  They will all eventually crumble, the names fading: even the stone meant to forever immortalize is not permanent.

Halloween Decorations: Personal, Not Plastic

It’s autumn – at least my calendar tells me it is.  This week, the temperature has been in the eighties.  But last week’s chillier weather gave me hope that we are on our way to Southern California’s slight fall season change.  Very subtle.  Nights will get a little cooler followed by cooler days, just enough to tell the leaves it is time to change colors and drift down.  Time for the trees to prepare for their winter rest.  And it is time for my Halloween decorations to come out.

I love decorations, but there is a mountain of crappy, poorly painted plastic that will spend a year or two “decorating” someone’s house or front yard, then end up in a landfill.  Don’t get me wrong.  Plastic is so much a part of my everyday world I couldn’t imagine life completely with out it, yet it’s one of the biggest evils when it comes to trash.  There are only two types of plastic currently on the market that are biodegradable –  all the other ones basically deteriorate through photodegradation: a process where sunlight breaks it down into smaller and smaller pieces until it is teeny tiny.  But it never really goes away.  Plastic that ends up in a landfill may never see sunlight as it is buried under other trash.  The plastic that does get hit by UV rays are mostly in rivers and lakes and oceans.  Those tiny little pieces end up in the stomachs of animals or washed up on our shores or floating out in the middle of the ocean creating a spinning vortex of toxic trash.

In our household, we try to limit the amount of plastic that we are using.  This includes what we use to decorate our home for the holidays.  Some of my favorite Halloween decorations are the ones that we made out of stuff that otherwise would have ended up as trash.  Here they are…

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