Mike Larson Workshop: Los Angeles Photography Workshop: Pasadena Engagement Photographer

This past Monday morning,  both Tony and I received a text from my mom at 7am sharing with me that my Dad had to be rushed to the hospital. Good morning Christen and Tony.  Just wanted to let you know that your dad is hopefully having surgery today to take out his appendix. He began to have pain on Sunday morning while he was preaching… He was in a lot of pain all day but it started to subside by nighttime so he went to sleep. At 4am on Monday, he woke up my Mom to ask her to take him to the hospital. There was nothing I could do to jump the painful distance from LA to Ft. Wayne so I waited on text messages as I got ready for my day… trying not to worry.  He was rushed to the emergency room where it was discovered that his appendix had already ruptured and was gangrenous.  While he was waiting for the surgeon, I was on the Metro to Union Station. While he preparing for surgery, I was on the Metro to N. Hollywood observing the tiredness of those around me. While my Mom was sitting beside my pain-stricken Dad heading into surgery, I was walking five blocks to Calumet Photography in N. Hollywood. There was nothing I could do, but pray. He was getting cut open. My heart was with him and yet, I tried to be present with a group of 20 strangers.

I attended a workshop with Mike Larson @ Calumet Photographic.

I decided to carve out two days of my busy Finals week at school to spend time on my inner artist… and develop various elements of my art. I am so thankful I had the opportunity to attend a workshop with someone who is really passionate about photography and doing things with excellence. During the two day workshop, I saw ways I could grow and change. I was reminded of how far I’ve come in 3 years and how far I want to go.  I was also reminded of how lucky I am to work in such a fabulous photography community where you can sit next to complete strangers at 10am and by 6pm you are sitting at The Hollywood Corner enjoying yummy food while learning more about such beautiful people. (Thanks Nikki and Kevin!) These were also the individuals who were there when I got the text from my Mom: “Your Dad is doing fine. Surgery was a little more involved than anticipated. Over an hour due to the appendix being ruptured and gangrenous. Needs to be on iv antibiotics for a while due to higher risk of infection. He is relieved and glad the booger is out. No need to worry. Talk to you later.

Mike emphasized the importance of character and values while challenging us to make a ‘to be’ list… not simply a to do list. He shared with us his story of how he went from door to door, via skateboard at 16 years old,  asking people if they wanted to have their portraits taken to becoming a CEO of his own photography company. Now that’s commitment. Also, a major bonus was hearing so much about how wonderful his wife Rachel is… Speaking of couples, one aspect of the workshop was a photo shoot with LA photographer Justine Ungaro and her husband.

They were absolute naturals so I am thinking Justine should spend more time on the OTHER side of the lens. Seriously!

Isn’t Justine GORGEOUS?? I love how her husband is so into her. They have been married for over two years… but together for six. And, it shows. It reminds me of my own marriage of 3 1/2 years and being together for 8 years all together.

Love grows over time. The roots grow stronger and deeper… so when that person wakes you up at 4am in excruciating pain, you can walk through the unknown together.

I capture love with my lens because when its all said and done, the people are more important than anything you do or produce.

I appreciate the space over the past few days to be reminded of why I do what I do…

In looking at these images, I know that my Dad and Mom have this kind of love that has sustained them over 34 years of marriage

and all the heartaches along the way.


If you are looking for workshops to attend, you should check out Shannon Leith’s Seeing Workshop (if you want to learn about what your eyes are drawn to… and how to explore light in a new way) or Mike Larson’s Develop Your Vision: Master Your Craft workshop. You will walk away from both of these workshops with a deep sense of gratitude and a new way to see the world around you. Plus, they are both just really fun, dynamic speakers, photographers, and teachers!

3 comments
  • Sherry Ann - Christen,
    This was beyond beautiful & moving, you had me in tears, you have the gift of writing!

    I love your heart! Sooo sorry to hear you were enduring this while at the work shop and we didn’t know and could not share in your burden. We are revealed to hear he is on the mend!! We pray the Lord completely heals him!!!

    We look forward to getting to know you more!!!

    Blessings,
    Steven & Sherry AnnReplyCancel

  • Sylvia Borgo - Ohhhh, Christen! What a scary day! I’m so glad everything turned out okay. Your captures here are nothing short of miraculous – to have so much weighing on your heart and still be able to produce classic images says a lot about your professionalism.ReplyCancel

  • theresa Gargala - I love your new site and blog. It’s so fun to watch you do what you love. You’re an amazing woman and photographer! Keep having fun loving life and living well.ReplyCancel

Menu