My name is Diana Elizabeth. I'm a photographer, writer, graphic designer, model, and former journalist who had memorable days reporting from the LA red carpet for E! Online. This is where I share my life daily, as a creative professional.
My husband and I live in a restored 1952 red brick home that sits on a former citrus grove in Phoenix. I enjoy traveling, home improvement projects, sewing and gardening. This is a glimpse into my life and work and the things that I discover along the way - with camera in hand.
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Our hotel room view of Union Square
I have been looking forward to a girl’s trip, my Club MED girls weekend in San Francisco to visit Emily. I was dying for better temperatures and a better mood!
My dad was born in SF, my yun yun lived here before moving to Sacramento for her last years, so SF is like a second hometown in terms of how often I’ve been to the bay – exploring it as an adult is completely different. At night, the temperatures were in the 50s, highs around 65, the first night Mel and I came in, we checked into the Clift Hotel, part of the Morgan Hotel Group (so posh, owns the Delano Las Vegas).
Drapey Jumpsuit: Abercrombie & Fitch
For dinner, I ordered lamb. I always gravitate towards duck or lamb on the menu. It was so small (one chop) and I was quite hungry after so we ordered two desserts which made up for it, always.
Oh my goodness look – I’m drinking hot coffee in the summer!
The next morning we woke up early to head to the San Francisco Ferry Building. Located along the Embarcadero at the foot of Market Street, it is considered the center of a transit hub that connects all of San Francisco’s neighborhoods and the surrounding bay communities.
We had massages scheduled that morning at Nob Hill Spa. Emily surprised us by upgrading our massage appointments from 50 minutes to 80 minutes which was absolutely heavenly, thanks Em! I had an aromatherapy massage and I have to add that it was the best massage I’ve ever had at a spa in my life, so relaxing and I felt like a new woman.
We went outside on the deck to enjoy the view and chit chat, and eat fruit.
I never eat apples, except when I’m at the spa, strange?
We walked through to a small boutique hotel called The Scarlet Huntington.
We decided to walk back to our hotel, and then saw this street. Woah.
Yeah, like I said, woah.
It was also windy that day/weekend/normally.
We hopped into an Uber (click for a free trip up to $20). We used Uber the entire time and I am definitely buying stock once it goes public! We went to Emily’s apartment in the Hayes Valley neighborhood so we walked around. Saw cute houses like this.
Then saw the famous Painted Ladies you see in the opening of Full House. It was pretty busy with dogs, people, adults hitting pinatas. It was windy but so wonderful to be walking around getting some fresh air.
Fresh pure and creamy ice cream made to order from Smitten. How do they make it that fast? With nitrogen that makes it so cold while it churns that you get your cup of ice cream ASAP. We ordered a small mint ice cream for $7 in a cup.
The line was ridiculously long, but luckily, the weather was perfection so it wasn’t bad. Apparently a huge deal because LeBron James was spotted there, for you sports fans.
While I waited in line, the girls picked up Blue Bottle Coffee, mine was called a New Orleans, something close to an mocha latte (not pictured) but has chicory, which I would say it tastes similar to Mexican chocolate like mole. I am going to buy some online, that’s how great it is – SF has some great coffee, very comparable to coffee in Phoenix, I’m a coffee snob and I approve!
We continued to walk and the stores are adorable – some expensive, but just simple and sophisticated in design.
Dinner at Akiko’s that night, it was wonderful but you’ll have to look for the number because the sign isn’t outside. We walked by several times.
After a great breakfast we got in Emily’s car and she drove us around to show us some gorgeous neighborhoods, including Pacific Heights – the homes that look like Hollywood homes, large scale, and beautiful views, true millionaires, old money, just luxury living with stunning views.
There are so many parts of San Francisco it’s been fun to take a weekend to really explore one part of it instead of rushing through to see all of it. I also forget parts I’ve seen and haven’t over the years. Revisiting is just heavenly and being with friends puts that extra sweetness into exploring.
Crissy Field had a few views of the Golden Gate Bridge, it’s where the bay meets a forest which is pretty cool, it was a quick stop for some photos.
The girls call this the Diana Pose. It started in LA and I’m pretty sure I never did this exact pose but it’s very modelesque. I approve.
Good food, relaxing indulgences, a little shopping, and great conversation, that’s what’s good for the soul, and that’s what goes down in the books for a weekend well spent – Club MED style.
Um, dang focus, but this was too cute that I had to share it anyway! I’ll print it in a 3×3 or smaller size so it looks less blurry, boo technology!
CLUB MED: Melissa, Emily, Diana
I hope you all have a great weekend and I hope this makes you want to grab a girlfriend or two, or five and head out of town or schedule even a dinner to make some fantastic memories together. I am thankful for all my different groups of friends that make me who I am today, life would never be the same without them!
Have you been to San Francisco? What are your favorite parts of town to explore?
I used to wear practical clothes while on vacation which is of course important, but a few years ago I realized how to take better photos while on vacation. First, is how you prepare for your trip – packing before hand, and while there, your posing.
I hope these tips help you return from a memorable trips with some fantastic, blog worthy, profile thumbnail ready photos that you’ll be glad you dressed for. Happy travels!
Stop packing boring. Do away with the boring daily basics like the racer back tanks and maxi skirts. No typical American tourist walking shoes – no matter how much walking you’ll be doing you can find a comfy pair of ballet flats or flat boots (just add inserts). Sam Edelman makes comfy ballet flats and you can find them for $50 at Nordstrom Rack. Love maxi dresses? Add another shirt (crochet or lose tank) over it to mix it up and belt it.
You’re not going to the gym. No sports bras with tanks and leggings unless you’re a running blogger and that’s your thing. You don’t want to look like you hit the gym then ran over to the Eiffel Tower. You could have a much more beautiful shot if you were in a gorgeous dress, right? Framable!
Bring the outfits that fit the environment. The polka dot midi skirt that is so French, or gingham skirt for the country. The bright tunic for the beach. You know, there are the clothes you can see yourself wearing in a certain place, bring it! Even if you aren’t sure if you’ll wear it again, you can leave it there (like I do, to make more room for shopping). Make sure your hemlines are comfortable – anything too tight or short that might creep or blow up will not make for fun photos if you are uncomfortable.
Pack colorful scarves and accessories. Scarves will come in handy for sun, rain, or just adding color.
France (Ballet flats, polka dot skirt, even purchased the umbrella for the trip):
Exploring the desert (moccasins):
Ireland (flat brown boots and blazers):
Direct your photographer friend. Tell them exactly what you’d like – could you get my back and compose it this way? Take a shot of them first, review the photo and then switch places so you can get exactly what you want.
Get your pose on. Find your inner Blue Steel/model. Know your good side, sit straight up, try different poses and review your shots. Another hint – you don’t have to look at the camera – look off to the side, laugh, smile, just be.
Look for those moments, take time. Scout like a photographer for that location. Find that perfect bench and take a moment to sit in it and frame the photo.
Composition and expression. Look relaxed, excited with your fingers, do a ta-da, yoga pose, whatever you want but don’t forget to show off that beautiful landscape at the same time!
Upstate New York
Canal du Midi, France
Lipstick and hair. I like trying just a little bit harder while on vacation. I have more time – and so I get creative with my lips and hair. It’s worth it, your face stands out a bit more in photos.
Take selfies with the guard that can’t flinch. But you know he was totally looking at your flip screen selfie.
Jump. On castle grounds, in public places, be that obnoxious American, ok not that obnoxious. But have fun! It’s your vacation, do it!
Or in my case, do a hurky 10 times until your girlfriend gets the winning shot and be sore the entire next day.
If you want to see country/city roundups and photos, head over to my travel category in the category bar. Also, good equipment doesn’t hurt either – all these taken with my mirrorless SONY-NEX which takes images like a DSLR and you can switch out lenses.
My best friend since college came into town for the weekend, it’s been so long since I last saw her, maybe last fall which is too long in my book. Jackie lives back in the bay area, works for the 49ers, you’ve seen her face around here – Dixieland road trip, 49ers Cardinals game, wedding pics, she’s constantly in my life.
Jackie’s a road tripper by heart. Me, I’d rather fly, sit on a boat, or, sit passenger if I absolutely must go along in a vehicle. So to compromise her desire to get in a car and head out of town, I said, fine, only if she drove. She said OK.
But first, coffee and a maple bar. If you haven’t fallen in love with Dunkin’ Donuts yet, I dare you to try it. For $1.83 you can get a large iced vanilla chai (bigger than the one pictured).
First stop, almost two hours north of Phoenix through Camp Verde…
For some reason Jackie thought there was a lake. I kept reading the word creek and not quite understanding why we were in search of a lake, but she had seen someone else who tagged this location and thought it looked more lake-like. I’m wearing shorts under my dress, don’t worry, I’m aware of the transparency of my hooded maxi dress.
Clear Water Creek looks like a cute camping location – it was 80 degrees. Easy walk. I wore mocassins, Jackie wore flip flops – that kinda hike.
We walked the trail a little, looked at Google maps and realized, yeah, it’s going to stay a creek so let’s take some pictures around this gorgeous large tree and keep going.
On our way to the next stop, we saw signs for Deer, Buffalo, and Salmon Jerky. Intrigued, we bought some. It was horrifically priced at $40 for 3 packs.
“Maybe if you didn’t whip out your Louis Vuitton wallet and asked him how much you owed him it would have been less,” said Jackie.
Estimated to have been lived in around 1100 AD, Montezuma Castle consisted of 45 rooms, made from mortar and plaster. The way to get to your room – by ladder! Oh heck no dude. They built up there so they could be away from the wildlife of dangerous animals.
Admission is $5. Thanks Jacks for paying for me.
The walk is pretty short, it’s a short loop and you unfortunately can’t get to the rooms though I would have loved to have checked them out – the ladder liability thing you know.
This national monument is pretty spectacular, you can walk a little closer to the wall and see other holes in the wall – which apparently were additional housing. If you want to learn more about Montezuma, click here.
If you’re interested in seeing more historic sites, ask for a map, they are happy to give you more places to visit like the Montezuma Well, and Petroglyphs. We had a late start to our day so by the time we left, most locations were closing.
We decided to take an alternative route back and go through Strawberry and Payson down the 87.
As we drove down south through Payson, we went crazy over the sunset. Tons of mountains, we were in awe and looked for a safe, makeshift pull off.
I made a comment that I was sure we were walking through an unmarked bathroom stop area and to not trip and fall, or touch anything.
We climbed some boulders. It was a bit steep on the other side so we had to be very careful.
Jackie didn’t like her shadow, so we are siamese twins.
A few more fun portraits – it’s great to be with a girlfriend who is patient enough to get a good shot for you. This was one of the highlights of the trip – I think random pullovers and taking some fun photos is the best part of a trip.
Just go, be open to wherever you stop, and pull over and watch the sun go down on another day and be grateful.
As much as I miss a lot of the California scenery and get homesick for it’s sights, I do love the scenery of Arizona.
I have always truly loved how I can see the horizons so clearly – the wide open spaces to see the east and the west, to feel like I can breathe, to not feel congested, it’s heavenly. I love the sunsets here and the typography in Arizona can differ all across the state! Jackie who went to college with me down in Tucson (and a Cali native like myself) reminded me of how beautiful Arizona is, and having such a positive friend like that, who helps point out all the good in your life, it really does wonders for your soul.
Grateful for this gal by my side through the years and for her heart for exploring!
Pics taken with SONY-NEX.
Hi there! I’m Diana Elizabeth, named after Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth. I share my photography work, and solutions for simple living.
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