Adobe Girls Photography Getaway in San Francisco

Sometimes I think I am the luckiest girl alive.   Lucky as in Adobe invites me for an all expenses paid amazing getaway to shoot in one of my favorite cities,  to train with Julianne Kost in one of my favorite topics (Lightroom) and to spend time with some other incredibly cool girls!

And then, something incredibly UNLUCKY happens like getting sick the night before I am supposed to leave.. but not just sick, SO sick by the time I get there that I am too sick to come home, which ends up costing me over $600 in medical and travel fees to extend my trip until I can realistically get on an airplane.  Yep, it’s never a dull moment around here!

Yet, despite even the head/cold flu from hell which made me literally feel like I was a walking pressure cooker, it was IMPOSSIBLE not to enjoy myself!

The trip started off on a high note when I got to the hotel room and found a fabulous gift bag full of goodies. But this was no ordinary gift bag – it was an Epihpane camera bag! SQUEAL!!

Then, I saw the amazing view of the bay and the Ferry Building outside our shmancy hotel window:

Hotel Vitale view

(I had to go out on the hotel roof deck to get another shot at sunset the next day:)

I had a wonderful restful sleep and was really excited to wake up the next morning and meet everyone!  First of all, I finally met Anne, an Adobe PR rep and someone who I’ve been in touch with via email for the past year and who played a major part in organizing this whole shindig!

She was so sweet and fun, and I took LOTS of pictures of her and Cari (Adobe marketing) because I really love to shoot people more than landscapes and they are such beautiful women!




And then I met the other “girl bloggers” and we all had some Coffee and got to know each other!

Here is a list of the other attendees, it was great to be in such wonderful company!

Lolli from Better in Bulk
Lindsey from Café Johnsonia
Lotus from i am lotus
Gayle from Mom and Camera
Drew from Mom*tog
Donna (ie, Miz Booshay) from Quiet Life
Erika from The Ivory Hut
Arena from The Nerd’s Wife

I instantly recognized Donna Booshay (Miz Booshay) and “Ivory hut” from their blogging at the Pioneer Woman.  And then I heard them introduce everyone and they got to Drew B… who’s name sounded so familiar.. and then they said from and I realized that I’d tried several times (unsucessfully!) to get her to blog about or do a giveaway for my wall guides!   I think finally, after spending the better part of two days together I wore her down :)

Seriously though, Drew and I immediately became shooting buddies, though I must admit my jaw dropped when I saw her incredibly colorful and fun pictures of the day.. were we really shooting the same things? Damn she is GOOD! Oh, and she also is the creator of the “unposing” guides which I am in love with.. but that’s for another post.

Here’s Drew with her adorable baby bump:

She’s just as pretty as her pictures!

That’s us at the farmer’s market in and outside of the ferry building where we had brunch the first day. Speaking of brunch,  I was fortunate enough to sit across from Julianne (as in Julianne Kost, Lightroom “Evangelist” i.e GURU) so I took the opportunity to put a word in for my LR pet peeves, particularly as they relate to the print module which I used to create the LR3 plugin for my wall guides.  Far from being annoyed, she actually wrote some things down and appeared to truly care about my little laundry list of issues.   As it turns out, Julianne is not only fantastically nice and diplomatic when it comes to such things, she is also FUN! It was really a blast spending the 1.5 days wither her.  I can absolutely see why Adobe chose her to be their ambassador for Lightroom!

After brunch we all got into this supervan.. that’s what I’m calling it because it was like a Van/Limo! I’ve never seen anything like it.. and it took us all around San Francisco in style:

Here are some of the places/sights we saw

Cable Car Dude


Arena Blake.. aka "The Nerd's Wife!"


more Anne..



crossing the GG bridge, shot out the back of the Supervan!

Pretty Girls..

More of our hostesses Anne & Cari

This was too cute, at the entrance to the Exploratorium is this monitor that films and then does what I can only describe as adding a photoshop-like  filter.. kind of like that old A-ha video “Take on Me” for those of you old enough to remember the 80s!

We had a lot of fun with it.. that’s Julianne and Cari doing “ballet” and watching the results on the monitor.

Everybody Dance Now..




I love this one because really really tiny all the way to the right is Miz Booshay pointing to Alcatraz, which she did often, in a sort of “Look Kids, it’s big ben!” sort of way. Miz Boo poiting to Alcatraz!


impossible to take a bad picture of this girl!


iconic SF

After a full day of shooting, we headed back to our rooms to recharge for a few hours before a lovely dinner at Chaya. It was here that things seemed to rather rapidly go downhill for me. I noticed that the decongestants I’d been popping ever four hours or so had COMPLETELY stopped working.  I also realized I was running a low fever.  But the worst part was that the pressure in my head was so extreme that even just the act of swallowing actually was uncomfortable in my ears.  I began worrying about flying home with that level of congestion and how painfully long a 6 hour flight could be like that!

I went to bed that night just hoping against hope that I would wake up feeling better, not worse but that was not to be..

I woke up the next morning and was supposed to pack and check out, but I found myself mentally unable to do so.. just act of gathering up all my things was overwhelming in my current state.   I made a call to Delta to just see how outrageous the change fee would be if I were to extend my stay one more day to allow for some level of recuperation.. I was pleasantly surprised at the agent’s kindness when she allowed me to change without any fee at all. So now the only thing left was to extend my hotel stay for one more night..

Ouch! The downside to Adobe putting us up in such style is that if you have to pay for it yourself it really hurts!  And that was WITH the hotel extending me Adobe’s special rate!  I didn’t really have a alternative though because I was in no state to pack up my things and move to a cheaper hotel.

Somehow I managed to make it through the 3 hour training with Julianne at the Adobe SF offices (talk about great digs, that place is amazing!) and then spent the rest of the afternoon brainstorming how I could see a Doctor.  By now, I suspected this was no ordinary cold, SOMETHING more was going on.    So I called Aetna to ask what my options were.

They told me there was an urgent care clinic in Union Square and that the fee if it was deemed “Urgent” would be $20, but if not, it would be 70% covered after my $150 deductable.  I was almost convinced until my friend Sara pointed out that the wait at a clinic in the middle of the city could very easily be HOURS.  So I called the hotel to see if they had a “house doctor” and indeed they did: Dr. John Horning from Urgent Med Housecalls.

At $265 it wasn’t exactly cheap, but it wouldn’t be THAT much less expensive than the clinic and a whole  lot more convenient!

And then, when Dr. John arrived at the hotel, Sara and I were chatting with him about his daughter and he casually mentioned that they go to a type of school called “waldorf.”  I stared at him in disbelief, it turns out that he was one of the first graduates of the Sacramento Waldorf school!

For those of you that don’t know, I went to Waldorf school from 3-12 grade. It’s a very small school system that almost no one has heard of and even fewer people have actually GRADUATED from, so it was just a crazy coincidence that we should both be Waldorf grads.

So he looks in my ears and it turns out I have essentially a double ear infection, and my extreme congestion is keeping my sinuses and ears from draining.  Damn.

And then, I experienced the power of alumni solidarity, the sort that people who go to large universities must have happen all the time when they run into other alumns  – Dr. John gave me the antibiotics and nasal spray decongestant from his bag for free!    That simple act of kindness meant that I wouldn’t have to spend the next few hours dealing with trying to get my Rx filled at the only pharmacy in the immediate area which was about to close anyway.

I need to brainstorm a way that I can do something nice for him in return – I offered to shoot a family session for him for free, but the logistics of that living on opposite coasts would be quite tricky :)

At any rate, my luck was finally changing and I managed to hold it together long enough to have an early dinner with Sara and came back to the hotel room and slept for 12 hours straight!

Early the next morning, I turned on my iPad and realized that I had somehow missed out on a whole twitter party that the rest of the attendees were part of.. I was just too out of it! But I did see that Miz Booshay was still in town. And after a few tweets back and forth I finally realized that she was also still in the hotel! So we met in the lobby and walked over to Starbucks and chatted over coffee. I was glad to have the chance to get to know her better, she is as positive and cheerful in person as her “encourage one another” motto would lead you to believe!

During the taxi ride to the airport I realized that I was actually able to breathe through my nose for the first time in DAYS! Thank you nasal spray decongestant. I had NO idea this stuff is way more effective than the pills.  I won’t say that I felt “good” but it was such an improvement over the previous day and I didn’t have ANY pain or discomfort in the air.

So all in all, even though it ended up being far from free, I had such an amazing experience I would do it all over again in a heartbeat, double ear infection and all!    ;)

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Amanda says:

LOVE Waldorf schools. I wanted to get my Masters in Waldorf education. I’d love for my son to go to a Waldorf school (we have two around here). Now we just have to find the extra money for tuition…

Syreena B says:

I’m so jealous! looks like you had an amazing time… well not the sickness of course. I love your blog … this is me making an effort to comment more often to let you know youve got a fan in me …lol. have a great day

Kimberly says:

How fun! (Minus the sick part… boo!) Great photos… of course your portraits are always exquisite… and I love the shot of the GGB from the shore. Beautiful. What perfect weather you had… you’re two for two… LUCKY! Of course, winter IS usually the best time of the year in SF.

I am really looking forward to hearing what you learned about LR… you ARE planning to blog your new tricks, right???

ariana says:

Mine either JB, mine either ;)

jbhat says:

What a crazy/wonderful weekend. That doctor was an angel, most definitely. And I know this sounds awful, but now I am a little less envious of your hotel stay since you were so sick. A double ear infection doesn’t factor into my hotel getaway fantasy!


ariana says:

Thanks girls, it was awesome to meet all of you.. and Lolli!! I’m so sorry I missed you, I actually copied it from someone else’s blog.. maybe it was YOURS and that’s why you aren’t listed LOL. I’ll add you right now!

I am so sorry about your double ear infection. Hope you’re feeling much better now! There’s not much worse than being sick when you’re away from home.

By the way, you missed me on your list. I was there, too! :)

Arena says:

I’m so glad you got to see a doctor and get some meds before heading home! I love your photos — you have such an awesome way with lighting. :)

It was so much fun to meet you. I felt so bad that you were so sick. Your pictures are, of course, lovely.

Roxanne says:

Sounds so amazing Ari! And pretty pics! xo

Jennifer says:

So happy to read about your trip:) Sounds like a dream come true (minus the ravaging illness). I bet Jasper was so happy to have you home:)

DrewB says:

Haha! I’m dying laughing! Hopefully I proved to you that I’m a nice girl. I just get a lot of emails! Love all your pics! They are fantastic! I had such a great time getting to know you. Can’t wait until we get to meet up again!

ariana says:

Thanks Gayle – and you are master of the gorgeous Macro!!

Gigi, it definitely was an adventure!

Kari – I missed you buy just two weeks?? Drat!

kari says:

Looks like you had such a great time (aside from being so sick!)

Your photos are great :) so funny – i was standing at that same vantage point in SF where you girls are taking shots of the bridge just 2 weeks ago!

I so hope you are feeling better!!!


GiGi says:

glad you made it out alive! even w/ the double EI, it sounds like an amazing adventure.

GayleV says:

Your pictures are simply lovely! You are a master of the gorgeous portrait! It was so nice to meet you. I loved hearing about your upbringing in SF and happy that it helped you out in SF! There are a few Waldorf schools around where I live, but I am not sure I am aware of anyone whose schooling was completely Waldorf! Now I have! I am sorry that you were so sick! Being sick is hard enough, but being sick away from home is much worse! Hope you are feeling better now!

ariana says:

Aimee, it was a generic brand spray, but anything with the active ingredient oxymetazoline will do it. Just don’t use for more than three days or you get “rebound congestion” which sounds nasty!

aimee says:

There is a Waldorf school 2 minutes from my house in Applegate, which is a town of about 300 people and it is about 45 minutes from Sacramento. And I also have the double ear infection / sinus infection from hell! What is the nose spray called?