52 Week Project Blog

Week 24/52 - A Champion in Faith

First and foremost, I am sorry for being late in releasing new portrait blogs since Week 23. I went on a trip between June 22nd to June 26th for San Francisco Pride. Since coming back home, I was slammed with working and attending other events. This week alone, which is now Week 28th, I finally had the time to work on my project. Thank you for being patient. 

Here it is! I'm happy to present the 24th Portrait of the Week for June 11th to June 17th, my very own sister Vanny! She has been my main supporter for the project since the beginning and loves reading about a new portrait of the week. We finally made the time to get together for her own feature visual story. We talked about where to go for our location and what sort of theme she wanted. This was also an opportunity for us to spend time together and see what her world is like. Location of choices were at Chambers Bay Golf Course and her church Champions Centre in Tacoma. The structure of the blog will go in the following: who is Vanny and how faith plays a large role of her life, our relationship to each other, and a day to day play of our photoshoot. I cannot wait to dive into her life and show you Vanny! Let's do this. 

Vanny is my older sister who is born and raised in Seattle. She is the one who named me before I was born. How that came to be was during my mother's labor, she and every boy in the family made a bet on what gender was I going to be after birth. The boys wanted a boy, figures, while she was the only one who wanted a girl. They get to name me if I was born a boy or she get to name me if I was born a girl. The moment of my birth to revealed me as a girl, she got her wish and named me Sally! How cool is that? She wanted a sister and here I am! That forever transformed her life. 

Vanny has always been a faithful person. No matter how tough a situation is, she prays for strength. Allow me to share what happened in the past that changed our lives. From being born to the age of five, we were together as family. My mother. My father. My brother. My sister. Myself. That was five years of birthday celebration, clothes shopping, cooking, play fighting, and family bonding. I know I was a brat between those years, causing mayhem at home, and getting into trouble, yet, she loved me unconditionally.  When I turned five, our family separated. We parted ways. Vanny left with mom. Vanna left to raise his own family. I was left with dad. It was traumatizing. To see everyone leave with own eyes, something was wrong. Despite what happened, we are still here. Vanny has achieved an incredible amount of accomplishment. She graduated as valedictorian in high school, studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, worked for Ford in Boston, traveled to Southeast Asia to discover a new world, stayed in New York City and travel across the country back home, the first in our family to graduate from the University of Washington Seattle in Sociology, volunteered her time to teach kid Yoga, and an active member for her church. I look up to her not because of her achievements, it's about who she is and what she does for people. 

We went to Chambers Bay because it was the location for the US Open Championship 2015 and we went there together. Back in high school, Vanny played golf and took 2nd place in a competition. It was big deal because this was a high school that truly dominated in basketball. We picked Chambers Bay because it was a great opportunity to experience the competition in a world so new to us and we wanted to see the course as a park. To see the park as is, it was astonishing because of how empty, yet large the course was. A landscape with the beach right over the tracks was beautiful. We made our way down from the top, headed toward the tall concrete structure, crossed over the bridge, and played at the beach. We took our time with the structure of the course. Started out with the hill going down to the course I wanted to capture her overlooking the view, showing her dominance with her badass boots and fun plaid top. We spotted a fun tunnel that gave a cold industrial feel that plays with her outfit well. Making our way to the concrete structure, I had her sit on the platform to how vast the structure compared to us. We walked over the bridge and ran into love locks. It caught me by surprise because it was the first I have ever seen love locks. Finally, took the stairs to the beach and played in the tall grass area. Sure I was having fun and I was sneezing my face off. This was one idea she wanted to capture herself interacting with the grass. She was at peace with nature. That gave me peace. 

Before venturing to our next location, we took a pit stop to attend Veronica's graduation party. She was the 14th portrait of the week, exactly a month from the 24th week. It was a lot of fun and we had our belly full. After the party, we drove back to Tacoma to attend a special evening sermon in relationship to Father's day. The service had already started with live band playing. Champion Centre catered to a modern environment with vibrant people enjoying the moment. The music was lively, the crowd was getting into the groove, and the performer sung their heart out. I loved how wide the arena was presented and the set up of stage lighting that illuminated the space. Vanny shared with me she loved coming to service mainly for the music. I believe her. She even stated one song felt electronic because of the music structure. I couldn't agree more. I grooved my head to the music. Most of our time was spent inside the arena. I wanted to capture her immersed with the environment and one looking over the ground floor with an empty arena. I can see why she likes Champion Centre. 

Before I end the blog, there are a couple of remarks I like to share about Vanny and what is coming up for her. Our last name is different. I have my father's last name while she and Vanna share our mother. The church Champion Centre is similar to their last name Chham. She is a champion because she survived and surpassed all she is dealing with in her life. Her belief in faith gives her strength to keep going and build her relationship further with loved ones. After our session, I shared with her a music festival I am going in September. If you remember, that is Above and Beyond Group Therapy 250. I told her the music here is similar to her service music. It fascinated her that she will be going to her very first music festival with me! I teared up inside knowing this will be experience we will cherish together, be surrounded with an incredible community, and enjoy the music. That is the expectation I will give for her. That is what PLUR is. Peace. Love. Unity. Respect. 

Lastly, but not least, thank you Vanny for being in my project. It was exciting for me to photograph you and spend the entire day having fun with each other. I got to see your world  and how it mattered to you. Thank you for bringing me to your world. I apologize for not releasing our week as expected. I hope this makes up for the delay.

As for everyone else, thank you for your investment. I will be releasing the rest of the weeks ASAP. Stay with me for that!

- Sally