These streets will never look the same.

Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.  – David Alan Harvey

If You Can Make it Here / Photo by Meagan Kirkpatrick

If You Can Make it Here / Photo by Meagan Kirkpatrick (July 2011)

A few months ago, after shooting almost 50,000 photos on my T2i, I decided it was time to upgrade. Reticent at first, I eventually caved when a friend of mine (who taught me most of what I know about photography), sent me a text saying my “night shots could really use a full frame sensor.”

That was the final straw. I will forever be a nighttime photographer, and my Rebel T2i was like the little red caboose that couldn’t quite get up the hill.

I put my cherished and reliable friend up for sale on Facebook and with seconds of clicking “post,” it was gone.

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Girls, Get Ready for SXSW: A Survival Guide.

Music Festival Illustration by Jazzia on Shutterstock
It’s been 4 years since I traded in my Fashion Week stilettos for Texas BBQ and I couldn’t be happier. Hanging with smart techies beats watching starving amazon women trample the runway any day! But there are a few things ladies should know before they head to Austin for the 10-day festival:

  1. Bring chargers with you everywhere. Trust me, you’ll need them. Because of the number of phones around, and the amount of texting you’ll do, all your gadgets will need recharging 2-3 times a day.
  2. Your twitter handle is your new business card (and personal assistant).  For those attending Interactive, clean up your feed and tweet what you find interesting. It’s a great way to build your influence and meet cool people. And most importantly, twitter should be your go-to to find out what’s trending and where the best unofficial parties are. Follow the tags #SXSWFree & #SXSWUnofficial to get all the latest info.
  3. Get Screened. This one has a double meaning. First, bring sunscreen. It’s hot in Austin and many of the best events take place outdoors. Second, go to the film screenings. I’ve seen some of the best movies at Sx, so grab some popcorn and recharge with some much needed down and dark time. The Vimeo theatre has a whole lineup of great films this year.
  4. Secret performances. Secret performances and parties will be popping up like crazy throughout the 10-day festival. Follow insider handles on twitter to get the latest updates. Also be on the lookout for password protected parties, like this year’s Wall Street Journal Pool Party.
  5. Get a badge. Even though off-site events are getting bigger and bigger each year, you still need a badge to get anywhere official. Many of the parties will require them for admission. Also, a word from the wise: pick up your badge the day before the conference begins. They’re open until 10pm. Otherwise you’ll wait in a 2+ hour wait – and there’s 0% chance they will let someone else pick up your badge for you. Trust me, I’ve tried.
  6. Leave the stilettos at home. Even at the best parties people will be wearing jeans. You should still dress to impress, but be comfortable. (Comfortable stilettos = win win.)

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Still… (Reflections on Photography)

Man Underwater by Ana Vesna

Man Underwater by Anna Vesna

I’ve always appreciated art. My brother’s an incredibly talented illustrator, and I spent almost three years working with Vimeo, where I watched films every day and attended offline screenings regularly. I was profoundly affected by the ability of motion pictures to move people, as redundant as that sounds. They can make you laugh, cry, cringe, and most of all: think.

But since coming to Shutterstock two years ago, spending countless hours among 24 million images, and then going home to my own DSLR, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for the still image.

Portrait of a Girl by Aleshyn Andrei

Portrait of a Girl by Aleshyn Andrei

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Jetsetter’s Guide to Shopping: 13 online boutiques I can’t live without

Dripping Pixel Heart on Shutterstock (68968357)

In the dead of winter when the temps barely break freezing, there are two foolproof remedies I can always turn to. The first is travel, and since I’m off to Austin for SXSW in two weeks and Brazil in eight weeks, I think I’ve got that one covered.

The second is a little retail therapy for some light and bright clothing and accessories. While this is by no means a comprehensive list of my favorite online shops, they are the first place I head when I’m looking to warm my spirits:

  1. Nasty Gal – Started as an ebay store in 2006, this online shop has a fabulous collection of new and vintage items at a range of price points. I’m loving their collection of vintage rocker t’s and these Skulltini loafers ($160).
  2. Asos – No shopping list would be complete without Asos. This amazing mega-store based in the UK has everything from indie brands like Circa Vintage to top French fashion labels like Vanessa Bruno.
  3. Pixie Market – Pixie is great when you’re looking for fun, current staples without breaking the bank. Kind of like a TopShop meets Asos meets Urban Outfitters.
  4. Ten Over 6 – With upscale finds like Tolstoy books and designer fragrances by Olo, Ten Over 6 is one of my latest obsessions.
  5. Net-a-porter – Oh, Net-a-Porter, I could spend a hundred hours (and my entire life savings) shopping your site. Curated with the best-of-the-best, NP specializes in designer ready-to-wear (hence, the name).
  6. ShopBop – An oldie but goodie – and ever so fashionable with everything from L’Egance to Rory Beca to Jason Wu.
  7. Revolve Clothing – Based in LA, this super-boutique is similar to Shopbop and has a all of my favorite brands, including Alice + Olivia, Equipment, Joie, SEE by Chloe, and Vince .
  8. Barney’s – When all else fails, go to Barney’s. Or just start there. Either way you’ll be smitten.
  9. Colette – If you can’t get to Paris to shop this a-list concept boutique, visit their shop online. I love Colette’s curated jewelry pieces, including this gold Eddie Borgo cuff.
  10. Singer22 – Stock up on Rag & BoneParker and other celebrity faves at this fashion staple.
  11. Supermarket HQ – Fresh indie designs and accessories straight from designers. Like Etsy, but better. Current obsession on Supermarket: waxed canvas totes by Peg and Awl ($280).
  12. True & Co – If you can’t heat up the temps outside, heat up the bedroom with some flirty lingerie. True & Co customizes recommendations and sends you a bunch of items to chose from. Keep what you like, return what you don’t.
  13. Erica Weiner – I’ve been buying Erica Weiner jewelry since she first popped up in a few East Village boutiques in 2006. I’ve gone through 3 handcuff necklaces ($50) and adore her dainty/edgy style. Perfect for a downtown girly-girl.

Music to Jet To: 12 Albums to Download Before Your Next Flight (date, or dinner party…)

Old Fashioned Music Player Illustration by Cristian Amoretti on Shutterstock

One of my favorite things about traveling is the time spent in that anonymous-yet-familiar place high above the clouds. I get some of my best writing and reflection done at 35,000 feet – earphones on, journal out. And even though I’m no music expert, having good tunes on my iPod is critical to getting me into the groove. These are some of my go-tos when it comes to travel music (if there is such a thing). They also happen to be excellent tunes for working, lounging, entertaining, and just about anything that needs a mellow-but-rhythmic soundtrack: (In order from slowest to fastest.)

  1. Gem Club, Breakers – Slow, moody and dark. Love this album for writing to. 
  2. Bon Iver, Bon Iver – If you don’t know Bon Iver, please just download. 
  3. The National, High Violet – Dark, soft, indie rock.
  4. Angus & Julia Stone, Down the Way – Julia Stone is my favorite artist right now. Her music is airy, light and soulful.
  5. Massive Attack, Heligoland – The original trip-hop group delivers electronica at its finest in this beautiful and delicate album.
  6. Frank Ocean, Orange – Soulful R&B with a dash of synth.
  7. The xx, Coexist – Indie electronic/dream-pop.  The xx is one of those bands that you either get or you don’t. In my opinion they are one of the greatest groups of our generation, and this album might even be better than their first.
  8. Waldeck, Ballroom Stories – Jazzy, swingy, soulful R&B. Great for dinner parties.
  9. Best of Hôtel Costes by Stephanè Pompougnac – I have almost all of the Costes albums after hearing one at the hotel in Paris. This compilation features latin infused and electronic beats.
  10. Cat Power, Sun – Cat creates her own brand of magical indie pop with this soothing, upbeat album.
  11. Chromatics, Kill for Love – Where do I begin? The Chromatics are another favorite group of mine but they’re not for the faint of heart. Best described as dark, electro-pop-slash-disco, this album includes a remake of Neil Young’s Into the Black.
  12. Miike Snow, Miike Snow – Indie electronic. Another album that will go down as one of the best of our time; Miike snow perfectly balances rock, pop and electronic.

Jetsetter’s Guide to Paris: 50+ Places to Explore, Eat, Drink, & Shop

What to do in Paris

T to B, L to R: Inside Hôtel Costes, Le Grande Roue de Paris, Passage Verdeau, The Eiffel Tower at Night & Velib / Photos by Meagan Kirkpatrick

It’s no secret that Paris is my favorite city on the planet. I’ve been at least a half a dozen times in the last two years (I know, cry me a river), and each time I go I discover a new must-visit place. If you find yourself traveling to the city of light and are looking for something to do, below are a few of my go-to spots. For those of you who are social media-savvy, use Foursquare’s Explore feature to find even more places by location.

While I organized my list by topic, I recommend that you chose a central neighborhood to stay in (one of the arrondissements with a single digit) and then  tackle a neighborhood a day. Spend a day or two strolling through St. Germain (6e), a day shopping in the Marais (3&4e), a day on Saint-Honorè (1e), a day in Operá browsing the famous Parisian department stores (perfect way to spend a cold or rainy day, 8e), and then whatever’s left in the Latin Quarter (5e) or Trocaderó (16e).

A few other things to remember:

  1. Paris shuts down on Sundays. You can still shop parts of Le Marais, but the rest of the city’s shops will be closed, so use this day to visit museums or walk along the Seine.
  2. It’s not like NYC, taxis are sparse and most don’t accept credit cards. 
  3. Bring euro – many of the cafés don’t accept credit cards.
  4. Try to at least speak a little French. Even saying bonjour or merci in a terrible American accent will dramatically improve your experience. (When in doubt, imagine how you would respond to someone who stops you on the street speaking another language!)
  5. Tips – while not expected in many restaurants, bars or taxis, if you’re American and expect servers and drivers to speak your language, please tip 10-15% as a gesture of gratitude. (Again, you will need cash for this. You cannot tip on cards in Paris.)
Paris Rooftops on Shutterstock

Paris Rooftops / via Shutterstock

Shop:

  • Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen – This is the flea market of all flea markets. Do not miss if you like shopping for rare european treasures and antiques. Bargain with the dealers and they’ll even ship back to the states. Take the train, this one is on the outskirts of Paris – not far from Montmartre. (140 rue des Rosiers, Saint-Ouen, 18e)
  • Merci – This uber-concept store has fabulous designer finds, housewares, office accessories and local fashions. A portion of the proceeds go to charity. (111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 3e)
  • Champs Élysées – A little disclaimer with this one: I’ve never cared for the avenue much – other than to visit during the winter season for the holiday lights. It’s a tourist trap for the most part, and filled with the same stores you’ll find elsewhere in Paris – just with infinitely more people and far less personality. (If designer brands are what you seek, shop along Rue Saint-Honoré from Rue Cambon to Rue des Pyramides where you’ll find the flagship boutiques for top French designers including HermèsChanel, Lanvin, Annick Goutal and others).
  • Colette – A must-see concept store, featuring a gallery space, clothing shop, bookstore and restaurant under one roof.  Many of the items you’ll find in this store are limited editions made exclusively for Colette by big name brands. It also happens to be Karl Lagerfeld’s favorite hangout. But whatever you do, don’t try to take a photo inside, the staff is extremely protective over their brand. (Note: Colette and the next 2 shops are also along Saint-Honoré.) (213 Rue Saint-Honoré, 1e)
  • Austier de Villatte – The finest ceramics and candles in the world. (173 Rue Saint-Honoré, 1e)
  • Christian Louboutin – There are several Louboutin stores in Paris, but this location just off of Saint-Honoré is a world of its own. It’s right at the entrance to Passage Vérot-Dodat, and surrounded by exquisite architecture. Can’t think of a better place to buy yourself a little red-soled indulgence. (19 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1e)
  • Le Marais – too many shops to name, so just spend a day snaking the streets from Village Saint Paul, Lieu Commun, Maison Européenne de la Photographie and Bubblewood in the fourth to Marché des Enfants Rouges and Comme un Roman in the third (or visa versa).
  • Deyrolle – Taxidermy is at it’s finest at this historic Parisian shop. Come, explore this multi-level boutique and then head to the antique galleries nearby. (46 Rue du Bac, 7e)
  • Printemps Haussmann – The best department store in Paris, in my opinion. Printemps has everything from Chloé to Isabel Marant. (64 boulevard Haussmann, 9e)
  • Galeries Lafayette & Galeries Lafayette Maison – Go just to see the architecture, and then the selection. The lower level is shoe heaven – stocked with everything from Parcours to Dior. The home store across the street is also amazing, and puts our interior department stores to shame. (40 & 35 Boulevard Haussmann, 9e) Continue reading

Climb… Is all we know.

It’s been nearly 12 years since I left California for New York. 13 years since the days when my friends and I would drive to the top of Skyline Drive in Cowan Heights to escape whatever it was that we wanted to escape that day: school, work, family, boyfriends, whatever. We used to sneak into an abandoned mansion at the top of the hill, share stories, dreams… bottles of Boone’s.

Now, more than a dozen years later, there’s another mansion being erected on the property and another generation of dreamers parking along the cliffside shoulder.

Cowan Heights View, by Meagan Kirkpatrick

View from Cowan Heights overlooking Irvine / Photo by Meagan Kirkpatrick

I’ve always had a thing for heights. I’ve been taking flying trapeze classes for years and one of my favorite things to do is to stare out of airplane windows at the cities below. There’s just something so soothing and intoxicating about looking down at the world – at the days passed – and reflecting in a place that’s both familiar and anonymous.

Reflecting on the Past, Photos by Meagan KirkpatrickI can’t help but wonder though, why is it that we humans feel the need to look to the past for answers about the future? It’s like an invitation to carry all that weight with you wherever you go.

When I’m feeling deep and reflective, Bon Iver is at the top of my playlist. I can’t tell you how many times I listened to his self-titled album this week. Wash is one of my favorite tracks and the lyrics are the perfect companion for a skyline view.

Wash. Bon Iver

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