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Capturing Some Latin Movement by Amanda Liew

A few weeks ago, my housemate, Amy, asked me if I could try photographing her at her senior dance show for Onda Latina. I was super nervous because I knew there would be a lot of low lighting, fast movement, and a no flash photography rule. I told her to not have too high of expectations, but I actually think the photos came out better than expected! A lot of the show had very bright color backlighting which made for some cool silhouettes. And of course, Amy was PHENOMENAL. Seriously, girl can moveee! I always knew she was talented, but over Fall Break we went to Boston together and she dragged me and my friend Maegan out to salsa dance. It was traumatic. While she was doing crazy spins back and forth with her partner, I had a guy ditch me after 10 seconds because I was so bad hahah. It was much more fun to watch HER move and sit in the stands this time around.

Some of my favorite images from the show:

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The best part of it all was that this was Amy's last show at Penn! It was so great seeing her senior class dance together and four years of hard work culminating together. I know from living with Amy that Onda Latina has been her second family for a long time. It was so great to see that all come together!

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And of course, we had to capture a little bit of Chi O representation while we were there!

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The Best Type of Portraits by Amanda Liew

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Some photographers are inspired by nature. Others by fascinating people. Others by injustice that they feel needs to be documented. Now, I'm not sure I am even close enough in talent to dub myself a "photographer," but my journey starts with a friend. My freshman year in college I met an incredible sophomore named Natalie Franke. Even though she was only one year older than me, she had already mastered an artistic talent with photography that blew all our minds away. Starting as just a high school student, Natalie had begun to grow a portrait and lifestyle company, Natalie Franke Photography, for everything from weddings to engagement sessions to newborns to senior portraits. Luckily for us Chi Omega girls, that meant gorgeous photos at all of our events and all our eyes opened up to the world of portraiture. Now, I've never admitted this to anyone before (Natalie, get ready), but on my 19th birthday I had heard through the grapevine that some of the girls in my pledge class were going to do a photoshoot with Natalie. I was so excited but wasn't technically a part of the original group. I think I texted Aida with a casual "Sooo...what are you doing today? It's my birthday!" and of course she filled me in. Score! Sure, it's a little embarrassing how badly I needed to be in this photoshoot, but I had never done one before and hey, it was my birthday! The pictures turned out phenomenal. I don't think I'll ever stop treasuring these photos and the memories from that beautiful day. Even Chi Omega nationals reached out to Natalie to use it for marketing purposes! I always laugh at this photo because coincidentally it's quite diverse and almost looks like a college brochure. Guess we're now part of the Chi O brochure!

My 19th birthday Courtesy of Natalie Franke Photography 23451_1294154833787_1227780206_30879729_1900442_n

Fast forward to senior year: after much lamenting over the tacky and ridiculously overpriced senior photographs taken by Penn, my friend Maddie contacted Natalie again this year to see if she would be willing to come back to Penn (she's an alum, now) to take some senior portraits for us. She graciously said yes and even donated a portion of our sessions to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In a weird coincidence, though, the day Maddie picked also happened to be...my birthday! The photographs that she took were absolutely beautiful and captured me in a way I couldn't image.

My 22nd birthday, just last week! Courtesy of Natalie Franke Photography (Click here for her full blog post)View More: http://nataliefranke.pass.us/amanda-liew

In our photography class, our professor has been pushing us to think about the role of the photographer. But one that I feel often gets ignored is the role that Natalie and so many other professional photographers play: the role of bringing happiness to others in the form of images. Being able to capture moments - from the huge landmark moments like weddings and births down to the small moments like both my 19th and 22nd birthday - are significant. As I looked through the full set of photos Natalie sent me, my heart soared. I looked beautiful. I saw myself and felt beautiful. Natalie has an amazing ability to capture each person's individual beauty and present it as a gift. While some might view it as vain, especially in the world of selfies and Facebook, I think that these are mementos we need in our lives, if only to remember.

So, in my own little step of my journey, for my "Choice" component of my Portrait assignment, I decided to do a photoshoot for my wonderful friend Kareli. Kareli is vivacious, hilarious, fun, and lively in the most amazing ways. Not to mention, she was doing me a huge favor by sacrificing her time for me to shoot her in ridiculous poses! After just one hour photographing her in the Quad, I could see why Natalie loved her job so much. I was already so excited to give Kareli what I hoped would be images that captured her beauty. Without further ado: _DSC0078

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Kareli, you are a gorgeous girl! I am blown away by your beauty, and your hair is amazing beyond words. I hope that I was able to capture even a fraction of it all! Thank you so much for all of your help.

Natalie, thank you for being a constant inspiration to me and so many others out there. You're spreading so much happiness and joy through your work - I hope you never stop!

And please, to everybody else, check out Natalie's wonderful work at www.nataliefranke.com!

Big Little Week...or rather Big Big Big - Little Week by Amanda Liew

I'm incredibly sad to say that I've wrapped up my last big-little week ever! Essentially, big little week is an entire week dedicated to loving your "little" anonymously by showering her with gifts, decorations, singing fraternity pledges, and more. The entire week, the Little has no idea (hahah or at least that's how it's supposed to be) who her Big is until Revelation at the end of the week. My phenomenal lineage, The Sweet Life Lineage, got an AWESOME new addition: Annie! She's way too cool for me. Ever since I got Amanda R as my little, our lineage has gotten progressively cooler and edgier. My poor Big, Lauren (see her awesome fashion blog here!), and I are total dweebs compared to them hahah. Even though seniors don't usually participate that much in Big Little Week, I couldn't resist and forced Hanna (my Little Little) to let me paint posters, buy gifts, and bake cinnamon rolls! Too much fun. _DSC0006

We've lost a lot of continuity and tradition in our lineage, but the one tradition that has persisted is doing a different theme for each day of the week! Study Day, Party Day, Our Favorite Things Day, Love Day (Valentine's Day), and Chi Omega Day! _DSC0024

On Thursday, we have our "My Tie" Date Party where the Big sets up the Little with a date. She gives the Little the date's tie, and the Little wears her date's tie to the party! Eventually, her date will come find her by identifying his tie. #adorable

What's a party without a pre-party? Celebrating at Maddie & Alyssa's house:

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Maddie and her date, Mark:

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Julio was FINALLY able to attend one of our date parties! I think Maddie and I have asked him at least 4 times in the past year alone. Of course, it was insanely fun and we took over the dance floor like maniacs._DSC0033_edit

Revelation Night! Annie finds out the weirdos who are in her lineage!! I painted a sign just for the occasion. Hanna, Annie, Amanda R, and myself:_DSC0115

Already so much loving between the Big and Little! _DSC0117

And of course, as the matriarch of the lineage, I made them take this photo. Amanda R nicknamed me "Biggie Smalls" - can you guess why? _DSC0142