Renaissance Style Still Life Photographs

2016 has been a year of rejuvenation so far – my creative juices are flowing!


renaissance style still life


renaissance style still life
renaissance style still life


renaissance style still life





She Saw a Little; Felt A Lot | Stories from Turkey, Pt. 1

Young Refugee Boy in Antakya, Turkey

Other than a few images, I have posted very little about my trip to Turkey exactly a year ago.

The trip made a huge impact on my life, and I want to talk about it.

The riots and unrest in Diyarbakir and other parts of the country have been weighing on me these last few months.

My heart yearns to be doing more for the refugees. I have cried over the pain of these people more than anything else in my life. If I can’t help physically, I will use my words.


Overall, the trip was a hopeful and joyful time. My letter home near the beginning of our trip was a great example of how upbeat we were, and I’d like to share it with you today:

Hello Dearies! 

Other than a few photos, I haven’t posted much since we’ve arrived, mostly due to exhaustion and safety reasons, but I wanted to send you all a quick email (because I love you… And my mom REALLY wants to know how we are all doing. :P) Most nights, as soon as I walk into my hotel room, I fall right into bed, so I’m taking advantage of one of our many long car rides to type up a note on my phone.

Turkey is just like I expected it to be in some ways, and yet completely different than I ever imagined it. 

It was such a long trip, but it was fantastic! Turkish Airways has amazing service. On  our 12 hour flight, we were given toiletry bags with toothbrushes, earplugs, socks, and etc. we were served two meals and had complimentary drinks for the whole flight. (I opted out of whiskey and had some deliciously minty lemonade. :P) I had trouble sleeping, so Josiah had me sleep in his lap – I seriously would have been exhausted and in pain if I hadn’t gotten those few hours of sleep, so praise God for my brother!
When we finally stepped off the plane after our last leg of the journey to Diyarbakir, it felt like a movie scene.

Wind was blowing the falling snow into our faces, and as we walked in the dark towards the terminal, I couldn’t keep the grin off my face. The rest of the team was equally excited, and we remained pretty upbeat despite discovering that our luggage hadn’t made it all the way and was stuck, presumably in Istanbul. Ahmet, the church pastor/elder drove us to our hotel and we went to bed as soon as possible. 

The next morning started with a typical Turkish breakfast that I am growing to love: cucumber, tomatoes, soup, olives, cheese (of many varieties), yogurt, tea, and fresh honey. After breakfast, we had our first daily meeting together. Erich decided to have us read 2 Corinthians before our prayer together during this trip, and I amazed by how much the Bible passages apply to the circumstances we are in! We read chapter 4 this morning and my heart hurts for all the people who are without hope. I’m so thankful we can not only offer aid, but also a treasure – a relationship with the living God! What hope we have to offer!!!  “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 

After breakfast on Friday, we had our first real Turkish culture experience, venturing out on the streets to find Turkish coffee(which was amazing!!), exchange American dollars for lira (the exchange rate is 2.27 lira/$1 – I feel strangely wealthy over here.), and find boots for Josiah. When we realized how cheap the boots were, Erich, Jeff, and I followed Josiah’s lead and purchased sturdy boots, which were far better for the weather than the shoes we brought with us.

That afternoon, we visited our first group of refugees in a town called Zuriçi and met with with the (female) Muslim co-mayor of the village, who had come to the Diyarbakir church the Sunday before. The refugees here were unique because they were actually living in homes – long story short, the villagers had built houses near the site of a dam that was going to be built in order to scam the government into compensating them, but all the homes were empty. The Kurdish village leaders graciously allowed the refugees to live in the homes, but would like them to return to their own land as soon as possible. The mayor was a beautiful example of what a political figure SHOULD look like. In every possible situation, she took the humble position, whether it was choosing her seat or the way that she treated the refugees. The townspeople in this village were thrilled to see us, and we were served tea quite a few times in the space of a few hours. 

After visiting the refugees, we paid a visit to the co-mayor’s home, to pray over her teenage son, who was diagnosed with a rare case of Parkinson’s Disease by a doctor from Yale. As we prayed for healing in Jesus’ name, he shrieked, and it seemed as if he’s was demon possessed. My dad began to pray for the demons to come out, and he again responded with shrieks. The Bible says that even the demons know the name of Jesus! For my believing friends, please pray with me for continued healing and freedom from Satan’s control!! God is doing a great work in this family’s lives, and we are so blessed to be a part of it. 

On Saturday, after our breakfast, Bible reading and prayer, we joined with a team of Syriacs from Germany to road trip to camps in/near Zurich, about 10 kilometers from the fighting in Kobani. After wonderful conversations on our three hour trip, with a long stop at a wholesaler for truckloads of food, we delivered and unloaded the food at a wedding hall that is being used to store and separate supplies for the various refugee camps nearby. From there, we sought out municipal leaders to obtain permission to visit the camps, and ended up being a part of a meeting with the foreign minister of Kobani, who gave a speech, requested that a humanitarian corridor be opened to Kobani, requesting guns and supplies. Little did he know that his entire audience was four different groups of missionaries – funny how God gives Christians a heart for the hurting and needy! We went on to visit a refugee camp, crammed with rows of tents and noisy children. The children were so precious! They wanted to pose for pictures with their victory/fight sign (our finger symbol for peace). In Turkish, they shouted “the martyrs never die” — it’s tragic to think that these children are growing up in cold tents, far from home! I am beginning to understand how faithful Abraham in the Bible was when he obeyed God’s call to get up and go to the the promised land – a place he had never seen. He spent most of his life traveling and living in tents, just like these refugees!

Yesterday (Sunday), we visited the Diyarbakir church. It was an amazing experience! Despite not knowing Turkish, several of the worship songs were originally English, and we were able to sing familiar songs in a VERY unfamiliar language. We spent the afternoon with Elias (Elijah in English) and attended the church’s youth meeting that night before picking up Lydia, the final member of our team at the airport.

This morning, we walked through the city again – I love the cobblestone streets – and walked on top of the city wall.  It amazes me how much history occurred right here in Diyarbikar. So far, I’ve learned of two different massacres, one of which happened in the square outside our hotel window – the massacre of the Armenians during WWI. We got to drive along the Tigress river on our way to deliver food to another refugee camp this afternoon.

It’s been a crazy couple of days, and our trip has really only just begun!  


I can’t tell you to expect another update, because we have no idea what our schedule is each day until the day actually begins, but I will write again if I can! 

Love you all.


– Marilla



Out of Season

Poinsettias don’t actually take days off, even if it’s not December.




The spider weaves a web more delicate than mine could ever be.



An Ally

pool water

The water hasn’t always been an ally. I have a vivid memory of sinking under the surface and not know how to reach the top. At thirteen, my little world changed when we joined a summer league swim team. Soon, our summers were consumed by the swim team, and a short time, my sister and I were lifeguards & swim instructors. 

Since then, the pool has become my sanctuary, my quiet place where the noise of the world fades away to a blissful swish-swish. I can think, I can pray, or I can let rational thought fade away. Water will always comfort my heart and uplift my soul.

{pulled from my Instagram account}


Follow my blog with Bloglovin :)

Portrait of the Landscape

Most of my landscape shots are in landscape mode, but every once in a while, I change it up with a vertical shot😉

This is Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe 


Taken with an iPhone 6.


{100 Days of DIY :: Day 23}

I hosted my sister’s wedding shower this past weekend and went a little DIY-crazy in prep for the day.
My favorite project for the day was this upcycled faux vintage pitcher.
It’s the type of pitcher and basin that you can find in every thrift store and in fact, I found mine many years ago at a garage sale up the street. As a pre-teen, I faithfully filled it with water and washed my face with the basin, for oh… maybe three days! Since then, it’s been adorning the top of our hutch as dusty decor.

I decided to repurpose it with gold spray paint {one of her wedding colors} and use it as a centerpiece container for one of the flower arrangements I was making.

I couldn’t be happier with the results!

DIY pitcher |

To prep the pitcher and basin, I sanded them down and wiped them clean from dust.

I set them out on newspaper in my backyard and sprayed about 4-5 layers of gold spray paint on them.
{tip: I set a laundry basket over them as they dried to protect them from dust. Cardboard boxes would work as well!}

I used two slightly different colors of gold paint:

one to actually cover the pitcher and basin


another lightly over the top to give just a hint of texture

At this point, you can add a bit of aging with dark brown or black paint and coat the piece with a sealant… but *confession* I was on limited time and did neither😉

The two pieces came out beautifully and looked fantastic with my flower arrangement inside the vase and floating candles on the outside.

DIY gold pitcher |

Cost of the project:

Pitcher & Basin: FREE {given to me many years ago}


Gold Spray paint {$3.45} x 2: $6.90 {plus tax}


Not bad at all🙂

Stay tuned for more photos and DIY projects!

quirkyartst sign off

Letting the DIY streak run free + the Old & Dear

For a couple of years, this blog was a mixture of photography and DIY projects, but soon, my commercial photography work began to take over the whole blog. With my new {beautiful} website up and running, I’m back to my old ways!

What can you expect on this blog from now on?

You can expect more:

Personal Photography Work

I take photos on my dslr and iPhone ALL the time, but they get lost in the midst of my commercial work, so they will be finding new life on the blog. Whether it’s a carefully composed shot with my iPhone 6 or a well-edited shot from my Canon 5D MII, you’ll see more photos here.

Here is an iPhone image from Saturday’s beautiful sunset!


More DIY projects

Believe it or not, the last DIY post in the 100 Days of DIY series was back in good ol’ 2013!!! I think it’s time for a refresh, don’t you?

With that in mind, Day 23 of the 100 Days of DIY is coming soon. I’ll be posting about how to take this faux vintage pitcher from drab to fab in my next post!

pitcher |

Thanks for letting me jabber at you – I’ll see you soon!

quirkyartst sign off

The Labor was Not in Vain…

I have spent many months drinking copious amounts of coffee and stressing over my website, but I am thrilled to say that it is FINALLY complete!

Continue reading The Labor was Not in Vain…

VSCO, Pack 07 // a review

VSCO, or Visual Supply Co, is a company dedicated to creating presets for photographers that resemble specific film tones. They create presets for Lightroom, Photoshop, and have a very popular phone app for editing and taking gorgeous photos.

If you aren’t a photographer or interested in my editing process, then you’ll be bored by this post, because it’s all about the presets!

I own three packs of VSCO presets and really enjoy using them, but I don’t use them on all my sessions and events because they tend to need a lot of tweaking that makes my workflow a little more complicated. However, VSCO came out with a new pack today and I decided to use a discount that I had been hoarding to buy the new pack after hearing that many of the presets didn’t need much tweaking…

End result? …I’m in love!

I played with the presets and I adore the warm toned ones, so here are a few of my favorite before and afters – with absolutely no tweaking or extra editing done.

© Marí Photography, bay area photographer, san francisco, castro valley, california

© Marí Photography, bay area photographer, san francisco, castro valley, california

© Marí Photography, bay area photographer, san francisco, castro valley, california

Should you shell out for Pack 07? I say yes!

It’s all in the Details

details © Marí Photography, bay area photographer, san francisco, castro valley, california

I love detail shots – when I shoot weddings, some of my favorite moments are when I photograph the rings or the dress or the cake, or the table decor. The details are what separate weddings from one another and help the personalities of the bride and groom stand out.
My next blog post will be on my {almost ready} website, but I decided to share a post on this blog… one last time!

Here are a few of my favorite details from recent weddings…

details © Marí Photography, bay area photographer, san francisco, castro valley, california

My new website will be hopefully up and running soon!

Airplanes are the Wings by Which I Fly

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

I’ve done more flying the last few months than I did in all of 2014, and I love it! I am that introvert that LOVES the window seat and I have spent many hours watching the clouds float by my little plexiglass window.

I’ve posted photos from my humanitarian trip to Turkey in January, but thought I would share a few travel photos from my trips this year.

January was Turkey:

Sunset over Houston, on our way down.🙂 #goinginternational #turkey2015

A photo posted by Marilla (@quirkyartist) on

In early February, I took a weekend road trip to Los Angeles with a dear friend & discovered car troubles while out for dinner in Irvine with friends. Thank God for my awesome friends who {sort of} knew how to help!

The weekend was over far too soon and we headed back up Insterstate 5, because I was flying out of state the next morning!

The next morning, I snuck away for a week with my bestie in Idaho and was surprised to find that my souvenir from Turkey was heightened security and I was gifted with a full security screening and pat down, on the way there and back… I still loved the flight, just not my time in the airport😉

Finally, after a month back home, at the end of March I flew out to beautiful Kentucky to see my boyfriend. I loved the window seat that gave me a view of the beautiful Grand Canyon!


A photo posted by Marilla (@quirkyartist) on

It was an incredibly lovely trip:

But in ten short days, I was on my way back home.

Goodbye beautiful Kentucky! Take care of my @sammyy777 ok? P.S. Byeeee @k.miller116!

A photo posted by Marilla (@quirkyartist) on

I am now home again, scrambling to work with my web designer to complete my photography website by the end of the month, and prepping for shooting a couple of weddings in the next few weeks. I have no flights scheduled, but I’m already itching to be in the sky again!

Until next time!



Cinemagraph Selfie

One of the recent trends in photograph is a style known as cinemagraphy, where the photo has subtle movement, similar to the concept of a gif.
I am fascinated by it & would like to do a stylized shoot just to shoot cinemagraphs, but in the meantime, I’m practicing on myself!

cinemagraph selfie, moving portrait  © Marí Photography portrait, bay area photographer, san francisco, castro valley, california

What do you think? Should cinemagraphs become the new “it thing” in photography?

Spring Means Color

daffodils blooming in Kentucky © Marí Photography portrait, bay area photographer, san francisco, castro valley, california

I love the coming of Spring because the weather seems to toss off the bland winter and burst with beautiful colors.

I captured these daffodils on a recent trip to Kentucky, and they make my heart so happy!

daffodils blooming in Kentucky  © Marí Photography portrait, bay area photographer, san francisco, castro valley, california

Do you like Spring? What’s your favorite part of the season?🙂

Turkey Trip 2015 // {ten}

Mountain View from the Road in Southern TurkeyLandscape in Southern Turkey  © Marí Photography portrait, bay area photographer, san francisco, castro valley, california