Tuesday Tunes: Cassondra Michelle

The inspiration for this week’s post comes from a cool interview I read last week from my new favorite band, The Girl and the Dreamcatcher! In the article, the band shared their 5 current favorites songs, which got me thinking…

I am one of those weird people who creates a Pinterest board and a playlist for basically every occasion ever. Recently I’ve been taking some of my free time to really narrow down what I want to stand for as a brand. This quest, of course, called for a soundtrack. Everyone could use a little extra inspiration and sonic pick me ups, so I thought I would share some of the awesome empowering songs on my playlist. Check out 5 of my favorites below & then check out the interview with The Girl and the Dreamcatcher here cuz their picks are great too!


The Girl and the Dreamcatcher – My Way

Speaking of my new favorite band… I’ve had this song on repeat since their EP “Negatives” dropped late last month. It is emblematic of where I am in life right now and I’m sure a lot of other people can relate as well. The song also happens to be super catchy and great to blast at high volume to cheer yourself up while driving to work in tears (…don’t ask).


Bea Miller – I  Dare You

The one is best played on repeat until it gets stuck in your head so that you can sing it to yourself anytime you feel self-doubt or are allowing other people to get to you. Such an empowering song!


Daya – Sit Still, Look Pretty

Yet another fantastic song from the girl who lead us all to wonder where the good boys go to hide away. The lyrics are my absolute favorite. We need more songs with messages like this! Makes my feminist heart happy 🙂


Olivia Holt – Phoenix

The ultimate pick-up song.  This song is a great reminder anytime you feel like shrinking away into the shadows instead of stepping into your power. Singing this along with the crowd at Olivia’s concert a few weeks ago brought me to tears. Such a powerful anthem!


Halsey – Castle

You can feel the power in the music of this tune. The energy of the song is so cinematic. Perfect to play as you’re getting ready for battle, be it against an evil magical army or your awful boss at work.


Got any go to pump-up songs or just great songs in general you’ve been listening to this week? Comment below!


Until next time,



Make It Matter

Shots go off in the news

The words gets smaller—and scarier—yet

The same old drama floods the headlines 

And my cell phone

Nothing’s changed

Everyone’s still so petty & self-absorbed

Their world becomes THE world

And they can’t see that it’s all bigger

That all of this can be gone tomorrow


By a madman with a gun or a terrorist with little regard for his own life

The world keeps turning, great

But not with love & laughter & art & beauty

But with hate & anger & strife & angst

Will we never learn?

Will tragedy never change us until it hits home?

Do we have to lose mom, dad, friend, co-worker, brother, sister to stop fighting & start living?

Tomorrow’s never promised, but are we working towards a better one?

Time is precious so where is our drive, our purpose?

What are you doing today & why?


Make it matter.


MIM Tweets Collage

Girl Meets World live taping experience


A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of visiting the set of the Disney Channel show GIRL MEETS WORLD for a live taping. It was truly one of the coolest things I’ve ever done and it helped cemented my desire to eventually go into television as a career. Thought it might be fun to share the experience with some of you who haven’t had that opportunity or might be considering it!

For those of you who don’t know, getting tickets to a live taping of a TV show is actually pretty easy. Not every television show films in front of a live audience. It is usually only comedies and then, only a select few opt for live laughter over a laugh track. Shows like “Baby Daddy,” “Young & Hungry,” “Fuller House” and “Girl Meets World” are among those few. For a complete list of shows, go to http://audiencesunlimited.com/. That site is also where you can order tickets FOR FREE (yes, none of those shows charge for the opportunity to watch them film). Just make sure you get on first thing in the morning 30 days before the show you want to go to. Most of them sell out really fast!

Anyway, that’s all I did to get my tickets. After weeks and months of planning plus a minor hiccup regarding a “Liv & Maddie” taping (I missed getting tickets to the last live taping ever… still crying), I finally secured four tickets to a “Girl Meets World” taping… and then had to wait a month.

There was drama up until the last minute. They always sell a few too many tickets to a live taping to ensure a full audience, but the show I had chosen was particularly over sold. We showed up two hours early and were on the edge of our seats till the last moment to see whether or not we would be allowed in. Luckily, there were just enough seats for us! I felt really bad for everyone who wasn’t allowed in…. If you’re lucky enough to get tickets to a taping, make sure to show up a few hours early!

Once we got inside the soundstage where they film, we got to see all of the amazing iconic sets. It was so surreal to see them outside of our television screens. The executive producer of the show came out and explained to us how they came up with the concept of the episode and a little bit about what happened in the previous episodes. I can’t give away any of the plot, but I will say that it was a really good episode, a little on the more serious side. I also think I’m okay to reveal that Danielle Fishel co-wrote the episode as well as directing and co-starring in it. It was pretty cool!  She is definitely my new #GirlBossGoals.

They had already filmed some of the episode that morning and the day before, but they still showed us those scenes to record our laughter/reactions as well as make sure we understood what was happening in the episode. I sat in front of the school section of set, so I was pretty bummed that the school scenes had been shot the day before. It was still cool to see the other scenes filmed of course, just harder to see them. They provided monitors, though, for us to see the scene the same way the camera did and even cut between angles in real time to show us a mock-up of how the final episode will look. I hope to go back to another taping eventually. Hopefully then I will be seated where I can see more of the actual filming.

It was still insanely cool, though. I was doubly freaking out, both as a film student who hopes to go into television and as a fan of the show. After years of being on student sets, it was beyond amazing to be on a professional one. It was so cool to be able to understand most of what was going on! In fact, the one annoying part of the taping is that there was an emcee who was constantly trying to keep everyone entertained in between takes. I would much rather have been able to pay attention to everything happening on set.

If anyone with any connection to the show is reading, I will gladly scrub floors and fetch coffee if it means working on that set! It seemed like such a cool environment. Everyone was extremely professional, but still had fun. Ben Savage (Cory) and August Maturo (Auggie) came over to say hi and answer some audience questions. Rowan Blanchard (Riley) danced with August in-between takes. It seemed like they all genuinely liked each other and their jobs.

At the end of the taping, they split the audience into two and set up two meet and greets: One with Rowan and Sabrina Carpenter (Maya), the other with Corey Fogelmanis (Farkle) and Peyton Meyer (Lucas). I was hoping to meet the girls, but my half of the audience was in the line for the boys. I was a little disappointed at first, but they were both so sweet and cute. I have no complaints! They checked to make sure my sister and I had a good time, asked if we wanted a picture (duh!) and then thanked us for coming.IMG_0164_e

I went with my mom and youngest brother and sister and we all had such a good time (although I’m sure my brother will deny it if you ask)! If you get a chance to visit a live taping, I would highly recommend it for fans of the show or fans of film/television in general. Also, if anyone reading this has any connection whatsoever to the show…  I meant what I said earlier about fetching coffee.


I am going to go get busy taking on the world! Until next time-

xoxo, CMB


Love Where You Are

I’m 22 and single. Even typing that makes me laugh inside. I haven’t graduated from college, still live with my parents and haven’t chosen a career yet, but the thing I feel that defines me is my relationship status. Now I recognize that, considering I don’t want to get married until my late 20s and I barely have enough time these days for myself, my family and a few select close friends, a romantic relationship should be the furthest thing from my mind, practically speaking. But strangely enough, I feel incredible pressure to be dating someone right now. I feel the weight in my grandmother’s question as she confirms that I am indeed still single and simultaneously reflect on how relieved she sounded two years ago when I told her I <<finally>> had a boyfriend. I watch classmates on Facebook get engaged, go “Facebook official” with their significant other or post picture of their husband/wife and kids and feel that somehow being single at 22 means that I’ll be single forever. I watch television and realize the seventh graders on Girl Meets World have more of a love life than I do. Heck, the five year old on GMW has more of a love life than I do.

I remember a year after my breakup I felt so incredibly strong and confident. I had finally discovered self love and I vowed to never turn back. Somewhere along the way, I unconsciously bought into the notion that I was less of a person without a boyfriend.

I’ve found myself daydreaming about my future relationship a lot lately. Not the healthy kind of daydreaming I had been doing the last few months, figuring out the traits I was looking for, the warning flags to look out for and the dealbreakers I wasn’t gonna stand for. No, I had started thinking in terms of what my life would look like when I was in a relationship again. You know, getting dressed up, eating out, feeling special, feeling pretty. I began to think about my current season as a season of waiting, as if my life was on pause until I got another boyfriend. How ridiculous is that?! How ridiculous is it to think that another person, much less a boy, could or should define my life? My life is not on pause!

I recently heard an interview with actress Jessica Marie Garcia (check out the podcast here: http://hollywoodparentsguide.com/jessica-marie-garcia-actress/) where she was talking about happiness and success. She explained that the idea that you will be happy when “x” happens is bogus. You have to find ways to be happy now or you won’t be happy when you reach whatever it is that you think will make you happy. I think that is so true. You have to be willing to love where you are, despite how far off it is from where you wanna be.

I am currently running on two cups of coffee and a can of Coke because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to keep my eyes open. I am that tired. My alarm went off this morning at 5am and I am currently sitting in my dad’s office in Pasadena because that was the only way to get a car to drive to my internship. I haven’t hung out with friends in weeks. I go to bed later than I should because I’d hate to disappoint my siblings by not watching our nightly episode of Once Upon a Time. I am not asking for your pity or for you to feel bad for me. I just want you to understand where I’m coming from as I write this. I’m not where I wanna be. But every morning when my alarm goes off, I thank God for where I am. I find ways to be so appreciative of this season in life because I know that I’m blessed and I know it will always be easier to find things to hate about my current situation than to be thankful.

I recently realized that I was placing a lot of my unhappiness on the fact that I didn’t have someone to come home to. No one was going to have my favorite meal waiting for me or cuddle with me on the couch while we watched what I wanted or pour me a glass of wine. I was telling myself that life would be so much easier if I had a boyfriend to walk through this tough season with me. Then one day I drove past the Citadel Outlets on my way home from internship, saw the billboard advertising La Mirada Theatre’s performance of The Little Mermaid musical and realized that is what would make me happy: Getting dressed up and going to see a musical I’d obsessed over for years (all of my favorite Little Mermaid songs are from the Broadway soundtrack). I didn’t need a boy to take me or even, anyone else to go with me. I (and only I) had the power to make me happy.

I wish I could tell you I went straight home and bought those tickets, but I didn’t. I waited and put it off and made excuses and forgot. Until I found myself hiding in my room on Father’s Day watching Youtube because I didn’t have the energy to spend time with my extended family. I couldn’t keep living like this. So I marched into the kitchen, asked to use the car, bought the ticket and promised myself that in a week for a few hours, I was going to focus on me.

It honestly turned my whole week around. Now I had something to look forward to. No matter how crazy the week got, I knew I had a few hours carved out to relax and take care of me. When Sunday came around, I made sure I had enough time to get ready, made sure that my family knew this was my time and you know what? I had the most fun I’ve had in a really long time getting ready for an event. I didn’t have to worry about dressing up or down to meet my date somewhere in the middle. I didn’t think about how tall he was when I decided to wear heels. I wasn’t hoping for compliments when I did my makeup because I was going to go hang out with a bunch of strangers. I felt like a princess because I felt like a princess, not because some boy (or well meaning friends) told me I looked like one.

Now, I’m by no means bashing being in a relationship. I consider myself a relationship person and cannot wait to be in my next one. But for now and until God decides otherwise, I am single. I am simply enjoying being single the same way I plan to enjoy being in a relationship. I’m choosing to love where I am instead of waiting anxiously for what’s next because that is the only way I know how to be happy. Also, being single is awesome! Just like being in a relationship is awesome. There is a season for everything.

If your current situation is less than ideal, do what you can to improve it then sit back and learn to love where you’re at. No one else is gonna do it for you.

xo, CMB

Some photos from my Little Mermaid solo date adventure:

Is it ridiculous that I was relieved to be able to take/post a selfie without a boy making fun of me?
Under the Sea nails, courtesy of my little sister
Red carpet
Felt like a Disney princess
Outfit Collage
Went for an Ariel meets Ursula vibe
TLM sign
Fun Fact: The La Mirada Theatre was where I, as a little girl, first discovered stage outside of church plays








Show Collage

Truly a magical night & a magical show


Your Art Matters

“Your art matters.” One of my favorite mantras, the quote originates from my most favorite television show of all time, One Tree Hill. It is typed onto the background of my phone where I can see it every day, several times a day if needed. It is a cute piece of artwork sketched into my pocket notebook. I repeat it to myself on days like today when my schedule is full and I wonder if spending the extra time and energy on my “art” is worth it.

Lately those three little words haven’t been enough to keep me motivated, so I thought I would break it down a little… Why does my art matter??

  1. My art matters because it gives me purpose and personal fulfillment: There is something magical for me about creating art whether that be with a sketchbook, notebook or a camera. It satisfies an inner part of my being that cannot be touched any other way. It makes me feel fulfilled and whole in a way nothing else does. When I abandon art, it is only a matter of time before I lose the motivation to get out of bed in the morning. My art matters because it gives me purpose.
  2. My art matters because it gives me a voice: I may have been quieter when I was younger, but I still struggle with how exactly to put into words what is going on in my mind. Communicating with people can be challenging for me. I still suffer from a bit of social anxiety from time to time and there are few things I hate more than having to talk on the phone . However, when I have a pencil between my fingers, keyboard keys under my fingertips or a camera in my hand, I am better able to hone exactly what I want to say and how I want to say it. It helps me figure out who I am and what I have to say to the world then gives me the tools to say it in a way that words alone have never been able to for me.

Those are both great reasons but they are also terribly selfish reasons. When Lucas told Peyton in One Tree Hill that her art mattered and later, Peyton told Lucas the same four seasons later, they meant that the other person’s art mattered to other people. In that first season episode, Peyton confessed, “I wanna draw something that means something to someone.” She wanted to create art that gave people something to believe in again. A favorite professor of mine says that art is not art without an audience. So…

3. My art matters because art matters: Whenever I am wondering whether or not my art is worth pursuing, I almost always turn to some form of art to find solace and validation: music, television, movies, books, magazine. These things have the power to speak to me in a unique way nothing else can, pull emotions out of me I did not even realize I was feeling and soothe my soul in the most deeply personal yet universal way. The quote itself, “Your art matters,” comes from a television show I will always credit for helping me not to feel alone during a very lonely time in my life.

This video was built around the art matters quote from the show (which was used twice, once in season one and then again in season 5) and brought me to tears when I watched it. If you have an extra few minutes, I’d definitely recommend it!

Last, but not least:

4. I know my art matters because I’ve already gotten positive feedback: It has been almost a year since I wrapped filming on my first independent short, but I am still floored on a regular basis from the continuous feedback. Through my vision and passion to create my own space to make art, I was able to bring together a special group of artists who were validated in what they love and in at least one case, brought to realize that art is something they want to pursue. That is the best feeling in the world. On the one hand, art is so selfish because it is literally forcing–uh, asking–people to look at what you created for personal fulfillment. But art also has this amazing way of bringing people together. Artists have been given this incredible gift so that they can use each of their unique talents and viewpoints to illustrate and articulate experiences and emotions everyone is going through. There is no greater feeling for me than to know a blog post of mine was able to put into words what someone else is experiencing or that a short film 0f mine was able to capture an experience or emotion of theirs. To know that my art could possibly be cathartic to other people in the same way other people’s art has been to me is one of the greatest feelings in the world. That feeling is probably only rivaled by the swelling pride I feel when someone changes their profile picture to something I took, to know that I was able to capture them in a way that they felt truly expressed who they are in a flattering light.

Let me encourage you in this: Whether or not you consider yourself an artist, know that you were created for a purpose and it is only in that purpose that you will feel fully fulfilled as a person. Do not let anyone else tell you that you are following the wrong path if it is what you feel called to do. Never stop believing in that tiny fire instead of you driving you toward greatness.

Your work matters.

Your art matters.


Photo Journal: Meeting LC in Laguna Beach

If I told you I was obsessed with Kohls, the beach, florals & dresses and once dreamed of being a fashion designer/attending FIDM, would that remind you of a famous Orange County girl? How bout if I add that one of my life goals is to run my own lifestyle site and brand?


I may be late to the Lauren Conrad party (I started watching “Laguna Beach” in 2012), but I’ve never left. Lauren is such an inspiration to me in so many ways, especially also being from Orange County. Once I was bitten by the LC bug, I was jealous of all the girls in my high school who had gone to book signings and met her.

When I heard she was doing a signing for “Celebrate,” her new book guide to entertaining, I jumped at the chance to buy a ticket.


Where better to meet LC than in the city that made her famous? Several hundred of her dedicated fans turned out in the blazing OC sun on a Sunday afternoon to celebrate the release of her latest book. Before the event, I re-read the instructions and directions roughly a million times. I must have checked the date five times in the week leading up to the signing. I was so terrified that I was going to miss it. In retrospect, I probably should have focused more on making sure I brought water to balance out all the coffee I drank and battle against that intense sun. It probably would have helped the stomach ache I got but live and learn, right?


I waited in line for almost two hours in the heat, which was definitely not fun. I made the time pass by taking pictures of basically everything and, of course, people watching.


When it was finally my turn to take my place in the short line inside the store to meet Lauren, I was freaking out. I always say that there’s something about television stars that cause people to feel like they know them. When someone’s in your living room week after week, you begin to feel a personal connection to them. That only gets worse when someone is a reality TV star.

This was LC from “Laguna Beach” who fought with Kristen over Stephen. This was Lauren from “The Hills” who interned at Teen Vogue and lost Heidi to Spencer. This was Lauren whose face adorned one of my favorite fashion guides and was on the back cover of two of my favorite young adult books series. Seeing her in real life was so completely surreal.


Now I know what you all are wondering. Has all that fame gone to LC’s head? Is she really as sweet as she seems on TV?

Well, I can tell you this: She did have a diva moment when I was in the store. Yep. A woman held her phone up to Lauren’s face instead of handing it to the store attendant as instructed. Did Lauren yell or freak out or refuse to sign the woman’s book? Nope. She calmly held up her hand and got the attendant’s attention, who then took the phone. Lauren apologetically explained that she has had a cell phone flash go off in her face one too many times, hence the rule about the attendant taking the pictures. That was it. No temper tantrum. No display of anger. No high-strung diva moment, just a little bit of insistence on the rules.

When it was my turn to talk to Lauren, I thanked her for teaching me that I didn’t have to sacrifice my girliness in order to be a girl boss. She thought that was so cool. I then added that it was extra cool for me because I was also from Orange County. We chatted about that a bit. She asked if I still lived in the OC and when I explained I mostly come down on weekends, she said she does the same. All in all a really great experience and the book was great too! Cannot wait to throw my very own LC-style brunch this summer.


So for any of you Lauren Conrad fans out there, if you ever have an opportunity to visit a book tour in the future, do it! It’s a great experience and will help you appreciate the LC brand just a little bit more.

Until next time…


YOU are beautiful

Trying something new! Check out this video & then take a look at the blog… xo, C


5 of my Favorite Pictures (5 Beautiful Ladies)

Alice teacup.jpgI was surprised when Katie agreed to be my Alice for this Alice in Wonderland inspired shoot, but she was even more surprised when she actually enjoyed herself! I think she makes the absolutely perfect modern Alice.

Alexis drinks teaAlexis claimed to be “not photogenic” but I think the pictures of her as the White Rabbit came out absolutely amazing. I love the darkness in her eyes.

DSCN2759_e2Who knew my sister looked so great in purple hair? In this Disney’s Descendants inspired shoot, she made the perfect Mal (Maleficient’s daughter) and a surprisingly amazing model.

DSCN2824_b&amp;wWhen I directed Joyce during her part of the Descendants shoot, she told me that she wasn’t “good at this.” I encouraged her that my tips were only to make her look even better and she loosened up. I absolutely love how genuine her smile is in this shot.

DSCN4608_eIt took years for Lizzie to let me take photos of her but I love the art that we’ve been able to create together. This photo came out of such a genuine moment of her being her.


Happy, Free, Confused & Lonely – MJ

Ask Mj Younkers at any given time this past semester for his to-do list and he would have rattled off for you the classes he needed to attend, the projects he had to work on, the pictures he had to edit, the homework that he needed to finish, the movies he was going to watch and the below 8 hours of sleep he got the night before. 

I really don’t understand how he fits everything in, but he somehow manages and even agreed to do this interview with me for the blog in the midst of the craziness! I am so grateful to be able to showcase the brilliant talent that is MJ Younkers and can’t wait to what he does next. Check out what he has to say about growing up and his love for photography!


Age: 22, Current Location: Azusa, CA

What has been most surprising/unexpected about being in your 20s?

I think the most surprising thing about being in my 20s is realizing that it’s kind of real life now and you’re no longer kind of given grace. It’s kind of like you’re an adult now. You need to step up and be responsible for the things that you want to do or the things you want to seek out. You have to take initiative and do those things.

What’s being the best thing about being in your 20s?

The best thing about being in my 20s is getting to be an adult and actually making my own decisions and having the freedom to do so.

What do you wish someone told you about being in your 20s?

I wish someone would have told me before I turned 20 how difficult it is to keep track of your finances and just to be more responsible with saving and spending.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned in your 20s?

The biggest thing I’ve learned in my 20s has been that people will tell you one thing and then do another. It’s very frustrating but you kind of have to learn to be professional about that and say, “Alright, you know what? That’s fine.” And move on.

Mj stars in eyesWhat advice would you give to your teenage self?

I would tell my teenage self to kind of chill out and not be so worried about what the future holds. God provides so much just every day and getting to relax in that and be more calm about what the future might hold would have definitely helped me in my teen years.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I’ve ever received about life is from my dad. He told me, pertaining to going to college, “Go and major in something that you’re gonna love for the rest of your life. Don’t go do something that you think, ‘Oh, it’ll gonna make me money’ or whatever.” He just said, “Go with what you love and stick with that and work at it every day and you’ll get better and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

How would you describe where you’re at now as a 20-odd versus how you’re were as a kid or a teenager? How have you changed?

I’m a lot more independent now than I was as a kid. I think that I can–well, I can–make my own decisions now and logically think through decisions that are trying or difficult, and arrive at a conclusion that I act on and think, “Yeah, this is the right decision to make” now.

First Job? Current job?

Growing up, I was responsible for mowing the lawn every single weekend but my first real job was I worked at a golf course as a caddy in eighth grade. I got minimal pay and very little respect and that was hard, but it taught me a lot. Currently, I’m kind of self-employed as photographer and videographer and I sell my production services through my own media production company.

Where do you see yourself by 30?

Gosh… I have no idea. And I think that having that kind of no idea mindset really helps me in that I can kind of choose whatever I want to do and if my career ends up being something different than what I’ve planned or expected it to be, then that’s okay and I’ll move on with that in mind.

DSCN1479 (1)

What are some things that have inspired/are inspiring you?

I’m really inspired by both the expressionism and realism painting movements. They really are inspiring in terms of composition and lighting. As a cinematographer I feel that learning from the old classics and just masterpiece paintings, I learn a lot about what an image should look like and I use that to kind of decide how to frame up shots.

Do you have a life motto or quote you try to live your life by?

Kind of the phrase that has been pivotal in the last couple months has been “Why not?” And that kind of speaks to the idea of not limiting yourself and just being like, “You know what, why not? Let’s go and do this. Let’s go and find something interesting to do and do it.”

You mentioned earlier that you do both still photography and video photography. Can you talk a little bit about kind of what inspired you to get into it and how you feel about them separately?

Sure. When I was in my Sophomore year of high school, I started teaching myself photography. I took an art class and I took a drawing class and started learning about composition and balance and framing and just the classical rules of art. I wanted to take a film photography class but I never was able to because I found that my classes didn’t really allow for that to fit in. So I just kind of learned through friends and teaching myself online. Then my senior year, I bought my first DSLR and went out and just went crazy and took pictures of everything and there were like three that were good. But learning to kind of slog through the hundreds of pictures I took and finding out which ones were good, why they worked and then learning from that and moving on, that was really pivotal.

Now I have multiple cameras. I’ve learned 35 millimeter film and learned how to develop film and do the chemical darkroom processes and that’s been really great for my photography as an art form.

As far as cinematography goes, I kind of picked up on the beauty of a moving image in my senior year of high school as well and that sort of inspired me to become a cinematographer and a film major.

Who makes up your support system and/or do you feel like that part of your life is lacking?

Man, I honestly have been so blessed to transfer to a new school and to make the friends that I’ve had. I feel that my roommates… I room with four other guys. There are five of us total in a four person apartment so we have a great time. They are always there for me, more than happy to sit down and watch and movie or struggling through my explaining some, like, French New Wave movement in film or cinema. They’re always validating and that’s been a huge blessing.

Something you can’t live without

Well, definitely cannot live without my camera. It goes with me everywhere. I feel like, if I didn’t have my camera, there’d be times I would really miss it. But that’s interesting because I’ve learned to– there was a quote I read recently and it was about, as a photographer, there will definitely be times where you wish, “Man, I just wish I had my camera with me right now” and the important thing is to remember that in those instances where you don’t have a camera, instead of saying, “Oh, I wish I had this with me. I would love to take this so other people can see it,” relish that moment and enjoy it and live in that moment and say, “Okay, this is something that only I get to see right now” and drink it in. It’s beautiful and it has been created just for you to see so enjoy it.

MJ on car edited

One fun fact about you

I did improv theater all through high school and tried out on a whim freshmen year. If that’s not improv, I don’t know what is, so…

Favorite emoji

For the sake of the [interview], my favorite emoji is the lightning bolt.

Taylor Swift used the four words “happy, free, confused and lonely” to describe being in your early 20s. What are four words that you would use to describe where you’re at?

Independent, Inspired, Limitless Creativity (I know that’s two words) and Friendship… getting to know people is awesome and getting to understand what makes them work is even better.

What’s next?

That is the question… I just graduated from APU. I’m heading to Hawaii for the next 8 months. Returning in Spring [to LA] for my Masters in Cinematography.

MJ slates

Photography credits: Cassondra Barnes and MJ Younkers

Beach Shoots & Manifestos


I went to the beach earlier this week. During my few hour stay, I witnessed three different photo shoots. They all involved barely dressed girls posing for men.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against girls wearing whatever they want to wear for a photo shoot. But when I look at girls being told to stand on their toes in the sand to imitate the way high heels make their legs and butt look, it makes me wonder… Would that picture change if it was a woman behind the camera trying to make the model feel beautiful and sexy instead of a man trying to make the model look “hot”?

Now, I am certainly not saying that every male photographer out there that day was disregarding the model’s feelings or objectifying the women. But it makes me wonder why we so often as women are being viewed through the male gaze. Why weren’t some of those girls being photographed by women? Why wasn’t anyone shooting shirtless males in swim trunks flexing their biceps? And why do beach shoots tend to automatically result in either one of those one-dimensional and sexist portrayals of human sensuality?

While mulling all of this over on the beach, I was inspired to start writing a manifesto for my own photography and film making. Part of it reads, “The goal of my photography is to make women (& men) feel beautiful and empowered. The point is to showcase a different side of someone, not to cover up what makes them shine. I believe in making someone feel like the best version of themselves.”

I tell you guys this not to toot my own horn but to first of all, ask you all to keep me accountable, to put it out there publicly as a standard to hold myself to. I also want to challenge all of you guys to be intentional about the way that we treat other people. It is so easy, especially in the entertainment industry, to treat people as currency and a means to an end. I have been challenged lately to be more intentional about the way I conduct myself in relationships. Sometimes this means reaching out, sometimes it just means making the extra effort to be polite and courteous, and sometimes it means choosing not to go out if I know that I cannot give the best of myself to the people I’m with.

I also want to use the power that I currently have to change the world as I see it. “Be the change you want to see,” right? I want to use my photography, my films, my art as a whole to challenge the way that women and men are being portrayed. I want to try to let them feel beautiful, powerful and sexy from the inside out not the other way around. I want to allow beauty to come from both strength and weakness. I want to get away from portraying women as victims and object of lust. I want to create multi-dimensional male characters who are able to show emotion without it being a weakness.

Excited for the journey ahead and the passions God is stirring up in my heart as I draw closer to Him. Will keep y’all posted…

xoxo, CMB


5 Boss Babes

As I am drowning in the workload of college deadweek and the stress of the upcoming “Film Major Prom,” I find myself turning to my “Boss Babes,” the powerful women who inspire me. I thought you guys might also benefit from the inspiration on this list!

To me, the definition of a “Boss Babe” is a strong woman who is living life on her own terms, using her talents and notoriety to successfully reach out across several platforms and speak about issues that she is passionate about. Now, Boss Babes certainly do not have to be celebrities but I know for me it is sometimes easier to be inspired by public figures, especially girls who are just a few years older than me whose careers I have following growing up. So, without further adieu, here are my list of Top 5 Boss Babes:

1) Lauren Conrad:

They say reality TV is the quickest way to end a serious career? Not for Lauren Conrad. She spent several years as the star of MTV’s Laguna Beach and The Hills before deciding she was done with reality TV. She instead capitalized on her reality TV fame to kickstart the career she really wanted in fashion. She is now the published author of three non-fiction books and two young adult fiction series. She is also the editor-in-chief of her own lifestyle site, runs two clothing lines, is the co-founder of an online store that focuses on empowering female artisans around the world and has an eco-friendly line of cosmetic and travel accessories with BlueAvocado. Did I mention she is also thirty and married?

2) Ashley Tisdale:

Having trouble finding another standout role after your wildly successful Disney Channel movie franchise? No problem! Just jump behind the camera! Post High School Musical, Ashley has continued to act but where she has found real success is in her production company Blondie Productions and lifestyle site The Haute Mess, not to mention her marriage to singer Christopher French. Ashley is one of the producers on the hit ABC Family-er-Freeform series Young & Hungry which is going on its fourth season. Its success has earned Ashley her very own spin-off show according to reports from the 2016 Freeform upfronts. She uses her website to highlight young female professionals in a variety of fields and has spanned a merchandise line to go along with the site which features clothing, notebooks with messy bun artwork on the front and wall art. In addition, she recently became the creative director of Los Angeles based t-shirt company Signorelli and is helping to relaunch the brand. All this also before her thirty first birthday.

3) Demi Lovato:

A trip to rehab is the quickest way to end a career? Well for Demi, her three months in Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center really was, in many ways, the beginning of her career. It would have been easy for Demi to refuse to talk about her time in treatment or create a fluff story regarding what happened, but she decided to be honest and transparent with her story in order to help others. Four years later, Demi is an advocate for mental health awareness and open about her past with substance abuse. She may have stepped away from her successful Disney Channel show in order to focus on post-treatment recovery, but that has not stopped her from guest starring on shows like Glee and From Dusk Till Dawn as well as spending two years as a judge on X-Factor. She currently has a successful music career, a New York Times best-selling book, her own charity and a skincare line. She is also vocal about her faith and an active advocate for LBGT and women’s rights.

4) Shay Mitchell:

While it might be easy to coast on the triumph of a popular television show, Shay decided the success of her current job was no reason to stop working. Known best for her starring role on the show Pretty Little Liars, Shay branched out after a few years to expand across other platforms as well. She started with her lifestyle site (before everyone & their mom had one), which eventually morphed into her Youtube channel (although the website is supposed to come back soon new & improved!). Her Youtube channel has been active for a year and a half now and recently hit one million subscribers. Her videos range from Youtube challengers with other Youtubers (Glozell? check, Superwoman? check) to travel diaries from places as exotic as Morocco to those as local as Atlanta, Georgia. Shay also recently published her first book which she co-wrote her with her best friend, released a fitness wear line with Kohl’s and filmed her first movie role in the upcoming film Mother’s Day where she plays the stepmother to Jennifer Aniston’s children. She co-hosted Live with Kelly and Michael this morning and still has basically a full year left until her thirtieth birthday.

5) Selena Gomez:

Once you become more famous for your dating life than your job, it is hard to be taken seriously as a professional, right? Well, Selena Gomez is trying to prove us wrong. Her newest album was not just a new batch of songs. It introduced a new movement in her career. It was titled Revival and truly represented Selena’s efforts to re-invent herself not as Justin Bieber’s (ex) girlfriend but as an artist in her own right. She took press opportunities to address issues she had never talked about before such as her battle with Lupus and her first real encounters with body shaming. She talked about Justin but made it clear that she was moving forward into a career all her own. She used a series of elaborate Snapchat videos to announce that Joe Jonas’ band DNCE was coming on tour with her and has utilized an Instagram campaign to share details about her upcoming world tour. This Selena Gomez “revival” feels like a page pulled right out of her BFF reinvention queen Taylor Swift’s handbook and so far, it’s working. Selena is experiencing more success with her music than ever before with each single gathering more and more airplay from “Good for You” to the latest “Hands to Myself” which was made into a lip-sync video by Victoria’s Secret models and covered by celebrities like Joe Jonas and former Disney star, Oliva Holt. Who says you have to wait for your 24th birthday to reinvent yourself?