Small is the New Big in Bay Area Home Design
by Ramona d’Viola
Oakland Magazine – June 2015 issue.
Small is the New Big in Bay Area Home Design
by Ramona d’Viola
Oakland Magazine – June 2015 issue.
Reprinted from Oakland Magazine, April 2015
Reverse Mortgages Explained
Reverse mortgages may help Baby Boomers through retirement.
By Ramona d’Viola
With an average of 10,000 Baby Boomers reaching retirement age daily—many without significant retirement savings, or hit hard by the economic downturn—the ability to tap into accrued equity in the form of a reverse mortgage is a boon to an aging population. Equity is the endgame to homeownership. Or as James Brown put it, “The big pay back.”
A reverse mortgage is a “loan” of sorts, available to homeowners over the age of 62 to be used for just about anything—except stock market investment or speculation. Simply put, the traditional mortgage payback stream is reversed, and the lender pays the homeowner one lump sum at closing; a line of credit with a growth factor; or monthly installments of up to $625,000 over a specified period, depending on equity accrued.
“Reverse mortgages were conceived as a means to help retirees with a limited income,” Saleem Attaie of C2 Reverse Mortgage said. “It allows them to use the accumulated wealth in their homes to cover basic monthly living expenses, health-care expenses, and remain in their homes as long as feasible.
“Reverse mortgages have gotten a bad rap, mainly because of the dissemination of incorrect information,” Attaie said. “They’re a complex product, but they are not a scam. You’ll hold title to your home as long as you live in it, and there are no additional monthly payments towards the loan balance. However, you’re required to remain current on your property tax and homeowner’s insurance.”
Being administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and being insured by the Federal Housing Administration lend credibility to reverse mortgages, also known as Home Equity Conversion Mortgages, or HECM.
There are some downsides to a reverse mortgage, mainly in the fee structure, which can be higher than a conventional mortgage, and some lenders charge the maximum allowable origination fee for their time and trouble. This fee varies based on the value of your home, but is capped at $6,000.
And, like a traditional mortgage, expect third-party charges like appraisal and recording fees, title searches, and inspection costs, to name a few. You should also be prepared to pay a mortgage insurance premium at closing. However, the good news is all these fees can all be financed into your loan. It is your money after all.
Hospitality Design Magazine – Hotel Andaluz Reopens in Albuquerque, NM
Photography by ilumus photography.
Ramona d’Viola (user name rdviola)
What a pleasant opportunity to be finally featuring Ramona d’Viola a.k.a. rdviola in this issue of Hear It! Look through her portfolio closely and you’d swear you see the soul and characters of each picture comes alive! She’s definitely gifted with the ability to see things differently, and the camera, conveniently allows her to paint the perfect picture!
Photographer: rdviola / Ramona d’Viola
Country of Origin: United States
1. Production Equipment: Please list the production equipment that you use on a regular basis (eg. Cameras, lenses, flash & lighting, photo editing software).
As a digital pioneer, I was an early adopter in the high-resolution digital revolution. I shoot using state-of-the-art 21.1 mega-pixel, full-frame Canon 5D Mark II cameras, 580EX flashes, and crystal-clear L glass. My studio is equipped with enough Macintosh firepower to keep Steve Jobs in German cars and new livers for years. I use Calumet lighting equipment and beautiful natural light. I know Photoshop like Stephen Hawking knows the cosmos…
2. What do you think of photography these days?
I bought my first digital camera in 1999 to shoot an assignment in Australia. I took it along with my traditional film equipment. After playing with it at the airport, I decided to leave my heavy cases at the hotel and shot the whole event with this fantastic 3.2 megapixel “happy snap.” I was able to upload images to the major Australian dailies without the hassle of film processing, scanning, etc., and saw my photos on the front pages of Sports sections the next morning. When I got home, I bought a Canon 10D and haven’t shot a single roll of film since.
3. What did you want to be when you were younger?
4. Tell us about the time when you first got started in photography.
I received my photography education while serving in the United States Marine Corps – prior to that I was a certified tom boy and unharnessed talent. Photography has afforded me an exciting life! For the past three decades I’ve traveled extensively, covering and participating in noteworthy events such as the 1985 Women’s Tour de France (I rode for the US National Cycling Team), the 2001 Australian Paddleboard World Championships, and the 2003 World Record setting Women’s Full Moon Paddle from Cuba to Key West.
5. In your opinion, what does it take to become successful in this industry?
Passion, talent, follow-through and the ability to play well with others.
6. What was your biggest challenge coming into this industry?
Competing against people who work for nothing, after all, who can compete with free? I tell younger photographers to never work for a by-line alone. If a magazine is going to print, they have advertising dollars to spend – so at least have them give you a half page ad if you’re doing a week’s worth of work. I try to instill a sense of value in my work with my clients. With over 30 years of experience, I know how to get the shot with a minimum of headaches – having fun the whole time.
7. What are the best perks as a Photographer?
Travel, adventure, great subjects, and the opportunity to meet and collaborate with other talented people – from art directors to athletes, celebrities, kids, and wild animals (which some might classify in the same category).
8. How do you plan for your shooting sessions?
It depends on the assignment. For architecture – timing is critical. Morning and sunset light only lasts for 10-15 minutes, so scoping out the site beforehand is necessary. Bring a good book while you wait for the golden moment and take plenty of test shots to study your compositions. For food – you have to work quickly. I try not to fuss too much. I trust the chef in creating a wel-plated and presented dish – all I need is a naturally lit location, some candles, flowers and a 50mm 1.2 lens. Et voila!
9. How would you describe your work to first time viewers?
The majority of my portfolio is focused on architecture and food – both distinctive disciplines. For food – shallow depth of fields create painterly images, with a truly appetizing appeal. With architecture – precise, but edgy angles with lots of sparkle and crisp compositions.
10. Do you shoot to what your heart tells you or do you go through a complex check list in your mind when you produce your work? Describe the feeling/check list.
I’m half and half – when I’m hired to do an architectural shoot, I produce a shot list for the client, but always opened to inspiration when I’m on location.
11. From your experience, what subjects gives you the greatest satisfaction? Any examples?
Taking photos of my 84 year old father and my 1.5 year old mutt. They are the most honest beings I know.
12. From your experience, what subjects are the hardest to work with? Any examples?
Self-conscious young people. An overly ambitious soccer mom hired me to photograph her son for some head shots. He was a good looking young man but with no interest in becoming a model. I’ll leave fashion to the rest of y’all.
13. What is your philosophy when it comes to your work?
Do what you say you’ll do, show up when you say you will, deliver the highest quality product on time (and on budget) – o, and have fun – you’re doing what you love. As a female professional, I’ve also overcome my issues about discussing costs. I have rates and fees for all my services. Never be loosey-goosey about your costs. If you don’t value your work, no one else will either.
14. Describe who/what inspires you, tell us why?
I’m continually inspired by fellow photographers, artists, nature, beauty in urban settings, skill, craftsmanship, babies, animals, and people who exhibit kindness and compassion. With that, a shoot always comes together.
15. What do you do when those creative juices just seems to evade you. How do you “get creative”?
I jump on my bike and rip a ride through Florida Canyon and clear my head, but I take my Canon G9 just in case.
16. Tell us about a time when inspiration just hits you, and you felt the insatiable urge to create. What did you do with that energy?
When does it stop?
17. What have you discovered about yourself through photography?
I’m a frustrated painter – but the camera is just a different brush. I’m grateful for my gift of being able to create beautiful imagery from an innate ability to see things differently.
18. Whose work do you admire the most? Why?
I love Annie Leibovitz. Her highly stylized tableaus are always compelling, if not intriguing. Her last body of work however, is the antithesis of her renown, highly crafted style. She offered an intimate look into her famously reclusive life with partner Susan Sontag. I think she is one of the most iconoclastic artists of our time. http://en.menschenfuermenschen.com.
19. Do you have any advice for those who are just getting in to stock photography?
Remember to catalog and key word everything in your work flow – saves tons of time so you can get out and shoot more.