• About: Ella Erlich and Alex Kofman

    "A tree house, a free house, 
    A secret you and me house, 
    A high up in the leafy branches 
    Cozy as can be house."
    -Shel Silverstein

    When we discovered that Ella Erlich (one of our favorite bloggers and a member of the UO team in Arizona) was headed to the Bay Area to visit her equally amazing girlfriend Alex Kofman and stay in a TREEHOUSE…well how could we NOT ask them to share photos?! Ella and Alex are both students, currently dating long-distance while Ella finishes her last semester at school in Arizona and Alex is studying photojournalism at San Francisco State University. Read on to learn more about this inspiring duo, get their advice for what makes a long-distance relationship stick, and channel your childhood dreams with their trip recap. 
    Photos by Daniel Dent

    We've followed Ella for awhile through her blog Naked Orange, where she posts about fashion, music, and her daily life in Arizona. She started the blog on tumblr in high school for fun, but now five years later realizes it was actually a first platform for figuring out how to creatively express herself through photos, writing, playing music, and defining her own style. Alex's expertise lies in sharing the stories of others — be it through photojournalism or writing, "It's really special when I get to portray someone through photography and words," she explains.

    This is what it looks like when your childhood dreams come true: Ella found the treehouse on AirBnb and they immediately hatched a plan for visiting. Perched above the San Francisco Bay, the homeowners originally built it 18 years ago for their own kids, and today rent it out to guests. Thirty feet up in the air and complete with a reading nook, stained glass window, and wooden ladder leading up to a cozy loft...how is this real?! 

    Above: sage advice for treehouse living

    The pair met when they first started talking on tumblr: "We began talking as friends but after a while we started talking consistently for five months until we decided to meet in person," Ella says. "That's when everything fell into place: Although it was our first time meeting, we felt like we had already known each other so well. We immediately connected."

    Can you speak to the other's strengths?
    Alex: Ella challenges my ideas and this enables me to think more abstractly. Whenever I experience a creative dry spell or feel unmotivated, she pushes me to get back out there and kick ass. 

    Ella: When I moved to Arizona from Israel when I was 12 I became very shy and was uncomfortable with unfamiliar things, so when I met Alex and saw how excited she was to go out there and always be open to new experiences, it made a big impact on me. She has helped me become more comfortable with seeing new opportunities and experiences in a positive light rather than shutting them down immediately. This definitely applies creatively but also just in life. I'm also very much an introvert and she is the complete opposite so I think we balance each other out.

    Ella, tell us something we don't know about Alex.
    Alex is really good at cooking.

    Alex, tell us something we don't know about Ella.
    Ella is really good at eating the food I cook. Ha!

    Alex's advice for dating long distance (we think this is great advice for any relationship like this — long-distance bffs take note!):
    -Talk to each other, especially on the phone or Skype when possible, even if its short. A five minute phone call can go a long way. 
    -Plan for your next trip together before saying goodbye: This makes the time apart a lot easier and gives you both something to look forward to. 
    -Always plan fun, new things to do with each other when you're together like going on a road trip to somewhere you have always wanted to go or exploring a cool new spot. Experiencing new things together makes for some of the best memories.   
    -When you're apart, leave something behind: a shirt, a coffee cup, a note. A reminder.
    -Share your daily experiences with each other, even if they seem insignificant at the time. Most couples get the privilege of experiencing daily life together. 
    -Do your research on flight deals! And consider other ways of getting to each other—depending on distance, it might be smarter to take a train or bus... or to just make a road-trip out of it!
    -Don't get discouraged when things get tough! Distance is only temporary. 

    Above: Number one on the agenda — lots and lots of Instax photos!

    Ella's advice for taking better Instax photos:
    1. Expect to go through a couple packs of film — the best way to learn how take instant photos is by trial and error. Explore your options by shooting in different lighting, distances, and modes to figure out what works best for you!
    2. When in direct sunlight, it is important to shoot your subject with the sun behind you. Shooting otherwise will create black/green dots in your images (means that the scene was too bright), but could also create some pretty cool images!
    3. Use flash when photographing people at night or in low-light!
    4. Keep in mind that the viewfinder is located on the corner of the camera and not directly over the lens. It is made only as a guide, so your photos will not always come out as symmetrical as seen through the viewfinder. 
    5. Embrace the imperfections! Don’t get too upset when a photo doesn’t come out as planned and always expect a surprise. Remember life before iPhone cameras?
    6. Go out, explore, and make amazing memories to come back to. Nothing beats going through old Polaroids.

    Above: step two — a good soundtrack.

    Alex + Ella's treehouse playlist:
    "Open Season" by High Highs
    "1904" by The Tallest Man On Earth
    "Golden" by My Morning Jacket
    "New Slang" by The Shins
    "Lover Of Mine" by Beach House
    "Hold On" by Alabama Shakes
    "Lonesome Hunter" by Timbre Timbre
    "Alone" by Trampled By Turtles
    "Brother" by Lord Luron
    "Featherstone" by The Paper Kites
    "Blowin’ In The Wind" by Bob Dylan
    "Only Son Of The Ladies Man" by Father John Misty