Thunder Baby

It was a total honor to spend the evening of the fourth of July taking photographs with my dear friends Rachel & Matt. They’re expecting their first baby basically any day now, and Rachel is one of the most radiantly gorgeous pregnant mamas I have ever seen. I’ve enjoyed photographing their band for a few years now, so it was a real treat to get to do something so personal and sweet with them. We went to Corbett’s Glen for the shoot, where I had somehow never been- its amazing! It made for a really magical and very memorable way to first experience such a lovely place. Can’t wait to meet their little one.

As sometimes seems to happen, I’ve jumped right from February to July without any updates over here.  The spring was chock full of gardening and kids and plays and general insanity, and now we’ve hit summer- which for me is a double (triple? quadruple?) whammy of running a garden/multiple youth programs, and wedding season- in terms of both photographing a whole bunch and helping to plan, for Beth’s wedding coming up in the fall. Phew!

So I thought I’d post a few photos from the first wedding of this year, back at the beginning of June. It was truly an honor to photograph  Charles & Christina’s lovely, elegant wedding. It happened to take place on Cape Cod in Falmouth, MA, and everything came together to be picture-perfect in just about every way- hard to go wrong with a beach wedding with perfect weather, birds of paradise and calla lilies galore, the most beautiful venue I’ve EVER seen, and a good-looking couple, eh?

When the time came in mid January to begin thinking about how to contribute to the collaborative Girls vs. Boys show at the Yards, I couldn’t have been more bereft of inspiration. In the midst of heartache and a real whammy of a case of winter blues, it was hard to imagine creating anything; plus, the fact that it came right on the heels of the end of the Continental Breakfasts show was a bit daunting. (“More long hours at the Yards??!” At least no sticky tack was required, this time.)

But I knew I wanted to be a part of it- whats more therapeutic, after all, than the act of creation, especially in collaboration with a team of super amazing ladies? When the themes of the ship, the dollhouse, and the cabin in the woods, as they pertained to being an imaginative little girl in a big and magical world, were finalized, an idea finally began to take shape.

For the last three years, my dear friend Jenna has lived in a little house just outside of Ithaca that is, for all intents and purposes, a magical cabin in the woods. Its only a five minute drive from the town, but when you reach the end of the narrow, thickly tree-lined driveway, at the edge of a big field leading to a big forest, its easy to feel like you are deep in the woods, miles from anywhere.  It is one of the most beautiful places I know,  and has become my getaway, a sort of safehaven away from home. Just about anyone who knows me well knows that my instinct when I’m hurting is to skip town as soon as possible.  Whenever I’ve gone through something trying / heartbreaking during the last three years, Jenna has been gracious enough to open her home to me, and spending time there with her has been the perfect antidote every time.

And so this was the inspiration for my piece of the show: the story of a magical cabin in the woods, where a broken-hearted little girl, dreaming of a new place far away, could find rest and peace and strength.

I’ve had this gigantic, completely incredible ledger, circa roughly the early 1900′s, for the last four years. I think its easily the most astonishing item that I own. It must be twenty pounds at least, with a gorgeous old cover and beautiful marbling on the page edges. It was found, completely blank, in the garbage by friends of mine- so mystifying! I’ve tried to figure out what to do with it- a friend and I had the idea to start a childrens book in it years ago, but that came and went; since then, its just sort of sat around the house, blowing the mind of anyone who had the chance to see it. It seemed on many levels like the perfect place to begin with this story, and became the base into which the story was written and built.

I spent a good amount of time going through allll of the photos I’ve taken during my sojourns at Jenna’s house- there were hundreds, spanning all the seasons. The ones I selected were arranged, interspersed with text, to tell the story, on the open pages of the book, which were built out with cardboard. I worked on the story portion in a frenzy of paper-ripping and glueing at home for days, and when the book finally came to the Yards (which was itself no small physical feat) , to be incorporated in with the rest of the show, it provided me my first opportunity ever to work on really creating an installation. This was a new challenge for me: though an avid appreciator of installation-based exhibits, I tend to work pretty two-dimensionally.  It was a lot of fun to think about how to make the book feel like part of the fairy-tale-esque world it represented, and I was pretty happy with the cardboard trees, stumps, and cattails that wound up rounding out its little environment.

The end result was an extremely personal, autobiographical tale; I seem to always work this way when it comes to big projects or shows. The timing was fitting: having been just on the downswing of a sad, heartachey time, it was a pretty honest assessment of where i was at right then. It is always a little daunting to share something of that emotional caliber with the world at large, but there’s something very freeing about it as well.

The most special part of the whole thing, though, was being able to share it with Jenna. She’s a busy lady and I was unsure whether she’d be able to make the trip up to see it- and was sooo happy when she did. Jenna’s friendship has been an anchor in my life since I’ve known her. While her home has been the haven to which I’ve run, it is her listening ear and understanding and general ability to completely get everything that I share with her that makes that little cabin in the woods the special spot that it is. As she said, its her story in there as much as it is mine.  We’ve both been through our fair share of major life ups and downs over these last few years, and the story in the big book is about seeing the scuffs in the road through to the other side; using quiet as a tool for healing; finding the place ultimately within yourself that brings freedom from whatever ails you. Being able to share those sorts of experiences with a friend like Jenna makes the whole road much easier to walk. I am grateful to have had the chance to do this whole thing when I did, and its been really nice to hear that others have been able to relate to it one way or another.  After all, who doesn’t have those times when you just need to run away to the woods?

Beth & Jarred. <3

So this year, my best friend in the whole wide world is getting married. I have known and loved Beth for the last seventeen years,  and I couldn’t be happier for her & Jarred.  The trend over the last few years has been that when a good friend of mine has gotten hitched, i’ve often been the photographer- which is, i think, a really special way to experience the big day for someone you love.  Not this time, though, as i will be the maid of honor- eee!!!  So I was all the more excited to get to take engagement shots for them last month. As Jarred said, we picked what seemed to be the coldest, grayest day in January to do an outdoor photo shoot.  But, magically, the sun came out literally as we were driving to the spot, and we ended up with the golden light that Beth loves so much. We pressed on through temperatures below 20 degrees, and I think these came out all right. enjoy!

2012 in review.

Well. 2012 has come and gone….and what a year. Looking back, 2010 was kind of stagnant, 2011 was really hard, and 2012 was overall, totally wonderful. It was a year measured in successes and joy, more so than any in recent memory. One of my resolutions was to let go of the anger and resentment that colored so much of 2011 and not let feelings like that define any part of my experience of the year, and I feel like that was achieved;  it was cool to see and experience the kind of positive growth that comes along with letting go of that kind of energy.  I am costantly reminded of how extremely blessed I am in so many ways.

So….here are just a few things about the year that stand out:

I feel deeply grateful to have a job (/several jobs) in which i find meaning and joy. it has been an honor to work at SWAN for this whole year- I have met so many amazing people and been a part of some really meaningful, great things. it is really, really wonderful to work with kids in urban agriculture again, and it feels awesome to look forward to going to work every day. Getting to also work with the Horizons program for the summer was an added bonus and made for a really plentiful summer in the sun.

When i think back on the year’s accomplishments, there are three big ones that stand out to me- all things that you never could have told me, this time last year, that i would do. the process of each of these really helped to shape the year, and i learned SO much through them all.

Dancing in the street. when Erika asked me to be part of One Dance Co.’s summer performance, Scene and Herd, I said no thanks- preferring my usual role behind the camera. However, a few friends convinced me to give it a whirl, and I’m so glad that I did. It was an incredibly unique experience, and so much fun to get to work together with such talented folks. It was more than a little nerve-wracking- I had not performed in front of an audience in almost ten years, and definitely never anything of that caliber- ie, literally stopping traffic. at the Jazz festival. but it was such a blast.

2. directing a play. okay. there is literally NOTHING that makes sense about this. i have never been in a play. i am a terrible actress. i don’t (didn’t…?) know the first thing about directing. I mean, i am about as  unqualified for this as one could be. But despite all odds, when the idea at work came up to make a play out of one of my favorite books, i jumped on it. And it was absolutely, unquestionably, THE most gratifying and rewarding project I have been a part of so far in my 27 years- and i’ve done a fair number of things!  SO many people helped to make it happen, and seeing the kids work so hard and and feel  so proud of themselves at the end was completely wonderful. it was not without a whole slew of challenges and “why are we doing this???” moments, but so, so, so worth it.

3. Continental Breakfasts. And for the last big event of the year, we printed and hung 2100 photographs, no big deal. There’s nothing quite like seeing every day of the last three years lining the walls to really make you stop and reflect. I still sort of cannot believe that this finally actually happened. Anna and I have kept this blog since January 2010, and for her to come here and for us to have an opening and for it all to come together as well as it did, felt like nothing short of a dream come true.

And speaking of that, its been really great to be a part of so many great things going on at The Yards. I’ve never been so proud to be a Rochesterian- for many  many reasons, but all the many remarkable events that have gone on at the Yards alone  make me so excited about the deeply talented, remarkable community that we have here.

I feel as grateful as ever for the beautiful, supportive people I am so proud to call my closest friends.

and also for those friendships  that have spanned many miles and many years. I was lucky enough to have visits from and adventures with two of my dearest far-flung friends this year, it was so wonderful.

i am so happy to still be living with Marisa, she is the best roommate I could ask for. AND this year, we gained the greatest neighbors ever when  two very very special, sweet people that we love got married to each other and moved in to the other apartment in our house.

i got to photograph the weddings of several other extremely wonderful friends, as well as the incredible new baby of two other magical dear folks.

and then, to finish out the year, my best friend in the whole world got engaged.

In summary? Those are some, but not even close to all of the great things that happened in 2012.  I feel awesome about this past year. I have minimal complaints, in fact. And I am stoked to see what happens in 2013.