TWO THOUSAND AND TWELVE

The first week of January makes me feel fidgety. I am certain I am supposed to have great revelations about the year past and the year approaching but I don't. I just feel thankful. Thankful for another year. Thankful that as each year passes I learn to live just a little bit better. I like that the older I get the less the unimportant things seem to matter. I like that the important things consume more of my time and make my heart and mind feel full.

I collected a handful of images to share from two thousand twelve. They aren't the best of the best by any means. They are just moments. Maybe the moments that are collectively the important things to the people in the photographs. And to those people I want to say thank you for inviting me into your colorful lives to document them.

I want to ask two thousand thirteen to bring me more moments. More of the important things and more wisdom to recognize the unimportant things. May your two thousand thirteen be full.

IT'S LOVELY TO LIVE ON A RAFT

"It's lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky up there all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look at them, and discuss about whether they was made or only just happened." Mark Twain

I have been re-reading some classic literature intermittently over the past few years. Some of it hasn't been pretty. But I am resting happily half way through The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn right now. I really want to read every last thing that left Mark Twain's brain and made it to a piece of paper eventually...I love getting lost in a world where it is acceptable to live on a raft, sleep in a wigwam, and only bathe when you want to. Adventures were made for me. It's one of the reasons I like teenagers so much. They are standing on the precipice of the rest of their lives and adventure is at their fingertips waiting to be discovered. It is this incredible time in life when you're allowed to dream and figure out what the world is all about. I loved seeing that quality in Ashlee and Jamie when I shot their senior pictures a couple weeks ago. They are both full of conviction and livliness and I can't wait to see what they do with their lives.   

wanderlust.

Lately, I've been so aware of my aesthetic preferences. I love to cook...but making food is such an art to me because of its' visual presence -- I love the impression a plate can make on you before you have even taken a bite. I don't like expensive house decorations -- but I like my thrift store finds arranged in a specifc way because of the feeling that it evokes. I hate shopping for clothes...but I like what happens when you pair two articles of clothing together and getting dressed suddenly becomes a creative endevour. I like specific fonts and I judge books by their cover. I have opinions about the layout of an advertisment and the way fowers are arranged in a jar.

I think merely living our lives and having experiences forces us to evolve creatively. We become aware of the things that strike us visually and the things we never want to see again. It's a really practical thing that happens to have a never-ending relationship with my career.

I am so thankful for the ways I have evolved as a photographer (go look at the first page of my blog...but really, you don't have to because I'm kind of sweating just thinking about it) but I want someone to slap me if I ever start turning down opoprtunities to have my paradigms challenged and my ideas expanded. I think creativity grows out of those experiences, yet, it is so easy to become bogged down in work-routines and ignore this desire to creatively evolve. Essentially, what grows out of this wanderlust is an artist's visual signature. A mark. A style that makes you, you. And I want to devote myself to a perpetual hunger for just that.

This shoot was an intentional step in that direction. It is a collaboration with a wonderful friend and artist, Elizabeth of Almond Leaf Studios. She photographs weddings, families and all things lovely but she has a serious passion for using her gift of photogrpahy to give a voice to the voiceless. She is often overseas documenting the hurting and the opressed. She is truly incredible and I hope we get to do this a million more times. The only stipulation for the shoot was to create without limitations. Such joy. Here is a link to Elizabeth's work from the shoot.

Lindsey and Mackenzie are the two incredible girls just being themselves in front of the camera. They always look this cool.

One rainy morning. Two incredible girls. Two beautiful horses.

I met the Ryder family a few weeks ago. Spending a few hours in their home made me want to live with them. Their house is so comfy and everyone is so nice to each other and they live 20 steps from the barn where their horses live and play. The rain let up for a few minutes and I had the opportunity to witness the relationship between the girls and their horses. My experience with horses has been limited, so after getting comfortable with the tremendous size of their noses, I started to watch the communication happening between human and horse. To a horse amateur like myself, there was so much wonder in all of it. The horses were so strong and independent and yet so interested in pleasing their rider. It was so evident that each of the girls had spent hour upon hour riding, teaching, and growing into a relationship with their horse. It was kind of majestic. Here are a few frames that depict just that...

STAY CLOSE TO HOME...

I recently read the biography of Annie Leibovitz and was inspired by these words:  

"Stay close to home. Discover what it means to be close to your work, to be intimate with a subject. Measure the difference between that and working with someone you don't know much about…I guess what I'm really saying is that you should take pictures of something that has meaning for you. When I was a young photographer, I learned that what I did mattered. This may have been because I was published but whether you're published or not, you have to care about what you do. You might even seem to be obsessive about it."

There were so many profound statements throughout the book that really resonated with me but this one hung on. Unless we are intentional with our lives, regardless of what your work is, we allow things to remain just far enough away from us that we are unaffected by it. "Discover what it means to be close to your work." I can't help but appreciate that challenge from Annie amidst weddings galore and the resulting overflow of editing. It is so tempting to become a slave to the work when processing all these images, instead of practicing the art of "finishing a photograph" through editing and post-process.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to get close to my work. These images are the product. Two girls, post-rain fog, and a mind eager to discover.

esther

Oooohhhh....Esther...she is one in a million. Maybe even kind of an anomaly. She is so many great things that it almost seems unnatural to be able to be all of them. She is thoughtful and creative...she's intentional...she has great ideas. She can be quiet and introspective. She can be funny and uncontrollable. She is deep and interested. She cares about social justice and noticing people that aren't always noticed. She's smart and happy...an adventurer and a conqueror. And the best part of it all is that she's never faking it. She is wonderful!

I got to meet Esther through her sister, whose wedding I shot last summer when Esther was pretty new to Charlotte. She moved here from Nebraska, where she had moved from L.A...like I said she's an adventurer. She was dabbling in a few things initially while she got her feet on the ground. Lucky me, one of them was photography. After meeting Esther and hearing about her background in art and photography and so many other cool things, I asked her to join me as my second shooter for the second half of last year. Greatest decision ever! Esther is a hard worker and she sets people at ease. And she put up with my less-than-good-driving and my sometimes irrational behavior that can be induced by hunger at any moment. I also came upon a self-discovery...working with other creative people makes me double-creative. I like to think Esther and I were a pretty dynamic duo! 

The bad news: Esther isn't second shooting with me as much these days. Good news: she got a wonderful job that uses all her gifts and she is fantastic at it. Other good news: Esther is still my friend. And she still inspires me to be creative. Here she is being her grand self.

 

camille & matt - almost wedding

I pulled into a parking spot at Glen Cairn Gardens in Rock Hill, SC last Tuesday at 5 PM after a day of surprise on-and-off rain showers. I met Camille and Matt there after months of communicating via email. They were more wonderful in person than I ever could have guessed...so considerate, down to earth, generous, and in love. The evening was perfect...thank you God for bringing the sun out just in time! We stepped out into lush, green, park beauty and the sun started peaking out from behind the clouds. Camille's parents and one of her sisters came along to help make Camille and Matt look stunning but they did so much more than that. Camille's lovely mom carried my two ton camera bag around the park for two hours, her sweet sister made numerous trips to the car to get accessories, and her wonderful dad is quite the photographer so he scoped out the light situation at the park a few days earlier for us!!! They are truly some of the most caring, generous people I have ever met! Thank you guys for making those two hours so enjoyable and easy!!

The shoot was "almost wedding" because Matt and Camille had the brilliant idea of using their session to capture themselves in their wedding attire pre-wedding. I loved it for so many reasons. It was a blessing getting to know them for a few hours before their wedding, they got to get all the nervous jitters out [not that they seemed nervous at all, it was actually quite the opposite...so laid back], and there was so much time to capture the most important part of the wedding: the bride and the groom [only it was 5 days before the wedding]! Thank you guys for coming up with this plan! 

Camille and Matt currently live in Washington, D.C. and they are getting ready to attend the same law school in the fall for the next three years!! They met in college a few years ago...both student athletes...Camille is a swimmer and Matt a soccer player. They are so right for each other...so many of the pictures reveal how in love they are and it was sooooo hard to narrow it down and I still have their beautiful wedding to edit!! Ok, here they are:

I hope you guys enjoy these! I can't wait to post your wedding!! Congratulations!