My grandma still looks at me in amazement whenever I tell her that the photographs I take are digital - and that they live on my computer. When I was growing up, my grandma was always taking photos - of the family, her garden, the dresses she made for me. She’d take her roll of film down to Walgreens and a few hours later we’d get 36 little prints. My grandma doesn’t understand how photographs can simply sit on a computer. But here’s the thing: they don’t have to. And in fact, they shouldn’t! Photo prints and albums are fodder for conversation. Not only that, but each time I sit down with someone to look at old prints, we make new memories through the act of looking. This is why I’m a believer in the magic of analog - of actually getting the dang photos printed!
Ben and I spent the second and third week of February in Costa Rica. It was a wonderful time to go there - the weather was nearly perfect the whole time. To me, it felt like summer. We only got a couple of rainforest showers, one of them while sitting in the natural hot springs of La Fortuna.
We went to several beautiful places in Costa Rica, but my favorites were Playa Conchal and Río Celeste. Playa Conchal is a beach made up of millions of little shells. It was absolutely stunning, and it’s definitely an interesting feeling to walk on so many shells. I’ve always wanted to be a mermaid, and Playa Conchal made me feel like one!
Río Celeste is an incredible river and waterfall that’s true to its name. It has a crayola-blue hue that puts a crayon box to shame. The color of the water is caused by a chemical reaction between sulfur and carbonate. Mythology says that it’s so blue because it’s where God rinsed his brush when he was done painting the world. I absolutely fell in love with this place. The best moment was when I was looking out at the bluest water I’d ever seen, when the national butterfly, a Blue Morpho, flew over the river. There was so much blue there, it looked like a painting in real life.
I was 13 when I took my first photography class, and I quickly discovered my self-timer. Photography became a way to create my own reality. It was how I learned to have compassion for myself and what I’d been through. My power had been taken away from me, but I was able to take that power back by orienting myself in space. I controlled when the shutter went off. I put myself in the way of light.
I love kids because they’re so honest. While it can be difficult to get adults to express themselves in front of the camera, kids always do. They haven’t built up a wall yet. They aren’t afraid.
Hey there, new year!
I’m a fan of the new year; I like having a date and a reason to reflect and reset. I’m someone who’s always looking forward, and sometimes I have a hard time acknowledging my accomplishments. Can anyone relate?! My guess is yes, you definitely can.
So that’s what I’m going to try to do here: acknowledge what went right and what I accomplished in 2018. Then, talk about what I’m looking forward to in 2019.
Reflecting on 2018
2018 was a big year in so many ways: I quit my desk job to become a full time photographer and creative assistant. I also took my first international and overseas trip to Italy!
I put my personal artwork out there in ways that I’ve never done before. I showed my work in the Blue Sky Drawers (you can see my work there until March of 2019!) and I asked all of you to support me with your dollars by purchasing tickets to my RAW show.
And about putting my work out there, I experienced some rejection this year. I applied for Sony’s Alpha Female program and grant for $25K. I wanted to use the money to support myself while building eCourses about self-portraiture, self-love, and self-care. I didn’t get the grant, but I was so happy I applied. And honestly, I’m okay that I didn’t get it. You have to get rejected sometimes to learn. There are many people who deserve these opportunities, and it can’t always be me or you. You can watch the video I submitted to Sony, below.
I started making sparkly shells (more exciting things to come in 2019)! I think of my shells as my “Venus in Libra” project. One of the reasons I love making shells into sparkly, pearled keepsakes is because it’s purely fun and joy for me. Nothing about it is serious, it appeals to my senses, and the final product makes me smile. I love being surrounded by beautiful things, and likewise, I love giving people beautiful things.
Something I can’t overlook about 2018 is that I let go of some people who were seriously stressing me out, and I welcomed new friends who have added a ton of greatness to my life. Many of those friends have come from my partnership with We Myndful, a lovely community of folks who come together every month to talk about and embody mindfulness. I’m so incredibly thankful for the friendships I’ve fostered there.
Finally, this year I did something I’ve NEVER done before: I gathered, organized, and compiled ALL my tax information before 2019 even BEGUN. This is a huge, huge deal for me because, I mean, WHO likes doing their taxes? Usually I procrastinate on this until the last minute, but I felt that end-of-December Capricorn energy coming on strong and I decided to jump in and do it.
As for 2019, here are a few things I want to do for myself:
Be more present.
This year was about building my business, and I worked harder than I ever have to do it. When you’re a small business owner, the reality is that the work is never done. There is always more promoting, refining, and book-keeping I could be doing. However, though I’m an incredibly hard worker, I have not always been the smartest worker. I get things done quickly, but that’s only because I work tirelessly. 2019 is going to be about knowing where I can give myself a break and chill. I want to be more present with my family, my partner, and my friends. Because really, that’s what I’m going to remember in the end.
Get my booty in physical therapy.
I injured myself a couple of years ago and haven’t been to physical therapy once. I re-injured myself earlier this year and that still didn’t get me into physical therapy. I experience back and neck pain almost daily, and it’s time that I do something about it. As a former dancer and someone who loves moving, I don’t want to spend another minute being afraid to move.
Exercise most days.
This is not about feeling like I need to lose weight. Rather, when I exercise, I get better sleep and my headaches decrease dramatically. I let go of exercise for the most part for over a year and I got worse sleep and was in more pain than ever because of it. Recently I began belly dancing and dabbling in yoga again, and it has done wonders for my well-being. Now I look forward to moving my body because I know how much better it’s going to make me feel.
Enjoy what I eat.
I absolutely love to eat. Like a lot. But often times I’ll find myself in the middle of a big project, so I’ll pop something in the microwave and eat it in front of my computer. It needs to stop! This has a lot to do with being more present. If I’m enjoying what I’m eating, I’ll have no choice but to be present - in what I cook for myself and how I eat it. To me, there’s nothing better than a large, satisfying meal. I can’t wait to eat some good food this year!
Take myself on dates.
Again, the being present thing. Work was top priority this year, and I put myself on the back burner constantly. But I recognize that if I keep doing that, not only will I suffer, but so too will my work. In 2019 I want to take myself on a mini-date once a week, whether it be going on a walk to the Japanese Gardens or taking myself out for coffee. It doesn’t have to be complicated, it just has to be something that’s only for me and my pleasure.
Shoot film again.
When I learned to photograph, I did it on film. Only a couple years into learning about photography did I slowly start moving to digital. Shooting film is absolutely magical, and I miss the joy it brings to my life. I also miss the way it makes photography about actually photographing things, rather than thinking about the image you want to create before you even begin to photograph. Over the holidays, I was gifted a couple packs of old-school polaroid film, 35mm film, and 120mm film. I can’t wait to start shooting! I’m also excited to finally check out The Portland Darkroom, which I’ve been meaning to do for ages.
There is so much of Oregon I feel like I haven’t seen. Why not?! We are so dang LUCKY to live among splendid trees, ocean, and mountains. I want to see more. I want to take the time to enjoy where I live.
Tell myself a positive money story.
Do you ever do this? You find yourself saying “I can’t afford that,” or “I don’t deserve to have that.” There are many things I tell myself I can’t afford or don’t deserve, and it all has to do with money anxiety. Most of us have it - that’s the thing about needing money to survive. However, when I’ve told myself these things in the past, they haven’t always been true. What it’s done, though, is given me a whole ton of anxiety I don’t want. I’m not saying that I plan to spend money wildly this year, but if I worked really hard to complete a project, I’ll treat myself. And if I need something to improve my business, I’ll buy it. This is about valuing myself like I know I deserve. And I know I can do it.
So, what’s something amazing you did in 2018, whether personally or professionally? And what’s something you’d love to do in 2019? I love hearing your perspective! And to all of you: I hope you have a wonderful and sparkly New Year!
My godfather moved to San Diego after living in Oregon for the majority of his life. I don't think he could stand how rainy it would get here, and he constantly dreamed of living by the sea. A couple of years ago I went for a visit. He cooked me so many delicious meals and we would eat them out on his deck overlooking the sea. After three years of not doing much with my own deck at home, I finally bought a bistro table and chairs, an umbrella, and flowers. It feels so homey out there on my deck, and it reminds me of my trip to San Diego to visit my Gaga. Here are some images from the trip. Miss you. <3
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and I've been thinking about what I want to say about it for awhile. Twelve years ago at the end of March, I told my mom that my stepdad had been sexually abusing me for pretty much the whole time she had been married to him. A few days later on April Fool's Day 2006, my stepdad mysteriously died. He didn't take his own life. He just died. This month marks half of my life that Ric has been dead and that I’ve been telling my story. It's pretty surreal.
After Ric died, our lives went through a giant upheaval, as you can imagine. We moved out of the house we lived in and into my grandparents' basement. We slept in a bed that was very strangely flanked by a painting of wolves attacking each other and a giant, taxidermy bear that stared menacingly down at us with its marble eyes, gritting its teeth. It sounds horrible, and it was, but I still laugh about it to this day. Like seriously, what the hell was happening to us? When you've gone through what we did, you learn to laugh at the hard stuff. At least I did, and it got me through a lot.
It’s now 2018 and I love my life. I feel so lucky to be able to tell my story. I don't wish I could go back in time and change what happened to me (but please don't assume everyone feels that way, because some people would absolutely change their circumstances if they could). But here's the thing: my mother believed me. My father believed me. Some of my community members talked, but for the most part, people believed me. Who knows what my life would be like right now if they hadn't, but I can tell you that it would have been a whole lot harder for a whole lot longer.
With this in mind, I want to challenge you to do two things:
1. Believe people. When people say they've been abused, believe them. Period. If right now you're thinking, "but what about the people who are lying?" - know that people who lie about being assaulted or abused make up such a minuscule portion of people who speak out, and it hardly ever happens.
2. Be critical of your own behavior. You might not be a sex offender or a rapist, but I'll bet you've made someone sexually uncomfortable, or you've said words to someone that were meant to cut them down, or you haven't believed a survivor, or you've made a racist, homophobic, or sexist joke, or you've laughed at a trans person. I say this because I've done those things. I know what it feels like to be abused and yet I've done those things. If you think you haven't done any of those things, I encourage you to take a deeper look. Being better matters. Being the perfect person is impossible, but being critical of our own behavior is essential.
I hope you'll take my story as a call to action. Be a better person. Apologize when you need to. Don't when it's self-serving. Read about the history of our country. Believe people who are hurting. Love your people. Try to love yourself. I'm doing it, too. I'm right here with you.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Valentine's Day is one of my favorite holidays! However, romantic love is usually the only type of love that's prioritized on Valentine's Day (as well as pretty much every other day, for that matter). In this post, I wanted to honor all types of love, so I decided to write about several people who I love, each in a different way. This is by no means a complete list of who I love. It's also not a favoritism thing. This post is about showing that all types of love matter. To everyone I love: You mean the world to me. You're lovely and strong and incredible. Happy Valentine's Day!
I hope you'll spread the love today and every day!
I love myself.
This image was taken on a hike I took with my friend Kaïa, who I also love. We were the only ones up there. The wind was blowing in my hair, and I took this photograph.
Also, for some reason I thought it was acceptable to take only one bottle of water on a seven-ish mile hike. Well, I drink a lot of water when I'm just sitting at a computer at my desk at work, not to mention when I hike. Needless to say, being dramatic as I sometimes am, I thought I was going to die.
I love my mother.
This image was taken at our neighborhood restaurant, Vista Spring Cafe. It was late Spring or Summer. I think we ran into some people I knew from high school. The light was really nice. This moment and image also reminds me of this song, which I love.
I love Daniel.
My cousin Daniel played at Dante's last year. This was one of the first shows of his that I had gone to for years. The waitresses were all wearing sexy santa outfits. It was cool for me to see people dancing to and enjoying my cousin's music.
I love Kirk.
This photo was one of the first I had ever taken that I really loved, back when I primarily shot on film. This was shot on a Holga toy camera. The funny part is that I got two or three candid shots of Kirk smoking here, and because I liked them so much I thought I would try to recreate them a few weeks or months later. Why wasn't the photograph that I already loved good enough?!
Anyway, the next time I photographed Kirk smoking, I made him smoke the whole cigar in about ten minutes (gross) and I used my digital camera with its pop-up flash (also gross, not sure which one was worse). And guess what? I no longer have those digital photos because all of them sucked. The moral to this story: don't use pop-up flash.
I love Renée.
Renée and I met a couple of years ago at Three Monkeys. I was a regular customer and she worked there at the time. We would always chat when I'd go in there, and I ended up asking her if she wanted to participate in the Body Beautiful Project, to which she agreed. I loved the way her hair looked against this fire-colored wall. This was the first time we hungout outside of Three Monkeys. I'm pretty sure we talked about serious things that first day, but now I know that Renée makes me laugh really hard. She and I can laugh at anything.
I love Hau.
I knew I loved Hau when he climbed in this little window for me. It's part of the on-ramp to the Ross Island Bridge, and it's quite busy. I said to him, "I've always wanted to photograph someone standing in those windows, but I don't think anyone would get up there." Hau immediately proved me wrong. Dream come true.
I love Katie.
Katie is my former roommate. We didn't hangout that much for the majority of the time we lived together, but toward the end we began having breakfast together on occasion and doing these ridiculous internet workouts that made us laugh at each other hysterically. This image was shot on a photoshoot we did together one morning at the park.
I love Annelise.
Annelise and I met in New York. We were both part of a program called the Young Photographers Alliance Mentorship, which pairs young photographers with local professionals who help them create a photo project from start to finish. I liked Annelise right away because she's so kind and genuinely seems to care about how people are feeling. She came to Portland on a trip she was taking across the country a couple of years ago. We had vague conceptual ideas for photographs and we went out all day shooting. This was taken on that day on some stranger's steps. I still owe you a visit, Annelise.
I love Aliera.
Aliera and I have been best friends since seventh grade when we both liked each other's hats: mine, a pink hat that said "Hawaii" on it, and hers a floppy Mickey Mouse hat. This photograph was taken on our way to a hike in the Gorge. Love you, bub.
I love my grandma.
My grandma hates it when I take photos of her. She thinks that she used to be beautiful and now she's not because she's all wrinkly. But I love her hands and her smile. I took this photograph the other day when we visited her old house, which is the house my mom grew up in and the one I grew up next to. My grandma was looking out the window marveling at how wonderful her home is, saying how she wished she could move back. My grandma now lives in assisted care and her home will soon go up for sale. It will be hard for me to see it being passed on, and I know it will be even harder for her. Kirk likes to say that getting old is not for the weak because you start to lose things: your friends, your animals, your memory, your sight. So with that, I'd like to remind myself that everyday is a gift.
I love Liam.
I babysat this little dude when he was an infant. Now I see him only rarely, and this past time was on New Year's Eve. Ben and I went over to his house and had a delicious breakfast of french toast and scrambled eggs. Afterward, Liam and I played around with the camera, a ball, a scooter, and some sticks. He showed me how to build a bridge with twigs that was strong enough for me to stand on.
I love Brett.
This was taken at my cousin Brett's birthday party, where we all went racing.
Brett's one of the sweetest people I know and I was happy to see him. I didn't go the first race because I have back pain and was afraid of exacerbating it, so I took photographs instead. I couldn't resist going the second round, though. I definitely exacerbated my pain, but it was totally worth it. I also thought I was going faster than everyone else, but Kirk showed me a video later, and what I had been imagining didn't really match up with reality. I was actually going really slow and everyone was trailing me only because I wouldn't let them pass. Whoops.
I love Dusty.
Dusty and I met this summer at this leadership program we both attended called RYLA. This picture was taken on one of the last days we were there. Dusty is always smiling, joking, or laughing. I wouldn't bother trying not to like her because it would be too difficult.
I love Felicia.
This was taken on a walk after one of our many sleepovers when we were in high school. I miss those times so much: the big windows in her house, the baked sweet potatoes with olive oil, the fort building, the laughing with Felicia and her brother. I think of you all the time, my friend!
I love Beanie.
Beanie has been in my life for more than half the time I've been on this planet. She is the most well-behaved dog I've ever known, though she does lick the bottom of your plate if you sit next to her while eating. She also self-pets. If you put your hand on her head, she will move back and forth until you start petting her. I took this photograph the weekend before Christmas Eve. She was not very happy with me for putting her on this chair.
I love my dad.
My dad is always hamming it up, so when I can get him to genuinely crack up for the camera, I'm stoked. This image is a teeny bit blurry, probably because I was so excited that he was belly laughing and accidently moved the camera a little. I was probably telling him off right before this for being such a pessimist; that always make him laugh.
I love David.
My uncle David makes the yummiest pies and cookies, he is a photographer, and he builds things, including his own frames for his photographs. When I took this photograph, it was snowing outside, and we were with one of my other favorite people, Mauri. Just thinking about it makes me feel happy. We went skiing in Mauri's backyard.
I love Ben.
As many of you know, Ben is my high school sweetheart and best friend. One of my favorite things is when he lets me stand partially on his feet when we hug because we can't get close enough.
This barn is on my grandparents' property, which Ben had never been to before this weekend. The first thing he did when he went into the barn, literally the first thing, is he climbed onto the roof, something I've never done. I was mildly irritated that he did something so quickly that I had always been too afraid to do. Climbing up to the loft was enough for me. But I went after him and got on the roof, too. I love you, Benny. Happy Valentine's Day.
I always love the way other photographers see each month of the year differently, so here is my version of 2017 in the form of two photographs representing each month. I didn't necessarily choose my favorite photographs of the year. Rather, I picked photographs that embody what I was experiencing in that particular month. Looking through old photographs reminded me of the many good things that happened in 2017, despite it being a year of incredible social upheaval. At least one of the best days of my life happened in 2017.
Along with my two photos for each month, I also write things I remember about that particular month. Maybe it'll remind you of something you had forgotten.
- The inauguration of Donald Trump
- Women's march
- Hiking Smith Rock for Ben's birthday
- Driving in the snow
- Cannon beach yoga festival with my mom
- Being in the thick of the Body Beautiful Project
- Making original postcards and writing notes to Donald Trump with classmates
- Flowers beginning to bloom
- Seeing the giant orchid installation at the Portland Art Museum for the first time
- An Easter egg hunt
- Beginning many adventures to the Japanese Garden
- Being in the Rose Garden with my love
- Wearing flowing fabrics
- Riding the ferris wheel at the Rose Festival
- A funeral, and afterwards witnessing a double rainbow
- My last month working at Northwest Academy
- Graduating from PSU with no debt (absolutely one of the best days of my life)
- Attending Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, meeting new friends, and getting inspired
- Having a party to celebrating being DONE with school (another amazing day)
- Beginning my job at Mortgage Trust
- Celebrating my birthday by riding a hot air balloon, and at one point seeing the sunrise and the moonset on either side of me
- Seeing the eclipse in totality, and the traffic being bad on the way home, but not as bad as people were predicting
- Going to the beach to see a friend and walk in the sand
- Watching the swifts at Chapman Elementary, which is also one of my favorite places to go in general
- Kirk's birthday and my dad's birthday
- Kirk and my mom working tirelessly to finish remodeling their 1966 Shasta trailer
- After six years together, Ben and I finally started living together for the first time
- Going to the pumpkin patch with Ben and putting pumpkins on our heads for photos
- Dressing up as a vampire and a devil (not our most creative Halloween, but the simplicity of it a relief)
- Taking walks by myself in the crisp air
- Annual Thanksgiving celebration with my family
- Loving the way my mom sets a table
- Getting to see my cousin play at Dante's
- Going to a tree farm for the first time in a long while
- Beautiful reflections in my parents' window at Christmas
- Brunch with dear friends
- Getting dressed up for New Year's Eve, but not making a big deal about what to do