Jess and I shoot together so stinkin' much that I occasionally forget to put photos up. A few from a midsummer's night along Speedwell Forge Lake ❤︎
It still blows my mind that we still live in a world that puts so much emphasis on what we ''do''. Our careers, our day jobs, our titles define us. It's the first round of questions that gets spit out at a party, when meeting new people or connecting with a potential suitor. It's like a default question riddled with ego, yet deeply embedded with insecurities. Because, it is not, who we are. I came across this twice today and was taken back by surprise. I wanted to fire back, but bit my tongue. It's yours not mine. I've met the most profound people that have tucked their lives away behind ''sub par'' jobs. They could have ''done more'' with their lives. They just never ''got it together''. I have such a problem with the 9-5 mentality. It still rules the majority and it still reeks more than ever with prudent discord. There is no room for the creative mind. It's abruptly disregarded, shrugged off and set to the side until, it's ''needed''. I'm sure this whole post sounds pretty biased. It kinda is. Don't get me wrong, I get that there needs to be a balance, a yin and yang. But lately, it just feels very one sided. It's like just as I feel were getting to a more even playing field there's this backlash, a smack to the face. I've watched some of my deepest loved ones go thru it. My dad, seriously one of the most brilliant-minded men I've ever met (I know, I know, he's my dad..) led this Goodwill Hunting type of life so to speak, ''under performing'' and ''throwing away his talents'' at menial jobs. I don't believe so. And I don't think that for one second, his was a life wasted. He touched sooo many lives being the kind, compassionate individual that he was. Lives that he would of never gotten to know had he been ''on the correct path''. I think we need to re-examine what it means to be human. What makes us ''successful''. I truly believe we are placed exactly where we are intended to be. To reach those that need us and whom we need in return. To bring a higher sense of purpose to the table. I saw it in the line at his funeral.
Been a little obsessed with free-lensing and multiple exposures in our garden this week ✌︎
I wondered what he wished for as he blew those candles out. My mind was so numb I could barely focus on anything other than that 6pm light that danced beautifully off of my grandmothers dining room walls. We all were just here. Bodies. Appeasing her because it wasn't worth fighting anymore. I downed my second glass of cheap red wine and began to fade. It felt good to fade. To just put the last pieces of your overactive mind out of it's misery. Even if it was just temporary. I couldn't help but smile watching him light up. I was so incredibly grateful for him, and she knew it. He was the first one there at the accident and the one that had been silently fighting for me for all these years. There was this unspoken camradery. Something that I yearned for my entire life. Something that I'd give back in an instant. I didn't know where the rest of this year would go. We wouldn't be sitting here for the next that was for certain. All I could do was keep putting one foot in front of the other in hopes that it would all make sense, eventually.
I can't say enough about this girl. Well, right off the bat she's absolutely stunning. But get to know Mya a little bit more and you'll find that she's one of the most gracious, talented and down-to-earth babes you'll meet. Mya is a high school senior this year and a ridiculously talented artist. Her mom, a good friend of mine contacted me about getting her portraits done back in the fall. We shot a bunch of ideas back and forth about cool snow-inspired pics but eventually settled on the idea of renting some warm studio space. It was my first time working in this type of setting and I wont lie, I was completely terrified. Indoor spaces are always tricky because you have fixed lighting sources and are racing a setting sun that is constantly changing the pattern of light. But this girl rocked the hell out of her shoot and we ended up getting some pretty baller images, if I must say so myself ;)
I think it's funny how life seems to have a way of precisely placing people in our lives the moment we need them. Whether its to challenge us up to a higher level or gently guide us through the uncertainties of our lives. I've known of Jaclyn for years thru family ties but didn't get to connect until recently. We had been following each other online and finally decided to set up a date to collaborate together. I can't say enough about this beautiful soul. She truly shines inside and out. She's got a cutting personality and unparalleled drive for success, yet is graciously down to earth. Sometimes, I feel like I go into these shoots and come out completely changed. For it's more then just the pictures I take.
I got a tattoo the other week. One that I'm still incredibly unsure about it. I love the meaning behind it, the placement, it was something I had in mind for a while. I thought about how it would run along my skin, extenuating the lines of my body, delicately. But it was after when I started to think otherwise. The others I had gotten always seemed to just ''flow'' like it was something that was just born out of me, in a sense. It was like a relief when I got them. But this one hurt. The heaviness of the lines sank deep, too deep. Not how I wanted it too. The black ink seemed to just scream in contrast against my winter skin. It still seems so foreign to me and hurts like nothing else. It rocked my world the first few days. Like a bad dream that I just hoped to wake up from. I guess if any good has come out of it, it's made me look further into myself and my intentions. What does this represent to me? Why do we go so far as to put something on our body, permanently. Who are we defining ourselves as? Are we trying to fit into a certain ideal? What are we trying to convey? If we were all stripped of our tattoos, piercings, makeup, hair color, down to our most natural state. Would we still draw the same people into our lives? Feel the same confidence about ourselves? I feel like self liberation comes even before the act of going through with that new hair cut, like if you absolutely couldn't have it, how would you continue to carry yourself? I think we're driven by the subtleties of body language, and how we hold ourselves. Do we walk with sheer confidence? Do we speak with a soft understated tone? Do we blush at the passerby who has the same little spark of uncertainty in their eye? I think all of these things beautifully join us on a subconscious level, with or without blatantly stating it.
I adore engagement sessions. Especially this one. I get to take an intimate peek inside a world created by two people head over heels in love. Amanda and Chris live in the heart of Philadelphia and wanted to get out of the city for a few shots in the comfort of the home they grew up in. We decided to head down to Kelly's Run, a park located in southern Lancaster County, sporting some major west coast vibes. It was the first time I met Chris and my heart just melted over how doting he was over Amanda, carrying her over muddy trails, and meticulously fixing her hair and jewelry, just right. So stinkin' cute. I love watching the dynamics between two people. How in unison, they seem to create a synergy that embodies one person. These two compliment each so effortlessly I have no doubt their love will be one that stands the test of time. Love ya babes!
I had my current work deeply criticized the other night. By someone close.
>> It's just mediocre anymore.
>> You're not producing what you could be anymore.
I never thought that a few words could cut so deep. Like down to the very foundation of your being. What I've fought so hard to get through would now be something that I can't even relate to anymore. Those murky depths would bring me to the surface but I could no longer swim back down to touch them. I found myself fighting this. What am I now? Who am I now? Will I eventually just lose everything? Will I wake up one day and just say fuck photography? What will I do then? The depths of the creative mind are so vast. The place I was a few years ago was nothing I would wish upon anyone, and those words made me furious. It's like some meaty food critic pissing over his slice of gourmet veal. It's not tender enough. It's not flavorful enough. Like the animal didn't endure enough for you already? If my success is dependent upon suffering, I don't want it. There are other ways.
I'll be the first to admit that my work has shifted. But my entire life has shifted. It's not coming from a place of such pain. It would only be natural for it to be a little lighter, a little less.. complicated. I don't have this constant tugging feeling anymore. I honestly don't feel compelled as much to do self-portraiture. I feel a bit uneasy when I look back on old photos. They are so personal to me. They tell a story that few will ever know. I leave them up because it is my story. It's deep, some of it provokes discomfort, but it's real. I think I needed those years to probe and pick myself apart. Like the cat who catches himself in the mirror and is like PSHHHWHOA who the hell am I? I don't want to chase something that may have just run it's course. It's maddening. Our lives are in constant flux, changing and taking on different forms. I think it's when we start fighting and struggling against that, that it starts to cause pain and breaks us down. I don't know where this path is going to take me, I have high hopes for it, but if I wake up tomorrow void of all creative inspiration, I have faith that something else will fill that space. Something good.
"Your fragility is also your strength." Pina Bausch, 1966
I woke up this morning to a quote in my news feed. ''Your fragility is also your strength'' This couldn't be more on point with what I've been feeling lately. I've been struggling with letting others in, and being comfortable in a vulnerable state. It's shitty. I still censor myself. It doesn't feel natural. And I've been wrestling with it. It's hard to get out of your head and see the bigger picture when you're caught up in a flood of details. I still feel like I'm navigating the seas of what my authentic self is. Is it too much? Am I okay with it if no one else is? I'm not sure why we're so hard on ourselves. I'm allowed to be in an incomplete state, as are the ones around me. There is beauty in being unflinchingly human. There is strength in admitting you are weak.
I don't think I've ever been in a space before where I've been open to, and welcoming of, so much change. Good and bad. My life has been constantly shifting, redirecting, and reorganizing itself into something that feels like its more inline with my authentic self. I've had the most amazing people and experiences magically come into fruition lately. I remember a point where I couldn't even imagine it otherwise. I fought it for so long, threw my anchors down in a tumultuous sea only hoping that by fighting the current it would lead me to where I wanted to be. I've had this reoccurring dream over the past couple of years of swimming out in a fierce ocean only to get pummeled wave after wave. I'd have the same one night after night, fighting, drowning and relentlessly trying to come up for air. An obvious metaphor for the reality that I had been living. As I loosened my grip this dream started to become workable. I'd float out, still confronted with the same stormy sea, but when a wave hit I'd fall back in it, letting it carry me. Sometimes to the bottom, but never drowning. I knew that if I surrendered and just let it take me. I'd eventually be brought back up. Like seasons, life is constantly shifting. Taking us from high moments, to lows, and back again. The beauty in it is that it all serves a greater purpose. Like the sediment on a bottom of a lake. It's mucky, sometimes you can get stuck in it, yet it its rich in nutrients. I think our darker times feed and fertilize us so we can continue to yield these incredible blooms. I'm thankful for the depths that I've swam. It still takes a certain amount of self compassion and courage to navigate, but without these times I wouldn't appreciate washing ashore.
I got together with my good friend, Jenn the other day. She's a local photographer and has always been a source of creative wisdom for me. It had been a while since we had seen each other, so when I arrived at her door I was greeted with the most welcoming smile. ''Come in, let's just sit for awhile''. Please. Whenever we get together I always feel like I'm hitting a reset button. There are a few people that I have in my life that I feel live on the same parallels. Jenn being one of them. We laughed about how we both decided to break out our film cameras, like on the same day. And how we weren't sure if the cut-throat wedding industry was where we were supposed to be.
I always feel like I get a brush up on my photography history when we're together. Jenn is constantly researching new and old artists, trying to see what makes them tick. What sets their work apart. We flipped thru a book on Sally Mann's iconic work and it got me thinking. There is something so candid about the work of some of the greats. It pushes the boundaries on what we perceive to be beautiful and challenges us to take a deeper, ruthless look inside of ourselves. I think it takes extreme fearlessness to open that part of yourself up to the world.
We spoke about shots that still seemed to float around in our minds. Would they be too much? How would they be received? I still have a deep-seeded fear about showing a lot of my work. Or even actually taking the pictures.
Super stoked to get these amazing women up on the blog tonight. For the past month, I've been working closely with the talented Suzanne Long, editor of Lancaster County Magazine. She reached out to me back in July about a project involving several of our local city chefs and I couldn't be more thrilled. Each one of these women were just overflowing with spirit. It was easy to see why they had come so far in their careers.
Athena Fournaris, The Stockyard Inn
Athena has got to be one of the most kind-hearted souls. Her warm presence and soft tone immediately made me feel like I had known her for years. While setting up, we spoke about how we both gravitated more towards the simplicity in photography.
As we wrapped up, Athena insisted that Sue and I stay for lunch, on her. Seriously VIP treatment. We started with a summer fresh salad, the most mouth-watering lump crab cake, and then finished with a decadent slice of cheesecake. You could tell that this was her forte, as she seemed to almost float to and from the kitchen.
Stephanie Samuel, Sugar Whipped Bakery
I can't say enough about this gal. Steph is seriously as sweet as her cupcakes. Maybe sweeter. She had actually catered a wedding I was in back in May and killed it with the most spectacular spread of sugar-kissed creations. Steph relies on age old recipes passed down from her grandmother and mother. She isn't too heavy on the sugar; really letting the natural flavors of the desserts come through. Stephanie and her family operate the business out of a brightly colored food truck that you can find traveling from Lititz Farmer's Market to Musser Park.
Kristen Hottenstein, The Greenfield Restaurant
If you haven't been to the Greenfield lately you're in for a real treat. Kristin leads the wine program at the family-owned business has been quite busy revamping the restaurant into a gorgeous, contemporary dining space.
Corinna Killian, The Belvedere Inn
This little spitfire. I have to appreciate the blatant honesty going into these shoots. Upon meeting, Corinna was sure to tell me that she wasn't the serious-faced-photograph type. Right on.
Do you like beer?
How about kickin' back on the patio with one?
Sounds about right to me.
Hilary Mace, The Scarlet Runner
This had to be up there with one of my favorite shoots. We met Hilary and her family at Sugar Mountain Farms in Washington Borough. When arriving, Sue and I were greeted with the most bountiful harvest of summer vegetables you ever saw. From multi-colored heirloom tomatoes, spring onions, gourds, and violet potatoes, the assortment was beyond impressive. If you're thinking about catering, be sure to check these guys out!
Earth below me
Sky above me
Fire within me
Getting some old work up on the blog today. I feel like my limits have really been tested this week. Not so much with matters of the heart, but with how much I put out and receive. I want to be surrounded by others who are as invested, motivated and willing to bring themselves and others up to a higher plane. I'll be the first one to tell ya that life isn't a bucket of butterflies. It flat out blows sometimes. But if you're gonna proudly stand by someone's side when they're at their best. You better be willing to be down at their worst. I feel it's imperative that we honor our truth, however ugly or beautiful that may be, rather than attract the wrong people or circumstances into our lives. I'll always route for the underdog. The one that bravely faces each day, takes each challenge with the utmost grace and strives for bigger and better things. Each and every one of us deserves to be here and plays an integral part in this extraordinary machine that is life.
I seriously love working with this guy. Dave Waddel of Siousca Photography asked me to assist him in photographing another wedding this summer, one of which was filled with the most mouth-watering photo opps. I always learn so much when working with Dave. This time he briefed me on the basics of film and let me hold the most glorious vintage Hasselblad camera. I can definitely see some film in my future ;) Here are a few shots I captured from the Appleford Estate in Villanova, PA.
I don't know why this has been on my mind so much lately. Maybe because I've been diving deeper into how I want to portray myself, and my work. To be honest, July kicked my ass. The past two years have been a roller coaster of change. I thought I had passed the roughest part, only to be proved oh so wrong. Like the darkest, scariest cloud making one foul swoop. It took me off guard the other day and I couldn't help but think how much I censor myself. I've chose to limit what people see. They get the happy, free-spirited girl. Bright and limitless. And I began to think about how unfair this is. If you want to see who's really down and out in your life, it's in these times that will surely reveal that.
I want to live my life fearless, to love others past the point of being afraid. If it weren't for these times, I'm unsure how I'd view the world in another light. I believe we are made of both darkness and light. Good and bad. Each intrinsically complementing one another. As much as we don't want to be in the dark, it serves a purpose. It deepens our understanding, brings us closer to one another, and for lack of better terms, is completely humbling. I'm not sure if I'd take back all the BS in my life. It's brought me to where I am now. And, I'm starting to really like that place ✨
I got a new friend today. It was something I had been thinking about for awhile, but honestly had been scared to death of actually doing. This time was much different. I think I've spent the majority of my life looking for ''signs''. ''Divine inclinations'' that I should take whatever next step it was that I was supposed to. Certainly, it's easier to make a decision that way when you've thought it was already universally laid out for you. Somehow. If that makes any sense. Anyway, this time it wasn't happening for me and I began to sink down into a stagnant decay of stuck-ness. Again. Waiting for something, anything, to pull me out.
I woke up this morning in a full sweat, still entangled in dreams the night before. I knew that something had to change but the indecisiveness that had been frequenting my mind was putting up a good fight. I need a fuzzy friend. Something to love. Something that's not going to give two shits if I put makeup on that day. Or if, at times, I struggle with a heavy heart. Out of protection, I've pushed so much, and so many out of my life. Not on purpose, but more out of deeply-rooted habit. And all it has gotten me is alone. Point not intended. So this morning, I got in my car and drove an hour northbound. This time, I wasn't coming back without a damn cat.
When I arrived, a sweet woman came to the door to greet me. She had been fostering kittens for the SPCA and had quite the set up. She told me about a little one that she had handled since he was born. We went down to her basement or 'kitten-tropolis' and she began showing me all of them. This little fluff came barreling out of his cage and started rough housing with the others. I knew I wanted a long-haired kitty, but everything else was a free for all. Shirley picked him up and handed him to me, he immediately went limp in my arms, purring up a storm. I'm not sure if it was the ''sign'' I wanted. But that was okay.
Our ride home was nothing short of a nightmare. Out of all the days it had to be 95 degrees, this was surely the worst. My AC was barely blowing luke warm air and we had an hour to go. Crying, I took him out of the carrier and put him on my lap. He looked up at me terrified, and in that moment I realized that I couldn't be anymore. I had this little life depending on me and if I freaked out, all it was going to do was upset him more. I looked down at him and promised that I would get him home safe, and that everything would be okay. That we would curl up in the AC as soon as I opened the door. We did. And I couldn't be happier. And in just the few hours that I've had this little guy, he's shown me what it's like to be brave, to take a risk and to open my heart again.