I always found you there


So, I made it to Rhode Island – now trying to make stuff, the reason that I'm here! Before I left, I met with one of my mentors for coffee to say thank you (something I'm trying to do better and more often, saying thank you) and she told me when I get to my new studio to leave all the walls blank. Don't put up any of my old work or pictures that I 'succeeded' with before or felt good about. Don't even look at them. If you look at them, she said, you'll be tempted to just go back to what worked before and be less likely to take creative risks. So that's what I'm doing and I'm f*ing scared that everything I'm making is really stupid but I am trying to stick with it, keep moving forward, ask the questions later and just play with materials and make images that I like. Here's to reminding myself of that here, permanently.



Here I am, twenty-six years old, for some reason still posting pictures and writing in this space, one of the many ways I journal and log and record – maybe the reason I am into photography in the first place, because memory fascinates me. But, here I am, at such a different place than I was last year, more sure of myself than I have ever been before, more grateful too, more certain of God's faithfulness: less so from the good things that this year has brought and more because it was the hard year before it that brought the good things. To stay on this side of anger and the other side of sadness, that is what I keep coming back to – tough spirit, tender heart.


with you nothing is simple yet nothing is simpler

A few weekends back, in Asheville, with some of the people I love most in the world. I feel so lucky to get to live life with these folks – and their children!

It is a Sunday night. A. and I had frozen pizza, greens, and margaritas for dinner, then he went on solo bike ride and I took a long bath and walked to the co-op for frozen yogurt. As I think about moving at the end of the summer, one thing I will miss is that walk – a brief hello to Charles, checking in on the garden at the one house at the corner of Burch and Exum, the magnolia tree at the corner of Wilkerson, pausing to cross Chapel Hill Street. And then, of course, there is the sweet comfort of grocery shopping, something I'll never quite be able to explain. I love it – seeing what's new, comparing prices, lifting each grapefruit to see which one is the heaviest and juiciest. Do the radishes look good today? Is the ice cream on sale? Should I get the chocolate with cacao nibs or almonds? Unlike so many of life's questions, these are questions I can always answer.

[all 35mm, Asheville, NC]


bear island

We booked a camping site a month or so ahead of time, hoping that we could take a day off work and go to the beach – so glad we made it happen. We had the whole island to ourselves, the best mac and cheese made over a camp stove, and a long, long morning walk on the beach. I am dreaming of getting back here before we move.

[Bear Island, Hammocks Beach State Park, all 35mm]


two years

We spent three glorious fall days in Portland, Maine last October, a tag-on anniversary celebration after spending a few days in Boston visiting grad schools.

And, two years of marriage! (Two years and four months, now.) I tried to write about marriage so much in our first six months being married before realizing I had absolutely nothing to say. It was all so new, so unknown, and there was so much to process and try to understand about myself, much less another human being. I just didn't know how to think about it yet. When people asked me how married life was going, I found I just told them made-up things to assuage their questioning.

But, maybe, now – I'd like to think – I'm coming into it. I know I can say this, at least: marriage has been a safe place for me to grow in confidence in myself, and for that I am grateful. I think that is what marriage should be – not your everything, but the most safe kind of love, along with being a marked reminder of dying to yourself anew every day. I think of this line from Auden: "Afraid of our living task, the dying / which the coming day will ask." Marriage is a risk, a stepping boldly into that fear, into that risk of dying to self, even still as you grow more deeply into yourself. (Of course, there are plenty of ways to do that besides marriage – but it is one way.)

That's my two cents for two years, anyhow. Mainly, I like being married to Austin.

[all 35mm from Portland and some surrounding islands]


put a fence around it

This article, and the listed photographers, especially Graciela Iturbine. I should make my own list of photographers who have shaped my vision.

This jumper – what a dream.

These words, which I have been thinking about all week:

"Now it seemed so horrible to me. And didn’t it explain everything? But I had never wanted to be one person, or even believed that I was one, so I had never considered the true singularity of anyone else. I said to myself, You are only given one. The one you are given is the one to put a fence around. Life is not a harvest. Just because you have an apple doesn’t mean you have an orchard. You have an apple. Put a fence around it. Once you have put a fence around everything you value, then you have the total circle of your heart.”

– Sheila Heti, How Should A Person Be?

I witnessed a birth for the first time last week, and I am still putting my mind around it – and yet, how different it is to witness than experience yourself! But LIFE, BIRTH, wow, it's so crazy. A human inside of another human, life in life, life from life.

[Hamilton, ON, 35mm]


just this side of anger, and on the other side of sadness

Somewhere near San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome on one of the most recent happiest days of my life – I was traveling alone, so this is the only picture I have of myself from that day of wandering.

I am particularly grateful today for mentors and friends who speak so clearly into my life, just when I need it. If you saw me weeping yesterday, it was probably because I just received this:

Prayer for Jessina

Father, I pray for Your child, as if she were my child: but I dare to ask - that if I am actually addressing her - through You - that You are the One doing the talking. Or at least getting a Word in.

And so I ask this:
That You not set her faithfulness against her hopes.
That - in Your very gentle way - You are unsparing in Your claim - on her - 

on all the things You’ve given her; to attend to.
That’s a hard prayer. And You are not a hard master.
She knows - better than I - what those things are.
So may she find, in her circumstances, en famille, in the Circle of her loves - and Yours: 
may she find support: not that support that shuts down, that “pacifies," that places her at the bottom of a deep, dark pool: but the support that stirs up, like the salt spray, the tang and the splash of her deepest yearnings.

Those desires are there for a purpose: not just to anchor her: but to set her free.

It is has been a strange new season of life these past few months – I hate using the word 'season,' and always have, as it seems to indicate some sense of 'this is what was meant to be,' or waiting circumstances out rather than taking active steps or problem-solving – but I can't think of a more fitting word right now. I feel like I am coming into myself, that for so long I talked up a big game – told myself that I was strong and intelligent and beautiful, etc. – without actually believing it. 

I think we all do that in our own way, hoping that if we say it enough maybe we'll inch towards believing it. It seems like in any career you have to be able talk bigger about yourself in order to get anywhere. It is that sense of talking 'bigger,' but more than that, not only taking up space but feeling like it is your space, that you belong there – that is what I am trying to get at. 

That I belong here – I know it more now than I ever have before.

There is a new expression on your face: more determined, but not (yet?) hard. I pray you can stay there, just this side of anger, and on the other side of sadness: and right in the middle of strength: real strength.