This time last year, I was in France. And I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I *still* haven’t processed all of my photos from that trip. So as I have been reminiscing in my mind about our adventures last summer, I decided to jump back into the trip vicariously through my photographs.
From the incomparable David Whyte…
Rest is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be. Rest is not stasis but the essence of giving and receiving. Rest is an act of remembering, imaginatively and intellectually, but also physiologically and physically. To rest is to give up on the will as the prime motivator of endeavor, with its endless outward need to reward itself through established goals. To rest is to give up on worrying and fretting and the sense that there is something wrong with the world unless we put it right; to rest is to fall back, literally or figuratively from outer targets, not to an inner bull’s eye or an imagined state of inner stillness, but to a living, breathing inner state of natural exchange… — Readers’ Circle Essay, Rest
I mentioned last week that I was recently in California, and the main reason for my west coast visit was to take a workshop with the amazing Chloe Aftel. I’ve been wanting to learn from Chloe for years as she is an incredible photographer who shoots STUNNING Polaroid portraits. I was super fortunate to contact Chloe and work out a time to take a class with her. For this portrait workshop, Chloe hired two models and supplied us with many varieties of Impossible Project film and Polaroid camera types so that we could really play and learn. I have never worked with models before, so this was really a treat to have people ready and willing to have their photograph taken! Here are some of my favorite photos I shot of the lovely Andrea and Alex.
This photo of the ghost-like Andrea was my very first of the day…
And here’s a more clear image of Andrea’s beauty…
I love this photo of Alex, with her coy expression…
The undeveloped patches on this photo worked perfectly (luckily) to frame Alex’s face…
These last two photos of Alex are my absolute favorites from the day. I love the mood of the black and white film, and Alex’s expression in both images really show the realness and vulnerability that I aim to capture in my photography…
The three hours of the class zipped by in a flash, and I felt like it was quite the whirlwind. Working with models was a great experience as I didn’t have to worry that “this person really doesn’t want me taking their photo right now!” It was very helpful to practice posing people, moving them around, asking for different expressions and moods, etc. I came away from the experience learning some new tools, while also realizing that like any art, it all takes practice. I’m looking forward to getting more courageous in asking strangers if I can photograph them, as well as asking friends to pose and play along with me in this portrait adventure.
So next time you see me, let me know if I can take your portrait!
Since coming home from my trip to California, I’ve been reflecting a great deal on friendship. I am so grateful for the time I spent with friends on this trip, connecting, having deep conversations, laughing, dreaming, and really witnessing one another. I felt and continue to feel so filled up in my heart and soul from these moments of togetherness. I’ve also noticed my desire to keep those connections going and to make time to nurture my other friendships. I am someone who so longs for connection and belonging, often feeling lonely in my local community. Yet, I get lost in the stress and overwhelm of the day-to-day tasks and work, so much so that I retreat, I don’t reach out, I don’t pick up the phone. I am realizing that I do have connections and friendships, they just might be spread across this county and spill over borders. I’m seeing more clearly that I need to dust myself off from my lonely pity party and be proactive in reaching out. I need to embrace my former 13 year-old self and fall back in love with chatting on the phone.
As you know, I adore the writing of David Whyte. I love his thoughts on friendship…
“The ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self: the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.” — David Whyte, from Readers’ Circle Essay, “Friendship”
Yes. This journey of life is impossible to travel alone. Much love, friends. xoxo
Ahhh… I’ve been away on a much-needed trip to visit friends, take a photography workshop, and delve into a bit of rest and relaxation. Despite getting sick while on my trip (Why does the body do that? It’s like it senses you have stepped away from work for just a moment, and then the sickness strikes. UGH.), I had a really lovely time. I’m so very grateful for the time I got to spend really connecting with my friend, Hillary, as well as growing other friendships. The week seemed to melt away and the visit was over all too quickly.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Back when the trip came together and I knew I would be visiting the Bay Area, I remembered missing out on visiting Photobooth SF during my last trip to California in 2011. Then, as I mentally put Photobooth SF on the list of things to do during my upcoming visit, I remembered that they shoot tintypes. Tintypes! OMG. I knew I
wanted needed to get my tintype taken while I had the opportunity. I got online right away and scheduled my photo session. I was not missing out this time around.
Tintypes are classic, old-school photography done through a wet-process. This type of imagery was what photography was back in the 1800s. The tintypes are created on metal plates and are the very definition of one-of-a-kind photographs. Not many folks are creating tintypes these days (and you thought film was old-school and behind the times!), so you can see why I jumped on this chance to have my photograph captured via tintype.
The entire process at Photobooth SF was incredible. The two folks working that day, Nathan and Kari, were so warm and welcoming. They certainly made my friends and I feel comfortable as we perused the store (they sell Polaroid cameras, IMPOSSIBLE film, Lomography cameras, and other photography-related items), and as I prepared for my shoot. Kari was the photographer prepping and taking the tintypes that day, and she was simply a gem to work with. She helped me relax in front of the camera and pose in a way to achieve the look I was going for. Kari also let me come back in the darkroom and watch the developing of my image unfold. Such a treat.
Thank you to Kari at Photobooth SF for a great portrait session. If you’re ever in San Francisco, I encourage you to run and get your tintype taken. You won’t regret it.
The folks at the IMPOSSIBLE Project are forging ahead into a whole new territory of photography. As you know, I’m a huge fan of these folks who swept in and saved the last Polaroid production factory back in 2008. Since then, a super dedicated team has been working diligently to keep instant film as a medium alive and well. The IMPOSSIBLE Project folks have come so far in such a short time, and their incredible work allows photographers (like ME!) to keep enjoying and shooting with their vintage Polaroid cameras. Personally, I’m not sure where I’d be in my creative photography journey if it weren’t for the IMPOSSIBLE Project.
So while instant film is the name of the game for the IMPOSSIBLE Project, the folks there know that we also live in a digital age with amazing cameras built into our phones. In their brilliance, the IMPOSSIBLE Project is MERGING these two mediums. Yup. You read that correctly. The IMPOSSIBLE Project held an uber successful Kickstarter campaign last fall to develop and bring us the IMPOSSIBLE Instant Lab. The Instant Lab allows you to take your digital iPhone photos and transform them into analog instant film photographs. If you’re like me, you’re thinking: O.M.G.
My mind is feeling full and the swirling has commenced again. The sand in the hourglass runs so swiftly each day, yet tasks and to-do lists seem stagnant. Daily reminders keep coming that life can change in an instant. Then curve balls are thrown my way for which I’m not prepared and I’m unsure how to handle. I’m not in a good place, my friends.
For our polatych collaboration, Celina and I chose “relax” as our May theme. I don’t think this choice of word or sentiment was a coincidence. I’m trying to take in these photos, take in this message to relax, to quiet the swirling. I’m reminding myself with each breath to trust the process.
2. What is your least favorite word? Panties
3. What turns you on? Wit, authenticity, and pie-making skills
4. What turns you off? Small-mindedness
5. What sound do you love? Ocean waves crashing to the beach
6. What sound do you hate? Jackhammers
7. What is your favorite curse word? Fuck
8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt? Travel photographer and food critic
9. What profession would you not like to do? Prostitute
10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? You are loved, always have been and always will be.
Now, your turn.
PS–questions from James Lipton’s Inside the Actors Studio.
I met Andy and Josh when I was out in Oregon for my pre-doctoral internship. Coming from very different parts of the country and different doctoral programs, the three of us all matched (crazy, computerized ranking and matching system like medical residency) at the University of Oregon’s Counseling and Testing Center for this last component to earn our doctoral degrees. Interestingly, while all three of us were in long-term committed relationships, we all moved out to Eugene, Oregon without partners for the year for one reason or another. Since we were all managing long-distance relationships and being away from our partners for the first time, we had an instant bond. But there was much more than that.
The three of us also share many personality characteristics and those sealed our friendships. During the course of that internship year, we spent so much time together — yes, at the Counseling Center for work, but lots of time hanging out, going to happy hour and sporting events, eating together, attending festivals, and a super fun weekend trip to Seattle. Oh and we LAUGHED together. Belly-aching, tears-running-down-your-face kind of laughing. Along with all that fun, there was all the listening and being there for one another as we managed health crises, difficult job searches, dissertation research, and relationship issues being apart from our partners. While my training and work at the University of Oregon Counseling Center was amazing, Andy and Josh made my internship year what it was.
As I look back on that time, I wouldn’t change it for anything. On the surface, it sounds ludicrous that I would choose to spend that year apart from Tony, with him in Missouri and me in Oregon. But had I made a different choice — that Tony was able to join me in Oregon, or that Oregon felt too far away and so I didn’t rank it #1 — then my relationships with Josh and Andy would not have developed in the ways that they did or perhaps even exist. That’s the thing about being able to go back in time and change one small aspect of your life — it would change everything.
It’s been almost 8 years since we completed our internship at the U of O. And through those years, we’ve done a good job of keeping in touch and visiting one another. With job changes, moves across the country, and having a kid, two years had passed since we had gotten together. So, I’m beyond grateful that Josh and Andy came to visit last week. Words don’t convey how fabulous it was to see them and to connect. They’re my best guys.
It’s been just slightly over 2 weeks since I embarked on a new photography journey. After wrapping up my first 365 project, I decided to jump right in to another one. But I decided to use the themes that emerged from my first 365 to guide me moving forward on my next endeavor. In seeing that instant photography and self-portraits were the most resonant and constant markers over the past year, I decided I would combine those for a 365 Impossible Self-Portraits project.
I began the project on my birthday, April 23, and suffice it to say…it’s been kicking my ass. I knew that this project would be challenging. I knew that it would be difficult. And I knew I was likely a little crazy for taking it on. I mean, it’s one thing to shoot instant film photos every day for an entire year. And it’s another thing to shoot daily self-portraits for 365 days in a row. But to COMBINE these two tasks?!?! That’s kind of nuts, right?
Going into the project, I felt pretty prepared and fairly ready to take it on. Looking back through my last 365, I could see that I shot 27 instant self-portraits. 27. That seemed like a considerable number of self-portraits that I shot with my Polaroid cameras, which led me to feel some confidence that I could really do this 365 Impossible Self-Portraits project. But…
I think I’m psyching myself out. I’m all jacked up about it. Because I have so many dreams and goals for this project, I’m giving it a lot of power. I’m really in my head, putting a great deal of pressure on myself for each and every photo. I am feeling like every shot has to be awesome for my dreams for this project to come to fruition. I am devaluing most of what I shoot, telling myself that the photographs aren’t artistic enough or interesting enough.
Thankfully, I’m journaling as I work on the project. And in doing so, I realize that these thoughts, this kind of negative self-talk, is a creativity killer. I’m working hard to remind myself that at the core, this project is for me. I chose to take on 365 Impossible Self-Portraits for my own photographic growth. This project was what felt right in my core as my next step. 365 Impossible Self-Portraits is what I believe will help me move forward in my creative journey. And that needs to be my focus. Yes, I do have dreams and goals for what may come of this project. But for now, day by day, I need to do the work, get out of my head, and stop psyching myself out.
Note to self: Trust the process, Meghan. xoxo