Category : Tribe
In my last post, I shared my new love affair with black and white film. The affair is still in full bloom with no signs of fading. I also hinted about a photo shoot with my Tribe sister, Melissa. For her amazing, year-long Project Adventure, Melissa decided she wanted portraits of herself taken in an intimate photo shoot. I was flattered and humbled when she asked me to be the photographer behind the lens. Before meeting up in Oregon for our retreat and the backdrop for this photo shoot, we compared notes about ideas for shots and made our respective packing lists: Melissa’s for wardrobe and mine for photo gear. I knew I wanted to primarily shoot film for these photos of Melissa, so I brought along three film cameras — Polaroid 195, Polaroid SLR680, and Canon AE-1 — and lots of film for each.
Rather than do the photo shoot all at one time, Melissa and I found ourselves allowing some space and freedom for these photos to emerge over the few days we had together. This gave us room to experiment with different locations, various lighting, and divergent moods. It also let us have some fun with costume changes. More importantly, giving ourselves the time to spread the shoot over a few days let us learn that pushing or forcing a photo session when something feels off or isn’t quite vibe-ing does not make for good portraits.
Since I’ve been immersed in self-portraiture for the past year, taking portraits of Melissa also let me hone skills I haven’t used in quite some time. I got to work through posing Melissa and positioning myself for good angles. This included working collaboratively to find the sweet spot of what I wanted as a photographer and what felt good to Melissa in her body.
I practiced how to talk with Melissa during the photo shoot. This might sound odd — she’s one of my best friends, after all — but making someone feel at ease while having her portrait taken is harder than it seems. It’s especially hard when using a rangefinder or other manually-focused cameras, as the process of shooting a photo becomes more of an ordeal, taking longer to get proper focus. Additionally, I became more aware of my own discomfort when taking the time to focus properly with these old-school cameras. I noticed how I start to rush myself out of concern that the person I’m shooting is getting annoyed or uncomfortable waiting for me to get my focus and position settled. This rushing is definitely not good for my process, and I was able to recognize and begin to work it out during our time together.
Best of all, I learned how totally fun a portrait session can be! I’m so used to shooting self-portraits and being alone during the process, I had forgotten the joy it brings me to create photos of someone else who is equally invested and into the session. Despite me being behind the lens and she in front of it, Melissa and I felt like a team. I think that collaborative spirit comes through in these images and makes these photos that much better.
Melissa was so open, so vulnerable, allowing me to really see her. I feel like I was able to capture her beauty — inside and out — in an authentic way. I hope she feels the same. I’m so grateful Melissa wanted to do a portrait session and that she selected me from the many talented photographers with whom she works in the wedding and film industry. It was truly my pleasure and honor.
All of the photos shown here were shot with my Polaroid 195 camera and Fuji 3000B film. This last photo makes me swoon. Shooting this film and seeing these portrait results breaks my heart that this film was recently discontinued. Melissa is sharing many more photos and her experience of being on the other side of the lens over at The Long Haul Project. Check it out HERE.
I have so much to share about summer that does not include near-death experiences and losing photos. Where to begin… June brought our annual Tribe retreat and travel to my favorite place on the planet. This year’s gathering, our fourth, brought with it inevitable life circumstances that kept two of our sisters from joining us. Turns out, you can’t plan around arrivals of babies and new jobs. We held these sisters in spirit during our time together, much like we did the year previous when a death in the family kept another sister away from our sacred time. I imagine that this will be how our years together get marked, with the life events, the ebbs and flows, that etch our memories.
As always, we engaged in deep conversations, catching one another up on the big events and the smaller whispers that had transpired since we last gathered. Although we keep in regular contact throughout the year, many parts of our lives — our longings, the risks we’ve taken, the transitions we’ve weathered — need to be shared with one another in person with more time and space to hold our stories. Connecting and being together in this way on retreat is such a gift. And with that, the documenting of our time in photos and video took a backseat.
The only real photography plans I had for the trip was a photo shoot Melissa and I had been scheming — much more on that later. These plans, however, did encourage me to pack along some black and white film to shoot with my Canon AE-1. I adore the look and feel of black and white photography, but had only really shot true B&W film with my Polaroids cameras.
All images shot using Tri-X 400, scanned by Indie Film Lab. As always, you can click on each image to see a larger format.
It’s that time of year — time to gather with some soul sisters on the coast of Oregon. This marks the fourth year this group of sisters, Tribe, will be communing with one another alongside the majestic Pacific. And I’m ready. I’m ready for the ritual, the comfort, the ease of being with these beautiful women. I’m ready to review the past year, to share the triumphs and the defeats. I’m ready to whisper my greatest longings, to give voice to the big dreams I’ve been cultivating. I’m ready to laugh with my whole body, and I’m equally ready to release the tears that have been welling up.
I’m ready for connection and sisterhood. I’m ready to feel secure in my creative journey and these next big steps I’m taking. I’m ready to allow for and accept the support I so desperately need. I’m ready for the dose of inspiration I get from these kindred spirits, from this community we lovingly call Tribe, to walk steadfastly into the adventure of the creative unknown. I’m ready for the self-care, the refocusing, the re-committing to mySelf and the life I want to live.
How do the days keep slipping through my fingers? Where do 24 hours “go” in each revolution of this beautiful earth? As I sit here on this chilly, mid-October day, I’m thinking about summer and the third Tribe retreat. I’m trying to savor the time spent back in July with such kindred spirits on the coast of Oregon, my happy place.
I’m reminiscing about dinner together on the beach, chats on the turquoise couch, walks into town filled with laughter.
I’m reflecting on celebrating dreams fulfilled and mourning one of our sisters not being able to be with us this year. I’m holding on to the ease and security that was born within me that week, those core desired feelings that I struggle some days to maintain.
I’m missing my sisters, their friendship, our connection. I’m reminding myself of how they buoy me when life feels stormy and difficult.
I’m feeling grateful for the space this group has created with one another, and for all that these relationships bring to my life. I’m aware of the evolution of our friendships, as well as the changes that occur within each of us and in our respective lives. I’m excited to see what lies ahead for us all as individuals and as a group.
I’m already counting the days until we’re all — all — together again.
I’m so delighted to share that our group has a collective written piece and photographs in the Autumn issue of Mingle. I hope you check it out.
My Tribe sisters and I gathered on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in our beloved, sleepy, Oregon coastal town last month. It was a delicious few days together. This year, our third, was awash with traditions and rituals from our previous gatherings as well as new evolutions. Although our time together was deeply connecting, we felt a hole in our hearts as one of our sisters had to miss our retreat due to a significant loss. It strikes me that this is likely the first of many such losses our group will share with one another, the first of life circumstances that keep us apart, the first of holding space for each other while we physically can’t be with one another. And that’s just what a group of kindred sisters is for, right? To cheer us in good times and in celebration, and hold us in despair and loss…
Our talented Tribe sister, Melissa, filmmaker extraordinaire, gifted us again with a short film of our time together. Melissa had a vision and story she wanted to tell this year, and I love what she created for us, blending our traditions and our evolution.
Thank you, Melissa. YOU are such a gift. xoxo
Celina and I had the absolute pleasure of spending time together — in person — this month! We went to the World Domination Summit together and then headed to the coast of Oregon for our annual Tribe retreat. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use being with one another to our advantage for our Polaroid diptych (aka, “polatych“) collaboration. We talked through a number of different ideas, but settled on portraits.
Since Celina was off road-tripping on Route 66 this month, she and I thought “vintage” would be a perfect theme for our June Polatych. With our love of instant film and vintage cameras, it’s no surprise we are also drawn to shoot old, rusty, decaying, and aging beauties. How fun that we both aimed our lenses at vintage cars this month!
My (I wish “my!) Bel Air is on the left and Celina’s car interior is on the right…
I’m so happy that July marks a month where Celina and I will be together and in person (hello WDS and Tribe!). I wonder what theme and photographs will emerge for our collaboration given we’ll be together. Stay tuned, friends.
As promised, Celina and I are bringing you a second polatych for April. Our theme this month was double exposures using the Polaroid Spectra camera. I must confess, I LOVE double (and multiple) exposures. I began getting addicted to them during the summer of 2011. You can see some of my favorites here and here and here. Since I LOVE double exposures so much, I couldn’t resist injecting some love into my image. So, you might be able to guess that my photo is on the right with Celina’s on the left.
So grateful. For so much. More info here…
If you live in the Northern hemisphere, I hope Spring is making its way to you. Here in the Midwest, she is coming in fits and starts. As I type this, Mother Nature is sleeting and raining and giving us a dose of wintry mix. But just a few days ago, I took my shoes off and stood in the grass for the first time in 2013. Luckily, I caught that moment on film. Here is that brief moment (on the left) as part of the first “polatych” for April in my collaboration with Celina (hers on the right). We are doing double exposures for our theme this month.