La Fin (twenty-eleven)

Two-thousand and eleven has been a monumental year for me, though it's hard to say it's been the biggest yet. My life, like many my age, has been in a transitional period since I was twenty years of age and every year has come with large changes and even larger lessons. Luckily, I'm a girl who not only loves change but chases after it. In lieu of twelve separate posts for the year, I've decided to just share some of my favorite memories. It was fun browsing over a year's worth of photographs and reminiscing but these are the few I pulled. I tried to use unseen photographs as to not repeat on the blog but my apologies if you've seen a few of these before.

[Successfully transitioned from a vegetarian diet to a vegan diet for more than a year now; the creative storm that arrived with the infamous "Snowmaggedon" storm, painting a concrete bench in a northside Chicago neighborhood festival with a good friend]

[The opportunity I had to visit many places I had never been before such as Seattle, Austin, Minneapolis, and Detroit, among others; camping all over the country in a sleeping bag under the stars; and all of the time spent in that big white bus]

[Spending the Thanksgiving holiday with my pops out west; solo trip to Seattle]

[The gigantic learning experience that was shooting North Coast Music Festival; the most relaxing and enjoyable point of the summer--a few days at a lake house in Wisconsin]

What a year. I can only pray that the next is filled with half as much laughter and lessons. It's crazy to look back at the girl I was just three-hundred and sixty-five days ago. She seems a million miles away. I'm grateful for that and it makes me very optimistic for what another three-hundred and sixty-five days could bring.

Two-thousand twelve is shaping up to be a rather large year as well. Already I have big plans for the blog that will be coming together over the next few weeks. I also have a few trips scheduled, including at least one in the spring that requires a passport. With the addition of some shelving my darkroom/studio will be complete, which is crazy, given a year ago I was sitting on the floor of my closet beneath dresses and skirts changing film.

And I've made a goal list for the year. I've never been the type of person to make a goal list before. What's more--I've even been able to cross something off of it already!

Blessings to you all, hope that your new year is starting off tremendously. :)

[side note: I would have loved to add a Christmastime photograph to this collection but I ended up being too busy to take any! This Christmas was wonderful, one of the best in memory, but alas, no photographic evidence exists.]

Luca Brasi Sleeps With the Fishes

I apologize for falling off the face of the planet for a few weeks. The holidays + mass reorganization + a few projects I've got in the works were enough to push me into seclusion but then on top of all that, I became extremely ill the weekend of New Year's Eve. Unable to move-sleep for forty-eight hours straight-head pounding kind of ill. What a way to bring in the new year.
Because it is now mid-January (yikes!), I've decided to scrap the twelve photos series that I began in December. I hate to leave something unfinished, but not as much as I hate to be a blogger still posting about last year well into this one. My compromise--in the next day or two, I'll put together a little photographic summary of the last year and we'll call it a day.
In other news....
My first published photograph appears in this month's VegNews! It's just a small photo on the table of contents page but it's still kind of exciting to see a photo credit with my name, especially in a magazine that I pick up fairly regularly.
Short post, I know, but I've got somethings planned in the next week to make it up.


It's been a terribly rainy December. I love a rainy day as much as the next girl but damn, I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, fo' real.

Photo number three is actually two photos sandwiched together in the darkroom.

For about two years now, I've been taking various classes on and off at a college here in the city--mostly just for fun. Though I've been pursuing photography for much longer, I never thought of taking a photography class until last fall. It was probably a result of my own arrogance, honestly.

A good friend of mine once said, "What kind of tea would I or anyone else pour for you if your cup is full?" He was referring to something else but it applies to any situation in which one is to learn. I started that photography class with the attitude that there wasn't much for me to learn, I just wanted to be in a dark room again. That attitude got in my way all of the time. Sure, I did well in the class, that wasn't the issue. The issue was my inability to explore new realms of creativity.

The second semester of photography focused on more experimental methods and surrealism, my weaknesses. I really struggled with these concepts throughout the semester but when I would allow myself to let go of my perceived photographic knowledge, true experimentation could happen.

I realize this photo isn't groundbreaking or even particularly creative, but it's a small example of the work I was able to accomplish that semester through methods I had never been exposed to before. As my home studio gets closer and closer to completion, I'm looking forward to expanding on this new knowledge within the new year.


If you've looked at half the photos from this year, you already know that these guys have played a rather large part in it.

I met The Giving Tree Band almost exactly a year ago, with the idea that I'd probably shoot one performance and that would be the extent of my involvement with them. Seems the universe had a different plan. During our first interaction, I immediately got along with all of them so well that they invited me out to shoot photographs of them in the recording studio the following month.

Then, just like that, I was spending most weekends at their home and studio; shooting practices, recording sessions, and the intimate, often comical (occasionally tense) moments between housemates. When touring season began, I accompanied them as well, covering shows and life on the road all across the country. What started as a brief photo session has turned into my pet project--a year spent documenting the life of a band; of seven men, who lead an unconventional life in so many ways, working relentlessly, and never compromising their vision.

It's crazy how life can throw something at you faster than the blink of an eye that changes everything. I'm beyond grateful for the opportunity to work with these boys, not only for a year's worth of inspiration but for the change they have cultivated within me. Being a witness to the work ethic behind the band has changed the way that I work; my entire creative process and thinking as an artist has been influenced by the creative activity I've been surrounded with. And that's all on a professional level. Personally, I am so grateful to have these wonderful new friends that never cease in their encouragement and kindness, it's a rare thing to have friends like that.

Anyway, that is why I chose this shot as the second on my twelve most significant for 2011. It's an interesting shot for me because it was taken the first time I was out at Crooked Creek, in January of this year; you can see in the photographs from that night how shy and timid I was feeling at the time. In this photograph in particular, I'm truly just an outsider peeking over shoulders into something amazing. It didn't take long for me to warm up to these guys though: tight quarters promote quick bonding.

[The entire Giving Tree Band project will be debuting on my website soon!]

Twelve Shots

(What has kept me away this month--Christmas prep/art/baking)

December has been a bit slow for me, photographically speaking. I'm in the midst of having my website redone, which requires a ton of [re]organization on my part as well as rescanning an entire month worth of negatives that I somehow accidentally deleted from both my computer and external hard-drive (THANK GOD for hard copies). I'm also working on a stop-motion video that will hopefully premiere shortly after the new year, all coinciding with the normal December activities of Christmas preparation and barricading myself in my apartment to avoid the Chicago cold. I hate leaving my blog idle though, which brings us to this post. Ansel Adams was once quoted (or so says the internet), as saying, "twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop."

Folks, the crop this year has been bountiful.

Over the next two weeks or so, I will be periodically posting the twelve shots I consider to be my most significant this year and why.

We'll start here:

This rather goofy self-portrait with my brother and three cousins is significant to me for two very different reasons. The first being that it was on the first roll of film that I developed in my home studio/darkroom. Everything prior to this had been developed at Chicago's Truman College or taken into a lab to be done by somebody else. I'm a rather reckless artist and gauge the temperature of the water and chemicals by touch, so I wasn't sure anything would show up at all or be usable if it did. You better believe that I was dancing and jumping for joy around my apartment when I pulled these negatives from the developing canister and saw that there were images on them.

Personally, this photo is significant because it was taken on Christmas Eve of last year (but not developed until 2011, which is why I'm including it). And this Christmas Eve was particularly significant because it was the first after the passing of my Aunt Sheryl earlier that year. Aunt Sheryl always hosted Christmas Eve at her home and had it down to an art. She even hosted while undergoing chemo treatments and facing unfathomable fatigue. So it was a somber occasion, to not be in her home, to be missing her warmth, to not even see her face this holiday. That day, for one reason or another, I asked my cousins--her children and my brother to go play in the snow with me that afternoon. They all scoffed at me, but with a little convincing, we were soon knee-deep in the snow. And we felt like little kids again. I asked to take a self-portrait of us all running on top of the neighbor's hay bales, because it is one of my favorite childhood memories: my brother and I would carefully climb over the barbed wire fence dividing our yard from his field and run on top of the plastic-covered hay bales that would be come slippery with the snow. We could never make it to the end without falling off the side into a snow drift. So three of my cousins, my brother, and I climbed over the barbed wire fence and very ungracefully (and with much assistance from my Marine cousin, Jim), climbed up and ran across the hay bales. More cousins eventually showed up and the activities escalated to sledding, though we couldn't find any sleds in the garage, so the six of us piled onto an old door and went down the hill over and over (I realize this plays like a scenario from Stephan Bloom's now notorious opinion piece, but alas, it was a damn good time). It was the most fun we had in ages and my mother has told me frequently that watching us was the best part of her Christmas. That moment brought a little light into a day that was rather dark for us all, so even if it just looks like a silly snapshot to you, to me, it means more than almost any other photograph I've taken.