Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Year 2010, Revisited

The good news about getting old and blogging is that you can look back to see what you did for the year.  Now that we are in the last two days in 2010, it's only appropriate to recap the year to see what I did to reflect on those experiences and make goals for the following year.

As you may know, I set 39 goals for my 39th year last year and am happy to report that I completed most of the goals.  Some were easy and I just needed to make time to do them and others were out of my control since it took more than myself to complete them, such as getting photos published in a magazine.  I have to say that it's been an exciting year and one I won't soon forget.

In 2009, I traveled the country in a tent with Max like I did this year so January was spent touring around in my city and putting up my etsy site.  Since I was hanging around Long Beach, it was only appropriate to get involved in the community and work with Scott Jones (Long Beach Person of the year) and his non profit organization, We Love Long Beach.  I helped them document the opening of the city's skate park and one of the many community breakfasts they have hosted in each neighborhood in the city to bring neighbors together.

In February, I had the opportunity to have my first art show in town.  I also stepped out and took photographs of barber shops, and went to a creative mixer that lead to a photograph published in our local weekly paper called, "The District."  Unfortunately, The District is no longer with us.

I began March by visiting the Salton Sea for the day to check that goal off of my list. I also baked a cake, painted, had a feature on the women's surf school las olas's website, took a trip to New York City, went back to the Salton Sea area to see Salvation Mountain and went on a camping trip to meet other ladies who love to camp and who love all things shiny.  I had a great time meeting these women that call themselves the "silver sisters" who camp together with their airstreams.  They allowed me to join the group even though I don't have an airstream but a silver teardrop trailer.

In April I started to prepare to get on the road so I donated all of my work clothes to "clothes the deal," I also had my first brave soul to be the subject of a senior portrait session, participated in a local art walk,  celebrated one year without alcohol, saw Sia in concert, and was selected to be a participant in the Month of Los Angeles (MOPLA) group show with a photograph I took a month earlier at the silver sisters rally.

In May, I took a photo editing class and decided to trade passions to own my first DSLR camera.  All photos up to this point have been taken with a point and shoot camera.  During this month, I also decided to see what an iphone was all about and started taking photographs with my camera on  my phone.   I spent most of the month going places to take photographs with both cameras even when I took an unexpected turn and ended up in the emergency room.  I felt the need to photograph that experience even as I was in the ambulance.  I also went on my first "sisters on the fly" gathering in Arizona, saw what life was like on a working ranch and finally traveling to my second sisters on the fly meeting in California.

June started out in Jackson Center, Ohio when I was asked to be the official photographer for Airstream's "Alumapalooza" event.  It was an exciting five days of meeting people from all over North America (and beyond!) with their shared love of Airstreams.  All of the people I met were so down to earth and friendly.  Even though the rain came and went, it didn't take away from all of us having a great time.  After the event, I put together a slide show of the people and activities that transpired during those days. At the end of the month, I went to a Johnny Cash tribute show, photographed the Long Beach Roller Derby, toured Venice Beach and then hit the road with my camera, tent and my dog, Max!

The first day on my adventure took me to Twenty Nine palms in triple digit temperatures to meet author and photographer, Candacy Taylor. Max and I then went to Big Bear and headed up North in the middle of the state and ended up in beautiful Yosemite. For my ongoing project, "Women's Work," I was able to interview and photograph some of the women park rangers of Yosemite during my stay.  The following weeks took me to Chico, Nevada City, and Lake Tahoe.  The heat was pretty brutal during this time so I thought the solution would be to drive to the coast and stay on the coast from Northern California to Seattle. On that journey, I met "muffin man," camped at a wonderful free site on the coast of Oregon, saw a hit and run in Tillamook, and ended up visiting my dear friends near Seattle. I toured the Seattle area for a while and then headed up to Canada to meet blogger friends, Kim and Deb who worked at a motel while living in their Airstream.

At the end of July, I headed back to America to camp in North East Washington and stopped in Spokane for a few weeks to visit my friend Cat. During that time, I photographed the Washington State University team Airstream project, herded cows on a working ranch, went to an art fair in Idaho, and met some great friends during my stay in Spokane.

In August I headed to Montana to visit Glacier National Park, and met and stayed with Photographer Lauren Grabelle.  From there I had to visit my favorite National Park, Yellowstone for a few days.  Even in August, it was hailing and temps dropped to 28 degrees.  During that time, Max kept me warm inside of the sleeping bag and was a trooper even in the sudden cold spell we were having.  After a few days in Yellowstone, we headed to the Badlands and then met friend, Kristiana Spaulding on her travels west in South Dakota. When I met Kristiana, it was my first stop at a motel 6 and a welcome one.  Max and I then headed to Illionis to visit Adriane.  It was the first time I took my cruiser off of the bike rack to take it for a spin with some very serious bike riders in Bloomington. During this time, some photographs I took were published in Airstream Life magazine and Nesting Newbies Magazine.  The end of August took me to Columbus, Ohio to meet writer/blogger Amy Kehoe.

September took me to the East Coast with my first stop being in Boston.  I stayed with artist, Ronnie White and was lucky enough to catch a Red Sox game in Fenway Park. Labor Day weekend took me to upstate New York to attend the third annual gathering of Westy owners for their "Westyfest" camping event. I headed back to Boston to attend a family reunion (I was a guest) and soon after that I was headed to one of my favorite states, Maine.  I met Adam and Susan at Alumapalooza in June and they offered Max and I to come visit and stay with them if we were in the area on our travels.  While visiting them, I was lucky enough to attend Jane and Paul's annual pizza party on Bailey Island.  Adam and Susan left to travel but extended an offer for Max and I to stay at their home while they were out and about.  Of course we took them up on their offer!  During this time, I met and got to know their neighbors Ralph and Dolly (Ralph's story was published in the Jan/Feb issue of Maine. The Magazine), ran into captain Andy and his yard ship in Rockland, met Susan of "Maine. The Magazine",  documented BINGO in the area, visited Red's Eats as much as possible and enjoyed the sights of the area. My best friend Dan came to visit me in Maine for a week which was a treat to see someone from home after being on the road for months. We toured the Portland harbor, went to Arcadia National Park and then drove together to Cape Cod before he left.

The beginning of October was spent in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Max and I were fortunate to be able to stay in the home of Lisa and Diane for a few weeks for the second year. We took advantage of the one sunny day and rode the cruiser around the ocean path with Max's trailer in tow. It was Max's first time in the trailer and I think he enjoyed it.  I love the cape and always will.  This time around it was a short visit.  After the cape, I headed back to Boston.  During this time, I started making my art boxes, finalized my Photography Website, met Sue Dooley for lunch, attended more BINGO halls, visited the museum of bad art in Dedham and hung out with Ronnie and her friends in Boston.

At this time, the leaves were changing and you could feel the chill in the air.  I headed South in November with my first stop being the coast of Delaware.  I drove down to Virginia while hugging the coast along the way South. I stopped in Myrtle Beach for some BINGO and headed down to Savannah, Georgia.  I loved this area so I stayed for a few days before breaking into the Florida panhandle. I met Rich Luhr and his family in a campsite in Destin, Florida for a night and quickly continued West on my journey.  My next stop was Mobile, Alabama and then New Orleans, LA.   I then drove west and stayed a few days in one of my favorite cities, Austin, TX.  In Austin, I met some great photographers and a few Airstream vendors and was lucky enough to be in the city during their East Austin Studio tour weekend.  Eventually I headed West to El Paso and then decided it was time to go home.

Once I was home, I made more art, showed in a few art shows and was finally able to get back into my house in December once the last renters of the season left.  I've been in one place for a month now and it has been an adjustment.  Living out of a car and being on the road can be a difficult way of life for some, but I got used to it fairly quickly.  Once I was accustomed to that way of living, staying put also has some getting used to.  I am still acclimating to the "home in one spot" way of life.  We'll see how long it lasts.

I am very fortunate to be able to do everything I did in 2010.  The year has been good to me.  I couldn't have done it without the help of old friends and new ones I met along my journey. Now that the year is over, I am working on my 40 goals for 2011.  So far, I've written down three.  It's not as easy as it seems but once they are written down, it's amazing how I hold myself accountable and look for ways to accomplish the goals...sometimes without thinking.

Thank you for reading about my adventures in 2010.  I look forward to sharing more in the new year with you!  Here's to the best year ever in 2011!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Documenting a Photographer's Bridal Self Portrait

The past year I’ve been saying yes to opportunities that normally I would question or instantly think of reasons to say no to. Putting fear aside, I decided that saying yes would lead to growth and if anything, an experience you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience if you said no.
A few weeks ago, I received an email from photographer, Susan Sabo that simply asked if I was around the following day to help her on a shoot.  We’ve been facebook friends for a while and I’ve only met her briefly one night but I didn’t think twice to say yes without question.  I didn’t know what she wanted me to do or what the shoot was about but I figured that if she reached out to me, she needed the help.
After I said yes, she told me she was working on self portrait series for the following year titled, “be the bride 2011.” She’s a wedding photographer and wanted to step in the shoes of brides she shoots to understand what it’s like to actually be the bride.
She asked me to meet her at the local park in the city to help her take her self portrait.  She set up the shot and equipment and my job was to help her get ready and essentially, push the button.  When I arrived at the meeting spot, I parked next to her car and wandered around a bit to look for her.  I had no idea what the shot would be like but I started looking by the creek and by trees in the area thinking that she would take a photograph of herself in your typical beautiful lush green surroundings.  I was wrong.
I texted her and asked where she was hiding and she text back telling me to go to the public restrooms.  She was in the bathroom setting up for her self portrait with her wedding dress hung up on the restroom stall and the camera set up and facing the toilet.  This was not your typical bridal scene.
I asked to take photographs to document this experience and she agreed.  I snapped away as I was helping her into her gown and handing her props she brought to use for the scene such as bubble gum, cigarettes, magazines and her bouquet. You know, everything a bride needs for the big day.
As she describes, her speciality is “off beat” weddings.  Also, she likes to go big in her self portraits.  She says, “because frankly, I’m not ready to go home.  It’s not about getting attention or getting a rise out of the viewer; it’s about doing it right, being true to my concept and not letting the fear that someone may not like it keep me from shooting it exactly the way I want.”
For that reason, I admire what she is doing.  She doesn’t care if the final image is shocking to some viewers because it’s her vision and she is holding true to who she is and wants her brides to feel the same way.  They don’t have to stand there looking into the sunset if that is not the person they really are.  It’s all about being true to who you are as an individual and having the photographs from your wedding reflect that.
Saying yes to help a photographer realize her vision was an experience I won’t soon forget.  It’s a good lesson to learn that whatever you want to do, you should do it.  It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.  Be brave. Be yourself.  Don’t care what people will say or what everyone else is doing. You are the only person you have to live with twenty four hours a day so make it authentic to you.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Facing Fears, Being Social and Taking Portraits of Strangers

A big difference in this past trip from previous trips is the amount of people I talked to and photographed along the way.  This year, I went out of my way and outside of my comfort zone to talk to people I would normally not approach, but wanted to inside.  I did things I would usually shy away from and just decided to take a chance.  It wasn't easy, but after I did it a few times, it became easier and easier to do.  Sounds simple, doesn't it?  Well, the hardest part is actually doing it.  Not just once, but at least once a day for months.

I used to hide behind the camera and take shots of people without them knowing.  In the past, it was easier since I could hide the point and click camera I was using and most people didn't notice so I would just snap and walk away.

This year I decided to get closer.  Closer to the people I was choosing to photograph and that meant approaching them, asking for their permission to photograph them and take a photograph that wasn't "posed".  It was a fast conversation since I didn't want them to move or change their body language but long enough for them to feel comfortable.  Not an easy task.  A lot of the time, I approached these people because I saw the photograph right in front of me and I didn't want them to move but wanted them to know I was taking the photo and wanted them to be ok with it.

Because I decided to move past this comfort zone, naturally I learned a lot about myself and even better, made a positive connection with a stranger.  The more positive experiences with this, the easier it became to approach people.  It turns out, people are human, just like us!

I still use caution when I see what I really want to photograph and what would be safe to photograph. A lot of the time what I really wanted to take photos of wasn't a safe place for a solo female traveler to be.  I did take a few chances, however.  I drove up to homes and knocked on the door if I saw someone or something that looked interesting to me.  I asked homeowners in Ohio if I could take a photograph of their hanging laundry and asked a man standing outside of his home in Maine if I could take a portrait of him in front of the wrecked ship in his yard.  Each time, they said yes. However, each time I had no idea what I would come across when I stepped into someone else's property.

Beyond the strangers I came across, I also met and stayed with people I didn't know too well that have turned into dear friends.  Beware of what you offer people, sometimes they might just take you up on it.

As the year wraps up, I wanted to extend a heart felt thank you to all of the people I came across on the road.  Some of you I chatted with for a few minutes and some I stayed in your home for weeks.  I am thankful for each person I came across.  It has been quite the year.  Thank you for following me here on my journey.  I look forward to writing my 40 goals for my 40th year soon.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Maine. The Magazine Jan/Feb 2011 Issue

I am thrilled to be a part of Maine. The magazine's January/February 2011 edition.  I interviewed and photographed Ralph Lewis for the Q&A section and was also selected to be featured as a contributor in this issue.

During my travels, I come across some interesting people and have blogged about them along the way.  When I was staying as a guest of Adam and Susan in Bailey Island, Maine, I met and chatted with their neighbors, Ralph and Dolly.  Susan introduced me and told Ralph that I was a photographer and after he kiddingly waved his hand at me and turned his back, he turned right back around with that contagious smile to greet me. A few days later, he came over for a visit and we chatted about what it was like for him to be the photographer for the State of Maine.  He showed me Maine road maps where his photographs were featured and told me tales of the people and things he took photographs of.  I blogged about my time with him HERE. Listening to his stories was such a treat. I asked him if I could come over later that evening to take his portrait and he said, "sure."

I went over later that beautiful fall afternoon to chat with him and his wife, Dolly.  They were certainly a pleasure to be around.  I instantly felt at home with them.  I went back to their winter home a few weeks later to record an interview for the magazine and took some additional shots of him talking about his experiences and while showing me one of the cameras he used. Ultimately, that photograph was chosen by the magazine to use for the feature.

The best part of this experience was getting to know Ralph and Dolly.  I feel as they are a part of my extended family now.  They are so sweet to me...I even received a Thanksgiving and Christmas card from them.

I also enjoyed meeting Susan, the editor of Maine. The Magazine and the people who work there.  I am very thankful to all of them for the opportunity. Each and every staff member was a pleasure to work with.  After falling in love with the state of Maine, this just added to my positive experience in that beautiful state of ours.  I know I will be back.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Shelter Dogs Looking For A Home

When you are out there trying to find the perfect gift for a loved one, please don't forget the shelter animals that are looking for a home.  I am not suggesting that these dogs and cats should be adopted for a holiday since making the decision to adopt a pet is a life long one and shouldn't be taken lightly.  You can donate money, toys, blankets, beds or treats to your nearest shelter.  In the Long Beach area, you can help donate to Santa Paws fundraiser this Saturday.  The Humane Society and Best Friends Animal Sanctuary will also take donations to help homeless pets this holiday season.

It was hard to go to the shelter to see all of the animals looking for a home.  At times I had to fight back the tears but I kept on with the hopes that this may get to someone who is looking for a life long companion.  When I returned home, I told Max about it and he offered up one of his beds and some treats so we will be back to deliver these items to help keep them warm during the winter.  All of these dogs are available for adoption at the SPCALA Long Beach animal shelter.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Art Shows And Being Home (For Now)

The past few weeks I've been running around and participating in art shows around the Long Beach area.  It's been great meeting and chatting with people that come across my little art space.

Before returning home, I became used to being on the road for months at a time while moving from one place to another on a daily basis.  People often ask me what it's like to be home.  It's nice to be in one spot and knowing where I will sleep and remembering where I am when I wake up.  Sometimes on the road, each day was almost a surprise since I didn't stay long in one spot.  I got used to driving around and seeing new things, but being in one space has benefits as well.

I still am not sure how long I will stay.

I love the quote from Elliott Erwitt: "Nothing happens when you stay at home."  It's true for the most part but since I've been out and about in shows, I've talked to more people in the past week then I have in about a year.

It takes a certain personality to show their art to the world and stand next to it.  I have a new respect for artists that travel with their work for a living.  It can be exhausting but in the end, it's rewarding and pushes your comfort zone, which is always a good thing.  I grew up going to art shows and fairs with my mother as a child and at the time I didn't appreciate how much went into it.  Most likely because I was looking for something to do to keep me entertained as any child would. A lot of the time I would just hide under the table and scare people with a spider puppet by their feet.  I suppose I thought it was funny but I am sure my mother didn't think so at the time. Dang kids...

I had a wonderful time at "ALLOW" at the Avia hotel this past weekend and the First Friday art walk in Long Beach the previous weekend.  Currently, I also have pieces displayed at the coffee shop, Sipology. Since I've been putting together finished pieces with photographs already taken on my trip, I haven't had the time to go out and shoot as much as I'd like.  That will change.  I look forward to shooting more in the upcoming months and sharing those images with you.  In the meantime, if you need a last minute gift, I will pack it up and send directly to the person you buy it for with their name on it for Christmas on my etsy site. I also post upcoming events and new photographs on my facebook fan page HERE. :)

As far as Max goes, I think he's happy to be home.


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