I've always been quiet and soft … outwardly anyways. I didn't often voice my thoughts or opinions, I apologized for things I didn't need to, I tried not to take up too much space, and I thought so much about what would make other people happy, or like me more, that I pushed my own needs/desires/sense of self so far down, and the "softness" became the central part of my personality. But that's not all that I am.
There is strength in softness and vulnerability and love … but there is also strength in knowing yourself fully, all of the other/darker/harder parts of yourself, and embracing those as well.
I may still be quiet and soft and introverted and empathetic — but there are other parts of me that are hard and loud and seductive and stubborn and angry. Being on my own has allowed me to look closer at those parts of myself and feel comfortable with allowing other people to see them as well.
Recently, I've found that I don't put up with the bullshit that I would have in the past, I'm not willing to waste my time with personal relationships where people aren't willing to give as much as I am, and I'm done only acting in a way only to make other people feel comfortable.
There's a fine line between selfishness and understanding your own needs and while I'm still working on finding it, I hope that I'm getting closer.
For so long I talked about strength in femininity, or strength in the less obvious sense, and while I think that is still important and true, I don't feel like I've truly allowed myself to be anything else.
So as I typically do, I found myself with my camera in hand, feeling the desire to express myself visually in a way that words couldn't.
I have been slowly collecting a small arsenal of photo equipment, and I finally purchased light stands for my strobes today (longgg overdue). So when I got home at 9pm, I immediately got to work. Taking the role of not only photographer, but art director, hair and makeup, and model, I started shooting, and almost two hours later I wrapped up, and got to work as the retoucher as well. These photos turned out more glamorous than I originally intended, but my work often centers around soft light, things that are "beautiful" and far from harsh. I wanted to maintain my personal aesthetic, while still communicating something a little different.
Much like the way that I'm still trying to understand myself, this work is also a work in progress… but no matter what, I am just excited to be shooting again after a long hiatus.
Now that it's almost 2:30am … I'm going to stop rambling and hope that this is at least semi coherent ..!
I realized today that it has been one year since my final shoot for my senior project (Porcelain). I thought, when I began this project in January of 2018, that I knew what it was about; I thought that I knew what I wanted it to be and where I wanted it to go. I had decided on shooting nudes, and started out in a defensive, defying the norm of nude photography mindset, wanting to redefine the female nude, typically shot by a male photographer.
Of course, this is not how it turned out. This project eventually became a series revolving around my own self discovery and growth. I shot these photos in the middle of a great deal of change in my life. Being on my own after two years of a relationship, that I had spent pouring all of myself into the life of someone else, left me feeling empty and lost, unsure of where to dump all of my affection and attention. Being only months away from graduation and "the rest of my life" was daunting and confusing, but also exciting highly anticipated, and left me feeling like I was floating on the edge of a big step.
As I was shooting and trying to take into consideration the feedback I'd received during in-progress critiques, I found myself losing sight of the original intentions I had set out with. I realized that the photos my professor and classmates wanted me to take, were not what I wanted to shoot, but up until the very last shoot, I wasn't sure I really knew what I did want to shoot.
The fifth round of nudes were photos of two people together (where the first four had been of only one person). At the time, I had fallen back into the arms of the ex I had proclaimed to be "over", and while I knew it was short lived, I realized my strong inability, or unwillingness, to ever let go of the people who mean so much to me. This became a turning point. This series was never going to "redefine" anything, it was a personal story.
Looking back a year later, I see these photos as a moment of evolution. I see how uncomfortable I was starting out 2018. I was forcing myself into moving past something I was still working through, and I ended up falling back into old habits as soon as the opportunity presented itself. As I pieced together photos of myself, I managed to create visuals that represented how I was feeling (whether that was accurately communicated to others or not, I don't think that really mattered to me at the time).
I had chosen to dump all of my excess attention and affection into myself, learning how to find comfort and self-confidence from within. I chose to let the loneliness and vulnerability I felt fuel my work, and by the end, I felt like I had finally processed what I had been trying to push away.
Through this series, I have found that I truly treasure photography as a form of emotional expression. I have three of the original photos hanging on the wall in my room as a reminder of this, and the things I learned about myself a year ago. I hope that I can hold onto the person I was in this time as I continue to grow and learn.
So this year felt more like 3 years… and somehow it still doesn’t feel like it ended ?
I don’t know what else to say to introduce this so I’m just gonna count us off here
5.. 6.. 7.. 8 2018 RECAP
In January I went back to school for the last time. I committed myself to taking more photos and pushing myself. I shot a series nudes (for my senior project) that helped me to process the end of my relationship, and I didn’t know that was why I shot them until I was finished. No one really understood the photos or what they meant to me, but they felt/feel a very certain, special way to me, and I am so thankful for a creative outlet that helps me to process my emotions whether I am aware of it or not.
In February Vada and I spontaneously decided we would take a trip to NYC together, and in March we did it. We explored the city and talked about when we would return together after graduation, but sadly, that’s not what played out (miss u V – @ san fran pls give her back). I treasure the day we spent walking around taking photos, eating food, and getting lost in all different neighborhoods of the city. She’s one my fav travel buddies and I’m so glad we got to fulfill our spring break dreams.
In April I began the onslaught of photoshoots, got hit by a car on my bike (again), took a spontaneous, final road trip to Charleston and after, found true closure (shocking myself).
In May I got a confession that was a long time coming, and eventually the denial I never prepared myself for. I shot even more photos, both collaborations and film (35mm and 120mm !!). I don’t remember much about classes, because everything else was such a whirlwind, and before I knew it graduation was here.
In June my whole family showed up in Savannah, and somehow managed to behave themselves. We sweated our way through two days of graduation (so glad to be done), and I spent my last days in Sav. I said goodbyes to my friends and tried not to think about how long it would be until I saw them again. I drove back to IL with my parents and I anxiously applied to every job I could find… until I finally got a call back.
At the end of June I flew to NYC for a couple of interviews, and despite the raging summer heat, I wandered the city for the first week in July, daydreaming of my life here and feeling subconsciously very good about things. My Grandfather passed away and the whole family traveled back upstate to say our goodbyes. With loss came new beginnings, and I got a call offering me my first real “adult” job. A week later, I was packing up my suitcase at home, getting ready to move to NYC for real.
Mid-July I found myself living and working in New York City and nothing felt real. I was sweating all the time, and eventually made the stupid decision to haul a window-unit air conditioner all the way uptown by myself. I got settled in my job and wondered how this all happened in less than a month.
August came and I started looking for a more permanent apartment. I traveled to Brooklyn after work, anxiously looking at less than fancy apartments wondering if I would have to suffer an hour and a half long commute to work at 7am every day. Finally, after two of the most exhausting weeks of apartment searching, I found the perfect fit, just 11 blocks north of my sublease, with two of the sweetest girls I’ve met in a while. Wrapped up the month with a trip to DC to see my favorite sister, her girlfriend Cassady, and my good pal Mike.
September first was moving day, and after packing, hauling, and unpacking all of my belongings for the third time in three months, I was finally starting to feel settled. I also got to see my gal Mandz for the first time in years when she came to visit her boyfriend, which was such a treat.
In October Megan came to visit and we went to our favorite breakfast place, and spontaneously decided to see Leon Bridges at Radio City. I was starting to get a bit lonely, so having her here, even for just two days, was so lovely.
November rolled around faster than any other month, and I decided it was time I start training for a half marathon again (after deciding twice before, and failing). I ran 10 miles without stopping for the first time ever in my entire life and didn’t die. My parents came to visit and I dragged them all over the city to some of my favorite food spots. We went to the Notre Dame game at Yankee Stadium, and somehow ended up back in bed by 9:30, completely exhausted. The following weekend we all traveled to NC for Thanksgiving (except Jegs who was in London – I missed her v much).
Suddenly it was December… I anxiously awaited going home and taking a break from all the craziness. Especially when I got sick and was laid up in bed for three days straight. Took me almost three weeks to fully recover, and by the time I did, it was time for me to pack up my bags and fly back to IL.
I spent Christmas in Geneva with my family, bleached/dyed my hair for the first time ever, spent a lot of time sleeping, rewatched all of the harry potter movies, and cuddled with my dog :)
On New Year’s Eve morning I flew back to NYC, and rang in the new year with three bottles of champagne, chicken tenders, curly fries, Taylor Swift, and my absolutely lovely roommate, Brooke. It was by no means a fancy or elaborate New Years Eve, but I was so happy. I’m so glad/appreciative that Brooke was there with me to ring in the new year, because, to be honest, I was afraid I was going to be alone… and that’s just a little depressing, even for a loner like me…
And now here we are !
I’m slowly feeling more like time is a circle than a line, and I don’t feel the need to “start over” so the new year thing has kind of lost its charm (although I’m not sure it ever really had it?).
I guess that’s all I got for now … I don’t really have any exciting photos to share but I feel weird not posting any at all so here’s a photo of me with blonde hair !
cheers 2019 !
It’s been another two months since I’ve written a blog post, so I figured it’s about time for a little update.
I have since had another two rolls of film processed (photo-taking has slowed dramatically with the few hours of daylight and new hobby of long distance running – but I still keep my little film camera close for occasional snaps)
So thrown into this mix of photos we have summer weekends in nyc/coney island, a trip to DC to visit my sister and her girlfriend Cassady, a visit from my high school bff Mandz, followed by a visit from my sister, and other miscellaneous solo wanders thru this beautiful city.
I can’t describe how much I’m still in love with being here; it hasn’t faded one bit.
As the seasons change, and it gets colder, I only love it even more.
I left the city for thanksgiving last week and I was afraid that, after taking a few days away from the busy city for the first time since moving here, I wouldn’t be as willing to return, but that was not the case.
I happily returned to the city; from plane, to tram, to NJ transit, to subway, to rainy walk back to my cozy room. I returned to buying my own groceries from the tiny grocery store a four blocks from my apartment, going to work every day, and running around central park on the weekends.
Speaking of which… a fun new update in the life of me:
I have recently decided to train for a half marathon in the spring of 2019.
As I spent most of my weekends wandering around the city anyways, I figured why not kill two birds with one stone, and wander a little faster.
Megan and I sadly weren’t chosen for the NYC United Half, but we are actively looking for the next best option, and in the meantime, I will continue to be shocked that my not-made-for-distance body is able to carry me 5-10 miles at a time without completely falling apart.
I remember some of my first runs when getting to the city, I would be happy to have made it 2 miles without stopping (granted the heat and humidity are not my fav running conditions), and I was astounded by the people who made full loops around central park.
Just yesterday I ran all the way from my apartment on 154th, to the bottom of central park (59th St.) and all the way back up. 10 miles. What.
My knees are not thrilled with this new hobby, and I did sleep from 3:00pm until 6:00pm after that run (and still fell asleep at 11:00pm and slept until 8:00am … <3 sleep <3) but it gives me a fun sense of accomplishment for something so silly.
My job is mostly the same…
I got to whip out my (very inadequate) After Effects talents to make the company “holiday card” (a video that featured all the company’s collaborations and “happy holidays” in about 12 different languages). The outcome was less than perfect and featured a “snowy mountain” background, holly border, and animated falling snow … Along with everything else flying in and out of the frame, it was far from clean and elegant, but I guess that’s not what they’re looking for at a children’s clothing company.
I was just happy to not have a total breakdown from the CMPA PTSD/flashbacks … however opening the program and having my brain actively refuse to remember how to use it was not pleasant.
The holidays are generally pretty slow at good old Haddad Brands, so I am very ready for the new year, and hopefully quite a bit of a change of pace … we’ll see.
I’m looking forward to going home for christmas, spending time with my family, hopefully some snow, and the other big city I call home (chicago).
I have plans to dye my hair for the first time ever (real exciting things over here) and I purchased a new film camera (Minolta XG7) to replace my Canon AE1 that broke in March (RIP) – as much as I love my little point and shoot, I can't wait to start shooting manual film again.
My sense of direction and independence and excitement for the future feels like it grows a little bit every day. I am so thankful for the clarity and peace of mind I have found over the past year or so …
Naturally, I am already starting to feel nostalgic for this year, but I’ll save that bout of reminiscing for another blog post … :)
Until next time … thanks for reading
(image inspired by Ben Howard’s new singles, my old photo style, and anxiety — and a special shout out to Megan Zacher for fielding my endless stream of texts and talking me through all my irrational thoughts. Big sisters rock)
Prepare for more over-dramatic, poorly written, stream of consciousness !!
Ready set go
Today I was anxious for the first time in a while.
I was sitting at my desk, editing photos for nine hours straight, just like every other day, but my chest felt tight and I was getting a headache from the crease I had held between my eyebrows for virtually the entire day.
I wasn’t forgetting anything; I hadn’t forgotten to pay rent or turn off the stove at home… I was anxious about the future, which is somehow significantly more terrifying than getting evicted or burning your entire apartment building down.
I was thinking about all the advice I’ve received in the past year about “adulthood”, specifically about being an “adult” creative (quotes bc I’m still not sure anyone would call whatever I’m doing right now adult behavior, and I definitely don’t feel like an adult).
I was told that everyone stops creating for themselves once they get a job, your personal projects fall to the wayside, and you forget to work on things that are not for Work. I didn’t want this to be me. But over the past three months, as I’ve settled into my 8:30-5:30, Monday through Friday desk job, I’ve found that I’ve barely picked up my camera in a month. Creativity and the energy to create wanes day by day and the ever-growing portfolio I was once creating while in school is now gathering dust in the corner of my room.
I have things I want to shoot, I have aspirations and plans, but when I have time to work on them, I feel like I’ve lost all motivation and energy to follow through. My job drains my inspiration and motivation during the week and I spend all weekend sleeping and running errands. Before I know it, it’s Monday again and I begin every week wondering when I’ll create again.
I know where this path leads and I don’t want to be there.
I know what I have to do to get where I want to go … so why is it so hard to follow through?
Why am I not taking the steps I am fully aware I need to be taking?
Why am I not shooting more.
Scared I’m not good enough
Scared to step out of the comfort of a steady paycheck
Scared people will hate everything I create, or worse, that it will go unnoticed Scared I’ll be stuck in this (or another) boring, uninspiring job forever
I know it’s just a matter of starting something, and allowing things to grow and evolve from there, but that has always been the hardest part.
I was on such a roll a year ago. I started taking photos and didn’t stop all the way up until graduation… but since then things have slowly tapered off.
I keep hearing that I should cut myself some slack – after moving to a new city alone, starting a job, being on my own, getting settled, moving again, and everything else that has happened in the past two months … it has made it difficult to pursue my personal passions, but don’t they always say that the people who push through the struggle are the ones who are most successful?
I have begun to settle into a routine.
Every week looks the same, and any variation from the monotony becomes my only salvation (ask me how excited I am for my sister to visit this weekend).
I long for the day that I don’t know what the next month holds, when I’ll travel, and explore, and create, and interact with other creatives, and feel excited again.
I know I’ll get there.
I’m just so impatient.