i live in boston now, i've been reading a lot more, and i don't feel like this place is mine yet

at the end of april this year i packed up a car and drove from washington, dc to boston. i didn't have much of a plan, just a lease that started in june and some friends with generous families willing to house me until then. 

since then, i've started working in a nice store that sells design-oriented handmade wares, spent a lot of time reading (my current fave is station 11 by emily st. john mandel), and trying to connect with this place in a meaningful way so that i can photograph it. 

my friend kristie says she feels creepy for looking at this photo. i feel kind of creepy having taken it. it took me four shots to get the house where i wanted it, framed by the hill and the trees. 

my friend kristie says she feels creepy for looking at this photo. i feel kind of creepy having taken it. it took me four shots to get the house where i wanted it, framed by the hill and the trees. 

i have a really hard time photographing places i don't know and love, or at least feel an intimate connection to. my most favorite projects have all been born out of not just a desire to photograph a place but a need to document my relationship with space and the way i use it. my favorite photographs are intimate and personal, without ever being directly about me. the photos i've taken since moving to boston feel different. voyeuristic, almost. i don't feel like i have a right to this place quite yet. 

i like this image a lot. the shadows, the small light-leak in the upper left quadrant. the mysterious figure in the back. 

i like this image a lot. the shadows, the small light-leak in the upper left quadrant. the mysterious figure in the back. 

some really beautiful images have come out of this weird place i'm in but i'm not sure how to feel about them. they are beautiful on a surface level. i'm shooting on my favorite film (fp100c silk which you can hear me wax poetic about in this post), i'm shooting in a beautiful place (jamaica pond, in my new neighborhood of jamaica plain), i'm careful with my light. but putting them together in a way that makes me truly satisfied is a challenge. the individual images are good, but they don't feel like series or a project, which is pretty new for me. 

my favorite picture i've taken since getting here.

my favorite picture i've taken since getting here.

i'm working on being okay with this. i think ultimately, that personal and intimate work (as seen in "huntington" and "the ocean, the ocean") is the work in which i'm most interested. but this is really good practice. a new kind of image-making (for me), a little more removed, a little more focused on the image as an image and less on the image as a statement or story. and i think i'm okay with that for now. as i continue to live here and develop my relationship with my new neighborhood and city, i think my work will change. i'm really excited to see where it's going to go. and until then, i'm going to keep working on what i can. 

on collectives

i'm a member of the four-person phor collective, which you know if you follow me on any social media because i won't shut up about it. since october i've been working with three other fantastically talented photographers to put together a zine. not to brag, but it's beautiful. you should all order it. if you don't want to spend very much money, go for the digital edition but if you want to splurge and experience the work in its purest form, spring for the hard copy! and follow us on social media! we've been rotating through the members on the instagram so if you want to get a sense of the kind of work we do, check us out there. being a member of this collective has made me think about photography and art-making in some new and interesting ways. and it's given me something i think i've always wanted: a supportive community of exceptional artists who are all interested in pushing each other. 

i haven't talked about phor here on my blog yet, mostly because we only went public with our existence recently. 001 is our first release! but we formed in october, when my friend kristie asked if i would join her on this endeavor. as someone who loves the idea of being in a band but has no musical talent nor desire to learn an instrument, this seemed like the closest i would get. and i was right. we are kind of like a band. we even operate mostly on bandcamp. so that's a win. 

like i imagine bands do, we spent some time deciding on our name. we ended on "phor" for a few reasons. the most obvious is that it's a phonetic spelling of "four" and there are four of us. however, "phor" as a suffix signifies bearing, conveying, or carrying. we liked that, too. as photographers we are out there, bearing stories, carrying images. and we're doing it together. one thing about photography is that, like a lot of art, it's very self-focused. it's you and the camera, you and the darkroom, you and the printer. it's not an inherently collaborative art form and finding a photography community can be really challenging. i was incredibly fortunate in college to have an amazing photo department, full of like-minded people who were all interesting in learning and teaching. finishing college, it was the one thing i was most afraid of leaving behind. i was so thrilled when kristie asked me to join phor because it has allowed me to maintain a community around photography and art, with people whose work i greatly admire. 

i'm very excited for what we'll do next! we learned a lot with our first issue (about design! distribution! money! publicity!) and it'll make us even better next time. 

and, because i am me and what else would i do, i made a playlist for our release. the playlist starts out with a song off of my current favorite album which ties us all together and then i assigned two songs to each person's photos. no one got any say in their songs so no one shit on kristie or joe or mel for their songs. it was all me. although i did try to pick songs i imagine they like. 

unemployment is hard but there are still beautiful things in this world

(and instant film is one of them)

unemployment is harder than i thought it would be. 

i graduated from college in december, as you know if you've read this blog or have ever met me (and let's be real, the vast majority of you are here because you know me in real life and i linked to this blog post on facebook [hi mom]) and i don't have a job yet. i'm still relatively early in the search but one thing i've been struggling with in all of this is how to keep shooting (photos!).

most of my days are the same. i wake up very late (1pm), i take my dog for a walk, apply for three or four jobs, make some moody playlists on spotify, and then stay up until 4am playing video games and watching movies. repeat.

it's been unseasonably warm here in washington, dc. this past weekend it was 70 degrees and sunny the whole time. i had a few friends who were going to spend the day at the gardens at dumbarton oaks and invited me along. i grabbed my favorite camera and also a pack of my favorite film.
i hesitated.
my favorite film is fuji fp100c. silk. fuji discontinued all iterations of pull-apart film last summer and i was distraught. i was even more distraught when i found out that silk existed. silk is maybe the most beautiful film that's ever existed. it's what i used to shoot one of my favorite series, huntington. unfortunately, silk was never released in the united states. it's difficult to find and mighty expensive. 

there's a magical quality about silk. i've extolled the virtues of pull-apart film before. i love the unpredictability of it, the temporary-ness of instant film. but silk has something else. it has a deep and dark tonal range and a beyond-beautiful woven texture that makes you want to dive into every frame. 

check. out. that. texture. 

check. out. that. texture. 

i think part of what i like so much about silk is how it makes photos look like photos. that might sound silly, but right now in photography there's a trend towards the hyper-real. photos that look very much like real life, even if they aren't. silk removes that. these photos are not real life, they are physical objects. tangible and fragile. they let you experience what's in the image as a viewer of an image, not as a participant in whatever's going on (sorry guys i've been reading a lot of susan sontag recently). 

so. all that said. i hesitated in taking this film, this most beautiful thing, on a casual adventure with friends. but i'm glad i did. 

i hadn't taken a photo i was really, truly pleased with since i graduated. not a single one. there are photos that i think are nice, that i don't mind. but not one that i'm excited about. i'm happy with these photos. i'm excited about them. it's been a long time since i shot silk and i had forgotten how beautifully the light plays off of the woven fibers. i had also forgotten how comfortable i am with it. how i know exactly how to expose a double-exposure, how wonderful it feels to warm the emulsion next to my skin, pull it apart, and have a beautiful thing that i made. 

i have always been and will always be excited about photography, but this day of shooting reminded me why i love it so much. the spontaneity of it, the beauty of it, and how fucking cool it is. 

and, because it's what i do with the majority of the time, here is a playlist for you. it's for when it's february but it's also 70 degrees and sunny and that's cool and you're happy about it but you also weren't totally ready for winter to be over and you just really miss the snow.

on traveling

i have officially graduated from college. it happened over a month ago, but it's only just now started to feel real. almost immediately after graduation i went on a trip:
san francisco
seattle
denver
ann arbor
most of these, places i had never been. i'm from denver and looking to move back there in the next couple months, but other than that it was a month of new experiences. 

i only brought one camera on my trip. i was gone for a long time and doing carry-on only so all i had with me was my fuji instax neo-classic. i used to hate instax. i thought it was a bastardization of instant film. it was small and easy, too automatic for anything real. 

i've grown to love it. 

instax is (relatively) inexpensive, easy to travel with, and convenient. it's the only film i used on my trip and i couldn't be happier with the pictures i took away from it. my favorite pictures were taken at the monarch crest on the continental divide, very near my mountain home of garfield, colorado. i had taken my friends to the crest so they could see it, and see the continental divide. the weekend we were in the mountains was snowy and beautiful. the crest is usually home to one of the best views on all of planet earth, but on this day, it was nothing but white. it was beautiful and i love the images i got out of it. i even submitted a few of them to shows. 

the images feel right, with where i am right now. i'm moving back to denver soon but feeling stuck with my work. i just graduated and feel afloat. i'm working on it, though, and making work through the process.

on making, 1

i always think about my pictures as something i'm making. especially with the process i've been most enamored with recently (pack/pull-apart film), it's a personal process.

i'm always shooting when it's cold outside and this particular film needs relatively warm temperatures to process properly so i expose my film, pull it through the rollers, and then i press the cold packet of developing chemicals to my chest to warm them and process the image. every part of what comes out as i pull apart the film is a product of what i've done. sometimes something has happened and the color is off. the emulsion is dripping. i checked part of the film too early.

once i pull apart the film it collects things from the environment. dust, sand, salt. all of this comes together to make the picture. 

the project i'm working on right now is a combination of new and old images. the old images aren't that old, they're all from this past year. but many of the images are a product of something that feels far away.

i recently ended a really important relationship and this project is full of pictures of that relationship. not of him but of other things. trips we went on. views out of windows. this project is largely about feeling, so it's appropriate that this is where these images surface. each of the images carry with them not just what is very apparently there but products of the moment in which they were produced. unevenly heated chemicals. bubbling emulsions. each one a tiny time capsule. 

these tiny imperfections are my favorite and least favorite thing about this process. i have a lot of control. i know my camera well, i know my film well. but there are things i can't control. sometimes the images i couldn't control are my favorite, but much of the time those are the ones i throw away. 

it's a constant battle between what i want and what i get, but i think i'm winning.