Kayla is one of my first friends I made since arriving here in Jinja, Uganda. I had been itching to get my hands on my camera after a month of being here so we spent an evening by the cows and near the Nile River. This girl is lovely.
Kayla is one of my first friends I made since arriving here in Jinja, Uganda. I had been itching to get my hands on my camera after a month of being here so we spent an evening by the cows and near the Nile River. This girl is lovely.
Just a fare warning: this is going to be longer than my normal posts… but I can’t help it, because this is one of my very best friends and it had been something in the works for almost two months.
Back in July, John had messaged me about his upcoming proposal. He mentioned that he wanted to do it over a weekend in late August or early September and that he wanted to do it in the Redwoods in Northern California. (Shalom looovess trees.) They had picked out a ring way back in January so this girl knew it was coming any day now. How were we supposed to catch her off guard?
I was in Vietnam at the time and I wanted to get Shalom a gift because her birthday was coming up. However because I was across the world, I couldn’t very well send her anything. I thought I’d plan a little get-away for us to spend some quality time together; it had been ages since the two of us spent more than one day together. Shalom is a work-a-holic and I knew that the only way I could force her to take time off is if I said I had booked and paid for everything. It was perfect timing. I called her on her birthday, left a voicemail and said, “Happy birthday! Get August 24-26th off because I’m taking you on a road trip.”
Over the next several weeks, John and I continued to plan and we almost had to figure out a plan B, because Shalom was panicking about taking time off of work. (Told you, this girl loves her job.) John ended up emailing her boss and filling him in and we were set!
Fast forward to August 24th, I picked Shalom up early in the morning and we jet off. I forgot to mention… this girl pretty much lives in her workout clothes and prior to leaving I told her that she was only allowed to wear them while we were driving and while we were at the hotel. To convince her to bring some nice clothes for the actual moment, I told her I needed some new photos for an editorial project I was working on.
The whole trip down, she was talking about her grand plans for the wedding as well as the moments of frustration she’s had about not being engaged by now. It was all I could do to keep cool and listen. I was pretty nervous about slipping, let’s be honest. We got in late Sunday night, caught up on all the things of life, drank Rose and watched the VMA’s before slipping off to sleep. Shalom’s last night as a ‘girlfriend’.
The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel and then I took her to get her nails re-done (her paint was chipping and every girl knows that their nails have to look good for the moment, right?), as well as some shopping. I thought she’d like an additional outfit for the photos we’d be taking after John proposed, so as a birthday gift she picked out a few things. I was having so much fun, knowing what was about to happen in a few hours.
We got back to the hotel and had a few hours to kill so she hit the gym and I hit the hot tub. As she was in the shower, I called John to see how he was getting along. John had flew in to Medford the night before and had driven down the same time we were. Because Shalom and John keep in touch pretty well, he did an amazing job not raising any eyebrows on Shalom’s end during the hours he was in the air. Anyway, John told me that he had found the perfect trail and gave me specific instructions as to where he’d be. I was really nervous about not finding the right place. The Redwoods are huge and I knew that once we were out there, cell reception would be unavailable.
I had originally told Shalom that I wanted to do these photos on the beach, but as she was dressing I told her I thought we should hit the Redwoods that afternoon because we’d be way too tired on the drive back up the next day to stop to take photos. She was very nonchalant about it and responded with, “Whatever you think you need for your portfolio!”
It took us about an hour to drive to the trailhead. As we were driving, she was telling me about her Pinterest board of the type of photos she wanted me to take when they were engaged. I was so tempted to ask her to show me them right then and there! Little did she know… I pulled in right behind John’s rental car (he had sent me a photo of it), and I knew that John was literally within a five minute walk of us.
Shalom would be engaged in the next twenty minutes.
John had asked me to come take photos of the proposal, but last minute I decided it’d be fun to make a video. I can’t really explain the emotions I felt when Shalom saw John for the first time, how her hands cupped her face, how she dropped to the ground. I can not imagine how these two felt- their rush of emotions. I can only speak for myself. But in that moment, the world literally froze for me. I’ve never experienced anything like that and I am so grateful that I was there for my friend- the spunky 7th grader with long blonde hair who was pumped on volleyball and loved her flute.
I love you both. Thank you for letting me be a part of your lives.
Also, yes... it is true. The first thing Shalom said to John when she saw him was, "I have jerky breath..." Damn me, I shouldn't have let her have that beef jerky prior to starting the trail. HA!
*This video is definitely an amateur's hand at work so I apologize in advance for the shakiness.
Can't wait for your wedding! LET'S GET YOU MURPHIED.
Chapman is no stranger when it comes to being in front of my camera... I can't believe it's been three years since I met him in Italy and now we find ourselves here and he's married the beautiful Hannah. These two were married this past month, but while visiting I was able to grab some photos of them because why wouldn't I? They met in London, their love was at first conversation and I love everything about that.
The past month... whoa, it's been non-stop-let's-do-this. Weddings, road trips, seniors, engagements and proposals, maternity and friends and family and a backpacking trip. I've stopped for a moment in the midst of this beautiful season of life and realized that if my life were to end today, I'd be so content. I've produced some of my favorite images in this last month and I can't wait to share all of the stories and all of the goodness. So many feelings and emotions. I am very happy to be alive and to document such beautiful glimpses of God's grace. Here's a preview of what's to come.
Well this is late, but so necessary… mostly for me. By the time another year ends, work slows down and along with it, my drive to do anything creative. Looking back through another year makes me grateful and if anything, inspires me to continue do what I love. 2013 was a good one-- dreams I forgot about came true, I continued to meet more and more people who allowed me to experience more life, and I grew. All of these individual lives intwertwined with mine, the faces- the beautiful faces- I get to capture... you are incredible and your lives extraordinary.
It is difficult to believe that exactly eight months ago from yesterday, I was stepping off a plane on American soil home from an adventure that inevitably changed my heart and its desires for the better. Going to Uganda has been a longtime dream and this trip was the fruit of something planted in my heart years ago—a seed that I had long forgotten.
On March 16th, Yvonne and I boarded a plane bound for Entebbe. My friend (and incredible photographer) Mary had been in Uganda for a few short months and the trip’s intentions were to visit her and to spend time with the children at Arise and Shine Uganda, a babies’ home and orphanage. At the time, we were all I’m sure a little frustrated at the timing of Mary being ill with malaria… but looking back, God had his hand on every portion of this trip.
We were there for seven short but very full days. I had just finished the toughest quarter of school and my desires were simply to rest and to spend time with Yvonne and Mary. My friend Julie had just moved to Gulu two months prior and she made an eight-hour trip down to see us too—so much love for you! I met all of Mary's friends who were all so hospitable and kind. Along the way, we had many adventures and conversations that put my soul so much at ease.
I won’t paint an unrealistic picture while I was over there. We weren’t in rough conditions or anything like that. Jinja is very much a tourist town. The greens were lush and the dirt so saturated. Uganda truly is a beautiful place. We spent afternoons at The Keep, a local restaurant with great milkshakes or The Source, a rad café that brought internet to Jinja for the first time. Yvonne and I spent many hours reading, writing or simply reflecting. It didn’t matter what we were doing really— one afternoon we spent at the doctor’s with Mary just laughing about the silliest things. We went on a boat ride in the Nile River, and ventured to Sipi Falls—a three-tier waterfall. Truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever experienced.
Visiting the babies’ home made my heart so full. It’s true what they say about the kids jumping on you and wanting only to be held… which was incredible because that is the one thing I am able to do. In situations like this, I can only think of the Kingdom. It does no good to compare the conditions these children are in to the ones we are used to. I think about how much God loves these children, these humans, these lives… they are the kingdom. They embody all of the things our culture craves—authenticity and contentment. I brought my journal along and let the kids draw in some of my pages and I smile every time I open up these pages with these tiny little drawings...
One afternoon, Mary took us to visit the Street Child Project. (DO check out their beautiful website if you have a minute to spare.) Spending time with these young boys who used to live on the streets was the highlight of my trip. I kid you not, they were some of the most well behaved boys I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting. We played ‘futball’, Yvonne taught some of them how to play the guitar and in exchange they taught her how to play the drums… We arm-wrestled and they let me win. Time passed all too quickly as the boys passed my camera around and I, sitting in this place so humbled…
I have to go back.
Maybe you recall my friend Chapman. Long story short, I met him while I was in Italy two years ago. About a month ago, I was in California vacationing and was able to make it down to Huntington Beach one afternoon to visit him before he headed back to Italy. Yvonne and I were able to check out his art show which was incredible, to say the least. You all should definitely check out his work here.
You guys, this day was one of my favorites of 2013 for sure. I know it's a bold statement, but Yvonne and I were just so blessed. We showed up, without any swimsuits, and Chapman had a pile of 'em to pick from. I met his whole family and some more, including his 91-year-old grandma who has energy from I-don't-know-where. We rode bikes to the beach and hung out in the ocean for a bit. Chapman's family owns the company Hamboards, which are basically long skateboards that give you the sensation of surfing (landsurfing). Over the years, they've developed other boards too. Anyway, we got to check all of those out around his neighborhood. We spent the rest of the evening hanging out, hot tubbing, eating dinner around a fire place and spending time with his fam bo bam. We were so honored to meet Emma, one of Chapman's childhood friends who is currently fighting bone cancer. She is an incredible human being and I loved having the chance to photograph her.
Chapman, thanks for this day.
About a month ago, I hopped in a car with two of my best girl friends and we had a mini vacation down in a little town called Gearhart on the Oregon Coast. The weather was absolute perfection and everything was too good to be true. We rode bikes into town, ate our pastries and sipped on iced coffee, we walked on the beach in shorts and laughter, caught a beautiful sunset... we watched old movies like An Affair to Remember and French Kiss... drank real expensive champagne and did a wine tasting, took baths and read The Great Gatsby. You guys, I'm not exaggerating any of this- it was a dream and I can't wait to go back.
Well, we managed to do it all on this trip. We stayed at a hostel, a hotel, an AirBnB spot and a friend's home.... all within 5 days. Non-stop goodness. That's what this trip was. Ever since the beginning of last year, I had had an urge to go back to New York and I didn't think it would happen. But Bri called me up one night and said, "Let's just do it." So with no hesitation, we bought our tickets and were on a plane in early September for one last summer adventure.
I loved (almost) everything about this trip. (We had a few mishaps with plane delays and a sketchy hostel situation). I managed to see so many friends out there: Ty, who I had a met a few years earlier at Coachella through a mutual friend, happened to be out there the same time we were so we met up one evening and scootered around HIghline. Jennah and Shane... friends of mine who recently moved up to Syracuse. (You may recall their wedding here). Andrew, who I met to Brooks with a few years back... I hadn't seen him in about 3 years... and finally our friend Lyndsay who was out in New York studying creative writing for the semester.
We walked through Central Park, we went up the Top of the Rock annnnd the Empire State building. We saw a Jimmy Fallon monologue, we drank Blue Bottle Coffee. We stopped by the Mast Brothers Chocolate store in Williamsburg. We visited the MoMA. We caught a train up to upstate New York. We saw Niagara Falls and walked over to Canada. We caught a cab and nearly missed our flight home. We had an incredible time.
We got on ferry when it was still dark out. When we got off the ferry, hours later... it was dark out. It was almost as if time froze and life had continued. In reality, we had just spent the whole day swept up by the wind, watching our friend try to catch some waves, collecting beach trinkets, drinking some real good coffee and consuming soup... browsing in a bookstores and general stores in the utopias of towns... I had brought my camera along, but we stopped at a store at the beginning of the day and I decided I'd rather just carry a plastic lightweight camera instead... and then I would capture these beauties.
A little over a year ago, I traveled to Athens with one of my best friends, Joe. We were there for 3.5 days, but managed to do so much. I have always wanted to go to Greece, ever since seeing The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Haha. Well, the place I was thinking of was actually Santorini... an island off in Greece. We didn't have enough time to make it out there, but I am glad we were able to explore Athens. (Also you can bet that I'll make it out to Santorini in my lifetime... along with Mykonos and Thessaloniki.)
It was incredible to see the Acropolis... and to have seen the pieces from it in the British Musuem only a few months before. It was rad to have read Acts the morning before we climbed up Mars Hill where Paul preached the gospel. Authentic Greek food is amazing-- so much better than in the States. We saw the reddest sun setting I have yet to see in my life. We got a ride on a bike with a local, we drank a lot of Coke and we had a grand old time. We made a Coldplay music video (no shame), we played cards, we lived it up. It was also so nice to get away from the cold weather in Italy and be in jeans, a t-shirt and my Birks.
This is the last installment of blog posts from my European travels from August to December 2011. For those of you have only been recently following me, I was out there studying abroad in Florence, Italy for four months. On the weekends, we would travel... and travel we did!
During my time out there, I went to a total of 11 countries and over 25 cities. I would recommend doing this to anyone. It was an adventure of a lifetime. You can see my blog posts of Istanbul, Venice, Paris, Rome, and Prague/Vienna by clicking on the links.
Before Joe and I left, we had thought it would be fun to do a video series of our travels. They were entitled The European Experience... I helped with a little filming here and there, but Joe was the man when it came to putting them together. You can check 'em out here. You'll notice that I was playing the super touristy role and Joe played the know-it-all. One of our friends Mandie was able to join for the first 2 weeks of our travels and you'll notice her in the beginning videos.
I am so so so thankful for my time over there and would do it again in a heartbeat.
In August, I got a plane with 21 of my family members and headed off to the island of O'ahu where we spent a whole week in a 1.8million home and lived it up like there was no tomorrow. I had an incredible time relaxing and spending time with them. We ate good food, jumped off a plane 14,000feet in the air, went on a dinner cruise, did the tourist thang and laughed a whole lot. Recently there have been rumors of a family trip next summer.... CANCUN 2013 anyone?!
Prague, Czech Republic
I almost didn't go on this trip, but I'm thankful I did. Prague was easily one of my favorite places we visited. It's sad to me that I'm forgetting so much already... I remember Prague having very friendly people, many people spoke English, it was very cold... Joe and I managed to find a legitimate Thanksgiving dinner at an English bookstore that was also a restaurant. During our time there, we also found amazing Thai food and had lots of great wine. We went to a jazz bar and had late night coffee and ice cream. We caved and got a little taste of home at Starbucks. We took trams and visited castles.
Then it was on to Vienna! We took our first international train ride... people should ride them more often. It was a cold day and grey and we spent most of it to ourselves, reflecting, listening to our tunes and journalling. I enjoyed it. I learned a lot from this trip... honest conversations and silences. I remember seeing buildings I studied in my art history class, I remember late Christmas markets and hot drinks.
I cannot believe it has been a year. I still have a few more blog posts from my study abroad trip and yes, the places I went were amazing and incredible. I will always be grateful for all the places I was able to visit, but what I remember the very most from those four months is how much I learned about myself. One of the things I miss the most is the time I had. Life was slow-paced, I didn't have too much responsibility to other people but myself. I spent hours on trains reading and writing. I spent hours walking and thinking. Perhaps too much thinking, but thinking. That's something I don't have here back in the States. It is near impossible to find solitude what with cell phones, social media and the need to always be connected. It is difficult to not want to know what's going on... so the moments that were hard and the moments I had to myself, I am thankful. And I hope to carve out more time for those moments.
Here's the video Joe made from our time in Prague and Vienna.
I am hoping that you are all having a beautiful Thanksgiving!
Jennah and Shane were extremely welcoming and so were their families, treating us just like their own friends and family. Shane's mom put together a beautiful rehearsal dinner in their own backyard. There were kids running around, grass stains I'm sure, custom designed t-shirts, laughs, slideshows and memories. The night was so warm, the light was so warm and I felt blessed to be there. Stay tuned for their wedding which is hittin' up the blog tomorrow :)
I did the math and I was in Rome for probably about two weeks altogether in the four months I was living in Florence... but, it was always in passing. Rome was the cheapest to fly out of so I was constantly on trains back and forth from home base. It wasn't until mid-November that a handful of friends and I did a weekend trip to Rome, rented an apartment and did the tourist-thang. It was a perfect trip. We got in Thursday and saw Fleet Foxes there (no big deal, right?) and one evening invited some friends over and enjoyed a meal together complete with wine (obligatory). These are photos from the Vatican, our cute little apartment, the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and St. Peter's Basilica :)
While abroad, we made a list of places we wanted to visit. You might be surprised to know that Paris wasn't on this list (or not near the top anyway) But we made it here mid-November and I was surprised that this city made my heart stop. There is a certain air and feeling to the place and I would come back in a heartbeat. We managed to see the Eiffer Tower light up over eight times, which is kinda awesome. We squeezed in some beautiful sights in the 3-4 days we were there. Musee d'Orsay was the sweetest museum I'd ever been to. And of course, the crepes and croissants were winners. Dinner with a view of the Eiffel Tower was such a gift. Thankful for my time there.
What do you do when you are without a media pass and can't sneak in a dSLR? You bring your 35mm film camera and run with it... which is exactly what I did. Besides, who needs the pressure of constantly lugging around a 5lb piece of equipment and having to worry about it right? (At least this is what I kept telling myself) I will admit that it was nice to walk around with a film camera with the air of curiosity looming over me. This was my first experience at the infamous Sasquatch music festival (as well as the Gorge Amphitheatre) and it was definitely a treat. We roughed it for 3 night nights amongst the strung out, crazy people and soaked in some ear candy, eating nothing but snack foods. I unfortunately lost a roll of film, but maybe one day it will magically appear. Admist these shots are Santigold, Girl Talk, Pickwick, Macklemore, Coeur de pirate, and Gardens & Villa. Sasquatch was wonderful and it was great to share the experience with good friends.
About four months ago, I took a day trip out of homebase (Florence) while abroad with a friend of mine to Venice, the city of water, bridges and lights. One of my favorite movies is The Italian Job (Charlize Theron is such a BA in this movie!) and ever since seeing it, I have wanted to go to Venice. It was cold and rainy, but still, so worth it. A town full of Venetian masks and water cabs, pigeons and little canals of water to the left and right... known for its tiramisu and Bellinis. Don't worry I bought both ;) I'm definitely feeling a bit nostalgic today.
Lexi was the last friend I was able to coerce into letting me photograph this past fall while I was living in Italy. I'm glad she did, because I loved loved capturing these images of her. She's a beaut. Missing you across the country lovely.
I think that everyone should go to Istanbul.
David tricked me. I came to find out that he's worked as a model a couple days after I photographed him... and there I was thinking to myself, "Wow, this guy's a natural." It all makes sense now. Ha. But I'll be honest, photographing guys has been such a fun challenge for me. David is one of the few guys I've met while abroad and he's been an awesome friend. We were lucky enough to have design class together and this guy's sense of humor and love of life never failed to make me laugh. He's smart, loves the big guy upstairs, knows what he's doing with his life and there's no doubt in my mind he'll go far. Gonna miss you, David :)
Chapman. I'm really going to miss Chapman. My first impression of this kid was a happy-go-lucky, full of life and laughter, I love his laugh... you can't not laugh when you're hanging with him. I was not wrong. He's one of those people you have to get to know. Chapman is here in Florence for the next three years studying Fine Art and he is an incredible artist (check out his work here)! I was able to travel with him along with a few other friends to Palermo, Sicily back in October and it was one of my favorite trips during my time here in Europe. This guy loves Jesus, and makes everyone feel so loved.
This morning, the two of us woke up at the crack of dawn and hiked up to Piazzale Michelangelo here in Florence to catch the sunrise, record some videos of Chap on his guitar and have a photo adventure. It's amazing the things you can accomplish when you wake up early, but I'm definitely not a morning person. Regardless, the two of us had a blast taking advantage of my last few days here in Italy! So thankful for days like this.
It's a holiday here in Italy (don't ask me what holiday, I was just happy classes were cancelled today), so the remainder of the day has been spent not doing much. For me, that means catching up on editing my photos. I was too excited about these images. I can't believe that time has passed so quickly here. Also the fact that my Facebook page has reached over 1000 Likes, which is awesome! Thanks so much for all of your support. I can't wait to get back into the swing of things when I return to Seattle in January! Much love :)
Every now and then, if you're lucky, you'll come across people who will change the way you see things, challenge the way you think, cause you to slow down and see the world in a new light... Mackenzie is one of those people. She has a beautiful, quiet, yet hilarious sense of spirit. From her, I've learned the importance of words, the necessity for words... and my words will never do justice for the friend that she has been to me. Mackenzie is a poet and I love that.
As much as I love expanding my horizons and being challenged to photograph the beautiful places I have been traveling to, it always makes my heart happy to photograph people- this is what I love doing and lately, I've been having serious withdrawals. In the past few months that I've been in Italy, I have been honored to befriend Griffin, who is stinkin' gorgeous. She is a joy to be around and I am in complete envy of her hair. We ventured off and got lost in the city a bit ago and ended up in this beautiful neighborhood, where it seemed like all the mansions were at... In my dreams, right? We were lucky enough to catch the sun going down- I had to snap a few photos of her ;)