It is not important if photographs are “good.” It’s important that they are interesting. What makes a photograph interesting? I’ll count the ways: It can be our first look at something. It can be entertaining. It can evoke deep emotions. It can be amusing or thrilling or intriguing. It can be proof of something. It can jog memories or raise questions. It can be beautiful. It can convey authority. Most often, it informs. And, it can surprise.

John Loengard, “The Role of the Picture Editor

One of my favorite things to do when I get together with my friends from college is to bring along a disposable camera. People think it’s pretty weird.  Maybe because I’m a photographer, and I have a nice camera. Maybe because they haven’t seen anyone use a disposable camera since their cousin’s wedding in 1998. Either way, I find that the little cardboard box with 36 exposures is refreshing. A disposable camera helps me to record the time without constantly previewing images afterwards or obsessing about framing the moments just right. You take 36 pictures, and you’re done. If you lose the camera or someone spills a drink on it, it’s not a big deal. Sometimes half of the roll doesn’t turn out. Sometimes I don’t use the flash when I should. But it’s okay. That way I can be more present with the people I love than focused on… focusing, and when I do find, after development, that there is an image or two I like, it’s a gift. 

You can see more disposable camera images on my website

 ”But every crumb of matter in Creation casts a shadow, every grain of dust; And every weightless shadow gathers mass, though infinitely smaller than a grain” 
I went to a vii pop-up workshop with photographer Tomas van Houtryve and Harper’s Art Director, Stacey Clarkson. The point of the workshop was to illustrate a piece of writing from Harper’s archive. I signed up because I thought it might stretch out my brain a little—I’m used to photographing what I encounter rather than what I create. 
I was assigned a poem called “Sublimaze" by Gjertrud Schnackenberg. The poem is about a woman struggling with her husband’s illness. It dips in and out of reality, shifting from the doctor—"a blue god standing by, blue mask and gown, blue gloves" to "a door drenched radiant orange beyond the bed Appearing in a wall of cinderblocks." Since the poem is really taking place in a dream-like state, I decided to create a space rather than use something existing. I ended up highlighting one line from the poem that stuck out to me: "But every crumb of matter in Creation Casts a shadow, every grain of dust; And every weightless shadow gathers mass, Though infinitely smaller than a grain"  High-res

 ”But every crumb of matter in Creation casts a shadow, every grain of dust; And every weightless shadow gathers mass, though infinitely smaller than a grain” 

I went to a vii pop-up workshop with photographer Tomas van Houtryve and Harper’s Art Director, Stacey Clarkson. The point of the workshop was to illustrate a piece of writing from Harper’s archive. I signed up because I thought it might stretch out my brain a little—I’m used to photographing what I encounter rather than what I create. 

I was assigned a poem called “Sublimaze" by Gjertrud Schnackenberg. The poem is about a woman struggling with her husband’s illness. It dips in and out of reality, shifting from the doctor—"a blue god standing by, blue mask and gown, blue gloves" to "a door drenched radiant orange beyond the bed Appearing in a wall of cinderblocks." Since the poem is really taking place in a dream-like state, I decided to create a space rather than use something existing. I ended up highlighting one line from the poem that stuck out to me: "But every crumb of matter in Creation Casts a shadow, every grain of dust; And every weightless shadow gathers mass, Though infinitely smaller than a grain" 

This Tuesday, I was able to fly to Augusta, Georgia, to see my brother-in-law, Noah, as he returned home from his deployment to Afghanistan. Katie, my sister, struggled through their time apart. There were a lot of factors that eased the intensity of their hardship—Noah’s placement as a doctor, my parents’ willingness to have Katie and Lily live with them, financial stability, good community, and almost daily FaceTime conversations. This was not Vietnam. The Internet connection was okay. Noah got all of the care packages that were sent to him. He even came home quoting Wreck-It Ralph, an animated movie that Lily knows by heart. They had watched it seven times in the aid station where he worked. It was a touchpoint that helped him seamlessly pick back up with his daughter. All of that is so good. But despite all of those things that made his deployment easier, I watched my sister visibly lighten when her husband ran down the bright, tiled corridor in that one-terminal airport. Stress evaporated off of her in waves. After tears and kisses and laughter she looked at me and dropped her head forward, her tongue lolling out of her mouth, her hands on her hips—The race was over.

I should have known she had been running a metaphorical marathon, but I didn’t really get it until I witnessed her relief. It cultivated an appreciation in me for people separated by conflict or hardship. People who wait and wait to hear if their kids have made it safely into the U.S., moms who leave their homes to take care of someone else’s children so they can earn money to send to their own, anyone who waits to hear if the people in their heart are accounted for whenever there’s a natural or unnatural disaster—people who are just hanging on. There’s something to remembering that a lot of people are holding their breath. The people who might seem aloof or snappy or dejected because they are mentally living in a different place, living in a world that is centered around someone who isn’t where they are. 

This made me think, and it made me thankful. 

Musings: Carleton Watkins’s Mammoth Vision of Yosemite | PROOF

I wrote this post about Carleton Watkins’s 19th century glass plate collodion images that ultimately helped to preserve Yosemite! The wet-plate process has interested me since I started following Sally Mann’s work. For now, I’ll stick with instagram and just write about the labor intensive processes of others. I do, however, need to visit Yosemite. 

Kingman Island is a modest oasis settled right along the Anacostia River in northeast Washington, D.C. You can park in RFK stadium’s lot, walk underneath the bridge of the blue and orange metro line, see (decommissioned) Pepco smoke stacks hovering on the horizon, and in moments you’re walking across a wooden bridge and into what feels like a sweet, secret sanctuary. On most days, you can visit without seeing another soul. Last Saturday was an exception, when thousands of people set upon the grounds, many likely for the first time, to hear bluegrass bands, eat food truck fare, climb rock walls, wear ridiculously hip clothes, and even kayak. It’s cool to see a place transformed for a moment.