“We all have oceans to fly, if only we have the heart to do it. Some say it’s reckless, maybe, but dreams know not of boundaries.” -Amelia Erhart
In early 2010, I moved back to US after an adventurous but tumultuous attempt to launch an arts co-op in Johannesburg, South Africa. Not only had the dream I had been plotting for several years end in chaos, but my relationship with my beloved partner came to a close, I drained my finances, and I had no idea what to do next.
I stayed with my family in Wisconsin for a few months, wavering between various options and paths for my life. Then, on a whim, I decided to move to New York City. I received an invite from my buddy Duncan to move into the CSPOT, an amazing artist loft and community space in Brooklyn run by Charlotte Gaspard. It was there that I solidified my intention to become a full-time photographer, to be my own boss. Suddenly, opportunities presented themselves. I began assisting and second shooting for one of the top wedding photographers in the country, Ryan Brenizer. NBC New York hired me as a freelance concert photographer. I became the primary photographer for Shanghai Mermaid, one of New York’s most fantastic underground parties. By the end of 2010, photography was my life force, my passion, and my livelihood. I was still hustling from gig to gig…working 12 hour days sometimes for 100 bucks, but I was standing on my own two feet, and most importantly, my work was evolving. I entered 2011 with the intention to let go, let myself be happy, and focus hard on my career.
And what an incredible year it has been. 2011 is a proud year. A blessed year. A foundational year. I officially became a full-time professional photographer, launched my own wedding photography business, and shot some of my most exciting work to date. As I looked through my photo folders, I realized that 2011 is the year I photographed Lady Gaga, Bon Iver, The Strokes, Andrew Bird, Lupe Fiasco, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Dave Matthews Band, Aloe Blacc, and so many more amazing musicians. It is the year I went on tour with the Mumbles and The Headhunters. It is the year I was flown to New Orleans to shoot an album cover. It is the year I shot 35 weddings as a second shooter and primary shooter. It is the year NY legalized same sex marriage. The year I occupied Wall St. It is the year I started calling New York home, and it is the year that when all is said and done, I can say I have pursued, realized, and lived my dreams.
Every year has it’s ups and downs, and 2011 was no exception. 2011 was the year I gave my grandparents’ eulogies. I spent much of the summer flying back and forth between Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana as they reached the end of their lives. RIP Granddad and Grandma. It is the year I was reminded of the fleeting nature of our existence. The year I began a daily meditation and yoga practice in effort to balance and ground my mind and emotions. It is a year in which I deepened my gratitude, my awareness of privilege, karma, and the intersection of them all in our lives and personal journeys.
I can only imagine what 2012 will bring. After a successful 2011, I am taking my earnings and hitting the road again, this time to South East Asia on a four month journey through Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Japan. My first love is travel and documentary photography, and I’m greatly looking forward to shooting and sharing some personal projects. Upon my return, I’ll be shooting weddings in LA, Wisconsin, and North Carolina in addition to NYC. I’ll fly home for my parents 40th anniversary party in one of my favorite places, Door County, and perhaps the biggest news of all, I’ll be greeted by a little niece or nephew!
As I was going to bed last night, I started re-reading a book my mom gave me before I graduated high school, The Measure of Our Success by Marian Wright Edelman. In it, Edelman shares life lessons in the form of letters to her children. Among these lessons, there are a few in particular I will be carrying into the new year, and I encourage my family and friends to do so also. “Never work for just money or power. They won’t save your soul or help you sleep at night. Set goals and work quietly and systematically towards them. Use your political and economic power for the community and others less fortunate. Slow down and live. Be a can-do, will-try person. Be reliable, be faithful. Remember that you aren’t alone.”
Thank you all for your love and support. Here’s to a magical 2012.
Peace and Rhythm,