Another year over and a new one just begun

This is it.


A new year and my final undergraduate semester. I thought I would never get here and now, as I settle into the last week of my winter break, I look forward to this coming semester with a sense of excitement, trepidation and unadulterated fear. It all seems so unreal and enormous.

What happens to the dream when you awaken?

I am lucky to have wonderful distractions: a family vacation, a wedding, Living Room Session #3 , and  a new toy; an Argus rangefinder. Of course, children move through life like small–but-mighty comets and, if you aren’t watching every moment, you are definitely missing things. I could spend all my time in starlight, watching them fly. They are moving so fast!

I had a really rewarding photography class with Eliot Dudik last fall that has me warily convinced I might actually be an artist.

And so now, I need to treat myself like a professional.

“Free” exposure is very alluring. Social media makes a lot of seductive marketing promises. And local jobs are actually paying…albeit, way below my asking rate. I am meeting people. My work is being seen and people like it! But, it comes at a price.

The film in my hands, the smell of developer, the finger bloodied from cutting mat board: physical manifestations of how valuable my time is. And it isn’t just the work done in the photo rooms at McMaster…it is the bedtime stories I sacrificed to be there…the family missing me so that I can have the luxury of time spent making art.

Once you post anything on the internet it is as good as gone, regardless (and often because) of current laws, etiquette or privacy settings. So, I have decided to seriously limit the amount and size of my work on the internet. Also, I am going to enter more shows. It requires research and a much tougher skin. I am getting there.

It is also time to join the clubs and follow up on the job postings that will get my PR muscles strong enough to enter the job market with some confidence this year.

So, wish me luck and I wish you the same.

More time doing what we love and more time with our families and more value for what we do. That’s all. And it isn’t asking too much!

Happy New Year.


I’ll hush up my mug if you fill up my jug

I moved to Columbia from a small town mere minutes from San Francisco.

I am a military brat whose family tree is deeply rooted in rural Southern soil.

My father grew up in a house at the end of a dirt road where our people lived for so long the street took our family name.  A city sign today legitimizes the spot where a handcrafted, wooden sign displayed our surname my whole childhood.

As kids, my step-sister, Jen, and I visited from the west coast during summers. The humidity would wrap around me like a familiar sweater, getting tighter with each step toward the airplane door. A strangling hello, welcome back to South Carolina.  We would disembark in Columbia. Jen would head off to Sumter to stay with her maternal grandparents. We would meet in the parking lot of a Shoney’s or Red Lobster to say goodbye or reunite.

My mother would claim me for four weeks. Under her supervision, I could wear make-up and watch rated-R movies. I dined on pizzas made from english muffins, Ragu, and slices of American cheese.

My mom wouldn’t leave the house without heels.  Her bathroom smelled like aerosol hairspray and Halston. I listened to records from her wicker archives for hours; Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Rod Stewart, Europe.

On one visit, she gave me my first camera.

It looked a lot like this

Fisher Price Kodak Camera

Image from The People History at

I entertained myself shooting pool, visiting cousins and listening to my dad’s brothers play banjo and sing, “Mountain Dew.”

Every summer, I spent a weekend with my maternal grandmother, Viola. She would warm up a can of corned beef hash because I always requested it on my visits. I would combine the salty hash with slices of white bread and drink from a plastic pitcher stained ombre from years and years as a vessel for her homemade sweet tea. In the afternoons, I played with her braille books and her reed organ.

Blackberries grew wild in her backyard. I would eat them without rinsing them off.

In California, we were a family of four. In Swansea, there was a tribe, a history, a story.

The more time I have lived here in the South, the closer I feel to that story even though I know I will always be an outsider.

I allowed myself the opportunity to explore this relationship when I took some classes this fall semester with Eliot Dudik. His course on southern photography was most influential.  I am as Southern as I am not; A duality that has always sort of haunted me.

With his encouragement, I went to Swansea, South Carolina with my camera.

Here are some of the images.

(I think that toy camera is going into the slideshow. This is a wordpress quirk that I haven’t figured out a way around.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I learned a couple things. Foremost, dress appropriately. It is easier to meet people that way. Never, ever wear flip flops out into a horse pasture. Just don’t wear them on location at all unless you are going to be shooting on the beach and, even then, I recommend keeping a more athletic pair of shoes with your gear.