Those Lavender Whales – Columbia, SC band

Those Lavender Whales make records. They are a band living and working in Columbia, SC. They are so much fun. Aaron Graves   Jessica Bornick Chris Gardner Patrick Wall     Advertisements

To see the fireflies

This gallery contains 1 photo.

It occurred to me all of a sudden that I wasn’t going to last outside all night. My husband was feeding a fire with branches he found on the ground. Our son shadowed him, really getting into it. I had been … Continue reading

River Rocks

“The fourth annual River Rocks Festival featuring live music, paddling opportunities on the Columbia Canal, environmental education, family friendly activities, food and beverages. All proceeds benefit Congaree Riverkeeper.”   My legs itched a little, a greensward engraving being pressed into … Continue reading

It isn’t all Barbados, bikinis and body shots

I really didn’t even feel weird about having no plans for Spring Break. It’s never ranked high on my list of holidays. When I go to the beach, I prefer the sound of surf to a noisy house band in … Continue reading

Stacey and Jenny

I was flattered to be asked to document the sweet friendship between two bohemian Americans who met in India while studying Ayurveda. Not many people can cause me to feel boring. This reunited duo had my inner goddess all revved up … Continue reading

My Year in Pictures: 2012-2013

I have been going through my work from the past year in preparation for the SCNPA (South Carolina News Photographers Association) Pictures of the Year Contest and enjoying the exercise. Self-critique is important and it is always a good practice to have … Continue reading

You Better Watch Out, You Better Not Cry: Pictures with Santa

Having your picture taken with Santa is a rite of passage.

You are never too young for Santa's lap but I think there might be a cut-off at some point...probably about fifteen-years before this was taken.

You are never too young for Santa’s lap but I think there might be a cut-off at some point…probably about fifteen-years before this was taken.

Not everyone has the same traditions, sure…

…and we don’t all celebrate the same holidays…

…and I’m not saying everyone should have to promote ideas of charity and unconditional love coming from a jolly old man with fur-trimmed boots…

…but I sure do!

Keeping this household as magical as possible is one of my maternal obligations. It goes sciatica, labor pain, Santa. In that order. And if you don’t believe that I get up every morning to walk the unicorn before I have tea with the gnomes in the garden, well then, I think you are boring. I still totally support your uniqueness so don’t be mad at me. Call me later.

Photos with Santa don’t always go well. They often end in tears. It is an idea ranking somewhere in the realm of birthday-party-clowns. A classic reminder of the distance between childhood and adulthood.

I have no hard data but I am giving us all a fifty-fifty chance that the event will go down like a mug of toasty hot chocolate, with all the warm fuzzies of a towheaded toddler in a sweater vest with a penguin on it.

The rest of you will just have to take comfort in the fact that your child has misgiving about sitting on a strange person’s lap and find a way to laugh about it. There are plenty of online galleries. There is even a book on the topic. Google it!

If you are a gambler, there are some fine local Santas in Columbia, SC!

Check out:

I know firsthand that Cynthia and Grookett are quite capable of creating a beautiful, tearless shot!

This is not a definitive list. Feel free to comment with your favorite.

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.

La Cage aux Folles, Such a Drag!

I saw my first drag show at a club called Metropolis. It was located in a warehouse on Blanding Street in downtown Columbia. It was the 90’s and the club scene was hot. The music was spinning on vinyl and … Continue reading