This was a year for me to find my voice. If you know me, that might sound funny because I’m quite a chatty person. Nonetheless, it’s taken work and time and patience to get to know myself and learn how to say what I really mean and not say what I don’t really mean. And how to take the photos I want to take and not the ones I don’t want to take (or can’t take!). Thank you so much to my community for supporting me and listening to me and giving me space to learn and grow. And thank you thank you THANK YOU to all my amazing clients. I literally would not be able to do this without you; you are what makes my job a dream come true.
This year I loved:
warm + soft colors
a photo for the sake of the memory + a story, not just the aesthetic
out of focus black + whites
a shot that looks like a still from an old french film
romance, romance, and more romance
This year I took photos in:
St. Paul, MN
Grand Haven, MI
Grand Rapids, MI
Sweet home Holland, MI
Cheers to send 2017 out and cheers to welcome 2018 in!
Since I was in High School, I’ve been involved in an organization called Young Life. If you’ve never heard of it, look it up! It’s an awesome faith based organization that has staff and local groups (called clubs) in over 100 countries world wide and is all about doing life together with students of all ages and walks of life. This spring I had the opportunity to help lead a trip to the Young Life camp in the Dominican Republic, Pico Escondido. For some stories and posts from our trip, take a look at our team blog here.
The month of March, especially in Michigan, is almost always dreary and gray and wet and cold. It’s usually my slowest month for photography, and it’s always one of my most discouraging months of the year. Not only was this trip to the DR a life-giving experience for me as a Young Life-er and a lover of travel and culture, but it was a refreshing time as a photographer.
Part of my role as a team leader was to photograph the trip and our experiences in the DR. It was so amazing to use my passions and gifts in such an adventurous time! I first used a DSLR camera on a trip to India in high school, and it was love at first click. Photographing the colors, the faces, the ever-churning sea of people and cows and rickshaws and palms… all these things stole my heart in India. I got to be that photographer again in the DR a couple weeks ago. Victor Hugo wrote, “to travel is to be born and to die at every instant.” No, taking photos doesn’t mean that I get to forever hold onto the new experiences I’m born into through travel. The scenes of school kids we drove by in the bus, the homes I peeked into as we walked down the slender sidewalks, the smell of the humid jungle we hiked through to find the waterfall, the feeling of my small soft plastic cup in my fingers full of steaming dark Dominican coffee… Those moments must die as soon as they’re born because there is life and a whole world in them that I can’t take away with me. But photographs remind me of the new life I had in those moments, and the ways that I am forever changed by them.
To be honest, I’ve written about 6 different first sentences to this post. This year was… everything at the same time. You know how you come inside from the freezing cold and can feel your fingers thaw? They tingle, throb and feel hot and cold at the same time. Your knuckles ache a little, and you know they wouldn’t ache if you hadn’t scooped some snow in your bare hands to toss to the dog. But you did, and they do, and that’s that. For me, 2016 was my life freezing up and thawing out again. Many photos from my year have hours of a story behind them. The last photo I took of my Paka before he passed away, Easter Sunday the week I came home after a major surgery, my younger brother’s wedding, our nephew driving the boat, the pregnancies and newborns… the whole of life in those photos. I love to share these photos with you, but I mostly need to share them with myself. These photos show me that there was life in that year. 2016 had light and growth and giggles and kisses and water and green and birth and good.
This year I loved:
a little bit of dark mixed in with all the light
the imperfect, out of focus, blurry black + whites
that moment right before a kiss happens
children telling each other secrets
This year I took photos in:
Minneapolis + St. Paul, MN
St. Ignace, MI
Grand Rapids, MI
And of course many, many, manymanymany photos were taken on the ever-lovely Lake Michigan in my sweet home of Holland.
My last and highest tribute is to my husband. Eric believes in me like he believes in the ground beneath his feet. Don’t ask me how, but he does. This year he fought for me. Not only did he fight for our life together and my health, but he fought for my creativity and my joy. This is for you, Eric.
We have to recall the warmth of the summer and how kind vacations in July are to us when it’s March and snowy and dark and cold. This trip with my sisters was such a privilege, and I still love savoring it. If only I could be transported in time and space to do it all again! [See my previous post for Part I]
Some of our favorite adventures, featured below: The Marginal Way, Ogunquit Beach; Newburyport Whalewatch; The Kancamagus Highway, White Mountains. If you are ever in the area, do these things!!
One of the few wonders that can rival that of our country’s National Parks is the wonder of sisterhood. This summer, I got to experience a long week full of both nature and family- what a treat! We drove from Michigan to New Hampshire in a straight shot full of gut laughter, atlas reading, and stops at Dunkin Donuts. I could go on for quite some time, but for now I’ll leave it to this: My family is one of my dearest treasures in the world. I wouldn’t have traded the time I got to spend with my sisters for anything; it was truly a slice of heaven. Here are some of the highlights in word and image of the portion of our trip in Acadia National Park:
Blackwoods Campground: Our campsite in Acadia was surrounded by tall trees and the fresh misty air. The Blackwoods Campground was so serene and felt very secluded because of the thick and beautifully grown foliage and trees. This is one of those campgrounds I could have spend all week at with my feet up by a fire and a book in my lap and a french press brewing on our camp stove.
Otter Cove: After spending about an hour figuring out how to maneuver the roads of the park and the island, we made it to Otter Cove (our favorite spot in the park). The dried out crab shells and stones crunched under our feet and the sea creatures swirled in the pulsing tide pools; in and out, in and out. We watched the slow show of the tide rolling in and the fog with it. Growing up and living in Michigan, we are used to the sight of enormous masses of water. The magic of the ocean to me comes in the life that it not only contains, but the life that it is! The water’s massive swells and tides, the creatures that call it home, the flavor and texture of those splashes that reach my mouth and skin- those are the characteristics that make it miraculous to me. Otter Cove was the perfect place to experience all these things up close.
Northeast Harbor: While Bar Harbor is the main town on the island (and very sweet and fun!), we loved our brief visit to Northeast Harbor. Though we almost missed it and had to turn around to find the little nook it’s contained in, it was one of our favorite stops. We got coffee and the yummiest pastries at Milk and Honey to fuel up for our day of exploring. The day was dreary and drizzly and a little bit chilly, so the warmth of our drink and food as well as that of the servers and locals were just what we needed!
Cadillac Mountain: Because Acadia is on the far far east coast, Cadillac Mountain is the first point in the US that the sun touches every morning. We planned on experience this sweet first kiss of sunlight early in the morning, but our plans were dashed by rain and clouds. We did, though, visit the peek during the blustery, rainy day. It was exhilarating and a bit unnerving to be atop a mountain with such strong winds and fog! When the mist did clear, though, the view was breathtaking. I have high hopes to return someday for the sunrise when the weather is a bit more cooperative.
We took a train from Bangalore to Kovilpatti. It was an overnight ride, about 10 hours long starting in the evening and arriving in the early hours of the next morning. We first stood on the platform to wait for our train, watching the people, the dogs, the cows in their daily transportation routines. It was hot, but we knew that the higher elevation of this city would feel like heaven after the humidity of our destination. We were boarded and in our compartments, and I shared a bench with a woman traveling with her mother and toddler daughter. We chatted, I watched the child play and look out the window. Later that night, I leaned my head out the window and watched the trees race by, silhouetted by the vivid stars, my long scarf whipping in the wind.
Kanyakumari is a coastal town known for its location at the southernmost tip of India. To its west lies the Arabian Sea, to the south is the Indian Ocean, and to the east is the Bay of Bengal. Gandhi called it a place “where three waters meet and furnish a sight unequalled in the world.” That morning, we woke early and walked down the avenue to the seaside. As we sat surrounded by hundreds of Indian travelers who had come for the same reason we had, I thought back to the night before. The sun had sank low and close to the misty earth and finally we bade it goodnight, and we bathed our toes in the Arabian Sea. Now here we were, facing due east, bidding the same sun good morning as she rose over the bay.
On our return ride a few days later, I was in a compartment with mostly older Indian couples. I felt a bit out of place as they talked and joked, varying between Hindi and English. I resigned myself to my top bunk and to reading Life of Pi until the chai cart came by. One of the men, about my dad’s age, had been asking me about home and our travels and he offered me a cup of chai. It was then I realized that I was the only member of our compartment who had labeled myself as an outsider.
These are some of my favorite experiences put into words. And now for some of my favorites in images.