Dear 2020 Self: (At 13, A Letter to My Future Self)

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“You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.  And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” ~ Max Ehrmann

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Portrait Series Documenting the Journey of a Group of Silicon Valley Teens to Graduation in 2020 (and Beyond)

Part 1: “At 13, A Letter to My Future Self”

I have been planning for this photo series for many years and could not wait until the magic number “13”. I wanted to make portraits of my daughter and a group of her peers at the age of 13 and ask them each to write a letter to their future 18 year old self; their 2020 self.  However, the project wouldn’t end there. Each participant has agreed to meet me again in 2020 for another portrait/letter session, and perhaps again in 2025.

I began this project last summer, during their 13th year and asked that they write their letter before turning 14.  I have known most of these kids since their pre and elementary school days.  And, while 7 middle schools, 9 towns, and a countless number of sports teams, music groups and art programs now separate them, they have all remained friends or have become acquaintances.  The kids of the Silicon Valley all seem to know one another.

I’m thrilled to introduce this group of teens, each of whom I will have the privilege of documenting with photographs on their journey to 2020.  After each child’s name I’ve included one word their parents were asked to use to describe them when they entered preschool.  I look forward to watching them grow and witnessing the young adults they will become.  Godspeed!

Tyler   ::EnthusiasticTyler

Ally   ::EmpatheticAlly

Eli   ::UndauntedEli

Ava   ::GregariousAva

Kiley   ::CreativeKiley

Matthew   ::CuriousMatthew

Meagan   ::ActiveMeagan

Jackson   ::InterestedJackson

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The Garden of Good and Evil

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“Truth, like art, is in the eye of the beholder. You believe what you choose and I’ll believe what I know.”  ~ Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

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For the past few years I’ve had the privilege of photographing public gardens for Horticulture Magazine.  My last assignment took me to Alcatraz, the last place you would expect to find beautiful gardens and landscape.  Quick history, this maximum federal prison in the San Francisco Bay closed it’s doors in 1963, along with the gardens cultivated by the prison’s inmates. In 2003, the Garden Conservancy, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and National Park Service began a collaboration to restore the gardens.

I was able to capture the images needed for the magazine feature before high sun.  With time to spare on the island, we were given a backstage pass to the upper levels of the prison and to the Ai Weiwei exhibit, which was on its last day of viewing.

In the prison, we were ushered to the upper deck of Block C and given access to the lever which secures the entire cell block.  Standing in the darkness, the sound of 50 cells slamming shut, with the final latch of the deadbolt, is a sound you want to quickly erase from your tape.  I took a moment to stand inside a cell and decided to capture a few images looking out and across the aisle.  Clearly, this place was designed to house the worse of the worst.

The bonus of the visit was the Ai Weiwei @Large exhibit.  We happened to be on the island on the last day of the Exhibit and our host generously walked us through. “Ai Weiwei is a Chinese Contemporary artist and activist.  A political activist, he has been highly and openly critical of the Chinese Government’s stance on democracy and human rights.  After many arrests and incarcerations in China,  Ai Weiwei was, in July of 2015, given a passport and is now allowed to travel abroad. If you are interested and would like to learn more about Ai Weiwei and his art, this is a wonderful article. http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/sep/24/ai-weiwei-alcatraz-lego-extraordinary

If you have a bird phobia, you’ll want to make note that Alcatraz is a nesting colony for Western Gulls.  There were a few Hitchcock moments.

 

Without further ado, here are my favorite images from Pier 33 to Alcatraz and back.  Enjoy! ✌🏾

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Now it gets real.

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Let’s Party

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Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’ ~ Robin Williams

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While it seemed like spring arrived in NoCal months ago, the rest of the country is finally starting to see the signs of warmer temps with blossoms blooming.  Spring has officially sprung!  So let’s party!

Last spring I had the privilege of shooting two of the most prestigous public gardens in California for Horticulture Magazine;  Hakone Gardens and Filoli.  Both gardens are located in the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains, to which I call home.  Filoli is a country house with 16 acres of formal gardens surrounded by a 654-acre estate, located in Woodside, CA.  Filoli has served as the set for many Hollywood films.  Many of you will recognize it as the mansion seen in the opening credits of the television series Dynasty.  Hakone Gardens is a traditional Japanese garden in Saratoga, California.  It is recognized as one of the oldest Japanese-style residential garden in the Western Hemisphere.  I believe Hakone served as set for the films Snow Falling on Cedars and Memoirs of a Geisha.

When my journey as a professional photographer began, my lens focused primarily on landscapes and flowers.  Over a decade later, I am a lucky girl to have been able to maintain this focus while adding a few other ingredients to my repertoire.  For those of you who need a dose of spring, take a few minutes and take a virtual walk through these breathtaking gardens. 🌸

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Inspiration (or, lack thereof)

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“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” ~  Ralph Waldo Emerson

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The last few months have seen a flurry of photo sessions of many flavors leaving little time to work on my blog or my art photography.  2014 was very good to me professionally, so, this is not a complaint.  I intended to take the month of January to get back to my blog and art, however, ended up taking on two projects that, once again, put everything back on the shelf.

I have been seeking inspiration and feeling the need for a new perspective.  A new path, if you will, for the next steps on my journey.  I thought my trip back to my hometown in the Ohio river valley would do the trick.  With railroad tracks on my mind, my goal was set – a cold, grey day on the old, rusty rails in my small town.  I envisioned capturing haunting images of the overgrowth and the deteriorating trestle over the little river.  The best laid plans.  The overgrown tracks were gone, apparently replaced long ago with a bike trail and the trestle most likely collapsed into the river long before the bike trail came to town.  I got one thing right, it was cold and grey.  My camera stayed snuggly in it’s bag, I didn’t venture out once, and somehow I caught flu.  I came home sick and uninspired.

Fast forward to yesterday.  With the hope of a new vision or direction still looking bleak, an artist friend and I went to visit some galleries in San Francisco in preparation of an Open Studio this spring that will feature her paintings and my photography.  First stop, an old coffee shop on the pier.  As I sat with my coffee looking out the window of the empty cafe, I felt the first hint of an inspirational wave approaching.  Before me, the perfect vision out of the dirty old window.  As if the Bay Bridge was painted on canvas.  Snap.  As we waited for the curator to welcome us to the gallery, I turned to take in the Bay between two old warehouses.  Below me, above the water of the Bay were the rusty, overgrown tracks of some railroad of long ago.  Built on a trestle, these tracks came out of nowhere below and reached into the Bay, disappearing into the grey morning fog.  This remarkable and eerily beautiful sight, presenting as if it was staged exclusively for me.  Perhaps it is true.  I am a child of the universe and the universe is unfolding as it should.  I didn’t need to travel 2,000 miles to find my inspiration, 20 miles was enough.  The universe conspired to make it happen.  Snap.

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Small Things

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“Do small things with great love.” ~ Soul Pancake

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Recently, I had the privilege of spending a Saturday morning at the beach in Half Moon Bay with two beautiful, little girls.  We were there to get some snaps for the annual Christmas card and updates for the parents and grandparents.   The older daughter, serendipitously, is a member of the Class of 2020 =).  It seems appropriate, in my efforts to stay true to my blog, that I share moments and thoughts from this particular photo shoot.

These captured moments lend to my goal to remain true as straight photographer (look it up) in a digital world.  In my amateur days, I was once told by a professional that I must define myself in order to be a successful.  You must promote yourself as garden photographer, an equestrian photographer or commercial photographer.  Well, those who know me know why I will never compartmentalize myself or my photography.

The girls were a delight.  Always wondering and worrying if I got the shot, I paced a bit and stumbled over some seaweed that, when hooked in my toe, began to form an arc.  The girls looked at it, and, saw a heart.  They finished creating the seaweed heart, and, then giddily went on to make their own in the sand.  Two beautiful, loving sisters at the end of magical morning at the beach.  The last shot of the day (the one above) is always my favorite.

Peace and ♥

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New Beginnings

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“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” ~ Seneca

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The PBS journey (where Ally and her peers attended pre and elementary school) began in the Fall of 2005.  She was 3 1/2 and couldn’t bear the thought of us leaving her for five minutes, much less the three, long hours in this child’s playground of toys, indoor tree houses, puppets and magical teachers.  Some of the pre-schoolers would cry that first week when it was time to kiss mom or dad goodbye.  They all slowly adjusted and the tears, as expected, faded.

Fast forward to the last day of 5th grade.  Every teacher who spent time with Ally and her friends over these 8, wonderful years came to us, with tears in their eyes, to say goodbye.  The celebrating continued that evening with a 5th grade graduation party that included swimming, volleyball, zip lines and those same magical teachers who would pull us all together for one final group hug.  In the middle of this hug were the one time toddlers who grew together to find courage, kindness, community and a love of learning.  Each and every one of them had tears in their eyes, as it was now time to say goodbye.

Wishing Ally and all her peers luck and love on their journey to 2020.  May you all continue to find courage, kindness, community and a love of learning wherever this next chapter may take you.  Godspeed.

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