I had the opportunity to visit my dear friends David and Katy, Luke and Helen and their little ones over at Bloodroot farm, a little while ago. David and Luke are knife makers, and over the years I've spent time photographing them as they work, their process. You can find a walk-through of that process on their site (which my husband John designed); it's fascinating to see them shape these beautiful knives out of recycled steel and raw material. I love these people and I love being out there with them. These are just a handful of what I saw on a cool, dewy morning in early summer.
These are a handful of the photographs I took during Spring Beauty Day, a Beauty Everyday workshop in which I had the privilege of joining as an instructor, along with some incredibly talented friends. The ladies of Beauty Everyday (Rinne Allen, Rebecca Wood, and Kristen Bach) planned and effortlessly guided us through the day. Mandy O'Shea, the brilliant creative force behind Moonflower Design Studio, provided these stunning flowers, all grown organically and sustainably on her solar/bio-diesel powered farm. Kat and Susan of Sweet Olive Farm were our wonderful, warm, and generous hosts. Erin Wilson and Lindsey Pennington, culinary geniuses and style icons behind Wild Food, served an incredible feast made from foraged edibles that grow in this region of the Southeast.
The day began with coffee and tea in the barn, making introductions, and chatting about our various interests and backgrounds. Then Mandy lead our guests around the farm, gathering native plants to use as greenery with her blooms. Back at the barn, she led the group in bouquet making, while she shared some of her thoughts on flower farming and sustainability in an industry fraught with pesticides and herbicides, in addition to the thousands of miles that commercially sourced flowers have traveled before they reach the hands of the consumer. After some free play time with the abundance of blooms, I shared about my work as a photographer, my take on noticing and documenting beauty in an increasingly trend saturated visual culture, and balancing/blending creative work and family life. We spent some time practicing that documentation with our cameras, which was where the majority of my photographs originated. With the incredible beauty of the flowers, and plenty of gorgeous props provided by Rinne, I literally wanted to spend the remainder of the day pulling different elements together into vignettes and experimenting with darker, more moody lighting in my photographs. I am very pleased with the results, and editing these pictures brought me so much joy as I watch my work evolve and grow within the medium of photography. Following our picture-taking, we enjoyed our delicious meal, which you can read more about here on the Beauty Everyday site. We lingered over honeysuckle sorbet, rested for a bit, and then gathered to hear Rebecca Wood share her studied, thoughtful, and gestural method for illustrating flowers. All in all, it was an excellent and enriching experienced, one that I feel so grateful to have shared with both instructors and guests. I believe there will be more opportunities like this in the future! I would love to share a workshop with you, so stay tuned to Beauty Everyday and/or my site for updates. xo
This past Friday (March 25th, 2016) I drove a familiar, memorized route to Greenville, SC. Familiar because I drove this same path so many Monday mornings of 2014, photographing Barb Blair's second book, Furniture Makes the Room. The concept was to expand on her first book, the DIY bible Furniture Makeovers, which became a gold standard for before-and-after enthusiasts everywhere. Barb's target for this second book was to create a beautifully styled, interiors-centered work, lush with photographs and an eye toward detail. She chose fifteen pieces to re-work, and while she does walk the reader through those processes, the book mainly concentrates on how each piece functions in various environments. Her mantra is, always has been, 'Live with what you love', so she shows these bold pieces, each in three different environments, as versatile and even preferable -- especially when combined with an eclectic assortment of art, objects, and textiles. To bring her concept to life, she assembled a team of contributors, and I found myself, somehow, among that privileged group. The wonderful people at Chronicle published the book. Barb, obviously, designed and completed each piece, developed plans for each styled vignette, and wrote the book. Julie Dodds of Willow Florals contributed the elegant. flowing arrangements, Jessica Barley of A Darling Day was our prop stylist, and Angie Thompson lent her impeccable aesthetic and positive energy to each shoot. I had the happy task of photographing all of it.
As production began, this is how it looked, for my family: Monday mornings I drove the girls to their respective schools. I then settled our beloved occasional nanny/basically family member, Jen, into John's car so that she could pick up the girls that afternoon, always comforted that she was the one who would be with them while I was away. Thankful she was there. Next step, I drove the two hours from Athens to Greenville to meet Barb and the team for shoot days. We typically shot six to seven hour days, and then I would drive back home.
Initially, Barb and I spent some one-on-one time shooting each furniture piece in original form, followed by her step by step process as she essentially redeemed them, and lastly we shot simple flat-lays of the tools she used. Then began the styling phase, where each team member worked together, combining our strengths, and seeing beauty unfold as a result. Our days were filled with hauling furniture, decor, and photography gear, removing and subsequently replacing the contents of (sometimes multiple) rooms in friend's homes/studios or Barb's own former studio. Constantly perfecting vignettes with flowers and styling elements to complement her pieces; always adjusting, refining. Studying the perfect light to bring her beautiful vision and work to life.
Making this book has been a marathon, and those in the industry will attest that quite a bit of time stretches between initial conception, to production, to final delivery, to publication. Barb's writing phases took place after shooting was completed, followed by edits and revisions. The timeline of all of this is strange, in a way, because the shoots somehow become distant memories, and anticipation to see how the work will come together grows in intensity as the months pass. But then bits and pieces of the layouts and pages would come along, beautiful surprises at the most unexpected times. Our editor at Chronicle would send them to Barb, who faithfully and excitedly passed them on to our team. All of this anticipation culminated at the book launch party, which I photographed, shown above. The launch party perfectly coincided with the grand opening of Barb's new studio and shop, which is the stunning space where we celebrated. It was a moment that Barb worked so hard toward, and being able to photograph this significant time for her was an honor.
Overwhelmed is how I can best communicate what I feel when I see the book. From initial glimpses, to seeing the cover design, then the whole book laid out, and finally, holding the actual finished product in my hand... it humbles me, moves me and fills me with gratitude.
As for my work, I am self-taught. I have always been drawn to photography and as a beginner, I consumed every bit of information and technique that I could get my hands on. I was thrust into full time professional photography when I suddenly needed to provide for my girls and myself, and I had no other way to earn a living yet still be present with my children most days. I saw my work begin to evolve and progress as I shot over and over again, hundreds of hours, honing my craft. The 10,000 hour rule, people. It's a real thing. I am by no means a master in this art form, which is obvious and doesn't really need to be said, but I'll say it anyway. I love the work and it will always be something I do, professionally or otherwise, because I find beauty in it and I am compelled to photograph beauty. Though I have never aspired to fame or wealth through my work, I have a vision for how I want my body of work to look and to grow. My focus has always been on the work itself, rather than the hustle, achieving status, etc. Those things are not bad or wrong, nothing like that, it just isn't what motivates me, personally. That being said, I did not, could not have known, that I would be given an opportunity like this. Barb has been a woman that I have looked up to and followed for seven years; her work ethic and positive energy are an inspiration to me and many others. I now hold in my hands a beautiful book by this gifted maker/author and a reputable publisher, with my name on the cover as the photographer. This whole process, from start to finish, has been a gift, and I am so grateful. I want to also thank my readers and supporters -- many of you have followed my work for years, faithfully encouraging me and affirming my efforts. Your affirmation and continued interest has been a source of pride for me and has allowed me to continue doing something I love. Thank you for that.
Lastly, I am excited to share that I photographed another book for the endlessly talented interior designer Kirsten Grove, which will be published by Sterling, and will be released late fall 2016. I'm eager to share some of the shots from the whirlwind production that Kirsten immaculately planned and executed, along with the story of how she and I connected -- it's related to this book, and again, I have Barb to thank. Thanks Barb. Ha. (I'll just call you and thank you again over the phone.) Next up, a few words about how this whole mama/wife/artist balance (or lack of, often) is coming along. xx
I stumbled onto some music that moved me, just this past week, a band called The Stray Birds. Their songs have been on repeat, filling our house as we move rather clumsily through these recent days. Three girls... one newborn, two starting to find their own way, in small ways, as little people. John is away at work for a good part of the day. Normally Piper would be in school and Larken would be at Arrow, but this week is spring break, so it's been the four of us girls. Five, actually, counting our cat, Willa. To be honest, I'm feeling overwhelmed. I realize that there are women out there with much harder circumstances and those with possibly more manageable circumstances, but this is not a competition, and I need to acknowledge the state I find myself in, personally.
I am hopeful; I know that we will get through Faeren's newborn days, though I will be sad to see them go. I know the two older ones will be at the same school next year, and there will (probably) be some balance. Some measure of predictability, a rhythm. I know this is a season. But right now I am overwhelmed. For me, lack of sleep, postpartum depression and anxiety, the needs of a newborn which are so physically demanding yet still so treasured, wanting to look into the eyes of my other two girls and see that they know they are loved by me, that I am there for them... all of these factors (and more) create an internal state that doesn't know how to rest.
A friend and colleague recently posted this beautiful, vulnerable, courageous work about her experience living life while suffering from anxiety and, as a result, trichotillomania. She is so brave. She is so beautiful. Her words and photographs reminded me, all over again, that one day there will be a time and there will be words for me to do what she had the bravery to do. To share my story, in full, because there is a lot to share. Her piece gave me hope. I encourage you to read it, if you have the time and emotional energy.
But I am not there yet. I do at least feel free to say that for now, when I am weary, the hardest, darkest, most lonely hours of my life haunt me most. When I feel like I am failing at everything. When I feel that I am constantly letting down my beloved people. When I feel like I have lost my voice as an artist. When I fear I will never work again, not fearing loss of approval or fame or whatever, but for loss of the satisfaction and joy in making something beautiful to share. When I fear the very thing I love and am giving my life's energy too -- family life, motherhood -- is something that I am not convinced can be done well by me. This kind of tiredness and weariness reminds me of times past when I was very lost, in my younger years, when I felt the same but for different reasons. This state of mind brings up memories and pain that are in one sense past, but in another sense, are always part of me.
I see juxtaposition happening within me that is striking and presently, seems difficult to reconcile. I sense myself growing as a woman, a wife, a mother, an artist, in so many ways that I value as components of my identity. But those very same roles are what come into question in this vulnerable time. My identity, it seems, is contested, not by the outside world, but by me. Yet -- I have an instinct that I will see all of these elements one day converge, no longer partitioned. The hard as well as the good. I believe that this is happening now, even when I can't see it. My past struggles and loss now give me the gift of empathy. My shame and failure make me able to forgive and accept forgiveness. So I muster hope, hold fast, and -- this is important -- learn over time to extend those gifts to myself. I cling to the 'invincible summer'.
For the record, I need to say that what I am writing may make a reader feel uncomfortable, as if they should encourage me to get help, etc. Please know that I am aware of the dangers of postpartum mental health issues, how they can affect me and the children in my care, as well as how those same health issues exist and need care entirely unrelated to childbirth, motherhood, gender. I am taking appropriate steps to care for myself and my children. This post is not meant to be a cry for help. It is rather asking something that needs to be asked, again and again -- 'What is the point of anything I post, anywhere, if I can't be honest?. This is me being as honest as I can, publicly, for now.
One of the most healing things for me in my process of growth has been, and is still, working with my hands. The small, repetitive movements carry a calming effect; bringing order out of chaos soothes my anxiety and gives my obsessive tendencies a healthy purpose. The end result reminds me that I have worth. I have value to contribute. I have the ability to make things that enrich my life, my family's life, the lives of others. Only I can make these things because of the life I've known, which has shaped my aesthetic and appreciation for beauty. So therapy, for me, has happened this week. It has been rehabilitating thrifted mom jeans into my favorite new pair (I suppose that still makes them mom jeans...). My loving and attentive man gifting me with tools to learn a new craft, one that can be done at home while the girls run around, much like sewing. Photographing at home and including at least one little girl, my Larken... Piper is camera shy these days, and Faeren, the youngest, is either asleep or in my arms.
Which brings me full circle to The Stray Birds. If you've had the patience / empathy to read this far (bless your heart), I'll leave you with a lyric written by my new favorite musicians. It's from a song called 'Never for Nothing'.
"I'm dripping from rivers I never meant to cross. But I like the things I'm learning more than anything I've lost, and oh, I have lost, oh I have lost. But not for nothing. Never for nothing."
p . s. My other two favorite songs are 'Sparrow' and 'Dream in Blue'. I put together a small sample of their music which you can listen to here. xx
I took these photographs around our house in the early morning light, shortly after the sun rose and everything looked soft. Early light has that beautiful wrapping quality. Especially when the sky is overcast, which it has been lately. We moved here to this American Foursquare bungalow at the beginning of October, our third move in as many years, and my fifth house since summer 2012. I absolutely adore this home. Obviously it's older, with large windows and tall ceilings. We had to paint the walls after we moved in; actually John painted the walls after we moved in. Most of the house is still kind of empty, but I am not a person who decorates in one motion. It's more of a process for me, shaped by thrift store finds, textiles, our growing family of plant children, and little things I find along over time. I'm content to let the house evolve. One of the best things about moving here, which was not easy because we loved our previous home, has been the extra space. We have enough rooms for a nursery, and the girls occupy the finished attic upstairs, little a-frame bedrooms on either end of the house with a playroom between and a perfect bathroom with a claw foot tub. We miss our closeness to friends but love living outside of town. Our house faces a pasture with goats and sheep; I love how quiet it is out here.
I am close to 31 weeks pregnant, and every step, every use of energy feels measured and counted. I don't seem to have the energy I had with past pregnancies. I'm making conscious efforts to not be overwhelmed, to remember how brief this time is in the span of a life, how little time we actually have with these girls before they're grown, and how the gift of knowing them and being their mom is completely worth the cost. This pregnancy, even though it has been a difficult journey in many ways, has given me a renewed sense of purpose, and has brought us together. I love my husband more deeply and appreciate him more, and the memories that being pregnant again have brought to my mind have been sweet memories of the girls, while I carried them and when they were born. I love them more than I ever have before, and I hold dear their presence more than ever before. I see the value of what we have together. I'm deeply thankful for these souls.
I recently revisited my old blog... I used to have what could probably be called a mommy blog, which I started in 2010 and carried throughout 2013. It began with a focus on Piper, who was around six months old in the beginning, and my sewing, which is what I did before I became a photographer. I wrote a lot about some fairly personal things -- my first marriage, becoming a mom, my theology and spirituality. To be fair, I wrote on a shallow level about some important topics. I always kept it positive, even when things were really hard, especially relating to that marriage. In retrospect, I am so glad that I made that choice. But something happened to me in my inward life, a kind of cynicism and disillusionment... I saw a lot of dreams die, completely out of my control, and I did not know at the time, while they were dying, that they weren't meant for me. I pulled away from a lot of things that felt too emotionally demanding, especially if I felt like I was being asked to be fake, or couldn't completely engage or fall apart openly, the way I really felt. I stopped writing about the girls. I definitely stopped writing about my spiritual life. Honestly there were quite a few things I needed to think through, grow through. It was right for that time.
As I anticipate welcoming this third little girl and her birth, making space for her, gathering the warm and soft newborn things to comfort her, I am overcome with a sense of how much healing has happened in me. I did not know, when all those things were dying, that I would one day be able to look fondly at them with joy, because of how loved I am. I did not know what I would have today.
So from this place of freedom, I feel like I want to become again someone who shares our family's stories and the many, many reasons we have joy, because we share love. Reading through my writing from years past, I was struck by how much that simple blog brought goodness into my life -- dear friendships, a chronicle of days, however shallow, and photographs to help me remember these beautiful little people who have grown so much. I see the value in photographing and writing about our life, not because I have a dog in the fight -- no points to prove, no theological systems to hold over heads, no desire to incite a faithful following of admirers. I feel like the real beauty lies in telling the truth about who we are and where we have been, where we are going. I think part of seeing that narrative take shape can happen when I take time to reflect. Thanks for reading, and for what it's worth, I'm glad to have people to share this with. xo
Methodical Coffee is a relatively new coffee bar in the heart of downtown Greenville, SC. As you can see, the space is incredible, and the coffee they serve is better. I loved working with Marco to provide them with a small library of photographs to pull from for multiple uses.
I realize I haven't been posting much of my recent work lately, and I've been asked if I am still working. The answer is that I am still working, although I will say that I've been a bit out of touch while trying to journey my way through this pregnancy. Thankfully, baby is healthy, and we look forward to welcoming our little girl in February.
Either way, here is a quick update on a little bit of recent work:
The book that I shot for Barb Blair is available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and will be released March 22nd! So excited to hold that book in my hands.
I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of Trouvé Magazine volume 04 -- I photographed the cover, as well as a feature inside the issue. I worked with some friends for the piece and will be thrilled to see their stories in print.
I've been working with a handful of artists, some of that work I can share today, the rest I can share later. I photographed painter Emily Jeffords for her site redesign, and a tour of her studio was featured on Design Sponge. Some of my work with Deann Hebert was published on Style Me Pretty, here, here, and here.
Lastly, I want to share a site that my husband built and which also features some of my photography. Our very dear friends, Luke Snyder and David van Wyk, comprise Bloodroot Blades, blacksmiths who make knives in their nearby shop. It is very special to collaborate with John on a project, and I could not be more pleased that we were able to share this particular project. Thank you, reader, so much, for following my work. I'm excited to prepare for the upcoming holiday season and spend time together with my family. In the meantime, I'll be popping in to share bits and pieces of life. Take care, until then.
I took these photographs earlier in the summer while visiting 3 Porch Farm for a project that I've been working on for the past year and a half or so, the Seed and Plate. I took photographs and Erin, Jodi and I spent time talking with Mandy O'Shea about her floral design studio, Moonflower Design. Of her work, Mandy writes, "Moonflower has a mission to provide beautiful, fresh flowers, uniquely arranged, that evoke the essence of the season at hand. Our flowers are sustainably grown with much love and a determination to help advance the Slow Flower movement, while creating lovely floral designs for events and weddings. Our arrangements tend to have a more free flowing look to them and often include various pods, tendrils, wild grasses and other natural elements. We love to bring nature indoors." I have been an admirer of her work for years, and her farm has been one of my favorite places to adventure on field trips.
Summer is drawing to a close, and I'm getting close to the half-way point in this pregnancy, my third. Piper started school this week, and Larken has been happily attending Arrow. As our family life continues to expand and grow along with the girls, I find myself becoming increasingly drawn to the process of simplifying our life. This has meant making some difficult choices about a handful of my projects, which I love, but cannot sustain the level of input and consistency that is fair to other contributors, who are also my deeply respected friends. So my time working on the Seed and Plate is limited, for now, for this season.
That being said, I am looking for a couple photographers to pick up where I left off. Photographers with an experience in food, photojournalism, or agriculture should contact me via email for more details : firstname.lastname@example.org. Because of the focus of the project, physical location in the American South is necessary.
As summer comes to a close, the school year begins, and this baby grows, I am anticipating fall and winter more than ever.
These are a few frames of a shoot I did on Little Barn Apothecary for Urban Outfitters blog -- you can find the full post on UO here. Joshua and Brad make their fresh, luxury artisan had, face, and body care products by hand in Atlanta, and have quickly found a following. Their balancing mist, made with aloe and rosewater, makes my skin bright and dewy, and their jasmine + ocean water texturizing spray gives my hair carefree waves and just the right amount of body.
I've been a bit behind with sharing work and staying connected this summer, for a few reasons, but probably the biggest is that I've been feeling pretty quiet. I keep an arms-length relationship with social media, and I do that intentionally, because sometimes I want a break. I think that it is healthy for me. Even as I say that, I remember that everything else has continued at a consistent pace... the girls get older, prettier, and smarter every day, or maybe it just seems that way to me. Piper turned 6 not too long ago. John and I have been dreaming about our next steps, work has been good. I've had some wonderful opportunities and there are even more on the horizon -- exciting things are planned This past month has been mostly consumed with finishing up final edits for Knack Book 2, pushing to finish up my editing schedule, shooting pottery for R. Wood Studio, working with USDA to shoot a campaign for Farm To School, booking up the remainder of my summer, gearing up to shoot for Apartment Therapy as a new tour contributor. We drove to Indiana to celebrate my grandmother's birthday and the 4th of July with family, and loved the cooler weather, the tall cornfields, the green grass and lush trees. It has been a slow, restful summer... exactly what we needed. xo
This is the house where my friend Chrissy Reed lives. She's a photographer, an artist, a carpenter, a gardener and chicken-raiser, a collector of beautiful things. She was kind enough to let me photograph her house again ( it's been almost three years ) for a position of sorts that I wanted to nail down. The love I have for her house is due to it's eclectic spirit, a small reflection of her spirit. She has a beautiful spirit. I love homes that reflect the heart of those that live in them, and am learning to appreciate that particular element over furniture that reflects a certain period of design, or some impersonal element... an impressive, pretty collection of books / publications. Something like that. I did not, unfortunately, have the opportunity to make a portrait of Chrissy this time.
'Man's continuity somehow comes through all the external things that constitute him... If the photographer is to have a chance of achieving a true reflection of a person's world--which is as much outside him as inside him--it is necessary that the subject of the portrait should be in a situation normal to him. We must respect the atmosphere which surrounds the human being, and integrate into the portrait the individual's habitat--for man, no less than animals, has his habitat. Above all, the sitter must be made to forget about the camera and the photographer who is handling it.' .Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1952
I feel as though I am at an interesting point with my work, in the sense that there were many things that I believed, three years ago or so, would be held in high regard in my life for the rest of my life, in my own mind, maybe even the minds of others. I don't really care for those things much anymore. It seems that the things I do care about now, that I fight for and desire, and work towards, are mostly unseen. They are either unseen because they involve matters of the heart, my heart and my family's individual hearts, or they are precious things that I don't care to lend out. They are worth too much to me to give away to make an impression. I think that is what I am trying to say; I am past the point of trying to make impressions, which is me admitting that yes, at many points, I believed the only way to progress in my work was to make good impressions, outside of simply just doing the work. I find myself now at a point where I want the work to reflect the things that do matter to me. Years ago, I didn't realize some of the things I see now. Things like -- after loss, grief, self-blaming and self-doubt, huge mistakes, struggling to accept forgiveness, struggling to forgive, and fighting real hard with the lie that nothing matters anyway; after seeing gains and losses, money made and money gone, seen the blips of temporal success and surface-level acceptance and affection, then stared long and hard at what you really have to count on, what you really can stake your life on, and found that what actually matters has nothing to do with those things; in the midst of wondering if it was possible to be truly known yet not taken advantage of, if hope and love were worth risk, and finding that yes, more than worth risk, love chooses me, love does fight, love does hope, and hope does not disappoint; after letting all of those very heavy, but truthful and beautiful things wash over me, letting them change me, somehow everything superficial is sifted and doesn't hold it's appeal anymore. I would rather shape my life after the things that I know to be true.
Truth be told, my work is just that -- work. I am so thankful for my work, for the places it has taken me, the people I've met, the moments I've experienced, the strength, perseverance, quickness it has taught me. But just as in the quote above, there are aspects in which this type of work invites me to come and lose the shadows, the fear, the stress, the sense of ownership over my life and my time.
'For me, the camera is a sketchbook, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously. In order to "give meaning" to the world, one has to feel oneself involved in what one frames through the viewfinder. This attitude requires concentration, a discipline of mind, sensitivity, and a sense of geometry--it is by great economy of means that one arrives at simplicity of expression. One must always take photographs with the greatest respect for the subject and for oneself. To take photographs is to hold one's breath when all faculties converge in the face of fleeing reality. It is at that moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy. To take photographs means to recognize--simultaneously and within a fraction of a second--both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning. It is putting one's head, one's eye, and one's heart on the same axis. As far as I am concerned, taking photographs is a means of understanding which cannot be separated from other forms of visual expression. It is a way of shouting, of freeing oneself, not of proving or asserting one's originality. It is a way of life.' .Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1976
If I were to make a list of things I would like to see come from this life-shaping time, it would be something similar to... build a darkroom, do studio work, begin sewing again. Release collections of prints and textile goods along a theme. Continue to work with my friends and collaborators whom I love and respect (Erin, Eve, Jodi). Think about getting my MFA and teaching somewhere. Most obviously, most importantly, press into my family, be present with my husband. Make the main thing the main thing -- our time together and our home life.
These are just a few photographs of Spring Studio Day, hosted at the Brick House on May 9th. We spent the morning and part of the afternoon together, wandering through the woods, gathering plants, leaving behind distractions and deadlines. Eve spoke about her work as a sculptor, installation artist, and stylist, and the prominence that a sense of place, but also permanence vs. impermanence, holds in her pieces. We learned about elements of composition, finding and using styling elements within one's close natural vicinity. Rinne taught us about the process and history of cyanotypes, originally termed light drawings, which is her preferred name for them. We used the plants, flowers, and seeds that we collected to make light drawings of our own, and while they were drying, I shared a bit about my work, what inspires and influences me, and the value of cultivating one's own voice as a photographer. We enjoyed Eve's lovingly made, delicious lunch outside on the patio.
This was a very special and meaningful day for me, and I am still thinking through the experience. I gained insight into some aspects of my craft that I want to explore and grow in, and also aspects of my life that are out of balance right now. This day prompted me to think about what I want my life to look like in the future, as a wife, mother, artist, friend. I will write more about that when I am ready; right now it's still raw. Having the opportunity to work with both Rinne and Eve on the same project was such a gift to me. And having my mom there with me was so special, just before Mother's Day. It was so important to me to be able to take part together in making the cyanotypes, and her having them to take home. We were thankful for each woman that came; so many sweet people and so much enthusiasm! We parted ways with happy hearts. You can read thoughts from one of them, my friend, artist and painter Emily Jeffords here. I was a little bit swept up in the practical side of the day, and got some really beautiful photographs of our day.
For those of you who missed this one, we will be hosting another at some point, and I look forward to giving even more the opportunity to join us! You can find more of Rinne's work here, and more of Eve's work here. Back soon with more wedding photographs, personal work / thoughts, and maybe a shoot with our entire family (including me, wow).
Most Mondays of the past year (2014) were spent traveling to Greenville, SC to shoot with Barb Blair of Knack Studios while she worked on her 2nd book. I feel very grateful to be included in that process, and I cannot wait to see the finished product. The title of the book is 'Furniture Makes The Room'; it does include some of the furniture techniques for which Barb is so celebrated, but includes beautiful styling and decor. The publisher is Chronicle Books, and it will be released early 2016.
Thankfully, I have a talented, small tribe of Greenville artist friends, and we keep up with each other's work, how our families are doing and growing, and opportunities to collaborate on projects. Most recently, Barb was invited to partner with Rachel Faucett of Handmade Charlotte to create a campaign to introducing Waverly® Inspirations Chalk Paint. I was happy to be invited to photograph this, work with Barb and Rachel, and be able to share just a little taste of our work together. Julie Dodds ( Willow Florals ) directed floral design (not only for the book, but for this campaign as well), Jessica ( A Darling Day ) provided props and helped with styling, and my dear friend Angie popped in for a bit. She lent her hand in every aspect of the making of that book. Her talent transcends genres, but for this project, she served as second-hand stylist to Barb; their working relationship is symbiotic. The book, and this campaign, pictured above, (these are just a few snippets), are reminders to me of that time we spent together. Heart strings tied to each other. Moments where we realize we're working in harmony in an unexpected way.
Special thanks to Barb, Handmade Charlotte for bringing me on board, Waverly and parent company Plaid for featuring this collaboration. You can view current posts by Barb here, the full tutorial here, and Rachel Faucett's descriptive here.
Last weekend I travelled to Nashville to photograph the wedding of Emily and Julian. I realize that many photographers photograph weddings and then rave and gush about how wonderful, magical, perfect, amazing, 'best ever' every single wedding they shoot is, but my thoughts on this couple and their wedding day are rarely spoken by me, and heartfelt.
Emily knew she wanted me to shoot her wedding, and I found that to be pretty awesome, because she is a gifted photographer. I had seen her work before but had not met her while we were living in Athens simultaneously. I met both of them when they came to town for a show -- Julian is the drummer for The Whigs. Julian is a talented musician, and a pretty laid-back, self-assured guy, well-spoken and intelligent. Emily has a light within; she radiates. Bliss and a tiny bit of sass, kind of. So meeting them last year, and then spending their wedding day with them, was a gift. They're beautiful people and they're even more beautiful together. I loved meeting their family of friends, and many of those people still reside here in Athens. Goodness all around.
From the time I got to their house to the time I left that evening, everything was super chill, and I had the sense that there was excitement, joy, and people ready to celebrate. Their ceremony had everyone in tears, was so clearly precious to both of them. These are just a handful of picks from the first part of our time together. The excitement of a bride getting ready for her wedding is so beautiful. I'll be sharing more from this wedding in portions. And yeah, that's Waylon Jenning's '62 Cadillac Fleetwood.
Also, if you haven't seen this, Rinne Allen, Eve Nettles and I are hosting a Spring Studio Day on May 9th, out in the country just between Athens and Crawford. We'll be at The Brick House from 9 am to 1 pm, as Eve, Rinne and I share about our process and spend time creating together. Seats are limited to twelve, and there are still a handful left if you'd like to join us. This will be a lovely retreat from the bustle of daily life, a day spent immersed in nature and learning to make art in new ways. To reserve your seat, please click 'studio day' at the top of this page... or click here. I would be thrilled to spend this time with my readers and friends. xx
I had the opportunity to shoot the work of a seamstress that I admire and respect, Shawna Lea Maranville, based in Athens, GA. She sells her work at Community, also located in Athens. She uses repurposed, recycled fabrics to craft modern garments. We shot at Stan Mullins' art studio situated just before the railroad tracks on Pulaski. Avery Draut and Emily Braden modeled (respectively, pictured last). Hair was beautifully done by Shane McBride and Allie Miller of Washington Square Studios , and makeup was the work of Jana Vlaciky of Eliana Cosmetics. Rhys May provided that perfectly edgy, feminine jewelry.
I had the opportunity to photograph five female musicians who are based here in Athens for Urban Outfitter's blog. You can see the full post here, including interviews by Mercedes Bleth. These talented women are, respectively, Ruby Kendrick, Thayer Sarrano, Erin Notarthomas, Kristine Leschper, and Erin Lovett. Urban is opening a store in town, and is also a sponsor of the Slingshot Festival, which is happening right now. I had an amazing experience working with each of these women. They were welcoming, kind, intelligent, I could go on... but I realized (again) how much I enjoy photographing artists and musicians in their spaces. It's some of my favorite work. I am also thankful that these women allowed me to photograph them. It's an intimate thing, I think, to give another person permission to take your picture. The process of making a portrait can bring up insecurities, fears, but also courage, and vulnerability. It is a process that involves trust, and I am humbled that people trust me enough to give me space in their lives this way. It's an honor and a privilege. So -- thank you, ladies, for letting me be part of this, and also to Urban Outfitters, for supporting these musicians and bringing me on board to be part of the project.
Eve and I spent a beautiful, shade-lit spring day in studio. Trimming and packing prints, setting up the cutting table. Hanging one of our nettles + french 3' x 2' prints on the wall, to see them in our spaces and breath life into our work. They provide hope for future projects. I so much appreciate our work together. We will be releasing new works soon, so please stay in the loop! Visit nettlesandfrench.com and send us an email : email@example.com .
In the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer.
This is the work of my dear friend and collaborator, Eve Nettles. Her mind is an endless well of newness, of art, of beauty, and her art is filled with thoughtful intent and evidence of brilliance. She uses some of the most unassuming media (drywall, papier-mâché, wall paper, fibers and fabrics) to infer meaning through sculpture. The pieces above are part of a body of work entitled 'Lodging Coerced'. She used paper pulp, molded into into the corners of her current home, to give voice to that phenomenon which is essentially the emotional, human connection we build into the spaces we inhabit. Heart strings are somehow tied to places and homes, and we carry those with us, for the rest of our life, though we do not carry the dwellings themselves.
This is more than just a commentary on the importance of a childhood home or the room I gave birth to my oldest daughter in, though those are such meaningful, emotional places for me... over the course of our brief time knowing one another, Eve and I have talked, grown close, told each other our stories, shared our burdens, and seen such surprising gifts come from our time spent together as collaborators and sisters, not only in work but heart. Themes have begun to emulsify and we are aware of the hurts we tenderly share, and one thing that we seem to continually come back to is this lifelong struggle between longing for permanence and experiencing impermanence. Along with that, though, is also the longing for change, for new growth and life, and yet finding one's self, at times, unable to change. These are deep threads that weave throughout the tapestry not only of my and Eve's life, but it seems, so many of those I have come to know in the course of my life. And I think this is an element of Eve's work that I deeply respect. It is not only beautiful, but it carries so much weight, so much truth.
She is one of so many friends that I am blessed to have in my life, who are creative, generous yet humble with their wisdom, sources of hope and the reality that tomorrow is always a new day, there is more beauty to be taken in, more exploring to be done, more growing and more grace. These people remind me that though the struggle of literally just getting through today is real, I am surrounded by and get to enjoy the company of friends who share their life with me. Eve, like so many others, brings light into my life. I hope you enjoy these pieces that she graciously allowed me to photograph, both on gallery display, and in an open field, in the middle of winter, eldest daughter with us, exploring the landscape and feeling like little girls again. We left with rosy cheeks, flower and branch souvenirs, and photographs that will be part of our next offering of prints. If you have not yet had a chance to visit the site where we share our collaborative work, take some time to visit Nettles + French, and consider purchasing some of this beautiful work for your own space. Perhaps it will be one thing you can bring along with you as you journey from place to place, and will remind you of your own heartstrings.
I was invited to photograph Wildwood Revival, an eclectic community of inspired artists and like-minded folk brought together by one common thread: music. These are some of the pictures I took while I was there. This is the festival's second year, and although I didn't attend the first, I fell completely in love with the second. Everything about it was intimate and tailored -- the setting was beautiful, with a welcoming invitation to camp out both nights, before and after the music started, lingering into the night after the music ended, sharing a bonfire and sharing a meal. This happened to be a date night for John and I, and it felt like we were experiencing something magical; we were both so excited to be there. There were families with bundled up little ones, artists selling their work, friendly people, an eggie trailer transformed into a photo booth, local beer and food, and obviously, incredible music (to see this year's lineup, visit their site). The sun setting over the pastures, seeing the tents and teepees dotting the fields, and the smoke rising from a few fires, all of it was incredibly beautiful. Jessie and his wife Wendy host the festival on their property. They invite the artists who perform, they recruit sponsors, promote the event, and pour tons of energy into making it happen. I am so glad that they do. I am so glad that this exists. If you haven't made it out yet, be on the lookout for the next event. With all of the things I love about Athens, it was an adventure to get just a little ways out of town and enjoy music, food, beer, and fall weather with some lovely folks in the country.
And friends, I am proud to announce the initial offering of prints from Nettles and French, which you can view and purchase on our site, nettlesandfrench.com. They come in a range of sizes and are priced perfectly for holiday gift-giving. I can't say enough about how pleased I am with the quality of our canvases, printed by our friends at Dapper Ink. The clarity, color, and texture are so delicate and perfectly compliment the aesthetic of our work. If you live in Athens, you're invited stop by the Shotgun House (543 Pulaski Street) tomorrow between 5 and 9 pm for a holiday market. I'll be there selling our prints, along with some other incredible artists selling their work. We'll have treats and perhaps a little wine. I would love to see you there, and show you what Eve and I have been working on. There is something special about holding the prints in your hand. The next step for Nettles and French, besides continuing our work when Eve returns from France, is to set up a newsletter through which we can easily share our upcoming events. We plan to have openings for each of the releases, and we look forward to sharing those evenings with you. I will be sure to share that link when it is available.
In the meantime, our little family is getting excited to share Christmas and spend time together. My sister just gave birth to a beautiful little girl, Anne Marie, and I traveled to meet her this past weekend. I also got to travel on to Asheville and spend a couple of days with some amazing women; I value them so much. My heart is full and thankful. One last thing -- we started an Instagram account for N + F -- @nettlesandfrench. We'll be sharing new work, behind the scenes photographs, pop-up shops and more. I hope that you'll have a chance to see the new site and follow along with us on Instagram. xo
Nettles and French is a project emerging out of Athens, Georgia. A story between sculptor and photographer.
These photographs offer a glimpse into a new direction of work between Eve Nettles and I. We're excited to share this project; some of the photographs will be shown on our site, nettlesandfrench.com, along with writing about our process, what we're working on, etc. The content on our site gives voice to what we're doing -- the narrative behind and between the release of prints, which is our primary focus: releasing a limited number of prints, for short periods of time. These prints are physical, tactile proof to points of evolution as we collaborate and work together. To begin, we have a group of four photographs, and we will provide more detail on the sizes available, how many are offered of each, and where they can be purchased. We'll be making those announcements via my personal Instagram, Eve's Instagram (@evenettles), our website, and also @nettlesandfrench. Additionally -- we have an opening planned here in Athens in early December; guests will be able to view the pieces in person, and have the opportunity to purchase one of the prints available only at the opening. So I suppose this is the soft introduction, but we look forward to what will come. Early December; stay tuned!
This man pictured above is a brilliant artist, husband, father, and kind soul. I had the privilege of meeting David Hale a few years ago, shortly after I relocated to Athens from Portland, Oregon. He did a beautiful cover up of a tattoo on my foot, and since then I have followed his work as it exploded across the internet and the world. He's a special kind of person; the popularity hasn't seemed to affect him, other than making the choice to literally stop taking appointments and instead using a newsletter system with Gratitude Designs -- prospective clients can pick from them to enter the lottery. He chooses one client for each design, and the design will never be used on anyone other than that client. He uses a donation system when accepting payment and donates a percentage of each tattoo and art sale to hand-picked charities. Included with his newsletter, every letter, are words of thankfulness, gratitude, connectedness to the natural world, thoughtful self-examination, and hope. He welcomed me into the studio and I spent some time with him and his apprentice, Evan Morgan, and he tattooed a beautiful swallow on my right shoulder. You can see the drawing of it taped to his lamp, the third photograph from the bottom. Read more about David's work at davidhale.org and his tattoo studio, Love Hawk Studio, at lovehawk.com, where you can also sign up for his newsletter.
This tattoo carries so much significance for me. It's a reminder of the softening of my heart and the strengthening of my soul. This came after a very difficult time; actually, almost fourteen years of difficulty, with a three or four year rest that passed shortly after the move to Athens. I feel, in many ways, that I am entering into rest and abundance. I wrote about why my first three years in Athens were difficult in Issue A of Alphabet Family Journal, and the title of the piece is Abundance. Interestingly, and fittingly, the editors chose this title for my four page spread containing 500 words and a handful of photographs, showing a gathering with my friends. In one photograph, Larken, as a baby, is being held by Zelda, who would eventually introduce me to John, my husband. The hard exterior, defensive spirit, and basically survival-mode mentality that I carried as a single mother has given way to hope, joy, and, there seems to be no better way to say this, softening.
I've written a bit about taking a new direction with my work, and while the studio concept is on hold for a time, I have been building something new and fresh, along with a lovely friend and artist, Eve Nettles. Every Thursday we meet, discuss different visual movements, gather materials, and begin. She composes and designs, I photograph. This work has brought me so much joy, and a feeling of satisfaction -- beauty created and unfolding as we work. We are in the process of building our website, where you'll be able to see each series of installations photographed, and also purchase as prints. Eve is participating in a gallery opening this Friday evening, and I'll be present with my camera to photograph some of her work on display. We'll also be handing out a few small prints with information hand written on the back, including the name of this project and our site's address. If you live in the Athens area, please join these artists in the Plaza & Bridge galleries of UGA's Lamar Dodd school of art. For those that are interested but won't be able to attend the event, I'll post a few of our pieces and more information on my site's journal sometime next week. So many aspects of this work reflect the softness that I mentioned above.
Our family has been finding our way through a very busy time with regards to John's and my work, but through all of this we have found comfort in the company of dear friends and have loved seeing those friendships deepen and grow. We have been enjoying the girls so much; they're both so sweet and hilarious. With regard to work, the deadline for many months spent investing in Barb Blair's second book is nearing. Though there is pressure and so much to be done, the entire experiencing of working with Barb and the other members of our team, Angie, Jessica, and Julie, has been wonderful and enriching. I can't wait to see that book in print; the publisher is Chronicle and it will be out in early 2015. I don't think I am allowed to say anything other than that. You can read more about Barb and what she does at knackstudios.com. I have learned so much from watching her balance work and family life, while constantly supporting those around her and having a light-hearted spirit. She is truly a wise woman and I am honored to be her photographer for this book. I have only a handful of weddings left, and have some other smaller projects in process, but overall I see the light of more rest, less stress, more time together at the end of the tunnel. It has been really encouraging to see my work featured in some major places recently: Domino, The Huffington Post, and Minted, thanks to my sweet friend Emily Jeffords, and Bon Appétit (here and here) and in a German book about knives called Messer by publisher Tuebner, thanks to my people Bloodroot Blades, who are some of my favorite human beings. Their work continues to gain recognition and much like David Hale, the popularity hasn't changed them in any way. It has been so good to watch them grow and receive well-deserved exposure.
Back soon with more information on my work with Eve and also a handful of pieces to view.