I spent some time outside on a rainy day early this week, seeking the fleeting abundance of blossoms of spring in the South, the most tender soon to wither in the heat. I live in an old log cabin surrounded by woodlands, and there are paths and magical discoveries around every corner. Wisteria is an invasive vine, threatening the health of so many trees and forests. But when the blooms appear, their fragrance fills the air, and the purple clusters of blossoms eventually begin to drop their petals and cover the ground with beautiful signs of, again, fleeting beauty and eventual decay.
I’m excited to have my portrait of designer Bonnie Christine featured in the March 2019 issue of Country Living Magazine. I was also published in Where Women Create WORK for my photography of Erin Borges, as well as having part in a piece in the March issue of Imbibe Magazine. I’ll share those spreads when I have them, but for a larger look a some of the print media I’ve been published in, click press. Thanks friends, I truly appreciate all of the support and opportunities I’ve received.
These promotional photographs, taken by Jake Eshelman of Side Project Skateboards, show the labor of love that went into creating this book, MANUAL. Jake’s concept for the book was to send one skateboard around the U.S. to various photographers, encouraging them to shoot and do whatever they wanted to the board, photographing their concept, and then mailing the board onto the next photographer. I’m honored to be included in this group of photographers. You can see a portion of what I shot for the book with my friend Mike Harboldt above - look for the motorcycle, American flag, and Mike on the preceding page.
Jake’s words about the project:
The culmination of a year-long, collaborative photography project, MANUAL is a 160-page, hardcover book featuring the work of 12 photographers who were commissioned to create small bodies of work surrounding their individual experiences with a single skateboard that traveled between them over the course of a year—all without the creative constraints typically associated with a creative brief.
This project features work by Lauren Marek, Sera Lindsey, Paige French, Melissa Laree Cunningham, Adam Taylor, Adrian O. Walker, Henry O. Head, Christian Gideon, Joshua Anderson, Weston James Palmer, Yana Yatsuk, & Kirk Chambers. Concept & creative direction by Jake Eshelman, with design direction by Daniel Pagan.
The year it took to make this book a reality has gone by so quickly, and I’m grateful that I was asked to contribute. I’m so incredibly proud of this project, and every other photographer’s take on the concept is brilliant. And also, so many thanks to Jake who reached out to me to be part of the book, and for Mike who agreed to help me with my part.
These are some photographs from the second of a two-part shoot I did for a wonderful, talented artist, Erin McIntosh. In my previous post, I shared some shots I took at a watercolor workshop she taught at Gregg Irby Gallery in Atlanta - I love showing the whole process of Erin painting in her studio, displaying her works in a bedroom as well as a gallery, to the immersive process of teaching and making art in conversation. I have truly enjoyed photographing Erin; her way of painting is so graceful (which she attributes to years of ballet instruction). You can read more about Erin’s life and work here, including other galleries that represent her, as well as her artist statement.
About a week ago I photographed Erin McIntosh’s watercolor painting workshop hosted by Gregg Irby Gallery in Atlanta. I have loved working with Erin over the years; she’s incredibly talented and has an inspiring work ethic, and is also so kind, so down-to-earth, with a friendly and bright presence. She’s in the process of building a new website, so while we have a studio shoot and styled interior shoot coming up, I thought it would be lovely to also have some visuals of her teaching, since this is also a large part of how she spends her time. Here is a portion of her resume:
Erin McIntosh is an artist and educator living in Athens, Georgia. She is an assistant professor of Studio Art at the University of North Georgia on the Gainesville campus. Erin has been teaching in higher education since 2007. Prior to that, she taught art to elementary-aged children in the public school system, through Atlanta’s public art programs, and at the Georgia Museum of Art. She has taught multiple semesters in Cortona, Italy, on the University of Georgia’s Cortona, Italy, study abroad program. Erin’s studio practice is rooted in abstraction in water-based media. She actively exhibits her paintings in solo and group exhibitions regionally and nationally. Her paintings have been published in New American Paintings, The Georgia Review, and Create Magazine. She has had residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and Atlantic Center for the Arts. Erin’s work is represented by Gregg Irby Gallery in Atlanta and Weinberger Fine Art in Kansas City, MO.
And her artist statement:
I find so much joy in moving paint around. I love to explore color and composition through painting a range of subjects that are biomorphic or geometric in nature. Many of my recent paintings are inspired by biological sciences and the microscopic world. The paintings I make are process-driven, poetic, playful and constructed through improvisation. My interest in abstraction is not only in its visual form but also in how visual form communicates sensorial meaning, non-verbally, akin to that of instrumental music. By making a painting, I want to add something to the world that uplifts.
Gregg Irby Gallery also represents two other amazing awesome client friends, Michelle Armas and Raven Roxanne, and I am surprised that it has taken me this long to actually be in the space in person. Not only is the space itself, the structure of it, so beautiful, but it is filled with gorgeous paintings that are somehow so unique and distinct, but are so relaxed in conversation with each other, perfectly grouped and arranged on the walls, creating an atmosphere that could not be more perfect. Which makes total sense, reading the story of the gallery and Gregg’s years'-long cultivation of the aesthetic and her passionate support for emerging artists:
It is often said that when you truly love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life and for Gregg Irby, this has proved to be true. Creating Gregg Irby Gallery has become the fulfillment of her lifelong dream. Growing up in South Carolina, Gregg was enchanted by the art her mother created and as she grew, art was never far from her mind. After earning a BS degree from the University of South Carolina and an MBA from Georgia State University, she began to collect paintings by emerging artists. As she continued to collect, she began to appreciate these artists’ talents and to recognize their untapped potential.
She saw the true need for a gallery that could help to discover and present new artists, foster and cultivate their talent, and provide them with an unpretentious and accessible place to show their work. In 1996, she began working with a handful of artists and offering their work at private shows across the Southeast. After a string of successful shows in Atlanta, Charlotte, Charleston, Nashville, and Jacksonville, Gregg knew she was onto something. Collectors responded to her low-key approach to presenting art in relaxed, gracious settings – and to her talented eye.
Her original gallery opened in 2007 in a small cottage behind a church in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta. Visitors to her gallery immediately noticed and appreciated these talented rising stars of the art world. As a result, many of these artists’ careers matured and flourished alongside the gallery’s and raised all to nationwide acclaim. In January 2015, the gallery moved to its current 3,400 square foot space in Atlanta’s Westside creative district. This decision allowed the gallery to continue to represent its once emerging and now nationally recognized artists, while being able to add other up & coming and acclaimed artists to its team.
Rather than having individual shows featuring one artist’s work at a given time, we try to have every member of the gallery represented on the floor at all times. This exposure is key for our artists and also provides our collectors with a holistic view, demonstrating how an abstract and a landscape from the hands of two different artists can relate & live together.
We truly love all of the work that we represent, and the gallery has become a curated collection of artistic styles that complement each other. This results in a loyal client base that returns time and time again to build a collection of their own, mixing and combining different styles.
I have so much respect for the women I’ve mentioned in this post, and it truly blows me away to reflect on my own beginnings as a self-taught photographer, picking up the camera for my old mommy blog. I had admired these artists from afar, never daring to think I would one day photograph them, and that they would appreciate my work much as I do theirs. Their stories and their work give me hope - that despite what recent events have exposed about our culture’s attitude toward women and their individual sufferings, the crushing injustices that so many have faced and some courageously choose to speak publicly about for the sake of defending truth, despite the challenges women face just by existing - these women are bringing beauty that is breathtaking and light-bearing, and it speaks to the viewer of our shared humanity and the gift of life. Their work gives me a larger, greater perspective than the narrow place I sometimes find myself in. Just as Erin wrote at the end of her artist statement - “By making a painting, I want to add something to the world that uplifts” - to that I say yes, amen, and thank you.
This past summer, I photographed David Hale’s ‘Meet the Artist’ workshop at Creature Comforts Brewing Co. here in Athens, GA. The workshop was the reception for his weeks-long showing of pieces from his collection entitled ‘Vessel: An exhibition of paintings and prints by David Hale’, installed in the CCBC Gallery. From the artist:
: vessel :
This body of work came out of a great emptying and a great replenishment. I believe we and all of Creation are inherently vessels, and this body of work is a testament to that nature. There exists no greater calling than to be a container; to properly fulfill this role one must be willing to be hollow in order to be full. My role in these pieces of art was just as a vessel for their creation, and they are vessels within themselves. One act of creation is a reflection of all of Creation. It is no coincidence that so much that is seen here is somewhere between: plant, animal, human, and Spirit; here between these worlds is where we remember that we are not just bystanders to Creation but actually woven into and throughout this ever-present and infinite tapestry that is Existence. I hope this work of my hands and Heart is a reminder that life came from Life, as light from Light, and this Cycle is unending. I am ever-grateful to be a vessel. –David Hale
These are some of the photographs of that workshop, and I really enjoyed working with David again. Also, participating in this workshop was artist Emmi Walker, who is in the process of completing art school at Lamar Dodd School of Art. She has already created an impressive body of work and I’m looking forward to seeing her continue to grow and be recognized for her talent.
Katy (Van Wyk) and I did a super fun, impromptu styled shoot with their stunning knives yesterday, and I could not be happier with how they turned out. These are people that I love dearly, and could not have more respect for their work and craftsmanship. Every time I work with them, I feel honored and respected. Take a look at their site to see some more of their work and some shots of them at work.
I had the opportunity to do a custom shoot for Swisher Sweets Outlaw brand cigars, and I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. Bikes courtesy of Mike Harboldt; models are Mike Harboldt, Emmi Walker, Janet Estrada, Patrick Mattox, Jordan Rothacker.
My family had the opportunity to accompany me on a work-cation (the only kind of vacations we get to take at this phase of life, but I'm not complaining). I was doing some private photography consulting for my friend and immensely talented surface pattern designer, Bonnie Christine, and her best friend Callie, who is an amazing photographer. Bonnie and her husband recently built this stunning farmhouse in the mountains of North Carolina, and we were fortunate to stay there with them, watch our kids hang out together with theirs for the first time, and just spend time talking and sharing about life, work, family, etc. My time with Callie and Bonnie could hardly be called work, though we did some heavy learning and a ton of shooting. The friendship they share and the way they welcomed me into their conversation and lives was heart warming. I always feel so supported when in the company of other positive, creative women. The joys and struggles of motherhood combined with the necessity and love of our work leads to mutual uplifting - genuine recognition of each other's worth, talent, growth, perseverance. and appreciation of the ability to laugh at the hilarious and awkward situations we find ourselves in (at times).
I also wanted to mention, briefly, that teaching is something I absolutely love to do. I am planning a Skillshare course, but the value of one-on-one or smaller group mentoring and consulting is huge. It gives me the opportunity to sit down with a client, honestly encourage them and gently critique their work, and walk through where they want to be and how to get there. Before the meeting, I send the client a detailed questionnaire to get super familiar with their existing work and future goals. Topics often include learning how to shoot in manual, the importance and function of the exposure triangle, how to deal with focusing/lack of sharpness issues, gear talk, what equipment you might need for your desired area of emphasis, post-processing and what tones/effects you'd like to achieve, all the way through to dealing with clients and how to best show your work. If this is something that interests you, I cannot say enough about the value of investing in knowledgeable mentorship. It may only be a couple or a few hours, but this packs years of experience and research (mine) into a short period of time (yours) that will guide you for years to come. Definitely contact me if you're ready to grow as a photographer and artist. If you'd like to see more examples of my work, please click work or any of the other galleries on the left side bar. If you'd like to know more about my experience and the clients I've served/where I have been published, please see print and clients (I am sure you could have figured that out on your own but I thought it would be helpful to have all those links in one place).
I sincerely hope that y'all have the best holiday season possible, and that you're able to have some time for reflection and gratitude. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays :)
I had the honor recently of working again with artist Erin McIntosh. She's an incredibly talented woman, creating fine art out of her studio and teaching her painting craft to students. I photographed her in studio several years ago, and she is just as kind, warm, and welcoming as she was in the past. I am always thankful to have opportunities working with women who are making their way as creative professionals - it is inspiring to see their work, spaces, routines, and individual take on living and working productively. This was certainly one of those occasions.
These are some of the photographs that I shot for The Secret Catalog Kid's Edition, which is a wonderful collaborative project curated by Adrienne Antonson of STATE the Label. Taken from their website,
"The Secret Catalog is a mail order print catalog that features limited edition goods by small, independent brands. Curated by Adrienne Antonson of STATE, the catalog features clothing, accessories, home goods, artwork, and more, delivered right to your door.
The goals of the catalog are simple: with all the time we spend looking at screens, an object like a print catalog connects us to something tactile – it helps us stop, consider, and be present. Our intention is for the Secret Catalog to be an experience. Along with gorgeous photo spreads of covetable goods, it also contains extra stories and treasures we hope will surprise and delight. After all, the keen anticipation of waiting for an exciting piece of mail is a feeling we all know and love. Combine that with the old fashioned wonder associated with a mail order catalog and there’s nothing quite like the Secret Catalog.
Each issue, we invite designers and artists to make work exclusively for the catalog. The makers are encouraged to create fresh work that inspires and excites them, something they’ve never made before. The catalog is a wild and free creative space that aspires to motivate our collaborators to take risks and to try something new. The results are pure magic as each issue has grown bigger and better than the one before.
Read more on our FAQ page, and join the newsletter below to stay in the loop."
I wrote previously about the experience of working with Adrienne and her team, all of whom are talented artists in their own right. I was especially happy to meet Lindsey Glass of In & Of in person, as I had been admiring her work from afar for some time. But also, notably, I loved seeing so many friends from Athens bring their little people to Thomson to be part of the shoot, and to meet new friends with beautiful kids, all of whom were a delight to work with.
Shoots and experiences like this remind me why I started photographing in the beginning - the opportunity to meet and connect with other creative people, see their spaces and beautiful work, and be able to take some part of that with me by means of my own artistic medium. Even as I pursue more time spent in learning the craft of weaving and sewing garments, photography will always, always be an integral part of who I am and how I see. It will always be my life's work.
I've been in the process of converting my youngest daughter's bedroom into a studio, because she rarely makes use of it, and sleeps with us rather than in her crib. It's a beautiful, light-filled space, with tall ceilings and huge windows. It is slowly coming together, but every step I take toward affirming myself as a multi-disciplined artist and making the commitments to simply do the work one step at a time, I feel more assurance and confidence that I am doing what I truly love - making beautiful things. The ability to do this from my home, raising three girls, continuing to grow meaningful connections in our community, enjoying the benefits of the friendships we have built over the years, and choosing every day to love my husband as best I can because he is simply the best human being - the ability to do all of this brings me so much gratitude and joy. I'll be back soon to share some photographs I shot with a dear friend for an amazing local female-owned business. Good things. <3
I had the opportunity to collaborate with Jake Eshelman of Side Project Skateboards and Mike Harboldt of Normaltown Moto for an upcoming print project that Jake is working on. I'll share more when it launches; it's a bit of a secret for now. But I wanted to post these, because they show both of these elements - Side Project and Normaltown Moto - in conversation with each other because the combination is so fitting. Both Mike and Jake started their respective endeavors as a passion/interest that they were able to turn into a business, which is rad. We have a Side Project board, and it is amazing to watch the girls learn their way around the board, mostly through the halls of our house for now, but soon they'll be graduating to skating out in the wild. It's also one of my favorite things to watch my youngest, Faeren, push Piper and Larken around while they sit on the the board. These boards are so well made, and Jake is an inspiring guy with a story; check out his site to learn about it. As for Mike, we've been friends for a while now, and it has been awesome to watch him along the way - graduating from art school, becoming part owner of his blacksmithing business, St Udio, and now having a dedicated space for working on his (and other people's) bikes. And also playing poker, along with other such leisurely activities, because it truly is a perfect space for that sort of thing.
I shot these a while back, and have a lot of work that I've already shot, edited, and made ready to post. This is work that I love and am super proud of, but haven't had the time to update my journal or portfolio for months. We've dealt with a lot of challenges as a family this past year - a move, sickness, John's job and personal work as he grows as a developer, and our changing day to day life as the girls get older. All of this, though sometimes difficult and often somewhat disorienting, has brought us closer and made us more resilient. John and I will mark four years together this coming March, but it feels like we have been each other's partner and best friend for ages. Piper will turn nine this coming May, Larken will turn six in January, and Faeren will be two in February. Most of the time, we have no idea if we are parenting and loving them in the best way we can, but we know that the most important thing is to 'just love them' - wise and true advice that a professor of mine shared with me after Piper was born. We navigate the various issues as they come and often feel like we have no idea what we're doing, but we do know that we love these girls and choose every day to do our best for them and for each other.
I'm grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with other artists, especially those that I can call my friend, and I'm looking forward to putting some new/old work up here soon.
I had been a long time admirer of Adrienne Antonson's work, STATE the label. I started low-key following her brand/work, discovered that she was in Thomson, only an hour away from Athens, and I reached out to her with the possibility of a collaboration. Time came and went, lots of life events happened, we both have young children, etc. BUT then she reached out to me to shoot for another project I was casually stalking, the Secret Catalog. For this shoot, the concept was a kid's edition of the catalog, and I was thrilled to find that so many of my Athens friends would be present with their littles, that I would get to meet some female artists that I have admired from afar via Instagram, and commune with so many talented, kind, kindred spirits. I can't share the photographs from the catalog yet, it has yet to be released, and (duh) it's a secret. Ha. But Adrienne's beautiful studio in downtown historic Thomson, GA is an oasis of beauty and creativity in the midst of classic small town South. I made these photographs between looks, and tried to avoid everything related to the much-anticipated catalog. These are just a few vignettes; I hope they inspire you as much as they did me. Oh, and quickly, here is STATE's vision statement:
STATE is the clothing label of artist and designer Adrienne Antonson. While living and working on an alpaca farm on Vashon Island, WA, Antonson was inspired to develop a clothing line honoring a thoughtful and handcrafted approach to fashion. STATE launched in Seattle in 2010.
STATE is now located in a tiny town in rural Georgia. All items are made by hand in the STATE studio in Georgia. Sustainable, organic, and recycled fabrics, reclaimed materials, and hand painting techniques are used in all designs.
I had the opportunity to collaborate again with one of my favorite groups of artists, r.wood studio ceramics. Rebecca Wood founded her studio here in Athens 25 years ago, and she is truly an anchor of the creative community that is so vibrant in this town. Taken from her site, here is a bit of history of her work and how the studio took root and began to flourish:
Rebecca came to Athens, Georgia in 1975, during the art/music heyday that produced so many bands and talented artists. She completed her art degree in drawing and painting in 1977 and stayed on in Athens, soaking up the exciting brew of ideas and creativity. She spent the next ten years painting still lifes in oil, selling most of the pieces she made. However, a stock market downturn during a solo exhibit in 1987 convinced her it was time to diversify. Soon she began designing and painting furniture, jewelry, fabric, and other household items. She took a china painting class because she'd always had a vision of selling hand painted tea pots at Neiman Marcus. After realizing the fragility of the paints on china, she decided to make her own plates and use colored glazes. A friend bought her a used kiln at a yard sale for $200. Rebecca ordered some clay and glazes, got out a rolling pin, and with no knowledge of pottery, started rolling out circles of clay. Some of her first plates she threw in a suitcase with her samples of hand painted velveteens and hats, and went to New York to meet the buyers at Barney's and Zona, the trendiest boutique in town. The buyer for Zona's japan store abruptly left the room, but returned soon after with an order pad, where she wrote out an order for $1500 dollars worth of plates. Rebecca was stunned, and R.Wood Studio was born. Fast forward to now. R.wood Studio is 25 years old, and one of the largest pottery studios in America. Rebecca proudly employs 8 artists who oversee the workings of the studio, leaving Rebecca time to pursue her creative interests. Besides creating her one of a kind ceramics, Rebecca is also one of the photographers behind the blog, and book, Beauty Everyday. It represents a pictorial and poetic love affair with southern beauty. She also has a blog called 'southernshacks.com', where she documents the beauty of old homesteads and rural structures. She is often found in the garden or the woods, studying nature in all it's expressions. Through pictures and drawings she studies the beauty in our world. These drawings and photographs inform all of her works, whether ceramics, sewing, gardening, or any other creative exploration! Beauty Everyday!
Rebecca is one of many women that have inspired and influenced me since moving to Athens in 2009, and her pieces are some of my most treasured items in my home. She is among the many talented women featured in Grace Bonney's book 'In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs' , and collaborates with fellow Athens artists (and women who I also draw inspiration from) Rinne Allen and Kristen Bach on their project Beauty Everyday. Athens has a rich presence of talented folks who share and influence the world with their craft, and I consider living here to be a gift. My hope with these photographs was to show the simple, yet artful and delicate shape of the pieces, and the way that the shapes converse with each other in situ. I chose a neutral color palette, simply out of my own aesthetic preference, but the range of shapes and colors that r.wood offers is eclectic and dynamic. The pieces grace my dining table on a daily basis, and while I love their appearance in itself, making use of them in daily life makes each occasion artful and full of meaning.
These photographs are just a handful of what I shot while visiting the brick-and-mortar home of Indie South Fair, a curated market that has been based in Athens for over a decade, beginning in 2006. Serra Branyon launched ISF after traveling the country as a vendor herself, learning about events of this magnitude, and has since hosted a remarkable number of successful events, not only in Athens but across the Southeast. Taken from the ISF site, here is how Serra communicates her work in the handmade community:
Indie South Fair is a traveling curated market that brings together artists, designers, and creative entrepreneurs to showcase their work in a festive atmosphere that includes music, artisanal food and drink, kids craft activities, photo booths and fun times! We not only foster budding small businesses, but their community of supporters as well. We believe strongly that face to face interaction between makers and their patrons is key to doing good business and building solid connections. Our goal is to knit together a network of makers, small businesses, and creatives across the Southeast. We want to bring their work to diverse markets while showcasing to the broader audience we have built after nearly a decade.
What We Do:
No matter what your schedule or budget, there’s an opportunity for everyone to be part of what we do. Applications are hand selected based on quality, innovation, and originality. Each event is a new experience with a different mix of artists and vintage dealers. Fine, folk and functional pieces can all be found here, as well as inspiration and opportunities to meet personally with the makers themselves.
Why we’re here:
Indie South Fair has earned a reputation for being the largest and most diverse market of its kind in the area, and one of the first to expand to multiple locations across state lines. Simply the best for lovers of the handmade, vintage collectors, and those looking to engage in their creative community. We welcome people from all walks of life to come together around a fundamentally human trait: artistic expression.
Serra and ISF have become a mainstay of the Athens creative scene, which itself is one of the most vibrant and quickly growing throughout the Southeastern region. I came to know Serra when I was a vendor in 2010. I moved to Athens in 2009 from Portland, Oregon, when my oldest daughter was still an infant. Before becoming a freelance photographer, I was a seamstress and had my own line of bags. I often think about that work and how much I enjoyed the methodical, solitary craft of sewing. I still sew - mostly making clothes for myself, hemming my husband's pants, making pillows and decor for our home. My interest in the fabric and fiber arts has been growing increasingly, thanks mostly to Instagram and the many talented fiber artists that I have discovered and been inspired by. John and I built a simple tapestry loom, and I am in the process of restoring a Schacht Spindle 4 harness tabletop loom, which will allow me to do the more fine-gauged, detailed work that I am drawn to. If I am able to grow in that art form and make a profit from it, I plan to move on to the Schacht Mighty Wolf in the next three years or so. I'm getting ahead of myself, as usual. While these children of mine are young, I find that being able to work at home while caring for them is not only productive and efficient, but expands my home environment into a creative space where they can also observe, participate, and learn, and their creative impulses are nurtured and encouraged. It also helps preserve my sanity.
On another note related to personal life, I have spoken openly about how difficult 2016 was for me personally and our family as a whole, while there were also many, many beautiful and important moments for us. One unfortunate ongoing issue that I continue to struggle with to this day resulted from a tooth extraction in May of 2016 that created an opening into my maxillary sinus cavity that was 1 cm in width. That mat not sound very large, but by oroantral fistula standards, it was quite large. The dentist performing the extraction did not pack and suture the opening, and as a result, I have had two surgeries, countless doses of antibiotics, chronic sinusitis and facial/tooth pain, and further dental work that cannot be finished until the problems with my sinus are resolved. However, I was fortunate to finally find an ENT here in Athens that was able to identify some of these problems and refer me to a specialist in Atlanta who works as part of the Emory University healthcare system. I am desperately hoping to find a solution to these issues. I'm thankful for the continued support, prayers, encouragement and help from my Athens community, as well as family. That appointment takes place next month and cannot come soon enough.
Friends, thank you, as always, for reading along and following my work. Looking back over my portfolio, I've found that my favorite shoots have been those in collaboration with other artists, and also enjoying the friendships that frequently result from that time spent creating together. I plan to do a lot more of that work in 2017. I already have a few artists/makers in mind that I am in conversation with, as well as my ongoing collaborations with The Seed & Plate and my dear friend Eve Nettles. I am also open to working with others with whom I may not yet be familiar, so if you are reading this and would like to talk about the possibility of working together, please get in touch! I would love to hear from you and learn about your process and work!
I had the opportunity to photograph the opening of a friend's shop, Sons of Sawdust Supply. This is the brick-and-mortar retail space that, in addition to offering a carefully curated selection of goods, also showcases the work of their business Sons of Sawdust. Matt and Shayna Hobbs, along with Matt's brother Ben, started this business shortly after our families met. They build furniture, design and install structural renovations, and salvage their materials, all crafted or gleaned from wood they reclaim from old and dilapidated buildings. It has been good to watch them build this business from the ground up, and have seen their hard work and innovation take form as a growing enterprise. Here is how they narrate their purpose and growth:
"Sons of Sawdust ™ is a woodworking business located in Athens, Ga that specializes in building custom farm tables, furniture and transforming entire spaces with reclaimed wood. Here is the story of how Sons of Sawdust ™ came to be:
The Hobbs brothers started Sons of Sawdust ™ after a series of unfortunate events that lead them to desperation and brokenness. A few years ago Matt and his wife, Shayna, lost their once successful photography business during the recession. In early 2014 Ben was working in construction and had a knee injury which left him unemployed and broke.
“In our deepest, darkest moments financially, there were thoughts of suicide,” Matt says. “There were thoughts that we could never rise out of this. I definitely had thoughts of ending my life—the utter despair I felt when we were going through all that.”
Shortly after Ben’s knee injury, he recalls, “I got really depressed, because that was my only source of income. And Matt, being the good brother he is, sits down with me and says, ‘How can we make some money for you? You don’t have to despair, there is a solution out there.'”
Matt had recently built Shayna (his wife) a homemade farm table as a gift. While building the table, Matt had the idea that Ben could build tables and sell the tables on Craigslist to make money until he could get back to his construction job. Matt shared this idea with Ben while sitting on his back porch just feet away from the freshly built farm table. This idea was the catalyst of the Hobbs brothers venture into woodworking as a profession.
Within a few days Ben got a call from a guy who was tearing down an old house and wanted to get rid of the wood, so the brothers jumped on what looked like a good opportunity. ”We just put two and two together and got the load of wood, built a table or two, put them on Craigslist and orders just started flying in. It didn't really start slowing down, so we figured we were on to something,” Ben says. And thus, Sons of Sawdust ™ was born.
The business may have originated from a stroke of luck in a desperate situation, but the Hobbs brothers' story as woodworkers has been much longer in the making. Sons of Sawdust ™ started in May of 2014, but Matt and Ben started working with wood as children with their grandfather, who they credit, their primary influence when it comes to craftsmanship as well as character."
In addition to the links above, you can find the Instagram account for Sons of Sawdust here (explore the archives to find their epic dance parties, thank me later) and the Instagram account for Sons of Sawdust Supply here.
In late August, this past summer, I photographed Wildwood Revival at Cloverleaf Farm, just up the road from us in Arnoldsville. The lineup for this year featured The Lone Bellow, Houndmouth, Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings, Thayer Sarrano, the Athens Cowboy Choir, JP Harris, and others, although my focus this year was shooting the artists and their art, along with specialty cocktails, atmospheric takes, the aesthetic of the event. I love the family atmosphere that Jesse and Libby have taken care to cultivate. It truly shines.
Oftentimes, I have work I've shot recently which typically ends up archived on my hard drive, locked away from eyes that might behold the element of beauty contained in each piece. These photographs resonate with me as a photographer/artist, and represent the next steps -- steps in a continuous journey, I might add -- toward where I hope I'm headed in this photographic medium. I'm kinda picky and strangely specific about what I choose to share and where. I prefer to keep my Instagram personal; little glimpses into our life as a family; me trying to find balance while still loving my people well; sharing about other art forms I'm obsessed with and beginning to pick up; ways I am finding to fulfill my need for creative work whilst caring for three littles. Oh and of course, oversharing phone pics of said girls (duh). SO. These locked away photographs, which I love, and want to share somehow, find a bright & tidy home here on my site. And from time to time, this visual journal brings a new client or two my way, which is *always welcomed. Because money, capitalism, and three kids. And date night.
I write this to say that I recently shot these photographs above at a beautiful historic home, one that has been skillfully and carefully restored, with specific intention. It belongs to a family we deeply appreciate, and we spent some time lingering inside and outside as the sun set and the littles ran around. The house sits on five acres, is filled with abundant natural light, and dare I say, we would love to live here some day. Some day. We shall see. Or as my dad has always said, hide and watch. The photographs above are some of those that I really dig, that would end up locked away or, best case scenario, make their way to my OFFSET portfolio -- which if you don't already know, OFFSET licenses a portion of my portfolio. (By the way, if you ever want to support my work outside of hiring me for a specific project, you can spread the word that those images which you can see here are available to be licensed for all sorts of purposes, large and small, and are quite reasonably priced. My portfolio for OFFSET is primarily older work; I'll be updating the set soon, with many of the images you see on these recent posts on my journal. You can also contact me anytime by clicking 'contact' on the left side of your screen to order a print of any photograph you see on my site.)
So what I am trying to communicate is that I plan to do more frequent posts, with less text. More visual, less blog-like. I'll still occasionally write about our family and those things, but like I said above, my Instagram is the best way to stay up to speed.
Thank you so, so much for supporting my work, reading my posts, and continuing to offer encouragement over these many years. Love to y'all. xx
last thing -- pro tip : if you are an independent creative content generator of any kind, you absolutely must read Milton Glaser's essay on Ten Things! Do it, read it. You won't be sorry.
Love you people, my readers, y'all are the truly the bestest.
I've been writing for probably three years now about wanting to chronicle home life, the girls growing, things we are learning, just generally things that are rolling around in my head. I've been wanting to do that but hadn't yet felt free to. There are a number of reasons... I blogged years ago, super openly, throughout the advent of mommy blogs. Then everything changed for me, and I lost my 'voice'. I wanted to keep my life more private following the major changes for me & the older girls a few years ago, and also after meeting John, marrying, and then welcoming Faeren. The criticisms that I heard along the way before, during, and after those changes made me wary of opening the possibility of judgement into our lives. (I realize this is super vague but it's not worth getting entirely into detail.) I think that now, after time has passed, having acknowledged some of my lingering hurts and demons, and finding a huge need for humility in myself and towards others along said way, I am ready to stop being so precious about sharing. My resentment towards 'the pressures on women today to be everything' & my rebel/cynical attitude, pushing away social media, hashtags, and 'trying too hard', was more about me, my self-doubts, my own pride and broken places. But I am seeing that with all this stuff -- it is what it is. Post whatever you want. If I don't like it, I don't have to look at it. Same for my stuff. People unfollow me all the time and that's great because we can be in agreement that my content isn't a good fit for them and now I don't have to annoy them everyday.
There is a bit more to my realization that I can post anything in the world... I was defensively clutching at my life, not wanting to let anyone in, because I wasn't healed and that wasn't okay with me. My various roles of wife, mother, photographer, income earner, friend etc felt very disparate and so trying to represent any of it felt false. My sense of personhood was fragmented. The things I've been through and done over the past sixteen years of life do have that fragmenting, disillusioning effect on a human being. But through some time I have spent reading, listening, working through some of the hard things, I am finding that in so many important ways I am only just now finding equilibrium -- a deep sense of stability, safety, and wholeness. I have found my voice again.
I need to interrupt to say that this is the most candidly I have written in a long time, and I feel like this is cliché montage to a certain degree. But again... it is what it is.
I listened to this *highly recommended episode of the Woolful podcast (you're welcome) and it was like the penny dropped... so much of this resonated with me, and I hope if you have a moment, you can listen to it. I think part of my life felt very stagnated -- even after meeting my beautiful husband, even after having another beautiful little girl, even after seeing my older two thriving and us all growing closer everyday. Creating & crafting with my hands were foundational for me as a woman. Those things had to be pushed aside so that I could pick up the camera to support my little family as a single mama. From then on, I was operating with a survival mentality which of necessity suppressed so much of what made me feel alive. Those were hard years, and they've left their mark... it's not easy to just move on from that way of living and thinking. There were many, many effects of that time, but one notable consequence was that I became burnt out on photography and freelance life. I will always treasure the medium of photography, it's basically part of how my brain works, but there has been a need for something(s) else that I can do that has no strings attached. Totally free of the hustle, entirely self-directed, repetitive in a therapeutic way.
I have a simple frame loom that John and I built with a bit of help from a friend, and it's awesome. I love the scale of it, because I love large pieces with texture, movement, an element of wildness. I also have a set of hand-forged carving knives, thanks to my friends at Bloodroot, and plenty of wood to learn small scale wood working. Spoons, bowls, serving boards, things of this nature. This brings me joy. I love sharing these things with the girls and showing them how they are done. (Yes we exercise caution, no they don't touch the knives.) I can do them with the girls nearby, set it down when my hands are needed elsewhere, and pick back up where I left off. So these are just some shots from home, after I started a new tapestry. John and Faeren were playing in the background and the love was so evident. I've found that leaving my camera out, which sounds crazy because it is expensive and big, eliminates the stress around taking photographs and makes it my own again. Which to me is life-giving. Thanks for reading. xx
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.