Watching the stars has been something that I’ve loved to do ever since I was a little kid riding back from a camp fire in my little red wagon late at night. My dad would pull me along and point out the constellations. Which is why I wasn’t surprised when I got a text from him during the night of lunar eclipse a few weeks ago saying “Check out the moon.” Little did he know, I was already posted up in the yard beside my apartment with a tripod and some slow shutter speeds, the only thing missing was a telephoto lens.
Twenty-Fifteen was a huge year for travel! In August after my cousin’s Washington State wedding, I made my way from Seattle to Portland, OR to visit my good friend Robert. I was absolutely thrilled to see him for the first time since graduating high school, and to adventure in the new place that he calls home.
Portland is a place that I’ve been itching to see for years now, and it exceeded my expectations. Robert showed me around some of his favorite places including the Japanese Gardens, Powell’s Book Store and the food truck blocks. We also wandered around the Reed College campus, checked out the various thrift shops scattered around the city, went to the rose gardens (in honor of Portland’s nickname, Rose City), and got lost a few times while using the bus system.
Though I was unable to photograph it, Powell’s was hands down the highlight of my trip. I have always been a bookworm and spending hours immersed in the city block-sized book store made me giddy. However I did also enjoy the tons of thrift shops scattered around the city.
Thank you so much for taking the time to explore Portland with me Robert! I can’t wait to come back again.
On August 8, 2015 my beautiful cousin Karissa married the man of her dreams, John Hagan.
From the way that Karissa talked about John I knew he was something special, I’ll never forget two years ago when Kay and I were sitting in the recliner in my Grandma’s living room and she whispered in my ear, “I have a boyfriend, and he plays the banjo.” But it wasn’t until the moment I saw the two of them together the following summer that I knew just how special what they have is.
Karissa and John adore each other to the core, and I think that’s part of what makes their copious amounts of PDA acceptable. I was more than thrilled when Kay asked me to photograph their wedding reception, I even snuck in some ceremony shots for fun! Being a part of their magical wedding day was a great way to get my wedding photography started.
Congratulations Kay and John! I love you both almost as much as you love each other!
Kismet has a very special place in my heart. The program is designed to help redirect the path and potential of disadvantaged and at-risk youth. This was my third summer working for the program, but it has been a part of my life for the past eight years, ever since I spent a week of my summer there in 2007 as a student.
This year I worked with four different and unique groups of students. However this group of divine fourth years had me out on the rock from 10am-2pm taking photos in the hot sun, and I wouldn’t take back a second of it… Okay, maybe I’d take back the sunburn.
As soon as I turned 18 one of the first things I did was get a passport. I’ve always known I wanted to travel, and that was the first step I made towards my dreams. However it wasn’t until almost two years later, on May 12, 2015 that I actually got the chance to use that passport to travel halfway across the world, to China
After taking a semester long course focusing on China and it’s relationship with the media, my journey started on a rainy morning at Saint Michael’s College. Where we were all loaded into vans before departing to the airport for a 14-hour flight. We landed in Kashgar, the westernmost point of China, and continued down the Karakoram Highway, which is now considered to be the modern Silk Road.
My classmates and I walked in the footsteps of those who came before us. We stayed with a Kyrgyz family in their yurts overlooking Karakul Lake, ate and danced with a Tajik family in their Tashkurgan home and spent a night dancing under the stars with Uyghurs in the Taklamakan Desert, also known as the Sea of Death. We enjoyed the cultural differences and experienced a part of China that many people don’t even know exists.
For our last day in Kashgar we started out early with a hike to Shipton’s Arch, the largest natural arch in the world. While hiking up the manmade stairways you can see it peeking out at you, humbly hiding it’s dimensions. However you can’t even fathom it’s vast size until you are standing mere feet from it. After our hike and a short nap, we traveled to the Id Kah Mosque, which is the largest mosque in China, went to a silk carpet shop and visited Kashgar’s Old Town, a seemingly disheveled gem full of genuine Uyghur culture.
With three day left in China we bid farewell to the west and made our way east, finishing up the remainder of our trip in the country’s capital, Beijing. Our day of travel was filled with long layovers, and a few cases of the stomach bug for some members of the group. After very little recovery time, we were up and loaded onto a bus to make our way into the mountains. We met with William Lindesay, a Great Wall expert, who gave us a unique opportunity to see a part of the Great Wall that is not open to the public. The overgrown section of the wall made me realize just how much history could be found within the stone structure.
Our last day consisted of a trip to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. After spending a portion of the semester learning about the history of these landmarks, it was impressive to see them in person. We also visited the 798 Art Zone, a large section of galleries and street art in the Chaoyang District of Beijing. Unfortunately when we arrived the galleries were closing, so we wandered around looking at the various street art and graffiti.
The final stop of our night was Houhai Lake, which is surrounded by a Hutong neighborhood famous for it’s nightlife. The colorful lights were beautiful, and they certainly reflected the eccentric area of Beijing. But our night didn’t end there, after a taxi ride back to the hotel, we all took the Dongcheng District of Beijing on foot. We wandered around maze like Hutong neighborhoods, took photos by Tiananmen Square and I celebrated my 20th birthday at midnight. Without any sleep, we returned to Tiananmen Square at 4am, to watch the daily flag raising ceremony. And after our sleepless night, it was time to go home. Ending the trip of a life time.
I spent a large majority of the trip with my camera strapped to my side, here are just a few of the shots I got from this unique country:
Special thanks to my professors Rob Williams and Traci Griffith, who made this trip a possibility. To all of my classmates for traveling to the land less traveled and taking every new experience by storm, even eating pigeon and using squat toilets. And to my mom and dad for not treating me like a crazy person when I told them I wanted to go to China.