In my recurring dream, I can swim AND fly. I zoom around underwater head first -- without using my arms or legs -- and zoom up through the water into the sky and fly like superman, then plunge back into the water and zoom around some more. The fantastical bodies of water I swim in vary: swimming in pools as big as football fields; giant menacing waves off tropical coastlines; gentle aqua pools at the foot of waterfalls; deep green harbors; crystal clear blue bays. In my waking life, swimming and photography have forever been my two passions. All these years of photography enable me to make anything I see in the outer world into a beautiful photograph. But I have never before attempted to use my photography to expose my inner world.
I had the distinct privilege of working as a photojournalist for many years. Not only was I paid to do what I love -- make photographs -- but I also had a front row seat to Life ... births, deaths, and everything in between. I saw and experienced all facets of life: parades (you can smell the flowers on the floats at the Rose Parade), schools (and the aftermath of school shootings), all kinds of sports (from Friday night football to World Cup Soccer to Notre Dame cheerleading), maximum security prisons (I once left a lens in the prison laundry room where prisoners were working, and it was miraculously returned to me), the Dalai Lama (supreme peace), wildfires and oil refinery fires (terrifying), earthquakes (Would there be a huge aftershock while I was at the epicenter? With the gas stations closed, would I have enough gas to get back to the newspaper?), a Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Clown College reunion (hilarious), police funerals (gained a newfound respect for police officers), a police ride-a-long in East St. Louis (searching for the baddest of the bad guys, and we found some), Hands Across America (but I didn’t get to hold hands, wherein I learned the harsh reality of being a photojournalist: I get to witness but not participate), and on and on.
And in so doing, countless people trusted me enough to let me in to their lives, often during their most vulnerable times, so that I could photograph them and tell their stories to our newspaper readers. I did my best to honor their trust and their stories.
I worked at newspapers all over the USA: Portland OR, West Palm Beach FL, Long Beach CA, Grand Rapids MI, and Columbia MO.
I've been incredibly fortunate to travel as much as I have. It is travel, and the traveling state of mind, that inspired me to become a photographer. When we travel, we remain alert and open-minded to our new surroundings, and we learn so much in doing so. I wanted to have that mindset all the time, at home, too! The act of photographing puts me into the "travelers mindset," no matter where I am.
Please try to overlook the crappy scans of my old work to see the content. I'll scan it properly when I have time!
A born tomboy, I grew up playing sports, all sports. I was on teams during all of my academic years, and played soccer in college. When I became a photojournalist, I understood sports ... Not only the games, but also the feelings, the atmosphere, the subtleties surrounding the people involved. Thus I Ioved shooting sports.
I've made thousands of portraits during the course of my life. Here are a few favorites.
When I was a girl, I would sit in the garden and imagine I was Thumbelina, one inch high, and would pretend our little garden was an immense, towering jungle. When I use my macro lens or a very wide aperture, I kind of feel that way again, scrutinizing all the amazing details of the natural world. I made a series which included layering the images with textures for an old-world feeling.
In 2009, I read the blog of an English family with four children who sold their home, converted a bus into a motor home, and traveled around Europe for two years. Their blog was called Welcome to the World and they were the most open, friendly people I had ever read about. Oh, and did I tell you they all play music together, like the Partridge family? They are an amazing family. So I emailed them. The mom Manny emailed me back and immediately invited me to meet them in their new home in France. Happily, I already had plans to go to France, so I met them in April. Before that, we continued our email correspondence and I learned they were planning to make a film in July. Yep, that's right, they were going to make a film, a feature film, not that they had ever made a film before. The dad Joe is a lighting designer and had been around filmmakers, and Manny is an actor and singer. So Joe wrote the screenplay and directed. Manny produced and held the lead role. The two youngest children acted and the two older were the sound recordist and music director. And I wanted to help them with their film. I offered my help, they said yes. So in the summer of 2009, I was the script supervisor, continuity girl and still photographer in the film If You Ever Get to Heaven. It's a road movie that takes place along the Camino de Santiago, so we camped throughout France and Spain. Production lasted a month with a international cast and crew. It was the hardest I have ever worked. And this family? They are the most creative, multi-talented people I know. They did it! It's a sweet film. And I have the privilege of knowing them.
The First One
When I made this photo, after college and before grad school, I knew in my heart that I wanted to be a professional photographer. This photo sealed the deal. I was so moved to be able to distill the essence of a moment, of a feeling -- the pure joy and freedom and openness of being a little girl -- into a photograph. I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, beyond how difficult I knew it would be, that I wanted to make photography the focus of my life.
Not to be vain. But to show you some of the different times and aspects of me. I haven't been very consistent about making photos of myself, and now I wish I had.