Monday, May 27, 2013

Time To Find The Words

I've been back from my trip for two weeks now and haven't had time or energy to really sit with it all during those two weeks. The moments where I did write during the trip were moments of clarity. Moments where the words broke through the exhaustion and found their way to the page.

Since returning to Portland and returning to my day job, the words have disappeared. Maybe "disappeared" isn't the word I'm looking for. Perhaps they're there but just haven't found the strength to break through the stress and the frustration that my day job has gifted me with. The trials and lessons of this learning process I seem to be experiencing yet again. (What did I miss in the last lesson?)

I know the words are there. I just need to listen. Listen and be still. (Or is it "be still and listen"?)

Today is an unexpected holiday from the aforementioned day job. An unexpected blessing. I'm using it as a day to edit the photos I brought home with me. The photos will be my tool to find the words that mold themselves into memories of this great adventure I am on. Words to describe the amazing people I've met along the way and the beautiful places this project has taken me so far.

Here's to hoping.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New Jersey and Massachusetts

Long Branch, NJ
The last weekend of my week long travel for the project was spent traveling from New York to New Jersey and up into Massachusetts. On my way to New Jersey I was able to catch a glimpse of NYC and of Lady Liberty, which was pretty awesome, even though very brief. Extra time to "see the sights" was not built in to my itinerary so any glimpse of the sights was bonus for me on this trip.

Not knowing what traffic would be like driving off of Long Island, I gave myself extra time for the drive from Long Island to Long Branch, New Jersey. As it turned out, there wasn't much traffic so I made it to Long Branch with a couple of hours to spare. After stopping at a local diner for breakfast, I then headed to the ocean. It was the first time in a week that I had a moment to just sit and breathe. Water is a natural healing and grounding place for me. Anytime I'm feeling out of sorts, I'm drawn to water. It was nice to be able to sit on the beach and listen to the waves.

Lake Pleasant, MA
After the shoot in Long Branch I headed to Florence, Massachusetts, which is in the Northampton area.  Northampton is an adorable little town, by the way. I would love to go back for a visit and walk around the downtown area. Florence, the next town over, is also very cute. The shoot there took place on a beautiful farm with a creek behind it.

From Florence I drove to Millbury, Massachusetts to photograph an adorable young couple who live on the same property as a Kung Fu/Tai Chi studio. There were Buddha statues, a meditation corner and a beautiful pond. A great place for a photo shoot.

In the evening, I was able to spend a bit of time with a friend I haven't seen in close to 7 years. I also got to meet her partner and their toddler son, whom I've only seen in photographs on Facebook. Thanks to the generosity of one of the participants in Boston (and her roommates), I was able to crash on a couch Saturday night instead of spending close to $300 for a hotel room in Boston. Boston is awesome and beautiful but wicked crazy expensive.

Sunday morning I headed to Lake Pleasant, Massachusetts for a shoot next to the beautiful lake pictured above. How amazing would it be to wake up to this view every morning? It's a beautiful and not very well known lake with a 2 mile trail around it. I was lucky enough to be able to hike part way around it with one of the participants and her black lab, which was also a treat for me.

Boston, MA
My last shoot took place in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts in a beautiful park complete with a pond and hiking trails. Plus, I got to meet and photograph an adorable and very sweet Rottweiler named Ted. I swear his head was bigger then mine. 

After spending some time with the participant of the last shoot of the trip, I headed off to Boston Logan to catch my flight home. Thankfully, I managed to find a direct flight from Boston to Portland because at that point, I was ready to drop from exhaustion. Before falling asleep and shortly after take off, I snapped the photo on the right with my iPhone camera. I sure do love Boston. So much about it reminds me of Portland.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Waukesha, Roscoe, Ferndale, Toronto, Herkimer, Niagara Falls and Long Island

Participants from Ferndale and me.
It's almost 10pm in New York and I should be going to bed due to an early alarm to get up and drive to Long Branch, New Jersey then up into Massachusetts tomorrow but I just realized that I haven't updated since Denver and this may be my only chance until I get to Boston Logan Sunday afternoon.

This trip has been incredibly awesome. As exhausted as I am, looking through the photos of all of the amazing butches and femmes makes every ounce of that exhaustion worth it. I can't express enough gratitude to those who helped make this happen.

Over the course of this trip I've met the most amazing people, had inspiring conversations, been gifted soaps, candles, donations and very sweet thank you cards. I've also been to places I've never been before, and may have never have seen had I not started this project. Plus, I got to see friends I haven't seen in years and one I've known only online until now. But it was like we were friends who hadn't seen each other in years, as well.

Needless to say, I'm feeling very blessed.

Waukesha (WI) is adorable. Roscoe (IL) is beautiful country and farmland. Ferndale is the gay mecca of Michigan (did you know?!). Toronto is a huge city surrounded by beautiful country side and lakes. Herkimer (NY) is also adorable. Lots of old buildings. Niagara Falls is a tourist town these days. I learned quite a bit of history of the town from someone who grew up there, which sheds a different light on things. Much like the reality of Las Vegas and how poor a city it really is. The falls were beautiful and it was nice to be there during the off season so I didn't have to fight people to see them.

The drive from Niagara Falls to Long Island was, well, long. Eight and a half hours long to be exact. But, Long Island is nothing like I thought it would be. It's very country/coastal here, which is nice in my opinion. The couples that I photographed here like it but seem to miss being in the city a bit.

Part of me wishes I had time to do the touristy things in the places where I've been and am going but, when it comes to New York or Toronto, I'd much rather fly in and let the transportation system or the cabbies do the driving for me. It's worth the lower stress levels to me. There are a lot of people in downtown Toronto and I can only imagine that it must be pretty similar in downtown NYC. Which is awesome and at the same time overwhelming for me. But, my itinerary is packed this trip. So much so that I pretty much pass out as soon as I get into my hotel room. 

Which is what I need to do now. Pass out. But, know that I will be writing more about this trip!

Monday, May 6, 2013


Denver was amazing! My first shoot happened at the world famous Red Rocks! It was my first time there and I have to say, it truly was awesome and beautiful. 

Two shoots followed that one, one at a participant's house and the other at a participant's cabin, complete with horses! 

To end my day, I had dinner with friends I haven't seen in 12 years! Thank you for a wonderful day, Denver. 

This morning I'm off to Madison, WI then will be driving to Waukesha and Chicago. Needless to say, I can feel my energy struggling to stay up. I'm hoping to catch a nap on my next two flights. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Here We Go!

Waiting for my first flight for the 13 cities, 22 photo shoots in 9 days tour! Getting through security at the Portland airport was a breeze and everyone is so happy and friendly. That was a nice start to my trip! Plus, it calmed the nerves a bit. Not totally, but a bit. I'm what you might call a nervous traveler. But, by the time I get to the end of the week, I'll be an old pro at this.

I'll do my best to keep everyone updated here on the blog. Stay tuned for the adventure!

Here are my notes from the sky.

I'm on my first long distance trip for the project today and for the next 8 days. Salt Lake City, Denver, Waukesha (WI), Chicago, Ferndale (Mi), Toronto, Mohawk (NY), niagara Falls, Long Island, Long Branch (NJ), Florence (MA), Worcester (MA), and Boston. Twenty two photo shoots in 9 days.

The awesomeness of exactly what I've done and what I'm now doing hit me when the plane I'm sitting in started down the runway for take off. The reality of it became so real that it brought tears to my eyes. Wow. I have so few of those moments because I'm so embedded doing the work. The organization of it, creating the Kickstarter, travel plans, coordinating with participants, doing the shoots, editing the photos, building the web site, keeping the Facebook page updated, the blog updated, reading through participant responses, keeping responses and photos organized, answering emails and keeping my artistic integrity in check. There is so much involved with the shoots, too. I have a very short period of time to connect with participants and capture the essence of them. It takes a lot out of me. I have to stay open and take it all in. Focus on them and the surroundings without interruptions. That's a difficult task with everything else I have going on in my head.

I'm grateful to the muses for giving me this project. So very grateful to them for pestering me with it for so long. It needed to be done. For so many reasons. To start conversations and to help others find a sense of belonging.

I can do this. I want to do this. I will give it my all.