Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! In celebration of today, here are some fall/Halloween themed instax photos!

Those cute little kids are my neice, nephews, and their friends.

And my brother makes an excellent giraffe.

Fuji Instax Wide film doesn’t have many patterned frame options, so when I saw the Halloween ones I freaked and ordered them. Halloween is my all-time favorite holiday, so c’mon, gotta indulge a little bit.

It was the first time ever I had trouble with the paralax shift of this camera, for some reason. Probably because I was shooting up close. Whatever, I made a collage.

Happy Halloween and Happy Shooting!

Nightmares and Mistakes

The series of nightmares continue. This time around, I made some mistakes when I went out to shoot. Two of my films ended up fogged, and one of the images I was really looking forward to sharing. Mais, c’est la vie. I’ll most likely re-shoot it. But the fogging worked decently on the one image, so not all was lost. Remember kids, if you screw up, pretend you meant for it to happened! One of my favorite excuses: “It was an artistic decision.”

I also forgot to load film into one of the film holders and “took” two pictures. I would say you should have seen my face when I made this discovery, but you wouldn’t be able to anyway because I was in the dark room getting ready to develop the non-existent pictures.

I’m going to pretend they were going to be the best photos the world has ever seen, and because of that they were not allowed to exist. Pity.

So, I have this sort of habit with film where I want every shot to be perfect. It’s a noble pursuit, but let’s be real, even Ansel Adams didn’t get a perfect shot every time. As an artist, odds are you will never be satisfied with a shot, or a painting, or a story, or whatever. Because if you were satisfied, you would stop creating. With some of my pictures, I feel that I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish with the tools and skills that I had at the time I took the photo. That doesn’t stop me from critiquing it and possibly exhibiting it, but it just goes to show that you can be proud of your work and at the same time be critical of it.

I’m going to share the photos now, but as a disclaimer the last image of this batch of four makes reference to sexual violence. If you are sensitive about the subject, I don’t recommend taking a look.

That’s all for now. Keep checking back for more, as the series is only half-way finished at this point.

And no, I am not worshiping that grave stone.

Happy Shooting!


Allow Me to Share My Nightmares with You

I’m not a lucid dreamer. But, I am a writer turned photographer, and when I wake up from a dream that I remember, I rush to write it all down. However, I’ve discovered a trend to this method- I don’t write down my good dreams. I only record my nightmares.

Nightmares were and still are a huge deal to me. I had terrible night terrors when I was kid. I was hysterical frequently, either because I saw something “scary” and didn’t want to see it again in my dreams, or from waking up from a particularly bad dream. They barely made sense, they seem silly when talked about, but for me, they were horrific. Nowadays when I have a nightmare, I usually wake up, realize I had a nightmare, and then fall back asleep. Because I’m overtired awesome like that.

When we recall dreams, they are like snapshots. Bits and pieces. So, with B&W film, I decided to recreate some of the snippets I saw when nightmare-ing. Don’t judge.

They probably don’t make sense to you. Because they’re from my head. Just statin’ the obvious, unless I have a mind-twin somewhere and we share the same dreams… but other than that, these are mine. It’s a personal series that I alone know the story for each image. I’ve been thinking a lot about narrative lately, wondering if there is something beyond being able to look at an image and get a story. My nightmare snapshots could be narrative images, but the narrative will never match mine, unless I reveal the terror behind each and every image.

But where’s the fun in that?

I had a blast with the view camera, tilting it and moving it in certain ways to get a blur or a distorted effect… It was so so so great, and I can’t wait to shoot more. And, the images are gorgeous in tonality. I’m in love. There will be 20 images total in my nightmare series, so keep an eye out.

Also, that black space beneath the “black white black…” photo is the result of not taking your dark slide completely out of the camera before exposed. Whoopsies.

Oh, and I developed film for the first time today. About time.

Happy Shooting!

Advice on Surviving a World that I Actually Know Nothing About

I have some second-hand advice to share with you. My first piece of advice, which is the most important, is to be prepared to explain what kind of work you do. Practice it. Write it down. Get it plastered on a bulletin board- that way, you can tell people about the kind of pictures you make, whether you are discussing it with friends or if you’re asked out of the blue by a well-known and highly-regarded photographer whom you respect and all you have to say is, “Uhm. I make like, sets-installations and I kind of just stick my model in them.”

Not speaking from experience at all, but in this hypothetical scenario, something like, “My work is pretty conceptual and deals with the tableau and sometimes I experiment with the concept of ephemeral narratives,” would be much better than the answer mentioned in the above paragraph. But not like I know or anything.


This weekend (Thursday-Saturday,) a well reputed photographer who graduated from MSU came to give an artist talk and a couple of classes on retouching and photographer/model relationship. He also was doing a shoot, for the benefit of us photography students and theatre students. He’s photographed many celebrities and other important people, assisted David LaChapelle and Norman Jean Roy, and his understanding of light is super intense. His visit has been planned for a while now, and about three-ish weeks ago two others and I were asked to assist this shoot. So, we assisted.

We did inventory of the equipment MSU owns, picked out what the photographer requested, and packed it all up and unloaded it for the shoot. It was, actually, awesome. Probably because it’s never this chill in the real photography world. So don’t take this as truth– it’s all toned down significantly in my situation. SIGNIFICANTLY. Keep in mind that this industry is hard. It can be cruel, it can make you cry, it will tear you apart and then eat the pieces of you that remain and chew those up and spit you out. My experience was the equivalent of a kiddie pool. The real industry is like a shark tank and you, the diver, don’t get a cage to be safe and sound in. Take it seriously.

But, yeah. I missed the studio equipment.

I snapped these images super quick because I had never done anything like this before, and it was exciting for me. It makes me want to know what it’s really like to be a photo assistant for a big shoot. Probably more heavy lifting.

We shot at a big performance hall on campus, backstage. Some theatre students came in to model for him, who were all really friendly and funny. Watching him engage his models and talk to them was something I was taking mental notes on like mad. Sometimes when I shoot, I try to talk to my subject, but when I don’t know the person that well I don’t know what to say or how much to say or ask.

But he has such a good feel for people it was all natural. He asked questions and would snap away when the model was telling him about whatever. He got a lot of great expressions and energy that way, and it also made the subject more comfortable and easier to work with. Something I liked was how he would take the camera out of his face every now and then to have a conversation with whoever he was shooting. It was great how personal he was, and I’m going to try and practice that. I won’t be able to photograph my friends forever, so I need to get comfortable with photographing strangers.

Some tips from him on being a good assistant:

  • “The assistants who make it are the ones who shut up and do their work.”
  • “No one should know you’re there.”
  • “Assume you know nothing.”
  • don’t wear flamboyant clothing
  • have common sense
  • be prepared to work for free for a long time

One thing he said has been nagging me though, because he’s not wrong, which is probably why I keep mulling it over: there aren’t many female photo assistants. Most photo assistants are strong men who are capable of lifting and carrying heavy equipment, sometimes even up stairs. There ARE female assistants, but I’m guessing they are strong enough to do the job without hurting themselves. So, ladies, if you want it badly enough, time to get some muscles.

Some things I learned while assisting him on a shoot:

  • Bring tape. Bring lots of tape.
  • Be focused. A little mistake can cost a lot, including safety.
  • Watch where you are walking, because cords.
  • When handling equipment, have spacial awareness. Again, safety.
  • Think ahead.
  • You are responsible for the logistics. Did the models sign their releases? It’s up to you, not the photographer, to make sure.
  • Have nothing to do and the set isn’t ready yet? Then you actually don’t have nothing to do. Go find something to do, like tape a cord down or something.

So, basically, HAVE COMMON SENSE.

I admittedly made a couple mistakes this morning on the shoot, like not knowing anything about one of the new pocket wizards and being unable to get the right sync cord fast enough (I had a moment where my brain was like I’M NOT GONNA WORK YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN BYE.) Also, don’t share outlets, if it’s possible. Each piece of equipment should have its own power outlet. And, if you’re using stands with twist section locks, make sure those bad boys are screwed in TIGHT. Aim for having to use a wrench to undo it, just to be sure.

I had a really great last three days and I learned so much. I’m keeping his stories and my experience tucked away in my mind, because this information is inevitably going to be useful. He said something along the lines of “Every time I do a shoot I learn something new.”

I’m big on learning. I never want to stop- and as it turns out, I guess I never will.

Happy Shooting (and Assisting!)

Also; I never said the photographers name because reasons and uncertainty and my own personal paranoia, but I’ll just casually leave this here and not say anything whatsoever about it: yay vagueness!

September’s Photos

September is over, as is summer, and I’m getting close to the end of my “Carrying Around a Camera Everyday” project. Or, maybe not, maybe I’ll do this forever. Or I’ll get really ambitious and do the 365 project (which is a terrifying prospect, but doesn’t that mean I should do it?) Anyways, enough of me figuring out what to do with my life- here are some pictures:


I took a lot of my pictures at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, because really, there is so much to see. There are a couple hints from my most recent photo shoot concerning dreams, but you won’t be seeing the results of that for a long time- so enjoy the teaser.

Well, that’s all for now. Happy Shooting!

Chicago in Selfies and Snaps

Last Friday, I went on an adventure to Chicago, IL. Now the last two times I’ve graced this metropolis with my camera, I ended up with zero pictures, because I was such a huge rookie in the analog world I didn’t know my camera wasn’t advancing film. Live and learn and cry over emulsion that had so much potential.

But anyways I went on the trip with the art department, thinking I’d spend the day alone and contemplating Magritte until my best friend, who lives in Chicago, would get out of work. So, because I’m a loser, I decided to record my day with Snapchat.

I deal with my loser-ness with humor.

The trip was the day after my interview with WOOD Radio in Grand Rapids, and I was riding the bus, friendless, next to a random girl who didn’t mind me invading her personal space because when I fall asleep sitting up I tend to lean to the left and she was on my left and I woke up a couple times practically breathing down her neck so I actually don’t know if she didn’t mind or if she was silently thinking about ways to end me. But yeah, she didn’t know she was sitting next to a celebrity, since being interviewed on live radio one time rockets you into stardom. Duh.

When we got to Chicago, I wasn’t sure what to do, so I just kinda walked in the direction of Lake Michigan because I wanted a shot of the skyline. Walking along the lakefront was wonderful, as the rainclouds were receding. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Lake Michigan in person, but it is so gorgeous and so blue. And cold- that damn thing has some icy wind. Be responsible. Bring a jacket or five.

I had an epiphany as the wind blew through my bones and I was getting sideways glances from the occasional passerby (I was really into this whole Snapchat Your Sorrows Away thing.) I didn’t need to be alone. Since I’m famous, I have friends everywhere, including my high school friend and freshman year roommate who is currently going to law school at Loyola. So, a couple texts and a tourist-spree later, we met at Starbucks and my Snapchats and I were in good company for the rest of the day.

Also- when did it become a thing for middle schoolers to go to Starbucks? No, go away, you have enough energy. Go get a Slurpee, the caffeine dependency will come later. Enjoy spending your allowance on Yu-Gi-Oh cards (or whatever kids play with these days,) instead.

So my adventures were on the Metra to Wicker Park to Gold Coast where my friend lives in a high-rise because NBD to meeting with my Chicagoan friend to take the train to the ‘burbs. And then we headed to Michigan the next morning. The end.

Also, that is a lot of selfies. I never take selfies.

I was really excited to be back in Chicago, and visiting the city has made my longing to go to grad school there even stronger. I’ll be back in early November to visit for future educational purposes, but until then I will pine away and look at the fun pictures I took with Lomochrome Purple XR film. Once they get developed. Because I’m avoiding the possibility I’m just not allowed to take photos in Chicago and another roll was ruined. Denial is a wonderful thing, my friends.

Happy Shooting!

I Accidentally Photographed the Universe

So, I accidentally photographed the universe. Maybe.

I’m a little bummed because I haven’t really created any pictures in a few days, so I was reminiscing about my photography career in the form of going through my files and being a critic about everything. A walk down memory lane is never complete without crippling self-criticism! But then, I discovered this:

I know this is from my first roll I ever shot on my Voigtlander Brillant v6, but I guess I dismissed it because photos of red phone boxes were more interesting at the time.

Look familiar?

Here, let me help you out:

Yeah, the Eagle Nebula’s Pillars of Creation aren’t actually in space. They’re in my camera from the 1940s.

Take that, science.

Happy Shooting (or discovering that your camera is majestic!)

P.S.- Here’s more proof, another image from the Eagle Nebula:


Sometimes I Have Tremendous Self-Doubt, but Then I Think: Nah Man, It’s Cool.

I’m pretty sure most artists feel this way from time to time, no matter the level of their success. It’s the feeling that makes your gut turn, makes your eyes burn, and makes you want to sleep forever and never see daylight ever again. It’s the feeling known as “Not Being Good Enough.” Capitalized for seriousness and universality.

Lately, I’ve had a lot of wonderful things happen to me. My work is in the GRAM for ArtPrize. The same piece was awarded an Honorable Mention in the International Photography Awards (which is one the most ambitious competitions in the photography world.) I currently have work on display in California, work that is going to be displayed in California, have been published numerous times this past year, and my peers look forward to what I make next.

But the little devil called NBGE (given an acronym to once again emphasize the toxicity of the expression,) continuously knocks at my door. It tells me that I’ll never be able to produce something as profound as my Home Sweet Home series (which has mainly been the source of my recent success.) It tells me that no grad school is going to want me. It says that all this work is nothing, don’t get ahead of myself, don’t envision an ideal future where I am successful because it’s not going to happen.

NBGE is a real party-pooper.

Sometimes I believe NBGE for a short while- and only ever a short while. Because then I get angry at it, and I like to tell it that it’s wrong, because arguing that you will not be a failure is empowering, even if you’re really just arguing with yourself. NBGE likes to try and inhibit me, but in effect it actually motivates me. When I’m feeling sorry for myself, I do a few things:

1.) I look at other photographer’s work for inspiration and motivation.

2.) I look at my own work and try to remember what it was I liked about it.

3.) I think back at how many people I have made happy by asking them to model for me, and how many people who came up to me at ArtPrize and told me their childhood stories.

4.) I pick up my camera.

5.) and I try, try, try again.

Maybe I won’t ever make it. But, better yet, maybe I will. Whenever I create something good, like Home Sweet Home, I get the crippling version of NBGE that tells me that I will never be able to replicate that success. I agree with NBGE in that respect, but I’m thinking of that concept in a different way. I will never be able to replicate success, because each success is different from the last. Of course they’re not the same. I make myself remember what the last “best thing I ever did” was, to remind myself that as I grow as a photographer and an artist, my ideas will too.

So, take that, NBGE. I’ll prove you wrong again and again, because I am good enough and I have the drive to prove it.

On that note, go prove your inner NBGE wrong. Happy Shooting.