Our Trip to the Zoo Was, Uh…

For months, I have been itching to go to the zoo to take photographs. When I saw Impossible Project’s [Animal] Skins Edition film, I knew I wanted to go to the zoo, probably with animal masks. It all snowballed from there. In like, a catastrophic avalanche of awesome.

It was incredible.

I had seven wonderful people with me on this shoot, and each and every one of them looked absolutely ridiculous. We got plenty of stares. Just simply magical.

I was a bit nervous, thinking about the possibility of us getting in trouble for any reason, (not allowed to wear masks in the zoo? maybe?) because I had been prepared for this for forever and I didn’t want anything to get in the way. Imagine, having this idea in your head for months, gathering the things you need, and then BAM! Just kidding, no photos for you.


Me and my clique were standing in line to get our tickets, and there was a table of Zoo-Worker-People nearby, like some beneficiary group or whatnot. And they were staring us down. We were a little nervous, but when they smiled at us, we calmed down. But, just as we were walking up to get our tickets–

“Wait,” an official sounding voice said.

That was it. It was game over. Goodbye, hopes and dreams.

It was one of the ladies from the table. She walked over to us and said, “I just want to say, we really love your outfits. Your enthusiasm is great.”

I was expecting a “but, you can’t follow your hearts desire and shoot a really fun photo series in our land where the peacocks roam, because the gorillas will judge you and we can’t have that.” My heart sank, waiting for her to ruin my life.

Instead, she continued, “We love it so much, we’re going to give you free tickets to the zoo today, and a free lunch!”

Moral: Dressing up your friends as ridiculous as possible definitely has its merits.

Our lunch was in the event tent thing, I assume for beneficiaries, and we got plenty of dirty looks, but we also had people coming up to talk to us, asking what we were doing, telling us they loved our outfits, and got their picture with us. It was awesome. Some kids also wanted their picture with my posse, but they were so shy and they were standing like 5 feet away from the group. I can’t even with the cuteness.

Every now and then, it’s important to play. Doing a photo shoot just for fun without any deep conceptual meaning was refreshing, and just what I needed before heading off to graduate school in the fall.

Happy Shooting!


This Photo Shoot was Amazing

I had the most remarkable photo shoot, and it had nothing to do with the photographs.

The shoot was planned twice. The first time, stuff happened and too many people had to cancel at the last minute, which meant the shoot couldn’t happen. This time, the tremendous effort of others made it possible, and I am honestly overwhelmed.

My friends Ian and Kaiden drove about an hour and a half to come do the shoot. Ian works full time, so he’s tired, and Kaiden had an extremely busy (but fun!) weekend at a convention, and was also exhausted. And, Kaiden’s friend, Alec, didn’t know me, never met me, but was cool with coming along to help.

My friend Sarah works five jobs, is in the honors college, and always does her work on time and to perfection. She had work later in the day, but she took what little free time she had to come pose for me.

My friend Lisa is also in the honors college, takes her studies very seriously, has a job, and is going through the tumultuous process of applying to graduate programs. She has papers and lab reports and god-knows-what else due this week, but she woke up early in the morning to get started on those things, so she would have the time for the shoot in the afternoon.

I met another wonderful person today, Sheena, who knows Ian. She had never met me, but was willing to model for me. That’s a big move, especially considering the odd things I put people through on this shoot. And, she wore high heels in the mud. That’s hard core.

So, I had an amazing shoot, because most of these people didn’t know each other, they just knew me. I had friends from home meeting college friends, college friends meeting one another, and friends of friends meeting each other. Everyone got along so well, the shoot went awesomely, and it was fun. I’m so fortunate to have such wonderful people in my life.

But enough with the mush. Let’s look at some pics:

Shout out to my mom for painting the boxes black. Shout out to Lisa for finding the location. Shout out to everyone for wearing tulle on their heads.

I honestly love these photos, which means a lot. Yes there are things I could make better next time I go shooting, but for now, these have my heart. I think the people in them have a lot to do with it.

Alec, bless his soul, took some behind-the-scenes shots of the shoot. I love behind-the-scenes shots. I’m in my own little world while I’m shooting, so seeing what’s actually going on around me is a treat. So here are some of those:

Forever squaring up my shoulders to take a shot.

This shoot is one of eight of a dream series I am working on. I’m focusing on that theme a lot this semester, but for this particular series I’m doing something interesting in post-process. But, more on that in a later post.

Hug your friends today. They’re important.

Happy Shooting!



Bruh, that Water is Nasty

Today I continued shooting for my Dream series, which meant doing something weird, like taking my mother’s arm chair, cramming it into a jeep, and going to the beach that is notorious for being disgusting and un-swimable. Because, y’know, that’s my life. Two of my favorite boys were with me today, and we had a good time with this chair.

Ignore my awesome neon Crocs for a second and check out that water. Blergh. Art is suffering? So, since the water wasn’t aesthetically pleasing, I Photoshopped the bejesus out of it. And now it looks surreal, but nothing about this photo is really normal, and it is a dream, so why not have extraordinarily blue water?

Yeah, so, even though I’m in a film class, I had to take digital photos of this scene because if the film didn’t come out, no one would believe this was a thing that happened. I treated myself to some editing for fun tonight.

We did another photo, this time on a hill near the beach. It was another dream one, but I did some test shots on my digital camera.

So that was the photo part about our adventure.

Now I gotta tell you about the chair.

Kaiden drove us, since he is a saint and has a large trunk, ’cause his vehicle of choice is a Jeep. His trunk likes to be temperamental, but we got the chair in without any issues and got it out without any issues. Trying to put it back in the Jeep to go home was a different story.

Stupid trunk wouldn’t open. We tried for about half an hour, looking things up on our convenient smart phones. We tried a couple things, like pushing right above the hatch while trying to open, but nothing worked. So we tried putting it in the back seat. Ha, what a cute idea. So then we put it in the front, and it was the worst passenger ever and there was no way Kaiden could drive with that monster blocking his mirrors and blind spots.

So, what were we going to do?

I kicked the hatch.

Unfortunately, the trunk didn’t spring open, even though that would have been cooler than what actually did happen.

Mitchell did the aforementioned push while trying to open thing, and it was like a chorus of angels starting singing from heaven on high and the sun came out and birds were singing and everything in that moment was perfect everywhere.

Then we had to get the chair back out of the front seat. We cracked Kaiden’s windshield in the process. (Sorry, man.)

But we got that stupid thing in the trunk and that is the story about the Jeep and arm chair that were out to get us.

Happy Shooting!

London at Sunset and Planet Parliament

Tonight I went on the London Eye. It was sundown. There is not much else to be said, as the pictures speak for themselves.

It was really spectacular. If you ever go to London in the summer months, go on the eye at about 9PM. It’s so worth your time to watch the sun go to sleep and see the city lights wake.

I also did a weird little editing thing. I made a planet. What? I made a planet? Whatever could I mean by that?

My friend Kaiden told me about this cool little trick. You should really see his planets on his Flickr page, as they are a lot more eloquent than mine.

I found a useful tutorial on how to make these things, which can be found here. This is something I want to experiment with some more, especially since I’m here in Europe and I have some cool scenery at my disposal. But, these are hard to make well, so I’m going to have to have a lot of trial and error before I’m happy with the results. C’est la vie, practice makes perfect, never give up and never surrender and all that jazz.

And with that, happy shooting and happy planet-making!



Somethings Can’t Be Bought

Yesterday and today I went on an adventure to a place I’ve never heard of: Portobello Road. There is a large market there of antiques, clothes, pottery, food… anything you find in a market. IT’S HUGE.

Yesterday when I went it was rainy and not many stalls were open. But something really awesome happened. I was walking by some antique stalls when I saw a camera one, so of course I stopped, because this is a photography blog you are reading so duh. On the table, I noticed an old looking photograph in a nice album-like frame. It looked like a Daguerreotype. So I was excited, because, hello, it’s one of the oldest types of print in photography. So I asked the old gentleman who was sitting at the stall, “Excuse me, but is this a Daguerreotype?” and to mine and his surprise, he said, “Yes- how do you know that?”

So, we got to talking about how I’m studying photography, and I asked him about more of the photos on the table. After asking about a hand-colored tin-type, he told me something I’ve never heard about.

Apparently, when he was an apprentice in the late 40s, he would hand-correct negatives of portraits. He would go in with graphite and alter the soft-focused images to get rid of blemishes, make noses bigger, make noses smaller, lips fuller… He said that after they were done the photographs didn’t resemble the people anymore, but they were happy.

How cool is that? I thanked him for that knowledge, and hopefully I can pass it on to photography students some day. It was a really nice conversation, and I was so sad to leave. I’ve been longing for someone to talk photography with, and I found that someone in the form of an old Italian man in a white fedora. You can’t replicate moments like that.

I returned to the market today to see how it was without the rain, and today (Saturday) is the serious antique day. You couldn’t move it was so densely populated by tourists who loved to stop in the middle of the road or sidewalk or whatever who had no sense of space and were completely unaware of their surroundings in order to take a picture or point at something and wow it was frustrating. I spent four hours there, just walking around and browsing antique shops. I saw one lady drop 600 pounds (or quid, as they call it on that side of London,) on a brooch. Like dang son, I wonder why that brooch was as much as it was- did it belong to some marchioness or something? So that was bizarre for me, anyway.

After my adventure at the market I went to Hyde Park and finally saw the Serpentine. It was soo beautiful. I also had my camera loaded with color infrared film with me, so I took some shots and hopefully they come out.

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

In Case of No Tripod in London, YOLO

Let’s talk about cheap tripods.

Don’t do it.

So, tonight a group of friends and I went to central London for some night photography. I was going to get some great shots, because, y’know, I had my tripod and motivation. I go to attach my camera to the tripod- it’s broken. It won’t attach. My life flashed before my very eyes. It was a good life that ended with no tripod.

We were already there, there were a bunch of us, and I was tripod-less. But, never fear, I made-do, got creative, and this is what happened:

I’m thinking about getting a new tripod, but that costs money and I’m poor. We’ll see. For now, steady surfaces like cement walls and bridges will do.

I enjoyed walking around and seeing other photographers trying to get good shots of the Houses of Parliament, The London Eye, and the Thames in general. Everyone was so focused with their tripods and crouching and such. It made my night.

That’s all for now though. Happy shooting!

P.S.- I mean YOLO in the most facetious way possible.

Northern Ireland Was A Trip

Today was quite the day.

It was wonderfully pretty.

It was wonderfully surprising.

It was wonderfully- oh my god how did we end up in Belfast?

This morning my friends and I woke up super duper early to go on a private guided tour through Northern Ireland. I was especially excited because I saw photographs of the places we visited, and I was so excited to take my own pictures I fell asleep on the ride up. Before I passed out with my mouth hanging open and hitting my head on the window every fifteen minutes, our tour guide mentioned the date.

“Today is July 12th.”

Everyone in the car was like, yeah, okay, that’s cool bro, but then he went on:

“It is an important date in Northern Ireland. It’s the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne, so there is a lot of tension between the Protestants and Catholics. We usually go through Belfast, but there are riots there every year, so we are not going through Belfast.”

I essentially paraphrased all of that, but yeah, that was the gist of it. So we didn’t go through Belfast and went on our merry little way to the Dark Hedges.

And then we left the real world and started living in a fairy tale.

Apparently 200 (or was it 300?) years ago some rich dude had all of these beech trees planted on the road leading up to his mansion. Today they look like this.

Now, I’m going to get all pensive for a moment, so bear with me and suffer through it: I was thinking a lot about the title, “Dark Hedges.” The word dark has a mixed connotation. As I looked up at the branches, I understood that the trees looked sinister, but they were absolutely mesmerizing and beautiful. It’s kind of interesting, because as humans we sometimes look at things that are bad for us, or “dark,” and are tempted by them. Alluring, just like the Dark Hedges.

But enough of that pensive stuff.

After lying in the middle of the road (we’re dead,) my group and I hopped back in our little car with our home boy tour guide, and headed in the direction of the Giant’s Causeway. But first, a pit stop at Dunluce Castle. I wasn’t expecting this, and dang, it was so cool from the outside.

But it was even cooler on the inside.

Whenever I’m walking on history, my heart beats a little faster. People lived there hundreds of years ago. It was a grand place back then. Now it is ruins. It’s fascinating to sit in the middle of it all and picture the people walking around. I wonder how many ancient paths I crossed on my visit.

Dang, I’m really reflective today. But after seeing all the stuff I saw today, you can’t blame me so ha.

Also the castle was on the sea so there was that. And there was a cave under it and some kids went caving and apparently the cave opened up into the ocean so that was hella cool.

Then we hopped in the car and went to the Giant’s Causeway. The cool thing about the Giant’s Causeway is you can’t see it right away. You have to walk quite a ways to see the real treat. So my homies and I walked about a kilometer (I still don’t know what that is in miles, I’m a lazy American,) along the base of a cliff, and when we turned the corner I lost my hold on reality for the second time today.

It was incredible. These formations were made from volcanic activity. I got separated from my friends and went off on my own for a bit, mostly because I took my sweet time exploring all of it. The rocks. The people. The tide pools. The ocean. The view. Just, everything, and I was trying to experience it fully because I never ever want to forget something like this.

Oh and I totally took creepy shots of people ha.

Then we noticed there was a path leading up to the top of the cliffs. As we American people like to say, YOLO carpe diem, so we hiked to the top and it was worth it. The view was breathtaking (and I mean that literally, because we were all suddenly extremely asthmatic by the time we reached the top.)

At the top, there was a precious town in the distance, straight from a fairy tale book. I’m all about the fairy tales today. And there were sheep and it was just so wonderful and it made me jealous that I didn’t have the sort of life that would let me live in that town and have sheep and live by the sea and ahh. Dangit Ireland, I need to leave and go back to London, stop enticing me to stay!

After lunch we had a brief stint at some bay that was relevant to Game of Thrones (I don’t watch the show, I know, I know, I’m working on it-) and had some delicious cake and ice cream. It was a charming little place on that bay that was relevant to Game of Thrones (that’s the new name for it, officially,) and I never had cake so good. I should mention at this point in our journey it was starting to rain hella hard. So we got back to the car where our guide was waiting, and we started the car, and it stalled.


But then it started so all was well and we went to the Rope Bridge and didn’t really do anything there except walk down a hill and got soaked and hid in the bathroom and yeah. We had had enough adventure for the day, so we returned to the vehicle and started the three hour drive back to Dublin. Naturally, I fell asleep.

I woke up to: “Get out, we need to push the car.”

The car stalled on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. I guess I was asleep for maybe a half an hour at max, so we weren’t even relatively close to Dublin. The girls and I hopped out and helped push the car into a parking lot of a pub, which thankfully was also in the middle of nowhere. I don’t want to think about how different the situation might have been if it wasn’t.

We went into the pub while our tour guide started to panic. We just kinda sipped on some water and joked about how crappy the situation was, while also silently trying to figure out how we were going to get back to Dublin. A few minutes passed and our guide returned with,

“Have you ever tried hitchhiking before?”

An unanimous “No.” was his answer.

“Do you feel like trying?”

See previous answer.

We were not about to try and get four young girls from Northern Ireland to Dublin via hitchhiking. No way, no how, and we were not about to endure some Hostel or Taken crap. So our guide, bless his soul, called a cab to take us to a bus station, and he paid for it.

But here’s the thing.

The bus station was in Belfast. Remember what I told you about Belfast?

Our cab driver was aware of our predicament and while on our way to the legendary city, and made calls to find us a bus ASAP. He also told us about how it was July 12th. We knew fully well it was July 12th- in fact, we were becoming increasingly aware it was July 12th as we went under a motor-way overpass that had two armored police vehicles on top. With a chuckle our cab driver told us that those were for riot control.

“We call ’em beat wagons.”

Oh, lovely.

So we get off the motor way. It was official: we were in Belfast on the worst day possible. The thing was though, even though we saw like ten riot control vehicle things beat wagons. We also saw the occasional bonfire. There were hardly any people, until we got near the bus station, where a march was happening near by. It wasn’t an issue though. The issue in that moment was how sketchy the bus station was. It looked like a prison. Here have some iPhone photos as proof:

Our cabby sat and stared at the station for about a minute before realizing that he should probably walk us in. So he did. And he found us a bus and wished us luck and drove off into the sunset. The story ends with my friends and I getting a bus back to Dublin and living happily ever after with the motto:

“If I can survive Belfast, I can survive anything.”

Happy shooting! And I mean in the photography sense- protest peacefully!


UPDATE: Apparently this was the first year there were no riots in Belfast. Phew!



Ireland Stole My Heart and It Can Keep It

I’ve only been in Ireland for about 24 hours, but this country has stolen my heart.

We got into Dublin pretty late, and after checking into our hostel we went promptly to bed. I have never stayed in a hostel before, but this one is extremely nice. It’s still what you would expect from a hostel, but it’s clean, there are lots of bathrooms, and I can lock up my things. I’m staying in a twenty-four-bed-mixed “dormitory,” which really means I’m in a big room with 12 bunk beds with dudes and chicks. It’s a pretty neat experience, and call me weird, but there is something cool about sharing a sleeping space with people you will never see again.

The showers though. Meh.

On to the pretty stuff.

We took a tour to the Cliffs of Moher. I had NO IDEA it was on the west coast of Ireland. No clue. I spent most of the bus ride sleeping, but when I was awake I had the joy of speaking with the Malaysian gentleman next to me. He was traveling in Ireland with his family to celebrate his niece graduating from university. He told me all about the places he had been to, and told me I simply must travel India- ALL of India. Hey, I didn’t disagree. Sign me up.

On the way to the Cliffs, we made a few stops, including what our tour-guide called the “mini cliffs.” I’m sure there is a proper name for them, and I tried finding it online, but everyone calls them the mini cliffs so whatever.

An astonishing thing to me is how there are ancient abbeys and monasteries and walls and castle ruins just sitting in the Irish countryside, untouched. I’m an American, humor me. We have nothing of that sort in the United States, since it is still, in comparison to the rest of the world, a young country. Our tour guide mentioned something about how faeries in Ireland aren’t the faeries we think about, with pretty dresses and beauty. Instead, they are scary creatures who protect these ancient places. This myth must have some truth to it, since there are so many of these places left standing.

Now. The Cliffs of Moher. Astonishing. Amazing. Oh. My. Goodness. I. Don’t. Have. Enough. Adjectives. But. Maybe. All. Off. These. Periods. Get. The. Point. Across.

Or maybe some pictures will do.

The unfortunate thing was the fog. But the fortunate thing was the fog. It’s complicated. I would have LOVED to see the cliffs on a clear day, I’ve seen pictures of them like that, and I would have very much liked to have taken my own pictures like that. However, I liked that we had fog because it set such a different mood to the trip. It was more mystifying, in a way. When I think of Ireland, I think of two things: the color green, and the word magic. I guess I’m still a total kid at heart, but being on those cliffs, being surrounded by fog, not being able to see the ocean below or fifty meters in front of you… All of those things made me feel like I was in a transcendental place. It’s hard to explain.

When we got back to Dublin, we went out. The night life here is something else. We went to a pub where there was Irish music and Celtic dance and oh my gosh it was so wonderful. The musicians poked fun at my group a little bit, commenting how we were quiet Americans, which I guess is a rarity over here. I took a lot of pictures on my light-sensitive Fuji Natura, so those photos will pop up eventually.

And that’s my first day in this wonderful country. Tomorrow I’m heading up to Northern Ireland with some friends to see the Dark Hedges and the Giant’s Causeway. If those places are anything like the Cliffs of Moher, I may not be able to leave this gorgeous place.

Happy shooting!

London [Keeps] Calling

Busy busy busy! That’s what I’ve been this week! Between classes, tours, a play, and general adventure-making, every night I’ve returned home and edited photos until the computer screen became blurred.

And yet, I only have a small handful of photos to share. Why is this?

I blame film.

I’ve been analog happy this week, since I got that antique Twin Lens Reflex camera. I’ve been snapping away on that thing. Oh, and I filled another Fuji Natura roll, which is getting developed tomorrow morning and hopefully scanned in tomorrow, too.


On Sunday, after spending a wonderful time in church, I got off the tube and there was a rainbow. I love rainbows. They are the bees knees. So, duh. Photo.

I went adventuring by myself on Tuesday morning and returned to St. Paul’s- BECAUSE THE SKY WAS BLUE WITH PUFFY CLOUDS AT LAST YAY. So I went, got another one of my instax-series photos in (which still needs to be edited whoops) and sat in a coffee shop with an old British man who did his crosswords while I wrote an anecdote about him. Good times.

Last night I went to Piccadilly Circus. Now, I also went on Tuesday night, but that was a test run, really. The awesome thing about being here for so many weeks is that if I’m unhappy with photos I took, I can go back and reshoot! So, I plan on returning (for the third time,) to Piccadilly Circus to get in some nice night photography and possibly some light painting. That’s something to look out for~

Also, Piccadilly Circus is aptly named because holy cow you cannot walk around anywhere down there without it being a huge production. Like dang, I got really good at diving out of the way, avoiding cabs, and ducking under elbows. I wonder if this is an acquired skill, or if the Brits are born with this talent.

Welp, I’m off to Ireland for the weekend starting tomorrow, so until then, cheerio happy shooting!

P.S.- just look at that window picture I took. That man looks so unhappy, like I ruined his life. His KFC driven life.

Much Ado About Photography

Stratford upon Avon (or as I kept incorrectly saying, Straton upon Avon…) was a beautiful surprise. Being the town Shakespeare is from, I was anticipating a microscopic hamlet (ha, pun,) with a ton of Shakespeare themed shops. However, that was not the case, even though there were a plethora of Shakespeare shops (and a pub with a sign featuring Shakesbeer. I love the British sense of humor.)

We visited good ‘ole William’s home, snapped some touristy photos, and carried on our merry little way to burn eight hours in the town before seeing a production of Henry IV. A few friends and I carried on with our tourism and visited Shakespeare’s grave at Trinity Church.

And oh my word.

It was a spectacular experience.

While we were there, staring at the beauty of the church, a school choir (I imagine they were middle school age,) was practicing. It was so clear and pure and it made my heart flutter and melt all at the same time. It was one of those moments when you know that as long as you live, you will never forget how you felt right then and there.

So after having an overwhelming spiritual experience near Shakespeare’s grave, other adventures ensued, like wandering around the shops in town, getting lunch at a pub (not the one with Shakesbeer, I’m afraid,) and waiting for the play to start. When we were browsing shops, we went into an antique shop.

And guess what I found??

A twin reflex camera! I’ve been looking for one that actually works and reasonably priced and not on eBay for FOREVER, and there one was, in a display case, calling my name, saying, “Try me out! Play with all the knobs and buttons! Maybe I can fulfill your dream of having a medium format camera!” And, alas, was in working condition and it is now in my possession! I’m going to get film for it (I saw some at an Urban Outfitters I adventured into yesterday whilst window shopping,) and see what kind of results I can get from this ancient camera.

And that was my adventure in Straton Stratford upon Avon. I took a few pictures on my Natura, but obviously those won’t be shown off until I get the roll developed.

I’m pretty tired and I can’t think of a way to gracefully end this so. Bye. Happy Shooting!