The Washington State International Kite Festival was a happy little discovery I made while traveling in the Pacific Northwest this summer. The concept is simple: people who love kites get together once a year and enjoy a colorful weekend on the beach. I was so enchanted by everyone I met that day — each one of them beaming with giant smiles and positivity. I think it may become an annual thing for me, too.
One of the more visually unique events I shot last year was a wedding at the American Cement Building in downtown LA. The mid-century architecture and stark white studio was the perfect backdrop for minimal details, inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey. Following a sunset drenched ceremony was an elegant dinner, prepared by the one and only Heirloom LA. We’re so excited to have this featured in the Fall 2014 issue of C Magazine, on newsstands now!
Back in April, my good friend Sera and I embarked on a six-day road trip from Los Angeles to Marfa, Texas (you can see her blog post here!). We had both wanted to visit Marfa for while, having heard nothing but great things from basically everyone we know. We had high expectations and Marfa did not disappoint. With those high expectations, however, brought their own challenges, as Marfa is a heavily photographed town (what with it being a trendy, on-the-rise travel destination and home to a huge, well respected artist community). Within minutes of arriving on their sleepy main street, I instantly felt pressured to create original imagery beyond what my photographic predecessors had done before me.
I feel as though I can’t avoid getting personal here: in truth, the pressure I put on myself was a tough experience for me on this trip. As a visual storyteller focused on the American West, I wasn’t able to tap into the pulse of Marfa and struggled to find a story. I didn’t feel like it was my story to tell for a lot of reasons, but before I knew what they were I had resigned myself to the idea that I was a creative failure for not being able to produce in what is one of the most photogenic towns in the American West. This, in turn, sent me into a huge emotional spiral which brought out my inner critic full force. An artist’s inner critic can either be a destructive or productive tool, depending on what it says to you. Every now and then I feel like I’m walking a fine line between both. During this road trip I found myself in the darkest extreme of self-loathing and destructiveness, constantly calling into question my artistic integrity and worth. My minute-by-minute thoughts went something like this: what kind of photographer am I? am I original enough? am I really the storyteller I pride myself on? will I ever develop a body of work that my peers admire and respect? am I actually ANY good at all… in short: not a great place to be.
I ultimately decided to drop the idea of telling a story and go back to basics. I spent most of my time using a polaroid land camera and fuji instax and created simply to create. Sera, being possibly one of my biggest fans and dearest friends, knew how hard I was being on myself and acted as a constant support system — cheering me on and offering sage advice when I needed it. At one point I had lost the image at the top of this post, and she spent an entire rainy afternoon helping me tear my car and hotel room apart trying to find it. I was devastated over losing a simple polaroid because I felt like it represented a creative epiphany I had moments after taking it. After very stubbornly coming to terms that it was gone, I found it again today randomly while scanning the other polaroids for this blog post. Funny, how those things work out.
Now that I’ve had some time to digest and understand what I was feeling on our Marfa trip (and after reading this amazing article) I’ve come to realize that even my lowest, most terrifying moments were necessary for me to work through. In a way it’s difficult to look at these images because it brings back vivid memories of how crappy I felt when I took them, but on the other hand I’m also proud of these simple frames that pushed and challenged me in ways that ultimately put me on a path to create my best work yet.
Call me a sap, but getting to work with friends is the best part of any job. Getting to work with friends on a camp-inspired shoot that involves a beautiful river in northern California, running around throwing water balloons during golden hour, canoeing, and eating s’mores is even better.
Recently, my super talented friend Wade pitched an idea to create a studio tour for Camp Collection — a camp-inspired ready to wear clothing line based in San Francisco. The video would be a continuation of the other studio tour videos he’s collaborated on with EMMADIME, but instead of doing a traditional studio tour, he dreamed up a world where the members of Camp would run every aspect of their business in the woods, from production to sales to social media. The result is beautiful, and some of Wade’s finest directing work to date. Take a look at the video below!
I tagged along to take still photos of the day and help Wade co-direct. Tamar and Greg couldn’t have been lovelier to work with and we’re so excited we could produce such a fun project about the spirit of their brand. You can read more about the Camp Collection on Emma’s blog here, and check out some of my favorite photos below!
It was super fun getting to see a few of my photos from a road trip story I did on Nevada’s Highway 50 (aka: “The Loneliest Road in America”) published in a magazine for the Estonian Road Administration!