Spring!

Spring is here! Well that’s the rumor anyway. It’s hard to tell because right now it’s snowing.

This winter has been a brutal one. Boston recorded the most snowfall in a single season ever on record in the city’s long history. My home, which you may recall I just bought last May, became victim to a giant ice dam on my roof resulting in several thousand dollars worth of water damage. Instead of getting out to enjoy our snowy winter, I’ve spend most of it mitigating damage and digging myself out from under feet of snow.

This pair of Ring-necked Ducks was photographed on March 19th, five years ago, at Ringwood State Park in New Jersey. Spring in New Hampshire always seems a bit delayed, but I'm oh so happy when it finally arrives!

But spring is here, finally, and spring, as you may know, is my FAVORITE season. Spring just seems so hopeful with its brilliantly colored flowers, mild temperatures, longer days, sunshine, and the start of new life. Birds sing, animals come out of hiding, and suddenly everything is happy, green, and so… alive.

Because of the challenging winter we are coming out of, I feel extra excited for spring to come this year. I cannot wait for the first flowers! Until then, I’ll keep working on my house and checking things off my list, so that hopefully when spring weather finally arrives, I’ll be ready and have time to go out and play!

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The Power of Place, People, and Photography

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On Wednesday, The Power of Place became a reality. After two years of filming, editing, and tinkering, the documentary about the Northern Pass and its effect on the people and places of New Hampshire finally was brought to life in front of a sold out audience at Red River Theatres in Concord, NH. To be fair, I only helped, and the documentary producer, Jerry Monkman, did a tremendous amount of work on this incredible film. While I put many hours into shooting and assisted with interviews, edits, and other aspects of production, my time was only a fraction of what was needed to pull together this project. I feel lucky to have been a part of the process and to have had the opportunity to work so closely with Jerry. Given the opportunity to do it again, I would in a heartbeat.

In the film, emphasis is put on the places that would be changed forever if the Northern Pass came to life. Places like the White Mountain National Forest and Appalachian Trail would be permanently scarred and a number of state parks and private lands would be impacted as well. The story is told by the people who love these places, who live and recreate along the proposed power line route. In the film we meet people who have built their lives, their homes, their families, and their businesses around these locations. Their words, along with powerful visuals of the landscape, startling facts about the project, and testimony from experts, tells a compelling story as to why the Northern Pass is not needed and the New Hampshire landscape should be preserved.

The Power of Place is a film about place, but also about people and photography too. Photography is what helps us connect to this story and the people and places represented. Without good visuals and relatable characters, the whole issue of the Northern Pass would seem distant. Photography, combined with personal stories, bring this issue to life.

tpop poster

For me, the film and its premiere was a solid reminder of the power of place, people, and photography. I love New Hampshire, and reliving those moments spent out in the field while watching the footage we captured there on a big screen, reminded me how much so. The people, in the film and at the premiere showing their support, served as an important reminder that many kind souls and loving hearts surround me each and every day. From new faces to old friends, the people I have met along this journey, one that really started five years ago when I moved to New Hampshire, have reaffirmed my connection here. And photography of course. A film like this cannot exist without compelling visuals, and photography is really is backbone of it all. Without photography, my life would be so different. I would have traveled less, and not met as many of the wonderful people I now know and call friends. Without photography, I would not know Jerry, and this film would not exist. Without photography and this film, dozens of compelling stories would have gone unshared.

Wednesday night was Jerry’s night, and it truly deserved to be. He has worked so hard and overcome so much to bring The Power of Place to life. But I think all of us who had something to do with the film shared in the limelight in our own way. Jerry ran the show, and his years of hard work were finally realized. Jerry’s family, always incredibly supportive of him and his work, could not have been more proud I am sure. For those featured in the film, it had to have been powerful to hear their own voice and get to share their stories with a greater audience. Those curious about the Northern Pass probably found the film enlightening, and maybe even felt compelled to action and inspired because of it. Fellow photographers and filmmakers in the audience likely enjoyed seeing the success of one of their peers and excited about the depth and potential of a project completed in their own backyard.

As for me, I felt happy. Watching The Power of Place on the big screen was for me a dream realized and reaffirmed. I felt connected to New Hampshire’s landscape and people, passionate about photography and the environment in a way I hadn’t felt in a while, and comforted to be surrounded by a community and culture where I feel like I belong. The Power of Place was truly powerful in ways I didn’t know until I saw the premiere, and I’m thankful for being a part of it.

Note: You can learn more about The Power of Place by visiting the website where you can watch the trailer, purchase a DVD or digital download of the film, and view a list of upcoming screenings. Also check out our page on Facebook.

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Remembering Daddy

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On this day, seven years ago, the first man I ever loved slipped into darkness. I remember the day well. It was raining in New Jersey. I called my mom a couple times that morning, saw my first robin of the year, and drove home from college for the weekend. When I got to my house, there were cop cars, the front doors were wide open, and I knew, right away, that something bad had happened to my dad.

Seven years later, and this day still haunts me. It always will. His birthday, my parent’s anniversary, and the holidays are all also difficult. I doubt that will ever change.

Every year, on the anniversary of my dad’s death, I change my Facebook profile picture and cover photo to one of me with my dad. In a small way, it helps me cherish his memory and cope with his passing.

The photos are ones taken mostly by my mother, when I was a little girl. My family lived a pretty simple life – a comfortable house, modestly furnished, two cars. We never went on family vacations or went out to dinner and rarely participated in particularly momentous occasions. Yet my mom prioritized capturing everyday memories of my childhood. She had a little 35mm Kodak point-and-shoot camera – it was a very basic model, with no zoom, and when I got older it started to break periodically. Every time it broke, my dad found a way to fix it. Our photos were developed at Kmart, and my mom put them in albums.

As I got older and more independent, my mom less often took a part in my every day adventures, and as a result there were less photos of me, of my dad, and of our family in general. The photos I have from my middle school and teenage years rarely depict my family, and long gaps exist between captured memories.

Every year on this day, I find myself looking at the same photographs of my dad and I. In the majority of them, I range in age from toddler to middle school. There are ones of us on the Fourth of July, at Halloween, mowing the lawn and raking the leaves. In one, I am on his shoulders behind the old Grand Union and Kmart. In another I am sitting with him on the back of my uncle’s motorcycle. Of all the photos, I think there is only one of us anytime after I hit puberty – my dad and I are wrestling the cork out of a wine bottle and neither of our faces are visible. It was taken one Thanksgiving while I was in college.

I am so grateful to my mother for being an engaged and active parent. I cannot thank her enough for photographing my childhood as frequently and often as she did. Growing up, I know we didn’t have a lot of money, but my mom made sure that some of that went to buying and developing film, so she could capture those fleeting memories. Now, as the years pass and the memories become less vivid, I rely on those photos more and more. They help keep my dad alive in my heart and soul, even if he is no longer here with us in the way we all wish he still was.

If and when I ever have kids, I will photograph them often. I will capture their smiles and laughter on the most ordinary of days. I will photograph them with messy hair, stained shirts, and mouths full of food. I will photograph them with their father, their grandparents, their friends, and their pets. I will take selfies with my kids, and I’ll encourage them to use the camera and capture their world from their perspective. I will let them photograph what is important to them and take their photo when they ask me too, even if I feel too busy or too tired.

So often I focus on photography from a creative, technical, and artistic perspective. But rarely do I focus on photography’s most distinctive and unique quality: the ability of a photograph to capture a fleeting moment, a memory, and help that split second last forever. It’s magic.

If my mom hadn’t taught me that lesson long ago, today would feel a lot more empty.

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Venting Again

There’s a saying that goes like this: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

This is largely why my photography blog has been silent for a while. But alas I need to vent and writing is often how I vent. You’ve been warned: get ready for some hot air.

Let’s start with this truth: I believe that people are innately good. In general, people are well intentioned, but they can also be selfish, proud, and ignorant. This is relevant because, when it comes to nature photography, people are largely both why I love and hate it.

I tend to be a social person, even though I definitely enjoy my alone time too. I love the company of good friends, and great moments shared with others always seem to trump the great moments I have alone. Photography for me has always been a personal and private pursuit. I love sharing my knowledge and passion for photography with others, but that is often very separate from the act of me actually creating photographs. So photography as a full-time career choice didn’t work for me because it was too lonely – too much time spent alone or only interacting with others from behind a computer. Now I’m finding that a good number of the people in this industry are so rotten to deal with that I’d rather be alone than have to deal with them with any sort of regularity anyway.

In all fairness, when it comes to nature photography, I have met far more wonderful folks than rotten ones. Online, the ratio seems a bit more skewed towards jerks because just like in the real world, bullies are often the loudest, boldest, and most obnoxious, and they are compelled to be even more so in virtual space. Just having to tolerate a handful of them consistently is enough to leave a sour taste in my mouth. With so much of the photography world online, those self-centered, egotistical, and ignorant personalities are emboldened by the lack of real face-to-face interaction and seem to have popped up in greater numbers recently. And while it’s far easier to throw around hateful words and slanderous opinions from behind the shield of a keyboard, it doesn’t make dealing with it on the receiving end any less painful.

When I go out into nature to take photos, I often find peace there. I love it. When I’m at home, marketing my work, sharing my photos online, or otherwise existing virtually, I discover validation is often mixed with poison. Is it worth it? Sometimes I’m not sure.

Let’s get this straight: online friends are not real friends. No one who randomly friended me through Facebook* or started following me on Instagram is going to run into a burning building to drag me out of it, but I sure have real friends that would. I am as disposable to photography colleagues online as the next photographer and you are too. To them I am not a real person, and therefore it is perfectly acceptable to send harassing messages or leave hurtful and inconsiderate comments when some click of a keystroke that I make offends their sense of entitlement. Online, ignoring someone you know, stalking someone you don’t know, or picking a fight is perfectly normal behavior. Sadly, I have found that this happens more often with photographers than with any other industry I have ever been connected to. Lately, these unpleasant interactions seem to be more prevalent than usual, so I’ve just shied away from posting much because most of what I feel about nature photography is unfortunately pretty negative at the moment.

Fortunately for me, my current job is fulfilling and surrounds me with amazing people every day. I work in an environment that inspires me and motivates me to become a better person and the best version of myself possible. I see people every day, and every day I smile and laugh. It’s long hours and sometimes hard work, but I have fun, and I enjoy what I do and who I work with. If I get a nasty email I counter it with a positive one, and then someone I love is there to make the sting of angry words go away. People get angry, upset, and frustrated from time to time, but every day I work is filled with kindness and joy. I miss spending time out in nature, going on adventures, watching sunrises and sunsets, and framing the beauty of those moments in photographs, but don’t mind having left the photography industry behind.

*I no longer accept friend requests from people I do not personally know in real life. When I worked for NatureScapes, I felt obligated to accept requests from random nature photographers because I felt it was a commonly accepted professional networking courtesy, even though it was never asked of me. At this time, I am connected via Facebook to only a handful of individuals who I have never met in person and these individuals are only those whom with I have maintained a positive, professional, and mutually beneficial virtual friendship with for years. Now if I receive a friend request from a person whose name I do not recognize with no message or prior communication, it is declined automatically, regardless of the number of photographer friends we have in common, and I periodically cull and unfriend photographers who I do not know that may be left over from that time period. This is not personal, but a way of protecting my privacy and respecting my own network of real life friends.

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The Power of Place, Coming Soon!

After nearly two years of filming and post production, I’m excited to reveal that The Power of Place, the documentary about the Northern Pass that I had been helping Jerry Monkman create, is nearing completion and will be released to the public within the next couple of months. Jerry and I spent countless hours in the field gathering material for this film during the summer of 2013 and had hoped to release it much sooner, but Jerry was unfortunately diagnosed with cancer right around the time we wrapped up shooting so post production has taken much longer than we initially anticipated. Added to that Jerry and I live about two hours apart and once I started working full time last spring I wasn’t much help to him during the process, as it was challenging for me to find time to drive to the seacoast to work on the film. Jerry is now cancer free and the film is just about finished, and he is working on wrapping up the details of a contract for the film’s premiere sometime in the very near future.

Check out the documentary’s trailer here:

The Power of Place – Trailer from Jerry Monkman on Vimeo.

So stay tuned, especially if you happen to be one of the fortunate folks who live in the great state of New Hampshire. We will be announcing details of the film’s release and premiere very soon, and hope you will be able to join us for the big day if you can. Until then, expect to see a ton of TPOP related posts and pictures from me.

Big Dipper : Prints Available

This photograph of the Big Dipper in the night sky was captured while filming for The Power of Place, a documentary about the Northern Pass, in Coos County, New Hampshire.

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Holiday Super Sale: Give the Gift that Keeps on Giving

This weekend my car became the unfortunate victim of a three vehicle collision during a classic foul weather winter day in New England. While I haven’t yet gotten a professional assessment of the damage, I suspect the the vehicle is totaled and a new one is in order. In addition, my birthday is right around the corner, I own hardly any Christmas decorations, and my house still needs a ton of furniture, so extra spending money would be nice right about now. That works out for you because it means I’m having a sale.

HolidaySuperSale

My HOLIDAY SUPER SALE is a special one because the more you and others spend on my products, the more everyone saves and the more I donate to a fantastic charity. Basically, you get 5% off every order and 10% off orders of $150 or more. For every $1000 worth of products I sell during the sale period, I double the amount of savings on all orders, up to 50%. Plus if I sell more than $5000 worth of products, I will also double the amount I donate, from 5% up to 10%. That’s potentially VERY BIG SAVINGS and a whole lot of GIVING.

This month’s charity is the Kismet Rock Foundation, a super cool organization that provides climbing instruction to youth who otherwise would not have access to it. The organization is based out of North Conway, NH and many of our local elite climbers help provide mentoring and instruction to the teens in the program.

The sale period will run for just five days from 12:00am EST Monday December 8th to 11:59pm EST Friday December 12th. All orders should be emailed to sales@karipost.com. Please do not place an order direct through the website, as you may not receive the appropriate discount. Once I’ve determined the total sales for the sale period, I will send you a bill with your total, reflecting the total amount of discounts owed to you. Bills will be sent on Monday, December 15th and must be paid within 48 hours.

If you have a question about a print or product, please feel free to email me. Most photographs on my website are available in a variety of options.

Thanks and happy shopping!

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Thankful

Tis the season.

Holiday time tends to inspire strong feelings from people. They either love or hate the indulgent parties, extravagant spending, abundance of rich foods and strong drinks, festive decorations and overall cheer of the last months of the year. I’ve personally always enjoyed more the more intimate and understated aspects of the holidays. As a child, my favorite traditions involved a ratty old stuffed animal named Santa Paws, driving around with my parents to look at Christmas lights, the animated Christmas displays at the now extinct Fountains of Wayne, and tubing down the hill behind the old Grand Union. Of these, only Santa Paws remains, and the Christmas tunes he plays when you squeeze his paw have slowed and saddened. His Santa hat clings on to his weathered head by mere threads, but his floppy ears and light up nose are still charming. Now, sometimes, when I press his paw, I cry.

Christmas has changed. I no longer sneak out of my room at 3am to find presents under the tree, then wake my parents in a flurry of excitement. The days when my father convinced me that Santa was tired of milk and cookies and that we ought to leave him pizza and beer instead are long gone. I’m an adult now, I live in New Hampshire now, and I live alone now.

Old traditions have been replaced with new ones, like a caroling pub crawl with the local rugby team or holiday parties with my eclectic assortment of New Hampshire friends. This is my first Christmas completely solo, and tonight I set up a tree, my very first very own tree. It’s a fake one because I knew I wouldn’t bother with a real one even though that’s all I’ve ever had my whole life. This tree is pre-lit with plain white lights and doesn’t make a mess or require me to water it. It also doesn’t smell like wonderful Christmas, but it’s easy and that’s all I have the time or energy for because I’m on my own. I own exactly two Christmas ornaments here in New Hampshire, so I decorated my tree with those and a set of Black Diamond nuts used for rock climbing.

Christmas alone is an interesting concept. On the one hand, it seems kind of lonely. I didn’t think I’d enjoy decorating alone, because as a kid, my dad and I did the lights together and my mom and I did the ornaments. In other living situations, my housemates and I cut and set up our tree and decorated together. There were presents, ribbons, bows, lights, wreaths, candles, garland, ornaments, music, cookies, and eggnog. Two years ago, there was even this very odd antique wind-up monkey that brought entirely too much pleasure to my housemate and I. We made these really awful videos about it.

Now it’s just me in a sparsely furnished house with mostly bare walls and a plastic tree.

Sometimes being alone feels lonely, but then I realize how freaking awesome, brilliantly beautiful, and rich my life is. I am not alone. My life is full of many amazing people. I have close friends who I see maybe a few times a year if that, but are there for me if ever I need them. I can share my naked soul with them without fear of judgement. At my ugliest, they love me. I have people in my life that are an everyday unwavering beautiful presence. My coworkers and friends here are absolutely incredible. We share stories and laugher, and although they may not know my deepest darkest secrets, they bring light to my life every day, just by being in it. Most of the people I surround myself with on a daily basis ooze goodness out of their bones. Yes, there are grumpy people who come to my work, but they are few and far in between when you look at the big picture. Besides, I think that a little suffering each day is good for you. Adversity builds character. I am strong because I have lived through days and events that have quite frankly sucked, but even when I faced those challenges alone, I was never isolated from the beauty of the people around me, who have loved me and supported me through good times and bad.

I like to think that I am a pretty grateful person. I’m not one who limits showing my appreciation for all of the wonderful people in my life, giving thanks for my many blessings, or expressing gratitude for everyday touches of beauty to just the holiday season. I say I love you, openly, honestly, and often. I smile and say thank you frequently, daily throughout the year. Sharing such sentimental feelings of joy for all I have seems a little cliche this time of year, but today, I just can’t help myself. I am thankful.

My life is beautiful. And so is my Christmas tree.

My very first very own Christmas tree.

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I Remember When

I remember when I used to regularly wake up well before dawn to go somewhere to shoot sunrise. In college, I would pack all of my stuff the night before, so I didn’t wake my roommate at 3am. I’d plan entire days or weekends around photography and spent all day out in the field, sunrise to sunset. I couldn’t afford fancy hotels or exotic trips, so I usually planned long day trips or camped. I was constantly shooting and seeking out new subjects to photograph. Hardly a week went by when I didn’t spend at least an hour or two burning through a memory card, even if it was only in my backyard or at a nearby park. I discovered really wonderful things about my local environment through photography, and amazed friends and family at the beautiful images I managed to capture so close to home.

Pine Barrens Treefrog,Hyla andersonii, Green Wood Wildlife Management Area, New Jersey, treefrog

Pine Barrens Treefrog : Prints Available

In college, I'd take one of my days off to go for a hike, visit some bird feeders, or go herping. That's how I found and photographed this guy, an endangered Pine Barrens Treefrog.

I now live in a place most would argue is far more beautiful than where I grew up or went to school. One might think that I should be shooting more, but I hardly shoot at all now. This year, I’ve probably only done a half dozen or so shoots. Now there are other things that are just as or more important to me than photography. I have more money and more independence, but I have less time and more responsibilities as well.

Photography is still my passion, but it’s not my only one. I love my job, which has nothing to do with photography, but takes up a lot of my time and energy. I recently bought a house and have taken on caring for a foster dog. I love to work out and I need to exercise to stay sane and happy, so trying to squeeze in a hour of cross training or some lifting and cardio gets in the way of spending a morning on a photo shoot. Still, I manage to get out and shoot every now and then, and when I do, I always remember how much I miss it.

waterfall, Chesterfield, New Hampshire, waterfall

Sugarbush Falls : Prints Available

I think its fair to say that, as a whole, New Hampshire is a far more beautiful state than New Jersey. This was in my backyard at the apartment I rented for the past three years, before purchasing my own home earlier this year.

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Recovered Images Yippee!

I’m slowly adding photographs to my website from recovered images I received back from my friend E.J. Peiker after I made the mistake of accidentally formatting my memory card while leading the AMC Fall Photography weekend at the beginning of the month. I’m really happy with some of the shots I got, even despite not getting the best weather that weekend.

Artist's Autumn : Prints Available

Clouds take on subtle colors as the sun sets over Franconia Notch in New Hampshire's White Mountains, while autumn colors paint the valley red and gold.

This photograph from Artist’s Bluff was taken while scouting the day before the workshop began. I ran into my friend Jim Salge on the mountain and we got the slightest hint of color before the clouds thickened and all light from the sun disappeared. I’ll admit I got a little fanciful with the processing of this one, but I think it captures the beauty of this location more than the muted RAW file. Just imagine what a spectacular sunset would look like from this spot.

Autumn Calm : Prints Available

On a calm clear morning in New Hampshire, fog burns off the surface of a small woodland pond as sun illuminates the Sugarloaf Mountains, cloaked in peak autumn foliage, in the background.

This is a location that Jim clued me in on after we shot at Artist’s Bluff, and I checked it out the next morning. It was one of the last scouting photographs I took before my participants arrived.

Path to Nowhere : Prints Available

Sunlight illuminates drops of rain along a woodland path, creating a glistening tunnel of autumn leaves into the unknown.

This is the path that leads to the pond above, and this photograph was taken on the very last day of the workshop. It had rained the entire day before and the trees were glistening with sparkly rain drops. This was a cropped handheld grab shot, as the participants were not taken very much by this spot and in a rush to get breakfast, check out of the Highland Center lodge, and move on to our next location.

Into the Woods : Prints Available

A dirt road winds through the woods in Sandwich, New Hampshire, past trees just starting to turn yellow with the first signs of autumn. Image ID: KP141005-1624040.

On my way back from the White Mountains, I stopped in the Lakes Region to see how color was progressing. Things still looked pretty green there, but I managed to get this whimsical shot along one of the dirt roads leading to the shoreline of Squam Lake.

These are some of the images that jumped out at me most and I got around to processing first. I’ve been super busy (last week I picked up a rescue dog to foster for a bit and he’s kept me occupied), but have some others that I’m sure I’ll get around to editing, processing, and posting eventually. Stay tuned!

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New Hampshire Reflections, Part 3: Closure

During workshops I keep participants busy and tend to keep myself even busier. I’m no stranger to long hours and longer days, so I’m ready for action dawn to dusk if need be. During workshops my clients are my number one responsibility and I tend to prioritize their needs as much as possible. They way I see it, there is so very much to learn and so little time to fit it all in, so I encourage clients to let me know what they want and need and to pick my brain as much as possible during our time together.

I met my group Friday morning. After some brief introductions, we headed out into the field almost immediately. Friday was sunny and calm with mild temperatures while Saturday’s forecast looked unpromising, so we wanted to maximize time in the field when we had good weather. After visiting a couple nearby locations, we returned to the Highland Center for lunch and an afternoon program, took a short break, and then headed back out into the field for sunset. Bold colors and fancy clouds never materialized, and the wind had picked up significantly in the afternoon, but we still managed to capture some great moments.

All of which I deleted promptly when I accidentally formatted the memory card in my camera while answering a question. Multi-tasking is not my forte. Oh well. (Don’t worry, I have sent the memory card to a friend who specializes in data recovery. We are both hopeful that the images can be salvaged.)

SIlver Cascade

The next day was dreary. I woke up to heavily overcast skies and encouraged the photographers to sleep in a bit longer to wait for brighter conditions once the sun had risen a little higher in the sky and its light was better able to penetrate the clouds. Conditions had barely improved by mid-morning and were only predicted to get worse, so instead of venturing to a location in dismal conditions, I took the group for a walk around a trail near the Highland Center and showed them some of New England’s cool flora. I showed them hobblebush, a plant with leaves that often turn a patchwork of colors in autumn, and discussed the cool evolutionary adaptations of paper birch. We sniffed at yellow birch and tea berry inhaling their minty fragrance, and I pointed out the differences between the leaves of sugar maple and red maple. I introduced them to the many plants I recognized and they photographed details along the trail, finding images in even the least photogenic of the places we would visit. In a way, the rain helped us connect even more deeply to the land and the experience it provided. In lieu of the grand scenics of the White Mountains in their full autumn glory, we focused on the smaller components of nature that are the building blocks of this vast and beautiful landscape.

We spent the rest of the day in the classroom, reviewing programs and critiquing images. Winds picked up and rain fell, making photographing outdoors a tricky and unpleasant experience. While I strongly encourage photographers to explore a variety of conditions and embrace nature in all her forms, there are some times when the rewards and are hard to come by. I’ve never had much luck photographing in wet and windy conditions with little light.

By Sunday morning, the weather had subsided a bit. At sunrise, the clouds were still too thick on the horizon to let in any light, but by mid-morning some of the lower clouds had started to burn off and the sun began to shine through. We spent the morning capturing some great scenes and visited a handful of locations. At one spot, at the Silver and Flume Cascades along Route 302 in Crawford Notch, I ran into another photographer friend of mine, Adam Woodworth. Then, before we knew it, it was time to return to the Highland Center, pack up our stuff and check out of our rooms, eat our last meal together, and say goodbye.

Goodbyes can be tricky. Sometimes people linger. Sometimes you feel as if the time passed too quickly and the goodbyes come to soon. Sometimes, goodbyes seem to come before the end does. In this case, the workshop felt complete. Sure it would have been great to spend more time in the mountains and hang out with the kind folks in my group just a little longer, but I felt satisfied. I felt happy. I felt whole.

I finished up my final paperwork (and placed the folder on the roof of my car just in time for a stout wind to blow its contents all over the driveway – thankfully a kind AMC employee helped me track down all of my runaway papers), said thank you to anyone I could find at the AMC that had helped throughout our visit, and started back on my merry way home. I stopped in Bartlett to look at small cabin for sale (a girl can dream, right?), swung by the White Mountain Cupcakery to pick up a dozen maple bacon cupcakes for a friends’ party (best cupcakes ever and totally worth getting stuck in North Conway Village leaf peeper traffic), and passed through the Squam Lakes region to see if I could capture fall color in a different area (it hadn’t quite arrived there yet and there was not a cloud in the sky by the time the sun set). With all my stops and detours on the way, I ended up making it home well after dark, tired and ready for bed. But of course, when I lay down, the wheels in my head wouldn’t stop spinning.

Into the Woods : Prints Available

A dirt road winds through the woods in Sandwich, New Hampshire, past trees just starting to turn yellow with the first signs of autumn. Image ID: KP141005-1624040.

I am lucky. I truly am. Every day, I do things I love. Whether it be playing games with kids in a field, teaching teenagers to rock climb, or sharing the experience of nature with others through photography, I am usually having fun. I realize that for many others, their reality is quite different. Many work long hours just for the chance to play on weekends. For me, work is play. My work is exercising my body and mind, laughing, breathing fresh air, creating and building relationships with people, challenging myself, and capturing the beauty of everyday life, in words, in images, and in memories. My day to day experiences are so rich, I rarely think much about the money I make (not much) or the hours I put in (a lot). Most days my work is truly a pleasure, and it fills my life with a sense of purpose and a profound and genuine happiness. Most days, work is worth it.

Sometimes I need a trip to the mountains to remind me of all this because I’m not perfect. Because I care so deeply about the work I do, I put my whole self into it, and sometimes that means I don’t always make time for me and get burnt out. When I feel overwhelmed, I’m snippy, sassy, and impatient, and let unhealthy habits surface. I am not my best me, and I don’t like myself very much. But all I need is a little reminder of the me I am proud of, the me that is deeply grateful for all of the many opportunities I have been given and the fantastic people in my life. Usually all that is needed to set me right again is a dose of whatever it is I have been missing. In this case, it was simply an adventure in good company, exploring a land that speaks to my heart and soul, that is both familiar yet at the same time filled with new and excited undiscovered surprises – a reminder that I am home.

This is the third and final installment of a short series of blog posts about my experience leading the AMC Fall Photography Weekend. Read Parts 1 and 2 here. I will be updating all of these posts and my website with more images from the weekend, once I manage to get them recovered.

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