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Maybe you've wondered what my origin story is as a photographer. I, for one, am an "origins" person. I like history, genealogy, geology, and the timing of "firsts" and "lasts." It all comes together to make us known on a deeper level as individuals and as a people.
Half of my lineage comes from northern France by way of Acadia, the other half comes from Sicily and Italy in the Mediterranean. Hence, I ended up with a funny shade of pale olive skin and freckles that doesn't tan well, and I'm only 5'2".
The French came by boat to Acadia in the 1600's to be fur trappers and settle new land. These Acadians made their way to southern Louisiana through escape and expulsion after some unpopular rules were enforced by the British crown during their claim to these northern French lands by way of several wars. My ancestors from warmer climates came in the 1800's to areas outside of and within New Orleans that were already American. These two bloods, the Mediterranean and Acadian, mixed in the Deep South, where I became a known as Cajun.
I began studying photography at the University of New Orleans in 2001 and was one of the last few generations of students before the digital wave, meaning every roll of film I shot was reeled in a pitch-black closet and printed under the amber light in a darkroom. I was one of the midnight warriors, making my way in the darkness to have the place all to myself late at night to make prints on silver halide paper. Only a couple of other determined warriors joined me at this time of day.
I was on the slow path to graduation, working two jobs while studying with a goal of graduating debt free, and by 2005 I was only a junior at age 24. That August, Katrina sent us out of class and her destructive forces were the beginning of a really cool and empowering survival experience for me that began with swimming out of my front door in fins and towing my two roommates from India out with me on a Home Depot extension cord. It ended with me getting a plane ticket from Salt Lake City to Eugene as part of payment for working with a New Orleans record store's van that followed the Warped Tour. We set up big tents at each new city from Arizona to Utah. I stood outside selling punk chains and hemp necklaces, while the rest of the crew sold custom band t-shirts made on the spot under the tent.
I had fallen in love with what little I knew about Oregon the year prior, having been a skateboarder and wanderer in a state where wandering meant you needed a boat to get to the best spots and skating meant riding pot-hole-ridden streets, giant oak tree roots lifting up sidewalks over 6 inches in some places, and absolutely no outdoor skate parks. So I took the chance to get myself out to Oregon on a "refugee" status that offered me in-state tuition to the University of Oregon in Eugene. Living through Martial Law was not fun, and I'm glad Oregon stepped up for us!! I was exited to head for a state that had rocky basalt cliffs and desert, all in one.
At that point, I was getting around mostly on foot and by bike. I got my New Orleans bike as a rescue from a garbage heap in Baton Rouge on a family visit prior to the hurricane. It had a sweet custom bandanna seat that I designed and a Little Rascals sticker on the stem. Sadly, Buckwheat drowned in the flood waters, chained to my porch. When I got to college in Oregon, I borrowed a bike from my driving college roommate until I got Fiend. Fiend was designed by the Cadillac car company (strange, I know) and had some really crazy structure that only fitted BMX fenders, so I felt like I was on a half-motorcycle on the road.
Oregon was more than the beauty I could conjure in my head. I knew I had come to where I wanted to be when I started to check out my surroundings between classwork. The sensations I experienced being around my first Northwest waterfall were of total relaxation and triggered some sort of animal sensuality. We were barefoot, we jumped from the top, we were free.
Oregon became forest hiking, mountain climbing, sea cave exploring, and beach camping on the weekends with my house-mates. I found out beer tasted better in these places, but I still drank the cheap stuff a couple more years until I tried PNW craft beer. There were so many choices!
After living here now for over ten years, I can say I've seen a lot of the Cascadian coast and hiked many trails, but I feel like I've only tapped into a tiny bit of the natural beauty it has to share with us, and I am so glad to live here with the purpose and intention of exploring as much as I can with a camera and bringing that beauty into our everyday lives. I live for those moments, being out there. And I am greatly satisfied when my image pleases you!
February 18, 2018 at the Seaside Convention Center from 10 to 4pm
Oregon Coast Women's Expo
Hey hey! Well if you haven't heard yet, there is a new event on the coast for female business owners to showcase their work and talents. Come to the Seaside Convention Center this Sunday to hear about the goods and services that are offered on the North Coast of Oregon. You will discover hidden talent! Follow this link to find out more: OCWE. I will have a vendor booth with lots of my landscape photography and photo good for you to purchase and ask about. You will be able to ask me questions first-hand about custom tailoring of my product lines for your event, wedding, or business. My work is available for wholesale, and my images are available for licensing.
Three Cups: Spring 2018 Art Show in Astoria, OR
If you are in Astoria, you can view my current two month show, which will be up through the end of March. Hanging there are several large framed prints of my photographs, as well as some smaller photo wood panels, marble magnets, marble coasters, and tote bags. All are for sale and available for you to take home immediately with payment!
Lastly, if you are a retailer or hotel, send me your contact info via my Contact page so I can get you on my wholesale newsletter! Anything you could want to know about my products and their pricing is there.
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Our Big Backyard
If I could make it my job to play outside all day... I would. I'm trying. I suppose the best moments in my process are when I am discovering new vistas, soaking in the details, and wondering in awe over the geological clues of our very existence, present namely in rocks that I can observe with my naked eyes. I am no scientist, so I don't do air samples, core samples, water samples.... I'm no Ansel Adams with developing equipment in the back of a van, so I'm not gone weeks at a time making prints on the road. I just use my two eyes and dig into my curiosity using all the resources made available to me by scientists, researchers, and practicing photographers to do what I do and learn about my environment. It is a great, joyful method for me, and the real fun is in making a satisfying print that represents a place and becomes a definition of "place." That's my only job I give myself. I then share this with others in the form of products I design and traditional wall art, hoping that my images of the places you live in become the "spirit" of objects when you invest in my work.
Funny thing that I realized on a recent hike where we took the wrong entry and ended up at the beach... is how temporary most of our landscapes really are here on the northwest coast! I took a trip to circle the entire Olympic Peninsula in November and later learned that that region is relatively new land on a geological timescale! This made me think more deeply about rock formations, and I love to look at rocks and even collect them. Well, on the more recent beach hike, which was actually a failed Cape hike (silly me, I led the expedition), I noticed something in the heaping cliff-side that rose high above us on the beach. A sediment layer of blackened everything - blackened soft sediment with hard rocks falling out and blackened tree roots. I looked up at the forest on the hiking trails, meters and meters above me, and noticed a living tree barely hanging onto the precipice, which was perfect for observing root length - they didn't go very deep! What this made me think was that the roots of the tree that I was looking at at my eye level had been buried by new sediment and were very old roots! I guessed first that maybe there was a fire and an earthquake that made this chunk of forest slide down into the ocean and turn black... had to wait till I drove home to do some research.
Well, I found two articles written about an area just a few miles up, as well as another Cape farther south, and I was onto something! It turns out that Oregon's sometimes extreme tidal erosion, of course, was responsible for these roots even being visible, but what was even cooler to learn was that landslides did in fact occur here, exposing "paleosols" (ancient soil deposits) with well-preserved tree trunks in just the right conditions. Scientists believe that these landslides occurred during a previous Ice Age, and just up the coast, similar preserved trees were carbon dated to over 38,000 years old. OMG! What a find! I got to touch them. I saw similar dramatic beach erosion when I lived on the southern coast of South Carolina in my early twenties, and it seems I find myself still attracted to some of the same things.
Over the winter, the thought of doing Spirograph designs crept into me, and I went for it head on! It was fun to reconnect with a childhood "toy"... or really an engineer's "drafting aid" is what it was meant to be. These were originally designed in the 1880's by a British engineer, and they soon after were marketed as a toy! Boy would I love to see one of those, if I ever got to search some old attics in England! I drew spiro designs that stand alone on my newest handmade coasters and magnets, and I have just begun to incorporate them into my landscapes, too. I'm pushing out my first "test" designs of the mixed mediums on Facebook (here), and we will see where this goes! I'm curious to hear feedback on these designs... what do you think? Would anyone want them as record covers? Art prints? Pillows?
January through April will be months for lots of social networking time, if you'd like to discuss my artwork in person. I will be showing for four solid months in Astoria, OR at Good to Go in January, at Three Cups during February and March, and at Cannon Beach Art Gallery in April. THEN it's time for spring shooting, so exciting!
Good to Go is at 1132 Commercial Street, Astoria, OR (thru Jan 31)
Three Cups is at 279 West Marine Drive, Astoria, OR (Feb 2 thru March 26)
Cannon Beach Art Gallery is at 1064 S. Hemlock Street, Cannon Beach, OR (March 29 thru April 30)
I am also releasing my first wholesale newsletter-slash-catalog in late February, so if you are a retailer, gallery, hotelier, or business interested in adding my design products to your retail, go to the contact page and let me know with a quick email! I'm happy to do custom projects with my designs and photography.
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Going Pro in Photography
Well, if it didn't take a decade, I finally invested in a professional full frame camera. C'mon already! And in that process I learned some great advice for independent creators - first, don't take it outside until it is insured, of course. "Scheduling" a specific professional item such as a camera is the way to go! Scheduled items are protected through your insurance company outside of your annual deductible for a small additional cost. In return, you get world-wide life-long coverage as long as you own it. I highly recommend doing this for any other valuable tools you may own, too.
Having a full frame camera is so exciting! It's not the brand that matters to me, it's the better quality of lens construction as well as the option to get everything I see in my "vision" in the full frame when I take the shot. I have been operating on "crop frame" sensors for the past decade, ever since the time I shot on 35mm film in college. I'm so excited to do some island-hopping in the Pacific Northwest for some killer shots and serene soul-quenching experiences.
Here is a mini slideshow of a few of my newer prints that I have released on Etsy tonight (click here to shop).
There's so much inspiration in my surroundings that I'm sparked with ideas every day, but I couldn't chase them all! That's part of my favorite aspect of the beauty of working for one's self ... you get to create the vision as you go and see what draws you strongest. It's an invigorating experience of getting to know yourself better, as well as seeing the world around you with completely different eyes!
The Art of Pattern Design
In the medium of design (since I do photography as well as product design...), I took a course through Sitka College of Art and Ecology over the summer and learned to make patterns. This is exciting because patterns can be applied to so many things, beyond even the printed image and cloth, which are probably the first two surfaces that most people think of when they think of "patterns." I can already think of an application where the pattern is not being used, and I've done market research on it... things could explode!
Here is my first one, titled "Baja Breeze," which has elements from my trip to Mexico last winter.
And if you are wondering, that's a bottle of Pacifico, not Corona! So stop drinking Corona already - Pacifico is much better! My design is already available on a variety of products, including floor cushions, rugs, coffee mugs, zipper pouches, and more over at Society 6 (click here to shop). It's been fun to play with! This image was originally created as a pencil drawing, then arranged into a pattern and carved onto linoleum, hence the handmade look. The knowledge I gained in that class blew my mind! I felt like I was learning some "ancient secret" on how to make patterns.
Winter Workshop Potential
Speaking of which, is anyone out there interested in taking a class from me this winter? I have a few topics in mind that I'd like to teach, namely, how to put your art on products as well as how to market yourself on a budget. Please use the Contact page HERE to give me your name and email to put together an idea if there is interest in learning.
Thanks for reading my blog! I hope you learned something or were inspired, or maybe you'll even want to buy some of my art over in my Etsy store, who knows! Please "like" this blog post below to let me know I have readers out there.
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