Category Archives: Personal

Have you guys missed me? I’ve been adventuring down south, beginning with a mini-session with Sarah and Paul in Washington DC and continuing on through Williamsburg, VA and onto North Carolina! Weddings and engagements and portrait sessions followed by a technology-free few days feeding my soul with the sounds of rushing water and birdsong and mountain trees blowing in the spring breeze in the Smokies. It was glorious to be on the road and I can’t wait to share all of this with you over the next few weeks! In the meantime, here’s a little peek at what’s to come!


Last fall, I entered an essay contest that asked the question, “What’s the bravest thing you ever did?” I thought long and hard about the question and how it fit into the events of my life. I though about cancer. I thought about education and career and choices about friendship and family. But I kept coming back to love. The courage it takes to put yourself at the mercy of another’s affection and commitment and fearlessly leave it all on the table. And to get up, to get back in the game, to truly make yourself vulnerable again when love has broken you…is there anything braver? Or more worth the risk?

I thought I’d share my submission with you guys…cuz why not? If I’m going to write about bravery, I should at least have enough courage to share the writing, right?




The Bravest Thing I Ever Did


I found it. But then I lost it.

987 days before I stumbled across it again, give or take a few hours.

I found it and it was good. Really good. So good that it was real. So good that it was imperfect and quiet and filled me with contentment so deep that I was sure it reached into places that had formerly been closed to the public. Had formerly been closed even to me.

It was so good that it was able to introduce me to versions of myself I’d never met before. Versions I didn’t know could exist. Versions I hadn’t even thought to aspire to. Versions that took my breath away simply by the shadow of their possibility.

One me hitchhiked to California. She soaked in the mist of Yosemite Falls and rested in the shadow of a great Sequoia. Another read aloud by candlelight from the dog-eared pages of a tattered anthology, singing a Song of Myself and a Song of Nature and secretly suspected that the universe did indeed care when she announced, “Sir, I exist!

One ran a river in the grandest of canyons while another nestled into a sense of home that she’d scarcely dared dream of.

Yet another took his hand in hers and believed. Believed she could trust. Believed it could last. Believed it was so good and so real that we could build a life around it. Together.

So a question was asked and plans were made. A white dress bought. Friends invited.


But then I lost it.


I’m not sure where it went. His toes got icy and then it was just suddenly and inexplicably and irretrievably and devastatingly gone.




I was shattered. And each of those tiny secret places that had formerly been closed to the public caved in. Where once oxygen had entered and carbon dioxide departed, a polluted sludge crept and choked.

The shadows of possibilities became ghosts. Those versions of myself retreated. I was left with only a me that was eggshell thin and cracked at the edges. And I was afraid that he’d taken the others with him when he left. That I’d never be able to find them again. That they’d gone.




With it.


At first there was nothing but a burning hole and choking mire. I walked and talked and slept and worked. I tried to eat, but the sludge was too thick and I couldn’t quite swallow. Each day I awoke, surprised to see that the world continued on its axis and had eeked out yet another day. One that I must walk and talk and sleep and work and attempt to breathe and swallow through.

Then came the beatings. That song- that stupid, reminder of a song- would play, followed by what was surely a steel-toed combat boot to the chest. I would stumble across his forgotten book tucked in among mine, and then the one-two double punch to my gut. The smell of woodsmoke. The whisper of a name. That circled date on the calendar. Kick. Punch. Punch. Kick.

The beatings will continue until morale improves.

They went on for awhile. When it seemed like the jackass with the combat boots had finally tired and was maybe, just maybe, moving on…wham. A friendly look or an offer of dinner or a misty rain just a bit too much like a long ago waterfall. Roundhouse kick to the temple. Every. damn. time.

So I began to flex my gut when I suspected a punch. And to duck when it looked like a kick. And I got good enough at the maneuvering that I was able to avoid the hits. Most of the time.

Good enough to begin to look for those versions of myself I’d met so briefly. I wondered if they only showed up where it lived, or if they might be found and talked into joining just me, alone, for a drink.

They took some hunting and I found them in the oddest places. Midway through a long run in the woods I noticed the singer of poetry trotting along beside me, smiling shyly even if she couldn’t recall every line. Suddenly sitting in the passenger seat as I crossed state lines was the hitchhiker. She had adventures on her mind.

I couldn’t find them all. Some were too wispy, too spectral to take form without it. They required just that combination of me, and him, and it to solidify into real potential. They were as gone as it was and I wove their loss into my grief.

While I was hunting, I ran into a few new versions. These girls wore a little more leather and had a few more tattoos. They didn’t take crap from anyone. And they certainly didn’t need it in order to show up. They came and went as they pleased.

But even with this new crowd around me and my improving flexing skills, sometimes a punch got through and would bring me to my knees all the faster for the utter surprise. I just continued to bob and weave as well as I could and got back-up from the new girls, a few of whom could give as well as she could get.

And so we went, these versions of myself and I. Dodging the occasional blow and tossing the occasional punch. Some of them never grew any more substantial than the shadow of her beginning. With a wistful wave, she’d float away and I just watched her go. Others grew darker and more detailed until she began to take a form that I could grasp by the hand. Some solidified enough for me to embrace fully and realize her potential. It was these girls who warned me loudest when a hit was imminent and who learned to keep me on my feet when one landed. Who applied the vaseline so the blows would just slide off.

Then, 987 days after I lost it, I stumbled across it again. Give or take a few hours.

I wasn’t looking for it, so I didn’t recognize it at first. It belonged to a new owner and I saw it flicker for a moment in his sweet smile.

Then suddenly the combat boots came out of hiding and stomped me to a pulp.

In the 987 days since I’d lost it, my cadre of selves and I had beefed up. We’d tussled with some big cats and come out on top. We’d muscled up to the demons of a long ago sexual assault and wrestled them, claws and all, to the ground. We’d waged war against cancer and grappled it into tentative surrender. We were honed. We were sharp. No lightweights here.

But it? It scared the shit out of us.

Some of the girls begged to run. You can’t beat this one, they whispered. You cannot force it to submit. They pulled me by the arm. They reminded me of the beatings, of the sludge, of the gaping, searing, hole left behind.

If you let it in, you will never, ever be safe. Ever.

Even if he stays. Even if it’s real. If you let it in, it will break you. Somehow. Someday. It. Will. Break. You.

Even if he stays. Even if it’s real. A careless driver or a ruthless disease or a change of heart. If you let it in, it will, someday, somehow, break you.

You will never, ever be safe. Ever.

I gathered my corps around me and we tightened our laces. We cracked our knuckles, stretched, and prepared to protect everything we’d learned. With a biting remark or defensive assumption or caustic sarcasm, we dug our earthworks in.

Fool me once, shame on you.

But out of the corner of my eye, I couldn’t help but notice some shadows dancing at the edge. Barely there. The faintest whisper. The merest suggestion of possibility.

The thinnest hints at other versions of myself, of my life, singing their siren’s song.

I had a choice of course. My girls and I knew what this was. We knew all about the combat boots and the sticking, choking sludge. We knew how it could, how it would, in some way and at some time, eventually leave us. Break open the hole. Break us.


Break me.


We thought about maneuvering. We considered a dodge. We balled a fist and looked for an angle of attack. We turned away, tried to ignore those hazy spectres and their murmured promises, their softly sung reminders of home and what it is to be truly seen by another. We really tried.

But then we took a deep breath and we reached out, this messy, disheveled, contrary group of me, and reluctantly waved those opalescent shades of possibility in. We unclenched the fist, one stiff digit at a time, and extended our hand. Shaking in our very own set of boots, we welcomed him, welcomed it, into a life. Together.


987 days after I lost it, I found it again, give or take a few hours.




Exposed on the cliffs of the heart. Look, how tiny down there,
look: the last village of words and, higher,
(but how tiny) still one last
farmhouse of feeling. Can you see it?
Exposed on the cliffs of the heart. Stoneground
under your hands. Even here, though,
something can bloom; on a silent cliff edge
an unknowing plant blooms, singing, into the air.
But the one who knows? Ah, he began to know
and is quiet now, exposed on the cliffs of the heart.
While, with their full awareness,
many sure-footed mountain animals pass
or linger. And the great sheltered bird flies, slowly
circling, around the peak’s pure denial. -But
without a shelter, here on the cliffs of the heart….

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, uncollected poems (translated by Stephen Mitchell)

Bradbury State Park in the pre-dawn light…

Happy Friday!!!


The forecast is calling for snow showers tonight! If Facebook is any indication, it would seem that the entire world is over winter except for me. Maybe it’s because my hot weather sweat-like-a-pig look is rarely flattering, or simply my enduring adoration for all things cozy, but I really love Maine winters.

Especially when there’s snow.

And even more when there is chili!

I love this chili. Seriously…ask anyone who’s ever been invited to my house for dinner between the months of September and May (I feed it to everyone!). It’s super fast and easy, hearty & warming, vegetarian/vegan (depends on toppings), easily organic, inexpensive, really healthy (can anyone say “complete protein”?), and it makes a TON (and freezes really well!).

I love it so much, it’s what I made for our film gathering:

Cuppa Photography : Branding Film from Inkspot Crow Films on Vimeo.


A few notes:

~ I carry on a torrid love affair with my slow-cooker and choose to make this recipe there. If you’d prefer to go stovetop, simply dump all of your ingredients into a big ol’ pot and there you go! While it would technically be ready as soon as it was heated through, it’s tastier if you give the ingredients a little time to blend flavors…I would simmer on the stovetop at least 30 min if you aren’t crunched for time.

~ If you are a committed locavore and fall as in love with this recipe as I did, when this season’s summer produce comes around, I suggest roasting some peppers and onions on the grill, giving them a chop, and freezing them into packets to dump straight into this. Same for corn. Same for canning or freezing tomatoes! Also, if you are so inclined, dried local beans can be cooked up in a huge batch (again, slow-cooker to the rescue!) and then frozen into glass canning jars! For the recipe below, I will be assuming that everyone would need to head to the grocery store…

~ If you have a Trader Joe’s handy, they have some ingredients that are particularly well-suited to this chili…if I buy canned beans, we always use the organic beans from Trader Joe’s.

~ I’m not super precise when it comes to the spices (my apologies!)…I toss in a good pinch and add more to taste as I go!

My Favorite Awesome Veggie Chili:

Dump all of the following into a large slow-cooker:

2 cans black beans
1 can kidney beans (drained & rinsed)
1 can garbanzo beans (drained & rinsed)
2 cans vegetarian baked beans
2 cans chopped/diced tomatoes (we like the organic fire-roasted ones from Trader Joe’s)
1 bag frozen corn (easy to find organic!)
1 bag frozen pepper/onion fajita stir-fry mix (again, we like the organic fire-roasted ones from Trader Joe’s)
2 cloves chopped garlic (or the jarred equivalent)
Liquid smoke (small splash…a tsp or so?)
Chili powder (lots…we use traditional, ancho, and chipotle)
Cayenne pepper
Smoked paprika
Turmeric (a good dash…it’s good for you)
Cinnamon (just a bit)
Cumin (we love cumin!)

Cook in your slow cooker for ~2 hours on high or ~6 hours on low.

I love to top this with a little shredded jack cheese, sour cream, and chopped fresh cilantro and serve with homemade cornbread!

I hope this helps warm you up when you come in from playing in the snow!!

We were standing outside the Uffizi Gallery, home to one of the largest and most impressive art collections in the world. I had just realized that I would neither be able to photograph inside the museum, nor even keep the backpack holding my equipment with me, and we were engaged in debating whether to trek back to our hotel to leave everything there or risk checking it at the coat/bag check in the museum. As I watched other travellers, equipment-free travellers, slide past us and into the gallery to soak in Botticelli and Lippi, I was struck again by the tension I often feel between my ability to capture the experience through my photography and simply be fully present in the experience itself.

I should clarify that this tension exists most for me when I’m traveling or engaged in experiences that are (a) personal, and (b) shared. Obviously, when I’m traveling in my capacity as a photographer, the priority is clear…I’m there to photograph, first and foremost. Likewise, when I’m traveling alone, I can adjust my approach to accommodate the time and focus required to both process my personal experience as well as photograph it in a compelling way.

But what about when Justin and I have saved our pennies for a trip that is for us? How much attention do I divert from our conversation to composing a shot? How much of our schedule should be determined by getting to a certain vantage point over the city during the golden hours? How much equipment do we bring, knowing that at best we will have to lug it around with us all day, and at worst we risk it having to be checked or even being stolen? Is it okay to simply take some snapshots of us having fun, or does every image need to be “blog-worthy”?

I honestly am not totally sure where that balance lies.

Here’s the thing. I love taking photos. I love it. It’s why I’m not making a six-figure salary as an attorney- I chose to make photography my full-time work instead. So the lines are blurry. If I were an attorney and Justin and I headed to Italy, I would likely not feel any compulsion to carry my briefs around Florence with me or lament their absence while staring in awe at the David.

But photography isn’t a 9-5 sort of job. It requires constant practice and education for me to feel  confident in my ability to capture not only what something looks like in a pleasing way, but the feel of the moment, the story I’m trying to tell. I’ve spent hours and hours focusing this attention and  practice on how to tell the story of love and weddings, but the story of a city, of a landscape, of travel…these are newer to me and come with new challenges.  And, of course, photography has a meaningful place in my personal life. Each year I promise myself, with incrementally increasing levels of success, that I will give as much energy and effort to capturing the story of our life as I do the lives of others. Sometimes that means snapshots with my iphone for an Instagram feed I refuse to take too seriously, sometimes that means lugging 20 pounds of camera equipment around on our travels. And sometimes, when amazed at the light streaming across the David, wrapping around each perfect curve, lending its illumination to the power of a masterpiece, I want to drink it in, unencumbered, in huge, noisy, gulps.

And when I’ve drunk my fill, I want to wield that light the way Michelangelo wielded his chisel. To use it not just to pause my own moment of rapture, but to somehow share it with anyone, everyone, whose life might be richer for it. And therein lies the rub.

I know I’m not supposed to say this {especially not on my, umm, photography blog}, but sometimes my own experience is richer for not putting a lens between me and the moments that knock the wind out of me. I think of all the weddings over the last several years where I see more and more people watching the first dance on the screen of the phones they’ve erected between themselves and the moment that is happening mere feet before them, and I know that I don’t want to witness my life through glass. I’m reminded of this little video that made its way around social media recently.

But sometimes it’s possible to have it both ways. The gift of photography is that it allows me to notice, really notice, the way the light filters through snowy trees, or how a coffee mug and half-eaten bagel on a plate can tell a story in still life. It adds color and shadow and light and detail to my life whether I actually shoot the images or not, and for that I am deeply grateful. Sometimes I leave the camera in my bag and make eye contact with Justin instead, reaching for his hand and basking in the unity of our shared moment. Sometimes I pull it out and the intersection of experience and capture bursts my heart wide open.

I don’t know what the balance is. With each bit of travel and each hike and each moment where the sunlight pours through the kitchen window and onto my yellow tea kettle, I will continue to use my judgment and keep searching for it.

In the meantime, here are few images from Italy…some are snapshots, some are photographs, and there are others that will only ever live in my cherished memories of a long weekend getaway that Justin and I once made to the magical city of Florence…
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-005The famous Santa Maria del Fiore and its Duomo
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-010Climbing Brunelleschi’s dome!
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-016On the way down, we were able to get up close and personal with the dome’s interior fresco, a rendering of The Last Judgment by several artists including Vasari, Zuccari, and Cresti.
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-021We began day two with breakfast at the Mercato Centrale
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-023We ate our breakfast on the steps of the Basilica di San Lorenzo before wandering it’s galleried courtyard…
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-026Justin snuck this shot of me scribbling notes in my journal!
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-029From the top of the Campanile! I know everyone gets this shot, but it’s easy to see why!
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-033The Baptistry of Saint John…I fell in love with the amazing detail!
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-036We spent more than 20 min alone with Michelangelo’s unfinished Bandini Pieta (also called The Deposition) at the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo…it was absolutely astonishing.
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-040Ghiberti’s famous bronze Gates of Paradise. They are even more exquisite in real life, if you can believe it!
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-044Santa Croce …
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-046We were surprised by a rainstorm that stopped as quickly as it began, and left this treat behind for us!
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-047The view from Piazzale Michelangelo
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-049From San Miniato al Monte (maybe my favorite cathedral on the trip…I found it so powerful)…
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-052We walked back down to Piazzale Michelangelo after San Miniato to catch the sunset over Florence!
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-053Santa Croce & Santa Maria del Fiore…
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-055The Ponte Vecchio…
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-060In hopes of catching the sunrise over Florence, we headed out in the wee hours on day three, but alas, the rain had other plans! I actually ended up in love with the shine of wet cobblestones and the rich color of saturated surfaces! And I always love the early mornings in a new place…there is something so intimate about being in a city as it wakes and begins its day.
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-061We had the Piazzale Michelangelo completely to ourselves!
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-065The Ponte Vecchio is a fascinating place….both when it’s teeming with tourists and glowing jewelry shops, as well as when the shops are closed up with their wooden shutters!
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-068We spent the day looking at art {where photography was prohibited}, but made it back to San Miniato for the evening Gregorian chant mass…beautiful.
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-069Our last morning in Florence…
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-070…and then onto Milan! The cathedral in Milan was full of scaffolding and equipment, and there were many places that were off limits unless you bought extra tickets, but it is a fascinating place nonetheless…the preserved remains of archbishops, gothic architecture, a sculpture of St. Bartholomew from 1562 that bears a certain resemblance to Lord Voldemort, saintly relics from centuries past…seriously fascinating. As our time was limited, we opted not to go up to the rooftop, but I would love to get up there if we ever returned when less construction/maintenance was underway!
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-078We wandered up Via Orefici to the Castello Sforzesco. The ancient castle is home to an amazing number of well-done museums, and we didn’t even scratch the surface before we reached closing time!
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-080We had another opportunity to spend an incredible amount of time alone with Michelangelo’s Rondanini Pieta…it’s extremely humbling to stand alone with work of this magnitude.

Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-085Our final gelato of the trip…
Travel_Photogragher_Florence_Milan_Italy-086…and a few roasted chestnuts to wrap up the day!

{My apologies for the late delivery on this post! Thanks so much for being patient!}