2015 Recap // Los Angeles + Destination Wedding Photographer

2010  //  2011 //  2012 // 2013 // 2014

a few years ago, i became really insecure about the extent to which i was photographing the world around me. i became really conscious of the space i was taking up, and really terrified of stepping out of line and unintentionally misrepresenting a person, situation, or emotion. was my photography exploitive? was it dishonest? was i sugarcoating? we are photographically saturated generation. was i contributing to that, and was i missing out on living my own life? am i destroying something sacred by selfishly trying to freeze it into prosperity? i decided to stop photographing my ‘personal life’ (what does that phrase mean, anyway?), sharing (or “trying too hard” with) whatever i deemed personal, and saved art for solely business purposes. i do not recommend this.

i continued to photograph my life, but I still felt petty, and i still felt this misplaced, deep, internal guilt for doing it. then i wrote my senior thesis. contextually, my thesis was about the connection between modesty culture and eating disorders, but a lot of it was centered on the idea of space as social power. i ended up researching and writing a lot about food. anthropologically, food serves as a social power–whom a society values, it feeds first, and it feeds well. there are dozens of reasons the act of researching, mulling over, writing, and presenting my thesis felt deeply significant to me, but mostly because it caused me to examine the ways that i have internalized this ‘requirement’ to take up as little space in the world as possible (physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally). as i began to unravel the ways that this twisted mindset manifests itself in all aspects of my life, i started to see how my guilt for wanting to photograph the seemingly mundane days of my life was a manifestation of disallowing myself to take up space in my own life and the world around me.

the reason it can be dangerous to “save” photographing for only certain events–like weddings, or christmas cards or graduation–is that, eventually, we begin to ascribe a particular significance to these milestones. we live in a world where certain life events are deemed as “milestones”, and we are taught to aspire to them, anticipate them, spend money on them, speak highly of them, file them in our minds as a BIIIIG IMPORTANT MOMENT. these are the things that are photographed and these are the smiling, posed pictures that hang on our walls. you’re not supposed to photograph the salad you ate after you were the first one to say “i love you” so that you can remember that day forever. you don’t commemorate rehab in pictures. you don’t photograph the last payment you make to get out of debt, or the months of training for that marathon. people don’t really photographs heartbreaks. aren’t those milestones just as significant?

by societal standards, this year has been filled with a lot of milestones for me. they were very big and important, yes, but what stick out to me the most are a lot of the surrounding details.  a bride two years ago told me one of her favorite photographs from their wedding was of a pair of swimtrunks drying on a heater outside her groom’s cabin. this is a very common response, i’ve found. some of my favorite photographs i took this year were of the mundane details of living with eight girls in our big, beloved house just before we graduated. i don’t think we have a graduation photo of all of us together, smiling–but we do have a picture of us crying while watching an iphone video. that moment stands out as a milestone in my year. i have a picture on my phone of myself crying this past august, and while it’s not my favorite, i took it because i was going through a really hard time and i felt like i needed to acknowledge that moment in my life–just like i acknowledge when i find the shadow on a wall really pretty, or place a newly married couple in a really cute pose.

i’m saying all this because you don’t really know much, and i don’t really know much, and that’s okay. i don’t know why we frame things in a certain way or whether or not we are sugarcoating our lives, but it’s okay. i don’t know how to reconcile joy and pain, or how to uplift one without feeling like i’m ignoring the other. i don’t know how to be honest or brave a lot of the time. i don’t know how to translate the things i see to the world, and i don’t know how my work is received by other people. i don’t know if you came here to look at black and white baby pictures (OKAY MEEEE) and are annoyed that you are reading very confusing, vague, haphazardly written paragraphs by me. i don’t know why i feel like these are the words i want to share right now, or if i will even agree with these sentiments a year from now.

when i talk about my job, i say that i deem it my responsibility to show up, to tell the truth, and translate what i see in the big and in the small into something that will serve as a reminder for years to come. i’m trying to do the same in my own life. whether these pictures represent milestones for you, milestones in our society, or nothing at all, these are some of the moments that stick out to me when i think of 2015. very thankful for it all.

these recap posts are always my favorite. thank you for looking at the pictures i take. if you are in them, i know they mean much different things for you than they do for me. thank you thank you thank you for trusting me, it’s not an honor i take lightly. if you have absolutely no context for who or what is going on in a photograph, i acknowledge and hope that they mean significantly different things for you than they do for me. context and perspective change how we see things, and what emotions are stirred, and that is a very important, natural, and good thing.
thank you for participating, whether it be on the other side of the camera, or the other side of this screen. thank you for allowing me to participate.

particular shoutouts to the people of chiang mai, portland, chicago, denver, santa barbara, san francisco, los angeles (okay all of california), calgary, and salt lake for making this year exxxxtra #dope

wishing you a coming year full of documenting and celebrating the shitty, the fantastic and the boring parts of your life in whatever way you want, to whatever extent you feel is right!!!

happy 2016!

(i still take–and like!–“stiff, posed, smiling” cliche pictures. just for the record mom)


Catherine Marsh your work continues to amaze an stun me. xoxo keep it up lovely lady. <3

David Killeen All the questions you have will be answered in time. Some day someone will tell you they liked a picture you took 50 years ago and still have it. You have gift, a lot people wish they had, don’t let it get away.
People always ask me, do I have a favorite one, and I say the last one I shot.

I will be looking for more photos. Happy new year.

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