After my dad passed in 2008 from Pancreatic Cancer, I mourned his death by grasping onto a way a life that seemed to compliment his while he was still alive. He was intentional with his relationships and happy to avoid surface level chat. He enjoyed old film cameras and growing in his passions; like spending time in the yard landscaping or taking my dog to the park. He loved my tiny family and lived to make us happy. He was philosophical, thoughtful and open minded. I have memories of us talking for hours in the car about what really was beyond the stars and the galaxies only to leave things open ended. I loved that he was never married to an absolute answer; he always welcomed a different perspective. I think that’s what made him such a good divorce attorney. He always took so much pride in mediating between couples and helping them to find common ground when they felt angry, frustrated and disconnected. When he left this world over Christmas, I knew I wanted to work on my self and grow into a person that had the same values and temperament. I also became fascinated with seeing the the world. I was convinced it would humble me and felt it pushing me toward something big. Something about his death changed me from a 19 year old girl, obsessed with my high school social life, to a woman who needed alone time and space to grow. I wanted to experience new cultures, travel independently from a large group of friends, face lifelong fears, and cope with his loss by myself. I wanted to ease into the person I was meant to be and I think that’s when I unknowingly introduced photography more seriously into my life.
In the summer of 2009, I traveled to Africa to teach English in a secondary school with a dear friend and honestly had never felt more alone in my life. I missed my dad. I missed home (and the comforts of home), but starting taking photos to ease my mind. And it was really when I started to connect with my students that I felt my dad close to me. Aside from a project about capturing people and their dogs (right up my alley!!) in high school AP photography, this was the first time I began to capture human interaction. My kids would run around and play between class time and I became fascinated with snapping candids. I had no idea how to work a DSLR and looking back my exposure/composure was all over the place but I felt fulfilled and alive. Before I had photographed buildings and bugs, but I realized then that human connection encompassed everything that I still love about taking photos today. An opportunity to step outside my comfort zone and capture humans in their most genuine (and sometimes vulnerable) state.
In 2011, I studied abroad in Spain and again felt the presences of my father when I wandered alone through the Alhambra taking photos of architecture and tourists. And in 2012, I felt his presence, as I meditated alone in the Jerusalem desert, reflecting on my past. And finally, in 2017, I found myself connected to my dear dad again, in the middle of the Jaisalmer desert as I photographed the moon rising above the horizon on a camel. (He loved animals so it just seems so fitting.)
To clarify, I am not religious. But something about taking photos and exploring the world independently of a tourist group seems to awaken my senses to a new degree. And something about this state of mind seems to honor my growth as both a human and an artist. In the end, whether it’s traveling or taking on new work that can initially feel intimidating, welcoming the unknown has fueled some of my best work with couples and helped me to live a more full and spiritual life. I hope somewhere, my dad is popping in to watch an episode or two of my reality show and cheering me on. Missing you every damn day DPM.
Some of my images of this trip can also be found in a recent feature by Design Aglow. Along with a sample itinerary of my trip to Jaisalmer and Jodhpur. If you have any sort of inclination to see this beautiful place at some point in your life, don’t hesitate to reach out with questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. The culture, traditions, food, everything about India is so rich, committed, colorful, passionate and unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
Also, as promised. My special announcement is at the end of this post!
When I lost my dad to Pancreatic Cancer there weren’t many resources for patients diagnosed with this horrible disease. It wasn’t until years later, as I started to cope with his death, that I discovered and became involved with Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Seeing first hand what this organization does for patients and their caretakers/families moved me to lend a hand and help in the fight to wage hope for those who couldn’t. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer, spend some time pursing through PanCan’s site. From clinical trials, to an active hotline, to support for caretakers, this organization has so many resources. Their restless spirit to fight for a cause so near and dear to my heart has touched me beyond words. If you are interested in volunteering or want more information, please don’t hesitate to reach out anytime. I am always here to chat.
On another note, I am excited to announce that I’ve officially opened a print shop! Some of my fave pics from India are for sale. Check it out! And email me if ya have any questions: email@example.com.
Happy Tuesday friends! Thank you so much for following along!