Winter in Ukraine may come with connotations of grey and desolation, but in L'viv the streets are as lively and bright in the dead of winter as they are in the summer. That vibrance is perfectly in balance with the shining personlity of yesterday's model. As she showed me around her university, the smile never waned, which is surprising considering she's years in to an intensive degree in Law.
2017 found me in 26 cities in 12 different countries. But what 2017 really gave me was a renewed confidence and motivation to create and put out consistent work which I can be proud of. I attribute my developed style focusing on colour and composition to focused hard work and constant support I received this year from family, friends, and fellow photographers.
I am very happy to share a small collection of my favourite shots from the past year. Photos available for purchase are linked.
The final photo gets to be set aside, as it was the one which pulled me out of impostor syndrome and into confident artist territory. After hitting the front page of Reddit, I saw a huge influx of engagement. What I’ve never shared is that this photo almost never left my Lightroom catalog. I went to this location at sunset knowing what I wanted to leave with, took about 10 shots from various angles, choosing my settings carefully. I went home and began to process - I was feeling frustrated. I simply wasn’t happy with it, but I showed it to my husband whose face dropped, uttering “wow.” He’s supportive of my work, and gives me honest critique - so this visceral reaction was a surprise. He must see something I didn’t, so I posted it to my personal Facebook. The reaction I got there mirrored my husband’s, so what the hell, I’ll post it to r/itookapicture. I woke up to incredibly supportive words from some of the toughest critics out there: Redditors .
From there, it was a pretty incredible experience of recognition from different sources. I’ve spent so many years not trusting myself and my art. Always thinking I’m not good. Not good enough to even pretend to be. While it’s dangerous to rely on outside validation, sometimes it’s the kick a person needs to gain confidence. Only through support of all artists will more beauty and art be brought into a world which needs it.
If you're one of those supporters, thank you for a year of encouragement and honest critique. I look positively to 2018 as yet another year of growth and art.
Lviv, Ukraine carries itself as a sleepy Eastern European town - with pastel buildings, charming chocolate shops, and small windy alleyways. But, sleepy it is not. Lviv is bright, colourful, and full of vibrance.
What is truly wonderful about life as a travelling photographer is the opportunity to work with people truly passionate about the city I am visiting. Liliana grew up in Lviv, and is proud of the fact. "I love it in Lviv. I would never want to live anywhere else." And why would she? Lviv is full of chocolate shops and unique cafes. That passion for ones hometown can be rare in this part of the world - it is so refreshing to meet someone who is truly happy in their home. Come along and see Lviv from her eyes. Also, Chewbacca.
Bonus outtakes, because how could I not share these?
Family vacations are a whirlwind - especially in a completely foreign environment with only a week to explore. The Catanzaritis made the most out of their time in Paris, packing in about as much of the sights as possible - and then some. A bateau ride, museums, prix fixe dinners, and even Versailles - have a look into their very first trip abroad.
Poetry by Giuseppe Catanzariti.
An idle curiosity is born from
The prose of quotidian living
Piquing the mind at first
And then ever swelling
A nascent snowball cascading down a
Its momentum ever growing
Until it is time to go
Human creation in all its splendor
And in all its handwrought glory
Enters the soul through the eyes
Before taking up a permanent
And warm residence in the heart
Where it is nurtured forever
Mementos for those who
Couldn’t come along
And for the itinerant patrons too
Simple physical keepsakes
To stimulate happy recollections
Palatial monuments to the
Grandeur of revered leaders
Of finished states stand today
Despite the vicissitudes of time
So that every man might learn
That every man is born a king
Merrymaking is mortal
But memories are eternal
Never dying but ever growing
The towers and the churches
Beheld and felt firsthand
Are but earthly monuments
While experiences are cosmic
There can be no going back
Not as the same person
Left behind back home
As home has become nothing
More than a slippery notion
In our newfound selves
Ashley and Kevin came to Paris on a promise made five years ago when they first got together. Having been friends for years prior, when they finally made the transition to a relationship, Ashley proposed that if they make it to their five year anniversary, they should go to Paris to celebrate - all the way from their home in LA. Kevin took this opportunity to make a proposition of his own.
And so, we set off around Paris under the guise of fun tourist/anniversary shots. Little did Ashley know that Kevin was walking around with a ring in his pocket. We began at the Louvre, spent some time on Pont des Arts, and the quay before heading over to the Eiffel Tower where Kevin, in all traditional fashions, got down on one knee and asked the big question. Luckily, Ashley said yes, otherwise that bottle of champagne would have become sad champagne - and no one wants sad champagne.
Take an overnight bus to Amsterdam from Paris for the day, they said. It'll be fun, they said. Well, yeah, it was fun. It was also a complete blur - and not entirely for the reasons I'm sure everyone here is now assuming. With just about 3 hours of sleep thanks to some of the least conscientious fellow bus-riders, we arrived in Amsterdam at the unholy time of 6AM on Sunday morning - so early, in fact, that there was no train to take us from the random Eurolines station to the city center for another 30 minutes. So it goes.
Upon arriving at the central station, we found ourselves on eerily quiet streets of the concentric canals. Having been in Amsterdam many times before, my biggest take away has always been how crowded the center is, so now being the only people on most streets was a pretty surreal experience. The deep haze seemed to exist solely to drive this point home.
The remainder of the day was spent in a sleepless stupor doing our best to make the most of the 6 hours we had before checking in to our hotel. Visited all the hot spots, naturally, and I may or may not have squealed when I discovered there was now a Primark in the city center. I also may or may not have had a bucket of water thrown on my from a high-up window - and no, I was nowhere near the Red Light district at the time.
Overall, our 31 hours in Amsterdam were well spent, if not only because of the three servings of cone frites I endulged in - and after the sweltering summer spent in Macedonia and Crete, the haze and cool air was more than welcomed.
Spending only a week in Sofia, I don't feel properly equipped to make a fair judgement on the city. But, it overall left a positive impression. With gorgeous Central-European inspired intertwined with Soviet and Byzintine archetectures, walking the city streets was a constant pleasant surprise. All pleasant until you happen upon a statue with eyeballs, that is.
The standout building is of course the famous Alexander Nevsky Cathedral which dominates the roundabout upon which it sits. Our Airbnb was literally on the corner, so we were lucky enough to get glimpses of it every day even doing mundane tasks like running to the grocery store.
But for me, the best bit was a table in an outdoor market chock-full of vintage analog cameras, from which I walked away with a ФЭД-2 (FED-2) Soviet Leica clone. I've already run a roll through it, and can't wait to get it developed. Stay tuned!
Eclectic. Contradictory. Identity crisis. It's hard to describe the capital of Macedonia. Skopje 2014 was/is an initiative to modernize and give an identity to Skopje. Large structures were planned - some since completed, some still in the works - and statues were seemingly thoughtlessly placed in any available spot. It's as if the universe had some statues for lunch, and bad seafood for dinner - and the streets, bridges, and buildings of Skopje were the victims of this circumstance. I cannot adequately express just how many statues are here - I'm half convinced that there's a statue of me and you unceremoniously placed somewhere downtown.
In addition to the surreal nature of open and completely empty plazas surrounded by modern government buildings pumping Christmas music in the +95F weather of August, the city, like many other Balkan cities, hosts an old Ottoman neighbourhood. Now a lively Turkish bazaar, one can get lost in the winding cobble-stoned streets, relax in a canopied courtyard and sip Turkish tea, or of course shop. The contradictions are not limited to Ottoman versus Western, though. No, no. The Western bits like to contradict themselves with Soviet-era concrete buildings sprinkled in to modern buildings of every architectural style - some so new that they look and feel like the backlot of a Hollywood movie studio.
The charms of Skopje don't end with it's oddities. The sunsets have proven stellar. And we all know of my penchant for a good sunset.
On August 12, 2017, friends and family from across Europe came to together to celebrate the marriage of Judit and Philipp in Stuttgart. On a cool day that included brief spells of rain and moments of pleasant sunshine, dozens of guests smiled and laughed as the happy couple began their new lives together as husband and wife. The day began with a traditional signing ceremony in a charming Stuttgart government building, where family and friends sat to watch the formal union of Philipp and Judit. Papers were signed and rings were exchanged - momentarily incorrectly - and the room applauded as Philipp and Judit enjoyed their first kiss as a married couple.
Following the ceremony, Mr. and Mrs. Wagenfuehrer were chauffered back to their garden, where the guests had assembled to continue the celebration. Champagne glasses clinked in merry toasts in the festive afternoon air. Following a pleasant time in the garden, the newlyweds departed to their favorite park to enjoy a walk together, for the first time as husband and wife. With stunning views of hilly Stuttgart before and behind them, Philipp and Judit smiled and laughed, truly basking in one another’s company.
After driving from the park to the reception venue (Bessen66) in a gleaming Mercedes, it was time for the celebration to really begin. The guests raised their glasses, and speeches were given in honor of the beaming Judit and Philipp. Among so many close friends and loving family members, the happy couple deeply enjoyed the genuinely festive atmosphere. Delicious food and an amazing cake - and plenty of pálinka - further enhanced the mood. Soon, everyone was merrily dancing, overjoyed with happiness for Philipp and Judit. It was a truly celebratory day, and a fittingly joyful gathering for such a joyful couple.