Author Archives: Pixie Vision

About Pixie Vision

I am a portrait and event photographer based in Los Angeles. I also travel to cities and events around the world. While dance and movement portraits have been my focus for the past 10 years, I enjoy shooting everything from weddings, families, pets & pregnancy to products, musicians & many other genres. Email pixie@pixievision.com to find out more information on scheduling a photo shoot or booking me to capture an event.

Adventures in Costa Rica

7/28/12 – Arenal

i have yet to witness the top of the volcano, shrouded in mist since our arrival. diagonal slopes of lush tropical vegetation, cows, horses & one lone yellow house on a distant ridge. for lunch, tilapia caught that day from the lake in the distance. huge black butterflies like floating paper, whipping rain that pounds against the windows of our love cabin, #11 with the perpetual ‘no molestar’ (do not disturb) sign secured to the door. this is the disconnect i’ve craved. cell phone all but forgotten in the safety of the deposit box, adventure beckoning us out of our cabin. the landscape begs us to dive in… & so we do.

yesterday began at 7am with a plate of the richest local fruits…. mangoes, papaya, plantain. we soon found ourselves at the beginning to a path leading into the rainforest. torrents of rain brought on fits of laughter as we secured our rain ponchos, seemingly preparing for war with the elements. i opted for rain pants (my fathers voice in my head instigating caution) & was glad i did. buckets of incessant streaming humid necessity poured over us.

my hood over my braided Bjork bun-ponytails created a fountain of rain water. i often stretched out my tongue to taste it, pura vida, the mantra in my head. ‘pure life’ what they wish for each other here. ‘pura vida’ as a greeting, a blessing. to me, a battlecry.

first step onto a hanging bridge. steel cable bridge that rocks side to side under foot & thin fencing as feigned security above the forest floor. ‘look for sloths!’ brady’s voice behind me as my fear of heights reared up. my feet go from bouncy to molasses & i hinge at the waist, grasping for the edges, as we near the middle of the highest hanging bridge. ‘sloths, yes’ i say to myself and scan the canopy, joining in to trick my monkey mind, releasing my hesitation born of fear. none to be found, my elusive friends. in Spanish, they call them ‘lazy’ & i feel quick to defend, despite never having met one.

ivonne, our guide, stopped at a fallen tree, explaining how in other countries it’s easy to tell the age of the tree based on rings, formed by seasons. here in the rainforest of costa rica, there is only one season, rainy & humid…. with a side of rainy & humid…. so no rings in the wood to show its age.

we walked on thru the steaming tropical wonderment, coming upon thick nests of large spiders poised in wait. ivonne somehow found a discarded remnant of a caterpillar morphing inside of a dry hold in the wood, a ripe cocoon, one wing bursting. the definition of metamorphosis, protection of ascension. i took note to preserve similar lessons within myself.

suddenly she stopped, shone a green laser on an eyelash pit viper, told us how most snakes with triangular heads are dangerous. didn’t have to tell me twice to avoid that one, coiled & livid…. & then brady started running and sliding on the bridges…. & i fell in love all over again. this man is fearless, standing for all but common sense, whimsically sliding on bridges a mile from the forest floor, my crazy clown.

we next journey to La Fortuna Waterfall, 500 steep steps down. my knees cracked & protested, distracted by blankets of moss & mushrooms that looked like burnt pizza pie, pulled by the curiosity of unseen rushing water, intrigued by the celebration & strength we were not yet privy to. & suddenly through the break in the trees, we were able to see a hint of it. a majestic rushing tide at the base, we bore witness to the full thunderous spectrum. the water pummeling so hard that there were warnings of being sucked under if you swam anywhere near it. the pounding mist of gravity was inspiring, humbling. i felt an amoeba on the thumbnail of God staring at this waterfall.

in the parking lot, ivonne thrust binoculars at me, showing us the nests of tiger herons, bulbous swinging homes hanging from windy branches, filled with the hair of animals to keep their babies safe.

we had lunch, then traveled to the volcano. we entered a path of giant cane towering above us, all one plant as far as the eye could see, bending in the wind. lava & ash underfoot. ivonne started poking plants. they retreated under her touch. my eyes went wide. it was psychedelic, unreal. she is like the nature whisperer to me, full of knowledge & random facts. i poke plants in wonder & force myself to walk on, glancing over my shoulder to make sure they recover.

ivonne starts digging into a muddy ball near near a dead tree, scraping tiny insects onto her palm. they are termites, full of protein. ‘taste them’ she says. brady throws one onto his tongue. i stare into the eyes of one termite. we both tilt our heads. i pluck it from its already disillusioned reality and sacrifice it in the name of experience. ‘minty!’ my conclusion & brady freaks spellbound that i actually did it. we smack hi-5 & continue on the trial giggling how we ‘totally ate termites in the rainforest’.

then like a dream the landscape changes. ivonne tells us it is because the lava explosion of 1968 avoided this part of the forest. we were in giant cane & then suddenly in the familiar diversity of rainforest jungle. spiders, reptiles, snakes & ferns. then we ascent steep black volcano rocks. the sky threatens us and then fully unloads its full torrential wrath. i throw my hood back, standing on cooled magma screaming with arms to sky “PURA VIDA!!” i feel it now, the pure life connecting. it is a place of acceptance & recovery through wonder. i slip a small volcanic rock into my pocket to remind me of this. black corral offerings of transformation, all born of pressure & heat.

we are then dropped off at Baldi Hot Springs. racing up to the water slides, challenging the waterproof housing of my flipcam. brady throws himself head first into the fastest slide, hilariously recording as he spins chaotic & bangs his head in the dark tunnel twisting cave that deposits him into bubbling healing water. there are many caves & waterfalls that we explore, some complete with ‘jaws’ theme song. we search for the hottest pool, settling into bliss as dusk descends, holding hands under water, eyes closed. “happy birthday, brady…”

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MONTEZUMA

electric flickers over the ocean as cobalt dusk morphs into a stormy abyss. the ocean swells and clashes like rams in battle. a storm is approaching slowly & i am wide-eyed, living in this tension, milky sky of secrets, willing it to come closer, to overcome me, to live in summer’s wrath….

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drifting in a floating hammock on a cloudless day. i am in pure bliss, in want of nothing. replicas of mayan statues, mouths agape as if to shriek ancient songs, luscious ferns, red bark, tiny orchids like tongues fall onto my chest, bright fuschia aching towards the sun.

~~~~~~~~~~~

vultures with wide static wingspans cresting, riding the wind. howler monkeys rustle in the jungle nearby and bellow like dinosaurs.

the ultimate relaxation. i dare say, bliss. bright soft beach, powerful waves, butterflies chasing after each other, some flying solo swirling like childhood helicopters from trees, only to rise up mysterious and float frantically away. waterfall or beach, our most difficult afternoon decision, opting instead for chocolate, wine & bed…

on the streets of this small beach town artists sell their handmade jewelry & art from on top of their worn cars. dogs, happy but hot, lie under tables. they seem to belong to everyone. live serene music at night & the town drunk incessantly babbling to no one in particular.

our love cabin is perched on a hill overlooking the sea. a round circular cave with stones and rich wood, tall ceilings, lizards silently scamper by on windows defying gravity. today we wandered past the waterfall trailhead and found our own private beach… such beauty here.

 

fading while blazing

5/15/12 – LA to NYC
parched craters below, red earth, ribbons of rivers.

i must remember this life is a privilege, must remember to have fun, keep afloat. it’s more than just pushing thru to get to the quieter moments, must revel in the rush.

stone mountains like puzzle pieces. i connect the napkin dots across the country. i circle tampa and send love to my best friend lying in a hospital bed. wishes of a speedy recovery, to re-focus. we are both spinning tops of love energy, forgetting to take care of ourselves.

i am fading while i’m blazing. using up my body doing what i love. i am resigned to be in need. in need of a magic button that resets. resets my bowling pins while i put the alley on hold.

in the meantime, i keep going. this week i entertained getting a real job. 9 to 5, good morning, lunch breaks, leaving it all behind at the stroke of the exit hour. i’d last a week, tops. nope, not for me….

so i must make this work, perhaps open a studio in LA, stay put. for all the money i spend on travel, assistants & emergency medical, i could pour into advertising… wheels turn.

North Carolina NYC

4/12/12 on a flight from LA to North Carolina

confused lately. i have tunnel vision. i am pinpoint focused on success. i know what it tastes like now, craving more… the urge to document in any other way is fading, even this pen to paper had to be invoked with wine.

new people are coming into my life. these inspiring unstuck seekers. i see my ambition reflected in them. they want sparks of compassion and understanding, to process lessons. it is an easy transference. it is a relief.

i am forward thinking, a conduit. i am done explaining. i just want more moments, more love, more light. i’ve been so focused on what my 80 year old self thinks of my life right now, that i’ve completely forgotten my 8 year old need for acceptance, my 20 year old need for angst. i’m just holding on to the tail end of the comet i conjured.

‘pixie’ is everything i secretly desired to be as ‘cheryl’. unconcerned of judgmental gazes, positive creativity without apology, living in my own truth. what i share is truly what i feel now. there is minimal safe small talk, less static noise. experiences feel deeper, less on the surface. i care more about subliminal battles, less about traffic, illness, events. i want to help people feel better about themselves on a base level.

as a child i perceived growing older as growing stuck. cement shoes in the name of responsibility. meeting thriving artists causes waves of relief. i don’t have to grow old now. i just have to keep being affected and affecting others. i can still dye my hair pink and make money. i can still wear combat boots and be respected…. but i lack questions lately. i am so busy:busy, so much on this fast frequency that i am concerned that i’m losing perspective.

i want to slow down. i just don’t know how….

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4/19/12 – NYC

the disorienting orange flicker as the bus races thru the Lincoln Tunnel. i’ve been in NYC for only 10 hours and already i need to escape. i crave comfort, crave my father’s reassuring smile. so i rearrange plans to jump on a bus to see him in NJ. no toothbrush or change of clothes. just an impulsive need to see him.

a spontaneous fight in front of Port Authority jolted me, rushing people on my heels, a sense that i’ll be run over if i don’t keep up. there’s a scent and a pull to nyc. pretzels, horses, exhaust, murky puddles, the rhythm of my camera bag rolling over octagon tiles on 5th avenue, remnants of cherry blossoms stuck under the handle.

i press play on billy joel’s ‘vienna’ my nyc theme song. ‘where’s the fire? what’s the hurry about?’ my life moves so fast, yet nyc and my family’s love remains the same.

my first memory of nyc was being 4 years old, sipping grape juice from my father’s office building. his assistant put me in front of a large typewriter and he pointed to the statue of liberty. my last memories of feeling like i was still a new-yorker, i was 26 years old and boarding a plane with 2 cats in crates, my father asking me if i was sure relocating to the middle east was the right decision. i was taking my life for granted and ready to stir the pot. comfort or exploration… i chose exploration.

my nyc life feels like another lifetime. i am a tourist in my own hometown. i stared blankly at a metrocard machine until a stranger offered to help. tears came when someone pushed me from behind boarding the crowded subway. i am so sensitive now to how people treat each other. i’ve become the person i used to think wasn’t hardened enough to handle New York, scoffing at the jovial 20-somethings that dared to smile as they made eye contact. now i am that girl, hurt by the bobbing heads of riders, sleeping uncomfortably against metal poles and the detached glares staring at the floor. gotta get out, need my daddy…

end of year reflections

the last day of the best year of my life. time off has brought clarity, distance from the rushing, permission to absorb, just be. my wish this time last year, had been thriving & balance. i have reached those goals. and it is not a rush to continue now. overjoyed to savor the fruition of dreams come true…

to the clients that have shared so much, traveled so far, invested in me, grew stronger & closer to yourselves & in friendships to me, thank you. for the brides that flew me across the country & trusted me to your memories, thank you. for friends that have hosted me, spent time with me, for assistants that were so committed & helpful, for my friends at home that were so understanding, for my family that encouraged my adventures, for my puppies that sulked low to the sound of rolling suitcases, for brady, my comfort…. all of you, all of this, thank you… i would be just a quiet girl with a burning dream if it were not for all of you.

2012 is my year of more balance, more specific now, health driven. as i grow older i realize that i belong first to myself, and then to others. i’ve made peace with the few that sought to drain me, dim me, the ones i can never please. i release it in a big way. i’ve stared heavy into unsolvable relationships and finally discarded what i cannot change.

i spent most of my life waiting for permission to be happy. as life sped up, as i grew more independent, it was as if i was running thru a funhouse throwing off the shards of expectations from society, religion & family. all of which seemed to want me to conform to something safe, something i am not and never will be. this awareness changed my life. those that truly love me, are now with me… i gather them up in my pocket, drawing from advice & laughter.

entering into the new year, i am reminded that all of this is fleeting. all this bounty, all this comfort & joy can change in an instant. for now, i am at the helm of my life, grateful for every day, every breath…

signs & new directions

i need very little in this life… mostly space, time, love and inspiration. i’ve forced myself awake and now further away from patterns, expectancy. i am in new terrain, manuals thrown out speeding windows. in recent months, i exist between knowing i need solitude to conjure the next steps and bouncing back into the world, riding the success of what i’ve built up in these 8 years. to take hold of this bright photography comet or to await a new spaceship. i will decide by december.

i have had no sufficient inner quiet, no huge chunks of calm. i’ve been on the road since the springtime, most days of home spent editing, preparing for the next tour. my life is creative triage. these are not complaints, just rampant curious sleeve-tuggers constantly whispering like gnomes in my ear “…there is more…” more to share with the world, more to experience, affect, explore.

i crave a different mode of expression, pulling from my 6-year-old self, journaling obsessively about soccer games and how my sisters are afraid of my pet spider ‘franky’. pulling from my 18 year old self, video camera in hand everywhere i go, making music videos in my head by blinking and opening my eyes somewhere new, fully aware of time slipping away, fearful of not remembering. writing and filmmaking are sleeping giants within me, one eye now open….

and i have no one to talk to about this. no one to say ‘you know what you should do…’ this is Life Work. and i know better than to ask outwardly what to do and when….but it’s begun, the beat that wants me to change it up, test it out, jump in. why such hesitancy? i notice many others in similar situations, that seem to be enduring either financial issues or disingenuine aspects. the woman who does intimacy coaching yet has an abusive lover. the artist that preaches gratitude yet runs hot & cold to those closest to her. or the dreamers that just dream, putting no emphasis on Action. what right do i have to ask for more…?

i am mentoring 15 photographers right now and yet i feel i know nothing. i listen, i give advice, help with contracts & share how i run my business but i have no one to ask what to do with my own life….i crave honesty, energy and connection. i want someone to be strong with me, tell me how it really is. but at the end of the day, it’s just me, my perception, my legacy, my choices, path, direction and intention. i refuse to be a victim of too many choices.

i can be a writer.
i can be a filmmaker and
i can continue to be a photographer.

i just want one to scream out louder than the others right now. i want to believe i can do it. do i stay with what is safe & effective…? or do i branch out?

my spirit is a winter cocoon, coiled and waiting for the blazing sign. i will decide by december…

 

two months on the road…

6/17/11

Lift off is complete surrender. I am the cue ball facing the next triangle. Ascension, cloud drift, buoyant thoughts, one day, another day. It’s all starting to blur. To travel is to become unhinged from all that is familiar, to trust in a process, to relax confined. I keep my elbows in, toes tucked into the front pocket, in the dreaded middle seat, having given up my coveted window seat to an elderly couple lamenting their impending separation. Transfixed by arm wrinkles and sunspots in the space between the seats. I touch my arm in the same spot. I too will be old one day… I might still crave this feeling, this detachment, this trust. I know surely that photography will be part of my life, all else is questionable.

In the shower this morning I closed my eyes into a calm, scanning for happiness as scalding water fell on my shoulders. Yes, I am still happy. “So continue” I said out loud… to my feet, to my spirit, both of which threaten daily to stay home to recover… but I am happy. I am affecting people. I am living my purpose. So I continue.

Leaving Brady & my puppy never gets easier. This morning at dawn in a misty rain, Pinball woke up with me and followed me to the studio, nose down, eyes wide, staring unblinking at the suitcases and then back at me. Heart flailing as I collapse my softboxes, tying up electrical cords elbow to wrist. “Mommy’s gotta rock love” I try to tell her that it’s because her food’s so expensive that I need to work this hard. She doesn’t care.

And Brady, my moon and stars…. So supportive & encouraging. Thoughts race and we spoke serious in the dark in bed. “Are we ok? Is this ok?” “Yeah babe go. You’re living your dream” If it were not for this man’s consistent, selfless & gentle love I would be half the woman & artist I am. I fly home just to make out with him. He fixes me up, loves me proper and sends me back out there… and I carry his love, his trust, like a blazing pride. There is no greater love in my life than this man. He is everything to me. Seven years of laughter, true communication, no secrets. My deepest joy is a hybrid of this art and his love… and so I put him in my pocket and continue… armed with determination and multivitamins.

I’ve been on the road for nearly 2 months. I landed into Boston on May 2nd. My circus of suitcases thrown into the back of Holly’s car. 12 years of friendship and I had yet to visit her world. We’ve always met up in faerie places, roadtrips in Oregon, NJ, Vermont, LA but I was way overdue to visit her where she grew up. Hugs and driving in the dark to Cape Cod. We turned off a gravel road to the house she now lives in with her husband, a rustic oasis on a lake. A sweet older dog, a white boxer as big as a man, kept us company in the side cottage as we caught up into the night.

Morning brought curiosity and I found myself sitting by the lake staring at a sunken dock. Easy to imagine a brutal winter and how summer transforms. This was the in-between, the dormant awakening. I could feel it in everything I saw, every puddle in the garden, every buzzing thing. Holly made cappuccinos expertly complete with whirling contraptions. She sprinkled sugar over my strawberries like a doting mother. I almost protested but wanted to enjoy everything ‘Holly’ that Holly did. She took me to the old Quaker meeting house that her mother lives in, the house she spent many years in. Original stained glass, original doors. She brought me to her favorite carousel in Heritage Gardens. We rode it all by ourselves, no one was there, a precious memory. Self-timer snappies of silliness in the grass before continuing the journey thru her past. Old cemeteries, Edward Gorey house, a secret trail behind a playhouse and a mad giggling dash to the car when the sky opened up, hiding my camera under my shirt.

The highlight of my time with Holly in Cape Cod was having lunch in a tree, making origami boats, drinking hibiscus tea. Also of comparable glee, a visit to a dive bar that her husband owns, full of big burly fishermen and construction workers…and us, two faerie sisters. From the bathroom I could hear them talking about us. I drank my cocktail silently entertained.

From Cape Cod we journeyed to her friend Steve’s house in Quincy, who agreed to host my photo shoots. A backyard of overgrown grass, violets and wildflowers. Hoopers, dancers and families traveled near and far to make art with me. I took a few of them to this magickal hidden space up the hill from the studio, a Pagan ritual ground, perfect energy for my goddesses, for my gypsy loves craving the wild to juxtapose the clinical vibe of studio. In each case, we parked the car, had to pass by a veteran meeting hall. Old men in a room of windows, coming outside to scratch their heads at the parade of sexy, colorful dancers that I hurried into the forest. “We’re invisible now” I’d say breathless when we crossed the threshold… and so began the majestic experiences that happened there.

No two shoots there were the same. The turbulent sky seemed to be listening to me. I stared at the sky, willed the rain to stop and poof it would stop just long enough for an Irish singer in a sultry red dress to pose, or an introspective girl to stand radiantly melancholy. Churning dark clouds like battering rams held back their rain, but sent thunder & lightning as a message that they were not happy about it. The landscape looked like moors in England. There was no explanation for the perfect light other than it was a gift of weather, chance encounters that sent giddy fireworks bolts thru me as I pressed the shutter.

The tide would wax then wane suddenly, uncovering rocks where once there were just alien green knobby plant life that looked soft, but weren’t. One dancer perched perilously on a rock in the water and had to splash into it to get out in time as the water rose.

One night, Steve, Holly & I drank champagne and rented a movie that we never watched. In the morning I walked the dogs, a habit from home. At night I took Steve out to dinner. One night I shot a hooper in the backyard playing with fire and LED hoops. I thought we were alone but apparently many of the neighbors were against the fences watching, binoculars, camera phones, the whole bit.

Dancers laid in fields of violet, dogs on papasan chairs, witchy noir shots backlit like Fellini films. They brought white fabric and masks. One look at that, one look at my black backdrop and I saw instantly the photos in my head, posing them feverishly, unable to speak, just gesturing and giggling.

The end of a long day of shoots sometimes means I lose my words. I become the light, become the moment I wanted to create, all based on energy. It’s all energy… and magick truly. Creating something from nothing is an inane right, there for the taking. Once tapped into, once listening, grows stronger, overrides primal doubt, too easy to let a moment slip. Sometimes silence and gesturing is all I can muster, encouraging the moment to stay with me, to become real. Talking sometimes scares it away. I’ve learned a reverence lately for these ideas and visual blips that appear in my mind when I shoot. I don’t think. I don’t plan. It just happens. All I do is listen and go on a scavenger hunt to uncover the moment, much like scraping off a lottery ticket. That’s all photo shoots are really… working together to uncover the moment.

Eli showed up one morning to drive me to NYC. Her 7-year-old nephew called Sharkboy was in the backseat obsessed with spiders, the World Trade Center and puking sounds. Eli had great taste in music and sweet energy. After 4 hours of driving, we took a wrong turn & ended up at Ground Zero, much to Sharkboy’s delight. They drove me to my studio space in Brooklyn Army Terminal to drop off my gear and then to Central Park 5 minutes before my first shoot at Bethesda Terrace.

At dusk I walked thru the park to the west side to meet my sisters and cousins for dinner. So sweet of my cousins to call a family gathering while I was in town. Hugs, vegan food and updates. I just love seeing their faces, a solid feeling of family amidst all the touring. A cab took me back to my sister Diana’s apartment in Astoria, stretching out on her floor feeling a mess, enjoying lying still . She sat with me on the floor and handed me a painted envelope… and inside it, the most heartfelt words of sister love, smiling big as I read it. At the end she asked me to be her Maid of Honor at her wedding. I attacked her screaming on the floor, collapsing into her lap. Tears and hugs and way too much excitement…

And days and days of shoots, some studio, most renegade. My favorite being Ali Luminescent. She arrived like a vision in a headdress with circus baubles. I mentioned fake eyelashes and she wore so many feathers on her eyes that I just stuttered staccato with inspiration. She embodied what she created. How she adorned herself, she became art, a gift for any photographer. Less conjuring, less banishing, more playing, more adjectives as mantras. A simple walk together to the subway yielded one of the most memorable shots. A cage that we both stumbled upon, said ‘hmmmm’ a lot and proceeded to attack it with our shared vision. “The sky’s falling!!” “Rattle primal in your cage!!” as confused passersby were just trying to get where they were going, disgruntled most of them. Bah.

One full day visiting my childhood friends in New Jersey. Sarah grew up across the street from me in Howell, NJ. We met when she was 3 years old now she has 3 kids of her own. We took walks, we sat in the grass behind her house in Spring Lake, talked about our memories and our lives now. I love her like my sisters and wish we lived closer.

We had a sleepover but this time, didn’t have to ask her parents. My father came to her house and we went out to dinner. So grounding to see him, if only for an hour.

The next morning, Bob picked me up very early…. We connect and reconnect throughout this life since we were 15 years old, reminding us that time is elusive. We sat on the damp sand at Manasquan Inlet with early morning rays sprawled out on a turbulent sea. I drew spirals as we talked about our history, laughing thru most of it. He spoke of alternate realities, entertaining thoughts of what if we had a family. “Our kid would’ve been 21 years old now! We could be grandparents right now!” “Nooooo!” I saw his father. He looks just like him, expressive eyebrows, the way he stares off when he speaks. Strange to realized I’m still healing from this breakup decades ago. “My divorce didn’t hurt as bad as the last time we broke up” I told him in astonishment, not intending to hurt his feelings but seeing glimmers of a similar history of hurt in his eyes when speaking of our past. Neither of us were evil. We were just young and scared. Sitting in the sand I compared our intensity to a ball of fire that we had no choice by to put down and run away from lest it explode or burn. Who knew the embers would remain revealing seeds of a friendship that would grow and discover so much about ourselves thru our shared history. We have so many of the same important memories and lessons etched permanently. Each time we connect, every 2 to 5 years, the sharpness of these memories dull a bit. Talking freely about it takes the edge off of it. “Good to be older” we both nod in agreement as we drive on thru the twisting back roads of our old stomping grounds, eventually spiraling off, back into our present lives….

He drove me to Danny’s house in Madison. Danny stood in his driveway with his infant son. We had a picnic with his wife and caught up. I love seeing these families grow. I live vicariously thru them…. We came from the same place and yet live so differently, still a great love and friendship with all of them, lessons learned throughout the years and a proud comfort in just knowing them.

More NYC shoots and then Kelebek drove me to Washington DC. I had a sense of foreboding as we arrived into DC. A mother of a dancer, an artist herself, who owns a bed & breakfast. The dancer was traveling abroad, difficult energy to make art in. She disliked me as soon as we met. I don’t know why. A client brought out a snake during a shoot and I got asked to leave. “…but I have no where to go…” I panicked. “Go on. Move along.” One of the meanest women I’ve ever met. Thankfully Lou & Bronwen came to the rescue. I had to cancel some shoots and was depressed for days. Grateful to spend time with them though, to play with sweet baby Nixy, who I captured as she came into this world.

In the morning, Lou cut up her blueberries. We played with blocks, took photos outside between rainstorms. We spent a whole day at the Maryland Faerie Festival where, despite the wretched humidity, had a fun time. In other noteworthy DC news, I finally did laundry and slept on a comfortable bed.

Then I flew to San Francisco, where my friend Foxy McShugah (love that name!) drove me 2 hours north, deep into wine country. Twisting gorgeous roads deposited us at my friend, JD’s Spanish mansion. Decadence, a sanctuary. It was just me and a private chef named Ricardo. Bear, the mutt with the oversized head, pissed on my backdrop, ended up churning in the laundry while I had one hour to relax before shoots. Cobwebs on lanterns, frogs echoed in courtyards at dusk, palm fronds scraped hauntingly. I made an insane amount of art there. From the medieval wine cellar to the stone fountain. Goddesses posed on griffins, a mother bare-chested nourishing her toddler in the shade, orange-washed walls, black chandeliers, avante guarde postures, clothing designers and hired models. 5 days of shoots there. Dancers came over from Tribal Fest to play with me. I enticed them with photos of the ‘sexiest house I’ve ever shot in’ and the wonder in each of their faces when they arrived tickled me.

The tour resumed…. off to Atlanta. Flight delays caused by thunderstorms meant I arrived at 2am, along with the rest of the delayed weary travelers, snaking lines for baggage, for cabs. When finally I scored a cab, it took an hour to get to the resort in Peachtree City for an event that I was hired to shoot. The driver didn’t speak a word to me, hardly used his wipers in the pouring rain and generally just scared me a lot. As much as I tried not to wake my roommate, Steph, a sweet 22 year old Bollywood dancer, she was up and witness to me throwing a fit from the long travel day. Peeling off my soaked clothing and throwing things on the bed like a delirious brat. “Sorry, just had a hard day.” Sheepish smile and I liked her instantly.

We settled in for a few hours of sleep and I took my time setting up my studio the next day. The weekend brought new friends, new styles of dance. Mostly classic Egyptian style belly dance. And there was Tito from Cairo. Holy smokes, he is one hot tamale, got all the girls crazy, dancing on tables and doing all these tricks. I was enamored with many new people I met, All in all, just grateful for the new experience. When I wasn’t shooting, I meditated in the forest & walked around getting lost.

Peachtree City is known as the golf cart capital of the country. Golf carts zipped around everywhere. They even have separate roads for golf carts. One morning I went in search of a Georgia peach, found one at a farmer’s market and ate it triumphantly, juice all down my short, didn’t care. I was in ecstasy, best peach I ever had. Finally found a bank to deposit my checks. Started fantasizing about all the months I can now coast at home on the amount of work I’ve done. Thinking I’d gotten away with not getting sick… that was until I arrived into Austin a few days later.

In Austin I stayed with my friend, Pixie Sunshine and her family. We call each other ‘the other pixie’, although it felt wrong to call her that in her own house, so I became ‘other pixie’ respectfully. Mornings were spent throwing a stuffed octopus over and over in the kitchen for their 6 month old Boston Terrier puppy named Violet to chase and retrieve. She never tired of it, all the while PF trying to make breakfast for their 5 year old Wayne.

I had one delicious day off in Austin before the avalanche hit. I went to yoga, had a 90-minute massage, ate healthy food… then the next day began 5 days of sold out shoots, 11 hours a day of non-stop shoots. Day 2 I got the flu. Day 5 I lost my voice. I used up every ounce of energy I had in me to treat each shoot with all it deserved. Some of these clients booked me 6 months in advance. Some spent $ on hair/make up. I was not going to let them down. If it weren’t for my assistant, Rebecca I probably would’ve had to cancel. She left her kids and family to travel for hours, to dedicate days to helping me, what a rockstar. And that she says that the experience changed her ‘as a woman and as a photographer’ makes me so happy.

Dancers from all over the country, pregnant women, babies, a family shoot outside in Mayfield Park with screeching peacocks. The finale at 11pm that last day, an angel of a girl, topless, backlit, fan, wild hair, risky lighting… brought us to tears… and then it was over. I unplugged. I let the sickness take over. I cried most of the night. It hurt to whisper. I almost went to the hospital, so much pain. I felt like the very last flicker of a dying light bulb.

The plane home was excruciating. Banging my head desperately on the window, out of options to relieve the sinus pressure. Brady met me at the airport with a thermos of TheraFlu. I was home. It was over. He tucked me in. “What happened to you?” “I rocked…” I whispered and proceeded to pass out for 14 straight hours, in my own bed, with my own puppy, A week of home, the illness ebbing and flowing, breathing issues, doctors and prescriptions…

On my way today to Tampa, 80% back to self… I continue.

dream

2/19/11 7am – dream

i was traveling, somewhere in europe that i’ve never been, accents in the car. the driver points to these enormous plants, like parachutes that spin in the wind, a swirl as an anchor. i wanted to pull over to touch one but didn’t ask to stop. i was a guest, just along for the ride, much more to see.

then i’m in a golf cart with lisa h. we’re taking photos of each other. i encourage her to go faster. it’s late afternoon. we’re approaching a pier not unlike santa monica. i play with hipstamatic settings, hold the camera way out to take a 2-shot, lean in to kiss her cheek and press the button. she’s driving wild, laughing. suddenly i feel her tighten & look up to see what she sees. we’re approaching a cliff, no time to stop, churning dark ocean below. silence as we plummet. i snap a photo, our feet, the ocean. it comes out as technicolor daylight despite the b&w setting & nighttime. i catch the worried expressions of onlookers on the pier above. “they will come down & get us out of this.” “we’ll have broken bones.” these were my thoughts. then blackness.

a field of swirling saturated supernature parachutes turn b&w and stop spinning. it’s over. i realize i’m dead. “but i have these photos. i can find something in them, some clue, to help me undo this.” i turn the panic into a game.

then i’m in a car with mari. others in the car too. i need to tell her. she’ll help me decipher the photos. i whisper to her what happened. i show her the photos. with wide tear-brimmed eyes she takes my phone in her hands. all she sees are parachutes.

i realize i am alone in my game, in this death, in this life. it’s horrifying… & liberating.

boomerangs, contradictions & funhouses

11/16 – on a flight to Chicago

the pilot warns of turbulence that never comes & the night descends quickly, as if the day never happened. to my right, an elderly spanish-speaking couple. he fastens her seatbelt, opens her can of soda, tucks his own coat around her legs. their timelessness, joy & the tenderness they share is inspiring….

i unfold my napkin to stare at the country. where to travel in 2011? perhaps set up private shoots at festivals… vancouver BC, texas, boston, NYC & maryland are definites. London (long overdue!), Miami or Tampa (can’t decide, maybe both), SLC, Kansas city, & Georgia are possibilities.

questioning my hesitancy, holding strong to wishes still swirling like boomerangs yet to return. my wish, just days ago, was to shoot more in my LA studio, to not travel as much. I remind these newly-drawn devilish thoughts that my body hates when I travel… but i spark in new terrain, the art is different when the urgency of days is played out. it feels like percussion. route 66 ignition & what varied backgrounds can I stumble upon. it’s about the unknowing sometimes….

simply put, i am a flying contradiction, a brat in a funhouse. i am indecisive until impulsiveness kicks in. i change direction quickly. my intentions become action. my dreams, reality…. always the feeling i conjured, but never as planned.

when i wish, i project myself forward in time. i visualize myself affecting people, most often in a dance studio by a body of water, solidly booked days, everyone well-rested & wanting to shine, afterwards collapsing into bed smiling, inspired, knowing i gave my full spirit to the day, to the people that traveled, sometimes states away, to trust me to capture the layers within them.

there is this undeniable pull to the road… like a friend I can only know with effort. i’ve taken a break from travel for months to get perspective & heal my body. i’ve done necessary work, reorganizing, reprioritizing, reassessing. calming my heart, mind & body from the inevitable doom that happens from being constantly on the road & plugged in to that world.

grateful for the time off…. but i dare say i must rock now. staying in one place too long will turn me old. of this, i am sure…