Monthly Archives: May 2009

east coast photo shoot tour

5 may
a little girl, almond eyes, tries to ignore the turn and inevitable acceleration as the plane races to disconnect and soar. she pushes the window down angrily, then pushes it down a bit more… but it’s a wonderous thing, this rocketship and she can’t help but peep through the tiny sliver left open. anger turns to awe and she lifts the full window, letting the world in. this tiny impulsive act mirrors how i feel. this is my first photo shoot tour since september 2008. i’ve left the sliver open. i am ready, rejuvinated, grateful above all else.

i ran thru phoenix airport seeing it new, snapping iPhone photos to send to my best friend, jen, whose arms are my destination this evening in florida where our journey begins…

8 may
sitting at the base of an old dark tree in florida. branches like arms, owning the concave basin of brittle discarded leaves below, stunted and hopeful. i’ve spent an entire day getting lost in dunedin. i ate blueberries at a farmer’s market, chatted with a vendor about her herbal salves and happy tummy tinctures. simon & garfunkel filled the streets and i wandered away into various antique stores, sending things back home from the local post office which was a converted train car with a sliding door and candy on one side. wandered down a nature path with the most outrageous birds and butterflies, such speckled madness. just when i was sure i was properly lost, a monarch landed on my open toe and i followed the direction that it scampered off to, depositing me at this tree… the afternoon is passing and i am in love with this day.

9 may
heading up to virginia… i leave faint pink hair dye stains on jen’s pillow and a piece of my heart with her baby son, fynn.

every time he caught me looking at him, he broke out into a soft smile and i melted and melted and now i am goo. when we said goodbye, i placed a small metal ring in the palm of her hand. ‘remember’ it says… i don’t know when i will see them again and it makes me cry… i love them so…

highlights of my time in florida were spending time on a swing with her eating peanuts, a bike ride at dusk chasing herons and shooting long exposure images using my chest as a tripod, playing air hockey, swimming in the sea, bright sun, my eyes level with the horizon, oncoming waves that slammed into my shoulders, watching fynn walk across the room for the first time, teaching him to blow kisses, squeaking and belly laughs and peek-a-boo, dragging a washcloth over his back as he laid milk-drunk against jen in the bathtub, worry over a rash, perhaps from teething, and stuart the outdoor kitty that i love so much.

mosquitoes and spanish moss and the pennelis trail… and the dancers that drove 10 hours to make some art with me. crispy salmon, wine in purple moon cafe. jen asked me to read her favorite book to her there ‘old turtle’ which sparked epic conversation and a mental clearing. late last night, we laid whispering in bed. “you’re ready…” “i know.”

10 may ~ virginia
my flight arrived at 2pm and i found myself at brady’s grandmother’s house in virginia beach eating a sourdough sandwich, just me and her alone. miss virginia is 83 years old and was disappointed that i missed the azaleas in bloom. “ah, but the magnolias are here!”

she has lived in that house for 40 years, has 17 grandchildren and even some great-grandchildren. timeless photos, her garden and her friend roger that makes her smile. she seems to remember very little about brady as a child, only that he was “funny lookin'”.

judi, brady’s mother, however recalls countless tales of his childhood antics like the time he turned all the water off at his elementary school, the plaster cast of his young face that ripped his eyebrows off. he would show the dent in his sternum to people and say that’s where he had stopped a bullet. she recounted all this as she drove me from virginia’s home to her house in portsmouth.

we passed the hospital where brady was born, where he went to school, where he took a shortcut over a bridge in the neighborhood… and then she stopped in front of a slender, worn house of triangles and turned the car off. this is where brady grew up. she unlocked the door and my heart raced, my mouth dropped open and my love soared. a foyer of mirrors against deep indigo, a striped bathroom that judi called ‘french’, a room of endless fabric with various unfinished projects, ornate victorian ceilings, curtains made of antique wedding dresses, a dark wood study filled with bookcases, bedrooms of four-poster beds, old hand mirrors on roman pedestals, a basket of purple everything with my name on it.

she poured champagne, laid sweets out on a doily and we talked of times past. “any ghosts?” “no” “what’s this?” and “what’s this?”. as she drew me a bath with some of the purple everythings in it, she put ‘john adams’ on, the movie that she designed the costumes for. the bath was heaven. i felt like kirsten dunst in marie antoinette. “MORE CAKE!”

the neighbor, tina, is a brain surgeon with two deaf albino boxer doggies and they came to visit, licking my whole face. brady gets off the plane in a few hours. my heart swells… this was the missing piece… seeing this house, experiencing this… i love him purple everything now…

brady’s flight landed at 10pm and he was with me for a few days. we slept in a four-poster bed and walked around his childhood town. a mother’s day gathering at his aunt’s lakehouse where i met most of his extended family for the first time.

his young cousins playing in the water unearthing frogs and turtles. the older ones enticing the younger ones to deeper water, a swing on the dock, a bbq, old photos and family stories of brady as a boy. at one point, i found myself outside alone thinking of how similar our upbringing, hometown and family is to each other.

his mother though… judi, there is no one like her. breakfast in the sun room with busts of philosophers and grape vine lights, her blue danube collection, babydoll heads in bowls & baskets. she took me on a ‘cruise’ which was actually a 10-minute ferry ride between portsmouth and norfolk. she convinced the captain to let me drive the boat. the gifts she gave, so tailored to exactly who i am… an old brownie camera to add to my collection, purple everythings and just pure joy of us just being there. i love her so much. while we visiting with brady’s father, she sewed this purple-covered board for me to sit on for my flight when my back hurts. she is beyond mother-in-law. she is a friend. i could tell her anything and she would still love me. no judgment, just acceptance…

after 4 days together, she drove us to presidents park where brady and i walked arm in arm among goliath crumbling heads of all the presidents. a sky threatening rain and random facts on plaques. brady saw someone and jumped behind a bush. i followed, always up for his game… and we jumped out to surprise his sister, crys, who was hip to our jive, equally stalking us.

happy introductions and a goodbye to judi who was trying not to cry. crys drove us to meet her son… brady’s 10-year-old nephew george. a sweet boy on a swing that ran towards me with open arms. their house is in new kent, wilderness supreme, a place with no cell reception and goats. her husband, a forester that can be conjured by the ringing of a loud bell, their dog called ‘sooey’ and the ghosts of chickens who had recently become dinner for foxes the night before.

lindt chocolate, a pre-dinner prayer to the theme of star wars, and as crys and i sister-snuggled on one couch, the boys played guitar on the other couch. the next day brought a three-hour roadtrip to maryland. we drove thru richmond as brady told me stories of his teen years there, people he once knew. crys and george helped set up the studio in the shakra house. na’la was in california and lucky for her, i was too busy to tie all her socks together as planned.

within an hour, the shoots started… and ended 2 days later. crys & george had gone home, brady had flown back to LA and i was there rockin in the thick of it all. dancers and families and cabaret groups, fire troupes and rockstars… hour to hour, back to back. i used boxes of cat litter and drill cases as sandbags, begged for coffee, slept a few hours where i could…and then woke up and did it all again. at the end of it, na’la’s boyfriend, bink deposited me close to pennsylvania behind a movie theater where my sister adrienne was waiting in her new mini-van.

“you’re…. driving…. a minivan…” i informed her laughing… and there in the seat, was my new baby niece, hayden. i kissed her for the first time, her cheeks all pink and sweet.

she saw me and her little face lit up into a smile. i fell in love instantly… for the next two days i could barely put her down or stop kissing her. i sang her squeak songs and when i shook my pink hair around she giggled, which made adrienne giggle, which started a giggle fit all around.

adrienne and her girlfriend, allison live in a house surrounded by antique stores and cemeteries, on a hill where the wind whips through. photo shoots under trees and an excursion to a playground. the neighbor’s little girl wanted me to braid her hair again… she was very cute…

hayden, adrienne and i then drove three hours to dad’s new house in new jersey. we arrived late at night, pulling up to this mansion at the end of a road. tall ceilings, winding stairs, chandeliers, white carpets, acres of land. “so this is how you’re livin these days, huh pops?” and i fell laughing into his arms. he excitedly gave me the grand midnight tour. fireplace in the bedroom, walk-in closets bigger than my living room, a room just for shoes, a basement of ping pong and pool where the balls light up. endless bedrooms and bathrooms and a nature preserve off the 3-level deck where families of deer live and endangered birds build their nests.

a few hours of sleep and i set my studio up in the dining room. clients drove from hours away and luckily the sky held out long enough for us to get studio as well as outdoor shots. the last one ended just as family arrived from new york city and long island. cousins, aunts, uncles, old friends from high school.

brian noodt showed up. he lives a few houses down from me on high ridge road where we grew up together. we met when we were 5 years old, rode bicycles, played spin the bottle in his treehouse. he was my first rockstar, missing weeks of school to perform in broadway plays. i would bring him his homework and babysit his brother. i remember one day when his mother took me into the city to see him perform in ‘oliver’. she bought us all gummy bracelets and we went to chinatown for dinner. i still have that program saved somewhere in a scrapbook.

he was my first date when we were around 9 years old. my mother drove us to the circus. when we arrived, he opened the door like a gentleman and when i unexpectedly reached back into the car to grab something, he slammed the car door onto my hand. the door was locked and my mother scrambled to free me as i screamed and bled. the date was over… we were both crying…

in 7th grade, jen ott called him names and sprayed him with perfume. he was so upset that i nearly beat her up. summers together at the swim club, his friend ruben, who was performing in menudo at the time, came to visit and i was starstruck. driving to high school together and then the inevitable separation that happens when we leave home for life, college and travel… and so he walks in the door of my father’s house… and i touch his face laughing, rubbing his grey hair… his boyfriend, matt, by his side. his smile the same.

scanning the room of the people i love, i realized that all three of my sisters were together. which prompted a photo shoot. my studio was still set up so i turned things on, set the settings and handed the camera over to brian, my photo agent. he captured all 4 of us together acting out and celebrating each other.

as night came, no one was leaving. cousins were still violently playing ping pong, aunts were congregating over coffee. cakes were brought out in honor of uncle eli’s birthday, renee’s and stef’s graduations. we were all standing in a circle around the cakes and candles, laughing and hugging and then we started clapping… and singing… and spinning each other around… and it was perfect. i love my family.

i fell asleep smiling well after midnight. morning brought my sister renee’s graduation. my niece alexis and i had fits of laughter over the most ridiculous of things. we had dinner with my mother and then i left…

17 may
“swept away into another town”
cold and windy, early evening… my father waits at the bus stop with me. i notice deeper lines on his face, a deeper contentment, wisdom and kindness.

“dad, should i have kids?” and he speaks cautionary and true… my life right now is perfect. i have a thriving career, a great love of 5 years now, a house with a yard. i’m happier than i have ever been. why would i dip into the uncertainty of raising children? it feels more urgent now, but i have doubts… alice says that if i doubt, not to do it. my sister recently had a baby and it’s all she ever wanted. my niece is adorable and perfect but there are full days spent indoors that would drive me mad. my life is mobile. i cannot be tethered but i feel such a pull to experience the magick of making life and all the learning that comes from the raising of children.

when i question my life purpose and what i will leave behind, it is more a legacy of art, expression. it’s about books, travels, photography, affecting people…. i’m confused as to where motherhood would fit into all this. there was a documentary called ‘all we are saying’ where rosanna arquette interviewed stevie nicks about why she decided not to have children to which she replied that if she had, she would’ve been a half-assed mother and a half-assed musician as opposed to where she is now… i am not someone that does anything half-assed. i’m in it. i’m devoted. i’m focused. the thought of putting my art on hold makes me cry… but what if i miss this window and in a few years will be too old. i look for signs and insight but ultimately it is my decision. confusion leads to hesitancy and i don’t know what is fear of the unknown or just real instinct. it will become clear soon…

for now, heavy thoughts stir as i travel up route 9 from new jersey to new york city. the last moments of sun reflecting on the runway of newark airport. i’ve memorized the width of the lanes, the tilt and rattle of the bus, the coarse fabric of the seats. i hug my camera and tighten my hood around my face, feeling independent but alone. i think of brady’s lips as i trace the rise & fall of the electrical wires running along the highway. iron & wine’s ‘carousel’ on repeat and the light is fading. the lincoln tunnel sucks me in… nyc, i see you…

emotions thru port authority, eyes left, then right. my steel-toe boots on auto-pilot winding down the escalotors. nyc makes me uneasy, like someone is coming to steal from me… my camera, my soul…

touch screen to begin, new card, unlimited, slide & enter, metal, screeching and rushing. i stay to the side of the hallways between subway platforms with my elbows in, letting urgent people rush by. a sign above says “why bother?” “go home” but my sister texts me. “call me when you’re above ground and i will walk with you.”

21 may
on a plane back to los angeles, eyelashes resting on facebags. beyond exhausted, i crawl home… grateful above all else… listening to old depeche mode, the beat bouncing all around but not within. three weeks of travel, blisters on my palms and feet.

i spent the days in new york city deflecting, reflecting, caffeinating, shooting and battling indecision. in tours passed, i would shoot until i died dead and broken… but i was determined to implement balance on this one…and all tours going forward. for every sold-out shooting day, i give myself one day off. yoga will be involved. seeing friends and family will be involved. i can’t go back to how things used to be, where i gave myself an ulcer running all over the country non-stop without breaks for 4 years… my last tour in september 2008 really scared me… instigating a re-set, a total break from travel, hibernation, a retreat from everything…. this tour felt different. intention and awareness are the compasses i live by now…

morning found me at 7am in the cold at central park, sitting on the steps of bethesda terrace with my camera bag and a banana. an odd stillness amid the city chaos. i watched dogs playing and held my camera close, making wishes that everyone that day shines, that my puppy forgives me for the long absence and that the day goes well despite the cold.

8am, my first shoot… 7pm, my last… a full day and just enough battery. clients came from as far away as boston and baltimore and much rocking did happen. stolen moments in the boathouse sipping tea between shoots and then back to it, surprised as i stumbled upon a forgotten bridge that i used to spend time at when i lived there in my late teens. daydreams between costume changes, a longing to be out in a paddleboat…and the the model would appear and all was renegade shooting. my office was a grassy hill where i burned discs after the shoot and contracts were signed, the changing room was a large oak tree off the beaten path. veils and shimmer and bursting with each new person. i reset myself, banishing the cold throughout the day.

the next morning, my sister diana and i went to a bikram yoga class. 90 minutes of yoga in a sauna. sweat poured off me in rivers. the heat was so intense, ten times harder than any kundalini class. it felt like survival. our planned day of museums became a 3-hour nap, an astrological reading, and then sushi.

then another full day of shoots, this time indoors with studio lighting. that jeniviva was my last shoot of the tour was just perfect. she and zoe and perish are my top favorite models… they just own it, jump into it, no fear, only stories projected through plausible glares, a love of expression, living in their hips.

jenivive exists in a silent b&w movie complete with piano accompaniment… i can hear it in my head when i shoot her… it’s a movie i want to watch over and over again. this was our third shoot together and what starts as simple fun ends up just epic… which makes me high…which ends up on magazine covers… ornate, porcelain, dreamy, timeless…. and then the clothes come off and we are stupid silly, running around the apartment singing songs, screaming ‘DUUUUUDDDEE!!!!’ at the images showing up on the screen…

and she leaves and i’m hyper and my poor sister comes home from work, not knowing what to do with me. her & her boyfriend eat carrots slowly watching me transform her living room back from a magic carpet. we order in food, all of it soggy. i pick at it, move it around and give up, pining for whole foods…. and then i descend humorously further… i have a tantrum about my suitcases, kicking them, jumping on them… they just watch tv, offering calm words… the stinkin american airlines baggage rules are not condusive to getting everything back to los angeles in a few hours. i must leave a sandbag, a softbox and a suitcase behind. exhausted, i kick things some more… and then i give up… i shower off the sweat and resign myself to my baggage fate, all of my bags being overweight and my suitcases threatening to burst.

4am more packing and a sedan to the airport… a peek up to my sister’s dark apartment and i blow her a kiss… turning my attention to getting the hell out of new york city. i want my boyfriend, my puppy, my lemon tree, my friends, my office, my bicycle, my BED, my bathtub, a place where i don’t have to put my toothbrush away…

27 may
almost a week has passed since i arrived back home. yoga each morning, dog parks, editing and napping… march fourth marching band played at the smashlabs. i showed up after midnight and jumped on my friends… gratitude above all else… happy to be home. 🙂