her.

i saw "her" in the theater last night and it woke up every sense and every particle in my body. it makes me want to be a better human, honest to myself and others around me, to connect, be present, and have more meaningful moments in life. it is an artistic masterpiece, a commentary on our dependence on technology, our ability to accept social norms, the human condition, the complexity of being and the complexity of human interaction and relationships. all of this and so much more.

a true work of art and perhaps one of my top 5 films of all time.

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michigan.

here's a quick shot from last night. after a 13 hour drive-venture, we were greeted by a lovely meal, a quaint town and this. absolutely no editing done and taken with my iPhone 4S. the upper peninsula needs more exploration in my opinion... stay tuned.

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personal zen.

i really dislike the phrase "you don't owe anyone anything," because if we all lived by this motto, then this would be one sad and lonely world. but this isn't a post about selflessness and giving back to the world. on the contrary, it's about owing yourself the world.

maybe this is a more modern take on virginia woolf’s ‘a room of one’s own,’ but with a lot less of an emphasis on women and writing, and more so a general statement about the importance of space. i’ve been drawn to space since a toddler, completely fascinated with architecture and places of inhabitation (the cultural difference of personal space vs constructed space really hit home at age 9 when i immigrated), and this continued to grow through my studies in college and graduate school.

but much more specifically, i am interested in more of a phenomenological aspects of space; how it sets a mood, subconsciously affects your mind and wellbeing, the way light fills a room, the functionality of a space versus comfort, scale and proportion with respect to the human figure, and above all, the experiential (dare I say, the cinematic) way we record everything with our senses as we move about through a space. i’ve written essays and focused a lot of time energy on this matter. but it’s time to stop philosophizing and start living these ideas out.

after a long and grueling 2012 i decided to take 2013 in a different direction – to step back from career, home and otherwise nonstop life goals and just focus on me. friday mornings are my "room of my own" or maybe it's best to call it my.  it’s a set time I’ve carved for myself, to recharge, to take back, and really focus. 

friday mornings are my calm, they are without thought, without worry, without a 'to do' list. they are for breathing, looking (and i mean really looking), noticing light, color, texture, sights, smells, sounds, and just basking in the rays of sunshine that filter through the leafy canopies of my back patio.  we are so eager to give our time away to others, because that's human nature (we are social animals after all)... you owe it to yourself to give some time to you too.

 

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dinosaur wedding.

dear chicago, three days is not nearly enough. from the field museum to wicker park, to the cmt and logan square. we saw tiki bars and greasy dives, taxidermy and weird e.t. guys, the nicest couple we could ever ask for and personality to fill that entire city!

 

to have and to be.

okay, okay, this is it, i promise.  the very core of you in my life right now have been asking me to post this, so finally here it is, in its entirety, for the world to take on.  originally written as a personal correspondence for a friend, now turned into a shared group discussion... it seems this theme has been on a lot of people's minds lately.  so here's my version of it.

 

... i thought about this in the shower this morning, and it was SUPER eloquent in my head, but now that i've re-read it after writing it all down, well, it's kinda a bit over the top. sorry! at any rate, here you go, dear:

i believe we know ourselves more as children than we do as adults. and when i say “ourselves” i don’t mean in the “who do you want to be” career path oriented way. that’s is what we are told we’re supposed “to do” but not who we are. what i mean by this is that as children, we know what drives us, what fulfills our day-to-day, what tugs at our curiosity, wonder and imagination, and what gives us complete freedom to develop. children are so much more intuitive about the world than we give them credit for. we start out as spontaneous balls of energy, waiting to consume the world around us, and somewhere along the lines, we push that out of the way to become who we ‘ought to be.’ 

i spent 32 years chasing after who i “ought to be” that i forgot who i was. perhaps it was being raised in a third-world country, or immigrating and starting all over from nothing, but my parents instilled this training and personal self-sacrifice in me so that I could “become” someone. what i believe they wanted to give me was the freedom to provide for myself, which is VERY important. but providing for yourself, and being yourself, are two different things.

so i ‘became’ three different professional people: a photographer, a filmmaker, an architect. and, along the way, i also added to my personal collection: starting with daughter and sister, i now added “wife” to this role. i chased these ideas, giving myself to them completely, believing this was who i am. and i am, to these people and for these moments, they are me, completely.  but at the same time, these titles are not the totality of me; they are just a bit of life goals achieved, caught on paper; they're little bits of ourselves we give to others. but it's not what we give to ourselves, it's not the true "me" of my childhood.

now don’t get me wrong, i think setting high goals and achieving them is a great lesson to be learned. and I’m not at all wanting to sound ungrateful for the work-ethic, unconditional love, and incredible upbringing my parents gave me, nor for higher learning or marriage itself. these things bring much depth to my story and to my understanding about things around me. but that’s not what I’m trying to get after.

what i’m getting at is this:
if you live your life going from point A to point B in order to better yourself, that’s fantastic, i applaud you for your ambition and determination. setting goals in motion and achieving them should happen more often. but somewhere along the lines you have to learn to just be and live, without any goals in mind, and no matter who you are on paper. and that is what i believe we must rekindle as adults, that is what children know so much about. In that middle zone ... [in that dash between the years on your tombstone] ...  you must also live and be who you really are. let go for a moment and really set yourself free…

i might hold the roles that i mentioned above, but who i really am - that wild child running barefoot through the fields of eastern europe - is so much more. she is an explorer, an adventurer, a story teller of silly things, an artist, a nomad, a city dweller, a village forager and mountain child, hungry to take on the world around her. she is more me than any title anyone can bestow on me...

these are the issues i’m dealing with now, these are the ideas that consume my work at the moment… i realized this past year’s personal art has all been centered on memory, belonging and mapping. i cannot help but think that this undercurrent of themes in my photography is all related to what i’ve mentioned above. because now that i’ve gone to the other side and find myself at “point B,” well, i feel like i barely lived these past 32 years – with the exception of the 8 years in macedonia, exploring and running wild in the mountains and by the lakes and rivers, completely in tune with who i am and living for no one but myself. and i intend on spending the next 32+ finding my true north and living unabashedly as any free, wild child would.

 

ps. here's itty bitty me on the street where i learned to walk and talk and explore non-stop.  kozara 17, bitola, macedonia.  circa 1981.

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diptych.

i was super inspired and intrigued by a series of diptychs i saw last this year... so i decided to take that idea and do something different with it.  i did this shoot almost a year ago but i've been too busy to do personal projects and sadly it's sat on the back-burner for awhile!

this set of photos is a study on a specific kind of duality - twins and double exposures.  just for fun, and just because. i miss these girls...

 

make something.

i went out west the first time to find my true north. i was greeted with the mighty pacific and oregon charm. i went out the second time to find inspiration. i was sun kissed and madly in love with arizona, and all of those hues of red and burnt orange and purple and haze.

as the wheels lift off my heart pounds with joy and excitement. there it is, the world as a miniature model, with only several layers of plexi between us. the calm that takes over and the curiosity about the places i've yet to see is like nothing else.

as a child, i hated flying because i associated it with immigrating and displacement and losing my sense of home. i would often look up at the sky and ask those little metal flying machines, 'why can't you take me back home?' as an adult, i love flying. ironically, it brings me a sense of home or a glimpse of the familiar back to me. my head is clearest above the clouds.

two weeks . two trips . two cameras . eight flights .

as the wheels lift off my real work begins. all of these fleeting moments, all of this insane beauty, this is my real home... it all needed to be put to film. [i'm quite sure my loud click and film winding was annoying to those around me, but i'm so happy with what i was able to capture from my window-seat of the flying machine i was on.  mother earth is incredible from above].


// special thanks to artifact uprising for their incredible work, the book turned out amazing! it's available for sale in my shop [as soon as i can figure out how to make it work].

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oh, oregon.

i arrived midday on a saturday in february, and all i could think of was how pleasantly warm and green my surroundings were.  i had shed my bulky ohio winter coat for a layered hoodie and jacket, and set out to explore the wild wild west... the trails of folklore, of lewis and clark, of epic beauty.

i was greeted by friends, who spent time to show me their favorites - spots, eateries, parks, boutiques, overlooks, drinks, rooftops and card games. and then i set off for the misty coast.  just outside the city, the terrain became something out of movies.  hills became mountains, moss and texture was in abundance, and oh that rolling fog!  i've never seen so many shades of green and grey.

the drive was leisurely, pulling over at whatever caught our eye and needed a deeper sense of exploration; a speedy car can never really show you the real abundance of a space.  we drove from dotted coastal town to the next, were greeted by elk, went up and down cliffsides, until we reached the spot my best friend wanted to show me most.

this was what he wasn't going to tell me about. this is what I was supposed to see with my own eyes.

and so we started from the top of the cliffs, through the jungle trails and muddy switchbacks, past the mossy bushes; and then a glimpse - but only for a quick second - of the rolling Pacific, until, we finally emerged out of the thick, and over top of rolling logs of redwoods that had been trapped into the cove by high tide and years of rotting. the sun was setting, the soft light made the sand glimmer with gold, the mounds of redwood logs we climbed over smelled sweet and the edges of the cliffside perfectly framed this secret beach. it was pure magic.

i sat there, breathing it in, using all of my senses and letting it all sink in. "stay in the present moment," i kept telling myself, "this is  all very real."  and finally, the calm, quiet disconnect iI've been needing took over and pacified my mind.

oh, oregon, you've found a way into my heart of hearts.  i'll most certainly be back. 

winter hues.

it's been a pretty, snowy, and blistery cold winter, yet i've done the most outdoor personal shoots despite it all.  i finally had some rolls developed from a month ago, so here are a handful from some of my january snow-ventures.

there's a nature preserve near-by that i have been driving past for years, and it wasn't until paul pointed it out to me that i realized just how much of a gem it truly is.

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116th and claremont.

digging through some old files and found this lovely shot from 2001. this was taken through the window screen of my manhattan apartment on a wet, cold fall evening. i love the quality of film and the way it muddies the image just enough for your mind to fill in the gaps with more memories.

i'm so glad i've restored my old F2 and shooting film again.  i've got a bunch of rolls waiting to be developed.  it's like magic once you have them in hand.  next step: setting up my darkroom. that's where the real magic happens.  will post more on the darkroom set up once i have stuff to show.

hope you like this shot as much as i do. hp.

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will you still love me, tomorrow...

it's been a hard few weeks, and short of getting it all down on here for the world to see, i've had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life.  i realized in the process of making it, that no matter my decision, the consequence is still something i will have to live with for the rest of my life. so i took that as a sign and as a way to give me a different outlook on things: i am going to take this as a second chance and dive into this life without reservation.

insomnia has a way of creeping in during these times. for the most part, it's usually just in a mere restlessness, or what i call 'the fear' taking over.  but last night was different.  wide eyed, fully awake, mind racing a million miles a minute. i read and devoured everything i could get my hands on, i thought about the possibilities that await me, and i reminded myself of the unfinished work i had left these past few weeks...

i'm working on a time-lapse project from my trip to the smokey mountains. but it's taking awhile, and, well, i'm a little impatient at the moment. so i thought i'd share just a little video of things to come. and in retrospect, this song's sentiment is so perfect to my current state of being... so, here are three of my insanely talented friends, just hanging around the echoing pool room in the (not-so-rugged) lodge we shared a few weeks ago, singing songs to pass the time, while i document them and sing along as quietly as possible.  

oh, and this one's for my little moon child.

malbec and whitney.

sometimes a good glass of argentinian malbec and a conversation is all you need to steer you in the right direction. as these days get smaller, and the nights grow colder, and my mind can barely keep up with itself, wanderlust has taken over. but then you meet up with this girl and all is right in the world again. thanks whit.

below is a quick test shot she stepped in for from a shoot she styled from the spring. it's a quick iphone shot, but i love the way it turned out.

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new york city.

oh dear, where do i start with this... the past three days have been a dream.  a constant whirlwind of movement, discovery, subways, photo expos, shoots, friends, drinks, more drinks, more subways, walking, more walking, not feeling my toes walking, roof tops, the high line, trains, graffiti, more drinking, fire escapes, familiar places, new spaces, bridges, train tracks, art shows, the quay brothers, and a client couple to die for.  phew. 

it's been too long, but i finally went back to the one place that feels like home for me. the first time i set foot in new york city i was sixteen and star struck, and i knew it was the place for me. for the four years i lived there, i had never felt more alive. columbus is home in that there are people here who tie me to this place, but new york city is one of very few places i really feel like myself, like i belong. it makes me feel alive, feeds me through culture, history, art, spontaneity and the life that surrounds you at all times. i'm lucky to have a business that is starting to spread its wings, infiltrate other markets, and make the most of what the entire world has to offer.  travel is the best gift you could give someone, especially if it means i'll come to you, explore on your turf, and take photos of your sweet personality and pretty faces.

although this was a business trip for aperture, i also built in some time to catch up with some dear friends and to do some personal shooting.  i don't have any film developed as of yet, but i did take a ton of iphone and instagram photos. a handful of favorites are below.  i'm sure i'll post more once the more serious photography is developed. next trip is to the smokey mountains in a few weeks.  but for now, time to recoup and get some work done.  enjoy.  hp