July 29, 2008

where the Savannah River meets the Atlantic Ocean

soon, i will be reunited with the sea.
i ache for water when i'm surrounded by land.

(my 5d's clarity has spoiled me. when i first got these photos back, i was annoyed with the grain and softness. now the pixel-less-ness and grain pull me in.)

July 27, 2008

My Little Fluffy Ones

Since it's the weekend and I'm feeling lazy and don't feel like editing through images I took this week, I'd like to introduce you to my two black, furry roommates Kelton and Kudzu, and my weekend roommate Highland.

Kelton's my crooked-headed, tailless buddy. He sleeps next to my heart and sometimes pets my face while I sleep to wake me up. He follows me everywhere and hugs me when I walk inside after work. He spends a lot of time in windows guarding his fortress. He walks like a ballerina and has a hot pink leash.

Kudzu is a glamourpuss. She finds a spot she likes in the house, lately it's been on the toilet, before that in a spotlight of sunlight in the hall, and stays there for half a week. She only acknowledges me when it's time to have her head scratched. She loves sun and catching bugs and has long silky fur and the longest tail and whiskers in town.

Highland is the most polite pup you'll ever meet. She keeps her white socks spotless. Her ears turn into mouse ears and rather than a wagging tail, her whole back half wags when David and I walk in. She knows how to play tag and how to take up 3/4 of the bed.

I pity people who don't know these three. They brighten my days and purr through my nights. In case you were wondering, yes, I aspire to being a crazy cat lady someday. (but i'll leave the feral cat collecting to my gigantic friend Matt Slaby.)

July 25, 2008

Chin Up, Newspaper Staffers

the business of newspapers is becoming a scarier place day by day across the country. the thing i've always loved about my job has not changed, i'm still getting paid to meet people and have daily adventures that i document. the office was always background noise before, too. but as readership shrinks more and more and the industry tries to find out how to stop shrinking newsrooms and how to bring readers back to our local product, the dynamic will continue to change. deadlines aren't what's making some staffers look stressed anymore. people are jumping ship (or being pushed off ship) and the tensions are mounting.
obviously, this is not just at the publication i work for. for you all not in the industry, this is everywhere.

today my paper is losing an important staffer and the dynamics of my job will change.
but my job will stay the same.

with that being said,
like i've said before,
it's the little things that crack me up and balance out the rest.
so here are some grins i've bumped into lately...

yes, i'm a total dork.
the little things, people. the little things.

p.s. if that floor face doesn't make you smile, just imagine me spotting it while working on the Ronald McDonald House project and getting on the floor and taking the photo without explanation to my photo subjects.

July 23, 2008

floating. above myself.

one of my fondest memories involves a trip to the keys with a now lost-to-me old friend.
i was on the cusp of womanhood and flirting with the idea of it, but still giggling and girlish.
i remember the trip being a whirlwind of tastes of freedom-- my friend and i had our own room, but were accompanied by my mother and frank who were down the hall. we chased boys we met, but came home before curfew. we sipped just a taste of champagne in a mimosa on a sailboat, under the watchful eye of my mother.
it was a great trip of discovery and tiptoeing along the lines.

but what i remember most is one feeling--

i still try to conjure the feeling in bed some nights, just after i close my eyes.

i went snorkeling for the first time while in key west, off a sailboat in the calm, cerulean Gulf. the rush of excitement of trying something new and seeing this bustling unknown world of reefs and fish more colorful than a rainbow reflected in a puddle of gasoline and the sun on my back and that feeling of absolute weightlessness and wonder was all. so. much. to take in.
i floated silently above it all.

i don't think i've ever had that taste of nothing but me, my thirsty mind, visions breathtakingly beautiful and unseen, and the buoyant, feathery feel of flying all in one big quenching gulp ever again.

i've snorkeled only once since that trip a decade ago, and it was the opposite experience. it was a state of panic. i was in New Zealand with a study abroad program and i was about to finally realize my dream of swimming with wild dolphins. these aren't the tame-pet-everyday-fed-from-a-can dolphins you find doing flips on command in Florida; these were wild-eyed-swim-faster-in-a-pod-next-to-monstrous-sperm-whales dolphins.
we put on wet suits, even our heads and feet were covered in the rubbery black. we boarded a boat and motored along until we spotted three different groups of dolphins and jumped in. first, the ice cold water of the pacific ocean shocked my body. i choked. we were above a continental shelf off Kaikoura where warm currents meet cold, which meant the area was rich with sea life and the bottom of the ocean was much much deeper than i trusted. i gasped for air, opened my eyes and was surrounded by a huge pack of dolphins. their beady eyes in a panic. they brushed up against me on each side. i came up to the surface to see the boat was much further away than i expected. i was numb, overwhelmed, incredibly alive.
i wasn't floating. i was racing.

my key west state of calm and floating i'd experienced before had flipped.

yesterday, on a feature hunt, i wandered to a pool near my home that i didn't know existed. it's a public pool that charges 50 cents for entry and is 2 feet deep in the shallow end and 3 feet deep in the deep end. yet, it's very large. basically a giant vacant wading pond. odd.
only one boy was in the pool and the lifeguard told me he's generally the only "swimmer" day after day.
so i sat and watched joshua float and spin in the shallow pool and immediately thought of how nice it would be to float there for a day.
...or three.

July 22, 2008

Jesus Don't Lie

the past few times i've photographed choirs singing, my eyes have teared up the music was so beautiful.
it's embarrassing though, because i'm just so tough. (i eat nails for breakfast.)

the photos below are from a music camp at a local church.
one of the skits/songs included these fabulous hats. it also started off with "Ladies, you know why I love Jesus? cuz He don't lie. He don't cheat. He don't stab you in the back."
and then it was accompanied with beautiful velvety voices singing.

i loved it.

and sadly i remembered that i had an audio recorder in my bag on the way out after the singing was done. bummer.

July 21, 2008

Home Away From Home

At 7 months, Dimitri Hodapp has been in and out of the hospital more than 10 times. The pneumonia he suffered in his first month of life caused respiratory failure and forced him to have tracheotomy, gastric tube and stomach wrap surgeries.
Heather and Christopher Hodapp pray with their 2-year-old son, Vincent, in the Ronald McDonald House dining room. Meals are provided at dinnertime, which "is nice, especially with money being so tight with kids," Mrs. Hodapp said. The Athens, Ga., family stayed at the house while Vincent's brother, Dimitri, was in the hospital.
Money is tight for Dimitri's young parents -- his father, Christopher, 21, is on leave from the Marines -- and they had few options when it came to where they could stay close to Medical College of Georgia's Children's Medical Center. Fortunately, they found Augusta's Ronald McDonald House on Greene Street.
The Hodapp family made the house their home away from home for more than a month. Dimitri and his brother Vincent, 2, won over the staff with their smiles and giggles. The family cooked and cleaned in the kitchen, watched television in the living room and played in the backyard, just as they would at their home in Athens, Ga.
The house makes a difficult point in a family's life easier. Without it, families would have to sleep uncomfortably at the hospital for weeks or make lengthy, expensive trips to Augusta.
The house has a few staff members, but most of those staying there are the families of children in Augusta hospitals. Some families stay just for the night, some for several months.
Without the Ronald McDonald House, the Hodapps would have been separated for long periods.
One night when Vincent prayed before eating dinner, he blessed his family, then he remembered to bless the other families in his temporary home.
"It's really great, as a whole," said Heather Hodapp, 20. "The house gets along really well. You get to hear the other families' stories. It's a big support group."

"Dear God, Bless our family and the ones in this house." Vincent, 2, before dinner

July 20, 2008

A Tree for My Birds To Rest

David and I headed downtown in Augusta Saturday to stroll through some of the stores. We wandered in Americana, a tattoo parlor on Broad, and we each came out with a new tattoo on our arms. We hadn't even looked into the artists or planned on doing it (although we both had vague ideas rattling in our heads... i think once you get a tat, you're always planning the next).

These were the second tattoos we've gotten together. When we met, we both already had one each. Then he got another, and then I got another as he watched. We got our first tattoos together on our one year anniversary over a year ago. And now we've got two more, my largest yet and his largest.

So today, we had fun in the studio with the ring flash. We thought we'd document our new ink since in a week or two, after it heals, it won't look so fresh and dark.

So here's a photo collaboration between Mr.Banks and I:

July 17, 2008

Angel Kisses across her nose.

today i was reminded why i love this job -- meaning photography and people. my camera leads me down paths i would never stray along otherwise and introduces me to people i would never meet. on the way to an assignment this morning, i was called and told it was cancelled. i was in a more rural area of South Carolina and thought I'd feature hunt while I was out there, which led me to a county rec center where kids were playing basketball. after shooting for a bit, i sat on the court to get a lower perspective. this girl, Baylee, sat down right next to me. she'd been watching me since i'd walked up and talked to the kids playing ball. right away she started telling me about her love for swimming, how she likes to help people, that she wants to be a doctor or teacher or photographer, how she is in foster care, almost had straight A's last year and even the price of the first hamburger at the first McDonalds.
she also told me that freckles, which she and i both have, are kisses from angels.

"You have lots of angel kisses," she told me. "More than me."

i didn't even get a good photo of her and the way she scrunched up her face when she was talking, but it's so very nice to meet a friendly, open person i never would have otherwise. y'know, even if she's only 8.

it's the little things.

July 14, 2008

The High School Clique

Our Managing Editor voiced the desire to see more teens in our newspaper and I was trying to come up with a photo column to take up time on my slower days and to make me write, so I started "Looking Past the Clique" this Spring. I did this photo column profiling local teens who, on the surface, fell into certain high school stereotypes but who were more than what their surface suggested.
I'm generally not a fan of using lights for my images, although I'm a big fan of photos that are well-lit. I tend to lean toward natural light and the times I use the studio or that I set-up lights is usually last-minute and rushed due to the nature of daily assignments at a daily newspaper.
I challenged myself with this column and confined it to the studio. I never came up with the photos exactly the way I wanted -- I needed flags, help, a bigger back-drop, more lights and really the ability to control each outcome better. But despite all my excuses, I had a good time and at least know where to start next time I want to try out a couple of lights. Maybe I'll continue the column in the fall... that elusive goth teen is out there...

Here are a few:
The beautiful fashion plate:
The JROTC geek:
The dumb, peppy cheerleader (who is actually smart):

July 12, 2008

i'm poised on the edge of what it all means.

you are an unruly translucent
a dirty windshield with a shifting view
so many cunning running landscapes
for my dented door to open into

i just wanna tune out all the billboards
weld myself a mental shield
i just wanna put down all the pressures
and feel how i really feel

just show me a moment that is mine
its beauty blinding and unsurpassed
make me forget
went by
and left me so half-hearted
cuz i felt it so half-assed.

July 11, 2008


i give you my most recent newspaper rejects. also known as the photos that will never make it to print. or as we sadly tend to call them, by no choice of our own, the "outtakes."

a fencing class warming-up at sunset:
a preview of a traveling Vietnam Wall, the day before its debut to the community (oh c'mon, you already knew what that wall looked like, but surely you've never seen the stars and bars dance in a reflection):
a golf tournament on an entirely too hot day (i.e. 98 degrees) (i opted not to use a golf cart because i'm "fit" and "walking is good" and regretted it immediately. i think i sweated a bucket per hole i walked):

a local watering hole near the canal (aka one of those days someone told me i was lucky to have such a cool job and i wholeheartedly agreed):

a county orchestra rehearsal. the story was about looking for more people to join:
...thanks for lending your eyes.