California 2012

In June, I went to California to visit my best friend from last summer’s TFA Institute. It was my first time ever traveling west of Arkansas, so first time on the West Coast and seeing/stepping in the Pacific Ocean! (It was also my first time being on a plane for more than an hour and a half – this trip was 5 hours – and yet surprisingly I didn’t have a panic attack at the airport before boarding like I usually do haha.) The scenery was absolutely beautiful there. We drove about 4-5 hours down Highway 1 from San Jose to San Luis Obispo, with breathtaking views of the Pacific the whole way. San Luis Obispo was what I always imagined would be the quintessential coastal California town with cute little shops in the downtown, beaches, organic food, and great outdoor activities. I think I’ll always be an East Coast girl at heart, but I’d definitely love to go back and see more of the West Coast!

I wasn’t focusing so much on stills during this trip, because for the first time I was focusing on video (low-tech with the iPhone). I took short video clips documenting whatever we were doing and recently finished making it into a short, 3 1/2 min movie. I’m not going to post it here, but check it out on my Facebook if we’re friends. Most of the photos here were taken with the iPhone too, some Instagram.

Emily owns a horse named Scribbles. I’m riding him in the Instagram photo below!

Driving down Highway 1.

First time in the Pacific Ocean!

Sweet potato waffles…SO GOOD

Playing around on the sand dunes in SLO

The California version of sledding. Just as hard to walk back up a hill of sand as it is snow!

Gorgeous view from the top of the sand dunes

Path to the beach. Still can’t get over that it was the Pacific, not Atlantic haha

Hiking Bishop’s Peak!

Yummy cafe after hiking…I couldn’t help myself and got waffles again 🙂

Like I said, I was more focused on video than stills this trip, so check my facebook to see my first trip to Cali in video form!


WES Winter Art Show

I held my first art show at school last Tuesday. I spent a week with all of my classes teaching them how to critique their work and having each student choose one piece of art to put in the show. Then we mounted each piece. (AKA some of my students helped, but I came in extra early for a week and for 3 hours on a Saturday to mount all of them). Three of my classes helped me set up for the show, putting mounting tape on all of the artwork, hanging each piece in the multipurpose room, making signs for the hallway. I was really proud of how much work they put in to help me, and how the event turned out. Unfortunately, with a school of over 400 students, only 25 adults signed the sign-in sheet at the art show, 8 of which were teachers/faculty and my roommate. Needless to say I was extremely disappointed.

The experience was even more of a wake up call about the community in which I’m living and teaching. I need to work harder at investing my students in the idea of not only creating art, but also showing it off. I need to work even harder at investing the parents and family members at my school in my art program. Moreover, this experience was another affirmation of how little art is valued even within my school, and I need to stop allowing my subject to be treated as inferior to “real” classes. Even though a part of me really wants to not even bother having another art show in the spring, I know soon enough this bitterness I have towards the low attendance at the show will turn into a drive to increase attendance at the next show. That’s what this job is all about – failing and coming back for more again and again.


Pretty much how the gym looked all night: empty.

Return to the Delta

On Martin Luther King weekend, I went back to the Mississippi Delta for the first time to visit my friends from Institute. It was so wonderful to see these girls that I had only seen or talked to through skype, phone calls or texts, in between all of our busy teaching lives. Being with them again was so comfortable – going out to dinner, driving all around Mississippi, fooling around while we were supposed to be lesson planning – like I had never left. It was a much needed reunion and really great to see what their lives are like in their region! I didn’t take as many photos as I intended, but here are a few.

I’d never seen Mississippi from the sky before, and it was beautiful! I took 3 flights that Friday to get to Greenville, MS. It was the smallest airport I’d ever been to, right in the middle of a cornfield (it reminded me of Hollandale in that way).  I wish I took a picture of the recliners they had that I was lounging in, or the creepy airport cop that was half hitting on me, half trying to kick me out of the airport.

Saturday we went to Oxford, MS, Home of “The Harvard of the South.”

Oxford again

On the way back to Greenwood from Oxford. Love the delta sunsets.

Julie decided to walk down the hill this time, rather than rolling down like she’d done 10 minutes before.

Friends 🙂 Helena, AR

23rd Birthday

Keeping up with my new year’s resolution, I made sure to document my 23rd birthday (while my roommates made fun of me relentlessly). I had a really great birthday, starting with 2 of my first graders coming into my room in the morning and singing to me. It was so cute that they remembered when it was and thought to come sing to me! Some of my other first grade classes found out it was my birthday so I got a lot of hugs and singing in the halls, too. Thanks everyone for the cards, calls, texts and facebook posts! And thanks to all my roommates for all the fun things in the photos 🙂

I opened the fridge when I got home from school and found a birthday card and Sam Adams!

Check + birthday! Thanks roomies!

2011 in Photos

I thought I’d start this year’s wrap-up with a quote from last year’s final post: “My biggest goal for 2011? Make it to North Carolina. I’ve been saying it for years, and this is my year to finally get there.” (To view last year’s post, click here.)

Joining Teach for America and being placed in North Carolina wasn’t my original plan to reach this goal, but either way, I’m happy to have accomplished my biggest goal of 2011!

Big things in 2011:

• Deciding to apply for TFA on my 22nd birthday, and being accepted in April
• Syracuse graduation ceremony
• Spending the summer in Mississippi. This was my first extended period of time somewhere other than the Northeast, and it was an important experience to see how people live in another part of the country. I made some wonderful friends, learned a lot about teaching and myself, and it was also my first time being in a time zone other than EST, which was cool!
• Having my placement changed to K-4 Art. I wouldn’t have changed my placement of U.S. History over the summer for the world. My CMA, CMA group, and students were such an integral part of how much I learned as a teacher, and surviving/loving Institute. But for me, being switched to art solidified that joining TFA and moving to ENC was the right thing.
• Getting my first place in North Carolina. Great roommates, in-ground pool, close to Wal-Mart. Not too shabby.

Even though I love teaching, my biggest goal of 2012 is to stop neglecting my photography. I think I did a great job keeping up with it at Institute, both documenting my experience and taking portraits, but I’ve hardly taken any photos in North Carolina. That’s going to change in 2012. I want to take more photos of my students, what I’m doing for fun, and get my name out there for portraits and weddings.

Other resolutions:
• Decorate my house more through DIY projects
• Teach my kids more technical drawing skills and steer away from craft-based projects
• Spend more time exploring North Carolina
• Donate blood regularly

Ok, ok. For those of you solely interested in the photos, here they are. I’d be interested to hear in the comments if anyone had a favorite photo that I did not include.

First week in the Mississippi Delta. Getting on the bus at 5:55 was rough that first week, but the sunrises were beautiful. I’m sure I made great first impressions snapping photos while everyone tried to sleep.

Mr. Steve, best bus driver ever. It didn’t hurt that he drove the only air conditioned bus.

My new room in North Carolina

My room in my new home in North Carolina is finally decorated, so here it is for those of you who’ve been asking what it looks like! Due to Hurricane Irene, the rest of the house was pretty dark when I took these, so photos of the whole house will come later. I stupidly didn’t take a before shot of the room, but it used to have white wall paper with multicolor confetti on it that had been up for about 20 years. We all repainted our rooms and got rid of the wall paper.

I hand painted the signs above my bed from fence pickets in my back yard. I’ve been searching around here for more of them so I can make 2 more that say “Mississippi River” and “Lake Gaston,” but no one really has fences like that around here, so I may have to have my mom mail me more.

The Barbie light switch plate was here when I moved in, and I couldn’t get rid of it after I painted! Alexa room has a deer standing in a field.

I’ve been collecting antique bottles for a while, and every time I go to a new beach I take sand home to fill them. Newest addition is sand from the Mississippi River, and a piece of driftwood from there too. (They were selling driftwood at The Warehouse in Cleveland for $30, but I got the real deal for free. I bought those colored pencils made from twigs at the Warehouse though.) I’ve been searching antique stores for literally 2 years looking for a shelf like this for the bottles, and surprisingly I finally found it at Urban Outfitters. The tags on the bottles are handmade paper that I made with old computer paper and flowers from around my town.

I bought these old shutters at an antique store at home and repainted them. Then I tied ribbon to earring backs to hang the hole-punched photos.

Syracuse Graduation 2011

Hello everyone! Sorry for the long gap in posts! More photos to come after this though! Some portraits and a new wedding, too. But for now, here are some photos from the week leading up to graduation as well as the convocations and commencement ceremony at Syracuse University.

Senior BBQ on the quad (photo courtesy of Adam Schatz)

Some Gamma Phis hanging out on the steps of Hendricks during the senior BBQ.

hanging out on the 803 porch

Oh hey TOM! I made sure to get my very last veggie burger wrap that week. See more photos of our wonderful chef Tom here

I’ll miss you Chucks

Arts and Sciences Convocation. I have basically the same shot from the Newhouse convocation. If you’ve been in the dome for 8 hours everything starts to look the same.

Lots of graduates waiting to start commencement!

Oh hey Nance! Nancy Sharp, my awesome News Writing teacher, performing the Mace ceremony.

The Arts and Sciences section getting rowdy at commencement with balloons and beach balls (not shown).

I know her! Chancellor Cantor congratulating Carolyn McChesney on being a University Scholar.

Carolyn on stage again.

Mom, Dad and me after commencement. Mom just loves her “Syracuse Mom” pin. Dad forgot his in the car.

Mom and Dad

I haven’t posted in a while, but I’m going to have new photos to post soon enough! I second shot a wedding a couple weekends ago, so I’m hoping to post some shots from that once Joe gets the photos back. I also just bought 3 new lenses and I’m just looking for something to shoot so I can try them out!

In other news, I attended the St. Mary of the Annunciation School Auction this past Saturday. I was the youngest person there so I got outbid on everything I wanted, but it was still fun. I donated a family portrait session and it went for $200! I’m glad I could help SMA earn some money since I spent a majority of my school years there. Plus I got to meet the family that I will be photographing and they’re super nice. I’m hoping that parents who were outbid will still hire me!

Until I get those wedding photos back, here are a couple portraits of my parents that I took over last Thanksgiving and never got around to posting. They made great Christmas presents!

(I just bought Totally Rad Photoshop Actions, so I’ve been playing around with them. I tried to make that second photo look a little like black and white film.)

Casey and Tim’s Annapolis wedding (as a guest)

Last weekend, I attended my first wedding as a guest since before I started doing wedding photography. I thought it would be nice to finally be at a wedding and not have to work, but it was actually really hard. While I was sitting in the pew, all I wanted to do was be in the middle of the aisle getting the best angles. I was always watching the photographer or wondering where he was. It was surprisingly stressful. (Although, I saw some of his photos on his blog and the photos are great!) But despite that I had so much fun. The food was delicious, and the band was AMAZING. Go Go Gadjet is a cover band that doesn’t usually do weddings, so basically we were all at a private concert. It was a really young crowd so everyone was dancing the whole night and having a blast. It was so nice to see my Godmother’s kids, Casey included, that I haven’t seen in years and meet some new people. Congrats Casey and Tim!

All I had with me was my D80, and since I couldn’t get the best angles I just decided to enjoy myself for the weekend and not take that many photo. Here are the few that I did get though.

This was the 1st time I flew since I went to Disney World in 1996. I couldn’t hear for 3 hours after the flight, and my ears are still periodically un-popping. I’d officially rather drive!

Me and Mom!

My mom, Godmother Kathy, and another friend from high school, Janet

2010 wrap-up

I’ve seen a couple other photographers doing a year-in-review post, and I thought it was a great idea. So many big things have happened this past year, including so many changes.

In 2010 I:

  • started this blog! My blog will be 1-year old this New Year’s Day. In January 2010, my blog had 30 views. Since then, I have had 268 views in one day, and the highest monthly views was 2,335 in October. 9,140 views overall! My final photo story on Tom got the most views in one day.
  • turned 21! Probably my most fun birthday with great friends!
  • took 3 photo classes: Fashion Photography, Studio II, and Photojournalism, and learned so much from all of them.
  • worked for Joseph Prezioso and with Heidi Vail, and learned more from both of them than I could have in any class. And we had so much fun (especially on 3 wedding weekends)!
  • started doing a lot of photography work on my own with senior portraits, gaining valuable experience.
  • graduated from Syracuse University. I can’t believe I won’t be returning to ‘cuse in January as a student (just for the Nova game!), but I’m so excited for even more changes in 2011!

My biggest goal for 2011? Make it to North Carolina. I’ve been saying it for years, and this is my year to finally get there.

Here are some of my favorite photos from 2010. A lot of them were used in my senior portfolio to graduate from Newhouse.

I still have a couple shoots from 2010 that aren’t completely edited yet, so look out for those soon! Thanks for a great year everyone!