Tag Archives: art

Laurel and Mike’s Zhangjiajie Forest Park Wedding Part 4 – Couple’s Photos

There are very few words to describe the beauty of Zhangjiajie Mountain Forest Park in China. Being a photographer who loves dark and moody weather, I was overjoyed when I saw the fog settling over the gorgeous floating mountains. If this spot looks familiar to you, it’s because it was featured in the 2009 hit Avatar by James Cameron. Wow that Movie made history with CGI and over the top special effects, there’s really no need to enhance this place with the technology. You can feel how old everything is, how come the air and the forest feels. It’s lush, wild, romantic, and expansive; The perfect place to take couples photos after your wedding.

Laurel was an absolute trooper as well, trucking around in her giant red wedding dress and then eventually changing into a more westernized strapless white gown. I was super lucky to have the help of two of Laurel’s assistants, her hair and make up artist and her wedding coordinator, because posing that dress in the wind and the rain would’ve been just about too much for a little old me!

Every time I look at these pictures I’m reminded how lucky I am to be able to do what I do. This unique experience is one that may never be topped. (But of course, if your’re having a destination wedding, feel free to top this one and invite me to be your photographer!)

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Maia and I met at Sugarloaf Fine Arts Camp as kids and have always been sort of kindred spirits. We’re both loud, pretty opinionated, artsy fartsy, and have a deep love for the outdoors. Over the past few years, I’ve kept in contact with Maia via social media and have seen them grow into an outspoken advocate for the queer community. While I’ve known Maia was qeer for some time, I realized that I didn’t truly know what it meant to them and was curious to find out. There seemed to be A LOT of different terms and phrases associated with queer identity so I was very eager to dig a bit deeper and hear about Maia’s personal experience. I’m unendingly appreciative for the time they gave me when answering my (fairly novice) questions as well as the compassionate nature of their responses.
*Disclaimer: I started a portrait project a few years back titled “To Be Woman” but have recently realized how restrictive that is to my utimate goal of uplifting up a mutitude of human stories. I’m thrilled that Maia is the first gendervoid participant in my newly christened “To Be” series. 🙂
K: Why don’t you introduce yourself and tell everyone a little bit about you. 

M: [I’m] Maia Fernandez, they/them, queer (to be hyper-specific: Gendervoid quoriomantic demi/noeti/bisexual). 

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I am terrible at giving blurbs on myself, haha. I have an M.A. in Literature, combining my love of pop culture and spooky folklore with my mestizx heritage. I generally prefer being out in the forest, as opposed to my house in the city, and head out there as often as I can. During the stay in place order, most my free time is spent running D&D, playing video games, drawing, trying to learn mandolin, and running out to the forest.
K: When did you first become familiar with what it means to be gendervoid/nonbinary? 

M: I can’t speak toward what being nonbinary means for anyone but myself; the trans community is so wide and has so many differing experiences and perspectives that if you line up 100 people from the community, you’ll have 100 different explanations of gender.

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K: Can you talk me through your process of coming to understand your specific experience with gender?

M: Gender has always been rather tricky for me. I grew up a tomboy – as far back as I can remember, I didn’t like dresses, and preferred playing in the dirt and roughhousing. Of course, that doesn’t mean anything regarding gender identity, but it helps illustrate the train of thought. When I was 15, I went on a camping trip with a (gay, cis male) friend of mine. We spoke at length one evening about gender and how we know we’re our genders and what it feels like to be our genders. I realized, fairly quickly, that I have absolutely no idea what it means to be a woman. And not just because I was some precocious teenager; I never felt any sort of identification with being referred to by feminine pronouns.

It was this horrifying revelation; all I knew was male-female for genders, and if I didn’t identify as a woman, then clearly I must be a man. I called my mom in an absolute panic and she just shut it down. I didn’t know how to respond, so I hung up.

The idea of gender stayed in the back of my mind, but never resurfaced until my early 20s when I learned about nonbinary identities. Genderfluid didn’t fit, because my gender didn’t change or shift. Genderqueer fit the best for a while, until I read about agender identities on Tumblr (hey, the site has its benefits). I spent probably too long on https://lgbta.wikia.org/wiki/ looking at different gender identities, sexualities, and romantic attractions. I overloaded the hell out of my brain and slowly just came to recognize that I don’t know what my gender identity is because I don’t have one.

When I think about my body, my mind, and the labels attached to it, I never really felt that the concept of gender as a whole had any space. My body has always just felt like this weird, awkward meat sack powered by electric signals, and the idea of assigning an abstraction of gender somehow never clicked for me. My sexual and romantic identities are just as abstract, but those managed to wiggle their way in.

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It’s difficult, most days, because I don’t dress or look androgynous, in terms of identity or gender presentation. While androgyny has nothing to do in the grand scheme of things when it comes to being nonbinary, there’s still an implicit expectation that being nonbinary means you actively try to look like both/neither masculine or feminine, but are also thin/waifish, with little curves or contours, and have sharp/angular features. That “real” nonbinary people walk down the street and the average passerby can’t tell upon first blush if they’re a man or a woman. I’ve had close friends tell me that because I don’t actively work to look more masculine, they forget my pronouns. That it’s hard to remember my pronouns because I “just look so much like a girl.”

I never used to like dresses or makeup, and it wasn’t until about 8th grade that I stopped shopping in the boys’ section for clothes (cargo shorts are a blessing and I stand by that). As I got older and more secure in my identities, I started dressing more feminine. That, and when you’re in the throes of a horrific depression episode and the idea of wearing clothes is just a nightmare, the ability to throw on a dress and call it an outfit is a blessing.

But I don’t bind my chest, I’m not on T, and I have no intention of undergoing top or bottom surgery. On top of that, I’m fat and dress fairly feminine (I really have to emphasize how amazing dresses are for people with depression). I like my boobs, hard as it is to find bras that fit, and that doesn’t invalidate my lack of a gender. Deconstructing gender presentation expectations, gender norms, and the entire construct of gender removes the correlation of physical appearance with gender – as it ought to – and needs to happen. Strangers’ discomfort does not supersede my right to exist, freely and as myself.

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K: Have you personally been discriminated against for your sexual orientation or gender identity?

M: I think microaggressions like that – saying I look too much like a girl to remember my pronouns – are the more casual forms of discrimination I’ve faced. Granted, there are some people who openly admitted they’re going to have a hard time with they/them and nonbinary pronouns in general, and a select few are people where misgendering doesn’t bother me. Only a few, though, and they already know who they are. Otherwise, I expect people to use my proper pronouns because it, yanno, denotes basic respect and human decency.

Growing up in Placerville, homophobia was fairly common. Before Prop 8 in 2008, there were the Truth Trucks – giant, red trucks covered in signs and banners and what have you quoting the Bible and the infamous “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” slogan. They had loudspeakers attached to the roof of the truck, driving past schools and shouting their bigotry. I am not a passive person, and I have never known when to keep my mouth shut.

I dated a guy when I was 18 who kept telling me that I’m not actually bi because I hadn’t had sex with a woman in over a year, and was thus actually just bicurious. Mind you, this was around a year into our monogamous relationship. Logic.

More recently, aphobia – the belief that those on the asexual spectrum don’t have a place in the LGBTQIA+ community (despite the, you know. A) – is on the rise. I also recently figured out that I fall under the ace umbrella (demisexual) and the aromantic (it’s like asexual but with romantic attraction) umbrella (quoiromantic). The idea, I’ve seen, stems from asexuality being a relatively new term, compared to gay, lesbian, and bisexual. Historically, ace folk were lumped in with bisexuality because, reductively, no attraction to any gender is still equal attraction to any gender. I’d like to say that aphobia will gradually fade away and people will begin recognizing asexuality as part of the LGBTQIAA+ community, but seeing as people within the community are still transphobic and biphobic – to say the least – doesn’t offer much hope.

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K: What would you like cisgendered people to know about you or the queer community in general? Any advice on how to be a good ally to the LGBTQ+ community?

M: Honestly, the best way for people not part of a community to combat their implicit biases, microaggressions, and conscious or subconscious participation in oppression is to listen, not get reactionary / defensive, and understand that a person within that community probably has a better idea of what the experience is like. It’s like having a cis man tell a woman what it’s actually like to be a woman, yanno? Just…stop. No. I don’t need a cis person telling me how to look nonbinary, just like I don’t need someone who isn’t bi or demisexual to tell me what those terms actually mean, just like I don’t need someone who isn’t mestizx or Mexican telling me how to be Mexican.

Another part of that is humility. Nobody is perfect and everyone has hurt someone else, intentionally or not. What’s important is to accept with grace that someone trusts you and your relationship with them enough to tell you that you’ve hurt them. It’s a huge display of vulnerability on the hurt party, and overcoming the kneejerk reaction to deny, get defensive, and shut them down shows not only extreme emotional maturation, but strengthens the relationship. It’s something I had to work really hard to do, both because I hate the idea of hurting people, and I hate the idea that I can be problematic. But both are true and both still happen. The important part is to accept the criticism and grow from it. Acknowledge the hurt you’ve done, apologize, and consciously work to not repeat it.

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K: Describe your support system. Are there any causes that are particularly important to you that you’d like to shout out?

I’m really lucky and grateful that I’ve never had to hide who I am from my mom, and that I never felt I would lose my home / stability / life for being queer. I recognize that isn’t a privilege a lot of people have, and I try to exude the same love and compassion toward them that mom’s always shown me (even if she doesn’t understand everything I’m saying). She’s one of my best friends, and an absolute pillar when it comes to my support system. I have a pretty large support system, if I really think about it, and I also recognize how lucky I am for that, too. Not only do I have my 2 boyfriends and other partner, but I have a hefty handful of friends who are there for me when I need them – just as I am for them. I think stabilizing a support system and really solidifying those bonds and relationships are crucial during the pandemic, even if it’s with people you can’t regularly see in person. Having these systems are doubly important for the LGBTQIAA+ community, those who are mentally ill, and PoC – especially Black folk.

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Which, with the current affairs of the world, all I can really say is Black Lives Matter. Support your local Black community, the BLM movement at large https://blacklivesmatter.com/, and look into organizations in your area that offer aid for protesters. The officers who murdered Breonna Taylor need to be arrested and charged for their crimes. My fellow trans folk need protection now that the Trump administration decreed we do not deserve access to healthcare. Indigenous tribes are being ravaged with coronavirus deaths and received no aid. Our system is inherently designed to kill and hinder, and it is our collective responsibility to fight and enact change and equity. We are all allies to one another, and we need to work together.

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Big thanks to my studio assistant, Maxine, for keeping everyone happy!

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Kate & Maia: 2020

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Happy New Year!

The new year is here! While I understand it’s simply another Wednesday and nothing has truly changed since yesterday, it feels like a very transformative time; even more so that years past because of the changing of the decade. It’s time to transcend to the next version of ourselves. Today marks the pinnacle of a time of renewal. A time to affirm goals and envision our brightest future.

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For me, that future includes growing my client base as well as my family. (I’ll settle for a small dog or a small human, they will be equally loved.)

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It includes improving my work, challenging myself, and thinking outside the box more often. (I plan on doing lots of personal creative work this year!)

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It includes finding my ideal client and giving them exactly what they want as an artist. (POWER TO THE PEOPLE!)

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It also includes solidifying my personal relationships as well as professional ones and carving out paths that lead in positive directions I haven’t even figured out yet. (2020 includes a LOT of love and adventure!)

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As cheesy as it sounds, today is the first day of the rest of our lives! I strive to remember that this year and treated every waking moment with the respect and focus it deserves. Cheers to a ridiculous growth spurt in 2020!

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Lisa and Sean: Swedenborgian Church Wedding + Hotel Kabuki Reception

Lisa and Sean are a quirky and fun couple who put on all the stops for their amazing San Francisco wedding in September. Lovers of both culture and architecture, their ceremony was held at the stunning Swedenborgian Church in San Francisco and their reception was held at Japan Town in SF at The Hotel Kabuki. The church is over 120 years old and provides a rustic and enchanting backdrop for weddings of around 80 people. The Hotel Kabuki is in juxtaposition to the old world church, with plenty of modern pop art and colorful decor. The combination provided the best of both worlds and made for a stunning day from beginning to end.

Some of my favorite moments of Lisa and Sean’s day include her adoring aunt doing a live stream on behalf of her family who couldn’t attend for nearly the entire day, their adorable dog sprinting down the aisle in the church, a rad wall of records at the entrance of the hotel reception where they popped a bottle of champagne, and all the swaggy ridiculous dance moves them and their guests busted out all evening long. Their day was full of goofiness, laughter, joy, and LOTS of dancing; I feel so incredibly lucky to have been a part of it! For your convenience, a vendor list can be found at the end of this blog post.

CONGRATULATIONS LISA AND SEAN!

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HUGE THANKS TO

Photography: Katherine Elyse Photography​ // @LoveKEphoto

Coordination: Avida Bridal ​// @​AvidaBridal

Ceremony: Swedenborgian Church​ // @SfSwedenborgianEvents

Reception: Hotel Kabuki​ // @HotelKabuki

Florist: Natalini Flowers​ // @natalini.flowers

Cake: The Cake Maker

Band: The Lucky Devils​ // @LuckyDevilsBand

Transportation: SF Limo Express

Torrie: WARRIOR STORY

THIS IS TORRIE.

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I met Torrie a few years back at a wedding I was shooting. We hit it off during our time together on the day and stayed in contact on social media over the years, encouraging one another as friends from a distance and watching one another grow and flourish. After a time of mostly online friendship, we managed to carve out time to get together over wine and chat. We got to know one another well and build our friendship into something tangible and strong. With that build up came understanding. With that understanding came trust. With trust came the development of a project that Torrie and I feel wildly passionate about working on together and sharing through Katherine Elyse Photography.

The story presented here is all Torrie’s. As her friend and photographer, I hope the images act as a vessel for her to share her experience in a way that is safe and accurate. I’m using her words, taken directly from an interview my good friend David N. Sachs conducted the day of her shoot, with a few back end tweaks by Torrie to round everything out.

THIS IS HER BATTLE STORY.

“This is the story of my journey into loving myself and body acceptance, into feeling comfortable in my own skin.”

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“In 2005, I was diagnosed with Stage 2B Cervical Cancer. Before that, I had had a number of different cervical changes related to HPV, which is pretty common nowadays. But in 2005, it was less common and all I knew about HPV was that it was one letter off from HIV- which meant that it had no cure and that it was sexually transmitted- and that it could either cause warts or cervical cancer. And the warts never came.

I had HPV prior to the cancer diagnosis. I actually found out that I had HPV from a clinical trial at the hospital when I was 12 years old– after I had been sexually assaulted.”

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“As a religious kid, having a sexually transmitted disease is a good way to be looked down upon, no matter how you got it. Especially when you are 12 years old. I had to start making up stories about my life and my body so that I felt accepted in my own skin and so that I wouldn’t be shunned from the community.

It didn’t really work.

I was still shunned from my community and felt a lot of shame about who I was and felt mostly like it was my fault that I had been assaulted.”

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“I was diagnosed with cancer at 19. I had just gotten married and I felt like I earned it- that it was my fault that I had cancer and, therefore, really just needed to do anything that I was told. I didn’t ask any questions about what was supposed to happen to me or if I had a choice in anything concerning my care. And so over a period of three years I was led through my care without having asked any questions at all. I didn’t have time.

At the end of that three years I had had seven surgeries that completely mangled my body (especially my sexual organs) and ruined my marriage with my husband because I couldn’t have kids, which was an important thing to him.  And, let’s face it: being young and married to someone with cancer is really scary. I didn’t know that I couldn’t have kids until after treatment ended because I didn’t stop to ask any questions; I didn’t care about myself or about my body enough to actually do something about it to take control or to even feel like I had a choice in my decisions.”

“I started out having an unhealthy relationship with myself in relation to others before I actually even knew who I was or what I wanted. I spent 20 years believing that it was my fault and that I was being punished for something that was outside of my control.”

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“But I have a different relationship with my body and myself because I had cervical cancer.”

“I learned more about myself in the process of having cancer than anything that I had gone through beforehand. I learned that I wanted to give back to the healthcare system to help make sure that people, especially people going through an illness, know what their choices are, and are educated about how to sit across the table from a doctor who they often feel has more power and knowledge than they do. I was really interested in figuring out how we do that, how we slow down the process of decision making in healthcare. I ended up going to school for public health, focusing specifically on people who are vulnerable- poor populations, minorities, people who don’t have a lot of education or power. Because I went through this process of needing to understand my resources more than anybody else. I wanted to give power to other people and a voice to other people.”

“When you are cancer free for 5 years, you are supposed to have a party, and I was not going to have cancer againuntil I did.” 

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And this was a completely different situation than last time. The tumor was outside my body, and it was going to change the way that the outside of my body appeared; and I didn’t have the ability to control how I shared it. Also, it was close to my clitoris, and I really liked my clitoris. I didn’t find that out until my late 20’s, in between my two bouts of cancer. I had discovered this magical thing that could give me sexual pleasure and made me feel powerful, and now it was just going to be taken away from me.”

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This time, though, I wasn’t going to just be led through my treatment without asking any questions.

I was almost immediately offered a complete vulvectomy, which is basically “we’re just going to remove everything on the outside, including your clitoris.” I made sure to ask that question. But my oncologist had already scheduled the surgery for me, without even asking if I wanted it or not.

So immediately this became a different situation then my first bout with cancer. During my first bout, it was a big deal but I was at least pretty confident that I was going to live. This time, it was a later stage of cancer and a lot more serious, so I knew that I needed to make some decisions. But I was ill-equipped to make them.”

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“I still didn’t really like myself, and I still held this view that I deserved it or I was being punished for somehow not figuring out how to get out of that situation from when I was 12. I had to learn that my body was worth fighting for. That my dignity was worth fighting for.

So I had a consultation with a social worker in palliative care who asked me what my goals were in life. What mattered to me. She told me that I actually had a very good prognosis. I was likely to live through this circumstance. And so we started talking about what was important to me in life going forward.

And I had three goals:

The first goal was that I wanted to maintain sexual function. I knew that I couldn’t have children and so having sex was really important to me. I had just learned about my clitoris. I was going to keep my relationship with it.”

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“The second is that I’m a cyclist, so I wanted to be able to cycle. It’s the place where I clear my mind. With that surgery, I actually wouldn’t have been able to ride a bicycle ever again.”

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“The third was that I wanted to be able to look in the mirror and not feel mangled. It had nothing to do with the relationship that I had with somebody else or having sex with somebody else and not wanting them to look at me in a different light. It had everything to do with being able to look in the mirror myself and feel like a whole person.”

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“It was really empowering to make the decision to do what was best for my body. For me. It’s only been recently that I can say that I never needed to be forgiven for something that happened to me that wasn’t my fault. I’ve learned a lot about the fact that the mindset being carried on throughout my life kept me, in a lot of ways, the same age I was when I was assaulted.

And I feel like the moment that I let go of all of the shame that I had about my body, about things that happened to me, I realized that I’m not a girl, I’m a warrior.

I realized that I don’t need to be pushed around, that I have no interest in being pushed around and that I deserve everything that I want. I’m learning that I’m worth loving. That i’m worth fighting for. And I want to help others, especially those going through the healthcare system, believe the same.”

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All images are copyright of Katherine Elyse Photography. Images are owned by Katherine Elyse Cohen of Katherine Elyse Photography. For image use requests, please email katherineelysephotography@gmail.com

Oh, They Call it that Good Old Sugarloaf Station!

I’ve been going to Sugarloaf since 2001, making this my 18th year there. I started as a camper, graduated up to a counselor, and somehow weaseled my way into an amazing staff position with a crew of boundlessly talented individuals. Sugarloaf is better than Christmas. It’s a haven of love, art, and creativity that comes every summer to sweep me off my feet and remind me who I want to be. It’s essentially New Years Eve/Golden Birthday/Right of Passage all rolled into one amazing experience. We teach some truly fantastic kids about everything from theatre arts to photography to textiles and watch as they grow and shine over the course of our week together. It may sound a bit short, it may be dusty and dirty, it may not even sound like much of an experience from the perspective of the outside world, but to all of us it’s just like coming home.

If you’re inspired or curious about camp, feel free to visit our Sugarloaf Fine Arts Camp homepage to learn all about what we do. If you happen to have a couple bucks free, you can be a part of camp directly by donating to the Sugarloaf Station Foundation (the non-profit that funds the camp) and/or joining us at the Sugarloaf Station Foundation’s 16th Annual Fundraiser in September so we can raise money for these awesome kids to continue to experience this magical creative week in the woods! 

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Laurel and Mike: Out on the Town Engagement Session

 For Laurel and Mike’s unique engagement session, we decided to mix Chinese tradition and modern SF culture to create some epic shots that celebrate San Fran city culture along side Laurel’s Chinese heritage. These bought me empanadas, taught me Chinese, and flashed they style all over SF with reckless abandon. (Basically my photoshoot dream!) We went from the San Francisco Ferry Building to Chinatown to Russian Hill and back down again. I could do celebratory multicultural shoots like this every day!

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Karen: A SURVIVOR STORY

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Sometimes life throws us curveballs we struggle to understand. Karen was diagnosed with cancer during her pregnancy with her son.  This was her third and final baby and she was shocked to find out she would have to give up breastfeeding early and instead begin chemo. She underwent treatment after soon he was born and, thankfully, has made a miraculous full recovery. She’s currently in remission and soaking up all the time she can with her wonderful family before heading back to teaching in the Fall. 

This session was a Give Back Session for the Magic Hour Foundation.

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Sugarloaf: Home Away from Home

Every year for the past 17 years I’ve made the trek up highway 50 into the mountains to the place I, and many others, call home. It’s a simple grouping of cabins where I learned who I was as a teen; where lifelong friends were made over the years; where the smell of mountain misery is pungent and overwhelming in the best way possible. The trees echo with beautiful music and the sunshine lights up the art rooms and camera lenses that act as a catalyst to capture our creations. I’ve been going to Sugarloaf Fine Arts Camp for more than half my life and I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to be a part of it.

After being a camper I transitioned quickly into being a cabin counselor. After 7 years of playing that roll, I was able to secure myself a spot on the INCREDIBLE photography staff. With digital photography making it’s debut and film photography going strong I got thrust into the roll of Digital Slideshow teacher and I’ve loved it from the beginning. Each year I’m presented with a new batch of amazing kids I’m supposed to help learn how to capture the week and create a slideshow/yearbook of our experience. It’s stressful, it’s detail oriented, it pushes their creativity to new levels, and (somehow) every year’s show is wonderful and completely unique.

This year I was given 4 kids that absolutely blew my mind. Their creativity and dedication reached levels I hadn’t considered particularly possible in such a short amount of time. They rocked everything from low light photos, actions shots, stunning portraits, and working candids. Needless to say I’m immensely impressed. Beyond their photos skills, I was able to really get to know these kids as people and, I’ve got to admit, my hope for the future has been fully restored. There was no lack of love, kindness, creative thinking, empathy, compassion, and joy from them. I was grounded by them and honestly brought to tears at the end of the week by how lovely they all were and how much I know I’ll miss them in the coming year. They said thank you to me at the end of the week but honestly, I should be thanking them for such an enlightening experience.

I’ve gone and chosen my favorite shots by my group to share with you. There were literally HUNDREDS of amazing images, but these ones stuck out to me as the photos they spent time and energy composing and perfecting. They applied some complex camera skills (shot all in manual btw) to capture these photos and I’m glowing with pride over how fabulous they are. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. ❤

ACTION SHOTS – Capturing motion is, by far, one of the hardest skills we learn as photographers. Having good timing isn’t innate, it’s very much a learned skill. I’m blown away by how much my kids picked up in a matter of days!

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Class Photos – Capturing the essence of other students learning at camp is CHALLENGING. How do we create magic based off of other people’s intensity? My kids did a great job at creating perspectives that truly show all angles and emotions of the programs we run here at camp. These photos represent so much!

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Portraits – This was by far my favorite part of the class to teach. Teaching the kids how to take kick a** portraits using posing prompts and natural moments/light was a joy and (not surprisingly) they were AMAZING at it. I adore these intimate photos they created almost as much as I adore my students themselves!

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If you’re impressed (which I KNOW you are!) and you’re interested in supporting these kids experiences at camp, consider heading to the Sugarloaf Station Foundation website and making a scholarship donation. Nearly 25% of our kids are only able to attend camp based on the generous donations of art lovers in the community. We would love to help even more kids expand their arts education and enjoy the beauty of camp year after year.

If you’re interested in donating, and having an amazing time doing do, come on out to our 15th Annual Sugarloaf Station Foundation Fundraiser on September 30, 2017! You can purchase tickets HERE.

CHEERS TO ANOTHER PERFECT YEAR AT SUGARLOAF FINE ARTS CAMP!

(PS- Huge thanks to my friend Russ Levi for allowing me to borrow the pixel stick, the prisms, and all the other fun trinkets. We had a great time experimenting!)

 

To Be Woman – Part 3

As time goes on and I continue this project I feel an ever stronger urger to continue sharing stories of women who fight and overcome. There is so much strength that comes from listening to others. Stories that feel so personal to the teller sometimes make a profound impact on the most unlikely listener. Stories preserve our past and help us create a stronger, smarter, kinder future. As we push forward into uncertain waters, I hope we can all take the time to listen and share with one another in the hopes of creating a more connected and respectful world.

Please view the previous installments of the project here:

To Be Woman

To Be Woman: Part 2

If you’re interested in becoming a part of this project and sharing your story, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me personally HERE.

MARIAH C.

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To be a woman is to be mocked by the man behind the counter at Calumet Photographic:

He made fun of me, laughing at me, telling me I was “mixing two alcohols” by purchasing film chemistry & cf cards.

I shall not be moved by sexism

To be a woman is to be sexually harassed by the man who owns the photo studio down the street:

He put his hands all over my shoulders, neck, stomach, back, while he told me he treats photography as sexual foreplay & only photographs women he wants to fuck; then he asked to photograph me.

I shall not be moved by patriarchy

To be a woman is to be abashed by the promoter who puts on Erotic Art Events:

He asked me to lie & advertise false sales, I was to only bring in female models for “the patrons delight”, no male models, then he ran his hand down my thigh, & patted my ass.

I shall not be moved by chauvinism

To be a woman is to promote the idea that my work is amazing, phenomenal & groundbreaking though, when the exact same work is presented by a man, it is be merely mediocre.

I shall not be moved when Forbes states that my photography profession is “ruled” by women.

Women only represent 50% in number & average less than 17K annually.

http://fortune.com/2013/03/11/5-professions-ruled-by-women
To be a woman is to break the glass ceiling, only to be sliced open as is shatters.

JENNIFER C.

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I have been called River Diva. I have been called Last Chance Hollywood Cuddlenick. I have been called bitch and every other demeaning name under the sun. I have been told I don’t belong on the river, never mind that I have achieved numerous certifications and have many years of experience. I will never be hired at certain companies in Canada, Switzerland and Italy, all for the single reason that they don’t hire women. I have heard the disappointment in a customer’s voice when they realize they “have gotten the girl guide.” I prove them wrong every single time. However, I shouldn’t have to. Me being a female guide isn’t the problem. The outdated notion of what a woman “should be” or “can do” is the problem. I am exactly where I should be – doing what I love. I have been called Adventure Barbie, but make no mistake, I am no Barbie Doll.