Fall wanderings around New England with the pinhole camera.
Flipping back through the year, I’m reminded of all the people I’ve been lucky enough to spend time with and all the strange and beautiful places around New England I’ve ended up in. It was a year full of friends, family, and new experiences like learning to cross country ski, cooking a whole CSA’s worth of veggies with Emma, sleeping in a yurt for the first time, and fixing a leaky sink by myself.
This daily project kept me hustling again all year and pushed me to do my own photography every day of the year. I’ve shot more film than I have since high school and have tried out new styles of photography and photo illustrations. One of my favorite trial projects looked at collections of things like CSA vegetables, backpacks, and hard drives. Daily walks around Somerville have become the norm. I didn’t hop on a plane once this year and have been happily focused on New England photography. There is so much weird and wonderful stuff to document around me.
More than any year before, I was able to take assignments that were a good fit for me. I turned down more than one bad contract and was able to work on more magazine stories and commercial projects that pushed me in the right direction and made me feel good. I had a few art directors say they even looked through my photo a day project and were able to get a strong sense of who I was before hiring me.
The year started off with a small catastrophe when Emma and I unexpectedly were flooded out of our new apartment in Cambridge and forced to relocate during the snowiest winter ever. It wasn’t too much fun but we settled into an amazing new apartment where I set up a very comfortable office and we now live among a jungle of house plants.
I started a new long-term photo project on winter games around New England around the same time as the flood. I explored the activities that keep people outside in the cold all winter long, like ice yachting, dogsled racing, and ski jumping. I hope to continue to grow the project next year and also create short documentaries on individuals and their winter sports.
My brother Stephen and sister-in-law Heather had their first child, Calum. Emma and I babysat him throughout the year and I learned how to hold a baby. He also became a regular fixture throughout the photo a day project and will probably continue to be a part of the next year’s.
Running was a constant all year. I didn’t get hurt once, ran more races than I have since high school cross country, and created a whole new portfolio of trail running photography that led to my first assignment with Runner’s World magazine and a photo in Trail Runner magazine. Dylan and I decided to partner up to hire models and took a big risk to each try and push our work to new places for a sport we both love.
Thanks to my new printer, the apartment portrait project has continued to grow. It’s become a glossary of family and friends and a record of Emma and my life here in Somerville and I hope to continue it for as long as we live here.
I did a lot of boring logistical stuff this year too: I started paying my taxes quarterly(like I’ve been supposed to do for the past couple of years now), bought new car and health insurance, and even got a local doctor and regular person to cut my hair. I’ve never felt so responsible.
I ended the year with my first job as a director for a series of documentary-style profiles for a diabetes pump company. Minder took a big chance hiring me to direct and I think it worked out really well. It was an intimidating experience, but once we started rolling I felt confident and creative, ready to take on all the challenges. I feel like every time I go out to take photos or make videos, I still have the nervous feeling I had when I started. It’s an emotion that keeps me on my toes and it’s probably time to move on from photography if I ever lose that sensation.
At the start of the year, I still felt guilty leaving on a “work day” to take pictures for myself. I think spending more time with other freelancers and seeing the positive impact of having a strong personal work has helped me feel more comfortable setting my own kind of schedule. I am a photographer after all, I should be off taking pictures and not spending all my free time emailing. It’s still surreal that I’m living the life and doing the job that I always wanted to do. Not to say it’s been an easy year. There were tons of times throughout the year where I was certain that jobs would never come and I’d be forced to give this whole career up. I’m finishing the year with a stronger and more stable foundation than ever before. This will allow me to start off 2016 following my own inspiration for winter photography projects and not worrying how to make a quick buck.
I think the sum of all these photographs makes me imagine how others will view my work in its entirety. It’s a portrait of a New England rambler, searching for quiet moments.
I was very excited to receive an email from Margot at Tufts Magazine asking if I was interested in photographing Tufts alum Noah Wilson-Rich, the founder of Best Bees. Noah had been my TA for Experiments in Ecology class back at Tufts and we actually did research on bees on campus for his class. I love bees and can’t imagine a cooler assignment.
I would definitely prefer photographing(and sweating) with a bunch of happy bees than sitting at my computer on a lowery day like today. These sunny photos feel more like a dream than a real day I lived.
Best Bees runs hives for customers all over the country, maintaining healthy bees and delivering honey. They use the income from that side of the business to fund bee disease resarch.