For the past nine years we’ve been together, Jeff and I make the ordinary an adventure. A trip to Home Depot becomes a photo opp across from the parking lot; a stroll down the Big Lots “international foods” aisle provides us a basket full of spongy, coconut-flecked cakes from Spain. Driving home from work, we’ll take a left turn instead of a right one, just to see if there is something different along a route that we’ve taken hundreds of times before, and there usually is: as early darkness softens the turns of season, we get ready for the first real snow. Colder days, thick black nights – we fill them with old movies, warm simmering stews, and plans for the coming new year. We are full of light.
Filed under: New York | Tags: impossible project, instant film, new york city, polaroid
I traveled to New York last month with my friend Becky, whom I’ve known for over 20 years. Her sister Angie and brother-in-law Mark were gracious to open their home, and their world to us, 41 floors above this magical city – because even years later, after life’s twists and turns and travels – New York still has a soft spot in my heart for magical things to happen. Our main agenda for the trip was Ellis Island – Becky wanted to look up her family roots – and so I aimed to take postcard shots since Ellis was the most touristy thing I’ve done on a trip in a long time. It was a beautiful fall day, so we walked, everywhere: through Times Squares on our first evening; from Battery Park all the way back to Midtown the next – each neighborhood we slipped into and out, I felt it become smaller, more intimate. We ate at Casa Bella in Little Italy, took a detour through Chinatown. I loved seeing two women sitting in a park, gently pushing their children in their strollers, trading stories in the early dark; how traffic glowed, and apartment lights clicked on, twinkling. I thought about years ago, I had to decide between Sarah Lawrence for grad school or stay home and go to Pitt: I was very young then, too scared to move far. I wanted to travel, and didn’t know if I could both afford living in New York and taking off; I chose home to see the world. It was the first time in my life that I experienced that proverbial fork in the road, and each time I go back to the city, there is a tiny “what if” that tugs in the back of my mind. It isn’t one of regret so much as curiosity of how we end up the places that we do: I hadn’t even thought of picking up a camera then, and now I can’t imagine life without pressing the shutter. One of the highlights of my trip was meeting my Flickr friend, Yvette, who grew up in and around the New York area. I was nervous, but excited, wondering what she would be like in person after following her photography for years and exchanging emails. Even though it’s more common to have online friends now, it’s still such a strange thing, isn’t it? And amazing, when you think about it, that we have this Internet thing now to connect us. Once she walked up to me and said hello that Sunday morning on the corner of W. 38, I relaxed. You’re real! I joked, happy. We walked: to Union Square for brunch, then to the International Center of Photography, to bond over what connected us, sharing stories about our lives along the way.
Filed under: Pennsylvania | Tags: allentown, bethlehem, easton, impossible project, lehigh valley, polaroid
I never think of traveling our home state as “vacation,” but last month’s drive out to Bethlehem to visit friends changed my mind. As we made our way along the Lincoln Highway, the towns became slower, fewer people in sight – fields of color showing signs of fall, even though the weather was more August heat. Breezewood to Chambersburg to Dutch Country, we rolled right into the Lehigh Valley. We explored miles of treasures at Renningers Antiques, ate a delicious Spicy Antipasti sandwich at Hummus House in Allentown, talked for hours with our friends, and took a walk over the Delaware River from Easton to the Jersey side just because we could. There was that moment of twilight as we crossed the bridge: pink sky, quiet river, a slight chill, an ice cream shop at the New Jersey/PA border closed for the season. The soft, neon glow of an old sign twinkling in the distance made my heart twist with a tinge of sadness – a good-bye to summer.
Filed under: Vintage Photo Album | Tags: 1910s, 1920s, halloween, vintage costumes, vintage photography
This photo series from my collection are more theater than Halloween, but these ladies represent the spirit of what I love best about this holiday: the costumes (that, and ghosts, witches. draculas, zombies, haunted houses, pumpkins…). I had read once that in the Victorian period through the early 1900s, people would dress in costume for parlor games, or put on small plays as forms of entertainment when hanging out with friends and family. I’m really digging Queen Neptune’s costume, a find I’d pretty much go bonkers over if spotted while thrifting.
Filed under: Pennsylvania | Tags: impossible project, lincoln highway, polaroid, route 30
When Jeff and I stared dating nine years ago, our first road trip together was Route 30, Pennsylvania’s old Lincoln Highway, destination: Mutter Museum. I mapped out the places I wanted to see along the way, but more importantly, this travelers’ road crazy-twisting through mountains provided relief from the PA Turnpike. Speeding highway travel puts my nerves on edge, and finally, I found a man who was willing to travel the roads less wandered with me (metaphor intended). A few weeks ago, driving back from a visit with friends East, we climbed intense mountain passes, and felt the isolation in those forgotten towns nestled in the hills. It was a bright, clear, sunny day, so pretty it made hearts ache. We imagined Model T-s struggling up those hills in the route’s early days, all the stops it took just get a few miles – clever roadside attractions that gave travelers some escape: hotels that looked liked ships, fairytale creatures hidden among the trees in someone’s yard, with signs made clear no trespassing.
Filed under: Vintage Photo Album | Tags: 1910s, groups, lost moments, vintage photography
In July, I took a photobook workshop at the Carnegie Museum taught by photographers Melissa Catanese and Ed Panar of Spaces Corners. I wanted to learn more about editing my photography into book form, but when Melissa and Ed pointed out that the act of editing is also a creative act, I started looking through my vintage photos, thinking of ways to categorize them and tell stories. Each time Jeff and I go junk shopping now, I’m not only looking for vintage photos that catch my eye, but also photos that continue the stories in my existing collection. This series captures the different ways people come together to celebrate a moment: whether formal, as in the dancers above, or something fun (and a little strange), like the hay climbers below, posing with a group of friends and family indicates an occasion that demands remembrance. As the photos get passed down through generations, then lost among flea market bins, that momentous occasion becomes a mystery, leaving us to piece together the clues of who they are and what happened long ago.