This summer has been a mostly lost cause due to COVID, so I’m taking some solace in photos from last summer....

The art of family photography is something I have always been fascinated with (Sally Mann being my photo hero) and something that my Dad was particularly good at. Our photo albums are filled with impromptu photo shoots of me as a kid doing all sorts of things - pretending to talk on the phone, wearing silly hats, playing with my shadow, etc. Those photos have always felt so precious to me, and are a big reason that the work of Shin Noguchi with his daughters particularly resonated with me. 

Shin began taking photos of his daughters after his father passed away and he discovered a cash of previously unseen childhood photos of himself shot by his mother. "They show me such beautiful moments, I think it’s a gift, the gift of beautiful moment they gave, these extreme gifts appear in front of me, I can’t help but catch them," Shin says on his website. 

The photos are charming, sweet and poignant, capturing a magical childhood. Here are some of my favorites:

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I got back a few rolls that I had sent to the lab for processing. A couple feature my family dog Gus who just recently passed away, so they were bittersweet to look at (check out that dopey grin - heartbreaker). 

I'm working on a floral series so I'm hoarding those photos until I'm ready to show it as a body of work - just know that I'm withholding some good stuff, but you'll see it soon!

and a picture of me even! 

Yayoi Kusama at the Seattle Art Museum

I'm sure if you're on Instagram you've at least seen someone posing in a room full of mirrors and dots, or heard the name Yayoi Kusama recently. I first encountered her work in college, when I had a work study project hanging art posters in a wing of the art department. Her poster was striking - an image of the artist lying naked covered in polka dots. And many years later, her themes have only intensified. 

Getting tickets to the show at the Seattle Art Museum was something I had given up on from the get go - they sold out so quickly that there seemed to be no point in trying. But as luck would have it, I happened upon an announcement on Facebook from SAM releasing more tickets. After 40 minutes of battling with the crashing web page and constant refreshing, two tickets were mine! And even luckier, my Seattle friend Jenessa was available to go with me. 

One thing to be prepared for if you attend this show is the amount of time you'll be waiting in lines. The exhibit is made up of several "infinity rooms" which are timed at 20-30 seconds each. And they really mean 20-30 seconds, there's a gallery attendant with a stop watch outside each one! Entering each room is a sensory overload and you definitely have to get your camera ready if you want to capture some images in your 20-second allowance. We lucked out with a tip from the gallery attendant at the first room we visited, who clued us in on a "single rider" line for the Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity room (shown in the first picture). The line for that room was ridiculously long but if we went alone and allowed ourselves to be tagged on to another group, we could skip the line. This saved us SO MUCH time. This was my favorite room of them all and I wish I could have experienced it again but by the time we'd done them all, even the single rider line was long. 

The experience of being in these rooms was magical. Some felt intense and chaotic while others were calming and womb-like. Some of the rooms you physically entered and some you were only able to look into (like the one above). The show culminated with The Obliteration Room, where we were given a sheet of stickers to help obliterate the white space in the room. 

While the experience of each room was mind blowing, what really got me emotional was a 20-minute interview video with Yayoi Kusama where she talked about her inspiration and meaning behind her work. She said that the infinity rooms with their endless mirrors represented her "ever-expanding hope" in the future. This kind of optimistic work was such a breath of fresh air for me. In these current times, when so many situations seem dire, having a joyful and colorful participatory art show like this is uplifting and courageous. 

If you get the chance to experience this show, please go. And Instagram it all with no shame - it's what Kusama wants!

I wanted to share a couple of photos from some rolls of film I got developed recently. I have an ongoing love affair with medium format film (or 120 as I usually call it). Bigger than 35mm and square, it seems to capture the depth and detail I'm looking for in my photos. I shoot with a Yashica D twin lens camera (which you can see here) and it's the love of my life. Seriously, I would save it out of a burning building kind of love. I shot one roll of Lomochrome Purple (another firm favorite - more to come with this soon!), a roll of Kodak Portra 400, and a roll of Ilford black and white. Big shout out to Old School Photo Lab for developing and scanning these - I've had some issues with some labs in the past and feel like I finally found a trustworthy team to send my film to! I'm holding onto one special photo from this batch for another post - thinking about doing my first series in quite awhile. I've been shying away from bodies of work since college but I think I finally have something I want to work on...more soon! 

Whidbey Island is and will always be a special place to me. It's where I grew up and where my father still lives. I went up to visit him over a long weekend and couldn't resist the pull to visit one of my favorite places: Fort Casey.

Fort Casey was an operating military fort guarding Admiralty Inlet in the late 1890s. It's part of a trio with Fort Warden and Fort Flagler and was built to prevent an attack by sea that never came. The fort's artillery was made obsolete almost instantly with the first deployment of military aircraft around 1903 that made the fort vulnerable to air attack. I always sort of find this charming - the fort was manned by soldiers who never saw a fight and subsequently just hung around. I had a job for a little while digitizing historical photos at the Island County Historical Museum and I got to see a ton of photos from the fort's active days. One of my favorites showed a huge baking operation with a baker surrounded by loaves of bread. Most of the photos are of smiling men standing around tents or using radio equipment to communicate with other forts.

Today the fort has been converted into a giant park and people come to camp and play here no matter the weather. You can explore the bunkers, most of which are empty and in various states of decay, leaking lime. Kids loves to run around the fort screaming and hearing their own echoes reverberating through the cavernous structure. You can climb on top of the fort for an amazing view of the Keystone ferry making its run from Coupeville to Port Townsend and of the mainland across the Puget Sound. Sometimes you can see barges or whales crossing through.

This place has always had an appeal for me. I feel calm at Fort Casey. Especially on gray winter days, when the summer crowds are nowhere to be found, it gets so quiet here. You can sit and listen to the wind pass through the grasses and into the empty rooms and it makes everything rolling around in your mind still. Well, at least it does for me. So I keep coming back here to take photos. I've done a lot of my favorite portraits and landscapes here. I felt really lucky on this day to be there with my dad and we wandered around talking before the children and picnickers descended.