Photographer. Writer. People lover 💁 // Sharing stories of our common humanity through travel & the underrepresented 🏳️🌈
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Last night I attended a monthly dinner series for a diverse group of queers. The theme for the night was affection - a term that is often complicated when you learn to love later in life. We constantly circled back to affection in friendships. In high school, before I was out, friends were my only outlet for my affection. We would lie in piles on the beach and fall asleep with heads on shoulders. Despite opening myself up to romantic relationships, as an adult, I find a freedom in affection for friends that is hard to find elsewhere. It is affection without consequence or worry or stakes. It is “I love you” without a need to hear it back. It is sending links to endless articles and memes and not caring if they respond. It is traveling on a train, exhausted, and letting yourself get lost in the need to be alone, together. // // // Continuing the conversation here ... How do you define affection in your varied relationships?? // // // this image is a detail, swipe to see the full frame
Autumn is an event in Japan unlike anything I have seen before. Endless lines of locals walk patiently through the trees, snapping portraits of little dogs and families and friends and bridges and shrines. It is a spectacle of joy and color. I spent three weeks in Japan last November, during peak autumn. It was the #1 place on my bucket list, and it lived up to and surpassed every expectation I had. It is the first place I’ve visited that, upon arrival home, I immediately wanted to return
There are two art islands in southwest Japan: Naoshima & Teshima. Two pieces of land with one unified purpose. To wow, intrigue, question, humor. There's a vaulted room with three Monets, where visitors are asked to wear soft slippers before entering the room. On a few cement docks, Yayoi Kasuma's giant spotted pumpkins are sitting squat, next to the ocean. There's a secluded modern building on the coast where a woman sits in a white coat, waiting for people to arrive and record their heartbeat. After a while, everything begins to look like art. Is that boat wreck on the beach an installation? Are those stray cats a performance? It is a mindset I'd like to hold onto.
I am so grateful to be included in National Geographic’s “Best Photos of the Year” list for the second year in a row! You can check my story for the chosen image, and the link to the full gallery. This post is an individual portrait/outtake from the same shoot ... I also want to take a moment to say... having 2 features in the pages of @natgeo and @natgeotravel has been a dream come true. Especially since I was trusted to include my essays alongside the images. My path towards a career in photography was essentially decided when I attended a lecture by Nat Geo photographer @mattiasklumofficial in high school. At the time, I never dreamed people would be keen to follow the stories I yearned to share. For all of you out there who support my work, thanks for being an open eye and ear I appreciate you more than I can say.
The Eastern Indigo Snake is an endangered species, and the southern US ecosystem would deteriorate without it. At the Orianne Center for Indigo Conservation, they’ve set a goal to release 60 snakes into the wild every year for ten years. Their breeding program includes naturalistic outdoor enclosures that help the adult snakes assimilate from captivity into the wild. In this image, one of the conservationists holds an adult Indigo in the sun to showcase her iridescent scales. Before they were endangered, Indigos were an incredibly popular pet. They’ve got cute little faces and are extremely docile around humans. They’re also nonvenomous, and grow to be quite large. Fun fact - the Center is funded by the Central Florida Zoo ( @centralflzoo ). If you’re in the area, your patronage will support important conservation programs like this one!
I traveled to Miami with @tbrandstudio to document Chef Niven Patel’s process for making a few delicious Indian desserts at his restaurant: Ghee Indian Kitchen. He is known for sourcing ingredients (literally) from a farm in his backyard. One week before we arrived, Irma passed over and destroyed most of his local crop. Luckily we were able to work with what was left to showcase how quickly Niven and his restaurant were back on their feet. Hope you enjoy! (swipe for more)
Tomorrow I head to Japan with @sashafoto until 12/5. This will be the longest trip I’ve taken outside of my walk on the Camino. I’ve wanted to see Japan for over a decade, and I am so thankful we’ll have enough time to explore at a slow pace. Now I’ve gotta get through the 14-hour flight
'Safe Space' has, strangely, become a buzzword. Every August I escape to 'Camp' Camp ( @campcampbte ), a weeklong summer camp for 250 LGBT adults. Ages range from 20's to 60's and it is a rare opportunity for intergenerational connection within our community. People ask me why queer spaces (bars, festivals, camps) are important. I often present this thought experiment to my straight friends: Imagine everywhere you went was gay. Every book you were told to read, every movie you saw in the theater, every couple you ever saw holding hands. Every bar, parade, coffee shop, mall. Gay, Gay, G-g-gay. Would you feel a little out of touch? Like it's nice, but you just can't relate? That's the world I live in, except everything is straight. At Camp, I have six full days where I can be my truest self. No checking my voice. No stiffening my walk. No second guessing myself before talking about my love life. I am finally free. On Thursday, 'Camp' Camp hosts the Tea Dance and rolls out the red carpet. It's basically a gay Halloween party. Everyone crafts their best lewk and walks the runway, ending the showcase in an all night dance party. Over the past four years I have been a part of cabin RuPaul, a small home where drag is the norm, and our newbies often try it for the first time. This year I took Polaroid portraits. Hope you enjoy this peek into my Wonderland.
Hey everyone! I am super excited to be a portfolio reviewer at next year's @collectivequarterly Portfolio Showcase. There's a lot of information below. Let me know if you have any questions! Applications are now open~
This annual showcase takes place in late March at Montana's @chico_hot_springs Resort. Alongside directors from TIME, Conde Nast Traveler, Out Magazine, Entrepreneur, and ESPN, we walk through attendees' portfolios, hear lectures from an all-star panel of speakers, and network over beers at the saloon. The trip connects photographers and visual artists to some of the most experienced minds working in visual art today.
Speaking this year: @paulmoakley @toddhido @_calebbennett @greggarry @melissa_catanese @edpanar @nataliekeyssar
This is for working photographers and visual artists who want to connect with the industry professionals who hold the keys to the next chapter of their careers.
Application process is competitive and requires a portfolio submission. Check out @collectivequarterly for the relevant links!
Photo by @jesselenz
Today I survived another circle ‘round the sun. I see my birthday as a chance to step back and give my life a checkup. What relationships have formed and fallen? What goals have been achieved and what others seem miles away? What days were my happiest? What work fulfilled me the most? Adjusting daily habits, and friendships, and love doesn’t happen all at once, but I find writing it down gives me a little push in the right direction. My birthday is always slower than any other day. I don’t rush to wake up, or stretch, or shower. I let all of my daily routines last for as long as it can, and I feel the morning unfold into the afternoon. This year was a big one. Too many close friends moved away. I fell (deeply) in love. Work and weddings and distant friends took me on the road 45% of the time. I attempted to eat every scone in Scotland, and discovered a part of Portugal I didn’t know existed. I realized RuPaul’s Drag Race is the gay NFL and have celebrated the community endlessly. I (did not) eat all the cheese in this photo because I am lactose intolerant, and this is just a random image that kind of related to these thoughts. But! I hope the next year is brighter for the marginalized in the USA, and that my work will contribute to that shift. I hope to strengthen my community and drop deeper roots in this little artist hub of Brooklyn. I also hope to take better care of myself and buy time, not things.
Sunlight is scarce in the Financial District. It was built before zoning laws limited buildings from turning streets into lightless canyons. I have always loved how this creates dramatic slices and shapes of harsh sunlight, and I always dreamed of working with dancers to highlight this phenomenon. Luckily, two of my best friends ( @sam_and_brian ) are always willing to help bring my vision to life.
Life on Squashington Farm is meditative. The old house sits on a ridge that clears the air for the morning and evening light. Breakfast is made with eggs from the chickens out back, and Butternut (the farm dog seen here) is often itching to go for a morning run. After a good sprint, she plays with her volleyball and often disappears into the sea of tomato vines. There are distant sounds from neighboring cows, and the occasional hum of a pickup truck. Hours slip away as we dig for potatoes, snip the squash, and sort through the carrots.
Walking by the port, I saw this dog swimming in circles and then diving down to the inlet floor. After snapping a few photos, his owner walked up to me and told this surprising story: Bodie is a border collie that has lived on a sailboat for over a year. His owners decided to travel the world, but they knew Bodie would need constant exercise during the trip. Border collies are extremely active and, instead of playing fetch and running, they taught him to dive for a small piece of yellow rope. At that point, I noticed the yellow in the darkness below and understood why Bodie looked a little frustrated. “This area is deeper than I thought,” his owner said.