2016 | ch- ch- ch- changes

favorite photos from 2016 // canon 5d + 6d 

On paper, 2016 was a perfect year.

I started the year with no idea what I wanted to do with my life--figured out I wanted to be a photojournalist in March, graduated in May, and started my first job as a newspaper photographer in June. I moved to Wyoming--WYOMING, guys. I flew to Atlanta and Phoenix, swung by New York City twice, and road tripped cross-country. And, in my professional life, things were just as good, because I had opportunity after opportunity presented to me--opportunities I probably didn't deserve. I covered two presidential candidates, two division i playoffs, two rodeos, and a ground-breaking protest.

In reality though, 2016 was a little bit of a mess. Things fell apart. I graduated college, and left everyone. I moved to Wyoming and got a job and became an adult and spent a lot of time trying to keep a stiff upper lip. Donald Trump got elected. I cried a lot.

It was a good year, (a really long year), overall, but it was one of constant change, constant new-ness. 2016 felt, for the most part, like navigating a small ship in stormy seas--but now, here I am, on the edge of the storm, and the skies are clearing, and I've got a warm feeling about 2017. Thanks for reading, friends. See you in the new year.

cross country road trip: part two

see part one, here. 

It all goes wrong in Des Moines.

Back on the highway, burgers in our bellies, we miss the turn-off for I 80. Well, Ma says, We did want to take the back roads for part of the trip, anyways, and so we map out a way to take state highways to Sioux Falls where we'll stay for the night. It will be a long few hours, but we're both eager to see little midwestern towns, with white steepled churches and little schools and cute downtown diners, the stuff you see in movies, anyways.

Except, we never see that.

For hours, we drive on flat, endless highways through cornfields--empty landscapes, unchanging for miles. We hardly see any cars; the only sign of civilization are the long driveways and black mailboxes, every mile or so. We almost run out of gas, and stop in one of the few towns we see--Early, population 557 (one of the bigger towns, actually).

At the crossroads of a highway, we pull into a parking lot, the wind whipping the doors closed as we jump out to cautiously circle around an abandoned motel. The doors are bolted shut, but I can see into it, and Ma and I get into our usual argument--I'm going to go in! Not over my dead body, Shannon Cathleen. 

Hours later, and we're still driving through the deserted back highways of Northwestern Iowa, seemingly nowhere near Sioux Falls. We are both cranky; Ma has me pull over because I'm driving too fast, and she's going to lose her mind if I continue.

We pull into Sioux Falls near nightfall, and rush to a Panera before it closes. It's one of the ugliest cities I've ever seen, nothing but busy roads and rushing, and we head back to the hotel to console ourselves with wine and broccoli cheddar soup, because We Are Tired Of This. We're eager to get to the next part of the trip--The Badlands, and then straight through to Wyoming--and, so, Sioux Falls gets no love.

(to be continued) 

cross-country road trip: part one.

photos + words from my drive cross-country, from Massachusetts to Wyoming, in June. part one of four. 

America is so flat. 

Well, not all of it. But so much of the countryside—endless countryside, which I see outside the car window for days on end—is so goddamn flat. 

It seems funny to say, sad to admit, but I’ve never driven west of Pennsylvania. 22 years in this country, and I’ve hardly stepped foot out of New England—so when we get past Erie, and swing into Cleveland, my nose is pressed up against the glass. Now, the adventure has begun. 

We pass through Ohio in a torturous drive, hours upon hours upon hours of non-descript countryside and endless highways. Indiana flies by in a similar fashion. At one point, starving, we swing up into a tiny town in Michigan, where see a car accident on an empty road and eat McDonald’s in a fancy joint, rain spattering the windows. 

West of Chicago is where everything changes. The scenery is no longer anything remotely recognizable—all of a sudden, it’s flat. And rural. And green. There are barns, and silos, and teensy tiny houses set all the way back in big green fields. 

We cross into Iowa in the middle of a storm. On one side of the highway, the clouds are ominous, black almost—on the other, pieces of sunlight shine through clouds. Mom puts on the Christian radio station—we’ve listened to every station at this point, and something about it seems right. 

In Davenport, we drive into the city and stop at the Mississippi. It’s still raining, a little, and we stare at the sheer width of the river, and ma mutters that she hopes she doesn’t have to drive across it. 

Both of us fall in love with Davenport, spending a couple of days driving around before we leave. By the river, there are bluffs, with falling-down mansions, huge, impressive painted lady Victorians with views to die for. On our way out, we stop at a supermarket in a run-down area for bottles of water and snacks, and we see a different side to the city that’s so impressive and beautiful by the river. 

That day, we stop in Des Moines for lunch. I had read about the city, how it’s ‘the next great city’, and we eat burgers at a zombie-themed restaurant. The neighborhood we’re in, downtown, is hipster, but it’s also strange to me. I’m used to downtown neighborhoods being crowded, narrow little one-way streets teeming with people and cars, where you have to sacrifice your first-born child for a parking spot. In comparison, this place is empty—wide streets, ample parking, buildings new and spread kind of far apart, for city standards, a couple of vacant lots. This is what Western cities look like, I will soon find out, but for now, I’m just intrigued. 

[to be continued]

hump-day reading i.

seen on south adams street 

Happy Wednesday, friends! Here are some cool things to read: 

+ A gut-wrenching, stomach-turning, devastating, incredible photo essay on the antidrug campaign in the Philippines (warning: graphic)

+ I needed these words of encouragement, today. 

+ Screaming over this Saturday Night Live skit--if it weren't for the political sketches, would they even need the men? ??? The women on this show are hilarious. 

+ I really like this song, and I consider this one my anthem. 

What are you reading?

life in laramie iii.

There is a sense of stability here, that I have never encountered before. The next year and a half lay out in front of me the way highways disappear into the horizon, here--seemingly never-ending, far off into the distance. My days have a routine to them. I drive the same roads, see the same trees, go to the gym, sit in my little room with my desk and bed and books. I am content, not lonely or despondent or sad, but then again, not incredibly, overwhelmingly, ecstatically happy, either. It's just a quiet, stable, content-ness that I am starting to associate with Being An Adult.

I string for AP during a football game that Wyoming isn't supposed to win--but they do, in a stunning two point upset, and so when the game ends, I hoist my lens behind my neck and run onto the field, shooting with my camera the entire time. The crowd is its own beast, moving and swaying and pulsing, and I'm in the middle of it, taking photos, and oh man, I love my job.

The next day, my photos are on websites across the country, and it's both A Big Deal and Not A Big Deal At All at the same time. This is what I do now, after all.

I worry that I'm growing up too fast. That my life doesn't have enough falling-down furniture or Christmas lights, or feet stomping down the street late at night. I see it all in film photos, marching up and down my walls, but there aren't any photos, because those things aren't happening. Sure, there are parties, and quiet moments, but it's not the same. There are times when all I want to be is irresponsible, young, full of quick feelings and adventures, and I'm terrified that it's slipping away.

It was one a.m., twice, and me and another photographer took advantage of it, eating Mexican in the only 24 hour eatery in Laramie, pleather booths and idle conversation, and isn't that what being 22 is about~

thoughts // on the election

taken in Keene, NH during the Feb. primary

I'm not going to tell you who I'm going to vote for, because I am a journalist first and foremost, and therefore try to keep an unbiased facade, and my political views private. But I will say this--

My entire life, I've been raised on a steady diet of girl power, taught that women could do anything men could do. But when I enter the voting booth tomorrow, I will finally have the choice of whether or not I want to vote for a man or a woman for the highest office in the United States. For the first time in history, there is a woman on the ballot for president.

And that is to be celebrated. That is to be shouted from the rooftop. That is to be appreciated. White women earned the right to vote in 1920--all women earned the right to vote in 1965. It took 50 years, but there is a woman on the ballot.

Regardless of who you vote for, I urge my fellow Americans to take a moment and pause at your polling place to remember all of the women in your life--strong, nasty women--who didn't have the opportunity to vote for a woman, who didn't have that choice. Think of your grandmothers and great-grandmothers--think of your great, great grandmothers who may have not even had the opportunity to step into those little booths.

 I hope that my daughters, and my granddaughters, (and, hell, my sons and grandsons, too) take the notion of female presidential candidates for granted. I hope they glance dismissively at that form and don't take gender into account--I hope whether or not someone is male or female, black or white, gay or straight, jewish or muslim or catholic or atheist doesn't even phase them.

This is a historic election, friends. Another pane in the glass ceiling has been shattered; progress has been made. And no matter who you support, that is so, so exciting.

[also go vote!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!]

Colorado | A Day in Fort Collins

Fort Collins, oh Fort Collins, you sweet, beautiful metropolis of things. I love you so dearly. 

Moving to Wyoming after a lifetime in the suburban sprawl was a wake-up call for a million different reason that I'm not going to get into here--but I will say that one of the hardest things was the lack of, well, conveniences. 

There is no Target in Laramie. No Dunkin' Donuts, either--and only one clothing store. Which doesn't sound too bad, until you realize that the closest mall is a 45 minute drive (and it's not even a very big mall, either). And, sure, I do fine without them, but it also means I get really excited when I do see them. 

Fort Collins, which is an hour away, has a Target, and an Old Navy, and an H and M, and a Dunkin' Donuts, AND a Trader Joe's. It's spectacular. I may or may not have cried when I first visited this summer. 

The past two times I've visited, I came solely to shop, tight on time--but when my dad came, we took our time to explore the downtown, which is downright adorable. Since Fort Collins is home to Colorado State, there's plenty of good places to eat and shop--we went to Austin's and had some bomb sandwiches, and looked for souvenirs for my mom and sister. Hopefully, I'll be back once more before the snow closes the roads out of town to do some more exploring....(and Target // Trader Joe's shopping too, of course). 

Albany County Adventures

highway 11 // october 2016 

Dad came to visit a couple of weeks ago, and we pulled over on the side of the road to feed these horses while adventuring through the county--a quiet, beautiful little moment. 

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