an ode to 812 university.





In June, two of the toilet stopped working--
so we had to put our hands in the back and do it ourselves.
My landlord has never answered my calls, and he never cashed my January rent
[which could be a very good or bad thing]
And there's a dog who lives downstairs and howls every morning.

It is a beautiful house, though, the type that surprises people--the crown molding and the fireplace, a nice kitchen. this is a college house? they whisper, and I nod, and laugh, and tell them, yeah, i know. 

[I don't tell them about the toilets, or the wall of outlets that don't work]

I don't care that I've never gotten a good night's sleep here, because of my allergies, I've never cared about the parking or the time a random man walked into my room at 3 a.m. [okay, cared about that one, but]

I don't care because, this has been home.

14 months here--the longest I've been anywhere, consecutively, since I went off to college at 18. Three roommates--one an old friend, one a friend of a friend, one a stranger--who welcomed me to Laramie with open arms. They invited me out, stood in our kitchen chatting, invited me for Thanksgiving. There was a surprise kegger or two, complaining about our neighbors, meeting each other's families.

Now we've gone our separate ways, though. And I am excited for my new place--a new roommate, new friends and a bedroom soaked in light. But I will never sit on the back deck and watch the sunset on the alley again, and I will never see Claire in the kitchen again, and it's another little bit of me I'm leaving behind somewhere.






early morning in the tetons








Rule #1 of capturing a Teton sunrise: assume you're not a genius.

The night before, scouting a good location at the ever popular Schwabacher Landing, I had "stumbled across" a quiet little inlet, a marshy spot, that was nearly empty in the fading light. I puffed up my chest, and when my mom returned, bragged to her about it. "I think it's the perfect spot," I told her.

The next morning, we arrived at the landing before the sun, and I wandered down the trail to the tiny little inlet--only to find it a little...crowded. Turns out, it's not exactly a *secret*--but it was still good photos.

When we left Schwabacher Landing, the sun was shining, but as we headed back to the lodge we were staying [on Jackson Lake], fog rolled in--thick, thick fog. We pulled over to the side of the road, and started snapping away. And honestly? Those photos are my favorite, proving that you don't have to take the road most traveled [even if you THINK it's the road less traveled] to get the most beautiful photos.



The Abandoned Downtown of Shoshoni, WY









I've said it time and time again--A family vacation [with my family, anyways] isn't complete until we've stopped on the side of the road to explore something abandoned. [example: 1, 2.] I should get it embroidered on a pillow or something.

When I drove through Shoshoni on my way to Thermopolis, I fell in love with its tired facade and ramshackle buildings immediately.  The strange thing, however, was that because it sits at the crossroads of two highways, it's fairly well traveled and the roads are busy.  There's a gas station on the corner whose parking lot is constantly bursting at the seams, as vehicles with license plates from all over the country attempt to navigate in between large camper vans.

Originally, I had my heart set on stopping at the abandoned motel [second picture], but as we drove through after going to Lander we were all tired + hot, ready to get back to the hotel. "Let's just go a little further, though," one of my parents suggested, so we passed the turn we were supposed to take--and found the 'downtown, ' jutting off the main highway.

On either side, there were half a dozen buildings or so--boarded up, falling down stores on a wide street that was once well tread, ending at the train tracks. Grass was growing through the cracks in the sidewalk; the white paint was peeling. The only operating business still left was the "Silver Sage Saloon" [which, later, I found out is a great place to stop for a beer!]

Every building had murals of Native Americans, ranging in their skill from beautiful to cartoonish [and fairly offensive] painted across their closed facades. It was so quiet--in the 10 or 15 minutes that we wandered around, we didn't see a soul.

It's places like these that make my mind wander. Shoshoni is still home to 500 odd people--at its height, it only had 800--but the downtown is abandoned, derelict, decimated. What was it like, when the storefronts were open? When families walked down the sidewalks, when the bar was filled with patrons--the train rumbling by, the houses neatly painted? Was it ever like that?

Even now, a month out, these questions still rattle around my brain. Maybe I'll have to go back.






Lander







If there's a hidden gem in Wyoming, and if that hidden gem isn't Laramie--well, it's Lander.

Surrounded by green fields and ranches, right after a tiny little town called Hudson, it's an old fashioned sort of place. The downtown is one long main street, old facades painted in different colors, with trims and tidings of salmons and yellows and bright blues. It has outdoor equipment stores, restaurants, and even a little movie theater. 

We started off our day by driving to Sinks Canyon State Park, where we hiked up to the falls. It's a 1.5 mile hike, which was perfect for my family and I--especially since they were still acclimating to the mile high altitude. The path wasn't very steep, and was dotted with wildflowers + small rocks. At the top, across a small chasm, a waterfall crashed, angry and fierce, down the rocks--since it was June, the river was at its highest point of the year. 

After our hike, we headed to the Gannett Grill, where we ate burgers + drank beer and sat in the shade--sunburned, tired, hungry, but happy. 




Thermopolis














It takes me four hours, seven bathroom trips, and one wrong turn--but on the first day of my vacation, I find myself pulling into Thermopolis--county seat of aptly named Hot Springs County, population 3,000, and home to Hot Springs State Park. [noticing a trend, here?] 

I'm meeting my family for an epic[ish] seven day road trip through the state that starts here, in a small town accessed through a canyon, a small town with craggy, red rock dirt landscapes, a small town with a row of shops and a handful of local stores. 

Thermopolis is much cooler than I had initially anticipated, in a very 'quaint but slightly tired' sort of feeling. From the small, family owned supermarket to the ice cream + fast food stand connected to a mini golf course, to the 'washeteria' with brown wood paneling and yellow machines, there is a whiff of days gone by wafting through the town. 

Hot Springs State Park is no exception to this, either. Many of the hotels are located in the park proper and have their own hot springs hot tubs, including our hotel--and we spend a lot of time there, soaking in the sulfur water--but there are also bathhouses built on the springs, some complete with pools and water slides. 

It's a sunny afternoon when I arrived, and my father and I wander around the park, peeking into and around the back of these old bathhouses. While there are some clouds in the sky, the sun is still high overhead, giving everything that washed out, harsh colors sort of look that makes everything look like a fifties photograph. We walk across a boardwalk that floats over the hot springs, learning about the process, and standon a suspension bridge, jumping so that the bridge will sway. The river is high, a muddy tan that has flooded parking spaces and taken parts of a walking path underwater--typical June, in Wyoming. 

The next day, we drive up to the top of the park, where buffalo roam on the side of the road. From there, we can see the entire town, spread below us, and the hills around it--the deep gouges in the earth that looked like veins, cut into the hills. And so, we sit, still, watching the golden light slowly reach the furthest corners of the landscape. 






we went on a road trip [preview]






We went on a road trip, last week--up through the red rocks of Thermopolis, to flower covered rocky paths of Lander, to the craggy peaks of the Tetons. It was beautiful, and I can't wait to share my words + pictures with you--but for now, please enjoy some disconnected little snaps of the state. 

more soon // 


life in laramie vi.








i.

I listen, obsessively, to Arcade Fire as I drive around town, looking for features. The Suburbs was a life changing album, sure, but these days, Funeral, with its dystopian imaginings, seems more on point--and when Regine sings "My family tree's // Losing all its leaves", well, my heart constricts. 

ii. 

I'm getting restless again, but it's a different type than I'm used to. The dreams of Europe are still there, but they take a backseat to the allure of an open road. Of tiny American towns on dead end dirt roads, open plains and dust, sunburns, mountains--the music of Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Pokey La Farge. I wanna be like Jack Kerouac [albeit less drunk], broke and drifting through the cities spread across the US, writing + photographing about everything I see. 

Jack Kerouac didn't have 570 dollars worth of minimum monthly payments for his student loans, though. 

iii. 

things keep getting better and better and i don't know why, and secretly, deep down inside, i keep waiting for the sourness to come back.

photography ii. // composition + "seeing it"

hiya friends!

I'm excited to bring you the second part of the photography series [for an introduction, click here]. Before I delve into inspiration + different types of photography, I wanted to take a minute to talk a little bit about composition first. It's the only skill I'm going to go over that sort of crosses into the technical side of photo, but I think it's really, really important.

Composition is something that makes or breaks a photo--you can have all the settings correct, be in a beautiful location, there's a sun setting, etc. etc. etc., but if you don't take a second and set up your photo, think about it before taking it....when you look at it later, something will be off.

The biggest thing to remember about composition is the rule of thirds--setting up a photo like there's a three by three grid over the scene



My favorite video tutorial about the rule of thirds is this one, which does a great job showing different ways to use that grid, as well as the importance of strong lines in your photos. 

The more you shoot, the more you look to set up a shot, for strong lines and patterns, AND, also, break the rules that I just mentioned. 

Below, I have a couple of photos I took of a homestead // ranch recently--when I looked through them, I was struck by the lines // composition--check it out. 



half + half sort of photo--with something taking up the bottom or top of a frame--is always good, especially for instagram. 


recently, i've been playing with shooting through things--using objects, or people, to frame subjects. it wasn't exactly an a+ job here [ideally, the fence would frame the cows], but it creates nice lines, especially here where the fence is both brown AND black 


putting something in the middle of a frame--another instagram inspired sort of composition 


i used the lake and mountains, here, to create a horizontal thirds, with claire to break it up. 


here, i used the porch of one house to frame another one--it draws your eye immediately towards the second house, and the porch supports, combined with the horizon, makes a nice little grid, of sorts. 


more framing. one of the things that i like about this photo is that the fence with the thin, little lines [and the mountains] are framed by the bigger fence slats, which looks really nice to me. 
 

this is one of my favorite photos. while it's super simple, there are so many lines here--diagonal ones on the left, then straight ones, and then the fence that leads out to the horizon. it's so nice, and would have made a great set up for a subject. 


another simple one that i think works really well. you've got the rule of thirds going horizontal, and there's kind of a vertical rule of thirds there as well--add the fence, and the cisterns going different ways, and it's an interesting composition. my favorite part, however, is the ladder going diagonal on the lefthand side--it's an unexpected little detail that adds to the scene. 

One of the things that I've learned over time is that the more you shoot, the more you "see" composition--the more your eyes become trained to find symmetry + patterns, and the more you think about it--both unconsciously [setting up a rule of thirds, aesthetically pleasing sort of shot] and consciously [moving around, trying to break rules, shooting something differently]. It takes time, but once you can 'see it'? It's a superpower. Use it wisely. 

thanks for reading, friends! part three up soon 


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