• How To Travel Across America in 10 Days

    Ten days in ten states. Technically eleven, if you count my stressful layover in Minneapolis, where the lovely women at the gate told me to come back in thirty minutes to see if I was to get a seat because, "there's a bit of a situation right now.."


    A half hour and one large beer later, I was waiting back in line when out of the corner of my eye, I spot a folding table being set up and the smell of delicious pizza wafted on over in my direction. Minneapolis' airport felt so bad about over-booking the flight to Seattle that they were giving away an INSANE amount of pizza. So, grabbing a slice as well as the very last ticket in the middle seat of the final row, I was ready to board.

    Day 1: Seattle, WA

    One of the cleanest cities I've ever been to. Everything is very modern, community gardens are very popular, and of course, the coffee is great. I was introduced to my very first toddy, aka not the alcoholic hot toddy, but cold brew coffee. The process of using cold water ends up creating a flavorful, concentrated coffee much less acidic than regular, hot brewed coffee.

    Our official roadtrip beer. 
    Day 2: Olympia, WA

    My cousin's stomping grounds for 4-5 years while he attended school. This one was fun because not only did I have a personal tour guide, but I was able to get a thrifted leather jacket as smooth as butter for $40. Not my cheapest of finds, but it fit so well I couldn't pass it up.

    Salem, OR

    Bypassing Portland for sake of timing, we headed on down to Salem to spend the night on his buddy's farm. Surrounded by vineyards and farmland was definitely not what I expected from this place at all. Wineries were aplenty when we checked the map.

    Day 3: The Pacific Coast Highway & Redwoods

    Speeding down the Pacific Coast highway whilst trying to stop at every beautiful spot along the way to drink it all in brought us to the Redwood Forest with about a half hour of daylight left, struggling to filter through the dense trees. We did the part before the more-traveled piece between San Francisco and Los Angeles, but the views were still just as stunning with half the amount of cars wedged into the scenic overlook parking lots.

    Day 4: San Francisco

    We were able to take a quick detour through to Battery Spencer to really get a good look at the bridge. And boy was it wiiiiiindy!

    Day 5: Los Angeles to Phoenix

    Big day of travel over here. Drove two hours into the heart of LA traffic. Stopped to see an old friend of mine near Manhattan beach for some good food and great beers, we made the long haul trek to Phoenix, AZ. There we were greeted by the friendliest dog and his owner & company where I promptly fell asleep in a hammock outside. It was perfect.

    Day 6: Sunsets in New Mexico

    This deserves its own post and I cannot wait to share it. It was one of the only states we didn't stay in, yet left the biggest impact on me. I can see why people brag about the sunsets here, it was unlike anything I've ever experienced.

    Check out the other self portrait I had all of about five minutes to do over here.
    Day 7: Texas

    San Antonio, Texas

    This place was packed on a Friday night with tourists, but the Riverwalk is where it was at for some Tex-Mex and hearty margaritas. We quickly discovered that the better places are always the ones tucked away, up the stairs and off the street.


    Day 8: New Orleans

    Cheap drinks and swing dancing is all I'm going to say for now. That, and this place has to be one of the more unique places I've ever visited with it's brightly painted houses sitting next to completely dilapidated homes. That, and the stores that are grocery store on the bottom and party stores on the top, shelves stuffed with beads and feather boas.

    Day 9:  Walking around NOLA & Tallahassee-

    The culture is vibrant in New Orleans and the air of the place screams, "we do what we want" here and Tallahassee surprised me in the most pleasant way possible with its abundance of old oak trees covered in Spanish moss and thriving music scene.

    NewOrleansThriftStorebyTravelSavage New Orleans had some crazy cool thrift stores.

    Day 10- Jacksonville, Florida

    We ended our road trip officially by dipping our toes into the Atlantic whilst admiring the double rainbow forming. Here is where I was able to visit some familiar faces, play bingo at the bar and learning how to (finally) eat Pho. I say goodbye to Bryan & family and head back up to Connecticut.


    Final words-

    It was a whirlwind of a trip and one that makes me glad I wrote every insignificant detail down just so I could keep track of the days, because boy, do they start to blend together after awhile. Would I do it again with only ten days to spare? Absolutely not. You forget how much time will be spent stopping for bathroom breaks, food, gas, and actually seeing things. I was glad to see parts of the United States I had never laid eyes upon before, but I think next time I'll double the days needed. At the very least.

  • I Almost Started Crying on the Side of the Road in New Mexico

    Cruising through New Mexico, a place I assumed there wouldn't be much to look at as the flat fields rolled by, the mountains in the distace just barely making an impression. We needed to make it to El Paso by nightfall, so there wasn't much time to check out some of the gorgeous White Sands, or much of anything really. We were on a mission, but one that did not account for what became single most beautiful moment of the entire trip, a New Mexico sunset. 

    And boy, did we get just that.

    My head was buried in my travel journal, attempting to write down each and every detail from the night before in Phoenix, when Bryan called attention to the sky. Looking up, the shades of pink faded to orange and finally to yellow, kissing the top of the now-purple mountains. I was stunned. We drove through landscapes transformed into hues of bright blue and purple, mountain passes erupting with color on each side of the road. The main event was directly behind it and neither of us could keep our eyes on the road while we kept stealing glances in the rearview mirror. 

    I was stunned. Never before had I seen so many colors, changing so very rapidly. They filled up 2/3rds of the sky, surrounding me with soft pastels and neon hues that looked as if someone took a match to the sky and set the world on fire. Those scrubby, flat lands I merely glanced at before allowed one to have the perfect, unobstructed view of this event that seemed to take about an hour from beginning to end. We quickly swerved off the road into a small breakdown lane just to be a part of the wonder that was going on in the world around us. Stepping out of the car, I felt as if I was thrown into a painting of sorts, a surreal experience one can only attempt to describe, but never capture the feeling of just being there. 

    Drinking it in for a few moments longer, I knew what I needed to do. I had yet to work up the courage to create something on the drive for my 52 Week Project, but this needed to be documented. Quickly setting up my tripod, I remembered the signs on the rest stop bathrooms indicating the area was filled with all sorts of venomous insects and creatures. This wasn't New England anymore, and my mind began to wonder if those holes in the ground near my feet were due to some furry creature, or something worse. There wasn't time to set up the proper composition, lights for fill, or even really a moment to look closely enough to see if I was going to be in focus. Bryan brushed up against something that sent him in a frenzy of itching, and we could feel the wind from the semi's passing us at 70-80 mph right near the car. Self timer, ten shots on burst. I hoped with everything in me that I got something I could use.

    The main explosion of colors had died down, the mountains began to return to a dark hue, but I was happy. Experiencing such beauty became an emotional, almost religious, experience, one that reminded me of just how beautiful America is. A place I took for granted I would be traveling through, became my favorite piece of road on this journey.

    Looking back on my geo-tag for the pictures I took on my phone, I had to laugh at the name of the town we had stopped in. Neither Bryan nor I are anything close to religious, but sometimes the universe likes to make jokes.

    Week 30 of 52- "Lordsburg, New Mexico"

    Until next time, 


  • I Got Lei'd In Hawaii- Photo Diary of 10 Days on Maui

    That was probably a bad joke, but I'm just going to run with it. 

    Bill just being Bill.

    Back in late February, one of my best friends Bill (check out his work) and I went on a 10-day excursion to a Hawaiian island. Skipping the over-hype of Big Island and the drivers that run you over in Oahu, Maui is simply one of the more beautiful places I've ever been. 

    When I first got the text from Bill that tickets were at the cheapest they've ever been, and miraculously he has family we can stay with when we go, I immediately jumped at the opportunity because to be honest, I'm not really much of a surf& sun kind of a person on my own. 

    I know what you're thinking..

    "..Wait what?"

    Black, white and tan sand in between my weird baby toes.

    So what I mean by that is, you wouldn't catch me drooling over exotic locations where the sand is white and the sun is hot because I simply prefer being surrounded by mountains with a cool breeze on my face. I decided not to go in with too many expectations and bought my ticket solely on the idea it was somewhere new and far away from what was going on in my life at the moment. I've learned you cannot run away from life, but learn how to process what is going on in a completely different environment, surrounded by a whole bunch of new people and perspectives. It ended up being exaxtly what I needed.

    But I digress.

    The plane ride(s) were from hell and I thought I was going to have to cut our trip short because my legs had become incredibly painful from sitting for so long in such a short span of time. I ended up taking a whole lot of aspirin and was left with a nasty mystery bruise on my calf and sweet cough for the duration of the trip. It was great. I made a map of all the places we ended up stopping (hint: it was only supposed to be a one-layover trip, thanks American Airlines..)


    Once we arrived on Maui, everything changed. Despite our lack of sleep and endless plane rides, the island itself was complete bliss. I don't know what it was, but the place just had me in a great mood the entire time. I absolutely loved being able to stay with people who had practically lived their entire lives on the island.

    As someone who is huge on learning about the culture and history of any place I visit, Aunt Andrea always had a story to tell behind each place we went and Aunt Cindy was quick to explain the meaning behind a lot I would have generally missed out on. The ties to the past and traditons here somewhat surprised me, Maui became less of a beach getaway and more of a place I could fully immerse myself into exploring.

    Thanks to Bill's family, we were able to have a car to cruise the island and boy did we make good use of that car, almost making a complete loop of Maui during our 10-day stay. 

    So here's a little more about our trip to the Hawaiian islands:

    What I Expected:

    1. Beaches.
    2. Grass skirts
    3. Hawaiian shirts.


What I got: 

    1.) A few (okay, A LOT) of Hawaiian shirts.

    2.) Lei'd (a real flower lei, none of those plastic flower ones!)

    3.) Beaches

    Makena Beach

    Hangin' at Hookipa Beach

    4.) Mountains-

    Exploring Iao Valley

    Somewhere along the way. 

    View from Aunt Andrea's house. Seriously.

    5.) Volcanic rock

    100% not dirt mounds and will hurt to fall on.

    La Perouse Bay

    6.) Side-of-the-road, homemade banana bread that was OUT of this world

    7.) Lessons in history, culture, and traditions of the island


    Throwing flowers into the waterfalls at Iao Valley for someone we each lost yet wanted to pay tribute to.

    8.) Most importantly, a sense of belonging. 

    Even if was only for a short while.

    I strongly recommend traveling to a place where either you or your travel companions have family, friends, college roommate, or even just someone you may have met in passing that live and breathe the place you would only scratch the surface of if you went in cold. Don't get me wrong, both methods are great for traveling as sometimes it can be better to explore a place on your own, but in this case, I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. 

    Here are a few more images for you to scroll through; I'll be posting scans from my Instax Wide camera as soon as I can get my scanner up and running again, so stay on the look out for those.

    Until next time!





  • Connor | Personal Portrait Series

    Internet, meet my baby brother (who is now taller than me, life's not fair.) Connor let me drag him into the cold studio for a few hours awhile back to work on a set of portraits that held a great deal of personality. Since I've lived with the kid for the past 16 years of his life, I figured I would be able to cajole a whole range of emotions out of him. 

    Like a perpetual wallflower watching a natural-born social butterfly, it amazes me that two people who share the same blood and last name can be so different from one another. In a way it's probably a good thing, I don't know if I could handle another me. As much fun as it has been to boss him around as a kid and ultimately pass down my wealth of useless knowledge to, I can't say he hasn't taught me a thing or two along the way.

    Taking the few hours to photograph Connor also gave me a heck of a lot of insight into my brother. As he waited patiently for me to finish setting up, I realized he was no longer the peevish younger brother I fought with on a regular basis. Somewhere along the way, he had become a fiercely protective, deeply insightful, and all-around decent human being.

    I love my brother more than words I try to type out can even begin to describe. My heart always squeezes a little in my chest when I hear him talk about something I had no idea he was so passionate about and I beam with pride whenever I get the chance to mention his best qualities to someone. Hell, I even tell people he's the better looking sibling when I'm in a particularly good mood, even though that's up for debate when we mention it to our parents. 

    Connor has a bigger heart than any other person I've met and the incredible depth of it is unfathomable to me. To be so positive when it seems all the light has left a room and to feel such kindness towards those who really don't seem to deserve it, are lessons from him I've learned without either of us realizing.

    Until next time!

  • It's Time To Talk About It

    I told myself I wouldn't. At first I found it almost inappropriate to write on a blog dedicated to photography, my professional life, and tid bits of personal information carefully added every so often. I cringed at the thought of creating anything because of it, whether it be another emotional self portrait depicting how I was feeling or post laying it all out there. Plus she would have hated that, all the attention on her. Instead, I photographed a more suitable, lighter portrait and drafted up a blurb mentioning a few new, "exciting" changes coming. Figuring I could push past this and deal with it somehow, because isn't that what you're supposed to do?

    Four days after my 21st birthday this year, one of my best friends committed suicide.

    Just writing that makes me want to stop typing and start crying.

    It's become harder than I thought to convince yourself that you will never see someone tomorrow when you can feel them all around you at that very moment. All you can do is shake it off and keep moving, I've been telling myself. Even as I've surrounded myself with friends and family, you get to a point where you just can't talk about it anymore.

    Until now, I didn't know what it meant to be all talked out about something but feel as if you hadn't even scratched the surface. It's exhausting to constantly ask yourself and be asked how you're doing, feeling each pair of eyes search your face for any sort of sign of falter, of a crack beneath the facade we so carefully have to keep together for society. You can be upset about something, to a point. Crying in public is frowned upon, I would know after I tried to keep my head down as I quickly walked past the strangers staring at the girl that couldn't seem to keep it together in Target that day. I don't remember much after hearing the words, "Jana took her own life last night", but I do remember moving away from the woman standing next to me, afraid she'd overhear me repeating the same words on the phone to my family and it would ruin her day. 

    I wanted to keep the death of a friend separate from my business. I didn't want to use it as an excuse in an email, it felt wrong to mention when client inquiries became follow ups and ultimately became lost opportunities. Life was moving along as it always does, as I felt I was too, when in reality all I had been doing was treading water in my own mind.

    It's been a few weeks and I still find myself a little agitated when I receive an irate text from a friend I hadn't responded to or a client asking for something else. Didn't they understand? Don't they know how I'm feeling, how every day has become a struggle and I feel as if I cannot breathe? Of course not, how would they? Even mutual friends that experienced the same trauma, everyone grieves and heals differently. So I kept moving forward, thinking I had to balance keeping up with work, my personal life and mending myself while racing forward with everyone else.

    I found myself sitting here tonight, head in hands becoming overwhelmed with just how much I had to do before I took off to go to Vermont for the week starting tomorrow, that it's okay to take a break. To take time for yourself, to be selfish and even a little cranky every so often. Even though the planet won't stop for you, it will be there when you're ready. Opportunities may have expired, but maybe it's for the best as this world is so vast and the possibilities are endless. 

    The unexpected death of a friend or family member is tough, real tough, even when the reason is clear. Cancer, car accident, natural disaster, you name it. Suicide can and will never be explained, not even in a not a few sentences or a few pages long that was left behind. Questions will always remain unanswered. The feeling that you weren't a good enough friend or "didn't notice the signs" doesn't fade easily, guilt sticks around a lot longer than any sort of pain I've felt before. I can't promise this will be the last time I mention Jana to you guys, I needed to take the time to admit that I'm not okay and am not sure exactly when I will be. 

    So I'll apologize right now to anyone and everyone I've brushed aside knowingly or unknowingly. I have texts left without a reply, voicemails I have yet to listen to, even a handwritten letter that should have been postmarked ages ago. What I can't and have never been able to do is apologize for how I feel. And right now I'm still hurting. I'm angry. I'm confused. Most of all, I just miss her. I miss my best friend and I need to take some time to really say goodbye.