on art + madness + coming back to who you always were | a portrait series ft. hanna voxland

April 28th, 2016

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“Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.” -Ginsberg

I’ve always known I would be an artist. Creation is written on my bones – etched in the marrow like ornate and intricate carvings. If questioned in my youth, I couldn’t have told you I would become a photographer. This medium was elusive then, slippery and wet and wholly unformed, still ruminating and gestating within my soul. I thought I’d be something, anything else, really. A designer. A poet. A writer. A teacher. Eventually my dreams gave way and I morphed into something entirely unrecognizable. A destined-for-medicority suburban housewife with a ho-hum career and a sport utility vehicle and a Kohls’ charge.

The carvings had been buried. Their stories were devoured by the mundane tedium of the shoulds and supposed-tos. Frozen dinners and soda cans and lawn mowers. Escrow accounts and backyard bbq’s and societal norms.

//

One day, amidst the chaos of to-do’s and alarm clocks and business casual but-I-saved-twenty-percent attire I’d had enough.

I let go of all that bullshit prescribed and contrived normalcy and decided, instead, to grasp firmly back onto my madness. Onto the very things that bewitched me when I was younger. Story. Beauty. People.
Life.

I picked up a camera and a sewing machine and knitting needles and a sketchbook and a paintbrush and anything, everything, ALL THE THINGS I could fit into my hands and I made. I created until I was gasping for air from the effort. Until my body throbbed and my stomach ached and my head pounded and my heart beat steady onward; more. more. more.

Creation sprung forth from me, fully formed. Like my namesake she was birthed, alive again and ready for war. The artist within was prepared to fight itself into prominence, permanence, perpetuity.
She was here to stay.

I have found my moonlight – I’ve unearthed the stories buried deep within me and resurrected them. This time, they are here to stay.

This feeling, doing, creating, experiencing, loving, poet, romantic creature – every ounce of right here right now even the part where I unapologetically love Justin Beiber and use emoji’s more than words sometimes – is exactly who I was meant to be.
Exactly who I have always been.

This is not my swan song.

This is my birth.

//

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on love and life and stories and hope. remembering two thousand fifteen.

December 29th, 2015

2015 Best Of - Athena Pelton001

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes.
Thousands of images.
Three hundred sixty five days.
Dozens of Stories.
Fifty Two weeks.
Fourteen weddings.
Twelve months.
Eight states.
One year.

Holy shit it’s been a whirlwind year. They say (whoever “they” are) that you should do something every day that scares you – so today that thing is going to be talking about my accomplishments. I’m terrible at self-promotion but I’m going to give it an honest-to-goodness go. Gulp.

In August I hosted my first workshop, Write Your Life, and am working on launching my second. Three days later I lost my corporate job and was catapulted head first into legitimate, scary-as-f*ck, self-employment, though it is a position I should have chosen for myself ages ago. This fall I was asked to hand letter a magazine cover for Minnesota Monthly and the beautiful Lucia at Utterly Engaged tasked me with writing an article on finding intimacy in portraiture which turned into an article offering advice for those booking a wedding photographer who want more than posed, perfect portraits. As the current year draws to a close and the new one breaks on the horizon, I find myself ready for whatever 2016 has to offer. What new things my camera – my heart – will gaze upon and document. I look forward to celebrating  joy and love and promise and hope on mountains and in breweries, in fields and forests and wherever else work takes me in the months to come. It’s time for me to make more images for myself – to shoot more on film and less on my iPhone. I’m ready for more editorial work and am confident that 2016 will allow me to make images for brands that look, sound, and feel precisely like life. I’m beyond excited to be expanding my travel portfolio (yay adventure!) and photographing people in places I’ve never been.

As I attempt to eloquently articulate my feelings on the past year, I find myself lost in thought. I’m swimming in the sounds of laughter and dancing, newborn baby cries and children playing in soft summer fields, rushing water and chilled beer bottles clanged together in reverie. Cicadas at sundown and music turned up to eleven, the hum of generators and plodding rhythms of dizzy feet punctuating the memorized beat of love songs and party songs and lets-dance-until-we-can’t-stand-anymore songs. I can still taste the summer breezes as they blew across the river, across Lake Superior, through tents and trees and off the sweat-shiny shoulders of brides as they turn their heads back toward me and my camera, eyes excited and mesmerized by pure joy.

Making images that matter for people who invite me so wholly, completely, irrevocably into their stories is the most rewarding, wonderful, fulfilling, every-overused-cliche-adjective-ever job. Though I absolutely work my ass off, picking up my camera has never once felt like work. It’s quite the opposite rather, and it never ceases to amaze me how fortunate I am to be able to make a living doing the very thing that makes me come alive. As such, it’s impossible to me that I can even begin to summarize my year in a handful of images (read: entirely too many because I couldn’t possibly narrow this down any further), and yet, here we are. At the end of another year, another season, another miraculous and harrowing and scary, crazy, sad, beautiful trip around the sun.

Here are a few of my favorite images from this year (in no particular order). An immeasurable amount of gratitude belongs to those of you who chose me, who trusted me, who invited me along and invited me in. 

Thank you.

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love is autumn colors and flower crowns and puppy kisses and canoes. love is first wedding anniversaries spent in the wild. love is danielle + terry.

October 20th, 2015

DT One Year052

Danielle + Terry were married in the woods on a perfect summer-fading-into-fall day just over a year ago. Their wedding day was ripe with emotion and joy and laughter and beer and dancing and hot summer sun. On that beautiful September day we knew that we’d be getting together once more, Terry + Danielle in their wedding attire and I with my camera. We just didn’t know when. Autumn faded into winter, and winter into another perfect wedding season for me, and a wonderful season of newly-wedded busy-ness and bliss for the Biercaps. Suddenly their anniversary was upon us, already the leaves were beginning to settle into their harvest glow before falling softly to a snow-ready ground, the air turning cooler, denser, the breeze blowing the seasons over with a damp heaviness. It was time.

We met along the bluffs of the St. Croix River, one of my most favorite places in the midwest, and hiked and canoed and laughed until we ached. We reminisced about what it felt like on their wedding day and spoke about what these last twelve months have meant to them. I made images of their love as they talked longingly, wistfully, lovingly, about all of the dreams for their future. It was a perfect, wonderful, all-the-overused adjectives evening. Here a few of my favorite frames:

DT One Year011DT One Year012DT One Year015DT One Year017DT One Year020DT One Year021DT One Year024DT One Year027DT One Year029DT One Year032DT One Year033DT One Year034DT One Year035DT One Year038DT One Year044DT One Year050DT One Year054DT One Year056Untitled-1DT One Year062DT One Year068DT One Year070DT One Year072DT One Year074DT One Year078DT One Year079DT One Year080DT One Year081DT One Year083Untitled-1DT One Year094DT One Year086DT One Year089

Makeup: Tina Beaupre
Gown: Vera Wang from L’Atelier Couture
Suit: J. Crew
Floral: Athena Pelton