vermont « i am a working artist


| currently listening to: Go Ahead, The Rosebuds, Loud Planes Fly Low, 2011 | LINK

the photography:

i grew up in a small town not unlike many small towns across rural america. Charlotte, Vermont is a shrinking farming community that has morphed into a rural suburb of Vermont’s largest metropolitan area. Charlotte is a sleepy town with an interesting population that is made up of old school Vermonters, long-term transplants, and flat landers who have recently found themselves living next to the 13th largest lake in the US.

Charlotte is interestingly divided into two distinct groups of people; those who shop at Marble’s Store (Eastside) and those who shop at the Old Brick Store (Westside). It’s not a bicoastal ‘Rap Battle’ but more of a quick determination of what side of the local K-8 elementary/middle school you live on. Does this representation of the locals cause a rift in the population? Not really. But it does lead to some interesting bus routes once you get to high school.

As a child of the eastside growing up, Marble’s Store was my Mecca. Less than 1/4 mile down a rather big hill was the key to my summer as a young adult. I could meet my east side friends there, buy a candy bar, a Mountain Dew in a glass bottle, pick up the paper for my old man, and be ready for the adventure of biking to whomever’s house was designated for the whiffle ball game that day. It was a meeting place and a place of great comfort to those of us who looked at Marble’s Store as the center of town. It was as if Marble’s was placed on this earth to be the VFW for anyone between the ages of 10-14 complete with cheap beer, movie rentals, and various animals, animated townspeople, and local legends floating around at all times. Obviously we only took advantage of the cheap beer later on in our lives but you get the picture.

Two weeks ago marked the 11th straight year that Marble’s has been the home of the Charlotte Tractor parade. What started out as a gathering the first year when a dozen tractors paraded outside of the store in the fall of 2000, has blossomed into the fall assembly of the year for the town with more than 130 tractors prancing down the street.

A small petting zoo, food trucks, t-shirts, and plenty of people watching make the tractor parade the perfect stop for an 18 month old. This year Teddy began what I hope will be a long standing tradition of visiting Grammy and Squid (yes, my dad’s nickname is Squid) during October to see the locals and collectors from afar pull their tractors right through the center of my young adulthood and beyond. It truly feels great to pass on my childhood places and experiences to my son and to my wife. Charlotte, Vermont will always be home to me. and I love making it feel like home to them.

the music:

My goodness. I could talk about the Rosebuds for pages and pages. In the beginning, they were a jangling garage rock trio with melodies ripped more from Buddy Holly than the Ramones. These days their music is much more than Elvis Costello rave-ups and the band has expanded to cover more than just schoolyard relationships as they have grown. With five full length records and a smattering of singles, 7 inches, and one EP, the Rosebuds have solidified their place in modern Indie Rock Lore.

The key to their success? I mean beyond the fact that Ivan Rosebud has a voice that will melt even the staunchest hipster… The key lies within the relationship of the two leaders of the band, Ivan and Kelly. Once married, now divorced, their adult lives have been played out over lyrics, during live shows, and worn on their sleeves.

Their newest record is a collection of statements that ring like questions. Statements to each other, to their fans, to their individual futures, to their collective future as a band, and to no one in particular. Go buy it. It’s beautiful. The audience is not questioning them as a creative entity. We know that they will go on.

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| currently listening to: Ruins, Aloha, Home Acres, 2010 | LINK

the photography:
for a few years in the late 90′s and early 00′s, besides shooting b/w and color film for school, i spent much of my time toting around a polaroid instant film camera that i bought for $19.95 at an upstate new york CVS. the height of my polaroid fetish can be pinpointed some time around 2002 when the house that lived in was perfectly suited for a polaroid wall. one such wall was created in the kitchen. every photo i (we, as guests often snagged the camera) took went up on that wall and some word or phrase was written on the photo in Sharpie about what was happening, who was there, wtf, etc… in hindsight, we should never have written on those polaroids. said wall can be seen in some of these images. someday i’ll scan those in as well… but for now, here are the clean ones. at least the first part of them.

as teddy marches forward into life, i am struck by how his new experiences drum up my old ones. nostalgia creeps up in many forms and sometimes it’s fun to go back and see where you’ve been so that you can make some choices in where you will be going.

each of these images is a documented memory linked to something in my life. and looking through them makes me happy to know that teddy will be given the opportunity to make his own set of memories. i am floored and humbled by that idea.

i just hope that when teddy is old enough to document his life, he doesn’t waste as much money as i did on cigarettes and polaroid film… holy crap. what i would buy today…EDIT: ok ok ok… the photos were well worth the cash. i should have stopped smoking 5 years before i did. Teddy, if you’re reading this, spend money on film and beer, not on cigarettes and 3 card monte.

the images above are full of people i know, people i knew, people who are not alive anymore, old girlfriends, old co-workers, old friends, random strangers, binge drinking, music playing, too many self portraits, too much shaky picture taking, poor focus, scratches, road trips, parties, random people who my wife was friends with before i knew my wife, musicians, a couple of airplanes, a cat, a dog, halloween (in general), thanksgiving, a couple of kegs, poker night, roommates, roommates friends, neighbors, fire, one boob grab, an infamous red wall, friends ex-girlfriends, raleigh north carolina, boston massachusetts, saratoga springs new york, bartenders, bar owners, bad haircuts, bad outfits, and three nipples of the male variety.

the music:
ok ok ok… i know… Aloha is the same band i talked about last post… but they are that good. for real. this record is unstoppable.

this is the last song on the record. the chorus is:

waiting for the get-away car that never came.

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| currently listening to: Respect, Otis Redding, Respect 7″ Single, 1965, | LINK

the photography:
i am currently hanging out in my parents dining room amidst the tap-tap-tapping of my wife on my mother’s old white iMac laptop. it’s a fitting scene for a snowy and flipping freezing afternoon in February. the high for today? looking at a whopping 8 degrees above zero. oh crap. days like this prove that mittens are not just for second graders.

we are in vermont to celebrate my sister-in-law’s graduation from college. graduation from college is a special occasion that i have celebrated with friends and family at least a dozen times (only once for myself) and i am always amazed by the jubilation, awe, and just plain “scared shitless” emotions that make the entire day so energized and full of smiles. now if only you could repeat this feeling of accomplishment later on in your life when you could use a little pick-me-up to get you through the doldrums (also known as your “20′s”). i think half the reason so many people go to graduate school is to feel that sense of accomplishment again. i know that if i could celebrate my college graduation over and over and over, i would. even if i had to listen to “i’ve got you babe” every morning for the rest of my life.

as an 18 year old entering the doors of academia, i distinctly remember that college was going to prepare me for the business world that lay ahead of me as an adult. i honestly thought that college was going to prepare me for a career path or at the very least, give me the smallest inkling of what i wanted to do. in fact, college did not do this. in fact, college prepared me with the social tools to be able to STOMACH the business world (not how to navigate it). for these social preparations, i am extremely grateful for my experiences during my four years of school. i just wish that during my senior year one of my professors had taken me aside and reassured me that while i would be trying to navigate this vast and very very serious business world that i would be shipwrecked and marooned at least four times.

for if i had known this, i would not have felt so down upon myself when i was working 50 hours a week and feeling so very alone and unhappy with where i was headed. professional loneliness (for a lack of a better term) is never pointed out as a possibility within the halls of academia. it’s not even mentioned. i think it should be mandatory and embraced. when i left the academic bubble, all i got was a “here’s the alumni network” and a peppy “enjoy your first job!”. strong words to make you feel important and dearly missed but these words hold little water when you resumé lists “Bakery Delivery Driver – six months”, “Freelance newspaper advertisement designer – 2 months”, and (my personal favorite) “Band photographer – 1 band”.

oh well… it’s not planting the flag on the top of the mountain that defines us… it’s the climb. right? right?

photos are with the 5DMKII and my EF 24-105mm f/4.0L USM. i want to say it one more time but it was silly cold outside… 8 degrees yo. sunny, but c’mon. 8 degrees!!!

the music:
whenever i get to hang out at my parents house, people are always chatting. the conversation topics range dynamically from the government (the vermont state secessionist movement is currently high on the list), artists (local photographers are my fave), books (my mom is the head of the board of trustees at the local public library), and the obligatory where-are-they-now-Champlain-Valley-Union-High-School-class-of-1996 check-in. it’s always fun to chew the fat and music is also always on the tip of my father’s tongue when the conversation turns boring. the CD players in the living room and in the cars are always loaded with something fun and exciting. my father’s newest kick? punk rock music with an irish twist. you heard it here first.

edd’s current favorite records:

The Pogues – Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash

Flogging Molly – Swagger

The Dropkick Murphy’s – Blackout

what the what? that’s right… my dad is listening to the Murphy’s. amazing. the man who introduced me to Tom Waits has come full circle and instead of scatting off the quick witted “Step Right Up” he serenades the bar world of broads with “Kiss Me I’m Shit Faced”.

i couldn’t be prouder. but right now i’m kicking back and listening to the original (which i was totally unaware of BTW) Respect by Otis. my friend poor-white-trashley would be proud. hit it otis. hit it.

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| currently listening to: Keep the Car Running, Arcade Fire, Neon Bible, 2007, | LINK

the photography:
i’m still sorting through all of the photographs i took during the thanksgiving holiday. the sad thing is that it’s literally almost christmas. whoops… i’m a bit of a slowpoke sometimes but hey, i got a ton of stuff on my plate. the detroit auto show is in january, the chicago auto show is in february, the new baby arrives in march, and i’m still shooting about 3 cars a week at work. wowsers. busy.

after spending our first thanksgiving dinner with my side of the family down in rhode island, my wife, my parents, and i hopped in the car and drove to my wife’s cabin in the north east kingdom area of vermont (it’s where canada, vermont, maine, and new hampshire meet… maine is technically 60 miles to the east, you can thank my father for the edit). it’s one of the more remote parts of the state, gorgeous, and virtually untouched for a long time. the accents are so thick on the natives that most vermonters don’t even understand what people are talking about. its a special place.

the funny thing about our trip up to the cabin is that thanksgiving falls right in the heart of deer hunting season. when we decided to go for a walk, we needed to wear as much “i’m-not-a-deer-orange” as we could pile on. we actually came prepared with bright colored jackets of our own as my mom always packs extra bright clothes in the back of the car during hunting season. i can’t say that people in chicago are worried about being mistaken for deer during the fall but who knows.

the cabin is where my wife and i got married. it’s a special place that holds a lot of meaning to not only her family (it’s been a place of refuge for 40 plus years) but also to me and my family. photos are from the woods surrounding the cabin and the players are cousins, aunts, uncles, sisters, and parents. it helped that it was brisk and sunny. perfect for walking with the 5D and my trusty 28mm. vermont’s pretty pretty. it’s no joke.

dinner that night was stupendous. back to back thanksgivings is pretty awesome. did i mention that this is my 100th post? that’s right. check out the archives. i got a lot of stuff to look through.

the music:
out of the handful of indie bands to garner national attention in the last 10 years, the arcade fire have backed up their hype by putting on some of the best live shows and have released two of the century’s best studio records. this was the first single off of the second record and it is one of the catchiest tunes around. i’m a sucker for some mandolin. i saw the arcade fire for the first time back in the day at Merge Fest 15 (Merge Fest XX was this year) when they played a free show opening up for lou barlow (of sebadoh and dinosaur jr. fame). i’m pretty sure no one remembers his set…

the show was at the “local 506″, a small club on the main drag in chapel hill, north carolina that doesn’t fit a lot of people. needless to say, it was the most packed show i have ever been a part of. i like it when artists step up and live up to the hype that others put upon them. i hate being disappointed. pitchfork disappoints me a lot. thank god someone else broke these guys. it was a great time to live in the triangle area (raleigh, durham, chapel hill, located in *gasp* a triangle). there was a lot going on five years ago…

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| currently listening to: Anchored, Starlight Conspiracy, Sounds Like Silver Hollar, 1997, | LINK

the photography:
i have always wanted to make a t-shirt and bumper sticker campaign featuring the phrase, “Real Vermonters don’t vacation in Jersey” complete with some huge Cooper font lettering scheme (think old iron on letters) and with some line art of the two states fighting. now, if you didn’t grow up in or attend college in the north east, you probably won’t get the reference. let me lay it out for you…

now we all like to pick fun at the expense of the fine state of new jersey. everyone does it. chemical plants, swamplands, the jersey shore, even the Boss is fair game. but in it’s defense, north eastern new jersey, near the Penn border, is absolutely stunning. the terrain is all rolling mountains, cow pastures, and beautiful river valleys. anywho, that specific region does not save the rest of the state.

as a child growing up in vermont, sometime around late august, the influx of new york and new jersey license plates started to roll into town in search of some late summer delights such as leaf peeping (a legitimate money maker in vermont), maple syrup purchasing, ski-lodge renting, and golfing. these cars would then stay through the winter only to disappear sometime around february. now granted, these people are spending money and keeping the economy running long after the cheese and milk industry have run out of ideas but most vermonters, and i mean most vermonters, would let you know that they cringe when they see those license plates.

it comes down to this: vermonters love peace and quite. that’s the main reason why families settle there. they enjoy the outdoors, the mountains, the lakes, the farms, the wildlife, the skiing, and winter driving. there is a reason it is illegal to put up billboards in vermont and there is a reason it is the only state without a McDonalds in the capitol city. what most vermonters can’t stand is brash, loud, obnoxious, demanding, and downright contentious crowds from the garden state who own time shares in Killington and thus think that they own everything in vermont. undoubtedly, these same people are probably wearing some sort of gaudy fuschia ski parka complete with gold lamé patches and a fake fur collar so they are easy to spot. just don’t mistake them for canadians. canadians wear the full fuschia snow suits to cover up their denim on denim ensembles, not just the jackets (i kid…).

people who grew up in upstate new york (and yes that means north of albany as more than 2/3′s of the fine state of new york is located north of albany!!!) feel my pain. so when i go home, i tend to judge people by their license plates. it makes me feel better. i guess every state has at least one mortal enemy… unfortunately, most of new england despises new jersey. and let’s be honest, the hippies in vermont would never let hypodermic needles and dirty diapers wash up on their shores.

photos are from thanksgiving weekend from my parents backyard in charlotte, vermont. for some perspective, the house is located an hour and a half, door to door, from Montreal, Canada. on that fine mid-morning it was raining and brown and a bit on the cold side. 28mm lens again. i just can’t quit you. to be in the state of vermont is relaxing. i take deep breathes when i go home. i love it and i miss it from time to time. but this mid-west city is where i need to be. mid-west for life? possibly… vermonter at heart? most definitely.

the music:
with pictures of vermont running through my head, i figured i would tap into the deep and vast musical cd’s from said fair state that reside on my ipod. for a small area with a small population, some really good art is made in burlington vermont. back in 1997, one of the best bands in chittenden county was the shoe-gazing noise makers Starlight Conspiracy. the band was lead by the guitar genius of Denny Donovan and highlighted by the softest/sweetest female vocals this side of Kim Deal. this record is a diamond in the rough that was the mid-90′s wasteland of crappy grunge rip-offs and bad rap rock. Starlight’s music fits more with 1991 britain and My Bloody Valentine or on the mean streets of washington d.c and Fugazi than it does in the hippie mountains of phish.

Starlight Conspiracy’s entire catalog can be downloaded here: Starlight MP3′s

on a side note: god bless marshall amplification.

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| currently listening to: Green Doors, Lowell Thompson & Crown Pilot, s/t, 2009, | LINK

the photography:
so this thanksgiving 2009 was much like any of my previous thanksgivings, it was mobbed with nephews, 4 generations of merritts, good food, great company, talk of babies, two different sit down dinners, and 1 happy dog waiting for us at home at the end of all the hub-bub. as i look back on thanksgiving ought-9, i see it as the end of a chapter in my life as it was the last thanksgiving for both my wife and i as a couple. the 2010 thanksgiving will mark our first as a trio. as baby merritt’s due date gets closer there will be lots of chapters closing and new ones starting. it feels absolutely wonderful. lots of “firsts” on the horizon, lots of ‘em.

but more about this years thanksgiving in a later post!

PHOTO WALKING WITH A FRIEND: after traveling through 4 states already in 2 days, we finally arrived home at my parents house for 72 hours of some much needed r and r. i decided to take the opportunity to sneak out on a photo jaunt with an old friend who just happens to be a great street photographer whether he is in his hometown of burlington or roaming and clicking the streets of his former hood, san francisco. trevor is known on the interwebs as @roamandclick on the twitter and his personal photo website Roam and Click is quite fantastic. trevor also is a flickr-ite and can be found here under the moniker, [ bones ] : Flickr

i reconnected with trevor via facebook after 10 or so years of not seeing each other. he was heading into chicago and wondered if i would be up for a drink. since it was st. patrick’s day, i figured, what the hell. this was four years ago and we have kept in touch ever since. we’ve had our ups and downs as individuals but the connection trevor and i share is focused (pun intended) primarily on our love of two things: photography and urban decay. AND we both grew up in the same small town with the same group of 100 kids and we’ve both since travelled the world and seen the sights. last saturday we decided to tackle photos and urban decay. it was a blast. for the record, trevor is a Nikon guy. not that there’s anything wrong with that…

the photos are from just off of flynn avenue, in burlington, vermont. locals should know this area as the first magic hat brewery was located just around the corner. as usual, the lens is the trusted 28mm f1.8 and we hit the train tracks at the perfect golden hour of dusk. it was breezy and cool but not yet winter. you could smell the wood stoves in the air but you didn’t need a scarf. perfect weather for some photo walking with old friends. salt sheds, railroads, trucks, and dirty old buildings were provided by the city of burlington and it’s inhabitants. sigh.

the music:
lowell is a guy i grew up with who is making the scene in new england as what northern country twang means. he’s a heart-on-sleeve songwriter who delivers his brand of northcountry alt rock with a voice of gold and a cracking back up band containing some of burlington’s finest musicians. it’s a recipe made in “Wilco” fan heaven. go and check them out if you can and if they come to the midwest, you’ll see me in the front row.

THREE SIDE NOTES: i once worked for lowell’s dad as a house painter, lowell and i played high school lacrosse together, and his punk band in high school once opened for my ska band in (redundantly) high school. fact.

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Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: F4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 47mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: F4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 65mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: F4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 105mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: F4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/640 sec – Aperture: F4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: This is Not How Forever Begins, Swearing at Motorists, Last Night Becomes This Morning, 2006 | LINK

the photography:
here are 5 B&W photos of what i have come to call a tree nosher. it’s actually a machine known as a logging skid. this one is pretty beat up. ahhhh. can’t you just smell the northeast kingdom of vermont? the problem with black and white on a super sunny day is that the green grass and the blue sky are almost the same amount of neutral gray. also, the harsh overhead light creates bad harsh underbody shadows. oh well. this thing was cool.

the music:
this might just be a swearing at motorists marathon. you all should support your local heroes. dayton has the motorists. what does your town have?

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Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: F2.5 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: F4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 60mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: F4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: F4.5 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 65mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: F2.5 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Calgon Take Me Away, Swearing at Motorists, Number Seven Uptown, 2000 | LINK

the photography:
spending five days in the state of my youth reminds me of how much i HATED where i grew up when i was a kid and inversely just how much i LOVE it as an adult. visiting family and friends is always good for the soul and this past weekend was no exception. as i wrote earlier, my nephews are ridiculous. here’s some photos from wandering the place. a motorcycle, a house, some trees, great bubbly, lobsters, and a privy. my feet felt like they were up all weekend long.

the music:
swearing at motorists are one of the great unsung midwest indie rock heroes. their biting wit and dead-on lyrics cut even the most staunch listener to the core and they make random stories about small city living relevant to anyone. it’s fantastic lyrics mixed with lo-fi DIY production that sounds miles better than it should. these guys should be touted as the “best little band with song writing that people have never heard”. this song could have ended up on a modest mouse rarities record. the touching line for me (sorry about the curse words in advance): “you shut the fuck up, and you calm the fuck down.” he means it.

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Exposure: 1/1250 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Wouldn’t It Be Nice, The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds, 1966 | LINK

the photography:
hanging out this weekend in vermont couldn’t be any sweeter. my twin nephews are here as are my brother and sister-in-law. it’s a good old down home family get-together. we spent the day running around burlington. amazingly we ran into friends from high school, friends from college, and one random friend from chicago who just happened to be rolling around downtown. spending time at my parents house means lots of lounging on the rug in the living room, lots of watching/talking hockey, lots of talking about kids i went to high school with, and much chewing of the fat. it’s pretty awesome. photos are of the boys. they are damn cute. the first one is titled “shit patrol”. the rest are untitled.

the music:
the beach boys remind me of sitting in my parents living room listening to my dad’s vast collection of vinyl records. we had all of the hits of the 50′s, 0′s, and early 70′s and i would spin them left and right and make my mom dance with me. it was an awesome time. besides tim hardin and bob dylan, the beach boys were number 1.

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| currently listening to: The TV, Law & Order – SVU, 2009 | LINK

as soon as i get some serious time to spend (at least a couple of un-interupted hours) i will start to post photo sessions from the far past and from the recent past. this photo blog was created so people could enjoy photos from my archives. the blog also allows me to take a good strong look at the work i have done in the past which helps me make decisions about my work in the future. it’s cathartic. i take thousands of pictures a year. it’s nice to slow down every once in a while and look through them one by one.

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