Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Long Time Coming

There are a lot of people who have fought for this country, each with a different reason for doing it. For example, as a child I wanted to enlist in the Navy Seals. I know, it sounds strange for a 9 year old girl to want to grow up to be a Navy Seal, but it was specifically because I wanted to be like Demi Moore in G.I Jane. It's still kind of strange, I suppose, but back then she was my hero and in turn I wanted to be just like her. As I changed over the years, so did my heroes as well as my future occupations. When I was in high School, I began studying about World War II. My class watched several episodes of Band of Brothers, the HBO series, and when I realized what my Grandfather had gone through I realized who my true hero was. 

Charles Hilliard Cram was a medic on Iwo Jima during World War II. He enlisted before he could even get his High School diploma. I think about what I was like at seventeen, and try to imagine myself at that age fighting in a war. For me, it's impossible to comprehend what that would be like. What a responsibility that would be, to try to keep people alive during a war, and at such a young age. He doesn't talk about it very much, but he has told me a few things. Apparently chocolate, brandy, and morphine were his favorite items during the war: he said that they often ate chocolate at night to keep them awake, or they'd give it to children that they past on the streets, the brandy was used to help the guys that were in pain with mediocre wounds, and the Morphine was used for the people with severe wounds. To think about my seventeen year old grandpa running around Japan, saving lives and it just blows my mind. He is a real hero, Demi Moore has nothing on him.

One day my grandpa saw his friend get shot in the crossfire, and in an attempt to save his friend's life he crawled over to him. While he was dragging his friend's body back to safety, my grandpa was shot through the leg. Still he continued to drag him back,  and when he was out of harms way he tried to help his friend, but unfortunately he realized then that he was already dead. As a result of his heroism, he received a purple heart for being wounded, and a silver star for his bravery. Shortly after that the United States dropped the Atomic bombs, causing Japan to Surrender. My grandpa returned to California, got his GED, and shortly thereafter got a job packing boxes for a company called Gladding Mcbean. It was here that he met my Grandma.

Unfortunately, after having worked for this company from his late teens up until his mid fifties, the company let my grandpa go because of cut backs. So, in his mid-fifties he had to go get a new job because he no longer qualified for his retirement. Over the next two years he applied everywhere but everyone told him he was over qualified. It just breaks my heart when I think about it. All he wanted was a job to provide for his wife, and no one would even give him that. Finally he got a job through the Post Office. He started at the very bottom, separating packages. He got into the best shape he had ever been in. He began to move up in the company because he was such a hard worker. when he was in his late 60's he retired from the Post Office. Whenever I feel defeated I think about what my grandpa has gone through, and then It helps me to push forward because as many times as he was set back, he constantly got back up and finished what he needed to. 

To this day he is still  active in the veteran community, and in this next year he will be going to Washington D.C to be apart of a World War II Veteran Ceremony.

There's so much more to his life story, and I couldn't even begin to do him justice by trying to tell you all about it. I've ask him so many times to write a memoir, but he doesn't think it's worth reading. He's just so humble. I wish more people were like him. I hope that when I grow up, I have as much character as he does. I know that everyone admires their Grandparents, but seriously, my grandpa is probably the most incredible person I've ever met. 

I am so proud to be related to my greatest hero.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Little By Little

During spring break I flew to Arizona. Luckily the Gods were in my favor that weekend because the weather was actually bearable and also there was some sort of art convention in town, meaning lots of potential photographic candidates. On the second day of my trip, I had gone out looking for people to take portraits of, and I felt as though I had come up short. Usually I spot people that I think have an interesting face or story. I approach them, asking if they would let me photograph them. Most people say no, but sometimes I get lucky. So, you could see how sometimes I come out empty handed. Well, on this particular day, I felt as though everything was working against me. The lighting, the people, the setting, everything seemed to be going wrong. So, I decided to walk back to the apartment I was staying at. On the way back, I saw two boys walking toward me. I had seen them earlier in the day, but they were too far out of reach, and I felt as though I missed out on them. So, when I saw them again, I knew that this was my chance.

I pulled them aside, asking if I could photograph each of them. They both reluctantly said yes, like most people do. I began asking them questions, trying to make them feel more comfortable. The picture above is a picture of one of the boys. He was the one I mostly wanted to photograph, probably because there was this look in his eyes, the same look that resonate in my mind, a sort of hopefulness.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

As Time Goes By

This is Andy. He has been my neighbor for nearly 20 years, though only four of them have I actually known him. As a child I used to be frightened of him. I thought he was a grumpy old man. When I finally met him, I could tell instantly that I liked him. He was nothing like I remembered him from my childhood. He was genuine and had this real sweet side. He always seem to surprise me with his rustic witticisms. We were sort of an equal match, in that way. He and I were the strangest pair.

He was three of my lifetimes older than me, but for some reason we were so akin to each other. When we went out to eat, servers would remember us. Probably because they always wondered what our relationship was, and maybe also because he ate so slow.

A couple years ago, I bought Andy a watch for his birthday. It was no Rollex, but he loved it all the same. It never quite worked very well. It always showed the date as 2 days later than it was and as a result, he never knew what day it was. I told him I'd get him a new watch, but he never wanted another one. He loved that watch.

I remember the day that I took this portrait of him. I ask him if I could take his picture inside my house, and he agreed, as he always did. He was making a strange face. It's kind of the face I see when I think about him, on the verge of tears but you can't tell if he's happy or sad. He was a man that had so much joy but also so much sorrow. I could clearly see how lonely he was. I image it would be so hard to be alone at that age. I could see his face light up when he convinced me to go to lunch with him. So, it became hard to say no.

I taught him how to play rock-paper-scissors. He was so bad at it. He always cheated. I would choose scissors and several seconds later he would choose rock. I always thought it was funny and would tease him. I tried to re-teach him how to take the written driving test for the DMV, even though he shouldn't be driving anyway. I would ask him a question and he'd immediately try to distract me with a different topic. He never ended up retaking that test, even though we spent hours and hours going over the material.

One day he went to visit his family out of state. He called me often. and by often, I mean, very often. Then what started as a short trip, turned into a really long trip. He was gone for 5 months. When he finally returned, he seemed different. His family thought he may have had a small stroke. He started using a walker. He no longer came over every day. or at all. Soon he had a caretaker coming and staying with him.

It's been like this for about a year now. Every time I see him he's looking a little worse. Now he's hardly talking, and struggles to keeps his eyes on you. I know that when you make friends with old people, you should very well know what the outcome will be. It's still so sad to see it happen.

He is still wearing his watch though.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

All I Can

The first thing people usually ask me, when I show them my portraits, is why I make the work that I do. This has always been a very hard thing for me to explain to someone. I think that it is because I'm not good at writing or formulating sentences that I try to express myself through art. Growing up, I had never been a very sentimental person, but looking back on myself as a child I see how impacted I was by simple sensorial feelings. I remember when I was eight, I was at a sleepover, and while all the other girls were planning the next house to toilet paper, I snuck outside by myself so that I could lay beneath the stars. I remember that there were so many of them; each so beautiful and bright. Despite how many there were in the sky, I couldn't help but think how lonely each one looked. In that moment, I remember feeling something. It's a hard feeling to explain, but it felt like the world's sadness suddenly fell into my hands. I could feel each star struggle for what felt like it's last flicker. At eight, I ingested a pain I couldn't understand. Even now I can't quite put it into words. I know it sounds sort of depressing and probably really dramatic, but maybe it's not. Maybe it's just the opposite. I often get the same feeling now. Of course it makes me sad, but it is because of these sensorial feelings that I can still appreciate each lonely star in the sky.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Recently Jeff has been away at ASU, teaching and learning, so whenever he comes home we always try to have an LA day*. One day, towards the end of the night, we were walking to Pizzeria il Fico from our car and I spotted this vacant building right next to the restaurant. I couldn't help but notice a strong resemblance to my favorite style of architecture, German Expressionism. I wouldn't say that I am a huge fan of architecture, but there are certain types of architecture that I just love. The reason I came to love German Expressionism is from some of my favorite silent films**. I know that it isn't actually german expressionism, but it really has that feeling. It was just such a nice breath of fresh air and it left me feeling inspired.

*Intelligentsia for a coffee, Wurstkuche for a buffalo sausage and beer, The Pie Hole for a slice of apple pie and hot apple cider, Arclight to see an expensive movie or to see a show at Largo at the Coronet, and then to Pizzeria il Fico for the wood fired gnocchi, and possibly back to Intelligentsia for an espresso.

**Das Cabinet Des Caligari (1920), Nosferatu (1922), Phantom (1922), The Last Laugh (1924), Metropolis (1927)

Monday, January 9, 2012


This is Ethan. I did a photoshoot with him and his sister a couple weeks back. They were both really nice to work with. He and his sister had a lot of energy and I knew I had to be just as energetic as they were to keep up with them. It's funny because I think most people who know me think of me as a person with a lot of energy, but put me next to a child and I don't even compare. But I did my best to keep up with them.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

who put rocks in my bed?

It's funny how I equate desolation with tranquility. I know it sounds funny that I begin this post with those words, but I find they pertain to these images. While I was photographing Edwin and Maddie in their backyard, that's sort of how I was feeling. It was nice to have a big empty space to photograph these wonderful kids, and it somehow felt so calming. I think I also feel small when I'm with children, like we're all sort of the same age, in some strange way. So it's just us kids in this big backyard. I kind of felt like Max in Where the Wild Things Are. I guess it's also funny, because when most people think of kids, I don't think they normally think of tranquility. I think most people equate children with chaos, but maybe that's only if the kids are their own. It's just nice to have that feeling again. It's so nice to be a child again.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Little Talks

This is Maddie, who happens to be the sister of Edwin (my previous post). Maddie is eleven years old and wants to be an actress when she grows up. She was so excited to be photographed, which is such a nice change. I understand the fear of being photographed. I go out a lot and ask strangers if I can photograph them and I think they instantly think I'm going to do something terrible with their image. It's just kind of sad that it's come to that. And it's not just strangers: even my own grandma won't let me near her when I am holding a camera. So, naturally, Maddie and I had such a fun time. I wish I had more kids like her and Edwin to photograph. It's such a nice change.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Unfamiliar places

Recently I have been photographing a lot of five years olds*, and while I love five years olds they are a little trickier to work with. So when I got the opportunity to photograph Edwin, a nine year old, I was elated. He was so poised and had such a natural openness to the camera. There's something so amazing about photographing children. I think it's their imagination and lack of pessimism. Every time I photograph a new child it's a new and unique experience, I suppose it's that way with adults as well, but for some reason children just seem so different. It's such a delight. They pull me into their worlds, a world that I vaguely remember. But maybe, it's where our two worlds meet that make these experiences so interesting.

*Despite my lack of posting, I actually have been photographing somewhat regularly. I didn't want to post images that I intend on putting on my new website (which still isn't ready. No surprise there.) As a result I decided not to post any images here on my blog. Since then I have been narrowing down the images that should and should not be on my website. Now that I have that somewhat sorted, I can begin posting the images that will not be posted on my website.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

White Blank Page

It's been some time since my last post. For several months I had been trying to finish all of my images for my website. I was actually really close to being ready to put them up but recently I lost/got my laptop and external hard drive (with the only finished versions of my images) stolen. So, now I'm having to start all over. While, I was a little (okay, a lot!) depressed several weeks ago, I am feeling a lot more positive now. I have finally begun re-editing all of the images that are important for my collection. I am even finding images I had previously overlooked to be fairly good, which is kind of neat. I have purchased a new laptop with the help of many of my friends/acquaintances/family members/even teachers and staff at school. It still surprises me that people can be so generous. I am so grateful for everyone's help. Really, if it weren't for them, I would still be moping around feeling sorry for myself.

Self Portrait

Self portraits are kind of strange to me because I always feel vain taking them, but on the other hand, it's always been a way to document how I am feeling at any particular moment. Some people write in journals, but I can't express myself in words. I'm a very visual person. But not just in the act of taking the image, but also in how I edit them. The last few weeks have been very confusing for me. I had never, in my life, felt so much lacking in artistic drive. I've always thought of myself as someone who has to continue working on art all the time to stay happy, it never really mattered what the medium was. So, when I realized all the time I had spent editing those images, images I no longer had copies of, I just felt so upset. It seemed like such a waste of time. Why make art if you can't show it to anyone? While I enjoyed every moment of taking and editing those images, it's also just very difficult to see them go. but they are gone now. I have tried to make my peace with that. I am trying to look at it with a different perspective. I now have a chance to actually go through my images again, and edit them the right way, a way that's very cohesive. The image above will be apart of my self portrait series. I am feeling proactive.