New York I love you. I dream in color palettes.

New York seems to be popping up everywhere.  This week my mother in law is in town from Orange Country, New York.  Last week Maryanne was in Sag Harbor New York.  Last night the new clients I met were from New York etc etc.  I guess you can say New York is on my mind.  Here are some colors that I was drawn to when I was in the city last month.  As always I love street scenes and checking out the latest art exhibit.  I had the chance to finally visit Alana's new store ANGL which was even more beautiful in person.  Alana and I went to MOMA and had drinks with my sweet friend Katie.  If I could click my hills 3 times I'd be looking at some art with those babes right now.  I have to share that my friend Taylor had the best instagram post explaining how she dreams in color palettes.  I've never had someone explain that habit of mine before.  It was so refreshing and made me want to share a thread of a color palette I followed and share it with you.

Say you, say me say it together : Detroit

I went to the Motown Museum in Detroit on what turned out to be Juneteenth.  How serendipitous. Detroit plays an important role in our country coming together.  I was overwhelmed to learn what an impact a record company could have. During a time of great racial tension, Motown’s positive message and new sound gave blacks and whites a way to come together.  I love that in a time of political strife they used music that was aspirational to build common ground.

They showed us concert footage of the 60’s and explained how concert halls used to be segregated.  Even when they weren’t often at the start of the concert there would be whites on one side and blacks on the other. Then once the concert got going the crowd would mix, dance together and come together.  It felt like a tale of musical revolution. Believe it or not Martha of Martha and the Vandellas joined our tour! How epic is that! We heard Martha sing a few songs on the documentary. She also let us know the ones she sang back up on too.  She’s just as gorgeous now as she was in the 60’s.

(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave (1963)

Dancing In The Street (1964)

Along with the Vandella’s - the Supremes, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder released more than 180 No. 1 hits worldwide.

Also in 1963 Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. led more than 125,000 people down Woodward ave in Detroit for a civil rights march.  This is where he first delivered the “I have a dream” speech. Which was recorded on the Gordy label of Motown records.  

Abdul Fakir of the Four Tops, known as “Duke,” said in a 2009 interview “We looked at Martin Luther King and we thought, he’s doing the same thing on foot that we’re doing on the radio,” “I like to think that we were softening the blow for him a little bit.”

There are so many ways for our country to come together and in 2018 we need to.  I love voting and marching but this trip made me wonder what are some ways we never even thought of?  What beautiful artistic ways can help us to come together?

I love the song Say you, Say me by Lionel Richie

Say you, say me say it for always

That's the way it should be

Say you, say me say it together

Naturally

When I hear this song I think

Say yes to you, Say yes to me

We are one.  We are each other.  When I say you, I’m saying me.  

So let’s see that we are all Americans from a great country of immigrants.  Let’s see ourselves in people seeking political asylum. Let’s know that we would never want to have our children taken from us.  Let’s know that our families came from other countries to seek better opportunities. My family came from Norway and Ireland on the boat.  I see myself in these brave people trying to make a better life for themselves. Just like I see myself in our amazing clients who are brave enough to stand in front of their friends and family and pledge their love and hope to each other in a message of peace.  

With love and peace,

Suzanne, Mike, Morgan and the Wanderers

Fertility Vacation 3.0 // Why I Tell You Things

What if I collected images of when we were young, and now?

It’s been ten years, my love. We were young. The world was at our feet. One year, we traipsed around the globe so often, I begged you to leave me home for a trip to Australia, because I was too tired to go to the airport. Days later, we ran through the bush together, and marvelled at how wild the landscape became the second we got off the path. We were laughing, euphoric, and blissful to be in nature.

We realized, as dusk approached, that we didn’t actually know where we were. Eventually, you found our way back to the ocean while I came up with newspaper headlines about two dumb Americans who got lost on vacation one mile from civilization, and died.

The ocean was so loud and the moon lit our path. The strength of the wind made me grateful we had found our way back.

You couldn’t stop smiling, and kept hugging me so tight. We made out under the moonlight as the tide rose, and realized we were risking our lives for these salty kisses. We held hands, and continued on. It was one of the best days of my life.

We squeezed every last drop out of the day. That feeling of euphoria, gratitude, and wonder is the magic of falling in love with Mike Ofeldt. It is the grand adventure that is us.

I was at a party this weekend, and a friend of mine said he didn’t want to say how amazing his relationship with his wife is on social media. He just couldn’t see the point. It felt like bragging. What if instead, it was like shining a light on being wildly grateful, a snapshot.

Our fertility journey has taught me a lot. That life can be a mess, and there’s beauty in that too. This is our story. This is our heartbreak. There is an extraordinary beauty in telling people who you are, so they call you by your name. It’s tremendously difficult, but freeing. It helps me accept myself.

There is so much connection to the people who have read my story. I’ve shown them my heart. I’m wildly grateful for the outpouring of kindness and connection that I’ve received. For the friends that give me hope and strength to not give up.

This present moment holds an uncertain future, but ultimately some kind of knowing that we will survive it. Ten years worth of photographs of who we used to be when we were young. After awhile our memories fade, and then you might hear a song, and suddenly it’s like a movie is playing in your head. Falling in love with a man, and the whole world.     

Mike Ofeldt, you still look like a movie. You still feel like a song. Your voice is home to me. 

I love the things you do, the way you talk, the way you move. 

Let me photograph you in this light in case this is the last time. That we may be exactly as we were when we were young. You’re like a dream come true

Can I have this moment? 

I want to take this picture of you and I and Jake so later I can look back at it remembering when we were young, and scared, and planning our IVF dates. 

Wondering if there would still be eggs, wondering if we could ever finance a surrogate, wondering if we are completely insane, and preparing for the dunk tank of IVF hormones to come. 

Hoping I’ll still come back to you, to me, and still holding hands wildly grateful for each other. 

Wondering if we know anything at all other than fear and gratitude.

us.and.jake.balboa-1001.jpg

We are happy to offer three photography specials as a heartfelt thank you to those who support our GoFundMe fund to add to our family. We don’t know how we are going to get there or make this happen but we are going to walk confidently in the direction of our dreams and try with everything we have.  Thank you from the bottom of our hopeful hearts. Please check back for regular updates to our progress. 

Ode to a Violin in California by Pablo Neruda

A rainy night in San Diego is rare.  Sometimes I am so struck by the water on my windshield and I often feel like I'm in a painting.  I sometimes feel transported to the streets of Paris and think of Renoir but last night it was something else.  It felt more modern and I loved every red light and the parking lot that was the I8.  It felt a little like Pablo Neruda or maybe even Tom Waits. Maybe I was just feeling electric because I got a phone call from the Dog rescue that we could take Jake home.  Either way traffic and I had a love affair last night.  Thanks San Diego.

I sought that violin in the night.
I searched street by pitch-black street,
went house by weathered house,
star by star.
It faded
and fell silent
then suddenly surged,
. . . . . . . . . . .a flare
in the brackish night.
It was a pattern of incendiary sound,
a spiral of musical contours,
and I went on searching
street by street
for the dark violin’s
lifeline,
the source submerged in silence.
Finally, there
he was,
at the entrance to a bar:
a man and his
. . . . . .hungry violin.

Ode to a Violin in California by Pablo Neruda

Palm Springs Photo Festival : Julie Blackmon

“[...]the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”"

Julie Blackmon is one of the mad ones.  She's kind and brilliant.  I love how her mind can create such layered stories.  I've admired her for so long and it was a dream come true to take a workshop from her.   I had wanted to take Julie's class last year and we couldn't quite fit it in the schedule.  So finally at long last I was sitting in the courtyard of the Korakia with a handful of other artists and Julie.  

Julie is a fine art portrait artist and I would say her work can best be described as a satirical look at domestic life in the midwest.  She draws inspiration from so many painters and places it was so nice to get to be in her brain and see how she creates her magic.  I hope some of her magic rubs off on me and adds a new ingredient to my creative vision.  Isn't that what we are all really looking for?  I know I'm always looking to add color, movement, a new sense of time and space to my work.  She's really inspired by 17th Century Dutch and Flemish paintings of domestic life.  My photographic journey has always been fueled by paintings as well, mostly Expressionism, Abstract Expressionism, and the Bay Area Figurative Movement. I think our shared love of paintings is one of the things that makes her work so compelling to me.  As a teacher she's laid back and cool and really open to sharing her process with us.  She has a beautiful color palette and a certain optimism that I'm drawn to. If you are thinking of taking a workshop I would highly suggest Julie's.  The class also came with the added bonus of meeting some really cool photographers.  The critiques were a lot of fun, I loved seeing everyone's work.  I left wanting to shoot every single day and not wanting to do any adulting - only fun.  If I'm honest it took me a few days to find my balance again ha ha.

 Here are a few of my impressions of Julie Blackmon's class Day 1 at the Palm Springs Photo Festival.

xoxo Suzanne

Fertility Vacation // The First Injection

There we sat, the carefree girls from 8 hours earlier, now on the apartment couch, overcome with fear. In a brave moment of, "let’s just get it over with", I grabbed everything out of the fridge. Jenny and I set it up as fast as we could, just as the nurse had explained.

I pinched the skin on my stomach and pointed the needle at my skin. I didn’t want the medicine. I didn’t want to willingly hurt my own body. Logically, it made sense, but a part of me felt like I was betraying the universe and the gratitude I work to cultivate. I recognized this as the fear talking and remembered the greater purpose.

I pictured the nurse looking at me and I heard Jenny's helpful voice that felt steady and determined. "Is this the right number? Then push."

I pushed the needle in. The pain was small and only at the beginning. I awkwardly pushed until everything was in my body; exhale.

The three of us congratulated ourselves and drew on some shrinky dinks to distract our minds. 10 minutes later I was coloring the mane of my shrinky dink horse and my eyelids were suddenly heavy. I laid down.

The translator mentioned I might get hungry, tired, and feel a deep swell in my lower abdomen. I closed my eyes wondering if I would be out for the night.

I noticed an odd feeling in my belly and drifted in and out of consciousness. After about 20 minutes, I slowly sat up on the couch and felt myself waking up; as if I had been asleep all night and had to transition to being awake.

The rest of the night I surprisingly felt a general ease. I enjoyed chatting, eating tacos, and sipping the smallest amounts of tequila.

I can’t really tell how I feel in the end. Do I feel balanced and relaxed because nothing other than an unrequested nap happened? Or do I feel good because my body somehow needed those hormones?

Either way I’ll take the win. I feel good, normal, and balanced. Really good actually. I have exactly 7.5 hours until my next injection so I will see how it goes.

I’m actively choosing activities and thoughts that feel beautiful and in alignment with positivity.

img-14.jpg
img-15.jpg

Cuba // 18 Years Later

I traveled to the magical country of Cuba in 1999 and then again in January of this year. Here is my letter to this country, that my heart now calls a friend. 

Dear Cuba,

Hello my old friend. How thrilling and sweet it is to sit with you. Seeing your face again makes my heart swell with all of our past memories. You are just as intriguing, exotic, captivating and confusing as ever before.

As I walk around your colorful buildings and crumbling heroic walls, I can’t help but reminisce to our first meeting.

Back in '99, visiting you was daring, almost provocative. When I saw “Havana” on my syllabus at art school in San Francisco, I grew nervous and excited that we would meet. Our professor, Tony Labat, who grew up in your neighborhoods, took 20 of us to see you for a week.

We flew out of Tijuana, Mexico. We stopped in Monterrey and had to de-board the plane to get our passports stamped, since it was illegal for Americans to visit your country and spend money there. We landed in Havana and I remember feeling nervous. The agent looked over my treasured passport, chockfull of stamps, and waived me through.  Havana was mine and I was in awe.

Hotel Inglaterra was our home for the week. From there we went to museums by day and then stayed up late drinking Cuba Libres, listening to music, and smoking cigars on the rooftop. We were an eclectic group of artists; some painted, filmed or created performance pieces. We felt saturated in the Cuban art experience, if only for a week.

Upon seeing you, the movie Buena Vista Social Club had come out. I sat in the theater, fascinated by what was to come. Everything was as surreal as the movie suggested; the cars, the architecture.  I watched men play checkers. I photographed little kids in their school uniforms.

I felt honored and changed to have this rare experience. You are resourceful, yet without resources. The resilience of your people was inspiring. I was left questioning our place in the world, and with new real estate in my heart, just for cheering you on.

And now flash forward to January 2017.

My heart had missed a beat when I learned a few years ago that President Obama would open up relations with you. Could we make peace and end the embargo? Could this country that stole my heart, finally know equality and the same advantages and disadvantages of their neighbors?

My photographer friend, Maryanne, and I jumped on a plane and made sure we had the chance to see you before the new presidency.

This time, we flew from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale to Havana. In Fort Lauderdale, I heard over the loudspeaker, “Jet Blue Flight XX to Havana”. That’s when it hit me. A profound moment that actualized in my gut. I was flying from America to see you; a dream of mine and so many others realized. I felt a surge of joy and solidarity with this small victory.

I thought of 18 years ago and the boy I gave a pencil to on the street. Of the artist Los Carpinteros. And of the college girl I once was, walking your streets with a different lens and perspective than today.

We arrived early in the morning and immediately began exploring. I soon realized so much was the same, but we both had grown up too. I have grown from a student into a professional photographer.  But, we both still have our quirks.

This time, we stayed at Casa Particular. Casas weren’t legal on my last trip and very hard to find. This change marked an acceptance of a new socialism and I’m curious to see how it evolves.

We listened to music and had coffee around the city in Plaza Viejo, at the Inglaterra and at the Nacional. The menus were larger and more varied. I remember feeling frustrated with ordering a meal on my last trip. I would ask for a cappuccino and a salad. The waiter would leave and come back 5-10 minutes later and inform me that they were out of those items. This would repeat itself several times. Eventually, I learned to ask what was available and simply order that.

This type of exchange rarely happened this time. Although napkins and toilet paper were still in short supply.

We hired a tour guide for the Art and Color Tour. Our guide Dayana was knowledgeable and indulged all of our many questions. She took us to multiple galleries and the Museum of Bellas Artes. I saw a piece of art that mentioned Los Carpinteros and felt joy at their success. I was thrilled to be in my element, hearing about the history and present culture of art in Havana. I love the familiar joy in museums, people from around the world sharing their own passion for art in many languages.

Ironically, the actual band, the Buena Vista Social Club, was playing while we were in town. I couldn’t miss the opportunity to see them in person. There were a couple of musicians from the original documentary there. Snippets of the movie were projected in the background. So we have changed a little, I thought. We were all a little older, wiser, and with a few more lines on our faces.

Yet here we both were, practicing our craft with energy and joy all these years later. Them on stage in a room full of approving fans, and me still walking around with my camera and artist friends, sharing all of the color and contradicting ideas in still images.

What will the next 18 years hold for us? I’m hoping my country and yours will build a beautiful friendship full of respect and admiration.

Just as we have.  

Besitos my friend, until next time.

Suzanne

Street Photography -Copenhagen, San Miguel De Allende and Guadalajara

can't explain why these images go together.  They are a slow arc in the change of how i'm seeing things.  For so long I've lived in the beautiful watercolor world of backlighting.  It's defined me for so long that I'm struggling to find my voice and certainly how to find my new way to process images.  It takes me a while to know if I like something.  But every so often I'll find a shot and know it's just right for me.  I'm still looking for words to explain it.  I'm not sure how so many ideas can fit into one category but it seems to be really honest for me.  I wonder if I'm categorizing everything that isn't backlighting into one thing.  But I know it's more than that.  There's a certain feeling I get in my gut when I stumble upon a little gem and I feel so grateful immediately - a quiet happiness spreads and it makes me want to stay out side and shoot all day and never do paper work again.  I think in so many ways my love affair with photography is just beginning.

xoxo Suzanne