Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cross-country Road Trip

A week after graduation, Brian and I embarked on a cross-country road trip from Georgia, with our final destination being Orange County, California. We packed up my car with all of my worldly possessions and set out on the 2,200 mile journey.

Neither of us had ever driven across the country, almost coast to coast, before, so we were both excited for what lay ahead. In total, we were to pass through ten different states and an assortment of landscapes including mountains, plains, forests, and deserts.

I was surprised by just how much crap I owned. The car was completely packed.

The first day was filled mostly with driving with few stops but to eat and browse a few thrift stores in the middle of nowhere. We had given ourselves a week to make the trip, covering a few hundred miles each day, but we got a bit ahead of ourselves and ended the first day just outside of Little Rock, Arkansas. We found a street fair / concert in the city and enjoyed that for a while before calling it a day.

The rest of the trip was spent similarly, driving for the better part of the morning and afternoon and stopping whenever we wished to take photos or stretch our legs. The landscape gradually transformed from lush green to the pale yellow of Texas and Oklahoma fields and ultimately the barren wastelands of New Mexico and Arizona.

Somewhere in Oklahoma, we glimpsed huge clouds of black smoke billowing up from a field alongside the highway. Craving adventure and a potential backdrop for a photo or two, Brian and I got off at the nearest exit and followed the smoke along miles of gravel roads twisting through endless fields.

We were apparently one of the first ones on the scene, before even the fire truck or ambulances that came speeding by after we’d pulled over a short distance away. We didn’t dare to get too close, should the wildfire have spread quickly in our direction.

More from Oklahoma:

Brian saw a deer from the road and parked to get a picture of it before it disappeared into the undergrowth.

Both of my feet and legs had fallen asleep, and I looked like a mess stumbling after in pursuit of the deer, hahaha.

An abandoned house outside of Oklahoma City

We stopped in some national parks along the way and of course hit the Grand Canyon, among other things. Brian and I ended up completing the trip in five days and were glad to make it to his house, for we were ultimately drained by the end of the journey. It was really enjoyable, though, and we made some good memories, and I think that’s about all one can ask for out of something like this. We're planning on road tripping up the west coast in a few weeks.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Graduation + The Future

  I’m not entirely sure where to start with this. I’ve been meaning to create a blog for a while now so that I would have a place to write more in-depth about what is going on in my life and budding photography career. A little introduction might be helpful: I was born in November 1993 in Jacksonville, Florida, but raised for the most part in a small town in Georgia. I discovered photography in the spring of 2010 and started a 365 project, which I completed a year (and three months) later. I have since decided to pursue a career as a fine art photographer and relocated to Orange, California in June 2012.

Anyway! So. Last month, I graduated from high school. I guess that’s where I’ll kick things off. My graduating class consisted of almost 500 kids, the largest in my school’s history. I was #3 in the class, which was disappointing at first, as I’d basically worked my hardest to be valedictorian, but later reassuring as I realized I was ranked the highest student that didn’t have to give a speech (Public speaking kills me). So after that, I was long-hair-don’t-care about graduation and really just wanted to get it out of the way.

I ranked #3 with “honors with distinction” and also was awarded “star student” for having the highest SAT scores in my graduating class.

Both sets of grandparents traveled down from Wisconsin for the weekend, which was nice, as I rarely get to see them. My boyfriend Brian also flew over from California to be there.

We spent the rest of the weekend relaxing by the pool.

Reflecting on my high school career, I don’t have much to say. I sincerely doubt I will be one of those individuals to remark later on in life about how they were the best days of my life. However, I also can’t say that they were torturous or completely awful. I enjoyed school for the most part. I love learning. It definitely became tedious and less appealing during my junior and senior years, but for the most part, high school was pretty okay.

While the rest of my classmates went into that weekend relishing in their newfound freedom from compulsory education, I was desperate to make the most of my last week in Georgia. That following Saturday, I was to pack up my car with all my worldly belongings, say goodbye to my family, and drive across the country to California. From there, I would move in with Brian and truly begin my career as a professional photographer.

I can honestly say that I never anticipated this path for myself. Growing up, I was convinced that I would be some sort of doctor or lawyer or other conventional, high-paying profession. I’d never had a passion or showed an aptitude for anything other than school. I had been brainwashed into believing that I wouldn’t be happy unless I made hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, owned a big house, and had a secure job. I took classes designed for a career in medicine and had decided to pursue a career as an anesthesiologist, simply on the notion that it was the best-paying job and I was smart.

Toward the end of my sophomore year of high school, I discovered photography. I don’t want to be cliché and say that it changed my life, but I don’t know any other way to put it. It wasn’t until about halfway through my 365 project that I realized I really was in love with the art and couldn’t see myself doing anything but taking photographs for the rest of my life. It came gradually of course, so it wasn’t even a surprise when I spoke the words for the first time, “I want a career as a photographer”.

I did meet some opposition from my parents, even more so when I announced that I didn’t want to go to college, but rather try to make it without any post-secondary education. It was a struggle convincing them of my reasoning behind it, and to this day, I’m not sure I have them completely convinced, but they’ve come to accept my decision and support it. I was conscious the entire time that they only wanted what was best for me, so it wasn’t like I harbored any ill feelings toward them. It was more like feeling like a bird trapped in a cage. I know that I’m being heavy with the cliché analogies, but that’s a good way of describing how I felt.

I do feel that there is a lot of brainwashing and contradiction that occurs within today’s society, and it occurs so gradually and begins so early in our lives that it is hard to root out or realize until faced with a situation like an artist might encounter. A college education has come to be something that is almost instinctively sought after high school. Not to go has essentially become a taboo. I don’t have anything against the idea of college whatsoever, especially when one aspires to a career where it is required, like a lawyer or doctor. It is when that mindset is applied to those careers that do not require it when I see a problem, like a photographer, per say. Art school can be a great thing for those who desire guidance and the fundamentals. However, for someone like myself, who has already established his own personal way of creating, I don’t think it is entirely necessary and could even be detrimental in a way. True art and talent and inspiration cannot be taught. It is born. That’s how I see it.

I’ve never been one to take risks, and choosing to pursue a career on my own just felt so right that I didn’t even see it as one. I’ve learned to go after what I want and my own happiness and let everything else and everyone else’s judgments fall by the wayside. #YOLO. Haha.

Anyway, I didn’t mean for this to go so long or get so serious. I plan to continue to post here -- much more light-heartedly, hopefully – when exciting things happen, or… I don’t know, I just want to say something that won’t fit in a flickr description.