American In Tropical London

     My first day in London was in fact, not a day at all, but the continuation of a three day long sprint to the city via every mode of transportation imaginable.

Thursday September 13, 2012

      I waited anxiously, my bags packed, for the arrival of my visa. It still angers me how paying an additional fee suddenly made my visa ready for approval at the start of the next business day.

      At 9:30 the postman arrived with both my visa and document originals and from then on it was a sprint. I've used it already but the most accurate way to describe my state of mind for the upcoming 4 days was anxious. Within the hour I was loading what I deemed by most desired possessions into a van and headed to join my parents and embark for the airport. Our goal was to make a BWI Space-A flight headed for the air-force base in Rammstein, Germany.

(Space-A: Military transport planes with a certain number of "space available" seats. This could be any variety of aircraft from commercial to military utility transport. You need to be related to active duty military personnel or a dependent/spouse of retired personnel. You are not a ticketed passenger and are not guaranteed a space on a flight, you have to show up, wait, and hope there is room.... But it is definitely an adventure!)

   2:30 found us all pushing dollies of luggage through the comparatively empty international terminal at BWI. We waited for several hours, satiated by the ice cream and packaged snacks at the USO, only to find the plane filled 3 passengers ahead of us.

   Even though I was disappointed about the flight I was actually excited to have one more night at home, one more night it my own bed, and one more night with my animals. My parents and I met my cousin in Baltimore and relaxed with pizza and beer.

Friday September 14, 2012

     In retrospect, friday set the pace for the whole trip. The previous night my dad and I had discussed driving the 2 hours up to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware if they announced additional seats on their scheduled flight. The flight we were interested in had a manifested time of 1:10pm and by they had abruptly rescheduled it to 11:20am.

     So with barely one eye open and the early signs of fatigue just starting to make themselves known,   we drove to Dover with little anticipation of actually making the flight. When we got to the terminal we discovered that the flight had be rescheduled yet again, this time to 2:30pm. We had enough time to eat and even get in a few games of pool before they announced passengers. They announced the flight list and we made it, Filling the last 3 seats available!

     We checked out bags and payed for in-flight snack and made our way to the waiting area. Just as my dad was running back through the doors they announced that 3 additional crew had just arrived.... meaning that we were bumped from the flight.

     Again disappointed but this time I was filled with a surge of optimism. There was another flight scheduled to depart from Dover later that day, but it what I learned was typical fashion, it was cancelled without notice. With diminishing options for leaving that day we decided to try for a flight  departing from McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey (an additional 2 hours away). Listed online there were 19 available seats, upon our check in there were 53, before roll call there were 39. 

   I started to have doubts about making this flight as well, doubts which were confirmed by the filling terminal and subsequent drop of available seats to 20. We didn't make it onto the flight even thought they did eventually add additional passengers at the very end.

    Again we planned to wait for the following flight and again we learned that it was cancelled without notice. 

    Traveling is stressful when it is planned, imagine having to go through all the procedures of flying back to back to back to back..... It does a number on you. 

     Back in the car again we debated if it was more prudent to drive the 5 hours back home to Maryland and embark from home the next day or to try and find a hotel in Delaware near the base and get an early start on the waiting list. All the while I am checking flight schedules for the morning through my phone and 1:15am flight pops up! Pushing the van we make it all the way back to Dover and into the terminal by 1:05am to find no seats available.

     With fading eyes we spent the night in a Best Western near the base and attempted to get some rest so that we could try the whole raquette again the next day.

Saturday September 15, 2012

     There is always something about hotels that wakes me up early in the morning. Maybe it's just the knowledge that if you are in one you need to wake and and do what you set out to do. 

     We had breakfast in what use to be Delaware's Governor's mansion (governor's cafe). I very rarely think these types of places quaint but this cafe was surprisingly unique, warm and inviting. The morning sun and hot pour over coffee were exactly what I needed. 

Governor's Cafe - Dover, Delaware

     We queued for the next flight at Dover and checked our bags, safely in the middle of the manifested list! I was next to go through the security check point when there was a halt. My dad was already through the check point and had to return. There was an issue with the plane and we were being delayed! Our flight was pushed back from 11am to 11:30pm.

A view of the terminal

    There has been something seemingly significant about how close to departure we have been at the appearance of every obstacle. I passed the time mostly in the USO lounge and reading Catch-22, I'll admit I couldn't have chosen a more appropriate book under the circumstances. 

     After all of the challenges we made it onto the plane, which ended up being a HUGE air force cargo plane, and into canvas jump seats. This has got to be one of the coolest ways to travel. You can see the guts of the plane and hear the engines so loudly that you have to wear ear plugs. There is a surge of adrenaline on that type of aircraft, it's size and purpose makes you feel as if you are traveling towards some rugged adventure. 

Finally on the plane!

What was in my box lunch :-)

Air Force Plane I was in

My Ride

     There are no windows except two small port holes at the front and rear of the plane. The plane itself is open, you can see all it's contents and all it's passengers. Passengers in canvas seats line the sides and two mammoth cargo containers occupy the middle.

     I'm sure this is the feeling people crave when they go traveling, like they are channeling Hemingway and facing some great unknown. 

Sunday 16, 2012

     If I thought nothing could top the insanity of friday, sunday proved me wrong utterly. After spending 7+ hours in the air (with maybe an hour of sleep strung together) we only lingered at the air force base in Rammstein Germany for a few hours. Long enough to stretch our legs, orient ourselves, and quickly get something to eat. We missed a possible connecting flight to Mildenhall England so we decided to drive.

     The car we rented was a stick shift so only my dad could drive it, he would have to be wheel man the whole way there. Driving through Germany I was overcoming by just how beautiful it is. The care and detail given to things is astounding, specifically the agriculture cultivation is amazing. There are rows and rows of terraced crops and huge plots of solar panels, all coexisting with lush lanscapes.

      Both my parents and I had gotten very little sleep, with the little acquired not being very deep, and were now engaged in a 7+ hour car trip across europe. What a ride ;-) So as you might imagine my dad began to get fatigued and we had to make frequent stops all across Germany. I had to switch to the front seat of the car just to keep him awake and alert. We began having more trouble when we hit Brussels. My dad was having more trouble staying awake and increasingly glazed looks. 

On the road

My dad taking a break in Germany

Terraced agriculture in Germany

Getting a little crazy 

You may not be able to see it but we reached 107mph in Germany..... very exciting

Sunset in Germany

    The main impression I got of Brussels from the car was that of a tiny, empty, christmas village. 

    We made it all the way to France on the dregs of my dad's sanity. Running on fumes, both literally and metaphorically, we went through immegration at the port of Calais and tried to buy a ticket for the ferry. Because we couldn't find an attendant that spoke english we ended up leaving the secure area and driving away from the port! Panicing, we had to find a gas station, fill up, and reenter the port.

Ferry at the port of Calais

Waiting in line with our tickets

     We made it on to the ferry and I ate my first "full english breakfast" while trying to find a hostel for my parents. I knew that by the time we got to London I wouldn't be able to sleep if I wanted to make it to registration on time so I just need to find somewhere my parents could sleep. 

English Breakfast

     We disembarked from the ferry at the white cliffs of Dover, traveling from Dover Delaware to Dover UK. The next few hours were the most challenging yet. We had to yell, drink energy drinks, roll the windows down, get out and walk, all just to stay awake and get to London. This is not even going in to how terrifying it is to see headlights coming at you on the opposite side of the road. You feel like you are going to be hit!

   I navigated us into London and to a hostel with available beds I had found online. I left my parents in the car and went to enquire about rooms. The place I had originally found did have a room but wasn't available to check in until 11am. I knew my parents wouldn't last that long so I went up and down the street enquiring at 2 other hostels and found them a room in one.

Monday 17, 2012

     They were finally checked in and going to sleep at 7am and I was off to have a coffee and breakfast before registration. So I arrived to the London College of Fashion on 3 days with no sleep, travel-worn  and hungry.... I bet I made quite the impression on the undergrads ;-)

Entrance to our campus at Oxford Circus

All can glitter, if you make it gold

After my surgery, I was eager to plan something in New York. I have been thinking about this concept all throughout my recovery period and knew that Yasutaké Kosaka was just the man to pull of this amazing hair concept.

He created two amazing wigs that were absolutely beautiful. It was wonderful to do a street shoot again, I don't think I have done one since I was in school. I think the people of New York definitely got an eye full when our team walked down the street. It's not ever day you see a beautiful girl in a shinning gold wig! Well maybe less out of the ordinary in New York.....

Blood Milk Jewels that we used for the shoot.

Wardrobe layout 


Yuko Nakao dressing Muse Model Andrea Sheffield
Hey New York! We roll with our heads in boxes

We get a little weird after a long day of shooting! 

Look out for the published images in Esthétique Magazine issue 8.

Howling at the moon, Lady Wolf Birthday!

I went up to Boston for my birthday, I have never has large birthday celebrations but spending this birthday with this particular group of people has definitely been one of my favorites.

We went out and shared specialty drinks and comfort food, we laughed and screamed at each other, we made pictures and words out of sparkling light, and made memories that I will cherish forever.

Thank you, you are all immensely special <3


Yasutaké Kosaka and I

My favorite people in the world

Let loose the drums and dance free

I dream of wolves and glitter, of sparkly eye priestesses, and of everlasting friendship.

Up all night, Sleep all day

   This shoot had so many hurtles, I think if it wasn't for the perfect combination of people on the team it would have been disastrous!
   Night time shoots are always challenging because everyone's energy is never as high as during the day but to add on to that issue it was also a rainy night. Talk about draaaaag. After a lot of initial confusion and everyone getting situated It was actually an amazingly funny night!

   The concept was insomnia, specifically how everything  seems to get more and more outlandish the further into sleep depravation you get.

I can not stress how amazing Christine is as a model, her personality and energy are amazing to have in the mix at a shoot. Beyond that I can always count on her to be willing to try any of my crazy ideas and look amazing while doing it!

   As it happens, we were all pretty sleep deprived by the end of this one. During the clean up and drive home we had all reached that wonderful part of exhaustion where absolutely EVERYTHING is funny. I guess this shoot was more in the vein of method acting... we were actually sleep deprived so we could relate completely to our subject matter! 

See the rest in Neon Black Magazine

  My sides hurt for days ;-)

Day Trip to NYC

I had to go to New York City for the day to have an interview with fashion photographer Ruven AfanadorAiluj and WinteR came along for the day so after my interview (which was an absolutely amazing experience) we were able to walk around the city and show Ailuj some of the sites. We were also able to meet up with the talented Yasutaké Kosaka.

First things first... Coffee!

Central Park

Yasutaké Kosaka, WinteR, and Ailuj in central park
asutaké Kosaka, WinteR, and Ailuj in central park

Yasutaké Kosaka and I

Ailuj and I
WinteR and Ailuj

Me and Ailuj

Me Ailuj and Yasutaké Kosaka waiting for the Megabus 

Made of Adamantium

  One of the main reasons that I made the move back to Baltimore was to have corrective surgery preformed on both of my feet.  The surgery itself and the recovery period have consumed a significant part of the past year.

An example of healthy muscle and bone structure

On the left you can se the drastic misdirection of the bone in my big toe (it is the same on the other foot) and on the right you see where they cut and corrected it using a staple and screw.

 I was confined to bedrest for a large part of each recovery period, as anyone who has had to endure this, it doesn't take you long to go stir crazy. However, after a few weeks I began to enjoy books and documentaries with growing interest. Oddly it was the downtime from the surgery that allowed my to cultivate and expand my other interests.

My foot had to be kept elevated with ice on it and I was under strict bedrest.

I spent my day reading, watching and learning.

After I was finally healed and walking after the first surgery I had to have the whole procedure repeated for the second foot.

 I return to photography with a greater hunger and playfulness. I can't wait to make some images!

Protect Me

   The idea of fashion as armor has been on my mind for a while now, and as some of you know, it is a theme that pops up  frequently in my shoots in some way or another. It is a concept I believe to be at the center of many fashion designs as well as the creation of clothing itself. Fashion is a means by which we keep what is inside, the entity of us, within ourselves. It acts as an armoring vessel. It is also a way to keep us protected from the world.

    I am really interested in exploring the iconography of traditional armor pieces as well as how they have influenced fashion. What is it about the shapes and texture of armor that, when mimicked, create  a type of mental armor that allows us to feel safe.

   This shoot has become a launching pad to what I am sure will be lengthy exploration of this idea.

The full editorial can be seen in Alexis Magazine Vol. 10
Select jewelry used in shoot by Blood Milk Jewelry

Girl with the dragon tattoo H&M capsule collection

     Fresh from watching all three swedish versions of the millennium series, I was excited to discover that H&M teamed up with Trish Summerville (The movie's costume designer) to create a capsule collection around the character of Lisbeth Salander.

     The Collection dropped December 14 at H&M stores worldwide but it has been getting some pretty intense internet backlash both pre and post launch. I, for one, am struggling to understand these venomous bloggers who claim that the collection "Glamorizes Rape." Now I freely admit that I haven't read David Fincher's books but the movies are gripping and wonderful (I haven't seen the most recent US adaptation). There are certainly some parts that are difficult to watch, you really start to empathize with Lisbeth through the abuse she goes through in the films. However, the last word I would use to describe her is "victim."

   Terrible things happen to her that influence her personal style, she covers her body with clothing that she feels powerful in. Her style is about empowering herself and allowing her to fight for herself and others.
Dragon Tattoo Collection Photo by H&M
    So how is creating a collection of clothing around such a powerful female character such a bad thing? The main source of this idea is blogger Natalie Kerneef and can be read here. I am making as very general summery, but her opposition to the collection seems to be that they are "putting a glossy finish on rape" and how survivors choose to dress. The thought seems to be that the average person can't possible identify with Lisbeth because they haven't been raped.

    Now where I have trouble with this line of thought is the idea that people are defined by a single action or event. The character of Lisabeth is indeed the victim of many horrible things including physical and mental abuse, but she pushes herself past it to take back her power and save others in the process. That is the main point of the series and her character, not simply showing that rape is a horrible thing. She is, as head designer Anna Norling says, "the very essence of an independent woman." Everything that happens to her as a character is to personify her strength as a heroin.

   This collection was about using a character that the public now identifies with to create clothing that can possibly make women feel empowered if they were it. The idea that rape is the only reason people seek armor is rather ridiculous to me.

Photo by H&M

   I put on armor everyday, it lets me embody more strength then I actually have inside me and allows me to do the things I need to do. I fight my battles, and I fight them hard.