The Walk

1259. This life is a journey. Of love and of heartbreak. Of success and failure. Of music that calms us, amps us, brings us back to a memory or forward to a goal. And of smells that make us stop in our tracks, breathe in a bit deeper. Pause for a moment. And remember. In my 20’s, I would buy olive oil soap from Kiss My Face, and bring it on journeys that I anticipated would become sentinel moments in my life. Semester at Sea. Working on a farm with my first boyfriend. I tried to wire my brain preemptively, to know that when I smelled that soap in the future, It would sweep me back to the memories of India, Vietnam, Seattle, or South Pulaski, middle-of-nowhere, New York. Much the same, still photos of moments, the ones we perhaps don’t even know were captured, can transport us right back to a memory so rarely accessed, but as vivid as if it were happening in this very moment.

Shifting and Changing

98-Edit58. I met with a close colleague of mine yesterday morning for coffee. We haven’t seen each other in years, but share a similar path. We happened upon the question of posing clients. Not often do either of us do so, but sometimes it’s necessary.  As the young children of my clients grow older, they become aware of how they are perceived, how they look. And as a result, I have a new opportunity to shift with them. To guide a pose into relaxation. Calmness and presence. And a self assurance that we all want to hold onto – forever.

The Flow

AntelopeCanyonSmall57. There’s a lot of talk circling about these days about getting “into the flow”. The flow. The groove of creativity where it just feels easy, almost mindless. When hours can pass and you emerge wondering what time it is, and how long it’s been since you’ve eaten. Harmony and ease, humming along, creation flowing without the hangers on of judgement, edit, competition. Those hours and days, though fleeting are what pushes an artist like me.

Everyday Moments






56. The simple everyday moments are often the most beautiful.

Walking in the Woods with My Dad

755. When I was about a year older than this little girl, I have a strong memory. I was walking in the Sequoia National Forest alongside my Dad. Memories informed by photos, I was probably wearing my little red backpack. I profoundly felt that what we were doing was special, soul filling. I never wanted it to end. The smell of earth, the soft feel underfoot, my family all together on a path. We were in that park for that summer, and in the Rockies for several after, because Kodak had sent my Dad to teach photo walks to visitors of the National Parks. Our family came along – in a dark red station wagon – crossing the country to arrive to rustic housing on beautiful lands. I remember, at 3, desperately wanting to provide that experience for my kids when I grew up. So I asked my Dad, as he walked, what his job was. He said “I’m a photographer for Kodak.” I filed that little nugget away, tightly in my brain, trying not to forget. Cause, see, I had to marry a man with that exact job one day. Well, couldn’t find that guy, so guess I had to do it myself.

In Context. In the Middle of the Road.

004254. I haven’t forgotten about this blog. The opposite, in fact. When I look at images, stories come alongside, and lots of stories have been circling this week. I’m just back in D.C. for the start of my forth year of this back and forth life, living and working between Seattle and D.C. Back in the neighborhood and places I know so well, seeing friends, clients, waitstaff, cashiers, homeless, familiar strangers and more whom I’ve known for a decade and a half. It strikes me that I feel centered as I walk down the street. All of this familiarity puts me in context…with a sensation that I’m a person within a larger system, instead of an individual chartering an unknown path, alone.

This image of Elena, I can feel her smallness in the vastness of the world. The union of the horizon line with her body. How that union meets with her center. The smallness of her within the vastness of the space. Her vulnerability as she stands alone. That she has a place and power, but no matter the pressure that she ever feels, that the world does not rely on her alone. That she is a person within a larger system, in context.

Spring is Coming!

jumpsmall.jpg53. I’ve been off for a few days visiting with a close girlfriend, a member of my “council”. The small group of people who I call on when life gets real. When the questions require true reflection. Seattle got excited to see her and put on it’s Sunday best. Sunshine, mountains proudly beckoning from every view, and a city humming with early relief from the rain. And in just three days, I’ll be on a plane to DC for my spring season! Hope to see you at our Cherry Blossom Mini Sessions on Saturday or Sunday, or sometime else before my mid-may journey back west.




52. Looking into a mirror, most of us see what we perceive needs correcting. But there is this moment, when you’re a bride. A rite of passage planned for, deliberated over, wherein the adornment is a large part of the ritual.  A glance into the mirror after dressing, and a slight breath in, to feel something so outside of ourselves, so outside of the everyday. I love this image of Alicia before her marriage to Ben. In the space between planning and declaring. A moment of culmination.


Happy Easter. Bye Bye.

0040.jpg51. My great aunt Joan was my maternal grandfather’s sister. She lived in the city of Indianapolis, where she taught kindergarten as far as I know. She also played classical piano. She smoked a pack or two of cigarettes a day, and as we grew, the gaggle of cousins that are us were intrigued by her. My memories of her: she wore orange flowered bell bottoms, she bought us gifts, she was hoarse and independent and tiny and a little outside the main. One year, near the end of her long life, we had come home from Easter Sunday church. My mom hit the blinking PLAY light on the answering machine as we walked into the wood paneled kitchen, and Joan’s nicotine-laden voice came through: “Claire. Happy Easter. Bye Bye.” As far as we know, she left the same message, with a different address, to each of my mom’s remaining 7 siblings. Joan was a woman born to a woman who died giving birth to her. She has a story that I don’t know, but want to. She carried a love for her extended family, because we were what she had.

I get a call several times a day from a man in Atlanta. A 770 number. A few months ago his message would say “Lanel! It’s your dad. Just wantin’ to talk with ya. Give me a call when you can.”  I called him back after a few messages to let him know he had the wrong number. After gently explaining the situation, he became irate. His wife grabbed the phone. I explained the same, and she said “We just got off of the phone with Lanel, our son. Please excuse my husband, he’s not well.”

He still calls me. Every morning and most evenings. I don’t know his name. This morning his voicemail said “……… knees are a’hurtin. so bad. my knees are a’hurtin and i don’t know what to do about it. bye.” and just now: “I’m havin’ problems. Lanel….” I could hear his wife chatting in the background with a visitor.

I can’t do anything about this man in Georgia, I don’t think. I can hear his wife in the background as he leaves me messages, thinking that he is communicating with his son. But what it reminds me is that family and community is everything. If you aren’t in touch, be in touch. Today is the day.

Living It

17-3.jpg50. Twelve years ago I was introduced to this lovely woman, Kelly Dinardo. I asked if I could pick her brain about starting my own company. She said, “Sure! Join me while I take my dog for a walk and I’ll share with you what I know.” She had been a freelance writer for many years before then, carving her own path. It was her support in this first conversation, and a deep, multi-faceted friendship and series of collaborations since then that has enriched both of our lives. With joy, I want to celebrate her new book, Living the Sutras and podcast, Living It. To celebrate her newest endeavor, my little new company Bird&Fish, Co. is giving away a free set of custom playing cards with any purchase. Listen to today’s podcast for the code, and be entered to win a fun Bird&Fish, Co. gift pack!

Here’s to collaborations, great friends, mutual support and living it well. And RIP dear Dudley, the wonder pooch who needed a walk and helped bring us together.