Two Milestones in One Year

Sunday, April 3, 2016 Permalink 0

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This year marks two milestones for me. It’s my 25th anniversary of working as a professional photographer, and I turn fifty. How did that happen? People have always commented on how fast life passes by. The older you get, the more velocity it has.

When I look back at my career, creative path and growth, I feel like I’ve packed a lot of life experience into those years. It seems that I should have a square hand on the wheel by now, but challenges are still there just like when I was starting out. They’re just different now. I’ve come to realize that longevity and fulfillment truly is all about process. (And gratitude, but that’s for another post.)

It seems that I should have a square hand on the wheel by now, but challenges are still there just like when I was starting out.

You have to love the process of your work. Process is what takes up the days and years. Process is what you do every day, day in and day out. It’s what gets you through the droughts, frustrations, blank pages, lack of ideas and imagination. I’ve learned to trust in process. I’ve learned to pay attention to where and how ideas come forth, to write them down or see them slip away.

There’s always more to learn, more to see and do. There is failure and success along the way. Some projects never get traction. Others flow with more ease. The one thing that remains consistent is the work behind creativity.

I’ve come to realize that longevity and fulfillment truly is all about process.

Most of the time, I’m happy to do the work. The work is what gets me through any fear and inertia that might plague whatever confidence, enthusiasm or momentum I may have.

I like the big picture and the minutia. I like making messes, being vulnerable and wandering into serendipity. I love when creativity brings forth adventure and discovery. I love the relationships nurtured through art, music, film, play and collaboration.

Once in awhile, I have to step back, turn away, do something else. Get lost with my guitar. Write a song. Travel. Disappear with my husband. Make a movie. Cook dinner. Take the dog for a walk. Have coffee with friends. Binge watch a series.

Now I also realize that this too is connected. One informs the other.

Eventually, I always come home to my camera, to my work and to the process. I return to the thrill of making images, art and storytelling.

Out to Sea!

Thursday, February 19, 2015 Permalink 0

Hello from sunny Montana!

Please note I will be out of the studio and on assignment from February 20 until March 6.

Cameras in hand, I’m heading for a voyage on the Lord Nelson, one of two sailing vessels in the world designed and built to enable people of all physical disabilities to sail on equal terms. We’ll be navigating from the Bahamas to Bermuda, straight through the middle of the Bermuda Triangle.

You can track the ship here:

The Lord Nelson (and sister vessel, The Tenacious) are British tall ships commissioned and owned by the Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST) whose mission is to promote the integration of people of all physical abilities through the challenge and adventure of tall ship sailing.

People with disabilities constitute our nation’s largest minority group – a group in which any of us could be a part of at any time.

The JST has partnered with the US organization, America’s Freedom Sailor, to help build and operate the first and only American tall ship based on the principles of Universal Design enabling those with special needs to sail alongside their able-bodied family and friends. Think of it like Eagle Mount for sailing adventures!

This is the first partnered trip between the two organizations in an effort to build awareness around this monumental American project! I’m thrilled to be joining as the photographer of the expedition!

Showing your support is easy through a “Like” on their Facebook page!

There’s very limited Wifi along the way, but I do hope to post a few images to Instagram if I can during the trip.

Thanks so much for reading. I’ll be back in touch with a full report when I return!

Warmest winter regards,


The Bound Bison Project Moves Toward Phase II

Sunday, February 15, 2015 Permalink 0

Beware of artists.

They mix with all classes of society and are therefore most dangerous.

Since I work as a visual artist, Queen Victoria’s quote really resonates with me.

Over the years, my creative life has taken me between worlds of wealth and poverty, opportunity and oppression. I think it was the movements between these experiences that created the seed to an idea, which became a study, and finally a photograph when all the pieces and parts finally came together.

It was never my intention to make a film. I initially saw this project as a single piece of public art.

But in the process of creating the image, everything sort of snowballed.

The Bound Bison Project became a mobile art installation inspired by the great duo Jean-Claude and Christo and French graffiti artist JR. It serves as a talking piece about the nature of citizenship, patriotism, freedom, conservation and racial identity.

With collaborators from the Blackfeet Nation of Northern Montana, we created the first work in a spiritually iconic landscape on the east side of Glacier National Park.

We had some extra time after we completed the image, so we moved the art to Browning — one of the most economically challenged communities in Montana and the hub of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation — the reaction was unexpected and astounding.

Continue Reading…

Surf Simply the Best

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 Permalink 0

Growing up in the mountains with my feet firmly planted on two skis, surfing was never really on my radar. Even in my native Brazil, we were always inland — visiting family in rural Sao Paolo state. The coast and ocean was just a distant idea.

Years after my clocked ticked 4-0, I gingerly made a first attempt at the “new-to-me” sport as a healthy way to take a break from the extended winters that Montana is noted for.

It started (and sort of temporarily ended) with a trip to Mexico where I had a ad-hoc hour long lesson. Forget learning any details on technique, the lesson consisted of some pop up instruction, a few shove-ins from the whitewater, and a stance consisting of placing my lagging hand upright and the leading arm outstretched in front pointing at the beach, in a sort of American basketball offensive foul call.


The following days were filled with being trounced in the spin cycle surf then tossed out and cushioned by a vast carpet of a recent sea urchin bloom.

The monotony was broken by the jolt of a sting ray. The sting painfully abated by soaking in a concoction cooked up by the local surf shack. A bucket of indigenous leaves mixed in boiling hot water and a local hooch tequila chaser provided slow relief.

After three weeks of dutiful punishment I ended up in a crowded ER deep in the old part of Zihuatanejo with a festering and spreading infection.

“Mi mano no esta bien” — a phrase curiously absent from the Lonely Planet phrasebook — gave the local doc on duty an afternoon smile.

An embedded urchin spine was the culprit. I was sent out the door with a prescription for a hefty dose of “antibioticos.” The receptionist typed out the invoice in triplicate carbon copy — forty two pesos equivalent to the price of an order of guacamole which would most certainly have been more enjoyable. The experience left me with a wilted attitude toward the ocean and the sport. I could see no fun in prolonged periods of pain followed by panicked excursions to the local hospital of a developing nation.

See below the receipt, which I taped into my journal for proof of the cost of a visit to the local ER:


I was ready to throw in the towel when my husband and his friend Sarah discovered a place called Surf Simply in Playa Guiones, Costa Rica. They went down on a trial run to see if the place was truly as great as all of the glowing 5 star reviews on Trip Advisor.

Todd returned from Costa Rica raving about his trip. “It’s the perfect beach break for learning. The surf is incredibly consistent and friendly. No crowds. No sea urchins. Top notch instruction. Lovely accommodations. Etc. etc. etc.”

He had a proposition; He would take me to try the place out as a holiday gift and if I still wasn’t psyched about surfing, then he would agree that it may truly not be my sport.

How could anyone say no to that kind of offer?

By saying yes to learning and adventure while saying no to my fears and insecurities, I came to know and love Surf Simply, the sport and have a new found appreciation for the ocean and waves.

The surf camp completely changed my perspective, skill level and confidence through a spectacular experience in and out of the water. 

Every detail from transportation and meals to lodging and relaxation is meticulously planned. The only thing left on a traveler’s to-do list is to learn and have as much fun as possible!

To begin, your experience level is assessed by a detailed pre-trip questionnaire.

The coaching ratio is exceedingly low and overall group size limited to 12. One coach for every one-three students, but typically two.  Two sessions per day allow for ample personal instruction under different conditions, punctuated by on-land theory lessons and video analysis. The teaching ability and technical skill level of the coaches is stellar, but they’re also just plain fun people to be around.

Here Harry is describing the finer details of a white water climb to Todd and Sarah:

Harry, Todd and Sarah in an early morning session

My initial forays into the sport had left me with precisely no knowledge of surfing. My run-ins with critters of the ocean had left me with, well, lets call it a concern for what lurks below.

As a Level 1 beginner, I learned with Coach Jessie and Prado how, why and when to pop up on a surf board, how the board works and how to control it, what your functional stance should look like. More advanced skills such as trimming and carving turns, paddling techniques, turtle dives, reading a surf report, the science of the swell, and safety protocol were introduced throughout the week. Most importantly, I learned a critical skill for ocean excursions – “the sting ray shuffle.”

This year I transitioned to Level 2 with Coach Jessie. We covered how to read and assess waves, binary and dynamic selection of waves, finding spot X, angled take offs, board design and etiquette were added to the arsenal of knowledge as well as a lot of review of Level 1 skills. I also learned a great deal about small victories and my own perceived limitations.

Below Coach Jessie and I are OTB (Out The Back) with the advanced students:

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Continue Reading…

The Snow Monkeys of Jigokudani + More Firsts in Japan

Monday, January 5, 2015 Permalink 0

I’ve always been intrigued by the snow monkeys who “take onsen” – especially after seeing Marsel van Oosten’s viral image of the macaque “checking his email” in the famous hot springs. When we figure out this unusual routine happens pretty close to Tokyo in a region referred to as the “Japanese Alps,” Todd and I are all in.

Macaques in Onsen

It’s about a mile hike up to the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, through a lush forest on a well maintained trail.

Trail to Monkey Park

The forest is marked with tree identifications along the way.

Tree Identification

Once we climb all the way up to the hot springs, we find many families of monkeys scampering about and soaking in the hot water. They swim and play, groom each other, and enjoy the relaxing heat while the rest of us shiver with our cameras. We joke about how this really is a tourist destination for the monkeys to watch people.

About an hour after we arrive, a park ranger comes and builds a little bonfire. I have yet to see this happen at the Boiling River in Yellowstone. It is welcome for our stiff hands and cold toes.

Grooming in Hot Springs

Continue Reading…

Design, Whimsy and Snacks: The Architect’s Wife Now Open in Bozeman

Sunday, January 4, 2015 Permalink 0

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I’m loving interior designer Abby Hetherington’s recently opened design studio and showroom, The Architect’s Wife. She renovated and set up shop at the vintage Montana Motors garage off of Babcock street in Bozeman.

A thoughtfully curated interiors and lifestyle store, Abby and her team feature contemporary furniture, luxurious home lighting, as well as unique finds and accessories; even the most distinguished shoppers are sure to discover extraordinary pieces for the home. You can purchase items right off the floor or use the extensive fabric, flooring, and wall-covering library for special orders. The team is friendly, creative and knowledgable. I love stopping in and having them show me the latest design treasures and the stories behind them.

And the snacks. Did I mention the snacks? The peanut butter-filled pretzels call my name every time I visit. (As do the flaming hot cheese balls, which of course I would NEVER admit to.)

See Abby’s design projects and website here.

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“A Path Appears” to Premiere January 26, February 2 and February 9 on PBS

Sunday, January 4, 2015 Permalink 0

I’m excited to finally be able to share the documentary A Path Appears with you! This past year I was on the road in Africa, Haiti and across America with Pulitzer Prize winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn capturing images and video for the book, social media campaign and companion series which is premiering this month!

The documentary examines the struggles women face in the United States and abroad, and the inspiring individuals working with them to create effective solutions. The book provides a unique and essential narrative about making a difference in the world — and a roadmap to becoming a conscientious global citizen.

The three 1 1/2 hour segments air on PBS January 26, February 2 and February 9.

Please take a look and let’s discuss! I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

15 Years of Portraits: Walking Memory Lane with Acclaimed Jazz Vocalist Jeni Fleming

Tuesday, December 30, 2014 Permalink 1

One of the joys of working in photography is the opportunity to collaborate with amazing subjects who through the introduction and process become friends. Over a period of months then years, relationships grow as do the laughs, tears, hugs and stories. The great memories multiply.

It’s a gift to look back through stacks of images, a reminder of how precious and wonderful life and friends really are.

I’ve cherished a long and vibrant history with singer Jeni Fleming. We met as the 1990’s were fading to the millennium. Both young artists, we were embarking on the winding paths that would criss and cross over the years, spanning all sorts of personal and professional milestones.

Looking through my archive the other day, I decided to pop a few images over to her for the sake of tripping down Memory Lane.

Here’s what Jeni had to say:

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“Our very first photo shoot together!  Wow, I look like a child, because…I was!

I think I was 26 in this picture. We did this shoot in Audrey’s dining room.

Funny to think how little we knew each other back then, could we have imagined that we’d become lifelong friends?

I’m trying to decide if I see something different in this early photo, something that says my trust in her developed over time, but I think that it was instantaneous which explains why it always boded well for us and our friendship.

When someone has witnessed your life, in all of its beautiful and ugly stages, for as long as Audrey has, its hard to imagine not knowing that person.  I think we’ll know each other forever.”

Continue Reading…

A Visit to St. Ignatius

Saturday, November 8, 2014 Permalink 1

I’ve driven by the historic mission at St. Ignatius many, many times without being able to stop and actually enter the building. On a summer trip to Kalispell this year, I made a definitive plan to swing in and found a spectacular interior – delicately painted and softly illuminated by the large antique windows.

Apparently, the 58 murals were painted between 1901-1902 by an untrained artist who worked as a cook and handyman at the mission. 

If you’re ever on US Highway 93 between Missoula and Kalispell, MT, I highly recommend stopping in!

Painting John at the NW Filmmakers Festival

Friday, November 7, 2014 Permalink 0

Painting John, a short documentary I made about artist Hugh Wilson, continues the journey through film festivals and broadcast, this time landing in Portland, Oregon for the annual NW Filmmakers Festival.

A lone rancher and nomadic artist.

A stark landscape and unrelenting winter.

Through the intimacy of life portraiture, two people meet and forge an improbable bond beyond the world of social networks and sound bytes.


See the film online at Montana PBS.