section 2: food & mess kits

how do you eat on expedition? i have found that the one thing i miss while hiking is bread, but bread is heavy. what other options are there then? if you are going for more than a day trip you need to have dehydrated rations. at most sporting goods stores, you will see many options for food in plastic, vacuumed sucked bags. all you have to do is add hot water. mountain house is a great brand (they have delicious eggs and bacon) but the brand i prefer to use is firepot by outdoorfood. they were our sponsor during the villmark expedition and there is no going back now. all of their food is handmade in dorset, england, it is quickly ready, and it has 100% natural ingredients. they are high in calories and protein, perfect for those 8 hour days hiking up mountains. 

photo by @jamiebarnesuk

boiling water with jetboil is the easiest way to can get hot water in just two minutes. jetboil allows you not to have to bring a cup or bowl, they put a handle on the side so you can sip easily or eat from it. the container turns orange when the water is boiled and you can easily stack all the parts together to pack. you have to buy a gas tank separately and you can not take gas on a plane (i figured this out the hard way). when deciding what to buy for expeditions, you need to consider durability. if you buy plastic utensils, they will break and then it makes it hard to eat. always buy aluminum alloy, they are worth it. i use this one. having clean drinking water is essential, for water filtration i use sawyer water filters. the storage container it comes in is a loose net that doesn't stay together all that well, so think about getting a small dry sack for storage. the great thing about this product is you have the option to hook it up directly to your water bladder tube. the only default to doing this is you have to cut a part of your tube, which made me apprehensive. however, this gives you the ability to fill up your water bladder from anywhere and you can sip on it without worry. the other option you have is to fill up the provided bag and squeeze the water through the filtration system into a water bottle or in a pot. both ways work well, it is just a matter of personal preference and efficiency. another alternative that i have bought but not used yet is the lifestraw water bottle. the great thing about this product is it can filter up to 264 gallons of water before it needs changing, it also will physically not allow you to drink water out of it if the filter needs replacing, plus they donate to schools in need of clean water. You can find out more information about the charity here. depending on how long your trip is and how much weight you can tolerate, i carry a 2 litre water bladder with me. A lot of people forget that water weighs more than we think. you should be drinking 2 litres a day, if not more, when backpacking all day. osprey makes a great magnetic feature on the nipple that you can hook on the clip across your chest so you can always be sipping on the water. when i was at standing rock and riding down a dirt road in the back of a truck, 10 people entangled with the other, a man gave me a tanka bar and told me to always keep that with me for emergencies. it is packed with protein and never goes bad, so i always carry it with me when i adventure, partly for emergencies and partly for the memory. the more expeditions you go on, the more objects you will acquire in your bag, train tickets, rocks, batteries, drawings, plants, just random objects that remind you of a specific moment. i haven't cleaned my camera bag out since i have bought it two years ago.

the next section will be about my clothing and tips on personal hygiene while backpacking, stay tuned!

photo by @ianefinch

photo by @ianefinch

photo expedition essentials

adventure photographers are always behind the scenes, they are the ones doing the expedition...but with camera gear. ever wonder what goes into a pack? 

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in order to make money, you have to spend it. in this blog post, i will give you links to all the things that go into my rucksack before an expedition. i'll break it down into sections:

section 1: camera gear

i shoot with a canon eos 7D mark II digital slr camera. when i travel, i usually take two lenses: a canon ef 24-105mm f/4 and a tokina 11-16mm. in the picture above i also have a 70-200mm lens, but don't usually travel with it due to the weight. the 24-105mm lens is a perfect travel lens because it is the best of both worlds. it has the ability for wide angle, yet can zoom in when you need. the 11-16mm is a small compact lens that is great for photographing large structures or trying to show proportion. carrying a camera on backpacking trips is always a struggle, if you use the neck strap it makes your neck sore. to avoid this, i use a carabiner camera sling. (shown in the picture below!) this enables the camera to rest at your hip comfortably, gives you the freedom to use both hands, and you can swing it up to eye level within seconds. for those of you who do video, you realize how much it drains your battery. because my job is photography, i have to put that as a priority to video. when i do videos it is with a gopro because the battery lasts forever, it is portable, you can fit it in your pocket, and it is water proof. these three qualities are vital to getting the best content under stressful situations.

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being on an expedition, you always need to be thinking about how to protect your gear from water, moisture, wind, sand, snow, rain, dropping it, extreme temperatures, and many other things. i keep my sd/cf cards in a waterproof, shock proof, shell. it holds four cf cards and eight sd cards. it was one of the best (and cheapest) purchases that has had a significant impact on how i shoot. for a week long expedition i carry four charged batteries and only switch when the battery loses all of its power. it is always better to have more batteries than not enough. i store batteries, cables, hard drives, and lens wipes in a water resistant bag from rei or a pelican case. the down side (or positive side) to a pelican case is that it's heavy and doesn't have the ability to be compact. even if you try your hardest to protect you equipment, sometimes it is inevitable for them to get dirty. and honestly, if you and your camera aren't dirty by the end of the shoot, you need to do things differently. I use zeiss lens cleaning wipes for those moments. the glass of your lens is super fragile, even the slightest scratch can affect your shot. being on expedition in iceland, we were on a sail boat most of the time. even if it wasn't raining, the moisture from the ocean and the salt would create a film across my lens. at the time, i used my beanie to cover the lens while i wasn't shooting. from this, i learned it is so important to carry a bandana or a small microfiber cloth in case you come across instances like this one. i don't use tripods that often, only for slow shutter shots of the stars or in dark rooms. when i do need a tripod, it is this one. This tripod is compact and light (2.5 lbs) and can fold to 12.5 inches. it has all the features you need, such as being able to pan and operate it smoothly. most importantly, you need to be able to charge your electronics. you can get a standard travel plug kit at rei or walmart to cover each country you visit. below is everything i described, plus some tips on how i use my equipment to the best of its abilities. 

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how to make the best use of your equipment

during expedition it is imperative to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. an example of how to do this is shooting on multiple sd cards. some people use 64gb cards, which is great until you have shot your 7 day expedition on that one card and on the last day it fails you. you can avoid this by shooting half your day on one card and the other half on a different sd card, this way you never lose more than half a day. during the villmark expedition i quickly learned how hard it is to shoot if you use trekking poles. my main purpose was to photograph, and the spontaneity was taken out of it when i had to take the time to put the poles down and then line up my camera. if you want to be an adventure photographer, i would highly suggest not bringing poles unless it is absolutely necessary. depending on what kind of region you are going to, you will quickly learn that the camera batteries charge will drop with the temperature. how do you solve this? keep them warm. how do you keep them warm? i always put my camera batteries in the pocket of my down jacket, this way, they are close to my body heat, easily accessed, and protected from the elements. something i found very hard to find a solution to, was how to change lenses quickly. i found the best way is to get a water resistant cover for your extra lens and put it in the fish netting of your backpack where the water bottle is supposed to go. now, you can reach behind you easily and grab the lens. for the more experienced photographers out there, some question what they mode they should shoot on. i have two different ways of shooting depending on the situation. I shoot on program mode (click here if you don't know where to locate it on your camera) during times that require immediate reaction. for instance when jamie and ian were climbing up the rocky hillside, i didn't have time to check the lighting and make sure all my settings were perfect. i just put that shit on program and pressed the shutter. i also used my 11-16mm lens for this shot in order to get show the size and texture of the rocks surrounding jamie. 

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i typically try to shoot in manual mode so i have full control over what settings i'm using. if i have time to set up the shot and look at what angle the light is coming through, i try to do that as often as i can. taking the time to set up your shot will make editing a lot easier later on. an example of when i shoot on manual is this picture below. i wanted to be able to bring out the fog encompassing the peak and the shadows on the water reflection. for this photo i shot a 1/160 of a second at f/7.1 iso 200. want to start a debate with a photographer? ask them whether it is better to under expose your photo or over expose it. i have heard from multiple photographers different answers. but, this is only a personal preference, so choose what feels right to you. i personally like to over expose just a tiny amount, this way i can keep all the details of my shadows when i edit later on.

here is the 'before' picture. 

before...

before...

after!

after!

that concludes section 1 of my gear. in the next blog post i will cover how to cook on an expedition and what products i use for that. if you have any questions feel free to drop a comment or email me or write me a letter or send a carrier pigeon. i'll most likely answer. so go shoot away and do all things with kindness, you fuckers.

the duck & waffle

one of the biggest misconceptions about traveling is that everything is always planned. yet, it is the opposite, the best and most rewarding parts of traveling are the happy accidents. the times where you don't take a tour bus and you wander the streets with no extensive plan or list. one night, my friends and i were sitting at dinner in the isle of skye. we began discussing that people are more in love with idea of traveling rather than the reality of doing it. and that's okay, traveling is not meant for everyone.

it costs too much..

i don't have the time..

something is bound to go wrong..

i couldn't leave my friends and family..

these are the excuses i hear people come up with when i talk about my travels. i can help solve some of these issues and you'll also get to find out the story behind 'the duck & waffle' if you keep reading.

most everyone wants to travel somewhere in their life. if you are one of these people you are reading this blog because you don't make a million a year or you're bored. whichever it may be, it is still possible to travel without being rich or bored. there are so many useful things you can do to save. and like everything in life, if you want it, you will have to work for it. my personal method for being able to travel is working two jobs, 6 days a week, for 5 months and saving every penny. i set up a savings account where i put my travel money, a place it is not accessible. i also do lots of little things to produce extra money. i sell my clothes or items i don't need anymore, do photography services, or pick up extra shifts. from here, you have to decide what you are willing to do to save your money. there is no amount of pictures i can show you or stories i can tell to convince you to travel. it all comes down to what you want.

As well as saving there are a few tricks to getting the cheapest, but best quality in your time traveling.

 

  1. flights are everything. They are your biggest expense and whole expense, so it's important to do it right the first time. First of all, when checking for flights using your web browser, always use private mode. Yes, your browser has it. (Here is how.) Booking agencies have a sneaky way to gather your cookies and see what you are looking at. so every time you go back to visit that page they make the price higher. it is an uphill battle. in private browsing mode, you are free to search for flights and hotels. giving you the ability to book whenever you would like. Next, the websites you should visit.

here is a list of good and reliable ones:

  • Ryanair (we got a flight for $14.00!)

  • Wowair (very cheap flights to iceland, but only leaves from 8 different locations in the u.s.)

  • Skyscanner (only have flown with them once, but it was a good experience.)

  • Justfly (i use this booking agency almost every time. sign up for their emails and you will get updates on flash deals for flights.)

remember these airlines land in different airports than the main ones. there won't be free checked bags (the fee is $25.00 at the most and make sure to pay online or they will charge you more upfront). food is only an option if you pay for it, and there are no entertainment systems. all in all, it is a seat on a giant metal bird. if you can get past these small negatives, then start searching!

don't forget:

  • to check for baggage fees.

  • arrive for your flight three hours early if it international. two if it is domestic.

  • keep your boarding pass, passport, and debit card accessible. (let your bank know if you will be traveling so they don't disable your card.)

  • make sure your electronics are charged for the flight.

  • download any music/movies the night before take off.

2. sleeping. when it comes to finding a place to sleep at night, you can either end up in an amazing place or a disaster. you have to look at location, price, and amenities. if you are planning on going to the u.k. and want to stay in a hostel, i recommend: safestay. they have eight different locations across europe. they provide lockers for your luggage and they have laundry machines. when booking, decide if location, price, or amenities is the most important. then, focus on getting what you pay for before finding your temporary home. there are places you can get all three, and then there are places you only get one of those. before booking, you have to look at the reviews, good and bad. make sure to read the fine print, don't be afraid to email and ask questions, and look at the photos. in barcelona, i stayed at the most posh hostel i have ever come across. they had doormen! if you are planning a trip to barcelona, check out this hostel.

don't forget:

  • shower shoes.

  • padlocks.

  • towel. (here is the towel i pack for traveling.)

  • small packets of laundry detergent.

GOOD HOSTEL. the location was above a funeral home but that's besides the point. 

BAD HOSTEL. literally we were afraid to touch anything and slept with at least 16 other people. 

BAD HOSTEL. literally we were afraid to touch anything and slept with at least 16 other people. 

my favorite hotel in iceland. 

my favorite hotel in iceland. 

3. eating. obviously you have to eat, but you can't afford to go out every meal. most every hostel provides simple breakfast for a small fee (about $6.00) or sometimes it is free. again, you have to decide what is most important to you. is eating a big breakfast or going out for dinner more important to you? whichever it is, budget for that. look to see if the hostel has a kitchen to cook (most do) or have a fridge to store small groceries.

don't forget:

  • to try new foods!

  • check the hostel breakfast prices.

  • budget (as much fun as that is on vacation.)

  • look at proper table manners for that specific country. (the last thing you want is to act like a tourist.)

a coffee shop in london.

a coffee shop in london.

moroccan food prepared for the three of us as they invited us in their home. 

moroccan food prepared for the three of us as they invited us in their home. 

"american waffles" in barcelona.

"american waffles" in barcelona.

4. transportation. depending on the country you go to as well as your objectives for going, you will need to find a way to get around. when we were in london, the bus and underground were the most convenient since we spent the majority of the time in the city. we got an oyster card for 6 days for $26 which covers the busses and underground routes. however, it is a different story if you are in iceland or scotland. in both of these countries i would suggest that the most efficient way to get around would be to rent a car (you have to be +21) this way you can explore without limits. 

  • isak 4x4 rental (the most popular 4x4 rental in iceland. TIP: get gravel insurance if they offer it)

  • We used ScotRail to get around a large part of scotland. it is a great way to see the country and the landscapes it has to offer through trains. 

don't forget:

  • to book in advance. (especially if you want a window seat.)

  • keep your tickets accessible. you will have to present them before, during, and after your train rides. 

  • to bring entertainment. 

  • plan out before you leave your hostel the bus stop you need to get off at. 

  • if you are driving, have a vague idea of where you are going, but don't be afraid to roam and explore. 

 

the famous double decker busses in london. 

the famous double decker busses in london. 

sometimes you just got to hitchike to get around. 

sometimes you just got to hitchike to get around. 

the train ride in scotland across the harry potter bridge. 

or you can always take a sailboat.

or you can always take a sailboat.

you have made it this far, which tells me you either have read this blog all the way through or you skipped straight to the ending to find out about the 'duck & waffle.' this story is one of the many events that happened accidentally in my travels. in april, i visited sarah and emily in london after their study abroad in morocco. we conveniently decided to visit london on easter weekend, a very celebrated holiday in england. most everything was closed that sunday through tuesday. on tuesday night we decided we want to go out and have a drink, maybe dance. we did our makeup, bought new clothes, and started googling clubs to go to. none of them were open. i was getting hungry and we were not about to waste our makeup. sarah, luckily found a pub that was open 24 hours, served food, and was only a few minutes away. expecting the typical british pub, we arrived at a windowed skyscraper lit by red lights. we thought the address was wrong as the bouncer checked our i.d.'s and escorted us to the elevator. we questioned what we got ourselves into. the elevator was clear and we could see the city getting smaller below as we floated up the building. the doors opened and we walked down a hallway and into one of the most beautiful pubs in london. the room was comprised of loud music, dim lights, floor to ceiling windows, and chandeliers. this was the 'duck and waffle.' we felt all eyes on us, as we were dressed for a club, not a posh bar. we found some chairs and awed at the view of london's never ending lights. we ordered $15 cocktails made from real egg shells and nutella jars with our names printed on them. 

photo credit to nuvo magazine.

photo credit to nuvo magazine.

why i fail at being an adventure photographer

 

on june 23, 2017 i landed at london heathrow airport, with no address and a few simple instructions of trains to my destination at brookman's park.  i was about to embark on a journey that would forever change the way i viewed the world. before coming on this expedition i was told i was crazy for hiking in a foreign country with men i didn't know. they were right; i am crazy. and i was okay with being called that. i left college to pursue photography, i had spent over $4,000 to get there, my relationship had to end, i wasn't with my dad on father's day, all to get some photographs of a hiking trip. but this wasn't just a "hiking trip," at least for me it wasn't. i had seen this as an opportunity for my photography to grow. to get another expedition under my belt. to get some of the best shots i had ever gotten before. i was ready.

turns out, i wasn't. 

a 19 year old woman going up against a former royal marine and another man who had been doing professional videography for the past 3 years, i was intimidated. who wouldn't be? they were a team before me and i was randomly added into the mix. i spent most of my time trying to figure out the role i played in this expedition. it was only after the expedition that i figured out my role. and it wasn't photography. 

this adventure wasn't for me to get the best shots i had ever taken. it was for me to learn the mentality it takes to be an adventure photographer.

photography has always pushed me past my comfort zone, putting me in risky situations just so i could get 'the shot.' i expected to do just that during this trip. however, this situation was different. in past expeditions, i was never actually participating in the adventure. this time i was, and i battled constantly between getting the shot and being safe. 

on our fifth day, using rusted chains as our guide up a rocky trail, we tediously climbed until the clouds greeted our arrival. we were surrounded by mountains on all sides. a clear glacial lake reflecting the view we would see for the next few miles. this was the first time we had come across more than a single patch of snow.

we had stopped for our lunch and as we did, three women appeared behind us. making small talk, they gave us information about a cabin a short walk away. this was our motivation for the next 5 hours. we had images of a cozy fireplace, beds, and a solid roof over our heads. making our way to the cabin was easy at first, following the clearly marked trail up and over small hills, Occasionally seeing reindeer prance away from us, feeling the slight breeze brush against our cheeks. it was only a few short moments later when the trail was no longer clearly marked, the reindeer had disappeared, and the slight breeze turned into a heavy fog. giving us only about 30 feet of visibility in front of us. as our determination to get to the cabin grew, we didn't know that we were only a few minutes away from encountering a situation that would hinder our ability to get there. with ian leading, me in the middle, and jamie taking up the back we were making good time. my hood was up trying to protect my ears from the wind when i heard a faint call for help. i yelled at ian, and as i ran over i found jamie's head just under a rock, nothing but black underneath him. i could hear the rushing of the water below the snow drifts and reached out my pole for him to grab onto. reassuring him he was okay, though in my head i wasn't sure if that was the truth. with adrenaline rushing, i felt all my senses come alive, observing everything with detail. the snow crunching in between jamie's finger tips as he grasped for leverage. i glanced up to see ian running over and demanding i start taking pictures. a wave of relief washed over me until he knelt down grabbing onto jamie's backpack. i could see the veins of ian's hand protrude as they struggled to lift him. the strain on his face worried me enough to shorten my breath. the weight of my backpack suddenly becoming heavier than before. i was now making decisions about what to do if ian had fallen through, all while mindlessly clicking my shutter.

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at this point, i was caught off guard. jamie's safety was at risk and i had to take pictures? what if he had fallen through? what if his family had blamed me for not being enough help? the scenarios were endless and i went to sleep that night repeating the situation in my head. this is where i learned the value between the importance of documenting and safety. i had remembered famous conflict photographers who had gotten their legs blown off and still took pictures of what was happening around them. this scenario is when i found the mentality it took to be an adventure photographer. and to be quite honest, i wasn't sure i had it. only after when i was looking at the photos from this situation was i disappointed in myself. i did not capture it the way i had observed. 

when i tell someone i am trying to pursue expedition photography, most people tell me how 'cool that must be to experience all that.' to a certain extent, they are right. however, it is moments like jamie falling through ice that make it difficult to decipher between work and reality. at what point do i put down the camera and check in with what is happening beyond my viewfinder? this is where i fail at being an adventure photographer. i later learned it was okay to take my camera out and document what was happening. in fact, it would be a critical part of our story in the future. in this instance, i failed. and that is okay. from this small expedition, i acquired big ideas. by looking beyond the viewfinder often, i am able to obtain the details to make any image come alive through words. and that skill is equally important for an expedition photographer.

i can't wait to fail more often.  

 

 

 

redefining my future

choices. we all have choices to make. for some, that may be cereal or toast? should i really buy those shoes? should i marry this person? however, the choice i have recently been debating has been the one most parents and teachers despise hearing.."should i even go to college?" woah. did a 19 year old just say that. "if i don't go to college, i won't get a degree, and if i don't get a degree i won't get a job, and if..." all these what if's and here i am in an icelandic bar with one old man reading a paper, a glass of carbonated water at my right hand, feeling more in power of my future than i did sitting in a classroom with 500 people.

all these outside forces telling me i won't be successful if i don't continue, but as these people mindlessly tell me their thoughts and opinions of what they define as success, i look at them and wonder if they're truly happy. i know what makes me happy.

which is the reason i am not choosing to continue school at WSU.

this breaks my heart. my decision has been made tossing and turning in my hotel room beds, crying over instagram photos of my friends back in pullman, and the little voice that tells me i might fail if i take this jump. i love everyone at WSU, i couldn't imagine my life without them. but there comes a time in a person's life when they have to make a choice.

and i've spent too many conversations hearing about the stories of people who made the safe choice instead of the one that could have been great. after every one of those conversations, i kept telling myself i would never be that person that was too scared.

by now, i can only imagine your reaction.. ugh another one of those teenage hipsters that takes pictures in front of waterfalls, gets a lot of likes on instagram, and now all of a sudden claims she is some photographer- although i love these preconcieved thoughts, i'll have to push them out the window to further explain my goals.

****stop reading now if you really don't care about what i will be doing in the future*****

as a daughter of a photographer, going to photoshoots is something i have grown up with. i have had the immense pleasure of holding reflectors, making silly faces at the subjects, playing in sprinklers watering acres of peas, and much more. besides the endless memories, i was left with a small imprint of what was going to shape me as a person.

anyone who knows me, knows that i want to learn strangers' stories. their insecurities. the happiest moment of their lives. really anything they'll tell me. and with that emotion, i want to capture it. because of this desire to know people, i will be building my portfolio as my adventure continues in a few different countries. those are to be disclosed as of a later date, but until that day comes i will be living/working in seattle.

with many hours of work and saving every penny vigorously, i'll (hopefully) be leaving the country after the year is over. having a strong portfolio after my travels and an even stronger sense of who i am as a person, i will start the process of getting my BA in photojournalism at a university abroad.

only time will tell how my life will turn out. so these plans are definitely subject to change.  this post was only to help further explain why the hell i am doing what i am doing. to some it may seem a little crazy, scary, stupid, or any other adjective...

but, damn.

it makes me happy.

uncovering the silence

***trigger warning for those affected by sexual assault or rape***

i'm tired of asking what people's dreams are.

so, i'm going to take you on a nightmare.

i want you to imagine the person you trust the most. this could be a person of either the same or different gender, close to your age or not close at all, your teacher or your parent. when you have this person in your mind, picture yourself with them where you usually see them. you could be playing video games with your best friend, asking your teacher for help after school, or maybe you're just sleeping in your bed at home.

let's continue.

you notice that there is something different about the way they are staring at you this time. it almost makes you uncomfortable, but you know it shouldn't because they wouldn't do anything to hurt you.

...right?

they get closer to you and then all of a sudden you're on the floor and they have a grip so tight you can't get away. you think to yourself, "why are they doing this?" you tell them to stop, but they don't. your words mean nothing. you start fighting back, but come to the realization it's not going to change anything.

suddenly, your grip is loosened and you're letting your clothes come off, and not by the touch of your own hands.

you can see the bruises forming on your wrists. oh, and the body you were saving for someone special? it's no longer saved.

there is a strength that comes from inside you and somehow you're running down the street. your ribs feel cracked and you can't catch your breath. they're finally off of you. you cry, not knowing if it's relief because you're gone or sadness because you just lost the right to your own body.

you can't go anywhere. no one would ever believe that they did this to you. you keep to yourself and try not to replay that event over and over and over again.

let's close this nightmare and realize that,

you were sexually assaulted.

as i started my journey at washington state, i found that more survivors came to me with their stories. much similar to the one i just told. i realized that too many people i love were affected by malicious men and women who put their sexual desires before other's feelings.

why would i just stand there and nod along saying "i'm sorry" and then continue on with my life? i decided that this would not be the path i chose. i decided that standing up against sexual violence was something that i needed to do.

putting both my passion for photography and standing against sexual violence together, i created a photo project that gave people the chance to stand up for survivors and raise awareness.

i don't know what any of these people's affiliation with sexual assault is, if any, but i do know they want to help make a difference. and that's all that matters.

#itsonus

having nothing

It's 29 degrees outside. You have a coat and one blanket. And you have to sleep outside. Your stomach is aching because you haven't eaten today, your finger tips are numb from the holes worn in your gloves, and despite how beautiful the winter sunset looks, you are dreading the cold night that follows.

Homeless.

A rusted shopping cart holds everything you call your own and there is no place you claim as home.

That is the life of the 10 people I met today on the street. As I was driving home from the bank, I saw a group of people clustered together masked by their bundled scarves and puffy coats. These are the people I like photographing; the not so perfect men and women who have wrinkles that prove they once wore a smile. In a debate with my conscious of going home to a warm fire or photographing in the cold, I decided that I should grab my camera from and photograph the people.

With Bruno Mars filling the empty air in my car and my camera anxiously awaiting to be focused, I drove back to the bus station and parked. I found my heart pounding and my mind buzzing with thoughts of being kidnapped or robbed as I approached them. When I realized that this label, "homeless" is what makes society believe they have all done something wrong. That every penny you drop into their coffee cup goes to drugs.

My first subjects were Joe and Chris, a son and his mother. Her getting older now, he came to Walla Walla this weekend where they embraced for the first time since 2 years. Although her mouth didn't possess many teeth, her smile was full of joy when looking at her son. They were both open about their lives and how despite all they have been through together, they still love each other.

 

The majority of people at the bus stop were circled around one shopping cart and what they had called their Christmas tree. Decorated with a jar of mayonnaise, a snow flake from a church, and knitted scarves and hats so if anyone was cold that night they could take them.

 

Malcolm was the guy that exuberated happiness and begged for his picture to be taken, with his crocheted purple beanie and denim jacket, he made for a great subject. 

As I was photographing and talking with everyone, there was a woman who was giving out scarves, blankets, and free coffee. Despite having nothing, the homeless made sure I was warm enough. They gave me a scarf and gloves and offered the food they had on them. So what is it that makes these people who have virtually nothing, the most giving people I have met? The self reflection made me understand that they treasure what they have, not what they want. They know the difference between a house and a home. That it's not about where we crawl into the same sheets every night or the repeated outlet we plug our phone into; home is where we decide it is. For some it might be a lawn chair outside a church, the sidewalk on 9th street, your frequented coffee shop in London, or the 4 story house in the country. Where ever it may be, it only proves to be understood that you are the one that's got to die when it's time to die, so make your home where the hell you want it to be.

God Speed.