Event photos from the Eat to the Beat fundraiser for NPR’s Sound Opinions with Neko Case. Food provided by chefs from Land & Sea Department at The Chicago Athletic Club.

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Selective Mutism – Behind the Scenes

I met Eve, a filmmaker from Chicago, by chance in the office of someone else I happened to be meeting with. We connected as women working in the film industry and that’s when she told me about the documentary she was working on about Selective Mutism. She has become a mentor of sorts while I have been shooting behind the scenes of her interviews for the documentary.

According to Dr. Elisa Shipon Blum,

Selective Mutism is one of the most misdiagnosed, mismanaged and mistreated anxiety disorders of childhood.

Selective Mutism is a childhood anxiety disorder that leaves a child unable to speak in certain situations which can deeply affect multiple aspects of their life. As someone who myself struggles with social anxiety, listening to the stories of those battling and living with it as well as those who are striving to make a difference for children with SM are inspiring.

Eve’s website for her documentary on Selective Mutism: http://www.unifilmprod.com/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/selectivemutismfilm/?fref=nf

Tucker and Nicole + Pure Michigan

This past weekend I was a bridesmaid in my friend Nicole and Tucker’s wedding in Northern Michigan. I took the photos of everyone getting ready at her fiancé’s childhood home in Northern Michigan before their photographer, Megan Van Kampen, arrived. There’s a bonus photo of Clayton and a few of my favorites that I never posted from my time in Northern Wisconsin this summer. I love the North woods, apparently.

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Wisconsin bonus photos

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Chicago Pride Parade

I shot the Chicago Pride Parade a couple of weeks ago for Chicago Magazine. It was interesting how many of the floats ended up being marketing and political campaigning and how many floats were people there celebrating their civil right. I chose some outtakes, favorites and portraits that I thought represented those who are at the heart of what the parade is about. 
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“Good news camel lovers!”

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Nobody likes to be left out of an inside joke and I’ll admit it, the quote “good news camel lovers” is an inside joke to my Taglit/Birthright 10 day trip to Israel. But that quote more or less sums up the essence of my trip. Our experience was somewhat similar to an adult jewish camp experience in a foreign country. We were 40 jewish 22-26 year olds randomly placed together all signing up for the same promised once in a lifetime experience, resulting in inside jokes and new friendships.

That quote was said by our Israeli tour guide, Eyal who woke us up on the bus that became more like a moving home to us, saying “Good news camel lovers!” as we pulled into the Bedouin hospitality in the Negev Desert we were staying in that night (which was amazing by the way). Our camel ride was supposed to be that next morning after we had stayed the night in a Bedouin tent with 44 mats fit together side by side like a real tetris game.

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Our trip consisted of 40 Jewish Americans from all over the country, 2 American group leaders that had lived in Israel, 1 Israeli tour guide, 1 Israeli medic/armed guard, and our beloved Bedouin bus driver, Jimmy. If you didn’t catch that, we had an armed guard who was also a medic that was with us 24/7, which has always been a standard for all Birthright trips. In cliche American terms, right off the bat, our trip was at a yellow “terror” alert. I learned so much in that short amount of time about what it is like for an Israeli citizen to live their life from day to day in terms of danger. There is so much history of conflict in the Middle East that it is almost impossible to look at who is right and who is wrong. I also learned quickly that having that perspective of right and wrong, hero and villain is a very westernized way of looking at conflict. Israelis are constantly living with imminent danger but we heard over and over again that their philosophy is that you have to keep on living in spite of that. To bring it full circle, our trip had our fair share of schedule changes like the camel ride, including completely eliminating our night out in Tel Aviv and our day trip to Tel Aviv our last day in Israel. Our trip tour guide and leaders always made the best of these changes to ensure we felt safe and that our trip was an experience of a lifetime in the best possible way. Eyal waking us up in a genuinely enthusiastically way to tell us about our camel ride schedule change, at least to me, was a small way of demonstrating that philosophy of ‘you have to keep living’. While it was unsettling at times to be in Israel during the beginning of the current escalation in the Middle East, I wouldn’t have changed a single thing about the trip.

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Eyal, our Israeli tour guide telling us about the Old City in Jerusalem before we reached the Western Wall.

On a more cheerful note, I met wonderful people who I call friends now who were lovely enough to pose for some portraits. 201407_Taglit_07grid   201407_Taglit_08sarahgrid   My trip in photos:

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A man praying at the Western Wall.
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Women praying, taking photos and putting their prayers into the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
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An overview of part of the Old City in Jerusalem.
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Looking into the Jewish quarter in Jerusalem.
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Baby goats on our stop at Naot farm that makes delicious cheese.
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We woke up at 3:30am to hop on the bus to start our hike at Masada for the sunrise. It was well worth it and as usual, a photo doesn’t do a sunrise justice.
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Street signs during our first hike in the North.
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A view from above of another group on our first hike after a swim in a lovely little pond.

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Some of my favorite photos taken on my iPhone and edited with VSCO:

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Yotam, our medic/guard that was so patient hanging in the back making sure we were safe at all times. He also told it how it was when it came to talking about the dangers of living in the Middle East and what was going on while we were there.

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New York Film

I lived in NYC 2 summers ago, working as an intern but really didn’t take too many photos. However, last summer I went back to visit Brooklyn and Manhattan, as well as my always fantastic friends Meredith and Andy and documented some of our outings.

I’ve been using film a lot more than digital in my personal use for a smattering of reasons. My photography education is rooted in film and the darkroom. I learned how to read a light meter and what the initially confusing and intimidating aperture and shutter speed meant on a 35mm film camera. Now that digital is in the forefront of most photography, especially the photojournalism field, film is beginning to become more and more rare in general and subsequently more expensive. That creates a rarified affect to each of the 26 frames on a 35mm roll of film. Or even more exceptional, 10 or 12 frames on the 120mm lomography camera. On top of that, I shoot without a working or non-existent light meter and I am forced to test my basic photography skills.

What I have found that I love most about film is that while each frame is carefully thought out, I also act on instinct to find the decisive moment when the time comes to hit the shutter. I am obsessed with creatively not wasting a frame. We of course can not create a perfect representation of what we sought after for every attempt we make, but film doesn’t allow the option of going rapid fire on the shutter so I am put into a position of better decision making.

I was reminded after stumbling across these NY images why I am so passionate about photojournalism. Culture and human behavior will never cease to enthrall me because it is always just as equally unpredictable as it is predictable. Societies, nations, cities, neighborhoods all have cliches and stereotypes on the surface, but in reality, are so much more complex than that. It is the intricacy of that juxtaposition that keeps me wanting to learn, observe and document more.

35mm film:                             

Brooklyn Bridge – Tourist

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Coney Island – Ferris Wheel

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Brooklyn Bridge – Dusk Orthodox

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Brooklyn Bridge – Grid

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Coney Island – Beach Goers

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Diana F+ lomography 120mm format film:

Andy and Meredith in Queens apartment

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Coney Island – Umbrella

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Brooklyn Bridge – Flag

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Coney Island – Double Exposure

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