Although this corner of my website is what web developers would technically call a “blog,” it feels more natural in many ways to keep with the more elevated monicker of “journal.” I was an avid journal-keeper as a kid, even through college. Stacks of weathered tan Moleskines adorn my office shelves, the pages within bubbling up with prayers, hopes, disappointments, and everything in-between. All in cursive, of course.
As life does, it seemed to pick up its pace, and other processing and time-filling measures took journaling’s place in my routine. But as I stand on the threshold of a new season, I find myself seeking a space to write. To myself. From myself. With love, humility, and so much grace – qualities of self-talk I would not often own! While most of my personal entries on this digital Journal are travel-focused, I hope you, reader, also enjoy some favorite film portraits of the home we’ve made in Milwaukee, scattered throughout the letter.
So while this may operate as an announcement of sorts, at its heart, this letter is one of deep-rooted hope, to and from an artist who is just now brushing fingertips with her dreams.
Well, we both know you’re a Virginia girl – bows & horses & “y’all” & deviled eggs galore – who has found herself in the Midwest for the last five years. On a surface level, this season has tweaked many of your pre-conceived notions. You’ve rejected the finite dreariness of winter, trying on cross-country skiing, relishing the forest green fireplace in the corner, and adding many soups and stews to the winter menu. You’ve put down roots in a home with a truly Milwaukeean heart, with its glowing stained glass, hearty wood paneling, and a backyard fit for the city where summer truly reigns, chicken coop and all.
While the first foundation bricks were laid back in a high school darkroom, it’s on the shores of Lake Michigan that your art and business have found flourishing. For this is where you rediscovered the photography medium that started it all for you way back when: film. The art of slowing down, composing a singular thoughtful image, and exhaling with the shutter – it reinvigorated life into your work. Every wedding day or family session became an opportunity to create something tangible. Film photography is preserved not only on a computer, but in a negative, in a proof print, able to be passed between the fingertips of people who yearn to really see themselves. You’ve helped your clients see themselves and their memories with all the soul and life they beheld for but a moment. Moments when the veil fluttered thinly. This change to your photography process will change the course of your dreams, of this I am certain.
It makes sense that this move to Lexington, Kentucky is one of bittersweetness. While you’re lit up by the idea of Southern weddings in horse country, even extending out to Southeast mountains and churches, you’re leaving a dang good season behind.
If our lives are like books, it’s tempting to see it like a short story format: each chapter with no connection to the last. As if your moves to St. Louis, to Milwaukee, to Kentucky have nothing to do with each other, starting off of a blank slate each time. But what’s more true is that with each move, each new chapter, the pages are lengthening, with footnotes circling back to lessons and joys found in prior chapters. The narrative is winding and building as you grow. You’re making room for new connections, sights, and sounds. Your book is filling up with a more whole picture of who you are in the world: complex, adaptable, resilient, inspired by any soil in which you see yourself planted. Your best years are ahead of you, always.
Maddy, you’ve learned to love so many cities now, with varying personalities, architecture, foods, climates, photography industries … God has made it clear that it’s time to love another.
So Kentucky? Pour an ounce or two of bourbon for me – I’ll be there in a few.
Fuji 400H & Portra 400 film processing by PhotoVision