I’ve been working with The Agnes Irwin School for the past two years. They’re an all-girl K-12 private preparatory school located on the Main Line, just down the block from Villanova. This group of students and educators are truly an example to strive towards, they have such a love and appreciation for academia, knowledge, discourse and promoting and cultivating general wonder at the world around us and the world we can create.
Shot these for Stateside a few years ago. This was some of my earliest work with Elissa, Gabrielle, & Ariel. How far we've all come since...
These two lovebirds are something special. I first met Eli 3 years ago working at Camp Twitch & Shout, a summer camp for children with Tourette's Syndrome. We would spend hours on the phone in the months and weeks leading up to camp talking about how the creation of art can act as a balm and a salve for so many neurological disorders, and how art can be utilized to empower the community at large, while educating the general public as well. Needless to say, we were cut from the same cloth.
The love that Anna & Eli share for each other is so awe-inspiring. I really wish I had more words than that, but that's the thing, they have a love that doesn't need words to describe it. It's plastered all over their faces in every flippin photo they took together.
It wouldn't be an Independence Day Wedding without raves in a speakeasy & fireworks on the beach
Lest we forget, the real star of the week though, Mr. Dudley Bennett
Or Medusa....the Pegasus Unicorn
That's me & my date, Jessie Bennett (no relation to Anna).
Right off the heels of my first wedding in 10 years, Jamie & Shawn, comes Anna & Eli. Eli and I first met three years ago at Camp Twitch & Shout, a summer camp for children with Tourette's Syndrome. We formed an immediate and strong bond over the use of art as outlet and therapy. It was an honor and a pleasure to spend the week camping in North Carolina with his family and friends. Stay tuned for a full post in about a month or two.
Jamie & Shawn
Bear Mill Estate
May 26th, 2018
For the first wedding that I photographed in 10 years, I could not have asked for a couple with a more beautiful love than Jamie & Shawn.
The care and tenderness which they had for one another was truly inspiring. Every single time they caught each other's eyes, it was clear that not a single other person existed in each other's mind or heart.
Their love was genuine and true.
The love shared between Jamie & Shawn, their Bridal Party, their families and friends was a tangible magic that permeated the Lancaster countryside that Memorial Day Weekend.
I'd be remiss not to shout out my supremely talented and ever-joyous second shooter, Sarah Jessica Hall. I would not have been able to make it through the day without her.
Go and hire her for all of the things
So yeah, I'm photographing weddings now.
I'm taking them on selectively though. I offer something different than your average wedding photographer. My background is in journalism and working behind the scenes of film sets, so my sensibilities stray towards the fly on the wall approach. My philosophy is to have as little impact on my images as possible. I'm not the photographer that's going to double as the Wedding Planner or doing elaborate set ups.
If this is something that appeals to you, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'll be flying down South later this week for a road trip through Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and a few other places that will culminate in photographing another wedding, deep in the forested mountains of North Carolina, for another dear friend.
Stay tuned, true believers. Excelsior!
I've been going back and forth over the past week over whether or not to tie #NotForYou into the #MeToo movement which has swept social media. Sexual Harassment is such an important topic to talk about, and Not For You obviously has very direct ties to this epidemic. I have been cautious though because I am more than aware that I am a white-passing male photographer who is photographing topless women and the last thing that I want is to profit off of further exploitation of the female body, especially using a movement that is fighting that very thing.
So ultimately I decided that the best way to go about this is to share the stories that have been shared with me. Not For You is not about me. It is not for me. It was never meant to be. Not For You became what it is, grew to what it is now because of these strong, powerful, and inspiring women. NFY exists to promote strength in unity and diversity. It exists to give these women another platform to raise their voices a little bit louder and get their message a little further. I do not want to speak for them, I simply want to use my voice and my inherent privilege to further promote them as they speak for themselves. I'm going to shut up now because I've already talked more than I planned to.
"I had no idea." "I've never noticed anything." "Really? I don't ever see anything." "Do you curse?" "Can't you just....not?" "I bet you took advantage of it in school all the time."
These are some of the most common things said to me when people find out that I have Tourette's Syndrome. Tourette's is seemingly very well known in the public, yet very few people have any genuine grasp on what it actually entails. The vast majority of people assume that it's a disorder that causes people to curse randomly, or maybe make some weird movements with their arms. It is so much more than that.
For me, symptoms came about very early in life, around 3 or 4 years old, although I wasn't diagnosed until I was nearly 13 years old. My worst years were those when I was undiagnosed. Not only were my tics quite extreme and disruptive, but the fact that I had no idea what was going on, let alone my parents or teachers, caused me to stress, which caused the tics to get even worse, so on and so forth in a vicious cycle. In many ways, I became an artist because of my tics. I would channel my excess energy into sketching and doodling endlessly. There is not a single inch of empty space in my notebooks from school because my pen was constantly on the move, half the time not even drawing anything at all. The simple motion of pen on paper was enough to help calm the need to do....something. Anything. Everything.
To be honest though, I got lucky. Maybe because I've lived with them for longer than I can remember, but I was able to teach myself mental exercises to exhibit a degree of control over my tics. They were never ever fully under my control, nor will they ever be, but I was able to direct them at least, to a degree. When people tell me they had no idea I have TS, my response is generally "That's because I have a quarter-centruy of practice ensuring that you don't." I've taught myself to watch people and to catch the tiny little moments they would not be looking at me, when they would look at their phone, when they would blink or sneeze, or look past me or elsewhere. I was constantly on the look out for these minuscule moments to get whatever tic out that I needed to get out.
But I'm not about that life anymore. I am done hiding my tics, especially considering i wasn't hiding them for my own sake, but for other people. I was hiding them so other people wouldn't feel uncomfortable around me. I'm done with that. The Tourette's community is full of wonderful and beautiful souls and it's about time that we celebrate that. I am an artist, I have a voice and it's past due that I use that voice to scream (voluntarily) from the rooftops that we are not ashamed of who we are.
I've titled this piece Mutiny because that is what happens to us on a constant basis. Our brains are quite literally running a mutiny on our body every single minute of every single day of our lives. We are forced to do things that we do not want to do because our brains do not work like they should. We have a neurochemical imbalance. Our brains either produce too much dopamine, or the neurotransmitters are too sensitive to dopamine (there is still a lot of research that needs to happen with TS, it's relatively new.)
And these urges do not just manifest physically and vocally. That's just the tip of the iceberg. The real war happens inside of our brains. The psychological impact of Tourette's is far more powerful than anyone without it realizes. I myself at the age of 27 still continue to have revelations as to just how much this neurological disorder has shaped my life. Just as we have physical and vocal urges that we have to carry out, the same is true of mental thought processes. You know the classic idea of someone telling you not to think of pink elephants, so of course you're going to then think of pink elephants, it's similar to that.
And that's just Tourette's. It's very rare for people with TS to *just* have TS, they usually also have some combination and degree of ADHD, OCD, Depression, Anxiety, are prone to fall somewhere on the Autism spectrum, and a whole range of other neurological and mental disorders.
I apologize that this is quite rambling and all over the place. But i felt it was more appropriate for my writing on Tourette's to be slightly disjointed and stream of conscious, because it is quite representative of how many brain works, jumping from one idea to the next to the next to the next.
In conclusion, to those of you out there that are unfamiliar, please, i implore you, ask questions. The last thing we want is for you to awkwardly pretend like nothing is happening or to make assumptions because you don't want to offend us. No question is too stupid. If you approach us with genuine curiosity, a willingness to listen and learn, and an open heart, chances are that you will make our day. We want to be heard. We want to talk about what we live with. We want to promote education and discussion within the general public. No one is served by hiding away and pretending like it doesn't exist. That is nothing but a disservice to us and to you. Open and honest communication, as in all aspects of life, is key.