Filtering by Category: My Life

Haiti 2014//Passion Project

It's been almost three weeks since I returned from working in Haiti and I've been at a loss of how I should write about this trip, these people and these stories. I've had a ton of friends meet me for coffee or dinner to hear my stories which I am so grateful for and I'm an open book for wanting to talk about it. My people know that I don't tell stories quickly-I tell them with all the detail for you to feel the moment, the situation, the intensity-I want you to love and ache and be as excited as I was. And putting all of those stories into words on a screen is hard. Anyone who has gone through an experience with a group of people that you're no longer with knows how hard it is to come to terms with the real world after that experience is over. It's a balance of wanting to let those experiences and relationships change you but at the same time, realize that the real life you return to is hard. Going back to running a business is hard. And time consuming. And frustrating when the world has taught us that emailing is more important that maintaining relationships and meeting deadlines is more important than being a part of a change in a broken nation.

So I'll try to show you with pictures and with words because that's what I do.

And I'll just say that isn't going to be the last post about Haiti because some big things are going down between our team and Child Hope International-the organization we worked with.

I could say that the heart of the trip was love or service or joy or any of the other genuine emotions that both our team received and we were able to give but from my perspective, it was about giving hope. Coming into the trip, our team didn't know what we were going to be doing. Heck, we didn't even know each other. We came from all across the continent as professional photographers and entrepreneurs (with a student, a firefighter and a few nurses sprinkled in) wanting to serve with the skills and talents that we had. What we didn't want was be there without a purpose. We didn't want to come in wearing matching t-shirts, hug the kids and disappear only to post photos on Instagram for our friends to double tap.

So we didn't.

For the week, we worked with Child Hope International, an organization in Port-au-Prince that encompasses a school, a clinic, a boys home, a girls home, a feeding program and a transitional program. As part of their schooling, the older kids take classes to help bridge the gap between aging out of the orphanage and heading into the real world where the unemployment rate is 82%. But as we all know, there is a large difference between merely knowing the skills of baking sewing, metal working, jewelry making, screen printing and computer tech and being able to use them to profit, thrive and grow.

So that's where we came in. Throughout the week, we were able to teach the kids business classes, help them verbalize and write down their why of why they do what they do and work with the staff to talk out obstacles and how to get over those walls. And of course, photograph/film all their programs for an upcoming (giant) project that we didn't even know needed to happen until the last few hours of our trip.

And the people…the people on this trip…gosh. We came from all over and connected immediately on so many different levels that I don't think I'll ever be able to explain to those who weren't there. They are SOLID, fearless, hilarious, boldly-loving, world-changing people that are some of my new favorites.

So here goes. The week in pictures from not only me, but my whole team of photographers (with a few stories thrown in). And team-thanks for helping me tell this story with your photos!

These tent cities were right around the corner from our guest house but not too long before, they were so many more. The government caused most to move out but some have slowly moved back.

The boys of Child Hope had the idea to start a feeding program for  kids on the street who normally don't have access to food. So, three days a week, they let in 150 kids for a meal and clean water. It was amazing to see only a small handful of boys (you can see them below in the yellow jerseys) managing 150 kids.

Two of the women who made meals for the feeding program were loving our cameras. We took photos one day and two days later were able to give them their own framed copy! Help-Portrait, Haiti style.

Even though these kids had so little, they took such pride in their space and belongings; such a humbling moment to remember that each item we own is so, so valuable.

Jane is a business coach in addition to a child photographer so she was able to walk the older kids through a business class of their own. She pushed into their 'why' of why they want to fulfill their passions, pulling out unbelievable answers. After that, she made them write their responses down. There's such truth in ideas becoming real when you write them down.

This conversation happened only a few hours before we flew back to the states and is a preview of something so, so good that is to come!

Photos and adventures by this fearless team: Josh NewtonDave Grube, Andrew Barlow, Chris Tyson, Jeremy Roloff, Jeremy Kester, Darryl Kuehl, Caroline Raush, Jessica Drogosz, Hannah Drogosz, Caitlin Woodsen, Taylor Jetton, Katie Eckel, Kate Meyer, Aundrea Shafer, Tamara Lockwood, Jane Ammon, Melanie Maczuga, Denise Saucedo, Alyssa Turner, Kelsey Goodwin or check out the hashtag #haitipassionproject2014 on Instagram.

Current update: One of our teammates, Darryl, is heading back to Haiti in April and would love your support (click here) if you feel called.

Year in review-2013//my life//the biz

The past twelve months were…amazing; filled with adventure, bold moves and big life changes, it was beyond what I could have asked or imagined. Of course, not everything has been glamorous but overall, God has blessed me beyond what I deserve.

2013 was an incredible year and I'm so glad to have been able to share some of that you all here, on my website and on Instagram.

Here's a little look into the past twelve months:

Shooting 25 weddings and 30 portrait sessions

Attending a workshop by Justin & Mary Marantz

Modeling in styled wedding shoots for Southern Weddings Magazine and The Lovely Find blog

Designing and shooting a killer styled shoot themed around how to give back in your wedding (it will run soon)

Features on The Lovely Find, The Wedding Row, The Knot blog and The Silver Starfish

Moving into Club Perry with three lovely and wonderful roommates

Designing and building installation pieces for The A21 Campaign

Three trips to the west coast

Being photographed by my friends Hannah, Lucy and Michelle Gardella

The third annual road trip with my friends, this year driving from Seattle to San Diego

Switching my website over to ShowIt, one of the best and service-driven photography communities

Driving with my brother out to Denver, Colorado

Attending the Pursuit 31 Conference in Rome, Georgia

Beginning meeting regularly with these women, focusing on being Wild+Free in our businesses

Graduating College of Charleston with a BS in Psychology (about halfway through all that)

Those past 12 months…it's almost hard to believe 2014 can top that, but I'll surely try.

I don't know what this past year looked like for you-the joy or the pain, the change or the comfort but I hope you'll give this new year a chance. One of my favorite organizations, To Write Love On Her Arms, always writes about the new year in such a beautiful way.

I hope you'll join me in making 2014 the best year yet.


"...Will you fight? Will you fight to be healthy? Will you fight to be free? Will you fight for your story? Will you fight to get the help you need? Change takes more than a moment, but maybe there's also something to this celebration of a moment, something to the way it speaks to us, something to the way we fear it, and dream it to be true. Maybe it's the most honest moment of the year. It's possible to change. Welcome to Midnight. Here's to the possibilities."

-Jamie Tworkowski

Haiti//my life

Tomorrow is my birthday.

And although I've never been one to proclaim my birthday to the masses, if I can turn it into something bigger than myself, I'll shout it from the rooftops!

In high school and college, I took a handful of missions and outreach trips both in the country and out of the country but it's been years since I've set aside the time from work (and life!) to serve others and do something not about me.

This upcoming January, I'll be heading off to Haiti with a group of creatives and photographers to help serve the people of Port-Au-Prince.

Led by the photographer, Josh Newton, this is the first of many Passion Projects to come-aimed to unite people through their heart for serving and put their passions into practice.

 Directly supporting two wonderful organizations, Thirst Relief International and Child Hope International, on this trip, my team and I will be:

-teaching kids vocational skills they can use for life

-documenting the work of the volunteers, workers, nurses and teachers of Thirst Relief and Child Hope

-working with and teaching a handful of orphans who have already started their own businesses

-making a photo book/magazine telling the story and history of the orphanage through photos and words

-and if we raise enough money, helping Thirst Relief install a clean water system!

So this is where you come in. Help me celebrate my birthday by sending me to Haiti and making it about something bigger than myself.

If you feel called to donate financially, click here where you'll be sent to my YouCaring page, where you can make donations on my behalf.

I'll leave you one of my favorite quotes from Bob Goff:

"I reflect on God, who didn't choose someone else to express His creative presence to the world, who didn't tap the rock star or the popular kid to get things done. He chose you and me. We are the means, the method, the object, and the delivery vehicles. God can use anyone, for sure. If you can shred on a Fender or won 'Best Personality,' you're not disqualified-it just doesn't make you more qualified. You see, God usually chooses ordinary people like us to get things done. As I sit on my island, it becomes clear that we need to stop plotting the course and instead just land the plane on our plans to make a difference by getting to the 'do' part of faith. That's because love is never stationary. In the end, love doesn't just keep thinking about it or keep planning for it. Simply put: love does."

update//summer+fall//my life

Summer and Fall have been a whirlwind, despite how cliche that sounds. It feels like I was on the west coast last week and now here I am, fully into fall, waiting to see Christmas lights twinkle around every corner.

That being said, I am home! I am officially not leaving Charleston until the end of January and I couldn't be happier. Although I love traveling and love the adrenaline I get from always being on the go, it's exhausting. I wrote a little bit about it in this post but I've learned how nice consistency can be and how having normal work days and normal weekends can actually feel wonderful. Here's a little preview of how the last few months have looked like since July:

A roadtrip along the entire west coast, back to the west coast for Alaria+Alex's Bellhingham wedding, the building of installations for The A21's Campaign's annual Be Their Freedom Event, back to the west coast for my cousin's vow renewal and another trip to San Diego, attending the Pursuit 31 Conference in Georgia, finishing and shooting a styled wedding shoot I had been working on for four months, driving with my brother out to Colorado, guest blogging, three concerts, being a part of the Wild and Free Collective, shooting five weddings, one proposal, four families, two bridal sessions and six engagement sessions.

I'm hoping to blog more about these adventures in the future but in the meantime, here are some photos that will give you a little glimpse into my life and what I've been up to.

All Photos taken with my Fuji x100 and edited with VSCOFilm or iPhone 4s and edited with VSCOcam

This little dude's birthday is in a few short weeks and he'll be a big brother in April (!!!)

A gorgeous sunset while planning for Karlee's surprise proposal

And it happened! Can't wait to be photographing their elopement in less than a month!

Mumford & Sons in the upstate

The A21 Campaign's second annual Be Their Freedom event with some of the installations I designed and built

Off to Palm Desert, Palm Springs and San Diego

The secret field not too far from my house

One last outing with one of my favorite photo friends, Lucy

Off to the Pursuit 31 Conference in Rome, Georgia

The wonderwoman behind Carrie Logan Photography

My long lost hair twin, Promise Tangeman

Ten hours of driving across the boringness that is Kansas

Idaho Springs, Colorado then up to mountains in Frisco

Doing my thang

The glory that is Noah and Abby Gundersen

The Wild and Free Collective

Keep up with even more of my adventures on Instagram.

Roadtrip #3//Adventuring//My life

Who said I couldn't blog about my summer months later?! And anyway-this trip was so good that it's daily on my mind and felt like yesterday!

Francie, Carley and I are masters roadtrippers. A few years ago, a conversation that I can so clearly remember my freshman year of school, sparked the idea to drive to the Grand Canyon. And months later-it happened!

Trip #1 we drove from Charleston to the Grand Canyon and up to Utah before hightailing it back to Tennessee and then home

Trip #2 we drove from Charleston into Canada to see Niagara Falls

So for trip #3, we knew had to go big. Our friend Elie joined this trip and off we flew to Seattle, picked up a rental car and drove the entire west coast, then flying out of San Diego.

...and it was amazing.

As I've told my friends about this trip, I began to realize that all of our circumstances were extravagant; every city we stopped in, every home we stayed in and every restaurant we ate in-it was above and beyond what we had imagined. From staying in beach houses on the Puget Sound to being handed over the keys to a stranger's apartment in San Diego, our expectations were blown out of the water for where we thought we'd be staying, who we'd meet and what we'd see.

If you're an adventurer, love meeting new people, seeing new places...get in your car and go. It is 110% worth it.

All Photos taken with my Fuji x100 and edited with VSCOFilm or iPhone 4s and edited with VSCOcam

We started in Seattle, hosted by the lovely Matti, who none of us had met before but a friend in Charleston connected us with. Worth it. She's the best.

Pike's Place

These giant bouquets of flowers were only $5! I would have fresh flowers everyday if that were here in Charleston

The awesome but disgusted face

The space needle looked like a UFO between the trees like this

Selfie fail

Once again, welcomed with open arms by family friends with wine, oysters and a fire to an adorable beach house on Hood Canal. It was unanimous that Leech Family were our favorite hosts

Crystal Mountain with this gorgeous, clear view of Mt. Ranier

House #2 of the Leech Family overlooking the Puget Sound

A quick trip through Portland for VooDoo Donuts

Galavanting in the woods with these beasts of trees!

Grapes straight off the vine are not good. Clearly

My cousin Amanda and her husband Frank surprised us with this outdoor bed-PERFECTION!

I got to meet up with my friend Malerie that I hadn't seen since being with her in NYC a year earlier. She is the definition of a breath of fresh air

Blakery+Indian food in San Francisco

A quick stop for breakfast in Monterey

I told everyone that I would probably want to pull over on the side of the road for some spontaneous photos. We pulled off on the side of the road inbetween Monterey and Big Sur and discovered this glory-by far my favorite part of the entire trip. We wandered off the side of the road, just exploring and following a tiny little path that led us to the water covered in fog. Probably some of my favorite photos I've ever taken.

I have this photo below blown up on a canvas above my desk. I feel like it epitomizes adventure

Francie the brave down first

The next two photos were taken from the car. Not too shabby

A post in a Facebook group turned into meeting up with some Showiteers in Santa Barbara and wine with this view. Photographers-if you aren't using ShowIt, you're missing out on a huge, loving, encouraging, community

We were on the west coast. Just had to

Elie is studying architecture and really wanted to see the Salk Institute in La Jolla. I don't know much about architecture but I definitely see why she wanted to come!

Sometimes you just have to take a rickshaw 300 feet to your car

Peekin on peacocks at the San Diego Zoo!

Post red-eye back to Charleston!

I can't express how much this roadtrip was the epitome of adventure. We either stayed with acquaintances or strangers the entire trip and I wouldn't have had it any other way. This crew is the best group to roadtrip with-from driving 15 hours in one day, to reading the Divergent series out loud (we always pick a book to read out loud for each trip), to me complaining about exercising, to exploring an entire coast... they are the best. Gosh, I love them.

DENVER+Charleston-based International Wedding Photographer
I would love to document your wedding near or far.

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