see you in a bit, U.S.

I leave for Kyrgyzstan at noon. I’ll be there for three weeks with an awesome group of students and mentors, working on stories that will hopefully make a difference. If you’d like to follow the trip’s blog, it’s here (not fully set up yet, but it will be soon).

instablog 1

I finally downloaded Instagram, after lots of frustration with Hipstamatic. Love it so far, and am going to be posting an updated series of snaps from time to time…here’s the first bunch.


picked up some real real old film that i got developed today. some of it is as recent as a year old, another roll was from two years ago ish. And now I’m broke.



an ending, new beginnings

warning: despite the cuteness of the leading photo, this post will most likely devolve to be morbid, depressing and reflective on a life lost.

my grandpa passed away about a week and a half ago. it seemingly came out of nowhere, although he was 84 and a smoker and drinker his whole life. he seemed to be in good health. he just collapsed in his apartment after a shower and died.

i was at my house in lincoln alone when my dad called to tell me the news. afterward, i kind of just sat in my living room staring at the wall trying to figure out how i felt in my head. it wasn’t until a friend came over later and i tried to talk about it that i realized what made me the most upset.

it was the feeling of regret. regret of not taking a picture that meant something to me; that reminded me of him, while he was alive. it’s something that i don’t get to do over. there is no re-shoot.

but it’s not as petty as ‘not taking a good picture of him,’ but it’s more how that nonexistant picture reflects on my relationship with him that upsets me.

for photographers, i think personal photography is a great way to examine how you’re feeling, how people make you feel and helps to remember those feelings forever through an image. grant hindsley (he’s a a great dude and an awesome photo-j, check his portfolio here and blog here) commented on my last post about personal photography saying this about it, “It’s important, helps us figure ourselves out, ya know?”

So seeing that in the two or so years I had an opportunity to get to know my grandpa, I didn’t.

Either I didn’t try hard enough or he didn’t try hard enough or we both didn’t try hard enough, but that’s gone now. And it’s evident in the fact that I don’t have an image of him that connects with me on a deeper emotional level. All just snapshots, and few of them at that.

So when I traveled home for thanksgiving and the funeral service, I was going to make a point to start fresh. And what better place to start with than my three-year-old niece. She’s one of the easiest people I know to photograph, incredibly cute and photogenic and does some adorable things (hence the photos of her acting like a cat later on in this post).

I don’t want to make the same mistake of letting someone I love pass without having something of them to hold on to.

And one last image for my grandpa, hoping that he is moving in the wind, through the leaves and looking back on everything with his smile.

a nice wide road

just a small collection of recent personal photos. it’s been a trying week to say the least, and a few things made me step back and force myself to start shooting more personal photos. it’s been a huge stress reliever and rewarding to my own self examination. more to come about that topic in a future post…

on another note, as the semester winds up, i couldn’t be more thankful for how much the lincoln photo community has grown this year. well-attended media nights have become a regular activity, there are more active young photographers than ever before (at least while I’ve been in nebraska) and i’ve met so many new people that inspire and push me, whether they realize it or not.

so i guess that, as thanksgiving comes around, i’d like to say i’m thankful for every one of my friends. you all help me become a better person.

and, nickolai, your mustache is awesome and should never be made fun of again.

we learn as we grow

a penn state reflection

I was going to wait until the end of the weekend to post anything from my Penn State trip on here, but I want to write while it’s fresh. It won’t be much to read, but I’m putting these words down as much for myself as I am for anyone else.

After traveling from 4 a.m to 4 p.m. to get to State College, puking on the first plane flight (in the bathroom, not in the barf bag) and sitting through countless delays, we arrived in State College, Pa., where the town is mostly made up of its college student population, which is somewhere around 40,000.

To preface this, before the trip I was looking forward to, honestly, a weekend of getting to party with Penn State photojournalists and shooting a good football game. But the events of the past week changed the meaning of this trip quite a bit.

So I was looking forward to this vigil more than anything else on Friday. Thousands of students gathered outside of Old Main on campus and held candles, listened to speakers and sang along to songs all to support the alleged victims of sexual abuse in the Sandusky case, and all other youth who are sexually abused.

These are the same students who, two days prior, flipped a news van over and knocked down a few light poles in a riot following the firing of the highly regarded Joe Paterno. Back in Lincoln I thought these kids were idiots, why would they riot in support of a man who didn’t speak out to the police when he knew the terrible things he was doing?

The vigil, and the students who attended it, helped change my perception of that a bit. I still think the rioting was unwarranted and casts a bad light on their student body, but JoePa is like a grandpa to these kids. And, out of the blue, he was taken away from them.

While that doesn’t make their actions on Wednesday night acceptable, it did make me feel more empathetic toward them, and toward all those that look up to Paterno. The cab driver who took us to campus from the airport said JoePa being fired felt like a “death in the family.”

I was inspired by how many students were out in support of raising awareness for this issue. It’s sad that it takes such horrible and public occurences to cause people to care about issues such as these…..

And it was nice to hear Bo Pelini say that the Sandusky case, and child abuse in general, was more important than football.

But even after that touching event, State College is still just another college town, with vodka and beer all over the floor of the elevator to the Collegian photo editor’s apartment. Not that being a college town or drinking a lot are bad, but it brought me back to reality.

The DN sports editor and I relaxed and stayed up too late, but the next morning we arrived at the game. I’d only heard nasty things about Penn State fans, but they were calm and nice throughout the morning. I think the athletic departments at both schools made a good move by joining teams and kneeling in the middle of the field for a prayer before the game started.

It was mindblowing and made your heart pang to see a stadium of 110,000 fans fall silent while the teams joined in prayer.

Of course I didn’t make a good picture of the situation.

But I do think that it helped make everyone realize just what Bo had said, that issues like child sexual abuse are more important than football. And the fans stayed respectful and lively for the whole game, as far as I could tell.

After a boring first quarter, the game picked up and I had a great time.

I’m not sure what tonight will bring in terms of photos, but this has been an incredible trip that I won’t forget. And to all of the Penn State Collegian writers and photographers that I met, it was great to spend time with you and hope to see you around in the future.

See you tomorrow, Nebraska.


Messing around in the studio while helping Bea do some portraits for an art project she is starting.

everyone loses their place under the sun eventually

burnin’ up a black hole