Ends and Beginnings

How is it already New Years Eve? Wasn’t it just my birthday? Jeez.

These past twelve months have been insane. This has been one of the most busiest, craziest, inspiring, heart breaking, passionate, best and fulfilling years of my life. There’s been amazing, inspiring photoshoots, fantastic concerts, tears, adventures, and so much that I’m thankful for that I can’t put into words. It’s impossible to condense everything into a blog post, but I’ll go over some highlights later.

Every year I always try and make it better than the last. By pushing myself harder, stepping outside of my comfort zone, and this year, forcing myself to become the person I want to be.

I think everyone has a fantasy version of themselves. The person they’d be if they were they were more successful, or had no fears, or was more confident in general. I’ve always had that fantasy version of myself somewhere in the back of my head, but I didn’t feel like I was capable of being that person until x. y, or z, happened.

Then, in May my family had to put our dog to sleep. What his death made me realize (by slapping me in the face) is that it does happen. And it’s the most cliche thing to say that you only have one life but it’s also incredibly (obviously) true. There’s no point in wasting time with insecurities. Years seem to go by faster each time they come around and I decided that there’s absolutely no point in waiting for this or that to happen to be completely and totally happy with myself. There’s no point in not feeling, every single day, happy and full of life. It’s too short not to. It’s too short to not run and get a picture in perfect lighting, or dance whenever you feel like it, cry when you need to, be kind, or tell the people you love how much you love them every day. It’s especially too short to not love yourself with every ounce that you got.

I miss Scrappy every day, but I’m thankful for what he taught me while he was alive and after he passed away.

So, that’s what this picture is about. I woke up on Christmas Eve’s Eve and it was cold, dark, and gloomy outside. Then it started raining and the sun poked out and it was beautiful. I stood at my windows and debated on going out and taking a photo but I knew that if I did I would be in minimal clothing and cold to the boneBut something that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind these past couple of weeks is to do the things that scare you. So I did it. I walked right on out into the cold drizzle and just did it. I’ve also developed a love/hate relationship with the deer in my town, so that was a concern as well.

new year

I wanted the photo to be incredibly simple. I didn’t want the frills of a huge grand dress or props, I just wanted to convey exactly how I feel about the year. I normally try to create characters for my photos so they feel less like self portraits, but this one completely is. There’s light emitting from my body, the soft tones all around, the feeling of peace and calmness.

Last year I was very proud of the photo “Force Of Nature” because it was all about what was to come. It signified strength and being powerful and beautiful and shaking the world beneath you with your presence. Do I feel like I gave the world an earthquake this year? Not quite. But I definitely left some imprints.

On a lighter note, highlights of the year!

  1. Seeing the Foo Fighters live.
    Nothing to do with photography or anything related but oh my god. I waited in a standby line with my brother and friend Taylor for ten hours (with on and off rain) with the slimmest of chances to see them and it happened. It was an incredible show and I danced and sang as loud as I could all three hours they were playing. It was the best night ever and it honestly changed my life. (photo credit to Taylor Weese!)
    image (2) image (1)
  2. Meeting Dave Grohl.
    Something else that has nothing to do with photography or art! I was lucky enough to be a +1 to, again, my friend Taylor, and we got into a pre-screening of the Austin Sonic Highways episode (Sonic Highways is the mini-series that the Foo Fighters recorded while recording their latest album, Sonic Highways). Then, Dave came out and introduced the episode and did a Q&A after it finished. I even got to ask him a question! It was nuts. He smells like dryer sheets. Also, we got to meet Terry from Austin City Limits and even talk to him for a few minutes and also met Jimmy Vaughn. Like I said – nuts. I look insane in the picture with Dave but that’s besides the point. I got a picture with the drummer of Nirvana.017_09aSep - Nov 13 (17)
  3. Relaunching my website.
    That was a pain in the butt. Also, a lot of work. I thought, “Hey, this won’t be too hard! I just have to switch domains and find a theme and put pictures on it and my price list and blah blah blah! Oh.. but wait, how about I do a countdown to the day it launches with pictures and speed edits? That sounds awesome.” It was awesome – and I’m incredibly proud of myself for doing it. My website is now 1000x better than it was a year ago. It’s very gratifying to know that it was all me and that I just went ahead and did it. I remember the day it launched, sitting at my moms desk (because I needed two computers to work on) and watching the minutes tick by as I made the final touches. I believe I launched it at 6pm and I was literally working on it until about 5:55pm.
  4. Creating my series, “Dia De Los Muertos: The Beauty Behind Death”. 
    Everything about this was so new to me. Finding models, locations to shoot, props, wardrobe, everything. Then on the day of the shoots, directing models, fighting light, shooting at 1600 ISO… oh the woes. Then being able to have a photo showing in town and getting so much support from everyone involved. I’m so glad I did it. I want to do it again – but on a grander scale and something that hits close to home. What will it be? I don’t know. But it’ll be something really cool.finished 8 syd
  5. Finishing the third 365.
    365 projects will be the death of me someday, I’m sure of it. Finishing this one was huge though. I was happy with my photography when I started, but you can literally see it evolve in this project. It’s pretty sweet. Even afterwards, too. It’s finally feeling to seem like I found some kind of a voice in photography. You can see the slideshow of all 365 pictures here.365
  6. Being able to do off-beats on the drums.
    I’ve had my drums for a year and three days. Do I think that I’m Neil Pert? No. But finally being able to somewhat make two of my limbs go in different… times? I don’t know lingo yet, bear with me. It feels good. Up until this point I’d felt like I was staying very stagnant with the drums. I could play a couple songs and I’d try and teach myself harder ones, but I didn’t really feel like I was improving. But this is proof! I will soon be able to do smooth drum rolls, too, just wait!
  7. Getting my driving permit.
    Something very cliche but still! I studied for like a week straight so I could get it on Valentines day. It was an amazing day. I screamed really loud when it showed up on the screen that I passed and I didn’t care at all. Then, afterwards I tried to drive home and did so horribly. But I’ve improved a lot! I can drive comfortably around town and to the library. It’s monumental. I’m powerful.1396029_10202655268515312_1323546051_n
  8. Becoming a cat owner.
    I never really put a lot of thought into just how different cats versus dogs were until we got cats. Six of them. Two days after we put our dog down…. What is a gray area? Dogs are full of love and compassion and they will come to you when you call their name and be so excited and love you. Cats seem to love you on their own terms and you’re lucky if when you call their names they turn their head and blink at you. I love our cats though – don’t get me wrong! We’re down to 4 now because we got them to foster them (only planning to keep 2, haha, parents) and they are such gentle creatures. Also so elegant! Watching them jump is still so weird and terrifying.July - Sep 7 (21)
  9. Spending time with my family.
    This is always going to be a highlight of every year. Any time spent with my family is wonderful – immediate and extended. I was lucky enough go to and spend a weekend downtown with my cousins and brother (and by lucky enough, I mean that I worked my patoote off) in July. We went up to Dallas to spend Thanksgiving with my sister and her family, she came down to Austin for my birthday, my family, my dads family and my sister and her family were all together for Easter. It’s been a very family filled year! I appreciate them all so much. Even now as I write this I’m in my room with my cousin Kenny and my brother. I’m endlessly grateful for all of them. Special shout outs to my parents because of course.3
  10. Accomplishing everything on my “2014 year” list.
    Every year I sit down and make something that’s not a goal list, but a decorative page describing what I want my year to be filled with. This year there was lots of stuff about confidence, being a freakin’ powerhouse of a person, good vibes, etc, and I was looking at it a couple days ago after staring at it for the entirety of this year and it sunk in that I actually did these things. They weren’t in the way I saw myself doing them – but in better ways. Ways that are even more fulfilling and make me happy. I was really shocked when I noticed it.

This year has been incredible. It’s been full of great things and lovely people (old and new!) and I couldn’t be happier with how it went.Of course there were other things that were amazing. Like volunteering for SXSW, seeing The Toadies live, seeing Black Label Society live (and getting 3 drumsticks that night!), continuing working with the Special Olympics in my town, meeting so many new amazing people, collaborating with my brother for his EP (titled “The Death Riders” – check it out. I really was able to listen to it a few days ago and I got goosebumps).

I’m so grateful for all the opportunities that have presented themselves, the risks I’ve taken, the people who have helped me, and for finally learning that loving yourself is something you shouldn’t be ashamed of or wait to do.

Good vibes to you all. Ring in the new year with love.

2014 hella


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