Sunday, March 18, 2012

Shutterbabe: Photography, Travel, Adventure

   I was given this book by one of my client's after he read an article in the Washington Post about the author. Adventure, travel, photography. After reading just a small excerpt in the article, this client told me he knew I had to have this book. (Have I mentioned that I am the luckiest girl in the world to have such amazing, thoughtful clients? I could not be more grateful.) 

   Shutterbabe is the memoir of Deborah Copaken Kogan, a photographer, writer, and all around bad ass female. The book chronicles her early years as a photojournalist and is every adventure lovin', globe trekkin', picture taken girls' dream. It's one of those books that is so good, I can't put it down, and yet I am purposefully trying to make myself slow down because I don't want to be done reading it.

   Covering a span of few years in the late eighties/early nineties, the book chronicles her time spent as an early twenty-something woman living in Paris as a home base as she travels to Afghanistan to photograph the Soviet pullout, Switzerland for heroine users, Zimbabwe shooting the Rhino War, orphans in Romania, and I'm not even through the book yet. Her brutal honesty makes the book and stories of travel to such extreme places relatable, as she shares about dealing with menstruation while on a truck filled with an Afghani freedom fighters to being shit on by monkeys while camping along the banks of a Zimbabwean river and even the perils of her own love life, which she shares with equal candor. 

   The era the story takes place in is adding another interesting element. I was just a kid in the early nineties, but old enough to remember the time before cell phones and digital cameras. Reading the trials and tribulations of her relying on pay phones and using only film, as this was all that was available at that time, takes on whole new meaning to me as the bulk of the work I did in my semester of photography was done in film. She talks of having to race to the airport to find some unsuspecting person to take her film back to Paris and having to take the time to load her film in the heat of the moment, all issues that photogs of today never have to deal with anymore, as we can all now just email our hundreds of digitized images instantly, no air travel required.

  And while this is quickly moving up the ranks as one of my favorite books ever, let me offer a small word of warning. This book is definitely not for the squeamish or the faint of heart, as some of her stories, especially the one of the Romanian orphans are almost too hard to read for their gruesomeness. Like I said, she is brutally open and honest. However, if your stomach and heart can take it, this book is incredible.

   Her work as a photographer speaks for itself and I love that on her site she shares a mixture of her grittier film work alongside some her new landscape work and even iPhoneography.  On her website you can see more of her work.
 From the series "Shooting Back," New York, NY, 1987
 Kachagari refugee camp, Peshawar, Pakistan, 1989
 Hospital for the Unrecoverables, Vulturesti, Romania, 1990
 Somewhere in the Aegean, 2010
 Coney Island lovers, Brooklyn, NY, 2011
 Steps, Harlem, NY, 2009
   I haven't been this inspired to take a trip and photograph everything and anything in sight in a long time. And to write. This is the kind of book, and Ms. Kogan the type of author, that compels me to become a better writer myself.  For now though, eating my Ethos vegan takeaway cookie and having my cup of tea whilst reading will have to suffice. But not forever...
   She has written several other books, all fiction, that I think will be next on my literary shopping list, the first to be ordered being her not yet released, The Red Book, which I've read described as 'The Big Chill for the Facebook generation'. Sounds very interesting.

On a side note, I hope everyone had a safe and rad St. Patty's day! If your celebrations left you feeling a bit green though, head over to Holistic Movements for a detoxifying Green Kale Lemonade and you'll be back in tip top shape on no time!

Peace out cub scouts.


All images of Deborah Copaken Kogan's work taken from her site, including The Red Book cover. The other two images were taken by me.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Where in the world have I been???

   Where in the world have I been you may ask? A place called busting-my-ass busy, that's where I've been. But it's all been truly incredible, and now it's time to share!
   In the past I have purposely been a bit vague about my 'real life', specifically my real professional life, here on this space. The reasoning? Two-fold really, first being that I wanted this to be a reprieve, a little magic corner that I was creating just for me that was separate from my day-to-day, and secondly, not being super comfortable with my then current work situation, I suppose I was kind of hiding this creative little part of myself. But, all of that is neither here nor there now, because so much has changed in the last six to eight weeks, life looks very differently, both professionally and personally.
   A short back story is necessary. My career over the past 7+ years is as a full time Pilates instructor and personal trainer. Being the head trainer at my former place of employment, I taught most weeks 25-30 hours a week, which is considered in the industry to be full time, a combination of group sessions and private sessions. It was an amazing opportunity that allowed me time to learn and grow as an instructor, gaining experience in such a wide range of the field, practicing with people who were dealing with all sorts of issues from severe scoliosis to double hip replacement to pregnancy and everything in between.  I love my job, I feel that I truly get to help people, but the last few years, something felt a bit off. Looking back, I think I was in a rut. My 4 mile drive to work and back became this little bubble that I was feeling trapped in. Hence the need to blog about a mid-twenties crisis and a large scale solo travel adventure.
   Flash forward to December of last year. This had all been brewing in my mind for well over a year, and I don't know what exactly it was, maybe the Mayan calender, maybe my trip, maybe my impending 29th birthday (yes, I know it's a ways away, but it's there, looming...), whatever it was, something lit a fire under my butt. The timing felt right to break away and start my own business.
   Having worked in a studio for all these years, I knew the strains a brick and mortar location can bring, and since I do have one of the world's worst reported cases of Wanderlustitis, I was severely hesitant to tie myself down in that way. Plus, after spending the last year and half blogging and photographing, I knew that I still wanted time for those things, and of course time and the ability to take trips, long ones if needed. (those of us afflicted by such mighty cases of Wanderlustitus will understand.) And the truth is, I see this career of mine including more writing. A lot more, hopefully. But where does that leave me if I want/need to break out on my own, but know in my heart a location is not what I truly want right now? A girls still gotta eat! That's when it occurred to me, why not go to them!
   A few years back I had a client ask me about this, and for certain reasons it hadn't worked out, but now this felt perfect. I could buy some of the smaller pieces of equipment, along with a few other toys that could make training in the home more accessible, and voila!, Holistic Movements, LLC, a mobile Concierge Pilates and Personal Training business was born!
   Right before the holidays I started to get my ducks in a row with legal matters and paperwork that needed filed, etc and by January I was ready, but nervous beyond anything I've ever dealt with before. Anxiety attacks, complete with heart palpitations filled those first few weeks of the new year, but in the end, I was so incredibly fortunate to have interest right away, leaving my job on the last Friday of January and starting to train people in their homes that very next Monday. It has been amazing, and to say I am grateful just doesn't do justice. This experience has truly shown me that if you believe the universe is truly on your side, than it will be, supporting you in all you do. Again, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.
   And of course, along with the in home training, I am building a web presence, for which I have big plans friends! I am hoping that through the Holistic Movements blog I am going to be able to share with a mass audience the amazing benefits of Pilates, Yoga, and mind-body exercise, all over the web! I plan on sharing videos that can be used for in home workouts, as well as offer Skype training sessions. Plus the blog is going to be filled regularly with healthy, plant based recipes, gardening and composting tips, natural remedies and all sorts of other tips and how-to's to help people on their path to wellness. 'Better Living Through Natural Practices' is the company motto. Below are just a few snapshots from my first few posts over at Holistic Movements. I hope you'll head over and check it out!
     It's a work in progress, like any new blog, but I am really loving the tone and feel of the first few posts. Next will be changing up the feel of the actual website, but that will come as I go. And I am not done here at A Bird Out of Water. Interestingly enough, although not truly surprising when you think about creativity and inspiration, I feel more inspired to post here at this space than I have in months. Once you free your mind from the shackles of a rut, all sorts of things emerge!

   I want to thank those of you that check back in here regularly, having this blog has been a great thing for me, and perhaps in some ways, is has been the universe giving me a practice run for the new adventure I am embarking on!