2016 was a year

Snapshots from a year. From a new year in Turkey, living in Los Angeles to New York, driving to Kentucky, working in Jamaica, Lebanon to the Syrian border, Paris, London, and Antwerp. 

Lately

It's been a while. My hiatus from sharing should be slowly ending now. I'm realizing how much I miss sharing my work with you all. Photography has taken such an interesting turn for me in the last year or so. After the release of my book, I began diving into longer term projects. Being able to tell a story with a series of photographs, how to express myself properly has been of great importance to me. What I want to say. How I want to say it. This also involved writing more, and stepping away from the pressures of sharing so I could analyze how to best make my next moves.  

With all that said, I'm taking photos just as madly as I ever have. Sometimes there is intent, sometimes none. The ones without intent tend to be the most fun. Part of me decides these don't need to see the light of day and another feels so excited about the magic I've seen - so much that I yearn to have someone to share it with. Photography is a part of me I can't deny. There's a magic in capturing something in the right place, at the right time. Something only I can see. This window of opportunity I've spent years refining, understanding. One that is constantly in flux, as all art should be. It is a never ending love, a hard one. It aches at times, but more often than not, it's a natural state of being. I always return to my work, a destiny I cannot escape. 

I'm currently in Beirut, dusting off my Arabic, volunteering with Syrian refugees along border towns, and doing research for upcoming work. I love this country more than I remembered. It's broken, beautiful, a mix of everything I've ever loved. 

I'd call this place home, but time and time again I've learned that my life doesn't allow for permanence.  

For now - I like you. Thank you for your embrace, Lebanon. 

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Ghosts of Yemen

 

I made a series of photos called "Ghosts of Yemen" one November evening in 2013, not realizing that this would be the last time I’d see this place the way it was and always has been to me. Old, vibrant and majorly flawed. Power outages plagued those streets hourly, no water to keep the country or its people clean and hydrated, an immense amount of Qat chewing and backwardness that I could hardly relate to. A country so old, streets and corridors that have remained untouched since the beginnings of time. And I loved it so much. 

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I look back at these photos and truly feel those ghosts. Some ghosts are less present than others, light and fleeting, just passing through. Others haunt me, eyes that gaze, stinging like a burn that just won’t fade. I imagine these streets destroyed, crawling with fear, paranoia, grief and uncertainty.  A feeling of helplessness, praying for these ghosts to move on, to rest in peace. 

Paris, November

Journal entry from November 30th, 2014:

 "I'm in Paris. It's a Sunday morning, almost noon. I'm waking after my first full night of rest - a result of the absurd amount of work, wine, and freezing scooter rides. 

I like Paris. It's playful, sad, childlike, and small. Everything is small. A smallness that yearns to hold you tight. Walls close in on you, as if to warmly embrace your presence. Human need for closeness is an undeniable truth in this city. Yet, people are cold to one another - maybe because their interaction is satisfied by living spaces stacked on top of one another. 

The city speaks to you with every step you take.  Animated, alive, pulling you closer to notice its beautiful intricacies. The city bleeds, has scars of its past. You breathe memories. You taste sadness, love, death. The gloom makes color more whimsical, gold shines brighter.  You understand why dreamers plant their roots here.

Time spent building these walls gave them life, as maybe you'd imagine some higher power did for our kind.  A vibrant, unashamed, vulnerable, and sensitive life."

 

Self Portrait - Yemen, 2012

in the middle of a Yemeni winter, still blazing hot. in the house my father and his fourteen siblings were born and raised. on the verge of turning twenty-four years old. 

every day, stuck in a veil that, although I knew was necessary, made me scream inside.

the arab spring. seeing the country my father called home crumbling to pieces. preparing for my trip to Egypt, the country my mother calls home, to join my fellow comrades in protesting for their rights. our rights. 

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July, New York

How funny you are today New York
like Ginger Rogers in Swingtime
and St. Bridget’s steeple leaning a little to the left

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here I have just jumped out of a bed full of V-days
(I got tired of D-days) and blue you there still
accepts me foolish and free
all I want is a room up there
and you in it

and even the traffic halt so thick is a way
for people to rub up against each other
and when their surgical appliances lock
they stay together
for the rest of the day (what a day)
I go by to check a slide and I say
that painting’s not so blue

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where’s Lana Turner
she’s out eating
and Garbo’s backstage at the Met
everyone’s taking their coat off
so they can show a rib-cage to the rib-watchers
and the park’s full of dancers with their tights and shoes
in little bags
who are often mistaken for worker-outers at the West Side Y
why not
the Pittsburgh Pirates shout because they won
and in a sense we’re all winning
we’re alive

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the apartment was vacated by a gay couple
who moved to the country for fun
they moved a day too soon
even the stabbings are helping the population explosion
though in the wrong country
and all those liars have left the UN
the Seagram Building’s no longer rivalled in interest
not that we need liquor (we just like it)

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and the little box is out on the sidewalk
next to the delicatessen
so the old man can sit on it and drink beer
and get knocked off it by his wife later in the day
while the sun is still shining

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oh god it’s wonderful
to get out of bed
and drink too much coffee
and smoke too many cigarettes
and love you so much

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