photography

Engagement: Peter & Abi

While I was in Japan I got to share half a desk with Abi; she and Seth made me sit at the crack! We got to talk quite a bit while we worked, and through our conversation I learned what a beautiful soul she is. She cares deeply about people and loves God with her whole heart. She is also a very hospitable person and helped make the interns feel welcomed and comfortable a world away from what they were used to.

So I knew Peter had to be someone special too, and he is! He is funny and kind, and together they make a wonderful couple. Hanging out with them for a couple hours to shoot was full of laughter and joy for the journey they are taking. 

Week Eight: A Next Act

My heart is learning to love Japan, both its vistas and its people. I am captured by the dreams of the people here and feel unprepared to leave. I have never dealt with living someplace so intensely then quickly leaving. It is unsettling, especially once I think how I may never see these wonderful people again. Sure, Facebook and Instagram create digital, artificial, forms of communication, but do not take the place of living close to each other. For all I know I could be in Paraguay next and stay there for the 17 years.

I believe God gave me the gift of commitment. Once I choose to be committed to something it is very difficult for me to un-commit myself. So I committed 90 days of my life to Japan, but to leave feels like breaking a promise. It feels like I have only gotten started. There are so many things that could be done, that I could help with. But maybe it is not my place to have a physical role in them. In some ways, my coming to Japan was a key step in developing a dream. But a step is for supporting those who come after.

I have to believe that God’s plans for me and for Norikura are true, and that they may not coincide. Seth and I have been working through Donald Miller’s “Creating Your Life Plan.” The point of Donald’s book is to jump start your life and bring clarity. We are about half way through the plan and getting to the good part: seeing what you should focus on and how to achieve your goals. It has me thinking about what I really want to come next in my life and brings up some tough questions. Am I a photographer or designer? Or both? What is my goal in life? What steps should I take to achieve that goal?

Obviously I do not have answers yet but I know being in Japan has been a big part of God’s plan for me. I have to be ok with accepting the idea that God may have someplace else for me. I love Japan and will do my best while I am here. I believe God is already preparing me for the next step, and I am very thankful for the experiences that have brought me where I am today.


If you have heard of any photography or graphic design positions, I would love to hear from you! The next stage of life is exciting but also a little scary. Thank you for praying for me as I start taking my next steps! 

Week Seven: Beach Trip!

Thanks to everyone who has supported me so far! I cannot say it enough! I really appreciate everyone who is praying for me and the other staff at NORTHSTAR.

Two weeks ago I went off the grid for a few days. It was our fall break so we had four days off to do whatever we wanted. Brad and his wife Michie were planning a camping trip to the beach as well as visiting Michie’s parents, and they invited us interns to go along. We accepted, so on a rainy Tuesday morning we drove down the mountain and toward Michie’s home town. Our route was as follows: Norikura > Ueda > Toyama > Norikura. If you start at the red pin and go counter clock-wise that is the way we took.

Michie told us that Ueda was a pretty standard city for Japan. There was nothing really exciting or historical about it, but to me, it was wonderful. It was great to get away from the more touristy feel of Norikura and Matsumoto and go to a regular Japanese city without all the extras. As we got to Ueda we stopped at the castle ruins near the center of the city. There was only one tower left standing as the rest had been destroyed. But the rest of the grounds had been turned into a beautiful park, which we all enjoyed.

Later we went to Michie’s parent’s house. Ka san (Mom, in Japanese), and To san (Dad) were the most welcoming hosts we could have asked for. To san was very enthusiastic about practicing his English and I was more than willing to help him and practice my Japanese! He took us out for sushi, which was delicious. This sushi was not wrapped in seaweed like I often picture it. It was rice with a piece of raw fish or squid laid on top of it. Picking it up, dipping it in soy sauce, and getting it into my mouth with chopsticks without it falling apart took some skill. Squid meat is white and very soft and smooth, with almost no taste. I really enjoyed it!

2015-08-31-Fall-Break-Beach-Trip-04632-1200.jpg

After spending the night on traditional futon we had breakfast. What a breakfast! There was fruit, rice, miso soup, and pregnant fish. They were crunchy, kind of like Mexican grasshoppers. After breakfast we packed the van up and headed out to the beach! It was a pretty long drive to the beach so we drove directly to our site, set up camp, and went in search of dinner. The water was still warm, but since it was late we did not play in the water. Instead we set off fireworks!

The next morning Brad made French toast for breakfast, then we played in the Sea of Japan for a few hours tossing the Frisbee. It was a wonderful de-stressor and none of us were ready to leave. But we had some more sites to see! Our main objective was the Glass Art Museum in downtown Toyama, but on the way there we stopped for lunch at a rest stop right next to the ocean. The food was good, but the main attraction to us was the foot bath. The bath was around 40° C, which is well over 100° F. But it was so relaxing and really good for circulation, plus there was a great view of the ocean.

The Glass Art Musuem had opened just a few weeks prior and only cost ¥200 to get in, just under $2. It was a beautiful construction made of glass and wood. The exhibits were full of artists from all over, including one main exhibit by Chihuly.

Our final stop was something I wanted to do just because: McDonalds! Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, it was pretty much like any other McDonalds. I had a teriyaki burger, but it was still McDonalds. We made it back Thursday night, and it was still raining in Norikura. And a fantastic road trip was had by all!

Week 4.5: Photo Essay - Climbing Mount Norikura

Welcome to a new series, the XX.5 series! So far my weekly posts have been mostly words with no pictures (check out my Instagram for daily posts). But this week I wanted to share something a little extra, with more pictures and fewer words. My most recent adventure had too many pictures to share on Instagram, plus they work better together anyhow.

On Friday, our day off, I was definitely hoping to rest. After all we had just had a great boy’s camp and all the staff was tuckered out. But Seth, my boss, was photographer for another camp which was going hiking to the top of Mount Norikura. He had an extra spot, invited me to go, and I accepted. After all, how hard can hiking with a bunch of 7th graders be?

We drove 40 minutes up the mountain to our drop off point. We had about two hours hike ahead of us to the peak. The trail was stony, but well marked, and we had an experienced guide, Mine, to take us up.

The clouds kept rolling in and out, making for some pretty spectacular views. Am I crazy for expecting an Orc to come out from the mist?

Seth was shooting the whole time. Guide Mine pictured below as well. 

As we walked up the ridge to the peak, the clouds cleared for a few minutes and we were treated to a spectacular view of the crater and the lake. The volcano has not erupted for thousands of years, however there are two volcanoes within 20 miles which have the possibility to erupt; one erupted last fall.

Finally made it to the top! All clouds so only me. 3026 meters! (9,928 feet for you English people)

On the way back down we could see the ridge we had climbed up, dividing the inside of the crater and the face of the mountain.

Once we came part way down the mountain we came on another lake, still with plenty of snow and ice! About 20 minutes before this picture I began to feel very sick. I had a stomach ache since that morning, and it had been compounded by altitude sickness. Yes, I vomited what little I had eaten, breaking my record of around 10 years of not vomiting.

Our last sight was a beautiful meadow with random boulders strewn across.

I didn't feel well for the rest of the day, but it was so worth it! 

Look for more XX.5 series coming soon!

Week 1 in Japan!

Week 1 in Japan!

As of this morning I have been in Japan for 1 week. It has been a really good week of acclimation to the Japanese way of life and getting used to my schedule as a whole. Over the past weekend I hung out with a kid’s camp and photographed their activities as part of my job. This included going on a hike with them, going bike riding, and zip lining! I also got started on sketching icon ideas for Northstar’s new website.

Read More

Wedding: Caleb & Dani Day

Wedding: Caleb & Dani Day

Some of you may remember my very first blog post, about the first couple I had photographed for their engagement. I could call this coming full circle as it has been just over a year since I did that shoot, and now I get to talk about their wedding! So Caleb and Dani must have had a lot of trust in me because even after their engagement pictures they asked me to shoot their wedding. And I was more than happy to say yes! 

Read More

Warsaw City Hall Show: "Mexico"

I graduated college two weeks ago. This is fact rather than pride because it means that I have to get busy on "real life." During my senior show a couple months back, the mother of one of my friends approached me about coming to the show. The only thing she told me at that point was that she wrote for the Warsaw Times-Union and wondered if she could do an interview with me. Of course I said yes!

Read More