Something About the Ocean

The sound of crashing waves echoed through the night. The ocean churned, rushing for the shore and touching the sand before being pulled back out to sea. It kept up it’s constant rhythmic breathing all through the night and into the early morning.

HeavenlyAs the sun rose the ocean waves continued to crash. In the light of day the rolling, tossing sea could be seen. The water curled, crashed, whitewash spraying as it advanced toward the shore. And the ocean never stopped breathing. No matter the time of day the soothing sound of the ocean could be heard.

The hotel sat on the boardwalk, facing the ocean. Every night I fell asleep to the crashing waves and every morning I woke to them. The salty sea air blew in through the open screen door and some mornings I was torn between staying in bed and getting up. But the ocean always called me, pulled me, and I wanted nothing more then to be down on that beach before it became crowed with the day’s beach-goers. So, really, there was never a choice to be made.

Every morning I walked the beach with my camera. I took pictures and collected shells. The water was so rough that it was difficult to find one that wasn’t broken, but even the broken and chipped ones were beautiful. I walked under the pier, continued along the shoreline and dragged by toes in my water that would rush up and over my feet. There were only a few times where I walked in deep. (Once I walked in up to my knees and a wave came and pushed water up my shorts. I laughed, not really caring, and knowing Sand, Shells and Stonesthat my pockets were already full of sand from the shells I had picked up.)

There was a place on that beach where it seemed all the shells would wash up. Some were broken, some were shattered, some were in one piece. I had never seen anything like it, but where there should be sand there was a stretch of shells. They laid on the beach like a blanket. There was no way around them so I had to walk on them. I didn’t mind. I was looking for shells. Plus, the way the sun was bouncing off the surface made the shells look like they were glistening.

One day, I went down with my camera, but instead of walking along the water’s edge like all the other mornings, I climbed into a lifeguard stand and simply watch and listened. There’s something about the ocean. Time stops. The crashing waves wash away all worries, if only for a moment. Waves barrel and rush toward the shore, keeping the sound of rhythmic breathing. The smell of saltwater and the gentle sea breeze while the sun warms your skin is wonderful. It pulls me, like two opposite ends of a magnet coming together. Much like the ocean always find the shore, I can’t resist the ocean. There’s something about the ocean and I wonder, even though I’ve written about it many times, if there’s any words to truly do it justice.

And I can’t forget about the boardwalk with it’s many shops and eateries. I love the soft pretzels and how their always warm, the funnel cake and all its confectionery sugar and I think I found one of the best pizza places the boardwalk has to offer. One place I always go is the taffy shop. I’ve tried a lot of different taffy in my lifetime, but Ocean City, NJ has Evening Wavesthe best. (They also have really good chocolate.) There’s also two arcades and two or three amusement parks, one which has been around since 1929. For shopping, there’s even more stores in town which are worth exploring.

The ocean is one of my favorite places in the world. To me, the ocean is many things – feisty, calming, dangerous, strong, beautiful, alive. It’s one of the places I want to go to find peace. The reasons are almost indescribable, but it’s natural, like the rushing of waves to the shore. I also believe the ocean is one of the purest places on earth.

To see more pictures from Ocean City, NJ please check out my photo page by clicking here.

A Day in Vermont

There was no real plan. In fact, going to Vermont for the day was the extent of the plan. The rest just fell into place.

The MonumentIt was a beautiful day – one of those days that’s in-between summer and fall – and the first stop was The Bennington Battle Monument. It doesn’t look like much at first, just a tall square structure built out of stone, but I love all that history stuff so I thought I’d check it out. It’s not until you go inside that you realize there’s more too it. On the ground floor they have a brief history, which is interesting to read. For a small fee (which I never mind paying since it all goes toward the upkeep) you can buy a ticket and go to the top (well as high as they’ll let you go, which is pretty high). The only way to get there is by elevator. When the doors opened, I was met by a set of windows. The setup allowed visitors to walk around and look out in each direction. A photo/map on the opposite wall pointed out different landmarks which could be seen from each window. The view was pretty breathtaking too.

The next stop was The Old First Congregational Church, which I passed on the way to the monument. Next to the church is a cemetery. That’s where I went first (despite my dislike of them). I heard that Robert Frost was buried there and wanted to find his gravestone. (I love Robert Frost’s work so this was kinda big for me.) He’s buried pretty far back. It felt like I kept walking deeper and deeper into the cemetery, which didn’t really sit week with me. Eventually I found his gravestone. He’s burred with his wife and their children. Under his name is engraved, “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.” That’s brilliant and beautiful at the same time.

After I made my way back through the cemetery I went into the church. When I stepped Old First Congregational Churchinside I could feel it’s history. It’s an old church with aisles of square seats with little doors. (Since there was no heat in the church people would bring little hot boxes with hot stones in them for warmth.) Standing in the middle of the church, looking up, there’s a chandelier hanging from the ceiling and a balcony that curves around on each side. I walked up to the balcony and looked down. It was amazing and felt special being in a place with so much history.

When I finished exploring the church, it was off to The Apply Barn. Keeping with the spirit of fall, it was time for cider, apples and, my personal favorite, apple cider doughnuts. (I figured the sugar of the doughnuts would match well with the sugar of the maple cookies I had bought earlier.)

It might not sound like a lot, but I wanted to see a covered bridge too. I’ve seen pictures of them, but never saw one for myself. So the next step in the Vermont adventure was to find a covered bridge. And I did. I have to say, it was pretty cool.

The Stone HouseThe last stop of the day was Robert Frost’s house – The Stone House. It dawned on me earlier in the day that it was in Vermont, I just didn’t know where or how far. Turns out it wasn’t that far and worth the trip. The grounds could be walked on and the first floor of the house was open to visitors. For a small fee (which again I didn’t mind paying) you could gain entry to the museum. It was a self-guided tour with plenty of information and photographs. The thought of standing in the same room where Robert Frost once stood and wrote or imagined a poem alone was worth it. The inside of the house, from what I could see, was nice and the outside was quaint with beautiful surroundings.

There was no plan to this day. There was no real destination. This day in Vermont was a spontaneous adventure.

To see more pictures please visit my photo site.

California: A Bittersweet Farewell

Sunset on Moonlight Beach IIIt happens every time.

I never want to leave.

I never want to go home because part of me already feels like I’m home.

I always cry a little, but they’re never sad tears. They’re happy tears.

That’s part of who I am. I’m the woman who cries happy tears and then people look at me like there’s something seriously wrong. They wonder what’s wrong, but tears are not only meant for sorrow and pain. They’re an emotion, a way of expression. I’ve cried happy tears many times before. They’re tears of joy, of having been part of something that I never thought possible, of wishing there was more time because I don’t want it to end, of experiencing and living. They’re tears of such an overwhelming joy that maybe there aren’t any words to describe it.

So on my last night in California I walked down to the beach and watched the sunset. I dug my toes in the sand and sat on the beach. I listened to the ocean and closed my eyes as the breeze came off the water. I breathed in deep the smell of salt. I walked down to the edge and let the water wash over my feet before wading in further and further. Time seemed to disappear, to stand still, as it always does when I’m by the ocean. Reluctantly, I walked the shoreline back to the hotel.

That night I sat outside in the dark for awhile. I listened to the ocean and watched the clouds drift over the moon as it lit the sky. I closed my eyes and fought back tears. I didn’t want to go home, not when it felt like I was leaving a piece of my heart behind.

But then I remembered I’d be coming back. It made it slightly easier to leave knowing that the promise of a return was in the future.

To view more photos of California please click here.

California: Surfing and Music

It was the perfect day on the beach – full of surfing and music.

SwitchfootAfter breakfast, I made my way down to the ocean where the surfing events were taking place. (I wasn’t part these events. At least not in the sense of actually surfing. No, these guys, even the kids, could surf circles around me.) I surveyed the crowd, picked out the surfers and finally found a good place to set up camp. (And by camp I mean a good place to stand and take pictures.)

The sun warmed the back of my neck and bare shoulders as I watched the surfers ride the waves. (Not always all the way to shore. Sometimes they took a spill.) I raised my camera constantly to captures some action shoots, silently yelling at myself for not bringing a longer lens, but was still happy with the pictures I ended up with. There were times I was so captivated and focused on what I was doing that I didn’t realize how far I was wading out into the ocean. Well, I didn’t realize until the next wave came and sent water up my shorts.

I followed the surfers out of the water, along the beach, and finally found where they wereSwitchfoot all standing. As much as I enjoy a good action shot, I love candid pictures. These are the moments that can’t be made or recreated. I believe candid moments capture the soul.

It’s the same with music. When I photograph an artist, I feel like I’m capturing a moment that shows how in touch they are with the music they’re playing. I’ve photographed a lot of bands over the years and Switchfoot has always been one of my favorites. When I watch them live, they seem to have the music running through them. They believe in the songs they play and the words they sing. For me, not only does it make for a great show, but great photos as well.

Switchfoot put on one heck of a show. Actually, I should say shows. First there was Auction Night where they played a short set after raising money for local charities. There were multiple items people could bid on and win with the six charities splitting the money. The guys played a tight set, including three songs from their new album, Where The Light Shines Through.

Switchfoot at the Switchfoot Bro-AmThen there’s (what I like to call) beach day. This is a day full of surfing and music. I’ve already mentioned the surfing portion, but the music is equally as entertaining. Once again, the guys played three songs off their new album, which was released that week – “Float,” “Where the Light Shines Through,” and “Live It Well.”

During the show they brought several children up on stage from an area school and let them sing “The World You Want.” They were part of VH1 Save the Music, which brings music back into schools.

Over all the band preformed a tight set with Jon making his way through the crowd. In order to get back on stage he laid back as if getting ready to crowd surf and let the crowd Switchfoot at the Switchfoot Bro-Amraise him. Drew did what he does best on stage – shred. Tim showed off his bass skills. (Especially during “Float,” which is a very bass heavy song.) Chad kept the beat going and Jerome played some very lovely piano parts.

I captured so many great moments with my camera and was thrilled to be right in the thick of it and part of this amazing event. So, yes, a day on the beach with surfing, music and my camera – perfect.

To view more surfing pictures please click here.

To view Auction Night picture please click here.

To view beach day concert pictures please click here.

California: The Ocean and Me

One of the best feelings is being in the ocean.

One of the best sounds is the rush of the sea as it barrels towards the shore.

One of the best smells is the salty sea air as it rides in on a gentle sea breeze.

Palm Trees By the BeachThe ocean plays a constant melody, sometimes a lullaby, and even though it might change in tone, it’s always beautiful. This is one of the only places on earth where I can find peace. When I’m by the water, virtually nothing and no one exists. It’s just me and ocean.

One of the best feelings is being in the ocean, but there is no feeling like being pulled under and caught in the current of a wave as it churns. As strange as it might sound, I wasn’t scared. In fact, I enjoyed it. The sensation of being pushed by the force of the water and having no control was as if, for a few moments, I was part of the ocean.

There were days where I would stand by the shoreline, looking out to sea, but there were other days where I would strap on a wetsuit and paddle out. Those are the days the waves would be rough and the current would change without any warning and I spent most of my time underwater instead of above it. Those were the days I took spills and collected my fair share of cuts, scrapes and bruises. Those were the days my mouth filled with the taste of saltwater.

But those are also the days I wouldn’t trade for anything.

On my last day of surfing I was given a once in a lifetime gift. I was heading out and saw a large, black mass in front of me. I assumed it was seaweed since the waves had been washing up more and more as the afternoon went on, but it wasn’t seaweed. All of a sudden the head of a seal broke the water’s surface. I knew it was a seal, but for some reason my brain was having trouble registering it. Within seconds its head disappeared and I watched as its body arched and dove under. It was one of those moments that happened so fast, but was so surreal that I’ll never forget it.

The sea is beautiful and feisty. It’s calm and aggressive. Sometimes being part of the ocean, connected to it and able to read it, isn’t enough. For me, whether I’m being beat down by the waves, sitting out in the wide open ocean, laying on the beach or listening to the crash of wave in the distance, there’s a indescribably feeling there for me. It’s almost as if a strange sense of calm comes over me. It makes me truly feel that everything will be alright.

Many evenings I found myself wondering down to the beach to watch the sunset. The sky would Sunset on Moonlight Beach IIIIturn yellow and orange as the last rays of the day would burst through the clouds that started rolling in (and would become the morning fog) before turning the same steely blue as the water. While watching the sun set, I would dig my toes into the cool sand and think about how beautiful and peaceful it was here.

At night, when I was laying in bed, I would fall asleep to the song of the ocean.

During the day, when I was walking around town, I could feel the pull of the sea.

The truth is, the ocean has always and will always have a piece of my heart.

To see more photos from California please be sure to check out my photo site.

California: Flying High

I’m not a huge fan of flying.

Yet, sometimes, it’s the only way to get to where I want to go.

There’s just something about keeping a large hunk of metal thousands of feet in the air that I just don’t understand. I mean, I don’t understand how it’s possible. With that said, when I’m on a plane going from one place to another, I try not to think about it – especially if it’s my only way to get to where I want to go.

So on my recent trip to California, I didn’t think about the flying part. Instead, I enjoyed the different point of view and marveled at the beauty from thousands of feet above the ground.

That’s the thing about flying – in a way, it’s amazing.

The houses, cars and everything else still on the ground gradually become smaller as the plane gains altitude. Watching the world below grow smaller and smaller makes me think about the number of people on this planet and how big it actually is.

As the plane went higher and higher, we flew through the clouds. At first it was like a thick fog. Then the clouds started to thin, rays of light started shining through and I realized we were suddenly above them. Looking down I couldn’t even see the now tiny houses or anything that lay underneath the blanket of white. What I did see was a shadow from the plane. The clouds were so thick that the sun created a shadow on their surface. It also appeared to be so thick and fluffy that I could step right out onto the clouds (but knew better and didn’t feel like falling to my death).

My mind was split between the beauty that was the world above the clouds and the world below. I kept thinking about the think, marshmallow clouds and the adventures to come in California.

2015 in Review

This pass year was very, very good to me. Of course there were highs and lows, but life has both and the lows make us stronger. The year of 2015 provided me with many great opportunities as well as led me down paths that I never though existed. It’s said that when one door closes, another one opens. Well, sometimes, if you don’t see any doors you have to climb through a window. And I couldn’t be happier that I took chances and left my comfort zone this pass year.

During the spring and summer I did some traveling. There are so many places to go and so many things to see. I went to Vermont, California,Switchfoot at the Switchfoot Bro-Am Maine and Massachusetts. In many of these places I photographed concerts – including the Switchfoot Bro-Am in California. I spent a number of days at the beach, listening to the ocean. No matter what beach I’m standing on, the ocean is always welcoming. In previous posts I’ve written about my connection and love for the ocean and, if possible, our bond became even greater this pass summer.

While in California I went surfing. Talk about leaving my comfort zone. Even though I almost broke my leg, blew out my knee and cut myself pretty bad (I have the blackish, blueish, purple scar to prove it), I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. There are few feelings that compare to being wrapped up in the salty arms of the ocean.

Kids at SunsetWhen I was visiting Maine, a place I’ve been a few times before, I realized how I’m never letdown by it’s beauty. It’s not only during the day that the ocean here shines, but at night too. The sunsets are breathtaking. On this particular trip the sky burst into flames until the cool hues of night came to slowly put it out. In the early mornings I had the entire beach to myself. I walked along the shoreline in my bare feet, feeling the cool water racing up to touch them. Most mornings I slowly made my way to the jetty, walked out on it and simply sat there, looking out at the ocean and listening to it breath.

The summer gave me a lot of life changing experiences and I’m thankful for every moment, but it was what the fall offered me that was the most unexpected and wonderful of all.

As summer faded to fall, I found a job that was never even on my radar until a friend brought it to my attention. (I’ll have to thank her one day…for more then one reason.) I wasn’t even working there for two weeks when I saw him – a handsome man with gorgeous eyes and a lovely smile, but there’s so much more to him. And now he’s my special someone. He’s that special guy in my life and I’m thankful for each moment we get to spend together, never taking any of it for granted.

As if this wasn’t enough the fall finally handed me one more big thing, Matt & Kimsomething I’ve been working toward for years. I can officially say that I’m a music photographer. I photograph at least two shows every month for a concert venue in my town. In the future, I hope to expand my reach and photograph for more venues and even, with a little more hard word, bands themselves.

I’ve heard it said that everyday is an adventure. And I’ve come to believe that it’s true. We never know what’s going to happen from one day to the next. So, big or small, the adventure is out there. And 2015 has given me some pretty amazing ones. I’m not just talking about the adventures that traveling has provided me either. I’m talking about all the little moment in-between. And I’m thankful for every single one of them.

I hope all of you had a fantastic 2015!

If you would like to see more of my photos, feel free to check out my website.