2000 — student runner-up
I am a freelance editorial and commercial photographer based in Springfield, Illinois. I enjoy taking storytelling photographs and lit portraits for a variety of publications and organizations. I strive for beautiful photos that are smart and caring - and sometimes funny. My work has appeared in publications ranging from the New York Times and the Washington Post to the Chronicle of Higher Education and the St. Anthony Messenger. My clients include the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute and Lutheran Social Services of Illinois. I have received national awards from the National Press Photographers Association, CENTER in Santa Fe, American Photography 27 and FRESH/Klompching Gallery. Previously I was a staff photographer at The State Journal-Register. I have a master's degree from the Missouri School of Journalism and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Art from Stanford University. I am originally from California, and am now at home in the Midwest with my husband, Ted, and our sons, Sam and Eli. Thanks for visiting.
List your accomplishments, awards and interests since the Alexia grant.
I received the grant near the end of graduate school. I finished my master's degree at the Missouri School of Journalism and did internships at the St. Petersburg Times and Hartford Courant. I was the 2000 College Photographer of the Year. From 2001-2003 I was a staff photographer at the State Journal-Register in Springfield, Illinois, and since then I have been a freelance photographer based in Springfield. I have received awards from CENTER, American Photography 27 and FRESH/Klompching Gallery. I am married and have two sons: Sam, five; and Eli, two.
How has the Alexia grant influenced your career?
The Alexia grant helped me finish my master's project, "After Divorce," which helped me get a full-time job and become a professional photographer. It also encouraged me in my choice of subject matter, which was and continues to be topics that are quiet and domestic.
How did your project lead to greater exposure or solutions for your issue of focus?
Portions of "After Divorce" were published in The Herald in Jasper, Ind., and in Photo District News.
Have you, or do you plan on expanding your project? How so?
I see the "After Divorce" photographs as fitting into a larger body of work that examines everyday life and family relationships. For example I have photographed women and life changes at age 50, and continue to photograph my husband as a father to our two sons. I plan to photograph my mom, and my dad and his new family, now that grandchildren have brought them in contact again. I am also working on a project about the biological clock.
For the past several years I’ve photographed my mother’s life since my parents’ divorce, and recently I’ve expanded my scope for my master’s project. Through a combination of in-depth interviews and documentary images of people in all different stages of the post-divorce process, I hope to show how people rebuilt their lives after divorce.
“It’s the death of a dream” my mom said, referring to my parents’ divorce. This theme has echoed through my interviews with other divorced people, but their stories in my project “After Divorce” are as much about rebirth as they are about death.
The daunting statistics are familiar. The National Center for Health Statistics calculated that as of January 1999 the U.S. marriage rate was 8.3 for every 1000 people while the divorce rate was just over half that, at 3.2. The frequency of divorce in our society masks its impact. Just because it happens all the time doesn’t make it any easier or less traumatic. In their book Second Chances: Men, Women and Children a Decade After Divorce, Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee state that “the men, woman, and children we interviewed were still affected by their divorce ten and fifteen years later”. I know from my own experience that divorce cause feelings of sadness and anger that do not go away until they are dealt with. I hope that my project will provoke discussion, as well as understanding.
Wallerstein and Blakeslee also state that “divorce is the only major family crisis in which social supports fall away”. A man told me his friends treated him like a pariah. “My whole personality completely changed,” one woman said - it was too much for her friends.
After divorce people get new names, jobs, spouses and homes. They suddenly find themselves in different economic and social circumstance. Some people change their bodies, some people change their religion. There are common themes, but everyone feels differently about divorce and handles it in his or her own way. One woman started dating again the day her husband moved out. Another didn’t want to go anywhere for two years.
I have spent the past few months researching this topic and developing local contacts through support groups, churches, and friends; I have begun interviewing and photographing several people in the southern Indiana area. I will photograph my own parents as well (my dad has recently remarried). My goal is to publish this project on the Web or in a local newspaper.
I hope that people will see themselves, their parents, their children and their friends in my pictures, and come to a greater, more compassionate understanding of what it is like to go through a divorce.