For this post I looked at over 14,000 images, and it was overwhelming. A lot can happen in a year.
It was a particularly memorable one – for me and for all of us. It was a year that made me feel small in exactly the way you should, when you see just how big the world is – in all its horror, its wonder, its sorrow, and its glory. There’s something that comes from fresh perspective, and that’s the realization of the continuity that’s been there all along. The same Lord holds me whether I’m in the comfort of my relationships in DC, with my family in Florida, or across the world in a different culture. I am smaller, but my Lord and his world are bigger. That’s ultimately what the following photographs are all about.
2016 reminded me why taking photos matters. There’s something in me and perhaps all of us that tries ceaselessly to hold on to the most intangible – time. It comes and goes, remarkably faster with each rotation around the sun. Each of us have our own way of marking it, and mine is primarily through making photographs. Taking photos, however, is more than that. It’s a choice of how to remember. It means you have to find something beautiful or interesting in your surroundings, whether that’s your closest friends, new clients, or the most photographed cities in the world. For me, it's an investment in curiosity. GK Chesterton wrote, “How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it; if you could really look at other men with common curiosity and pleasure. . .You would break out of this tiny and tawdry theater in which your own little plot is always being played, and you would find yourself under a freer sky, in a street full of splendid strangers.” That feels relevant to the following collection.
As always, it’s the human beings in the following photos that make me grateful for one year and excited for the next.
To those who trusted me with their memories, and specifically my incredible couples the Showalters, the Ahns, the McDonalds, the Manns, Peder and Lucia: thank you.
To the friends who look at my photos, who bike with me in Washington, who write me emails, who facetimed me at odd hours while abroad, who visited me in Europe (Katie Lay, Kimberly Torres, Carlee Russell, Emily Bingham), who listen to my stories and share their own, who mourn and rejoice with me whether together or from across the ocean, you are the incarnation to me.
When you travel, it is easy to become lost and disconnected. Despite all odds, the human spirit has an immense capacity for kindness. I spent the past six months being the welcomed foreigner, and I’m very thankful to those who hosted and befriended this somewhat lonely, somewhat lost traveler over the summer and in Paris. Specifically, to those at the Faculté Jean-Calvin in Aix-en-Provence, Pauline from Germany, Britt and Leif in Göteberg, the Dubergs, Rolf and Marta in Sundsvall, Inger and Mats in Stockholm, the Norlin family in Stockholm, the Gillgrens in Örebro, the Dyers and Roop in London, the Boltons in Oxford, the church family at La Cité and in my Chez Nous on Tuesday nights, Meïssa my language partner, my middle school students at Fenelon, my first friend in Paris Katherine, and my host parents in the 10th arondissement Agnes and Arnoux! It's you who made my six months abroad real and personal.
To Maddie, Luke, Maria, and Mike, thanks for encouraging me to leave and for giving me a reason to come home. Stronger together.
I spent the last four weeks in Aix-en-Provence, a small city in the South of France where I was enrolled in language classes. Aix is an amazing place, an ancient city that's full of international students during the year and international tourists in the summer, but also with a very strong sense of local pride and culture. I spent most of my time in the city, but I was also able to travel around the region quite a bit.
They're not pictured here, but my time in Aix was especially wonderful because of the people I met in class, at the seminary where I stayed, or the churches I visited.
Moustiers Sainte Marie - French village near the bottom of the Alps
Marseille - major port city
Camp Des Milles - French World War II Internment Camp
Eurocup 2016 - Spoiler Alert: France loses.
Avignon & Festival D'Avignon (Performing Arts Festival)
Le Pont Du Gard - Roman Aqueduct
Cassis - Mediterranean coastal city
Valensole - Champs de Lavande