photographer / texan / christian
The first time I saw snow was January 7, 2014. I'm a 26-year-old man of Jamaican heritage who spent his childhood playing frisbee under palm trees and never figuring out how to float. That first flurry was magical. I couldn't see the intricacy that everyone always touts, I was just excited to finally experience something I missed for 23 years. By the next day, I was over it. My joints ached, I had slipped on some ice and couldn't figure out how to layer so I was both sweaty and freezing. That's the nature of the new, exciting, eventually banal and then just your everyday. But in that every day, I learned a respect for resistance I didn't have before. Last time I saw Lauren, she was in her mid-twenties and hadn't found the respect for this "aforementioned resistance" just yet. Now three kids and a million stunning images later we sat in her living room flanked by plants, light and the sounds of joyful children finding new trouble to discover.
"In life, you will toil, you will create, you will love, you will laugh and you will experience all of these incredible emotions and it will be simultaneously difficult and beautiful." 
​​​​​On the cold
"There is a depth that comes with wintering. I'm glad that I've experienced the depth of wintering and what that does to the creative process. It makes more authentic images. 

There's a sense of suffering that comes when you get 36 inches of snow. You're isolated. Your car is completely buried. The streets are a mess. Your neighbors are using their pickup trucks to try and smash their way through it, and you're trying to dig yourself out. All of that just does something to you. It makes your art more honest because it's fought for. 

In Texas, it's so hot. Things are scorched and there's a sense of death that comes in the summer. Even still, it's not debilitating to walk outside. You don't have to physically break your way outside. That's not to say life is easy in Texas. They each have their own challenges. That physical challenge, however, I've found creates a deeper image and deeper creative process."

On moving to New Haven
"After Matthew, my husband, got into Yale and we decided to move, my father in law said to me, "you're going to find who you are and you are going to become stronger because of that."

I have three older brothers, and I felt like as a child what I needed to do in order to be successful was to just conform and be pretty, as defined by a white evangelical suburban town in Texas. 

Which can be very difficult and confining at times. It doesn't produce freedom in the sense of what you can discover and what you can learn. Comparing that to New Haven is like we live in a foreign country now."
On being a southern woman
"I always wanted to not feel any pressure to wear makeup in Dallas but I just never allowed myself to be free.

Here, in New Haven, there is a sense of openness, welcoming, and variety. It's OK to be a strong confident woman here. Now, I'm not saying that it's not OK to be a strong confident woman in Texas. I just feel as a woman that there's a that there's a system that you need to operate under. Otherwise, you're seen as too outspoken, too brash, too smart, too intelligent. And nobody would say it. 

It's very southern in the sense that there's a code by which people operate. Breaking that code doesn't really happen. Doing so swiftly brands you as an outsider. Here, in New Haven, I haven't really experienced the feeling of being a cultural outsider.

It's more like oh this woman chooses to dress in that, Maybe she loves the outdoors. If there is a woman in business attire, maybe she is a CEO or an attorney. It's all equally strong, equally respected and equally feminine.

The freedom of not having to operate in a system where you need to fit in to be beautiful, to be successful, or talented and has been really freeing for me as an artist and as a human."
On marriage
"I think one way that women feel confined is they are taught that they need to be beautiful. They need to be well-kept. They need to be a supportive spouse. And that's not really something I experience, here in New Haven or with Matthew. 

What I experience in New Haven is that as a spouse, I want to be educated. I want to be thoughtful. I want to be respectful. I want to honor you and our roles together. And I want to grow and have goals together. My "job" to be beautiful or to fit a certain physical world is not at all a thought that I have. 

So that's freeing. That is freedom to learn, to grow and to discover. If I want to do a project that requires me to be gone from my family, Matthew is completely supportive of that. I'm not bound to not have these dreams and to complete them. There's a sense of partnership and working together where my role as the woman is not to solely tend to the family, it's to partner with my partner. We nurture each other's dreams and our family. It's a dance, a beautiful dance, but it's one that's very supportive of one another and supportive of these darling three humans."

On sacrifices
"It's been easier for me to photograph weddings while tending to my children because it's on the weekends. Matthew can be home with kids and that for the family function has been what has been easiest for us. It's essential to me to be at home with them and helped develop them into strong people. 

With all of them going to school this next year, I feel that my career is shifting to and that's exciting. It allows me to dream about architectural work and more justice projects I'm really eager to do.

I made those sacrifices when we had children. Lucy was born when I was 24. That's so young. It rocked our world and changed things. And I'm really glad it happened that way, but career-wise I made that decision of shooting weddings because functionally that worked better for family life."
On craftsmanship
"I feel like there is a resurgence of craftsmanship that's happening all over America. There are artists and makers that are making things and resurrecting a sense of quality. But largely, especially in suburbia, where I grew up, it's this idea of whatever's cheapest, whatever's fastest, whatever is most easily accessible, that's what I'm going to buy for my home. That's what I'm going to use for my children and that's what I'm going to use for myself because it's easy, fast, and cheap. 

And what that destroyed any sense of artisanship in our culture. It destroys any sense of slow thoughtful, contemplative reasonable living. It's gone. The fabric of society operates in having something that's cheap, easy and quick.

And I don't value that. I think it's a part of the calling of the makers and artists of the world to make their voice strong and loud and live in a different way, to show pride in craftsmanship.

We went to Denmark this summer and I was so inspired by the lifestyle of the Danes. The whole culture is based on this concept of what is beautiful and functional for the people. How can we improve lives? 

There's a high emphasis on design, beauty, and craftsmanship.  All these things that have real value. And I think that impacts their cultural personality. It creates people who are concerned about sustainability and transcendent beauty that will outlive them. 

We need more of that in America. We need to listen to the artists. We need to listen to the quiet, contemplative ones. We don't need to listen to our pocketbooks but rather to what will help grow a nation. Not just continue to create short-term gains."
From Dallas, TX
Lives in New Haven, CT

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