Tuesday, May 12, 2009

And We're Up!

Check out my Durham city guide. Thank you, Grace!

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Photo Love Letter to Durham

Almost a year ago, right around when Matt and I moved to Durham and began exploring the town that I'd previously only really known up through high school (imagine finally getting your license at 16 when you've grown up on a farm out in the country, and suddenly being able to drive yourself "into town", which for me meant Durham's Ninth Street district, or the Durham Arts Council where I did theater with the Young People's Performance Company), I decided I wanted to write a Durham guide for one of my favorite daily blogs, Design*Sponge.

Durham has oodles of amazing design, I thought, and set out making a long list with a commitment to photograph every single listing as a personal project and editorial challenge.

Well, after putting the project off through a busy fall, and then waiting patiently for the more foliage-heavy spring, my guide will be running tomorrow, and I'm trying not to be too hard on myself for not meeting my goal of accompanying every listing with a photo! When you see its length, you may understand; there is just so much incredible stuff going on here, it would have taken me months to do it all justice. So instead, the guide will be accompanied by my top selections of pictures, with a few outtakes here. I just hope I don't piss anybody off too much when I inevitably leave off a listing that should have made it. I feel like there's still so much to explore.

I should note that my guide doesn't even begin to touch on the fascinating history that makes Durham what it is today, though it's worth exploring. For a start, I recommend Gary Kueber's Endangered Durham, a blog dedicated to the pursuit of creative alternatives to the demolition of historic structures. As he lays out building by building's history, a larger story of Durham begins to unfold.

What a classic Durham juxtaposition: the high-security prison on the left (an idea conceived when nobody ever believed Durham's downtown would ever amount to much ever), and the sparkling new Durham Performing Arts Center, home of big-name musicians and Broadway musicals, on the right.

Here's DPAC at night:

My heart breaks for buildings like this one. Fingers crossed that someday, someone with a little start-up and some entrepreneurial drive take a chance on this place, just a block east of luxury condos. It's gonna happen.

I kind of adore both this shop (Ox & Rabbit) and its owners, Bryan and Erin, who I met while photographing for this project, and whose wedding I'm going to be shooting in August near Asheville! I love what they've done with the old soda fountain from McDonald's Drug Store, which occupied the space for decades.

OMG, their merchandise is just so tantalizing....

Vaguely Reminiscent, which has items for the very young (bins of rubber toys, intriguing painted boxes) and the design inclined (stunning jewelry, shoes, frames, etc.); one usually finds oneself in a ballet of squeezing past other customers in their intimate space to take it all in.

The Regulator Bookshop - which reminds me, I've got Domino's Book of Decorating on hold for me right now! My childhood neighbor, John Valentine, owns and runs this place.

Apparently whenever I'm at Pinhook I'm out of photo mode and just completely, absolutely, enjoying myself... I never seem to remember to take any photos of the inside, as gorgeous as it is. Check out their website to see some for yourself. What did we all do before this bar?

JC's Kitchen (I'll give you one guess as to what JC stands for): "Where the food is annointed and you won't be disappointed!"

The Federal - Saturday afternoon (or anytime, really) staple.

And its neighbor, the James Joyce. My sister, who spent a year in London, swears by their curry fries.

Heather Garrett's fun interior design shop, smack in the middle of downtown's Main Street...

I love this little padded sitting nook behind the table:

Golden Belt offers more and more events every month... I love popping into all their artists' studios on Third Fridays.

Matt at Dain's Place enjoying a cold one:

American Tobacco's man-made river:

A big thanks to Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge - I admire her hard work so much, and am grateful she let me put together Durham's guide! Check back tomorrow for a link!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Up To...

Lest you worry that the delinquency of my posting is due to lack of photographic activity or having fallen off the earth, I recently decided to revive Umbrella Love not only by picking up posting again, but by giving you an overview of what I've been up to since I left you (yikes) last October. There's something about having my busiest month yet that's given me the energy and the motivation to juggle everything else I've been neglecting, too.

First of all, the horribly rainy and cold spring has finally given way to early summer around here, and the world is unfurling. It's lovely.

(Can you spot the four-leaf clover? It's there.)

A gift from Tyler - fresh radishes from his front yard garden. We have not yet managed to get our butts in gear for our own garden. I fear it may be too late for most veggies.

In addition to the work I've been up to lately (see the deluge of new posts below), I've been working on two "personal" projects - one of documenting people in my neighborhood over time, sitting around on front porches drinking beer and shooting the shit. Most folks know me pretty well by now, and are getting more comfortable with me having my camera with me. It's been fun, and a challenge. Below is my 3-year-old friend Kyle Louis W.

The other thing I'm working on is putting together a city guide for Design*Sponge, my absolutely favorite daily blog reading. I ambitiously set out to photograph each of the places I'm listing - a rather long list, let me tell you - even though they only run 3 or 4 photos, the idea being that I'd link to my own more photo-driven version. I'm still going for it - but man, it's taking a while! There are such great businesses here in Durham, many of them with unique and creative design.

Bryan and Erin from Ox & Rabbit, the nicest people you could hope for. They got engaged in Boston (!) this winter, and are getting married near Asheville this August. I adore their shop with it's great selection and yummy soda fountain.

So, here's to being back. And here's to summer, with its (hopefully) continually busy workload and plenty of afternoons to sit around on porches, drinking and talking with neighbors and friends in the delicious North Carolina heat.

Cullen and Lochlan

I gotta be honest, the 2-3 age range is tough - and this shoot consisted of one of each! Fortunately for me, both these awesome kids with their strong Irish names held up like super stars.

The Little Munch

This is Natalie and Harris' nickname for their plump and perfect new baby, Madeline. I love working with families who are up for anything - especially lying around while I crawl all over their bed taking photos. We had a lot of fun that Sunday afternoon.

Papa Mojo's Roadhouse

Another Steve Peters project. Check out that wall of mantles! Mel Melton, a.k.a. Papa Mojo, is also an area musician whose band I photographed when I was - are you ready? - about 15! Talk about full circle. We have plans to do another music shoot soon.