Friday I got to the venue 2 hours early. I'm never early, but I was nervous as anything and wanted to make sure I was fed (at the mall next door) and changed (in the Barnes and Noble bathroom) and ready to shoot (by location scouting around the venue). Then I sat on the curb in the shade, in my giant bright silk shirt, and waited to be let inside. I texted: “I’m here; I’m the only one who looks like a 90’s grandparent vacationing in Florida and not a security person.”
Before I could even finish my LaCroix, I was ushered into the back of the building.
We decided to take photos inside, so everything you see here were locations I found with Mitch and Tyson in the first 5 minutes of entering the building. We hustled; they helped me with lighting (what gems of photo assistants) and we made it happen and I’m so proud of how these turned out. New motto: don’t make excuses; make art.
From there, my expectations for the rest of the weekend were low. I would go downstairs and wait in the lobby until the show began. I’d shoot AAR’s first three songs, watch the rest of the show, load up into my car, edit and sleep at my Airbnb, and begin again in the morning. I expected the weekend to be fun, but also a little lonely, living in my car, not knowing anyone, traveling through three cities.
But nothing happened as I expected.
We got done shooting early, and the fellows walked me back to the green room, offered me a drink, and we talked. And they went out of their way at the entirety of the weekend to make sure I had AC and wifi and water and food and somewhere to stay at night. Who is that kind to someone they met a day or two ago? Nothing was as I expected, but all of it was better.
I guess what I'm saying is, I'm really grateful for kind humans. They were under no obligation to talk to me or befriend me at all, but they did. I left with new friends.
I started the weekend with the words: thankful, hopeful, ready. And I think they ended the weekend well, too. I don’t know if this story is a beginning or an end, or both altogether, but I’m thankful, hopeful, and ready for whatever is next in my story. Thank you, Mitch, Chris, Tyson, Mike, and Nick, for welcoming me into your little framily for a weekend. You're good eggs and I'm grateful to have met you.
This is my third Lany fan blog post (check out Minneapolis and Columbia) and I decided to try something different. Typically I just blog the line before the show and that's the extent of my fan photos, and typically most of my photos during the band's set are of the band.
This time, however, when the band came out, I immediately turned around, faced the crowd. The light backlit Lany, but it hit the crowd right in their faces.. And it was beautiful. The best part of the show was that: looking back, seeing the night from the band's point of view. I couldn't stop grinning.
So for Indianapolis, I'm including photos from, yes, the line before the show, but also during the show and after the show. This is the story of the humans in the crowd. The Lany fam. The ones who, before the show, were waiting outside at least 7 hours before to get an envied spots on the barricade. The ones who waited for hours after the show to get a photo with or a hug from the Boys. I want to hug you all. Your enthusiasm inspired me and I'm smiling as I edit and post these photos. I'm grateful for you.
Keep living with that radical reckless enthusiasm and love the things you love that hard. Let your love keep you up late at night and may it keep you grinning.
Yesterday as I was leaving the grocery store, I walked by bouquets of flowers and thought: I don't especially love flowers but I love that it's something we do--expend income and effort on something so temporary. I love that we keep and we give something so temporary because this is all temporary but that shouldn't stop us from buying flowers. That shouldn't stop us from throwing roses. That shouldn't stop us from savoring beautiful moments, even if they're short. Whether high school or a concert or a first kiss. Just because it's over doesn't mean it wasn't beautiful. Chase that beauty. It might not always look like a rose, but even dandelions are beautiful if you choose to see beauty in them. Choose to see beauty all over, dear humans. On Saturday night I saw it in your faces. ILYSB. These photos are chronological and they tell your story. The story of Saturday night and the smiling and the dancing and the roses on the floor. I hope when you remember that night, you remember it like this.
Much of life is choosing what is worth inconveniencing yourself for. The things you drive a distance for. The people you stay up late for. Those are the things and the people you love. These humans love Lany.
Oh, Lany fans, you're gems. What can I say that I haven't said before?
But maybe it's not about saying anything new. Maybe it's just saying something true. Something honest. Something I mean.
Because Lany is like that. Love isn't new, just these songs are. Pink skies have been ending days for decades--centuries--but only now do we have that melody. And summer isn't new, just this one is.
And life isn't new, but I feel like who I'm becoming is.
Maybe it's the same with you. With these songs. With these days. With these young summer years.
More even than I love the music of Lany, I love the feeling of Lany. It's like this:
Keep dancing, young friends. Don't ever stop being enthusiastic about the things you like. Don't let anyone tell you growing up is boring. Yes, growing up means insurance and bills and a lot of that is scary right now (to me, too), but it's also staying up all night with your friends and ice cream for breakfast and 30 glow sticks in your car and dancing in the streets in new cities to new songs and it's a lot of fresh air in your lungs and it's learning what joy is and it's feeling it, too. Sometimes the scariest things are also the best things; don't live a safe life because just like these songs and these days, life is short. Take risks. Don't be afraid of failure. Sing loud and often. Maybe these things are cliche and maybe I've said them before, but I'm not above a good cliche.
I think maybe that's the point though, isn't it? We're all just feeling the same things in different cities waiting for someone to give words to these emotions--or give us a chance to dance. Because don't we all need some roses in our hands, in the air, on the floor?
This spring I read the book Wonder and the main character Auggie says that he thinks everyone should have a standing ovation at least once in his or her life. I hope you get your standing ovation. I hope you all get an encore. You are brave and beautiful. Keep dancing.
Love is awesome. These days are awesome. Savor them. ILYSB.
Earlier in the day, Steve (my friend/Lany's merch fella) tweeted that he wanted a basketball to, well, play basketball (he probably said it better than that, but that's the gist of it), so these cute humans brought him one.
I met the fellows in Machineheart around 2012 in Chicago and met Stevie a bit after. While we don't see each other regularly, every time they're in town, I make a point to be there, usually with my camera. These humans are kind and creative, and it was difficult to choose my favourite photos, but I think I succeed. Thank you, Jake, Carman, Harry, and Stevie! Lovely seeing y'all again.
I’m turning 26 tomorrow.
I’m past the age of people writing cool songs about how old I am (what’s my age again?), but in the past week two people have guessed I’m 20 (thank you, Sierra), so I’m not feeling terribly old honestly. I have boxes from Horizon Line in the basement to make into a fort and I’ve bought a piñata that we are going to fill with lollipops on Tuesday. Parking lots make me want to dance like nobody’s business and so does the band COIN. I still don’t sleep enough, but I’m learning I function better if I do (maybe that’s wisdom or maybe I am just getting older).
Birthdays awaken nostalgia in me and they make me hope I’ve changed enough to qualify for graduation into another year of existence. Did 25 leave a mark on me? Am I changed? Has anything changed around me or in me?
Last year on April 30th, Brittany and Kassie and I were driving to New Mexico to wake up in a tipi on a snowy May 1st and I held a tumbleweed (that I named Terry) in the middle of nowhere. Best birthday to date and definitely difficult to top. In a small town with an old faded Wrangler’s store, I took a photo of a tattoo shop and captioned my post of it: this might be my year. And it was (I got 3).
Yet it’s easy to look back and wonder why I’m still here locationally. Why my feet haven’t moved more and to miss the fact that my heart has moved even as my feet have lingered.
But if we are talking physical miles, besides New Mexico, I’ve been to Kansas City, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis, not to mention smaller towns. But the worth of my year isn’t in the miles I’ve traveled. I’ve moved houses and switched jobs and yet the worth of my year isn’t in the places I’ve lived or the desks I’ve occupied. The worth of a year is in the living and the growing and the changing. And sometimes that is inside your tumbleweed soul.
My word for last year was fearless. I learned that sometimes looks like staying. My word for this year is love and I’m learning that sometimes looks like staying, too.
I’ve lost relationships and forged new ones (falling apart and falling into and sometimes falling hurts and sometimes things fall together) and I’ve learned that much of live is learning how to grieve with graciousness and joy and to keep hoping in deeper things. I’ve felt more pain and more joy than in any other year. I’ve sobbed in a bathroom alone until I lost track of time and I’ve laughed and ran with friends until I lost track of time, too.
I’ve learned trust isn’t the same as belief and that stopping isn’t the same as taking root and I still have much more to learn and bigger dreams to run for even as my roots grow deeper. I’m learning to ask better questions and I’m learning to listen. Ilana often asks me what I’m learning and I like that. I’m still not good at silence, but I’m growing better at it—it scares me less than it used to. I’m reading more, and that’s good for my soul, too.
Originally, I had a paragraph about the different creative things I’ve done this year, but I don’t want it to sound like I’m bragging. Please don’t take it as such. It’s just a landmark, but it can become a land mine if it becomes my identity. I am not my work. But I’m learning to work out of joy rather than identity. Magazine articles and a cover, CD covers, bigger shows, collaborations: it’s been a whirlwind. I’ve learned a lot about editing—that’s been my biggest change; I still like deep moody edits, but I’m ending the year with color because that’s how I feel on the inside: deep and colourful in a way that doesn’t quite make sense, but I feel my lungs filling up fuller and fuller these days and I’m wondering if this is joy and I’m wondering if I’ve never quite felt it before. I’m learning to use thankfulness as a weapon and I hope I’m learning to love, not just the feeling.
This is me, 25 for a few more hours. Messy and full and braver than I was last year. Less miles under my feet, more miles under my soul. I want my tumbleweed soul to keep taking root and to keep growing and maybe I’ll move this year and maybe I won’t but my soul surely will move—but not wander—and I will keep creating. I’m writing a list of 26 things to do before I’m 27. I’m learning how to rest, but I’m not slowing down. This year is good. I am good right now. I am alive and I am here and I am thankful. I've been laughing a lot these days and running just because I can and both of these feel good, inside and out. I feel alive, inside and out. More alive than I have in a long time. Thank you for reading this. Thank you for adding joy to my existence. Thank you for teaching me kindness and bravery through your words. Thank you for rooting for this little tumbleweed soul.
Blake and I have come a long way since our first roadtrip last summer. I mean, literally. We've driven lots of miles in my little car. So far, we've successfully roadtripped every season, but this was our first adventure in Kansas City. We drove up early for the Japanese House show at Riot Room and spent the day eating food and drinking coffee and taking photos with Charlie. There are a ton of photos: this is your warning. But they're all of coffee or donuts or Charlie or Blake, so you really can't complain about that.
This first photo is of Joe's, where we had stellar BBQ. From there, we ventured to West Bottoms to get coffee at Blip.
You know you've got good friends when they humour you for a photo like this. I hope I never grow up and always take silly photos and always dance in parking lots and always adventure and always laugh.
No trip to KC is complete without a stop at Doughnut Lounge.
Nearly the entire day was cloudy, but the sun ventured out for just long enough for a few photos with harsh shadows.
When you hold your camera above your head to take photos, sometimes you get some happy accidents.
Charlie took us to a part of town with cute little antique stores and it far too closely resembled the 1975's newest album art for us to pass by without a photo or two.
I'm grateful for these two human. One of the best Tuesdays of the year so far.
Last night, I photographed Amber Bain--more commonly known by her band name The Japanese House--at Bottom Lounge for Interscope. In addition to shooting her performance, I was able to get some portraits of her in the empty venue before the show. Floored. Grateful beyond belief. The first show I ever shot was in April 2010 and it was because a kind human named Josh gave me a chance Last night was another instance of a kind human giving me a shot. Man. Undeserved of this life. Thank you, Carl, for rooting for me. Thank you, Caroline, for being so kind and helpful. Thank you, Amber, for being such a sweet human.
About two years ago, I started shooting stranger portraits. I'd approach strangers, usually in big cities, usually outside, and ask for their portraits. I'd have perhaps a minute or two with each human; that meant that in a minute or two, I'd have to determine where to shoot, how the light was falling, and how best to angle the person's face so that light fell in a flattering way. Last night felt like the cumulation of all those stranger portraits. I was ushered into the empty venue--that I hadn't stepped inside in over a year--and had seconds to scan the venue and search for light and a little bit longer to pose Amber. Practice your craft, guys. Practice so hard. Because you never know when an opportunity will be set before you and you'll want to be ready.
"He saw the need and he did something about it. He didn't just say he was for me or with me. He was actually with me...
Faith isn't about knowing all the right stuff or obey all the rules... it involves being present and making a sacrifice."
- Bob Goff
"I want to use my camera as a microphone." Jeremy Cowart said that and I haven't been able to forget it.
My camera is a gift. My sight is a gift. My words are a gift. The fact that anyone listens to me is a gift. Another word you could use is privilege.
So this morning I went and sat and stood on the capital steps. I sat on the curb next to a girl in a hijab. I was surrounded by the chant: "Si se puede!" And I cried. I feel selfish writing that. This day isn't about me. And I wasn't crying for me. I was crying because 3000 people (and counting) feel unsafe and unwanted in their workplaces and homes.
It's a privilege that I can work part time and spend my morning outside with a camera. These men and women didn't go to work so that they could be here. These teens skipped school. They risked a lot more than I did to show up this morning. The least I can do is bring my camera: my microphone.
I shot digital until my camera died, then film until I ran out of it. Then I felt useless. But you know what? Sometimes it's just important to show up and sit with people. Sit with people who are different than you. Cry with them. Listen to them. Use your gifts and your privilege as a microphone.
To the men and women I stood beside today: I'm sorry. You are worthy. You are important. You belong.
This little gal was my step-sitting buddy.
I initially approached this area of the capital steps because of the lady with the green sign. She was enthusiastically leading cries and chants (I don't know what the word is for an impassioned but peaceful rallying cry). Then I saw the woman next to her. Those two women, standing, next to each other for the same reason. Unlikely comrades. In a pause, I asked them for a portrait. Beautiful. Strangers. Smiling. Side by side. Loving each other. Peacefully protesting together. love is present. Love does.
The man with the pink sign was so enthusiastic, grinning and leading cheers and chants.
To set the scene. Des Moines hosted its first latte throwdown, and I was honored to be the "professional customer" judge. Basically, it involved choosing between two cappuccinos at at time (like going to the eye doctor) while seated between two judges who knew a lot more than I do. The entire cafe was packed and it was quite fun.
Over the past 2 years in particular, I've been invited into rooms I don't deserve to be in.
Sometimes that room looks like a stadium and I'm holding a camera.
Sometimes that room looks like the bedroom floor of a new friend and I'm listening and eating something like pad Thai or pizza.
Sometimes that room looks like a car at night with the music way too loud or not at all and I'm alive, I'm alive.
And sometimes that room looks like the bar of a coffee shop I've visited more times than I can count. Beside folks who know incalculably more about coffee than I do. Judging a latte art competition together. I have no business being here, really. But here I am. Invited.
What fun. What an honor. Undeserved.
Every time I'm let into a room, into a stadium, or a home, or a business, or a life, or a soul: every time that is an honor. In a way, it feels like a sacred space. But only sometimes do I remember that and take the time to be blown away with gratefulness.
I never want to take this life for granted. God, let me always be awestruck, wonderstruck at these opportunities. Big moments or small, I want to forever marvel over this life.
Enjoy the rest of these photos from the evening.
As last winter—the 2016 one—melted into spring, I was fairly sure who I was. A little lonely, a little over five-foot tall (kudos if you caught that LANY reference), corporate-job-by-day, artist-by-night. I listened mostly to Taylor Swift and had recently downloaded Apple Music (Spotifty doesn’t have Taylor Swift) and discovered James Bay—fondly called “bae.” I’d begun listening to podcasts and often ate smoothies for lunch. My hair was shorter than it had been in 4 years and I tend to do that with changes—all at once. New job, new hair, new songs. I was like that with tattoos this year. None, for over 25 years, then 2 in 6 weeks. I don't do things halfway.
Last year, my identity and place here were clear. I felt like I knew how I belonged. Where I belonged. My context became my identity.
Then slowly, different areas of my life began to unravel. First, between traveling and my Bible study moving to a different suburb, I lost touch. But I think it had begun far before then: the loneliness. We never saw each other past Monday and no one really knew my fears or dreams—nor I theirs. That’s not to say they’re entirely to blame: I haven’t been a good listener. I haven’t asked good questions. I have been busy to a fault.
Then between our varying schedules and busyness—that word again—and some differences of opinion that shouldn’t have been great but were, I grew further from some old friends and the identity I so tied up within them. I was one of them. Collectively, I had been. My identity had been tied up in my community. But who was I alone?
And somewhere along this summer and that path, I met some newer friends and I am scared that I’ll become the same tagalong to a “them.” Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s beautiful to be part of something together. But I don’t want that something to be all of me. Whether that be a new friend group or a band or a dream. I become like those around me and I don’t know how to stop it.
I don’t know what I like anymore. I mean, I do. But I don’t know what is me and what is just shadows of those around me. Who am I alone? Who am I in the silence? All I can hear is the tapping of my fingers against the black keys. I want to be more okay with silence. I don’t want to be so busy.
To an extent we are all the last wave slapping the shore, the product of the oceans we’ve traveled behind us. None of us is entirely cut off from influences. We’re all shaped by our friends and the people who make our coffee and the people who bag our groceries and the color we paint our rooms and our breakfasts and whether we walk or bike or drive to work and how often we make eye contact and the books we read and the shoes we wear. And we are all collectively becoming something. Somebody. You don’t become an individual alone and I know that in my head. I know I’m not alone even when I feel like it and I know that even when I become more myself, it’s not without outside influences.
So what now? First, Liz, slow down. Become okay with silence. Learn who you are alone. Then look at how you are living. Surround yourself with food and words and books and films and humans who are making you into the person who you desire to become and people who you can encourage to become lovelier selves, too. Together. Together isn’t bad, Liz. You don’t have to do it alone. Remember that.
This morning I was sitting in bed drinking coffee. My mornings often start slowly and I don't ever want to stop appreciating that luxury. My life may be relatively simple and small, but I'm thankful for luxuries of time and good coffee and morning light. Across from me was a gray wall, next to a green plant, and near brown and gold and black and white and red shoes. My bed is a cotton mess of gray and burnt yellow and light gray and it feels cozy, like rest and like dawn.
However, as I sat there, silent in the scene, I was bit with a tinge of regret. I wish it was all white. I wish I was one of those people who liked clean white tidy things. That would be prettier--better. I like colour. But I wish I didn't.
Immediately another thought followed: something is wrong. Something is wrong if I feel like enjoying colour is wrong. Or lesser. I've surrounded myself with influences (more social media than in-person) who have subtly led me to believe this. That I'm somehow lesser because even when I simplify my life, it still looks like faded black t-shirts and bright lipstick. Even if I have less, it will always be colourful. That's just me. That's how I feel most at home.
Sometimes we apologize for things like quiet and colour and awkwardness. There's nothing wrong with them. You don't need to apologize for them.
So this morning I've been unfollowing folks (strangers mostly--don't worry) because my own mind has turned against me. You control who and what influence you. Turn off your phone or unfollow accounts that make you feel less then. If an account makes you feel like you're broken because you're not dating or married? Unfollow it. If an account makes you feel like you're less-than because of how you look? Unfollow it. Just because a lot of people like one thing, doesn't make it more beautiful. Just because few people like one thing, doesn't make it any less beautiful. The same goes for people. Don't let people's opinions of you sway how you see and value yourself (note to self).
Now, as a side note, this is not to say to only surround yourself with folks who look like you and express themselves like you. There's a fine line between inspiration and comparison and I tread it daily. But I don't want my inspiration to come from a screen. Yes, social media gives me access to millions of artists and cultures that I can't just walk outside and see. That's valuable. But there's also real people and real cultures all around me that I can actually love because I can actually go outside and talk to them. People who aren't vocationally artists are interesting and can inspire you. Demolition workers can inspire creativity in you. So can teachers. So can farmers. So can business owners. I don't want all my friends to be exactly like me. And I don't want to wish I was in a white room in the mountains when I can walk into a tiny grocery across the street and encounter something different, but equally beautiful.
I was immensely more creative with my life and with my art and with my wardrobe when I lived in Chicago and was simply surrounded by people who were different from me. Daily. Consistently. I didn't even have an Instagram. I want to exist more like that. Colourful and creative and creating and less conscious of what is cool and what isn't. More vividly aware of the beauty all around me. I want to change how and who I follow.
Follow people you want to be like.
In life and on social media.
I want to follow the Bob Goffs. The Ruthie Lindseys. I want to be less about aesthetic and more about people. I love beauty in my room or wardrobe, but I never want to forget that the greatest beauty is inside people. Not my phone. If I forget that, I've lost everything.
So here's me. Emptying my phone and rearranging my colourful room and introducing myself again.
I'm Liz. I own 10 denim jackets--all different--and sometimes I drink mochas and I really enjoy listening to Taylor Swift. I look like a punk kid, but I'm rather an intersection of floral and grit. I'm hideously uncoordinated and have a big scar on my elbow. I'll always be short and I'll probably never be super twiggy and I'm learning to be okay with that. I'm an awful dancer but sometimes I do it anyways. Usually in my car. I like my hair best when it's short and messy (tell that to my 14-year-old self, please) and I really really love that we live in a world full of colour.
Be you and savor it with gratefulness. The world will miss out--you will miss out--if you try to be anyone else.
Every year (okay, the last year or two) I've chosen a word to embody that year. This year it was "fearless" (more on that later). Late in 2015, it was clear that "fearless" was supposed to be my word.
This year it hasn't been quite so clear. I haven't been able to come up with a word. Not for lack of trying. I've been pondering what I've been learning recently: humility and grace and forgiveness and self-care and worth. But none of them seemed quite right. Then suddenly, in my plain little black office chair, it came to me: love.
I didn't want this word. I tried to think of another word to replace it in my mind. Love is too cheesy, I thought. Folks will think I'm just hunting for a fellow or a ring. It's not a creative word. It's overused. It's a poetic emotion, but it's not a particularly clever or poetic word. You can do better, Liz But can I?
I don't know why this word came to me. Maybe it's because I've been playing Noah Gundersen's "Ledges" in my head today (and in my car afterward): "I want to learn how to love, not just the feeling. Bear all the consequences."
I don't think I've had much practice in loving well (with the exception of one customer who I prayed for grace and love with every rude comment--the hardest thing, to bite my quick tongue), and it's a daunting thing to ask for. I've seen a bit of that hard love as I've looked into eyes that are breaking. I've seen secondhand heartache. But for the most part, my life is easy. My friends are kind. So are my coworkers. So are my roommates. Loving them is easy. Is it really love then? Is a convenient friendliness, a love without sacrifice, a comfortable love: is that really love at all? An easy road won't pave the way to a loving soul. This year will be difficult, but the cost is worth it. It has to be.
And yet: couldn't I find a better word? Or at the least: an easier one?
Asking for love is also asking to cultivate patience and kindness. A lack of envy. Humility. Rooting for others. Kind words. Graciousness. Selflessness. Slowness of anger. Forgiveness. Like, God, couldn't I pick just one of those? Love, in all its beautiful facets and outpourings, is incredibly daunting.
Not that I've mastered bravery in these past 12 months or that I'll master what it means to love well in the next 12 months. But, goodness, do I want to try. Even if it's hard. Even if folks thing I'm cheesy or overly-romantic (though can you really say that about a gal who lives in overalls?)--though that's not what most of love means. I want to lean into that word, in the deepest, grittiest sense of the definition of it, and use it as a reminder to love simply and deeply, daily and well. Even when it's hard. Especially when it's hard. God, help me.
I didn't know what I was getting into when I asked to be brave, and this year I'm more cautious in my prayers. Discomfort and difficultly are often the way to a beautiful soul. I don't take it lightly anymore. But I want to live well, and so much of living well is loving deeply. I don't know if I'm ready for this year or this word, but I'm going forth regardless.
"I want to learn how to love,
Not just the feeling.
Bear all the consequences."
My friend David came over to my house last night to teach a small group of us a tutorial on studio lighting. And, man, I think I might be hooked. These are some of my favourite shots from the evening (and, frankly, maybe some of my favourite shots ever).
My Epic /
Thank you to everyone who came! We had a delightful cozy evening.