Out Of Focus

Welcome back, baby! One thing I wanna do with this blog is showcase art, especially art I have an experience with. I love going to art museums for the peace and connection it brings me; I always try to read those little plaques next to the artwork to understand the artists and the context of the piece. I truly believe storytelling is so important. I used to scroll on tumblr looking at the art made by people my own age like it was a lil virtual gallery. I think the accessibility or transparency of art and the creative process behind it can give us a greater appreciation for it all, particularly for the artist themselves. For me it also helps break down the insecurity to also create because you end up realizing how human and messy the journey to the destination we end up seeing really is. I think the “ugly photo location” trend was a good example of this. It’s realistic and flawed and there is a lot of beauty in that. It’s why I love bands like The Maine who have shared the story of how some of their records were written, recorded, and produced even when it was difficult or just demos.

I have found vulnerability crucial to having deeper relationships with the people and environment around me. Even in the smallest, simplest ways.

I think this series will be a lot of things but today it is the tales of moments captured by the magic maker that is Audrey Lew. We have been internet pals since 2016, both hustling within the music industry in different ways while we were going to college. I would look for opportunities to use her photos in articles I was writing and it would always make me feel like my words were brought to life. As a writer I always strive to be as visually descriptive as possible but there is something about actually seeing the colors and expressions and everything captured that helps you feel there.

The first time me and Audrey ever got to hang out was last April. I had just moved to Chicago and the city was finally starting to thaw out. And so was I. Finally letting go of what was holding me back despite being terrified of what embracing change felt like. I was finally more afraid of not growing at all. So in a very metaphorical way the places we shot were perfect. The conservatory was this warm, welcoming, growing place full of life and potential and the promise of summer. A season I needed so desperately. And the Sky Deck, up high in the clouds in the middle of this city that was now my home. Only a layer of glass between me and the ground 1,450 feet below. The whole shoot I felt invincible for the first time in a long while. Days after that shoot I took the job I have now and gave myself permission to walk away from what was making me compromise my energy and self-love.  

Audrey was this donut loving ball of light from the internet that was somehow sweeter in person. It can be intimidating meeting people you know from “online” since people can just chose to just act friendly, so it is always a relief when you meet someone that is authentically themselves. The entire time we were waiting to take pictures we were catching up and people watching and just talking about how wild figuring out this whole 20s thing is which made me feel a lot less alone. As a photographer Audrey is the biggest hype woman, constantly giving feedback and advice to who she is shooting. I think she takes some of the best portraits because she makes people so comfortable even if they’ve never been in front of a lense before. So often when we try to capture ourselves we get caught up in our “flaws”, but when someone else really does try to capture us they tend to focus on the soul of us. Our light. Our expressions. And I think that can make us more confident and help put our self-image into perspective.

Sadly, me and Audrey went until January without seeing each other. But we both got away to the sunshine state of Arizona – escaping winter back east to be surrounded by friends and music during 8123 fest put on by The Maine. Since April we had both grown in so many ways. For me, I was finally in a mindset that was mostly happy and optimistic. We were both now standing on what felt like more stable ground, in pure relationships, with a sense of freedom and need for creativity that I feel like only really comes from knowing the opposite for some time. It’s such a relief to be able to feel and I remember feeling so much on that lil trip. The sun on my skin. The love of my friends. The feeling of being lucky enough to have someone to miss even when I was busy. The community created by authentic music rooted in transparency and passion. The sense that things still grow – even in the desert and winter. The words “You Are Okay”. We just wandered around this area of Phoenix catching up and smiling while Brenden helped hold our stuff (thanks). We found ourselves drawn to the same: flowers, pastel buildings, streets lined of palm trees, bright street art. They matched us so naturally and the whole thing was really on a whim with no planning right before the fest was starting. Casual magic. Ok expect Audrey’s editing is ACTUAL magic.

And now it’s March. Once again the world around us is thawing out. This time I went to Audrey in NYC. I was just so looking forward to exploring with no real plan. We met up at a neon store in SoHo, a place of technicolor lights amongst the white cast buildings. It’s nice just genuinely catching up with someone and falling right back into place. I am not a big texter, and I am learning that communication within friendships is different for everyone and I just value in person connection a lot more. And I appreciate that I have friends where we have that healthy dynamic of understanding we both have our own crazy day to day lives but when we are finally able to get together we get to be fully present.

I didn’t even expect her to have her camera but Audrey literally finds inspiration everywhere. Like a random theatre pop up off of Broadway or a hotel entrance way on Howard. It is enlightening to watch someone love what they do that much and that energy is so contagious. It reminded me how important it is to surround yourself with people who fill you, not drain you. Who constantly think in terms of collaboration not competition. To have people you can bounce ideas of off – going back to vulnerability; as any sort of creative it is easy to get caught up in our insecurities instead of presenting our art to people we trust in order to have that corrected. We need each other. Even if we live thousands of miles away, or met online; all this is valid. The images Audrey captured of me this day really are some of my favorite – partly because they are taken by a friend just doing what she loves and also because I know they captured me at a time where I think about the future with a heart full of potential instead of fear for the first time in a while.

Maybe you’ve seen these photos before on Instagram or Twitter and scrolled past or liked them but I hope hearing about everything going on around them bring some greater connection to our humanity or whatever. But really, social media is so quick and doesn’t usually offer context – you would have never known that first series of photos were taken as I was coming out of a very dark, anxious and unstable time. And I think it does help to know. So here it is – a bit out of focus – to give you some perspective and to help show that value behind having moments in your life captured by someone who wants to do that. Magic. I think it really can be magic.

“It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.”
Paul Caponigro

“It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.”
Paul Caponigro

Thanks Aud for helping capture my journey, pushing me creatively, putting a smile on my face, and helping me define what pure friendship can look like.

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All Inquiries: audlewphotos@gmail.com



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