thi linh photography

thi linh photography

fine art photography about the human spirit

Amber, Steve and Leo: from the You. Are. Beautiful. Series

(post 1 of 3)

Amber and Steve saw my "You. Are. Beautiful. - A Tribute to Warriors" show while eating at LAT 43 over the summer and were moved and inspired by the images of Evan, the combat-wounded Marine and amputee featured in some of my photos.  A few months later, Amber reached out to me on facebook and asked me to photograph her family.  

Amber, Steve and Leo were greatly impacted by the Boston Marathon bombings.  Steve and Leo were injured by one of the two explosions during the marathon, while cheering on wife and Mom, Amber, as she ran. I was honored and humbled to hear from Amber, and after exchanging a few notes, we decided to do the family photo session under the umbrella of my You. Are. Beautiful. project.  Over two sessions, we created a few hand-crafted tintypes and captured some great portraits and family photos (both film and digital).  

Leo’s “I am beautiful because…” statement is:

"I am beautiful because…I’m a chicken.  

Because I’m better than Frankie [my puppy] who’s my best brother.”  - Leo (age 4)

It shows that sometimes kids don’t really understand or care what “beauty” means, and honestly, that’s kind of a cool thing. These are two of my very favorite portraits of little Leo.  He is holding his stuffed Lion, who helped keep him safe and strong while he was in the hospital. 

Keep scrolling to read more about this story and see more images from this shoot. 

Amber, Steve and Leo: from the You. Are. Beautiful. Series

(post 2 of 3)

"I am beautiful because…of my family.  My son and I are alive.  I’m alive.”   - Steve

"I am beautiful because…I never quit.  I am loyal, strong, forgiving and goofy.  I love and have hope.  I have my family still.”   - Amber

Keep scrolling to view more photos and read more about this story.

Amber, Steve and Leo: from the You. Are. Beautiful. Series

(post 3 of 3)

In a strange way, my project has come full circle with my serendipitous meeting with this beautiful family.  On April 15, 2013, I remember doing final edits at home in Rockport on a very homemade launch film I made for this project. This was the first year I wasn’t watching the marathon in person on Boylston Street in Back Bay, our old neighborhood where we had lived for almost a decade. I burned a copy of my film and sent it to Evan, the wounded Marine, who is on the cover of my book. Following this, my husband, Peter, called and told me to turn on the news. Bombs had exploded at the Boston Marathon. 

When I first decided to make my short film, I had chosen the song, Apres Moi by Regina Spektor.  While editing the film, I spent many hours listening to the song and lyrics. In the main chorus, she sings,

I must go on standing.

You can’t break that which isn’t yours.  

I could not help but associate the song with what followed this tragedy. And what followed, included people who went on standing….together…united…and unbroken.  

I thought it was meaningful that Steve and Amber chose to write the “you are beautiful” phrase as it appears in my book, with a period punctuated at the end of each word. Whether done intentionally or unintentionally, it is the first time someone I’ve photographed wrote it that way.

In my Volume 01 book, there is a mini-dedication in the opening to describe why I use this emphasis.  I just realized it really isn’t anywhere else online, so I thought I would share it again here:

YOU.  This project is dedicated to you.  Those who have met the unexpected and overcome it.  Those who have ever dreamed something and achieved it.  

YOU. ARE.  This project is about the state of being.

YOU. ARE. BEAUTIFUL.  This project is about the things that unite us across our humanity.  

Amber, Steve and Leo - You. Are. Beautiful.  Thank you for being part of this project. 

"My aspirations are to ennoble Photography and to secure for it the character and uses of High Art by combining the Real and Ideal and sacrificing nothing of the Truth by all possible devotion to Poetry and Beauty. (1864)"  - Julia Margaret Cameron (the Queen Mother of wet plate).

From my wet plate collodion shoot inspired by Julia Cameron, the Victorian and Gothic era, and goth girl @lanterndreams (aka Lauren), who I met at the Marc Jacobs shop in Boston.

Lauren did a great job because I was very adventurous at this shoot and changed up the styling for every single image AND shot a roll of film with my LOMO Lubitel during the wet plate session, too!  I had so many scenes in my mind and wanted to try all of them.  Though I overexposed a couple tintypes, I was happy with the shoot.  There are always things I can improve related to my chemistry, but every session I do helps towards ongoing improvement and learning.  I happen to really like the imperfections when they happen.  So I’m not sure that I’m on the quest for a “perfect” plate, but my journey does help me better understand nuances with the chemistry.

The image with the hat and feather is a similar shot on film and on the tintype.  As you can see, the wet plate image reads flipped, since it is a direct positive image.  She is actually sitting the same direction in the tintype as in the color film shot.

This is also the first time I used my LOMO camera using studio lights. I have to say, I am happy with these shots though and may try shooting more film in a studio setting in the future.  

My experiments continue and new ideas for project series are brewing…

This image is titled, “Joe With a Brass Earring,” and it is part of a series of 30 photographs for my You. Are. Beautiful. solo exhibition on view at The Cultural Center at Rocky Neck in Gloucester, MA from OCT 24 - NOV 11, 2013.  
People often ask me how I get my subjects.  Many of the people in my You. Are. Beautiful. project are strangers.  I source a lot of my participants through what I called “stranger intercepts.” Sometimes I intercept people in person (in cafes, shops, on the street, etc.) or online and in social media.  I tell them about my project and ask them to sit for me.  Joe was a stranger to me before I photographed him. I intercepted him in Boston while he was working in a shop I visit for my contacts and eyeglasses.  He was wearing a beautiful purple wrap around his head, and it reminded me of Vermeer’s masterpiece, Girl With a Pearl Earring.  
I didn’t find out until after I pitched him that he is also an artist and painter whose work deals with unsettling historical frames of beauty.  I asked if he’d be willing to sit for a photo inspired by Vermeer’s painting.  I actually brought the earring to the shoot, and it was the only time I incorporated something into the photograph which did not already belong to the person. I liked a number of photos from my session with Joe, but this one is my favorite because I think it ties in so well with his statement, his work and my project. 
Joe’s statement was:  ”I am beautiful because beauty is something I want to better understand. We live in a culture that aggressively defines what is desirable. Art making has given me a tool for reflection and self discovery, helping me accept my sexuality, my body, and everything else that makes me unique.  In my experiences, the moments that make you feel the most torn down and disconnected become a catalyst for change and understanding.”
I loved his statement because I feel so much of beauty is about understanding.
Joe Geary is a talented artist. You can view his painting, drawing and mixed media work here.  
Joe will also be a guest artist during a panel discussion with Cape Ann fine art photographers, where we will explore topics around beauty and the democratization of photography.   This will take place at the gallery during my show on SUN, NOV 3, 2013 from 3-4 PM.  Visit the Boston Calendar for details.
This image is titled, “Joe With a Brass Earring,” and it is part of a series of 30 photographs for my You. Are. Beautiful. solo exhibition on view at The Cultural Center at Rocky Neck in Gloucester, MA from OCT 24 - NOV 11, 2013.  
People often ask me how I get my subjects.  Many of the people in my You. Are. Beautiful. project are strangers.  I source a lot of my participants through what I called “stranger intercepts.” Sometimes I intercept people in person (in cafes, shops, on the street, etc.) or online and in social media.  I tell them about my project and ask them to sit for me.  Joe was a stranger to me before I photographed him. I intercepted him in Boston while he was working in a shop I visit for my contacts and eyeglasses.  He was wearing a beautiful purple wrap around his head, and it reminded me of Vermeer’s masterpiece, Girl With a Pearl Earring.  
I didn’t find out until after I pitched him that he is also an artist and painter whose work deals with unsettling historical frames of beauty.  I asked if he’d be willing to sit for a photo inspired by Vermeer’s painting.  I actually brought the earring to the shoot, and it was the only time I incorporated something into the photograph which did not already belong to the person. I liked a number of photos from my session with Joe, but this one is my favorite because I think it ties in so well with his statement, his work and my project. 
Joe’s statement was:  ”I am beautiful because beauty is something I want to better understand. We live in a culture that aggressively defines what is desirable. Art making has given me a tool for reflection and self discovery, helping me accept my sexuality, my body, and everything else that makes me unique.  In my experiences, the moments that make you feel the most torn down and disconnected become a catalyst for change and understanding.”
I loved his statement because I feel so much of beauty is about understanding.
Joe Geary is a talented artist. You can view his painting, drawing and mixed media work here.  
Joe will also be a guest artist during a panel discussion with Cape Ann fine art photographers, where we will explore topics around beauty and the democratization of photography.   This will take place at the gallery during my show on SUN, NOV 3, 2013 from 3-4 PM.  Visit the Boston Calendar for details.

This image is titled, “Joe With a Brass Earring,” and it is part of a series of 30 photographs for my You. Are. Beautiful. solo exhibition on view at The Cultural Center at Rocky Neck in Gloucester, MA from OCT 24 - NOV 11, 2013.  

People often ask me how I get my subjects.  Many of the people in my You. Are. Beautiful. project are strangers.  I source a lot of my participants through what I called “stranger intercepts.” Sometimes I intercept people in person (in cafes, shops, on the street, etc.) or online and in social media.  I tell them about my project and ask them to sit for me.  Joe was a stranger to me before I photographed him. I intercepted him in Boston while he was working in a shop I visit for my contacts and eyeglasses.  He was wearing a beautiful purple wrap around his head, and it reminded me of Vermeer’s masterpiece, Girl With a Pearl Earring.  

I didn’t find out until after I pitched him that he is also an artist and painter whose work deals with unsettling historical frames of beauty.  I asked if he’d be willing to sit for a photo inspired by Vermeer’s painting.  I actually brought the earring to the shoot, and it was the only time I incorporated something into the photograph which did not already belong to the person. I liked a number of photos from my session with Joe, but this one is my favorite because I think it ties in so well with his statement, his work and my project. 

Joe’s statement was:  ”I am beautiful because beauty is something I want to better understand. We live in a culture that aggressively defines what is desirable. Art making has given me a tool for reflection and self discovery, helping me accept my sexuality, my body, and everything else that makes me unique.  In my experiences, the moments that make you feel the most torn down and disconnected become a catalyst for change and understanding.”

I loved his statement because I feel so much of beauty is about understanding.

Joe Geary is a talented artist. You can view his painting, drawing and mixed media work here.  

Joe will also be a guest artist during a panel discussion with Cape Ann fine art photographers, where we will explore topics around beauty and the democratization of photography.   This will take place at the gallery during my show on SUN, NOV 3, 2013 from 3-4 PM.  Visit the Boston Calendar for details.

Without stirring abroad, One can know the whole world; Without looking out of the window One can see the way of heaven. The further one goes The less one knows. - Lao Tzu
Without stirring abroad, One can know the whole world; Without looking out of the window One can see the way of heaven. The further one goes The less one knows. - Lao Tzu

Without stirring abroad, One can know the whole world; Without looking out of the window One can see the way of heaven. The further one goes The less one knows. - Lao Tzu

“How little we know of what there is to know. I wish that I were going to live a long time instead of going to die today because I have learned much about life in these four days; more, I think than in all other time. I’d like to be an old man to really know. I wonder if you keep on learning or if there is only a certain amount each man can understand. I thought I knew so many things that I know nothing of. I wish there was more time.” 
― Ernest HemingwayFor Whom The Bell Tolls

Alumitypes from my wet plate collodion session with Howie, a Fish City neighbor by way of California and friend from The Market and Short & Main. Howie is holding some of his favorite things, Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, a photo of his Grandfather and a tire from his bicycle. 

View more of my work here.

 

It’s fun to help kids realize their potential.  That’s what the team at Pathways for Children in Gloucester does.  I visited them this week to capture some of the children’s portraits and statements for my “You. Are. Beautiful.” project.  

I loved all of their statements and had fun celebrating each person. It was especially fun when one young girl asked me if I was a teenager. Each child drew a “you are beautiful” sign and wrote down their statement in their own words. Their polaroids and statements will be part of my show at The Cultural Center at Rocky Neck from October 24 - November 11 (the gallery is open Thursdays through Sundays, 12-4 PM).  Stay tuned for more details and to learn more about my work, visit my site here.

These are a few polaroids and statements from my day in Boston this week with the friendly and inspiring team at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program.  I’m adding these voices to my upcoming “You. Are. Beautiful.” show at The Cultural Center at Rocky Neck in Gloucester (on view from Oct 24 - Nov 11. Visit my facebook page or Rocky Neck’s calendar for details soon).

My goal was to capture at least 10 people’s statements. I was pleasantly surprised when the post-lunch crowd arrived and a queue appeared.  My few hour visit ended with the addition of almost 25 more voices for this project.

It was interesting to see the sense of community BHCHP creates. Eugene, who switched between English and Creole when chatting with me, told me that the team at this facility has halos over their heads, and they saved his life.  Some didn’t want to leave to go back to the shelter. 

BreAnna was the youngest of the participants and was very engaged and interested in my inspiration for the project. She also wanted to make sure I knew she didn’t use drugs.  She was there because of a medical condition.  Regardless of anyone’s situation, I wasn’t there to judge. I asked her about one of her happiest memories in her life.  Her face softened when she talked about the memory of her late Grandfather, who she called “daddy” because he essentially raised her.  She remembers him playing the accordion with her as a young child.  I took a few frames of her on film when we talked about this, so I’m looking forward to getting that developed.  

Some people told me about their full ride scholarships to universities or getting drafted into the NFL.  I took things at face value.  After all, the BHCHP has told me stories about people who really were professors or judges earlier in their lives.  I learned that not every person who is “homeless” begs for money or lives under bridges.  Somewhere along the line, many have just lost their way.  Whether it was due to drugs, death of a loved one or an illness.  Others have literally been lost to their own families, who may not know what became of a mom, dad, brother, sister.

Every story is different but every story matters to the team that takes care of these men and women at BHCHP.  In just my short time here, I found that this a special place where people can help find themselves and be reunited with loved ones who were once lost.