photo diary | favorite local getaways (1/5): riverside

Riverside (5 points) is a neighborhood of Jacksonville, Florida located along the St. Johns river. I find myself coming here as a place to get away. Flowering with art and beauty, this part of town never fails to inspire me. Below, I featured pictures from my most visited and beloved places in Riverside. Whether it be the grand trees in Memorial Park, the dusty antiques and vintage records inside the shops, the rich smell of coffee at Bold Bean Coffee Roasters or the breathtaking views from the Cummer Art Museum- Riverside always has me coming back for more.

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photo diary | favorite local getaways (1/5): riverside

photo diary | there’s a first time for everything

This past weekend was filled with many exciting, new adventures. Something I have never done in my life is gone strawberry picking- or any kind of fruit, at that. My parents did a little research and were able to find this adorable little strawberry farm (Brown’s Farm; Hawthorne, FL) just a few hours away from where we live! We arrived and my mind was absolutely spinning from all of the beautiful colors and smells.

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We were able to bring home several GIANT buckets of strawberries. I think we ended up paying around $20 for it all, which, in my opinion, is completely worth it. Store bought strawberries can cost around $4 and are picked, selected and often times gassed by someone else. These were straight off of the vine and picked with my own two hands! There was something so relieving about picking my own food- this experience has inspired me to hand pick fruits more often. Plus, it was seriously one of the funnest, most unique things I’ve done in a while.

The other adventure that I experienced for the first time, was visiting the fair! I’ve been to a few smaller fairs before, but never the annual Clay County Fair. I’ve lived in Jacksonville, Florida for quite some time now, and everyone is always incredibly surprised when they find out that I’ve never been to the fair. This year I was determined to change that. I went at night with Joshua, Jenaya and Steven and had an absolute blast. We went on every ride until our stomachs were turning. The food was also notably interesting: FRIED BUBBLEGUM. I didn’t try it, but I’m sure it’s… delicious. Anyway, I had an amazing time and 10/10 did not die on the rides.

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photo diary | there’s a first time for everything

spring break: unplugged from the world

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I’m the type of person that tends to store negative feelings inside of me in order to move on with my life. I don’t really know how to react to bad situations. Instead, I quickly turn on a fake smile and resume living. Sometimes life can become so overwhelming that ‘brushing things off’ is no longer an option. With that being said, last week I decided to take a break from every aspect of my social life and take time to focus on me.

With no phone, no one to talk to and nothing to see, I was able to dig deep inside of my brain and find strength in unfamiliar places. Every morning I struggled to stay away from my phone. Checking social media and talking to people are things that play an important role in my daily routine. Not only did I feel left out, but also forgotten about. For whatever reason, it killed me to know that I wasn’t showing off what I was doing or even where I was eating. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s the truth. As the week went on I had many life realizations. First and foremost: we live in a generation that thrives off of showing off. I feel as though people are slowly forgetting how to live their lives without showing everyone else. While it IS a blessing to share with others and document your experience, I think everyone should have their limits. Sure, take some pictures, but then put the phone away and live in the moment. Even as a photographer I struggle to do this. So often I find myself more focused on capturing the moment rather than experiencing it.

Through living unplugged for a week, I was also able to find a sense of freedom. It was such an odd, yet inspiring feeling to live my life without documenting it. My spring break will forever remain a mystery to the world. This has inspired me to change my habits and how I go about life. While I adore taking pictures and videos and sharing my life with the world, I am definitely going to cut back. I want to take more time for myself and for this beautiful life that we only experience once. Ultimately, I realized how important your own well being is. It’s not selfish to take time for you, because at the end of the day life isn’t going to be wonderful if you don’t feel wonderful; you are your first priority.

spring break: unplugged from the world

photo diary | artwalk

On the first Wednesday of every month, the city I live in holds an event called ArtWalk. ArtWalk features dozens of artists, seeking to show and sell their work. You can find anything from jewelry to paintings, or even fire mixtapes. During these nights, the artistic community really comes together, putting aside any negativity or judgements, to simply appreciate art.

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In this photo set I focus mostly on the artwork provided in the MoCA, or Museum of Contemporary Art.

This month inside the MoCA, everyone was handed wireless headphones. A live DJ on the ground floor controlled what music was heard through the headphones. This created such an abstract experience when appreciating the artwork. Rather than hearing whispers or chatter- it was just you, the art and the music.

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‘1001 Dreams’, by Sheila Goloborotko. This artist runs a website in which people can submit dreams. She then prints your dreams onto pillow cases, exhibiting them in art museums and all over urban cities. You can submit a dream here at http://1001dreams.net/ .

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‘Ruby Lichen’, by Jill Parisi

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Makenzie Ebert and Keany Lannuier observe a piece by Taryn McMahon.

photo diary | artwalk

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

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“January 18, 2016. For most people today is a free day off from work or from school. Martin Luther King Jr. Day does not hold a  true meaning to many Americans. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a husband, father, minister, activist, and – more importantly – a leader in the African American Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King practiced nonviolent civil disobedience and served as a voice of hope for people of color from 1955 to the day he was assassinated in 1968. Dr. King delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963 at the March on Washington in Birmingham, Alabama. This speech has gone on to represent the hope African Americans had and still have that one day the world will not be classified by the color of one’s skin, but by their actions and their character.

Fifty-three years after his death, his “dreams” are gradually becoming more and more noticeable in everyday life. In the work place, a person cannot be turned away from work due to the color of their skin. Schools consist of students pertaining to almost every race possible. Everyone is granted access to the same bathrooms and water fountains. The race issue is finally over isn’t it? No, racism and segregation are still very prevelent in today’s society and are still just as hurtful.

 I was given the opportunity to sit down and talk to an interracial couple who are beginning to make the climb into the social media spotlight. Joshua Henderson,20, and Kayla Catalano,18, have recently made their two-year relationship more public to their followers on various platforms such as Phhhoto. The two take their followers on adventures with them and create a situation where the followers are left wondering “what’s next?” Between the two of them, they have accumulated 5336 followers and over 80k likes in just thirty weeks, however most of the content is featured on Kayla’s constantly growing account.

 I took my seat in the self proclaimed “hipster coffee shop” across from the couple. Their body language confirming the idea they were crazy about each other. Joshua complimented Kayla and she grinned. Their playful flirting continued as we waited for our coffee to brew. I found myself wondering how someone could look at the two of them and not see two people sharing innocent love, but black and white- not even humans- just colors. Immediately my mind was thinking of more and more questions to pick their brains on and I could not wait for the interview to begin.

 Five minutes later our coffee arrived and it was go time. I wanted to see what it was like having a relationship be something people looked up to but at the same time looked down upon, and once I started asking questions I couldn’t stop.”

What was the initial response when you told your families you were dating a person of a different race?

Joshua:
“My parents didn’t really care. In my family there are a bunch of interracial couples already. My uncle’s wife is white, my aunt’s boyfriend is white, and I have a bunch of mixed cousins. They really didn’t care. It was normal.”

Kayla:
“My parents were like ‘What?'” *chuckle* “Yeah, they weren’t really thrilled because they didn’t know him. It was also my first boyfriend too so that didn’t help. It was like ‘Boyfriend! What? Black! What?’ They love him though, they hang out without me. It was just shocking at first.”

Do you believe racism still exists?

Joshua:
“Most definitely”

Kayla:
“Yes!”

How does the public on social media generally take seeing an interracial couple?

Joshua:
“Yeah, interracial couples have become such a, not a trend, but, a big thing now and you know its more smiled upon than frowned upon and people love it.”

Kayla:
“They are happy for us and excited and ‘Yay, Interracial!’

How does the general public usually take seeing an interracial couple walking down the street?

Joshua:
“It’s a lot of looks from older people just from a different time. Younger people usually just judge our outfits.”

Kayla:
“We get a lot of weird looks, A LOT. Like double takes. It’s mostly from older folk… older white folk. I’ve even gotten some looks from older black people. It’s really just older folk in general, you know, the older times. They’re usually like ‘what?’ Younger people are okay with it because they know that it’s okay now and older people are like ‘back in my day..'”

How do you guys feel when people consider you as playing into the stereotype of the “Black guy dating the white girl”?

Joshua:
“It’s about to get pretty serious. I feel like today everyone wants to go with the whole ‘Black guys only want the white girls and white girls loving the black guys’ type of thing, but for me I was attracted to her personality before anything else and hopefully she was attracted to my personality before anything. I think we were both raised to see color, but for it to not be a big factor or anything like that. So, when people are ‘Oh, you’re doing the whole stereotypical- you only like white girls’ No, I think every one is beautiful in their own way. I only like Kayla, but it’s just like that. I don’t know, people are weird.”

Kayla:
“I feel like it’s super messed up because they don’t have the right to judge us, they don’t know us, they don’t know the type of people we are and how respectful our relationship is.”

What advice do you have for other interracial couples or for people who are thinking about getting in an interracial relationship, but are scared of what other people might think?

Joshua:
“Just do it. You love who you love and screw what other people think. Make sure you tell your loved ones and don’t keep it a secret because that’s just adding to racism.”

Kayla:
“Do what your heart is telling you. The heart knows what it wants.”

How do you guys keep your relationship strong?

Joshua:
“The main thing is to always be honest and trustworthy. We go out and make it exciting. We make sure that spending time together never dies, never gets dull, and never gets boring.”

Kayla:
“Oh wow, well, honestly it took a lot of time to become strong- almost two years. We had to really learn about each other and what we both want from each other and how to respect one another. But, honestly the keys are to just be honest with your partner and yourself and to have trust. We just love each other and have fun.”

To view the whole interview, visit Jenn’s blog here: http://jenayalauren.wix.com/jennuinethoughts

All credit for this article goes to Jennuine Thoughts©

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

photo diary | the creating process

On January 15th 2016, my best friend, boyfriend and I sat down in a coffee shop and let our minds wander. With journals, pens and cameras in hand, we spent hours undergoing the creative process.

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photo diary | the creating process