A Girl Named Leney

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Posts tagged friends
Hitchin England | Siobhan

These are portraits of a dear friend of mine. She lives in England. We’ve been friends for about seven years, but met in person for the first time this year.
Okay, there is more to this story…

Siobhan and I have been internet friends through our blogs for longer than we’ve had Instagram. I remember having my blog on Blogger when she started following it, and I remember her blog, Bless The Weather, on Wordpress back when she was mostly knitting and only dabbling in taking photos. (For those of you who don’t know, she’s a kick ass full time photographer now.)
We have come a long way in the development of our businesses, but more importantly our friendship.

It’s a funny thing to some to befriend complete strangers online (though I’m not sure why, when they’ll date online with apps like Tinder without a second thought… a thing I still refuse to partake in…). But it’s been somewhat of a normal aspect of my life for a number of years now. Obviously I befriend people in person as well, but to not utilize the complete wonder of social media these days in this way seems so silly to me. Literally, the entire world is at our fingertips, and this beautiful human is most definitely one of the top people I’ve met online that I can say that I am endlessly grateful turned into a real life friend.

After years of emails and commenting on one another’s blogs and interacting over social media, we finally had the pleasure of meeting in real life in New Orleans earlier this year. We both made the trek down (albeit a much longer trek for Siobhan, coming from England and all) and we could not have clicked any more fully and immediately, finally solidifying our sisterhood and friendship in person after all these years of virtual connection.
There also could not have been a better place for the blossoming of our friendship than the vibrant motion of the jazzy New Orleans.

This Fall I stopped in England on my way to Greece and spent a few lovely days visiting her and her dear family in the incredibly charming small English town of Hitchin.

Taking these portraits of her was only one of the many highlights of our weekend.
Especially because she is due to have her second little one in the beginning of the year! Being present to capture this season of her life felt like such a special gift to us both.

I am sure you can see, from these images alone, why we make such good friends. I mean, overalls, a brimmed hat, film camera, loving plants and being outside??

Yes. Yes, we are indeed soul sisters.


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Artists In Film | The Cowboy Prince in New Orleans

Charlie Umhau and i used to be neighbors back when we both lived in Richmond, Virginia. 

it was a while before i realized the jovial wild-haired being, who always greeted me on the sidewalk with a grin and a wave, was the same one on Instagram commenting on and resonating with my wild and creative musings (and here is just one of the many examples of how the internet has brought the most remarkable people into my physical world).

though we really only had the opportunity to become friends and hang out for a short time before he moved to New Orleans, there was an instantaneous connection in our conversations and ways of viewing and loving the world. from our common ideas on rewilding, our mutual experience of feeling a little-bit different than everyone else around us, to answering the call of leading and living a life counter to what our society told us to live. such was the scope of more than a few late night talks over beer and underneath city lights and starry skies. 
all coupled with the recognition of our lives being fueled by the art of our self-made themes, concepts and projects. 

if you love it, it will survive
ride boldly ride
hope is a verb with it’s sleeves rolled up

writings from a would be beatnik
anywhere on the water is a place i call home

learning to let a little green into my life

not to mention, we both lived in proverbial castles, though his was a castille
(you'll have to follow his Instagram to learn more about that and similarly, those of you who have not been following me will need to familiarize yourself with my documentation of #theknittingqueenscastle)
however this dwelling was not just in our minds, but in the real world too.
for we are both royalty.
The Knitting Queen meets The Cowboy Prince.

we’ve talked extensively in the way of how to be in the world as artists but also in what it means to be a part of humanity in general, within the boundaries of that desire. the balance of being in the world as individuals but also as a part of a larger body of others. staying true to inner drives of creation though not to the point of alienation. 
i wish i could convey some of those conversations and ideas to you now, but the second-hand translation wouldn’t even begin to do them justice. 
i will say however, with the deepest sincerity, that his way of creating and being an artist is unrivaled by anyone else i’ve ever met before, or since. 
i have truly never encountered another soul like his. 

his themes of resilience of the human spirit, strength, hope, and action are bold and both vocally and visually portrayed in not just his art but all that he does. 
he is one of the few i feel i can truly say who not just create his art, but embodies and lives it, in every single aspect possible. through his painting, writing, sewing, pattern making, sculpting, drawing, and countless other trades and skills woven in between, each piece created, whether it’s wearable by body or wall, is steeped with symbolism and meaning.

i am going to be incredibly transparent and open when i say that i am not sure i have ever encountered an artist and art that has so completely intrigued and moved me. 

in sharing this man and his art, vision and space with you, i so badly want to do it all justice through these photos and in my words. 
but i think part of this project for me is realizing that i am unable to do that.
to encounter another art form is something that transcends secondary interpretation. 
to see a print of an original painting does not move you nearly as much as seeing and smelling the real thing. hearing a recording of a song can hit you in the chest, but not nearly as deep and bone rattling as being at a concert standing in front of the stage, hearing the music come at you and feeling it in your body right then and there. 
such is also the case, at times, with seeing photographs of things. 

but my heart in this project, of photographing artists in their spaces and studios, has a few intentions behind it.
being that i first and foremost want to expand the understanding and thought process of what it means to be an artist. 
secondly, that i want to simply blend and share an art form of mine with another’s and emphasize what a privilege that is. because i think often we are meant to mesh and blend our lives and passions with others more often than we perhaps allow for.
thirdly, i want to highlight some of the amazing people i’ve met over the years in all manner of places, doing such genuine heart-felt things and who truly treat their lives as their proverbial canvas.
last but not least, i am looking to stretch myself in my own ideas and understanding of what it is in me that feels alive and passionate about my various art forms through witnessing the fire and passion of others practicing theirs.

film is one of my favorite ways to create, to document. largely because of the intentionality and slowness and care i have to execute in the midst of it, but also because it teaches me to appreciate imperfections. 
blurred edges. out of focus planes. light leaks. 
some would argue that these are the makings of a bad photograph, but i beg to differ. 
because they are real. 
they are raw.
they are capturing exactly what it was in front of the lens at the time, unapologetically, with no filter.

i can achieve certain elements of that in digital photography at times, even with my iPhone on occasion (for every single photo on my instagram feed is shot and shared from my iphone because i have always been somewhat of a purest in that way— feeling as though sharing my DSLR images on a platform originally meant for phone snaps was “cheating”.) but i cannot tell you the last time i didn’t actually take 15 shots to get the one that i wanted, or shared a photo i hadn’t edited in some way.
in film i can’t do that. 
i only have 36 frames on a roll of film (sometimes even only 24 or 12) and part of my self imposed limitations with this project was to shoot only one roll of film for each session and to share the photos afterwards as-is, without any touching up. 

i have found that it is within limitations that my best, and most loved, work is created. the shots i probably never would have gotten had i been given all of the luxuries and conveniences of digital technology.
of course there is also a certain heightened love and appreciation for that which is scarce and in small supply. 
not to say that these are incredible photographs, publish worthy, jaw dropping.
accept, well, to me they kind of are. 
they are once-in-a-life-time. 
because that’s what a photograph is: a millisecond captured of an irreplaceable moment in time.
they are the result of my rawest and most vulnerable kind of image making.
i have to overcome a lot of insecurities and self doubt in creating these photos because i am not proficient in film and am not as practiced at documenting with it as i am with digital (which is my paid profession).

and i think that is what i find most precious and special about these sessions: that these artists are extending to me a similar kind of vulnerability. 
they have welcomed me into their most sacred space, the place where they create and put out the art that they just can’t help but do. the things they go to bed thinking about, dream of in their sleep and then wake up with in the morning still on their minds. 
because they have to create. 

they were made to do this specific thing, and they don’t know how to not do it. as an artist who holds the spaces in which she creates as very reverent and sacred, i know all too well how meaningful it is for someone to be willing to share that with others. 

so. 
with all of that being said, i am going to let these blurry imperfect photos not speak for Charlie and his art, but at least start an introduction for you.
if you would like to hear more of Charlie’s own voice and witness more of his process in creation, i highly encourage you to follow his instagram account: @thecowboyprince. it is one of my favorites to keep up with. 
(and be sure to read the captions, because that’s where most of the magic lies…)


if you enjoyed this Artists In Film essay please check out the original one i put out!

Artists In Film | Anna of Experimental Vintage in Portland Oregon

and

keep an eye out, because there are more essays in the works! 

especially with the impending Wild + Wonderful American Road Trip that i am embarking on next month. 

i would also really love it if you have an artist you’d like to introduce me to for the series.
send ideas and intros to: agirlnamedleney@gmail.com or through the form on the contact page!

thanks for reading friend. 

this project is one that is incredibly close to my heart and it means the world that you paused for it.
—☽ —


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Baby Hank

and have you ever felt for anything, such wild love? —Mary Oliver

from the moment i knew of this little ones being (which involved a sonogram in a little country restaurant parking lot and lots of happy tears) i was filled with anticipation and joy.
i've told multiple people, in all manner of abject wonder, how disarming and incredible it is to have so much love for such a little being who isn't even your own blood relative. for such is the experience i have when it comes to loving this small person. if i love this baby this much, how in the world am i going to feel about my own hopefully-one-day child?
i hold the hope of one day finding out. 

some of you may remember the photos i posted of Maddie when she was pregnant and how they are still some of my favorite photos i've ever taken. created in a time when i wasn't feeling very fulfilled with my photography and when i felt somewhat lifeless in creating much of anything at all. and yet, in the documentation of this little life, i've found so much fulfillment.
Maddie often says her life would go undocumented if it weren't for me (i took photos of her all through high school-college for every occassion imaginable, then photos of her and her husband Taylor when they were dating, engaged, when they were married and even when they lived out in California for a bit) which might be true. but i surely wouldn't have nearly as full of a life without knowing her. she has remained my true blue friend for over a decade now and, often embarrassingly so, knows the most about me of all of my friends. if you have someone in your life you've known that long and have felt that sort of bond with, you know perhaps the kind of love i am speaking of. there is truly nothing i wouldn't bend over backwards to do for her and, now, her family as well. for, even though it took me a little while to warm up to him, i truly love her husband Taylor and am so thankful for his friendship as well. they are both some of the most genuine and real people i know. unapologetically so. which is my favorite kind of person. someone who is just unfalteringly and completely themselves. Maddie has always been that way, from day one, and i'm glad she met her match in Taylor in that way.

it feels somewhat raw to share such personal and intimate feelings about people i love so very deeply on such a public space, and yet, such is the day and age we live in nowwhere such things seem normal and trivialized. however, while i do tend to keep more things private and personal these days, i've honestly found so much value and encouragement within my own space and in others, by sharing such things vs. keeping them pent up inside. i think it's a beautiful thing to be able to share stories so readily. to encourage others and spread light through them. and so, here is a little piece of one of mine. 

meet Hank. 

A Small Collection of Photos That Make Me Happy

leaving here a small collection of imperfect photos, taken with expired film, that make me happy.
perhaps exactly because of their imperfection. 
and perhaps also because of:
walls with faces.
a counter with late-night-suburban-foraged apples.
a dog that follows the yellow brick road and her ornery friend, a crossed eyed cat.
glasses of red wine.
brown booted friends treading on perfectly worn rugs.
music and candles and lights-left-on for those going away and coming back. 
saturated mornings.
and a kindred spirit found in an ethereal soul who i often wish didn't live on the exact opposite coast from my coast.  


//
shot with kodak gold 200 35mm film in Portland Oregon of my beautiful friend Anna's house

I Must Love You

"Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single
friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore
unsuitable.

I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds
or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of
praying, as you no doubt have yours. 

Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit
on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, 
until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost
unhearable sound of the roses singing.

If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love
you very much." 
— Mary Oliver

My beautiful country girl. I'm so happy to have you home. 

Though, somehow, even more happy about the fact that you have a little being you'll be bringing into the world soon.
I cannot wait to meet them and smother them with my love and all of the baby knits and baby overalls.

You've always been one I can go to the woods with.

Doug + Mary

oh my heart, my heart, my heart.
it's so very all-the-way full, overflowing in fact, in that way that only comes around on those once-in-a-lifetime days because of a once-in-a-lifetime event.

oh what a week. 
a week of laughter and tears and joy and bittersweet how-is-this-already-here's and how-is-it-already-over's.
but it's not really over, it is in fact just the beginning.
the beginning of a life long adventure. 
i'm so incredibly happy for these two wonderful beings. one of whom i've been blessed enough to know for almost a decade now, and as for the other... well as my friend Hannah put it: 
"he fist pumped into our lives and stole my favorite dance partner." 
but there's no one i'd rather share the dance floor with and welcome into our little rag tag band of a family.
back to her? well... she's one of my persons and i'm so very happy that she's found her as-long-as-they-both-shall-live person. it was such an honor to celebrate their love and commitment with them these last few days. an honor i'm not fully able to express or explain. 
i cannot wait to continue doing life with them. 

happy to have broken the "once a wedding photographer never a bridesmaid" spell. 
i would do it all again in a heartbeat. 

She's Made Up Of Pt. 2

she's made up of:

undeveloped rolls of film. i-don’t-give-a-s**t. back issues of national geographic. “it’s fine”. broken mirrored selfies. crop tops. florals. technicolor hair. a big as a house heart. abandoned places. a dog named larry. chickfila. inside jokes. ALL CAPS. camera-strap-indented shoulders. vines on repeat. spontaneous let’s-go-somewhere adventures. butt dialing. perfectly shaped brows. always late here-i-am’s. always on time i-am-here-for-you’s.

this is my friend meagan.
i love this girl ever so much.
//

see what i'm made up of here

shot with agfa vista 200 35mm film

iPhone Snaps | A Slow Lived Saturday

I think I've decided that I want to post more iPhone snaps here on the blog.
Because...
1. I rarely take my camera with me throughout my day to day wanderings anymore, unless it's film (but considering the fact that I have 17 undeveloped rolls in a drawer here, the current chances of seeing those anytime soon/before the year 2026 is maybe a 0).

2. I take so so many photos with my iPhone. It's a hard-to-come-across day that I don't take at least some sort of photo with my phone to be honest. I exclusively use my Instagram for my iPhone snap sharing, but I so often have so many more photos from a time or event that I love and want to share but never get around to. I don't really utilize my Facebook in that way, or like the format of that type of sharing either. So that pretty much just leaves the journal here on the site.

The thousands and thousands of photos I have from my phone that never see the light of day and are just pushed from my phone, to dropbox, to my external hard drive, is truly tragic.
So hopefully this new idea will remedy some of that!

Without further ado, a few words on a lovely afternoon spent with a lovely friend of mine.

////

There is a certain kind of friend that is hard to come by in this fast-paced, screen-focused way of life these days. 

The come-on-over-the-doors-opened kind of friend.
The borrow-these-books-because-we-think-alike kind of friend.
The let's-eat-whatever's-in-the-fridge-because-whats-mine-is-yours kind of friend.
The let's-sit-around-and-do-nothing-together-and-just-be kind of friend.
The let's-eat-cake-for-dinner kind of friend.
The list-writing-travel-dreaming-song-writing kind of friend. 
This always denim clad soul is all of these kinds of friends in one and I feel pretty lucky to know her. 

We had such a perfect slow living sort of afternoon together, a theme of ours it seems whenever we spontaneously hang out, and I'm glad she's of such a similar mind because these are my favorite kind of afternoons. 

My RVA | Yesterday's Heroes Vintage

And then sometimes good days are marked by leisurely bike rides to visit friends at work and peruse new and old curated finds (by which I mean I looked at the denim for forever because denim is my weakness...) and listen to a little Edward Sharpe on vinyl. 

This little shop here in Richmond is a good one, and if you haven't popped in for a visit before, I suggest you change that asap. So much wonderful vintage goodness. It's actually right down the street from this other favorite shop of mine

You can also find Yesterday's Heroes on Facebook.


See more My RVA posts here.