Paris.

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The light is different in Paris. Even at 10am it appears the city is still waking. The air fills with a milky, warm yellow glow and the buildings begin to perch at a rhythmic pace, standing side by side through the shortened days. Dusk turns the arrondissements into deep, gray-blue canals. Damp and cozy as the locals dip in and out of bistros and boutiques.

It’s not like this in New York. The buildings are always alive, piercing the air above with their concrete and metal frames. During the cold winter months, New York beams a piercingly bright, cyan sky. Deceptive and unbalanced, energized and crisp.

tonight I feel infinite.

downpour in the west village by meagan kirkpatrick

downpour in the west village by meagan kirkpatrick

I took this photo over a year ago, and it’s still one of my favorites. I didn’t really  know how to use my camera back then, and I’m pretty sure it’s not in focus, but there’s just something about the rain that makes one feel infinite.

endless winter.

Last week I came home from pilates just as a snow storm was setting in. Famished and tired, I bolted upstairs, inhaled an apple and some of my favorite cheese for dinner, and headed out back to capture the falling flakes.

I’m still learning my way around the 6D, but as any photographer knows, everything is new again with a new camera. And there’s something magical about watching the snow swallow the grid of the city. Here are a few of my favorite snaps from the night.

crossing 12th street by meagan kirkpatrick

crossing 12th street by meagan kirkpatrick

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I peer outside at the Rothko-like horizon.

Rothko in Munich by Meagan Kirkpatrick

Darkest blue, grey, marine… The windows are freckled with icy wet flakes. I pull out my phone and snap a few photos. I toggle with the filters, sending one into cyberspace with the caption “Munich Sunrise.”

These streets will never look the same.

Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.  – David Alan Harvey

If You Can Make it Here / Photo by Meagan Kirkpatrick

If You Can Make it Here / Photo by Meagan Kirkpatrick (July 2011)

A few months ago, after shooting almost 50,000 photos on my T2i, I decided it was time to upgrade. Reticent at first, I eventually caved when a friend of mine (who taught me most of what I know about photography), sent me a text saying my “night shots could really use a full frame sensor.”

That was the final straw. I will forever be a nighttime photographer, and my Rebel T2i was like the little red caboose that couldn’t quite get up the hill.

I put my cherished and reliable friend up for sale on Facebook and with seconds of clicking “post,” it was gone.

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Still… (Reflections on Photography)

Man Underwater by Ana Vesna

Man Underwater by Anna Vesna

I’ve always appreciated art. My brother’s an incredibly talented illustrator, and I spent almost three years working with Vimeo, where I watched films every day and attended offline screenings regularly. I was profoundly affected by the ability of motion pictures to move people, as redundant as that sounds. They can make you laugh, cry, cringe, and most of all: think.

But since coming to Shutterstock two years ago, spending countless hours among 24 million images, and then going home to my own DSLR, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for the still image.

Portrait of a Girl by Aleshyn Andrei

Portrait of a Girl by Aleshyn Andrei

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Music to Jet To: 12 Albums to Download Before Your Next Flight (date, or dinner party…)

Old Fashioned Music Player Illustration by Cristian Amoretti on Shutterstock

One of my favorite things about traveling is the time spent in that anonymous-yet-familiar place high above the clouds. I get some of my best writing and reflection done at 35,000 feet – earphones on, journal out. And even though I’m no music expert, having good tunes on my iPod is critical to getting me into the groove. These are some of my go-tos when it comes to travel music (if there is such a thing). They also happen to be excellent tunes for working, lounging, entertaining, and just about anything that needs a mellow-but-rhythmic soundtrack: (In order from slowest to fastest.)

  1. Gem Club, Breakers – Slow, moody and dark. Love this album for writing to. 
  2. Bon Iver, Bon Iver – If you don’t know Bon Iver, please just download. 
  3. The National, High Violet – Dark, soft, indie rock.
  4. Angus & Julia Stone, Down the Way – Julia Stone is my favorite artist right now. Her music is airy, light and soulful.
  5. Massive Attack, Heligoland – The original trip-hop group delivers electronica at its finest in this beautiful and delicate album.
  6. Frank Ocean, Orange – Soulful R&B with a dash of synth.
  7. The xx, Coexist – Indie electronic/dream-pop.  The xx is one of those bands that you either get or you don’t. In my opinion they are one of the greatest groups of our generation, and this album might even be better than their first.
  8. Waldeck, Ballroom Stories – Jazzy, swingy, soulful R&B. Great for dinner parties.
  9. Best of Hôtel Costes by Stephanè Pompougnac – I have almost all of the Costes albums after hearing one at the hotel in Paris. This compilation features latin infused and electronic beats.
  10. Cat Power, Sun – Cat creates her own brand of magical indie pop with this soothing, upbeat album.
  11. Chromatics, Kill for Love – Where do I begin? The Chromatics are another favorite group of mine but they’re not for the faint of heart. Best described as dark, electro-pop-slash-disco, this album includes a remake of Neil Young’s Into the Black.
  12. Miike Snow, Miike Snow – Indie electronic. Another album that will go down as one of the best of our time; Miike snow perfectly balances rock, pop and electronic.

Climb… Is all we know.

It’s been nearly 12 years since I left California for New York. 13 years since the days when my friends and I would drive to the top of Skyline Drive in Cowan Heights to escape whatever it was that we wanted to escape that day: school, work, family, boyfriends, whatever. We used to sneak into an abandoned mansion at the top of the hill, share stories, dreams… bottles of Boone’s.

Now, more than a dozen years later, there’s another mansion being erected on the property and another generation of dreamers parking along the cliffside shoulder.

Cowan Heights View, by Meagan Kirkpatrick

View from Cowan Heights overlooking Irvine / Photo by Meagan Kirkpatrick

I’ve always had a thing for heights. I’ve been taking flying trapeze classes for years and one of my favorite things to do is to stare out of airplane windows at the cities below. There’s just something so soothing and intoxicating about looking down at the world – at the days passed – and reflecting in a place that’s both familiar and anonymous.

Reflecting on the Past, Photos by Meagan KirkpatrickI can’t help but wonder though, why is it that we humans feel the need to look to the past for answers about the future? It’s like an invitation to carry all that weight with you wherever you go.

When I’m feeling deep and reflective, Bon Iver is at the top of my playlist. I can’t tell you how many times I listened to his self-titled album this week. Wash is one of my favorite tracks and the lyrics are the perfect companion for a skyline view.

Wash. Bon Iver

The trouble with facebook (abridged)…

…and blogs, and twitter, and instagram.

There could be an entire degree dedicated to the study of social media – what it means for society and how it affects us. But rather than attempt to get into that here, I’ll try and keep this focused on the debate about what people share on social and why.

After spending the last few years overseeing Social Media for one of the world’s coolest tech companies (IMO), what I do believe is that social media plays to attributes that were already in us: the need to be creative, the desires for affection and recognition, and to share and be social. And with all of these exciting new ways to express ourselves, we’ve become infinite storytellers of our own lives.

My instagram feed - the good stuff

The good side of my instagram feed. If only this were the whole story my life would be full of roses, wine & cupcakes.

But what happens when your social circle or people connected to you in various channels pick up only pieces of the story you’re telling? Or worse, when they compare the bits and pieces they know about your life to their own whole reality? Is there really a thing called Facebook depression?!

As a frequent recipient of the “I want your life!” email, tumblr, facebook, twitter or instagram message, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this. Especially as I feel like I’ve faced a wrath of personal challenges and depression over last 6 months and no one seemed to notice. Turning inward (where us closet introverts often turn for answers), I started looking at what I shared and why I shared certain things. Sure, go ahead and call this narcissism if you want. I prefer to call it self-reflection. Either way, I think the answer I came up with can apply to a vast number of people.

First let me clarify that anyone who knows me well knows that my life is far from perfect. But the thing about all these social networks is that in our effort to be expressive, share the beautiful things, the extraordinary, and the irreverent, sometimes we end up painting a picture of a life far more perfect than reality. Perhaps it’s intentional for some, but perhaps for others it’s just a coping mechanism: a way for us to focus on the good moments so that all of the other stuff feels less real – less permanent. 

There’s an age old belief that “history is written by the winner.” Now it seems it’s written by the creator.

My instagram feed - the not-so-good stuff

The not-so good side of my instagram: Hurricanes, power outages, and painful mistakes.

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Let’s forget all the things that we say.

Girl Shatters into Dust, by Shutterstock photographer Aleshyn Andrei
My mother tells me 90% of our thoughts are repetitive. Guess that explains why I keep rehashing everything about the last year and a half. All the things that were said. Not said.

Apparently thirty isn’t as wise as I hoped it would be. But I guess the truth always finds a way out, and when it does, there aren’t so many questions.

Let’s forget all the things that we say. (Julia Stone)

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