olivia bee's year in photos
The most exciting photographers of 2016 share glimpses of their year in images.
We ring in the new year in Portland with a razor and kisses. There is a party at one of houses I used to go to when I was fifteen, still living in Oregon. I'm pretty sure I've spent New Years here before -- age 15? 16? The same group of us roll into the party, making our way through the river of kids spilling onto 39th. Nothing much has changed inside this basement -- not even beer preference. We watch the metal bands that dominated my high school experience, a reunion of many, but with some new faces pooling in their own excited pockets. They are 15? 16? And I am excited for them.
I take my mother to Iceland. I went the year before in the wintertime after a hard breakup and it started to heal me. Iceland makes you feel so human because it is so alien and so wild. We take a winter road trip to the Westfjords. I love seeing something that touched you once so strongly, again with someone you love. (This image of a waterfall I took there was later sold to benefit the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock -- water is life.)
I start spending more time in California. I have a lot of sex outside in the desert.
I turn twenty-two. A bunch of my close friends cram into a cabin in upstate New York. There is no hot tub... so we make our own.
I visit Portland often this spring. My brother is newly seventeen and I see myself in his eyes. He finds a cat on the street and keeps it in his room. The animal count is going up -- my poor mother never wanted a dog and now she has three. His sugar gliders have to get neutered... my dad is pissed to pay that medical bill. My mom won't let marsupials in her house so he keeps them in a sock at his girlfriend's. Sometimes it is hard for me to tell if there are blankets or dogs on his bed.
Summer is always very busy for me. I start working a little too much but I know I can get through it and then I can rest and make my own things again. I sometimes lose touch in these moments of intense work, but I need the alone time. I keep taking red eyes back and forth from New York to Los Angeles to then drive to the desert to work, and then back again. I start forgetting my keys and hairbrushes and cameras in other states and other countries. I am thankful for these aggressive schedules because it is an experience, always thankful for work, and also thankful for the time for aloneness and self reflection. I find peace in sunrises and sunsets by myself.
I go on an excruciatingly beautiful road trip on a project of my own. We are working, we are working hard, but it is pure love. We sleep in motels in Utah and cabins further north. I make the best series I think I have ever made. We eat pie on the porch overlooking the valley. We hike up a mountain in the dark on no sleep. We drive too far too fast. Too good.
Dakota and I find each other in southern Oregon. We peel off our 102-degree clothes and wade through the icy (Oregon, always) water through a tunnel to find a secret swimming hole lined with blackberry bushes.
It is still balls hot in New York. We go to the beach. London tries to teach me how to cartwheel. He is so positive sometimes I want to barf, it is the coolest thing ever. I still can't cartwheel.
In Oregon we go on a camping trip that has been a tradition for my family for over a decade now. We all sleep in a barn with a bunkhouse on top. We sing and eat and write and play and swim and sing and sing. The stars are huge.
I am in rural Montana and Donald Trump wins the election.
I go back to Portland to reflect. It's raining so I am calm. I hibernate and read a lot, and go outside to see a few friends but mostly family and nature. My father and I visit waterfalls. I think about the ebbs and flows of the universe and how tears and water are sensual. I scrape up hope for 2017.
Text and photography Olivia Bee