when we were home from europe we found our mountains being torn apart by angry winds. we’d watch the storms shake the big trees past our balcony, as if they were only paper cut-outs.
the power was out for three winter nights. we made a nest from blankets, pillows and sheets and lit candles to read by. the constant rain meant we couldn’t collect firewood for a fire. i was glad alba was safe and warm in my belly. when the storm had left and the power returned we cooked pumpkin soup and sat in front of the fireplace, soaking up the heat.
afternoon naps & m’s guitar
sun setting from our balcony
where we play hours of board games
my midwife, listening to alba’s heartbeat
a fire in the city
writing in alba’s journal, taken by claire
later we were on a flight to auckland, new zealand. we’d been hired by sony to shoot bic runga’s album cover. i never gave much thought to new zealand, never imagined how beautiful i would find it. we stayed in a 5 star hotel in the middle of the city. we were high up and had ceiling high windows that overlooked the bright nighttime bustle of auckland city. i’d go to bed with the curtains drawn wide just to immerse myself in it.
on day one we shot at piha, a black sand beach. clouds of dust floated like ghosts above the dark sand and dunegrass grew wild. it was deserted and felt like a dream. i photographed bic as she fell against the wind, hair dancing and alive.
the next day we shot at a park, where the paths were white with sheep being herded to and fro by sheepdogs. it felt like an english countryside with the rolling hills, dense woods and cool mist that fell softly upon everything. it began to rain and we finished shooting in bic’s home (which was cosy and populated by musical instruments).
papa’s hand over growing alba (14 weeks)
view from the hotel window
bic at piha beach
the handsome filmmaker
shooting in the rocks
bic and her sick boy
on the last day m and i explored auckland together, taking note of interesting things to later tell our daughter. i felt so lucky to be able to work and travel with my best friend, i hope i always can.
it is always so perfect to arrive home. to watch the sea of mountains coming into view from the train window, to step out and smell the cool, fresh air (like jasmine flowers and dewy grass) and to finally fall onto our daybed exhausted and content after dumping our luggage by the stairs. one of us always says something cheesy like ‘home, sweet home’ but it makes us smile.
we get a kind of travel high after a trip. where we are still filled with the excitement and spontaneity. if we’re home too long things become too dull. i think this is why we are so addicted to moving.
the train home from the airport
becoming a mother
alba waving hello
soon i flew to queensland to work for two weeks. i photographed model portfolios and i visited family and friends. m stayed home, planning my birthday trip and editing films. i missed him, but i was lucky to be surrounded by family. being apart in the beginning was torture, but i’ve slowly learnt to accept we can’t spend every moment together, and that there is a beauty in being alone.
cousin freya and her broken arm
driving into the full moon
dearest m took me to vietnam for my 19th birthday. we’d often holidayed in indonesia together, but this was our first time in vietnam. it became our favourite place in the world soon after arriving.
we landed in saigon. there is this feeling i get when i arrive in a new city, like a fire has been lit in my stomach, that means no matter how exhausted i am from the journey i have to explore. it’s the closest feeling i have to the curious excitement i felt during childhood, when i didn’t know much of anything and there was so much newness in the world.
we walked down the busy streets with wide eyes. all was loud and bustling, street vendors sold vietnamese desserts from old carts and motorbikes almost skimmed our sides on their way past. we found a restaurant at the end of the busiest street. it was wooden and the floors were stacked on each other, the side facing the street was all balconies. we climbed steep, creaky steps to the top floor and from here we could see everything. i don’t think we spoke for 5 minutes, out of awe. eventually we ordered banana sinh to, vietnamese beer (for m of course) and chicken pho. it was a few dollars.
me upset, after a silly fight with m
that first night was magic. i sat on the lounge, barefoot, cross-legged and eating pho with chop sticks, feeling m’s hand on my growing belly, watching out over this chaotically beautiful city and i felt like the luckiest girl alive.
i wrote to alba in my journal while m told me how very perfect our life was right then, and i agreed with all my heart.
i turned 19 a few days later. we spent much of the day on the mekong river, stopping at different villages, buying homemade coconut candy, eating fruit from the fruit trees and then falling asleep on the boat ride back to the city. we went out for dinner and as much as i’d imagined having some amazing vietnamese food, all i craved was a big, juicy beef burger and deep fried french fries. it was kind of funny really, seeing as though i’ve never been a meat eater.
growing bump. on the speedboat back to the city
m’s scribbles with a broken pen
i didn’t take many pictures on this trip. a huge downside to shooting professionally is if you overwork yourself, picking up the camera just feels like a job all over again. i know one day i won’t do campaigns anymore. i will have exhibitions and release books of all the images i took for love (not money).
one night on a walk through the streets it began to rain so heavy the roads flooded like little rivers and we held our shoes in our hands and kicked the water as we ran. lightning lit the skies and the little rivers and we splashed one another, holding hands and laughing like children. we found a cosy restaurant and ate dessert for dinner, listening to the thunder.
we caught a night train to nha trang next. we stayed in a fancy hotel on the beach but it all felt too money-driven to us, too western influenced. we spent the moments where day became night in the ocean, the bright lights from the building on the shore glittering in the waves. i clung to m’s back, resting my head in the warm space on his shoulder, thinking about how our daughter would fall asleep like this one day. how lucky she is to have someone so loving and kind-hearted as her father.
nha trang city
afterwards we’d walk along the sand for a long time, letting the memory of the sun (still there in the heat of the nighttime air) dry us. past the rollerskating children, the blind beggars and the lovers kissing on the beach.
we flew to hoi an last of all. this was a beach town too, but with so much more life and character. the roads were dusted with sand and everyone was barefoot and smiling.
weary, warm days all melted into each other. we spent so many afternoons playing childish games and laughing in the water, our sinh tos (fruit smoothies) at the pool’s edge. we bought our daughter tiny trinkets, hand-sewn stuffed animals and soft scarves from markets, and felt her tiny kicks. a little person that was made from our love, a little person that is us.
my birthday dinner
it was the romantic summer of my teenage dreams made real. there is a nostalgic sadness in remembering the bliss, knowing the only way to relive the moments is in my mind.
home again. here i grew, and i grew, and my belly was as round as i’d always dreamed. here we fell deep in love with alba and she learned our voices, the soundtrack to her world. we built her a library of treasured books found on our journeys. we had our first ultrasound in a big, white hospital in the city and we saw her dance with tiny ankles and long fingers. the midwives visited our home and we heard her strong, musical heartbeat. our little girl.
most images taken by my love
cousins sommer & belle
birthday cuddles from a snake
waves crashing, 19 weeks