Le Marais | Paris, France

Grit, graffiti, and tongue-in-cheek art installations: may I present to you the edgy side of the Marais?

And with that, it’s au revoir to France; coming soon, photographic evidence of my visit to the fabulous, laid-back, and nocturnal city of Barcelona.

Camera: Mamiya 645AF
Film: Kodak Portra 400

Le Temps de L’amour | Paris, France

Macarons, high fashion, and classic architecture? Check. Well-heeled residents sipping wine at outdoor cafés? Jaw-dropping window displays? Those, too. I expected all of that from this city, and it didn’t disappoint on any count. (In fact, you might want to listen to Françoise Hardy to set the mood as you look through this particularly Parisian set of images.)

That said, I have to admit that I also expected a chilly reception from the natives; perhaps that’s why the most surprisingly pleasant moment of my time in France caught me entirely off-guard. I had unwittingly boarded the wrong train as I was leaving for Barcelona, only to be politely kicked out of my seat; struggling with my suitcases and entirely perplexed by the train station signage, I was flustered and more than a little embarrassed. A Parisian woman about my age—effortlessly stylish in her red cashmere sweater, of course, and resembling a blonde Marion Cotillard—sensed my confusion. Smilingly, she insisted on carrying half my luggage (“It is just my way,” she explained in her accented English while waving her hand at my protestations), then walked a quarter mile with me to the correct train and helped me get situated in my seat. It was one of those moments where, against all odds, my faith in humanity was completely reaffirmed.

I was prepared for a frigidly beautiful city, and was met with surprising warmth when I least expected (but most needed) it. For that, I was both humbled and grateful—and I only hope I can pay it forward to another flustered solo traveler someday.

Camera: Mamiya 645AF
Film: Kodak Portra 400

A Ninetieth Birthday Fête | Toledo, Ohio

There was a moment at my grandmother’s recent ninetieth birthday party, as I looked around the ballroom full of laughing people, when I realized that my grandparents were more popular than I was. And you know what? That’s pretty damn cool.

My grandmother, who’s been described as “feisty” and has a serious penchant for biographies, is much deserving of this kind of celebration. I still remember my first days as a college graduate living in Virginia, when we would exchange postcards and she would regale me with stories of her days as a young woman in Charlottesville. My grandfather, just a couple months shy of ninety himself, has always been unfailingly encouraging of my photography, sending words of praise along regularly from two states away, and always making me feel like this little hobby of mine is worth pursuing. I was honored when they asked if I’d document this evening, and even more so as the day came and guests started streaming in, huge smiles adorning their faces.

There was just so much joy to be captured that night. But why take my word for it? See for yourself.

Camera: Mamiya 645AF
Film: Ilford Delta 3200