2018

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I keep thinking of how to reflect on 2018 and the longer I wait, the less I have to say. I don’t know if it’s capitalism or comparison (or both) but somehow I’ve come out of another hectic year feeling like I haven’t accomplished anything.

This isn’t true, of course. I had more range in assignments than I’ve ever had. And as a photographer that hasn’t committed to one specific genre, it’s made me reflect on the privilege I have to even bear witness to these stories. From reporting on food insecurity in rural Oregon to shooting an entire cookbook filled with delicious (and sometimes expensive) seafood galore, flying last minute across the world to covering poverty in my new home state, how do I balance this spectrum of stories?

I hope I can always tell them with an honest lens.

I felt frantic most of this year, but the wake of what’s happened still feels right. I see it as a year having already found my voice, then learning what else it could do (forever striving for Mariah octaves figuratively and literally tbh).

My spirits soared in the most unexpected moments (BBC! Obama Foundation! cookbooks!), but my heart broke in a way that still devastates me.

I’ve grown to fear less when speaking up, or I’ve become numb to it. Advocacy will never not be exhausting, but it will always be necessary. I’ll continue to say no to unpaid labor, and speak up even though the system was made to silence us. And I’ll keep going, because I can’t bear the idea that it might never get better.

I spent a lot of this year angry. Which, to be fair, isn’t unusual for me (there is a lot to be angry about!), but the anger itself was from something new. I thought about all the time marginalized artists spend needing to be extra careful, extra good, extra everything to perform extra labor. To have the difficult conversations, and navigate a society and industry that was built by excluding them. But still creating, and still persisting. Because we can’t not, and these conversations are critical to both our art and our being.

And then I tried to imagine a world where the extra wasn’t needed. Where we could put our full hearts and equally distributed resources toward what we care about the most. Thinking outside any need to fight or contextualize oppression, and just create. Just be.

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The Los Angeles Arboretum.

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Outside Bonnie Slotnick’s.

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My first ever solo exhibit at UNA Gallery, featuring Portland in Color. By Vy Hong Pham.

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Making a home, and our first snow together.

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Marshall Johnson sitting for a tattoo by Alice Kendall for the Audobon Society.

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Da Vinci middle schoolers protest during March for Our Lives, a nationwide student-organized protest calling for gun reform.

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Part of the Racist Sandwich team at the La Cocina Conference in San Francisco, California.

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DeRay McKesson for Street Roots.

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Abdulah Polovina, imam of a mosque at the Bosniaks Educational and Cultural Organization in Portland, Oregon for Street Roots.

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Young girls in low income housing in Ontario, Oregon as reported for part of the Housing Rural Oregon series for Street Roots.

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DJ and activist Cay Horiuchi for Portland in Color.

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Michelle and Alex along the California coast in their van, Bobby.

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Food writer and host of A Hungry Society, Korsha Wilson.

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Angela Flying Eagle at First Christian Church food pantry in Ontario, Oregon; on assignment for Street Roots.

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Molly Woodstock, host of Gender Reval podcast, photographed for Portland in Color.

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Leaving Orcas Island.

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Halawa Valley, Molokai.

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The sand bar, Oahu.

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Penny Rawlins Martin, the first and youngest woman to sail between Tahiti and Hawai'i on the inaugural Hokulea voyage, for Misadventures Magazine.

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A poke picnic on Oahu.

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Across the Outer Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland. We started in Barra and made our way north to Harris and Lewis.

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Behind the scenes for Yana Gilbuena's upcoming book, No Forks Given, due out September 2019.

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Morning in San Jose del Cabo.

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Summer in Portland and Stockholm.

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The oyster beds at Chelsea Farms in Olympia, Washington for the upcoming book Pacific Northwest Seafood by Naomi Tomky.

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Scenes from Calabria— Chianalea, Scilla, Tropea, and Civita— on assignment for Airbnb.

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Mama's first time in France, Villefranche-sur-Mer.

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Paris with my sisters, on film.

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Ma enjoying a moment on a tiny balcony in Nice— not only the highlight of my year but a forever highlight in my heart.


My days have blurred together, but I’m trudging forward, hoping that every little bit is adding up somewhere. Hoping that someone is keeping count.

Here’s to another year of doing our best.

In light and solidarity,
Celeste