as i walk through the door


Monster Cookies

When life gets a little icky my Mom would start baking. So when my brother called to talk about life being a bit icky I knew what to do, make cookies! To the yellow box I went and found my Mom’s Monster Cookie recipe. She would make the whole huge recipe which calls for 9 cups of oatmeal and a really big bowl, which she kept in the basement and only brought up to mix these cookies in. Alas, I have a tiny kitchen and a normal size bowl so I had to half the recipe. And, sorry Mom, I omitted the corn syrup, times have changed and corn syrup is no longer needed to sweeten cookies up.

The cookies tasted great and my brother was happy to have a few arrive at his doorstep. Though monster cookies can’t fix everything, I think they can make life a little less scary.

Meet Evan

In March I started volunteering as a photo teacher at the Jewish Community Center in Minneapolis. I meet once a week with Evan, he loves taking photos of people and also has a mental disability. My friend Andy is there to help Evan learn iPhoto, and be Evan’s model for our weekly lessons.

I didn’t seek out this opportunity, but I am very thankful I am able to spend time teaching and learning with Evan. He is very dedicated to learning aperture, shutter speed, ISO, depth of field, motion, framing and how to hold a camera correctly. Evan has a fear of taking a bad photo, he works to make sure everything is perfect before pressing the shutter. That’s a fear I struggle with as well, at times a bad photo equals in my mind I’m a bad photographer. That doesn’t logically match up, yet it feels like it should. I encourage Evan to take the risk and shoot photos and he encourages me to keep learning and exploring photography.

At the end of our time together I hope Evan has the knowledge and desire to keep shooting and I hope to remember its more important to take many photos than to take one amazing photo. I also hope Andy comes away with a career in modeling!

Mom’s BBQ Beef

The yellow box of recipes has been cracked opened and my desire to cook and bake away are returning. It was in the kitchen cooking and baking away with Mom I learned about my family history, laughed, and heard stories about her Mom’s cooking adventures, including the night my Grandpa ran a rattle snake over and brought it home for my Grandma to cook for dinner. So that night they had rattle snake soup and as my Mom said, “And we’ll never have it again.”

I was delighted when I found the BBQ Beef recipe in the box. My Mom made BBQ Beef for our High School graduation parties and it was such a hit by the time I graduated nine years after my oldest brother people were asking if that was what my Mom was going to serve at the party. We are big on tradition in the Smith family. While you try to figure out the rest of the recipe I’m hard at work designing and updating my website and blog, big changes on the way for Kinetic Musings, stay tuned.

About my Brother

During a quiet moment a small town musician talks about what he learned from his older brother.

Working through to unblock my creative self once again, going back in time and remembering when, how and why.

Running in Haiti

Last year I traveled to Haiti to meet Tara Livesay. She is a mother of seven, wife, missionary, sister, friend, and runs. Waking up at 5 a.m. to try to beat the worst of the 100 degree heat and humidity, she runs. Runs along roads that don’t fully exist, through traffic that has no pattern, on shoes that wear out three times as fast as they would in American.

In 2009 Tara ran the Twin Cities Marathon and raised $66,000 for Medika Mamba, a product that is made in Haiti and saves the lives of starving children. Runner’s World magazine made Tara one of their Hero’s of Running 2010, she is very deserving of being called a hero of running, but also very embarrassed. Runner’s World cut together some video footage from my forthcoming master’s project about Tara, (to be completed spring 2011, promise), please have a look and meet Tara Livesay.


thinking a lot lately….

Miss you so much

I love you, I miss you, I need to talk to you.

Mood Weather

Winter is coming. It has been a rainy, cold day. And I, like the weather, am going through a season of change.

Home sick

I’ve been stuck at home sick all day. So instead of going out to shoot I decided to look back at my photos from my trip to Miami to visit my friend Julie. Julie used to cook in this kitchen, she has since moved to a new kitchen as at a new address. A kitchen is where I feel the most comfortable. It is the room of the house where I will always gravitate. And I credit my mother with teaching me the kitchen is where the heart is.

Grey Morning

My mood matched the melancholy morning. Still searching for my passion and purpose. I had those once. The last couple of years have been very difficult on me. I thought keeping it all to myself and not bothering anyone with it would help things improve. Since it didn’t, I’m going to try writing it down.

Recipe Box

My mother died in March, it has been a difficult road mourning. I admit, I’m not very good at it. I want to run away, pretend I don’t hurt, don’t miss her, and don’t have anything to cry about. That however, is not at all true. I hurt. Everyday. My mother was a fantastic cook and baker, she was known for her dinner’s and over feeding everyone. I miss cooking with her, standing in the kitchen next to her, asking how to bake something or having her tell me stories about her family and childhood.

This is her recipe box. My dad gave it to me two weeks ago. One day I will be strong enough to open it, and look through my mother’s handwritten recipes. One day.

Today was not that day.

Searching for Inspiration

I’ve been creatively stuck for a while now. Tonight I took a look at a few things I am love in an attempt to find my creative passion once more.

Fall Walk

Water is part of life. We need it to survive. I didn’t realize how much I need to live around water until I moved away from it years ago. I have found peace many nights walking around this lake. Water helps slow me down and comfort the hurt. I’m thankful I live near water.

Train Window

Seen while waiting for a train in Colorado.


My site is now live:

RN See if this really happens


This is my final week at the Star Tribune, and is suppose to be the big Republican hoopla of the RNC. With much planning, security (oh the security), and money it seems the whole event may be a bit a small in scope. Today was my first day being at a convention, and on my first day I covered the press conference all but canceling the first day of events due to the hurricane heading toward New Orleans and the gulf coast. 

As I was standing in the back of the room with a video camera, trying to fit in amongst the television cameras, I looked up to the front of the room at the still photographers and almost started crying, I miss still photography. I really do. 

I love multimedia, I love film, I’m okay with video, and I miss moment of the still image. The quiet. I miss staring at one frame for as long as I want. I simply miss it.

– back to blogging –

At one point not long ago I kept a journal, writing almost daily, then I did “F is for Failure” in which I recorded myself reading my entire journal, using parts of it in the final piece for all to hear. After that keeping a journal slowly stopped and now it sits next to bed collecting dust while my mind writes entries that are never remembered or shared. 

So I’ll try blogging a bit here and there and see what happens. 

I’ve been in Minnesota since mid-June and it has been a interesting and strange being back again. I remember standing on the football field during my high school graduation not understanding why people were sad about leaving high school and Forest Lake, I said to myself, “Welcome to the rest of your life.” It took me another 3 1/2 years to finish college before I left Minnesota the first time. I returned three years later almost to the day, with mixed emotions. When I left again for grad school I swore only one thing would get me to come back again, an internship at the Star Tribune. And wouldn’t ya know it three weeks from graduation Peter Koeleman called and offered me the summer internship, I couldn’t believe I was coming back again. 

I’m living in Minneapolis with family so really this return to MN has been more like moving to a new place. I’ve never lived in Minneapolis before and it has made Forest Lake and the north suburbs seem so far away. At once I feel like a Minnesotan and an outsider, it’s familiar and foreign every day; I feel as though my feet are standing in two different places. 

A few things happened this last week that have made me ponder the last decade of my life and ask myself, “Have I grown, have I changed, am I maturing and moving forward? Or am I stuck in the same whorl pool of my college-age self?”

While on a quick surface level look one might say not so much: I am still single, no children, living in Minnesota and unemployed. Just like I was at 19. However, moving beyond material and marital status I’d have to say I have grown, a lot. While I still struggle with confidence, I no longer hide. I’m still shy, but no longer painfully so. 

I once asked Bob why he never moved to Italy, since he loves being there so much, he said because he matter how long he would live there he would never be home. It’s been interesting to reflect back after being away and to learn more about this state that has always felt like home.

Twins, Yankees & Wheeler

A request has been made for a blog entry, so enter I shall. 

I’ve been interning at the Star Tribune in lovely Minneapolis, MN this summer. Doing lots of video and learning what a daily news grind is all about. There have been good days, and not as good days. But on August 11th I had a great day. That day I got to go to a Twins/Yankees game with Tribune staff photographer Jeff Wheeler! He let me tag along and talk, and talk, and talk about baseball.

The evening started off with me trying to get my excitement out without Jeff figuring out this was going to be like meeting the Beatles. My attempt at that lasted about 5 seconds before I was reminded I was not allowed to talk to the players, and that Jeff Wheeler is rather cool, calm and collected guy so I should probably tone it down a bit before he changed his mind.

We got to the dome and I tried my best to look like I knew what I was doing and to not get in Jeff’s way, not sure how well I did on that, but boy was I loving every minute of being there, we walked right by Derek Jeter!

During the game Derek looked at me twice! That’s 100% more times than once, don’t ya know?! I followed the rules and didn’t say hi, but it was hard to hold back. Jeter went 0-4 on the night, but looked good doing it. The Twins won the game and the yankees left the dugout all sad, leaving behind some unopened bubble gum that Jeff picked up for me as a souvenir of my first Twins game. He scored a pieces from the Twins dugout as well! If you want the inside information on what brand of bubble gum the Yankees and Twins use you’ll have to ask.

Looking at Wheeler’s photos after the game it’s clear sports photography may not be in my future, but being a baseball fan surly is. 

I’ve been on many other assignments this summer from happy to tragic, but my one night at the Dome with Jeff is down right my most favorite night of the entire summer! Thanks Jeff for bringing me along, hope you weren’t to embarrassed by my excitement :)



Cross the street

Last spring for a video class I created a short film about doors. My fellow classmates and VisCom grads were not, shall we say, excited, that might be the right word. Or maybe receptive? Okay, bluntly, they didn’t really “like” it. I walked away and thought, “Oh well, saw that comin’.” But then the plot thickens, (start scary music now). On a warm fall evening I journeyed to the other side of campus. I crossed Union Street, then climbed to the top floor of Lindley Hall. It was there that I encountered a new breed of people, Film Makers (music reaches a crescendo, pan across faces of film graduate students, music softens and quiets). I pulled my laptop from my shoulder bag, fired up Quicktime and hit the spacebar with a calm resolve. As the film played the audience grew, when the doors made their final close I was told, “That was really cool, can we watch it again?” I sat back in my chair and began to understand: when it comes to me, sometimes I need to cross Union.

And so, the world premiere of “Doors”

rainy nite

returning from the mountain. i found myself driving on a rainy night. the shift and change of color and light searching through the water was familiar. tonight it is my mood. enjoy.







i’ve been told i think to much. that i should think less. that it’s time for me to stop thinking and start doing. last week i stopped thinking about rock climbing and started doing it. i attempted to climb the wall three times, each time i got a bit higher. the third time i almost reached the top and that’s when it hit me: i wasn’t thinking, i was just doing. i didn’t think about how far i had gone or how far i had to go, or how well i was doing or how poorly i was doing, didn’t think of the pain, or the height, or the size of the grip i was holding, i climbed. simply climbed, and almost made it the whole way. what stopped me from reaching the top? i started thinking about how i was almost at the top of the wall.

i will climb again. i will learn this lesson.

look hard

to say i struggle with my place in photojournalism is an understatement. in the last week i have come face forward with why i find photojournalism truly inspiring and an emotional exchange. i have been working on a documentary about refugees and immigrants in scotland, the stories of why they have come to scotland are as varied as their accents and skin tone. i’ll wait to go into what i have learned from this experience for another time. but for now i would like to introduce you to hannan shihab, who after being burned from an american bomb in the opening months of the iraq war at age 15 has found a new life in scotland, and now at 19 is a wife, mother, and survivor of all that is awful of war; and marlena lubnieuska and her three daughters, who came to scotland in hopes of a better life than poland could offer, and ended up escaping from an abusive father and partner, rebuilding their lives from sole suitcase of clothing. to me these woman are beautiful, and it has nothing to do with how they look on the outside.





when reality hits home


really i’m just in shock. i’m going back to minnesota in two weeks, i’ve been thinking about minnesota a lot lately. trying to get my head around my family and friends that i haven’t seen in so long. and trying to get the a map of the roads in my head. i’ve driven across this bridge many times in my short driving life. it’s the main route to go from the north to the south and the main way into minneapolis. i’m just in shock. that big blue building in the upper right corner is the guthrie theatre where i’ve dreamed of performing. this is where i’m from, these are my neighbors, the might mississippi… it’s minnesota.



i had haggis last night for the first time in twelve years. it was as good as i remember. and like i told zach and chad, tastes just like hotdish.


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