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Month: September, 2011

Small things

I just got three rolls of summertime 35mm film back from processing. I just picked out the photos which stuck out to me on first glance for this post, so there will be more to come. I love them (and love film) because these are moments I have strong memories of, but had forgotten, and the second I pulled the prints out they came rushing back to me. This is why I shoot film. To remember.


It’s okay to have a small and ordinary life

If that’s what you want. I need to tell myself this five times a day.

Heavy head

This was such a delirious hike. I’ve been really tired and heavy headed lately and hiking up this trail was just like walking through some weird place that I couldn’t see or touch. I felt like I wasn’t looking at anything. Then we got to this waterfall, and Ali and Nick jumped off the waterfall into the deep pool below. I stayed with Steele but waded out into this shallower pool upstream of the waterfall. And all the sudden I was in this huge pool of ice cold water looking up at the sky. It felt like a jolt to my brain. When the water was above my lungs I couldn’t take in a full breath but somehow it made me feel more present. So I stood it. I love being in water. I hate my heavy head. I need more ice water in my life.

A white box and a typewriter

This moment.

Sitting at my desk. The last ray of sunlight is glinting right into my glasses and shining on my nose. My legs are stretched out resting on the end of my bed and cars are roaring past outside, a constant ebb and flow. I am so full of doubts and dreams and common thoughts. Why is writing on the computer so much harder than writing on my typewriter? Because I can just go back and erase. The computer enables my self-doubt. My typewriter allows me to move past it and forget about what I’ve just written and move onto the next sentence.

I love the feel of the click of the keys. The way I can’t focus on anything else but the letter I’m about to type next. I love the way the history shows up with all the little x’s I put through word I don’t want or place I messed up. I can’t hide my mistakes. I can’t be someone I’m not. I don’t always make sense and something beautiful comes out of it sometimes and something tender or personal or something I won’t show anyone. Or something I want to show everyone. I pile up all these papers I’ve typed on and I imagine my children or grandchildren sifting through them and knowing I was a real person, had real fears and doubts and cursed and had sex and cried. That I loved life and was ignorant and young and didn’t know what to do with myself and was sick with pain, sick with doubt, but I found my way, somehow.

How can these expensive backlit keys capture all of that?


Something really wonderful happened to me a few days ago and I am hesitating to write about it incase I mess up how much it meant.

I’ll leave that.


I’ll try really hard not to fuck up my life.

I have been aimless for a moment that is longer than brief. When does this aimlessness deserve my attention? When do I sit down and say sternly to myself “Listen, this is what you have to do.” When do I think. When do I find myself?

I am just a little girl dressing up in clothes and walking around this apartment as if I pay for it myself. I am scared. Why the fuck do I think I can answer any of my own questions?



These are from a roll shot with my Mamiya C330, on a town by the shore in northern Washington.

The way that I walk out of Powell’s

I push through the door, out of the green room, and the force of it brings a gush of wind across my face. I am full of motion and I know very deeply that I’m moving towards certainty. The night seems warmer, or cold in a sharp way. I have been around people. I looked at them and they looked at me and for once there wasn’t anything more to it. Being here makes me feel less small, because here are other people who are small as well.

They are absorbed in their books and I in mine, and we all look up at the black rimmed clock. We are all in a million different worlds, but when we look up, we are here. We are little planets turned inward, with our own gravitational pull and our own moons. There are twenty-six centers in this room.

The blue room is my comfort zone. Sometimes I only pick up books because I like their title, or their cover design, or their shape or size. I’ll flip to the first page and read the first sentence, testing the waters, and afterwards slip it back into it’s rightful place. Sometimes I just walk up and down the aisles and trail my hands across the spines like a chain-link fence. Old books and new books sit side by side, the paper of the new books soaking up the smell of the old. People pass by me, we might brush arms and apologize to one another. I have a purpose and they have a purpose too.

Sometimes I’ll have to find a book I’ve never read and I’ll have to look it up and it’ll be in a room I’ve never been to before. When I get to the section I’ll look around and be shocked by all these books I never knew existed. Each of these books holds a world in it. There are so many worlds on so many shelves that I don’t even know about. The red room has rows of books, the end of each aisle punctuated by a window. Towards the back of the room I find the aisle I’m looking for and delve into a universe of books I’ve never thought to pick up. My guilty pleasure is the rose room. A room full of young adult fiction, novels that are lighthearted, perfect for an overstressed college mind. And yet even here I’ve found books that caught me off guard and changed my world, if only for a night.

I go sit in the cafe, the table by the window, my favorite one that wobbles. I tuck my legs under me and read. I see stars that don’t exist, a sun that sets and rises, and when I look up I am startled by the white Portland light streaming in the windows, people crossing the street to the changing lights. I look up at the black rimmed clock. I feel a heavy weight in my own chest. Not sadness, but knowing that I am creating my own life. I am independent and have surrounded myself with the people and things I love. This is my place and I will continue to struggle and continue to be filled with joy. I sit at my wobbly table, perhaps with a stranger on the other side of it, and watch the people walk past me outside. I read a small book of poems by e.e. cummings. It is so lovely to think of someone else’s hands holding it. Someone, somewhere, bought this book and turned it page by page.

I come here by bus or bike. I walk in the door and my world falls away. Time doesn’t matter. I allow myself to forget about the list of things waiting for me. I could stay here forever, and sometimes I do. I come to read entire books. Stay until it’s dark and then walk out into the night.

Pinhole light

I want to take photographs of peoples bedroom windows. The pinhole camera that I made, perhaps all of them, has a really beautiful way of capturing light. It blows the light out, but with pinhole photography the conventional “rules” go out the window and you enter this dreamy foggy world.

Personally I am in love with light and love waking up in a bedroom full of light. I don’t know how other people feel about it but I’d like to know… which is why I want to photograph peoples bedroom windows. I’d also like to ideally have them write/say a small something about the light in their room. Maybe that hate it and it’s annoying. Or maybe it’s really really hot. Or maybe they think it’s really beautiful. I’d like to know that too. And then I want to display the photographs with the text as a part of it.

And now, you know my entire thought process on this.
Get in touch with me if you’re interested in having your bedroom photographed, live in Portland, and are down for a pinhole camera being in your room for about an hour!


Color Walk

This is a short video in which you can see the first project I did for a class I’m taking called Beyond Color Theory. The assignment was a color walk–basically we went to a specific location (An Asian market) and recorded our experience with the color there. Then we did a piece based on our experience.

Untitled from Brittany Chavez on Vimeo.

I made a book, which is why this is a video format. My thinking as far as my experience goes, was that I was first assaulted by a lot of bright colors (primarily red) and then spent the duration of the trip seeking out colors I liked. I wanted the viewer to have the same experience as I did.. the seeking out colors, which is why I decided to do a piece in which you literally had to find colors beneath colors.

For anyone who’s curious, the paper is tracing paper and the color medium is prismacolor markers, which is a high quality drawing marker. Since the paper doesn’t absorb much the marker ink sits on top of it and ends up looking very luquidy, which is something I liked.