Northern Ireland

Hiking Northern Ireland by Savannah Dodd

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This spring and summer we have taken every available opportunity to hike Northern Ireland.

We stayed one weekend in a cottage at Ballintoy. It had a bright yellow stable door and a wood-burning fireplace, and it was just two minutes walk away from the local pub that specialises in mussels (which are also my new favourite food).

We spent our weekend reading novels, hiking the cliffs, walking the beach, and eating good food. What more could you possibly want?

Home by Savannah Dodd

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"Home" is a word that I struggle with.

I'm from St. Louis and when I go there I tell people that I'm going "home." But when I get there, it feels like something else. It isn't the same Home I left six years ago.

When I lived in Geneva it felt like Home for a while, but then my friends started to leave. So I left, too, and I surrendered my apartment to someone else. I kept looking for a place that felt like Home. I used to look for Home when I traveled, considering whether each new place felt like Home. But I've decided that Home cannot be found. It has to be made.

Belfast didn't feel like Home when I arrived; nothing felt serendipitous or fated about it. I didn't find Home in Belfast, but I've decided to make it Home. It's not always comfortable or familiar, and there are still gaps to fill. But all in all I'm happy to call Belfast Home - at least for now. But even in Belfast "home" is transient.

On the very last day of August, we moved out of the one bedroom attic apartment that we had called Home for over a year. 

As excited as I was to move house, I had grown to really love the Ormeau Road neighbourhood. And, although we have only moved a ten minutes walk away, my life is starting to shape around a different street. Going home at the end of the day takes a different route. Our corner store has changed from Tesco to Centra. We have a new local pub.

But I think the hardest thing of all was that final look around the empty apartment. I took photographs of the empty shell, partly for myself and partly to contest landlord charges against our security deposit.

Inspired by my experience of this move, I'm working on a visual autoethnography exploring the idea of home and movement as experienced by millinials.

Family by Savannah Dodd

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I love living in Belfast. I have access to a reputable university, interesting professional opportunities, and a growing network of friends. But no matter how much I love Belfast, it will never be able to make up for the fact that my family lives very, very far away.

So when I was asked to photograph this family celebrating their parent's anniversary, I was thrilled. To have the opportunity to witness the intimate moments in a family, and to capture them on camera, is such a unique experience. Here are a few shots that they very kindly let me share with you this month. 

If you have a special day coming up, or if you simply have not enough photographs of you and your loved ones, get in touch. I'd be honoured to photograph those intimate moments for you.

Belfast Photo Festival by Savannah Dodd

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Summer in Belfast is often short-lived, but it's absolutely glorious while it lasts. Last week was been the best weather I've seen in Belfast yet. It's been hot - even by my estimation as a St. Louisian who religiously believes in 35 degree heat, quick dry fabrics, and swimming pools.

A funny thing happens in Belfast when the sun comes out. When it's just 14 degrees, if the suns out, half of Belfast's men misplace their shirts. Yet, contrastingly, when temperatures break 20, there is a huge proportion of people who are not sure how to dress in the heat. Last weekend I saw a people jogging in hoodies, shopping in coats and hats, and going to work in sweaters. I think that maybe people don't trust the sun to stay out. Meanwhile, I embraced this glimpse of summer, pulling out all of the dresses I bought in Thailand and feared I'd never wear again.

This sunny weather gave me a great opportunity to get out and enjoy the Belfast Photo Festival! Not only has BPF set up a number of exhibitions around the city, but they have also organised events, workshops, talks, and (my personal favorite) an outdoor photobook library! We took advantage of the sunny weather to attend the Architectural Photo Walk through the city centre.

I'm not very well versed in architecture, but I figured it would be a good opportunity to learn a bit more about the city that I'm making my home. It was a really enjoyable afternoon, led by a guy who clearly knows the city inside and out. He was able to beautifully tie the history of Belfast to the buildings in a way that I would have never imagined.

One of the biggest take aways? Look up. The first floor (or second floor, for my American readers) often has more character and exposes more of the historical context than you will see if you keep your eyes at ground level.