Kaitlyn Dolan


The past week was the last spring break of my academic life, which felt both odd and satisfying at the same time.  For my first three years of college, this week meant early planes to Florida for lacrosse, and while I do have a special place in my heart for the warm days on the beach with my team and playing games on rough Florida fields, I would be lying if I said this wasn’t my favorite spring break yet. 

About two weeks before the break, my best friend, Emily Hunt (go check her out, she’s also a PJ and amazing http://www.emilyhuntphoto.com/) decided to book a flight to Charleston, SC, and spend the week in 60 degree weather, making sense of place videos, traveling, and eating our way through the city.  The whole experience was phenomenal. We were able to do the touristy things, like go see the Angel Oak Tree, Boone Hall Planation, and take a carriage tour of historic Charleston, but also find a semi-hidden distillery and vineyard, watch dolphins off the Battery walkway, and taste some delicious southern cuisine.  

The week away was like a breath of fresh air- a break from all of Emily’s and I’s (well loved but stressful) everyday college senior lifestyle.  After returning, I think we are both ready for the sprint to graduation, and the prospect of starting a new life in a new place after. Stay tuned for videos!

A Happy Accident

On our way home from short course we decided to make an unplanned stop. Along the highway somewhere near Gettysburg, we kept seeing hand-painted signs propped up by bicycles. Each sign had something more intriguing; “handmade pottery” “homemade soap” “essential oils” and, of course, with Traci and I in the front seat there was no ignoring those signs. What we found about a mile off the exit ramp was a house and yard will with pottery, children, and a whole lot of hospitality. David, the owner and patriarch, warmly greeted us as we pulled in and explained what we had just discovered. The entire house was a gallery with a no locked doors and always welcome policy. There was handmade pottery, goat’s milk soap, jams, honey, and little art pieces done by their numerous sons. With the warm sun on our faces and jam in our paper bags, we left happy and all of us discussing how we would tell the story of this family living a simplistic, happy life in a corner of the world we would’ve never known without those white signs hanging on old bicycles. It’s the little things, like after a weekend of discussing storytelling, you find a family that couldn’t be a more perfect story to tell in that moment.  

Northern Short Course

This past weekend I attend the Northern Short Course in Fairfax, VA. Short course has been, in the past, a place where I spend the weekend frantically writing notes, stressing out about who I am just in the same room as, and feeling my clammy hands during portfolio reviews. However, this short course was different; I felt calm, motivated, and excited.  I was no longer afraid of (mildly intimidated or in awe of, maybe) photographers who were there and doing absolutely stunning and important work. Instead, I felt compelled to ask questions and have intelligent discussions about my work, the industry, and what my contribution might be after graduation. 

In particular, I was able to have a portfolio review with Stephanie Strasburg of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. She was the first I had during short course, and we were able to spend the first ten minutes just talking about who we are and how to better the industry as two young, female photographers.  We discussed the possibilities of improving my work, as well as the industry at large. 

I think the most important discussion I was able to listen to was a discussion on community journalism by photographers with American Reportage.  For myself, it was an affirmation that the stories I believe are important and want to tell are important and desired and needed. Knowing that there is a larger audience for these stories, but also that doing community work can also affect change was a good thing for me to hear at this point in my career. I feel reenergized and excited to continue working towards my personal career goals, but also the goals I have for this industry and how I’d like to see it change. 

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