Lifestyle, Personal, Renegades
Comments 24

A Dedicated Minimalist

The first time Emma Kepley and I met for coffee and pastries at a small cafe called Bakeri in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, it was a kindred spirit vibe that reassured me she’d be able to show the growth I’ve experienced in the last two years of my life, with just the few clicks of a button. (Okay, and some minor direction, girlfriend had to coach me through the first four of five frames). Still, I haven’t been photographed since I was 19-years-old while helping my good friend, Linsey, build up her photography portfolio. Those photographs were filled with bright paint splatter, sunflowers, and driftwood drenched beaches, hopping from location to location, and often from season to season.
I’m on the cusp of my two year anniversary in New York, and however long I decide to stay here, I wanted to document this very point in my life. The evolution from a sprightly college student hoping to take over the entire world, to the always confident, often caffeinated, sometimes narcoleptic, globe-trotting, city-dwelling, hard working woman I now am. I wanted to remove the need to prove anything in these photos, stripping my New York experience of all the elements the mind usually drifts to when it pictures what a New York life might look like.
One thing I am eternally grateful for, especially in the last two years, is having been an active member of my own life. I think we sometimes fall into a habit of letting things happen to us. Sometimes it’s easy to let life happen around us. When we reach the end of whatever road we’re on, we look back and think, “Wait, what just happened? Where was I for all of that? ” I can say with full disclosure I’ve had those moments, but in the last two years, every decision, easy or difficult, has been made with intention. It certainly hasn’t been an easy road, but it’s my road, and it’s becoming navigable.
I was really looking to Emma to help me tell a story with both the visible and emotional parallels. In these photos, I finally see conviction behind my eyes and spine in my smile. I can see how hard I’ve worked, how little I’ve slept, the struggle, the anticipation, the gratification, the frustration, all of the ups and downs – real emotions. There is a wakeful solitude that comes with going all in on something – on a city, on a future, on friendships and relationships, and most importantly, ourselves.  That totality has been crucial to my happiness. And while it may sound like I’m playing my cards with a heavy hand, part of growing up, for me, has simply meant trimming the fat. In a lot of ways, it has meant becoming a dedicated minimalist.

bk shoot resized

This is a unique time in my life, where I have my future by the reins, where I’ve made a ton of mistakes, but also I’ve done a few things right along the way. Above all, I’ve never stopped learning. I’ve quite purposefully surrounded myself with people more intelligent, more creative, more experienced, and more ambitious than I am. I wanted to really get to the heart of that feeling and display my journey to this moment in a vulnerable, “show-and-tell-all” kind of way.
That letting go-ness.
That being alone-ness.
That unabashed selfishness.
That, “this is what I’ve built and I did it for myself”…ness. 
I knew from those first moments with Emma that I’d want her to shoot this in my apartment. Why? Because every part of this needed to be as intimate, personal, and easy to digest as possible. Letting someone into your home can sometimes feel like performance art. It’s like saying – this is where I dwell, where I keep the things I love. Come, be part of it.  If you’ve been here for a while, you know by now that I don’t hide much. This blog is, in many ways, like letting you all into my home, just as I did Emma. But photographs are special in that they allow us to time travel in a very visual, still way. I wanted to be able to look back on these photographs later down the road. Perhaps I’ll be married, perhaps I’ll have children, and a dog, and home, and a mortgage. Perhaps not.
Either way, I hope someday to recall this particularly brave and empowering time in my twenties, when I had so few things to fear. 






  1. This post is just overflowing with beauty in every possible way! Your writing always has this peculiar effect on me, like a soothing drug or something 🙂 Loved the photos, they do capture your wonderful soul successfully.
    All the best with your future endeavors!

    • So kind, Mohamed! Thank you for always continuing to read my blog (even when I’m super inactive on it, as I have been recently). Means a lot to know my readers are still here and happy with the content. This was definitely different than anything I’ve done before! xoxo

  2. Gerry says

    Carley, love this. You really open yourself up. You’ve come a long way, baby.

  3. Your words and these photos are sprinkled with fairy dust. Totally magical. Damn girl, you survived 2 years in New York City — you deserve to celebrate and be celebrated! (I feel the same way about my upcoming 2nd anniversary of marriage…maybe we should do a photo shoot too…)

    • Ha! Two years feels like such a long time, but I’m reminded daily that I’m just a newbie here! Thanks for reading! xoxo

  4. Mum says

    So So very beautiful. I love the line,” In these photos, I finally see conviction behind my eyes and spine in my smile.” This is wonderful writing Carley. You are very talented. and I love you

  5. I haven’t been at the blogging game long, but I love to write and was drawn to the stunning nature of your site, so I followed! I mostly blog about writing and movies, but I’m looking to expand beyond my own pane, if you know what I mean. Also followed on twitter. Look forward to further content from you :).

    Oh and the pictures beautiful :).

    • Hey Joseph! Welcome, glad you’re here! (And that you stuck around even though I haven’t written in a while – hoping to break that habit!) Happy you’re part of the dialogue here on Findingravity. xoxo

      • It’s all good, struggling with posting consistency as well, we’ve all been there :). If you get a chance it’d be great if you could check out my blog when you get time :).

  6. Carley,

    It’s difficult to find my favorite part of this, but near the top of the list is the fact that you two did this in your apartment, in your space, in your life (or part of it, anyway).

    It’s really quite thoughtful that you took the time to capture this not only in words, but also in photographs. Thank you for this meaningful mid-morning break—it leads me to believe I’ll be doing some writing later.


    • Thanks so much for reading, Chris! And, as always, for your thoughtfulness. It really meant a lot to me to shoot these pictures in my apartment, and as simply as possible. No frills!

      Hope you DO get around to writing later!

  7. Dad says

    This is one of my favorite posts honey. As usual I am so very proud of you and admire how you took a chance and made several changes in your life. I know it hasn’t always been easy and there are always new challenges. Keep up the good work.

    Love Dad

  8. Mrs. P says

    I was heading out the door the other day when I saw your post and was captured by the title…I knew I had to come back to it. Though I’d later forgotten about it, I woke this morning and was just settling in on my morning read when “gravity” popped into my head. Thank you for having such an easy blog name. I seem to have way too many people in my reader, I eventually found you…and I am glad I did! This was such a beautiful post…beautiful words as well as pictures. These lines resonate so well with my philosophy:

    “One thing I am eternally grateful for, especially in the last two years, is having been an active member of my own life.”

    “There is a wakeful solitude that comes with going all in on something – on a city, on a future, on friendships and relationships, and most importantly, ourselves.”

    “That letting go-ness.
    That being alone-ness.
    That unabashed selfishness.
    That, “this is what I’ve built and I did it for myself”…ness. ”

    “…when I had so few things to fear. ”

    There is something magnificent…actually magical, about living life naked…about stripping away until you have the essence of you. And, it doesn’t have to be something one experiences in the youth of their twenties…It can happen at any time, mine occurred it in my late forties. Carley, your magic…it has no shelf life…let it run wild.

    • Mrs. P says

      Apologies for lack of spacing between paragraphs…I did the editing WordPress failed on this one. 😦

      • It’s cool, I fixed it!! Thank you so much for coming back to my piece (and my blog time and time again)! Your wisdom is always appreciated. xo

  9. The first and second pictures are amazing. And you also look totally different in some of them than others, somehow, magically, I don’t even know… but it’s awesome.

    • Hi There! If you subscribed to Findingravity and you’d like to stay up to date with my new blog The Renegade Rulebook, be sure to resubscribe on the sidebar. When I switched over, some of my followers aren’t getting notifications. And it’s a real bummer!

      Hope to see you out there!
      xo Carley

  10. As a long time follower ( you were one of the first when I bravely set out on blog-world) got to say this is outstanding. People are often so “inward” in so many personal ways, and don’t understand the freedom available to them until they are much older. You have that quality, and it shows up in these photos. Bravo!

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