Photography & travel tips from an award-winning photographer, educator & wanderlust

The LOVE Project: Alla and Garrett

Love is all around us…

It showcases itself in the the things we eat or drink, our habits, pets, pleasurable experiences, the people we encounter and in the places we visit. It is always present, letting us know of it’s existence through ceremonies, photographs, letters, blogs, repeated actions, diaries, books, melodies and smiles. Love is present at birth and hopefully… at death. It is the one thing that we all want to achieve from others, but also strive to truly love ourselves from inside out. It knows no boundaries, no language barriers or regulations. No matter who we love, how, or why – love is a part of our lives.

The LOVE Project Series is a way to document Love and it’s manifestations all around us though the best way I know how – photography. It will be challenging, attempting to encompass this powerful concept in a 2 dimensional photograph, but a project has to have its guidelines. A short interview or write up will accompany each one.

So, to give you an idea of what you can expect to come, I’m looking for eager participants to take part in the Love Project Series. Of course, if you’re a couple, I’d love to hear your story. If you own an amazing pet that you call a human name and sleep with in your bed. If you are gastronomically talented and love whipping out something fantastic in the comfort of your own home. If you have your favorite spot in this city that you frequent more than you care to admit to. If you’re a parent (enough said.) If you have a dear friend that you shamelessly admit to loving. If you are an avid fan of everything, anything, or something Korean, tell me about it. If you, foxy lady, would like to create and preserve the memories of your sexy self, I’d love to photograph the most beautiful version of YOU!

It seems only fair to begin the project, dabbling in the familiar territory.

Star Crossed lovers – Alla and Garrett
In love for over 2520 days (depending on who you ask)

What did you think when you first saw her?

Garrett: “That she was WAY too pretty to be grounded.  There’s a saying about books and covers that I feel is relevant here.”

What did you think when you first saw him?

Alla: “Wow, a new foreigner in town. Is he even cute?” (I know, so vain)

Where did you meet and who approached whom?

Garrett: “It really depends on what ‘saw her’ means. There are actually two different times that I first saw her which makes for an entertaining story – one creepy depending on whom you ask and one charming.

In 2008, I was planning on coming to Korea. As we do, most of us try to get a decent lay of the land before arrive: names of foods, a couple of key phrases, will I have running water? You know, basic stuff like that. At the time, I was a massive meat head so having access to a gym was of utmost importance. When I typed in “Masan South Korea health club gym” I clicked on the very first link that came up.  It was straight to an expat blog. The blogger chronicled her time in Korea and mentioned doing yoga at a health club. I didn’t think much of it at the time other than I was happy to know that yes, there was at least 1 health club in a city of 400,000 people.
Fast forward 6 months to a night where I was soju-drunk (one of the worst drunks one can endure for the record) with co-workers in Masan, Korea. As we left the singing room, and piled out of the elevator, we passed an attractive “foreigner”. With both of the aforementioned descriptors being relatively rare, my Korean coworkers giggled and whispered in delight. “Garrett, talk to her!” one of them said.  “Me?  Now?  Can’t.  Too much soju.“ I slurred matching the language level I’d been hearing all evening. Well, as luck would have it, I didn’t have to embarrass myself because the young woman said, “Excuse me, are you new here?”. The woman would later introduce me to her friend circle a few of whom still remain good friends to this day. Something about her seemed familiar and I couldn’t, for the life of me, place it.

As the soju cloud lifted later in the evening over Korean pancakes, it came to me like a lightening bolt. Could it be?  Was it?  Nah, that’s impossible? After much internal deliberation I asked her with trepidation:

“Hey, I know this is going to sound weird but do you have a blog?”.

“Yes, I do. Why do you ask?” she said.

Don’t sound like Richard Ramirez.  Don’t sound like Richard Ramirez. Don’t… “About six months ago, I wrote you an e-mail after reading a few of your blog posts. You never wrote me back” I said.

“Um, well, I’ve been getting a decent amount of e-mail from creepy readers so it’s just easier for me to ignore them.”

So yeah, that’s how we met for the first time … twice.”

What is your favorite thing to do together and where?

Garrett: “Montana.  Anything involving being in Montana.  The air, the lack of external static, the nature and the people.  I feel like it makes me a better person and likely a better partner.  Really, Montana is where more of our hobbies overlap but if you forced me to pin it down to an activity, probably bombing down a dirty rode in an old-ass automobile.  It’s so simple but, for whatever reason, feels perfect.”

Alla: “Traveling. There is something about experiencing new cultures, foods and places that is important to growing as a person and as a couple. Not everyone is a great travel companion, so when you find one that suits you and your style, keep them!”

What would be his last meal?

Alla: ”As much as he loves food, he’d probably make sure that he could have a beer with his last meal. If they said to choose, I think he’d definitely drink his last meal, but he is not a drunk by any means.

What would be her last meal?

Garrett: “I’d say borscht because of the relative scarcity of it in pretty much any place that we go.”

Who is a better kisser?

Garrett: “Me. I try harder 🙂

Alla: “Our dog – Slonik, haha joking!

What is the one word the sums him up?

Alla: “Beer!”

What is the one word the sums her up?

Garrett: “Stable”

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