my south dakota | film shots

i couldn't believe my eyes the other day when i found my lost roll of film from my second trip back to sodak for nat geo/aaron huey this summer. i about dieddddd. and then i got to see the photos, the lovely photos, that came out of that roll. and then i about died again. my heart broke a little and i really started aching for my loyal south dakota home. it is so vastly different than our life in LA - not that either is better or worse - just so at odds with one another!

i don't know how much i have shared about my involvement as the associate producer for The Pine Ridge Community Storytelling Project on National Geographic.com, but it is hard for me to talk too much about it, as the stories really speak for themselves. what i will say is that i had the overwhelming honor to work alongside, my dear buddy, aaron huey and go back home to my south dakota twice this summer to collect stories for the project. to meet and re-visit with the Lakota people of Pine Ridge, i was equally humbled and inspired. i will not share with you all my experiences, it is far too extensive and deep for me to articulate in this format, and this work i hold way too close to my heart in a sacred place, but i will share with you a couple of my friends and heroes whom i was honored to listen to, to record their stories and then post them on Nat Geo. in the photo captions below, you can see some of the stories that i was able to help collect. there are many, many, manyyyyy more online and i URGE you to spend some time and listen. educate yourself and open your heart.

i adore these shots, ever so much, and i'm sure because i hold this place so close to my heart - in the very depths of my soul - it will forever be woven in to the very fabric that makes up my south dakota, and fundamentally a part of who i am - the golden fields, the cotton ball clouds, the cornflower blue skies, the beautiful people with hearts of gold and fire, the struggle, the victory, the silence, the fight, the wind, the wind, the wind.

leaving pine ridge going back to rapid city via the badlands. my dear friend val and i just drove out of a crazy hail storm,  coming from Kyle, and i was driving 15mph if that, lightning and hail, rain and wind - then it cleared once we hit the entrance to the badlands and i had to stop to smell the air and feel the wind.
i've always adored this little convenience store on the way back to rapid city from the Rez, i have stopped there a couple of times to get snacks and chat with the store owner. it has always reminded me of micro machines. and to capture it at the end of the storm was something special. 
that damn sky.
driving home after the storm.
no joke, one of my favorite places in the universe, and favorite places to take naps and pray.  this is another view of my favorite tree, which i'm sure you've seen photographed before.
i don't have words for this cinematic wonderment.
while we lived in Rapid, i always wanted to do a photoshoot in front of this MOOSE lodge, we never got around to it, so i had to revisit it on my trips back and go snap this amazing building.
anyone who knows anything about Pine Ridge Rez knows this picture. this is sharpe's corner, the entrance to the Rez from the Badlands. Sharpe's Corner is a main hub for people on the Rez, as you can get gas, groceries and visit with people before heading to your Kyle, Manderson, Porcupine, etc. I was standing in the middle of the road snapping this shot, and this Elder stopped his pickup beside me while I was shooting and asked me what i was taking a photo of. he couldn't understand why i'd shoot this shot, but it means so much to so many on the Rez; it's a huge landmark. 
Scenic, South Dakota has been bought by what is rumored to be a Filipino Catholic Church. It was for sale for a million dollars. AIM used to hang around at the bar on the other side of this shot] and get in fights, cowboys and bikers have long considered scenic a place to be.
this is the other side of street, opposite the gas station in scenic. quite the old wild west town, eh
to the right of laurette's childhood home is the tatanka trading center, i think it used to be an old church. i bought a dress from there once. 
this plot of land is the place my dear friend laurette used to have a house. she grew up here for a while in scenic. she told me i didn't have to take a picture of it, but of course i had to!
this is my friend Corbin's pickup. he is a Lakota interpreter for tourists who visit the Badlands National Park and ask him alllll kinds of crazy questions about the Lakota. 
this is my dear friend valerie [read val's stories here] and corbin. they are both amazing Lakota artists and this day was especially nice, as we got to visit with Corbin for a couple of hours at the White River Visitor Center and i recorded him telling us some pretty amazing stories and a darn good joke for the national geographic project. listen to them here.
a man and his truck.

hugging my tree. yes, i said it.
"the ranch" is where i had a lot of my meetings/interviews/story collectings when i was on the Rez. just outside of Kyle, i shared many a cup of cowboy coffee with some amazing, inspiring human warriors. that's my buddy kevin's jeep parked there in the lot. 
if mr. jealous of him doesn't slay you, i don't know who will. this Lakota man is so amazing, so full of happiness, love and purity. his gentle nature was so infectious as i spent about an hour with him at the Kyle Senior Center listening to his stories and recording them. he is the true definition of a heart breaker. read his story here
this is where my buddy DJ played football in high school. he was the star of his team and he is now at Haskell University playing ball. I have watched him grow in to a confident, capable man whom i am so proud of. read his story here
my dearest friends, kevin and valerie pourier. read kevin's stories here, and check out their AMAZING buffalo horn art here

this is my dear brother bim. he is a counselor at Little Wound High School and a role model for us all. read his story here
how you get me every.damn.time.
i dragged my dearest friend, laurette [read laurette's stories here] out of the house and made her come with me to watch the sunset on my last night back home in rapid. it was so nice to spend this time with her, and the sunset was more than cooperative as you'll see from the photos below...
are you KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW!?!??!



the nazarian family photoshoot!

I had the distinct pleasure of shooting the Nazarian family recently in the Angeles Crest Forest. This family is amazing and so full of life and laughter. Their daughter Emma was the most patient, cooperative child I believe I've ever shot - so present with me [and the camera] and so willing to smile and be so happy. Romik and Hera are the sweetest couple, so full of laughter and love. We were so happy to be up in the mountains shooting with the beautiful wildflowers and having an excellent time snapping away with this awesome family. Don't they look like fun?? I am so thankful I had the opportunity to shoot the Nazarian family! Enjoy all the fun photos. To see any of the photos larger, simply click on the photo you'd like. 



If you want to book a photo shoot in the Southern California area [or out of state], don't hesitate to email me at: laylisamimi [at] gmail.com

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