Monthly Archives

August 2018

Denmark Travel

Riding a bike through Copenhagen and nearly dying

I stayed with my good friend, Loui Jensen (pronounced Yen-sen), while I was in Copenhagen.

Loui tried to kill me.

Ok no, he didn’t actually try to kill me, but if he had of then he was going about it the right way.

See Loui told me that I couldn’t truly say I had explored Denmark without riding a bicycle through Copenhagen. Well, besides a tiny excursion riding a bike on an Irish island a few years ago, I haven’t ridden a bike since pretty much I was a kid.

Oh, but you never forget how to ride a bike! Yea sure. How about trying to remember how to ride one in Copenhagen traffic????

On top of it, how about trying to remember how to ride it on one that’s so tall, your feet are dangling 6 inches above the ground…when you’re trying to touch the ground. And in flip flops. When it’s raining. Uphills both ways in the snow.

Ok well maybe not that last one, but it was tough. It was somehow a lot tougher than I ever remember a bike being, but I think that’s because the bike was too tall for me. It’s hard remembering how to get your balance on a bicycle when you can’t really stop yourself from falling and when every time you stop, the bike has to fall over before you can get to the ground.

Anyhow, no more complaining because it was an amazing experience.

I eventually started to get the hang of it and, after scaring Loui a few times and myself as well, I began to feel slightly less terrified and enjoy Copenhagen more.

We first went to Loui’s sister’s house to get me a helmet (Loui was pretty sure I was going to die, I think). After that, we went to a huge cemetery near her house where Hans Christian Anderson is buried.

Somehow I expected his grave to be spectacular, Disney level stuff. After all, you’d think the author that basically allowed Disney to be successful would be super honored. Maybe a sign giving some background, a TV display where you could watch a movie about his life, laser light shows and a fog machine. I don’t know what I was expecting. But it was a very simple, unassuming and peaceful site in a rather majestic forest of a cemetery. I don’t know much about Hans Christian Anderson’s life story, but I know I would have liked that spot so hopefully he does too.

After that, we rode our bikes into the city center and around the gorgeous lakes, which are a meter (3 ft) low due to this year’s crazy heat wave in Europe. The lake was beautiful and had such a dramatic view of the Copenhagen skyline behind it.

Loui said people are trying to get the lakes filled in for a park. Man. I can really understand why they’d want to have all that space to be useable, but I really love seeing water. Maybe that’s less important to a city located in a country surrounded by so much water and so easily accessible. Afterall, it only takes 6 hours to drive from one side of Denmark to another. I’m from the desert so water is heaven.

Loui took me back up to Stephanskirken where I met another good friend, Niklas. Niklas and Loui were both volunteers at the ranch. We had a great lunch at Cafe Taxa in the “hipster” part of Copenhagen. You could tell it was the hipster section because there were coffeehouses everywhere lol.

After that, I considered riding the bike back to the city center, but decided to stop risking my life and go back to the apartment and I’m glad I did. Now it’s nice to just sit on the balcony and enjoy the cool wind, try to soak up some cold in my bones before I go back to the oven-like temperatures of the California desert. And now that I’m cold, I’m going to make a cup of hot tea which becomes oh so enjoyable snuggled under a blanket in the cool Danish sunshine after surviving a bike ride through Copenhagen.

Ireland Photography Travel

A para’normal’ couple’s shoot in Belfast, Ireland

I photographed a ghost.

Even stranger, I did a couples session of a live woman who is married to this ghost.

And even stranger still, the ghost is a dead Haitan pirate from 300 years ago.

photographing ghosts northern ireland belfast

Amanda Teague feeling her ghostly husband’s energy

The Ghostly Husband

The ghost’s name is Jack Teague which has called some people to say that Amanda Sparrow Large Teague is making this ghost up from the character Johnny Depp played in Pirates of the Carribean.  Amanda was a Johnny Depp pirate impersonator before she met this ghost, but she says she’s fully aware that the Pirates of the Caribbean is a fictional story and that she believes it was her interest in this chapter of history that attracted the ghost Jack to her in the first place.

Setting up the shoot in Belfast, Ireland

I flew to Dublin from California and took the train to Belfast, Northern Ireland amidst unseasonably warm Irish weather.  There were dramatic clouds in the sky, but no rain and not even a need for a sweater (or should I say jumper).

Amanda (and Jack) staring towards the ocean that he loves so much

 

Amanda had recently gone through surgery and so she didn’t feel up to traveling far.  Amazing sites like Dun Luce Castle or the Giant’s Causeway were off the list of backdrops.  After some research I found this amazing little park in Belfast called Hazelbank Park.  It had an amazing combination of forested area and beach.  I thought that was perfect for this ghostly couple’s shoot and I was so happy when I arrived.

 

Stepping together through the Irish forest

Meeting the ghost’s wife

I was surprised when a blond got out of the taxi at the park.  Amanda was wearing a bright blond wig instead of her normal dark brown hair.  She told me that she wanted to portray witches in a different light that they could be blond instead of brunettes.

 

photographing ghosts northern ireland woman married to dead pirate

Jack was sitting next to her reaching out to her. Can you see him?

 

We sat down to talk, Amanda and myself and two friends whom I’d recently met in Belfast visiting for Pride Week.  I admit I was a little scared of doing this photo session so when they offered to accompany me, I jumped for it.  Plus it’s nice to have someone hold your camera equipment haha.

 

Our first chat and learning about the ghost husband

Amanda told us all sorts of fascinating things about her relationship with Jack the pirate ghost husband.  Some of them a little scary.  She said there are good spirits as well as bad ones that you don’t want to get mixed up with and that you needed to test spirits before you interact with them.  I wondered what I was getting myself mixed up with.

 

Amanda told us that Jack’s energy used the candle as a focus point.

 

As weird as it was, if Amanda had been talking about any other subject, I would have thought she was perfectly sane.  I actually have a doctorate in marital and family therapy and there was nothing about amanda that said ‘crazy.’  That doesn’t necessarily mean that she is really married to a ghost, but I found her rationality particularly interesting (and relieving).

 

 

After talking for probably a good hour about their relationship, I suggested we take some pictures.

Posing a ghost and his wife

To be honest, I have been so nervous over this shoot that I could barely sleep the night before.  I’ve been researching couples poses and trying to figure out how to shoot them when the husband is invisible!  To make it even worse, Amanda said that she can’t see Jack and he isn’t really there in a body form.  He’s an energy that she senses.

 

Searching for Jack’s energy

 

There went all my ideas out the window.

Just wanted to do a normal couple’s shoot

I wanted to make sure this was a real couple’s shoot.  I wasn’t trying to stage something that highlighted the ghost part of it in a sensational way.  I could have just said things like pretend that you have your arm around him, pretend that he’s kissing your cheek etc., but that wasn’t how she said the relationship worked.

 

A ghostly kiss?

 

According to Amanda, Jack isn’t a physical being.  She can neither see him nor feel him as you would a regular human being.  He is just energy, a force or a feeling.  He doesn’t have eyes for her to gaze into or a waist she can put her arm around.  This made it really difficult for me to think of how to make a connection between the two of them.  Also whenever I would tell her to try to connect with him, she became very internal, closed her eyes trying to feel him.

 

 

At times it seemed simple for her to connect with him.  He would say things to her, like evidently he didn’t like the blond wig she had on.  Sometimes it seemed like they were bantering.   Sometimes she would have small quiet conversations about how he was going to stand.  Other times it seemed like he wasn’t there at all.

 

I found that many of her photos seemed sad and wistful.  Jack was sitting next to her in this picture.

 

To say it was difficult to pose them would be an understatement.

But overall, I wanted this to be a normal experience.  I wanted her (and him) to have a couple’s session like I would do with any other lovers on the earthly realm.

 

A laughing exchange on the Irish Antrim coast

My Thoughts

At the end of the day, I think I captured some good photographs that really tell an interesting story.  To me, the photos seem sad and wistful.  They really changed my perception of Amanda and I have become hesitant to post this as the crazy and sensational story that I was first expecting to do.  Amanda is a real person and she has been through a lot in her life and it pains me to think that so many people are going to get a laugh at her through my photography.

 

Laughing, crying, feeling like the rest of us

 

When we went down to the beach to photograph, the beauty of the Irish Antrim coastline and the soft lapping of the waves called for a natural pause.  We all sat and watched the water and the seagulls and just talked about life.  Amanda told us of her children and her past relationships, of bullying and of losing her son.

 

A life story to tell

 

Amanda talked of her experience as a witch and the girls accompanying me talked of their experience of being in a homosexual relationship.  At one point, Amanda turned towards me and asked “Are you spiritual?  What’s your story?”  I had been quietly listening up to this point and hesitantly spoke up.  “I’m a Christian.”

 

Jack’s candle, wedding ring and compass

 

Everyone looked at me with shocked expressions and I shrugged.  “Real christianity,” I said “is being able to love and respect others whether you agree with the way they live their life or not.”  Jesus sat down with sinners (and tax collectors which let’s be honest is even worse) and shared a meal which I assume included laughter and conversation and life stories.  I doubt very much that he sat down and frowned at them and told them everything they did wrong.  I feel it’s my job to show love to others whether I agree with them or not.

 

A couple’s stroll down the beaches of Ireland

 

Which is why I hope that you who are reading this can find it in your heart to respond with love rather than criticism and hilarity.

My goal for my photography is to show the heart of the person in the photos.  Whether you believe Amanda is making this up or is crazy or is telling the truth, she is a real person with feelings and thoughts and a life story.  Please enjoy her story and my photographs.