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  • Writer's pictureMollye Miller

Party Harder

Updated: May 13, 2022

There's something about entering a party that makes me feel wild and unafraid.

Something about the music and the soft lights.

The ancient custom of having parties, of throwing them, of being invited to them.

As a photographer, I have the very best of both worlds at a party: I get invited to the party but don't have to be a guest at the party.

All social rules and musts and obligations to engage go out the proverbial door. I simply get to 1) show up, 2) observe, 3) make art.

I also get to:

1) climb on things

2) eavesdrop.

3) edge my way in between people to get a shot

4) leave any small conversation at will to take a picture

5) choose not to talk

6) stare at people

7) watch people dance, and

8) wear comfortable shoes

I observe a party as a psychologist, a well-intentioned stalker, a nameless accessory, an anthropologist, an artist, a nobody.

It's bliss.

Lindsey asked me to photograph her 10-year anniversary party at the new Line Hotel in Washington, D.C. I wanted this job very very much and I got the gig.

Since Lindsey and Randall had never had a formal or informal party to celebrate their wedding, this was it.

Party goers loosen their minds and go full joy with glasses of flowing red and white wine, local IPA's, gimlets, Old Fashions and a multitude of other pretty drinks in long stemmed glasses. Not that they needed any alcohol. A palpable joy spread through the mezzanine like clouds building for a thunderstorm. Gathering after such a long time…

...with the couple's closest friends and extended family from around the country, with some friends they hadn't seen in more than 10 years. They had the entire mezzanine of The Line Hotel, one of the coolest and prettiest new hotels in D.C.

Refurbished from an old church into a modern hotel, it is fit with gorgeous turn of the century bars, a quintessentially cute and New York-ish coffee shop (including $14 sandwiches) and fun vestigial remnants of the church, like pews around the dining room tables.

Since Lindsey and Randall had never had a formal or informal party to celebrate their wedding, this was it.

Free, uninhibited, allowed.

Wild, bottomless glee, at least for a night. For them and for me.

Disclosure/story time: I didn’t used to feel at ease at parties. I used to be shy and a little timid and confused on how to talk to people or join a conversation. I was excited to be part of something but also a little freaked out.

Then I traveled a lot, showed up to places and hung out with countless people I didn't know. Over and over again I proved to myself there wasn’t anything to be afraid of. I learned that the unknown (the social unknown, societal black hole) was more liberating than it was stifling. I embraced awkwardness.

I lived to make micro “mistakes," like speaking too familiarly to someone, like I’d known them for years, and unintentionally making them feel uneasy. I also get to attempt to fix the mistakes or at least patch them up with a transparent confession that I'm awkward, that I'm a creative and an artist...that most of what I do and say doesn't make a ton of sense to others unless you know me and accept me. Usually that dissolve the confusion.

Parties, and basically any social situation I entered - from job interviews to graduate school classes, to friends’ birthday parties - became an opportunity to let go.

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