Foreword 002: Codi Ann Thomsen


"If we affirm one single moment, we thus affirm not only ourselves but all existence. For nothing is self-sufficient, neither in us ourselves nor in things; and if our soul has trembled with happiness and sounded like a harp string just once, all eternity was needed to produce this one event—and in this single moment of affirmation all eternity was called good, redeemed, justified, and affirmed."  Friedrich Nietzsche


I often find myself thinking of the passage of time. If I'm honest, the ever-forward progress of life fascinates and terrifies me -- that any given moment, good or bad, no matter what, will give way to another is at once a curse and a salvation.

What lesson is there in this awareness? I can't pretend to know with any kind of certainty, but maybe it's a call to appreciate the details of this exact moment, to commit to be present, because it's the only one we can act on. The only loophole (of sorts) in this onward march of time is nostalgia, which seems to be brought on by details: a nuance of a sound, a splash of a scent, a shade of a movement. 

It's this captured sense of nostalgia that draws me to the photography of Codi Ann Thomsen, and prompted me to reach out to her with some questions. She recently transitioned from Chicago to Sacramento, and is the Founder/Creative Director of West Heritage (if artisanship is important to you, I highly recommend a visit).

Your photos have a quiet and intimate quality to them. What is it you're looking for behind the lens?

The moments that I try to capture aren't exactly sought out but noticed in passing. Truthfully – and while the nature of my relationship with photography is ever-changing – I don't usually have my camera in hand with the intention of grabbing anything and everything but instead, pull it out in these moments where I am deeply moved by what is in front of me. Some weeks, it's frequent; documentation is steady. Others, it takes the late afternoon light shining on a friend's shoulder or drastic shadows casted by the architecture around me that pulls me out of chaos and back into gratitude. Maybe this just means I'm of the melancholy-sentimental sort, but my headspace is often quiet and I think my photographs are simply an extension of that.

What activity makes you feel most like yourself?

Two things in particular – both of which come back to the same thing: a love for people. The first would be quiet moments reading and writing handwritten letters. The second would be enjoying the company of those I care about. (My love languages are painfully obvious here.)

There's a true beauty in getting to share stories through letter-writing. To me, receiving a letter in the mail from a long-distance friend feels like a warm embrace. I make it a point to set aside time to read in peace, to write in a clear mind. It's the same way I try to set my phone aside to truly be in the company of those I care about, and this time allows me to breathe and think and share who I am. I've been doing it for nearly a decade now and cannot imagine myself without this simple but necessary routine.

Likewise, moments in person with a friend or loved one. Laughing, giving gifts, hugging, car rides, long heart-to-hearts at night – I so often find myself out of body and appreciating the fact that any one person chooses to share parts of their life with me to any capacity. People are remarkable, fascinating, terribly strange and often frustrating, but beautiful. Opening yourself up to be loved and loving others is so worthwhile; it's everything – I feel most myself when I'm remembering that.

Can you tell me about a formative memory from your childhood?

I'm laughing to myself as I'm writing this all but my childhood, in hindsight, was terribly strange. There were dozens upon dozens of things that have made me into the woman I am today – some devastating experiences, some silly, some bizarre; most of which I prefer to chat about over a glass of whiskey. But I'll say that I was always emotional, quiet in nature and creative. Whether I was picking lilacs for my teachers in elementary school during recess, hand-making books or drawing, teaching myself sign language or solving puzzles, it's all a part of it.

Is there anything you're struggling with or trying to let go of?

I've recently located from Chicago to Sacramento for a handful of reasons and with that comes a whole mess of letting go. Bad habits, negative mindsets, poor lifestyle choices, different perspectives; how I treat people, how I treat myself. Everything is well in the process of being let go and renewed. Thankfully, this means that I'm in a better place than I've ever been but with that, as predicted, comes a lot of growing pains.

What makes you smile?

Oh, so much of everything! The mannerisms of people, when the light shines into a room just right, the smell of freshly brewed coffee, when a friend walks in the door. It's all like clockwork and as I'm learning, you have to be open to letting simple things overwhelm you with joy, or it all feels sour and cold. Happiness found in the little everyday bits are just as important as anything else, I think, and I'm most often found smiling at something these days.

Photo Credit: Codi Ann Thomsen
Photo #1: Spencer Backman
Photo #5: Monique Martinez

Written by Clayton Fuller