Improbable: Unexpected. Not likely to happen. Events of rare coincidences. Hundred to one. Outside chance. Rare. Slim. Unimaginable. Fanciful. Incredible.

As Madame de Stael once said, “In matters of the heart, nothing is true except the improbable.” And nothing could be more accurate when describing my life or that of my husband’s…and even more so, the life we have created together.

As a young college graduate, it was an improbable moment that changed the trajectory of my life and sent me on a plane heading to Aspen, Colorado. And it was another improbable moment that dropped my husband, Jeffrey Aaronson, onto my doorstep and launched me into a career I never could have imagined. And yet another improbable moment that inspired Jeffrey to trade in his job as a biochemist and cancer research specialist to become a photojournalist.

Our worlds blissfully collided more than twenty years ago from this series of unlikely events, and soon after inspired us to begin working side-by-side in the field of photography. As an international photojournalist, Jeffrey traveled around the world on assignment for many of the nation’s top publications—everyone from Time, Newsweek and the National Geographic Society to Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone and The New York Times.

Time Magazine CoverNewsweek Magazine CoverNational Geographic Book CoverSmithsonian Magazine CoverGEO Magazine CoverNewsweek Magazine CoverTime Magazine CoverNewsweek Magazine CoverTime Magazine CoverTime Magazine Cover

While Jeffrey was off gallivanting around the globe on assignments, I ran our busy stock photo agency, Still Media (formerly named Network Aspen before relocating from Aspen to Santa Barbara). As Director of the agency, I focused on all the marketing, sales and promotion, and also oversaw the staff and coordinated assignments. On a few occasions I also managed to jump on planes with Jeffrey, learning first-hand the challenges involved in not only getting an assignment done, but getting it done well, and on time.

Photo of Jeffrey Aaronson taking picturesPassport scan

During those two decades, Jeffrey flew over a million miles crisscrossing the globe in pursuit of photographic stories. His passports (all four of them) quickly became colorful art pieces, with stamps from every corner of the world. From the shores of the Pacific to the high peaks of the Himalayas to the heart of the Sahara Desert—he pursued Komodo Dragons in Indonesia, boated down the Yangtze River in China, outmaneuvered the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and ventured into some of the most remote regions of the world. He also photographed everything from China’s Democracy Movement in Tiananmen Square to Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in South Africa to life behind North Korea’s Iron Curtain.

Photo of Moroccan woman in a burkaSouth African woman with new flagPhoto of Japanese woman in Kimono, TokyoPhoto of Kim Il Sung statue in North KoreaPhoto of Evzones in Athens, GreecePhoto of Buddhist monk in Lhasa, TibetPhoto of boy with AK-47 in CambodiaPhoto of Muslims praying in VietnamPhoto of Moscow, RussiaPhoto of the American SouthwestPhoto of Rice Paddies in Sichuan, China

We shared both an exhilarating and exhausting life—one that was not only fast-paced and unpredictable, but also deeply gratifying. We breathed news, cultures and world events and felt the pulse of the media through the many talented editors we worked with on a daily basis.

Even though it wasn’t unusual for Jeffrey to be on the road for weeks, if not months, at a time. we still managed to live a completely normal, deeply romantic, and rich life together. Well, normal, I suppose if you consider it normal for a wife to count her lucky stars that her husband wasn’t arrested or killed by an oppressive regime. Or that the airplane he was flying on didn’t go down during a hell-on-earth thunderstorm in the Himalayas, or the duct tape on the antiquated Russian helicopter in Cambodia didn’t fall apart in mid-air. Or simply that he didn’t contract malaria or dysentery while working in one of the many hot spots of the world like Africa or East Timor. Or if you consider it normal to master the fine art of suitcase-packing and airport departure routines, or learning how to speak to each other in code when communicating via phone, fax or email in countries in which it wasn’t safe to talk openly.

Portrait of Jeffrey and Becky AaronsonThis blog, The Art of an Improbable Life, is meant to be a head-spinning look back at the simply complicated, fortuitous, improbable life Jeffrey and I have shared  in the world of art, photography, writing, and more recently, parenthood. On many levels it’s a love letter to my husband, a celebration in words and pictures of all the extraordinary moments we’ve experienced together, and those he’s captured through his lens as a photographer; and all the stories he’s planted deep in my heart after coming home from assignments in far-flung locations.

My blog will contain moments from THEN that are worth re-telling—particularly some of the improbable moments that helped Jeffrey create several of his most important photographs—and moments unfolding NOW in the lives of two creative types trying to chisel out time to write, create contemporary fine art photo projects, and raise a young child with the same amount of love and tenderness they’ve always given each other and their work.

Thanks for joining me on this journey. I hope you enjoy the adventure as we travel to foreign lands and navigate through exotic cultures and historic world events. I also hope you’ll join in the conversation by posting your comments, questions or thoughts.


24 thoughts on “Improbable

  1. This wonderful blog is a peek into the wonderful world two people have come to know as “life”. What an adventure for all the readers to join in the fun and journey along with you both. Major Kudos to the whole family.

    Best wishes, Ann

  2. Don’t you feel a sense of loss when you travel internationally now? Why has the ability to create art through travel been stolen from us by a computer chip implanted in passport paper?

    Seriously, though, keep it coming – I’m all smiles :)

  3. Dear Becky,

    I have been a fan of yours & Jeffrey’s since the first day you read your piece in class.
    This was long before “The Corn Farts” episode. Always look forward to what’s been happening in your life. Congrats on getting to the mountain top! You and Jeff deserve a long and peaceful vacation on a tropical island-say, Fiji perhaps.
    Love and Hugs all around,
    Pat Murdy
    P.S. Unfortunately I’ll be unable to join Cork’s class for the Sept. session but will try again in the Winter session.

  4. Becky,
    You are such a talented, multifaceted, amazing person!
    Good luck to you both in all your life endeavors! And I can’t wait to run with you again to hear the stories in person!

  5. It is amazing how one blog post can make one reflect back on thier own career and quickly realize what a suck-fest it has been slaving in the silicon mines of the semiconductor industry for 22 years. Perhaps I will sign-up for two more years. Your words always provoke interesting thoughts, keep them coming.

  6. Congratulations!! You are a true inspiration. Thank you for including me on your fabulous journey of life!

  7. Bravo, Becky!!! It’s wonderful!!! I’m so proud of you. Hope you’ll be in class, anxious to know who designed your website, or did you do this too? :D Is this a forerunner to your book? I have so many questions . . . Again, Bravo!!!

    Love, Nancy

    • Nancy, you are so kind with your words! Thank you! I did design this site, which has been an adventure in itself! I’ll most likely see you in a couple weeks (if I can squeeze it all in). I’d love to catch up and see how everything is going with your book!

  8. Congratulations Becky! What a beautiful blog and an inspirational life. I look forward to reading your posts. I would love to hear more about the technical and logistical challenges of capturing these beautiful images.

  9. WHOOO HOOOO, love it, Becky! What a beautiful blog. I will be a faithful follower! So proud of you and what a gift to give your daughter. xo ~Krista

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