Fall photo sessions

I am so happy to be back in Colorado, in a state with seasons and beautiful fall colors. The golden colors and fallen leaves make wonderful backdrops. I had the pleasure of recently photographing a couple fall portrait sessions.

The first was a family photo session with an old coworker from the Times-Call, her husband and their beautiful little girl, Perry. It had all the normal challenges of working with a child her age and all the fun little unexpected moments.

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It was so fun to catch up with Rachel and her family.

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The second was senior photos for my friend’s son. It is a very different type of photo session when the subject takes direction! These were done a couple weeks later in Longmont. I had Taylor choose a location that meant something to him, so we went to a state park that he often fishes in. I was honored to document such a landmark event in this young man’s life.

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His parents came along and I took a few shots of them as well, much to his dismay because they were wearing Bronco’s shirts. Taylor is not a Bronco’s fan. He was a good spot about it though, It is too bad he didn’t have his team’s jersey with him to get a real rivalry photo.

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This last one is the one Taylor chose for his yearbook photo. I am glad it was one that was taken in a memorable spot, right where he often fishes. I wish Taylor all the best in his senior year and future endeavors.

Happy Fall everyone! Hopefully soon I will get those Iceland and Japan photos up. They were both very photo-rich places and I can’t wait to have the time to finish my edits.

Canyonlands and Arches National Parks Utah

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Little by little I am getting through editing the photos from the amazing trips we were lucky enough to take this past Spring and Summer. I will start with the one we took in April to Utah. This area is so striking. It looks other-worldly.

We began with a one night camping spot in Fruita, Colorado. It was a weekend night, so we felt we needed a reservation, and frankly this spot was the closest we could get to Moab with a reservation. It also broke up the drive nicely and allowed us to get an early start the next day. The site itself was nothing too special, but we did get some pretty skies as the sun was setting.

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The next day we set out to find a first come first serve campsite heading into Moab. As you drive toward Moab, there are a ton of campsites that are all first come first serve along 128. If you are there on a weekday or get an early enough start on a weekend like we did, you can snag a good site. The only trick is that you need to make the choice of whether to grab a good one when you see it or try your luck at getting closer to Moab. We lucked out with a great one by the Colorado River about 20 minutes outside of Moab in a campsite called Hittle Bottom.

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After setting up camp, we set out to Arches National Park. It has very impressive rock formations, but overall was not our favorite national park. We are certainly glad we went, but it was just very crowded. It felt a bit like the Disney World of national parks.

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That night was a beautiful star gazing night and we enjoyed our campsite. I really didn’t have the proper equipment with me for star photography, but I placed my camera on the ground and took a few photos that way.

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In the morning we drove over to Canyonlands National Park for a fabulous hike. I decided not to bring my big camera on this hike and just used my iPhone. I am sure I could have gotten creative with the big camera, but my iPhone did a pretty good job at capturing the scenery and it was nice to not have the extra weight for once.

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It was a fun hike with a lot of technical aspects. I would definitely do this hike again. It was in The Needles section of Canyonlands.

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While we were in Canyonlands, we stopped by the visitor’s center to obtain an overnight camping permit for the park. The Needles area was full, but we were able to get a permit for Island in the Sky, one of the other areas of Canyonlands. We stayed in the same campsite outside Moab again that night and then packed up our things to go backpacking the next day. It was like a reverse backpacking trip. We started in the late afternoon by hiking into a canyon and then the next day we had to hike back out of the canyon.

Here is day one, hiking into the canyon.

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We set up our tent in the dried up river bed, as the ranger had suggested.

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As the sun went down, we sat down to eat under the pictured rock-face. We almost put our chair on top of a beautiful flower we swore we had not seen earlier. We realized it was a night blooming flower, the Tufted Evening-Primrose.

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It was super windy that night. We were basically in a giant sandstorm. Luckily we managed to fall asleep and woke up to this gorgeous sight.

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Our Primrose remained open as long as a shadow was cast over it from the rock-face.

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The sun was rising quickly, so we began our hike out. We spotted several huge lizards on our way out.

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We made it out! The hike out was actually not as hard as anticipated. It was such a unique backpacking trip and such a cool memory.

Literally as soon as the car was in sight it began hailing! We could not have timed it better. It not only meant that we didn’t have to hike in the hail, but it also meant that I was able to take some awesome weather photos looking over another canyon in Island in the Sky. We usually want perfect weather for vacation, but many of the unique nature photos are not taken on a sunny afternoon. These photos truly look like another planet. It was breathtaking. I will just let them speak for themselves as words truly don’t do them justice. This was a luck of timing. I am so glad I had my equipment with me.

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I love that my camera was able to pick up the streaks of hail falling into the canyon and the idyllic light cast on the rocks.

This giant crow was perched near our car, hail falling around him.

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Speaking of weather, we continued to see a variety of weather as we headed home.

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The next few are photos I plan to use in my “From the Window” series. I have photos from around the world for this and I really want to put it together. I hope to find the time soon. I really think they have a special feel to them. Perhaps it feels even more like a stollen or fleeting moment in time since they are all caught on the fly. The shot cannot be contemplated long when I compose it and the motion of it’s fleeting nature is often felt in the blurs.

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Once we reached Colorado, it began snowing. The landscape and mood look totally different from Utah. It was a sight to see.

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Next up…Iceland! I have been editing those photos for a while and I think I will break the blog up into regions.

Baby Calvin!

I had so much fun photographing my friend and coworker’s new baby Calvin, with his family, on his fourth day of life. He is just precious! This is also the first formal photo session I have done in a while and I am so happy to be getting back into it.

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As with any newborn photo session, more time was spent calming Calvin down then actually photographing him. We began the session with photos of him alone in a basket and on a knitted blanket. You wouldn’t even know he was fussy from the images.

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Next I captured some moments of Calvin with his parents, which are often some of the most touching images from a newborn session, and this was no exception.

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After some with a plain background, we did a few in the bedroom, where we included the fourth family member, Jazz.

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Jazz was so good. I love the way the photos with Calvin and Jazz turned out. So precious!

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And of course I got a few of the whole family.

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Jazz got some treats and was excused from the photo session. I wrapped up with a few more moments with the parents and baby.

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Welcome to the world little Calvin! A huge congrats to Jaimie and and TJ!

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Maddie Proctor

Evan and I went to New Orleans a couple months ago to meet Maddie, the daughter of our good friends Lee and Alli. I decided to practice taking lifestyle photos of her with them and with Lee’s mom. They didn’t want to have formal newborn photos taken, but enjoyed having early candid moments captured with their daughter.

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Grandma came to watch Maddie while we went to dinner one night.

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Maddie got a little fussy…she looks remarkably like Lee when she cries…

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Evan calmed her down with the guitar briefly, but her parents kept her happy with milk and the calming sounds of traffic.

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Congrats to Lee + Alli. We love little Maddie!!

Harris and Margo

Taking portraits of children is always a challenging task. Lately I have been more interested in doing “lifestyle” family photography. It is about capturing real-life moments at home with the family–the real memories.

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I think they are sweet and in many cases mean more to the parents. I tried this out when I did a photo shoot with our nephew and new niece in Atlanta a few months ago.

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I began my shoot by trying to capture cute moments during a posed photo shoot. I did get some images I am happy with, especially the ones where the kids are just being themselves.

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I also got this sweet moment at the end of the posed photo shoot.

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After that, however, I began just following them around and capturing them in daily life, interacting with their parents, grandma, nanny, uncle Evan and a couple with me (photo credit for those two goes to my husband, Evan). I photographed Harris eating, playing on the bed, playing with the family dog and after his bath. I photographed Margo eating and being cared for by the family. I am really happy with the results and the parents, Nicole and John, loved them.

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I had to snap a couple of the whole family, but the kiddos were tired by this point and we were rushing off to dinner, so they aren’t the best.

I did a similar photo shoot with our good friends and their new baby too, which I will post on my next blog. I also have plans to do the same for a coworker soon. I highly recommend using this approach with kids, whether it is professional photos or your own family. The results can be much more meaningful and unique. Life is funny, messy and unpredictable, especially with children around. It is not neat and perfect like posed professional photos depict it. It is more fun to capture the beauty in the imperfect.

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Colorful Colorado Adventures

Once again it has been a long time since I have updated  my blog. However, inspired by Evan and my most recent camping adventure, I have decided I should post some of the beautiful scenery and wildlife from our travels last summer.

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Since moving back from New Orleans, Evan and I have gotten really into camping, backpacking and hiking and along with that, I have gotten more into nature photography. I will post images from our travels last summer in chronological order. A la aventura.

Our first trip was camping in Rocky Mountain National Park with our good friend Zach and his girlfriend Katrina. We saw moose, bighorn sheep and elk. It was my first time seeing bighorn sheep and moose in the wild ever, as far as I can remember. We saw male, female and baby moose! The elk came right into our campsite.

We car camped and tried out the new equipment we had just gotten from REI, including our new tent and sleeping bags.

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Our next adventure was backpacking for the first time ever with our friends Lee and Alli, who came to visit from New Orleans. We hiked Herman Gulch and camped in a beautiful meadow surrounded by mountains on all sides. The Colorado wildflowers were in full bloom, including our state flower, the Columbine. It was a breathtaking, memorable trip and a complete success even though it was all of our first times. We also got to try out all of our new backpacking gear, including our packs, stove and water filter.

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Once we reached the summit, we began to set up camp. This included filtering water for cooking and drinking from a clear mountain stream. This was an insanely cool experience. There is something so neat about being able to survive out in the mountains with only what you can carry on your back.

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There were Columbine flowers everywhere.

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The views were stunning and as the sun began to set, I couldn’t stop snapping photos of all the amazing colors, wildflowers, sun flares and mountain views.

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We cooked our dehydrated backpacking food, which actually tasted amazing, and settled in for the night. There was a crazy storm, apparently, but I slept through the whole thing.

We hiked back out the next morning. It was an amazing first backpacking experience and we are so glad we got to share the experience with our good friends Lee and Alli!

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Alright, if you are still with me in this long post, our next adventure last summer was Rawah. We went camping with our buddies Jen and Matt. Jen doesn’t love camping, so this was a simple car camping adventure. It was still beautiful, and always nice to be in the mountains with best friends.

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Next we took a trip to the Great Sand Dunes, a unique ecosystem that I grew up visiting. Evan had only been once in college and it snowed, so he really hadn’t yet gotten the full experience.

We car camped the first couple nights and lucked out with a front row spot.

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We were getting better at making fires and using our camping equipment, as well as more creative with our cooking.

The next day we hiked around the dunes some and went on a hike to a waterfall and saw a lovely deer on the way back. It was a fun hike, but the drive to get there almost killed Evan’s car. We really would benefit from a  4 wheel drive car…

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The next day we decided to go backpacking into the dunes. We got a permit and were told to leave toward the end of the day and hike into a bowl, far enough in that we could not see the parking lot. We headed out with a couple other backpacking groups. One couple ridiculously thought they could carry a cooler into the dunes. It was comical to watch. We soon lost sight of all the other hikers. Backpacking into the dunes was a LOT or work. Two steps forward, one step back. The views were amazing and we were hopeful for a beautiful night sky.

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Unfortunately, the wind picked up and suddenly we were caught in a sandstorm.

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We realized that we didn’t have a way to keep the tent up even if we were able to set it up in the wind. Additionally, the sand was painful. It got in Evan’s eyes. We were both wearing sunglasses and headlamps by the end and at one point we were huddled together in a ball. My bandana also blew off of my head and disappeared into the dunes.

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We got further into the dunes then I had ever been before and the view was stunning. It actually looked peaceful, but this photo is misleading.

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At this point I was standing in front of Evan and shouting back to him over the wind, asking whether we should turn back or go forward. The sun was setting and we knew we would be hiking out in the dark. Evan took one of my poles and drew a backwards arrow in the sand. We headed back.

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The photo above does show a stream of sand between us. We were sad to have failed to stay in the dunes, but perhaps we will go back on a calmer night with a different tent some other time. My bandana blew back to me on our way back and is now my lucky bandana. It got dark during our hike out, but we eventually found our way. We had sand in every imaginable place, so we opted to get a hotel room for the night with a jacuzzi bath. This poor flower was surviving somehow in the wind.

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After our failed backpacking attempt in the Great Sand Dunes, we were determined to get another backpacking trip under our belt. We went to Forest Lakes with our friends Zach and Katrina. Zach has really showed us the ropes when it comes to surviving in the wilderness.

We stopped for a break halfway up and set up the hammock, photographed the wildflowers and did a little fishing. We didn’t catch enough for dinner, to say the least.

Once we got to camp, we set up the tents and relaxed. We had a lovely little spot overlooking the lake.

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Dinner was satisfying as usual after the long hike. We even treated ourselves with creme brûlée, which was actually really good!

Then we enjoyed the sunset and Zach and Katrina did more fishing before we all turned in for the night.

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The next day started out beautiful and we enjoyed the camp for a bit longer.

Once we began the hike out, it started to hail. That is crazy Colorado weather for you. It did make for lovely photos with nice, even light and pretty little raindrops on flowers and leaves.

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Our last camping trip of the summer was in Rocky Mountain National Park in Moraine Park. We went with one of my oldest and best friends, Sara, when she was in town from Boston. We could only go for one night, so I didn’t want to go far. I found a campground well rated and amazingly found an available campsite last minute. The ratings for the particular campsite we went to were very high and it just happened to be free for the one night we wanted to go. We liked it so much that I have booked the same site again for September of this year.

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The elk were bugling while we were there and we got to see a giant herd of them.

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The next day we went on a hike, checking another amazing Rocky Mountain National Park hike off our list.

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At the end of the summer (really the beginning of the fall), the crowning jewel of our adventures was hiking our first 14er (14,000 foot mountain), Mt. Bierstadt. It is a thing in Colorado to hike them as Colorado has more of them (58 in total) then any other state. It was hard, but it was worth it. I didn’t take too many photos on the way up, but these two do show the beautiful fall colors coming out.

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The last part was a scramble up these rocks.

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The views from the top made it all worth it. It was crazy how far we could see. The air was so thin up there at 14,060 feet!

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On our way down, we got to enjoy the fall colors more. A beautiful as they were, they were a sign that our summer adventures in Colorado had come to an end.

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And as a final treat, we saw mountain goats on our drive out. Now all I need to see is a bear and I’ll have checked all the major Colorado wildlife boxes!

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Alas our summer adventures for 2016 had come to an end. It was a wonderful first summer back in Colorado. We kept ourselves busy in the fall and winter with train rides, cabins, snowboarding and snowshoeing. We are trying to take advantage of all Colorado has to offer year-round. Now it is summer, 2017 and the mountains await! We will be adding more international travel to our plans this year, however, with Iceland and Japan. We head out to Iceland on July 13 in celebration of our 5 year anniversary. We are renting a camper van and driving around the whole country. It should be a fantastic adventure. With that, I leave the reader with these words: a la aventura – to the adventure! Get outside and find your own adventure in this beautiful world.
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An Indian Rehearsal Dinner in Upstate New York

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One of my good friends, Manisha, got married to her love, Jeremy, in upstate New York over Memorial Day weekend. I have been so busy with my new job and traveling around Colorado (fun camping photos to come soon) that I am behind in updating my blog- very behind. However, I had to post this joyous affair!

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I have always wanted to photograph an Indian wedding.

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There is something so magical in all the colors, traditions and delicious food. Evan and I have had a soft spot for Indian food since we lived in London for a summer.

The day began with a henna lunch for the ladies. We took turns having our palms and arms  painted with henna by two freehand artists. One of them is a professional in India and she did Manisha’s hands and feet. The henna painting ended in a joyous dance in honor of the happy couple. I loved this tradition.

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These were my hands. I messed them up once trying to take photos before they dried, but we fixed it.

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As the afternoon wrapped up, the wedding party changed from one set of colorful clothes into their formal ware for the rehearsal. The rest of us followed suit. Here is the bride in her dress for the evening. She was beautiful.

Here is how Evan and I turned out.

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As guests mingled, I photographed the couple and I was really happy with the results. I could not have picked a better backdrop or time of day. The colors of their outfits really popped and it was easy to capture genuine happiness.

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