SXSW : Grand Canyon and Valley of Fire


When we planned our trip originally we were going to go to the Grand Canyon and also Antelope Canyon. A week out from the trip we decided to skip the GC and instead hit up Zion in Utah. In my next post I’ll tell you more about how glad we are that we went straight on to Utah but since the GC was was only another 40 miles on our way from Petrified Forest to Vegas we decided to go ahead and make a little detour and include the GC on this trip. While driving the long empty road to the South Rim the sun was out and we were excited to see one of the 2nd most visited national park in the US. Well when we got to the park entrance it was snowing just a little and by the time we got to the first spot to actually see the canyon it was snowing so heavy that visibility was down to about 10 feet. Even though we couldn’t see into the canyon at this point you could still feel the vastness of the massive hole in front of us.Β At one point the snow stopped for about 5 minutes and we got to see a glimpse of the canyon!

After driving around the park for about 45 minutes we realized that we weren’t going to have much luck seeing the canyon and in fact it was snowing so heavy that several inches of snow were already on the roads and we didn’t feel safe driving on them (we are from the south and we don’t do snow, especially in a Prius). Honestly we were kind of excited to see the GC in snow because it was different than how most get to see it. We will most definitely go back and spend some time at the bottom exploring.

From the Grand Canyon we drove to Vegas for our photography conference. While in Vegas we didn’t take a single picture. We’ve done Vegas before and neither of us are huge fans of the city (sooooo many people!!). We spent 5 days inside the MGM watching print judging, taking classes, and catching up with photographer friends who live in other parts of the country and world. As much as we love the learning experience I wish it was in a different city… But while in Vegas we escaped for the day to the Valley of Fire.

The Valley of Fire was pretty spectacular! Confession, we didn’t take a camera with us to the Valley of Fire and we wish we had! We decided to go on the spur of the moment between classes and our cameras got locked up in our friend’s house who we were staying with… Oops. So all the images we have from the Valley were from our cell phones, thankfully iPhones have come a long way πŸ™‚ The red rocks of this park are seriously amazing! It is so crazy how the earth says right here the rocks are brown and ten feet over I think the rocks should be red. Kind of mind blowing if you ask me. I wish we had a little bit more time in Valley of Fire so I guess we’ll just have to escape Vegas for a little bit longer next time we are there for the convention πŸ™‚

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Oh hey a little bit of the Grand Canyon. The most we saw of it!
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I love the transition in color in the rocks!
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SXSW : Petrified Forest


From White Sands we journeyed on to Petrified Forest. The drive through western New Mexico and east Arizona was pretty spectacular. At one point we we watched a storm roll into the valley. Seeing the clouds pouring over the mountains and rushing to the valley floor left us speechless. Had we not been in a rush to get to Petrified Forest we would have stayed and done a time lapse…

When we go to the Petrified Forest we really didn’t know what to expect. On our last big national park tour (Badlands, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons) we heavily researched the parks and knew exactly what we were going to see. This trip we wanted to be a little bit more surprised with the adventures. We knew there would be petrified trees but the amount of color and layers in the badlands (a type of dry terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded by wind and water) were mind blowing. We did a short trail called the Blue Mesa and never before have we felt like we were completely on a different plant. A storm was moving in while we were hiking and the ominous clouds added to the mystery of the place. Petrified Forest is definitely out of the way and smaller than most national parks but it is a place that everyone needs to visit at least once in their life. Having been to the Badlands in South Dakota I was a little nervous that Petrified Forest wouldn’t be worth seeing but the drastic colors that are on the Blue Mesa trail make it definitely worth while!

And there are the petrified logs. The fact that the whole area previously was a forest ages ago and now all that is left are small sections of trees that are now stone is pretty strange. If you stand there looking at the logs for too long it kind of blows your mind trying to comprehend what happened.

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Storm coming over the mountains.

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First view of Petrified Forest badlands.

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Blue Mesa trail. I thought it more purple than blue personally πŸ™‚

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Part of my Black Dress series.

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Badland layers in The Painted Desert.


Petrified log.

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Horrible Iphone quality image of our campsite for Petrified Forest. This was the only campsite where we weren’t inside a national park. This was probably the shadiest place we’ve ever stayed and made for some great stories… as in Philip decided that we should sleep with the wood chopping ax and pepper spray. But we lived through the night and no one tried to kill us!

SXSW road trip : White Sands

At the end of February we embarked on a half month road trip across the southwest. The main part of the trip was a photography convention in Las Vegas and instead of flying out we decided to drive and incorporate as many national and state parks as possible. We did five days of park adventuring, five days in Vegas, and then another five days of being out in nature. It was seriously one of the best trips we have taken together and I wish we could do a trip like this once a month. Since we did so much I thought I would break the trip up into a couple post πŸ™‚

After driving 1,110 miles through all of Arkansas, Texas (which west Texas, literally is the flattest and emptiest place in the US), and half of New Mexico we arrived at White Sands. Coming out of the mountains and seeing White Sands 20+ miles away in the valley was pretty breathtaking; all you see is pure white in the middle of brown mountains. Once we were inside of White Sands we were pretty speechless. We pretty much had the entire park to ourselves and we ran around for hours exploring the vast sand dunes. One of the neatest things we experienced at the dunes was the silence. We got out of our car and it was absolutely silent; you could hear the wind blowing ever so silently and the individual grains of sand moving across the dunes. Like little kids we went sledding on the dunes and had a blast being carefree. Probably the biggest highlight of White Sands had to be running around the dunes at sunset together trying to get the perfect shot of us. For this trip I did a personal project (seen here) where I did self portraits in a black dress at some of the parks we visited. After I got a few shots in my dress Philip decided that we need images of both of us dressed up in the dunes. Like I was going to turn down a chance to have great images of the two of us πŸ™‚ These sunset images of us are some of my favorite ever. Got to love a tripod, timer, and epic sunset!
And here is a little look at our time in White Sands. Enjoy!





















The Black Dress Series

It’s been over a year since I last posted here. This site was designed to be a place for my personal photography work and clearly by the lack of activity I haven’t been doing any personal work. There are a couple of reasons I abandoned my personal work.

During 2014 I went through a really dark time in my personal life. We walked through a pretty intense situation with some dear friends of ours and that left me in a downward spiral (secondary trauma as my therapist explained it). I’ve always been a strong independent woman and felt like I could weather any storm that came my way. Seeing myself come apart during this situation was earth shattering to me. I lost confidence in who I was and started to feel like a failure. By nature I am perfectionist and failure is my kryptonite. I kept getting deeper and deeper in self loathing and depression. Everything I tried I felt like I couldn’t achieve the level of perfection that I wanted and felt like a massive failure. Halfway through projects I would give up then beat myself up because I failed at achieving my goal. I didn’t have the energy mentally to keep putting myself through this emotional roller coaster, so I just stopped trying.

I knew this wasn’t healthy for me. I’m not going to pour out all the details, that’s what my therapist is for :), but you get the picture. I knew I needed something to kick me out of this dark place. I needed to go out and just try. Philip and I had a massive road trip planned for this spring. The main goal of the trip was to go to a photographers convention in Vegas but we tagged on some national parks to the trip so that Philip could do some landscape work. I love landscapes but 1. he is better at it than me and 2. we don’t need two shots of the same landscape, especially if his is better. I figured that this would be the perfect opportunity for me to start a new personal project.

I’m not going to lie, before this trip I was completely anxious about trying this new project. I thought I would completely fail. Let me fast forward a little now. While in a class (taught by Lanny and Erika Mann) during the photography convention, halfway through our trip, I had an awakening of sorts. These three statements hit me hard:

If you aren’t failing, you aren’t reaching far enough…
Success exist by going from failure to failure…
Being comfortable with failure leads to discovery…

Like I mentioned, failure is my kryptonite so to willing want it in my life is pretty foreign to me. If you look at the work of the Manns work you’ll see that they are at the top of their game and making some epic wins. To hear them so openly talk about how failure is such an important part of their success left me just short of sobbing in the class. For years my perfectionism has literally held me back. I cared too much about looking like I could succeed at everything single thing I tried. Part of the problem is I that am pretty good at most things I try and that just fed my perfectionism. I don’t like others seeing my weaknesses.

I decided, screw it. I sat there and mentally told myself who gives a *&^$ if I fail. What if I just tried and if I fail, I fail? But what if I don’t fail and instead succeed? What is the worst thing that could happen? Would my attempts and possible failures at taking photographs really be that life changing in the long run?

So I put myself out there and set out to at least try a personal project. And here it is, a series of self portraits done in my favorite black dress in some of the places we visited on our trip. For this project I wanted to show my love for both fashion and nature, take portraits that might not be in the most prime lighting situations, and embrace the true feelings I felt in the moment. I told Philip that no matter what I thought of the end results that I was going to force myself to edit the images and put them out there for the world to see, so I could start to get over my fear of failure.

And here you go, my Black Dress Series.


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The Grand Canyon

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Valley of Fire

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