Zion & Friendships

When your struggling to get through an East Coast Winter and your husband suggests you leave town and visit your best friend, in Utah, YOU GO!


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There are two really wonderful parts to this weekend escape.  

I will start with with the 1st: Jess

Jess and I have been friends for nearly 12 years.  Throughout those years she has become someone I can trust my life with.  She knows me so well, that sometimes it scares me.  ( in a good way )

But our relationship didn't start as besties.  It was a slow brew.  In time our hangs developed beyond getting together and coloring  each other's hair or having coffee dates.

I truly feel like this really occurred when life got real!  Between Jess having a spouse that was in the army and overseas, and then becoming a new mom;  I was simultaneously going through some big life changes as well.  I was newly married and just got the news that my father-in-law was diagnosed with brain cancer.     SO...Life set in real quick.  And all of the struggles of balancing emotions, relationships, and responsibilities were in full effect.  But the beautiful part of 'life happening' is what comes out of it when life slows down a bit for you to see.

And one of those beautiful things was a friendship that I hold dearest to my heart and continue to nurture and be amazed by it. 

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This beautiful person and I have been through so much together and seeing her grow and change into who she is today is inspiring and beautiful to see.  We are each other's cheerleaders and support on any given day.  

Now, this may not stand out to you if you have been lucky enough to have friends like these in your life, and always have.  But for me, I had always bonded more with the boys.  I had girlfriends come in and out of my life.  It always bummed me out, and I couldn't understand it.  But nonetheless, I accepted it.  

Then I met Jess.  And she is pretty damn great.

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The second part of this weekend escape was that I was in desperate need of some solid hiking and mountains.  The bonus was being able to actually share that with Jess.

I love hiking! I love the mountains. I love getting my body moving.  I love standing at the top of a cliff and taking pictures of the world below me. I love slowing down and really seeing around me.  Being awake in the moment.  And I love that I can share this with my best friend.  

         Rejuvenating. 


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 Angels Landing

Angels Landing

I highly recommend a visit to Zion National Park  if you have never been.

It is such a magically beautiful place with a mix of terrain and textures.  The colors are so warm and soothing and hikes at all levels.  

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We personally had our eye on Angels Landing. We were checking the weather up to the hour before hitting the trail head.

It is a difficult climb with multiple switch backs and a narrow ledge to climb to the top. Just a few days before we headed to Zion a young girl had fallen to her death.  Sadly she was not the first who lost her life hiking on this trail.  So, as much as we wanted adventure, we wanted to be smart! 

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And this my friends, is one of the many reasons why I adore this human being ------ >

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We spent a total of two nights and 3 days in Zion.  And my favorite spot was this nook that was onto of a hike but on the other side of the lookout ( where most people stopped and then hiked back down).  But, when we got to the top we started to wonder around and explore.  Then Jess found this awesome little hideaway stone.  We spent so much time here reflecting and appreciating that we were able to be together and have this weekend.

It was a bless moment that I still reflect on and beyond thankful for.

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Croatia {First We Eat}

I had the pleasure of attending my first FWE workshop with Eva & Carey two years ago, held in Iceland.  My expectations were totally exceeded and I was left wanting more.

So, when I saw that they were hosting a  food & styling workshop in Croatia, I jumped at it! 

The weeks and days leading up, I was connecting with fellow attendees via social media, and making plans to stay in Croatia to explore once the workshop ended.  I was unsure what to expect of Croatia or how this workshop would differ from the previous one I attended but, I was ready for anything!

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There is something to say for when you get the opportunity to be in the midst of someone you admire in your field.  To spend a few days watching how they work, listening to their advice and soaking up as much information as you possibly can that leaves you feeling blessed. 


This is how I felt after attending the First We Eat workshop held by Eva Kosmas Flores

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Upon arriving in Croatia, I met up with 3 other gals at the airport.  Our 3 hour drive through the Croatian countryside to Istria county, where the workshop was being held, was filled with laughter and great conversation. A perfect start to an amazing journey.

We were all so excited to learn and be amongst like -minded individuals, creating art and sharing our passion with one another.

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Tournant : boutique catering

Driving through Istria County is a treat in itself. It is filled with windy country roads, beautiful trees, rolling hills, and small narrow streets lined with vineyards.  

Once we pulled up to the house we all gasped with awe to how stunning and romantic the villa was.  Eva & Trisha came out running with a warm welcome and showed us to our rooms.  The following few hours were spent meeting with everyone and dining by candle light.  We were served with Incredible food prepared by Jaret and Mona -which was the perfect way to end a day of travel. 

 

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The next few days were all planned out for us.  They were filled with food styling demos, Lightroom overviews, learning social media strategies, eating wonderful food, wine tasting, truffle foraging, exploring, late night chats by fire, and of course- Photography!

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Besides the wonderful food & beauty that surrounded me daily I was amongst some of the most amazing ladies.  The talent, joy, enthusiasm, passion, and drive that sat around the table daily was the biggest reward of this workshop.  Coming from all over the world, with different levels of experience, we came together and shared our passion for Photography.

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  Tri lu  kne  ceramics 

Tri lukne ceramics 

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Lets not forget one of the most important elements of the workshop- FOOD.  We were spoiled by the most amazing food prepared from seasonal ingredients by Chefs, Mona and Jaret of Tournant.

These two individuals were simply incredible.  Yes, they knew how to cook, but their passion for cooking is what left a lasting impression.

Every meal they prepared had us running for our camera's. Then our forks.  Then for seconds. 

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picnic overlooking town of Motovun

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When you sign up for a First We Eat Workshop you are getting a whole experience filled with knowledge, adventure, and inspiration. What goes on behind the scenes is pretty remarkable.  On behalf of one of my favorite food photography inspirations, Eva Kosmas Flores from Adventures in CookingTrisha Hughes of Eat your beets blog, and  Danielle Firle of Tendue, Thank You!  Your hand in all of this truly makes the experience special. 

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local truffles

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  The lovely Miss Mona

The lovely Miss Mona

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styling food

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The morning of our departure we decided to stop in the town of Hum.  

 Hum is located on Istrian peninsula of Croatia and in the Guinness Book of Records as the 'smallest town in the world'.  It is recorded to only have 17 people living there.  The streets are not drivable but perfect for exploring by foot.  And that is just what we did.  With hot coffee in hand, we walked around the town of giants and castles.

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Then it was goodbye...

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 Motovun

Motovun

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 Our truffle pups 

Our truffle pups 

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Spoonful Mag : Summer : SALT

This is my first feature in Spoonful Magazine.  

I traveled to the shore to meet Shereen Pavlides who is the host of Cook This! and spent the afternoon in her lovely beach house as she prepped a wonderful meal! As we giggled and talked- she cooked.  It was such a joy.  She is such a Joy.  And her food is even better!

Here are some images of her prepping and cooking for the Summer issue : Salt of Spoonful Mag 2017.


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Mozi Magazine : Feature on camera gear + traveling

Travel and photography go together like bread and butter, Bonnie and Clyde, salt and pepper. You get it. But traveling with gear isn’t always easy. How do you pack it? How do you keep it safe? What equipment do you need?

To see complete feature, head over to the blog today to read my tips on those exact questions...http://www.mozi-mag.com/12995-2 

 

 

Photo gear while traveling:

There are many articles and opinions on how to prep your gear or plan for a photoshoot when traveling. Whether it is packing gear to fly, to hike with, or for a long road trip, I have experience in all of these scenarios. I continue to learn each trip I take on how to be more efficient and prepared.

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1. Flying with gear

There are so many variables to consider when you plan to fly for a shoot. My nerves are always going as I worry I will leave something behind. But there are ways to help calm those nerves and feel prepared. I would first recommend that you make a list of essentials – camera body, two or three lenses, two batteries, back up charger for batteries, and at least two memory cards. These are just the essentials! Depending on what kind of trip/job/traveling you are doing, there may be some additional items you wish to bring. But, these are a MUST for me!
I like to use a solid camera backpack that carries all of those things, so they are on my back and with me at all times. You do not want to check-in your camera gear.

If traveling overseas, check to see the weight limit of carry on bags. It is a terrible feeling when they are asking you to gate check your most valuable items. Also, some places like to see proof of ownership/purchase of the gear you have. I was coming back from Mexico and they wanted to tax me for what was in my bag because they questioned if I purchased any of it while visiting Mexico. From that experience, I learned its better to be safe and prepared for anything like that. You are not always aware of laws in different countries. I keep a little pouch in my camera bag with proof of purchase or warranties so I can prove that it is in fact my gear, not a new purchase!

When traveling, the big question of what gear to bring is very hard. To me, my first question is, “how much am I gonna be on foot?” You have to think of weight on your back, as well as what lenses will provide the most coverage and help you in the majority of situations. With those two questions in mind, I love to bring my 24-70mm lens and my wide 28mm lens. If i plan to photograph a lot of food while visiting somewhere I also bring my 50m lens. This also acts as a wonderful portrait lens. With those three lenses, I feel pretty solid.

If you have a place thats safe to leave gear, once you arrive to where you are going, an extra camera bag with more lenses and an extra body is always recommended. An example of that is shooting a destination wedding. You need external flashes, more memory cards, 70-200mm lens. Again, you can usually have two cary-on bags. So, you still can keep gear on you. Split up the weight so you feel comfortable while traveling via airport.

 

2. Hiking

I am in love with my photo sport 200 AW backpack from Lowepro. You can surprisingly fit a good amount of gear in there, and its so comfortable on your back. When traveling on hikes and venturing in nature, It is not necessary to bring all the extra gear. I leave my chargers behind, and make sure I charge my batteries prior, and have one in my body and one extra. I know most people love tripods when shooting nature photos, but, if i am hiking, it does not come with me! I get creative and use ledges, rocks and whatever I can find to rest my camera on if I want to shoot a long exposure. My favorite lens for hiking is my Canon 11mm-24mm lens!

 

3. Road Trip

I am a proud owner of a camper van. Her name is Parker and she has been all over the US. I have driven her across country a handful of times and it is by far my favorite way to travel as well as photograph. In my car, I have designated areas where I keep my camera bag(s). I usually have a smaller bag that just holds my Canon 5D IV and 27mm-70mm lens on it, ready to use at any given time! Then, behind the passenger seat I have my larger main camera bag with my Canon 6d body and my wide lens on it. Also in that bag you will find a good 3 more lenses. That is mainly my ‘storage’ bag. In the main zipper compartment is my chargers, external flash, laptop, etc. I also have my tripod attached to the side of that bag. Then I have my Lowepro sport bag with two other lenses in it. That is the bag I grab along with my main camera rig that I have in the front seat when I stop to explore a rest area, or hike on the side of the road. When I travel long distances, and know my gear is safe, and on me, I can bring more with me. It allows for you to not be as picky with your gear, and have more readily available to use. This is why this type of travel has its perks. Though- there are some downsides as well. Too much gear on you, makes for more choices to make while in any given situation. Sometimes, thats helpful. You don’t feel as limited. Though, worrying about more than a handful of lenses can be stressful if your still learning what lenses you feel most comfortable with or how to implicate them in different situations, subject matter, and lighting.


For further info or questions, please feel free to write me bellow! 




ICELAND { First We Eat}

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Words are not my strong suit but I will do my best to share this amazing experience with imagery and a few words mixed in here & there.  

 
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First We Meet

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Day 1 :

 After arriving in Reykjavik, I was patiently awaiting to start the  First We Eat Workshop!  

Soon I would be meeting Eva Kosmas Flores and Carey Nershi, the hosts of FWE and joining the rest of the group.

 

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This was my second trip to Iceland, and I hope not my last.  The magic of this place has not changed, but this journey was quite different than from my first.

I have to take a minute to share how  brilliant this workshop truly was.  FWE was hosted by two of the most talented young ladies along with the talented Linda LomeliMaggie Pate, and Ingrid Hofstra.  All in which had a huge part in my experience.  Together they made a wonderful team- busted their asses, showed us iceland, and fed us well!  


To be photographing along side of these ladies; learning, observing, and exploring is a real gift.  I thank each and every one of them! 

After a full nights rest, I woke up in Mosfellsdalur with a wonderful homemade breakfast and a day full of surprise and education ahead of me.  I was well rested and ready for anything!

 

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Waterfalls are so powerful and moving.  They have such a huge presence, and the ones in Iceland are no exception.  Eva & Cary took the whole group to visit Seljalandsfoss along with a secret hidden waterfall ( my favorite ).

 I found myself escaping the crowds and running around like a kid, exploring the hills and views behind the falls.  I can just stand and watch a waterfall for hours...so captivating.

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 Laxnes Horse RanchThis was one of my favorite activities during this visit to Iceland.  I do not have much experience riding horses, and my little guy, kinda scared me here and there, but he kept me safe and it was an incredible ride.  The area in which we rode was full of rolling hills, green mossy mounds, and lava rocks!   We were not allowed to bring our cameras, but I managed to sneak a few with my phone.

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What a day... Following horse back riding, picture taking, and food (of course) we headed to the Secret Lagoon!  Had a little picnic outside, with light drizzle and then enjoyed the geothermal pools.

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fine group of ladies

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 Linda Lomeli seriously makes some of the best looking, and tasting baked goods.

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This bundt cake had us all over the table - shooting at all angles! 

After a little lesson on how to style your own images, we were given some time, props, and a slice of cake to play around with.

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 Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss

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After chasing waterfalls, we went to on dirt roads to reach Keldur (grass houses that are thousands of years old on ancient farm land).

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Upon our return to our sweet little cottage (Airbnb) in Mosfellsdalur was this incredible full rainbow!  It was such a nice little treat to come home to.  We quickly recollected ourselves and prepped for a wonderful dinner and mini photoshoot.

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breakfast hash

I loved waking up, walking outside, being surrounded with beautiful views and a table full of stunning desserts to photograph,  No better way to start the day.

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Then walk inside to enjoy homemade soup and a perfectly set table.

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On the last full day of the FWE workshop we had some extra time to choose which activity we wished to partake in.  Some ventured downtown to shop in Reykjavik, others went to geothermal pools, some needed to rest, and a few went on a hike.                  

Which activity do you think I choose?

 

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Perfect rainbow over Laxnes Horse Ranch

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  Erla Gretarsdottir

Erla Gretarsdottir

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After everyone came back together to the house, we got ready for our last meal!  The weather had cleared up so we were able to eat outside, with beautiful rolling hills and mountains in the near distance.

 And of course, one last pictuesque dessert. 

We followed this wonderful meal with a little lesson by Maggie Pate on textiles and how to weave a loom.

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As the Workshop was coming to an end, the goodbyes started going around. Though, I was saying goodbye to the group I was not saying goodbye to Iceland.  Not yet! 

I had planned to rent a car and drive around for two more days before flying home.  Erla, a local to Iceland, helped me map out my next two days in Iceland.

I was ready for lots of driving and some solo time.

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After getting my car, I stopped at  Reykjavik Coffee Roasters, got a Swiss Mocha and went onward with my journey into the beautiful landscapes of Iceland.

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The Snæfellsnes peninsula

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After driving up and around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula , stopping in Hellnar for a nights sleep, and exploring Arnarstapi, I headed to Reykjanesbaer. 

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My last night in Iceland was spent at OkHotel in Reykjavik.  

After a full day of driving around it was nice to be on foot and walk around the city.  Jen, one of the gals that I met during the worshop was still in Iceland, so we met up at Kaffi Vinyl for some vegan food.  Afterwards we wondered around some stores before I went back to my hotel...I had to get up at 4am.

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I thank Erla for my detour to the Southern Peninsula of Iceland.  

Reykjanesviti was stunning!  Just a short drive from the city you can find yourself in geothermal fields, views of the oldest lighthouse in Iceland, and cliffs with crashing waves against black beaches.  

On my last trip to Iceland, I visited Vik.  I was so bummed to not be revisiting those beaches this time around, but Reykjanes Peninsula totally made up for it!

 

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Grindavikurbaer

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On the drive to the airport, in the wee hours of the morning, I enjoyed the full moon over the mountains and sun rising on the water.  It was so emotionally beautiful. 

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Till we meet again... Iceland you will be missed!