When Life Delays Your Flight... Make Lemonade!


When life delays your flight... make lemonade.  I think that's how the saying goes, anyway, right?  Or maybe they say "go to New York City".  Let me think about that for a minute...




Today has been insane.  And I am full of energy and thrilled for the adventure.  It's quite a ride.  For the last week and a half, I've been here in upstate New York, in the Adirondacks - by Lake George.  It was the ultimate escape with no cell service, no worries, very little internet, hardly any people for miles.  Just lots and lots of nature.  What an experience!  And it drove me crazy to be that disconnected...  I have work to do!  People to call, photos to upload, and blog posts to write!  Well, I found a little bit of internet to check in from time to time and I went through all the withdrawal symptoms from the phone.  It was remote and beautiful.  I feel much more peaceful now.








Today, that visit came to an end when I rode the 3 hours with my little sister and her family to Albany airport, several hours early because they were on a different flight.


Their flight left at 1 and mine left at 5:15, so I located a great little place called Blu Stone Bistro on Yelp with internet so I could work, eat, drink, and experience something about Albany other than the airport.  Then I was going to walk the 2 miles with my 3 bags to the airport.  Sounded like an experience worth having.  Maybe even fun.  The address was wrong, my brother in law was running late, and when they finally found it and dropped me off, the bistro was closed.  I had 3 hours to kill, then I would have 30 minutes with the bistro open until I needed to start walking.  It's almost comical how everything went wrong.  So I went to the lobby of this beautiful hotel and awkwardly piled my luggage on the floor of their cafe - this cafe was also closed.  Aaaaand the internet required a password, so I edited photos and made my work to do list for the next 3 days while listening in on a job interview and an awkward family fight also in the lobby.  Then I got a call - my flight was delayed an hour and a half!  This means I have an extra hour to enjoy the Blu Stone Bistro while it was open! :)  I will miss my connecting flight in Chicago and I'll figure that out when I get there!  I grabbed my bags and walked along the rather busy highway to find something, anything with wifi until 3 pm.  I ended up at a Starbucks for a couple hours, then back to the bistro.  Now, I love days like this.  In one sense, everything goes wrong.  In another sense, it's an unexpected adventure where nothing goes as planned - which is perfect.  I thrive off of that energy.  And all the people on the highway in Albany, NY waving to the girl walking on the shoulder laughing to herself because there is nothing to do but laugh.


All of a sudden, I get an ingenious idea!  instead of going to Chicago and figuring it out, why don't I try to go somewhere awesome for the night?  I have always wanted to see the Tuesday night jazz club at Mona's in NYC.  And indeed, we have lemonade.  I actually get money back from the airline by hopping on a bus and flying out of New York tomorrow instead of sleeping in the Chicago airport and flying out there tomorrow... So here I am, on a bus on my way to New York City with more money in my pocket, drinking my figurative lemonade (from the lemons I was given) and watching the real sunset go down over the city.  I get to go dancing, listen to incredible jazz, meet up with some childhood friends, take photos, and feed off of the energy of this incredible city.





From one perfect escape in the middle of nowhere to the exact opposite with the rush of people and crazy everywhere - and also perfect.





Now, last time I was in New York City was 2012, on the way to and from Europe.  I photographed a beautiful wedding in Holland, and spent an month discovering NYC, Ireland, England, Spain, Holland, and NYC again.  A few of my photos from that trip here:







004DSC_6392  015DSC_6588







Wish me luck!  And I'll see y'all again in Salt Lake in a couple days :)


Through a Child's Eyes

  I aspire to live a childlike life every day.  But what does that really mean?  I spent so many of my younger years wanting to grow up, I've consistently viewed myself as 5-10 years older than I am.  I mean, really - I was MATURE.  And everyone around me knew it. Age is still a funny thing to me, and I often get uncomfortable when people ask how old I am.  I am not too old, I am not too young, I simply don't want to be defined my age.  So, here's what it is really about: when I was 12 years old, I believed that being immature was bad.  It wasn't "cool" if I got too excited about life, or too inquisitive.  In my life now, I have definitely changed my mind - those are some of the qualities I value most.





Seeing the world through a child's eyes.  Everything is new, everything is exciting, and everything is an adventure.






I want to ask the "why" questions, explore the "what would happen if..." questions, and allow the changes all around - in nature and in people - leave an impact on me.  I want to open my eyes.  To have a sense of wonder for everything around me, an excitement to help and to share, and always unconditional love.  I love this photo of my niece looking out at a rainy day.  I want to feel what she feels.  What a perfect moment.





Watching a young soul discover the world is beautiful.  And, even more inspiring is watching an old soul see the world through young eyes again.  To live a child-like life.  To see the world through a child's eyes.  To really catch the vision of the adventure in every moment.

A Beautiful Place to Rest




The power of a name, a title - this is a still a concept I'm working on.  Yet assigning a few simple words to a photo can amplify its impact.


This photo was in the middle of the night right after a rain storm, the bright moon was shining through the trees.  I lay on the hammock and look through a perfect opening in the leaves to watch the clouds pass in front of the moon.  Then I stepped back to take the photo then sleep in a real bed that night...  I've named the photo "A Beautiful Place to Rest" for now... What would you name this photo?




Upstate New York - Life as a photographer in the Adirondacks



I've got a week and a half in upstate New York.  I've been looking forward to this time, but I've also been nervous about it.  There are a few reasons:  being away from my computer (I have a beautiful iMac with a second monitor that I edit all my photos on.  I spend more time with my computer than anything else - it's a huge part of the life as a photographer!), being so off the grid with no cell service and minimal wifi, and a little stress about family dynamics.  I love my family and I love seeing them!  I get nervous because I often become the 14 year old Whitney when we get together and the progress in becoming who I am as an adult goes out the window.  It is interesting to step back and observe this!  I am now Whitney, a professional photographer, and someone who loves learning, people, nature, and arts.










I’ve been here before, but I don’t feel like I’ve ever really SEEN it.  My goal in photography is to show people what a beautiful world is out there and how to open their eyes to it.  Well I’ve been here 3 times in the last 10 years and this week, I finally finally opened my eyes and saw it.  We drove in at 4 am and I was exhausted.  But I saw the room, the view of the lake, and the super moon that night, and I was so inspired that I couldn’t sleep, so I started hiking around with my camera.  This photo above is the very first photo I took here.  That's part of the magic in it for me.  I enjoy looking through 100 photos and finding the best ones (I have 500 photos from this night, and others that I think are prettier) but when it is the very first exposure, it feels different.  I often debate whether to post the photos that I connect most to or the photos I believe that you will connect most to.  Today, this one is impactful to me and I wanted to share.


I stayed out for 4 hours running around the lake, finding reflections, in awe of the fog, and taking photos the whole time.  It felt like a sacred space for me.  For miles and miles, I was the only one awake.  Except for a few animals - there were squirrels or chipmunks or something in the trees literally throwing pine cones at me.  The grass was wet from the dew, and the moon was so bright.  I lifted a beautiful old wooden canoe, much too heavy for one person, but somehow managed it and saw the sunrise from the water.  It’s a large lake with a couple little islands, but I was there in complete solitude.





I watched the sunrise from the middle of the lake on a beautiful old canoe with fog surrounding me.  Yes, I was brave and took my camera with me, just trusting that that the canoe wouldn’t tip. :)  And it was worth it -  The lake was golden, and I have never seen anything like it.





I feel I am finding a piece of myself out here.  The beauty, the connection with nature, the lack of connection to technology.  It's almost like a creative retreat.  I have much to be grateful for today.





Valley of Fire SOC - Straight Out Of Camera


I've been to several inspiring landscape galleries this week.  What an amazing experience to walk through a gallery and stand in silence, full of emotion, and actually experience each photo in an photographer's gallery.  I'm inspired, I'm grateful, and I want to open my own gallery!  Soon!



My favorite was Peter Lik, in Las Vegas.  If I ever have the opportunity to meet that man, I will cry when I shake his hand.  The power in his photos...  I cannot find words to describe it.





This week has also brought up some thoughts, and some questions.  Many reputable photographers show composite photos in their galleries.  This means two or more photos are taken, then combined in post-processing ("photoshopped").  There is a lot of skill involved in combining photos, or any editing, and it defines much of a photographer's style.  My clients know it takes an average of 3-4 hours at the computer for every 1 hour shooting.  And I don't often show the unfinished product - I take pride in my work and want the photo to be complete before delivered.  But today I'm going to make an exception and here's why:

  I believe the world is a beautiful place.  As a photographer, I get to prove that.  Life in this world is beautiful and we get to celebrate it - in its light and darkness, its joy and pain, in its changing seasons, night and day, large rock formations or small butterflies on a flower.  I can use photography to let other people see through my eyes, my lens, and what an amazing thing that is.  I hope that if someone feels inspired by something a photo, they also open their eyes to see it in the beauty of every day - or every night.





Now, if you are ever left wondering if these photos are beautiful because they are "photoshopped" then I have failed.



Valley of Fire Screen Shot - Unedited





Photoshop does not create beauty in these photos - yes, it is important and it refines what is already there.  But the colors, the sky, the stars, the light, the textures, the crispness, that's all SOC - Straight Out of Camera.   So, today, here is an example of an unedited photos.  I imported this Vallery of Fire photo (from Valley of Fire State Park) to my computer and didn't do any editing before taking the screen capture.  This is a single shot, not a composite photo.  And it's all real.  None of it is photoshopped in, it's just the beautiful world we live in!






I look forward to sharing the rest of my Valley of Fire State Park photos next week.  I'm headed down to Moab today :)





On the Road Again - More National and State Parks


A couple weeks ago, I committed to visit and photograph all 47 National Parks in the 48 contiguous states in America by 2020.  I also have several state parks and such on my "to visit" list.  This week, I'm on the road again - in Vegas!








I am so excited for the photoshoot here.  Valley of Fire!  My brother in law Ryan sent me a link to photos of Valley of Fire a couple months ago and I've been dying to get down there to take more night photography shots.  This trip, I'm lucky to have Kristen, one of my interns from back in 2011, go with me.  Looking forward to catching up, and lots of photos of stars, rocks, and light painting.



A Beautiful World

  I just got off the phone with a client, feeling inspired and excited.  It's funny, because I found myself saying phrases that may sound cliche, but words that ring true for me.  Why I keep doing this.  Why I love my job.  Why I love my life.  I enjoy that chance to discover myself - to hear words come out of my mouth and realize just how true they are.


Just before saying goodbye, I said "Yes! It's a beautiful world out there, and I have the chance to PROVE it."



So there we go!  I found another motto.  I am celebrating beauty - and proving it!





One of my favorites (click on the photo to see it on istock):


Red Rock Canyon - A Place to Sit Royalty Free Stock Photo

This photo was a few months ago, sunrise at Red Rocks Conservation Area - just outside Las Vegas.  I am happy to say I'll be returning to Nevada a few times between now and October.  Next time, I'll be photographing the Valley Of Fire State Park, it's been on my bucket list for a long time!  I will also have time for a few portrait sessions, send me an email if you're around Vegas and would like to set up a photoshoot while I'm there.










The World of National Parks

  Each day I wake up I have the opportunity to discover beauty newly.  It's not enough to simply remember what I discovered yesterday, I get to actually open my eyes and experience it.  Today.  Now.  In this world I live.


I live in Utah and when I truly open my eyes and see - not just look at, but SEE - the mountains and the nature around me, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.  Many drives through canyons and I want to yell out the window "I GET TO LIVE HERE!!"  A photographer's paradise.  So much to see, so nearby.


A couple days ago, I took an impromptu trip to Vernal, UT to visit a great friend, Mark, on his birthday.  We found a decent restaurant to eat (one of half a dozen restaurants in Vernal!), had a bon fire, and then went to Dinosaur Land National Monument for night photography.  It was cold, dark, scary, I whined way too much about the temperature, but still... it was absolutely beautiful.



This photo below is a 30 second shutter speed, flashlights to light up the background and a speedlight to light me on the rock.  We had a lot of fun "painting with light."





One of the most inspiring aspects of photography for me is the beauty of nature at night.  The way the stars light up the sky, I find such a sense of wonder and peace.  It is awesome - in the truest sense of the word.  Awe-inspiring.  While at DinoLand, I made a commitment: This summer, I am committed to visiting at least one National or State Park each month!  I am beyond excited to take this adventure on.




The photo above is no lights, the photo below is the result of walking around and using several speedlights from different angles (same location).





  Then, just today (a few days after my trip), on a dusty bookshelf, I found an old book I'd forgotten about called "America Wide - Panographs by Ken Duncan".  It's a book of photos of National Parks and other iconic views across the country.  A close high school friend, Matt, gave it to me as a present for my 17th birthday.  This was long before I had an SLR, before I had even CONSIDERED photography as a job or even a passion.  I was focused on music at the time, but have always had an appreciation for nature.  In the front of the book was a letter, and what an amazing thing to read through it and see where life has taken me from then to now.  Here's an excerpt I'd like to share:


"I want to present this book to you as a gift of encouragement not only for your 17th year, but also for life beyond. We all have trials and tribulations of life set aside for us to overcome and defeat, but if I can get you to remember one thing; about this archetypal battle, it's that you can't ever shut your eyes to the world around you, even in the midst of utter despair. Once you do that, you close the gate to a rejuvenating source of beauty.  Take this book... look at it... comment on it... then set it down for a long while. Force your eyes wide open to the picturesque beauty in your own world, and be amazed at the seemingly therapeutic results. Don't forget to open your eyes before the scenery whips by."




Thank you, Matt, for the example and encouragement of living an awesome life, full of awe for the world around.