Celebrating Beauty

  I had a wonderful conversation with an artist friend this week about photography, the purpose, and what really drives me.  Yes, there are times I get burnt out.  There are times when I want to give up photography all together.  But the people, the places, the beauty... That's what keeps me connected to my camera.  I have the opportunity today to show you why you are beautiful.  To let you see it through my eyes.  And the world.  This beautiful world we live in.  Every day, I see the mountains, I see a new sky - cloudy, sunny, colorful, or dark is dismal.  It's all beautiful.  And those moments of reality - tears shed, a crying baby, a playing child, the sun rising over the mountain, or even simply the way the light shines on the leaves of the trees.  Moments in weddings or families.  Moments in events or activities.  And moments of peace in nature.



Today, I am alive and that means I get to open my eyes and celebrate the beauty all around me.  As a photographer, my job and my opportunity is to show the beauty in the world as I see it.



Through my eyes, my lens, here are a few examples of the beauty in Turks and Caicos (Caribbean).  There's a story behind every moment, but today I just want to share the photos and let you see what you see.

















The End of Dublin (part 1)


Not really the end of Dublin, just the end of my days in Dublin on this trip.  Much less dramatic than it sounds.  I'm sitting on a bus right now on my way to Galway, it's about 11am here, 4am Utah time.  Rain is pounding on the windows, I feel like I should be in an old fashioned car driving along these picturesque roads.  The atmosphere around just makes me smile.


Luckily they have internet on the bus, so I can finish uploading photos from yesterday and write some of my thoughts about it.  It really was a perfect day.  I forgot to sleep that night due to jet lag and uploading photos, so around 6am I finally gave up on the idea and went to walk around the city.  Now, there are a couple things you should know for the stories today to have significance.


#1 - I have the world's worst internal compass.  Seriously, I'm terrible with directions.  I don't know how I lived before GPS.


#2 - I love to meet new people.


#3 - Traveling for me is about the adventure, not the sites.



So, back to my day.  Annie decided to go on a tour bus and see the Giant's Causeway.  I opted to stay in Dublin and explore.  I had three goals - first, to get to know my way around the city.  I did this by hours and hours of walking.  Getting lost on purpose.  Occasionally asking for directions, and when all else fails, run into an internet cafe and look up the address for my hostel. I wish I could say this last one was a hypothetical situation, but unfortunately it was not.  I had spent 5 hours walking around the city and I knew where Temple Bar was, where the castle was, where the mall was, but I had no clue where my hostel was.  And after 30 hours of no sleep I needed to find it.  Quickly.  I am pleased to report, however, that I now know the city of Dublin pretty well.  Just in time to leave :)  I'll have to repeat the same process in Galway next.  Then London and Madrid... oh let's face it.  I will have to work hard for the rest of my life to try and figure out where I am and how to get where I want to go.  But as long as I keep perspective and remember that I can enjoy the journey, not just the destination, I'm ok with that.  Right now, I'm just riding the bus, but the hills and villages and clouds - it's beautiful.



When I was a teenager, I used to climb out my window at night after everyone went to sleep and just sit on the roof alone.  I would write music, poems, stories, letters or just sit and feel the wind, the heat, or the rain, whatever the weather was at the time.  (Mom, I realized I'm not sure if you knew I did this... if you're reading this, well, we can just look back and laugh now, right?  Hope you didn't have to replace too many of the shingles on the roof up there :D)  I always felt the most at peace just sitting there, quiet, thoughtful, alone, artistic juices flowing.  And I would dream about sitting at a cafe in Paris for a day doing the same thing.  Something so perfect about Europe in my mind, I don't know why.  But yesterday I figured it out.  I didn't have a pen and paper, but I had my camera instead.  And I sat there outside the cafe on a brick road, rain lightly falling, the air brisk, and no one around.  It was early in the morning, so it was quiet.  I haven't felt that peaceful and inspired in years.  Breakfast was freshly squeezed orange juice and a gourmet ham and cheese crescent.


This was where I sat:


This was my view to the right:


And to the left:



And some more photos from my walk around the city during the day:












I walked around for about 5 hours (my calves are killing me!), explored, observed, got wet, smiled, watched people, took photos, and loved every minute of it.  Then I went back for an afternoon nap or whatever you call "the sleep for a few hours during the day that replaced the sleep I didn't get the night before."


I have many more stories I'd like to share, but I think I'm going to save them for another day.  As a preview to the next chapter, I woke up from my nap in time for food and music.  Lots of music.


And now I'm signing off.  Cheers!





A Rainy Day and a Walk Down Memory Lane

  What an incredible day. I have so many stories! But I'm about to run out and find dinner and traditional Irish music, so the stories will have to wait. Just this photo today and the emotion behind it.


I love the rain. I've always loved the sound, the smell, and singing in it! This was the first time I really noticed how beautiful the streets are when they get wet. This was taken in Temple Bar area before most people woke up. When I look back at this photo, the only way to describe my emotion is to close my eyes and take a deep breath. There are not words. It's just beautiful.





There's a song I like to sing when it rains - "In His Eyes" from the musical Jekyll and Hyde. I don't remember when I first heard this song - some time when I was a teenager I suppose, but I often cry when I sing it, it is so emotional and rain representing that is perfect.



"I sit and watch the rain And see my tears run down the windowpane I sit and watch the sky And I can hear it breathe a sigh...


I think of him, how we were And when I think of him Then I remember... remember...


In his eyes, I can see Where my heart longs to be. In his eyes I see a gentle glow. And that's where I'll be safe I know


Safe in his arms, close to his heart... But I don't know quite where to start By looking in his eyes Will I see beyond tomorrow? By looking in his eyes, Will I see beyond the sorrow That I feel?


Will his eyes reveal to me Promises or lies? But he can't conceal from me The love in his eyes!


I know their every look, His eyes! They're like an open book, His eyes! But most of all the look That hypnotized me!


If I'm wise, I will walk away, And gladly... But, sadly, I'm not wise, It's hard to talk away The mem'ries that you prize!


Love is worth forgiving for! Now I realize - Everything worth living for Is there, in his eyes!"



I remember singing this song with my childhood friend Katherine Morriss, we'd just sit at the piano and sing Broadway tunes for hours, it was a perfect sentimental day, what a walk down memory lane!












When Jasmine and I started looking for locations for our cruise, the first requirement was warm.  She's moved out to New York City and I'm still in Utah, so we wanted to get away from the winter.  This vetoed the Antarctica cruise.  The second thing that sparked our interest was Jamaica.  To be honest, we chose this cruise specifically so that we could go to Jamaica.  We grew up with the movie "Cool Runnings", and we were just a little tinsey bit obsessed.  We loved quoting the movie- "Ya mon!"  "No problem, mon!"  "Hey Sanka, ya dead?!"  And everything you see if movies is true, right?  OK, maybe not.  But we were still excited.


Sooooo, we didn't see a bobsled team practicing going downhill, and there wasn't live music on every corner.  But Jamaica did have  vivid colors everywhere.  The blues in the water, the umbrellas and clothes, the lush greenery and even some flowers.  I was bummed we didn't really meet a "Sanka" character like in Cool Runnings, but we had a few funny experiences with  some locals.  "Can we get you girls anything?  A taxi?  ...Some grass?"   Yeaaah, definitely not in Utah anymore ;-)



Below is the patio where we tried jerk chicken and pork.  It was decent, but I imagine it's a lot like BBQ, the flavors, spiciness, and overall quality varies.  I'll definitely try it again some time in a less tourist-y area.  I love how the umbrellas match the flowers though.




This guy made me smile - singing "Don't worry about a thing, cuz every little thing is gonna be alright..."  Love music like that!  And the colors from the market behind him.






The top right photo above is my favorite from the whole trip - the yellow umbrella with the blue water and the gorgeous sand.  Looks like the perfect vacation to me.


And I thought the bottom left photo below was really cool, but Thomas said you can't really tell it's a wave coming up on the sand.  Maybe we'll call it abstract art?





Played a bit with the Canon G11 and the underwater casing, first time really using it and I say 2 thumbs up.  However, we also had the rest of our camera gear and didn't want to just leave it sitting on the beach, so we actually traded off - Jasmine would go swimming while I sat on the beach, then I would go swimming while she sat on the beach.  Definitely remembering to bring a larger group to the beach next time.  We met a cute little old lady who seemed trustworthy (and apparently was since she didn't steal our stuff!) set the cameras by her for the last 10 minutes so we could play in the water together.  Can you believe how blue that water is though?  Unreal!







Labadee, Haiti



When I travel, I love to see the culture.  The people in their daily lives.  How are their lives different than mine?  How are they the same?  It's interesting to see a new perspective.  So I was a little bit disappointed when I learned that the island in Haiti the cruise ship stops at was a private island and all tourism.  But when I opened my eyes, I saw a little taste of heaven. The first photo I took when I got off the boat is this one below.  It's interesting because I have so much experience photographing people that I wasn't sure what else to do for this scene.  I tried a few different angles, but I couldn't change it up by asking the palm tree to pose differently.  And ultimately, I was happiest with the very first photo.  It's a new challenge and I will be learning how to improve.



I then walked closer to the water and a rock took off the top of my toe.  The blood would have ruined the shot, so I took a little break until we got to a new location :)



I think these two should be on motivational posters or something.  On the left:  It's not about where the journey ends, it's the path you take to get there.  And on the right, well, I don't know if a quote goes along with it, just a sigh.  Doesn't that look amazing right now?








If you look carefully at the photo below, you can see several wires running across the water.  These are not telephone lines, they are actually zip lines that Jasmine and I went down (daredevils, I tell ya!).  I wish I had a video to show you of us, but to get an idea anyway, here's a link to some other guy going down the zip line:






This guy below did three things:  1. Danced (somewhat similar to a hulu?  Lots of hip movements.  It was... interesting).  2. Smiled and laughed.  3. And he ate fire.  Over and over again.  Can you say "Awesome"?




And this is one of my favorite photos - this guy was playing in a little trio as we waited in line to get back on the ship (anyone who hasn't been on a cruise should be warned that the lines you wait in to get on the ship, off the ship, to get food, photos, or into the theatres - they are as bad as an amusement park).  We were very grateful for the entertainment  as we waited this time.  And isn't this little old guy adorable?



So there it was.  Not tons of culture, but a view that took my breath away.  Tomorrow - Jamaica!









Cruisin' in the Caribbean


Finding balance in life has always been a challenge.  I have a wonderful husband and a fantastic photography business, but also have to fin time for a social life, down time, creative outlets, emotional and physical health, etc.  Everyone has to juggle these things.  So it comes down to priorities.  Some of you might know that I've increased my prices again for 2012 to have just a little bit less photography in my life and a little bit more rock climbing and other exercise/activities, social life, and me time.  Balance.  I'm hoping my 60-80 hour weeks are over for good and I can improve some of the other areas of my life now.


Anyway, this is a good start.  Last week, for the first time since I've started my photography career, I took a vacation where I was completely off the grid.  No phone or internet because I was cruisin' in the Caribbean.  Just my sister and me.  ...And 6000 other people on the boat.  And it was fantastic!  Still a lot of photography, but I got to focus on a different side of photography than usual - the kind that doesn't include people.  Definitely new for me!  I used to see a sunset and say "I wish I could put a bride in front of this".  Last week I succeeded in seeing the beauty of the sunset by itself.



I am such a social person.  But there is something absolutely wonderful about simple sitting.  Being alone with nature, thinking, breathing, feeling.  I feel like this first photo captured how I feel about that experience.  Life seems simple.  It's just nice.




Below, the name of our boat - we sailed Royal Caribbean.




Jasmine and I on formal night with the huge Christmas tree behind.  We were practicing one flash techniques to overpower the ugly tungsten lights that caused shadows on our eyes.  Jasmine was just given a camera for her birthday, so it was awesome to practice and teach a little bit.  We're coming up on 4 years that I got a camera for my birthday (thanks, Dad!) so I was a little sentimental.





The view from the boat, playing with white balances.





And I think this structure below looks a little bit like a space ship, though it was just a cool glass covering over the hot tub.








Again, palm trees make everything better.




And we played a little bit.  Yay surfing.  (I obviously didn't take the photo of myself, thanks Nate.)





Now I'm back and working like crazy again, but I going to try a little harder to stop and feel the sun, look at the sky, make some new friends.  I don't think I need to go to the Caribbean to do that!





Photos from our stop in Haiti on the blog tomorrow.








Young'ins in San Francisco: Family Photography

  Thomas and I went over to San Francisco three weeks ago for our third wedding anniversary and for some much-needed vacation time.  It was a great experience, and we did actually end up doing just this one shoot while we were out there.  The Youngs recently moved out to the area, and they are some of the coolest people ever.  Danny took a job with Google, and actually showed us around the campus a bit- talk about your nerd paradise!  Full-sized T-rex bones, slides going from one floor to another, nap pods and free food everywhere.... it was a very neat place.


So one of the days we went into the City and met up to some family portraits.  We went to Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, the Exploratorium, and finished out near the Oakland Bay Bridge (the Golden Gate bridge was completely fogged out.  I mean, just-one-big-grey-smudge-nothing-to-be-seen-at-all kind of fogged out.  San Francisco is crazy like that sometimes).




I've known the Youngs for a long time, and I think we've captured their essence here below.  It's just fun.  :D







Thanks for being such great hosts guys, and for showing us around your new hometown!  Check out the first half of their photos, and the rest as they become available, here.