While in Utah we got to hang out with these two awesome people, Brandon and Leigh. And also their adorable dogs Piper and Lily. Brandon and Leigh travel in a Vanagon Westfalia named Humboldt. They've done a lot of work to it complete with awesome maps inside. You can tell a lot of hard work and love has gone into this place to make it feel like a home away from home when they are traveling. Brandon and Leigh are some of my favorite people in the world. Good as gold, always there to lend a hand, compassionate, hard working, and um fantastically sarcastic. They hold a special place in my heart.
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It's strange to see something you've never seen before. Most of us have been around long enough that we have experienced a lot of this planet. Sure, there are many places I have never been before. Something I'm slowly but surely rectifying. But it is rare for me to think, "Huh, I've NEVER seen this."
About a week ago I experienced my first full blown sandstorm. We're talking zero visibility, lightening, thunder, and high winds. It was awe inspiring and beautiful and terrible all at once.
It safe to say that I love moody scenery. I love the drama and the unusual nature of it. I love fog. How it envelopes you. Consumes you. This had the same mystery to it but was harsher. The sand danced and shifted until you were unsure if it would come in blankets or waves. Or would it be completely gone in half a mile. There was also just a sheer force to it. While fog creeps, sand dares you to come out and face it.
I was itching to have a model with me. Some woman in a long flowing dress. Some brave soul to go out and be daring and play. However, we were just rolling through. It's on my shot list though and I feel privileged to be able to mark something off my list that I hadn't ever seen or experienced before.
I am not a great lover of heights. I don't mind them but I don't go out of my way to find them. Just like snakes. So when Zach's cousin said she wanted to take us rock climbing I was a little skeptical. And by skeptical I mean nauseous. (For more on our visit to Los Alamos check out here!)
I am a great believer in facing you fears. I don't like for fear to have control over me. Period. I don't like for it to dictate what I do or don't do. Honestly, I was a feeling a little ashamed at how nervous I was about doing this. I've been sky diving! I've jumped off bridges! Why would climbing a rock freak me out? When I got down deep to it is was because after having a baby I feel like I have lost part of my athletic self--my daredevil self. I was worried I physically would embarrass myself. I was worried that I was being a bad mother by taking a risk. Worry is just fear whispering to you.
Lucky for me Zach's cousin Christie is a badass. She's a mother of five, survivor, and rock climbing instructor. If she could do it, I had to at least try it. And I am so glad I did.
The truth is that by the end of the day Zach and I both had fallen a little in love with rock climbing. For him, I believe it was figuring out the puzzle of where to go next, keeping your mind focused, and being outside. For me it was facing that fear each moment, being in such beauty, and trusting yourself to make it happen.
In my experience it always pays off to face your fears. Whether that is fear of change, fear of loss, fear of heights, snakes, spiders, infestations, whales, or the fear of being alone. We all have one that makes a nest inside our heart and minds. Take that fear out, set it on fire, and go live.
Being a Mom is hard. People say that to you when you become pregnant. You believe it but you don't fully understand. Women will talk about the pains of childbirth, the early sleepless nights, the terrible twos, teething, sickness, fatigue. They will share their stories. Which we all need. We need these stores. We NEED to talk about all of this. We rarely talk about ourselves though. We rarely discuss the loneliness, the guilt, the boredom, or even the yearning for a previous life.
I wasn't in love with my daughter. Not at first. Everyone tells you that when a baby is born it will change your life. That you can never imagine loving something more. I cried big hot tears when they first put her on my chest. Tears of relief and exhaustion. I knew that she was mine. That I wanted to protect her, care for her, and do what was best for her. But I also didn't know her. Our love affair was a slow one. Getting to know each other. Her revealing her brilliant shining personality one small moment at a time. And then one day there it was. That unimaginable love. The kind that brings tears back when I think of anything happening to her. I had a lot of guilt at first about not being bonded with her. People asked if I just couldn't get enough of her. If I just wanted her with me all the time. Nope. I needed space. I needed to be me without being a Mom.
These days its hard to find space in a small camper with a one year old. She sleeps in the same room as us. She cries, she snores, she coos--she wakes up really damn early. As a Mom, Photographer, Navigator, Wife, and Researcher I'm still trying to find the balance in myself. And we need to talk about that. There are days I just want to be one thing. I just want to be a photographer that day. Or I just want to be a tourist. Or I just want to be a lover. It is easy to get overwhelmed by all the roles and demands. To pine for a simpler time instead of being present in this whirlwind. Right now there are no babysitters. All of my roles are full on all the time and I would be lying if I said it wasn't exhausting.
But its also beautiful. There is a lot of living in my life right now. I get to experience a beautiful world that I shamefully haven't seen before. I get to roam streets and woods and beaches and swamps. I wash our daughter under the full moon. I sing her to sleep amidst the background of crickets, tree frogs, and cicadas. I read. I photograph what is before me. I talk about what is whispering to my soul. I tell myself the truths I need to know. It's okay to be overwhelmed. Live here now. You are enough.
Let's talk about magic for a minute. Not the Hogwarts magic (although definitely amazing). I want to talk about the kind of magic that happens in the ordinary world around us. The kind of magic that gives you goosebumps, the kind of magic that births dejavu, the kind of big magic that happens within us when everything comes together.
I'm a believer that magic comes to you when you need it most. Like a breath of air when you're drowning. On the road so far we've had a lot of highs and lows. Much like the rolling hills that we travel down. Times of pure magic. Times of exhausted darkness. We've seen more sunsets, sunrises, and stars than we have in years. We've had more long talks and held gazes. We've also snapped at each other and been on the edge of losing it more than we have in awhile.
We had set up camp after a particularly long day. Lucy June had just not wanted to be in the truck. She clung to my chest laughing and crying at the same time when I opened the door to try to put her in her car seat. It's heart wrenching. She cried off and on all day thanks to fatigue and four giant molars cutting their way into her mouth. When we arrived at camp she was done.
Sometimes distraction is our best friend. So she and I embarked on a small hike. We soaked in the sun, the new green of spring, and became flush with exertion. But by the time we came back we were both done. No one knows the fatigue of being on the road until you do it. And we were all feeling its full weight that night. By the time we had made it through a screaming dinner and put her to bed, Zach and I sat in a crushing silence. Fatigue is also the bringer of doubt. It whispers to you about your faults--your insecurities--your regrets.
Out of the darkness glided a Luna moth. Silent and gliding making large graceful loops into the lamp light. It mesmerized us. Brought us out of our own selfish thoughts to gaze at its translucent beauty. It was magic. The magic of childhood summers and teenage twilights. That deep breath of fresh air. Big magic in small ways.
"You really were made to do this," my Mom laughs as we sit on our old sunken couch. She's in for a couple days to help babysit as I try to shove the parts of our lives we want to hold on to into plastic bins. Zach is another world away. Taking in the vast West and battling alternators on lonely roads.
She and I were reminiscing about all our family camping trips. In the summer we would pile in our van and head for the mountains. Windows down and the cool mountain air catching our voices as we would sing. Yup, we were that family. We joke that our family is cursed. We never had a family camping trip that didn't get rained on. And by rain I mean drought breaking, record making monsoons. Some of my earliest memories are splashing around in puddles with my barbie in hand. My parents stubborn determination to make the most of each trip kept us there. We didn't pack up and go home. We made the most of it. Always.
I come from a heritage of campers and adventurers. My Mom and Dad both got it from their parents; boy scouts, girls scouts, troop leaders, back packing, and long road trips to Alaska. It's deep down in me. A longing.
All the same giving up roots is hard. After years of being a Pastors kid and moving, I never expected to stay in one place very long. But after eight years, Knoxville has made an impression on me. It's been a place of firsts. First house we owned, first place as a married couple, first renovation, and first child. Those things are hard to let go of, but it's the little things that really sink their hooks into you. The smell of our front door, the creak in the hardwood floors, the way the morning light streams into our daughters bedroom, the cool shade in the garage in the afternoon. Knowing where I'm going when there is a year of getting lost ahead.
People are always the hardest though. We have been fortunate to have a village of family and friends in Knoxville that support and help us on a daily basis. They believe in us. And it's their faith that makes leaving, and the knot in my throat when I think about leaving them, easier. After years of moving I know that people like that in your life, stay in your life. Your life is more beautiful because of them. I've always thought that in some ways I have been lucky to move throughout my life. Along the way I have met amazing people and gathered them close to me. I take them with me to the next place and they embolden me.
Leaving is hard. That's the simple truth. The longing inside of me gives me confidence that this is right for us. That I have been waiting for a trip like this. That maybe I was even made for it. To continue to pass on that heritage to our daughter. To show her how to make the most of it. Always.
My Bare (boudoir) clients always blow me away. The ladies at these mini sessions were no exception. Their trust, honesty, and authenticity absolutely moved me. I had spent months dreaming about these sessions. Yes, I dream about half naked ladies. I was dreaming about light, mood, poses, and my biggest fear was failing to capture what these ladies were offering to me...which was their honest to God selves. I am nothing if not stubborn. Or determined to put it nicely. So when the weather called for icy conditions, we worked it out. Weather be damned! These ladies were right with me every step of the way and were so trusting. What meant the most to me though was the atmosphere of friendship and encouragement that was in The Hive that day. They rooted for each other. Something we ladies don't always do enough.
Each one of these women is breathtakingly beautiful. Each one is genuine. Each one owns who she is. Lets celebrate that.
Attention all clients! As you may have heard me say before, some big things are coming up for Runawayalice Photography! The website, www.runawayalice.com, will be under construction for the next couple weeks. I ask that you bare with me during this process and stay tuned for exciting updates. Client galleries and the blog will still be available! If you have any questions about finding anything feel free to contact me or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am so excited to be sharing all these changes with you.
I had so many amazing Brides at the Pink Bridal show that I just could not choose a winner for the Free Engagement/Bridal Session contest! So this year I decided to leave that up to you, my readers, and the couples families and friends. I have narrowed it down to three amazing couples and now its up to you to vote! Vote for your favorite couple to win! Voting will be open all week and on Friday I will announce the winner! Don't forget to share this post on Facebook to get more votes. Good luck! [polldaddy poll=9038850]
You've found a photographer and signed up for an engagement session! Hooray! Now what? Where to go? And most importantly...what do you wear? Gone are the days of overly matchy outfits and in are subtle color palettes. Here are a few tips on what to wear to get you inspired.
Many of these tips can be applied not only for engagement sessions but any type of portrait session.
- Color Choice Go for colors in a similar palette with pops of different colors. I love Blake and Jodi's colors from their fall engagement session. They choose from colors from that time of year with browns, oranges, cream, and navy. Later they had reds, cream, and more blue with Jodi wearing a plaid shirt dress. Keep your colors seasonal!
- Keep the Colors Subtle Gone are the days where everyone wore matching blue shirts and jeans for family or engagement portraits. I love a variety of colors and textures that are pulled together by one theme. See the example below from the Smith's family portraits (it's easier to see the subtlety in a bigger group).
- Flowers Aren't Just For Your Wedding Day Your engagement session is a great opportunity to test run some of your potential vendors including your florist! I love a beautiful bouquet, a dreamy flower crown, or small flower hair piece to take a session to the next level. This is also a great opportunity to try out your make up artist and hair stylist.
- Don't be Afraid to Get Flirty or Formal One of the great aspects of an engagement session is you can have a couple different moods just by bringing a change in attire. I love for my clients to have a casual and a formal look. I think it adds a little romance for the girls to have a skirt or dress. Make a date night out of it! Have your last outfit be a beautiful dress and the Groom to Be in a casual suit. Finish up your session and then go out on the town! Most of all communicate with your photographer! I am here to help my clients dream up their perfect engagement sessions. I love working on details with clients. I often share pinterest boards, talk about locations that are special to them, and even pick out outfits over the phone. I want you to look and feel your best on the first step to celebrating the two of you!