Alberta, September 2017 – pt. 1


WOW – finally! I can’t remember the last time I had such a huge photographic undertaking and then waited so long to blog about it. Things have gotten in the way – actual paying freelance design gigs, parenting my child, DEPRESSION, etc. Despite the fact that I had such an amazing time taking these photos and also experiencing the real life moments happening around them, I felt very little motivation to edit them once I got back home.

First I feel like I need to back up and explain what this trip even was. Back in the summer I saw a post from an instagram account I follow talking about this camp happening in Alberta in September. I had at that point not had a job in over a year, had been exclusively breastfeeding and caring for a baby 24/7, and was feeling creatively restless and totally lost. You KNOW I love my baby Alex more than anything, but I’m also an artist and I needed to create. This camp – Socality Camp – was presented as a camp for creatives/entrepreneurs in the Canadian Rockies, which I felt was the most ideal place to have a creative re-awakening. I love the cold, I love mountains, I love outdoor photography, and I desperately craved the company of fellow artists, makers and more.

SOCALITY_LAYOUT2SOCALITY_LAYOUT3SOCALITY_LAYOUT4We did have to figure out a few things, like who would take care of Alex while I was away? As it happened, we were already sort of planning to enroll him in day care in September anyway so that would take care of the day-to-day. What about feeding? I was his ONLY source of milk at that point. Well, other things transpired leading up to my leaving – we got him started on formula (for an entirely different reasoning) so that was one less thing for Alan to worry about, and I didn’t have to stress out about what kind of breastmilk stores I was leaving behind, OR making on my trip (TMI? Maybe!).

So with all that squared away, I held my breath and bought two tickets; one for the plane and one for the camp. I’ll pause for a minute to acknowledge how PRIVILEGED and LUCKY I am that I was able to do this. I don’t for a second take for granted the good fortune I’ve had in my life, and this trip is more than proof of that. SOCALITY_LAYOUT5SOCALITY_LAYOUT6SOCALITY_LAYOUT7Anyway. Since this blog is so late, and I’ve already seen a ton of blogs from other attendees about the camp, I feel a little bit of pressure to do some EXTREME EDITING. I made an indesign document to layout my photos, because it gives it an editorial feel and allows me to feature a few photos at once in some cases. I thought “20 pages should help me reign it in” NOPE I have over 50. I can’t be anything less than what I am, man. This is my truth. So you’re getting two blogs however many blogs it takes!

SOCALITY_LAYOUT8SOCALITY_LAYOUT9SOCALITY_LAYOUT10I haven’t even really talked about what this camp even WAS, though. It was at a big ranch-style camp in remote Alberta – extremely off the grid. No cell reception, hardly even decent Wifi. There were guests and speakers and workshops, all centering about creativity – building your brand, working with other brands, finding your voice, etc. Some times we got to play around with actual product, photograph people ~whose actual jobs are being models on instagram~, and getting to pick the brains of Instagram “influencers” who regularly work with companies to create content, and a lot of whom travel around full time taking photos. That’s a dreamy life.

Above is Joelle Friend during a workshop on brand photography led by Garrett King

SOCALITY_LAYOUT13This trip was also my first encounter with the Northern Lights!!! The forecast said they’d be out at like 3 AM so I went to bed extra early so I could wake up at 2:45 (and pump milk in a weird fancy outhouse – let’s not forget I was pumping milk the ENTIRE trip) and get my tripod set up. Unbeknownst to me, the Aurora had come out already, at a much more manageable hour, while I was trying to get to sleep earlier and everyone else was still up. So. But, shrug, I still got to see them, and be in a little mini workshop with the super cool Tanner StewartHe had already shot the Aurora earlier that evening, but still came out to show us normies how it’s done. Such a mensch.

The people who were the de facto “leaders” of the camp I’m just sort of in awe of for their drive, but also for their generosity and patience to help people learn and become better at their crafts. That’s a noble undertaking. I’m really glad I got to meet some of them, even though I was sort of shy. I should work on that. SOCALITY_LAYOUT14I was going to say “the next morning” but it was actually like, an hour after we started shooting the lights, the camp boarded busses to drive the 3-some hours to Banff, to see the sunrise at Moraine Lake. It’s an iconic shot. Pretty sure it was an Apple default desktop at one point? As we arrived, there was kind of a scramble to get a good spot to shoot from. Most folks went on this big rock hill so I camped out on the rocky shore.

Inevitably, when you’re finally physically in a location that you’ve seen so many times in photos, some of the mystique is gone. I didn’t know what Moraine Lake looked like outside of that view. It’s actually pretty crowded, and there’s like, a gift shop 50 feet away.

SOCALITY_LAYOUT15I really dug Moraine Lake. The sun rose around ~8AM but for the most part stayed behind the mountains until noon. So it was surreal, walking up and down this spot which, while crowded, was still pretty remote, and if you walked far enough away, you could be totally alone. SOCALITY_LAYOUT16Despite the fact that I came on this trip to get to know people and bond with like-minded creatives, I was still a bit of a loner. Being 1 in 150 and trying to make deep personal connections in 5 days is a challenge. But most everyone I met was so kind and they all listened to me talk about how I had a baby at home and I was looking for a creative rebirth (haha, sorry). SOCALITY_LAYOUT17SOCALITY_LAYOUT18

Wendy, aka @nomadicfare.SOCALITY_LAYOUT19SOCALITY_LAYOUT20

Speaking of Instagram influencers I was kind of in awe of, Christian Watson, aka 1924 (who actually *deleted* his instagram recently, like a boss). His whole persona is something to behold, online but especially in person. I was way too intimidated to say hi to him almost the entire trip, but on our last night I got up the nerve and we chatted for a few minutes during a campfire dance party. He asked me about myself, and I asked him for a hug, which he obliged. I wonder if I’ll ever get a chance to meet him again?

Christian brought this cool Merrimack Canoe and Sanborn Paddles down to the lake and people started getting in the canoe and taking photos of each other with the mountains in the background. I initially witnessed this from a bench a ways away sipping my second latte (hey – when you come in contact with espresso for the first time in a whole two days, you lean in to that shit). I kind of thought it was funny at first, and wondered what the other tourists standing around would be thinking about – literally – 10 photographers huddled together taking pictures of a person in a canoe, not even paddling the canoe! I wrote about what happened next on Instagram and am not gonna try to phrase it a different way:

 The moment when it all clicked for me at @socalitycamp was when I was drinking my *second* latte at Moraine Lake. The sun takes a long time to come up over the lake after it’s risen and it sorta felt like we were in a snow globe — for a place so huge it felt small and contained. @1924us brought out a @merrimackcanoes canoe and a couple @sanborncanoe paddles and people started jumping in, paddling around and taking photos – practicing their craft, together. People on the shore packed in close together to get the perfect shot. The freewheeling collaborative effort shook something loose in me and I had to jump in. What I had been witnessing from afar I suddenly was a part of and I felt connected. To the people, the land, to my camera, and importantly, to myself. I felt at that moment that I could DO this kinda thing.

It’s cheesy but so true! I went to Alberta to feel more connected to my creativity and this one instance really busted open the floodgates. It was so special. SOCALITY_LAYOUT21SOCALITY_LAYOUT22@ScottBakkenSocality Founder


Part 2 coming later this week!

Week in the North

CWC2016-2When you photograph a certain place so many times, it begins to feel more of a task and less of a creative outlet. Just a day before embarking on our annual cabin trip this year, I realized I hadn’t thought about what camera gear I would pack. Last year I definitely over prepared by bringing 4 lenses and a slew of other accoutrements. This year I hastily stuffed my 70D, 24-70 2.8 lens already affixed, into my bag, made sure the 128GB card was clean, and just for grins, threw in my macro lens and a few filters. I packed the tripod too, in case I wanted to get into some night time photography, but pregnancy has me out these days at about 10:30.

Suffice to say, it was a very quiet week on the photography front. CWC2016-1CWC2016-3And that’s totally fiiiine. Anything I would’ve tried to do this year would’ve just been trying to recreate my photoset from last year’s trip, which in my mind, really told the story of what our cabin trips are like well. I have nothing new to say about the cabin this year. It was insanely quiet. In our cabin, one daughter had just had a baby, and another was on the verge. Not a lot of wild swimming or runs or volleyball. Just straight chillin. I assume next year with a 10 month baby in tow I will have a new story to tell and/or not have any time to take pictures.CWC2016-9CWC2016-10CWC2016-11CWC2016-12CWC2016-13CWC2016-14CWC2016-28CWC2016-29CWC2016-30CWC2016-37CWC2016-38CWC2016-39CWC2016-40CWC2016-44CWC2016-45CWC2016-46For my cabin read this year I have delved back into the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Man. Reading these things with knowledge of what’s to come… It’s so frustrating. Ned Stark is SO STUPID you guys amirite?CWC2016-47I kept envisioning a cool bump photo of myself in my swimsuit with my lady prominently featured but I had yet to show anyone how to take a picture with my camera, so I took one myself. My suit is from ASOS maternity. Also: Rocking the top knot these days! CWC2016-48CWC2016-49Little Hattie is a little older and a little more delightfulCWC2016-50CWC2016-52CWC2016-53SUMMER EVENINGS, right?CWC2016-56We also had a new little niece this year, seen here being cradled by Uncle Alan. Thanks for the infant prep, sis!CWC2016-58CWC2016-64On the last day Alan and I took a walk and I got him to take some pictures of me. He had the hat turned around and everything, and his composition is not bad. Just have to teach him about aperture now! I find it difficult to pose and smile for pictures, as I think I have a super goofy smile when I’m forcing it. So he told me some jokes to get me going. You know, like you might a child. CWC2016-66Since getting tattoos and becoming pregnant, even though I’m not at my ideal weight, I feel a lot more comfortable in my own skin, and this summer especially I have been loving just showing off my arms and belly and legs with no hesitation. Early on, my midwife said “birth will be easy for you, because you’re tall!” I don’t know if that’s actually true, but it did give me a new lens to look at my body through, which I’ve always had a rough relationship with. I was like, hell yeah, I’m tall, I’m solidly built. I will birth the hell out of this baby and it will RULE. It’s so, so cheesy, but I’ve really embraced womanhood and body positivity with this little (super kicky) baby inside me.CWC2016-67I now feel a little better about handing the camera to Alan more often especially once the baby is born because I am poorly represented in my own photography and this blog. CWC2016-72For this one I handed the camera to my sister! And of all the shots she took I like this one of us being goofs. CWC2016-73CWC2016-77CWC2016-78CWC2016-80And the sun sets on another year at our beloved cabin. It really feels like it went too fast, and yet I’m still filled with a sense of renewed energy, like most years when the summer winds down. Must be all that Real Simple and Martha Stewart Living I read Up North. I get home and I’m ready to hit the ground running. Why, just today, I had a doctor appointment (which was very good BTW), went to the bank and the post office, and IKEA. I got a whole to-do list for the coming months, until baby arrives. Vacation as reset is always so positive.


Backpacking Ambitions: John Muir Trail

Happy Thursday! Somehow this week I went down the Thru-Hiking rabbit hole, and now all I can think about is taking a long backpacking trip. I’ve been sort of peripherally interested in long-distance backpacking trips since I read Simon Cook‘s ongoing blog recap of thru-hiking the Continental Divide Trail in 2009 (which, sadly, seems to be a now defunct blog). It seems like difficult goings, but ultimately super rewarding (if you  know what you’re doing). I don’t know if I’ll ever have six months to hike from Mexico to Canada, but Outside has done some features on shorter thru-hikes that don’t take half a year, and I’ve heard great things about the John Muir Trail. In Minnesota we have the Superior Hiking Trail which is also very good, but I’ve been on the North Shore plenty of times (and besides, I probably will hike it too). I want to go get into those Sierras. So I’ve officially added “Thru-Hiking the John Muir Trail” to my Life List. Enjoy some photos from the sublime instagram feed of Simone Anne from her time on the JMT: cameras-simone-anne-john-muir-trailwhile-hiking-simone-anne-john-muir-trailmost-liked-photo-simone-anne-john-muir-trail

Walk in the Woods

CREEK-11The weather is still trying to decide if it’s spring yet. Lately I’ve been taking walks along Minnehaha Creek, which is not far from my house, and quite close to my parents’ house, so it’s always been there. I’ve begun to prefer creek walks, as opposed to lake walks. It’s a little more secluded and wild, especially when it’s blustery and freezing cold, like it has been these many weekends. I especially enjoy throwing on my beloved Skyrim soundtrack and feeling the cold wind on my face as I walk in near isolation. I love these cold walks but I definitely am ready for it to be spring. It’ll be in the 70s by the end of the week, which you’d think would do the trick, but it’s too abrupt. Where are my 55 degree days with mild balminess? The springtime of my childhood is now a myth. As is the Summer, Fall and Winter of my childhood.

Anyway, friends, I took a new buddy out for the first time on Saturday, the Canon 24-70 2.8. I’m pretty pleased with the quality, as this is a lens I’ve been wanting for some time, even before I got my fancy camera. CREEK-1CREEK-5CREEK-4CREEK-6CREEK-2CREEK-7CREEK-12CREEK-9This series is a little more restrained than when I went walkin’ last spring (now that was a fantastic spring evening). Funny story: when I got the Sigma 18-35 1.8, it hadn’t really occurred to me that just because the 1.8 stop was really cool, it didn’t mean I had to use it for everything. Especially landscapes. You really shoot yourself in the foot with that – case in point: my photos from the Appalachians. Luckily, I learned my lesson and I’m now an f-stop master.

Far Horizons


The mountains are calling, and I must go — John Muir

Well hello! How was your weekend? Cool, let me just stop you there. My weekend was EPIC. I’d love to show and tell you all about it. I will try to be as brief as possible, and keep this post to a max… 35 photos*.

I flew to Denver bright and early Friday morning, and picked up my rental car, a Jeep Compass®, which is not the car I reserved BTW. After they were out of the SUV I reserved, “they” offered me a sedan and I’d get a discount, but I wanted an SUV for driving in the mountains, dammit! I drove to Estes Park, the gateway to the Rockies, or something. I couldn’t check into my hotel for a few more hours, so I drove into Rocky Mountain National Park and got started. I had no game plan. Didn’t have on my hiking clothes. I was driving faster than I could plan. Rocky Mountain National Park is loaded with stunning, breathtaking scenery. I knew wherever I found myself, I’d have no shortage of things to do and see.  Read more ›

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