070. Photo Essay: Applecross, Scotland

The answer is yes.

Yes, you should visit Scotland. And you should go to Applecross.

If you enjoy beautiful, rugged scenery, and if you enjoy camping, either in a tent or in an adorable wooden hut, or even a B&B or hotel, you will find a comfy place to lie your head in Applecross.

It's one of the most beautiful places to explore, and the switchback road that leads you there travels over the Bealach na Ba (Pass of the Cattle), one of the highest roads in the UK. (It's also part of the Northcoast 500 route)

Like most of Scotland, the diversity in landscape is astounding. You can enjoy a mossy woodland hike next to a babbling brook, and moments later, listen to the ocean waves crashing into the rocks below your feet. There is something for everyone there. I have now visited Applecross twice, and each time was a new experience.

Here are some photos from autumn 2016, and towards the end of the post, I'll share some photos from this weekend (April 2017).

As you can see, Autumn was incredible gorgeous, and offers a variety of colors and textures within the scenery. So when I headed back there this weekend, I was very excited to see what Spring time would hold!
I wasn't disappointed, and in fact, the moody weather gave the trip a very dramatic tone. We experienced everything from stormy, foggy weather to beautiful sunshine!

In terms of wildlife, you will find herds of red deer, sheep, "Highland Cows" and many other critters. As for weather, wear layers!! Since weather changes so quickly, you have to be prepared for anything. 

I also recommend booking your campsite far in advance. Since space is limited, you want to make sure you have a place to sleep!

If you enjoy art, I highly recommend the gallery/cafe at the "bottom of the hill" - it's called the Bealach Cafe & Gallery. Stop here on your way in or out of Applecross. Enjoy a delicious cuppa and fresh scone with jam/butter, and peruse the beautiful fine art selection. I was actually shocked the first time I walked in. It's full of Scotland artists, and the work is absolutely breathtaking.

Applecross has gained quite a reputation, so in the summer (high tourist season) be prepared for a lot of traffic and busy campsites. I can HIGHLY recommend late autumn and spring time if you have the option to visit then! It's much less crowded.

If you're looking for things to do in Applecross, your main activity will be camping/hill walking and site-seeing. Let's face it, you go there to get away and you want to enjoy nature!
My favorite hikes are easy to get to from the Applecross campsite. 
The first one is a woodland walk, that follows the River Applecross. From the Applecross Campsite, go north on Shore Street towards the "Applecross Walled Garden & Restaurant," (but don't turn into there) and before you get to the bridge that crosses the river, there's a small area to park on the left side of the road near the water. Park the car and walk towards the bridge. At the bridge you will see a small gate and a sign for "River Walk" (Roes Walk). Many of the woodland photos above are from this trail. The trail hangs by the right side of the river most of the way.

I also love the Coral beaches trail (near Culduie), which is more remote. Follow the road south to Ard-dhubh from Culdie. On your way here, keep an eye out for seals when it's sunny. They like to lay on the rocks! There's roadside parking near a small sign and trailhead that says "Coral Beaches." The trail crosses the moors and curves around the peninsula, following a trail through some beautiful birch trees. Stay on the path towards Ard Ban when you see the sign. It leads to a beautiful small beach near three old cottages (one is in ruins). There's a beautiful view towards Raasay and beyond.

At the end of the day, enjoy a pint on the water at the Applecross Inn, and try their AMAZING homemade sticky toffee pudding and ice-cream. 

Happy camping!

063. Documenting Artwork

Documenting your work is so important, whether you are a hobbyist or a full time artist. You use images for your portfolio, shop, and social media. Having consistently good images will put you and your work in a better light (pun)!

For those of us who are trying to build our business and make a living through our artwork, it's essential that we make it look as professional as possible! 

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First, decide between using a camera to capture your work or a scanner.

For me, that was an easy choice. I come from a photography background, so I already had the knowledge and camera required for good photos. But even more importantly, I often paint very large - sometimes up to 4 feet paintings, and those cannot be scanned!
If you want to scan your artwork, but you don't own a large scanner, you'll need to find a local print shop who can scan large artwork, and they have limits (and it can be pricey).

So this information is for anyone interested in photographing your artwork. This is MY process, and it may differ from other artists, but I hope it helps! Everything in my portfolio was a photo taken with my DSLR and cropped/adjusted in Photoshop after.

Anytime I say "canvas" I am referring to your artwork, whether it's a painting, drawing, or sculpture!

 

Lighting

There are lots of factors to consider when documenting artwork, but lighting is the main challenge. Regardless of your equipment, if you don't understand what good lighting is, your photos will suffer. 

USE NATURAL LIGHT WHENEVER POSSIBLE (But not direct sun)

Each type of light (natural, incandescent, LED, fluorescent, etc) has a different color or "temperature" (warm vs. cool)
Natural light falls in the middle, giving you a very neutral color and most accurately representing your artwork's colors.

Most of us have incandescent or warm LED bulbs in our home, which will cast a warm glow. If you absolutely cannot take photos using natural light, using the artificial light available to you is OK because color can be fixed in post production (to an extent). However what is not OK is low light, or using flashes that create a glare on the artwork. Sometimes, the glare isn't just a white reflection, but a color shift within your shadows. This can be hard to notice until you get into post production, and it's really annoying to fix!

To avoid reflections and glare on your canvas, you need to use indirect lighting. This means making sure there are no direct sources of light hitting your canvas. You can do this by angling your canvas in a certain position with your room. Fill the room with as much light as possible. Don't point light directly at your canvas. Begin angling the canvas and really look at the shadows. If you notice they are "lighter" than they should be or have a slightly different color, this means there's a glare and it WILL show up in your photos.

Keep angling until you find a position that works! Remember to avoid casting a shadow on the work from your body, camera or tripod (I rarely use a tripod).

 

The angle of the photo matters!

Don't take the photo from a harsh angle (from the side). Position the camera DIRECTLY ABOVE the canvas, keeping in mind that you will need to crop the image. Cropping requires straight lines. 

The following examples were taken with my phone (LG G4):

Final image after adjustments.

The last image shows what it looks like after being cropped and the contrast slightly increased.
This painting was not complete at the time, but I wanted to use it as an example because it had a variety of colors, contrast, and texture. These things were captured well with my phone and the final image is perfect for twitter or instagram, or even an online portfolio!

 

DSLR Camera Settings

I always shoot in RAW format (not jpeg) whenever possible.
Most cameras, even point-and-shoots and some phones, have the option to change what file type your images are. RAW format allows you to adjust native settings of the image like exposure, white balance (color), and much more in post production, and it gives you a higher quality image.

Canon: In your camera menu, scroll to the "Image Quality" function and choose RAW.
Nikon: In your camera menu, scroll to "Image Quality" function and choose NEF (RAW).

Keep in mind this will increase your file size, sometimes up to 30mb per image. However it provides the purest, largest, highest quality image, which will allow you to make large poster size prints of your images later if you want!
If you don't have the option for RAW, use the highest jpeg setting available.

Use a high ISO in order to allow as much light into the sensor as possible. If your shadows are "grainy" that means you need more light in the room and a lower ISO (increasing the ISO too much will cause grain).

MAKE SURE THE PHOTO IS IN FOCUS! Stay as still as possible, and take the image directly from above so that every part of the canvas is in focus.

 

Using a Phone

I have the LG G4 phone, and I chose it specifically for the camera. It allows manual settings as well as RAW format! It takes incredibly crisp images and does a great job handling low light.

You can take perfectly decent photos for your portfolio and social media with your camera phone.
(See above examples)

The area that it lacks is usually resolution/file size. If you plan on selling high quality prints of your work down the line, you'll need very high resolution, large files which phones don't always provide. Just keep that in mind.

 

Post Production

After you take the photo, you will need to make adjustments and crop the image to match the borders of your artwork.

I use Photoshop CS6, but you can find other photo editing software out there. Just make sure it allows you to edit RAW images if you use that setting.

When you open a RAW file, it will first open in Adobe Bridge. This allows you to adjust the native settings of the image like exposure and color. If you have a jpeg, open it directly in Photoshop or whatever software you have. You can still adjust these settings in a jpeg to an extent.

The main things I do are:

  1. Crop
  2. Adjust saturation or colors
  3. Adjust contrast (using levels or curves)

 

Social Media

Like I mentioned before, a lot of times using a phone to capture images of your work for social media is perfectly fine, just try to keep lighting, angle, and quality in mind! The more you post consistently good quality images, the more your work will attract others. Posting poorly lit, horribly yellow, or grainy photos of your work just makes the art and your brand look BAD! Give yourself the best chance possible by taking a little extra time and pay attention to the details.

Progress Pics are an excellent way to show off the unique aspects of a medium, whether it's painting or drawing, or whatever! People love progress pics!

Instagram currently offers the choice to upload multiple images to one post, so you can show individual progress photos or closeups of your piece.
Note: For the multiple photo feature, the app auto-crops them to a square, so make sure you take the image from far enough away/the correct angle to fit within a square.

Twitter allows you to upload 4 images at a time, which is also an excellent way to show details or progress shots.

You can also have fun and get creative with your compositions. 

Multiples or closeups don't have to be boring!

If you have any specific questions, please message me or leave a comment below! I'd love to help you reach a level of quality you are proud of!

056. Photo Essay: Isle of Skye, Scotland Part 2

The following images were from my second trip to Skye in the fall of 2016. 

As I mentioned yesterday in Part 1, my love for this island is boundless. The incredible diversity of Skye incites curiosity and adventure.

During this trip, we had a couple nights of camping, and we also stayed at a friend's self-catering home while they visited (perfect timing). It was so much fun to share this beautiful island with good friends.

It couldn't have been better - staring out over the Loch as the sun set, curled up with a glass of wine and some sticky toffee pudding (the national desert of Scotland). Waking up to a beautiful sunny morning, sitting in the observatory and painting the coast.

Photo courtesy of my friend Rich.

That is my heaven.

Since I have discovered my love for watercolors, I've had so much fun going on hikes and painting the scenery! You'll see lots of my paintings mixed in below.

Most of these images were captured on my Canon 7D, some of them are from my LG G4.

055. Photo Essay: Isle of Skye, Scotland Part 1

Today I'm headed to the my favorite place in Scotland: The Isle of Skye!

Today and tomorrow I'll be sharing some of my favorite images from this island. I traveled here in the late winter of 2016, and once more in the fall. Regardless of what time of year you visit, there is so much beauty to take in.

This rural island on the west side of Scotland has one of the most diverse landscapes I've ever seen. Everything from lush forests to rocky coasts.
It's home to approx 10,000 people, and this low population means that nature rules. 

These images were captured with my Contax 645 on medium format film (a couple of the dusk shots were on my iPhone).

052. Photography Tips: Chasing the Light

I'm a hunter. A hunter of good light.
Over the years I've played with many artificial lighting techniques, including strobes, umbrellas/reflectors, and even timed flashes. 

They served me well in different scenarios, especially weddings, where the lighting is often unpredictable, and the party stretches late into the night (darkness).

However, nothing has ever quite captured my fancy like natural light. The power of the sun.
No batteries, no extra equipment. Just me, the camera, my clients, and the incredibly flattering natural light. For most photographers, the thrill of capturing a beautiful image is hard to top. And for me, doing that with pure natural light was the ultimate joy.

Dori & Philip's engagement sessions, 2015.

While artificial light has its uses, the beauty of natural light is hard to beat.
There's something exhilarating about chasing and finding the perfect light. 

For most photo shoots, I would tell my clients to be ready 3 hours before sunset. I'd pick them up, drive out to whichever location I had in mind, and we'd just have fun following the sun! We'd walk/hike/drive around, finding awesome backdrops and great angles to capture the sunlight. It was a very relaxed way of shooting, and I wasn't worried about lugging equipment around. The heaviest thing I brought were my lenses! My clients enjoyed the "freedom" of this style and in turn, they were more relaxed and natural in front of the camera.

Bridal Portrait Session, 2014

The "golden hour" is the best time, as the sun is low on the horizon, casting it's yellowish/orange rays. The golden hour takes place approximately 1-2 hours before sunset.
Noon is the worst time for outdoor photographs, because the sun is directly above us, creating harsh, unwanted shadows on faces, and the color of the light is much more "white" (not ideal for skin tones).

However, relying on nature has its downfalls. Weather, for one thing, is unpredictable.
I would often provide a backup date to my photo shoots, in case it was suddenly too cloudy or rainy. However, it was always worth it!
Being flexible meant we were able to capitalize on the best weather.

So, you're out there in the golden hour, your clients are looking great...now what?

Mountain wedding, 2013.

As the photographer, it's your job to know how to utilize the surroundings and angles (based on the sun's location) to capture the best photos. When women are involved, you better be aware of those shadows!
Women are famous for being extra critical of how they look. You'll want to avoid any angles that make them look "larger" as well as unflattering shadows under the eyes. 
It takes practice, but in time you'll get a feel for which angles work the best.

Engagement Session Portrait, 2013.

In order to really take advantage of the natural light, I always include a few stylized shots involving direct sun and sunspots! These often end up being our favorite images. Why? Because they tell a visual story, and are special. Set your client directly in front of the sun, so it's barely peaking around them. This creates a lens flare for dramatic effect.

The dreamy lighting allows the viewer to get lost in the FEELING of the image.

Wedding Portraits, 2015.

Alas, one can get so addicted to using natural light, that they almost develop an aversion to using any artificial light! (This totally happened to me for a brief time in my career, but I eventually got over it).

Without my handy flash, I never would have captured this image of the bride & groom leaving the reception, soluting the moon, which ended up being one of their favorites!

To recap, here are a few tips!

  • Know your location! Research and/or visually document when the golden hour is at it's prime in whichever location you want to shoot. This is called "scouting" your location. Go there a few times a week before the photoshoot to get an idea of when the light is low on the horizon.
  • Don't wait too long! I occassionally made the mistake of pushing a start time until only an hour before sunset. This is a mistake because if there are trees, or mountains, or tall buildings nearby, the sun might dip behind them waaayyyy before the scheduled sunset time! Don't miss out on light due to poor timing.
  • Try to avoid photographing your clients in direct sunlight - this usually just leads to lots of squinting, unflattering shadows, and sweat.
  • When positioning your clients relative to the sun, always start with the sun behind them, or slightly off to the side. If the sun is in front of them, again you may run into squinting and shadows. Once you get them in place, you can then have them turn a little bit to one side if the lighting is more flattering. 
  • Use natural "reflectors." Anything reflects light, except for extremely dark objects. You can use sidewalks, walls, even cars to bounce light onto your subjects. They can be really useful when you're trying to photograph someone who is back-lit (when they almost become a silhouette). Take a friend out for a test photo shoot and try illuminating them with natural reflectors. You'll quickly learn to look for these (or avoid them) during your photo shoots!
  • Watch the grass! I can't tell you how many times I have done a photo shoot, felt really excited about the results, gone home to my computer and realized all of their skin is tinted GREEN! Yikes! This is because the sun reflects the colors in your environment, and if your clients are sitting or standing near one large color source (like grass), that is a LOT of color being reflected! You can waste hours in post processing fixing the colors, or you can just avoid it in the first place!

049. Photo Essay: Berlin

Today I'm going to share images of my trip to Berlin! 
The one thing that stood out to me the most in Berlin was the stark contrast between "new and old." The city is filled with relics of the past, in architecture and monuments, yet there is a contemporary city sprouting up. There was a lot of construction when I was there (March 2016), many new skyscrapers being built.
A friend of mine lives there and took me on a walking tour of downtown Berlin, offering local insights. 
Unfortunately I was sick with Bronchitis while I was there so I had to take it a little easy.

Out of all the European cities I've visited, Berlin was the cleanest, most well organized and labeled. It wasn't overly crowded (in fact, it kind of felt empty at times, probably because it was winter).

There's so much history to discover there, and I felt very introspective while walking around.

Cool fact: the Berlin Wall is obviously gone, but they kept a few "pieces" in tact. They also left the original brick foundations in tact, which cut through the new roads and sidewalks like a vein. 

041. Photo Essay: Stockholm, Sweden Part Two - 24 Hours in Gamla Stan

24 hours in Gamla Stan

Welcome to Part Two of my Stockholm post! As I mentioned, I stayed at my friend's house for a couple days outside the city, but I wanted to have at least one full 24 hours IN the city to explore. So I booked a room at the STF Hotel Gamla Stan. Very affordable, clean, and quiet. I also booked a Swedish Massage at the Luxury Spa at First Hotel Reisen, which was an amazing experience (cliche, I know).

Here's how I recommend spending 24 hours in Gamla Stan.

The wonderful part about traveling during winter is that most places are cheaper and way less crowded. It's honestly the only way I could afford traveling through Europe for 2 months. The downside is, while out exploring, you are often freezing! 
Thankfully, there are plenty of cute little coffee and pastry shops to pop into to warm up (and have a treat... what better excuse!)

The city has such a good energy about it. It's clean, well organized, and once you get into "old town" also known as Gamla Stan, you are transported back to medieval Europe. It's on a little island in the middle of Stockholm (accessed by bridges).

This eclectic mix of new and old, makes Stockholm so much fun to explore (especially for photographers!)
I spent most of my time in Gamla Stan, as there is so much visual and cultural interest there.
Tons of little shops (most of it is pedestrian-only), restaurants, art galleries, and museums.
But even just the people watching is ace, and the old architecture is alluring.

Spend a few hours wandering around the old city. The narrow cobblestone streets and alleys wind between old stucco'd buildings. There's so much to see and you can get a good sense of the place by wandering without itinerary. Stop into any of the coffee or pastry shops for a morning snack/early lunch.

Eventually you'll want to check into your hotel. I enjoyed the STF Hotel Gamla Stan, and it was about $60 including breakfast. Located right on the end of Gamla Stan and easy to access. Even at night I felt safe walking alone in the area.

My friend knew about a really cool place called the Aifur Krog & Bar, which was basically a Viking-style restaurant. It's pricey, but if you have the chance, you MUST have dinner here!!
(NOTE: It's extremely popular so you will need to make reservations!! Even in the dead of winter.)

Seating is family style (large tables) among roaring fireplaces, candle light, live musicians perched on cushions, and the food...oh man the food... 

As a vegetarian eating in a viking restaurant, I was a little nervous. I ordered one of the few options without meat, the stew.

Hands down, it was one of the best things I've ever eaten. I practically licked my steel bowl.

After a rousing dinner, make your way to the Ice Bar. (https://www.icebarstockholm.com/book-icebar/)
It's not in Gamla Stan, but you can get there with a 20 minute walk or by bus.

Located under Hotel C, you walk in, pay the entry fee ($22), and you are escorted through to the very cool (literally freezing) Ice Bar! A very unique (and strong) cocktail is included in your entry fee, but you can buy more as needed/desired. They provide the warm gear for you to wear, which you definitely want, because even the seats are made of ice!

After about an hour, I was frozen to my core, so we decided to head out.
You can enjoy exploring the city a little more, or head to Sjätte Tunnan, and amazing underground "pub" who serves some of the best mead I've ever tried! It's located back in Gamla Stan. It has a very old world feel, and very delicious beverages. (They also serve viking style food but I missed the cut-off.

Excuse the creepy lighting!

Excuse the creepy lighting!

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Photo 

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You'll never run out of things to do, see and taste in Stockholm, especially in Gamla Stan.
A 2 day trip would still leave you wanting more. 

Happy traveling!

040. Photo Essay: Stockholm, Sweden Part One: The New City and Surrounding Area

There's so much to share about Stockholm and the nearby areas that I need to split this post into two parts. Today, I'll share photos and experiences about the "newer" part of Stockholm (which is still really old) and the countryside. Tomorrow: Part Two, 24 Hours in Gamla Stan, the "old city!"

Even in winter the countryside is gorgeous. There's a stark, quiet beauty to it (I love black and white film, and those things go hand in hand!)

Stockholm was one of those places that I had always dreamed of visiting. Any photos I saw of the city were so enchanting and inviting. Last March I had the chance to pass through during my travels, and I was not disappointed. 
I got to meet up with a good friend, who was gracious enough to give me a tour of the city (new and old) and even let me borrow his jacket when it randomly started to snow on us! 

I was staying at his house, just outside the city, so we also had a chance to explore the countryside.

Here are some of my favorite images from the trip that I think capture its personality.

I'm not much of a museum lover, but there is one experience you CAN'T miss in Stockholm. That's the Vasa Museum.

It contains the oldest preserved Viking ship in the world. It's worth the $15 entry fee.
You can't understand the scale of this ship until you're standing next to it!

Bottom left: tiny people ants for scale.

A "miniature" replica of the ship (actual ship shown behind it).

A "miniature" replica of the ship (actual ship shown behind it).

The detailing and craftsmanship is stunning.

The countryside around Stockholm is dotted with ancient Rune Stones. They were originally used as Viking memorial markers (not burial sites though). They've since been preserved and "labelled" - usually there's a little sign next to them (in Swedish).

There's so much incredibly rich culture to explore in Sweden. Having only a few days there is difficult, especially in winter. But even then, you can see a ton just by driving or walking around!

Tomorrow: Party Two, 24 hours in Gamla Stan!

037. Hike Recap: Steall Falls, Scotland

Steall Falls (formerly An Steall Bàn) is a must-see for anyone who likes mountains and waterfalls, and honestly, it's a super easy hike.

Even the drive TO the carpark is gorgeous, as you pass Ben Nevis mountain.

After arriving at the car park, it's about an hour long hike to get to the falls themselves (depending on your speed and how often you stop to take in the view). The trail is not difficult, and most of it is well cared for. I hear in the summer it's an extremely busy hike. I was there in the winter, and only ran into a couple people along the way.

The trail follows a beautiful river, "Water of Nevis," which cascades through the gorge (to your right) among giant moss covered boulders. It's not uncommon to see rock climbers (at any time of year), scaling the steep cliff face on the opposite side of the river.

Eventually the trail opens up into a huge valley, and you finally catch a glimpse of the roaring waterfall in the distance. 

When you finally get closer to the waterfall, the immense height becomes apparent (after all, it is Scotland's second highest waterfall!)

The river snakes in front of you, blocking your path. You can stay here and get a nice view of the falls, and have a nice picnic. But if you want to make the most of the hike, you'll want to cross the river.

The only way to get to the base of the waterfall is a wire bridge over the river. 
I am terrified of heights, and after endless prodding from my friends, decided to try it anyway.

The wire bridge sits about 15 feet above the water - not terrible, but when it's freezing cold and you have your photo gear, you do NOT want to fall in!
 

My friend crossing the bridge first.

Halfway across, I became paralyzed with fear, and begged my friends to allow me to turn back, but they correctly pointed out that there's no way to turn around once you start, so I HAD to finish. With tiny baby steps and white knuckles, I finally made it.

Once across, you are rewarded with an amazing experience. A short hike leads to the base of the falls, which roar down onto mossy rocks and beautiful crystal clear pools.

A photographer's playground!

Even in winter, the area is lush! I'd love to visit again in the spring or summer!

Here's an amazing view looking back towards the trail (showing a self-catering hut for rent). It was the perfect inspiration for one of my paintings.

15x22" watercolor on cold press paper.

Happy hiking!

027. Hike Recap: Hanging Lake in Colorado

If you're looking for inspirational landscapes, it's hard to go wrong with any hike in Colorado. The natural beauty of the mountains is easily accessible from Denver, but ask anyone for a recommendation and you're bound to hear about Hanging Lake.

This hike is strenuous, but SO worth it.
Drive towards Glenwood Springs on I-70 (about 2.5 hours from Denver), take exit 121 and return to I-70 going back towards Denver (yes, for some reason there is no exit directly from I-70 West)

After reaching the car park (get there as early as possible in the summer, as it fills up fast), follow the signs towards the trailhead (about 10 minutes).

Once you get to the trailhead, the vertical climb begins. You will be hiking up, up, up UP for a mile! I was very winded, so we took it slow. In May the ground is still muddy from melting snow, but not bad. There are some man-made stone steps here and there, but also some very rough terrain scattered. 

The trail follows a waterfall/creek the whole way. There are a bunch of bridges that cross over the water as well. Close to the top there is an amazing spot for a beautiful panoramic view.

Keep going up, and you'll soon hit the lower lake of Hanging Falls! Several waterfalls pour down into the gorgeous blue waters.

You're not done yet! Back on the trail, instead of heading back down, turn right and climb up the steep boulders above the falls. There you will find Spouting Rock, the incredible "source" of the Hanging Lake waterfalls.

In May the waterfall was GUSHING and the air was incredible "misty" - you WILL get wet! But it's an amazing experience to walk up behind the waterfall. You won't regret it!

020. Photo Essay: Deep Roots

Once upon a time there was a beautiful elven maiden who loved to walk in the forest. The trees loved her in return, for she brought them beautiful songs. As she passed by, their deep roots would stretch further into the earth, and their branches would shiver with joy.
One day while wandering below the boughs, she decided to visit her favorite place to gaze at the mountains.
The cliffs overlooked a large valley, surrounded by mountain peeks that seemed to go on forever. The sun was setting as her piercing eyes crossed the valley.
There, far below, in a little clearing beneath the great Pines, sat a mortal man, playing his flute in the warm sun. The trees around him were shivering and dancing to the music.
"I must go to him," she thought, as she turned and her swift feet carried her down the slopes.

Today I'm sharing my favorite styled photoshoot from 2014! This was a personal projects during one of my busiest weddings seasons. I had wanted to create an elven-inspired photoshoot that I could submit to magazines and photography blogs to be featured (a very common practice for wedding photographers), while creating a beautiful set of images for myself.

I hired a model, went to the thrift store and collected goods, got some flowers from the local market, and worked with a local bridal shop to borrow a beautiful gown. It was such a fun day and I'm still dreaming of the beautiful warm sun as it set over the mountains.

Inspired by one of my favorite Tolkien poems:

"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost."

This session was shot on 35mm and 120mm medium format films. 
To date, this is my favorite photoshoot I've ever done. Why? Because it was 100% from my imagination, not for a client. To me, that is when I make my best work.