New Mexico Part II – White Sands National Monument

This is a two-part blog post, so if you didn’t see the first part, you can catch up here.

At some point in the planning process of this trip, I convinced Dani that we should visit White Sands while in New Mexico, since it was only a mere three and a half hours away from Albuquerque. I’d been to White Sands twice before, both times while in college, but I wanted a chance to go back as a real photographer and, essentially, see if it was as awesome as I remembered. Plus the balloon fiesta didn’t have many (if any) events happening mid-week, so we thought it would be a good time to go. Let me just tell you that three and a half hours of driving in the desert feels more like double that. Not a lot of scenery in these here parts. An advertised “rest stop” was literally a bench and a trash can along the side of the road. Dani managed to not be too annoyed at all the car games I wanted to play, and eventually we found ourselves in White Sands a couple hours before sunset.

Yup. Still just as awesome as I remembered.

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New Mexico Part I – Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

I am obsessed with hot air balloons.

I admit it. I love everything about them.

In college, I would go to the small balloon fest every year in Abilene, Texas, just to help out and/or take photos. Someone took pity on me once and actually took me up in a balloon and I thought that might end my fascination, but nope, still obsessed. I’ve had the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta on my bucket list since before I ever even had a bucket list, so it was pretty special to finally get to go this past October. Because this balloon festival is the Dom Pérignon of all balloon festivals. Turns out Dani has also had this item on her list for quite some time, so we both escaped a crazy fall wedding season for a quick Sunday-Thursday trip to New Mexico! It might seem nuts to plan a hardcore photo trip in the busiest month of the year, but it was exactly what I needed to fall in love with my camera again. Sooooo much to love about this trip. I literally shed tears over these hot air balloons, guys. They were that beautiful. See?


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Potomac Fever and Rock Creek Singers (GMCW) group photos

For the last four years or so, I’ve photographed this incredibly talented a cappella group, Potomac Fever. It’s one of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington‘s select ensemble groups, and I first got the gig thanks to one of my all-time favorite grooms, Matt Holland. It is consistently a blast to photograph them because they are collectively hilarious and individually really quality dudes. I can’t speak highly enough of this group, and have been lucky enough to photograph a number of the members’ weddings as well!

Anyway, this year’s photoshoot was a little different because it happened inside and at night in their new rehearsal space, the converted Wonderbread Factory in D.C. While the location is definitely cool and brand new and an awesome space, it is still an office building, which of course comes with office-y things like low ceilings and water fountains and fluorescent lighting. Challenge accepted!


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Greece! (Santorini – Part II)

Santorini is one of those places where describing it in words isn’t really possible. Seriously one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Like, jaw-droppingly gorgeous. And simultaneously one of the most disappointingly touristy places I’ve ever been.

I don’t know why I envisioned it being so remote and self-preserved that no one but me would be there. Kind of like how I imagine Bora Bora to be. Hmmm. I was clearly misguided. Tourists everywhere, and enough souvenir shops to supply a small country with postcards and olive oil for life.

But here’s what did not disappoint: our villa and the view from our villa. (Another Airbnb win.) I loved that we were a tad off the beaten path in Imerovigli, definitely a more local village on the island. The “big” town of Fira was about a 30 minute walk away, so we walked there quite a bit, but our favorite restaurant of the whole trip ended up being right around the corner. (If you go, make sure to eat at Anogi!)


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Greece! (Athens – Part I)

Greece. What better place to go with my photographer friends? It has an interesting culture, great scenery, and I guess just a little bit of history. Ha. Let me rephrase. Greece is sooooo oooooold! I think that’s one of the things I liked about it most. “Old” in America is like 200 years. “Old” in Greece is like 2000 years. TWO THOUSAND YEARS, GUYS.2014-07-28_0038

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Birthday Goals!

Happy birthday to me, and happy Valentine’s Day to the rest of you!

I’m not much for making New Year’s resolutions. Maybe because I find them a bit trite, and cliché, but when my friend Dani started posting a list of things she wanted to do by her next birthday, I found myself really liking the idea. It is far more doable for me to set attainable, quantifiable goals than to just resolve to “be better” or “get in shape” without any sort of plan how to do so. And I liked the idea of doing it by my next birthday. Because isn’t that how our calendars should run anyway? With birthdays as our own personal new years? Plus I love lists. So anyway, here are some things I’d like to accomplish before next February 14.

1. Read the Bible at least 6 days a week.
2. Update my Quickbooks. (Why is this so hard?)
3. Get a new computer/phone/life technology.
4. Donate $10,000. (Obviously, not all at once or all to one place.)
5. Travel to Greece.
6. Photograph the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Albuquerque.
7. Read at least 25 books.
8. Cook at least two times per week.
9. Keep my photo turn-around time to three weeks or less.
10. Blog at least once a week. Come on. I can make this happen, right?
11. Submit my work something. Somewhere. To something I’ve never submitted to before.
12. Send birthday cards to my friends and family. Via snail mail. So they are received BEFORE their actual birthday.
13. Give myself one day off a week / Say “no” more.
14. Learn things. This means watching more Ted talks instead of the Bachelor while I edit.
15. Survive the toast I have to give at my BFF’s wedding. Literally survive it. That’s my only goal. And to never watch that part of the wedding video.
16. Call people more. Call people back. Basically, I’ve really sucked at keeping in touch lately.
17. Visit Longwood Gardens at Christmastime.
18. Make myself nice return address labels. Like with cameras on them or something.
19. Learn how to spell boutonniere without spell check. (Strange that I find myself typing this word as often as I do.)
20. (Finally) revamp my blog.

Best Songs of 2013

January would not be complete without my annual “best songs” list! These are my favorites, in no particular order. (Not necessarily songs that were released in 2013, just ones I really started listening to.) Previous years’ lists: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008.

Bonfire Heart – James Blunt (can I put this on my 2013 list? Didn’t hear it until December, but I probably listened to it enough times after that to make up for all the months I missed.)
Ten Thousand Hours – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Counting Stars – One Republic
Wake Me Up – Avicii
Overjoyed – Bastille
Love is a Fire – Courrier
High Hopes – Kodaline
Shake, Shake, Shake – Bronze Radio Return
Helicopter – Branches
Slow – Grouplove

2013 Books I’ve Read

This is another one of those silly annual posts I do… Always kinda fun for me to look back and see what I’ve read in the past. Here are my lists from 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. So far this year I’m off to a pretty good start, considering I read only 12 books in 2012! Ha.

25. The Scarlet Pimpernel – Baroness Emma Orczy 6/10
24. The Ruins of Us – Keija Parssinen 5/10
23. Jesus, My Father, the CIA and Me – Ian Morgen Cron 8/10
22. The Night Villa – Carol Goodman 4/10
21. The Brass Verdict – Michael Connelly 6/10
20. Belong to Me – Marisa de los Santos 7.5/10
19. The Chaperone – Laura Moriarty 8/10
18. Is This Tomorrow? – Caroline Leavitt 9/10
17. Bloodland – Alan Glynn 9/10
16. The Circle Maker – Mark Batterson 8.5/10
15. When You Are Engulfed in Flames – David Sedaris 8.5/10
14. The Dinner – Herman Koch 5/10
13. The Newlyweds – Neil Freudenberger 6/10
12. Baby Proof – Emily Giffin 6.5/10
11. The Red House -Mark Haddon 4/10
10. Salem Falls – Jodi Picoult 8/10
9. Noah’s Compass – Anne Tyler 4/10
8. The Fault in our Stars – John Green 10/10
7. The Art of Fielding – Chad Harbach 9/10
6. The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell 7/10
5. Brain on Fire – Susannah Cahalan 8/10
4. The Pilot’s Wife – Anita Shreve 7/10 (definitely not the best book to read by the pool in Aruba, might have ranked it higher if I read it elsewhere)
3. Body of Evidence – Patricia Cornwell 7.5/10
2. Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs – Ken Jennings 9/10
1. Everything Matters – Ron Currie Jr. 7/10

Nova Scotia

Time for a personal post! :) I am always taking photos of something or another, but I don’t always get around to sharing the non-wedding ones. But maybe you’d like to see some Canada!

Last October, right before my Iceland trip, Paul and I took a trip back to his hometown in Nova Scotia. Sadly, because there is no direct flight and it always ends up being fairly expensive, we usually only make it there once a year. This visit was particularly awesome because all the leaves were still changing color and the weather was surprisingly warm! We did a fair amount of driving around the countryside, which I loved. The small coastal towns of Nova Scotia really remind me of Annapolis and the Eastern Shore. So many boats and so much beauty!

I’m totally gonna get one of these lighthouse photos enlarged for my wall.

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Best Songs of 2012

This post has become an annual thing (2011, 2010, 2009, 2008), and one that’s always fun to look back on. I spend a lot of time in the car (listening to music), editing at my desk (listening to music) and in the kitchen (listening to music). You see the trend? So when I find new bands and new songs that make me excited, I want to share the love! Here are my favorite discoveries from last year. And my usual disclaimer, these are not necessarily songs that came out in 2012, just the ones I happened to come across.

It’s Time – Imagine Dragons
Demons – Imagine Dragons (yep, another one from the same band. The album is that awesome.)
Home – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Heart is Hard to Find – Jimmy Eat World
Love Left to Lose – Sons of Sylvia
Next in Line – WALK THE MOON
Tongue Tied – Grouplove 
Ho Hey – Lumineers
National Anthem – Gaslight Anthem
King and Lionheart – Of Monsters of Men

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