Tag Archives: photography

I like the challenge.

Life is full of so many challenges, and I love it.

Life is short.

I feel so lucky to be here, and I love this struggle that we’re all facing together. Here are a few of my current favorite challenges…

The challenge to keep my cool when people lie to my face, especially in politics.

  • I’m not involved in politics for my own gain. I’m not in it for the “glory,” and I’m certainly not in it for the money. My salary is public record, and much of what I do is volunteer work. There are lots of late nights and early mornings. In reality, I’m in politics to help make a difference. To be actively involved in my neighborhood- to preserve the unique qualities of my community while changing us for the better.

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The challenge to continually come up with fresh, creative ideas in the face of mirror images.

  • Seeking inspiration from other creatives and from reflection in solitude is not easy. It requires a healthy dose of honesty and open-mindedness… and a realization that, yes, sometimes the truth hurts. Accepting it and using it to improve my craft is where the growth happens.

The challenge to remain youthful but make mature decisions.

  • I feel an intense societal pressure to appear youthful but not act that way.

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The challenge to continually market myself when sometimes I just want to be real with people.

  • Yes, sometimes I take iPhone photos of my lattes. No, I usually don’t post them on social media because they don’t fit my “brand.” I used to try to take one of my cameras everywhere, so I could satisfy my urge to capture everything and still have the quality that I feel I need to post images. Having a transparent, integrated life sometimes makes me feel like a fraud, because my brand is ME, and while I have no problem posting selfies or unflattering photos of myself, I intentionally end up not sharing some of the more, well… not “picture-perfect” things that I’ve documented, as if it will somehow negatively effect my business. I need to remember that my clients know when I’m working and when I’m having fun, and taking non-professional photos when I’m not working isn’t an indication of what I can do when I am.

Here’s a phone photo of a beautiful flaming cocktail from my local distillery. The upside is that I’ll be doing photo work for them in the coming months, so I’ll have some professional photos, too. 🙂

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The challenge to ignore the “haters” and remember that their problems are with themselves, and are not about me. I thought K-12 school was bad, but I had no idea about the adult business world.

  • My personality is one that thrives off competition- it pushes me to be better and work harder. Some people don’t have that same instinct, and competition brings out the worst in them.

The challenge to remain positive and focused on the long game, when current situations make me feel defeated and hopeless.

  • Especially in politics: when I’m fighting the good fight, and I know I’m going to lose, it’s difficult to stay optimistic and keep fighting. There are always going to be more fights to take on, and they’re often among the same people. It’s hard for me to lose with grace when my instinct is to go down swearing and swinging, leaving destruction in my wake. I usually end up defaulting to acting with grace in the hearing/meeting/consult, then crying out of anger in the car on the way home. Brian has received a brunt of my frustration after interactions like that. Thanks for the support, honey!

The challenge to keep growing and learning, stretching through the painful growth spurts, knowing there is a new version of myself waiting on the other side… and the simultaneous challenge of accepting and loving myself as I am, and at every step along the process.

  • Balancing the desire to become better and acceptance for my current self is something I’ve always struggled with. I’ve always wanted to be stronger, smarter, and thinner, and it’s proving a good challenge to accept myself on every step of this journey.

The challenge to consistently motivate myself independently- as a business owner, as a distance runner, as a grad student. This skill is elusive but incredibly important.

  • I’m reaching that wise age now (31, as of last week) where I realize that striving for self-motivation is worthy, but it’s also important to recognize when I need to ask for help. Sometimes I don’t want to read another scholarly article. Sometimes, I don’t want to go for a run. Sometimes, I don’t want to put myself out there in case people reject me or shut me down. It’s times like those that I’m thankful for my incredible support system who will bring me coffee and a cozy blanket with my homework, or give me the perfect pep talk, or get a manicure together, or put on their own running shoes and go with me.

The challenge to put aside my own worries and fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.

  • First world problems. I have plenty of them. Today, I was fighting with myself about how miserable it is that my lipstick gets on my braces. I can’t believe that was worth complaining about. Braces and lipstick are both non-essentials. I’m lucky, I know it, and don’t want to waste my time complaining when I can spend my time using my gifts to help others who need it.

The challenge to stay focused on this current moment, to appreciate what I have. Where I am. Who I’m with.

  • To put down my phone. It’s so hard. I feel like the world will fall apart, that my business will collapse, that there will be unrest in District Four, and it will be my fault. In reality, focusing on my current situation helps me to be better in all of my roles.

The challenge of properly deciding when to open my mouth and when to close it and smile.

  • I like to talk. I’m still getting used to the whole “on the record” thing. I want to be like my friend, Mary, who thinks things through so thoughtfully before she speaks- and as a result, she says incredibly insightful things.

The challenge to stop fighting sleep- to know when to stop writing, stop editing, stop consuming… to turn off my devices and go to bed.

  • Sometimes I feel like a little kid- I just don’t want to go to bed. I don’t know why I do this; I’m exhausted. I also love Jimmy Kimmel- that’s part of the problem. He’s so funny! Thursday nights are my favorite- they run his feature, This Week in Unnecessary Censorship. Hilarious.

The challenge to be social and friendly in a group setting, even when I’m just exhausted and I’d rather be secluded.

  • Conferences and meetings are especially tough- I feel like my personality always has to be “on.” I need time to recharge, and I don’t have enough of it. Multiple days of forced extroversion can be exhausting, but I know that pushing myself outside of my comfort zone is where growth happens, and I’ve had many wonderful experiences when I’m tired but hung with a group, regardless. I really do love meeting new people.

The challenge to push myself creatively, to try new subjects, new medium, new locations.

  • I’m going to try painting next. What’s the worst thing that can happen? The last time I tried shooting a new subject in a new style (food and beverages), I was blown out of the water. I couldn’t wait for my food photography and food styling classes, and I had a renewed excitement about shooting. All the colors and textures and movement just drew me right in, and I found myself shooting events and portraits with a new excitement, as well.

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And, lastly, the challenge to summon the bravery required to continually remain transparent. Honest. To blog with you all about my hopes and my dreams. To share my failures and my successes. To shout my joys and whisper my hardships.

  • Thank you for coming along on this journey. I appreciate you all!
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I can’t believe this race exists a.k.a. Rocky Mountain Flyathlon recap

I can’t believe this race exists.FullSizeRender (2)I can’t believe this place exists.

I’m talking about the Flyathlon. It’s the brain child of this incredible person, Andrew Todd.IMG_1514I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I first heard about it: a race with the motto, “Run. Fish. Beer.”

Sing here: These are a few of my favorite things…

In typical Heidi style, as soon as I heard about the race last year, I wanted to sign up. Unfortunately, it was full, so I signed up for this year’s race.

It’s held just outside of Saguache, CO, which is basically in the middle of nowhere in the mountains. FYI, Saguache is pronounced like suh-watch. No wonder people had a hard time understanding where I said I was going… I said Saguache like it rhymed with Chattahoochie (which also holds some awesome fish, in case you ever get down to Georgia…).

I had a VERY exciting and eventful trip out here, so I’ll start at the beginning…

Thursday morning: 6:00 am. I roll my curly, sleepy self out of bed. It’s difficult.

7:00 am. I’ve showered, dressed, and loaded everything into the car. I head out for MKE, the Milwaukee airport.

10:00 am. I’ve parked, and headed into the terminal.

10:10 am. My luggage is overweight. It must be the twelve beers from Central Waters and O’so. I became that annoying person in front of you at the airport, transferring gear from one bag to another. I also already have a ton of stuff, since this is a long trip. I have six days in Colorado and five days in Nevada. Temperatures ranging from 40 degrees to 105. And since I’m a photographer, I always have my camera gear. And my laptop. And I needed to bring all my trail running stuff, fly fishing stuff, and some camping stuff. I was a hot mess. I eventually got everything settled, and headed through security, and to my gate.

10:30 am. I discover that my flight has been delayed. I’m not really mad- I planned plenty of time for the flight, picking up my rental car, and swinging by REI and Whole Foods for a few race necessities before attempting the four hour drive into the mountains. I sit in MKE, catching up on work, and was able to actually sit down and eat a salad. 🙂

2:00 pm. We board the flight. I was about halfway through the boarding order, and as I was struggling to wheel my camera bag, laptop bag, and carrying my rod tube onto the plane, I heard, “Heidi! Sit here!” I looked up to discover my friend, Rich. How fabulous. I snuggled up next to him, told him all about the race, and also explained some serious anxiety I had about a big upcoming project. It’s not finalized yet, so I can’t talk about it, but I’ll let you know as soon as I can.

IMG_1428I knew Rich was coming out to CO, I just didn’t know we were on the same flight! I’m staying with my friend, Meredith, and she had mentioned that they were going to see Brandi Carlile at Red Rocks on Sunday. They invited me, and I was excited to see them and to check out that venue. I’d heard such great things!

This is Meredith. I’ve known her since we were six. Disclaimer: she’s amazing.IMG_1526Anyway, we landed safely in Denver, and my luggage arrived as well.IMG_1429I told Rich that I could give him a ride into town, since I was getting a rental car. I typically rent from Enterprise or Hertz, but there was a big business travelers’ conference in town, and they had a shortage of cars. I ended up having to rent from Budget. We took the shuttle to the Budget rental counter.

5:00 pm. We walk in the big sliding glass doors, and see this:IMG_1430I immediately told Rich that if he wanted to take the train downtown or grab an Uber, that I would totally understand. He did. 🙂 I wheeled all that luggage through the indoor switchbacks, and talked to the woman next to me in line to pass the time. She is a guitar instructor, and was out in CO to teach some masterclasses. Too cool. I’m glad we started talking, since we were there in line for an HOUR. I started to worry when doing the math… adding four plus hours to the current time equaled setting up my tent in the dark.

6:00 pm. When I finally made it to the counter, and the woman there looked up my reservation, she gave me bad news. I had messed up my online reservation, and I was actually supposed to pick up my car at a different Budget location, in Englewood. I asked if it was possible to modify my reservation, and she agreed. Yay! Unfortunately, there was going to be a $400 upcharge. I didn’t have $400, so I just stood there for a minute, stunned. I asked her what to do, because I was hoping she could help me out somehow. She said it was not their fault, so I was on my own. I asked for the address of the Englewood location, and called for an Uber. A few minutes later, the Uber driver called me- he couldn’t seem to find me. I had to ask a shuttle bus driver for directions for the driver, and eventually he found me, but it took longer than it should have, and I was trying to lug all that luggage around. I seriously put the LUG in luggage. My driver was a little scary- I just got a weird vibe from him. He was very jumpy and kept putting his left hand down on the side of his seat and making a rapid clicking noise. I didn’t know what was going on down there, and it was just freaking me out. To make matters worse, we were in serious Denver rush hour traffic, so it took us 45 minutes to get to the correct rental place. I was stuck with one heck of an Uber bill. We drove into a very industrial district- there wasn’t anything friendly-looking around. Apparently, I was supposed to pick up my car from a Budget truck rental facility- they must also have a few cars. I unloaded my luggage from the Uber, and turned to walk up to the door… only to realize it was dark inside. I pulled on the door, and it was locked. They closed at 6:00. I turned around as my Uber driver drove away. I looked at my phone and realized it was almost dead, but tried to call Budget customer service, anyway. They closed at 5:00.

::cue emotional breakdown::

I sat on the sidewalk and cried. I didn’t know what to do!

I called my trusty Denver friend, Meredith. She was in California for work, but was so sweet. She said, “Hang on, I’m going to text some people and figure something out for you.”

Amazing. Her friend, Kyle, text me an address to get to, and I called for another Uber. The next driver was amazing. He pulled up in a nice car, and when he got out, I found a kind middle-aged man wearing a tie and sweet frames. He loaded all my luggage. He even opened the door for me! I’m sure I wasn’t what he was expecting- he pulled up to the car rental place and found a tear-streaked, travel weary, curly Wisconsin woman with four pieces of luggage and a rod tube.

He dropped me off at the location Kyle gave me, and I asked for his phone number so I could call him directly the next time I needed a ride. I started wondering how I was going to get back to the rental place, and how I would get everything situated.

To make a long story short, I spent the night in a very nice hotel in Denver, and Kyle made sure I was comfortable. Thanks, friend! I’m so thankful.

This is us- look at Kyle’s cutie patootie face.IMG_1579I unpacked some of my luggage, and discovered that all 12 bottles of Wisconsin beer had survived the trip! We were asked to bring some of our favorite beer to share, so I had to make space among my clothes and gear for the important things.IMG_1436I took a bubble bath, made some tea, and slept pretty well.

Friday morning: 8:00 am. My alarm went off. I called Budget to tell them about my ordeal. I kept thinking that I was really lucky- something awful could have happened to me out there in that industrial district. I couldn’t easily walk anywhere to figure out what to do or charge my phone, especially not with all that luggage. Why did the woman at the airport tell me to go somewhere in the middle of nowhere when they were closed?! As it turns out, Budget didn’t care. I asked them if they could at least let the Englewood location know that I’d be over to pick up my car that morning, instead of the previous day, and the customer service representative’s response was, “Well, technically… your reservation is only valid for 15 hours from the time of pick up. Since you had planned to arrive in Denver at 1:30 yesterday, your reservation has already expired.” I asked to change it, and there was going to be (you guessed it!) a $400 upcharge. I couldn’t believe it. I hung up.

I stared at my phone, like I expected someone to call and explain this situation to me. Instead, I called Hertz at the airport, asked if they had any cars (they did!), and made a new reservation. Then I called my favorite Uber driver and asked if he could pick me up and take me to the airport. He said he could, but couldn’t get there until 2:00. I didn’t push my luck with a different driver- so I hung out at the hotel and got a little more work done.

I did some research on Red Rocks, and discovered that Brandi Carlile was actually playing with OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW!!!!! I lost my mind in that hotel room, jumping up and down and screaming. I love them. That helped me be in better spirits!

I hoped that traffic wouldn’t be too bad, and I’d still get to the mountains in time to meet everyone and get myself settled. My driver arrived, and he offered to take me on my errands in town and then to the airport. The traffic was crazy- I guess Denver’s Friday rush hour is even worse than Thursday. He was so kind- he didn’t want me to pay him. He felt so bad for me during this ordeal! I bought him coffee and lunch. 🙂

4:30 pm. I arrived at Hertz at the airport. Check-in went smoothly, until my credit card was declined. I had a zero dollar balance on it, so I couldn’t imagine what the problem was… until I realized that Budget must have run it every time I tried to change my reservation, so there was some kind of hold on it. I couldn’t let that stop me- so I used my debit card. A bad idea, I know… but it’s okay.

5:00 pm. I picked up my little white Jetta and hit the road.

The drive to Saguache was incredible. Around every bend, there was a new mountain. A new view. I cried a bunch on the way there. I was just so thankful to be finally on my way, and everything was so beautiful. It was storming, so I saw beautiful lightning strikes in the distance, and a few wicked rainbows.IMG_1445My ears popped as I drove up and down the mountains and into the valleys, while my cell phone popped in and out of having service.

I hit a traffic jam… I was literally stuck behind a house. I didn’t even care.

IMG_1441I knew I was racing the sun, and the closer I got to the race, the clearer it became that I would be arriving after dark.flyathlon-1There is serious value in written directions, and having the capability to follow them. I will be the first to admit that I am a GPS addict. Yes, I have a well-worn gazetteer marked with all my favorite fishing spots and little notes, but when I’m traveling, my eyes are glued to my phone’s map. Once I got within a couple hours of the race, I had no service, so no GPS. There was also no address attached to the lodge where race headquarters are located. I was driving in the dark, counting the miles on my odometer, and praying that I didn’t get lost. I didn’t. I pulled up in the pitch black, followed a gravel road, and wondered what the view would be like in the morning. Everyone had already set up their tents, and some people were sleeping in preparation for the next morning: the race.

It’s so hard to meet people in the dark. I parked, and was welcomed by a few really kind people, including my new BFF, Brian from Iowa.IMG_1492I’ll be referring to him from here on out as Iowa. We’d met virtually a couple months ago, because he’s planning a Flyathlon in the driftless region. I’m stoked. Registration is currently open, so if you’re interested in running a Flyathlon of your own this fall, check it out! I’m planning on being there. 🙂

I set up my tent (Andrew, the amazing race director, brought one for me) and unpacked the few things I’d need. I checked in for the race, got my bib and a bag with a ton of swag, and chugged some water. I was so thirsty. It was really cold, so I didn’t stay up late. I curled up in my tent and finally ate my dinner, in my tent, around 10 pm. I was exhausted after the stressful couple of days, but I didn’t sleep well. It’s my own fault- I was so cold. It got down to 40 that night, and I wasn’t prepared for that.

Saturday, race day. 6:30 am. My alarm went off. I had created a little mummy bag out of my blankets, sleeping bag liner, and clothes, and slowly emerged like a butterfly out of a very cozy cocoon. I took my thyroid meds, and cursed the fact that I didn’t have a plan for securing a hot cup of coffee. Need a visual? Here’s home sweet home.flyathlon-2It was the perfect place to camp. I saw this sign, and made sure the tent was zipped tightly.IMG_1496…And this is literally the view from my tent. Mountains were the perfect view for my morning yoga.flyathlon-3I had to sit in my car with the heat on to warm up, and I wasn’t really ready for the race. I was mentally making a checklist of required items to take with me- my gear was all rearranged for the flights, so it wasn’t all in one place. Normally, I have a detailed list of the things I need, and I lay everything out ahead of time. The crazy night prior to the race eliminated my routine. I forced myself to get out of the car and get ready, and I was in a hurry. I packed as much in my Osprey pack as I could, and grabbed the rest, including sandals for after the race (brilliant!). Noosa was one of the race sponsors, so I had some kick-ass yogurt for breakfast, with some granola that I’d scooped up at Whole Foods in Denver.IMG_1448The volunteers left early to drive to the trailhead and hike up to their posts, so I didn’t know anyone around the headquarters. I made my way around, introducing myself to people, and eventually found some nice people who let me ride with them.

Look at these friendly faces.IMG_1480I was the fifth wheel in a very sweet truck of flyathletes.IMG_1449We rode through farmland on gravel roads and over cattle guards, until we finally found ourselves with everyone else.

We took pictures of the race map with our phones in case we got lost out there.IMG_1450I rearranged my gear and realized that I’d forgotten my forceps and nippers in my luggage. 😦 Luckily, Iowa’d driven himself there, and he was more than willing to loan me his gear. Crisis averted. I checked in, and they gave me my measuring bib, which they won’t give us ahead of time to prevent cheating or pre-fishing.IMG_15679:00 am. I looked around at all the mountains surrounding me, and checked out the badasses who were lining up at the start.IMG_1452IMG_1453The trail head was adorned with this kickass sign, our logo made of beer caps.IMG_1475Andrew gave a few directions and reminders, then started the race by shooting a Busch Light with a BB gun.IMG_1456When the cheap beer started spraying, we took off.

The race had two courses- a short course of seven miles, and the long course of twelve miles. I’d been training for the long course. The short course runners went to the left, and the long course runners headed right, and straight up a hill. I stood at the bottom, looking up that hill, and had second thoughts. I ran anyway. By the time I could see the first switchback, I was already panting like a dog on a hot day, and started to worry. I stopped. Should I stop? Keep going? Could I keep going? Will something bad happen to me if I just charge ahead at this altitude? I turned around, and headed back to the start. Andrew was there, and I ran up and asked if I could switch to the short course. He said, “Of course.”

So… I took off on the short course, in very last place.  I spent the first couple miles of beautiful trail paralleled by stream, and beat myself up about changing courses.IMG_1566I knew at that moment that it was the right decision, but I was upset about it. Luckily, Andrew’s dad (a doctor!) was there to check on the flyathletes, and I stopped to chat with the volunteers. We had to cross the river, but there were a few felled logs. I pretended to be Baby in Dirty Dancing, and danced my way across.

I passed a couple people who had stopped to try and catch their fish, and I tried to focus on the trail. The brush scraped up my legs as I ran by, and the sweat stung a little bit. I tripped a couple times, but didn’t fall.IMG_14589:40 am. I came around a corner and found a spot that looked super fishy to me, so I veered off the trail and made my way over to the stream.

9:44 am. I strung up my rod, and opened my fly box.  I was planning on using a hopper-dropper combo, and after I tied on the big bug, I saw ONE rainbow warrior left from the last time I came out to Colorado. I’d seen my friend, Jon, in the airport, and he gave me a couple of his killer flies to use. I delicately tied it on, and hoped it would bring me luck. The stream was narrow, maybe four feet wide, and rather shallow, with some rocks creating riffles and some little plunge pools. My first cast went straight into a tree on the other side of the stream. Luckily, I just popped the flies right out, and…

9:50 am. …my second cast hooked me right into a beautiful little brookie.

Secretly, I was hoping I’d catch a brookie. I feel, about brook trout, the way that Western people feel about cutthroat trout. I get it.

I snapped my mandatory photo of my fish to prove I’d caught one.flyathlon-100Oh, wait- that’s my back-up photo, in case I couldn’t hook into one. 😉 Here’s my real fishie.IMG_1459I wanted to keep fishing, but also knew I’d have a rough time with the “unpleasant switchbacks” nearing the turnaround. I reluctantly packed up my gear, but my spirit was buoyed, so I skipped right along, breathing heavily the whole way.

A mile later, I ran into a snake on the path. I didn’t panic. I didn’t scream. I patiently waited for her to cross the trail, and then I ran really fast past her. I passed a few more people. I was almost to the switchbacks when I started to come across people on their way back. Those guys and gals looked awesome: happy and hardworking. I asked them how much further it was until the turnaround, and they said, “Look for the yellow tent.”IMG_1565Can you see the little yellow tent up there? I couldn’t get there fast enough. I ran past this guy, fishing his little heart out.IMG_1462I tried to run up the switchbacks, but they were so steep that my run was basically a power hike. I loved it the whole way. Challenges, baby.

And just like that, I was at the top.IMG_1464The view is gorgeous. The air was thin, so breathing was tough, but I was so happy. I almost didn’t want to go back down!

Kelly was running up right behind me, so we stayed up at the top and chatted for a bit.IMG_1465Luckily for me, these three were up there. What a welcoming committee! Look closely at the lower left corner of the photo- they’d brought provisions!IMG_1564Stranahans for me, and a little Redemption rye for Kelly. One good pull, and I headed back down the mountain.IMG_1524It was amazing. I tried really hard not to fall, because going downhill is much faster…

In fact, I had the most amazing trip ever. I tripped on a rock, and I fell for about fifteen feet. It wasn’t graceful. Eventually, I caught myself- I didn’t actually end up hitting the ground! I felt like I was moving in slow motion. I thought I should take a picture to show you guys what the rocky sections looked like.IMG_1472I didn’t have anyone take a picture of me on the way back, but the panic button on my car keys really captured my posture as I was running/falling on the way back down the mountain. FullSizeRender (1)I took one last selfie on the course, then crossed back over the river, and brought it in.IMG_1470
Here’s the finish line! IMG_1479The final point total placed me 15th out of 34, and I’m VERY proud of that.

I’m also proud that we raised over $20,000 to help organizations that take care of native fish.

Next year, I’m definitely going to do better, on both fronts!

IMG_1473One of my favorite parts about trail running is the line of dirt from where my socks end, and I knew I’d gotten lots of dirt in between my toes, so I was very excited to take off my shoes…IMG_1474…and grab a beer.IMG_1477We stuck around until the race was over, cheering each other in and drinking beer. So much good beer. As I shoveled chips and salsa into my mouth, I was so thankful for all these new friends. And the salt.

The drive back (to headquarters from the race) was just as beautiful as the way out.IMG_1487IMG_1486IMG_14851:15 pm. Once we got back, everyone started celebrating! I celebrated in my own way- I took a power nap, and woke up ready to have some fun!

This is where we were all hanging out. I loved seeing it during the daylight, since I’d arrived at night.flyathlon-6We had a kick ass BBQ dinner with mega salads from Mad Greens (another race sponsor), and I was so hungry! I spent hours talking to and meeting people from all over the country. We came from very different places but shared so many common interests.

These guys had the car next to me- they’re a father son duo. The father lives up here in the mountains, and the son works for a big marijuana facility. Their general existence was a reminder that I’m “not in Kansas anymore.” They were generous with coffee, beer, and bloody marys. I sure picked the right guys to park next to!IMG_1494IMG_1491IMG_1489A little Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. #midwestisbest

pc: Ben, the fish whispererFullSizeRender (3)We hung out into the wee hours of the night, laughing and sampling good beer from across the country. I was definitely ready to fall into bed that night. Tired muscles, full heart. I slept like a rock.

8:00 am. The next morning, I woke up cozy and feeling a little like a raisin. I stayed to help clean up, and got to know the Colorado people a little better.

I should have titled this post: A Little Jetta in the Big Mountains.IMG_1497What a view. I sat on the back of my car and drank my coffee, looking out at this.IMG_1495I didn’t take nearly as many pictures (with my camera) as usual, but I snagged a few of some of the coolest little things I saw, like this.flyathlon-10Now these people- these are some amazing people. The clean-up crew, the kick ass volunteers. The organizers. The planners. The cheering squad. The beer pouring, late-night steak grilling, welcoming team of the century. I love these people.flyathlon-9Best logo ever, on a very full trailer.flyathlon-8I had been waffling on buying a rod vault for the new Subaru, but my need has since been cemented in my mind after seeing Andrew’s. And one on every other truck at the race.flyathlon-7Many hands made clean up swift work, and we were packed and heading out in no time.

I loved the cloud of dust following us as we left that guard station behind.IMG_1499I had no service for the weekend, and part of the drive, but I filled my time with some of my favorite tunes.IMG_1500When I came back into service, my phone exploded, as expected. I couldn’t wait to text Brian all sorts of pictures and updates from the race! He hadn’t heard from me since I’d lost reception on the way up the mountain Friday night.The rough part was receiving the many messages and emails from Chase, asking me to confirm possible fraudulent activity on one of my bank accounts. Someone was using my card number all over the place, and spent over a thousand dollars. Luckily for me, Chase is awesome, and they refunded all my money… but they temporarily froze the account and deactivated my card. I hate traveling without easily accessible money. This trip has just been full of challenges adventure!

First stop? Elevation Brewing, to return the kegs and thank them profusely for being a race sponsor.IMG_1506And buying beer to give Meredith. 🙂

IMG_1505And getting a little life advice.IMG_1504We went for brunch in Salida, at an awesome brunch place- Rivers Edge.IMG_1508Yeah, baby, lobster omelette. As we walked there, we passed some awesome bike racks. I love traveling and getting ideas to bring home to my own municipality! I think all local elected officials should visit other places and gather experiences.IMG_1515The restaurant is right along the Arkansas River, so Andrew jumped in. 🙂IMG_1509Before I knew it, I was hugging my new friends goodbye, and hitting the road. I’m so thankful that I found my tribe- there are a whole bunch of people who care about wild and native trout as much as I do, who have a passion for conservation, and a love for fly fishing. They love to play hard, trail run, and they appreciate good beer. I found my people.

This race was perfect- it was well-organized and well-staffed. Everyone was so accommodating, and I can’t wait to come back and run it again next year.

Mega thanks to Andrew for putting this thing together, and props to Iowa for spreading it our way to the Driftless.

 

I followed Iowa all the way back into Denver, and went straight to Meredith’s condo. A quick shower, a quicker dinner, and a gaggle of us piled into a car to head to the concert.IMG_15597:00 pm. I was so excited, I couldn’t handle myself. I skipped up the path to the amphitheater. Literally.

I don’t even really have words to describe the experience at Red Rocks. I cried. I laughed a lot. Brandi rocked so hard. OCMS had so much energy. We sat in the 16th row and had incredible seats. I turned around, and saw Iowa, sitting in the row right behind us, just a few seats over. We drank some more Colorado beer. I danced my ass off, and sang my heart out, and swayed arm in arm with strangers and friends alike.

Here are some photos. I can’t properly explain what an amazing night this was.IMG_1539

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IMG_1555IMG_1553IMG_1552IMG_1551IMG_1550And last, but not least, here’s Meredith and I. Every time I come to visit Colorado, it’s hard to leave. Thank you for your hospitality, girl! I love you.IMG_1542The mountains are amazing. I’m going to leave you with a few lyrics from my favorite OCMS song, as they’re just resonating with me right now.flyathlon-4

Ain’t it enough to live by the ways of the world,

To be part of the picture, whatever it’s worth?

Throw your arms around each other and love one another,

For it’s only one life that we’ve got.

And ain’t it enough?

As always, thanks for reading, friends. I’ll have more about the rest of this trip later! I had too many adventures to cram in one post.

 

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Picture, or it didn’t happen.

As someone active in social media, there is a very serious undercurrent of the concept, “Share a picture, or it didn’t happen.”

As a photographer, the pressure is even higher, since the concept becomes, “Share a fantastic picture, or not only did it not happen, you’re not good at your job.”

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Well, maybe not quite like that, but that’s what it feels like to my overly motivated, dedicated, creative mind. Living life as a creative image producer is awesome and simultaneously difficult. It’s hard to live with that pressure- sometimes I just want to actually experience my life, and not capture all these moments. As soon as I take the time to step away from my camera, though, I see something gorgeous and I’m immediately kicking myself for not bringing it.

There’s also the feeling, as a creative, to have a perfect life. I’ve seen so many stylized shoots that make it look like I should lead a very organized, perfectly decorated, color-coordinated life. You know- a white office with fresh flowers and a feather pen with an inkwell, perfectly placed next to my vintage film camera. In reality, it’s not like that. My desk still has some leaves from a fall shoot, a recipe for maple salmon that I intend to try with steelhead, paper covered in scribbles (notes, lists, inspiration), memory cards, pictures, coffee (of course!)…

…you know what? Here’s an honest look at what life looks like in Heidi’s office right now.

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One of the many things that I do as a business owner is write this blog. Some of you have been reading for years, so you know it’s a total mix of race reviews and work I’ve done as a photographer, time on (and in!) the water, with a little fly fishing thrown in for fun, and plenty of dancing and beer drinking with friends. What I’ve found, as a part of trying to keep up with “day in the life” kinds of posts, is that I end up taking photos of my life that show it how I want it to be seen, not the way it actually is. It even interferes with the way I end up living my life- as if it’s just for the images that I will capture. Have you found yourself thinking, “Oh, I’m going to do _________ for the Instagram photo that I’ll be able to post later?”

I’ve definitely done it, though it was partly because I also REALLY wanted to eat this delicious treat. This bakery didn’t hire me, I just wanted to take a picture of it and share it on Instagram to show off all the new skills I learned in my last food and beverage photography class.

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In fact, if you look at that photo, the white space between the cookies on the far left is where I took a huge bite before the shoot, so the plate shows through. I could have edited it out, but I left it as a sign of my weakness (and addiction to chocolate). 🙂

I’m not sure how I feel about that. I do know that I find myself wanting to take a photo at every single awesome moment in my life and share it with my 1,000,000 closest friends on social media. And, since I’m a photographer, and I also love going on solo adventures, in order to capture those moments, well…I apologize for all the selfies.

I’m a notorious selfie-taker, as many of you know. Granted, you won’t find a selfie of me making a duck face in a bar bathroom, but you will find selfies of me waist-deep in a cold stream, at the top of a mountain, with a group of my friends or family, with my crazy smiley pup, or halfway through a marathon.

I find this “picture or it didn’t happen” phenomenon to be the most disturbing in my fly fishing life. When I’m out, chasing trout or smallies, hiking around, or floating, I find myself mentally framing images. It’s hard to separate my photographer brain from the part of my brain that just wants to take in beauty. I constantly reassure myself that it’s more than okay to just look. To observe, and absorb, and enjoy, without trying to figure out how to capture for posterity. Sure, part of the “problem” is that trout live in absolutely astonishingly beautiful places. It’s hard not to want to take pictures non-stop.

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When I’m fishing, I almost always take a camera. It’s rarely a little camera, since I’m afraid I’ll miss the opportunity for the “shot of my lifetime,” so it’s usually one of my bigger DSLRs. Sometimes it hinders my ability as an angler, because I know with 100% certainty that when I’m mentally producing my next image, I’m not reading the water or listening or trying to catch the bugs to match the hatch. When I take my camera and I’m out with friends, I catch great shots of them chasing fish, and I end up switching my brain to “photographer mode” instead of “angler mode.”

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I wish that I had a foolproof solution to this. I wanted to title this blog post, “How to Actually Experience Life Without Needing to Capture It,” but I haven’t quite figured that out yet.

The only thing that I do know is that capturing a moment does make it easier to share those moments, but it doesn’t mean they’ll never happen again. We’re in charge of our own lives, so if there is something that I love to do (fly fishing!), I will seek it out in the future. Whether or not I captured a great shot from my last adventure has no bearing on whether I can go on others. As I actively work to reduce stress in my life, I’m officially letting go of the feeling that anytime something awesome happens, it won’t happen again. I’m a grown-ass woman. I can make my dreams come true!

If you know anything about me, I love a good adventure. I’ll always be looking for the next one, and in the meantime, I’ll be trying to find my balance between living in the moment and trying to pause it in an image.

Miles this year: 387.15

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Coming home: Wisconsin Summer

I love coming home from a trip- I am so thankful for my husband, and my home, and my own bed… and of course, my little pup.

With that said, I apologize for the next few posts, as they’re a little behind schedule. 🙂

My first morning home, I had lots of work to catch up on, including errands. I hooked Abbie up, laced up my running shoes, and ran to the post office and the bank. I even ran through the “drive through” at the bank, since I can’t take Abbie inside, and when the tube came back through the little vacuum thing, there was a biscuit inside!

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She sure earned it, as she did a great job as District 4 Alderdog and welcomed everyone we saw on the run. Thanks, Chase!

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This is random, but we picked up some sweet corn, and I just LOVED this middle cob. Why have straight lines, when you can be crazy? 🙂

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I was able to squeeze in an engagement photo shoot with Brigitta and Stryder. They’re such a neat couple, and we were so excited to work with them!

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We had gorgeous weather, and we went for a little walk on the Green Circle. Lovely!

It is so hard going on vacation during the middle of wedding season, and I have so much to try and catch up on. This year was even crazier, as I am also staying very active as a new alderwoman, and trying to learn as much as I can from everyone around me. This brings me to Bob. Meet Bob!

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Bob runs Poky Pedaling, a totally free group of organized bicycle rides around our community. He’s an active advocate for pedestrian and bicycle safety, so I had my meeting with him on our bikes, and we rode around the city. Thanks for sharing your thoughts during our “mobile meeting,” Bob!

I made it home in time to help stack some wood near our shed, and I amazed at this piece that I found…

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Bark beetles do some beautiful work. Art by bugs. They must have been incredibly busy before the bark fell off, revealing this masterpiece. 🙂

We worked up quite an appetite working in the yard, and we were more than happy to have dinner with Brian’s family, at Dale and Sheri’s house.

Fish fry, jalepeno poppers, french fries… yes, we’re spoiled.

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It was really awesome. I sure love these people!

We got home late Friday night, and I was exhausted, but I climbed out of the covers just early enough to run the Violet Thompson 5K, a fundraiser for a very special little girl in town. I had no idea if I’d know anyone there, but sure enough, I found George and Marc around mile 1.5. 🙂

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Great run, boys. 🙂

I’ll leave you all with a few photos from paddling out on the chain. I just can’t get enough of my SUP and Marl Lake.

I made us SUP hatch-friendly blackberry mojitos. I muddled the rum and mint and berries before we left, and the rest is a delicious memory. We know how to spend a day on the water. 🙂

So many more shoots to share with you- it will be an engagement and wedding explosion here for a while!

As always, thanks for reading, friends!

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Print releases: to give, or not to give?

This is probably one of the toughest blog posts I’ve written, since the topic is pretty controversial in my world:

Print releases.

Even though I work with my husband, I’m writing from my own point of view, but he is the other half of the “we” that I talk about. 🙂

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As a portrait photographer, I’ve gone through phases. When Brian and I first started shooting weddings together in 2006, we gave our clients a disc with an unlimited release. I didn’t know anything different, at the time… I’d had an internship with another photographer, and he also gave away the rights to his images. As a result, my clients were able to print their photos anywhere they chose. They could put them online, in their full size. They could edit them, crop them, add filters, or do whatever they wanted.

And I had no problem with that. I ordered photo books for my friends and family from Shutterfly when I got a killer deal- the quality of the printing had completely eluded me. We were in college, I was planning on being a music teacher, and photography was just something “fun” that I did with my husband to help us pay our rent. We charged next-to-nothing, we didn’t have an in-person sales model for our clients, we hadn’t worked with different print companies, and we didn’t really care what happened to those images once they left our computers.

Until suddenly, I cared.

As I worked more and more, and studied more and more, and experimented more and more, I began to discover my own style.

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We raised our prices.

I worked in this photography medium to create my own kind of art. I practiced, and practiced, learned tons of tips and tricks, and made lots of mistakes.

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We raised our prices again.

I started to take A LOT of pride in the images I was creating, and in the moments that I was capturing.

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We raised our prices again.

When I was able to shoot fully manually, both camera and flash, and I was able to catch the perfect moment between a bride and groom or a mother and child, I was pumped.

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Then everything changed, and we made a big business decision. This is why…

A moment sticks out to me in particular: we did a family photo shoot for a local woman. I was really happy with the way her images turned out, and I was so pleased to burn those to a disk and deliver them to her. The next time she saw me around town, she pulled out a little plastic-sleeved album of prints she’d made from my session. She’d printed them at Walmart, and I couldn’t believe how terrible the clarity was. Photo after photo looked AWFUL. They were all too dark, or too overexposed, and the contrast was inconsistent. The color also looked pretty bad, and I realized the problem at the same time that the words came out of her mouth,

“I had so much fun playing with these photos in iPhoto. Don’t they look great? Don’t worry, I told everyone that you took them. Maybe you’ll book more families in our neighborhood!”

She beamed with pride, and I slunk into my imaginary shell. I was mortified! Those were not my images, it was not my art. Not my vision. I didn’t want my name attached to those in any way! I can’t remember exactly what happened after that- I think I said something about being happy that she was so pleased, and I hightailed it out of there.

Shortly after that, we had a bride and groom of ours from several years prior contact me and ask if they could have another copy of their disk. They’d lost theirs, and they were thinking about finally putting wedding images up around their house. I was so sad that they’d spent their newlywed years without any of my beautiful images in their home. Of course, I burned them another disc, then Brian and I had a discussion about how we wanted to take care of our clients… how long were we going to keep these images? Where were we going to store them? Stacking hard drive upon hard drive seemed less than ideal, but that’s the direction we were headed. We started shooting RAW, and we were filling up space like crazy.

We decided to pony up the cash for an off-site storage company, so we would be protected in the awful case of a flood or fire in my office. We were capturing incredibly special moments for our clients, and I wanted to make sure that their images would be protected. You can’t recreate a first kiss or a new baby! 🙂

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I quit my part time job, and became fully invested in creating this business.

I started “trying out” print companies to see which ones I liked. I was pleasantly surprised that some offered the option to submit annual test prints to make sure the photos looked just how we’d intended. We picked one of those, and also invested in a monitor calibration system, to make sure that the colors and lighting on our screens matched the finished product. I started researching wedding albums- you know, the beautiful, leather-bound, lay-flat kind. I discovered that some companies required an “audition:” I had to submit some of our work to their design team, to show that we were professional. I applied to three, was accepted to three, and chose my favorite album company. I was kind of surprised to discover that these albums weren’t available to the general public, and I wondered where normal people went to order that kind of thing, if they weren’t offered by their photographer.

We upgraded our main gear (currently a Nikon D4 and D800) and purchased TWO beautiful D700s as backups, in case we both dropped our cameras at the same time. We purchased liability insurance.

We raised our prices again.

I started to consider ourselves an investment for our clients, and wondered if I was doing them a disservice by letting them spend a considerable chunk of their wedding budget on us, but letting them order discount prints? I think about this all the time… can the majority of people tell the difference between photos from a pro lab and photos from Target? I came across this blog post a couple years ago when researching this subject, and if you have a few minutes, it’s a good read that shows the difference between a couple major labs… and it’s a little funny, too. 🙂

All the work that we put into selecting top-of-the-line gear, learning to use it and adapt to sudden changes or unexpected moments, practicing our skills for years, finding (or creating) the perfect light to make their skin glow, capturing a clear image of a bouncing baby or dancing couple, calibrating our monitors, testing the prints, using the best editing software, spending hours editing and perfecting their galleries (and crying, oh, I always cry!), only to have them spend $0.29 on a 4″x6″ print that could (and sometimes does!) negate several aspects of that workflow?

It was then that we decided to go “whole hog” in this business and stop offering print releases to our portrait clients. I set our print prices in the lower-middle of the price range for our area, and set up all of our wedding packages with a built-in print credit so we could rest easy, knowing our clients would never go years without prints and products from their wedding, and that we knew what the quality would be. We can’t stand behind a product when we don’t know where it comes from, and that doesn’t sit well with me. This is my work, and I want to be proud to put my name on it.

Even if our couples empty their bank account for their wedding, they will still have a credit to use to purchase standard prints, or canvas wraps, or metal prints, or whatever they’d like- and it’s not small. The credit I made yesterday for an October wedding was worth $500! We want to fill their homes, and the homes of their friends and families, too.

The income from our prints isn’t much, it’s much less than 1/10 of our total photography income, and we want to keep it that way. Our goal isn’t to make money on extra print sales, it’s to get this art (in the form of quality work) in the hands of our clients.

It is truly heartbreaking for me to see our work printed in places that just don’t do it justice. I firmly believe that my clients deserve magazine-worthy prints, and I strive to capture these authentic moments while I’m working! I don’t think they should have average-looking images in their home when the people that we work with are truly awesome. I want everyone to look at the results of our session and beam with pride that they started their family/pulled off their dream wedding/have a gorgeous baby bump/adopted the perfect rescue pup.

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We have had a few clients who come to us and don’t understand why we run our business this way. They often imply that we are selfish for “keeping” these files to ourselves. I even had a groom stand over me, yelling, arguing with me over copyright law. He firmly believed that if he was IN the photo, that he owned the copyright to it- and by not giving them copyrights to their photos, I was deceiving them or doing some kind of shady business deal. When he was done yelling, I was sitting there, shaking. Brian and I usually do our consults together, since we shoot all our weddings together, but for some reason, I was doing this one alone. I didn’t have the business sense or confidence to get up and walk out of the consult, and they ended up booking us for their wedding. After that, I was nervous at every meeting or shoot that we did with them, and I’m still kicking myself for letting someone walk all over me like that.

We also have clients who hire us and just assume that they will have all rights. We lay it out in our contract, but we have couples ask us for copyrights all the time. Giving a client copyrights and giving them a print release is DEFINITELY not the same thing. When a photo is taken, the photographer immediately retains the copyright to the image. If I gave them away, it would mean, essentially, that my clients could take those images, edit them, destroy them, modify them, enter them in contests, use them in advertisements, etc… and the photographer (me!)  would have no right to use the images themselves. Not in portfolio work, or on their website, or in ads, or on their Facebook page or Instagram- I don’t believe photographers should ever give away their copyrights.

I’m not sure why people ask for copyrights, instead of print releases. I’m guessing there is a wedding planning book somewhere that says to do so, or maybe some kind of portrait tip website…?

I actually have a kind of embarrassing story about print releases and Walgreens. One Christmas (a couple years ago), we decided we wanted to give our family gifts of photos we’d taken. I ordered them all from my pro lab ahead of time, and everything was matted, framed, wrapped, and all set when we were getting ready to head out Christmas Eve. Of course, I’d forgotten one image that I wanted to print, and I thought about printing it on my small office photo printer, but we decided to hit up Walgreens on our way out of town, with the intention that I’d also order it with my next pro print order, and replace the Walgreens print when it came in. I uploaded the image to the Walgreens website, and we stopped there as we left to see our family. When I got there, the photo clerk informed me that I couldn’t take the print, because it looked professionally done, and I didn’t have a print release. I explained that I was the photographer, and that I’m a professional, so that’s why it looked that way.

She still wouldn’t let me take it.

I showed her my business card, but she still wouldn’t let me take it.

I offered to grab my camera out of the car, if that would help, but no luck.

I asked for the standard print release form, then filled it out for myself. She was not pleased.

It occurred to me that Walgreens isn’t designed for professionals to print their photos. I was sort of relieved to know that Walgreens wouldn’t be printing any photos that my clients brought there without a print release, but it was embarrassing, nonetheless.

I don’t think that the top notch photographers that shot my senior portraits or dance portraits in the 2000’s would have EVER given their files away with a print release, so I’m wondering if I’m grounded in the past, even though times are changing. I know tons of incredible photographers who give out print releases. Am I old fashioned?

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Granted, we include several images with a print release for our clients to use- I know that people want to put their photos on Christmas cards, birthday invitations, or thank you notes, and we are a two-man operation, with not nearly enough time to do all the design work to make these ourselves. I do want our clients to be happy, and we’re walking the line between making them happy/letting them do what they want to do -and- doing them justice, since they’re paying for a professional service. We decided to offer additional images for a small charge per file- I found that asking my clients to pay $10 for a file was sort of an insurance policy that they wanted to do something cool with it (like print it and transfer it to wood, like one of our brides!), and not just find the cheapest place possible, where I might be embarrassed to put my name on our work.

Those print releases are just for that use, though… printing. I don’t want to find our images floating around in cyberspace unwatermarked, and that is for a very specific reason. As I started to get more involved in the global photography community, I joined several organizations and forums of photographers. Occasionally, stories would pop up of wedding photographers who were vendors at a bridal show, booked brides and grooms, and took retainers to secure the wedding dates. Sure enough, those “photographers” wouldn’t show up on the wedding day, leaving the poor couples out a major chunk of money AND more importantly, without a photographer to shoot their big day!

I started wondering where those fake photographers were getting the large files they needed to print big beautiful display prints for their bridal show booth… and then I realized that there are wedding photographers who give their clients full size files of their wedding photos. A quick google search later, and I found tons of beautiful wedding photos, ripe for the downloading.

I decided then and there that I didn’t want to contribute to that in any way. That’s why you’ll see photos of our weddings on social media and on my blog, but they’re always a small size, and they always have a watermark. In fact, I post additional photos with watermarks anytime our clients request it. I’d love for them to share the photos online on social media, but I don’t want them to be stolen and used for anything other than their intended purpose. All of our clients also receive their own website, with password access, so they can share their photos with anyone that they’d like. I’m not trying to keep our images behind closed doors, or anything- we want them to be shared!

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In all honesty, I think that watermarks are distracting. If I think about some of my favorite timeless photos (the romantic return-from-war kiss in Times Square, the workers sitting high atop NYC having lunch on that beam, the beautiful eyes of that anonymous Afghan woman), they’d be very different if the photographer had thrown a big watermark on them. I’m kind of torn about it, but I view watermarks as a necessary evil.

I know that, in theory, I could put a clause in our contract saying that any photos with a print release are not meant for online use, but they end up there anyway. I don’t take it as a direct insult, I just know that many of my clients don’t understand copyright law the way I do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scrolled through Facebook or Instagram and saw dozens of memes (or inspirational words on pictures or funny cartoons) that were screenshotted and re-posted without any credit to the original content creator. 😦 I’ve also seen our watermarked images downloaded and printed, and even though that’s NOT the purpose of sharing them online, I haven’t ever said anything about it to anyone. I don’t want to start a fight or argue about it, so I’ve just let it go. I’ve even seen our viewing sites screenshotted and posted on social media- I don’t know if the average person doesn’t know that it’s illegal, or if they just don’t care. Which is worse? As a photographer, do I have an obligation to help educate my friends and family?

Gosh, my heart is racing. I’m going to take a break to pet my pup…

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I know that this is a touchy subject for people, and I definitely don’t want to offend any of my many photographer friends who give print releases to their clients. I don’t want to drive a wedge into our community, but I’m interested in how other photographers handle this. We can have different business models, and that’s totally okay. In fact, my commercial photography business model is very different than our portrait business model. My commercial clients often use the images of their products on their websites and business cards. I know they email headshots to places where they have been booked to give presentations, and they print their own business fliers through their graphics teams. I give different releases to our commercial clients than I do to my portrait clients, and we’re okay with that.

I am writing this post because I’m interested in what you all have to say about this issue. I know I have many VERY successful, talented, fabulous photographer friends who wouldn’t dream of giving their files to their clients. I also have many VERY successful, talented, fabulous photographer friends who give their files to their clients. Every once in a while, I think maybe we should do the same thing. It would certainly be easier! Clients, future, present, and past- what do you think about it? Photographer friends? I’d like to start an open conversation about it.

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Colorado Days Five, Six, and Seven

I woke up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in Denver, ready to head back to Boulder for a little trip north. A quick stop for coffee, and I was on my way- I’m definitely fueled by caffeine. I stopped to pick up Aaron, shower and change, and we hit the road for Rocky Mountain National Park.

I made Aaron stop a couple times, when I saw something pretty… and that happens a lot in the mountains!

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Traffic was crazy on the way up- I guess everyone wants to spend their weekends playing outside. We stopped at Kirk’s fly shop in Estes Park, picked up a couple flies…

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…grabbed a sandwich, saw this cool sculpture,

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and finished the trip north.

The drive into the park was pretty smooth, and it was beautiful. I kept watching for wildlife, but I didn’t see much. We looked around as we drove into the park, and speculated about where we thought there would be fish hiding out.

Eventually, we picked a spot, parked, and parted ways. I fished. I caught. Fly fishing does something to me- I cherish the peace and quiet and solitude.

The turbulence of the water was at odds with the peace in my soul, quite possibly my favorite juxtaposition. I love waterfalls.

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By the end of the day, I was tired but jazzed that I got into some trout, and I settled in for the drive back to Aaron’s. Unfortunately, I was too busy gawking out the window at the mountains to look at the map, and we got lost. It was just a couple hours out of the way, we drove through Loveland (such a cute name- it made me homesick!), and by the time we got back, it was pretty late. I love seeing the sunset over the mountains.

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The ride was pretty quiet, since hanger was setting in. Aaron barely survived the wrath of a hungry, tired Heidi. We ordered a pizza, and I fell asleep immediately after dinner. 🙂

Day Six began with a hot run on the Boulder Creek Trail. Six miles on my sixth day.

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This trail intertwines with the creek and the road like a braid, and I saw a variety of scenery!

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Boulder was preparing for their Ironman the following weekend, so I saw signs everywhere letting people know they should plan alternate routes. 🙂

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I was so hot when I finished my run that I jumped right in the stream. I advocate for cold water all over the place, and I know the science behind the water temperature needs of trout, so I KNOW how cold trout streams are… but there is nothing quite like sticking your head in one. I cooled down in a hurry. 🙂

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I started and ended my run at a busy park (Eben G. Fine), so there were two cars waiting for spaces in the small parking lot. It made my usual change-in-the-car routine a little more awkward- struggling to change out of stream-soaked running clothes in a car while you’re being mildly monitored is less than romantic. 😉 After I swapped out spandex for a sundress, I went to grab coffee and lunch at The Cup.

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I made a quick stop at Boulder Running Company to buy a perfectly tourist “Run Colorado” shirt, then I headed back to Aaron’s. A quick shower, a clean dress, and we went to Avery Brewing for dinner and beer

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The food was fabulous, the beer was great, and I was happy to relax. All these adventures were starting to wear me out!

On the way back to the car, I noticed this…

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Boulder: where even the fire hydrants are pretty.

We finished up dinner with frozen yogurt, probably the most innocent of my vices, and before I knew it, I was sleeping soundly.

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Day Seven, my last day in Colorado, started with me driving into Boulder, renting a bike and checking out the city on two wheels.

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My job as an alderperson has changed the way I think about cities, and it makes me extra interested in how other municipalities approach pedestrian and bicycle traffic. I took lots of photos and started formulating new ideas to take home.image6 (1)

I rode past my favorite Boulder fly shop

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…loved this downtown bicycle parking…

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…and returned my bike in time to head over to Celestial Seasonings for a tour of their tea factory. It was a perfect way to wind down my last day- relaxing with some hot tea.

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Since there are no cameras allowed inside the facility, I’ll leave you with this super sexy image of me in a hair net. 🙂

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I headed back to Aaron’s and starting packing everything back into my luggage. It’s amazing how much my clothes multiply while I’m on a trip. I suppose that if I stopped shopping on vacation, the problem would be alleviated. 😉

Day Eight. Coming home. Denver has a pretty cool airport.

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You’ll find me in the airport with my three necessities: my fly rod, my yoga mat, and a tripod. 🙂

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My flights were uneventful, and even with the time change and the three hour drive from the airport, I made it home in time for dinner and a nap. 🙂

More adventures to come- I returned from this trip with lots of photo shoots and meetings to catch up on.

As always, thanks for reading!

Miles this year: 350.3

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Colorado: Days Three and Four

I kicked off day three in Colorado with a little paddleboarding at the reservoir. It was a beautiful morning to spend on the water! Just as I was about to lock the car and head in, one of my October brides called me, reminding me that I’m never actually on vacation, but I can pretend to be. I scheduled a meeting with her for when I got home and tried to put it out of my mind.

This view helped.

I took my brookie for a swim…

This SUP was very different than the wooden beauty that I have at home, but it was a great time. I changed out of my suit into a sundress in the car (mental note: spray Febreeze again to keep that hot car from smelling like the river…), then headed downtown to grab coffee and do a little work.

I love this little shop, The Cup, so I kept coming back. It’s a really popular place, so the lines are usually pretty long. I had almost made it to the front of the line, and the man in front of me was asking the barista all sorts of questions about the prices of coffee, and he dropped a handful of change on the counter and started counting it. He suggested that he’d go to Starbucks since it was cheaper over there. It was obvious to me that he was having a hard time paying for his coffee, so I said, “It’s okay, I’ll give you a buck or two to cover your coffee.” Karma points earned. It was sure a surprise for me when he turned to the barista and said, “In that case, instead of drip coffee, I’d like the Nitro.” It must have been some kind of coffee with nitrogen… so I ended up buying my stranger a $5 cup of coffee. Sure, I’d blown my coffee budget, but at least that guy got a really nice cup of coffee. I stuck with drip, myself.

I typed and edited and read and sorted, then packed up to head to the fly shop to meet Kyle. I’d been virtually introduced to Kyle through my other TU friend from Oregon, also named Kyle. It turns out that TU people are awesome, though that’s really no surprise to me. We met in real life at the shop, grabbed a couple flies, then headed out to Boulder Creek.

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It was a beautiful day to be out on the water.

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(photo credit: random awesome fly angler who walked by)

Kyle caught a couple fish, and I didn’t catch a darn thing. I did have a strike, though… but couldn’t follow through. I was amazed at some of the shallow moving water that was holding fish. I couldn’t believe they were in there! I tried several new casting techniques that I’ve never done before. It was a great learning experience. I just love fishing in other areas and learning more about fish behavior.

We stripped off our wet waders and boots and headed back into town for tacos and beer at Sanitas, and we talked about TU on the drive. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I really love that organization and everything they do for cold water.

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Delicious food, great beer, and fabulous company. Thank you for all your help, Kyle! I really appreciate you taking a chance to get out fishing with a stranger.

I came home to see this smiling face, and I fell sound asleep, dreaming dreams of pretty mountain trout. ❤

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And just like that, I woke up. Solo fishing day.

Don’t get scared now.

After being skunked fishing with Kyle the day before (who certainly knows what he’s doing), I headed out to the stream with low confidence. I knew I needed an attitude adjustment, because embracing a bad mood is no help to anyone, especially myself.

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Once I picked my spot to fish, I grabbed my yoga mat, did a few poses with deep breathing, and strung up my rod.
I walked down to the river, and tried this new spot. No luck.

Another new spot. No luck.

Changed flies. No luck.

Changed flies and went to a new spot, scaring a snake along the way. No luck.

Tried a dropper. Lost both flies in a tree lined with other anglers’ flies.

Tried not to be frustrated, but didn’t know what fly to use. Tried a hopper. No luck.

Caddis? Before I had a chance to cast, I saw a hummingbird flying near me, making the cutest little sound. Took a brave little walk through fast water, holding on to a dead tree for security.
Cast once. Twice. Three times, then a flash and strike. Set the hook!
I pulled in the prettiest brown trout, and burst into tears.. so yeah, I snapped. Lost my shit. It must have been the stress and the pressure… no one wants to fly out to a new state in a new region and come home empty handed. Relief washed over me when I felt the tug at the end of my line. Thank. Goodness. I fooled one.

I caught several more in the next fifteen minutes, including the biggest trout I’ve ever caught while wading. I packed it up and headed back early, leaving on a high note.
This game is certainly about the chase, about feeling independently adequate, trusting yourself and trusting the fish, and being brave on solo adventures. Sometimes it’s harder than I thought it would be, but it’s always worth it.

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I grabbed a quick lunch from a food truck downtown, then headed up to Chautauqua to run my little heart out.

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Trail running: where going down is just as hard as going up. Don’t-fall-don’t-fall-don’t-fall.

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It was an awesome run, and very unlike my flat Central Sands home. There is a beautiful grassy park at Chautauqua where I stretched out and did a little yoga, then headed back to Aaron’s to shower and get ready for “girls’ night out.”

The drive to Denver was pretty short and there wasn’t much traffic, so I got there before Meredith was finished with her kickball game. I stopped in at Starbucks to grab coffee and do a little work until she was ready to hang out. The view from the coffee shop was amazing!

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When I got the “I’m ready!” text, I headed to the park to finally see my friend! I met Meredith when we were in first grade, and the rest is history. I love that the park she was playing in had views of the mountains on one side, and the Denver skyline on the other. So awesome.

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We headed to Meredith’s condo for dinner, catching up, and we got ready to go out. She has a gorgeous view of the skyline from the patio of her Capitol Hill condo.

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I don’t know the names of all the places we went, but we danced, played beer pong, and laughed a lot. Thank you for the fun night, Mere!!!

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All this vacation was wearing me out, and I was so happy to snuggle in on Meredith’s couch for a night of sleep before my upcoming day at Rocky Mountain National Park. That adventure is up next.

Here, fishy fishy…

Miles this year: 347.65

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