Jana & Steven – Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

This past week I not only shot a wedding on New Years but got to photograph my first wedding of 2015! Jana and Steven are an absolutely adorable couple and I was so happy to spend their day with them. It might have been rainy and gross, but there is no bad day to get married, so we mad the most of it. Everything was absolutely beautiful. The mood was soft and romantic for the ceremony and then everything was partypartyparty after that. I mean it, that dance floor was nowhere near big enough for the fun that follows these two. One of the super awesome things about Meadowlark is around the holidays they do this incredible light festival (definitely worth checking out next year, folks). I could have spent all night shooting outside, but it was cold and wet and I knew these two wanted to dance the night away. I sorta am forcing them to do a one year anniversary session so we can explore the rest of the park!

Jana & Steven – I hope you are having an incredible time in Costa Rica!! I hope it is absolutely beautiful and the fun break you two so deserve after planning such a beautiful day. Thanks for being my biggest fans and being such an incredible support! I hope you are as excited as I am about these photos!

White Sands, NM

Warning: all that follows is 28 photos of sand.

BUT it is SO COOL! When Emily and I were booking our trip to Albuquerque, she asked if I wanted to take a leisurely yet super boring 3 hour drive to see White Sands, since who knows if I would ever want to go back out to Albuquerque (but don’t worry – I want to go back all of the time). You know me, I am up for anything so I said yes not really having a chance to google it or anything. A few days later I finally had a chance to look it up and omg, screw hot air balloons (don’t worry – still love those), look at all this sand! 270+ miles of it! In the middle of nowhere New Mexico! It was seriously one of the coolest places I have ever been. This was Emily’s 3rd or 4th trip there and she still seemed enchanted by it, as was I. It was a great place to just stand and do really slow 360s. Truly mesmerizing.

Snagged this awesome shirt at Gap at Columbia Mall. Had to wear it!

We tried to stick around to do some long exposures of stars but sadly the park enforces its very strict 8pm closing time so no real dice there although we were scheming to make something work before realizing we were just going to get into trouble if we did.

The next day when we woke up, we decided we had to go back just one more time. I sorta wasn’t ready to say goodbye and wanted to see the place in broad daylight instead of sunset. The clouds were epic and I wish I had done a time lapse because they were moving so fast. They were dark and stormy looking in one direction and clear blue skies in the other. So bizarre. This is seriously a truly magical place that I didn’t even know existed and now I am completely obsessed and already want to do a shoot there – I mean can’t you picture 10 yards of fabric just fluttering in the breeze on these dunes?

Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

It’s finally time to blog about Alb! We call it Alb because Albuquerque is way too hard to spell. Last October Emily and I decided to cross off the longest standing thing on both of our bucket lists which was the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Alb. To say it was magical would be an understatement. It was all those awesome whimsy words like charming and enchanting.

Just a few words about Alb – there isn’t a ton to do, but that’s ok. There are 4 things I recommend:

1. Wander around Old Town. It’s cute. I took a total of 1 or 2 photos there so nothing really to post. But there were adorable shops with all the graphic tees about Breaking Bad, and there are craft vendors and good restaurants.
2. Sandia Peak is the longest tramway in the world and it was a fun time. If you pair this with the hot air balloon fest, just know it is going to be cold – bring warm clothes.
3. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Park is worth the visit. You will see pics from that farther down.
4. BREWERIES!!! There are so many good breweries in Alb, you should definitely pick a bunch to hang out at.

Moving right along, the first night we got there and settled in, we went to the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (note: no need to buy tickets or parking in advance, just get them there). The first night was the “glow.” Which meant that all of the hot air balloonists brought in their balloons, set them up, and once dusk set in, they lit them all up! It was so pretty. But to me, sorta complicated to photograph. I wasn’t sure where to be when and there was no warning that they were all going to light up, it just started happening. It was pretty awesome though and I couldn’t even wrap my head around how amazing this was going to be to see them all in the daylight.There were pretty fireworks that night.:-)The next day was the day we went on our hot air balloon ride! We had to get up super early to make it to the meeting spot. We highly recommend saving money and doing a tour with World Balloon off campus from the fiesta instead of taking off from the fiesta grounds where the price is about double. We were nuts excited.The balloon we were in held 14 people. And when it was being inflated laying down it was like a 10 story building inside.Just some perspective for ya. That’s a really little Emily on the left.Getting into a hot air balloon is sorta awkward which is why I recommend not waiting until you are 80 to do it – it was interesting to watch 80 year olds climb over the side of the basket to get in. There was nothing scary about this at all. You literally get in the basket and Captain Murray starts filling the balloon with more hot air and before you know it you are thousands of feet in the air. It was so awesome.I loved seeing all the other hot air balloons in the air – they looked like ornaments just sorta hanging there.We were lucky and were in the first group of the day which meant we got to watch the sunrise from the sky. The chase car found us after about an hour and we switched groups.Better to have this view than be amongst it, if you ask me. Sooooo pretty.We asked crazy questions like where does one get a hot air balloon and how much do hot air balloons cost. I believe the one we were in was around $60,000. Most are give or take 20k more or less than that. It just so happens that Murray’s wife was just given this balloon and that’s how they got into it. Now they run a super successful business and have been taking people out year round in Alb for years. World Balloon, folks. They are awesome.We drove back to have our champagne and get our certificates for being super brave.:-)What to do with the rest of the day? Well. We showered and decided to check out this national park. This is the Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks National Park. I wore flip flops and looked half decent and had ZERO intentions of hiking. ZERO. But take a guess at what we did? We went hiking! A 5k through narrow passageways and extremely uphill. My recommendation is to do the hike but not to wear flip flops. Or a real bra. All of those were fails.Yep. Penis rocks.The next morning we went to see the mass ascension. It was THE BEST! I am not going to lie, we were in a spot where we weren’t really seeing much of the taking off because these balloons are big, yo. So, we took turns leaving our stuff and walking around and seeing the majority of them take off. I went second after Emily had said you have to go over there. I admit, I was teary. It was so pretty. And I couldn’t help but think of all the awesome things I have gotten to see in my life so far. These balloons were amongst the prettiest.After the mass ascension and chowing down on breakfast burritos with christmas sauce – red and green salsa together! We walked back to where the field was once covered with thousands of balloons because they were about to play a game! A game where the winner got 15k! We didn’t really understand what was happening but we knew that there were balloons taking off from 1 mile away and coming into the field without touching down and needing to somehow hit a target with bean bags. There was apparently skill involved but we really just didn’t get it. BUT the good news is that these balloons were sooooooo pretty! And the clouds were perfect so we stayed awhile and took about 16gb worth of photos.I already can’t wait to go back one day! It was so fun and gorgeous!! After this we left for White Sands which was also magical. More on that tomorrow!! Also make sure to check out Emily’s blog post about balloons!!