Georgia Wedding at The R-Ranch in the Mountains // Chelsea + Donny //

We just got hit with another snow storm here in Central Wisco. So I'm just looking back through all my favorite happy warm wedding pictures. Le sigh. 

In September I went to Georgia to photograph Chelsea and Donny's mountain wedding. It was my first time really hanging out in the south and I don't think it could have been any better. My first night there I hung out at Chelsea and Donny's house with them and their friends. We sat on the deck and drank beer and ate pizza and I laughed until I had a headache. The next day at breakfast I ate the best biscuits and gravy (courtesy of Dakota's plate. Whoops.) in the world. Amen. Seriously though guys. Like I will travel for food.
The rest of the weekend was basically like adult camp. Everyone stayed in cabins at the R-Ranch. I rode on the back of a motorcycle and tried moonshine and it was perfect. I honestly have never felt more welcomed by a wedding party in my life. It was like I knew them my whole life and I might have even shed a couple tears when I got on the plane to come home. Anyway. Enough about that. 
Did I mention we were in the mountains guys?!?! And this wedding was so freaking beautiful?! 

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Brides. Take note. This is how you do cowboy boots on your wedding day. Mmmk?

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But did I tell you about the mountains yet? Sorry. I'm from Central Wisconsin and it's all flat here.

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For the record I 100% support shotgunning beer on your wedding day...

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I CAN'T!!! This ceremony. I cried. I cried when I watched Donny see Chelsea for the first time. I cried when both of her Dads kissed her before giving her away. I cried when Donny told her that her beauty rivaled the Georgia mountains and streams. Whatever. Don't judge me.

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These are my new best friends guys. They know how to have fun and they look goooood doing it!

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It's always a good idea to take a break from dancing and get some sunset pictures and time alone together... Especially when this is the backdrop...

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Sparkler send off and motorcycle getaway?!?! Have mercy.

Chelsea and Donny-
I'm pretty sure you already know how much I adore you but I'll say it again... You are the best! I love the way you love each other and your banter. Thank you for trusting me before you really knew me. Thank you for opening your home to me and making me feel welcome and sharing your friends with me :) I am so excited for you guys and this journey you're on together! I am coming back because obviously Blakely needs to meet me and know how cool I am. And also I need to redeem myself and show you all how we hang in Wisconsin. Mk? Love ya guys! Take care of each other!

Los Angeles // May 2017

It's cold guys. Like reeeaaally cold. And the only thing getting me through it is looking back through pictures from my trip to Los Angeles last May. Me and my main babes booked some super cheap tickets to SoCal last winter ($130 round trip?! Thanks google flights!). And I'm finally getting around to blogging our adventure and I'm filling you in on all the best shiz we did! I'm pretty go with the flow when traveling and luckily Hannah and Emily were on the same page. We really didn't have anything planned before we left but thanks to instagram, pinterest, google, and our charming personalities we found a bunch of cheap, fun stuff and made lots of friends. 
We stayed at the most wonderful airbnb in Inglewood. It was close to the airport, super spacious, comfortable, and clean. We were also really close to a Trader Joe's. Score. Our hosts were absolute angels. They were super flexible with our check in/check out times and they had lots of suggestions on things to do. We rented a car while we were there which I'd definitely recommend. Traffic can be a little messy but it wasn't nearly as bad as I imagined and parking was honestly a breeze 90% of the time. 

pacific coast highway free things to do in los angeles

Since we rented a car, we took a day to drive down the Pacific Coast Highway all the way to Laguna Beach. We walked by the ocean every time we had the chance and stopped for coffee and drinks in a bunch of the towns. The Boy and the Bear in Redondo Beach had some of the best cold brew I've ever had and Emily got a pretty stellar drink that was a mix between a mocha and a chai latte and it was magic.

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free things to do in los angeles pacific coast highway
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After driving south to Laguna, we decided we should probably head north too. We spent a day driving up into the Santa Monica Mountains and hiking around. Honestly, I couldn't tell you where exactly we were. We ended up asking some guys working in their driveway to point us in the direction of a trailhead and that was that. And yes. We were terrified of rattlesnakes but that view...

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verdugo bar bars in los angeles outdoor patio

Los Angeles's night scene is just slightly better than Central Wisconsin's... Even if the drinks are three times as expensive. Our favorite place, hands down, was Verdugo Bar. Outdoor patio, free stand-up (aka Friendship Buddies) on Sundays, good drinks.  Footsie's is another bar in the same neighborhood as Verdugo. It felt very Madison-esque hipsters, $4 PBR's, and a porch off the back where everyone was smoking cigarettes. Lucky for us they were also celebrating Steven Patrick Morrissey's birthday with all the Smiths tunes you could dream of. And we got some mean burritos from a food truck down the road soooooo...

Venice Beach was a pretty quick drive from our place so we usually ended up there for drinks in the evening. Larry's was a favorite with some pretty good beers on tap and pizza with ten pounds of arugula. Another favorite of ours was Bank of Venice where we accidentally pissed off Lori Petty... whoops. She's a regular so if you unknowingly end up sitting at a table next to her just keep your obnoxious laughing to a minimum. We stopped in Animal House about 5 minutes before they closed which was probably a good thing. Because if we had had more time I probably would have spent all my savings on bad ass vintage clothing. Seriously. It was like heaven in that place.

grand central market where to do eat in downtown los angeles

Grand Central Market might be one of my very favorite places in the whole wide world. If you're ever there hit up Valerie for a bomb breakfast sammie or a salted caramel croissant and then call me and thank me. Then go right back and get some beer and deep fried avocado from Golden Road Brewing. You're welcome.

grand central market where to do eat in downtown los angeles

Just walking around downtown LA with iced coffee was pretty phenomenal. If you look closely at the photos below you'll spy a Fin Dac mural in the background. Be still my heart!

And apparently since we needed to spend about 98.75% of this trip eating and drinking we swung into Spread. Please please please, whoever was in charge of the decor at this place, come to Wisconsin, take all my money, and transform my apartment. K thanks. I devoured some of the best falafel ever and sipped on a fig infused rye old fashioned that still haunts my dreams.

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the last bookstore free things to do in downtown los angeles

And then I died and went to heaven aka The Last Bookstore. Sculptures made from paper and tunnels made from books and old vaults and a huge record selection and galleries and artwork and everything good. Amen.

the last bookstore free things to do in downtown los angeles

And this. The whole reason we went on this trip. To spend Mother's Day pampering the women of Skid Row. For the past 11 years Justin Mayo and Red Eye Inc have been throwing crazy awesome amazing makeovers for Mother's Day. I worked with Red Eye in 2015 and always knew I'd go back. Justin and his team have this passion and love and empathy that is contagious. They are the real deal. The first time I met Justin I asked him "Why?" and without missing a beat he said "Because this is home. This is my family." If you aren't familiar with Red Eye you need to check them out, follow the story, donate, and if you're ever in LA volunteer. They have youth mentoring in Watts every single Saturday. And it's definitely the most fun you'll have. 

We forget so quickly that we are all people and we all just want to be treated with some freaking dignity. The stories these women told me could very easily have been my own. A bad relationship, job loss, health issues, depression. The only difference is that I've had people to lend me a hand. So let's all remember to look at each other and really see one another. Because there isn't a person you wouldn't love if you could read their story.
I wouldn't have wanted to celebrate Mother's Day any other way. Seeing women feel beautiful and important and loved and empowered is my absolute favorite thing. And I got to watch my friends use their gifts and talents to help make that happen. Which is why they're my best friends. Because I said "Let's do this." And they jumped in without hesitation or any questions asked. And then we danced in the street. 

ZION

so I am heading out of the country in just 16 days to shoot my first wedding on the year in Mexico! and I just realized I haven't shared my photos from my Utah trip yet. I know. I'm a slacker. 
so back in November I attended a workshop with the awesome kick ass photog phenom Brooke Davis Johnson of Blush Photography. Just the thought of workshops normally freaks me out. I mean, sitting around in a classroom with a bunch of stylish bubbly ladies sounds painful. Brooke's workshop was suuuper laid back though. We sat around a campfire and her hubby Tavis hooked me up with some delicious Utah beer (it may have been like 11 am but hey I'm a Wisco girl. totally acceptable.) There were only 5 of us who attended so it was nice and intimate. We spent the first half just relaxing and talking about everything from our personal lives to our biggest fears in business to social media. After shooting in the afternoon we went back to the campground and ate and drank (more) bourbon under the stars. It was fantastic. now I'm going to overwhelm you with workshop pictures. eat your heart out. 

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shooting in direct sun might be my new favorite thing...

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oh sweet baby jesus. that is some delicious light.

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zion national park engagement session
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zion national park engagement session
zion national park engagement session
zion national park engagement session

have mercy!!! I seriously want to only shoot in Zion foreverrrr.

zion national park engagement session
zion national park engagement session
zion national park engagement session

so besides learning a bunch of new ish, I did some adventuring. because how are you gonna go to Utah and not?! this was my first time doing any sort of back country hiking. My shoulders and feet ached afterwards. I froze my butt off on the ground in a really small tent one night. I got all sorts of sweaty and gross during the day. and honestly it was on the happiest times of my life. Zion is breath taking. literally. most of the time I just looked around me barely able to breathe or form sentences other than "oh. my. gosh." 

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zion national park utah

yes. yes I was creeping on this adorable old man. I hope I am still out exploring the world when I'm his age.

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at one point during the back country hike I was all tears. I was so overwhelmed and grateful that I am physically and financially able to travel. I realized just how small and insignificant I am. And yet how strong and powerful I am. 

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If you go to Zion I highly highly suggest staying at Ponderosa Ranch. Super affordable, clean, comfortable, and free breakfast! everything from old school camp sites to huge pimped out condos. 
The last night in Utah the stars were insane. So even though I had no tripod and we were extremely exhausted from hiking and I had never done any night photography before, we went out and did the damn thing.

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zion national park utah
zion national park utah
zion national park utah
zion national park utah
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so.. come to find out... November in Zion is pretty chilly. On our way out we stopped at The Narrows because duh... it's the place to be. The plan was just to see it because the water was way to cold to actually walk through. Then I saw this bad ass lady above hiking through the Narrows with a baby on her back!!! so you know what happened next...

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yes. it was ridiculously cold and I thought I might lose my toes. yes these are cell phone pics and they're still decent. 

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you've got more than money and sense my friend
you've got heart
and you go in your own way
what you don't have now will come back again
you've got heart
and you go in your own way