Workshop Details!


I’m very excited to announce the details of my first workshop in 2013! Chris Roberge from ClearImages Photography in beautiful Kelowna, B.C. has invited me to teach a two-day workshop around conceptual photography and how to turn your ideas into creative, conceptual photographs!

The first day (March 2nd) will start with a morning of discussion around developing ideas into photoshoots, I will go over my own process of conceptualizing and we’ll come up with some ideas together on the photoshoot for the afternoon. That afternoon will be spent at the Gellatly Nutfarm where we will work together to create our pieces. A model and props will be on hand to help you create the photo you’ve planned and I will assist each photographer as they shoot their concept. The main concept that we will work around is based on this one but it’s entirely open to each person’s interpretation and goals!



The second day (March 3rd)  will be centered around post production, I will go over my own editing styles and techniques I like to use on my photos and then I will edit my version of the photo from the previous day. Giving advice and answering questions as we go. It’s not required that you bring your own laptop but if you’d like to bring it and edit as we go that would be great too! A DVD recording of my editing will be provided to attendees so you can take the lesson home with you!

The seats are very limited (about 6 in total) and the cost is only $350 for both days! I would love to see some of you there!

If you have any questions or if you’d like to sign up, please email Chris at!






Saturday March 2 – “Conceptualizing Your Shoot”10am-5pm (Gellatly Nutfarm – Location of Shooting) -Discussion of how to develop an idea/concept, and turn it into a shoot. – Discussion from 10am – 1pm. Travel to Location and shooting begins at 1pm. Lunch will be provided at the break time (1pm)

Sunday March 3 – Post Production on conceptual image. 10am-4pm – Location TBA Taking previous days photos into photoshop, and applying processing techniques to develop said conceptual image to final stage of production.

Materials Required: Own Camera w/ Memory cards, Lighting Equipment will not be necessary, as this will be a Natural Light setup. During the Post Production section, a laptop will not be required as we will be recording the processing and providing a DVD of the workshop to all attendees!




It’s taken me almost a full day to write this simple but meaningful post.  So far, even though we are just two weeks into this new year, my photography journey has entered a speed tunnel. There have been many kind articles and blog posts, some exciting opportunities to travel and teach, and contests to enter to hopefully fuel my journey for months to come.

But yesterday, I received some news that truly left me without words. I checked my phone during the a break between classes and saw a post from a friend saying “congratulations your nomination!”.  Nomination!? For what? I quickly looked a bit closer and found out that I had been nominated for an amazing award sponsored by the Framed Network, an incredible network aimed at elevating photography to new heights. Not only was I absolutely floored at being nominated but when I saw who else was in my category, Best Conceptual Photographer, I was floored. To see names like my friend Brooke Shaden, the amazing Kristy Mitchell, an inspiration Aaron Nace and the master  Jerry Uelsmann was truly humbling. To see my name next to these talented artists is truly a highlight of my photography life.

In the past few years I’ve been turning my entire focus towards creating art. I’ve completed three 365 projects with one in progress, I’ve travelled across the continent to meet with fellow artists and work alongside them, I’ve spent hours taking photos, editing photos, sharing my photos and creating ideas for more photos. I’ve been so happy with my work that I’ve literally jumped in the air and I’ve been so frustrated with my work that I’ve cried and almost given up. I’ve locked myself in my house, I’ve ignored sunny days and opportunities to participate in other interests. All because I love photography. I love being able to express my dreams, my ideas and my goals and I love being able to share that with you.

Each nominee deserves this award. They inspire me and motivate me to keep creating and I’m truly honored to be nominated. That said, I would love to win this award as well. It would be an amazing accomplishment and I would greatly greatly appreciate it.

Please vote for me at  -> Best Conceptual Photographer.

vote v

Thank you so much for helping start off my year in the most amazing way!

Los Angeles Flickr Gathering – Recap

I’ve been staring at this computer screen all day trying to figure out how to put into words how incredible the last week has been. On December 28th I, along with 50 other talented photographers from across the continent, set out for Los Angeles to attend a meetup hosted by David Talley. This was my fourth photography meetup and although it’s hard to pick favourites, this one was very special.

It is a surreal moment when you see a car full of your friends, wielding telescopes and big smiles pull up to the airport. It was literally a burst of sunlight to arrive in California, escaping the many inches of snow here in Canada. The first few hours together were spent laughing around a roaring fire pit, telling stories and getting to know each other. Every time a new person would arrive, they were welcomed with cheers and hugs and our small group grew larger and larger.



The first day we set out for a nearby park, half our group opting for a forested area and the other half for an open field area. Even though it was sprinkling down rain and our feet quickly became heavy with mud, we were like bees. Photoshoots popped up all over the place, with outfit changes, impromptu props made from nearby flowers and cacti and there a definite burst of creativity in the air. At times I just looked out, clutching my camera, and just watched all these talented artists creating their work. Natalie Zigdon, the editor of the beautiful Grae Magazine arrived to take some behind the scenes photos for an entire issue showcasing the meetup and she was quickly included into our busy group. Despite the rain and mud, this day was so bright and warm, just by the people involved in making it happen.


On the 30th, we attended a Flickr hosted photowalk to Sturtevant Falls. It was really cool to join staff from along with local photographers on the walk along the creek and cabins to the waterfalls. Our group was huge, with almost 100 photographers roaming the trails. I was so happy to get to meet one of my photography friends and inspirations Ted of Ted Craig Photography. We’ve been friends for a few months now and I was honored to work alongside him in a photo. It’s always so great to get to meet fellow artists who not only share a passion for photography but also have similar ethics and morals, I felt like Ted and I had known each other for years.

IMG_3514         IMG_3503


We spent a few hours at the falls, capturing many photos in the process. I can’t wait to see everyone’s interpretations of the same spot. On the way back to the parking lot we took our time, exploring the tiny  cabins and beautiful canopies of lush trees and ferns. One thing I’ve learned that when you travel with a group of photographers, even the shortest walk takes a very long time as we like to stop for everything!  Never would I have imagined that this place existed so close to a huge city, it reminded me a lot of Vancouver. After the walk, we explored Pasadena, creating a flashmob inside a candy shop and enjoying each other’s company.



That evening, the generous and talented Carolyn Hampton and family hosted the entire group of us for dinner at their house. We arrived to big hugs and a warm fireplace, it felt like family gathering and I’ll never forget that evening. She set up a christmas photobooth so we could take funny photos of our ugly christmas sweaters and I laughed until I cried. Later, we took turns making fools out of ourselves (aside from the few people with actual dancing skills) while playing Just Dance, somehow I even got pushed up for a turn and I dread seeing the videos of THAT. The evening was perfect.




On the 31st after a slowish star, we set out for the abandoned Los Angeles Zoo for some photos and it was a cool spot to explore and take some photos. I’m pretty sure we confused a lot of people who were casually walking around the park but it was fun to be able to see people coming up with concepts on the spot and I really enjoyed being able to watch people shoot in their style.

IMG_3922   IMG_4030


After the zoo we headed up to the Griffith Observatory to watch the sunset over the city. Pulling up under the Hollywood sign and watching my friends running around, posing for photos, laughing and hugging made me feel so blessed to be wrapping up an amazing year with them. We stayed long enough to watch the sun dip below the horizon, bathing all of us in a warm glow of orange and then headed back to David’s house for a party.

IMG_4083      IMG_4115


We celebrated both Shane Black’s birthday and the New Year and there were enough bottles of sparkling apple juice and balloons to make us all happy. We went outside to countdown the new year and as we watched fireworks shoot overhead, I felt proud to be where I was with these friends, convinced that 2013 will be the year that changes my life in the best possible way. I went to sleep that night with a smile on my face.

IMG_4225    IMG_4231


On the first day of 2013 we headed out for the beach and it was the best possible way to start off the new year. I had never taken photos at the ocean before so I was excited to come up with some concepts and enjoy the sand and sun. I’ve learned through these meetups that whenever we arrive at a location, I need a good 10 minutes alone to survey the scene, see where the light is and come up with a plan of action. After I had settled in I shot a few concepts with two of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met, Anna Skahill and Olivia Clemens. Everywhere I looked, there were photoshoots going on.

IMG_4248   IMG_4344



By the time I had finished my shooting, we were ready to head over to another beach. The two spots couldn’t have been more different from each other, while the first location was sandy beach, the second was rocky and filled with small tidal pools. The sun was setting fast but I managed to explore some amazing rock formations and shot a few photos, including one of Natalie Hampton just as the sun was setting. A perfect way to end the day.


January 2nd was our last full day together and we decided to head up to Mount Baldy to explore the snow. We headed up the windy road, stopping at a beautiful forested area to take photos. That spot was one of my favourite of the trip, just a secluded dirt road with so many interesting little places to stop and take photos. When we finally arrived at the snow, I must admit it was kind of funny watching all these people who don’t normally shoot in snow slipping and sliding around saying things like “it’s so cold!” It made me smile, just a bit 🙂



My favourite part of these meetups is watching the group just explode in creativity, within a few minutes of us arriving, there were costumes on and props being carried around. There were photoshoots in every direction you could look in and I loved watching it all happen. After the sun went down and we had taken our last photos, we headed to Mt.Baldy lodge for one more family dinner together and we filled the restaurant with laughter.


That night and the next morning were difficult. Saying goodbye after only a few days together was really tough for a lot of us. When you find a group of friends who are as talented, kind, and loving as those were at this meetup, it’s not easy to say goodbye. Every few hours we would have to go through a ritual of hugs, tears and “I’m so proud to call you my friend”s. Chasing the cars as they drove down the street to the airport. Before long on the 3rd there were only a few of us left and a small group of us headed for Malibu for one last day at the beach together.


The beach in Malibu was probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. The rock caves and walls literally took my breath away. Peter brought me to a cave that was literally the size of my apartment and I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be standing where I was, soaking in the sun and feeling the pacific ocean washing over my feet.



That afternoon I was able to fulfill a huge dream of mine, to work with my good friend and inspiration Brooke Shaden. Brooke and I have been friends for a few years but haven’t had the chance to meet up until this gathering. On Thursday we took turns taking photos of each other and it really was a dream come true to not only take a photo of her, but for her to ask me to be included in her photo. It was probably the best possible way to wrap up this trip.


“We Survived” by Brooke Shaden

After a dinner out, and some more difficult goodbyes a smaller group of us headed to Carolyn’s house for the night so we could spend a few more hours together before I had to fly home. That night was filled with so much light and happiness that I’m pretty sure it helped me not feel so sad about leaving. The next morning was almost impossible for me to get through, having to say goodbye to my friends, people who understand me, who support me and inspire me was tough. It’s so energizing to be around those people and to say goodbye is really not easy to do.

In the end, this gathering much like the others I’ve been to, have cemented the desire and passion I have for photography and have made my path towards creating full-time even clearer. Even though we are all thousands of miles apart I can still feel the creative energy and I have such a strong motivation to continue to work hard at making this dream come true.  I feel so blessed to have had this opportunity to be around so many creative and talented artists and I’m even luckier to be able to call them my friends. I cannot wait until the next time we are all able to stand around a campfire and laugh together.

Thank you LAFG2013


2012 – My Year In Review

Wow. These past twelve months have not only flown by but they’ve also been filled to the brim with so many amazing opportunities and people and it’s honestly a little difficult to even try to summarize everything! 2012 was a big year for me, do you ever have those stand-out years in your life where you feel your own part of the world move just a bit? This year was that for me.

If this time last year you had told me that I would have travelled to the places I’ve been to, met the amazing people I’ve had the opportunity to meet or have even half of the experiences I’ve had, I wouldn’t have believed you but through hard word and good luck I’m so happy to say that this year was filled with all of those things.

At the beginning of the year I was offered an amazing opportunity with Coca-Cola to be a part of their new social media directed campaign, creating images based around a set of positive “drivers for change” that were created to be a new way to reach out to the people who enjoy both the product and art. Needless to say being able to add one of the world’s largest brands and one that has always placed a high emphasis on their graphics and art design was truly an amazing opportunity and I have enjoyed the last year working with them. It’s allowed me the opportunity to see commercial or product art in a new light and create work that I feel fits both their market and my style, I’m very excited to see what the next path is with them.

Seek and Ye Shall Find


One of my photography related goals for the year was to be able to see my work be published either in a magazine or book and I never would have expected both of those and more to happen! I was so lucky to have been able to be included in about 15 different magazines and have my photos included in 4 books and even a greeting card! It was such a surreal experience to hold a book in my hand and see my own work printed on the front. I never would have imagined that I would be answering interviews for  magazines based out of France, Russia and Korea but I’m so thankful that my work is being accepted and shared in countries  all around the world. I would like to thank magazines like fourx5, 5×5 magazine, Grae Magazine, Golden Age Magazine, Coffee Today, Phototech and many more for supporting my work and allowing me to be included in their publications.

I was also very fortunate to have the online portion of my photography continue to grow and reach new audiences.  I was able to have interviews and see my work promoted from websites all over the world and I am always so humbled when someone wants to share my work and my views with others. I had my photos reposted by people like George Takei, Apolo Anton Ono, Leona Lewis, Harry Shrum Jr, Random House Books, Oprah and more!  You can see a few of the posts here:
Canadian photographers Network
My Modern Met
The New Yorker Online
Brain Pickings
Oprah Winfrey’s Blog

Also this year I participated in a few photography festivals, something that I’m looking forward to continuing in the new year. I was invited to show my work at the Ulsan International Photography Festival in Korea in the fall and was declared one of the “Best New Photographers” by their panel. That same month I submitted photos to a local festival and won best overall  photo which was quite a surprise and honor for me.

408322_428020660567945_1535605356_n 295110_428308483872496_836332588_n 556606_10152057497265618_1510495176_n


In non-photography related  events, I trained for and completed my fourth marathon this spring. Running has always been something that I enjoy and that gives me the chance to relax (oddly enough!) and my not-so-secret competitive side really enjoys the racing aspect of it! I ran in about 7 races this year and I was very happy with my placings in all of them. For my marathon in Idaho, I ran my fastest ever, finishing in 15th place overall with a time of 3:12 and winning a bronze medal in my age category. It’s getting close to start-up season again and I can’t wait to lace up my running  shoes and start training again for the next big race! This year I was also selected as runner for the canada-wide Rick Hansen Relay tour, an amazing relay in celebration and recognition of Rick Hansen’s world tour to raise awareness of accessibility for those with disabilities and mobility issues. It was an honor to be able to be a part of a national relay.

537568_10151729808275618_2142789272_n Rick Hansen

One the biggest highlights for me this year was the amount of travelling I was able to do. At the beginning of the year my partner and I took a quick weekend trip to Vancouver to see Betty White perform at the Vancouver Comedy Fest, it was the perfect chance to get out of the snow and explore another city, even if only for a few days. I travelled to Calgary a few times as well, to see Coldplay perform and in the summer with my partner to see Mary Poppins, both highlights of my year for sure! Earlier this year I never would have guessed that I would have flown to a small town in Indiana to attend  a gathering of 30 friends and photographers. Those few days spent together pretty much changed my photography journey completely. Before the trip I felt like I wasn’t really going  anywhere with this part of my life, that I liked photography but I didn’t have a course set out for it. But after spending that time exploring abandoned buildings, taking photos throughout the day, laughing and teaching each other, my path in photography became much clearer and I gained a huge boost of confidence in my own work and felt like I knew where I wanted to go. The following month I was lucky to be included in another meetup in Vancouver and was reunited with some friends and made new ones. Again, I felt that surge of passion for photography and it fueled the fire that I have inside for it. In October I took my turn hosting a meetup in the beautiful Kootenay Lake region of B.C., welcoming friends from all over the place. It was beautiful to be able to share a little corner of my world with other photographers. And to finish off the year, I’m travelling to another meetup in California with about 50 other talented and inspiring photographers and friends and I can’t wait to see the magic that results from being around the hub of positive and creative energy. I hope that I’m able to continue to travel and explore the world in 2013.

MidWestby Whitney Justesengroup


So in conclusion, 2012 was an incredible year. Last year I set out with a short list of goals and I’m so happy to say that I accomplished those goals. I was able to continue to share my work and feel an amazing amount of support and appreciation for it, I was able to travel and meet with friends who continue to support me and I was able to find my path and develop the road that I want to continue travelling on.

For the next year I hope this momentum continues. I already have a few trips planned, a few exciting opportunities in the works and I hope that it unfolds and plays out in unexpected and exciting ways like it did this year. My goals for 2013 are to be more organized and continue to work on the business side of my photography, to expand my vision and to start to post more on my blog and to post more tutorials, to start hosting workshops and to continue to share my views with the world.

I’d like to thank you for supporting me and what I do, I pinch myself when I think of how blessed I am to be able to receive such positive feedback and to see so many people enjoying what I do, it helps me to keep going and to keep developing (photography pun!). Thank you to those that I was able to meet this year, to the families that hired me, to the Good Ol’ Goats for the opportunity to work with you, to Coca-Cola, Coffee Today, and Cohere magazine for liking my work enough to ‘hire’ me, and to all of you who like my work. Thank you. All the best for 2013!

Thank You

Lessons Learned

I’ve always been the type of person who tries to see each experience and situation as a potential learning opportunity. I like to analyze things and find ways to make something better, to try something new or to see how it can change things in my own life. This year has been one of the biggest learning lessons for me. I’ve felt that in the past 11 months I’ve had a lot of opportunities to learn more about myself, to learn about the world around me, to learn how to be better and do better and how to move towards the goals I have in life.

I learned not to take everything so seriously and that it’s ok to take a break. For the past few years I’ve put myself into the habit of creating an image or photograph every single day. Mostly because I liked it, but also because I’m stubborn and don’t like to feel like I’ve missed a goal. Eventually, the need to create started to creep up on my desire to create and I found myself scrambling to come up with ideas and making photographs that  I wasn’t proud of. I was shooting in the wrong light, in the wrong location, editing too quickly and making errors..all because I felt my own internal pressure to have something to produce for that day. It was as though my day didn’t amount to anything if I didn’t post a photograph. Combine that with working a full-time job, being in a relationship, training for a marathon and the regular daily stuff I was starting to burn out. Thankfully, I went on a trip to Indiana to meet and photograph with friends and photographers and the trip truly changed my outlook. I was forced to take a break from my self-imposed pressure and I began to feel as though tiny weights were  being unclipped from my mind. Suddenly I felt more passionate about photography, I felt like my world slowed down for  a second and that I had time to look and see and feel again. When I came home from that trip I saw my own photography journey as less of a sprint to get photos out and more of a marathon a long journey with many miles and views. I learned that it was not the end of the world if I didn’t post a photo each day, that if I wanted to go for a hike or meet a friend for coffee or simply stay in and watch tv all day, I could and that didn’t make me less of a photographer or put a negative mark on me in any way. It seems silly to me now to say that I once felt like that but I did and I’m thankful to have learned the lesson to slow down.

I learned to distance myself from “the online bad guys”. I’ve spent much of my time in the last year trying to build up my photography business and online presence. Posting on Flickr, Facebook, Instagram and other websites has been the main driving point to where I am today and I wouldn’t have any many of the amazing opportunities had I not been so active in these social outlets. But, as I’ve learned this year, for every positive note and comment there can be someone looking to bring to you down. A few months ago I posted a blog post on my feelings around copyright infringement and uncredited sharing of my work. I wrote it solely for the purpose of sharing my own personal feelings and to get my mind clear on the subject.  Shortly after, an image of mine (which was taken and edited without permission) was posted on a popular Facebook page and things took a bit of a nasty turn. My friends and supporters of my work, quickly began linking my photography page and the post I wrote in the comments and by the time I became aware of the whole situation,  a sort of wildfire had broken out. While I appreciate people standing up for me, the other people posting comments on the post were not so enthusiastic and I started to receive some pretty nasty comments, messages and emails. Up until this point I hadn’t ever really experienced much of the negative side of social media. It took the wind out of my sail for a few days and I wasn’t sure how to respond.  It was my older brother who finally said something that helped. He said that “there are people in the world who have nothing to do  than to enjoy the anonymous act of making other people feel bad, because they can. They won’t think about it the next day or the next week even though you’ve been hurt. These aren’t the people who you should spend your energy on, it’s the people who support you that you should focus on”. Even though it seemed totally obvious, it made sense and it changed the way I looked at social media and my interactions with it. Now, when I get a comment or a negative message, I either try to ignore it or I try to find something positive to focus on instead,. This image below was inspired by a message that I received a few weeks ago telling me that I was self-centered and that I shouldn’t believe that the world revolves around me (I don’t think that at all…) so instead of feeling hurt, I turned it into inspiration to create.  The lesson of distancing myself from ‘haters’ is one that has taken a while and one that I’ve struggled with the most, but it’s helped me to become a more positive and focussed person.

I’ve learned to be more organized. If you know me, you will know that I am unorganized, a bit messy, and sometimes a little forgetful. I’ve always been that way and while I know that it drives some people crazy, it’s not something that I find I can fix easily. With that said, this year I’ve had to learn to become more organized. It started around March when, after being featured on a popular literature blog, I had a few busy days in my Etsy print shop. I found myself one day looking at our living room floor which was now covered in envelopes, prints, address labels and business cards and having a mild panic attack. I knew at that point that I was going to have to be more organized. Shortly after that I started making a weekly list, inspired by Alex Beadon. Each sunday I spend about 30 minutes going over the next week and all the things I have to do that week, broken down into categories:  mailing stuff, photo stuff, random stuff, emailing stuff.  I star the ones that have to be done right away and I highlight them as I finish them. It’s rather neat to be able to go back in the book and see all the things that I’ve managed to get done (or put off) for the past few months and even though I’m still fighting the messy desk and scattered email inbox, I feel much more in charge of my photography business.

And finally, I’ve learned the true value of friendship (cue “awwwwws”). I’ve always had a difficult time feeling totally comfortable around people and in most cases feeling like my friendships were working. I’ve distanced myself from a lot of people in the last few years and through this have found myself rather isolated. Thankfully, this year I’ve been so fortunate to make and build some truly incredible friendships with people who I feel not only understand me but also think in the same way I do. Through the benefits of social media I’ve been able to collaborate and have incredible conversations with friends from around the world and I’m so thankful to have been able to attend three meetups (soon to be four) and be able to build these friendships in real life. I think I started to forget the value in friendship and the value in not being totally introverted. I don’t think I can ever say thank you enough to the hilarious and inspiring friends that I’ve been so fortunate to make this year.

So, as this year comes to a close I look back and feel that as difficult as it was (even though some of it was self-imposed) I’ve come out of it all with a better understanding of myself, of what I want in my life and how I can get there. I feel that I’ve grown up this year, that I’ve validated myself and become more confident in my own mind and in my photography and that I’m heading in the right direction.
Thank you to all of you, who read this blog, who leave me positive and uplifting comments and messages and who continue to help me learn and grow.

October Monthly Recap

Well that month sure went by fast! Here I was just a few days ago trying to type up the random events of September when all of a sudden pumpkins were being replaced with christmas decorations and the last of the leaves are barely clinging to the trees!

October was an amazing month though. It felt like a month of clarity for me, one that allowed me to see where I want to be headed and to acknowledge that I’m not quite there yet. I’ve come to enjoy the journey of self-discovery, to enjoy those moments of “THIS is what makes me feel alive!” and to look for those chances to feel them again.  This month was full of those times.

Thanksgiving Meetup

I already dedicated an entire post to the amazing weekend I spent in a cabin with some of my closest friends and favourite photographers. It was really an opportunity for me to not only try out new ideas and concepts and think on the spot but also an opportunity to solidify that this is what I want to do with my life. I want to photograph, I want to create art and share it. I want to see new locations and use them in ways that maybe nobody else would have thought to. This meetup was a much-needed break in my life and I can’t really put into words how much these opportunities push me and help me grow.

Phlearn Interview
Shortly before I left for the Thanksgiving meetup, I was contacted by my lovely friend Angela who happens to work at, an amazing website created by Aaron Nace devoted to photography and teaching artists. I’ve long respected Aaron’s work and the opportunity to be interviewed for the website was truly an honor! You can read the interview here:

Zombie Walk:
What’s October without a friendly neighborhood Zombie Walk!? I had a great time spending a few hours with some fellow  zombies roaming the streets of Cranbrook!

photo by Mountain Culture Photography

Magazines/Book Covers:
At the beginning of each month I try to sit and think “I wonder what will happen in these next 4 weeks” and most of the things that end up happening are never the things I would ever assume! This month I was fortunate to have a lengthy interview (complete with cover!) with a Russian photography magazine.

I also discovered that one of my images licenced through Arc-Angel stock images was purchased as a book cover in Holland, how exciting is that!?

I was also featured on the cover and inside the 8th issue of fourx5 magazine, an AWESOME photography and design magazine, you can download the issue here:

Winning Relay Race
Normally I try to stay pretty consistent with my running (I’m training to qualify and eventually run in the Boston Marathon) although this summer and fall were so busy that I hadn’t actually managed to keep on track with any significant races or runs. I decided about half way through the month to sign up with a friend to complete a relay linking my town with the next town over, a distance of 25km. My portion was 14km and while it was a bit cold starting off in the snow, our duo ended up being the fastest team and we’re now the proud owners of a rather awkward and oversized trophy!

Last but not least, this month I hit two pretty big milestones in my online photography journey. On my Flickr account, I reached 5 million overall views of my photos and my Facebook photography page has reached 10,000 likes. For me, these numbers are motivating. They tell me that people enjoy what I do and that my work matters. It helps me to stay on track, to keep moving forward and I just want to say thank you to each and every person that has ever looked at my work and appreciated it.

This month, while mostly cloudy and grey weather-wise was full of bright memories, humbling moments and chances for me to grow and learn and I can’t wait to see what happens in the next 4 weeks!

Canadian Thanksgiving Meetup

Earlier this year I never would have imagined that I’d be writing about my third amazing meetup with some incredibly talented photographers and friends. At the start of this year I had met only a handful of online friends in real life and never would have thought that I would not only one day meet them all, but several times over the course of a year!

During the weekend of October 4-9, I organized and ‘hosted’ a small group of some of my favourite photographers at a meetup in the mountains of British Columbia. We decided in August to try and meet during this time and after finding the most amazing cabin rental (seriously if you’re ever in the Nelson area, rent from Kootenay Lake Lodge!) we reserved our stay and planned our getaway.

What I don’t think any of us really imagined was that the weekend would be as magical as it was. Our cabin, while only a few rooms, was so cozy and almost immediately filled with a sense of comfort and home. Whether we were making pancakes in the morning, hot chocolate in the evenings or just sitting on the couch making jokes, it felt not like we were renting a cabin, but actually living in a home together. While in the inside of the cabin was filled with magic, the natural environment surrounding it was even more magical. We had our own lakefront rocky ‘beach’ located just steps from our door with a view of the lake that literally spanned as far as we could see. In the evening, the light turned to a beautiful blue hue and in the morning clouds hung low over the mountains creating a soft light over the water and shore.

We had a small forest filled with moss and driftwood, a tiny waterfall framed with falled logs and blackberry bushes and within a short walk we found ourselves climbing over huge boulders and rocks to find the perfect photo locations.

I feel a sense of recharge when I’m with my friends at these meetups, they feel less like photography gatherings and more like the best class I’ve ever taken, it’s like a family reunion that I never want to end. There is an energy in the air, an energy filled with creativity and appreciation and support. We help each other plan shots, help each other edit, help each other move forward toward reaching our very best. It’s an energy I want to bottle and keep for these rainy days when I feel isolated in my little mountain town.


During the weekend we travelled to a sort of abandoned campground place with huge trees and a beautiful river. We took a beautiful ferry ride to the small town of Nelson B.C. and ate at an interesting “fusion” restaraunt and wound up doing cartwheels in a park overlooking the town. On the way home we ended up missing the returning ferry by just a few minutes. Instead of sitting around and waiting, we all grabbed our cameras and gear and immediately started using the available locations for photos. It was like watching a beehive of activity, we were all running back and forth, catching the most beautiful orange sunset. We boarded the ferry in time to watch the water and sky turned purple and then blue and dark.

That evening would become of the most amazing nights of my life. As all of us but Shane sat inside the cabin, cracking jokes and drinking tea all of a sudden the door flew open and Shane called for us all to get outside. I think we all knew what it meant right away. Sure enough, a greenish haze had made it’s way over the north end of the lake and after a few seconds of an open exposure, we were greeted with a neon green light. The NORTHERN LIGHTS! The night suddenly changed into another wave of activity. All I could hear were the waves against the rocks, the sounds of our camera shutters opening and closing and the laughs in between. Watching the night sky be painting with the amazing green and blue waves of light will be a highlight of my life for many many years.


It’s fitting that this meetup happened over thanksgiving as this year, I’m thankful for so many things including my amazing friends, the beautiful scenery in our world, and the incredible opportunity I have to share with all of you.

September 2012 – Goats, Mountains, and Magazines.

This past month has proven to be one that snuck up slowly and then rocketed past with so many wonderful days filled with amazing memories. I’ve been meaning to post about all the opportunities that I’ve been so fortunate to have been involved in but I haven’t been able to find the time to just sit and write. I’ve finally managed to find a few quiet hours to try and recap the last few weeks!

Band Photos With The Good Ol’ Goats

Earlier this year I was “introduced” to a local band of students from the school I work at, a band called “The Good Ol’ Goats“. Immediately I was a fan of their folk sound and amazing talent and I mentioned that if they were ever looking for some photos, I’d love to work with them. At the beginning of September, we met at a local ghost/historical town to work on a series of promotional photos for their new album and while I was nervous having never shot band photos before, it was a fun afternoon filled with a lot of laughter and music.

It’s been so great to be able to work with a local group that is getting so much positive attention and I feel that our collaboration has been mutually beneficial, I’ve suddenly been booking more local shoots and have been meeting with a lot of other local artists and people looking for photo work. The power of community!

Fall Fair

On my first day back at work, a coworker mentioned an upcoming fall market/country fair that was taking place and suggested I enter the photography competition. I’ve never really enter my work into a judged competition and I only had one day to pick three pieces to enter but I figured that if this year was all about pushing myself to try new things, I should just go for it. I dropped off my photos and hoped for the best!

Unfortunately because the fair happened to be in the middle of a really busy weekend, I couldn’t actually make it to see my photos on display but when I went to pick them up after it was all over, I found out that I had not only won a ribbon, I had won best overall photo and a second place ribbon in the category I entered! I was totally shocked and humbled by the kind words the lady running the booth said to me as she handed me back my work. It was certainly an unexpected but very much appreciated surprise!

Youth Fair Speech

On the same weekend as the fall fair mentioned above, I was also booked as a ‘keynote speaker’ at a travelling workshop aimed at promoting job skills towards youth. I was pretty nervous trying to think of what I would talk about and how I was going to stand up and talk about myself without feeling totally awkward but again, the motivation of trying something new was stronger than my nerves. I ended up writing a short speech on my journey as a photographer and how each of us has the potential to go where want in life and that our passion should lead us in the right direction.

Hiking The Rockies:
During the summer a teacher and friend sent me a message asking me if I would be interested in joining her Outdoor Skills/Geography class on a few of their multiday hikes in the backcountry. Immediately I said yes and I’m so glad that I did. This month I was fortunate to join in on two incredible hikes. The first, an overnight hike to the Conrad Kain Hut at the base of the Bugaboo Glacier in the Purcell Mountains. We spent about 5 hours hiking through an avalanche debris field, climbing over boulders, lugging 40 pound backpacks up the sides of mountains and enjoying the overwhelming views of the glaciers ahead. In the morning we woke up early to watch the sunrise over the Rocky Mountains before heading home. Just last week I joined the class again, this time on a 4 day hike through the Rocky Mountain backcountry in the Steeples Mountain range. There is nothing like hiking among yellow larch trees in the fall, the air crisp and clean and feeling the power of the environment around you. I felt totally recharged after spending 4 days away from the normal day to day life.

This month has also been an amazing month for mail! I was lucky to recieve two magazines that have featured my work in them. The first, Coffee Today from Korea is a magazine that I’ve been ‘hired’ by to create covers for. It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to work on images that are being printed and distributed around the world. As a big coffee fan, I’m also very keen on finding inspiration in every cup 🙂

The second magazine, 5×5 magazine out of the U.S. is a beautiful magazine that contains a wonderful 6 page feature including an interview and full page photos. It’s always really thrilling to see my work in print and to feel it in my hands rather than only see it on a screen.

Jane Goodall

And finally, on the last evening of this month I was fortunate enough to attend a short lecture by the inspring Dr.Jane Goodall. She presented a speech on the power of hope and the power of humanity and I was left with an overwhelming sense of motivation and inspiration. Being able to listen and watch such an accomplished teacher and activist share her life story and fill the room with passion was incredible and I’ll never forget her last quote of the evening
“Only when there is harmony between the mind and the heart can humans fully reach their potential”.  Those words sat very clearly in my mind and I hope that one day I can look back and feel that I have found harmony between my head and my heart.

This month was full. I started to book more portraits which were exciting and gave me the opportunity to work some new people with great ideas. September was fun and full of memories, of laughter and love, of community and inspiration and I can’t wait to see what October brings 🙂

Vancouver Trip

I really must get myself in the habit of posting more. I usually have grand ideas in my mind about blog posts, tutorials, features on friends and inspiring artists and then… happens and I end up going months without even typing a word! Summer 2012 has been an amazing adventure filled with photography trips, excellent friends, and the occasional nap.

Two weekends ago I travelled by bus across British Columbia to Vancouver to meet up with a small group of fellow friends and photographers.

I can’t say enough how much these opportunities mean to me and how much I get from working in such a creative environment. Being able to wake up and be around a group of friends who understand the same things I do and who see the world in a similar light is such a wonderful feeling and fills the air with such a strong creative energy.

When I arrived in Vancouver, I was welcomed literally with open arms and it was a reunion of sorts as there were a few familiar faces from the Midwest Meetup that I was at in Indiana in June, but the beautiful part of this group was that even though I just met some of the other photographers, I felt as though I had known for my whole life.

photos by Grace Adams

Within a few hours (and a few calls to Greyhound to find my missing luggage) we had set off  into the nearby mountains to Golden Ears Provincial Park to visit Alouette Lake.  After just a short drive we found ourselves in the dense rainforest of the west coast and I felt instantly dwarfed by the size of the trees and ferns growing up and up and up. The lake was beautiful and reminded me of the mountain lakes here at home in the Rockies. We swam for a short while before deciding to head up to an amazing waterfall for some photography time.

If you’ve ever gone on any sort of walk or hike with a group of photographers, you’ll know that you must budget at least twice the time you think it will take. We stopped at every big tree stump (I climbed inside more than a couple and I think some of them were bigger than my apartment) and at every interesting spot in the river. The waterfall was a beautiful vision (although slightly marred by the presence of some “naturalists” enjoying the water above the falls). Within minutes we had all scrambled on top of boulders, logs and into the water to shoot photos, donning dresses and cloaks and vintage jackets. We stayed longer than we thought we would and made our way back to lake for dinner and music.

The second day was off to a lazy start and we took our time organizing ourselves. A small group of us went to a nearby forest to shoot some photos before heading back to Lizzy’s house to gather up the rest of our gang and head down to downtown Vancouver. After a highly entertaining bus ride that involved a slight hit and run by the bus driver we finally made it downtown and wandered our way through the streets and then through a random chinese street festival. Our purpose for this little trip was to see an outdoor concert by Fun. and after a few small detours we finally found ourselves near the front of the crowd, enjoying the sun and song near the ocean.

Dinner, laughs, walking downtown, more laughs, street photography, even more laughs, and we finally decided to call it a night (the girls headed home while the guys stayed back for a few refreshments).

photo by Whitney Justesen

Sunday had started out being our “laid back and do nothing day” but it quickly turned into a “let’s go thrift store shopping and then shoot photos in the forest!” day. We piled back into vans and headed to Value Village to stock up on  vintage clothes and props and then back to the woods to shoot all the ideas we had floating around in our minds.

photo by Emerald Shatto

I felt such a surge of creative energy being amongst the trees and my amazing and talented friends. I would finish one photo shoot and almost immediately start another with a different person and a different idea, it was amazing!  After we had all finished up our shots we headed back for a big family dinner and hung out with everyone for a few more hours. We decided to drive out to try to catch the meteor shower and while we may not have had many shooting stars, it was a magical night filled with song and friendship.

This photography gathering was, like the one in Indiana, such a powerful force in my own creative mind. I felt inspired in new ways, to shoot new types of photos and to try new things without fearing whether I would fail or succeed at them. I fall back in love with photography when I’m surrounded by people who love it and want to share it with the world and I can’t wait until I can once again feel that creative energy, its powerful stuff.


here’s a list of all the photographers that were there:
 Rob Woodcox
Whitney Justesen
Peter Jamus
Lizzy Gadd
Esther Gadd

Emerald Shatto
Casey Maxwell
Gurbir Grewal
Grace (and Austin) Adams
Sarah Rush
Dannielle Brooks
Jarred Kassis

You can also see the photos created at the meetup in our flickr group here:

Midwest Flickr Gathering – Part 1

I’ve struggled with how to actually type up this blog post because I feel that no matter what words I choose to write, they’ll never be able to sum up the magnitude of how awesome my time in Indiana was. I’m breaking my trip into two parts, the big meetup in Indiana and then my time spent with Ali and Rob in Michigan 🙂

On July 5th I set out from my little nest tucked in the Rocky Mountains and travelled to hot and humid Fort Wayne, Indiana. It may seem like an odd place to vacation but this was no ordinary vacation. I was travelling to join 30 immensely talented and inspirational photographers and friends who had travelled from all over the world (really! Estonia, Canada, USA!) to meet and work together.

When I first arrived, I could already feel the positive and creative charge in the air. I was welcomed right off the plane with open arms and upon reaching Ethan Coverstone’s family farm, I was swarmed with smiling silhouettes who made my heart feel so warm with goodness. Within a few minutes people were scrambling to put on costumes so we could entertain the friendly folks of a local Wal-Mart as we picked up some groceries. It was the perfect way to start this trip! I kept looking around at all these faces that I’ve only known through a computer screen and I couldn’t believe that I was actually there next to them, laughing at their jokes and getting spontaneous hugs. I had to pinch myself so many times during the trip because I just couldn’t believe that so many people who I look up to were sitting right next to me.

We awoke each morning at about 5:00am to catch the beautiful soft light that laid over the farm. We shot in beautiful green corn fields, empty plowed fields, a nice little cottage tucked in the trees, a swampy creek, and in the lush trees around the property, and this was just on the farm! Throughout the entire gathering, there was an absolute creative energy in the air. It was rare to look around and not see someone in the midst of a photo shoot or planning their next one. At sunset each night there would be half a dozen shoots going on at the same time all within a few steps of each other, it was impossible to not be filled with inspiration watching these talented photographers work.

The process was entirely collaborative. We all travelled to this place to be together, to work together and to learn from each other. Our mountain of props was a mixture of everyone’s odds and ends and it wasn’t unusual for someone to be borrowing clothes or hats or shoes from another. It was such an amazing feeling to have so many people ready and willing to help out, whether it was modelling, holding a reflector or just helping to carry a huge door into the middle of a field.

We were fortunate to travel to some really cool spots nearby as well, we enjoyed a refreshing dip in a local lake (flipping over a dock in the process) and twice we were lucky enough to have permission to shoot inside an abandoned ketchup factory.

The factory was one of my favourite parts of the weekend, it was huge but filled with all sorts of hide outs and you could stand in the open courtyard area and watch all the different photo shoots happening at the same time, it reminded me of watching a beehive, all the activity happening inside the walls. There were smoke bombs, costumes, beautiful windows in brick walls and even a live bird at one point. Even though the heat made it hard to feel 100% comfortable, we worked non-stop for hours each day, capturing each other again and again. We jumped at the chance to be involved in each other’s work and it was natural to move seamlessly from one shoot to the next, letting other photographers add to the scene, change to story and create their own version.

I loved being able to think of ideas and concepts that involved all of these talented people, being able to work alongside them and capture them with my camera was the most freeing and wonderful feeling I’ve ever had in this photography path I’ve been going down. I hope that they found working with me as enjoyable as I did!

Gradually, after spending the weekend together, people had to start leaving to go back to their ‘regular’ lives and it was difficult to watch each person drive down the long dusty driveway, waving through the kicked up dust. As tough as it was to be saying goodbye, we knew that not only did we all experience something amazing and life changing, we knew that it wouldn’t be the last time we’d see one another, there would be more chances to work together.

This trip for me was a much-needed break from my routine. Before leaving for the meetup, I had been feeling lost in regards to my photography and what I wanted to do with my life. During my time spent with these amazing friends, I felt a charge of passion fill every cell in my body and I knew that I wanted to push myself forward in photography and keep fostering this passion and push towards my dreams. I don’t think I can ever repay those that inspired me, worked with me, laughed with me, and made me feel so lucky to be alive and doing what I’m doing.
Thank you Midwest gang.

You can see all the posted shots, both behind the scenes and final images at our flickr group here:
And you can watch an amazing video put together by Chelsea Roden here: