Blog : Inspiration

Pool Party in the Desert // Palm Springs photographers

Pool party in the desert


Pool parties in the desert always seemed kind of oxymoronish to me. I’m not sure if you know this, but if playing in the water is your idea of fun, the desert isn’t exactly the place you’d think to go. Or so they say. Maybe they haven’t been to Palm Springs, where a pool party in the desert is very much the legendary thing to do.

And yet, it seems like the desert should get a chance to play too – the actual desert, not the man-made one – so we ditched the hotel pool for just a bit to make sure the desert got its turn. Got all dressed up and literally took the pool party to the desert…and tried to make it look just as fun. (And those pool floats? They magically fit in my carryon…but not so much in the trunk of our little beetle convertible.)

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Leaving Space for Magic

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I spent last week swinging in my hammock chair ruminating on the year that ended and dreaming all the things for the one that just began.

It was the first time in over four years that I’ve had an open space in my schedule for just thinking, hoping, and dreaming – no shoots, no weddings, no work really at all.

It was completely and utterly magical. Maybe simply because it involved a hammock chair. 

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Color wheel inspired wedding // Featured on Rock n’ Roll Bride


Occasionally, I find myself in a pinch me moment. And sometimes I have an internal struggle about saying it out loud, or broadcasting it across the internet, but I’m really trying hard to remember to celebrate the wins, because one of my truths is making a point to cherish the things – big or small – that bring about joy.

Having this color wheel inspired wedding photo shoot featured on Rock n’ Roll Bride and working with a team of amazing creatives to make it come to life was one of them.

First, I should mention that Rock n’ Roll Bride was has long been one of my favorite wedding blogs for the types of weddings I love – free spirited, colorful and unique. Getting to be a part of it is a long-time dream come true, and for that I feel so incredible grateful to Kat and the editorial team.

But most of all – making new friends and working together to create a dream wedding that was a different take on what a wedding looks like, one that doesn’t shy away from color or boldness, or making a statement, will probably be one of the highlights of this year for me. This team was filled with some of the most creative ladies (and a gentleman or two) in the wedding biz who pulled out all the stops to make this come to life. And I owe them all the thanks for believing in the vision.

Most especially, a shout out goes to Pop the Cork Designs for dreaming it up and being a sounding board and a visionary. Big picture people are my favorites, and Jenna knows how to hustle and bring an idea to life. I’d pick her (and all of the rest of these dreamers) to be on my team any day of the week.

I love these images with my whole being, knowing they are a teeny window into the things my heart calls for and wants to make more of.



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If I had a confetti canon, I would set it off for each of these amazing creatives:

Styling: Pop the Cork Designs
Location: The Loft at 600F
Dress: Wai-Ching
Groom’s Attire: Banana Republic
Bow ties: Boutaugh
Flowers: Petals and Promises
Stationery: Kristen Caudill
Hair: PSC Hair Artistry
Make Up: Behind the Veil Beauty
Rentals: XOXO Vintage
Cake: Cakes by Rachael
Chocolates: Sweet Meat Chef
Candy: Bash Event Design
Welcome Gift: Marigold & Grey
Geometric Details: 1 Pixie Place
Geometric Details: Nikki Cross Applesauce
Table Numbers: Winston & Main

Cheerful Life // Banishing Burnout

Pinata Styled Shoot_Anna Reynal-002


My husband will tell you that I have only two operating modes. They are all and nothing.

For the past month, I have been in “all” mode, planning and constructing and imagining and making everything for a super amazing styled wedding inspiration photo shoot (there is a sneak peek above and some behind the scenes action below…and I cannot wait to share more of it all soon!)…and loved every second of it. Making pretty things is so. much. freaking. fun. I got to get to know and hang out with some pretty amazing new creative people too…collaborating is one of the best parts of working in the creative community!

I couldn’t do my job without having an “all” mode. It allows me to focus completely on wedding days and jump head first into gigantic projects. Being consumed by ideas and possibilities or wrapped up in the moment helps me produce my best work…and feel like I accomplished something at the end of the day.

It’s exhilarating.

But then it ends once the project is over, the moments of frenzied activity, passed. And I’m left with nothing. No energy, no ideas, no motivation.  I know I lack balance. This does not feel so good. Maybe you’ve been here too…when you wonder whether you’ll ever have the drive to do anything resembling work ever again.

I’m starting to figure out the pattern. When this feeling comes on, it usually means I have burned myself out. It is time to take a step back for a day or two and give my Self the care and attention I have denied it for weeks, sometimes months, on end. If I don’t listen and keep trying to plow through, it takes so much longer to bounce back. Kind of like having a cold gets better so much faster if you just take two days to sleep it off (I’ve learned this the hard way too).

So here’s what I do when I need to rejuvenate my creativity and work my way back to wanting to create:

* Ignore social media. All of it.
* Read a book. Anything but a business book. (This time I read this one, and loved it.)
* Go for walks.
* Plant succulents.
* Listen to podcasts. (I find these always encourage me.)
* Take a yoga class.
* Plan a trip – to take later.
* Go on a field trip. I love museums.
* Make dates with friends.
* Go shopping. Especially grocery shopping.
* Bake cookies. (Like a batch of these.)

There’s always some voice inside that tells me what I want to do. I just have to listen to it. And once my Self feels acknowledged and nourished, jumping right back into planning and dreaming and doing non-stop feels exciting again, and perfectly right.


Pinata Inspiration Collage


Are you an all-or-nothing person, or do you work daily to maintain balance? What do you do when you’re feeling mentally worn? Any tips to share? Leave them in the comments!



Cheerful Inspiration // Four Podcasts for Creatives


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I have always loved books and magazines, but lately I’ve become obsessed with a new kind of media: podcasts.

Most days, I take a walk in the morning or afternoon, and podcasts are the perfect accompaniment. They keep my trusted route from becoming too staid and are an excellent way to fit in a little bit of work-related inspiration while I take a break from sitting in front of the computer to get some fresh air. Sometimes I’ll even pop one on while I’m in the car driving to a meeting or photo shoot and it really does make the commute seem faster…or at the very least, less mundane.

I’m always on the lookout for new voices, but these four podcasts for creatives I love because the hosts and guests feel like the best kind of friends. They make an at-home workday feel a little less lonely, because they share of themselves honestly and transparently. More than once, I’ve gone out for a walk to try to get my mind off of something, and one of these podcasts provides the answer I was seeking. If Pinterest is like inspiration crack, these four podcasts have been my inspiration juice – inspiring, and at the same time, bringing wholesome new ideas to the challenges I face every day.


After the Jump
by Grace Bonney

I mentioned this one briefly back in my list of favorite blogs, but Grace Bonney’s After the Jump is what got me on the podcast bandwagon to begin with. I love her authenticity and her willingness to discuss openly her ideas on business, design, social media, and personal challenges. Most episodes are around the 30 minute mark, and she often has guests who share their stories of making it in the creative world. My favorite episode to date was her interview with designer Jon Call, and I highly recommend it for any creative business owner.


The Lively Show
by Jess Lively

Full disclosure, I worked with Jess last year, but I was so excited when I learned she was launching a podcast! These episodes are interviews with other creative bloggers (and will probably branch into the wider creative community), but focuses on how their intentions have set them on a path for success. Peeking behind the scenes into what has and hasn’t worked for them has given me so many ideas on ways to approach my life and business with intention and hearing their raw honesty about the ups and downs of starting out is such a boost of hopefulness and possibility.


The School of Greatness
by Lewis Howes

This podcast has a full roster of authors, sports stars, and lifestyle experts, that there’s bound to be a little something for everyone in the mix. One of my favorite episodes was an interview with Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, who was so upbeat about the challenges of making a comeback in her sport and the challenges of being a career athlete. A lot of the authors who come to be interviewed have new books out, so it’s also an excellent way to hear more about their work and find other media for inspiration.


The TED Radio Hour
by NPR

If you like TED talks (and I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t) the TED Radio Hour is an awesome extension of the ideas shared through the platform. By looking through the lens of a single idea and pulling from several talks about that theme, the TED Radio Hour exposes you to the best of TED while also providing a well-rounded analysis of the topic at hand. The beauty of this podcast is hearing experts talk about normal human struggles and psychology and will leave you with new methods to try in leaping over your daily hurdles.



I’m sure there are other podcasts I should be listening to…what are your favorites? If you haven’t tried podcasts, take a chance over the weekend! Go for a walk or put one on during your weekend drive…and see if it adds to your adventure!


The Secret to Beautiful Portraits


It started a year ago, when I bought myself balloons for my birthday and did a photo shoot with them. It was really fun. The balloons brought me a lot of joy because they were something I would never usually do for myself. It turned out I also really liked the photos. So I figured I could do it again this year…but with something other than balloons.

I also really like cupcakes. So I used that for this year’s inspiration.

I visualized what I wanted the photos with cupcakes to look like. Set up the cupcake with candles and a shiny gold backdrop. Made the photo that was living in my head (yes, my brain is filled with photos. I’m pretty sure I think in photos these days, kind of like a new language). That part was a success, but didn’t leave me feeling especially excited. In fact, I was starting to feel nervous and uneasy because my next idea would be much harder to execute.

Then I tried to turn the camera on myself, with the cupcake. The results…got deleted before they ever made it out of the camera and on to a hard drive.

I changed outfits. I changed lenses. I changed the angle I was facing to try to find better light. I changed everything I could think of to try to make this photoshoot work. Nothing did.

Maybe I’m the only one, but when I see bad photos of myself, I get depressed. I allow it to consume me, define me, become all that I can think about until I can prove to myself (with a thousand other really good photos) that it is possible that I am not fat/ugly/unloveable or whatever other negative things I swear I saw in that terrible photo. And then I feel guilty for being so vain.

It took some self-reflection not to give up on this photo, because, although seeing the bad photos on the back of my camera was disheartening, I didn’t want to let myself believe that the bad photos would be the only possible outcome…and a very small part of me wanted to keep going because at this point I had put in a lot of effort (effort = showering, and doing hair and makeup, and giving more than five seconds of thought to my outfit, plus setting everything up) to make it happen. Finally I gave up on using my “real” camera and just got out my iPhone.

That was the right change. I could feel myself relaxing and having fun with the photoshoot again. It worked. I got one photo, the first one I took, and moved on to other things.

I’ve read probably every single one of the articles and blog posts about why we hate photos of ourselves and why nobody else thinks you look as bad as you think you do. But none of that matters or helps me rationalize a bad photo of myself when I see one. Maybe because I am a photographer, I have this crazy idea that the camera is incapable of lying. If I see an ugly photo, I have to believe it because I saw it. The only thing that helps is seeing a (whole lot) of good photos that tell me otherwise. Most of which were taken in high school.

And then I started thinking about why my favorite photos are from high school.

Those were the days before Facebook, before Instagram, before social media. We took pictures of ourselves without really worrying about who else was going to see them, judge them, because most likely they’d end up living only on our bedroom wall or maybe in a photo album on a bookshelf that we’d take out to reminisce about the good times. They were taken with disposable cameras and rudimentary digital point-and-shoots, and yet they are still some of my favorite photos. Those were the days when I loved having my picture taken…and I was happy and looked happy in almost every photo.

I think that matters…happiness matters. I can actually see how much fun we were having in those photos. In fact, none of the photos that I like of myself were taken when I wasn’t having a good time. My favorite photos from our wedding are the ones where I can see that the nerves had fallen away and we were enjoying the moment, laughing with each other. In those sweet seconds, I wasn’t worried about the size of my nose or what my hair looked like. I wasn’t contorting my face into a pretend emotion, fake-giggling, or pretending to be a model. I was comfortable, confident, and content.

I still think the camera doesn’t lie. But I think it does pick up our emotions, the ones hiding behind our smiles, and it does pick up our insecurities. Especially when we’re thinking about them or worrying about how we look when we see a camera.

The secret to making photos that you absolutely love isn’t about making yourself look perfect. Perfection means nothing if it keeps you from being yourself. It is far better to make photos in places and with people that will bring you joy and make you feel excited, beautiful, confident, completely carefree, and at ease. Those are the feelings that will shine through.

The best portraits, the ones where you look the most like the person you want to be, are made when you feel like that person…having a good time, surrounded by people or places who bring out the best in you…perfectly happy.


Secret to Beautiful portraits


I’m a photographer who hates photos of herself. But I’m using the bad photos to accept who I am, find joy in the good ones and bring cheerfulness into everything I create.

What makes you happy?


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Whatever makes you happy, do that.

I let myself get stressed out this week. Not because I had too much to do. In fact, it was quite the opposite…I didn’t know what to do next. Indecision is one of my biggest struggles.

And every time I found myself crying tears of not being good enough, not doing enough, because nothing would ever be enough, I tried to fight those tears with something that made me happy.

I’ve found that I feel less anxious and more fulfilled when I’m doing something I love.

Like planting succulents. And reading a good book or my favorite magazine. Dancing. And talking for hours on the phone with a long lost friend.

So when you’re feeling blue, because spring is slow to arrive or life just isn’t going your way or even if one thing on your to-do list is taking over everything in your world…

Think of a thing, an action, that makes you happy. And then do it.

I promise it will make everything better.


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Have a beautiful adventure this weekend friends! Take the time to do what makes you happy.

Cheerful Inspiration // Creative blogs


Creative Blogs to follow_Anna Reynal


Curling up under the covers on Saturday mornings with the latest issue of Domino magazine was my very most favorite thing in the world when I was in college.

Pouring over beautiful photos of dream living spaces and fascinating articles about the creatives who lived in them made me believe that my life could be anything I wanted it to be…if I had the courage and the perseverance to believe in my vision.

And ironically, I left college the same year that Domino left my mailbox and newsstands. I remember bonding with an interviewer about how devastated I was over the end of that era at my very first job interview – the one that did lead to my very first job out of college (of course I think that conversation had everything to do with it).

With no other print publication that filled the void left by my favorite magazine, I started looking for inspiration online (those were the days before Pinterest, when you had to work to find quality content). And that’s how I found creative blogs to follow…and why I wanted to someday have my own.

Although I do use Pinterest when I’m on the hunt for ideas, I am daily inspired by my favorite creative blogs. And taking a few minutes throughout the day to read them and see the wonderful things and lives that other creatives are making is absolutely one of the ways I stay fresh, exposed to a world of new ideas, and find creative direction to aspire to.

It’s not-so-secretly my goal to get at least one person hooked on one of these blogs. I’ve broken my favorites into categories and provided a quick description about them so that you can check out any that sound interesting to you! (I’ll also note that there are not very many photography blogs listed here because I really enjoy finding inspiration outside of my field – and honestly, most of these blogs provide great photo content in a much more relevant way).


Creative Graphic Design Blogs:

Design Love Fest: Colorful and creative design + living by graphic designer and creative director Bri Emery. Lots of DIYs, good food, fashion, inspiring travel, and probably the most cheerful curation of happy ideas you will ever find in one place.

Nubby Twiglet: Funky and modern graphic design inspiration by Shauna Haider, with style and travel content mixed in. I love her vibrant and colorful photos, and I know she puts a lot of effort into creating unique inspiration. Also provides useful business insight for any creative business owner – not just graphic designers.

Breanna Rose: Before she did my logo, I followed her blog and fell in love with her simple yet bright and colorful aesthetic in her design work and photos. Breanna also gives great creative business advice and features other inspiring creatives to follow.


Creative Interior Design Blogs:

Design*Sponge: This was the very first creative blog that I followed, and five years later, it has become even more of a favorite. Grace Bonney is a brilliant editor, and aside from lots of accessible home eye candy, there are also tons of DIYs, great food posts, inspiring interviews, and little interesting tidbits about art and design. I am also absolutely obsessed with Grace’s podcast After the Jump for learning about designers, productivity, and general life ideas.

Door Sixteen: I love Anna Dorfman for being herself (and obviously because we have the same name). She details lots of before and afters of her charming historic New York home(s), which she and her husband take on themselves, but she also is an amazing curator of minimal and modern art and style. I want to say I’ve followed some of her recommendations – and I fully intend to! – but I trust them implicitly because she is so authentic.

Manhattan Nest: Makes me want to own an old house, even though it sounds like a lot of work. Daniel’s recounting of their adventures (and mis-adventures) in renovating an historic Kingston, NY home is so funny, and I will drop whatever I’m doing to read his latest post. This is actually one blog that I read to well, read.


Creative Photography Blogs

Not everyone enjoys long posts full of photos of people they don’t know (my husband constantly reminds me that I’m unusual in this regard). However, these photographers produce awe-inspiring work and deserve a mention (some of them, from time to time, share a tidbit about a fun technique). When I see posts pop into my blog reader from Sam Hurd, Andria Lindquist, Deirdre Lynn, VSCO Journal and Imaginale Design (who also produces the most beautiful videos), I know there’s going to be something good.


Other Creative Blogs

Maddie on Things: Technically not a blog but a Tumblr, Maddie’s owner documents her (their) travels and daily life. I mean, cute dog with a story in well-composed photos and beautiful locations? Lots more please!

Smitten Kitchen: Food blogs are the one type of blog I don’t follow religiously, but I love Smitten Kitchen. And I can tell you that I have made so many of Deb’s recipes and she has never, ever led me to anything that turned out less than completely delicious. Her archive is also a treasure trove on nights where you have no idea what to make for dinner, if you don’t have time to read the blog, and her cookbook is my go-to gift for every occasion.

Green Wedding Shoes: On the whole, I find wedding blogs overwhelming, unless you are planning a wedding and searching the blog for specific ideas. But. When I’m looking for unique, artistic, and unconventional wedding inspiration, Green Wedding Shoes is the blog I turn to…and sometimes I’ll meander over just to dream.


Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list of all the blogs I read and there are so many creative people who have incredible voices that are not on this list – but these are the blogs that continuously provide impeccable content and inspiration.

So who am I missing? Please tell me what blogs you love the very most in the comments…I love to find new ones to read!

Cheerful Life // Embracing Things that Take Time

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Last week, I bought a juicer.

Not a $100-I’m-going-to-try-this-and-see-if-I-like-it juicer.

I bought a freaking beast/machine that likes to be fed green leafy vegetables, the kind that you have to learn to like (and that I have yet to acquire a taste for). A purchase that my husband was hesitant to agree to because I have been known to fall in love with ideas and then give up practicing them when the novelty wears off and the effort to keep going becomes too great – namely, it takes too much time.

And juicing does take time. The entire process of preparing the fruits and vegetables, making the juice, and cleaning up* is at least an hour. Which is exactly 59 minutes more than I have patience for when preparing any meal, and most especially breakfast, which happens to be my favorite time for juice.

*I’m hoping that cleanup will become easier with practice. The first few juicing attempts resulted in an explosion of carrot-pulp confetti (which found it’s way onto every surface of the kitchen), using every bowl in our arsenal in an attempt to find one that could contain excessive amounts of juice we weren’t prepared for, and adventures in pouring juice into a narrow-mouthed bottle without a funnel (choosing not to do this over the sink was a terrible oversight). Neat freaks, do not try this at home.

But one week in, and I’m totally and completely hooked. Not just on the juice, but also on the process. I like being hands-on with my food, feeling the textures, enjoying the brilliant colors. I like watching it turn into a life-giving, energizing liquid. I like having a clean sink when it’s all done. Even though it feels like it takes over my entire morning.

Because I’m learning that some things just take time, and that the effort it takes to give of my time makes those things worth it.

It’s like yoga or taking a walk, two other regular practices that feel indulgent when it comes to using time. You can wish them to be over and done faster, but then you’re missing the point.

There’s happiness to be found in embracing things that take time – the hour it takes to stop rushing around and enjoy a simple pleasure in life, slowing down to do something the leisurely way, intentionally allowing a practice you love to keep you from an hour of being productive simply because it makes you feel more alive.

It’s so hard to remember that life is not about how much you can do in a day (although I push boundaries on that way more often than I’d like to admit).

It’s about savoring the moments and practices that bring you joy.


Juicing vegetables


PS. I haven’t made many juices yet, but so far my favorite has been Gwenyth’s green juice and a yummy carrot + apple + lemon + ginger juice. Updates to come, but in the mean time, this has been my go-to guide for juicing.