Blog : Travel

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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Dreamy California Portraits

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We stayed in an airstream and took photos in the mountains until wayyy past when the sun went down. There were beach cruisers and sushi and some sketchy uber rides and really, really good tacos. All of it fed my soul.

It was so fun adventuring with this beautiful girl in Santa Barbara. This is what photographers do on *vacation.*

I’d go back to dreamy California to make photos any day of the week.


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Travel Diary // Giant’s Causeway and Northern Ireland

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As much as I loved London and Scotland, it was Ireland that really took my breath away.

Not that we didn’t have to work for it. There were forests with paths that disappeared into the brush to wander through, and piles of rocky cliff remnants at the edge of the ocean to clamber over while the waves thrashed and threatened to hide the way through. Cliff paths took us dangerously close to edges that dropped off for hundreds of feet before meeting pebble + boulder beaches and clear blue waters, the depths of which were surely frigid if not studded with rigid reefs of rocks. Wind wound its way above the cliffs, not light summer breezes but a force like a weight, resisting, pushing, pulling, threatening to topple us over the precipices.  And the natural world wasn’t the only force to be reckoned with; parts of the way were guarded by security to keep interested eyes away from movie and tv sets filming in the area.

And yet, there is no place I’ve ever been that was this worth fighting to see.

As we walked along deserted beaches and delightful paths high above the Atlantic Ocean, passing almost no one the entire way, it occurred to me that this is the first time I’ve planned a trip solely on a whim of where I wanted to go, picked a place we’d never really heard of in the scope of a broader land that is well-known. It wasn’t inspired by seeing someone else’s trip, or photos of something amazing from a certain place. It honestly wasn’t a trip that I was even expecting to be very me by way of style or colors or mood. We decided we wanted to walk this place, and that, simply, was our motivation to make this trip happen.

So here’s what my heart tells me to share: go somewhere for you, not because everyone else is going there or because you’ve seen amazing pictures of it. Pick a place because it calls to you, because you want to see what it’s like and nothing more. These are the places that will teach you things about yourself – teach you that you are strong, that you are small, that you play a bit part in this wide, wonderful world, but that you can do anything and your part is yours for the taking.

Ireland, I love you.


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All photos taken with a Fujifilm X-Pro1, 18mm and 35mm Fuji lenses. See more photos and daily adventures on Instagram.

Travel Diary // London and Scotland

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“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.”
– Cesare Pavese

My new life goal is simply to walk the world.

There is no substitute for feeling cragged rocks shift beneath your feet, feet and rocks soaking wet in water cascading down a mountain side. There is infinite joy in being warmed and dried by the light of a golden sun peeking out from behind a curtain of thick grey clouds for just a few perfect moments, miraculous after being blown about and pelted for hours with cold, sharp rain drops and a wind that chills through your skin until all that keeps you moving forward is the thought of a warm fire to melt in front of once you reach your destination. There is humility in standing in the shadow of a mountain, far below its unyielding and steadfast facade, a bulwark warning off those who would try to conquer it. And there is strength in finding yourself at the top of the world, the exertion of the climb invigorating and life-affirming, gazing on the infinite beauty that stretches far beyond what is visible to the eye, but not nearly as far past what the mind can imagine will be greeting you just beyond the next hill on your path.

We arrived in London before making our way to Glasgow and then up into the highlands of Scotland. With no expectations, we hoped that our bodies were up to the challenge of walking 15-20 miles a day on the path of the West Highland Way. We walked just barely more than half of the 96 mile winding trail, through forests, glens, pastures, moors, and mountains, from Crianlarich to Fort William. I hoped by the time we reached Fort William three days later we’d be glad for some time off our feet, so we booked seats on the real-life Hogwarts Express for a ride up to the seaside town of Mallaig, a journey that took us over a breath-taking viaduct and past lochs and isles made lonely by water and distance. And while my feet were grateful to let the train take on the miles, my heart was not oblivious to the difference between being out in the world, taking in rich air and scenery with breath and eyes, versus taking in the views alone from behind a soot-smeared window.

And so it goes for these photos too. Sharing a picture, while it may give a glimpse into this remote, vast, and incredibly special place, does not come close to doing it justice by way of beauty, scale, experience, or emotion. It is much like viewing it through a window. And while I’ll always be grateful for windows, that let in light and may inspire dreams of being out in the world, I want to always remember that it will never be the same, or even a substitute, for having all of my senses present and really there.

Here’s London and Scotland, places I’ll treasure forever.


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All photos taken with a Fujifilm X-Pro1, 18mm and 35mm Fuji lenses. See more photos and daily adventures on Instagram.

Dream Destinations // Palm Springs Hotels


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If my soul has a place, it’s named Palm Springs.

So much color. So much modern. So much fun.

Before the adventure that was Field Trip, I took a little detour on my way from San Diego to Santa Barbara and headed past the mountains and into an oasis. For this East Coast girl who associates palm trees with the ocean and the tropics, vistas of palms silhouetted against mountains was a vision of wonder.

I found myself in awe of a place that feels almost frozen in a time gone by and yet hip and relevant still; a city that hasn’t forgotten the decadence of day-drinking and has ample pools and lounge chairs by which to imbibe a colorful cocktail while basking in the warmth of the desert sun. It is, in a single instant, both glamorous and laid-back. I fell in love with being surrounded by facades of many colors – sherbet and rainbow colors, my favorites – and design full of geometry and shapes and angles used in functional yet whimsical ways.

And now my heart aches to go back.

I’ll admit to this: I went to Palm Springs in part to see the places from my favorite wedding blogs that call to me  – The Ace Hotel, The Parker Palm Springs, The Avalon Palm Springs (formerly the Viceroy, which is what it was when I was there). In a perfect world, I would have gotten my ish together and made a photo shoot happen at any one of them…but just seeing them in person and leaving little pieces of my heart with each was enough for this trip. Now I have something to work towards and dream up for the day when, inevitably, I find my way back to this brilliant gem of a place to pick up the parts of myself I left there for safe and blissful keeping.

And please, if you find yourself desiring to get married at any of the Palm Springs Hotels…

Well, you know I’d be there in a heartbeat. I’m faithfully putting that little nugget out into the universe.


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If you’re still dreaming of Palm Springs Hotels, there are more photos over here!

Photo Field Trip // Workshop and Travel Diary

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There’s a Field Trip tradition (that I was lame and did not participate in), of doing a polar bear plunge into the cold Pacific waters every morning at the start of the day, that seems like a good metaphor for what Field Trip is all about.

Having the courage to jump in.

In a nutshell, Photo Field Trip is camping and photography, a workshop in the woods/canyon/desert that feels like summer camp…exploring and adventuring, encouragement and learning. There are classes and campfire chats and photo walks and dance parties and so many ways to create your own experience and find or refine your inspiration.

I don’t know that I walked into Field Trip with a ton of expectations. I was excited, but unsure of what I was hoping to find. There were a few people I wanted to meet (and am so grateful that I did!), and I hoped to walk away inspired with new things to try during weddings and portrait sessions.

I didn’t expect to walk away with a greater sense of where I wanted to go/grow and who I am as a creator and artist, but somehow, in the midst of classes and walks and watching sunsets and napping in tents, I found something I’ve been searching two years for. I discovered my desires, my loves, my heart. And it has a lot to do with color and joy and warmth and hugs and stories.

There’s so much talk in the photography and creative world of discovering your “why,” of following that above all else to find your way. And while maybe I couldn’t put it into words when I left Field Trip, my heart was touched shortly after returning by this instagram post and the caption beneath:


Our “why” is not hard to find. In fact, it is the same for all of us:
To serve others in the present moment.


Although our “why” may all be the same, we are each unique in the knowledge and skills and talents and gifts that we have in our serving toolbox. And this was one of the most amazing things about Field Trip: although I was there to learn how some incredible and amazing human beings serve others with their talents and gifts, they taught me how to find it, and embrace it, within myself.

Now it’s up to me to find the courage to jump in and follow my bliss. And I have never wanted to do anything more.


(I didn’t take a lot of photos during Field Trip – not that there weren’t opportunities to do so. You can see some additional photos over on instagram. But sometimes living life is like trying to photograph a sunset…no matter how beautiful it is, it never looks the same in all it’s vibrancy and gorgeous hue in a photograph as it does in real life. Sometimes, it’s better to sit back and enjoy the view and take it all in instead of trying to capture it, because there will be another one tomorrow…just like there will be so many more times to take beautiful and amazing photos, but this was a time to just experience it all. I did, however, borrow a tilt shift from B&H, who were so kind to provide us with an opportunity to try new things during our time there, and had fun playing near the ocean at sunset making the photos that accompany this post.)


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I am so grateful to the team at Field Trip and the partners and sponsors for making it possible for all of us to come out and camp and find ways to follow our bliss. It was truly life-changing.

Southern California Photo Sessions

Southern California photo sessions


If we hang out on Facebook or Instagram (and if we don’t, let’s make that happen!), you may have seen that I’ll be making new friends and learning lots of fun things at Field Trip 2015 in Santa Barbara, and I’m totally stoked! But what’s even better…on the way to Santa Barbara, I’ll be making my way through Southern California – stopping in San Diego, Palm Springs, and Los Angeles to be exact! If you’d like to do Southern California photo sessions in any of these places, collaborate, or even plan an impromptu get together, I’m sure we’d be fast friends, so please get in touch!

Tentative schedule:

March 1-2: San Diego
March 3-4: Palm Springs, LA
March 5: LA, Santa Barbara

I’ve never been to Palm Springs or Los Angeles, and can’t wait to explore…what are the must-see places?? Do tell!

Austin Workshop // 02


Holding Coffee_Anna Reynal | Cheerful Photography


Our first photo shoot at Nessa and Sara’s Austin Workshop was in a field. A beautiful, open field.

So naturally, our second photo shoot was in the city. A wonderful, colorful city.

I love, love, love, love learning and workshops. When I started my business, I promised myself I would never be afraid of investing in knowledge.

But at the same time, it is an investment. Not a commodity. Which means you probably won’t be able to do every workshop that you see and have to make choices and choose a learning experience that you truly believe is going to increase your value.

Finding exactly the right workshop and teachers just took awhile. I was looking for something that would be new, that had different content than what I could easily find or learn online. Choosing this workshop, I hoped to learn lots of artistic things. Composition ideas, posing ideas, location ideas.

I think I got all of that…and more that I hadn’t planned on.

Because at the end of two days, my two favorite things that I brought back home were how to find amazing light – and actually use it correctly – and lots of new ways to find all of the incredible people I hope to work with in the future (read: conquering social media and SEO, and yes, it is possible, and yes, it actually works).

Or maybe my favorite thing was learning new places to find inspiration. They introduced me to some of their favorite artists, and products, and even gave us a book list (!).

And it’s always fun to see what works for other people and then find ways to make it work for you. I absolutely loved taking a peek inside their wedding albums and post processing. Even though I’ve spent countless hours processing images (my own and other photographers’), I took home some new ideas to try. Nessa and Sara were so transparent about their businesses – not afraid to share their secret sauce – and for that, I am so grateful.

After all of this, I am so excited to continue creating. There are so many things I want to try and I can’t wait to find lots of new places and make beautiful photos in unexpected locations.

So much excitement.

Okay, maybe that’s my favorite thing.


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Austin Workshop // 01

“You don’t want to look like your heroes;
you want to see like your heroes.”

– Austin Kleon


It’s been on my list for so long now. Do a workshop.

But it’s was hard to choose one. So many artists I admire; but first I needed to figure out my purpose and where to make my art.

Because I am fearful of copying. Of being too much like anyone else. Of not being an original, even if that is an impossible standard. No man is an island, none of us live in a vacuum.

So I chose one taught by two amazing photographers, Nessa K and Sara Byrne, whose styles are absolutely beautiful but a little bit different from mine. I loved that. Not because I want to dramatically change what I do, but because there is so much there to learn, and their work is so very artistic. And differences fascinate me.

I have been thinking non-stop about the lessons they taught since I left Austin on Saturday. These two girls know this craft. And they know how to talk about it, show it, explain it in a way that makes perfect sense, so that we could embrace it and make the techniques work for ourselves; so that we could be better prepared and confident in making better photographs by having the tools to do so.

I came home with a to-do list for my business and the motivation to make opportunities to find the images I’ve always been dreaming of. I made 13 new friends from around the world who I am excited to cheer for as they share their adventures. I am grateful to stand on the shoulders of these beautiful, generous girls who are undoubtedly destined for incredible things. And I am thrilled to now be able to see the world in a new way…the way my heroes see it.


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This was just day one. Soon I will show you day two. Leah and Taylor were so chill having 14 cameras on them for over an hour. Empty fields are full of possibilities.


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San Francisco, The City

Our trip to San Francisco can really be summed up in just two words:

We walked.

And I loved every second of it. It was such a refreshing change. Getting around on your own two feet is empowering, and the fresh air was invigorating. We didn’t even see a trace of the famous fog – I’m sure that walking in that is not nearly as enjoyable as the lovely sun we saw the entire time we were there.

What I loved more than anything was the charming-ness of it all. Of the sweet Victorian houses that come in bright candy colors, timeless and modern all at the same time. The terrain that reminds me of quaint Italian hillside towns. The adorable coffee shops and the luxurious bakeries that have made an art of the mundane. The vast expanses of parks and places to stop and enjoy the vistas of sprawling city meeting water meeting mountains.

Mmmm…yep. Tony Bennett sings one thing true…

I left my heart in San Francisco.


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Have a fabulous adventure this weekend, my friends!