Yellowstone // Life Lessons & Surviving Bear Country!

For any of us who run businesses, it's a lot of work. In fact, it's pretty much all-consuming work, which we are so gosh-darn-passionate about, that we literally love to work. It eventually becomes our lifestyle, and I've always said that, for me, being a photographer, isn't just my job or career, it is my lifestyle. However, there is a fine line between being a work-a-holic and working-harder-and-smarter, which in my book means setting goals, along with limits.

This past summer has been all about finding a balance and a pace that works for me, yet doesn't compromise any of my friendships, relationships or simply the want to do things that I've pushed aside for years! It's been a summer filled with block parties, concerts, bike rides, good food, cabins, friends, and I have honestly had one of the best summers of my life! Yet, there was one thing that was 'on my list' that I've been talking about and it was time for it to happen...I wanted to go camping.

Being gone for a week in September was a little nerve racking for me! It's prime time for everything right now, but I carved out the time, loaded up the car and made the trek to Yellowstone. I had never been to Yellowstone before, but I've always heard nothing but great, fun, adventurous stories from people who have been! My experience was absolutely amazing, but there were two specific things that I did that truly challenged me...

1 - I climbed a mountain. Yep, a straight-up-legit-mountain. To be perfectly honest, it was the most physically demanding thing I've ever done in my life, but also the most mentally challenging, to go along with it! This climb was nothing but vertical, all the way up to 10,000 feet. Just when I thought I had reached the top, there was a whole other ridge to climb and a new terrain to face. The air was thin, and I couldn't look behind me, because I would get so dizzy looking down - we were so high up! All of us have heard those metaphors of 'Life is full of Mountains and Valleys' or 'It takes baby steps to reach your goals', and all I could think of while my heart-was-pounding, I'm trying to control my breathing and I'm literally using ALL of my strength to simply put one-foot-in-front-of-the-other, was "Whatever mother-fucker came up with those phrases was SOOOOOOO right!"

Reaching the top of the mountain was amazing. It was totally worth all of the struggle, physical pain and almost-puking. There was such a sense of accomplishment and pride that I had completed this nearly-impossible task! On the descent, I couldn't help but relate this to business and life, as cheezy as it sounds, all of those metaphors are true. Nothing good has ever come easy, it's always been hard, constant work, but every time another level is reached, it's a small (or big!) victory, and those should be celebrated!

2 - I survived bear country! Now, for those of you who haven't been to Yellowstone, there are signs EVERYWHERE that are pretty much saying "Be prepared to be eaten by a bear at any moment!" Now, of course, I'm exaggerating, but only a little bit! When it came time to hike into the back country, this is all intensified. All of a sudden, there are zero people. All of a sudden, you are surrounded by big trees that - at any moment - a bear could jump out and eat you. Nothing is for certain in the back country, you're risking everything - and you're also a walking target with food strapped to your back! In my mind, there were two possible outcomes on this part of the trip - We make it out alive or accept death-by-bear, these are two very big extremes and clearly, I was pretty nervous!

Yet, I wanted to camp in the back country, this was my choice and I loved the adventure - I was just totally on edge for the entire time! It was very clear that I had entered a big world of unknowns. I felt vulnerable and nervous, I was always checking my back to make sure nothing would sneak up on me - it was uncomfortable! I also felt very small.

I'm happy to report that I never even saw a bear, after all of that worrying, and once again, there was a giant lesson to be learned from that experience, for me. I was proud of surviving (I know, it's very dramatic sounding, but hang in there with me.) I had put myself in a very uncomfortable situation - yes, it was one that I wanted to be in, but never-the-less, it was incredibly scary! I've said this before, but my whole take on fear is to lean into it. Step right on in and 9 times out of 10, it's really not as rough as I think it's going to be. When it comes to life, love and business (because clearly, those are the only major areas of our lives, right?), it's only us who can move ourselves forward. In the world of photography, there are many things that I'm re-structuring, re-thinking, and re-prioritizing and change is good, but change is also unknown, a little bit scary, but ultimately, a very thrilling and exciting adventure!

This camping trip for me ended up to be greater than I ever imagined! I was challenged, I was pushed, I was enlightened and I grew. I chose to share all of the images below in black and white, for no particular reason except for they inspired me more this way.

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I hope you enjoy!


FYI...tomorrow I'll be sharing some fun images from my iphone, stay tuned!

Life, Business and Montour

For the first summer in years, I feel like I've been able to have a life! This is thanks to my crew, especially our studio manager Liz, and finding our groove as a team! I've also really embraced the taking-time-for-your-actual-life concept and have finally done things this summer that I've always wanted to experience, like Rock the Garden and Pride, but I'm always too busy. However, one of THE highlights of the summer has been having one of my best-friends-ever in town for an entire MONTH! Yes, Miss Sara Montour has graced us with her presence and we have simply had SO much fun!I am so grateful to have this girl in my life - she balances me out, makes me laugh harder than anyone else, and even watches The Bachelorette with me (guilty pleasure, yes!) Sara lives in Tacoma, WA now, so having her here is a special treat - and again, a welcome reminder to how important it is to really focus on our lives, just as much as our businesses sometimes.

Can I get a high-five and a hell yeah?



We've Moved! Sneak Peek of the New Studio!

WOO HOOOO!!!!!!I know I've talked a lot about this, and I am SO excited to finally be in our new studio! I am absolutely IN LOVE with our new space! It feels so much more open with all the light, fresh air and giant windows - it's an awesome change to work in!! And did I mention we are right above Diamond's Coffee Shoppe, which is one of my favorite places in the city?!? BONUS!!! We are still in the process of getting everything unpacked, but little by little, it is taking shape! More importantly, our fridge is stocked and we LOVE visitors, so if you are ever in the neighborhood, please swing on by to say hello!



On Vacation!

Dear Friends, Clients and Blog Readers :0) I just wanted to let you know that I am off on vacation! This is my first true, non-work-related-vacation in years and I'm thrilled to be venturing off on a little adventure for some much needed fun and relaxation! I will most definitely be blogging all about it when I get home, but in the mean time, I will be out of the studio from Saturday, March 19th - Monday March 28th!

I won't have my phone I won't have the internet I won't be checking my e-mail

I will be sitting with a cocktail, sailing around the British Virgin Islands

Bon Voyage!



Happy Valentines Day from Photogen Inc!

Happy Valentines Day!! We love to take every opportunity possible to thank our amazing clients, vendors, blog readers and friends for making our jobs SO fabulous! Thank you for all that you do for us and for allowing us to continue following our dreams!


Have a very happy day, filled with much love!


Te Quiero // Time!!

Have you ever really looked up the definition of time? Time , noun: Temporal length of event or entity's existence, period

Time, noun: Opportunity

I find this kind of funny. On one hand, time is a moment. It's temporary. On the other hand, it holds a world of opportunity. I'm not going to lie, I'm only a few days into my quest to 'document love' and it already has my brain reeling about how important every aspect of the word LOVE is. There are so many layers, so many things, objects, pets, people, vice's - you name it - that surround us in our everyday lives that we truly enjoy. The last month has been an interesting one for me, personally. I've been to a funeral, I've met some fantastic new people, I've loved, I've lost, l've grown, I've learned, I've seen my friends enter some amazing, life changing dreams and others have the weight of the world on their shoulders, I've been on emotional highs and lows - really, it's been a fucking roller coaster! Then again, maybe it's just the dead of winter in Minnesota! Either way, it's really made me reflect upon the time that we all have with the people in our lives.

Sometimes, life is going on it's merry way and we think that we have all the time in the world with people. Once something big happens, the fun and games are over and all of a sudden, things are very much so real-life. On the other hand, one of the most beautiful things in life is when certain people, lucky moments, etc. are introduced to us and there is an instant connection - and you run with it! I really feel that we are defined by the tough times in our life, just as much as we are by the fantastic moments! How we handle ourselves, how we process things, how we support each other - these are all very indicative of our character. My point is that time is a funny little thing that we should never take for granted, especially when it comes to our loved ones. I'm the number one offender for many times pushing people or things off, for selfish reasons or work, whatever. Our time - and what we choose to do with our time- is the most valuable thing we have. It is temporary, but at the same time, brings so much opportunity - and along with that, hope.


You're welcome for my emotional two cents today! :0) Enjoy!


Te Quiero // Cheers!

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti


My love for food is undeniable. Personally, I think there is nothing better than fabulous food, fantastic conversation and a bottle of wine. I live for those moments!


Te Quiero // Freedom

I've been thinking a lot about the word Freedom lately and just how much depth this little word brings to my life. I talked about it at Elevate and even wrote a little on it in yesterday's blog post, but I just feel like there is so much more to say. I was having a conversation with Ms. Montour yesterday and we were talking about how cool it is that our lives are pretty spontaneous. I mean, one day we will be in our studios editing photos, and the next we will be whisked away to a far off location for a shoot, or maybe to just catch up with a friend! We are always in discovery-mode, which is a beautiful thing, that I really don't think we give ourselves enough credit for - or maybe allow ourselves to partake in as much as we would like. Life brings along giant responsibilities and money that needs to be made, along with running businesses and taking care of clients. It's easier for us to go through the motions rather than to challenge ourselves to create.

A big part of what I preached at Elevate was to simply explore and allow yourself the time to create. I'm about to take a dose of my own medicine here during the month of February, it's my challenge to document love. These might be snippets on my iphone or an actual Te Quiero photo shoot, but the point about this month is all about trying to look around and take the time to document this fleeting feeling we all adore.

I cam across the picture below, and I just thought it fit in so well with everything I am feeling right now! My great friend, Sarah Rhoads took this image of me last year on our girls trip to Moab, Utah. We were all at the base of a gorgeous mountain at sunset, in a field of could I not just take off my clothes and streak through the field?!?! I mean, really. I was going to keep this one personal, but I also decided to say fuck it. I love this photograph and I think it truly carries the essence of who I am. If I am going to 'document love' for a month, I should most definitely love myself, and I do. I'm a very free spirit, who jumps in head first to everything I do. I run with my ideas and just about every time, I don't fail, because I am solid in my vision, beliefs and direction. I'm constantly challenging myself, sometimes too much for my own good, so now here is my challenge to you: Are you allowing yourself to have a little fun? To not be so overwhelmed with life but to simply let go a little bit and see what amazing things might happen?


Te Quiero // Freedom


2010: One AMAZING year!

2010 has been one crazy, yet ridiculously awesome year! While doing this blog post, it kind of blows my mind to see all of the things we have accomplished! I mean, seriously, how am I still standing upright?!? I think I am the type of person who thrives, the busier I am! I love momentum and I think that is SO important in both life and business! Here's a little recap on our amazing year: 1: Kicked things off with my first book! 2: Photographed SO many amazing weddings! We had THE most fabulous clients in 2010 - thank you to each and every one of you for letting us be a part of your day! 3: Guest Spoke at our friend Jeffrey's workshop 4: Launched LOVEe Consults and the MINNeSHOPS 5: Hung out and grew our relationships with our photographer friends! 6: Made a music video, that ended up being quite controversial, and for the record, this was made for pure fun. No other reason. So many of you LOVED this and so did we! 7: Separated my wedding and commercial work with the launch of the ELIESA brand. 8: SO enjoyed seeing my ladies on our annual trip - this year we went to MOAB! 9: Took some time to soul search with Ms. Montour. 10: Continued to push our own limits! The Photogen Inc team has grown and we are stronger than ever! 2010 came with more features, both in magazines, books and blogs! And, we even won a few awards...WPPI Print Competition, Nomination for NAHA and an AdFed Award on the commercial side!


All in all, we want to sincerely thank our clients and blog readers! Photogen Inc would not be what it is with out each and every one of you! You keep us going and make living our dreams a reality! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Happy New Years to you all! Here's to a FABULOUS 2011!


Happy Holidays!!!

To: Our Amazing Clients, Our Loyal Blog Readers, Our Patient Families, Our Supportive Friends, our Kick-Ass Vendors and to everyone who has touched us this past year...Happy Holidays from the Photogen Inc Crew! We hope you have a fabulous holiday and enjoy all of the food, wine and fellowship we are bound to have! You have made 2010 one of the best years ever, so CHEERS to you!!



PNW Trip: Day 2!

The thing I love about my friendship with Sara and Scott is that there is simply just non-stop-ridiculous-laughter whenever we are all together! And it absolutely never fails that we make some amazing memories together! For a more in-depth-explanation of this, head over to Sara's blog! Our adventures took us down to Oregon, where we all stayed on a house boat one night, on the Columbia River which was super fun!! Our journey continued the next morning in pouring rain, to Cannon Beach. Now, let me preface by saying that I have ALWAYS wanted to go to Cannon Beach and take pictures! I had these grand visions of all the images I would take - and those all went out the window, once we realized just how crappy the weather was. However, that didn't stop us from making one long hard effort to get some images! They might now be as grandiose as I planned, but they are absolutely AMAZING, never the less! 30mph winds and pouring rain can't stop us!!

Despite the weather, this trip was absolutely perfect! in fact, the weather simply added to the fun! We definitely have some new stories to tell..."Remember that time we went to Cannon Beach..."


Here's to great friends and fantastic adventures!


PNW Trip: Day 1!

This past weekend was SO much fun! I traveled out to Tacoma...otherwise known as Tacompton, to see one of my bestest friends ever, Ms. Sara Montour!! Now, if you follow any of my Twitter of Facebook updates, I'm constantly talking about this girl, so our friendship is quite hard to miss! I also met some new friends who have an AMAZING little business and make some really cool art! I've decided that mini-vacations are more than necessary, if anything, just taking some time to explore and experience something new! The first day in Tacoma, we spent time hiking up the beach and decided to bring along our cameras...



2010 Photogen Inc. Holiday Party!!!

I love my team SO much! I mean, so so SO much!We've seemed to have grown exponentially and we are stronger than ever! With more people, it's hard to get everyone together in one place, at the same time, so last night was a real treat!

Our holiday parties always consist of food, drink, and a little Secret Santa exchange...not to mention the all-mighty-holiday-card-signing-assembly-line!

Here are some images off of the Instax from last night!



Collin Hughes

I feel like we have been working on so many behind-the-scenes things here at Photogen Inc. and we are announcing them all at once!
It came time to update my personal photos again - I like to keep these fresh and fun! My last images were done by Angelica Glass, and I loved them! When it came time to choose a photographer to continue my promo images and resonate the vibe I wanted to give - there was only one person that came to mind, and that is Collin! Collin is a great friend of mine, which is awesome, but I truly am SUCH a huge fan of his work! His images are filled with honesty and an energy that I just love!

Collin posted a preview of our shoot on his blog - check it out!

Collin - thank you for being SO amazing at what you do and an even more awesome friend! Much love!

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