Women pt 1

There is a common thread between all the women I am going to write about. They all saved me at a time in my life when I was either desperate or unaware of how much I needed them.

While I like to think of myself as compassionate, I often find myself resisting vulnerability. I don’t like to risk getting hurt. Mackenzie, in this aspect of life, is fearless.


She has an intense boldness about her vulnerability that is gorgeous. She’s taught me how it’s okay to be broken. It’s okay to love with everything you have, and not get enough in return, because being vulnerable, takes more risk than being cold. I am sometimes in awe of how oblivious she is to the affect she has on others; how even though she’s one of the tiniest people I know, she always leaves the biggest impression. She’s the first person I ever photographed, and the person I’ve been on the most shoots with. She’s always been the one to push me past my limits, and I have yet to find hers – studio, mud stream, cliff, chigger filled field, (not so) abandon house, she’s exceeded them all.

Mackenzie befriended me when I had nothing to give back. I was struggling harder than I thought possible in college, and she worked with me relentless hours to try and catch me up, with nothing in return but friendship. I remember calling my mom after our first study session and saying, “Mom, I think I met an angel today.”

Maybe it’s reckless to believe in someone who is so apt to flaking and failing, but five years later I couldn’t be more thankful she saw someone worth befriending.

She inspires me in so many ways: the way her mind is always creatively doodling like the drawings on her work papers, how her heart wants to save all the animals at shelters, when she’s hurting and her eyes still shine bright with hope.

I honestly didn’t mean for this to get super corny, but gosh when I’m writing, especially about my best friends, it’s so hard not to. 

So here’s to my best friend, Mackenzie Alison Leander, to many more Dunkin runs, late nights out and life adventures.❤


Up next: Aminda Villa

Lost & Found.

There was a time when I lost my passion.

Every year I go through sort of a winter-seasonal depression where I don’t feel quite as motivated. The sun doesn’t burn my eye lids, the cold freezes my drive and I get into sort of a slump. This year, was possibly the worst it’s ever been.

I have always been a fairly artistic person and it started in the form of books. I consumed my whole library in middle school, reading anything I could get my hands on. Fiction, non-fiction, history, mysteries, young adult, sci-fi, you name it. I peeled back page after page until I could no longer keep my eyes open, foregoing sleep to live other lives I could only build from context. Reading and writing didn’t always come naturally, it still doesn’t. Like anything academic, I have to try. I am a vicarious reader, but it wasn’t always that way. I had to go to reading classes, I listened to Harry Potter on audio and followed along with the book to try and learn more words. I had dictionaries and thresaruses. It wasn’t always a pleasure, and I had to work at it- like a lot of things in my life- a little harder than everyone.  But somewhere along the way, I hit my stride and ran with it. Then I started writing. As an eleven year old who hadn’t experienced enough of the world to really know what I was writing about, one thing has always been consistent; the angst, cringe-worthy then, but angst all the same. A lot of my motivation to read and write was lost when I started college. With textbooks to constantly be read, I swept my love aside, shelving it for a later date when I could appreciate it again.

This was all before I found photography. I knew I liked taking pictures for fun, selfies, Myspace photos, close up of flowers. But it was never a way I expressed myself. I’ve told the story of how I found photography, and how I had never wanted to do anything else a million times. But this one is new, this story. The one that goes, I’m done with photography.

I lost myself in a big way in the past year.

I moved back to Kansas City and thought my love for photography would strengthen. I was terrified when it didn’t. I started working at Barnes and Noble, and started stressing about money. I could barely afford to feed myself and no one was booking me for shoots. I stopped trying, because people weren’t seeing me when I did and it was horrifying. I loved working around books, but still didn’t want to read. I didn’t want to take pictures only to be disappointed in them, again. From August to January, I was in a creative slump. I started debating going back to college; to do what, I wasn’t sure because the one thing I knew in life was starting to be shaky, and the one thing I had hated more than anything was starting to look like the only option. I have never been one to force anything, if I don’t feel like eating a salad, I’m not going to. If I don’t feel creative, I’m not going to try to create. So I didn’t. I couldn’t go back to school, because again, that would have been forcing it. I was in a black hole, I isolated myself from everything I knew, because I wasn’t quite sure what anything was anymore. My strongest gravity was no longer an anchor.

When I was packing up my photography gear for a trip to LA, I was honestly considering it a sort of goodbye, parting trip. Because what was I doing? I wasn’t making any money, I didn’t like what I was making for free, and it didn’t fill me anymore. I felt empty, that’s why I was floating. Something that had filled me when I was heartbroken the year before, something that got me through so many tough times, couldn’t help me anymore.

The trip to LA, luckily did the opposite of what I had intended. It rekindled the heart of me. It didn’t explode, but having not expected much, the spark to express was back. It was still flickering when I returned home, dull but there. I knew I had to get out of my routine, my saltine cracker system that was failing my art.

I was scared, because I know more than anyone, inspiration exists but it has to find you working. Progress is the same way, I wasn’t going to get any better, emotionally  or creatively if I stuck with what I was doing. Somehow, I lucked out and got a job at the library right by my apartment. It’s a different atmosphere than Barnes, and while I loved my co-workers at the book store, the pay, convenience, and energy at the Library was exactly what I didn’t know I needed. I started shortly after I got back from my trip, and I noticed I was in a hole. The difference now was huge though, it wasn’t far off in space, it was simply in the ground and I needed to dig myself out. I was finally more stable than I had been in the eight months since moving, and while I’m 100% a wanderer, I can’t necessarily have that life right now. I didn’t know I valued stability until I didn’t have it. The real turn around didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t happen when I spent all my money on a new Mac desktop. It didn’t even happen on any shoots, I was still going through motions, trying to figure out the way to make them count again.

It started just a week ago. Full circle, back to the beginning, where I found myself again. Reading. After four months of working in the library, I finally got a library card. I had put it off, because just like with photography, I didn’t want to be disappointed. I was terrified that I wouldn’t enjoy it like I once had. I didn’t think the medium in which I got my books mattered- having downloaded books on my iPhone Kindle app the past few months- until I carried home seven books that day. Pages old, worn and read with fingers just like mine, searching for words that taught, inspired and rooted you. Two of the books I flew through, I admit, I had read before. They were by no means difficult, but it brought back meaning, these stories mattered.

To create you have to have a vision. I think that’s why I knew school wouldn’t work out for me. Even before I went to college, I knew it was just something I had to do. But when the world is so ambiguous, I couldn’t imagine finding anything there that I would want to use as the groundwork for the rest of my life. Maybe I’ll go back some day. Or not.

I do believe you figure out who you are when you are lost. I had never once doubted my love for photography. It was like a relationship, I got comfortable, and comfortable for an artist, isn’t always good. It creates mediocre work and haults progress. I needed to be terrified of the possibility of it not working out, and even believing it wouldn’t. My love affair began twelve years ago when I found words that transported me, made my imagination grow, made me realize that no matter what is so horrible in my reality, I can always make my own dream.  And I didn’t realize how much reading and writing, correlated with how I use photography. I use it to show how I see the world, even if it’s simple, it matters. And I think I needed to lose that to rediscover the need for it.


Madison was my first shoot in California all the way back in January. Finding her via Instagram, we organized a shoot. I also had reached out to a makeup artist, the amazing Jen DiBella, who crazily enough turned out to be Madison’s best friend. It was an awesome start to my stay- and these talented ladies, killed the shoot.🙂 Such beautiful sweethearts they are!













IMG_2299We did three different looks, I love how crazy good Madison rocked every one. Thank you ladies for a great start to my trip – sorry this blog post is long overdue as well as MANY MORE TO COME. x

For Granted.

Sometimes I want to slap myself for some of the things I complain about, some of the things I take for granted. These are pretty general, but maybe this will help anyone who’s feeling particularly half empty today. Just remember your worst day might be someones best.


“I’m tired.” People with five kids working two jobs are tired. Your room mate who is in medical school is tired. You- drink some coffee, take a nap. You have a bed, you get coffee for free.

“I’m broke.” You’re doing what you love, have enough money to keep a roof over your head and can afford the occasional night out. Most people hate their job and still don’t have any money.

“My legs hurt from standing for twelve hours.” You don’t have to go to the gym today.

“I’m going to die from a hangover.” This one, you did to yourself, sweetie. Put some sunglasses on, pop some Advil, check/ cringe at your bank account, and roll into work.

“Boys suck.” Have to agree on this one. (haha) But honestly, not all do, have a little faith. You have at least a couple good examples of men in your life.

“I’m starving.” No, kids in Africa are starving. You haven’t ate for six hours and had so much ice cream last night your stomach’s stretched out. Pack a power bar next time.

“My car sucks.” So the A/C is broken. Roll the windows down and enjoy your ability to transport yourself from point A to B.

“I don’t want to walk to work today, it’s snowing.” Yeah, and some people sleep in the park across from your toasty apartment. Bundle up and walk.

“I miss my parents.” It’s only been four months. Some people haven’t seen their parents in years. Some people don’t have parents to miss. Some only have memories.

“I have no clothes. Nothing to wear.” The stuffed to the brim closet says something different.

“I’m heartbroken.” And how lucky you are- to have been loved before.


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2014 Review; PART 1.

Even numbered years have had a pretty bad track record for me. I’m more of an odd numbered kinda girl.

This year, like any, had it’s ups and downs. I’m not cheers-ing to a “hopefully better year this year”. If people can generalize a year that much- good or bad- great for them. Not every day is good, some are better than others, but I feel horrible for people who say their whole year sucked. Frankly, I think they’re being over dramatic. //end rant.

My year had lows. My grandpa Duey passed away. Thanksgiving was weird without his stuffing. There’s not a day I don’t think about him and hope even though I’m going through life the non-traditional way, he’s watching me and is proud of me trying to find my way. 1

I went through the breakup of a six year relationship.

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Unfortunate things happen on or around my birthday, this year was no different, I had my wallet stolen in a foreign country. I am officially in financial debt to my parents. Horrible car (RIP), camera (still kickin’) and computer (shelf life of a couple months) problems- all within the span of a month ($$$). I had to bring my dog Abby back to my parents house because I didn’t have enough time for her.

Besides those things, only the first two being something truly defining of a low time in my 22nd year, 2014 was pretty kick ass for me.

The biggest part of my year was travel and the people I met along the way.

There was nothing holding me back this year, I wanted out of Minnesota, and out of Minnesota I got. One credit card booked plane at a time, I made it happen.


IMG_2071IMG_2104IMG_1893Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetIMG_1972IMG_2173IMG_2102IMG_2188IMG_2179IMG_2199Aminda, my photography best friend, won a trip to shoot with the Billabong photographers (yeah, she’s amazing) and I was lucky to go along with her. This was more of a vacation than it was a work trip- the only one I’ve ever relaxed so much on. My phone got fried on the island… so many photos were lost.

The traveling really started in February. I wasn’t alone, I was with Aminda for the whole trip – so enjoy the millions of photos of her😉

First stop,

Los Angeles, California.

IMG_5325Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetIMG_5526Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetIMG_5386IMG_4057IMG_5669Processed with VSCOcam with m3 presetIMG_4069 IMG_5784LA was everything and nothing like I expected. I learned a lot about traveling, blew way too much money my first week away from Minnesota. What I learned: LA public transportation sucks. I love whiskey, PBR is a fine chaser. LA is dirty, but the people are amazingly kind and creative. There is no way a shoot on the beach can end badly. Even if you don’t have a plan.

Then I was off to Europe.


Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset IMG_4108^ Accurate description of how we felt. I had only been out of the country once, to Mexico, with my family. Here I was, going abroad to shoot models (hopefully), stay in a hostel (only the first two weeks were planned, our trip was five) and liveProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI will never forget landing and getting off the plane in another country having just been in LA 24 hours before. I didn’t have a plug in to charge my phone or computer, my money wasn’t yet converted, nothing. #firstworldproblems. SO underprepared. We had to take a six hour bus ride from the Dublin airport up to Derry, which is in Northern Ireland (whole different country, literally). Sandio’s was the first place we went, actually recommended to us by an Irish bar tender in LA a week before. It was pure irony the bus literally dropped us off there. And possibly fate.

IMG_4183IMG_6958 Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetIMG_6965Processed with VSCOcam with x1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetIMG_4414IMG_4328Processed with VSCOcam with b1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with g3 presetIMG_4443IMG_6953Aminda and I worked to stay for free at a hostel for the first two weeks. We met amazing people, got sick once, hungover twice, drank lots of coffee, ate lots of cereal and toast. Cleaned bedrooms. Slept. Emailed agencies. Cleaned toilets. Slept. Emailed models. Cleaned showers. Emailed makeup artists. Then we took a couple days off work and ventured hours to Dublin, then to Belfast. We shot a lot in those couple days, each of us racking up about five shoots.

IMG_6832 Then it was to decide where to go next. As the last few days approached of our time working in the hostel, we had to decide where we wanted to be for the next two weeks before flying out of Dublin. We ended up booking a ferry to London for thirty pounds, and a flight back to Dublin to end the trip for the same price. I was going to be spending my 22nd birthday in London.


Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with m5 presetIMG_4787 We hadn’t slept in over 36 something hours- bus ride from Derry to Dublin was six hours, the ferry ride was four something hours, the bus ride from the coast to London another six. Then we got in a taxi that took us to somewhere that wasn’t our hostel. We had to take another taxi back to where we started. Eventually got to our hostel figuring out the bus system. Of course, the hostel didn’t have our booking- didn’t even have a room that fit the description of our email confirmation. We were beyond exhausted, didn’t have phones to use (we were running off WiFi) and I had a moment of panic, Aminda and I calculated everything, hostels were twice the amount we were expecting… we were talking about flying back home. It was that bad and exhausting. I wouldn’t go back to that feeling, that day, for anything. It got better though. We found a decently priced hostel, in Chelsea, a nice part of town, my kick ass parents lent us money to finish out our adventure and I booked a few shoots. The rest of the weeks are history. We stayed a week in Chelsea, and then stayed in Clapham, which was close to my favorite part of London, Camden. Made more friends, connections and solid shoots through agencies.

IMG_4668IMG_4659IMG_7185Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetIMG_7240-2IMG_7195IMG_4927IMG_4540IMG_7261IMG_7138IMG_7135IMG_7838The night before my birthday, I was coming home to our hostel from an amazing shoot in Camden, I stopped to get a burrito, there was a bar conveniently beneath our hostel, so I was gonna grab a drink and head to bed. I grabbed my purse to pay for the next couple nights in our hostel, and my wallet was missing. My wallet with all my cash, all my credit cards, my ID’s. Everything. Minus my passport thank god. It was gone. Long story short, after many tears shed, I had to cancel the biggest shoot of my time there, we owed money to the hostel, my bus pass was out of money… the saddest scene unfolded, me walking down the street to a coffee cupcake shop and spending my last pound on a coffee and just crying my bloody eyes out. It was movie worthy. My parents pulled through, wiring me money… again. And then Aminda and our friend Mackenzie brought me out for the night, trying to distract my worried mind. I was in London. On my birthday. With friends. There is nothing more I could have asked for. (besides maybe a million dollars, but I could still use that so…) Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetIMG_4814We flew back to Dublin the next day, wrapping up our trip in the next two days. I was ready to come back to the states simply because I had no money. But I had never felt more elated with the progress I’d made as a person and photographer in such a short amount of time. Aminda and I have a weird connection, she’s probably the closest thing to a sister I’ll ever have. Especially after this trip. She understands me under pressure and frustration, but also at my happiest. I learned a lot about myself on the two month trip. Mostly, that I am so small, the world is huge and while I have more experiences, I know nothing compared to the knowledge that is out there.

It’s like they say, traveling is the only thing you spend money on that makes you richer.

IMG_4918I missed Europe the second we landed in Philly. But there was no reason for me to stay there at the moment. I got home to Minnesota April 3rd after being gone since February 17th. Although I had nothing planned, my friend Karrah Kobus asked if I would like to travel with her to host a workshop. April 16th, I road tripped with her to one of my favorite places on earth.

New York. 

IMG_0922IMG_0796IMG_5223photo-4IMG_07725IMG_5211Karrah has always been a huge influence on my life, first when I didn’t know her, and even more so now that I do. We had been friends for a little over a year before this trip, and this trip sealed the deal for me. She’s one of the best people put on this planet. This trip was exhausting and a learning experience for both of us – like driving in Manhattan is scary, Dunkin Donuts does in fact have the best iced coffee and good sleep is under rated… I also got to shoot with a blogger who I’ve been following for years, Rachel Lynch. And I met countless other photographers and inspirations. New York always is magical. 

I got home exhausted at 6 in the morning five days after we left. I had never been more excited to see a bed.


I gave the traveling a rest after that… for a couple weeks. Middle of May, I made a road trip down with my friend Jenessa to Kansas to see my best friends graduate from college. It was a quick three day trip, but I made another great friend, and confirmed moving to Kansas in three short months was what I wanted to do. Not for the fun, but for the people who inspired me and pushed me to be myself.


Processed with VSCOcam with b5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with g3 presetIMG_5838After that trip, I settled into more of a routine. To start making money, I kept working at my local coffee shop job — shout out to The Bean for accepting my crazy schedule for a whole year and then taking me back after two months off. Saved money, worked, and waited. For two months.

Then, I moved.

Kansas City, Missouri.

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And I stayed put again.

For a month.

Up next, part 2 of blog post: Living in KCMO. Last travels of the year, Colorado, Arizona, Los Angeles.

Michael & Kristin.

These are my best friends and room mates, Michael and Kristin. Not a lot of people understand the dynamic between us- the conversations usually go like this.

“Oh, my room mate Michael cooked us amazing Indian food last night.”

“You have a guy room mate?”

“Yeah, he’s engaged to my best friend Kristin, who’s also my room mate.”

“So you guys… live together. But they’re engaged…”

Then I have to give them the abridged version. But since this is my blog I’ll give all the backstory I want.

IMG_9465IMG_8618IMG_8656I met Kristin first, in middle school, but we were never in the same friend group, even if we were on the same softball team. I thought she seemed way cooler than me. So even though I knew of Kristin, I knew Michael first. He was in my science class, freshman year of high school. He was from a different middle school than me, so I didn’t know know him. I guess he was a big superstar football player or something😉 even then. But I just thought he was super smart and I wanted to cheat off his tests.

Kristin and I that same quarter had a class together. And after Michael and I’s science class every day, we would meet Kristin and walk with her to our lockers.

Their relationship started not long before our friendships. We were just little fifteen year olds. IMG_9238IMG_8668IMG_9280IMG_9315IMG_9310The end of high school was rough. All of us deciding to go our separate ways for college, they were both going to be an hour apart and I knew that was going to be hard for them. I also lost touch with them both for a bit while I was eight hours away, so I didn’t hear about a lot of their day to day stuff- what I did know though was that the distance was good for them. They were the couple that strived to grow together, while growing up. It took work and four years of distance, which many couples don’t make it through. When I moved back to Minnesota, they were both my rocks. What I love most about them is not only the love they have for each other, but for the community, their surroundings, their families, their friends, traveling, food, movies, culture…

IMG_9329IMG_9441IMG_9463Now that I’m living with them it’s all come full circle. Instead of walking to high school classes, we walk to the gym or the grocery store, through the farmers market. I feel like I know them both so well now and I’m so appreciative that I got the chance to see them like this. I know what they look like in the morning when she studies and he runs out the door, kissing her, eating an oatmeal cookie she baked the night before. I know what he looks like when he plays with their cat, Nala and what she looks like when she practices taking his blood pressure. I know how after a long day at work and school they like to cuddle on the couch while eating popcorn or ice cream. How he knows when she needs a cheeseburger. How she knows when to be quiet during his TV show. I know how they work together, learn together and how they love each other.

IMG_9422IMG_9405IMG_8793 They have helped me to not be jaded, because you know, sometimes love doesn’t work. But now I know what it’s supposed to look like when it does.

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I love you both and I’m so happy you found each other🙂

Robert & Christina

I swear, every time I’m in Arizona, I make new friends and have the best time with every photo shoot I go on. Robert and Christina were no exception.

From a lovely friend in England, I discovered New Darlings through Instagram. Their photo stream was amazing, I loved their style and the energy they brought together. I knew right away I wanted to work with them, if their personalities were like their style, they were gonna be awesome. After exchanging emails back and forth for a few weeks, I couldn’t be more excited. Christina and Robert were both very into collaborating, creating and so down to earth, I knew the shoot was gonna be a breeze🙂IMG_5843IMG_5855IMG_5865IMG_5875IMG_5880IMG_5886IMG_5888IMG_5890IMG_5892IMG_5896

Robert and Christina were honestly two of the most darling people (literally, no pun intended) I’ve ever met. I’ve seen couples in love, and infatuated, but them together was quite literally stunning. They were so natural, he moved, she moved. They were very graceful, creative, easy to talk to, their style was to die for, at the end of the shoot I felt like I was parting with old friends, not people I had just met an hour prior.IMG_5906IMG_5910IMG_5916IMG_5934IMG_5937IMG_5947IMG_5960IMG_5965IMG_5979IMG_5995IMG_6007IMG_6024IMG_6032IMG_6056IMG_6064IMG_6083So I would just like to say thank you to Robert and Christina, for being so kind in a big city I’m not completely familiar with and for letting me take photographs of you both. You two really do have something special and it makes me so happy.🙂

You can follow them on InstagramFacebook or their amazing blog here.