A year in photos and travels – 2012

I can say unequivocally and undeniably, that 2012 has been the best year of my life. I’ve traveled. I’ve lived. I’ve found friends and best friends and have been happy. This has been the best year thus far of my career. I learned the value of hard work and not being afraid to get your work out there. I’ve done more shoots than I’ve ever done, worked harder than I ever have, written hundreds and hundreds of emails, all while still working full time in an operating room. I’ve given lectures, been on book covers, taught a workshop, and had my work in magazines internationally. I’ve worked with brilliant teams on fashion shoots and continued taking self portraits. I’m really starting to feel like I’m growing into my own both as a photographer and as a person. Three years ago I was a girl too afraid of her own shadow to leave her house. This year I killed any part of the girl I used to be, willingly and with joy. With each new travel and opportunity I feel I’ve come out a stronger person. And my goal for each year will always be to be stronger and kinder and happier than the last. I’ve met that goal and then some.

The two most insane things to happen to my career this year, though I can hardly believe that this is real life, was that I’ve had my photo on a signed limited edition Florence + The Machine Album cover:

And I was in an exhibit in Milan hosted by Vogue Italy:

I honestly can not tell you how powerful a tool the internet is. Without Flickr and Facebook none of this year would have happened. And a lot has happened.

I went to California in April and met up with some of my favorite photographers. This was the first Flickr meetup and it set such a precedence for all the crazy adventures that were to come with all my new photographer friends. I can not place enough value in meeting people that share the same passion as you. There is something so special in being able to create together without judgement and to be surrounded by people who fully understand you. My Flickr friends are all now family to me.

Photo by Sarah Allegra (http://www.flickr.com/photos/artosthebear/)


I spent a week in July in Indiana with some of the most influential people I have ever met. I met my best friends. I modeled for photos and shot photos and dressed up and invaded Walmart with thirty something other photographers. We went to abandoned factories, almost died in the lake when the raft flipped over, slept in a tent with five strangers and sweated in the 102 degree weather. I have never felt joy like I did in Indiana. I never thought it was possible to fall so deeply in love with 30+ strangers I met on the internet but I did. Whenever I describe to anyone what my heaven would be, it is always Indiana and to forever live out the memory of this week. Everyone clicked instantly.

ImagePhoto credit Shane Black (http://www.flickr.com/photos/shaneblack/)


Photo credit Joel Robison, one of my best friends and kindred spirits. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/joel_r/)

I spent a weekend in July being a tourist in New York City. I had the best Indian food I’ve ever had and ate falafel and walked until my legs were ready to fall off. I saw Times Square and Grand Central Station and was utterly confused by how the streets worked.

I hosted my very first workshop with a few talented friends in a park in New Hampshire. It was a brilliant day filled with laughs and creativity and golf ball sized hail 🙂

I hopped a bus to Maryland for a fun filled week in August to a Flickr meetup spending most of the time laughing hysterically and meeting some absolutely talented photographers and being reunited with some of my friends from Indiana. We roamed around in abandoned factories and reservoirs and just enjoyed being together. We stayed up late to talk and shoot the stars and danced to Nicki Minaj. Leaving early was honestly one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. When you find such a connection in people, it’s hard to go back to real life.

Photo credit Shane Black (http://www.flickr.com/photos/shaneblack/)

Photo credit Steven Sites our wonderful host (http://www.flickr.com/photos/steven_sites/)

I spent eleven days in October traveling around Oregon and Canada with one of my best friends. We spent four perfect days in Oregon taking in all the sites and driving over 800 miles to visit waterfalls and hike trails to time lapse under the stars and sleep in cars. I wouldn’t change a single second of this trip. I saw waterfalls five stories tall and felt so small under the brilliance of the stars when we stayed out late on a lake to shoot. I saw things I only dreamed about seeing. This trip completely taught me the value of how beautiful and kind strangers could be. We met so many wonderful people that gave two weary travels floor space, warms meals, and a shower.


Then we split an eight hour train and bus ride to stay the night at Lizzy Gadd’s house in Vancouver before heading off on another fifteen hour bus ride to Creston for a Flickr meetup where I had the best Canadian Thanksgiving I’ve ever had. We stayed in the most perfect cabin surrounded by a lake and mountain that was literally right outside our doorstep. We stayed up late shooting the northern lights and the milky way. We laughed hysterically about a costume horse head and I lit myself on fire. We drank hot chocolate around a fire and roasted hot dogs. I fell so deeply in love with Canada and the people I never wanted to leave.


Photo credit Lizzy Gadd (http://www.flickr.com/photos/elizabethgadd/)

And as this year comes to a close I feel so blessed I was able to create such wonderful memories with so many amazing people I am lucky to call friends. I feel like my life is a better now that I have so many people to share in the experience. My life has a purpose and a direction.

To create.
To move west.
To explore the world.
To connect with everyone I meet.

All of it made possible through photography. I thankful every day that I am able to live my passion and it has brought me to so many amazing places.

So find your passion and in it, find yourself. Be it in other people or just through the passion itself. Network and make friends. Find your purpose and pursue it with everything you have. Life is far too short to not do what you dream. Dream it and make it happen.