30 Days of Gratitude... sort of // Minneapolis Lifestyle Photography

EDITOR'S NOTE: November, 2016 rocked my world unlike any other month of any other year in recent memory. The election of Donald Trump was a game-changer - the sort of devastating, earth-shattering event that puts everything else into perspective and forever marks periods of time as "before" and "after." As such, this project stopped after 13 days. Stopped because it felt trivial and meaningless in the grand scheme of things. It stopped because I stopped - stopped my desire to create, stopped by ability to not be utterly depressed about the state of our nation.

For a long time, I simply hid this post; it served as too raw a reminder of how painful that period of time was. But as I look back at the images now, I see beauty and hope in them. Hope I was able to find even then. Albeit unfinished, the project seems to have served some small purpose and for that, it's hard not to be grateful.


November to me is a month of warmth. Not warm in the way August is hot and sticky or the way May is balmy and breezy. It is about a sense of home and nostalgia and peacefulness that make you feel warm and fuzzy no matter the chill in the air or the darkness of the long nights. It is cozy blankets and hot beverages sipped out of oversized mugs. It is glowing fireplaces and the heart-filling laughter of family and friends. It is food that sticks to your ribs and booze that warms your belly. And most of all, it is slowing down and pausing for moments of introspection and gratitude.

For the next 30 days, I plan to offer up thanks for the things in my life - big and small, material and intangible - that fulfill me in some way. And to do so in the best manner I know how: through images. 


I'm thankful for kids who are finally starting to realize they are better playmates than adversaries. Also, Julian just discovered he can lift Nora up and they both think it's pretty cool.


I am grateful for our garden. For the bounty of vegetables it produces. For the time it forces us to spend outdoors. For the fertile soil and access to clean water which allow us to grow healthy food. I am thankful that - by participating in the growing, nurturing, harvesting, and cooking of these crops - my children have an understanding of where their food comes from and an appreciation for it.



I am very thankful to live in a neighborhood that puts us within walking distance of parks, restaurants, a brewery, a natural foods co-op, friends' houses, and more. 


I am thankful for the beautiful weather we have had so far this month. For the chance it has afforded us to spend extra time outside. For the prolonged season of spectacular fall colors and the way the glorious sunshine illuminated this ginkgo tree today.


I am thankful to be surrounded by creative and inspiring people - both those I've known for a while and those I continue to meet throughout the course of my work.


Thankful doesn't even begin to explain how I feel about being this girl's mama. She is independent and strong and she likes playing with tractors and her brother's ninja turtle gear just as much as she does singing to and "mothering" her babydoll. This little powerhouse waited in line for over an hour today and joined me in the (early) voting booth as I cast my vote for Hillary Clinton. The future is female and this one is going to be a force to be reckoned with.


I'm grateful for our dog, Oliver. Our cuddly, stinky, grumpy old man who always seems to know the right time to curl up in my lap. Like today when my election anxiety was at an all-time high and my other methods of coping (stress-eating and blasting hip hop) weren't quite doing the trick.


I am finding it really difficult to find something to be grateful for at this moment on this particular day. Perhaps it's times like this when stopping to look for the proverbial silver lining or giving thanks for the little things matters the most. I can't even begin to process my emotions about this election right now, but I sure do love these little kids of mine, both of whom were very excited to watch the returns tonight and neither of whom made it past 8:30 p.m. Lucky them.


This is not the thankfulness post I had hoped to write on November 9th. Instead of celebrating the historic shattering of glass ceilings and the triumph of love and common decency over hate and exclusion, I am left completely despondent over yesterday's election. I've cried more today than I have in a long time. Like every time I looked at my children's faces and thought about how long 4 YEARS is in the span of their lifetimes. 

As this unforgettably painful day came to a close and we sat around the dinner table as a family, this little guy took it upon himself to teach us the sign language he learned at preschool today. The words? PEACE, JOY, HAPPY, and MUSIC. And there we had it: a beautiful moment of light - worthy of immense gratitude - during a dark, dark day.

DAY 10

We could all use a little more light in our lives right now. And Bruce Munro's, "Winter Lights," at the Arboretum was just the thing. I am grateful for the opportunity to preview this impressive art installation. 

DAY 11

After having landed myself squarely in the depression stage of [the five stages of] grief and having suffered a migraine all day long, to say that I am grateful to my people for taking care of me would be a huge understatement. My mom - rockstar that she is - played with and read to and cared for the kids all day long. And Andrew ran point on bedtime and cooked us a special dinner AND served it to me in bed. As miserable as today was, it's hard to not feel thankful for having amazing people in my life. 

DAY 12

I am thankful to have a plant-filled, light-filled, powerful-woman-filled environment in which to work and create. 

DAY 13

I am so grateful to live in a city that celebrates ALL of its inhabitants regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or immigration status. 

All in the Family // Minneapolis Family Photography

I've recently had the pleasure of taking photos of two families who are very near and dear to me. I've known both for over 20 years. And both happen to be highly photogenic and fun to photograph. 

 ( c l i c k  t o  e n l a r g e )

Vanderlin Family, Theodore Wirth Park

Blocker Family, B.F. Nelson Park

WCCO #MyStateFair Instagram Takeover // Minnesota State Fair Photography

I Instagrammed on behalf of @WCCOTV while at the Minnesota State Fair last week. Below are the 5 images I posted to their feed.

And here's a blog post written by Eric Mueller who organized the takeover which included 4 other talented photographers! 

Minnesota Lake Life

This week in a special Citinerary, "Weekend Explorer" piece, I shared some photos from our family vacation to the Brainerd Lakes area and I attempted to describe (to the journal's international readers) just what makes cabin country/up north/lake life so special. 

Check out the journal article here and see some of the photos from it below.

Family Staycation

True Story: when the Mall of America first opened in 1992, I was almost 12 years old and I was obsessed with it. I vividly remember poring over every single word of the Star Tribune's Variety section pull-out feature prior to the grand opening. I knew, before even stepping foot inside its walls, the color of the (then) carpeted floors of the South Avenue wing of the mall and best entrance to use to go straight to the movie theater. 

If you had told me that I would someday be offered the opportunity to stay, shop, dine, and play there with my family and get paid for it, my 12-year-old self would have been blown away. In fact, my 35-year-old self was sort of blown away when the offer came in a month ago to do just that in exchange for some photos of the experience. I knew my kids would absolutely love it. I also knew the Mall has come a long way since 1992 and recent updates have made it highly photogenic. Having a press pass - and the authority and confidence that comes with it - was an added perk to the gig and one I wish I'd used even more. Here are a few of the DSLR images I snapped while there.

You Had Me at Vodka

When the organic, "grain to bottle" distillery, KOVAL, asked me to take over their Instagram feed for a day, I accepted for two reasons: free vodka of course, and I also had the perfect opportunity with an upcoming family vacation to depict their hashtag, #ReimagineTradition. 

I was a few weeks away from taking a trip that I have taken just about every week for my entire life and as such is very meaningful to me. As I captioned one photo:

"In 1966, my grandparents began a tradition that my (entire extended) family still cherishes today: a week-long vacation on the North Shore of Lake Superior. And even though my grandparents are no longer with us, every July 4th, three generations of their offspring gather at a tiny family-owned resort (which is a also still a working, one-man, commercial fishing camp) for a week of yard games, card playing, hiking, tons of food, and classic cocktails. Of course the latter two have evolved since the days of my grandparents’ Sloppy Joe dinners and Bloody Marys made with nothing but vodka and tomato juice, but the spirit of the trip - spending time with family and enjoying the great outdoors - remains the same."
Marian and Leo, 1972.

Marian and Leo, 1972.

Here are the images I shot for it, which can also be viewed (with captions) on KOVAL's blog

Think Spring

On Citinerary this week:

When spring teased us all with glorious sunshine and warm temps last week, only to turn gloomy and cold this week - with rain, snow, and hail yesterday - I decided drastic measures needed to be taken. (I know, I know, April showers bring May flowers and all that, but covering up newly-pedicured toes with wool socks and warm boots to endure winter-like weather is downright depressing.) So I opted to escape the weather and go into full-on denial mode. Below is not just your average “top five things to do in Minneapolis on a rainy day” list, but rather my own personal “top five ways to trick yourself into thinking it’s actually spring” list. Grab your open-toed shoes and your sunglasses and join me!