I could write volumes about the highs (trips, time with family, creative pursuits...) and lows (basically any and everything having to do with our ridiculous current presidential administration) of this year, but instead I'll just leave you with these: some of my favorite images from some of my favorite shoots and adventures over the course of 2017.
"I could tell you Amanda's story with words - how she's the incredible curator, stylist, and vintage guru behind the shop, Tandem Vintage. How she left an unfulfilling day job to pursue her dream and is damn good at it. And how she swore to me that she was awkward on camera, but ended up finding confidence she didn't even know she had and killed it in front of my lens. But those words alone wouldn't do Amanda justice - it's the pictures we took that show her true story of beauty and strength and impeccable style."Read More
Reason #496 I love what I do: sometimes you hit it off with clients so much that you come to consider them friends. Julia is one such client - an extremely inspiring boss babe who works to empower women through yoga and wellness.
You might recognize Julia from an amazing yoga shoot we did last year. This time, she took her yoga skills to the next level, showing off some amazing acro yoga poses with her boyfriend, Nick.
The couple also wanted some more-traditional photos to document this period in their relationship. As Julia said when she first shared these images with her friends and family: "Not engaged, married or pregnant. Just in love."
True story: Beth found me by googling "Minneapolis Yoga Photographer" after her search for "Minneapolis Feminist Photographer" yielded no results. And I've been trying to figure out how to become searchable via the latter ever since.
Beth Berila's resume is impressive - she is an author, Ph.D., professor, the director of the Women's Studies Program at St. Cloud State University, and a yoga teacher and Ayurvedic Yoga specialist. Upon meeting her and collaborating with her for a couple hours, I discovered she is also a delightful human being. It was an honor to make some images with such an inspiring female powerhouse. Here are a few of my faves.
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.
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.
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.
I am thankful to have a plant-filled, light-filled, powerful-woman-filled environment in which to work and create.
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.
From pageant queen to a QUEEN who slays at all she puts her mind to. Meet Lizz - a mama, a model, and a gorgeous human inside and out.
As a photographer, there is nothing more thrilling than meeting a muse. When that muse is smart and kind - and confident about her own unique size and shape - telling her story is pure privilege.
This is a story of finding beauty in all body types. Of breaking free from being typecast and channelling your inner Vogue model. Of exhibiting fierceness and girl power. This is Bria's story.
Ali Golden Silk T- Shirt from Parc Boutique.
Achro Slip Dress from Parc Boutique.
Toit Volant Nicole Top from Parc Boutique
The team that worked on this shoot was amazing. To check out David's images and fantastic edits see here.
On January 20th, 2017, Donald J. Trump took the oath of office to become the 45th President of the United States of America. Even now those words are hard to type and until last night, they would have stirred up deep emotions of anger and sadness and resentment within me. But today, well today is different. On this, Mr. Trump’s first full day in office, I was among millions of people nationwide (and even across the world) who responded to this threat to our democracy by taking to the streets and marching. It was inspiring. It was uplifting. Collectively, as a society that has been in mourning, it was a much needed rally cry.
The Womens March Minnesota was held simultaneously with marches across the country today, most notably the HUGE Womens March on Washington. The turnout was 5 times what was expected with nearly 100,000 people in attendance in our capital city of St. Paul, MN. Minnesotans from across the state were clearly looking for that community, that kinship, and that platform to have their voice heard after a dismal past few months and they flocked to this event in droves which provided all of the above. Despite the huge numbers, people found familiar faces among the crowds. Others exchanged knowing and sympathetic smiles with strangers. And everyone seemed to benefit from the catharsis of being able to send the collective message that racism, sexism, homophobia, hatred, intolerance, and environmental degradation will not be tolerated.
We - women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, immigrants, refugees, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault, people of all religious faiths - are not going anywhere and our voices will not be silenced.
I knew I wanted to explore themes of LIFE and LOVE and DEATH.
I knew they were to be dressed in black & white - almost as if for a wedding - and we needed red roses.
And that day, when we stumbled upon a majestic, old willow tree, the final piece fell into place: I knew that Shakespeare's words - the ultimate commentary on life and love and death - would weave it all together.
I could talk about how I've known the Kieners for more than 15 years. How we've been college roommates, travel companions, bridesmaids, poker opponents, drinking buddies, and neighbors during that time. And how our daughters were born a little over a month apart and have become besties. But all of that would still seem inadequate. So instead I'll just leave you with a set of images - a mixture of candid at-home family moments and posed maternity portraits - that I took of this beautiful family of three very shortly before they became a family of four.
Meet Copper Street Brass: a cool group of humans who also happen to be super talented musicians. They recently stopped by NECO for some head-shots, group photos, and close-ups of their beautiful instruments. When we were done, they let me get creative and take one of my favorite #thingsorganizedneatly shots to date - involving an 8-ft ladder and thousands of dollars worth of brass.
Dedicated to improving the lives of members of her community, Julia Starr left her corporate day job and founded her own yoga and wellness brand: Starr Health Co. She teaches yoga - something she has practiced almost her entire life - and is pursuing a masters in the U of M's Integrative Health and Wellbeing Coaching program.
We recently met for some in-studio head-shots (and yoga poses, of course!) and then ventured out to a nearby park for more photos. Check out my favorites below and be sure to visit one of Julia's classes in the Twin Cities.
I've known Julia for years and have always admired her creative energy and free spirit. When we decided to collaborate on a yoga shoot, I created a shared Pinterest board that we could both pin ideas to. Perfectly in synch, we both immediately began saving water-themed shots. Our amazing sunset shoot at Cedar Lake was clearly meant to be.