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Respite

So I made it back to North Carolina and ever since I stepped onto the hallowed ground of “home” it’s been one exciting thing after another.  I’ve been on the road a bit here.  So far one of the highlights has been that I got to meet my best friend’s baby, aka my niece, Anna! I finally get to be Aunt Carly!  Don’t get me wrong I love my puppy nieces and nephews infinitely, but my first human niece is pretty special!

I’ve also been taking as many opportunities to go shooting just for fun.  Appalachia has gorgeous country-side, and the weather has been absolutely lovely.  I’ve been going hiking as often as possible and I’m really excited about the material I’m getting.  I haven’t completed them yet, but I’m working on several panoramic landscapes of some of the places I’ve been, so I’m super pumped to add those to my portfolio.  I hope you will like them as much as I do.

I don’t want you guys to think I’ve abandoned my blog because I haven’t been out West traipsing around with sled-dogs.  To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever thought about it more!  I have some very exciting news.  Since I’ve had some time between my winter season and when i go back to Wyoming in the Summer, I’m in the process of doing a complete overhaul on my website and my blog will be getting a make-over too.  After working with Boomer last year designing web pages, I realized how important my website is and how much I was underutilizing it.  My first step was to start a blog, which I did, which is what you guys are reading now.  However, since everything happened so quickly, I didn’t have the time to set it up the way I wanted to.  I think once you guys see what I’ve been working on, you’ll see what an improvement it’s going to be!  One of the cool parts is that all of these posts will be migrated over too, along with comments and pictures, so you’ll still get to navigate back through my winter stories.

One of the things I’m most excited about my new site is the fact that I will be able to offer prints for you guys!  I am now going to have a very easy to use shopping cart platform so that if you guys are interested, you can purchase prints and gallery stretched canvases.  I still have some work to do, but I will surely let everyone know once I dot all my I’s and cross all my T’s.  It’s coming soon, though so GET EXCITED!  I certainly am!

While I may be taking a break, my camera hasn’t!  Here’s some new material!

Christina and I went on a hike a few days after I got back from Wyoming.  The weather went from being this dismal grey (but still really cool) to being gorgeous in a very short timespan. So the saying goes “If you don’t like the weather in these mountains… wait a few minutes”

The wildflowers are in bloom here and these lovelies are called “Bluets.”  (Thanks Christina for the ID!)

Here are some snails mating (or as I like to say, making sweet love down by the mushroom)

A lovely sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains.  What a spectacular evening!

On the road again… (Sorry. Had to.)

So, I’m currently in a little town outside of St. Louis called Weintzville.  Which means that I’m not THAT far from home.  And I bet you’re thinking, “WHOA she’s already left?  What happened since the last post?!”  Things blew up.  As my departure from the great West got closer, things became more difficult.  It all ended up fine, but there were some set-backs.  All is well though, and I have made significant tracks to get me back East.

First off, my cousin, Sara’s trip was a huge success (it ended up being perfect because it was before everything blew up), and I think the West has gotten into her blood just like it has mine.  We had a blast.  We had long talks over coffee and wild adventures around Jackson Hole and Togwotee.  Even though Spring was clearly around the corner and the snow was melting, I don’t think Sara got warm!  It takes some getting used to I suppose!

Sara got to go dogsledding with one of my musher-friends, Chris.  She seemed to have an awesome time! I got some snaps of her as they were heading out and she had a big grin on her face.   She and I got the opportunity to go snowmobiling in the National Forrest here, and I have to say, it was so awesome to get to see the beautiful scenery that was around every bend.  It’s been difficult for me to photograph all these snowmobilers as they head out on their adventures, and I would have to stay back and work around the lodge.  The Bridger-Teton National Forrest has so many beautiful acres, and I was very limited on what I could see.  So when Sara was here, I took a day off so that we could go exploring.  We even got to go with a guide named Lefty.

We lunched at Brooks Lake Lodge which was absolutely breathtaking.  I got some strange looks for “wallering” around on the floor with the dogs, but they were all so cute, and I had to rub on their ears.  Sara and Lefty gave me grief for it, and I thought about what my grandmother would have thought about me laying on my stomach, in a public place to play with dogs at the age of 26….  Oh well.

I left Kelly on Monday.  I stopped in Cheyenne the night before last and got a pretty good night’s rest.  Last night I stayed in Weinzville and tonight I’m staying with my friend, Shannon in Nashville.  Yesterday’s drive was pretty brutal.  I drove about 14 hours from Cheyenne here, which was longer than I would have liked, but I wanted to get as close to Paducah, Kentucky as possible because that’s where the National Quilt Museum is.  As I was making my drive to Wyoming from Georgia, I stopped to let Cappie out in Paducah and discovered that the Museum is there.  It was late, and the museum was closed, but I decided I should make the effort and go on my way back.  So that’s on the Agenda today- and MUCH less driving.

I stopped in Kansas City on my way through yesterday.  I have to say, Kansas City has become one of my favorite American cities.  I went there for a printmaking conference with one of my best friends, Lee, in 2007 and it’s been nice to revisit when I make these trips.  I went to Oklahoma Joe’s for barbecue an the place was PACKED, so I got my pulled pork sandwich and smoked chicken gumbo to-go.  I bought a six pack and Cappie and I enjoyed a little picnic on the lawn of the Art Institute, where the giant Badminton Birdies are.  Maybe it was because I was outside, in a t-shirt for the first time in forever, or maybe it was the unctuous barbecue sauce smeared on my cheek, or the yellow dog staring intently at every bite that went into my mouth, but I felt pretty freaking blissful sitting there on that grass (Imagine that… Grass… Green grass! Not snow!) as the sun was going down. It was a good moment.  It made me feel so alive.

PS.  I’m listening to The Hunger Games as my road-trip book.  I highly recommend!

Sara going Dogsledding

Brooks Lake Lodge

Kristen and Chris on my last night at Togwotee

Camp fire and Elliot’s bunny boots

Chris said “Look, it’s Carly’s Sunset”

Last night at Togwotee.

I love the willows in the foreground compared to the mountains behind

It’s “SEW” much more!

Self portrait.  I wonder why they call it the Wind River Valley…

Cheyenne

Seems pretty comfortable

The winds in Nebraska

TULIPS!  In Kansas City


Plowing through the crap…

“No matter how much crap you gotta plow through to stay alive as a photographer, no matter how many bad assignments, bad days, bad clients, snotty subjects, obnoxious handlers, wigged-out art directors, technical disasters, failures of the mind, body, and will, all the shouldas, couldas, and wouldas that befuddle our brains and creep into our dreams, always remember to make room to shoot what you love. It’s the only way to keep your heart beating as a photographer.”

– Joe McNally


What is a photograph worth to you?

I would like to preface what I’m saying by telling you that I do love my job.  There is nothing that I have done so far that makes me feel so fulfilled.  There’s definitely something to say for that.  However,  as my contract comes to an end, I’m getting increasingly frustrated with my clients who think that my photographs are too expensive.  Now… before you jump on me for saying that, let me try to explain.

First let me say that I am an honest person.  I am pretty much the world’s worst liar.  I don’t know how to keep a poker face to save my life.  I feel that it’s important for me to express that because I would never want to take advantage of anyone.

Secondly, I should say that I work on commission.  I don’t pocket everything I sell.

Let me explain my process.  I go out on a very expensive machine and follow my customers around with a very expensive “necklace” (i.e. camera) around my neck.  With the snowmobilers, I usually don’t take as many photographs.  I like to sell prints to those guys.  They have the option of purchasing a 5×7 for $18, an 8×10 for $30 or an 11×14 for $55.   To me, these prices seem extremely fair, because first off they get their product on the spot, they don’t have to order them.  Also, I photoshop the images and I print them out on archival paper using archival ink.  This all costs money- and it’s providing a priceless memory that will last forever. If they want, they can purchase the hi-res digital files instead: one for $30,  two for $40, and 3 for $45.   If they purchase the files, I put them on a CD, and they can print them wherever they want as many times as they want as big as they want.  If the photo has 10 people in it, I’m losing money by selling you the file on a disc, because you aren’t buying prints from me.  Does that make sense?  I’m giving you the right to go and print them out as many times as you want at CVS and the like.  I could make $300 dollars if I sold each of those 10 people an 8×10.  Instead I’m letting you have the file for the price of one.

With the dogsledders, I take around 20 photographs per sled- I photograph them in action and I also get a portrait of them with the dogs if they so desire.  For these guys, purchasing a CD with all their images is usually the best option.  I should be selling these for $150 a sled.  That means that you are getting each image for around $7.50 a piece.  I usually give people a price break, and sell one sled for $100 two sleds for $150 and three or more for $200.  Which for example, if there are 5 sleds for a family of 10, I get around 80-100 pictures, which means that I’m selling you my photographs for around $2 a pop.  If you purchased an 5×7 of just 9 of those pictures, you’d be spending more.

So that’s the math.  And I hate discussing costs with people.  I feel that it’s kind of tacky.  But I’m also a business.

This is the most common response I get when I tell people the cost of the CD: “But that’s so expensive, and a CD costs nothing… and it’s not like you’re going to do anything with the pictures…” (Also, I have to say that most of the people who say this are staying at the Four Seasons, or the Wort or the Amangani… all extremely expensive hotels.  And they are paying $220 to go dogsledding PER PERSON.

I’m sorry…. I’m trying SO HARD not to take it personally…. but W…..T…..F……???? I’m not the robot on the rollercoaster that takes the novelty  picture as you pass by.  I have a degree from a fine university.  I have a beautiful camera and more importantly I have a trained eye for composition, exposure, and sentiment.

I would like people’s opinion on this matter.  What are photos worth to you?  Do I seem like I’m being unfair?

P.S.  I love my job.

Delayed but apologetic update

First off, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PAUL!  It’s my brother’s birthday!

I’m sorry guys, I know I haven’t updated in forever, and as someone who reads on a regular basis said to me, “It makes me mad when you don’t update.”  So I’m sorry for that.  But, seriously, I’ve been busy and EXHAUSTED.  It’s not so much that I couldn’t find the time to do it, it’s just that I’ve been working so hard, I’m basically brain dead.  Seriously, the other day I was trying to tell someone, “I need a break.”  What came out of my mouth was “I need a breakfast.”  Oh yeah, and I just told someone “It’s Twelve O’Ten.”  So my words will be brief this post, but I’m making it picture heavy.

The first exciting thing I would like to discuss is that I had three lovely ladies come to visit!!  My mom and Jill and Diana came for my mother’s birthday (Happy Birthday Mommy!) and we had sooooo much fun.  It was so special to be able to get them here to see what my life is like here!  I already miss them!  I definitely ran their butts ragged with activities though.  I started them off with a dogsled ride, and the night before, they were so excited that they couldn’t sleep.  It was awesome.  Of course, I photographed their journey!  If you didn’t see the pictures on Facebook, here’s a peek:

This photo is of the ladies dog-sledding.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get GREAT weather while they were here, but we made the best of it for sure!

They were a little nervous about going snowmobiling, but they ended up having a great time with Kent, their guide.

Badass 1 (Mom)

Badass 2 (Diana)

Badass 3 (Jill)

 In other news, I had to get a new lens, and while I didn’t enjoy paying for it, I have certainly enjoyed using it.  All the dogs have been my test subjects, so I’ve been getting lots of pictures of them.

Tinkerbell

Wiley

Wiley (when he’s not going bonkers)

Clementine (She is blind, but she’s an amazing puller)

Bat-Bat (snowy whiskers!)

Bat-bat and Miss Lorena (Lead dogs)

Chris and Miss Lorena

Now, this dog isn’t really a puller, but she’s my favorite… (I’m a little biased)

Cappie-girl

Aspens

Snowed In!

So, I thought this might happen at some point, but I’m snowed in!  I am going to have to stay the night at the lodge.  The road is definitely closed at this point, and it MAY open at some point during the next few hours, but it doesn’t look promising!  White out conditions with lots and lots of wind! Luckily, I get a discount because I’m a pseudo-employee.  So it’ll be a nice little adventure.

As usual, things have been busy busy busy!! I’m looking forward to seeing some family this week though!  I must admit, the past few days I have been home-sick for the East, but I’ve also  had some kind of contradictory feelings of  “Oh wow!  I only have a month left out here!”  I can’t believe how fast the time is moving while I’m here!

Right now I’m sitting in the fireside lounge, and everyone who can’t get to Jackson and are waiting the storm out are swarming the room.  There’s a little girl running around in circles.  It’s crazy how people have a hard time keeping it together when they are panicked.  The transportation lady for the dog-sledders  is FREAKING out.  I mean, I get it, but it could be a LOT worse.  You are in a nice warm lodge with plenty of food and booze to get you through the night.  She has her daughter with her, so it’s not like she’s separated from her child.  She can’t help that there’s a storm out there.

Anyway!  Another adventure in the works!  Pretty exciting!

Conditions for the afternoon!  At least snowmobiles are meant for travelling in snow?

Love letter from life

So I’m pretty sure that most people know that Valentine’s Day is not really my favorite holiday.  I’m always holding my breath from the end of January to the beginning of March to wait out the storm.  However, this year, it seems that things were working towards my favor.  And it caught me off guard.  I decided that I wanted to treat myself to a new pair of running shoes.  The place to go here is called Skinny Skis.  I looked on their shelves and I was very disappointed because I was sure that I would find something there.  Apparently, the snow season doesn’t bring much traffic into the ski shop… Go figure.  Anyway I asked a sales associate and it turned out that their spring shipment had come in, but that they hadn’t put them out yet because there was a sale going on to get rid of all their winter stock. Well, he talked to a manager, and he brought out this beautiful pair of Asics.  And guess what color they were?  Pink.  And, I still got the sale price.  Double score!

So then I knew that I would need spikes for my shoes so that I wouldn’t slip when I would run on ice.  So I got a pair of those too.  Guess what color those were?  Red.

I think St. Valentine was trying to tell me something.  But I wasn’t sure until I took myself out to breakfast and ordered a random fresh pressed juice off the menu and this was what came out:

A bright red beverage just for me on Valentine’s day.

I also got a very lovely package from my mother. She sent me a lovely truffle from Asheville in a handmade truffle dish, along with some good stuff to fuel my addiction.   In other words, she sent me some beautiful hand-spun and died yarn.

Not quite sure what I’ll make with it yet, but it sure is pretty!!

A long time coming!

So, again, I’ve been slacking and haven’t updated in forever and for that I apologize! And I guess i’ll go ahead and admit why… I’ve picked up a very nasty knitting habit.  Seriously, it’s become problematic.  I spend all my free time with yarn and my roommate, Stephanie.  Stephanie is a pretty talented knitter, so I’ve been making her teach me everything.  It’s been really fun.  All the mushers have been asking me to make them headbands/earwarmers so that the wind won’t nip their ears so badly.  I think they have turned out really cute!  Here’s Autumn, one of the Mushers, modelling one:

I’m currently knitting a dark teal one for Caitlin, one of the bartenders here.  I must say, with much gratitude, how nice everyone is here at the Lodge.  I’ve had so much fun getting to know all the mushers and the other staff members at the Lodge.  I recently found out that Bobby, one of the servers, actually used to live in the house that I’m living in right now.  It’s crazy.  All of the snowmobile guides are SUPER helpful.   They all do their best to try to help me out whenever possible so that I can curb the “sledneck” mentality a little sometimes.  These guys that go snowmobiling can be such douche-bags.  I apologize for the colloquialism, but I’ve never really met such a distinct group of dudes.  It’s totally hit or miss.  I’m getting better at dealing with the jerks… growing thicker skin and so forth.  The thing is, some of them are like, THE NICEST PEOPLE EVER, though, which is so strange to me.  I just wish they could all be like that.

I’ve been working a lot though.  Pretty much working and sleeping (and knitting when I get a few.) I finally got two days off in a row this week though.  The first of the days I went skiing.  The second of the days was spent recovering (haha).  Stephanie and I went to Grand Targhee Resort to hit the slopes.  It was a pretty good little drive to get there.  Oh yeah, and Grand Targhee is actually part of the Tetons, so these were some pretty serious slopes.  I was a little overwhelmed.  Also, by the time we got there, we were totally enveloped by a cloud so the visibility SUCKED.  I have to say I was a little scared, and I guess Steph was too, but she didn’t let on and totally faked me out.  We ended up having such a blast though.  It’s such a rush.  I didn’t really do anything too advanced.

I did kind of mess up my knee from slowing myself down in an improper way, though, which I’m now going to try to learn to correct.  It reminds me of when Paul and I were little and we were learning to ride bikes, and we would go down the hill in our driveway a little bit at a time to get used to the whole idea of rocketing down an incline.  I was telling a friend of me and Steph, Amy, about how I had been having trouble with the slowing down stuff, and she told me that they were putting me on WAY too small skis.  Then she totally caught me off guard and actually GAVE me a pair that is more appropriate for my height.  I was totally speechless.  Who does that?!  I will always be grateful for such a generous act of kindness.

As usual, it’s been gorgeous here.  I’ve got some more images for you all!

The Tetons.  Don’t let that mist confuse you into thinking that those guys are the Smokys…

Not exactly sure which peak this is, but skiing was on the other side of this peak, I’m pretty sure…

Kelly, WY

Another view of  Kelly

I saw the people who were riding the bikes the day that I found this track.  The bikes make for snow have these HUGE tires.  I cannot imagine biking in snow.  That kind of sounds miserable actually.

This is O’Malley, Caitlin’s dog.  He, Cappie and I went for a long walk along the Elk Refuge in Kelly.  He’s a very good boy.  When he wags his tail, he wags his entire body.  He and Cappie are almost the exact same size.

It’s hard not to be in awe every time I step outside.

Of course.  She’s such a model.  Cappie seems to be taking to the cold air pretty well.  We walk unleashed, and she gets way ahead of me.  It would make me nervous if more than 150 people lived in the metropolitan area of Kelly.

Moose poop at sunset.

All around goodness

First of all, I’d like to announce that I’m an AUNT!!  (No, not Paul and Melanie.)  This is Katie and Jon.  Katie’s my sister from another mister.  She and Jon just had their first baby girl on January 24.  Her name is Anna Elise  I’m so excited!!  When I get back from Wyoming, I cannot wait to meet this precious girl!

On to other news…   Things this week started out very slow, then they have picked up pretty well near the end of it.  It’s been snowing a LOT (for a Georgia girl).  This has been good and bad.  People LOVE coming to the lodge when we have fresh powder to come rip apart, but it also makes for very different picture-taking conditions.  The visibility is low, so I can’t get the dramatic views that everyone wants, but I think the pictures still turn out pretty glorious.  And the dogsledders don’t really seem to mind – it almost adds to the ambiance of the experience for them.

However, it’s disheartening when I ask some of the snowmobilers if they want their photo taken and the shove me off with an abrupt “I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT SHIT.”  As if I’m going to take an hour from their day.  Five minutes.  That’s all I need.  Too much to ask?  Not in my opinion.

One of the coolest things about living in a National Park is all the wildlife that lives around me.  I can’t get over it.  Here are some captures:

Coyote on the flats.

Female Moose

Bull Moose (you can see that he’s male because of the scabs under his ears.  That’s where his antlers have recently been shed-  btw I want to find a pair of antlers so bad it hurts.)

Knowing when to ask for help

Yesterday the phones and the internet at the lodge were out, in addition to the fact that the Verizon cell tower for the area apparently got avalanched, so there was no cell service either.  So if an emergency were to occur, I wouldn’t really be able to contact anyone, which made me a little uneasy.

So with new snow comes awesome opportunities for snow sports.  The snowmobilers are so eager to get out and destroy all the unmarred meadows, and the skiiers are PUMPED about getting to shred down the fresh powder.  However, with new snow also comes new dangers.  Avalanches are a very real threat to people out on the snow.  Plus the faceted snow underneath the new snow doesn’t really form a very good base layer, so getting stuck is still a huge possibility.  That being said, I was out photographing the dogs yesterday, and I got hopelessly and pathetically stuck about 4 miles away from the lodge (about as far as I ever go out).  After Josh and I went out and purposefully got stuck a couple of weeks ago, and I realized how difficult it is to get my sled unstuck, I decided I should avoid it at all costs.  So yesterday I tried everything that Josh had taught me, but because I was stuck in a drift (I was trying to turn around without leaving the trail and it didn’t work), it was just sinking deeper and deeper.  I freaked a little because I didn’t know what to do.  I couldn’t call anyone because the phones were out and I had no service anyway and I really needed to get my sled going because I needed to get back to the lodge to upload pictures so that I could show them to the customers.  But no luck… I was just… STUCK!!  (S.O.L. also applies.)

So because the dogs had already gone by and the ranch where the trail I was on leads to is closed, no snowmobilers were riding by, so my only option at that point was to start walking.  I was hoping a snowmobiler would ride by and I could wave them down and ask for help, but I had to walk around 2 or 3 miles (uphill… of course) before I saw a single soul.  I saw a guy in a yellow jacket on a yellow snowmobile and I started frantically waving my arms so that he would come over to me.  I explained the situation and he and his buddies offered to help.  I hopped on the sled with him and pointed him in the right direction.  All five of them rode with me down the trail to Turpin Meadow, where I left my sled and they totally rescued me.  I couldn’t thank them enough.  Today I recognized that yellow jacket and flagged him down again.  I told him to thank him and his buddies I would love to do a photograph of them free of charge.  It was snowing pretty hard this morning so the visibility wasn’t ideal, but I think it turned out pretty cool.

Today has been very slow because the dogs aren’t running, but I did get a few snowmobilers, so I’m sitting at my desk trying to get caught up on correspondence.   As per you guys’ requests, I’m including some pictures of the fresh snow.

This was on my drive to work yesterday.  The roads were not so great. but the sights were spectacular.  I’m getting better at this whole driving in snow thing.

Snowy trees!

Lots of snow, and more snowy trees

The Tetons were completely socked in yesterday, but the views were still quite dramatic because the visibility was a lot higher yesterday

My heros! Thanks Matt and the rest of his crew!

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