When did you learn you had a love for photography?
Growing up I actually wanted to be a zookeeper and train exotic animals. However, other than animals, my other passion while growing up was doing any and all kinds of different crafts and art projects. There wasn't necessarily a precise moment when I was like, "wow, I love photography," but rather key moments and times that eventually culminated into love. When I was in elementary school my dad brought home from work one of the original/first digital cameras. He let my brother, Trevor, use it first. I looked at the photos he took and thought, "these are really good." So I took the camera and went into the backyard with the determination to take better photographs than him. I came back inside, looked at my photos, and knew they were not as good as Trevor's. I decided that one day I was going to be better than him at photography. One funny thing to mention that is very nostalgic to me, is that right after that I took my gerbils, Cinnamon and Sugar, and created this whole little set out of construction paper and little horse barn toys. That was my first "studio shoot". Other memories that lead to my love of photography involve my dear friend, Katrina Harris. After we met in middle school, we would just grab any camera we could find and do all sorts of random and hilarious photo shoots. Oh man, so many good memories. For example, one Valentine's Day we got some other friends together and went to what we call Graffiti Falls, in Manitou Springs and did a photo shoot at sunrise. What made it funny was that Katrina was modeling all seriously in a onesie clown costume with high heels on. Though we often did silly things, those times of play where critical for my grown and development in making photographs. While attending Manitou Springs High School my Junior year I took a photography class in conjunction with being on the yearbook staff. The then current Yearbook Photography Editor hated her job and said I should take over her job the next year. I was reluctant, but others on the staff kept encouraging me to do so. So my Senior year I was the Yearbook Photography Editor and could not have loved it more. There was love there for photography after I graduated in 2007, but I still had that passion for animals. I started college at Pikes Peak Community College (PPCC) with the hopes of getting my associates in Zookeeping. I took photography classes on the side thinking I would continue this fun hobby. I guess I lied, there was a moment I decided I loved photography more then my desire to be a Zookeeper. While in my first semester at PPCC, I went to this Christian concert called "Winter Jam". I had just purchased my very first camera, a Nikon D300, a month or so before the concert. We were able to get seats in the very front row so I was getting some sweet shots through out the concert. It is hard to explain, but I had this very strong sense that God was telling me that this, photography, was what I should be doing with my life. I could always have animals of my own to love and care for, but photography was what I needed to pursue. And so I have ever since then.
How would you describe your style? Do you have one?
That's an interesting question and some what hard to answer. When I shoot for Colorado Collective I have one style; a more journalistic style. Then when I am photographing for Free Spirit Colorado, I have another style; closer to I suppose fashion photography.
Is it the finished product or the process of setting up the shot that you love, or both?
Both! I love spending time with people and getting to know them more one on one. I don't do as well with large groups. My passion is for making every women feel beautiful and treasured. I want to give every women that experience of feeling like a model. I hate when women say they don't think they are very photogenic-- every women can be a model, it just needs to be drawn out and shown to them. I also love looking at the photos once I have edited them and seeing how the clients react to them. You know you did good when they immediately change their profile pictures.
Are you your own worst critic? Does that sometimes get in the way of shooting?
Yeah, I would say it is true that I am my own worst critic. However, it helps improve and grow me as a photographer. If I didn't ever judge my own photography I don't think I would have ever grown. I can't ever be too hard on myself though, you can't be self-destructive. You have to build yourself up, just as you should do for others.
Let's talk about film, you have a love for it. Why?
I do love film. There is something magical and amazing about it. When I shoot with a film camera vs a digital camera it forces me to slow down and be much more intentional about what I am doing. Remembering to be intentional is a good lesson.
In the words of Imogen Cunningham, "The one I'm going to take tomorrow."
Let's chat Free Spirit Colorado..what? And what are you hoping to accomplish?
Free Spirit Colorado encompasses pretty much all my favorite things I want to do with my photography. It is focused solely on making portraits of women. I want every shoot to be about the whole experience and be a little different than other photography sessions out there. Every session includes a "Free Spirit Colorado" racerback tank created in collaboration with Jeremy Worley of the Worley Co and in the works a necklace designed by Marisa Youngblood of Meraki Goods. My favorite session that I offer right now is the Beautiful Adventurer Session. I have partnered with Rebecca Moon, the local designer of Pepperpot, to create custom dresses for those that purchase that package. Hair and makeup is also included. Other than the photography sessions, Free Spirit Colorado offers Free Spirit Adventures, which are mini trips/mini sessions off to fun places such as the Paint Mines in Calhan or the Great Sand Dunes. One of my favorite parts of Free Spirit Colorado is Free Spirit Explorers. With Free Spirit Explorers people have the ability to nominate a woman who they feel deserves a photo shoot for whatever reason, whether that be lack of funds or perhaps they just think their friend deserves to feel like a model. I wish I could offer every Free Spirit Explorer nominee a free shoot, but it is based off of how many sessions are paid for in full. Pesky bills get in the way of generosity.
What is the story behind the props that you use..if you don't cover in above question.
Oh yes, my props. Well, like I said earlier, growing up I have always been doing some sort of art or craft project so I like to bring that into my photos. The common thread that has been going through many of my photographs for a few years now are my crowns. It all started with one trip to Moab where I created a variety of nature crowns using the plants and nature that was avaliable around our campsite. I love going to a location and creating a crown on the spot from the nature that is avalible. I have also started to incorporate leather that I hand cut, dye and paint as well as things like hand painted feathers. They all look some what tribal, which isn't necessarily the intention. I like making crowns for women because every women is valuable and should be treasured. I believe every women is a daughter of the King, the King who is the creator of the Universe and of the beautiful nature that is all around us.
What has been your biggest challenge w launching of Free Spirit Colorado and how do you intend to overcome?
Getting the word out is the hardest thing. You almost have to sell yourself on social media. I don't really like that, but people have to find out some way. It won't happen by me just sitting and expecting people to just know about Free Spirit Colorado through osmosis, they have to see it first by showing them. The only way to overcome is by constantly working hard. I can only overcome if I continue to get amazing clients that want to spread the word of their own free will.
Best advice you were given in regards to photography?
There is a quote I really like by Kiki Smith, it wasn't ment for me specifically, but I think it is excellent advice for any artist. She said,
“Just do your work. And if the world needs your work it will come and get you. And if it doesn’t, do your work anyway. You can have fantasies about having control over the world, but I know I can barely control my kitchen sink. That is the grace I’m given. Because when one can control things, one is limited to one’s own vision.”
When you aren't behind the lense what do you love to do?
Outside of photography, I love going outside. I love the sunshine. I love taking my dogs on hikes. I love being with friends. I love playing Settlers of Catan with my husband and our friends. I love rock climbing, though I haven't been doing it nearly enough in the last year or so.