WC: Beautiful Nostalgia

Moments are fleeting.  By the time you’ve even processed that a moment is occurring, it has faded into the past.  From there, they coalesce into a jumble of memories, with the mundane and the daily negativities vanishing to leave behind the best and most impactful times.  We play these in our heads over and over, and they age like good wine into a beautiful nostalgia.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

The evanescence of these moments is part of why I am so addicted to photography.  Pictures help preserve these memories, and they are the key that bring me back to remember details I otherwise would have forgotten.

This is what makes my photographs so precious.  Even as my style has evolved over the years from simple snapshots to the artistic, they still serve the purpose of encapsulating my past.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

I’ve been thinking a lot about nostalgia lately.  Why are we so drawn to it?  Why do we revel in those meandering visits down Memory Lane?  Why does that appear more attractive than forming new, amazing memories that have every potential to surpass those previously experienced?

© Brianna Shade 2011

See the cyclone?

My theory is that nostalgia is a known positive.  It is one’s past, distilled into just the happiest memories.  Those recollections are further amplified by their nostalgic status, to where they’re being recalled as being better than they actually were – how many times have you rewatched a childhood favorite movie as an adult, only to be disappointed?  It’s kind of like how emotions and sensations are amplified in dreams.

nostalgia-2

This is still one of my favorite pictures.  It isn’t the best compositionally, and I obviously didn’t even take it (thanks, fellow tourist!), but it invokes so many happy memories of that day.

The mind is an amazing thing.  Our brains want to convince us we’ve had a happy life, so they record our pasts through rose-colored glasses, and those memories sweeten over time.

nostalgia-4

Interestingly, photography doesn’t change that.  You would think a picture would be hard evidence closer to reality than what my mind remembers.  While that’s true, the essence of a day isn’t replaced by the moments in those photographs; it grows from the moments between.  Having pictures simply means I develop a richer nostalgia from those spaces – gaps that are smaller and more frequent.

This makes me love my hobby even more.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

I’m constantly excited for the next adventure, and I’m building an incredible past that’s hopefully more happy nostalgia than not.


Want to get the inside scoop on how I create my images?
Sign up for my monthly newsletter!

Subscribe

WC: Beauty in Decay

I’m always fascinated by seeing evidence of history long gone.  The ruins of an old building, a decommissioned road slowly being reclaimed by nature – embers of the past.

One of my highlights of our trip to Hawaii last year was the surprise discovery of a ruined restaurant.  It was even more beautiful in its dilapidation than images of the original in its heyday.  There’s just something about the process of the wilderness taking back what’s hers that I find intriguing.  There are a thousand things to photograph; every detail is mesmerizing.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

I’m drawn to images of abandoned malls, and I loved reading about another blogger’s recent exploration through the Chernobyl wasteland.  The simple absence of civilization and the earth’s power to reshape what man has modified is truly remarkable.  Nature is a wild and veritable force, and it’s awesome to witness.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

It’s for this reason also that I enjoyed visiting the local Opal Creek Trail.  This trail leads upstream to Jawbone Flats and back in a seven-mile loop past condemned mine shafts and rusty prospecting equipment.  You can read about my first foray into this area here, where I spent far more time exploring all the little wonders this trail has to offer, shooting everything from misplaced wheels to an old steam engine.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

This trail also offers a crumbling shack.  During our last visit, this was barely standing, propped up by a single tree.  Since then, I had heard it collapsed, and I made a point to return this time around for an updated shot.  It was a little sad to see it in a crumpled heap, but it was also beautiful in its decay.  Many were upset about this swiftly disappearing local heritage, but I see it only as another step in the gradual recirculation of the land.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

This evidence of the past can’t be preserved outside of photographs, and I wouldn’t want to.  Instead, I’ll marvel at the ever-changing landscape and watch as Mother Nature wins the slow battle against man – at least here.


Want to be the first to hear about upcoming adventures and see exclusive photos?
Sign up for my monthly newsletter!

Subscribe

WC: My Very First Fan

I am extremely fortunate in that I had a very rich upbringing.  And no, I don’t mean my family was rich – at least not in the monetary sense.

© Brianna Shade 2014

I’ve written before about my father and his influence on my adventurous spirit and my love for photography, but I wouldn’t be the person I am today without my mother.  When Dad would take us on outings, Mum would ensure we stayed safe.. and check our heads for ticks when we got back.  When we went camping, she provided food for an army (seriously, you have no idea how amazing homemade beef stew is over a campfire when you’re famished and tired from a day of hiking).  She would plan our many excursions to the letter, so all we had to do was show up and have a good time.

She’s witty and sharp, always with a pun and a party theme.  Her laughter is infectious and her love is endless.  And knowing she’s constantly worrying (as mothers do) keeps me mindful of my own safety (even when I’m tempted to defy it).

© Brianna Shade 2014

She also loves to spoil us all.  She’s the first to admire my photography, always asking for more photos to show on her digital frame.  Really, she was the first to love any of my art – back to the crayon and macaroni days.  And she has purchased so many camera accessories for me over the years.

my-first-fan-1

Mum enables me and encourages me in all of my endeavors, never not believing I could accomplish anything.  I think I get my tenacity from her.  She is strong yet quiet – an unsung hero never asking for anything in return but our happiness.

my-first-fan-2

Photo courtesy of Carolyn Wiens

She is also the primary reason I’m such a grammar nerd.  She was quick to correct my speech growing up (she still does), and I find joy in writing (and even more joy in reading) because of this conditioning.  With this influence, my mind records stories.  And between the words and the pictures, I relay them to you.  I see stories in every photo I take, and this adds a depth I feel casual pictures lack.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

It’s easy to be myself when I’m loved so completely.  Reflecting back on the many years of support I had makes me eternally grateful for the amazing life I now lead.

Thanks, Mum, for seeing in me all I had the capacity to be and for being my first and always fan.

my-first-fan-3

Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing moms out there.  How has your mother shaped your life?


Want to be the first to hear about upcoming adventures and see exclusive photos?
Sign up for my monthly newsletter!

Subscribe

WC: A Photographer Has No Fear

I tend to put myself into some precarious situations sometimes.  But it’s all for the sake of the shot!  And fortunately, I have over-cautious Aaron to keep me out of true harm’s way, so it all balances itself out.  (Seriously, he used to fret when I’d lift myself up in the passenger seat of the car to see farther over the edge of a passing cliff.. while my seatbelt was on… and the window was closed.)

I’m not shy about scaling lookouts and squeezing into crevices.  I step too close to the edges of drop-offs to get that vertigo-inducing angle (I’ve only once begun to feel the paralyzing fear of falling to my death.. that was enough to get me to back away.)

© Brianna Shade 2012

I’ll get myself stuck up a non-existent trail ascending a waterfall without an easy way back down.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

And I’m the first to leap at the opportunity to go camp with bears in the backwoods.

All for the shot!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Yep, those are my feet dangling over the lake faaaar below

I keep telling Aaron I need wireless on my camera to automatically upload my pictures to the cloud.  That way, if I die leaning too far off a mountain’s edge, at least the picture will survive!

Yes, I have a blatant disregard for danger… either that, or I just love the thrill of an adventure – regardless of risk.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

I can’t imagine where I get that from

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

…yeah, nope…

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

…no idea…

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Now, I joke about this, and it’s a running gag between me and Aaron, but I’m really not as careless as I say.  I might not be as scared of my environment as Aaron might prefer, but I do advocate caution while shooting.  I’ve seen too many stories where people actually do die trying to take selfies on a cliff or while hanging people off of skyscrapers.  Rest assured I’m not that crazy.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Photo courtesy of Norman Jarvis

My occasionally reckless lack of fear has only really gotten me into trouble once, but I wasn’t even holding a camera at the time.  I was skiing, and while attempting to chase after a wayward pole – confident I could handle the icy hill – I lost control and slid wildly down a black diamond run for 200 yards.  It was utterly terrifying, and it was the one time I legitimately thought I could die.  Clearly, I lived through the ordeal (though it took four ski patrol to get me off that mountain), and I ultimately skied away with only a scrape on my chin and few fewer pins on my jacket.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

But the experience tempered my disregard for personal safety, and it taught me I’m probably not as invincible as I thought.  Now, I treasure my life a bit more, and I realize: perhaps sacrificing those few feet from the cliff’s edge is worth a few more days continuing to shoot.


NEW!
Want to be the first to hear about upcoming adventures and see exclusive photos?
Sign up for my monthly newsletter!

Subscribe

WC: A Restless Spirit

Interesting that as soon as I announce I’ll be moving away from the topic of travel, the very next challenge prompt is “wanderlust.”  So I guess you guys get one more post on travel.  Be sure to catch continuing travel stories on our new blog, BIGtinyWorld!

I’ve been to many places in my short time on this earth, and I know that no matter how many years I spend traveling, I can never hit everything there is to see and do in this big wide world… but I’m sure going to try!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

I’m a restless spirit, and I love exploring new things.  The experience of discovering something for the first time is simply addictive.  I got my first hit reading new books as a kid.  Not only was I mesmerized by not knowing what would happen next, it also opened my mind to myriad worlds and imaginations.  From Wind in the Willows to Lord of the Rings, by the time I was eleven, I was primed for travel.  By this time, I was only just beginning to discover the wonders of photography, shooting everything from my stuffed animals to my friends on a cheap point-and-shoot.

Enter Australia.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

I’m a proud military brat; we were accustomed to moving every 3-4 years.  Imagine my excitement when I learned we were to be stationed in the land Down Under.  Woomera, South Australia, population: 1200 (my middle school was larger).  Woomera was an experience in itself, and I’ll probably write more about it on our other blog.  We practiced how to say “no” with a proper Australian accent, fell in love with sausage rolls, and learned why you never want to say you’ve lost your napkin under the dinner table.

Being halfway around the world, we made the most of our two years there by exploring every other weekend on sponsored trips.  We visited underground chapels in Coober Pedy, chased down Tasmanian devils in the Adelaide Zoo, and climbed the famed Uluru.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

I couldn’t get enough of it, and I recorded every trip with my trusty camera.

And the stars!  Being in a tiny town in the middle of the barren donga, with the next sizable town two hours away, light pollution was near-non-existent.  Southern stars lack the recognizable big dipper, but they have the southern cross to make up for it, and you’ve never seen such a stunning night sky.  If only the photographer I am today was there then…

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Needless to say, our time in Oz instilled in me a bug for traveling that I’ve never shaken.  Since then, I’ve been to British Columbia, London, Japan, and all over the States.

And that’s only the beginning.

I can’t wait to see what other exotic places I can add to my portfolio!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016


NEW!
Want to be the first to hear about upcoming adventures and see exclusive photos?
Sign up for my monthly newsletter!

Subscribe

WC: This Remarkable Earth

I am very fortunate.  I was born in a first-world country to a middle-class family.  I have had the freedom and the means to discover my passion, and I had the nurturing that encouraged me to hone it.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

And largely because of my love for photography, I have seen a great many wonders of this world; I have traveled more since joining a local photography group than most of the years previously, combined.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

I’ve been to Hawaii and British Columbia.  I’ve hiked in central Oregon, all along the Rockies, and throughout Moab.  I’ve climbed mountains and calderas, explored gardens and waterfalls.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

And I’ve noticed one consistency across all of the places I’ve visited: this world is a remarkably magnificent place.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Verdant valleys give way to stalwart mountain ranges.  Mist can roll in and turn a plain watering hole into someplace magical.  Clouds can provide a canvas for the most spectacular sunrises.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

I feel most at home and at peace when I’m surrounded by majestic trees draped in moss, the air rich with the rejuvenating energy of life.  Everything moves and revitalizes and breathes and heals.  It’s absolutely amazing.  I ache for those who have never felt the profound power of this natural medicine.  I’ve only felt the full force of it a handful of times, myself, and there’s no comparable experience.

I believe we too often lose touch with the earth upon which we live.  We build walls and shut out nature, confining our personal worlds to desks and concrete prisons.  Fortunately, we’re also the wardens, so we can escape anytime we choose, though we seldom make time to.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

We all live in a beautiful place, and though it might sound cliche, we should all take the time to stop and smell the sakura every so often.  Go out and see all the spectacular wonders all around you.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Love this earth.  Your earth.  Our earth.


NEW!
Want to be the first to hear about upcoming adventures and see exclusive photos?
Sign up for my monthly newsletter!

Subscribe

WC: For the Love of Surprises

My husband and I are excellent partners.  Today marks 16 years of being together.  That also means from this day forward, he will have been in my life more than he hasn’t.  Crazy to think so much time has gone by.  (And before you chide me for blogging on our anniversary, rest assured, as this was actually written ahead of time.)  And after all this time, we still compliment each other quite well.

photo-challenge-1

We were so young and cute!  (Photo courtesy of a friendly fellow tourist)

As I’ve mentioned before, I love surprises, mostly because it’s difficult to surprise me.  I love them so much I even once tried to plan my own surprise birthday party… I know.. crazy, right?  Needless to say, that didn’t work out too well.

Continue reading