Carrying Color

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I like to think there are outside colors and inside colors. 

But ultimately, I'm learning the inside colors bleed through.

My outside colors are often shades of neutrals. 

Not too bold or distracting.

And if you took a look inside of me

I would like to think my insides are a pulsing, vibrant, emerald.

I would also like to think that emerald is starting to seep its way out of me.

Someone once asked me to think of my favorite color. And why it was my favorite color.

She asked, "If this color was a person, what characteristics would this person have?"

I said gray.

I chose it for its adaptability. Its ability to be both soft and deep.

Gray felt so chill, easy-going.

That's who gray would be.

The girl who asked me the question then said, "The color you chose and why you chose it describes the qualities you see in yourself as a person."

Woah. 

I did see myself as those things.

I still do, in some ways.

But you see. I cheated a bit.

Gray is not really a color, but in fact a transitional 'color' between two nonexistent absences of color, black and white. 

So if you asked me my favorite color today

I would say green.

The shade would probably change day to day.

But EMERALD.

That is my shade today.

It is bold

deep

and vibrant.

Some days it might be sage green.

A gray-green.

It's softer

lighter

it whispers.

But overall, I would choose green.

For most of the same reasons I chose gray.

Green is still adaptable.

Green is still calming.

There is soft, and there is deep.

But there is something in green that is not in gray.

There is life. There is true color.

Pulsing, growing, thriving.

Sometimes quietly, sometimes boldly.

I like that.

What color are you carrying?

Maybe for you, that color isn't shades of green.

Maybe it is whispers of peach and rose

Maybe strong, reliable, comforting blues

Or deep, quietly emotive gradients found in a sunset.

What color are you carrying?

Whatever it is.

It looks so good on you. 

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Let's Talk Plants.

All I used to want in my world was black. white. gray. 

I was hesitant towards color. 

But last winter my soul got a paint job.

Things were lonely, dull, and dark to say the least.

I didn't know why back then, but I now know. 

I was craving real life. 

I remember sitting in my living room alone one morning, looking to a corner of it and thinking, "I want that corner to be a little jungle."

So I bought one small palm tree. 

It was refreshing. beautiful. comforting to care for, and exciting to watch grow. 

But I started craving more. More green. More life. 

Slowly but steadily I began ushering in the greens, and if you step into my home today, you won't see a jungle corner. You will be confronted by a welcoming committee of roughly 20 plants spread throughout my living room. There are a few more sprinkled into the dining and kitchen areas, then a second jungle once you reach my bedroom upstairs. In totality, I think I have almost 40 plants throughout the house.

To me, these plants are portable life. 

Plants are the physical "Bios" kind of life, one of the Greek words for 'Life' used in the bible. To me, this Bios life points back to Creator, which points straight to His "ZOE" life - which is the uncreated, eternal life of God! 

God created us that we may not just have ordinary life, but embrace His ZOE life! God BREATHED His ZOE life into Adam at creation, and although that buddy messed things up a bit, JESUS stepped in so we are able to embrace that true life again! 

1 Peter 1:23 says "For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of IMPERISHABLE, through the LIVING and enduring word of God." 

By us embracing HIS life, He becomes our REAL LIFE - and we can express Him through our living! 

He has colored my world with the most brilliant greens. 

He has colored my world with LIFE.

Once you let Him in ... once you let LIFE in,

You might start with one baby palm tree in the corner of you living room.

But then you will soon see 15, 20, 30 plants and counting. 

You will have a corner of life

Then a room of life

Then that life spills into your other rooms 

And soon enough

You will be hand-delivering that life to others outside your home!

In the past two weeks, I've given away two of my plants to friends because my heart wanted to give them a dose of life. A dose of freshness, and physical reminder to the spiritual LIFE God has in abundance for us to embrace. And just this weekend, I bought a gang of seven plants for my best friend's new apartment, because I SO VERY MUCH want it to be a place of LIFE for her. It was wonderful, even as we were buying the plants and I explained to the cashier they were for Kaylie she exclaimed, "Well! What a perfect gift! The gift of LIFE!"

I'm not talking about plants anymore, I'm talking about TRUE LIFE from God.

We are not called to keep this LIFE to ourselves!

Live YOUR life to show HIS life, because there is vivid color God longs to bring to others through you.  

Carry life. Carry it so obviously that people will ask where you got it.

And you can point to the ultimate Gardener.

He is the gardener of my soul!

Wow.

He wants to be the gardener of YOUR soul. 

He wants to plant in you His life, and watch you TRULY flourish.

Our God does not leave us to be lost in a forest.

Seed by seed, our desire for real life with Him creates a beautiful jungle IN us - that we might not be lost in it, but found, familiar, and HOME there with Him. 

Stephany By Design

Styled portrait session with Stephanie Shoemaker

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He's in the waiting

I wanted to write this post because I feel like a lot of the people who speak about patience and waiting are the ones who are on the "other side" - and have received what they were told to wait for. When it comes to relationships, there's the hip and happily married girl who's telling you - just wait! Have hope! You're going to find YOUR GUY! (Easy for her to say now that she's got him, right?!) Discouragement and comparison just sneak their way in!

But I'm hoping that because of my position of being smack dab in the midst of waiting, I can be a relatable source to where you're at and what you're going through in the realm of patience with a world telling you that everything you want can be yours NOW. Note: this can totally apply to more than just a future spouse - maybe you're waiting for your dream job, to receive your calling from God, or maybe it's something else! For a second I thought maybe I shouldn't write this, maybe I don't have as much validity as someone who's "made it" to the "other side" - but nope. Those are lies.  And there is so much value from what is found in the waiting. In your patience. The seeds that are sown and grown before a harvest.

Now, you may or may not know how much I love a good analogy. And I believe one of the ways God speaks to me is through spiritual analogies, real-time parables, if you will. He orchestrates somewhat of a production to get his point across to me. So, the following is just that - setting the scene at Joshua Tree National Park in California. 

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I was recently visiting my old roommate in Arizona, and on the third day of being out there, I felt all this creative energy built up in me that I wanted to release into a desert-inspired photoshoot. (Hi, I'm from the midwest, this is a really exciting endeavor for me.) So I showed Kaylie some image examples of environments I wanted to shoot in, and she, having already been to Joshua Tree before, recommended we take a trip there to accomplish what my heart was itching to capture. 

So great! We set out - and after a few hours of driving and a pit stop at In-N-Out (talk about the best kinda DAILY BREAD, am I right?) we reached the sign "WELCOME TO JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK!" We were in! ...Or so I thought?

Now at this point, I was the one driving the car because we had switched positions at our last pit-stop, so it was me - girl who had never been here before - who was in charge of directing the journey for the time being. We drove on the main road without saying anything for a good couple minutes - my eyes darting from side to side at the landscape around me. It looked pretty good! Your typical "can't find this is the midwest" desert scenery. So after a bit, I proceeded to ask Kaylie, "So...do I just pull over kinda anywhere, or do I wait for a parking area or, how do we do this?" to which she replied, "Oh! We're not even really in the park yet! We should just keep going." Which sparked confusion in me because we had FOR SURE passed the WELCOME TO JOSHUA TREE sign a good couple miles back. But okay! I kept driving.

The following is the raw and naked example of my lack of patience, which was startling for even me to experience. What felt like driving for 20 minutes was probably not even 5, and I found myself asking Kaylie, "Are you SURE we shouldn't be stopping? I'm definitely seeing some scenery I'd love to have in a photo. I feel like we're missing things!" to which she would replied "I'm sure! The good stuff, the stuff you showed me you were wanting, is way further into the park. I promise!" The rational fact that she had been through this entire park before was nowhere to be found in my mind. I was so concerned on what I might be missing out on. 

Also, being the driver of the car was NOT helping. Keeping my foot on the gas and hands clutched to the wheel when everything in my being said LOOK! STOP THERE! PULL OVER! - it was a tormenting self-control exercise. Driving by the things I thought would look great. The things I thought I wanted. But I was (ever so thinly) trusting in Kaylie's word. 

Finally - after about 15 minutes and a 4th round of "Are you sure?" "I'm sure" back and forth between me and Kaylie, I had us pull over. Just to get some peace. 

But once we got out of the car we started snapping some photos, I realized this wasn't actually what I wanted. It had all looked okay when zooming through the road, but standing here, these pictures were quite flat and uninteresting. 

So we got back into the car, and I had Kaylie get back behind the wheel. It took SO much pressure off of me. The voices inside that said "STOP HERE - LOOK THERE" were silenced as I wasn't the one in control anymore. There was a new driver to get us where we were going. One who knew where to go, and even more, knew what I was looking for even when I had not seen it myself, but merely showed her what I wanted. 

The next place we stopped was GREAT. It had aspects that I didn't even know I was looking for, full of the most interesting looking cacti and gentle hills  in the background. We had a good time capturing each other in this environment. But eventually, we knew we needed to move on, and there was more in store. 

Now, something I failed to mention before was how we had each brought 3 different outfits to take photos in while going through the park and its various scenery. And If you're REALLY paying attention, you'll remembered we've made two stops. That means two outfits, and one more to go. 

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So we got back into the car, encouraged from that good stop, but ready to push forward onto what was to come. From the beginning, because of the reference photo I had shown Kaylie, she knew I wanted the environment to have massive boulders that we could post up next to and make all my desert Vogue dreams come true. Yup. I said it. Desert Vogue dreams I didn't even know I had. 

As we were driving along Kaylie pointed out, "Look! Up ahead! There are the boulders! Do you see them?" I looked to where she was pointing and realized 2 things. 

1. I could see them, I knew they existed, but they seemed SO. FAR. AWAY!

2. Because we were 'so far away' they didn't really catch my eye because they looked like a very small pile.

But the question was, "Do you see them?" So. My answer was. "Yes!" They indeed existed.

We kept driving, and after a few miles and bends in the road later, I knew we had gotten to where we were supposed to be. I saw the whole picture. It was not a small pile of boulders, but massive rocks surrounding both sides of the road, with cacti and green palms mixed in to the terrain. It was all the things I had gotten glimpses of before, and EVEN MORE. My excitement was SKY HIGH. We pulled into a parking area and I proceeded to whip out my last - and FAVORITE - outfit. I distinctly remember confirming with Kaylie, "So we're SURE. This is the final stop. This is best? This is the place where I'm gonna be using my favorite outfit." And Kaylie replied, "Yes. This is it. We're almost at the end of the park." 

And that was all the assurance I needed as I went into the car to start changing my outfit. 

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The air felt different at this last location. A cool breeze had picked up, and even though we were hanging out in the desert while it was pushing over 100 degrees...it was not at all miserable. The entire time we were exploring it was blissful and freeing. This final environment paired with my favorite outfit caused me to loosen up the most - my confidence kicked in as I leaned into the boulders like old friends. The best was truly saved for last, and these were BY FAR my favorite photos of the day.

All this to say, I feel like what the Lord was trying to teach me through all of this was to trust His leading and timing. In the same way that Kaylie had been to Joshua Tree and was guiding the trip, God already knows every road and bend in my life while I'm just driving though it for the first time. It feels better and is easier to be patient when we get out of the drivers seat and let Him take us through. Because of free will, we're able to stop where we think looks good, but He'll always call us back to the promise that He has the best in store for us. When we think we know what we want the 'picture' to look like, He is gently smiling, knowing how wide our eyes will get and how much our hearts will swell when we reach what He has for us.

This lesson at Joshua Tree just snapped me back into purpose and patience. I know God has given me this gift of singleness right now. I know there are so many things I want to grow more deeply in to become more whole before I can find a man who is also whole. Not perfect. But whole, and ready. 

That's something else the Lord taught me this week. Don't look for your better half, just look for another whole person. And make sure you are whole yourself. Do not strive for perfection, but for WHOLENESS. Being READY. Athletes don't go into the game with an injury. Don't rush into a situation you aren't healthy enough to handle yet, or that wound/sickness is just going to get worse.

Trust God. Grow in Him. He will not let you miss what He has for you, and you will certainly not miss it if you are constantly in communication and oneness with the Creator of your soul. He is a good Father who gives good gifts, and He waits until we are ready to receive them because a part of His goodness is His timing. So hop into the passenger seat and trust the One who was, who is, and is to come. 

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Woman, where are they?

    Just this past week, God put a story from the Bible on my heart. It’s one I’ve definitely heard before, but I never searched much further into. Found in John 8, it tells about a woman caught in adultery who was then brought in by the Pharisees before Jesus and a crowd in the temple. The Pharisees were completely shaming her and were ready to stone her for what she had done, as was the penalty for breaking the sacred law taught by Moses. They asked Jesus what He thought should be done to her - thinking they could trick Him. But the truth they didn’t see was that Jesus came to refresh the law with grace. And that’s exactly what this story shows. 

    Jesus answers the pharisees in verse seven, saying, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

    This was an amazing answer, and one that turned the tables on the Pharisees, making them look completely foolish. Because even though they were seen as holy teachers of the law, none of them could honestly say they’d never sinned. Jesus was just kind of saying… come off your high horses, guys!

    So after the Pharisees left, more frustrated and embarrassed than they thought they would be, Jesus asks the woman, (v.10) “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” to which she replies, “No one, sir” (v.11). And the statement that follows next is what hit me in a new way as God refreshed this truth for me. Jesus says, “Then neither do I condemn you.” He not only says it, but declares it. The voices she heard condemning her were gone. And Jesus' voice was a sweet sound of protection and grace. 

    In this story, it was revealed to me that the Pharisees are a lot like the voices of the world. There are so many voices who make it their duty to shame you, or confuse you about how you should see yourself. They are quick to put you on trial, and give you disqualifications that say, “You shouldn't even be living!”.  I think it's also worth noting in the story that after Jesus challenges them, saying the one without sin should cast the first stone, they didn’t all leave at once. It says in verse nine, “At this, those who had heard began to go away, one at a time, the older ones first.” THE OLDER ONES FIRST. Why is that? I believe it's because there is such an epidemic of PRIDE, especially in younger hearts. As the oldest ones were the first to back down, it was harder for the younger ones to grasp… Woah… maybe I’m not on the right track. Maybe I don’t know everything there is to know. Maybe there’s some truth in this grace replacing condemnation. It was harder for them to set down their stones of pride and know-it-all-ness. And I can say young hearts struggle with pride, because I am a twenty one year old woman myself. I'm a young heart who has had to lay my pride before God.  I'm not saying this to provide a label or excuse for people to hold to, but calling it to attention as something we should be aware of and intentional about combatting. 

    And maybe just as the pharisees brought this woman to trial, even YOU feel quick to put yourself on trial for some things, letting past shame or mistakes cling to you. But Jesus enters in to say that He has gotten rid of all that. Because He is here to shower us in forgiveness, grace, and newness. Jesus calls off the world. Jesus disqualifies their claims. He says - who are they to accuse you? And that leaves you the space to life your eyes… and realize no one is condemning you for your past anymore. Not even Jesus. He calls off your condemners. Leaving you forgiven and free, with a chance to walk into new life.

    I’ve been so grateful for the refreshing reminder of this story last week, and just this morning I was listening to a sermon, when a little bit into it, the pastor started talking about this EXACT same story. So that’s what prompted me to write all this. This pastor addresses so many other good points and goes a bit more into the mysterious part of the story where Jesus is on the ground writing in the dirt with his finger. I’ve included the link to that message bellow, which I think could be so eye-opening and freeing for so many others, as it was for me. 

https://youtu.be/treNkfcbaSU

Blessings as you go forward, forgiven and free ~

// Zoey Jean 

photos by Max 

photos by Max 

To be with Him is to be home

We can only run so far 

So fast 

So hard

Before we find ourselves

Stumbling down

To our knees

 

We can only run

So far

So fast

So hard

Before a part of us

Quietly begs 

To go back home. 

 

You will find yourself tired

thirsty 

dry

and empty. 

 

You will find yourself walking

then wandering

then jogging

And finally sprinting in circles 

Thinking you can run your way out of them

 

Run your way out of 'lost'

Run your way out of 'tired'

Run your way out of 'broken'

Run your way out of 'lonely'

 

But human.

You and I 

Are not built 

To run like this

 

Human.

You and I 

Are not built to last

Too long on our own

 

No

We are meant to have a home.

 

If you know anyone best,

It is surely yourself. 

So you will know the moment

When together your mind and body will heave,

"We are done.

We are tired.

We are lost."

 

You will hear yourself say  

"I remember this place 

Where I could rest not just my head

But my whole body

My soul

My being 

And it was called Home."

 

 

I am not talking about your home

Geographically 

I am not talking about your home

Logically 

 

No, I'm speaking 

Of another Being 

Who is our home

Who created our beings

And left a bit of himself

Inside us

So we will always know

The way back home

 

 

Paige Culley

Here are some shots from my recent portrait session with Paige! It was non-stop raining this whole day, but she was a champ and wanted to shoot anyway! I'm so grateful for her willing spirit and good energy! Such a cool human! 

If you're interested in booking your own portrait session like Paige's, email zoeyjeanphoto@gmail.com // 

Bryce + Hailey in MPLS

Recently, my friends Bryce and Hailey (+ Hailey's brother Wes!) came to visit Minneapolis! I had the best time hosting them and taking them around my city for the two days they were here. It's so sweet when friends are visiting, because it makes me think outside the box of my day-to-day patterns, and come up with fun things for us to do - like going to the Foshay tower downtown! Bryce & Hailey love creating and capturing with cameras like I do, and the city scenery made for some particularly rad shots! I even played around with some double exposure techniques to mix things up.

Enjoy the shots - and go explore your own city! 

the gentle things

Lately 

I’m being intrigued by the delicate. 

Drawn to the meek things. 

 

The sweet whispers.

The small notables. 

Honest moments.

Soft spaces.

 

I’m being intrigued.

Because I have a growing desire to be gentler 

In a world that is telling me I must always speak up, speak out

and stand for something. 

Right now, I am standing for the gentler things. 

As I am learning that gentle does not mean weak

or boring

or invisible

But it means a controlled strength. 

The art of undeniably being

 unapologetically feeling

fully knowing the power behind who I am as a created woman

without forcing it on anyone else. 

 

A moment ago I glanced out my front window

caught my reflection

and thought about what someone would see if they peeked into my home, with the most innocent of curiosities. 

 

They would have seen me. 

Blissfully alone at my dining room table

Eating my favorite vegetables that I just cooked up for dinner. 

Staring out into my living room

Blankets thrown across the couch from my afternoon nap.

Further into my kitchen they would see a sink full of dishes I had to take care of later.

If they stuck around they might even witness me singing my heart out over the volume of the rushing water and banging of bowls and pans as I cleaned.

I hope they would have seen that I was not lonely.

But maybe they would not.

Maybe I would be the only one to know how much these simple, comforting, routine moments meant to me.   

And maybe that’s alright.

 

Because I’ve learned to love this space I’m in.

This space of coming down from my tower. 

The tower that I stood on top of, shouting to let other people know who I am.

You see, I wasn’t asking people to tell me who I am. 

No, I was sure of who I was.

But why did I so desperately want everyone else to know too?

Why is it not enough for me and my Father to know.

Why was I trying so very hard to let people know 

WHO i was

Instead of Whose? 

 

I am learning. 

I am learning to only shout for things worth the volume. 

And I am learning the value of a whisper. 

The sweet intimacy of soft spoken words. 

 

So I am being intrigued. 

By gentle.

Quiet.

And meek things.

 

Because I believe I have a heavenly Father who is waiting to give me much.

But how can He 

when I have already packed myself with so much, ‘much’?

Like a child trying to stick all she can on a piece of paper covered in glue

when there is simply no more room to adhere the feathers and beads.

That is me. 

The little girl who wants every sparkling, colorful, pin and ponytail in her hair. 

But who I am learning to be

is the little girl who just wants her daddy to braid her hair. 

To set aside my sparkles and clips.

To sit nicely. 

And have Him do something that I am just too small to do on my own.

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I am falling in love with being small. 

Embracing the delicacies.

Collecting the gentle things. 

So that there is all the more room for Him.

And others.

And for my smallness to be able to fit just perfectly 

Wherever it might need to be. 

// all photos styled & shot by Zoey Jean // 

New truths, new hopes : 2017

Just yesterday I was asked if I wanted to go on an inexpensive trip to Ireland (that departed in less than 24 hours) and part of me immediately jumped at the situation, saying YES and not caring about the outcome. Not caring about the details. Not thinking about how it might affect my photo projects, or bank account for that matter. I did this before with a trip to San Diego, and everything was great! I knew that I was built for situations like this.

But then I did something I admittedly don’t do as often as I should. 

I asked God to reveal what answer was the best. Which answer was more wise.

And over the next few hours of my day I didn’t FEEL like I should be going there. He was gently telling me the answer was no. I didn’t need to go on this trip. Because I felt like my reason for going there was to show other people that I am the person that says YES. That I am the person who welcomes the unknown and figures out life as she goes along. Which - I am! But why was I trying so hard to prove what I already knew to be true about myself? 

Denying that chance to go to Ireland didn’t seem like a big deal, but honestly… it was a pivotal moment. I know I would’ve looked so fun, cool, and carefree running off to Ireland for New Years on a whim. And I do believe I am those things. It's not bad to think you're fun, cool, or carefree. But. Suddenly… I don’t feel the need to prove that to anyone anymore. I know who I am. But I don’t need to try so hard to let everyone else know too. And I can say I’m perfectly happy about that. 

That is a truth I want to stand in for the new year. That I know who I am, and who I want to be, and I should spend less time letting other people know what that is, and more time just BEING that, and being open to becoming even more. 

I want to leave you with my hopes for 2017, even though they’re just a handful. I’m leaving plenty of room for surprises. 

HOPE: “The feeling that what is wanted can be had.”    

I hope to get more tattoos created by my friends.

I hope to go places that I want to go, not so that other people can see that I went, but so that my heart and mind can grow to be even more beautiful because of it. 

I hope to fervently serve others 

I hope my heart gets stretch marks from all the right kinds of loving

I hope this new year is a little (lot) less about me. 

I hope to become more gentle, but never lose my spunk; to be undeniably dedicated to the cause of spreading Light into the world through the way I live my life.

The Kinda Tour - Minneapolis

Last night (11.5.16) I had the insane opportunity to photograph my favorite band LANY at Fine Line Music Cafe in Minneapolis, MN //

This was so special, being able to channel my passion of photography towards a band that means so much to me. The experience was all so brilliant - taking the familiarity of operating a camera and combining it with the flow of knowing every word to their songs and being able to enjoy each moment while documenting it was truly special.

Oh and Halsey made a surprise appearance at the end and sang ILYSB with the boys. It was a dream land. Trying to imagine any concert that could top this experience.

Enjoy the shots. And go tell LANY I'll be their next tour photographer //  

- Z 

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* "Hella Obsessed" hand lettering by Emily Poulin 

 

 

Whale Talk

I think sometimes we need to feel like we’re surrounded by life in order to live more. It makes sense. Even as an introvert - I find myself waking up and having days where I need to go out and be surrounded by other people, even if it’s just the bustle of a coffee shop. Even if no one is talking to me. Even if I’m not working my brains out, editing photos or answering emails. Just to be in a space where energy is flowing - THAT is life-giving. 

 

I am confident that no other female on the planet would like to make the following analogy towards themselves - but I’m gonna say it …

 

I feel like a beached whale.

 

Not in a “Wow why don’t these jeans fit me like they used to” way, or “Oops can’t wear crop tops this season” feeling … I literally feel out of my element. Stuck on the beach. Out of my ocean. So close to it… right next to it… but unable to get back into the flow of its life-giving energy. 

 

I feel like I’m spread out, laying on a beach - and not in a vacation sort of way. In a beached whale sort of way. If you didn’t know, a beached whale is usually dying or already dead.

 

Not exaclty California dreamin'.

 

*Please note, I’m talking about my dead energy, muted emotions … I have a good quality of life, and this is in no way me hinting into wanting to end my physical life.* 

 

So. 

 

Would I rather be where I’m at, immobile on this ‘beach’ instead of being over my head and drowning? 

 

This whole whale analogy made me quickly realize I didn’t have much knowledge on whales, and prompted me to hit up Google to type in questions like, “can whales drown?” and “why do whales beach themselves?” 

 

I really hope the guy sitting next to me at this coffee shop isn't glancing over my computer as my eyes pour into articles on the most morbid times of a whale’s life. Sorry dude. Google is my college. It’s where you get to learn about anything you want, exactly when you want, FOR FREE. Move over. 

 

Anyway. 

 

It brought to my attention that whales can in fact drown. They’re mammals after all. They don’t breathe underwater, Zoey. They live underwater, but they NEED to come up for air. Therefore they can drown by holding their breath for too long, or getting water in their blowhole. 

 

Then. They can beach themselves for a list of various reasons - it can be intentional or not. But. The fact is they are already dead or dying when they do so. 

 

Yikes. This blog has turned from educational to morbid in one foul swoop, and I’m becoming very self-conscious of the fact that I am sitting in a coffee shop writing a piece about whales and how I can very much relate to them.

 

With all that being said … to answer my question above: “Would I rather be where I’m at, this idle “beached whale” or … this struggling drowning, “didn’t pay attention to how long I was diving, now I’m drowning” whale?

 

My answer:

 

I want to be a happy whale. I want to be a normal whale! I want to be a whale that is IN its element. Swimming in my ocean, chillin’ with my pod. 

 

KEEP WITH ME ON THIS WHALE THING. 

 

I think we forget that option. You can be a normal whale. A really cool, mighty, graceful, freaking WHALE. (Person). 

 

So watch out. Don’t stay underwater too long. Don’t dive down too deep that you forget to come up and breathe! 

 

And beware of the beach. One of the reasons whales beach themselves is because they get confused or misinformed, and all of a sudden the water is too shallow and they get stuck on the beach and can’t get back in the ocean. 

 

Find your flow. Don’t get too shallow. Don’t get stuck in the depths. Come up to breathe! Find your pod. Slap your tail on top of the water when there’s danger. (okay, too far?) 

 

Thanks for reading about me and whales. I think it’s helping me get off this beach and back into the ocean. Which is the difference between us and whales. We have legs. We can dive back in. 

 

Go get ‘em tiger! (err…. whale?) Person. We are people. Be a cool, mighty, graceful, person. YOU. 

Pink, White & Blue .

Excited for my photos to be a part of Greta's branding process as she begins a new singer/songwriter career. This shoot was a combination of the softest colors and a touch of tomboy. 

Greta-0217.jpg

Northern Minnesota Roadtrip

Just a week ago, a group of friends - old and new ones - all jumped into cars and made our way up to Palisade Head in northern Minnesota. The purpose was for an H Influencer Meet-Up, but ultimately, it was just a time to be with friends, experience life together, and get our hearts & minds stirred up in all the creative opportunities in front of us that day. 

Here's a look at the photos I captured throughout the day: 

 

 

 

 

Zolivia takes NYC : part 2

Hello humans of the internet!

Hopefully you read Part One of this NYC blog series and you're all briefed on who Olivia is & why we're in New York together. 

Because in THIS post I'll be getting into the traveler's details of anything and everything we have to say about this trip! (myself speaking for Olivia, cause again - we're basically the same person)

So if you're heading to NYC anytime soon, or just want to live vicariously through us - this post should be satisfying to both of those situations!

Day 1 : Sunday

After navigating buses, subways, and the neighborhoods of Brooklyn, we arrived at our AirBnb with great relief around 2 in the afternoon. I'm gonna preface this whole experience by saying there wasn't a day of this trip that we didn't break a sweat because of the high temperatures. Which you wouldn't really expect from a trip to New York? But in the summer it's just heat, radiating off of a city built of asphalt and reflective buildings. So that's the perspective. Thanking the Lord for the breezes, air conditioned establishments, and countless iced drinks that kept us going.

Now that you know how hot we were. Let's move on. 

Next on Sunday's schedule was to meet up with my friend Elise, who had recently moved to Brooklyn from Minneapolis. We met at Dough Doughnuts on Franklin and OH MY GOSH. We took it upon ourselves to taste test a LOT of doughnuts on our trip, but these win. Hands down. They were even vegan. I could eat one of their pistachio doughnuts every day. 

Also - it was never a question of how many doughnuts we were going to get. Half dozen or bust. 

After some catch-up chats and savoring the doughnuts made by angels, we were all off to catch the 5:00PM service at Hillsong Church in Manhattan! 

I love experiencing different churches when I travel and being able to come together with other believers that I don't even know & worship our Creator together. We have Christ in common and that's all we need. It's also so refreshing to hear different speakers and gain new perspectives from what they have to say. It was all so, so good. Grateful for that time.

After the service, we were all pretty hungry, so we headed over to 12 Chairs Cafe in East Village, which served a fusion of Middle East & Eastern European cuisine. 

More simply put: their food was incredible.

I got a fresh mozzarella sandwich, Live got a Brie sandwich, and Elise got the most amazing salad. ALSO LET'S DISCUSS THE POTATO PRODUCTS ON THE TABLE. We all shared sweet potato fries and their 'house fries' (the plate with round fried potato slices) and they were both just so fresh and good. Not pictured - our appetizer - which was the MOST amazing hummus served with warm pita. Even now that I'm back home, I still crave that fresh hummus. I'll be eating some Sabra and I'm like. What even is this. Where's my 12 Chairs Hummus. Need that. 

So after our dinner, we said goodbye to Elise and grabbed an Uber to Webster Hall for a concert. 

FUNNY THING about this concert - one of my best guy friends was in the band that was performing. Hence why we were even there. BUT GUYS - this whole thing is really exciting. Just because of the fact that we're both from the midwest, hailing from the Minneapolis area of Minnesota, and THERE WE WERE in NEW YORK CITY together?? Like. The chances of being in the same city (of 8.5 Billion people) at the same time as one of your closest friends (1200 miles from your homes) completely coincidentally? YEAH WE THOUGHT THAT WAS PRETTY RAD.

Oh also it's Kyle. Kyle Featherstone is the guy. HI KY. 

I've known Kyle for 4 years and our friendship is one of my favorites! He's one of the people in my life who knows the realest, rawest version of me, and I love that. We like to pretend to be really cool in photos but we're probably two of the biggest dorks you could find. Even when we're in NYC.

After shooting some photos & listening to their set, we called it a night and made the journey back to the AirBnb. 

The only two requirements we really had during our online search for the perfect AirBnb was :

1 : a bedroom with white walls & good lighting. 

2 : rooftop access for photo and hangout purpose 

Bet your bottom dollar that's exactly what we booked.

So Sunday night, we headed straight for the rooftop when we got 'home' and spent some time up there before calling it a night. 

Day 2 : Monday 

We let ourselves sleep in a bit, then started our day by grabbing brunch and coffee at Brunswick Cafe

9/10 would recommend because of the cozy yet modern aesthetic vibes, good food - and Olivia really enjoyed her drink. 

What? Does that a mean I didn't enjoy my drink?  

No. i really really didn't. I got a chai latte. And it tasted like a chai tea that had been left to steep for 30 seconds. I was basically drinking poorly spiced water. So. If you go here - get a regular latte! Get the avocado toast! Get the bacon & egg croissant! But avoid the chai at all costs. 

After we got our fuel for the morning, we set out to do what we do best!

Wander around and take photos. We hit up the Brooklyn Bridge & Dumbo areas of Brooklyn 

We knew we were going to call it an early night because we wanted to get back to the AirBnb rooftop in time to take sunset photos - 

BUT FIRST 

We went into West Village for dinner because we had our hearts (and eyes and stomachs, and basically every part of us) set on experiencing The Butcher's Daughter - a 'vegetable slaughterhouse' with an earthy boho, yet clean and modern vibe. The whole place was fresh, in every sense of the word - including the sick music which was being queued up by one of the waiters, who noticed I was vibing and singing along with every song between bites, and came over to recognize my appreciation for his selections. (one of the songs, newer to me, was a song called Panic Chord - Hucci Remix. Do your ears a favor and go listen after reading this post FOR SURE. Make sure you're listening to the remix though.) 

*sorry there are no photos of the food we ordered, but this was one of those 'we're so hungry and this food looks so good, I don't even know what a camera is right now'* 

After the flawless Butcher's Daughter experience we hopped back onto the subway and made it back to our place in Brooklyn just in time to get some golden hour rooftop photos :

Day 3 : Tuesday 

This day was the day we had planned to meet up with Jess (IG : @life_is_sweeeeet) for lunch and then explore and take photos for the rest of the day. 

BUT FIRST : DOUGHNUTS

We took a whirl at another donut shop we had our eyes on : Dough Doughnuts

the Hibiscus (pink frosted) and Cafe Au Lait (left of hibiscus) were the best ones. Their glazed and sugar ones were just sort of average. Also these doughnuts were huge. We honestly only took about two bites of each, and combined that was about 3 doughnuts finished between the 2 of us together. These doughnuts were just HUGE. Between the flavors and the size, we just preferred Dun Well over Dough HANDS DOWN.  

So after doughnuts and walking around the botanical gardens (which were also a bit of a letdown) our day picked up when we met Jess for lunch.

We went to a small Parisian cafe whose backyard outdoor dining was a dream.

I was in desperate need of some protein because all we'd been consuming was carbs, carbs, carbs, so as soon as I saw "Peach and Salmon Roe" on the menu I thought - YUM! Salmon with a peach sauce? Cool. That sounds great. I'll have that. 

Olivia : "What's 'Roe' ? "

Me : "I don't know Live I just really want Salmon."

So we ordered, talked, I went off to the bathroom and when I came back, Olivia looked like she definitely knew something I didn't know. Then she said :

"Well. We found out what 'Roe' means...

It's fish eggs."

So on a plate in front of my eyes was a a caramelized peach cut open and in place of where the pit would have been, little orange jelly spheres overflowed. Little fish eggs. I was about to eat fish eggs. THE MENU DID NOT SAY CAVIAR. UGH.

I was a good sport and tried them out, and they did in fact last like salmon, just in little flavor beads.

They lacked the true texture and sustenance I would have experience had a REAL salmon been on my plate. This is my sob story. All I wanted was some protein. Not a warm peach stuffed with salmon eggs for $17.00 

Yes. That's the other sad part to this story. Tears about that money. 

BUT LET'S MOVE ON BECAUSE FROM AFTER LUNCH TIL THE END OF THE DAY - THINGS WERE GREAT! 

We went to Sweatshop which is a coffee shop in Brooklyn known for putting ice-cream in their coffees. That's right. I got a cup of espresso + vanilla ice-cream + sprinkles. And it was lovely.

Midwest coffee shops, get on that. 

After Sweatshop, we adventured around Williamsburg, which is where Jess took most of the photos found in my last blog! 

This is Jess! ^^ had to snap a few of her during our adventures :) The light coming through this fence was just too cool. 

After walking around Williamsburg, we headed back to Jess's apartment in Queens because she had two Shiba Inus we needed to meet. 

Jess also had killer rooftop access that we took advantage off. And we may also have snuck into the next apartment building over to use their rooftop as well :) 

Day 4 : Wednesday

This was our last FULL day in NYC so we decided to get up at sunrise and go to the roof to do some portrait shooting of each other. We went back to bed promptly after our half our shoot. 

after waking up for the second time that day, we decided to go to Toby's Estate for some avocado toast & coffee. This day basically consisted of us going around to coffee shops and thrift shops, until we made it to Little Italy for dinner at the most delicious (and expensive) Italian restaurant. Afterwards we were on our way to meet my cousin in Central Park where 'Opera in the park' was happening. It was a nice low-key day in the city, only documented on our iPhones, which was a nice break after non-stop shooting the past days. 

Day 5 : Thursday (BYE)

This was our travel day. We woke up, packed up, went to a juice bar down the street that we went to the very first day we got here, and hopped on the subway to make it to Port Authority. I think 5 days was just enough to freely explore and experience just enough of NYC to fix our travel bugs. Eating good food, drinking good drinks, and getting a fresh creative spark that can only be found when you leave your familiar for a bit. And getting to experience it with someone you love so much? Bonus. 

Here's us leaving our AirBnb and thinking about all the subways, buses, and airplanes we were about to deal with for the day. It was the saddest moment when we realized we had to say goodbye to each other on the shuttle at the airport. Back to Missouri for her - Back to Minnesota for me. But then we were texting each other again within a few minutes ... so, it's not so sad. 

Zolivia takes NYC : Part 1

One of my best friends Olivia (IG: @oliviariddering) and I have been crowned 'ZOLIVIA' by one of our mentors, Nicole Matthews, due to the fact that we're 99% the same person and basically inseparable when we're in the same environment (which isn't frequent, seeing as she lives in Missouri and I live in Minnesota. But we text each other every day, even if it's just to talk about what we're eating. So we're definitely as in-tune as we could be with each other's lives).

I guess the name comes down to the fact that it's easier to say ZOLIVIA instead of separating us out. But we're not mad about it! We'd agree that we're basically the same person anyway.

So what were we doing in New York?

Well. I had a wedding to shoot there on Saturday the 18th of June, so I texted Olivia seeing if she wanted to meet me out there after the wedding and we could spend the week in NYC together. Naturally. (this was also all before we had even met in person) 

Back in January, were both chosen to be ambassadors for a company called The Bloomerie and were made aware of each other's existence through that. I'm not sure at what point we turned from new, careful, acquaintances to constantly texting each other about everything - smoothies, pancakes, wine, PIZZA, New Girl, Friends, Marvel, boy news, our similar family habits, and a million other things we have in common. And forget double-texting. I know when my phone goes off 3 times or more in less than 5 seconds - it's Olivia - and there are probably 5 more messages coming, so I should just sit tight till they all arrive. I love it because that's how I roll with texting too: incoming - you're about to receive 3-8 incomplete yet important (or not) thoughts via blue text bubbles from me. You're welcome. 

Also we're both photographers. And are completely content planning our days the day before they happen. So we knew it'd be the bomb spending a week exploring New York City together.

image by : Forever Photography

We planned our entire trip via Instagram and picked restaurants, coffee shops, and good photo-shoot locations through the app. You could say we're low-key (high-key) social-media researching experts. Apparently. 

We even planned to meet up with another photographer I'd found through instagram - Jessica (IG: life_is_sweeeeet) I told her I was on my way to New York, wanted to meet up, and she was more than happy to adventure around with us - and capture some photos of me & Live together. 

I wanted to have this Part 1 post to feature Jess's photos of us, and then ZOLIVIA takes NYC : Part 2 will get more into the details of everything Live & I did, documented, went to, drank, and ate over the week :) Stay tuned for that! Enjoy Jess's images of us bellow : 

all images by Forever Photography

the 1 2 wonderings //

I've recently been getting a lot of Instagram DM's and emails from followers and friends, filled with questions about photography, travel, and my life in general! I think it's so rad that you all are so interested in my experiences and what I have to say! So I decided to compose the various wonderings into a blog post consisting of 12 questions that summarized the lot of them! Enjoy!

image by Ivy Christina Photography

image by Ivy Christina Photography

1) How did you get started in photography?

In 2012, my oldest brother got married and one of my cousins let me run around the wedding with her Canon T3i. It was so fun. Then a few weeks later I learned I was going to be going off to boarding school and to be completely honesty, I saw that a lot of students there seemed to have nice cameras. So I bought one. SUPER shallow, right?

    But the entire summer before I went off to school, I used that new camera and shot photos like crazy - especially during July when me and my parents took a month long road trip to, up, and around the east coast. I was so annoying and shot photos of everything. And I edited them horribly on BeFunky.com.

    Once I went off to boarding school, I became a ‘teacher’s assistant’ for the marketing director, and he was the first one to tell me I had an eye for photography. I took a photography class for a semester of my junior year in high school and learned more about the technical basics of photography and how to use Photoshop - actually I REALLY learned how much I preferred Lightroom, and that’s what I began using whenever editing photos for marketing, and personal projects. 

    So my junior and senior years away at boarding school (Hillcrest Lutheran Academy if you care) were the years I really dug down into photography. I literally shot everything. Always. I was the girl with the school camera at every sporting event and banquet - I even went around during classes and took candid promotional photos of kids in class, taking tests, ect. I shot senior photos and other portrait sessions on my own time after school got out at 3. Photography started for me there, though I didn't get serious about pursuing my photography as a business until after I graduated in 2014. 

 2) What is your advice for people who want to get into photography?

My advice is just to start. You gotta start doing it. Your eye gets trained for photography the more you do it. Be obnoxious and shoot everything - that’s also a quick way to find out what you are or aren't passionate about shooting. 

    Know how to use your camera and shoot manual. Learn the basics, learn some general photography rules, and then you know where to stretch from. 

    Know WHY you want to be taking photos. Doing anything without passion never lasts long, this goes for photography and life in general.

    DO NOT get too caught up in other photographer’s styles. Admire, learn, but you do you. Don’t try to copy people. Find out who you are, and stick with that. 

    Going with that, it IS important to collaborate and surround yourself with other photographers and creatives. We spur each other on, and can learn from each other. Most of my best friends are photographers and other artists. We’re each other’s people!

Be nice, and be open, but never put yourself in a position of mixing friendship and business where you feel cheated. Be chill, but be smart.

Bergen City, Norway

Bergen City, Norway

3) What are your favorite places you’ve traveled to?

  • Norway in the summertime. Bergen, Norway. I think that’s my favorite place in the world.
  • New York City. Brooklyn specifically. Williamsburg even more specifically. I would live there.  
  • Southern California. Specifically San Diego. San Diego is better than LA - there I said it.

4) Where do you still want to travel to?

  • England. ASAP. I’ve been to Heathrow on layovers twice and it kills me that I wasn’t actually able to spend time in London. But I need to explore all of England in general.
  • Greece. For some reason I’ve wanted to travel there since I was a little girl. 
  • Australia. No explanation needed. 
  • Hawaii. I’m growing into more of an active outdoorsy girl, and I’m in love with the beauty found in nature. So I would just wanna explore the CRAP out of Hawaii. 
  • Europe in general. South America. And Nashville. 
image by Hailey Marie Photograpy

image by Hailey Marie Photograpy

5) What do you shoot your photos with?

90% of my instagram IS shot on my iPhone 5s I promise! I only take my actual camera (Canon 6D) out on paid or intentional photo shoots.

6) What editing software do you use for photos?

For photos that I take on my phone (iPhone 5s) I use VSCOcam. On my computer, I use Adobe Lightroom.

7) Have you always been interested in photography?

Nope. Before I was 16, I used to think I was going to be a famous performer. Singer, dancer, actress. All of it. I can sing, I know that, and I was really good at dance the 8 years I was in it. My life used to be consumed with singing and dancing - a never ending performance (bless my parents’ souls). Then life changes, and you decide what are just hobbies and what are actually passions you can pursue in order to create a realistic AND enjoyable future. I still love singing and dancing. But not to pay the bills. Just to make me and others feel something every once in a while.

image by Ivy Christina Photography

image by Ivy Christina Photography

8) Are you in college? 

No. If I was, I would be a sophomore. I have zero regrets about not going to college right after high school. I’m pursuing my photography business, learning things on my own time that I want to be learning, and taking advantage of alternate learning experiences, like the internship I took with Krochet Kids. I’ve recently become really interested in marketing. I research that in my free time.

9) What did you learn most from your recent internship?

I learned how tough I am. 

I learned how much there is to know, and how much I didn’t know.

I learned how much I was capable of. 

I learned the more technical and business side of photography, along with working on a creative team as a part of a company - adapting to a brand image.

I learned not to be held down by my young age - maturity, skill, and passion is what matters most. 

10) What is your advice for people interested in the Krochet Kids internship?

    If you don’t have the passion for the company, what they’re doing, or what you’ll be doing for them - you might as well not do it. I don’t wanna sugar coat it. It's not just another internship to check off. You're a vital part of the company and you won't get by as a fly on the wall. It’s hard work. The experience overall changed me emotionally, physically, and professionally.

    But if you do have the heart to keep you there, it’ll be one of the most amazing experiences of your life that could never be replicated. Every employee at that company is brilliant, hardworking, dreamers AND doers. The people there are what make it. And southern California is the bomb to live in. Whatever you invest into the internship will be invested right back into your growth. 

11) What's the boyfriend situation?

That’s a short story. Single since ’96. Had a couple ‘almosts’ for sure. 

But I’m 19 and have things to do. 

I already know that I have so much love to give and the guy that God’s got set up for me doesn’t even know what he’s in for. I’ve had my heart tossed around before, and I’ve vowed it’s gonna stay carefully mine until a stand up guy is in intentional pursuit of my awesome. 

12) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

I can’t actually share that on the internet haha - but ask me in person and I'll let the stories fly.

New Year, New Friend //

I'm still getting used to being back in Minnesota - the temperatures are about the only thing that I can't particularly grasp right now - but the people I get to spend my time with are worth those extremes. I met up with fellow photographer Ivy Christina in downtown Anoka on New Years Day, and we wandered, shot, and survived the chill. I'm so very glad we did - no better way to start off the new year than a killer creative photo session. Here are some of my favorites - Enjoy!