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

I don't know, let's go. //

It was the day before thanksgiving. I had left work early, and was scrambling to pack bags, camping gear, cameras, snacks, and any other items I thought I would need to survive the next 5 days of the unknown, with nobody but myself. Starting from my home in SoCal at Newport, I had my eyes set North - exploring Pacific Coast Highway, with San Fransisco as an ultimate destination. Other than a stop at a friends' in Gilroy for a Thanksgiving meal - that was literally the entirety of my plans.  500+ miles of I DON'T KNOW, LET'S GO! 

Something I've recently learned about myself is that my top two strengths are Activator and Adaptability - which I now see displayed in my life constantly. This coastal endeavor was no exception, as it breathed a dance of these two traits. 

You see, activators are the people who are quick to put ideas into action where others would hesitate, or talk themselves out of an idea altogether. It's a nice way of saying: I come up with ideas and bring them into action without thinking too much about it. That may sound a little risky - and it is - but I've become a professional at facing the unknown, which is why I've only gotten where I am today because my God is gracious and gave me my second strength of Adaptability. With every spontaneous adventure comes twists and turns that I'm an ace at rolling with, only because of adaptability. I've learned not to approach things with expectations, but with anticipation, and flexibility. 

So I'm pretty sure I just told you all that as a preface and reassurance that I'm not completely crazy, and this blog will have true nuggets of life that you can trust. This post is basically me debriefing on everything I may have thought, experienced, and found insightful enough to share to anyone who will take it. Apparently, that's you! So you're wonderful. 

1. GO 

As I was running in and out of the house, hurriedly packing up my car, and finally turning out of our neighborhood with a huge exhale, I had a thought.

"Zoey. What are you doing? You have 5 days off of work ahead of you that you could spend sitting and relaxing at home while it's empty! You could be sleeping, blogging, and getting your life in order. Why are you running off? Stay."

I can't tell you what made me turn the voice off. Maybe the really loud music I was jamming to. But I continued driving and rested with the fact that I was not one to so easily give up an adventure. Which is why from experience, I encourage you to GO. Even if it's nothing the world tells you is huge and epic - GO. If it's going out to a coffee shop, book store, being with friends, or even walking around your city a little bit more to experience something outside your ordinary - GO! With an open mind, it'll be hard to NOT grow or learn from even the smallest of adventures. Save the snoozing or internet surfing for another time. When choosing to stay or go, ask yourself:

"Which option will add to the story of my life that I'm living?" 


So often in life we think there couldn't possibly be anything better than where we're at right now. Everything seems so amazing, and when we're forced to move on, or make changes, we can't picture there being something better. I experienced this often, quite literally, as I was exploring PCH.

I'd pull my car over to see an astonishing view - trying my best to take it in and capture it through my camera lens. After a few minutes, I'd reluctantly get into my car, thinking I had seen the climax of my drive, when little did I know that a few miles up the road, I'd find an even MORE incredibly breathtaking moment. 

But I wouldn't have known it if I hadn't kept going.

Now get me straight, I'm not telling you to rush through life looking for the bigger and better. I'm saying that it's a gentle balance of enjoying exactly where you're at, but being obedient and open enough to move on to what's calling you next. Don't stay stuck. Don't be stubborn. Something incredibly amazing is waiting for you, but it cannot happen if your'e stuck in the past, or even wasting time being idle in the present.   


I'm sorry if that's rough, but you'e not the point of things. And I'm not the point. As much as we'd love to have life revolve around us, it absolutely does not. In fact, life is heavier when we have a list of demands or expectations on how things should function in order to please ourselves, because in over half of most situations, those expectations are not going to be met.

You can find yourself in a more joyful and content state of life by simply taking the focus off of yourself, putting thought into others, and ultimately, appreciation onto the Creator of everything good and true. 


I love peace.

I mean, who doesn't right? But if you haven't noticed, I have this prevalent GO instead of STAY theme, very high activity, yeah? So one of my favorite parts of this trip was in Big Sur, when I was very overcome by crowds and activity that had been populating PCH that day. It pushed me to pull off to the forest, park my car, grab my camera, and hope I remembered where I started walking from. I didn't know where I was going, I  crossed a bridge and simply wandered, gazing at the forest surrounding me. It was magic, and one of the many times during this trip I wished I had some company.

Before going to the forest, I was very hesitant, thinking I should just keep trying to get to my destination, even though I knew I had plenty of hours to spare. Thankfully, I decided I needed to take the time. I needed the silence and serenity of these wandering moments, even if it was simply for an hour. 

I'm still standing behind what I said before about KEEP GOING, but I'm not going to pretend to be a superwoman who never needs a breath. I need them so often, and I'm the worst at reminding myself to take them. 

So if you're like me, here's a reminder to breathe. Take time.

Then find your way out of the forest and get back into your car.  


These three photos hold more weight in my heart than anyone else could possibly know, because I shot them in a location that made me realize things I didn't know about myself.

While in Big Sur, a more popular beach was completely full, so I opted to keep driving to get to another one suggested by the parking lot attendant. All I wanted was to get to the beach.

Except at this particular spot, it required parking your car, wading through a creek, and walking a mile and a half out on a trail before reaching the beach. 

If you've never met me, just ask anyone who has, and I'm sure 'outdoorsy' will never be an adjective used to describe me. 

But I told myself there was really no other option, and pushed myself to do it. 

I took off my shoes and waded through the freezing creek. I don't do that. But I did it. 

I hiked a silent mile and a half by myself in converse and skinny jeans. I don't do that. But I did it.

There was so much silence on this trail. It was only a mile and a half, but it actually seemed endless. It was lonely. There was no end in sight. It kept winding,  and turning, looking to be leading anywhere but the beach. I had major doubts.

Do I turn around? Where am I going? Is this going to be worth it? Is there even a beach at the end of this? Should I just turn around? When is this going to be over? What. Am. I. Doing.

But again, I just kept going. I came that far, I wasn't just going to turn around, no matter how outside of my comfort zone I was venturing.

There was just something insane about where I was at in that moment. Literally all alone, in a part of California I'd never been, on a trail that I had never walked, leading to a place I'd never seen.

 Nobody knew where I was. I wasn't lost, but I had never, ever, EVER, felt more alone.

This trail was getting mental.

And just when I thought I'd had enough of it - I saw sand. And sand meant beach. There was a peek of light - clear, wide and open - that I hadn't seen on the trail before. *third photo above* 

And I knew I had made it. It was all worth it. I was okay. I had been okay, all along. I had made it to the calming shores.

   I wasn't more capable in that moment when I reached the shore than I was a mile and a half before, when I had started. 

I was capable all along. It just took that pressing situation for me to realize it. And now I'm telling you, you're capable too. 

If something's hard - do it anyway

If somethings new - give it a shot

If you feel like you're at your end - go a little further

This trip inspired me. This trip pushed me. It was lonely. It made me lean closer into the company of my Maker. It revealed more than I can put into a 5 point blog.

I'm very grateful if you've made it to the end of this, and I encourage you to say YES, GO, and make some adventures of your own. 

back to November //

It's now December... and I've realized I have zero blogs from the entire month of November... so did that month actually happen??


Which is exactly why I have NO blogs up about anything I did - I've literally been running, driving, and flying, from one thing to the next, and haven't had time to sort my thoughts or images on here! From SoCal to Texas, back west and up to NorCal - it's been a whirlwind of lovely and crazy.

So here's a collection of highlights from the past month as a quick update on everything Zoe! I'm striving to be more prompt in the future with my blogs - totally top of the list for New Years Resolutions!

But first.... this was November. And it was one unlike any other I've lived before:

// I had the huge blessing of starting the month with a quick visit from one of my greatest friends from back in MN - Paige! ^^ I drove down to San Diego and picked her up at the airport, then showed her around the city and took her to the ocean - HER FIRST TIME EVER! We spent a good amount of our time looking at all the creatures in the tide pools, and even made friends with an older couple who were there doing the same. //

// The following day - still in San Diego - was spent adventuring around Encinitas with two newly found friends, Ben and Mikey! @bendulay777 @mikeydiggs

such a fun afternoon & I loved being in front of the camera for the guys, because I haven't been shot by fellow photographers in quite a while! Any of the images of myself were taken on my camera by Ben & treated by me. TEAM! [Ben also has his own clothing company he co-owns with his brother Levi - @777_collective - so check that out!] //

// a huge portion of my month was also spent pouring into my internship by planning and executing 4 separate photoshoots for the 2016 Krochet Kids children's catalogue, as well as tagging along to a curated shoot in LA, and doing other KK INTL related events and projects with the company! *all of my work from the internship will be up on a section of my website soon* here's two quick peeks of the catalogue work I've been doing here:

// ALSO on the list of things that happened this month - I flew over to Austin Texas because my brother Zak was getting MARRIED! Such a fun time to see my family and welcome a new member at the same time. Love you Emily!  //

// when I returned from Texas, I had another week of normal intern work, then jumped into my car and drove up to Sacramento, CA to be the event photographer for the @glamcampforgirls ADORED conference, and gather footage for a promo video. That weekend was so much more than I ever thought it would be, filled with new inspiring lady friends, as well as professional, and spiritual growth. So grateful to Melinda Watts for hiring me! Such a wonder woman! @melindawatts

// Right when I came back from shooting the event in Nor Cal, I was full speed ahead, assigned to capture images to be in the KK INTL Fall/Holiday 2016 Catalogue *like I said before - more of those images will be up in a separate portfolio part of my site soon!* but peek if you must: 

// You still there?? OKAY! The final highlight of my November craziness was Thanksgiving break! Which was spent mostly by myself - starting with a mini road trip up Pacific Coast Highway, the actual thanksgiving day at a friend's house in Nor Cal, then exploring San Fransisco on my own for two days after that. My next blog will go more in depth about that experience, so enjoy this closing image from PCH, with the promise of my next blog being more focused and thoughtful //

zoe lately // part 2

maybe you've experienced this silent panic that seems to jump into your thoughts out of nowhere:

I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing now. 

or later. 

 - what should I be getting ready for?

- who should I be talking to?

- where should I be going?

I know what I want to be doing.

Or I think I do. 

for me, I know I want to travel and explore this world, get to meet those who live in it, and capture photos that share this life with people. 

but now it comes back to why.

I feel like I used to be such an advocate for doing things with a purpose, and now I’m struggling to find mine in anything.

So just writing this and acknowledging that has reminded me of what I already know: 


Love is always the purpose. 


Others is always the focus.


"But what about me.” - my heart

“But what are you actually capable of.” - my brain


I want to share life. 

I want to share love. 


Well Zoe, you know where the truest love and life come from.

You know. You know. 

they’re from the Maker.


- what should I be getting ready for?

I’m already ready to live and love because He’s made me ready. He’s already equipped me with true life and love. 

- who should I be talking to?

Him. the Maker. 

first. first. first. 

Talk with the One who holds the plans. It’s the surest way to be more in tune and make you less susceptible to the worldly worries of what’s next.  

- where should I be going?

it doesn’t matter where. we must just go. take a listen to where your heart is being drawn and that's usually a good place to start.

be going. don’t wonder where you could be going when you could already just be there. 

I know what I want to be doing. 

and He does too. He created me with all my passions, after all. 

One of the truest things that I hold to is that God gives us the desires of our hearts that are rooted in him. 

I find myself again and always, clinging to the words in Proverbs 16:3 - “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” 


commit. He will establish. all you must then do, is go. 

that's zoe lately. 

One Arrow Tipis //

I was approached by the lovely Meredith Vandewege - momma of Harlow and co-designer of One Arrow Designs - to do a product shoot for her beautiful tipis! 

The little lady above is Harlow, and the redhead is a mini friend of mine named Elliot! His momma and I became friends a few months back through instagram - find her & her darlings on instagram @moriahflorence - and I thought he would be a perfect playmate to bring into the shoot!

It was so fun just to capture these two new pals interacting and having a day of fun around these beautiful tipis. Check out Meredith's blog on HausOfHarlow.com and email her onearrowdesign@gmail.com to put in a custom tipi order! 

instagram: @onearrowdesign

Raising Arrows //

I recently had the privilege of shooting photos for the fall launch of a faith-based threads company called Raising Arrows.

This was definitely one of my first 'big production' shoots, having the responsibility of styling, directing and shooting the whole project. But I wasn't completely alone because the group of gals we had modeling the threads were such light hearts to work with and a joy to be around. ALSO a major shoutout to my friend Erik Bear for being my selfless assistant the whole day - everything from holding my keys and coffee to lighting things on fire for elements in the shot, and just being an extra pair of creative eyes for the day! Such a valuable addition to the day that I could not have done the shoot without! 

I totally encourage you to support Alysia, of Raising Arrows who shares a snapshot of their mission as this:

"Too many many follow the movement of the world. Raise your arrows, and be the change! Start a new movement. Give God His glory, be who He says you are, and actually believe in it! You are loved, you are worthy, you are enough because Jesus is Enough and what God gave to Jesus, He gave to us! Rise up and stand strong!" 

find their products, which also include children's apparel, on shopra.co 

California bound //

If you're not into details, I'll spare you the suspense:

On September 1st - in less than 2 weeks - I'll be driving out to Costa Mesa, California and living there for 4 months while I'm doing a photo internship at a nonprofit company called Krochet Kids International. [krochetkids.org // @krochetkids // their hat that I'm wearing - the Brady - can be found here ]

This idea that I had my sights set on only seemed like a dreamy possibility until I got the call telling me it was a yes.

My soul adores the midwest, but if you know any basic bit of me, it's that you will not find me in the same spot for long. I haven't even been living in Rochester for a year, SO WHY NOT CALI NEXT?! Not only because of the beach life, different people, and adventures waiting to be had there, but the inspiring mission of Krochet Kids that I get to be a part of through my passion of photography. 

FOR YOU DETAIL LOVERS: At the end of my senior year of high school (May 2014) my parents were all too encouraging about getting me to make a move towards college plans - bless their souls, better they care than not - but I just didn't feel like college was going to be the next step for this chick. I had heard about the KKI internships before my senior year started, but the thought hadn't come up again till I was grasping to put together somewhat of a 'next step' for life. After I graduated, I had thought of applying for the internship for last fall, but a few people in my life encouraged me to wait. So as you might know, this past year has been a mixture of working 2 jobs, traveling, and doing freelance photography for cool humans. However, in the back of my mind throughout this whole year, has been the idea and hope of being the photo intern at Krochet Kids come fall.

The beginning of this summer is when I really knew it was go-time and started preparing everything to apply for this. Even when I was in Norway, your girl Zoe was preparing pieces of the application cause I just SO wanted to do this! It was basically the only plan I had going for the fall. I'm barely good at plan A's so you bet your bottom dollar I didn't have a plan B if this didn't work. I just definitely felt like this past year of life, God has been preparing my heart, skills, and passions for an opportunity exactly like this. And He is so faithful in providing this new adventure for me. Oh yes the adventure it's going to be. 

By now, I've re-read what I've already written a few times, and I've come to the conclusion that I sound a bit crazy - like passionate crazy? Still my usual crazy, though. 

Cause, why this company? Why are they so different? Why do I want to be a part of the Krochet Kids mission? 

Empowerment and Love. That's the lifestyle that Krochet Kids is all about. All of their amazing and tasteful products - not just beanies & scarves, but duffles, backpacks, bowties, and their expanding clothing line - is all produced by women in Uganda and Peru, providing these individuals with income and mentorship, empowering them to thrive as individuals, flowing over into support for their families, and ultimately contributing to the growth of their community as a whole. 

But KKI doesn't stop there - their Know Who Made It campaign allows you to know the EXACT person who handmade your product, because each item is signed by the woman that made it - and you can go onto the KKI website to search and find each woman's summary. HOW RAD.

This is just my next big adventure I'm taking in life, and I want to keep each one of you right alongside me for it! *hundreds of miles away via the blessing of technology  ;) 

The support that I constantly have around me throughout each step in life is something I'm truly always grateful for. From each brilliant individual that found me through instagram, (some now close friends!) to other midwest creatives I've become acquainted with during this past year, friends and family, other adults and mentors that are always peeking into my life and cheering me on with each crazy plan - I LOVE YOU ALL TOO MUCH! And I will definitely miss those of you that I get to see so often. No matter where I am - Norway, Minnesota, Wisconsin, East Coast, West Coast - I have always found myself missing the ones who aren't there with me. That's something that keeps me running around the globe - the immense love that my Creator has shown me, and the need to share that sort of love with anyone and everyone in life.

I'm very stoked for this photo internship opportunity and can't wait to share my new adventures with each of you. Keep loving, keep exploring. Do not only what makes you happy, but do what makes a difference. // 




Como creative collaboration //

while I was shooting at Sonshine music festival in July, I met the beautiful soul that is Hailey Kneprath [@dreaming_outloud] // within the first day of working on the same photo team, we became fast friends and by the end of the festival, we crowned each other as soul sisters.

She is simply stellar in every way.

So stellar that she invited me to join a group of herself and 4 other creative females to a day of style, fun, and shooting at Como Zoo & Conservatory ini Minneapolis. 

*& her rad boyfriend Bryce joined us, [who i became friends with at Sonshine also] but everyone was cool with it cause he's equally as rad! [& then we had someone to get shots of our whole girl squad. essential.]

here's more of a peek at our day: 


Taking a step back into Norway here.

These are some portraits I took of my friend Marianne as we spent a Sunday with our cameras exploring by the sea and old (Gamle) Bergen. There have been a few times during the past year when I've just felt like "Oh I wish I could be on a photo adventure with Marianne right now!" because we never got to go on too many when we were at school together. I think that's what sometimes happens, you grow apart for a while, back to your separate places, then realize just how great the other person is, by noticing their absence and just how much you wish they were with you in a particular moment.