The early morning phone alarm. You know the one. The snooze button eludes my persistent barrage and I reluctantly get up instead. The sun waits for no one. I squintily open one eye to see what time it is. 3:31am. Gotta go.

I haul myself off the side of the hotel's king bed which takes extra effort compared to my usual full; although I know my German Shepherd enjoys the extra leg room. I throw on some layers, unsure of what the weather in Arizona is like at the &*%# crack of dawn. I double... no triple... no QUADRUPLE check to make sure my memory card is actually inserted in my Nikon (a classic Jen mistake) and sling my tripod over my shoulder. Off we go.

My eyes easily adapt to the morning darkness and the cool, desert air refreshes my face as I walk the Rim Trail. My shepherd trots next to me protectively, listening intently for any sounds of danger, but there are none, just the peaceful silence that can only be felt in the moments just before dawn. We arrive at our destination and I set up my tripod... and wait. *screen fades to black*

*film rewinds chaotically* I asked for a camera for Christmas on a whim. 'Maybe my parents will humor me,' I thought. 'If I never use it, who cares...I spent zero dollars on this.' Turns out, it was a gift that quite literally changed not only my life, but the way I see the world.

All of a sudden I was paying attention to the sunrises, the sunsets, the full moons, the Milky Way, the alpenglow, the thunderstorms, the birds, the clouds, the pine trees, the reflections, and all of the inconspicuous details about the universe we live in that didn’t exist before I started pushing buttons on this square, black box.

*screen fades back in* The sunrise over the Grand Canyon hit me hard. All I could do was stand there. It was quiet, yet loud. It felt empty yet somehow so full. I feel like that sunrise was where my photography REALLY began.

Capturing nature, whether it be mountains in the Pacific Northwest, alpine lakes in the Sierras, or red rock formations in the dry desert, while celebrating a special moment in your life truly brings me so much joy and purpose. Being able to freeze a moment in time is a passion I hope to share with as many people as I can. The world is so big and we are so small so really the best we can do is explore as much as we can while we are here.


Please enjoy a few of the very *ahem* interesting photos I took as a new photographer from that morning. It is fun to look back at when you thought you knew what you were doing and realize that you had absolutely no idea what you were doing. Never stop learning, everyone.


Also yikes.