Life lesson — Gather your friends, your spiked selzters, and head for the nearest body of water.
Life lesson — Gather your friends, your spiked selzters, and head for the nearest body of water.
Having grown up in Los Angeles, and being one of those people whose parents rarely understood the need to leave California, I could count on one hand the number of times I had witnessed snow falling. That is, until I moved to DC, where I heard it “rarely snowed,” and in my first winter, we got about 48 inches of snow.
There’s no better introduction to snow than one of those rare, city-shut-down, break out your skis blizzards. And since I haven’t seen snow quite like that first East Coast winter, getting to Montreal just before a blizzard gave me that magical winter wonderland that I had been craving for the last nine years.
My travel partner, hailing from Montana by way of Spokane, was less entertained – but nevertheless, entertained me by trekking through Vieux Montreal amidst a white out.
Photography can be a ridiculously expensive hobby — but it doesn’t need to be! Here’s what I tell people when they ask for advice.
Set a realistic photography goal.
Before purchasing anything, take some time to think about what you really want to accomplish in photography. Is your ultimate goal to quit your day job and become a professional photographer? Or are you more interested in learning more about the mechanics of photography and shooting on manual? Or… are you really just aiming to take better photos for sharing with friends and family, or on Instagram?
These are just some examples of photography goals — and very different ones, at that. Someone who’s aiming to go pro isn’t going to buy the same camera as someone who only really uses a camera on vacation. So… what kind of photographer do you see yourself being, realistically?
Set a budget.
When someone contacts me and says “I’d like to get a camera. What should I get?” — my first reaction is to ask how much money they’re willing to spend. Under $1,000, or over? Over $5,000? Photo gear adds up, so budgeting is mandatory.
Test equipment before you buy it.
I cannot emphasize this enough. If you’re planning on spending more than $600 on a camera, there’s a good chance you can rent that exact camera for a weekend. Or, if you have a good friend who’s willing to let you play around with a camera they own — do that! Carefully, of course 🙂
I swear by BorrowLenses.com for all camera rentals — whether I need a telephoto for just the weekend, or if I’m testing out an entirely new camera. In fact, every piece of equipment I now own was something I rented or borrowed early in my career!
If you’ve never used BorrowLenses before, use this link to get $20 off your first rental.
With some research, of course. Photography is a fairly old trade — cameras have been around for a long time! My first DSLR was a Nikon D80, which taught me how to be a photographer, and even carried me through a handful of professional jobs. That, in turn, helped me afford a full-frame, more modern DSLR. Going used is a great option, especially for someone on a budget who may or may not jump into photography full time. You’d be surprised how much a piece of gear gets discounted because of a few cosmetic scuffs.
But then again, buying used isn’t for everyone. I’ve personally had a lot of luck with used gear!
Now… on to the fun stuff! Here’s a roundup of photo gear — based on what I own and what I recommend!
Note: all links above are affiliate links. If you’re taking me up on my recommendations for purchasing camera gear, I would greatly appreciate it if you use the links above!
I never quite fell in love with printed pieces until my first shipments from Artifact Uprising came in. It was a couple of years ago at this point — I put together a family photo calendar for my stepmom as a Christmas gift, thinking it’d be cute. And after distributing gifts, other family members were so enamored with the calendar that I got back onto the site and ordered another set before Christmas brunch was even over.
So, needless to say, I’ve been pretty obsessed ever since. And now that I’m spending most of my days as a professional photographer, I honestly can’t justify printing my photos through any other service. I’m a stickler for going with the most affordable service, and while these prints aren’t the cheapest out there, the quality is by far the best I’ve ever worked with.
Also note that this post is so incredibly overdue — back in July, I traveled to Kauai for a week and got in touch with the team at Artifact Uprising to have some prints made, and life got away from me. But the prints are still there and just as vivid as they day they arrived!
After my recent trip to Iceland… where by day 2, we were four girls in a constant state of the giggles, I knew I wanted to have photo books printed for us.
I’m also pretty smitten with the fabric hardcover photobooks they have out there, and after the past year of travel, I’ve decided to treat myself to creating a year in photos for myself every year — just my top 50 to 100 photos from work, home, and abroad to remind me how incredible this world is.
A couple of weeks ago, I got the chance to check out the newly reopened Renwick Gallery here in DC. I visited the museum once, years ago, when it was called the American Craft Museum, but it’s been so long and the exhibit in there will hold fast to my memory for pretty much, ever.
Thanks to this dude, I got to spend a leisurely lunch with several other IGDCers, exploring the Wonder exhibit, which, you can tell by these photos, is mesmerizing to say the least.
The photos don’t do it justice. Go, and take lots of photos. There are signs throughout the building that encourage it 🙂
Last summer, I got roped into the organizing crew for Dîner en Blanc, an amazing event that happens on different nights all over the world, where thousands of attendees meet at an undisclosed location for a flash mob, picnic dinner.
This year, the location was so perfect — the Carnegie Library, located right smack in the middle of DC. And, since my assigned meeting point was in Chinatown, the 350 people headed to the location with me didn’t even have to get on the metro. Talk about convenient!
Here are some shots from the night.
I had been wanting to get into some fashion-oriented photography for the past couple of years, so when I started working at Cava, I dropped a few hints at Liz to collaborate on some outfit posts.
Luckily, one of my favorite streets in DC happens to be the one I live and work on, and a quick afternoon stroll made for the perfect mini photo shoot. Check out Liz’s kicks — the brand uses sales and production to help entrepreneurs develop their businesses, all while creating a product that’s functional and beautiful too. You can see + shop Liz’s carefree but perfectly styled attention to detail here, and follow her on Instagram here.
If you’re not already convinced by the time you get to my recommendations at the bottom of this post, read those. Kauai is a more rugged island, and the weather is usually iffy, but we lucked out and managed to get some nice beach days. It’s definitely an island for the adventurer; those of you akin to strenuous hikes with rewarding views and swimming under waterfalls, this place is for you.
And if you’re not already following along on Instagram, I’ll continue posting images there @gurrity!
We stayed in an Airbnb in Kapaa — it was perfect for what we were looking for, but a little on the rugged side. It actually reminded me a lot of the Airbnb I stayed in when I visited Mexico, years ago now. But we really didn’t spend much time there outside of sleeping hours.
We ended up spending the majority of our time here. The northern and eastern shores are generally pretty rainy and quiet, so on the rainiest days, we hopped in the car and headed south, to the Poipu areas. But our trip happened to be on a rare summer storm that engulfed the island, so we dodged rain pretty much everywhere. The sunny photos of surfers happen to be from Shipwreck beach, where we saw a spectacular sunset (and a few cliff divers, probably on the crazy side, given the surf report).
The Queen’s Bath
A ridiculously beautiful sinkhole in a giant shelf of lava rock, with the bluest of blue waters. All in all, ocean porn. The hike down was short, treacherous, and very worth it. Julie was a bit apprehensive, but we were both awestruck by how beautiful the place is. And, to be honest, I had pinned a gorgeous photo of it years ago on Pinterest, so I was pretty ecstatic to learn that the place happened to be on Kauai. Go there.
Hanakapi’ai Falls + Ke’e Beach
If you take the island road all the way north, the road will just end and drop you off at Ke’e Beach. If you feel like hiking for a few hours and want some spectacular views of the Na Pali coast, take the trail 2 miles to Haena beach, and then another 2 miles inland to the falls. This trail is not for inexperienced hikers — if you trek after a few days of rain (like we did), prepare to be scaling some slippery mud cliffs and climbing through boulders. No joke, couldn’t use my quads for a couple of days after this hike. But the swim into the waterfall was worth it. After you hike back to the trailhead, proceed immediately to the crystal clear waters of the ocean.
Great for snorkeling, and my actual favorite spot to catch a good sunset. A perfect place to settle down for the day with a good book and great views of the water and the mountains.
It’s more or less a counter in a local grocery store, but it’s a glorious one at that. Tell William I said whatup.
Kilauea Fish Market
The best, freshest ahi wrap I’ve ever had.
Wailua Shave Ice
We tried to go here every day, but we were a little crunched for time. This is what shave ice should be. I wanted to buy a bro tank for spin class, but they were out.
The Happy Taco (aka El Taco Felix)
Ridiculously good taco truck in Kapaa. Open till 11 pm. We drank a pitcher of margaritas at the spot next door, and gorged on some tacos right after. Thumbs up.
Amazing ahi poke lunch specials — you can get a container like this for just over $6. Go early, because they run out and their hours are short.
I just can’t with you, Hawaii.
While getting my flight to leave DC was a struggle, the struggle is definitely not real here. I arrived last night around 7:30, met Julie at our Airbnb (so many kittens around here!!) and we grabbed a quick dinner at a little spot called Mermaid Cafe. The stars were unreal on our walk home, so I had planned to go out and take some photos — but by the time I grabbed my gear and walked back out to the beach, it was pouring rain.
Thankfully, jet lag had me up again at 3 am, so I snuck out to the shore and caught a couple of good ones.
My phone will be on do not disturb mode all week. Not sorry.