This weekend I'm home-away-from-home in Illinois, visiting family and steeping myself in the nostalgia of being in the place that shaped me. For 23 years I lived in the same small, sleepy town, surrounded by cornfields and taking the slow route in life. I left because I felt like I was stuck in a rut, doing the same old thing, seeing the same old people, blah de blah de blah. I do see Arkansas as 'home' now. But going back to Illinois tends to ground me a bit.
There's a lot to be said for going back to a place and remembering when 9-year-old me did this, or 12-year-old me did that, or the one time my brothers caught the field next door on fire, or when the horses got out and we had to chase them across two streets and a highway before catching them, or teaching the dogs to pull a sled...there are many, many memories wrapped up in this place.
In keeping with that nostaligic, feel-good theme, today's post is dedicated to the things that currently fall under my 'favorites' category. There are lots of things that I like in this world, but each week usually brings at least a few things to the forefront that I can't get enough of. My tastes are a little eclectic, so I hope you bear with the apparent randomness of my thought process.
So with no further ado, here we go!
#1: This song:
I love John Mayer. (Or his music, at least--on a personal level he kind of annoys me) But his music has seen me through more of my life than I care to mention, and out of all the music I listen to, I actually own most of his albums on CD rather than just digital files.
This song has literally been playing on repeat for the past couple of weeks whenever I get the chance because I love it so much. Gah.
#2: This poem:
Erin Hanson is a gifted, wonderful, amazing poet. I have her book of poems and the ones not listed in the book are on my Pinterest boards.
This one has been reminding me to slow down and s a v o r life. (This is much easier said than done much of the time.)
#3: These adorable waxed canvas bags:
I love to make things, and sew bags/quilts/pillows/etc as the mood strikes (and time allows). I saw these little gems on Pinterest and fell in LOVE. I'm not exactly a hippie-dippie 'save the trees' kinda person....but I do believe in being responsible for what we have, recycling/reusing when possible, and wasting as little as possible.
(Plus who WOULDN'T want to have 'brown paper bags' that will last for years? I'm definitely a fan of the idea.)
#4: Myers-Briggs testing results:
According to the test found on this website, I'm an INFP (Introversion Intuitive Feeling Perceptive). Doing some reading on it has given me some insight to my strengths and weaknesses....especially recently, when certain events have had me questioning some of my basic traits and perception of reality.
#5: Being home.
I don't have a picture to encompass this sentiment, but I've only been in Illinois for 7 hours and I'm already reminded why this is one of my favorite places to be. It rained today and even the rain smelled better....walking barefoot in the wet grass afterwards was heavenly....my dog has been thrilled to see me....my mom and I went for a bike ride that was glorious....it's just been good so far. This weekend will be just what I've needed as of late.
On that note I'm going to sign off....thanks for reading my inane babblings and I will be back on Monday!
Last week, the day before the foxhunt, I attended my first Instameet.
For the uninitiated: an 'Instameet', at its most basic, is where photographers organize a meet-up through Instagram. These usually seem to happen in larger cities (from what I've observed), and the purpose is to meet local Instagrammers, take interesting pictures, explore an area of the town/city, etc. We all were meeting in Bentonville, so the title of this post is our hashtag on Instagram. If you have IG, there's more photos to be found there!
I heard about the meetup through Zak Heald of Intercut Productions. (I started following him on IG last year....or was it two years ago? Time has flown here in Arkansas.) It was on something of a whim that I decided to go...it was a Friday, I needed to get out of the house, and my introverted self was actually wanting to go out and see people.
(If you're an introvert, you grab onto those moments because you KNOW it's only a matter of time before you talk yourself out of seeing people and into wearing comfy pajamas while watching Netflix. The struggle is real.)
We all met at the Buckyball in Bentonville (a sculpture outside the Crystal Bridges Museum), and aside from Zak I didn't know anyone. (And when I say 'know' I mean 'recognized his face'.) But thankfully everyone was super nice and after the initial awkwardness, I had a really great time.
Whenever people hear that I'm at an event/store/interesting place by myself, the immediate reaction is 'that's so brave!' I think it has less to do with bravery and more with if I waited to have someone to do things with me, I'd never do anything.....but I digress.
Buckyball! (It lights up at night. Very pretty.)
When joggers get asked to take the group picture.....this happens.
(Snagged this picture in a crummy screenshot from my phone off of Zak's Instagram....so all credit where credit is due)
Zak and Ashton, doing #anythingforthegram
I kind of adore detail shots (and unique things like a Cadillac covered in coins)
The parking garage just off the Bentonville square had the best view of the sunset (which wasn't as spectacular as we had hoped for, but it was still a good one). And in the meantime, we played with portraits!
Snagged from Ashton's IG story....check her out if you get a moment, because her photography is moody and dreamy and to die for.
The setup of the above photo, as seen by Scott (his photos are also moody/dreamy/to die for)
After the sun set a few of us had a little adventure walking to Ashton's house so she could drive us back to our cars....not that we couldn't have walked back to our cars, but by this point it was dark, some of us had NO idea of the area, etc. (We met her parents and they are ADORABLE.)
There's rumors that another Instameet will be organized within the next few weeks....and I hope to attend when it happens! If any of y'all are in Northwest Arkansas and looking for something to do I highly recommend finding a group to wander around and take pictures with (if that's your thing, of course....and even if it's not we had a pretty hilarious time).
I moved to Northwest Arkansas in October 2014, not knowing anyone aside from my aunt and uncle. For most of the previous year I had been in Colorado working as a wrangler on a dude ranch, riding a variety of different horses, working long hard hours, and essentially having the time of my life. (No time to go into it now...but hopefully that gives what follows a bit of context)
I spent the next couple of months settling in and staring mournfully at every horse in every pasture that I passed. (To be horse-crazy and horse-less is a terrible thing.)
Around December, I took it upon myself to fix this quandary, and turned to the first thing that I could think of: Google.
(Before you hate on Google: through it I found the ranch, the salon where I chopped my hair off in Colorado, and it has assisted me in countless measures in the past. But I digress.)
I Googled horse barns in northwest Arkansas, put together a list that seemed likely, and made a few phone calls. For brevity, let's just say that the first place was all right, but too far away. The second place wasn't quite as far, but still a fair distance (especially since I wanted to avoid having to drive much). The lady there, Diane, was super nice--I had called and asked a few questions, and she invited me out on a Saturday to help feed and get the feel of the place.
After a couple of hours opening gates and meeting horses and traveling hither and yon on the back of a 4-wheeler, Diane mentioned that one of her students might appreciate having a riding buddy. She gave me the name and the address for where she worked, and the next week I made a little side trip to meet Sabrina.
Again, for brevity: I met Sabrina and her husband Danny, we chatted for a while about what I was looking for in a place to ride, and I went out the next day to meet the horses. She and her husband had just gotten a few young horses back from the trainer, and that first evening I rode a colt named Peanut. (He only kicked out twice. XD) The next time I rode an older horse, then a younger one, then the older one again...and before I knew it, Sabrina, Danny, and I were riding horses several times a week. In addition, the second time I was over Sabrina invited me to supper. The third time I was invited to Danny's mother's for supper (she lives on the same property, in a different house). The fourth time, it was assumed that I would join them for supper.
Since then I've been over there quite a bit (it was 2-3x a week for a while there, and right now it's once or twice a month. Hoping to remedy that soon.) It blows my mind to see famous Southern hospitality in action, in addition to their generosity in allowing me to come whenever I want to play with their horses.
Anyway, through Sabrina I've been introduced to the local foxhunting club. The actual 'hunting' season is from October to the first weekend of April. I went to the opening hunt for 2015 and closing for 2016, skipped opening for 2016, and attended closing for 2017.
I've ridden a horse over there to walk hounds during the summer, but kind of prefer to take pictures during the actual hunting season. This is partially because I LOVE taking pictures of everyone in their hunting togs, and partially because I'm a little nervous to ride in such a large group.
(Before I continue: 'walking hounds' is when a few riders go on horseback to take the hounds out for exercise a couple times a week. It's the perfect opportunity to introduce a horse to the 'hunting' atmosphere.)
I have the majority of the pictures from the day listed under my Photography tab....but I'll go ahead and post a few of my favorites here.
There was a photographer and a journalist from Arkansas Life magazine doing a story on the hunt. The funny part is that I had the idea of covering the hunt in a news-story fashion, but had no idea who to contact regarding the story. (I may have been sliiiiightly jealous that someone else had the same idea :p ) I had paid to ride on the 'tally-ho wagon', but worked up the courage to ask the photographer, Wesley Hitt, if I could tag along in the truck. I'm extremely glad that I asked, because I had a blast following a 'real' photographer around.
There's SO MUCH I don't know about the business side of photography....but every day I'm learning!
Danny and Gracie
The closing hunt was fabulous as usual, and I loved tagging along to get pictures!
(Next goal is to be able to take pictures on horseback while participating in the hunt....think it's too crazy? We shall see.)
After the success with getting hired by Kyle on Thumbtack, I have kept up with the site in hopes of getting more clients. So far I've been....mediocrely successful. (Is 'mediocrely' a word? My spell-check says no....but I don't care.) I think I need more reviews and examples of what I can do....for now I'll stick with it.
Thanks to sticking with it, I was hired not long afterwards by Jeremi and Eva! This couple needed some simple headshots for Linkedin, resume, website, etc. Originally we were going to shoot at Lake Fayetteville. Thankfully I arrived first to make sure there were some good spots...I then had a panic attack because there were NO GOOD SPOTS, and then called them to suggest meeting at the Fayetteville square instead.
(At first I was worried that they would think I was flaky, but thankfully they were super easy-going about it)
Also, I canNOT get over how spectacularly gorgeous Eva is.
I love this one because right beforehand I said "Look at your husband - it makes you smile", and it got her to laugh.
I call this one 'the smoulder'
This beautifully dramatic spot was the entryway to a business on the square....I'm guessing it was black marble? The light was gorgeous too.
We played around with some couple-style poses....
All in all I had a great time meeting some new folks through Thumbtack! This business headshots gig is pretty fun too - I hope to be doing more as the opportunity arises.
Sessions, life updates, and musings.