2020 was supposed to be a year of learning and growth with some awesome international travel involved. I imagined myself doing a ton of local photography practice and then taking amazing images in Costa Rica in June and then in Iceland in November. These weren’t trips I was dreaming of. These were GOING to happen and had dates and even purchased tickets! Of course that travel didn’t happen so here’s what I’ve been doing since last December.
Pre-pandemic: My 2019 ended with a ski trip in Utah. We drove there and spent Christmas in a rental home with 2 other families. The mountains were gorgeous, covered with snow and FREEZING! I was able to find an overlook at sunset and got some ok images but was using new gear and was still figuring it out. My hands froze and so did my lenses and camera! We are renting a house again with 1 other family and this year I’m ready and hoping to make some good images! At the end of January I flew to Georgia for some meetings in Atlanta. I didn’t have time for photography until I headed to Columbus to visit with my husband’s mom. I found a nice little state park to drag my camera to. During that trip there were rumblings about a virus but I was so hopeful it could stay contained.
During Pandemic: During February and early March as I watched the virus spread throughout the world, I focused on learning and finding places to get out locally. It’s definitely harder to find nearby locations that inspire me but there was plenty of time to get outside and do that! Initially the county and state parks were closed but they slowly reopened and I’ve been trying to check those out in different weather. At first I was pretty frustrated because so many places were so new to me but now I’ve found some I like and can make many repeat visits. And I’m still getting out to explore new areas of Texas.
By May I was so stir crazy that I told my husband, Taylor, I needed to go somewhere…ANYWHERE! We decided it would be safe to do a. couple of short road trips, take our own food and do outdoor activities. Mid-may we drove to East Texas to Caddo Lake for a long weekend. It was awesome! We went fishing at Caddo Lake state park and then rented a canoe and explored part of that amazing lake. It was hard to take pictures from a canoe but I tried and I’ll definitely go back again! At the end of May we did another quick road trip but headed west to the Davis Mountains. We executed a similar plan and did a 7 mile hike and enjoyed some mountain desert dark skies.
In June, even with a pandemic and protests going on all over the country, after some discussion and research about plane safety with Covid, Taylor and I took a plane to Washington state. We stayed with some close friends and spent a ton of time outdoors kayaking, bike riding, and hiking. I met up with another photographer and visited Palouse Falls for sunset. Even though we didn’t get the conditions we wanted, we made the most of it and I learned a few things about taking panoramic images. Another day we drove to the Palouse region where I met a couple of female photographers, Holly and Criz, and captured one of my favorite images!!
July provided 2 more travel opportunities – California and Utah. I don’t remember the catalyst for going to California other that I hadn’t seen why mom in a while and flights were so cheap. I had a good previous experience flying with Southwest in June so I kept to myself for a couple of weeks and headed out solo. It was a lovely visit and I did more outdoor activities like hiking Tehachapi Mountain with my sisters and spending a night near the beach. at the end of the month, my son needed to get to Utah so we hopped in the car and drove the 18 hours to Salt Lake City. I spent a long weekend outdoors again hiking with my daughter. (I should mention that this whole time I’ve been out hiking with my camera gear always practicing photography and training for possible longer hiking opportunities. It been getting easier to walk/hike a couple of miles now that I’ve forced myself to lug my equipment along every time.) On the way back I forced my son to drive home the southern route because I wanted to see White Sands National Park. I spent an evening there and fell in love! That place is awesome!!!
White Sands was so awesome that I felt compelled to take a solo trip to New Mexico at the end of August. Las Cruces is a 9 hour drive and the time went by so fast! I was gone 5 days and loved every minute! I rented my own airbnb space and spent the mornings at White Sands or hiking in the Organ mountains. Afternoons were at my rental learning and practicing editing. Then I would head back to White Sands for sunset. Those dunes are amazing and mesmerizing! I connected with another female photographer who met me at the dunes one evening. It was so great to connect with another like-minded woman. I look forward to shooting again with Lisa!
September was another local exploration month but in October I flew again (still on Southwest since I had such a good experience and flights are still soooo cheap). This time I went back “home” to Virginia. We lived there for 12 years and I do miss my friends. I spent a couple of days with my sister, a couple of days at the beach with my good friend, Becky and another couple of days in Richmond at my friend, Chelsey’s. It was so fun to do some ocean/water photography! And, one morning I got up at 3 am, drove 2 hours to Shenandoah National Park and witnessed an awesome sunrise!
Last month, in early November I was able to snag reservations for camping at 2 great state parks during peak fall colors. Some good friends met us there and it was so fun to practice photography with gorgeous trees!!! In mid-November I flew back to California (again cheap flights and Southwest is still awesome). My mom and I road-tripped up the coast to Big Sur and back. I am figuring out how to squeeze my photography into a trip without inconveniencing my travel partners. I really do miss the ocean and it was awesome to drive the PCH and see new places. Then, I rented a mini RV and spent a couple of nights with 2 of my sisters in Death Valley. That was also AWESOME and I can’t wait to go back! I’m slowly figuring out that I like the desert or at least less complicated landscapes.
And, just recently, I road tripped with my family to Georgia for Thanksgiving and another week in Florida with friends. I was only able to squeeze in 1 photography morning at the beach but it was so fun!
In the past year I’ve done 12 trips – 7 on the road and 5 in the air. I can’t believe that during this year I’ve actually done more domestic travel than I ever have or expected to. My husband’s job has been remote work and that has enabled us to be more flexible. I will say that we have tried to be careful where we go and who we see. When we are home, we have pretty limited contact with others and spend lots of time outside. I have been pleasantly surprised by the precautions Southwest Airlines has taken as far as cleanliness and distancing passengers. I thought wearing a mask on the plane would be a hassle but I’m fine with it as long as others wear theirs. Even though I know this pandemic has negatively impacted millions of people around the world, I’ve been able to have photographic experiences I never would have otherwise had. I’m grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had and the mind work I’ve learned in order to help me be more flexible and adapt to an interesting year. I’m still loving this work!
Here’s an intimate scene from an overlook in Death Valley. I love the patterns in the earth! It kind of looks like chocolate/vanilla swirl ice cream!