Mother's Day at 14,000 feet

"Above the clouds, the sky is always blue."

 - Therese of Lisieux

This has been on my Colorado bucket list since we arrived, but we couldn't go that high up right away, so I have been anxiously waiting to do this.  Pike's Peak sits at over 14,114 feet and even though Colorado Springs is at 6,035 feet, we had to wait at least six months for our bodies to adjust.  There was nothing more perfect than Mother's Day to finally go to the top of Pike's Peak since it is the only day of the year that my family is actually required to do exactly what I want to do!  (Plus, mom's are free on Mother's Day!!!)  The cost was $15 per adult, $5 per child ages 5-16yrs or $50 per vehicle to go to the summit.  If you only want to do the North Slope without going all the way up it would be $5 per vehicle.  

The 20 miles of highway is quite honestly, the most beautiful, peaceful, terrifying piece of road I have ever been on.  The scenery is breathtaking around every switchback and I was so happy to be the passenger so I could mentally prepare for every photo I wanted to take on the way back down.  (Pretty sure the family was happy I wasn't driving as well.)  My recommendation is to drive all the way up and then make your stops on the way down so you can let your brakes cool off.  

There was snow above the tree line and it was actively snowing when we got to the top!  Oh, yes, and it was cold.  The temperature at the summit was 26 degrees, but the "feels like" temp was 13 degrees.  My children, of course, did not want to wear jackets, but don't think I didn't tell them to bring one before we left the house!

It is gorgeous up there above the trees and the clouds.  The Cog Railway used to bring you to the top, but is closed until further notice, so you can freely walk along the tracks and around the entire peak.  I recommend spending a few minutes alone up there to feel your own peace.  You can also go to the gift shop and grab a shirt that says "I Like It on Top" or "Got Oxygen," and a hot chocolate or pretzel for part of the drive down.  

The views are the best!  They are worth the cost and facing your fear of heights, but beware of the altitude.  You will most likely feel light headed and get a headache, especially if you live closer to sea level.  Drink plenty of water on the way up and for the rest of the day.  Altitude sickness can creep up on anyone, so do not think you are immune.  

The random spots along the road are the best places for these beautiful, untouched natural wonders.  Being up in the mountains among endless views of mountains is awesome!

This is the mandatory brake checkpoint where they measure the temperature of your car's brakes.  If they are 300 degrees or above, they will politely ask you to pull over and wait until they cool down.  There is another small gift shop here and hopefully you don't have to hang out too long.  

I am so ready to do some photography sessions on this beautiful highway.  If anyone wants to create a magical photo session in the mountains for your family portraits, engagement sessions or modeling portfolio - CALL ME!  

The most beautiful part of the highway to me, was Crystal Lake Reservoir.  You can reach the lake for the North Slope price of $5 per vehicle and I plan on going back many more times before we leave.  There is another gift shop here and if you walk out back, you can feed the chipmunks.  The shop employees will come out and give the kids sunflower seeds and the cute little rodents will come eat them right out of their hands.  Now, I am ready to see this place in July!

"The mountains are calling and I must go."

 - John Muir


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Annie + Leah - Spruce Mountain

"If anybody can find someone to love them through this difficult thing that we call life, I support that in any shape or form."

 - Will Smith

This entire session was not only about creating something beautiful, but about creating an environment where two people would feel that magical feeling of LOVE!  Between the perfect chair from A Love Tale, a bit of thrift store shopping (of course), and their perfectly styled outfits (styled by themselves) - love was in the air!  It was romantic, it was simple, it was a bot of boho chic with a mountain vibe and all together we created something absolutely stunning.  

When photographing couples, I want them to feel comfortable with me as a photographer, but these photographs are about them and who they are.  I have them whisper in each other's ear something they love about each other (and these two had a very long list) and I also ask them to make their partner laugh.  Tell them something funny - and I don't need to hear any of this.  THAT is where the love shows!

If you can't see how in love these two are by the above photos, I don't know what else to say.  They lay together comfortably and smiling because it is home, it is where they belong.  

Annie + Leah both have the most beautiful smiles, but their smiles light up even more when they are looking at each other.  

And if there was a part of the day that I absolutely loved the most, it was all of the laughter!  There are many times when I have to ask people to do a fake laugh, but during this session - allllll the laughter was genuine.  As you will see in some of the other photos, the harder part of the day was trying to be serious.  

True romance here with these two!  And I could not have created these images without the perfect prop from A Love Tale.  If you are looking to build a portfolio of the perfect images, express your creativity, or plan a styled shoot - they literally have everything!  Moving to Colorado has forced me to improve my photography and my images in many different ways (which is AWESOME) and knowing there are resources here to help me do this, has been so wonderful.  

That glance!!!! These details!  I will be starting weddings in a week and I wanted to start practicing photographing the details, because let's face it, the details add everything to the big picture of an image, a setting, or a wedding.  How can I photograph a moment and emotion through details?  

And this is where we tried to be serious.  Apparently, this is Leah's serious face - Leah is on the right.  

Seriously beautiful eyes - both of them!  I would normally say "if looks could kill"  but I think the more appropriate term would be "if looks could love."  

We finally nailed that serious moment, and I love this because they are some amazingly strong women, who love each other deeply, are proud of who they are, and live here in the mountains!

"If I know what love is, it is because of you."

 - Herman Hesse

The O'Rear Family - Fox Run Regional Park

"The family is one of nature's masterpieces."

- George Santayana

 

Families have always been one of my favorite things to photograph because it is slightly chaotic and challenging, but the end result is always the most rewarding.  AND, I absolutely adore kids!  They always show up with their own ideas of what they want from the photo session and it usually involves jumping, gymnastics and a ton of silly faces.  I met this sweet family through the Colorado Crepe Company at Pike's Peak Market and they are made up of mom, dad, triplet girls + an older brother.  They could not be more adorable!  When I show up to a session with children, I am always prepared with something fun to do during the session that the kids will look forward to and a small gift for them at the end.  For this session at Fox Run Regional Park in the Black Forest, we used glitter and attempted to use light up balloons during the session. (yes, they popped! But, there were no tears.)  When the session was over, I gave them a pack of 15 glow necklaces that they could play with at home.  (The dollar spot at Target or the dollar store are your friend here.)

I brought pink, purple and blue glitter to the session, but nobody wanted to use the blue.  I totally thought their son would prefer it, but he wanted to use the same colors as his sisters.  What a sweet boy!  My favorite part about the above pictures, is that mom + dad left his fingernails painted!  This is exactly what childhood is about - playing freely, wearing whatever you want, and letting boys paint their fingernails blue and pink for their photo sessions. 

Sometimes everyone in a photo isn't looking at me or is mid-blink, but someone else in the shot is perfect.  Using some creative editing and cropping is perfectly acceptable because I don't think mom or dad would not want to see these perfect faces.  I like the photos to completely capture our session together and let them see the moments they missed.  Perfectly imperfect is perfect!

Candids are the real moments.  The little sweetheart in the middle trying not to smile with her nose all scrunched up.  Dad admiring his family.  The connections and interactions that occur without posing or looking straight at the camera are the images that bring them back to the day.  I bet mom remembers exactly what her son was saying here and why they were laughing. 

And let them play!  Run around and hug each other and tickle each other and wrestle.  This is where the genuine smiles are hiding.  :)

And these two parents, still very much in love after four children.  I like to have them whisper to each other some reasons why they love one another (it can be anything because I can't hear.)  I also have them whisper something that makes them laugh.  These sessions don't have to be stressful or boring, I want them to be enjoyable and having people communicate to each other, always warms their hearts.

These triplet girls had no problem hugging throughout the entire session - it was so CUTE!  Then their brother hugged them all and then it was time to hug mom + dad.  Hug it out fam! 

As the sun was setting through the trees, we had some incredible backlight for some shots with mom + dad.  Just asking them to hug or kiss mom or dad always makes for a great shot!  But, I personally always love the father and son moments because their height is so drastically different, it is fun to use that creatively.  And kids at these ages look up to their parents (literally and figuratively) so much - parents are their heroes!

But every family starts with the love of two people - mom + dad.  The beauty of this story is that they got married here at Fox Run, so doing their family photo session here was bringing them back to where the love story began. 

Their love story has turned into a family story. 

"A world of possibilities awaits you.  Keep turning the page." 

- Oprah Winfrey