Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m 39 years old, born and raised in Minnesota, but I spent my twenties living in Phoenix, Arizona. I love country music, especially Kenny Chesney. I have traveled all around the country to see Kenny with friends. It is partly due to Kenny that I developed a Caribbean addiction. I’ve always found writing to be my best creative medium, but when I picked up photography in 2012, it opened up a whole new creative outlet for me, which I love. My ultimate goal is to support myself with writing and photography, while living on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Three words that describe you.
Introvert, loyal, observant
What can someone expect to see in your Instagram feed?
A lot of island pictures, with some of the other places I go and things I do thrown in here and there. I always wish I was I the islands, so I’m constantly mining my pictures for something to post.
The Caribbean is obviously one of your favorite destinations. What aspects of the islands make for great subject matter?
Their natural beauty. I never get tired of all the different beautiful views to be found in the islands. From sitting on a beach, to enjoying a panoramic vista from a high point, I constantly find my jaw dropping. Plus, each island has its own look and feel, which is what makes them fun to explore from a photography aspect.
Can you tell us the story behind your favorite photo or photos?
Smuggler’s Cove: This is one of my favorite shots I’ve taken. Two girlfriends and I were halfway through a 10-day island hop through the British Virgin Islands, and we were spending the day on Tortola. We rented a car for the day, and I got to learn how to drive on the left side of the road. As we drove to Smuggler’s Cove, the road got worse and worse. There were no signs, but we just kept going. We were rewarded with this beautiful, quiet beach with a stunning view of Jost Van Dyke, the island we had left that morning. It’s what I love about the Virgin Islands, there’s always a view to another island.
Sunset crowd, Cruz Bay: This is the only shot in this gallery that was taken with my iPhone. I love that it’s such a perfect example of one of the ways the islands are awesome: sunset is an event that people stop to watch. Cruz Bay is a perfect spot for it, as it faces west to St. Thomas, and it has a line of beach bars where you can grab a cold drink while you take in the view.
Boats on White Bay: I was on a boat trip to Jost Van Dyke with a group of friends for a beach party at Soggy Dollar bar, and it was a perfect sunny island day. I was taking pictures from the bow of our boat looking away from the beach, because I loved that there were so many boats anchored there that day. When I got the shots off my camera that evening, this shot gave me the biggest smile, because of all the island blues.
What do you hope to convey in your photography?
The main thing I’m always trying to do is capture the beauty of the scene I’m looking at, along with a little bit of awe. Beautiful vistas and grand, wide-open spaces are what catch my eye, and I always want to capture that “oh, my gosh” feeling.
Who or what inspires you?
People who have the courage to follow their heart and pursue things that aren’t necessarily the “normal” or “practical” thing to do. I’ve never had the mindset for cubicle life, but with social media, and the connections I’ve made, it’s shown me there is a way to get out of the cubicle.
What has photography taught you about yourself that you never knew?
That I have an eye for it. I always felt like writing was the only creative thing I had any ability in, but photography has been an easy fit. I still have a lot of improving to do, a lot to still learn, but it’s been a confidence boost to find another creative outlet that I can do.
What’s the most memorable photo you took with your mind, not your camera?
Oh, gosh, there are so many. One that always sticks out is from Barbados. I was there for nine days in March, 2014. I stayed on the west coast, but spent a day over on the rugged east coast. As I was driving back to the west coast, I was chasing the sunset. As I drove, a beautiful golden light spread over the gorgeous island interior of rolling green hills. Since I was running a little late to meet the friends I was staying with, I didn’t pull over and take any pictures.
What camera, gear, apps and/or software do you use?
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i DSLR and iPhone 6s
Gear: Lenses: Canon EFS 55-250mm, Canon EFS 18-55mm, Tamron SP 10-24mm wide angle, Polarizing filter on my DSLR, Manfrotto tripod
Apps/Software: Snapseed, Photoshop Express, VSCO
Other than photography equipment, what three things do you bring with you to make life on the road easier, more comfortable or more fun?
iPod: Gotta have some good tunes to provide the soundtrack for the trip.
iPad: Always have books and movies on it for the plane.
Snacks: For the plane or when out and about at my destination, I like having something to snack on.
What’s your favorite souvenir and the memory it conjures?
I don’t buy a lot of souvenirs, mainly t-shirts, but I do have an enameled tin cup from Pusser’s bar on Tortola (it’s also a brand of rum). You can buy it when you buy a painkiller rum drink, and it says “Pusser’s Landing Painkiller Club” on the one side, with the drink recipe on the other side. It’s really cool. I bought it on the last day of a fantastic 10-day island hop, so it’s a great reminder of that fun trip.
Three photographers you follow on Instagram and why.
Kirsten Alana (@kirstenalana): One of the first people I followed when I got on Instagram in 2012. She’s a beautiful photographer, and I love seeing all the places she travels to as a travel writer/photographer/blogger. Knowing her story of how she got to where she is, she inspires me to pursue my dreams and goals.
Tristan Stefan Edouard (@Tristan_Edouard): I’ve been following this talented Sydney photographer since about 2012. He came out of the hip-hop community in Sydney, and his background couldn’t be more opposite of mine, but I love his style and that he takes pics of a little bit of everything. It’s been fun to watch his hard work pay off in a flourishing freelance career.
Chrisann Nickel (@womanonarock): I found Chrissann through the blog she runs, Women Who Live On Rocks, which I love, since I aspire to be one. I love seeing her beautiful shots of Virgin Gorda, the island she lives on, along with the other islands she visits on occasion. Also, love her spirit and the good vibes she puts out into the world.