Photography Travel + Lifestyle

    Tips for Taking Better Travel Photos


    Based on the questions I’m asked about pictures I’ve taken, I think there are a lot of misconceptions about what you need (and don’t need) to create beautiful images. Today I’m sharing my top five tips to take better pictures when documenting your next trip!


    1. You DON’T need fancy equipment. 

    It’s more about how creatively you use what you have than it is about how expensive your lens or camera is. Those things definitely make a difference, but for travel pictures, it’s way more important that you just have something you’ll actually carry around with you and use. 

     2. Shoot what you see. 

    I think the most important thing to do is just capture the sights and moments that speak to you. Trust your eye and don’t get caught up in trying to recreate something you’ve seen on Instagram or in a movie. If you see something unique or a landscaping framing your subject perfectly, shoot away! You can learn a lot from reflecting on how your camera captured what you saw. Whatever feedback that image gives you, make adjustments until you get it just right. 

    3. Learn a little about light. 

    There is really only one thing to avoid in natural light; full sun. My very favorite time to take photos is right before sunrise. The other is “golden hour” which is basically the hour preceding and/or including sunset. Life and travel doesn’t always happen within those perfect light hours so just keep in mind that shade is your best friend. It’s easy to lighten pictures later, it’s really difficult to lower exposure and still have a crisp photograph after editing. Colors are more vibrant, skin tone is creamier and your creative options are basically endless in evenly lit, natural light. Pop quiz! What should you do if you wake up to a gloomy cloudy day during your vacation? ANSWER: Jump for joy and bring your camera. Cloud cover means bright, evenly lit photos all day. *Party emoji!

    4. Edit stylishly.

    Editing is where you get to be an artist and let your style show. Make a conscious decision to edit all of your photos with the same style so that they tell a story in a fluid way. Editing is way less about erasing blemishes and much more about telling a story so that the photos make sense together. There isn’t really a right way or a wrong way to do this, just make a decision and try your best to let that style show in every photograph. I suggest downloading the Lightroom app before you leave on your trip! 

    5. Be wild. 

    Your photos should convey moments that moved you. The best way to get better pictures is to do more things! One of my favorite pictures of me ever, is from a road trip Kyle and I took when we first moved to Arizona. I was laying in the freezing ice melt water in Sedona, laughing because I totally wiped out trying to look adventurous climbing a rock.  Don’t be afraid to go for it and try new things, look silly or pull over for the sunset from the side of the road and just enjoy the moment of “being”. Photographs are simply a way to capture a moment. They’re empty and meaningless without real life to give them a story. 


    Travel + Lifestyle

    Let’s Talk Creative Burnout


    As an artist, creativity is the lifeblood in my career.

    Inspiration, and I think we can all agree on this; is unique and vague, in short it’s everywhere. Right?

    But, where does creativity come from? This question I think, begs a big answer and forgive me if you’ve skipped ahead and already decided it’s cheeseball and cliche. But really, if there is a legitimate answer to the question,

    “Where do I go when the cup of creativity in me is dry?”

    Then, burnout wouldn’t burn so bad. If we know how to refuel, burnout is only a reminder to take time to recharge. Would that make the answer worth considering?

    I’m a hot mess. It probably goes without saying, but let me just jump in here and remind you that I’m no perfect church girl and I’m certainly not qualified to be giving advice on how to solve your problems because I have enough of my own to handle. But, I know Jesus and sometimes He speaks to me and so, I listen.

    It’s probably politically incorrect or something, but it’s my prayer that in reading these words, you’d let them sink and settle into your mind and just allow your imagination wander a little with the possibility of all that this answer could mean. 

    Creativity comes from your Creator, inspiration comes from His Creation. 

    Burnout is good, it’s natural and in case you wrote yourself off as someone who’s been forgotten about or maybe just has a hard time hearing His voice, your creative burnout is a case for just the opposite. 

    If you’re lost and lonely, broken down. Come to the River. Let yourself in. 

    Travel + Lifestyle

    Chapters 1 & 2 of Our Story.

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    It’s 5:45 in the morning on the first day of fall. The windows are open and my favorite candle is flickering. HELLO, favorite time of day/year to write. All the ingredients were there, and this story started pouring out. I thought I’d share the first two chapters here to see if this is fun for anyone to read. If it’s awkward, I’ll just write it as a keepsake for us and stick to sharing recipes and decor type stuff on the blog. Maybe it will make you laugh, or start believing in regular life love stories. I apologize for any grammatical errors, this is straight from my journal. If nothing else, it will help you get to know us better. It’s an epic love saga, drenched in steamy drama. You’ve been warned. 

    1. Home-Schooler. 

    The car door slammed behind me. Startled from my gaze of the sprawling campus and little backpacks scurrying in every direction, I jumped and glanced back at the car. My Dad was leaning over, grinning and giving me a hearty two thumbs up from the window. He rolled it down and hollered at me, “Go get ‘em peanut! You’re going to love it here!” I forced a quick smile and gave him two thumbs up, hoping no one would see. 

    Late August in Southern California doesn’t make for the most forgiving temperatures. I could feel sweat on my forehead forming and it wasn’t even seven o’clock yet. My thick, messy blonde curls of hair, arguably my best feature, felt all-together like an involuntary winter hat. Not helping anything, my white cotton dress with thick lace embroidery stood out like the pope at a party. The population appeared to be a mess of dark wash jeans and t-shirts from all the cool brands. I hadn’t gotten the memo. Pretty sure my mom had made my dress. Perfect, the whole look just screamed “home-schooler”. I sighed, hugged my oversized binder wand walked through the giant blue gates, silently praying I’d make one friend. Just one. 

    “A-26. Don’t forget A-26.” My first period class was the one I was genuinely excited for,  Interior Design with Mrs Nikzad. In fact, it was the ringer in my parent’s winning presentation to end my homeschool career. The High School. THE because it was THE only one in our little town. Selling features to this place included Interior Design, and sports. Sports, for me, meant swimming. I grew up in the water. Salt, chlorine or otherwise. Years of all my extra time spent training and competing had proved that by sophomore year of high school, I was on track for a hefty division one scholarship. My parents and I were both a bit starry eyed at the whole deal, especially at fifteen and a half. On top of that, there was an unshakeable feeling we all shared that something important, something big, was out there for me and I might just miss it if I didn’t try the whole real high school experience. We were all pretty certain it was swimming. 

    2. Deskmates 

    I was standing near a group of friends I knew from swim, waiting for the first bell to ring when someone tapped me on the shoulder. Confused, I turned around.

    “You’re Madi, Madi Lanz.”

    “I know who you are. Uh, I mean, I’m Kyle, Hi.”

    He was a tall, lanky kid with a big gray backpack, Volcom t-shirt and royal blue baseball hat on backwards. I recognized his face from somewhere but couldn’t remember from where. On first impression, he definitely didn’t appear to have spent much time at the beach or the pool that summer. 

    “My friend Chris told me we have Interior Design together. First period with Mrs. Nikzad?” 

    “Hi! Nice to meet you. Yeah, I have first period with Mrs. Nikzad!” I tried to over-enthusiastically hide any silent evaluating I had been doing of the whole situtation.

    “Great. We should get going then. I’ll walk you there. The bell’s about to ring and it’s good to be early on the first day to pick out the best desk.”  

    I didn’t care much about picking out the “best desk” whatever that meant, but I didn’t want to be rude. He turned confidently waiting for me to join him. As he turned, I was distracted by how packed his backpack was for the first day. 

    I hustled to keep up with him, “Were we supposed to bring all our books to the first day of school?” I asked anxiously. 

    “Nope, I just liked to be prepared.” He grinned, seemingly pleased with himself. The pace didn’t waver. I had to remind myself we hadn’t actually missed the bell. 

    Not surprisingly, the classroom door to room A-26 was locked when we got there. He glanced at his watch and said, “Cute dress.” 

    Before I could reply, the classroom door swung open and a dark haired, fashionable woman with a thick accent from somewhere I’d surely never been, welcomed us with a big smile and directions about selecting a desk and something about “the person you share your desk with will be your parter all semester.”

    By now a few other students were trickling in. I recognized a girl from elementary school and considered re-introducing myself as I watched Kyle in my peripheral vision furiously scouting all the desks and their prospective views of the whiteboard. He selected the one closest to the front and waved at me. He didn’t seem to even consider that I may not join him as he unloaded his binder and notebooks and arranged them with precision on the desk. He really did seem nice and… driven. What more could you ask for in a desk mate? I smiled back and made my way to the front of the class. We sat together as the teacher explained the grading procedures and all the different topics we’d be covering throughout the semester. I don’t know if it was her musical accent or the silent tension of the whole dress comment, but I stopped listening and instead quietly considered if this Kyle person maybe had an eye for women’s clothing. He did seem serious about this interior design class, after all.

    The backwards hat and farmers tan on his arm begged to differ. 



    Ten Tips for Beginning Bloggers


    Guys. You know what makes me so happy? Okay, so other than Smoothie bowls and Justin Timberlake. I love to be asked, “How do I start a blog?”. Isn’t it rad that the internet allows all of us to share our stories? Rhetorical question, YUS. I’m pumped to give you a few tips on successful blogging for beginners. As a disclaimer, I am unapologetically NOT the most polished or popular blogger. These are a few things I’ve learned as a full time social media do-er and I hope my experience will help you!

    And Hey! While you’re sitting here let me remind you, that the world needs your story! Drumroll…you got this.

    10Start a blog