Iceland Vacation 2015 Part Two: Icelandic Horses

These little guys left quite the impression on us while we were in Iceland. So much so that we want to share a blog post of just them!

Icelandic horses are one of a kind. No other horses and come to Iceland, and once an Icelandic horse leaves the country, they can never come back. Its an exclusive bloodline, kept isolated and pure since the beginning. They stay out all winter. They have been bred for thousands of years to be tough physically along with kind demeanors.

The first one I saw took my breath away.

Now it’s important to note, I’ve never been a horse girl. There were two camps when I was growing up, the horse girls and the dolphin girls. I was a dolphin girl, (shocking I know). I’ve always been a little nervous around horses. They are so BIG and so powerful. Ive also always been touched by them in a mythical way. I love a good horse movie, (Wild Hearts Cant Be Broken… can I get an amen). Still… they weren’t ever really my THING if you know what I mean.

One long look at an Icelandic horse sent me wide eyed down the road to horse love.

They are all over the place and we stopped constantly to photograph them. I was always careful… never touching them or being disrespectful to these horses we met along the way. I was nervous due to my lifelong caution around them. These little guys would come right up to us on the other side of the fence. We never really had to try and get close because they would come close to us! Still… I was dying to touch one.

Then we stayed at the Steinsholt Guesthouse. Kari, the owner and keeper, was so friendly and we were able to chat with her about our time so far in Iceland. The guesthouse is a part of a working horse farm so naturally we peppered her with questions. I asked if she would take me to see them so I could photograph them. She said of course and that we could go in the morning.

We woke up and it was FREEZING and I almost told her it was ok and not to worry about it. Something in me said “dont you dare. this is your only chance.” so I asked her to take us up. Little did we know what we would have the time of our lives. She took us up over to the top of her fields and opened the gate and invited us in to a herd of 50-60 horses. They surrounded us, coming to see their mom and see if she had any treats. They nuzzled us and let us pet them. They nipped our shoulders and closed us into tight circles of horses blocking the wind and overwhelming us. It was like we were being surrounded by gentle giants, that were simply interested in treats and saying hi to mom and meeting us. We likened them to “Giant Hattie’s” like our little cavalier king charles whose only interest is in snuggling and kissing. It was unreal.

After that I was done for when it came to horses. Can I have one… or ten… or a farm of them?

If you get a chance to visit Iceland, please make it a point to meet the horses.

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To purchase some of the images you see here as prints, please head to our Etsy shop!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/BethanyDanPhoto

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Iceland Vacation 2015 Part One

In April, we went on a vacation to Iceland! Its been a few months and we were able to let some time pass and let the trip sink in. Dan gave me the tickets for my birthday last year and I had been looking forward to the trip for 6 months. About a week or so before our departure flights we decided to make some plans for our time there. Ha! Most of the hip and trendy hostels were all booked up but we managed. It was a truly unforgettable trip for us and I am so happy we went.

I had heard about Iceland from friends who have been and unanimously everyone was sure the Dan and I would love it.¬†I have to say they were both right and wrong. We DID in fact spend almost every waking moment in awe… and the alternating moments in fear.¬†I’ve found it hard to write about the experience of being there because it was so intense, both good as well as uncomfortable. Many of our experiences involved both of those feelings. From a terrifying drive up to a view I’ll never forget, to swimming in a hot geothermal pool and having to get out dripping wet into an arctic breeze and change out of my swimsuit. It is a place of contrast both visually and emotionally. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it the whole time we were there.

Iceland is shockingly beautiful. We draw much of our own personal inspiration from landscapes. This applies to life in general as well as in our photography.  While we are not landscape photographers, we use the surroundings as the secondary consideration when composing the spirit of our work, emotion being the first. Personally though, my emotions are connected to my surroundings, especially dramatic contrasting oceanic spaces. Hence my deep love for the Maine and NC coasts. Iceland fit the bill for that 110%. One of my favorite aspects to the Icelandic landscapes were the intense blues and blacks. So. Good! It was so other worldly I had trouble taking it all in.

The horses there were so moving to us, they get their own blog post, check that out tomorrow.

The weather in Iceland is terrifying, at least it was to us. The wind is so strong that our car was constantly being wobbled around as we drove past sheer cliffs into the ocean and over bridges across glacial rivers. We spend most of the trip gasping from the unending views that compare to nothing else I have ever seen… and gasping from the fear or being blown off the road. It wasn’t an unfounded fear either. We have known multiple friends on separate trips who have had near-death experiences on this island, from cars flipping off the road to hypothermia in frozen rivers. Stories that I wasn’t sure I was glad to be aware of previous to our adventure or wished I didn’t know until we returned. Let me just say that it’s a good idea to get the wind and sand insurance… you know… in case the wind sand blasts the paint off your car… since that actually does happen.

 

After spending 10 days driving all around this country, we can say that the music of Sigur R√≥s and Bj√∂rk makes complete sense. It’s funny… having enjoyed them for eons prior to visiting, I can hear it on a whole new level, imagining the vistas the must have had as a part of their souls while the composed their music. Such a fun new perspective for the music lovers in us.

 

There was so much that happened that I realized I can’t tell you the whole story here. Call us up and lets meet for drinks at one of our favorite bars and we can recap the stories for you. You can choose from some of these selections:

“I was doubled over and crying in the passenger seat”

“The backwards walk back to the car to avoid having our faces sandblasted off”

“The horse encounter that may be in my top 10 favorite life experience to date”

“All seasons, one day”

“Rainbows Waterfalls Swimming and coats”

“Food adventures from Skyr to Jelly Pizza”

“Lets just leave all our belongings behind so we dont die trying to retrieve them”

“I wish I lived in VIking times”

and many many more….

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A few bullet points of our Icelandic experiences:

  • If you get a chance, visit Iceland.
  • Be careful and respect the weather.
  • Reykiavik is not the whole story and in order to really get a good feel for the place, you need to venture out.
  • The Blue Lagoon was 100% worth the cost in our opinion. How often do you get to interact with a wonder of the world?
  • The food was not to our taste… at all… no matter the price range… Other than the bread, coffee, and Skyr… we were unimpressed.
  • If we ever get the chance to go back we will yell “YES PLEASE” emphatically all while trying to calm our racing hearts.

Want more? Tune in tomorrow for Icelandic Horses and also check out our portrait session we photographed of Hobie and Halldóra.

To purchase some of the images you see here as prints, please head to our Etsy shop!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/BethanyDanPhoto

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Anchorage Alaska to Raleigh NC – A road trip

Where do I begin, well at the beginning¬†of course! Last December Bethany and I visited our friends James and Lauren in Anchorage. James has been my best friend since highschool, and I thought it would be the last time I would see him and Alaska for a while. About two months after we got back James calls me and says, “would you be interested in helping me drive from Anchorage to Georgia?”

In the two months since Bethany and I left Alaska James had been selected for a new job in the Army and they said they needed him as soon as possible in Georgia.¬†Of course I said yes to helping him make the drive. That is not the kind of opportunity to pass up, road tripping through the continents most awesome roads with your best friend who you never really get to spend time with. Luckily, it took about an extra month for his unit to find a replacement and have the change of command so we set a date to leave on March 18th. We hoped this would be enough time for the Yukon to warm up a bit…

You might ask, why drive and not fly? James and Lauren’s dog Maggie has seizures and cannot go on planes so drive it was.

All for this little dog

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When we left anchorage and head to Tok. 350 Miles only passed 8 other cars…

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Always get the fuel! Headed into the Yukon. Luckily the weather was still good.

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It was a balmy -10 when we crossed the border into Canada.

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I really enjoyed this¬†spot called “Destruction bay.” At the gas station here, someone landed a helicopter next to us and proceeded to order soup. Not many roads around these parts.

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A typical town along the way.

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We had great weather the first two days, this morning heading out of Whitehorse the weather took a turn for the worse. The next three days where what I call “White Knuckle Driving…”

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We did find an awesome hot spring!

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The weather got worse and worse as we crossed into British Columbia.

 

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They do have nice rest areas though!

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Snow for days! Our luck had to run out sometime.

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Due to the slow driving speeds, our 8 hour days turned into 12 hour days… Once night fell, the darkness was amazing!

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As we closed in on Jasper the weather got worse and worse. After 1000’s of miles in the snow and wind gust finally got the better of us and ran us off the road. Stuck. Hard. Luckily it was in a flat stretch and we were ok.

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Luckily, the local tow truck had to come out to rescue an ambulance a few hours down the road from us and stopped to help. Otherwise, we would have not gotten winched out until the morning.

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Shockingly, when we made it Banff the next day, no snow! Wahoo!

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We made appointments for some tattoos in Calgary, James got two new ones and I got¬†Bethany’s signature on my right arm. You’ll have to see it in person.

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Once onto the plains, it looked like this for miles…

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Back to the US!

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After making it into the US, we were able to get out of the snow in Fargo ND and make some real time and get back to our families! If you get the chance to take a road trip with your best friend do it!

Trip Stats:

1 Accident

1 Mountain Lion

1 Lynx

1 Mule Deer (All my wildlife photos consist of a animal rear end running into the woods)

3 Moose

Countless Buffalo and…

4800 Miles Driven!

 

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  1. Love this post. And consider this my formal and written request that you, Danny G, blog more often – it’s fun to hear your voice on here!

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The ART of Being Bold

Culebra Outex Nikon June 12 2014 0008Time for some real talk! Im going to tell you about one of my biggest personal challenges on a wedding day and what I’m repeating to myself in my head this year to overcome it. If you share the same fears let me know and we can internet hug-it-out ok? Time for a little vulnerability y’all.

The big hangup: I am scared of being perceived as annoying or pushy or insensitive by guests/family at weddings by being “in the way.”¬†That may sound really simple but it can really throw a wrench in the gears when it comes to getting the photograph I want to take.

When I was a second shooter for Tracy Turpen Photography, I watched her take photographs that I really could only dream of taking. During highly emotional moment’s she stood right there… in it… with them. No worry of offending them. No backing away. A specific wedding you can even go take a look at had a particularly emotional moment, when the bride and her father did a “first look.” The bride teared up before he came to her, and they were both crying while they embraced. See it here: Kate and Kyle Married on Tracy Turpen’s Blog.¬†I was standing on the porch of the house, watching in awe as she owned that position, alongside that moment.

To be front and center with that moment may sound like an obvious place to be for the photographer, most of the time it’s the exact place place to be for that matter! For my INFJ personality, those moments are paralyzing, exciting, pushing, pulling, inspiring, terrifying, and more. I rarely¬†feel like I, a stranger, deserve to be there, no matter how kind the people are. Pushing to the front, perhaps blocking the view of “great uncle Joe” is the furthest distance from my natural instinct that you can get. What makes it more challenging for me is that I am a highly sensitive person. I¬†find it very challenging to be bold and lean into those moments for fear of bothering someone. It may sounds small but it. is. so. hard.¬†#thestruggleisreal

All this to say, Im really scared when Im sitting at the end of the aisle, sticking out like a sore thumb. My heart is racing… but not primarily because of the technical parts of the photography, but instead because of my worry to be bold when I need to be. When I want to be.

Here’s what I am learning, thanks almost entirely to the encouragement and feedback¬†I received at a recent photograph workshop with Ben and Erin Chrisman. I had admired their work since before I was a wedding photographer. Their work has a wild, bold, edgy, and has REAL heart that is palpable for me when I see it. The number one aspect I love the most was that it just seems like their clients let them in and I always wondered how. Looking behind the curtain I saw that it was a combination¬†of being “let in” but also being bold to get those images when you know they need to be taken, regardless of any personal hangups. No judgements, just take that photo!¬†They gently told me that I need to just go for it. Those times that I did, they saw, and they could tell the difference. The images I personally love that I have taken.. are when I was bold, when I just let all that head-space-mental-block stuff go and just went for that photograph I knew I wanted¬†to take. After just 2 days with them, I walked away knowing what my number one focus this year needed to be.

Instead of looking to subjects for some sort of permission to be there, I need to give myself that permission.

That was big. It was “crocodile tears” kind of big. It was a game changer. I cannot explain how huge it is to my work and my mind on a wedding day and I am forever indebted to them for that.

The vulnerability moment here with you is to encourage YOU to do the same. If you have any similar hangups, please know that the fact that you are aware, is what ensures you FROM being a jerk on a wedding day. They fact that you care to be respectful is not a bad thing, but a good thing. The important thing to remember always is that you DO deserve to be there. Your clients hired YOU. They chose YOU and your creative eye. When they picked you out, they invited you in and it’s your duty as their photographer to be bold and show their day as best as you possibly can. That means being you… fully… boldly… and with your head held high, leaning in to those sacred moments.

You deserve to be there.

And because we all need a little Ben and Erin wisdom here are the lines they said that changed me…

“You can’t let the random asshole stop you from doing what everyone else loves you for doing.” – Ben

“I can’t wait to see what you do when you bring yourself to the photos.”- Erin

 

 

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2 Responses to “The ART of Being Bold”

  1. Great blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?

    I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally confused ..
    Any ideas? Many thanks!

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Life Lately List: June 3, 2015

Yay June!

If you can believe it, I am wearing my fuzzy slippers and a wool sweater right now in our apartment. Maine is still cold. What the heck? Amiright? It was warm last week but we’ve been cold for a couple of days.

Something about June really feels good to me. Perhaps since its the beginning of the budget, or the fact that wedding season is up and running, or maybe its just know that its the time of year that people LOVE in Maine. Whatever it is… Im feeling it. You?

Last month was wild. Dan was out of town for 2 weeks, finishing up the renovations in the trailer. It was the longest time we have ever been apart since getting married in 2008. I hated it.

Dans birthday was May 25th and we went camping and drove to the top of Mt. Washington. The rainbow was quite the “God Hug” as I like to call it. It had been a long time since we went camping and it reminded me just how much I miss it.

We are looking forward to all the shoots and weddings we have planned for this month. Its going to be a good one! Woot Woot!

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