Ansel Adams is one of my favorite photographers of all time, but you couldn't tell based on my own photographic style. I love his passion and philosophy for the art of photography, and he has helped me tremendously as I struggle through what it means to be an artist who makes photographs. It was him who said that if he created twelve great photos in one year, then he was satisfied. Well I'm horrible at narrowing things down, so here's twenty one of my favorite photographs in 2014, along with a little reason why.

For the past several years I've created a birthday self portrait. This was taken almost exactly a year ago, on my twentieth birthday, and signified a huge change in my life and mindset. It's one of the most advanced images I've ever attempted, was hugely therapeutic while creating, and the result was rewarding. It's not very often a photo turns out as good as I imagine it in my head, and almost unheard of when it turns out better.

This photo also has a lot of incredibly deep meanings for me and a select few people I'm very close to, which I won't talk about. But in creating this photo, I was experimenting a lot with light and dark, all while trying to control my crazy fog machine that tends to have a mind of its own, haha. I'm immensely thankful for the space that I have at my university to be able to create images like this.

This is a recent re-edit of a photograph I made in April (I believe). It was my first "musician portrait" and the beginning of myself building my portfolio working with musicians and musical artists. I really love working with these types of people because while I only dabble with playing instruments, I think music is one of the most powerful tools of communication and beauty. For this photo specifically, Sarah (my assistant), Auna (the amazing model), and I all had a blast trying to fit the harp into my boyfriend's car and then carrying it around with people looking on. I always feel so cool with a camera in my hand and an amazing crew backing me up. The iphone version of this image was also featured on @peoplescreatives (then @bestofvsco) on instagram, which is a great community of artists and I'm so thankful for their continued support.

This was my Photo II final, in which we all had to photograph my painting professor, Gary. I really have been pushing myself to produce things at the shoot rather than in photoshop, and for this photo I wanted to show his passion in life without it being too obvious. I had two other students helping me, Kelly and Michaela. They held up the glass, which I had previously covered in paint as you see here (though I changed some of the colors around in post), and we made some magic. This is one of my boyfriend's favorite images of mine as well, and I have been toying around with the idea of creating portraits like these of all the professors I'm blessed to be taught by.

This was one of the images in my origami series that I did and definitely my favorite of the bunch. It was a challenge coming up with different poses for each of the models, especially the guys since I haven't worked with too many men yet. Spencer is always great though and shows up in a lot of my photos. He's honestly one of the best people you'll meet. I especially loved the lighting in this one, and his gaze and pose--strong while being guarded and maybe a little fragile. And of course the swimming fish are fun. :)

One of my favorite images of the year, for sure. This was shot over the summer. I don't do self portraits too often anymore, so any time I do them, they bring a lot of good nostalgia for me. This one was super fun to create, throwing water around in my front yard, chasing the light, trying to get myself in focus, you know the drill. I also love this photo because it represents to me how crazy the art world is. This image was featured on fstoppers.com in a review video, in which they didn't particularly like this image (ouch, but they gave a fantastic critique). But then a few weeks later (or a month or so?) this photo was selected as a finalist in the 2014 EyeEm Awards (1 of 100 finalists out of 100,000+ photographs). That just reminds me that at the end of the day, I need to make art for myself and if other people enjoy it, that's awesome. And if not, that's fine too. I'll take their criticisms and grow from it.

Another musician photo! Even when I'm on vacation, I still have to make art, hah. This was taken on a vacation to our friends' lakehouse. Kendra is an amazing harp player and was more than happy to bring it along on the trip, so one day in between rain we ran around and found cool places to shoot. I just really love the dark quality of this photo, even though it was fairly bright outside.

Oh this day. This was the day I got to assist my boss on one of his photography workshops. He took us to this perfect location and really pushed me to try some new things I hadn't thought of before. So I made this image, with a different composition than I usually do, a different f-stop, and different perspective. The whole day was just a dream, running around barefoot on top of a mountain just breathing in all the immense beauty that surrounded me. Sometimes it's not even so much about the photo itself as it is the feelings the photo recalls in my mind. ... you can guarantee I will be back to this place soon.

This day was also incredible. I had a great team of people behind me--Gibby the incredible makeup artist, Haley and Julia as my assistants (and last minute hair stylists!), and of course Miranda, the beyond amazing model. This was my first time working with a model signed with an agency, and Miranda is one of the best people to work with. She's incredibly kind, and also willing to do anything for a photo, even succumb herself to the cold and walk in the middle of a dam barefooted while tourists look on. The photo on the left I adore because she was killing it with her posing, and I love the pained expression on her face (probably from the cold now that I think about it, haha! Just kidding, we kept her very warm in between shots). The photo on the right was the last shot of the day, after she took her hair down. I wanted to show Gibby how well her makeup stayed throughout the day, despite the rain, and the way Miranda's hair fell around her face was beautiful. A quick image became one of my favorites.

I reached out to Emma Hill wanting to work with her, and it was definitely one of the highlights of my year. I got to visit Talkeetna for the first time, got to really just live life in the moment and make art and listen to podcasts and laugh and it was wonderful. For the top image we found an old, beat up car, so I had Emma get in and pretend to drive. I shot her through the glass because I loved the reflection of the forest on the window. The bottom photo was made in her home, featuring a wall of local Alaska musicians. This is the perfect example of the whole "not the tool, but the photographer" statement. I shot this with my kit lens, with one softbox on the left side of the frame. Simple lighting, simple lens, I just love how you can feel her passion for what she does.

Cody has been a family friend since birth, and it was awesome getting to meet up with him now that we're both adults. The top image was my one idea going into the shoot. I had originally planned on just photoshopping him into the water, so as to not bring any potential harm to the guitar, but I was blown away when he went right in. I seriously love it when my subjects are willing to do crazy things for me! The bottom image I chose because I just love his gaze, I think the timing was perfect on that one. I've been trying to go the simpler route while photographing and attempt to bring out the emotion simply through posing or the look rather than going overboard with concepts and props and photo manipulation. I feel like this image is a great example of that.

The iphone version of this image was featured on the @postthepeople instagram, another really great community of artists. I oftentimes love to do iphone previews of photos, not only to give you guys a first hand look at what's going on, but also for me to test potentially different processing styles. I use vscocam for my iphone photos, and had been really obsessed with the P5 preset. I used that preset on the iphone version, which inspired me to incorporate lots of purple and green tones into the processing of these photos. Heather was awesome as well, running around in freezing water, playing her flute for cyclists going by. Also I have to give thanks to her mom for being my assistant! This was a great shoot where I came in with not many strong concepts in mind, but we came out with several great pieces.

This was just a quick image I made with my cousin on her last day visiting us in Alaska. The light was really intriguing and I had to capture it. Not much else to be said here. As my photo professor says, "It's all about the light."

My friend Spencer posed for another photo at my university's annual art retreat. My friend James brought his boomerang and I thought it was the coolest thing so I had to photograph it. I attempted to make this look as "Australian" as possible, whatever that actually means. I just really loved the depth of field with this one, and also the light on his face. Special thanks to Jessica for holding up the diffuser for me!

It's kind of become a tradition for me to photograph one stranger every art retreat. My photo professor really pushes me outside of my comfort zone, and I was really excited to show him this image. A few friends and I went to a coffee shop early in the morning, and I just loved the light streaming in and this man's eyes. 

I think this might be the coolest senior photo I ever will take, haha. During the art retreat, I also got to do some client work for Heather! She's a dancer, super sweet, and willing to do anything for a photo. I have to also give a huge thanks to Jessica for letting me use her fancy camera, because I don't think I would have been able to capture this using my own--the timing was so quick, and the Mark iii handles harsh light A LOT better than a t3i does, haha. Needless to say, the shoot ended a little prematurely after this shot, because Heather was completely soaked after that. :)

This was another image shot at the art retreat, and represents to me perseverance and faking it till you make it. Jessica made the dress, the jewelry was from a local store, Pulp and Circumstance, and the last minute (and ever gracious) models were Connor and Kiri. My assistants were basically everyone else at the art retreat, haha, as they all shined their phone flashlights to light the models (we ran out of time to figure out how to get lighting equipment on the beach). I had never shot people at night before and my camera is not the best in low light situations, so I was incredibly nervous going into the shoot. Add to that all my peers and friends watching on and I was internally freaking out. But despite those fears, everyone did an amazing job and we made something really special.

I was collaborating with my friend Alex on a music video he was directing for Shali, while my friend Jeremiah did the sound, and this was photographed after their second to last recording session. Shali was so wonderful and I can't wait to work with her again. It's great being around passionate, talented, like-minded individuals and I was very happy to show a little bit of what that passion feels like. It's a quiet moment in the dark, just you and the sound of your voice and all the possibilities.

Upon returning home for Christmas break, I took a little time off taking photos to rejuvenate a little bit. Already I'm dreaming up 2015, and getting plans together to work with more people and create some amazing art together. If you ever want to collaborate, I would love to meet up and make art with you! 

I wanted to say a special thanks to everyone for supporting me. You are the best, I am so uplifted by you, and I can't wait to meet/see you in person one day. 

As a quick closing note, please take me as an example that nothing is standing in the way of you fulfilling your dreams, not even yourself, not even your equipment or material, not even your free-time or lack thereof. There are far more people who want you to succeed than those who do not, so pay no mind to those few. And by all means, just do what you love. Life is too short to settle for anything less.

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