I've mentioned this before, but landscape, nature, and travel photography were my original loves that eventually branched out into creating Taylor Made Photo KC and getting to work with so many amazing people, couples, families, pets, etc. So even though I LOVE doing portrait and lifestyle photography, I never pass up the chance to capture fall leaves or interesting architecture or a raindrop on a flower or a sunset over an open field (I promise I'm not trying to be a terribly cliche poet - that's just what landscape and travel photography makes me sound like!)

And for awhile, I didn't really do anything with these photos outside of editing them to my liking and saving them to my external HD. But I'm really proud of some of those photos, and I like the idea of sharing them with others, so I decided to put some of my favorites on Etsy to sell them as digital downloads. That means you can find your favorite photo, download the high resolution image, and then you can decide what size and what material will best fit your space in order to display it as wall art. You can even choose who prints the photo, although I will always recommend MPix first and foremost.

I will continue adding to my page as I (hopefully) travel more and anytime I see something that makes me reach for my camera. Right now there is a variety of seasons, scenes, and locations from the Midwest to the Southwest. I'm hoping to add the PNW to it this summer.

Check it out and let me know if you have any questions!

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Did you guys know I have a Photo Bucket List, and if you help me cross off one of the items on my list, you get a discount? Well, I got to cross one off this month, and it made me super happy! I think what I am going to like most about (hopefully) continuing to cross these things off is that it can be easy to get into a rut when you mainly shoot at the same handful of places. It's the same reason I haven't really 'niched down' like social media managers suggest doing - I like that variety of one day doing a newborn session, the next a wedding, then family photos, and then a senior session. So adding these bucket list items is one more way to keep the creative juices flowing, if you will.

So this particular bucket list item was to do a session of any kind in Phoenix. Arizona is a special place to my family, and we have been going there for years, so when I first started my photography business, I remember thinking how fun it would be to shoot in such a drastically different landscape. But at the time, I had not idea how I could even begin going about connecting with a client halfway across the country.

Fast forward to Fall 2020 when I heard about a local photographer going viral on TikTok and getting a ton of business from it. I had been putting off getting a TikTok because 1) I'm too old for that app 2) I'm already keeping plenty busy with the social media I have for my business 3) I didn't know if having it would have any sort of benefit to my business. But I downloaded it, scrolled here and there for a little while to get the gist of everything, and then started posting. I mostly post photography tips, humor relatable to photographers, editing tips, that kind of thing.

So when we decided that the road trip to Arizona was going to actually happen (after countless canceled vacations last year), I decided to ask TikTok to "do its thing" and try to find someone in Arizona who might want a photo session at a discount with me. Within a couple days, I had several inquiries, and a really sweet woman ended up booking a session for semi-engagement photos. I say 'semi' because her fiancé is in the military and is based in Arizona, but they are both from another part of the country. They had previously had proper engagement photos back in their home state, but she wanted to do another session in Arizona to document their time living there together.

I already had a general idea for where I wanted to take the photos, but when we first arrived in Phoenix, I drove out to check out my location and make sure it was going to work. I definitely wanted to have a desert feel to the whole thing, since the main point of the session being on my bucket list was to do a session in this new landscape. The morning of the photos, they both arrived looking amazing. They were both incredibly sweet and up for anything I asked them to do. It was a session that challenged me with being out of my comfort zone, and it also inspired me to keep trying new things and pushing past what becomes routine.

Here are a few photos!

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[DISCLAIMER: This post is not intended to be instructive for how to have a successful long-haul road trip with a toddler. It is meant to be entertaining, and I am using it for my own historian purposes. If you are planning your own long road trip with a toddler, proceed with caution.]

You know the feeling: we're all stir-crazy. It has been a loooooooong year. We want to get out of the bubble we have been surviving in, but we want to do it safely. After all, we're not out of the woods yet when it comes to Covid. So we did what any rational family would do: we planned to take a 20-hour road trip to stay at my parents' vacation home in Arizona. The drive eliminated the risk of flight travel, and staying at my parents' house mitigated the risk of staying somewhere with other people.

Knowing my 3-year old would be with us on this 20-hour car ride, I did my best to prepare. I read lots of blogs, asked friends and clients for advice, bought a travel tray and lots of new Dollar Tree toys, checked out loads of new books from the library, packed snacks in separate bags to have for each day of travel, plotted out places my son would be interested in stopping so we could stretch and get some wiggles out. We even decided to leave at 1:30 IN THE MORNING because one blog I read said on road trips, her kids would go back to sleep for 6-7 hours if they left in the middle of the night. That way mom and dad got a little sleep before starting the drive, and then a chunk of the drive was over with before the kids were even awake.

Here's how that worked out for us.

1:30 am: I wake my son up from a deep sleep. Everything is packed in the car and we are all ready to go. The car is warmed up. I put my son in his car seat, and we hit the road. I'm thinking he will fall asleep before we're on the highway. He doesn't. That's okay. The highway will lull him to sleep. It doesn't. He's not upset. He's not talking. But he's not sleeping AT ALL. About 45 minutes into the drive, when it is still PITCH DARK, may I remind you, he yells out, "DARK!!!" which I'm sure was not at all startling for my dad, who was the one driving in said dark. I say, "Yes, it's dark. That means it's time to sleep." He pretends to close his eyes, then opens one to peek at me and see if I'm watching him. I am. He goes back to being quiet, but still not sleeping.

About an hour and a half into the drive, he whispers, "Mama." I lean closer to him. He starts whispering the plot of a movie we watched three weeks ago. I say, "Yes, that was a good movie, but let's talk about it another time. It's dark out, which means it's time to sleep right now." He's quiet again, but still not sleeping.

At some point during the over five hours that it was pitch black, he slept for approximately 20 minutes before waking back up. Not exactly what the blog had described. And while he was never fussy or upset during those five hours, I knew he was just getting more and more tired. But what was even more frustrating for me was that I had planned all of these activities, but they all required LIGHT. For five hours, we couldn't look at his new books, play vehicle bingo, even talk about what we saw on the road. We just sat and rode in the car.

Once it was light, things got a lot better. He loved getting new toys every couple hours. We would stop and get out to stretch when we needed to. He got fun snacks. He got to see a lot of construction vehicles, which are some of his favorite things. We had sought out a few places where there were dinosaurs (his other favorite thing) for him to go see, so him having that to look forward to was definitely a lifesaver. There were times that he was definitely over being in the car, but there were also times the adults were over being in the car. Overall, he handled it like a champ, and while I don't know that we'll use the 'leave in the middle of the night because of course he'll go back to sleep' method on the drive home, it was well worth the drive to spend this week with my family at our home away from home.

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