Posts in Photography
Collecting Beauty in Wine Country

I don't want to claim the title "Lifestyle Blogger." It doesn't feel natural on my tongue. Instead, I'm going to call myself a "Collector of Beauty." Yes. A Collector of Beauty. This rephrasing gives me the space to do what I do best which is notice. Really, isn't that what a writer and a photographer should be doing? Noticing?

There's this really fine and faint line between capturing life and noticing it. One can become so consumed with trying to find what they should capture that they miss the real beauty of what's occurring around them. It's why I rarely photography my food before eating it. I want to eat my gnocchi with black truffle shavings while it's still hot. And I want to drink my rosé while it still has its chill. Instead of trying to find the highlights and shadows in the barrel room, I want to listen to her tell me about the fermentation experiments she's conducting. And when I meet her for coffee on Washington Street, instead of thinking about the Instagram-worthiness of the courtyard, I'd rather listen to her tell me about the one time the police got called while she was celebrating her birthday.

Ultimately, I do believe that it's my desire to be so fully present in my life that gives me the ability to see the truly extraordinary moments that exist in the every day. I have to somehow trust that the most important moments will find their way into the little crevices of memory for when I need them most. Because this life is really too good and too big for the viewfinder.

Alas, here are some of the moments that I collected during my most recent trip to Yountville in August.

The North Block Hotel sits at one end of Washington Street in Yountville. Spanish tiles line the staircases and the doors are wooden and heavy and it's so quiet. It's become my favorite little retreat.

The North Block Hotel sits at one end of Washington Street in Yountville. Spanish tiles line the staircases and the doors are wooden and heavy and it's so quiet. It's become my favorite little retreat.

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Redd Wood is known for its wood-fired pizzas but I love the simple breakfast served here each morning for the guests at North Block. Coffee and pastries from Bouchon Bistro are the perfect start to an early morning, but the granola is killer. I'm still trying to get my hands on a recipe.

Redd Wood is known for its wood-fired pizzas but I love the simple breakfast served here each morning for the guests at North Block. Coffee and pastries from Bouchon Bistro are the perfect start to an early morning, but the granola is killer. I'm still trying to get my hands on a recipe.

Isn't this vintage truck just the coolest? Hunter Gatherer is new boutique in Yountville. 

Isn't this vintage truck just the coolest? Hunter Gatherer is new boutique in Yountville. 

After seeing people line up each night before it opened, we decided to give Ciccio's a chance. It's Napa Valley so of course there's great wine, but the cocktails and pizza can't be beat. Cool vibe. It's where the locals go (which is always a good sign). 

After seeing people line up each night before it opened, we decided to give Ciccio's a chance. It's Napa Valley so of course there's great wine, but the cocktails and pizza can't be beat. Cool vibe. It's where the locals go (which is always a good sign). 

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I could spend all day sitting in front of The French Laundry Culinary Gardens. 

I could spend all day sitting in front of The French Laundry Culinary Gardens. 

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It had been awhile since I'd been in wine country in the summer when everything is green and ripening. It was such a treat to be able to touch and taste the fruit. The rolling hills of B.R. Cohn in Sonoma are so beautiful this time of year. Really, any time of year. 

It had been awhile since I'd been in wine country in the summer when everything is green and ripening. It was such a treat to be able to touch and taste the fruit. The rolling hills of B.R. Cohn in Sonoma are so beautiful this time of year. Really, any time of year. 

Being Seen

Several months ago I removed "photographer" from my Instagram profile, suddenly subconscious and afraid of using that word because, well, who am I to call myself a photographer? I am merely a woman with a camera and I take pictures that people sometimes think are very beautiful. I don't know (yet) how to use off-camera flash, I don't own any reflectors, or have a studio space. I'm self-taught. My mentors are other young photographers and one kind soul way out east who used to be an actor and a fashion photographer in New York City. 

But I know that I want to grow. I trust that I am capable of creating even more beauty. I believe that I see things in a way that no one else does. Kevin told me a long time ago that I have vision—and that vision is something you can't teach. And if I am going to speak to you on the importance of honoring your gifts, then I ought to honor my own. 

Last fall I threw out there that I wanted to practice more portraits and offered free sessions to any woman who was local and interested. (It's something people often ask me to do but I usually end up referring them elsewhere, unsure of my abilities to do them justice.) Two beautiful humans raised their hands and when I asked them what made them say yes, they both said the same thing, "I need to practice being seen."

I hope that what Kendra, Jen, and I created is the intersection of vision and authenticity, courage and trust, beauty and illumination. And I left both days feeling more assured that I can do this, that maybe I'm meant to do this—to offer safe space for women to step into their own light and to be seen.

An immensely heartfelt thank you to Kendra and Jen for choosing to push their own boundaries so that I could push my own. I hope to offer some more of these soon. Please feel free to get in touch with me if you're interested.