A Decade of Travel

Florida, France, italy, mexico, Scotland, Travel

It has been ten and a half years since I took my first trip without my parents. In that decade I have learned a lot about the world, people, cultures, identities, food, wine, and maybe most importantly, myself.

Perhaps the most powerful thing about being on the road, about depending on only myself, about sleeping in strange places, about navigating subways is that you learn so very much about the person that resides inside. It is the quiet moments waiting on a subway platform or walking around a city all alone that you get to listen to the internal voice. It is disconnecting the cell phones and emails and constant bombardment of your life that you can listen to yourself.

In a decade on the road, where most adventures have been solo, I have found more pieces of me on the road than I ever would have staying put. On my own two feet I have found that I am strong, a problem solver, great at meeting people, good at budgeting, amusing and kind, great at navigating, good at picking up social queues and much more. My favorite part is finding out that I am in fact a brave and capable person, in spite of a society that tells women they’re not.

Perhaps my travel is a rebellion, as is all the other women that travel alone, to all the people that told me not to go. It’s a rebellion to the other women that told me to be scared and to stay home. It’s a rebellion to the men that warned me, or assumed my actions were reckless, or would have preferred I stayed home and did nothing. It’s a fight against the men that have tried to intimidate me, or have groped me, or have threatened me. I am saying, none of these actions, big or small, will keep me from embracing and existing in this world.

A decade of travel has emboldened me to be more outgoing and more bold to apply for promotions. A decade of travel has pushed me into scared moments of education and risk, and to walk away from crappy people and situations. Ten years of traveling has meant that I have found a voice, and a purpose, and I left my home town and I have never looked back.

While I get to own decade of travel it has only been facilitated by the support and care of family and friends that encouraged my journey. My grandma talked me through the planning and shared books and art resources for me to find. My family friends pushed me to visit them, or to make sure I went. In my college years my partner, now husband, supported my study abroad and Master’s work internationally. My mother took her own travel dreams and wove them into my own by connecting me with friends, and buying me books. My Great-Aunt and Uncle took me on my first trip without my parents. And so many more have helped me along the way, from teachers to mentors, to total strangers.

It is these hands of support and love that have encouraged me to become the confident traveler and woman I have. While I always will have more to learn about myself and the world, I know I have crafted a framework for success.

So dear reader, I deeply encourage you and the others in your life to get out there and see the world. It’s one of the most profound and moving experience that anyone can have.

To Camera…or Not to Camera

colorado, love, Photography, Travel

I love photography, as anyone that has followed this blog for a while knows. However, I am conflicted with a constant concern when I travel if I should bring my camera equipment or stick with my phone.

The simple answer is I don’t know.

I don’t know because it depends so greatly on how one travels, what one is doing on a particular trip, or if you have a safe way to keep your gear. So I have a few check points when determining this. It is not an exact science but it helps me sort out if my camera on my Iphone is OK, or if the DSLR is worth the extra bag, weight, and effort.

I bring my camera under the following circumstances

  1. I am doing some portrait or fine photography
    1. this is a “well duh”
  2. I have the chance or time to do some real photography
    1. This means if I am going to be in nature for a good amount or time, or if I have a long trip I am taking.
  3. I have extra luggage space
    1. If I can afford the extra ten pounds, then it goes!
  4. There is no way my cell phone camera can capture it well
    1. This is especially true in situations where a zoom lens is a good idea, such as nature or travel photography (again more time/space is a must)
  5. I can keep it safe
    1. Traveling on a cruise or boat or water-based situation can be lethal to your best camera friend. Sand, wind, dirt, rain etc. is also an unfriendly mess!
    1. I don’t want my cameras, AKA my expensive travel tools, to be ruined on a wild trips.

I don’t take the camera kit for pretty much the opposite reasons but I also keep this in mind on certain trips. Am I going to “work” on this trip or am I going to play?

Because when you do photography professionally such as for weddings and your blog. When you write off travel as a business expense, which it very much is, you have to draw a line on fun and work.

I make an effort, some times better than others, to not make every trip a working trip. When I go with my husband, I tend to leave the DSLR behind because the point is to not work and be with my husband. When I travel by myself, the camera is likely in my bag. It’s a lot about priorities and what is most important on a specific journey. Is it to get more great shots (which I love love love) or to spend time with those I love (also love love love)?

Sometimes it is hard to leave my little digital friends at home, but I don’t regret the less weight and I don’t regret focusing on reconnecting with my family.

What do you do?

Happy Travels!

An Autumnal Engagement

colorado, outdoors, Photography

I had the great privilege of photographing an adorable couple earlier this month. Caroline is a friend from college and I was thrilled when she asked me to capture these photos!

Autumn is my favorite time of year to photograph due to the richness of everything. It’s the clothes, food, natural wonders, and lighting that make everything look whimsical. Everything bursts with richness from the colors to the joy on people’s faces. It makes capturing it all the more rewarding for the photographer.

True Colors of the Colorado Rockies

colorado, Colorado Events, outdoors, Photography, Travel

It’s no doubt that the Rockies offer a lot of gold in their autumnal splendor. “Gold in them there hills” is a common refrain as aspens gild the mountain sides in mid to late September. I love the aspens, and their splendid colors are some of my earliest memories. Yet, when you go a little further afield you see a new landscape of colors, flora, and stunning colors that are often missed to “leafers” in Colorado.

Colorado offers a wide variety of plant life that glows in reds, oranges, and yellows during the autumn. While we lack the vivid diversity of the east coast for leaves, we make up for it in unique coloration and stunning mountains as a platter. It is hidden in back roads and dirt lanes that fall can be truly found.

Last week we took to the Old Fall River road in Rocky Mountain National Park. The journey winds from around 8,000 to about 12,000ft above sea level offering a feast for the eyes and senses. We drove before sunrise to beat everyone up there and it did not disappoint. Birds and animals ran freely without a care for tourists. The golden dawn provided a guiding light as it played joyfully on the mountain crevices. It was well worth leaving the house it 5:30 a.m.

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Of course RMNP is not the only place to find these wonders. In fact the state is full of hidden gems in the mountains. My advice, to feel truly amazed by the autumn beauties, is to go somewhere new, get up early, and ask locals what is the best view. I also suggest planning to explore things you may not otherwise such as Alpine valleys, and ridges that are home to some of the most delicate but intriguing plant-life on the planet. Many of these gold and red beauties have taken decades if not hundreds of years to make it to today.

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Happy Travels!

More Reading:

RMNP

Fern Lake

Camping RMNP

Adventure of the Week- a Wedding and Graduation

adventure of the week, colorado, Colorado Events, family, Photography, wedding

I didn’t even leave Northern Colorado in the last week, but I have done plenty of time on the road and away from my home. My kitchen is a perfect display of the busy.

Yet, though it has been busy there is something invigorating about having fun things to do and celebrate with people.

Last weekend my best friend and maid of honor at my wedding got married!

It started Friday night with an evening of bad movies and carbs.

Saturday night was the rehearsal dinner and lots of nerdy conversation over noms at the Moot House in Fort Collins.

Ryan and Tara tied the knot in their hotel room Sunday afternoon at the Elizabeth in Old Town Fort Collins before having a party at the Social in Old Town.

It was a jazz and bee inspired shindig with fun people, tasty food and drink. And a bride and groom that were all smiles.

Post wedding and Monday night I photographed a darling old family friend who o have known since she was maybe 5!!!!

She’s going to be 22 and is graduating from college in a few weeks. She’s also gorgeous and a ton of fun to photograph. Check out all the cuteness!

It also meant I got to play with my new camera body and some new lenses! It was all the fun!

Happy Travels, near and far.

Next week…..watch for more animals!

What I’ve Learned From Travelling….

Caribbean, Cruising, History, musings, Photography, Travel, United Kingdom, United States

…to be a better traveler.

A friend posted on Facebook just now…which inspired this post, that she, after travelling part of Europe HATED her massive luggage that she took and never wants to travel with it again. To which I reply….well duh!

However, 6 years ago I learned this lesson myself, and have learned it many times since. Travel with less= enjoying more. TRUTH.

I found on my first trip to Europe, 6 YEARS AGO that taking extra crap was a waste of my time and money (you know you have to pay more for heavy bags on planes). I stupidly took books to read (which I never had time to), I took travel guides (now I rip them apart or use my phone) and I took a massive book to put ticket stubs and other crap in (this was EXTRA DUMB) this book weighed about 5lbs and now 6 years past most the ticket stubs have fallen apart or the thermal paper has erased itself….so that was also a waste of time. Anyway my first trip also meant that I bought a shit-ton of books at different places I went, which was well-meaning, but it also meant that I had a hell of a lot of extra weight that I had to ship home or pull all over Europe.

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Oh to be 19, young and stupid…

Since then two more trips to Europe have taught me a lot, and mostly by mistakes.

First of all: DO NOT plan on mailing anything home unless you have like $300 extra to spend because international mailing rates have gone up, up, up. That goes for U.S. or Europe and let’s just say you can throw away a lot of money on knick-knacks and then to send them home, and the reality is YOU ARE BUYING CRAP so STOP!!!!!!!! This also goes back to a philosophy of DO NOT buy people souvenirs unless they are SMALL and light weight and squishable.

Second: Invest in good luggage. Luggage that is lightweight, can take some knocks, can stretch and that maybe has a warranty. My first suitcase barely functions (I keep souvenirs in it) and it started to fall apart halfway through a 2.5 month trip. ALSO- buy one with WHEELS and four wheels that are fully rotating. Even if you don’t do much walking with your luggage, the few hours at the airport make it worthwhile. If you are backpacking, then different rules apply.

Third: Plan for the length you will be gone. For 1 week-3 weeks, take a carry-on or medium suitcase, and plan to do laundry, and pack extra undies. For 1 month+ you’re allowed a larger bag, however if you are traveling a lot (in the moving place to place sense) keep in mind that a backpack may make trains and hostels a lot easier. For longer trips I take a larger bag and only pack it half-full, then there is room for gifts/souvenirs/supplies that I may need. For instance, the Hostel I was at last year in Edinburgh left me FREEZING every night, so I bought a wool blanket that not only helped with the cold, but now I use daily as a throw. Having extra space meant I could bring it home.

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All you need for a month, minus the kitty.

Fourth: Listen to friends/family that have traveled a lot and don’t be too proud to look stuff up. If I had listened to more Samantha Brown and less grandparents/dad’s friends I would have taken WAY less on my first trip and had a better time.

Fifth: Take a big enough bag. It’s a fine line between too much and not enough, but when I went to Italy for my study abroad and lived in Florence 5 weeks, I accumulated a lot of stuff. Such as clothing….because fashion and street markets….. So taking the train to meet some friends to get to Germany was a nightmare. It was stuffed train+ suitcase+ two bags I bought + other random crap….It was bad, and embarrassing and HEAVY. Lesson learned.

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From Paris with Love….

Sixth: Use tech to your advantage. BUY A SMARTPHONE already! Seriously, on my last trip that is all I took was my iphone, leaving back my DSLR and computer. Why? Well usually I LOVE taking lots of photos but for only a week of running around and some extra time with family, my IPhone 6S was PLENTY to take fun photos, stay in touch and pull up maps/directions. Also, buy a GOOD smartphone, and make sure you have international coverage where you go. T-Mobile offers FREE texting and slow data overseas and is about $0.20/min to call. Which is pretty good! If you are going somewhere a long time and think you want to call a lot (I use SKYPE btw) then think about getting an unlocked phone and buying sim cards abroad that you can “top-up” or buy a month-to-month plan. It really helps and in this day a phone can be a lifesaver if you get lost or can’t find a taxi at 3am. Even if you take a DSLR in addition, having the cellphone can lighten your load by leaving the computer at home, and carrying important information (scans of passport etc.) Along with access to people back home. Anyway, just join the 21st century and be savvy. Compared to traveling 6 and even 3 years ago, having a SMARTPHONE make a HUGE difference and is worth the time/headache it saves.

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Seventh: Buy disposable entertainment. MEANING: download audio books/digital books (utilize the library), books you can leave at a hostel, movies that are digital, music that is digital etc. This keeps things lightweight and also if you don’t have time to read, then you don’t have to feel guilty about lugging around the weight.

Eight: Pack minimal clothes and buy new things. I try to leave some room in my budget and suitcase to buy some clothes. This is my “backup” for not only weather conditions and “unknowns” on what might be fashionable or more comfortable for the travel conditions. This acts as an awesome souvenir and a great amount of fun.

Happy Travels!

~Rebecca

Faces of Italy, Part II- Calcio Storica

europe, History, italy, Photography, Travel

This photo essay explores the traditional clothing and roles of individuals in the parade that precludes Calcio Storico in Florence, Italy on St. John the Baptist’s Feast Day in June 2013.

This is part II of my Faces of Italy series. Please visit part I, Faces of Italy.

back to the basics

Photography

When I was 9 my dad was going to swap meets, gun shows, antique stores etc. Same as he does today, same as he always will. Yet at one of these events he found something that would change my life forever. At one of these little meets he found a Canon 1980 AE-1 35mm camera. The body was in pristine shape, and the basic lens was also functional, it even had a cap that alluded to the sponsorship of the 1980 Olympics by Canon. My dad bought this camera with its hideous rad and yellow strap, and sentimental lens cap; he took it home, he dusted it off, he bought a camera bag and presented me this for my 10th birthday.

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I was ecstatic at this gift, and to this day I think it was the best present I ever got as a child. This meant I would no longer waste film and energy with my grandma’s ole and clunky point and shoot and that I too could have an SLR, just like my dad’s Pentax and take photos. Lots of photos.

Yet it was not just taking photos it was everything that came with the responsibility of owning and using an SLR. It meant that my first roll of film was ruined when I tried to wind it up because I didn’t understand the method of pushing one little black button on the bottom of the camera, shredding my work. It meant that I had to learn how to patiently adjust lighting, shutter speed, focus etc. It meant walking around outside and in my house with a piece of cardboard with a square cut out of it to see what framed well or not. It meant months of waiting to save up money to develop film. It meant being the weird kid in middle school always taking pictures on her SLR or a throw away. This was before smart phones, and the time when it was cool to be shutter happy. 

So why bring this up?

Well in Italy this summer another student at my school, a professional photographer that owns his own business and has since he was a teenager (now 24) was going back to basics. He was going to art school for photography to get an actual degree. Granted it seemed that he knew about 95% of what he was relearning, but he felt happy learning it all over again. 

So, here I am, back at Colorado State, 22 years old, meaning I have about 12 years of experience, I’ve shot two weddings, I have another on the way. I have a decent portfolio and I believe a lot of talent and experience but I am taking a bare-bones basic photography class, where I am relearning most of what I know or instinctively do when I am taking photos.

Yet, there is something thrilling about relearning these little things, or reminding yourself about all the little functions of a camera or the importance of aperture. As frustrated as I was in my first two weeks of a game of repetition all the sudden today I feel refreshed. It is not as if I am learning something new, or having a major life change as a result, I just feel excited again. 

Not only am I going to be shooting some neat things for the class, which is a minor challenge and mentally stimulating, something I need in a course, but I am getting to slowly sink into a pool of photography. I don’t have to explain to people, I can just do photos, I don’t have to be perfect for a client, I can just do photos and once again I am tasting what it was to be 10 years old taking photos of plastic dinosaurs. 

I can breath in the smell of equipment, and though the gelatin plastic sweetness of film is tucked in the back of my closet, there is so much with digital that I can be excited about. 

Which brings me to my point. Maybe we can all use to go back to basics. Maybe just baking sugar cookies until they’re perfect, or doodling, or sewing draw string bags. Because I am finding a thrill in relearning, in being more present, in going slowly. I am also learning to not look down on “the simple” because there is some chunk in there for us to gain something from. So experts and professionals, where did you start? What could you go back to to reclaim part of you?

~Rebecca Lee Robinson

Getting things in focus

Photography

So I have this thing where I do photos. I take them for weddings, engagements, maternity, and for fun such as wen I was travelling this summer. But being an artist of any type is usually expensive, time consuming, exhausting, and you get paid very little money, if anything at all.

 Therefore I am doing a few new things to bring in extra cash. Not only did I re-open my Etsy store, but I am working on updating it and getting new items into that store and two other ones. The easiest one has been on Pixie Set, where I can quickly add albums and then sell prints instantly that way. The other one which gives me more versatility is through Fine Art America where I can do a HUGE variety of prints, cards etc. They do all the dirty work of shipping and printing, and I get a check for what I have sold every month.

Those are a few new changes. I also updated prices, packages, and printing which can all be seen on my website. I’m also doing a wedding in a couple weeks in Kentucky, doing school projects for a class, and maybe even some other odd jobs here and there.

As always comment below! Or e-mail me with photo inquiries, jobs, and general questions.