Film and the World

geek, History, musings, Travel

Everything about the magic and history of movies has tied it to opening portals into other lives, other times, other places, and completely fabricated lands. Photography opened these doors in the 1800s when the first photos were taken of places and distributed around the world. They not only captured a fleeting time, but they also shared new doorways to other places. In less than one hundred years the world would move into wanting more and more of these portals to better view ourselves and others.

From the earliest of movies we played with concepts and story lines that represented ourselves but also others. In the perspective of travel, men and women went around the world with their cameras and equipment and they documented what they witnessed. National Geographic became what it is and was because we could open more doorways than ever before.

A Young Kenyan Woman Holds Her Pet Deer In Mombassa, March 1909
A Young Kenyan Woman Holds Her Pet Deer In Mombassa, March 1909

These stories along with thousands of others, images, and film, have been an undeniable driving force for my own identity and desire to see the world. As I have said before, National Geographic has been a huge influence on my life and desire to travel. Yet, it has not been the only one.

Recently I have been rewatching movies I loved as a child and I have noticed a very important ache in my heart as I adventure with beloved childhood characters, an ache to experience and see what is being shown.

Today I watched Mulan probably for the 100th time since seeing it in the theater at seven and falling madly in love with Chinese culture. Through the scope of a child she was this amazing warrior that saved everyone but also beautiful and smart and inspiring. The perfect blend of everything I wanted to be as a girl. But she lacked fear, and had more determination than anything. She wanted to be a girl worth living for herself and to this day I know her persona has influenced me to live life even if I am scared.

Chinese woman – Tartar or Manchu – John Thomas 1869

This week I also watched The Mummy again, probably for the first time in at least a decade, and I also felt that familiar ache. I wanted to be Evelyn running around the desert reading ancient manuscripts and fighting baddies. Once again I admired her spunk and tenacity, her intellect and determination. Her ability to face fear and move forward.

No doubt neither movie is an ideal exploration of a culture or a time. Lord knows the Mummy has a white savior issue. However, they have a central theme that I think is vital for girls to know, that it’s important to be brave and it’s important to do what you know is right for you. I think of what my life would be like if I had not been exposed to these movies, or other not so great movies like Cutthroat Island, I would not be the same me.

See, when I could see through these portals into other worlds I realized that I too could be something of note. I too could get out there into a man’s world and be all I wanted to be. I did not have to set in the mold society, or my conservative family, or the patriarchy had decided to make for me. I could break that mold and make my own journey. That is huge for a child that is growing up in a rural area with limited means. It is huge for any child just trying to understand it is okay to be them.

While I think movies and media can be double-edged, where people travel based on myths and stereotypes and miss the real story, I also know that these stories have launched a thousand courageous people into the world. And I hope that these stories have also allowed people to open their hearts and minds to others in ways that other media has not.

I think a lot on the significance of representation in stories and how vital it is that we see a wide variety of people in media. If all else, there needs to be a statistically even representation of all peoples in the media. This is vital to the long term health of the world.

As we become more global we need to share the platform with more and more people to more fairly share our lives and times. Having more women play the heroine has benefited my confidence in living my life. Having women of color share their stories creates compassion and understanding no matter the distance in time, space, and cultures. Having queer characters allows for them to be understood, humanized, and loved. Having differently abled characters opens up the eyes to better reflection on our society and our compassion. Doorways open many routes for us to grow as a culture.

What I hope for the future is to continue to see these inspiring tales and stronger sharing of differing stories and cultures. I hope that more doors open so we can respect and love one another more whole and I hope that all of us will take the time to look and listen.

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!

Don’t Plan Too Much

Travel

As a follow up to my last post, Plan Ahead, Avoid the Headache, I wanted to share the opposite problem for travelers to ponder, planning too much.

Flash to January 2010 and I am a nervous 18, almost 19 year old, planning their first trip to Europe. I was working in a small gift shop in Manitou Springs, and while the day was slow I would plan out, step-by-step how my trip was going to go. I mean step-by-step. I had the time I woke up, map directions and times to get to the first spot I wanted to see, approximate times for a lunch break, and what area or grocery store, or park bench I thought I should stop at.

This was a classic case of a bored mind finding mazes to run, and a nervous first time (solo) traveler trying to figure out how to maximize time in other countries. I had no freakin’ clue.

I landed in Germany in April 2010 and within a week everything had gone to hell. I was luckily staying with friends outside of Stuttgart, but the next part of my trip was delayed an entire week as all flights were grounded due to a certain Icelandic Volcano. When I say everything was grounded, I mean this volcanic ash cloud left 10 million stranded, cost airlines 1.7 billion in revenues…etc. etc. Thank you Eyjafjallajokull volcano! 

On a personal level it meant my two months of planned travel was also interrupted and I played a fast game of cutting out places in England and Ireland that I had planned to see. I split London into two chunks. I cut out the Lake District. I spent less time with friends in Diss. Then I met a Scottish guy and changed my plans for matters of the heart (this was also a flop). 

However, the lesson was that all my hours and hours and days of planning meant that I had failed to see that life, especially in traveling, gets messy and disruptive, and REALLY hates strict rules. I learned hard and fast that on long journeys you often just don’t know how your desires may change and that your heart may find a new path. 

I learned this again in 2013, when my funding for my study abroad was late and I was staying with family with no money. That same trip meant I would catch whooping cough and be bedridden for a week instead of going to Istanbul. 

Since then I have become wise to these tricks, or so I pretend, and I try to find a happy medium. A set of “plans” maybe a few tours, maybe some reservations, but ultimately I let things happen and I stay open to opportunity. What I have learned more than anything is that it’s important to enjoy the journey, not just the destination. 

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.

Throw Back Thursday – Childhood Travel Lessons

colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, new mexico, outdoors, Throwback Thursday, Travel, United States, wyoming

Many people gain a love of travel as children. Sometimes they’re crammed into the beck of a family station wagon, or a small camper, traversing open highways to neighboring states and countries. Others fly away to an annual beach escape, all-inclusive, beach, and drinks.

My family did things differently. As a product of low-income we did things a little less luxuriously. We crammed into a Dodge Neon, five of us. We slept in rustic cabins on our ranch or in canvas tents at a re-enactment. On occasion a worse than Motel 6 room was in the cards. This meant a shower and how to cram three kids in a twin or double bed, absolutely luxury was a queen. We ate at cheap diners and cheese and crackers as we rolled along plains lands.

We went through Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, and South Dakota to icons like Devil’s Tower, Jewel Cave, Helena, and De Smet. We saw where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived and a Palace made of Corn. And we have many pictures at Mount Rushmore in different outfits, an awkward ages, with relatives that have passed or friends that have moved on.

Reenactment with my cousin Nathan, aunt Mary and baby sibling McClellan.

These journeys taught me how important a hot plate and hot water can be. That boiled eggs are always a good snack. That learning to read in the car without motion sickness is vital to surviving 1,000 miles with two younger sisters. That you can survive 30 playthroughs of the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. That dogs can wedge themselves anywhere if given enough time. And most importantly, short legs make for an easier car ride.

All in all these things taught me to be better at travel in the big wide world. Hot plates turned into hostel kitchens. Small cars meant I can live through a long plane ride. Crappy hotel means I can survive…. crappy hotels and most hostels. I know the importance of hitting grocery stores to cut food costs. I know that picking light makes everything easier. I know that audio and physical books are life savers for endless journeys that have no service, wi-if, or charger.

The frugality of my parents has meant I knew how to save and travel at 19, 22, 23, 24, 26, and 27. It means I know how to pinch pennies and look for deals, to read and study and to plan my journey, to know the importance of flexibility and patience.

My cousin Nathan and I at the family ranch in Wyoming.

While I didn’t see much of the world until an adult, I know these lessons will carry me well into my old age.

Happy Travels!

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!

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.

https://i0.wp.com/www4.images.coolspotters.com/photos/120648/1980-canon-ae-1-profile.jpg

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.