PNW native, world traveler, photographer, and passionate outdoor adventuress, I am content strategist and brand ambassador dedicated to creative expression through outdoor life.
LOCAL ROOTS IN THE PNW
My story began in along the rocky shores of Puget Sound amidst the towering peaks and forests of the Cascade Mountains. I'm a Pacific Northwest Native and was raised by two outdoor-loving parents who were passionate about the arts, education, and getting their kids outside. Winters were for skiing and summer was for biking, beach walking, hiking, and camping across Washington State. I also took art classes, and went to China on a cultural art exchange in 1994, setting the stage for a life of travel and inspired creative adventure.
For over ten years of my youth, I spent summers away at camp. Spending three weeks at a time on a working cattle ranch and another three in a canvas platform tent deep in the lush forest of Cascade foothills. I climbed mountains, rode horses, backpacked, and enjoyed the best of outdoor life in Washington. It was here that I climbed my first mountain, Mount Pilchuck, long before I ever knew that I would go on to become a mountaineer scaling Washington's highest peaks, or a creative working for an iconic local glass school bearing the same name.
"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."
- Marcel Proust
As I've discovered as an adult, life has a way of sometimes leading us away from who we are only to rediscover that ourselves more fully later on. I spent my college years, and much of 20's engaged with the best city life could offer, living and working in the most charming city on the west coast, San Francisco. It fed my passion for art and music, but I didn't know that all the while I was becoming disconnected from the essence of who I was as an outdoor adventuress. In 2011, I decided that it was time to go back. I returned to Seattle after nearly ten years away, and upon returning was struck by the raw natural beauty of my home.
I'll never forget how fluorescent green fell upon my eyes. It was as if seeing the world in technicolor for the first time. I wanted to explore and experience this landscape more extensively. Quickly, I decided to make some lifestyle changes and gave up a few hindering vices. As a reward for my commitment, I pledged to take myself to all of the extreme places I wouldn't have been able to venture to otherwise. It was a promise I made to myself that forever changed the course of my career and my life.
I started hiking with local meetups and Facebook groups. Soon after, I got a job manning social media and email marketing for Eddie Bauer, and became increasingly inspired by the photography of sponsored athletes and guides. In the process, I realized our athletes were equipped with the same gear that I had now collected, and that if they could stand on glaciers over 10,000 feet up, so could I. I put that theory to the test and went on to scale Mount Adams, and began training for Mount Rainier. As I prepared, I skied, and one day on the chairlift, I realized that somewhere along the line I had transformed into a mountain athlete, and that pursuing this path meant finding purpose through the synergistic connection between work and play, where each would inspire and support the expansion of the other. I skied hard, attended mountaineering and rock climbing school with the Seattle Mountaineers, and after a year of training I made it up Mount Rainier for the first time in 2013. I cross trained in cycling and completed the 204 mile Seattle to Portland bike ride as part of my preparation. As my first summer climbing season wrapped up, I was approached by the outdoor retailer, Helly Hansen about my dream job in Norway driving content marketing strategy across web, social media, and email for five geographical markets serving over 22 countries worldwide. Three months later, I accepted the role and moved with my mountain guide fiance to Oslo, Norway.
FROM DARKNESS INTO THE LIGHT
We embarked upon Norwegian life without a car to get to the mountains, he didn't have a job, and we started our new life with the darkness of the polar winter as a backdrop. It was a striking change for us both and our relationship quickly crumbled. He returned to the US, and I found myself alone in a foreign country with the challenge of rebuilding my life away from family and friends. With my newfound freedom, I did the only thing I could to feed my soul, I traveled. I spent my second year abroad exploring one to two countries every month, setting both my senses and my iPhone camera afire with the fabric of new cultures as I traveled. My phone photography flourished as I solo traveled through Italy, Spain, and Turkey. Mountain life was missing, but in that space, the creative life began to thrive.
As I neared the end of my time abroad, I found myself at a turning point; I was asked to lead a trip of Helly Hansen social media contest winners through the fjords of Norway on a four-day mountain adventure. My job was to guide them and photograph the experience for social media. The company handed me a DSLR, a backpack of gear and off I went. It was my first time handling a DSLR camera since high school. On our final excursion, we embarked on a climbing trip, and as I clipped into the rope high above the fjords for the first time since I left Seattle. With my camera in one hand and a climbing rope in the other, I felt a new sense of wholeness. At the end of the journey, I sat down for a bite a small cafe along the waterfront in Bergen, Norway. The mountains towered around me, and against that backdrop, I reflected on the delight of leading fellow travelers through a place that had become like home and telling their story through my camera. I knew that this fleeting micro adventure, was in fact a window into my future. I knew then that I was meant to lead others to experience nature the way I had become accustomed and to inspire others through my images. Work and play needed to be integrated, and this meant that I needed to reawaken the sleeping mountain athlete within. It was time to return to my roots back at home, once again.
I returned to Seattle, was gifted a camera and signed up to climb Mount Rainier. Shorty thereafter I became an ambassador athlete for brands La Sportiva, Darn Tough, and Deuter and took a new job as an Editorial Content Manager with a local travel company. I set off to celebrate my return by capturing the best of the northwest through my lens. The more mountains I climbed and the more I traveled around my PNW home, I realized that a traditional cubicle-bound corporate environment was not right for me. I embarked on a new quest to discover where I belonged as a newly repatriated expatriate, and in the process found myself photographing for the non-profit, Pilchuck Glass School founded by Dale Chihuly. Chihuly founded Pilchuck from the belief that artists immersed in a raw, rugged natural environment away from civilization, could connect with their art in new and expansive ways. While at Pilchuck, I spent warm summer days photographing glass artists at work. As I observed classes and engaged with artists at work, I connected even more deeply with my own glass art; the art of the light through the glass of my lens. After seeing my image appear in print for the first time at Pilchuck, I knew that photography was meant to be more than just a hobby or a supplemental skill on a resume. I left Pilchuck the week of the Great American Eclipse of 2017, photographed the totality and returned home to sell the print, and begin the creation of my photography business, LightSource Studio that very same week.
CONNECTED PURPOSE THROUGH ENLIGHTENED BUSINESS
LightSource Studio (complete with an eclipse logo), is a product of over 10 years in digital marketing, was formally founded in 2018. It represents the brighter shining of my light as creative with a nod to the literal and figurative darkness of polar Norway. We are a photo + marketing studio for creative individuals, influencers, leaders, educators, entrepreneurs and businesses seeking to capture attention and cultivate loyal audiences online.
This Facebook initiative is a place for creative outdoor recreationists to gather as a community to share ideas connected to the creative habit, find inspiration, and connect through activity. I hope that by cultivating the creative community through outdoor recreation, I can provide a space for the growth of more entrepreneurs and leaders with an environmental consciousness and ethical business missions centered on health, wellness, education, sustainability, creativity, and social responsibility. Through the group, I hope to support other artists, like me, who have lost touch with their creative habits and need help reawakening the creator within. I also hope that this community can serve as a place to nurture the personal development and evolution of nature-inspired creators in the local PNW community. Art not only makes the world more beautiful but nature-infused art specifically, fosters a caring and commitment to the protection and preservation of our wild places. Nature infused art serves as a reminder for urban dwellers that we are not separate from the earth, but synergistically interdependent on our planet.
The more each of us can personally integrate nature into our lives the easier we can ground ourselves amidst the chaotic evolution of our society. Connecting with nature thus enables the vital life force energy of love, peace, and joy to pulse through us with greater ease, enabling us to become healthier, happier, kinder, and more connected to ourselves and the world around us. It was from this vision of interconnectedness and my journey to holistic purpose as a creative adventurer that LightSource Studio was born. As a group leader, I enjoy facilitating events for group members to get outside and connect around a shared passion for the inspiration that comes from our planet. I also enjoy leading the adventure curious, and look forward to hosting local photography and hiking experiences through Airbnb and Verlocal in summer of 2018.