My Little Birthday Present


This adorable little cutie is my first-cousin-once-removed.  She was born on my birthday so I consider her my own birthday present!  For this shoot I brought along my little urchins and my son’s job was to help make Elsie smile.  He did such a great job that I’m going to bring him more often!

This is my favorite shot of the day.  Who doesn’t love a Radio Flyer?!  Plus the backlight AND the taxi that just happened to show up at the perfect moment…when we saw it pull up we dashed to take the shot!


Elsie’s dad loves converse so she and Mom needed a pair to match.  I love when people bring details like this.  And I love the lens flare!  We had a wonderful, wonderful day!

Here’s a link to more images from this shoot on my Facebook page.


Throw Back Thursday ~ Draper, Utah LDS Temple

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#Tbt to an image I took of the Draper, Utah LDS Temple in August of 2012.  The Sunset was so beautiful that evening.  I loved the colors, and how the flowers in front of the temple tied into the sky.

Here’s the link to this image on my online fine art boutique.

All sizes of prints of this image are 50% off for the next week.

Code ThrowBack01

They’re baaaaaacck! :)

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After a four year hiatus my beloved balloon festival returned to Ogden Valley.  It is one of my favorite things and I look forward to it all year long.  It’s been heart-breaking to see it cancelled for the last few years.  This year they found wonderful new sponsors and though I sort of miss the days when it was tiny and no one really knew about it, I must admit that this year was fantastic and the organizers did a spectacular job.  Since we enjoy it so much my family and I have resolved to volunteer next year…though I have to be able to still take my pictures!

08_15_2014 BallFest08 This year the morning  balloon launches (which are my favorite part) were held at Snowcrest Jr. High.  It’s wonderful to be up before dawn in the chilly mountain air enjoying the camaraderie of your fellow early morning risers.  The air is thick with anticipation as the balloon crews lay out the balloons and test their propane tanks.  It’s a thrill to hear and see the whoosh of air and tongue of flame dart into the air.  That sound is so distinctive.  After a pilot’s meeting the crew’s start inflating the colorful gentle giants with huge fans.  I always position myself next to my favorite balloons, ones that are extra colorful and backlit by the sun, to capture the insides as they inflate.  The crews are always so nice about letting me stick my head into the neck of the balloon to get my shot.  I especially like it when I can capture the silhouettes of the crew members working at the top of the balloon like in the image above.08_16_2014 BallFest29

The balloon glow, festival booths, live entertainment, kids blow-ups, and food vendors were all up at Nordic Valley this year.  In the winter Nordic Valley is a ski resort, so as you can imagine, the views of my beloved Valley were spectacular.  I loved that there were so many local vendors, I didn’t know we had so many in the Valley.  I spent more than I should but I love supporting local small businesses.  There were lots of people and the atmosphere was delightful.  On Saturday night they did a small evening balloon launch and it was so pretty to see them drifting across the valley beneath you.  Then there was the glow, which is my second favorite part.  The balloons are set up and tethered and they flames their flames to “glow”.  It’s magic!

08_17_2014 BallFest10The festival went Friday through Sunday with Sunday being a half day.  I took the above image Sunday morning.  I was over near the Maverik taking advantage of the free tethered balloon rides for my kids when I saw these sunflowers (I absolutely love wild sunflowers) and the balloons behind them.  I ran out into the middle of a prickly stubbly field to get this shot.  So worth it!
As you can imagine I have a ton more images.  Here’s the link to my facebook album where I’ve done a little photo essay (but facebook does make your images look a little wonky).

And here is the link to balloon images from this year (and others) on my online boutique where you can order prints (and the images look much better here).

Here’s the link straight to where the images from this year start.

I can’t wait for next year!  Fingers crossed that it will be back again!! 🙂

Utah Chamber Artists 2014 European Tour


For the past three years I have had the honor and privilege to sing with the Utah Chamber Artists of Salt Lake City, Utah.  This past summer we went on a beautiful vocal tour to Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic.  We stayed in the stunning cities of Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, and Prague.  It was an amazing experience!

06_20_2014 Munich01We flew into Munich for the first leg of our tour and it was a wonderful visit.  I had been to Munich before but it was so cold I wasn’t able to enjoy myself.  This time I took full advantage of wandering time and thoroughly explored the city.  This image is of the famous Glockenspiel in Munich’s Marienplatz.
Here is the link to more images of Munich.

While we were in Munich we got to see Germany play Ghana in the World Cup with over a thousand hardcore German soccer fans.  Such a brilliant night!

10462771_10204248224951691_411657507466652553_nThe next day was a busy one.  Besides our evening concert at St. Lukaskirche, we toured the BMW Headquarters and Museum, the beautiful Nymphenburg Palace, and I took off by myself and wandered the English Gardens for hours.

06_21_2014 BMW06I mainly took images of the BMW headquarters and museum for my husband because I felt bad that I went there without him, only to find out that he’s been there three times already…I should have known.

Link to more BMW images

06_21_2014 NPalace07The Nymphenburg Palace was gorgeous!  This may sound strange, but my favorite part was the beautiful paintings inside.  So often paintings of women from hundreds of years ago make them look so plain, but these ladies were exquisite!  I even recognized many of them from one of my favorite amusement park rides, the Turn of the Century, at Lagoon in Farmington, Utah.  Now I know where they come from!  I feel all sorts of learn-ed.

Link to more Nymphenburg images 

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Later that day I took advantage of some free time and solo wandered through the Munich English Gardens.  This is a huge “wildernessy” type park that is larger than New York’s Central Park.  I love to wander by myself in foreign cities, I love soaking up the feel of the city away from the tourist beat.  I’m also a sucker for bridges, street lamps, street art, and tunnels.  The Gardens had the most beautiful tunnel street art.  I stayed in there for ages trying to find the perfect combination of tunnel, street art, and blurred pedestrian/biker.  I was in heaven!

Link to more English Garden images

06_22_2014 HCastle20On Sunday, June 22, we left Munich to travel to Salzburg.  On the way we stopped for a boat cruise to the Herrenchiemsee Castle, which was built between 1878 and 1855 for King Ludwig II of Bavaria on the model of Versailles.  This castle isn’t finished but that parts that are are extraordinarily extravagant.  It was a little difficult to look at it from a democratic American perspective.  Hopefully the building of it brought jobs and money to the working classes that were employed and didn’t just drain the countries resources, for the money spent was astronomical.  The guides told us that the King actually only spent ten days there.  At least I think that’s the one, I started getting the palaces mixed up.

Link to more Herrenchiemsee images…my favorites are actually the ones of Lake Chiemsee.

Later that night we performed a concert at the St. Michael Basilica in Mondsee, Austria.  That church is the church that they filmed the wedding scene in for the movie The Sound of Music.  Mondsee is so beautiful!  We were sad we didn’t get to stay there longer.

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Monday, June 23 found us wandering Salzburg.  We saw a bunch of places used in the filming of The Sound of Music (they’re really into that movie there).  We also visited the home Mozart was born in, the Dom du Slazburg (where Mozart was baptized and where we sang an afternoon concert), the Mirabel Palace and Gardens (where we welcomed by the Austrian Minister of Culture), the cemetery Mozart’s sister is buried in (it is a beautiful spot) and the fortress, which was my favorite, and which you see in the above image.

Link to more Salzburg images.

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After our Welcome reception in the Mirabel Palace we toured Schloß Helbrunn with its famous Sound of Music gazebo and trick fountains.  It’s amazing how when you see something in real life it looks nothing like the movies.  The gazebo is small and in a corner by a wall, I always pictured it in an expansive, open park.  The “trick” to the fountains was that they squirted you and everyone ended up wet.  I had my big camera with me so sadly I had to distance myself as much as possible from the gleefully sadistic water controlling tour guide. 🙂

The fountains were really pretty.  Here’s a link to more fountain images plus a couple of the gazebo.

And on to the next day!!!

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Tuesday, June 24, saw us visiting the Eagle’s Nest or Kehlsteinhaus, also known as “Hitler’s Tea House”.  The Eagle’s Nest was built as a 50th birthday present for Hitler by the Nazi Party and is situated at the top of the Kehlstein mountain.  Supposedly it has a really great view, but as we visited it on a very rainy day, all we saw was a wonderland of mist and clouds.  It was still fun and very lovely.  I enjoyed the surreal mist-shrouded landscape immensely.  It was, however, a bit trippy to ride up in the same elevator that Hitler used…ergh…pretty elevator though.

Then came one of my favorite excursions of the whole trip.  A boat ride on Lake Königssee, situated in the heart of the Berchetesgaden National Park in Bavaria (yes, we found ourselves back in Germany) to visit the church at St. Bartholomä.

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Lake Königsee is a beautiful lake and it’s colors are a wonderful green (due to minerals), and are so clean that you can drink them (I did not try this).  And since it was a wonderful, cool, misty day, the colors were saturated and stunning, with wonderful clouds.  The only complaint I have is that I could have spent four times as long there…to be honest that’s my only complaint about the whole trip, well, that and the nasty cigarette smoke…the public bathroom situation is irritating…focus!…so not the point. 🙂

More lake Königssee images (I love them)


On Wednesday, June 25, we visited Innsbruck, a beautiful city in Austria.  I loved it!  We had a little free time to wander at our leisure so I explored with two wonderful gentlemen from the choir.  We had an absolutely lovely day.  They were super patient with my incessant desire to take pictures AND they kept me from getting lost.  I love windows and absolutely fell in love with the above middle image the second I saw it.  Then, when I was working on the images back home I saw I had a trio of bicycle themed images and so of course had to put them together.

Link to more Innsbruck Images.

Thursday, June 26, saw us on the way to Vienna!  {Oh how I loved Vienna)  On the way we stopped at the world-famous Melk Abbey for a tour and an informal concert.

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I know this isn’t a very descriptive shot of the beautiful Abbey, on it’s hill overlooking the breath-taking surrounding countryside…but it’s my favorite!  It’s this windy little circular stairway that was part of the tour and I just took a super-quick grab shot before I got trampled by my fellow singers and tour-goers.  I love the colors and the light and the texture and the circles…I love circles.

My favorite part about Melk Abbey?  They have two dressed up skeletons in the main cathedral area where we sang.  I am NOT making this up!  Kinda trippy 🙂 The plaque said that they were “catacomb saints” given as gifts to the Abbey and the Abbey people, (monks I guess) had named them.  I wish I could remember the names…I shall google it and see what I can find…oooh oooh one is St. Friedrich…and the other is St. Clemens.  Google is awesome!  Now I feel less bad for not having written down the names while I was there.

Here are more Melk Abbey images including one of “St. Friedrich”.

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Our Hotel was next to the Schönbrunn Imperial Palace and it’s exquisite gardens!  Oh the rambles I enjoyed there!  That was my favorite moment of the trip.  I walked off the path into a field of wildflowers on the hill overlooking the palace, listening to my life songs and just SAVORING the moment.  I don’t have the words to properly describe it.

While in Vienna we toured the inside of the Imperial Palace, wandered all over the main part of the city, sang in the Minoritenkirche, visited the Beethoven house, enjoyed gelato, saw the Opera House, participated and sang at mass at St. Stephanson, enjoyed a reception and dinner at the apartment of a former Viennese opera singer and now patron of the arts, I even went to church in pants and a newsboy cap, lol, good times!

More Vienna Images, though I actually didn’t take many pictures with my camera there.  I was too busy trying to record everything in my head.

Which brings us to…06_30_2014 Prague13


Prague is a city with a personality all it’s own.  It’s stunning, and beautiful, and almost overpowering, with a little bit of a gritty edge.  As I may have mentioned before, I absolutely love street artists and Prague was chock full of them.  This particular group was playing Dixieland jazz and their lead singer did a flawless Louis Armstrong.  I sat in the Old Town Square of Prague listening to “It Had to be You”, watching the bubble man playing with passing children and it was just…magic!

link to more of Prague

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On our last full day of tour we visited Terezín, a former fortress that was used as a Nazi ghetto and concentration camp.  I struggled with whether to include images from here. Visiting was an extremely difficult but valuable experience.  I feel that everyone should visit a place like this sometime in their lives.  It is a part of human history that needs to be acknowledged.

We learned so much from our guides there, Terezín was unique in the works of art and music that were produced there.  Graphic records of the atrocities as well as examples of human spirits rising above horrifying conditions.  I could never do the stories justice and I find them difficult to talk about but I encourage everyone to learn more if they are able.

More Terezín images

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This is literally the last image I took of the trip (with my big official type camera).  It’s a view of the sky behind the towers on one end of the Charles Bridge.  The Charles Bridge was a magical, magical place.  Artists galore!  This night (Tuesday July 1st) we returned to Prague for a farewell dinner.  I had a wonderful, magical time on this tour. It was a dream come true to not only see such beautiful places, but to sing there as well, and with such a wonderful group of people!

Throw Back Thursday ~ Venice, Italy

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#tbt to my favorite image taken in Venice, Italy. I loved Venice! It was like Disneyland in that it was just so perfectly what I had imagined that it seemed like it couldn’t be quite real.

Here’s the link to this image on my boutique.

All sizes of prints of this image are 50% off for the next week.
Code ThrowBack

My Favorite Shot!

DSC_8673 This is my Aunt Connie and Uncle Scott’s family.  They aren’t really my Aunt and Uncle but our families grew up together and so that’s what I’ve always called them, and what I consider them to be.  I love that!

You may wonder what the awesome orange bracelets are for.  My Uncle Scott is battling kidney cancer and they are for kidney cancer awareness.  Uncle Scott and Aunt Connie are currently serving a mission and their kids (my faux cousins) are scattered cross county.  One of them is about to leave for Germany for three years and so Aunt Connie and Uncle Scott came home for a week for a family reunion.  Last night was THE night for a family picture!  This was the last image we took (below).  They are showing strength and support for Uncle Scott and his battle.  I’m on a ladder and it’s pouring rain…absolutely perfect!  I come into sessions with all these grandiose plans but the fun spontaneous images are ALWAYS my favorite.  There are two reasons I do what I do. 1-to communicate with the world and 2-to be a part of the moments like this in people’s lives.

Thank you so much Layton family for a wonderful night and a wonderful lifetime!