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Travel Hacks No One Actually Tells You

There are a ton of videos and blogs on this subject. But welcome to my take on the situation. I have only found a few things to be true when travelling and the rest to be crap.

I don’t put necklaces through straws so they don’t get tangled, because I only take one set of jewelry with me so I lessen the risk of losing something (or having it stolen). I don’t take much shampoo in little bottles because it’s far more logical to “buy it when you get there” and in small quantities.

Perhaps this sounds a little rugged and I know we have favorite hair products, BUT the reality is that one exploded bottle of shampoo or lotion in your suitcase can make a mess that’s way worse to deal with than messy hair. And unless you are going somewhere where you know they won’t sell cosmetics, then just buy something when you get there. You often can find better products in places like Europe, that will work better in the water/sun/humidity in that location.

For instance, a pharmacist in Rome noted how pasty I was, and insisted I buy some SPF50. “Blanca, blanca, come here” she told me and shoved the bottle in my hand with some tampons. This was the best sunscreen I have ever used and I wish I could find it here in the states! It didn’t cause me to break out, it was light and it worked to keep “blanca” from being “rosso”.

Continue reading “Travel Hacks No One Actually Tells You”

Land of Enchantment Part III

The final day was spent starting the day with a trip to the last two museums on my list, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and the International Folk Art Museum. 

The first was home to a massive amount of history and artwork dating back to prehistory and into modernity. It not only showcased the long story and history of native peoples but also the current conflicts and issues that exist. I especially appreciated a section that called out cultural appropriation and stereotypes in modern american culture.

The plaza outside of the museum was equally impressive and an enjoyable visit all on its own. Full of life-size and larger statues it paid testament to native culture, struggle and existence, a story that often is overlooked and misunderstood.

The folk museum provided a great blend of other stories, and the fact it had a folk-art element meant that it reflected the tale of the average person and not that of another identity. Rooms were filled to the brim of a variety of cultural expressions including miniatures, needlepoint, dolls and much more.

After musuem land it was time to PARTY!

We started the events with a surprise mass, and wedding for my great aunt and uncle. We finished with food and sangria at their home in rural Santa Fe. I got to see cousins that live in Germany and England that I don’t usually see and talk with other cousins I didn’t know too well. All around it was a success and very enjoyable for all involved.

And sadly the next morning ment driving home…until next time Santa Fe!

Part I, Part II

 

What I’ve Learned From Travelling….

…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

Weddings and other nonsense

I love LOVE. I love romance, and stories of two people fighting the odds. I enjoy laughter, and nights in with my partner to watch the x-files. I enjoy sushi dinner dates and picnics. I enjoy rare vacations where we dress up and eat fancy and enjoy each others company.

When it comes to weddings I feel a little twinge of anxiety. Not for others’ but my own.

I have been to a lot of weddings the last three years, I have photographed most of them, been a bridesmaid in one, and attended numerous others previously. So far in my photography career, one couple has already divorced, but the others seem happy and intend to stick it through. I’ve seen dad’s cry, and mothers wear white to weddings. I have seen dress malfunctions and brides that went barefoot most the nights.

tumblr_mzwwkidQBg1t1r1l2o1_400.gifI have seen flower girl meltdowns, and ring bearer run offs.I have seen pretty much every do, and DO NOT in the book. Or even just things that seemed great at the time, but really failed in reality. Regardless of all of this, the truth is that because of working in the wedding industry I think some of the romance has worn off.

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Ryan and I are talking marriage in about 16 months. A fall wedding, because that’s our favorite season. A touch of Halloween because that’s my favorite holiday and the rest is kind of perplexing. I would say Ryan and I are engaged, but he didn’t ask me formally, and that throws people off. We talked about it and both agreed, like feminist adults. We’ll just say we got engaged February 29th for humor’s sake. I had him buy me a $40 silver ring with lab-created diamonds and sapphires  and within two months I had left it in my cousin’s house in Texas….luckily they found it and I will get it back this summer. Because I knew that eventually I would misplace or lose the ring Ryan bought me, and $1000 missing ring would kill me. I haven’t bought Ryan an engagement ring since we’re kind of struggling on this already. I suggested matching tattoos, but he doesn’t like needles…sooo

We have a venue picked out because they do 80% of the work for us. If we buy everyone dinner, the big things for us, then we get the venue. Add on a few more fees for drinks and sounds equipment and flowers and we have found the best deal in town. They serve almost 100% local food, and everything is organic, they also can accommodate our list of weird allergies. And they even decorate with pumpkins all year as they use them in food!

I know who I want for bridesmaids, and I know what they will wear. I know who will stand on Ryan’s side, and who will officiate our wedding. I figure we’ll have matches and cigars for party favors etc. We want a little bit 1920s to our theme.

I think I have even found my dress, and it’s custom made by a company in the Ukraine. It’s silk and gorgeous, and my aunt is giving me crap but I love it anyway.

The hard part about all of this is not the guy and not the planning, I love event coordination, it’s all the other things that come with marriage. It’s the pressure to take Ryan’s last name and to have kids in x-amount of time. It’s the pressure to “settle down” and not want to seek out adventures and fun. It’s pressure to spend a fortune on one day, just to prove to someone that we love each other enough to want to plan a life together. It’s the pressure on women to look their best, and drop 20lbs. It’s the pressure to appease everyone and no one at the same time.

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And this is all probably why I haven’t done something in the last, almost five and a half years with Ryan.

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For someone that also thinks so many of these traditions are just fabrications of a consumer society, which they are, I have a hard time wanting to be happy about it. I don’t want a dress beaded by children that make $1 a day. I don’t want my veil, or bouquets or headpieces to just end up in the garbage. It’s just so hard to imagine spending so much money to have so much just thrown away after. Anyway, does anyone else have stories to share? I’m struggling on this one.

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Here I am admitting my fears in public, when I struggle to admit them to myself. I know Ryan is the one that I want to call old fart, and I can’t imagine living through this mess without him and his daughter by my side. Yet I fear I am not good enough, that I lack something and that he doesn’t deserve a wife with so many student loans, and a wanderlust that could kill a partner. Yet here he is. Long-distance, mid-distance, months apart, still here and welcoming me home.

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One of my feminist idols was wed and in the past out-spoken against wedding mumbo-jumbo. Which brings me some comfort in just embracing what I love and discarding the rest. So maybe I’ll stay in love with my Ryan, plan something fun, and enjoy the moments that surround us everyday as much as the one where we say I Do.

Maybe the reason we as a culture stick together around the idea of the big wedding is that we don’t get many moments like this as a culture anymore. Even a century ago small communities would get together to celebrate each season, they would have dances, new births were greatly celebrated and everyone came to funerals. Today, weddings are sometimes the only chance everyone gets to be together to celebrate, and in this case it’s something very happy and enjoyable. At least it should be. So maybe all the pomp and circumstance really is just a way to say, hey thanks everyone for raising us, for loving us, and helping us find each other?

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24 Hours in Casper.

Being in Colorado we have tons to do in the state, but some of us have family elsewhere, or friends we want to visit. I don’t get why they don’t move to Colorado, but I do need to reciprocate in visits. So I packed up my bags and borrowed my boyfriend’s daughter and a friend and we headed North.

My parent’s, my Great Aunt and my cousin and his family all live in Casper, Wyoming. Only abut 3.5 hours from Fort Collins, it’s not an unbearable drive, and if the weather is decent with minimal wind, it’s not frightening. Which driving through Wyoming can be.

So if you want a quick getaway, ours was just about 30 hours, then Casper is a great idea! We got up at 4:30, were on the road in an hour and there before 9am in order to get the most of our time. We stayed the night, and headed south again the next day at 9am to return home about 12:30pm. With minimal traffic (this you can almost always count on) it was a quick and comfortable drive.

Check out the WYOCITY campaign for Casper, which tells you about the whole big load of things you can do!

For entertainment we went to the college and the free Geological/Paleontology museum called the Tate. Where you can admire a massive Mammoth at the entrance, touch real fossils and rocks, talk to experts and brush up on your natural history for the price of FREE!

This statue was also pretty bad ass!

#rawr #dino #trex #dinosaurs #rex #casper #wyoming

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For food Casper has a lot of options for visitors, we tried a thai food place for lunch. With their large lunch sizes the kid and I shared a Pad Thai and enjoyed the beautiful and fancy atmosphere for a pretty good mid-range price. This would make a nice date place.

Then we spent the afternoon with family. I got to snuggle the baby cousin Ivy. Who wanted to play with my phone more than take a picture.

Chilling with #cousin Ivy #casper #wyoming #roadTrip #adventures #western #baby #munchkin #bumpkin

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Finally we ended the day at a historic restaurant and bar called the Wonder Bar, where they have a small brewery and 1/2 priced burgers in the middle of the week. I got the salad bar for a cheap $6, all I could eat, full of fresh options. And everyone else enjoyed their massive variety of burgers for about $5 a pop. No wonder the place was packed, and with locals. A great deal and end to celebrating my Great Aunt’s birthday!

The next morning we went to Sherrie’s Place for a light breakfast before leaving town. Another place that was packed with locals, and full of great deals. My friend and I split a $6 breakfast and were totally full, along with drinking endless coffee! The kid’s pancake was also huge and came with milk and bacon, making the munchkin happy. A good, greasy little gathering place with friendly staff and good food. Well worth a visit.

If you are looking for more to do in Casper have no fear. There is plenty of outdoors sports and museums that discuss the wild west and early settlers. Such as the Historic Trails Museum and Fort Caspar. Check out more that Casper College offers and more!

Happy Trails!

Best,

Rebecca Lee Robinson

Faces of Italy, Part II- Calcio Storica

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.

Kentucky Wedding

This is belated and I apologize to those waiting to see new photos, but I am in school and it just got away from me.

In September I shot a wedding for a high school friend and her husband in Berea, Kentucky at the gorgeous Boone Tavern. The town itself is an accomplishment in progress as it is home to one of the first interracial universities in the world and the first in the Southern United States built in 1855, five years before the civil war began. Beyond that the University charges NO tuition and instead works with largely low income students from Appalachia where they work on campus and in the community to pay for their costs of attendance.

Boone Tavern was built as a tavern for visitors in 1909 and holds gorgeous rooms and hosts wonderful small weddings for an affordable rate. It was truly wonderful to get to shoot at the location and stay the night there due to its beauty, history, and character. Not to mention Southern hospitality is a real and truly wonderful thing.

Back to the reason I was there. The wedding was wonderful, sweet, loving and a hoot and a half. Not only did I get to take photos of a loving, fun and charming couple but I also got to spend time with a dear friend and her new family. Along with her daughter who I hadn’t seen since she was a baby, and her two step-daughters.

Bride Amanda getting ready
Mom and Bridesmaid Nikki help with getting the dress on.
Tardis groom’s cake anyone?
Wedding Cake
The kiss! Bride Amanda, Groom Luke

Family Pose
Wedding Party
Pose outside the tavern

The Bride and her sister’s
gorgeous rings
The BEAUTIFUL shoes!

back to the basics

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

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.

Steam Punk Wedding

This happened a few weeks ago but with the start of school and what not I did not get to post anything, but better late than never.

 

A few weeks ago some friends from high school for married in Woodland Park, where we all went to high school together. Town of maybe 7,000 mountainous, pretty and a good chance to catch up with people.

 

They had the wedding at the local golf club, and with only minor problems the day was a success, the couple was happy and I got some great images for themselves and myself to enjoy.

 

Book-page flowers for centerpieces

 

The officiants

 

Grooms party

 

Such beautiful landscape

 

The groom

 

Happy couple!

 

Bridal Party

 

Bridal Party

 

Beautiful Bride

 

Happy Couple shot.