As a professional photographer, it’s important to seek creative opportunities and invest the time and energy into personal passion projects. Doing so can:
- enhance your knowledge of your craft
- provide a fresh perspective that translates into new ideas
- push you to challenge yourself, which promotes growth
- fulfill your need to express yourself creatively
Not to mention, in the case of this personal project, it also provides an excellent excuse to get out in the fresh air and enjoy some quality time and exercise with my pups 🙂 So, what’s the project?
MINT : Mornings In New Territory
Goal: Explore and photograph 10 dog-friendly locations in San Diego during the first few hours of the day.
- Explore new locations in San Diego
- Strengthen my photography skills by experimenting with unfamiliar lighting, equipment, and/or shooting techniques.
- Engage myself and my dogs in mental and physical activity
Rules & Guidelines:
- The location must be somewhere in San Diego that I’ve never been to before
- I’m only allowed to bring and use my 50mm lens
- Shooting must be done within 2 hours of sunrise.
- The location must be outside (it can be a trail, park, beach, etc)
MISSION MINT 1 : Santa Margarita Trail, Fallbrook
To kick off the Mission, I decided to head somewhere not too far from home, yet still uncharted territory. So, I packed our bags and headed to the Santa Margarita Trail in Fallbrook. Or so I thought…
I’m not sure where we went wrong, but we definitely did NOT end up where we intended on going. Instead, we found a random trail that was about 1/2 mile long, running through a hilly neighborhood. Despite the fact that it wasn’t the “correct” location, we walked the path anyways. It’s all about the adventure, right?
The morning light was beautiful! Especially given how the last few weeks started off with a thick layer of overcast pretty much every single day. Naturally, I was quite delighted to see actual sun rays peaking through the clouds. Me and the girls took some photos along the trail. There wasn’t much of anything exciting, but the were a few spots that provided a decent photo opp.
A little discouraged, but not completely deflated, we drove off after walking the entire 1 mile roundtrip (not quite enough for me to consider it a workout, but at least it was a bit of exercise). I decided to just head home because I knew we at least got a few good shots from the trail. Not more than a couple minutes into the drive home, I realized I had taken a wrong turn and had no idea where I was. Full disclaimer – I’m REALLY good at getting lost!
Before I was able to get too frustrated with myself for getting lost, we came across a bridge. And where there’s a bridge, there’s likely to be water! And then I saw it…a sweet, little river nestled away behind some brush. It was calling our names! I immediately found a spot to park, got the girls out of the car, and headed towards the water. It took a minute for us to find a way, but we did. And when we got there, it was glorious!
If there’s one thing I LOVE, it’s water. It’s literally my favorite thing on Earth. So, you can imagine my excitement when I saw this river. The girls were, of course, equally excited. I through off my shoes, grabbed my camera, and we all jumped in. It was heaven. They had so much fun splashing around, and I was loving the morning light peaking through the trees, reflecting on the water, and feeling the wet sand between my toes. I couldn’t believe we found this secret little gem.
- Location: Unknown (somewhere near the Santa Margarita Trail, Fallbrook)
- Location Type: Trail, Riverbed
- Time: 6:15am – 8:00am
- Lighting: Partly Cloudy
- Equipment: Canon 5D Mark lll, Canon 50m F1.4
- Notes: Shooting backlit through the trees works as expected. The morning light tends to give a magenta or red hue – not the typical yellowish tone of images with afternoon warmth. I may have slightly overcompensated for this in post-production.
CONCLUSION: When something doesn’t go as planned, keep your chin up and stay positive because you never know what might be waiting for you just around the corner 😉
Don’t miss an adventure…follow #MissionMINT on Instagram
I spent the last few days holding my boy while he made his way into the stars. Although unexpected, he went as he should have, warm in his bed with his family by his side. He took a piece of my heart with him, leaving me without words. But for him, I will try to be strong. I will do my best to remember his joyous life and everything he’s taught me instead of consuming my mind with sad thoughts. I will forever miss my buddy, my sweet pea, my Utah.
I complied a short video piece to celebrate his life and share who he was. This creative outlet also usually helps me attempt to get rid of some of the sad thoughts that consume my mind in these kind of situations. In doing this, I can reflect on what Utah’s purpose was, what he taught me, and why his life ended when and how it did.
At the age of 9, I feel his life was cut short. But, I wouldn’t have changed the way he passed. Two days before, we took him to the ER because he wasn’t acting like himself. He seemed lethargic…dragging his nails when he walked, laying in beds that he normally didn’t lay in, not caring to bark at the mailman…just not being Utah. So we didn’t hesitate for a minute before deciding to take him to the ER. After a quick examination, it was absolutely clear to the doctor that he had Hemangiosarcoma. This extremely common tumor found in dogs had developed on Utah’s spleen and ruptured. Once ruptured, internal bleeding occurs, and it’s pretty much a death sentence.
We were given the option to do invasive surgery to remove the spleen, attempt to remove the contaminated blood, and hope it doesn’t come back. But the odds of that succeeding are slim to none, and even then he’d likely only survive for another 3-6 months. Our other option was to let it take his life. We opted for the latter. With a window of 1-4 days, we decided it’d be best for Utah to go home so he can die comfortably with his family by his side.
He grew weaker by the hour, struggling with every little move. His eyes began to tell me that he knew what was happening to him (the image here is the last one I took of him, just hours before he passed).
We hunkered down for nearly 3 days, just trying to make sure he was comfortable. The lights were kept low, the Lavender oil was diffusing, the soothing sound of the rain creeped in through the window, the fireplace crackling, and “Planet Earth” playing softly on tv…it was as relaxed as it could be. We took our turns snuggling with him, knowing it would be our last time. And then, he went peacefully to sleep and let go.
The anticipation of knowing that your dog is going to die doesn’t make it any easier when it happens. I can say that I’m grateful we did know and that we were able to send him off peacefully. And that makes me happy for him. My heart aches when I think of all the things I love about him…his smile and the way his eyes got squinty when he smiled real big, his giant head that was way too big for his body when he was a pup, his soft fur, the way his ears flopped in the wind during car rides, the noises he made in his sleep, how he’s the only one in the house that never snored, the way he’d clench his butt cheeks when he knew I was going to pinch them, how much he loved his ball, how he could swim for hours, how excited he got about doing anything outside, and how he could always make me smile no matter what.
But, I need to be strong and choose to take what he’s given me and move forward. He’s taught me about being grateful, that things could be worse, to enjoy the little things in life, and that you shouldn’t take anyone you love for granted because you never know when their last day will come.