Travel Photography - Page 3

Santorini / Part 1


The first travel magazine I remember reading was when I was around 15 years old. Long before I’d dreamed of being a photographer, the cover caught my eye and the photos inside were seared into my memory for life. They were of Santorini; purple-tinged images of quaint, white cave houses and tiny alleyways perched on a cliffside. I thought, “I must go here one day.

A decade later, I started traveling to Europe, but by then, other locations had jumped in the queue of “Places to go” and Santorini was knocked back several spots. The funny thing about life is that experience sort of changes everything. By the time I finally made it to Greece, I’d already been to one of the most beautiful places on earth the year before… so it had to compete with Positano and the Amalfi coast, which is next to impossible in my book! Is this to say Santorini isn’t charming and lovely? Not at all. It is absolutely photogenic… in places.

We rented a cave house in the village of Oia and after touring the entire island, I can’t imagine staying anywhere else. Oia is the depiction of Santorini that everyone knows and loves. Sadly, it’s not the most accurate representation of the rest of the island. Every afternoon and evening, the appeal wore off as cruise ships let loose countless groups of obnoxious tourists with cameras, numbered signs and selfie-sticks. Hundreds of people flooded and congregated the quaint alleyways vying for the best photos until the sun went down. It made me embarrassed to be seen with a camera.

I still managed to find my repose. Thanks to jet lag and sick children, I was awake more than asleep. While everyone else slept, I was up early, coffee in hand, climbing to the terrace above to watch the sun rise over the sea and slowly illuminate the houses on the hillside. After coffee, I ran and climbed the myriad of dodgy steps and trails that laced along the cliff through the old pedestrian houses. The only other living things I came in contact with were stray dogs and cats, as most tourists stayed on the main paths above. I found peace in these winding passageways throughout the day and they will forever be my favorite part of Santorini. Although the rest of the island wasn’t quite what I expected, I was able to experience that magazine cover in person — in the wee hours of the morn, lavender-lit and tranquil, just as I’d imagined it would be.
















Old San Juan, Puerto Rico


At the tail end of our trip to Puerto Rico, we spent one night in Old San Juan. Although it’s known for being a touristy cruise ship port, San Juan’s charming mix of influences (Spanish, Cuban, Italian, and Caribbean) and colonial history easily make up for its short comings. I found it to be a lovely, little town with some of the most colorful buildings, quaint architectural details and perfect cobblestones I’ve ever seen. In a short amount of time, we managed to visit the El Morro fort, the Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis Cementerio, eat a delicious brunch, snack on a classic Mallorca (the must-try pastry), and peek in a few shops along the way. I could’ve easily spent another day wandering the quaint streets, popping into galleries, bakeries and cafes. I suppose we’ll just have to go back! 



The Gallery Inn 


St. Germain Bistro + Cafe, certainly not authentic to P.R. but fantastic food and beverage all the same!

Cafeteria Mallorca for an authentic bakery experience.


El Morro Fort

Cementerio Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis

White Sands National Monument


Several years ago, I discovered White Sands National Monument, thanks to Instagram. I immediately added it to my list of places to visit and kept hoping that some job would take us in the vicinity of southern New Mexico. It took slightly longer than I’d hoped to get there, but sometimes waiting makes it all the sweeter, doesn’t it?

I’ve been to a handful of dunes now and was expecting these to be challenging to walk on. Not only was it the height of summer, but it was also 100 degrees outside — which would make sand unbearable to touch. However, these dunes are not made of sand, but gypsum crystals! It was cool to the touch and compacted differently than sand does. It was truly beautiful, like walking on mounds of sugar or a life-size sand garden – very zen!

WhiteSandsNationalMonument6I could’ve spent hours walking around. My children, however, wanted to slide down the hills. We didn’t have room to bring sleds on this road trip, but luckily the park office sells them new/used plus allows returns for 1/3 the price. It was well worth it! (TIP: some of the hotels in Alamogordo have some to borrow as well.)


The park service also offers a free sunset walking tour, which I’d planned to take. Unfortunately, just as it was about to begin, a huge tour bus showed up. What started as a handful of people turned into a gigantic group! We weren’t in the mood for that, so we decided to drive through the park and walk around alone. I would’ve enjoyed learning about the history and geology of the area, but will have to get that on our next visit. Either way, it was pretty spectacular exploring on our own and the children had a blast.


White Sands is an otherworldly location. It felt completely magical from the moment we arrived and swore we were looking at snow; but especially as the sun set and the hills turned from bright white to gold. We drove away with an orange sun on our tail, pockets full of sandy white crystals and a plan to return in the not too distant future.

New Mexico


October 2010

What do you get when you take back to back vacations?

  a. Lots of laundry
  b. Exercises in packing
  c. Strange viruses
  d. More photos than you’ll ever know what to do with
  e. All of the above

Within one day, we went from the cloudy and green Northwest, to the sunny and dry Southwest. Talk about a 180/360! 

Like Vancouver, I’d always wanted to go to New Mexico.  It didn’t matter that I’d essentially be single parenting on the road for two more weeks (okay, maybe a little) because at least we’d be charting new territory. 

Thanks to this insatiable need to travel and photograph the world… I wanted to present these photos as “an essence” of what I saw and experienced, just in case you’ve never been! 

 Cultural:  Whether you want to learn more about the 19 Indian Pueblos of New Mexico, the blend of Colonial Spanish and Latino/Hispanic heritage, or the great American Cowboy – there’s plenty of well-incorporated diversity within culture to take in here.  In many ways, this is the definition of Southwestern.


Flavor:  The official state question is “Red or Green?” and I quickly came to realize there’s good reason for that.  It comes with everything!  I honestly thought I could handle “heat” (as in chile peppers) until this visit, but boy was I wrong!  They are not messing around here and when they say “spicy,” they mean it.  I ate more enchiladas, beans and rice than I ever have in any two week period. Ever.  We made a point to ONLY nosh in local restaurants (no national chains) and eat mostly regional food, with a few interjections of pizza to keep the niños happy.
Historical:  Honestly, I had no idea that New Mexico was steeped in so much history.  Did you know that Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in the United States?  It’s also one of the oldest cities in all of America, complete with the oldest house and public building!  While Adobe-Pueblo isn’t my favorite architectural style, it harmonizes perfectly with the environment.  Plus, I like it’s ancient quality. And speaking of the ancients, there are petroglyphs and cliff dwellings throughout the state.  We didn’t get to see any of the latter, but plan to on our next visit.
Colorful:  New Mexico is chock full of color.  How can one not love all the turquoise, reds, oranges, and yellows?  Between the Native American and Spanish influences — the costumes, the beads, the food, the chiles — nearly everything was kaleidoscopic.
Museums:  Apparently, I’m attempting to break the world record of “most museum visits in one year!”  I will talk more about this later, but we went to a couple of fabulous ones in Albuquerque.  While the museum tour was getting a little tedious and predictable, I can honestly say that I’d never been to one devoted entirely to rattlesnakes until this trip.  I have the “Certificate of Bravery” to prove it.  Fun times!
Artistic: Between Vancouver and Albuquerque, I returned home with the overwhelming feeling, “Vegas needs more public art!” Everywhere we went, there were enormous murals covering walls due to new “urban enhancement” laws.  In my experience, the longer I live in the desert and the Southwest, I can see why this type of environment is strangely conducive to creating art.  It’s no wonder New Mexico has been home to artists like Georgia O’Keefe, Laura Gilpin and Bruce Nauman.



CA Central Coast


May 2011

Have I ever told you how much I love the Sunshine State? Well, I do. It seems to be my third home these days. But the Central Coast… not so much. I never go there! (Okay once or twice when I was in college I drove up to Seattle, but the only thing I remember is smoking out to Mazzy Star and staying in weird motels. Don’t judge.) A few weeks ago, we decided to take Highway 1 from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo before heading home to Las Vegas.

Thankfully this journey was different than my last. I was older, completely lucid, and with my husband and children. Although it was planned at the last minute (homage to 1994!), everything somehow managed to work out. We left San Francisco (future post), stopping as many times as they’d let me (see *Sidenote) and drove until the road closed just after Big Sur. We thought we might have to backtrack, which would have been disheartening given we’d already driven 5 hours straight (minus my insatiable need to stop every 2 minutes for a photo.)

*Sidenote: Ever wonder what it’s like to travel with a photographer? Who wants to go on a road trip with me? My family was ready to leave me with the “other guy” en route with us, who was apparently on the same photo journey as me. Don’t think I wasn’t tempted to hop in his Forerunner and ask my husband to pick me up in San Luis Obispo! Unfortunately, he had a tripod and well, that’s just too high maintenance for me. HA!

Anyway… we got past Lucia around dusk and realized we’d have to take the Nacimiento-Ferguson Road through the Los Padres Mountains, which was basically switchback after switchback all the way up and down the mountains. That is when I stopped taking photos as an attempt to keep car sickness at bay. An hour and half later, beeping the horn around every turn, and a drive through two different military training camps (v. weird), we finally made it out the other side onto the 101. It was one of those drives that we will never forget.  But what was on the other side was equally crazy! More on that later…



Pigeon Point Lighthouse, Pescadero


 The Slammer, Half Moon Bay


 “Prime” real estate.


 Peeking through the trees, grace meets fury.


 Wildflowers, rolling hills and rocks.


The California Riviera?


A quick stop for gas, ice cream and wine at Big Sur General Store.


 Wibbly-wobbly road through the Los Padres Mountains.



I fully believe in taking the scenic route at least one way! It’s important to slow down and take in the beauty that surrounds us.

Map Credit

Great Salt Lake


Kissing Cousins 

August 2010

Last week while visiting SLC, we decided to head west to check out the city’s namesake, The Great Salt Lake. As soon as we arrived, we were reminded of our trip to the Salton Sea last year. Much like other things in Utah, these two places are most certainly related!

A wolf in sheep’s clothing? 


An other-worldly landscape.


An overwhelming sense of abandonment.


 Skeletons of life and the stench of death.


 Where art and arson merge.


 And history repeats itself.
It’s just a façade of normalness.


With a touch of horror.


Don’t wait to find out.