Once upon a time, back in my days living in Winona, Minnesota, I shot a senior portrait session for a young man named Josh. Josh was a straightforward young man. He only wanted to incorporate two outfits in his session, and he wanted it to be as brief as possible, so we opted for the Half Semester session: 30 minutes.
We started off on the bridge down in Lake Park. Getting these bridge shots can be tricky, as there is usually a lot of foot traffic. Thankfully, when people see that you're trying to get a photograph, most of them will stop and let you get the shots you're looking for. Otherwise, it's just all about timing, and sometimes a little bit of PhotoShop ;)
I was able to walk along the bank of the lake to get the shot with him leaning on the railing of the bridge. Don't worry, I wasn't swimming to get the photo!
1. Highly recommend NOT swimming in the lakes in Winona.
2. Water is not friends with cameras.
After getting a few shots in the park, we got into my vehicle and drove over to Winona State University, my Alma Mater. The ivy in the two photos next to each other above runs along the walls of the oldest building on campus - Phelps. Phelps is also where I spent a majority of my time on campus as that is where the Mass Communications department is, along with the dark room!
The steps Josh is sitting on in the photo directly above lead into another one of the oldest buildings on campus - Somsen Hall. The steps are made out of Limestone taken from Sugar Loaf, Winona's landmark and tourism draw as you enter the town.
The story of Sugar Loaf is really interesting in how it helped rebuild the town of Winona after the great fire of 1862. Here are a few great articles on Sugar Loaf and the Fire of 1862 if you are interested:
Anyway, I'm going off on a tangent here. Josh was a wonderful client and was super easy to work with. Thank you, Josh, for being my first male senior portrait client! It really helped open up the doors to a wider audience and clientele, and I will always be grateful for the experience.
After we finished our ice cream, we headed over to this gift shop called Wish Gifts, which was right across the street. It's a super cute store and I highly recommend it for gift shopping. We ended up buying a birthday present for Jeremy's youngest brother, Joshua, and we bought ourselves a new coin bank that looks like a globe.
We walked down the rest of the block, crossed back over to the other side of the street, and went to this coffee shop called Ink!.
We woke up early the next morning after staying at Yosemite View Lodge the previous night. We had no idea how spectacular the view was from the lodge until the morning, as it was dark when we checked in at 11pm the night before. We were greeted by the sunrise and cliff faces, and it couldn't have been a better start to the day.
You feel like you are already in the park before you technically are.
It was definitely worth it to make it down to the river. It was beautiful seeing the river, which was low, trinkle its way around the boulders and rocks.
We even found a big rock to climb up on, for a better view, and of course, for poses.
Jeremy and I stood at the base of Yosemite Lower Falls with my mom and Katy. Then, thinking Jeremy was following me, I set off unto the woods to the left of the viewpoint to try to get a different angle of the waterfall. I had barely walked into the woods and turned around when I noticed he was not following me, and he was no longer within my view. He had gone somewhere else. I decided to continue hiking my way up towards the base of the fall. Eventually I made my way back out towards the open rocks, and who do I see on the other side? My bearded man.
We got to the park in the early afternoon, so the sun was quite fierce. We got to the park entrance gate, and my parents purchased the America the Beautiful pass as Jeremy's and my Christmas present. The pass allows you to have free admission to any National Park for one year.
If you plan on visiting more than one National Park within a year, I highly recommend getting the America the Beautiful pass. It only costs $80.00 which is usually about the same or cheaper than two admission fees into different parks. For example, the admission fee into Sequoia National Park costs $35 for a vehicle, and is the same for Yosemite National Park. We were just on vacation, and happened to go to two national parks. For $10 more, the annual pass is well worth it.
Jeremy and I live relatively close to Rocky Mountain National Park where I plan on adventuring a few times this year. Let's say I go three times over the course of the next year. A vehicle day pass at RMNP is $25, which means that would be $75 spent in admission fees alone. Jeremy and I are also going to Yellowstone for my birthday in June. Yellowstone's admission fee is $25.
So, basically, instead of spending $170 this year on national park passes, the America the Beautiful pass is just $80. Get one! It's worth it if you plan on visiting the parks.
Okay, I'm done trying to sell you on that point :P I just love my pass!
We found a dirt path off to the side that took us to the top of the Tunnel Rock. We were able to climb up on top of it. The rock is actually quite steep, and there are signs warning you of climbing up on top of Tunnel Rock, so we didn't climb too far up.
Katy was the bravest of the three of us, perching up on the hump of the rock. Jeremy and I stayed by the slab on the side, which made for a perfect foot rest.
Sequoia National Park is a beautiful drive, even before you get to the famous Sequoia trees. I highly recommend soaking in the view. Plus, a lot of people don't know that Sequoia National Park is also home to the tallest mountain in North America - Mount Whitney! That is on the completely opposite side of the park from the trees, so we did not go and visit the mountain. Maybe next time! PS - the mountain in the above photo is NOT of Mount Whitney. I believe it is Mount Eisen - I could be wrong! If anyone knows what the snow-capped mountain is in this image, please feel free to comment!
The rock formation in the foreground is known as "Castle Rocks"... naturally.
The tree above with the sun shining next to it and the one on the left directly above this sentence are both images of General Grant.
In the Grant Grove loop, there is this fallen tree called the Fallen Monarch. The tree was hollowed out by a fire more than 300 years ago before toppling over. The fallen tree served as shelter to cattlemen who later built a cabin very close by, a saloon, and a horse stable! Now it is a tourist attraction that one can walk through. The right image above shows Jeremy standing in front of one end of the Fallen Monarch.
When the family, Jeremy, and I were there, it was beginning to get dark, so it was very black inside the tree. I don't believe I would have noticed this heart shape hole on the top curvature of the fallen tree if it wasn't for the setting sun shining through it.
The following image after shows the other end of the Fallen Monarch.
The two trees above are more of the Giant Sequoias, and the one below is another image of General Grant. You can tell by the one significant branch that reaches out towards the sun in the image below.
Photographer, visual artist, mother to four fur-babies, and travel enthusiast.