travel

Currie-Erven Family Session | Venice, CA by Shana Berenzweig

I’m finally getting around to blogging this family session from late last summer with one of my oldest and dearest friends (we go all the waaay back to early elementary school). We had planned to walk over to the historic Venice Canals, making a stop at one of my favorite spots, a huge, living succulent wall. As light-lover, I’d hoped for at least a little sun to work with that morning. Instead, the good ol’ marine layer rolled in and we had to make it work since this was our only chance to shoot together while I was out there. Of course, we still created some beautiful images together and some of my very favorite of the year. Here are just a few of my session faves, starting with a few random ones I took before we left the house.


Interested in your own family session in Austin or some place else? I’m available locally now and I’ll be traveling out west in August, message me and let’s make it happen!


Now Open | The Print Shop by Shana Berenzweig

Until I started creating my own online store, I naturally had no clue how much work goes into it. Even with a website builder to help you, there is still SO MUCH TO DO.

Uploading product photos, writing copy, entering unique SKU numbers, writing email notifications, setting up credit card processing, testing and then testing again the shopping and check-out process, and on and on it goes.

And that doesn’t even take into account the inevitable delays and technical issues that crop up. I’ve got a new respect for all those little elves behind the scenes of my online shopping experiences.

All of this rambling is to say I am so happy that my Print Shop is finally online and I so appreciate those of y’all who have already made a purchase!

And don’t forget that y’all have until Sunday, April 14 at midnight to enjoy 10% off your order with the code WOOHOO10.

Happy shopping!

Neary Family Windmill Session | Palm Springs, CA by Shana Berenzweig

Man, oh man, I really dropped the ball (again) on this whole blogging thing. Geez. I’ve got some drafts in the works and I’m gonna try my bestest (again) to do better. Starting with this dreamy session.

Back in February, I attended the Photo Native photography conference in Palm Springs and took part in a mentored shoot-out. A shoot-out is great opportunity for a small group of photographers to meet and learn from a mentor, as well as each other. This session was led by the phenomenal Jayme Ford of The Paper Deer Photography in a windmill farm in a canyon wash with the lovely Neary Family.

This was my first time doing a shoot-out and wasn’t really sure what to expect while trying to shoot with 13 other photographers. Honestly? It was weird for me, especially as an introvert in these kinda situations. You want to get your shots, but also be respectful of your fellow ‘togs trying to get theirs. And even though we started off in small groups taking turns, things (inevitably?) morphed into a free-for-all — everyone jockeying for position, calling out direction, and all the while still try to learn a few things. Check out these behind the scenes shots to get a little taste of the action.

As this wasn’t a normal session, I wasn’t quite able to capture everything I would’ve during a regular client session (like more close-ups, pics of dad and little brother, and some individual portraits, for example), but other than that, I’m pretty in love with these images. These are just a few of my favorites as I edited a ton of photos and probably could go back and edit even more.

As I’d hoped, I learned a lot of during this workshop, including some unexpected lessons. I won’t bore y’all with all that stuff, but there was one thing I thought worthwhile sharing and applies to both clients and fellow photog’s —how to handle Mother Nature and her fickleness with weather.

The sunny Palm Springs of many an Instagram influencer’s feed was nowhere in sight as shoot time approached. Instead, rain clouds loomed in the distance and I thought for sure it was gonna pour (we did get some spinkles and it would start to rain even heavier later that night and proceed to dump historic levels the next day, but that’s a story for another day).

As a lover of light, sun flares, and rim light, I was pretty bummed by this less than ideal weather. But I should’ve listened to my own advice that I give to clients about the weather.

Sometimes that less than ideal weather turns into a moody and dreamy landscape that you could never ever plan for in a million years. It was a good reminder to be patient and expect the unexpected.


Interested in your own dreamy family session? Message me and let’s make it happen!


Big thanks to these fine folks.

Workshop: Photo Native

Mentor: Jayme Ford | The Paper Deer Photography

Models: The Neary Family

Dress: Reclamation Design Company

Location: Palm Springs, CA


Riding solo by Shana Berenzweig

Horsebend Bend, Arizona | August 2018

Horsebend Bend, Arizona | August 2018

“So is it just you and your dog?”

“Where’s your husband?”

“Are you meeting up with friends?”

“Wait, you’re out here all by yourself?”

“I could never do that, don’t you get scared?”

These are just a few of the questions I get asked pretty much every single solo trip I take. Both from well-meaning friends at home and strangers I encounter on the road.

Somewhere in western New Mexico, September 2018

Somewhere in western New Mexico, September 2018

I realize that the vast majority of these people are asking from a place of love and concern. And it is always nice to know people care about you and are interested in your life.

But.

(There’s always a “but,” isn’t there?)

Sometimes it feels like they are projecting their fears, insecurities, and judgements on me.

I’ve written about traveling solo before (here and here), but it feels like society gives women only three options for travel: with a significant other, usually a man; for work; or with friends or family. The notion of solo female travel, even in 2018, still feels radical somehow. Or at least based on the responses I’ve experienced.

Not nearly often enough does someone lead with “Wow, that’s awesome, I’m jealous!” or share their own solo adventures, or something similarly positive. This generally applies to acquaintances and strangers, but either way I wish more folks would start with this sentiment, rather than one that is fear-based.

West Texas | September 2018

West Texas | September 2018

“Do you have a gun?”

“Do you wear a fake wedding ring so people won’t think you are alone?”

“How can you trust strangers?”

These are a few more of the types of questions I get asked all the time as if I don’t take any precautions when I set out alone. Just because I don’t want fear to control my life, doesn’t mean I don’t take steps to stay safe. For example, I always tell someone my itinerary and check in when I get somewhere. I also always trust my gut and if a stranger’s demeanor is shady or their questions too invasive, I’ll lie about my travel plans and details. Even though I’m a proud independent woman doesn’t mean I am stupid.

But.

(Y’all knew there’d be another “but.”)

I wonder how often a solo man on the road gets asked any of these questions?

Grand Canyon National Park North Rim, Arizona | August 2018

Grand Canyon National Park North Rim, Arizona | August 2018

Back soon with more photos from this summer’s epic seven state roadtrip!

XO

Going Solo by Shana Berenzweig

A few weeks ago I finally did something I've been wanting to do for several years. 

There will be some who think I'm stupid for doing it.  And some who will wonder what the big deal is and why it took me so long.

I went camping alone.

Well, of course Frankie was with me, but that doesn't really count.

The luxuries of car camping. An airbed. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

The luxuries of car camping. An airbed. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

My little campsite. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

My little campsite. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

For those who fall into the first category and think I'm stupid and want to know why in this crazy world I'd even think about camping alone, it's simple.

Bad shit can happen to you at home, crossing the street, at work.  Anywhere.  You prepare as best you can and then go about living your life.  I don't want this sort of fear to stop me from exploring the great outdoors or traveling in general.

The sunrise had the sky shifting in a kaleidoscope of constantly changing colors. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

The sunrise had the sky shifting in a kaleidoscope of constantly changing colors. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

Because so what if you don't have someone to explore with all the time?  Or don't want to wait for when it's a good time for someone else to go?  Or aren't in a relationship at the moment?  Or what if you have people to go with but just want to get away for some alone time?  Are you just supposed to sit at home?

For me, the answer is a big, fat hell no. 

I'm not gonna sit around and daydream of going places once I have someone to go with.  Or settle for staying in hotel rooms instead of under a blanket of stars.  I'm just gonna go if I wanna.  It's a place I've found myself in before and already have written about once before.

Thankful for this friend. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

Thankful for this friend. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

At this point in my life, I'm comfortable doing all sorts of stuff just me, myself, and I, and sometimes Frankie.  I hardly even think twice about most of it.  I know pretty well what my limits are and how far I can push myself.

Hiking and roadtrips with the doggo?  A movie matinee?  Eating out?  Sure, why not?

Longer trips without said doggo?  Parties and networking?  Camping?  Eh, not so much.

What keeps me from doing certain things by myself naturally depends on the activity.  When it comes to camping specifically, my active imagination plays a huge role in keeping me home or in a hotel/motel.  Thinking about sinister people, hungry wild animals, breaking my arm, or whatever fantastical scenario that flashes through my head freaks me out safely tucked in bed, so how was I ever going to do it for real out there?

I read some articles specifically by women about women camping alone to try to ease my mind and find some pearls of wisdom.  I tried to think about things rationally.  I'm doing all sorts of other stuff alone.  Why should camping be any different?

I think a big part of it starts in our culture.  Being alone is something to be avoided.  Something to be ashamed of.  Humans are social animals after all and are better off with other people, right? 

American society tells us there's something wrong with us when we are alone.  Just think of all the stereotypes and tv/movie scenes about the sad-sack eating out by themselves or the crazy old man who lives by himself.  Do I even need to mention spinsters and cat ladies? 

Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

I find all of this to be especially true for women who travel or go off to explore the great outdoors alone. 

The general consensus is that it's not safe to go by yourself.  It's risky and stupid.  You could fall and break your leg or get your arm pinned under a boulder and have to saw it off with your pocketknife.  Not to mention all the sexual predators out there just waiting to pounce on a single lady.  All sorts of terrible, horrible things could happen and there would be no one to help.

Or at least that is what society tells us.

But I'm trying hard not to buy into that assumption anymore.  And so a few weeks ago, I finally went on a 24-hour solo camping adventure. 

And y'all know what?  It wasn't scary.  Like, at all.  No terrible, horrible things happened.  

My campsite off in the distance.  Thanks to the  1959 Open Beaches Act , on many Texas beaches you can drive.  I've got mixed feelings about this, but for this camping trip it was great. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

My campsite off in the distance.  Thanks to the 1959 Open Beaches Act, on many Texas beaches you can drive.  I've got mixed feelings about this, but for this camping trip it was great. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

Instead I felt a tremendous sense of pride and confidence in myself.  That warm, fuzzy, I-can-do-that feeling when you face new challenges and conquer fears, and learn you are stronger than you thought.  It was an excellent exercise in independence and self-discovery.

And I can't wait to go again sometime.  Especially back to the beach.  I'm sure there will be moments of fear and they all won't be as easy as this one, but just taking that first step was huge for me and what I'm capable of accomplishing.

My shadow and me. And a very rare selfie the morning after. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

My shadow and me. And a very rare selfie the morning after. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

I thought I'd shoot more while I was there, but I found myself content just sitting in the moment.  Listening to the crash of the waves.  Watching the birds.  Taking deep breaths of humid, salty air.

And no camera between me and any of it. 

First light. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

First light. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

This is just a little peek at my adventure.  I'm also working on putting together a post with some solo camping tips and gear just in case I've inspired one of y'all to camp solo sometime.  But seeing how I'm still not very good at this whole blogging thing, I can't make any promises. 

XO

Brown pelicans get in formation. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

Brown pelicans get in formation. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

The beach was covered with these teeny tiny shells. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

The beach was covered with these teeny tiny shells. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

Beach color palette. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

Beach color palette. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

We heart the National Park Service and wish more of the big official parks were doggo-friendly (although we get, begrudgingly, why they aren't).  Thankfully many of the national monuments and 'lesser' parks in the NPS are welcoming to pups. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

We heart the National Park Service and wish more of the big official parks were doggo-friendly (although we get, begrudgingly, why they aren't).  Thankfully many of the national monuments and 'lesser' parks in the NPS are welcoming to pups. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

We had the beach to ourselves. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

We had the beach to ourselves. | Padre Island National Seashore, Texas | June 2018

On the way to Padre, I drove thru Rockport, one of the hardest hit areas by Hurricane Harvey almost a year ago. While they have come so far, there was sadly still a lot of rebuilding to do. | Rockport Texas | June 2018

On the way to Padre, I drove thru Rockport, one of the hardest hit areas by Hurricane Harvey almost a year ago. While they have come so far, there was sadly still a lot of rebuilding to do. | Rockport Texas | June 2018

A Texan measures distance in hours, not miles. by Shana Berenzweig

In late June, Frankie and I packed up the car and headed west on our third annual roadtrip to LA to visit family and friends.  Each time, I've made the 2-day trek solo, which seems to confuse some people.  Despite what they think, there are lots of great reasons to travel/roadtrip solo.  And as a single lady, sometimes you can't wait around for the right time and travel-partner-in-crime. 

The road calls and you must answer. 

West Texas | July 2017

West Texas | July 2017

Growing up in Texas, the youngest in a veteran roadtripping family, I have a fondness for the bittersweet nature of the long drive.  It takes Texans a while to get anywhere around the state, which is why we tend to measure distance by hours, not miles.  Many curse the trek across the miles and miles of Texas roads.

But I love the drive.

The solitude.

White Sands National Monument, NM | June 2017

White Sands National Monument, NM | June 2017

The stillness of dawn.

The way the land slowly flattens out from the hill country outside Austin to the wide open spaces of west Texas.

The picnics at rest stops.

The little roadside attractions.

White Sands National Monument, NM | June 2017

White Sands National Monument, NM | June 2017

The way Frankie curls up next to me.

The lull and sway of the road.

The genius, beauty, and simplicity of cruise control.

The knowing glances and synchronized back-stretching from other road-weary travelers at rest stops.

The mundane stretches of nothingness.

West Texas | July 2017

West Texas | July 2017

The freedom to stop whenever and wherever I want and as many times as my heart (or bladder) desires.

The simple, yet healing powers of having the windows down and the music up.

The giddiness when you cross another state line.

The relief when you get to your destination.

Las Cruces, NM | June 2017

Las Cruces, NM | June 2017

The good fortune of making it without getting a ticket.

The gratitude of my privilege to travel and explore.

The inevitable daydreaming of living on the road.

The comfort of returning home.

The sense of accomplishment in doing it all by myself.

The highs and the lows. 

I love it all.

These are just a few of my faves from the journey to LA and camping in the Sierras.  Hope to have more images posted soon. (But let's be real, it'll probably be a while.)

XO

 
First Lake, John Muir Wilderness, CA | July 2016

First Lake, John Muir Wilderness, CA | July 2016

White Sands National Monument, NM | June 2017

White Sands National Monument, NM | June 2017

Leo Carrillo State Park, Malibu, CA | June 2017

Leo Carrillo State Park, Malibu, CA | June 2017

Sequoia National Park, CA | July 2017

Sequoia National Park, CA | July 2017

Tonto National Forest, AZ | July 2017

Tonto National Forest, AZ | July 2017

Inyo National Forest, CA | July 2017

Inyo National Forest, CA | July 2017

White Sands National Monument, NM | June 2017

White Sands National Monument, NM | June 2017

Sequoia National Park, CA | July 2017

Sequoia National Park, CA | July 2017

Big Pine, CA | July 2017

Big Pine, CA | July 2017

Big Pine, CA | July 2017

Big Pine, CA | July 2017

John Muir Wilderness, CA | July 2017

John Muir Wilderness, CA | July 2017

Sequoia National Forest, CA | July 2017

Sequoia National Forest, CA | July 2017

Sequoia National Park, CA | July 2017

Sequoia National Park, CA | July 2017

John Muir Wilderness, CA | July 2017

John Muir Wilderness, CA | July 2017

White Sands National Monument, NM | June 2017

White Sands National Monument, NM | June 2017