Real Talk | Real Life

I am looking at all my little notes on my page (photo above) filled with quotes and inspirational words today:

Stay true to your values. Follow YOUR dreams, not someone else’s. Don’t shoot for perfect, shoot for your best. Perfectionist…Illusion…Genuine, Alive.

Always seek to do the best.

Don’t we all feel sometimes just stuck, stuck in our own routine, our daily chores, work or what ever it is we do? Days just pass by, they all look hazy and funky, and you feel like you didn’t accomplish anything? It’s like a big twister that sucks you in, and you can’t get out of it until you realize you are actually in it! And it’s tough to break that circle.

This week has been an emotional and different week for me. Many people have touched, inspired, stimulated, moved and motivated me on so many levels that it almost felt like a little soul searching to me. Here are just three scenarios that impacted me the most this week.

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I set up a critique session with one of the TOP equine photographers out there, Shelley Paulson. She is one of my role models I look up to. Her photography is just beautiful, simple yet elegant and her images tell stories. I needed someone like her to help me to look at my photography at a different angle, to give me honest feedback, and to guide me to the next level.

Her critiques were spot on, and it was an absolute eye-opening experience. This was exactly what I was looking for and needed for myself! I am always on a search of how I can do better because I want to excel in everything I do. I want to be the best I can in this moment. But don’t we all want to do just that? Unbeknownst to her, she took my motivation to a whole new level!

Check her out at Here is one of her latest educational videos!

After this session and all this new homework in front of me, I stumbled over a very interesting young woman named Nadia Meli on YouTube who is a Wedding Photographer in Brighton, England. Her quote

“I am a Perfectionist. I will never be perfect, but will always be my best.”

just stuck with me and three hours later I probably watched most of her inspirational and educational videos. I just felt an instant connection, and saw many similarities between her and me, like the way we were brought up and how we don’t fit into that “traditional box” of life. Everything she says resonates with me on a very personal level. She made me think about my past, my friends I lost and left behind during my rebellious time of travels, people I hurt including my Mom and just so many other things in my life…

Here is my favorite video of her:


Last but not least…in case you are STILL reading…

I photographed a wonderful horse event on Monday, called “Horsin’ Around Tournament”. All proceeds went to LEAD, an amazing local therapeutic equine program for kids and youth who struggle with different kind of mental health issues and development needs. It wasn’t your regular Horse Show, it was a community and family event, and it was all about the horse. Competitors played with their horses online, at liberty and freestyle riding and had timed obstacles to conquer. Although everybody showed their competitive side and wanted to do their best, they all put the horse first.

Find out more about LEAD here:

What I enjoyed most was talking to like-minded people, watching their interaction with their horses, meeting new faces and catching up with familiar ones. After this event I came to the realization of how much I really missed this part in my life with my horse. When I lived in Las Vegas, all my friends and I would do is hang out with our horses and do exactly that!

Especially this week, my head filled up with so many thoughts in all kind of directions, that sometimes it helps to write them down. As we all try to find our own path, I know that:

Be the Woman you wanna be, not what you should be. Follow your dreams…not someone else’s.


A very rare AND special mare…for sure

Stacie told me some interesting facts about her two horses Poet and Zeus over the phone and then in person when I met her. But I must admit, I didn’t know half of her story until days after the photo shoot. It is an inspirational story about overcoming severe challenges and obstacles…to say the least.

Stacies owns this beautiful 10 year old Arabian Bay Mare “Poetic Kharma” aka Poet, who is covered in blue ribbons, won four Championship titles including Region 4 – Horse of the Year for USEF in 2012! Absolutely impressive! I barely could keep up with taking notes as Stacey is telling me about her successful showing career. Then finding out that Poet is also one of the very rare mares that has gone through the Oldenburg NA Inspection and as a purebred Arabian was fully accepted into the Oldenburg Main Mare Book, missing Premium mare by mere points. Now I was speechless!

With Ben, her husband and Annelise, her trainer in tow we moved to a perfect outdoor spot to take the first photos.  Poet is no “Newbie” when it comes to posing in front of the camera and totally cooperated with whatever we asked her to do.

Then we also included Ben, who by the way carries almost as many titles as Poet after his name, DVM, Ph.D., MPH…just to name a few.

Now it was time for Zeus, her young Warmblood. She quickly changed into her dressage outfit and we continued taking photos. She bred him herself and she has high hopes for him to become the next Dressage Star. She LOVES his big movement and playfulness!

By now, the sun almost set and I wanted to get a few nice sunset shots. So we moved Zeus into a paddock area where he could show off his moves!

Then right before the sun went down, I took this photo…


A few days later, when I finished editing the shoot, I knew I had some really nice photos of Poet! I decided to contact the editor of the Arabian Horse Magazine to see if they might have some interest in Poet’s photos as she was not just any horse! After I heard back that they definitely would like to run a story on her, Stacie then emailed more information to them and copied me. It was definitely heart breaking and emotional to read…

Poet was in a terrible accident after her “Horse of the Year” title and broke a lumbar vertebra joint on her left side of her back. The next two years Stacie and Ben spent endless hours of giving her the best care, getting the right diagnostics and tests done including a bone scan and ultrasound. Stacie, at the same time, developed a very painful chronic disorder and had a tough time dealing with it where she lived, up North in Washington.

After moving to Nevada and hopes that she might be able to ride Poet again, she got even more bad news. Poet developed insulin resistance and foundered! AND to top it off, she also developed an intestinal impaction that became so badly infected that she ended up in Intensive Care for 5 days where she almost lost her!
Stacie then continued: ” I remember going into her stall where she was hooked up to I.V’s and hugging her and telling her I won’t give up on her if she won’t give up on me.


Now, as I am looking at her photographs and knowing the extreme struggle they both went through until this day, I know how much this one of a kind Mare Poet means to her! I am glad she has beautiful images of Poet to cherish forever.

There is one more thing about Poet: While she is not completely back of being her old self, she is an Equine Therapy Horse in conjunction with The Center for Hope in Reno for patients with severe eating disorders. She gives them confidence by helping people overcome their fear of horses and sharing her kind soul.


“He was supposed to by my FOREVER HORSE!”

I still remember these words from Cassie when she told me about Jasper’s condition with tears in her eyes. She was looking for her dream horse, a horse she can grow old with, a horse to lean on when you need it, a horse that would be in her backyard as she looks out her kitchen window. She simply was looking for a horse to care for and to give a good home to. As Cassie said: “He was suppose to be my forever horse”.

After a long and dragging search Cassie finally found Jasper, a 12 year old Oldenburg/ Thoroughbred cross Gelding in California. He immediately caught everyone’s attention at his arrival because of his stunning looks and his demeanor! Shortly after, Cassie started to show him with SNHSA with great success and came home with several ribbons! Her smile and happiness were priceless. She asked me to take several photos of them since it was their first show and she simply wanted to capture these first moments. Just like a parent seeing your child walk for the first time 🙂


After that, I saw Cassie here and there but haven’t really talked with her until my Holiday Photo Shoots came around in November of last year. Still, everything seemed just fine…

In May I received a text message from Cassie asking for a “Remembrance Session” which totally caught me off guard. I was really in shock and was trying to find out what had happened to Jasper.

Beginning of the year Jasper had several lameness problems among other issues. Over a period of time Jasper became more and more unstable to ride. Cassie even trailered him to UC Davis to find the right answers. There, they also put him on a research/ case study and watched him closely. The results were daunting. Jasper developed somehow neurological symptoms which continued to get worse week by week, day by day. He became unfit to ride, sometimes even unsafe to handle and Cassie had a tough time controlling his pain.

Jasper Cassie kneeling (1 of 1)

Shooting horses in general is not an easy task, if you ever tried it you know what I mean. Remembrance Sessions are even tougher because you really have just this one opportunity to create beautiful images to preserve their memories that show their bond and relationship. Knowing Cassie and Jasper and their hardship didn’t make it easier in any ways, rather harder.

I know Cassie poured her heart and soul into this special horse and Jasper will always be in her heart. Her moments with Jasper are now memory and I hope she will cherish these photos as much as I was honored to take them.


You can find her entire gallery here:

Jasper Cassie standing hugging (1 of 1)

Mega Heat is a TV Star?

That’s exactly what I said to my trainer Liz today with a bizarre look on my face.

Liz is the owner and trainer at Pair of Aces Stables, Inc. located in Reno, NV and has been my trainer for many years. As I was in need of a few conformation shots of horses for my new project, Liz was so nice to assist me and offered her grooming skills 🙂 and horse handling expertise.

After we finished with the shots, she asked if I could take a few photos of Mega Heat, her off the track Thoroughbred. Mega and Liz were accepted to compete for their share of $100,000 in prize money at the 2017 Thoroughbred Makeover at the Kentucky Horse Park on October 5-8. (Big Congrats!) So she needed a few updated official photos of him.

Liz continues to tell me that he is famous for his role as “Mega Horse” in Rob Dyrdek’s MTV reality show Fantasy Factory.

In the Season 2 premiere of Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory, the world-famous skateboarder dares to purchase and jockey a thoroughbred racehorse (Mega Heat). In pure Dyrdek style, Rob dives head first into the horse-world. He purchases a pair of giant “horse-legs” for trotting around on, acquires a wooden horse on wheels to practice racing on, and even transforms himself into a lightning-fast jockey named “Bolt Speedman”.

I found the link to the episode here:

WOW! I just watched it and took a few pics with my iphone: quality is extremely bad but so much fun to see it!


Rob owned Mega Heat throughout his racing career, and Liz then adopted him after his successful career as a racehorse when he retired from the track at 9 years old in 2016.

Here are some photos from today’s shoot. Doesn’t he look handsome?



Liz has an entire team behind her to assist with this enormous project: Lexie, Felise and Carrie are all working together, along with an amazing vet, farrier, physical therapist and chiropractor to help him transition from the track to the sport horse world, and to reach the finals in KY.

Here are Liz and Felise with Mega Heat or shall we say “Mega Horse”? 🙂

Mega Liz FeliceMega Liz Felice big smile

Like any star he has his own Instagram and Facebook page! Please like and follow him at @mega_heat and to follow his progress.

I also found some race footage and statistics of him on Horse Racing Nation:

WOW! What a cool story! I absolutely had to write a blog about it to share Mega Heat’s story. And I hope, YOU will too! I wish them all the BEST of Luck and can’t wait to see them compete successfully in Kentucky!


Fantasy Photo Shoot with Ashley Morgan Rhodes

If you like Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings or the new show Emerald City, you will LOVE Ashley’s portfolio. She is a model, horse trainer and breeds beautiful Friesian horses, raises Andalusians and of course LOVES fantasy photo shoots!

I met Ashley last year at Bartley Ranch at a horse expo. She and Leah Earle performed some Mounted Archery which grabbed my attention immediately. When I saw Ashley ride her Andalusian Stallion Thor and reared him up with her bow…OMG I couldn’t believe how beautiful they looked. I absolutely needed to photograph them! After her performance, I literally ran to her. She told me that she invites twice a year photographers for special photo shoots, so I was all ears! Unfortunately I couldn’t attend the one in June of 2016, so we scheduled another one later in Fall. I envisioned to do some sort of a Renaissance/ Game of Thrones kinda shoot and also wanted to get Michael Artemis involved with his HAWK Leonidis. I thought that would be epic and Ashley loved the idea working with a Hawk.

Later in September I scouted out a few areas at our local Galena State Park which is picturesque already by itself, and the colors were beyond magnificent! Finally my ideas came to life! Ashley also wanted to tie in a “Legend” shoot and brought a very fairytale looking like handmade Renaissance dress. There were two more photographers there – Nicole Sepulveda from Sacrament0 and Judy Solomon, another equinotographer.

Michael, Leonidis (Hawk) and Ashley meet for the first time.

Getting ready:

First we did some shots without Leonidis.



Then we slowly introduced Leonidis to Xander, her horse.

We weren’t sure how Xander would react to the Hawk once he was on his back with Ashley, but surprisingly he did just fine. We took our time to ensure Ashley is comfortable and Michael, who is an expert in wild bird handling, was guiding Ashley of how to work with him.


Ashley really enjoyed Leonidis and started to play and cuddle with him 🙂 I must say I was impressed of how long she could hold him on her arm! Here some more photos without the horse.




By now it was 4 pm and we ran out of sunlight. So we rushed back to the trailers, Ashley changed into her gorgeous “Legend” Renaissance dress and Thor was made into a Unicorn 🙂

Here two edited final images. Since we were rushing to get to the location, I did forget my other wide angle lens, so my 70-200 didn’t do me any good because the space we had was extremely tied.


I must admit that the MOST challenging part for me was the editing. I was soo excited to go home with 800! images and to start the edit, but when I went thru the images I was really disappointed in the quality. And I just couldn’t get the images to look the way I wanted to, so after many long agonizing hours and days of frustration and eye tiredness, I finally gave up and stopped working on them.

I don’t know what made me think of them this week, but I revisited the shoot and found a few images that I was quite happy with and started to edit . Maybe it was a new fresh eye, maybe my new super speedy laptop…I don’t know but at the sudden I see all these images and I went crazy. I edited the last two nights and these are the results. I do have a LOT more. The entire gallery will be added to my portfolio on my website shortly.

I hope you enjoyed the blog and photos as much as I did the photo shoot. Ashley is truly a professional model, easy to work with and a passionate horse trainer. Also a BIG thank you to Michael Artemis who came along with us and was open minded to my idea. If you ever need any info on Hawks and how to care for them, feel free and contact him. He is a Master of his craft.

As usual, any feedback is appreciated, good or constructive!