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.


My Photo Shoot, My Horse, Our Story

As an equine photographer I meet a lot of horse owners and their beloved equines and they all have a story. Some longer, some shorter, some more dramatic than others, but all include love for the horse, passion for the sport and true horsemanship, wanting to excel in the field and to provide the best care for our four legged friend!

Broker and I are no different. We had a rough start, to say the least!

Back in 2007, Broker finally arrived at my barn in Las Vegas from Iowa after a long two day ride in a trailer. As soon as he was unloaded I noticed open wounds, scraps and blood on his hind legs with his leg wraps hanging half off. The driver said he was kicking a lot during the ride. Finding out later, that this transportation company put a stallion, a mare and him together in one trailer! Go figure…



The next few months turned into a night mare. This sweet horse I fell in love with, because of his gentle spirit and friendly demeanor, was nothing like it. A total change in behavior and I just couldn’t figure out what made him so angry. Broker and his first owner Laural showed regularly at Iowa State Fairs and other show grounds, so he was definitely used to going to new places and getting adjusted easily.
Days and weeks went by, and his legs healed up just fine but he still had a little limb and dragged his hind, but otherwise I thought he was just fine, physically. Didn’t really think much of it. Every time I wanted to ride him, he either did not move or threw his entire body up against a fence or railing to get me off! He was stubborn, pushy and dominant. He did it even to my trainer, who then told me he is too dangerous to ride and that he needed to be retrained to get him even sold again! OMG,  what the heck did I do? I just bought him, I don’t want to sell him! I was so sad and in tears, not knowing what to do next with him.


I realized his limb on his hind leg more and more and decided to get it checked out. Well, it wasn’t that easy. For those who ever dealt with a lameness issue know, it could be from anything and come from anywhere. So after several weeks of tests and exams, we finally found that a pelvic fracture was causing his pain and behavioral issues. WOW, now I felt really terrible that I even tried to ride him!  No wonder he was pissed at me trying to get on him with a broken bone! Now, at the sudden everything just made total sense. His transport to Vegas was obviously everything but smooth and he must have gotten hurt really bad on the way to Vegas.

So, long story short…I gave Broker what he needed, at least 3 months of pasture time to heal!

After his recovery, we started all over again and it seemed like I had the old horse back that I first met! I continued to focus on natural horsemanship which totally helped me to understand his dominant behavior and knowing what to do, when and how to act around him without being intimidated! And for a while I went so “Parelli-crazy” that I went to the Colorado campus, and we finished Level 1 & 2. And back then, “YouTube” was like the newest thing to do, so making home videos with us was a no brainer! Here is a link to one of them…back from 2009. WOW…don’t you love looking at old and cheesy videos? I am so glad I have them 🙂



Fast forward to today…I finally had my own photo shoot with him! I could not wait to put that pretty bridle on him that I purposely bought for that occasion! I have been planning this since I was planning the Wedding (looong time ago) and wanted to make it part of it. I just had to convince Ashleigh, our wedding photographer to do it, which was as easy as pie.

Broker had a few ups and downs this summer, including two serious colic’s. I got absolutely terrified at the thought that I might lose him. But it also made me realize that every moment we have together, might be the last; and that moments can become memories in just seconds! I am so thankful I did the photo shoot, having these amazing images to hang on my wall to dwell over!

There is only one Broker and I absolutely love this boy!

It was definitely a great experience to go through the time line as an equine photographer, knowing what to do when and how to stay organized to ensure a successful shoot. It was a great eye opener and helped me to understand my clients so much better in so many ways. Although I have a “Prep List” for my clients, I will put a more detailed “How to get ready” check list together which will help future clients tremendously!



Behind every photo shoot, there are many helpers that partake in the success of the photo shoot. Without them, nothing would go the way they go – smooth! Kimberly and John Sweatt welcomed me like family, opened up their stunning horse property for our shoot and gave me the best back drops I could have wished for! John even mowed the entire pasture hours before and made it look like a PGA golf course.
Lisa Singer was my hands-on person, assisting me with Broker and was a champion behind the camera getting Broker’s attention. And so did Kim with her adorable little horsey toy! My husband was the carrier of things, including me (literally) and even got me up on Broker in my tight wedding dress. See photo below 🙂 And my long time hair dresser Danielle Layman didn’t mind having me over at her house on a Sunday afternoon to do my hair.

Broker Anett Dave on him (1 of 1)

And of course, our awesome photographer Ashleigh, who was up for the challenge to take these amazing images of us!  She definitely blew me away with her detailed eye and beautiful shots, keeping in mind she does not know horses. She did such a wonderful job, I could not have done it any better!

I hope that one day, I can convince Ashleigh to get on Broker, so she can feel what we all feel when we are on top of our beautiful creatures…

to feel the horse with our soul!


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)

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!


Bye Bye 2016

I have been really busy during the holiday season and the remaining time was spent with my family decorating the house, Christmas parties, making cookies among other things you do during Christmas. And I just now realized I have not written a blog for two months!

I started doing Holiday Photo Sessions with kids/ families and their horses two years ago and everyone just loved the idea. My slogan is…”You can’t bring your horse to JC Penney but I can come to you!” And this year my business during this time has more than doubled thanks to my repeated customers, word of mouth and social media. I loved seeing families getting dressed up, decorating their horses and falling slowly into the Christmas spirit. It’s always a lot of fun,  even if the weather is sometimes freezing cold. Here are some of my favorites:


In October I decided to create my first Horse Calendar for 2017 and it kept me busier than expected. From sourcing the right printing company, pricing & deciding on a specific design to choosing the quality of paper, it was definitely an interesting learning curve. At the end I was very happy the way it turned out and received really great feedback, people loved the spiral top and the glossy heavy paper it was printed on. I also decided to make a desktop calendar. There is still a limited amount available on my website.


I got extremely frustrated with my 7 year old laptop during that busy time because it just couldn’t keep up with the work load and the speed I needed to use my editing programs. Oh and it ran out of space! It was time to get a new one! So I asked Santa for a new one and he delivered!! Woohoo…so now I am in the middle of transferring my photo shoots, Photoshop and Light Room presets and everything else over…talk about time consuming!

I can’t wait what 2017 has in store for us, my family and my horse photography! I truly love what I do and am fortunate enough to have someone by my side that supports my vision and ideas 100%!

Happy New Year!





My photo shoot with LeAnn

As I am writing this blog, LeAnn who will turn 19 yrs on Sept 5th, just joined the U.S. Airforce and is now going through the rigorous 8 week BMT- basic military training, located in Texas.

I truly love taking pictures at the beautiful Bartley Ranch, which offers a great diversity of backgrounds for portrait and equine photos. Along with LeAnn came Garrett, her boyfriend and Amanda, who assisted me behind the camera. Unfortunately LeAnn wasn’t able to bring her 11yr old mare “Bella” so I decided to bring my horse Broker so that we could still do some equine portraits.

Usually I arrive around 30min before my session to scout out the location, get some ideas for some shots, check out some background motives and see how the sun sets.

LeAnn brought plenty of outfit options

After discussing our ideas for photos and deciding on the outfits, we started with simple head shots and full frame shots. By then it was 5pm, I just really loved how the sun set over the mountains and how it offered the perfect warm light.

Collage for wordpress

LeAnn was extremely easy to work with, a dream for every photographer. Her poses were just flowing and natural.

Then we moved down to an old historic shed with some farm equipment where I discovered an old wooden stand and thought we could use that for some cool couple’s shots.


LeAnn, native of Reno now living in Fallon, NV just loves everything about horses. She follows “Buck” Brannaman’s training methods, has a heart for dressage, and enjoys the outdoors. Sometimes you might see her on a snowboard. Her goal is to go to Tech School for Fire Protection while serving in the Airforce. Garrett is currently enrolled at College in Walla Walla, WS and studies Applied Animal Science to become a Farrier.

To get certain poses and images with couples I like to tell stories to give them some ideas or ask them to imagine a specific scenario. In the top image, I used a bench and asked them to get comfortable as if they were alone and to dream into the sunset.

On the bottom left picture, I ask what they love to do together and they said dancing. So Garrett sweeped LeAnn off her feet 🙂 I loved that!

Now it was time for some equine shots! The sun was getting lower behind the mountains, so time was of the essence!

I must say, LeAnn really impressed me with how she handled Broker who is a 15yr old QH. He was the opposite of being relaxed for a shoot, even after some work out in the arena. For some people, it might be intimidating when a horse gets pushy and dominant, but she just had her natural way of staying calm and after a while he picked up on her energy and behavior. As we progressed through the photo shoot, I could see how Broker and LeAnn became a pair and shared a special connection. That was just amazing to witness. I just loved taking their photos!



As I shoot, I constantly check my camera to ensure all images are sharp. To get the best results for moving objects my camera is always set on continuous shooting, al servo with a high shutter speed, and back button focus! These are my secret ingredients to get great shots! I do take around 10-15 shots per pose or frame to ensure I have the perfect image.


Now it was time for some pretty sunset pictures! I also tried a silhouette picture.


I think, they all three rocked it and looked like stars in the pictures! I hope, one day we can do a shoot with her mare Bella, that she adores so much! And Amanda was a trooper behind the camera, helping me with getting Broker’s undivided attention.


Any questions about a photo shoot? Leave a comment here!