my new buddy finn

okay, so i don’t normally photograph a lot of babies.

i mean, it happens from time to time, but that’s usually because it’s a friend’s or family member’s.

it’s just not typically what i do.

but my sister just had her third while we were working in wyoming and colorado last week…

so when we got home, we had a new friend to meet!

finn.  and this little guy already has more hair than me… not cool buddy.

we had a blast getting some fun shots with our newest nephew.

i just had to share the joy!  we’re so happy to have you in this world little finn…

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2012

wyoming: day 2 (riding the drift, etc.)

we woke before the sun came up… it was a big day.  i made some coffee and we set off to meet Mike and Ellen at kendall bridge.

from there we would follow the horse trailers towards union pass, then off-road in the direction of a cow camp near a bend in the green river.

we finally stopped.  all in all, there were 4 or 5 trailers and about 8-10 cowboys/ cowgirls.

Mike helped saddle pistol pete for Elle, and they were off!  riding the drift…

my Elle was kind of easy to spot with her sombrero and bright green patagonia jacket…

the two Ellens riding together…

now that’s some real cowboyin’!

can’t have a true cattle drive without the iconic western dust haze backlit by a slowly rising sun!

so they rode off deep into the sunrise… and Mike and i decided to go look for bears, like we’ve done so often the last 6 years.

good ol’ squaretop… such a handsome mountain.  i really don’t think i’ll ever get sick of looking at and photographing it.

we ended up seeing more dogs that morning than bears.  and i saw my first ever river rafting dachshund!

the Ellens finished their cattle drive early… round about noon, and my Elle was exhausted.

so after eating a little peanut butter and honey tortilla lunch, she caught  a nice afternoon nap.  much needed.

Mike and Ellen came back again that evening to have dinner with us.  we took a few more campfire photos… like we did the year before.

Elle got a really cool shot of me…

then i got a shot of her, and made a ghostly appearance in it…

and then i got to shoot another squaretop star photo.

it was another great day in our favorite place in the world, doing all sorts of fun things.

man, if you ever hear me complaining about anything at all, just punch me right in the jaw.  seriously.

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2011

wyoming: day 1 (the greatest day of my wife’s life)

so it may sound like an exaggeration, but i promise that’s what she said to me!

no, not our wedding day, not the day we met… not even the day she finished reading the last harry potter.

this day, a few weeks ago in wyoming, was the “greatest day of (her) life”.

let me explain…

we woke early to the sun rising over willow lake at the edge of the wind river mountains.  she loves the outdoors, and more specifically, the mountains.  she also loves waking up in a tent next to me :).  what can i say?

so after yawning a bit, taking a sip of my coffee, she found a nice, soft patch of grass and started a short yoga routine.  she loves yoga.

after breaking down camp, we headed over to our great friend’s home just outside of pinedale.  Mike and Ellen (yes, i know, this may get confusing.  i’ll just call my Ellen, Elle for the remainder of the wyoming posts) took the week off after hearing that we were coming in town… incredibly sweet of them.  and it speaks to their faithfulness and kindness and friendship.  i hope someday to be as considerate as they are.

they invited us over for breakfast… and now back to Elle’s “greatest day”.  Ellen informed Elle that she could go pick out her own egg, straight from the coup.  now, since Elle is a huge fan of eating whole, natural foods, this was very exciting for her.  “a farm-fresh egg, seconds after it was laid (still warm!!!), and i get to pick it out myself!!!!!!???!!!”  i could just feel the intense excitement bubbling over in her mind.

but alas, the chickens hadn’t yet laid an egg this morning… so we played with Ellen’s goats.  another score for Elle.

patiently (sort of) waiting for a chicken to lay a precious egg….

the two Ellens trying to will the chickens into submission…

oooooo!  i think it might have worked!!

oh, false alarm.  let’s pet the goats some more…

alas!!!  one lone egg for Elle!!

lots of excitement and exclamation points!!!!!!!

so to top it all off, Elle cooked it herself, just the way she likes it.  and with breakfast, Ellen served homemade butter (another big plus for Elle) and goat’s milk, straight from the cute goat-friend she just made!

wow, this day couldn’t get much better… or could it?

during breakfast, Ellen mentioned that some friends of hers needed some help tomorrow “riding the drift”.  now, folks from those parts in wyoming know what that phrase means, but many of us don’t.  i was lucky enough to learn when i lived in pinedale in 2005… i actually got the chance to “ride the drift”!

so let me explain…

the green river drift is one of, if not the the longest remaining cattle drive in the country.  it’s an historic event that captures the essence of the old west cowboys.  Elle has always dreamed of riding horses high and free through forests and on mountainsides.  she loves horses, and even though we’re from texas, we never get the chance to be around them or ride (surprisingly enough to some of you, i’m sure).

so when Ellen invited her, i saw a new light in Elle’s eyes i had never seen…

“oh my goodness!” she exclaimed.  “but i haven’t ever really ridden a horse.”  she timidly chirped.

now just to clarify, Elle has been on horses quite a few times, but always in the “trail ride” scenario where she isn’t actually controlling the horse herself.  this is much different than riding alone and trying to herd cattle in the mountains.

silence.

“oh, well, we can just go get you on one of my horses,”  Ellen calmly replied.

and so it was.

so my Elle got to spend a few glorious hours on her favorite horse of Ellen’s, pistol pete.  she got to ride pete breifly last year when Ellen and Mike went on a pack trip with us into the winds (see somewhere in the middle of montana… err… wyoming).  and did i mention she loves horses.

so after that, we left Mike and Ellen’s place, and headed to the upper green to one of my favorite campsites along the river, just before the lower lake.  we spent the rest of the afternoon basking in the sunlight, enjoying our view and the cool, clean  wyoming air.

“let’s go for a hike!” she suggested.  admittedly, i wasn’t really in the mood for a hike.  but i reluctantly agreed.

Elle loves hiking through the forest.  i generally don’t hike for pleasure… i’m usually looking for images to make.  so hiking through the dense trees isn’t always my favorite.  but we did the east side lower lake trail anyway, and i’m so glad we did.

it was hauntingly beautiful.  massive lodgepole pines and peeking through the trees were gorgeous vistas of the lower green river lake.  we had a blast.

wyoming had a record snowfall this year, so all the creeks and rivers are surging.  just beautiful.

after our short hike, we headed back to camp to find our view even prettier than before.  and the sun crept lower on the horizon.

Mike and Ellen made the hour drive out to our site just to sit, drink a little whiskey, and cook us dinner.

what great friends we have.

we chatted and laughed well into the evening.  until the stars came out to greet us.

and this is what i’d been waiting for for a whole, long year.  last year, i camped at this very spot and attempted a star picture.  it did not turn out the way i planned.  so now, a full year later, i had my chance!  and i couldn’t have asked for a better image.

Mike and Ellen left… they had a long drive back to get some shut eye before the early day we had ahead of us tomorrow.

as you can see, it was a very good day.  perhaps the “greatest” day.  she kept saying it was.  but we still had a week to go up here in heaven.  so the days that followed just might provide a bit of competition… and tomorrow would be a big one.  Elle would get to play cowgirl on the last day of the green river drift…

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2011

honeymooners

well, as they say, the honeymoon is (technically) over… however, it doesn’t really feel that way.

now i’m not just trying to score points here, i promise.  the first month has been a total blast.  it hasn’t been without it’s rough patches, but overall i’d say, the honeymoon has seemed to continued…

the night of our marriage, elle and i got to stay at the historic adolphus hotel in downtown dallas.  totally cool.  and a great view from our enormous balcony!

sipping fancy coffee in the morning by the big windows…

it was a relaxing morning for sure.  luckily we didn’t have to rush… our flight to mexico wasn’t until that evening.

so then we arrived on the mayan riviera in mexico, and it did not disappoint!  white sand beaches, crystal blue water, all the amenities of the caribbean, but much better prices.  we had a blast!

and yes, of course i had to try a star picture over the caribbean…

may the honeymoon last another 50 years!!

all images and content © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2011

a real vacation

i travel a lot.  but it would be a bit of a stretch to say that my traveling is “vacation”.

it’s not that i don’t enjoy the destinations, or have real moments of relaxation, it’s just that when i travel, it’s usually with a purpose.  and that purpose does not involve sitting still or vegging out.

so this year, now that i have a travel companion… we took a real vacation.

anna maria island, florida.  it’s a small island south west of tampa, with caribbean clear water and white sand beaches.  they say that it not very well known to outsiders, but it’s where floridians go to get away.

the beaches were uncrowded and beautiful.  it was truly relaxing.

yea for real vacations!  i think i’ll have to take one of these more often.

but don’t get the wrong impression…..  i still had to “work” a little to keep my sanity….

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2010

now that it’s Christmas time!!

to me, there is nothing better than Christmas time with the family…

we spent the morning with the family in dallas…

then we all headed down to austin to spend the rest of the weekend with my brother, his wife, and their kids.

it’s always chaos.  but it’s always a good time to remember the things that are important in life.

a time for restructuring priorities… and with our family, there is never a dull moment!

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2010

four(?) musketeers

when i lived in wyoming in 2005, i didn’t have many friends.  but don’t feel sorry for me.  it wasn’t because of the excessive whiskey drinking, or the lack of bathing.  no, it was mostly due to the simple lack of people in the great state of wyoming.  a numbers game.

you see, the entire state boasts a smaller population than the city of austin, tx.  i believe the last count was around 750,000.  and it didn’t help that i lived in a town of only 2000.  so the few friends i had were very important to me.

among those few friends were two of my closest; anna and kim.  we called ourselves the “three musketeers”.  original, huh?

this last trip up to my former home partially happened because i had a good excuse.  well, two.  the first was that anna, who now lives in new york city, had planned her first trip back to pinedale since she had to leave in ’05.  and the second reason was that kim, who is from the area and thus stayed, had a baby a few months earlier.  kate.

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kate is a darn cute kid.  so the three musketeers, plus one, set out for a reunion hike.  we decided to hit up sacred rim in the wind river mountains, just outside pinedale.

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it was a great time to be with my ladies again…  and i must say, kate is quite a nice addition.

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i was raised by a family of grizzly bears in a former life (or so i tell people), so we reenacted a scene from my past when i used to attack unassuming hikers…

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it seemed as though we hadn’t skipped a beat.  and truly, i guess we never did.  i’ve been going back up to wyoming a lot since i left, and almost every time, i get to see kim.  i also have had the opportunity to visit anna up in philly and new york, and we tend to email, talk on the phone, and mail each other music mixes every so often.  so really, the unique situation here is that we were all together again in the very place we met and became friends…

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sacred rim is a pretty amazing place….

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but it seems that we wore little kate out.

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more bear attack scenes…

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by the time we made it back to the car, kate was out.

it was really special for all of us to get together.  we all live thousands of miles from each other, and our lives have all gone their separate directions.  i hope we can reunite again before time gets away from us.

regardless of how much time passes in our busy lives before we’re all together again, it was evident with this short reunion, that we will always stay connected.  these are the type of friends you keep for life.

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2009