The 2021 wedding season was busy. As a wedding photographer in the Midwest, couples were excitedly planning weddings that were focused on having a party. Early in the summer, it felt like there was a glimmer of hope. I watched people dance and hug and celebrate wholeheartedly–something they’ve missed over the last couple years. But at the end of the busiest wedding season of my career, I needed a break. A weekend trip to Lake Tahoe California with my dearest friend, Ada, was the healing balm I needed.
I didn’t know what to expect when I booked my flight to Reno. I was exhausted, burnt out, and overwhelmed. When I arrived, Ada welcomed me with open arms (and the best pup ever!), and we started our adventure with the best Mexican food I’d had in a long time.
The next morning we planned a quiet adventure. We walked around the open air mall, got our eyebrows threaded, got take out, watched a movie, and drove to a hidden beach to walk around and enjoy. We were racing the setting sun to get there, but the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
Ada told me to keep going. The views further along would be worth it. I couldn’t imagine it getting any better than this.
The next morning, we made brunch before getting ready for a longer day of exploration around Lake Tahoe California.
Have you ever seen something so incredibly beautiful that it literally took your breath away? As we wound up and up and up the mountain to Emerald Bay State Park, the lake peeked through the treeline. The bright blue skies and warm yellow sunshine made the crystal clear water glisten in the distance. I gasped. Raised my hand to my chest and took a deep breath in, holding onto the moment before me.
We pulled into the parking lot and got out to walk around meanwhile wishing we had brought warmer clothes (since we were technically in the mountains in the late fall). I could have sat and stared at the mountain lake views for hours.
We made our way back down the mountain, with a second destination in mind. There was a little state park tucked away along the winding roads that promised another incredible view of Lake Tahoe. The sun was setting and the temperatures getting cooler, but we pushed on because our time was limited. We wanted to soak in every possible moment.
Water has always been cathartic for me, but exploring Lake Tahoe California brought a new layer of healing I didn’t know I needed. I love being a wedding photographer. I love that this is my job and that I have the freedom to pack a bag and get away for a few days.
They always do. But I’m glad we spent intentional time together. I’m glad we took the photos.
All of our photos and videos from this Lake Tahoe California weekend getaway were made in various mediums: disposable film cameras, color and black & white film, digital camera, cell phone cameras with and without Instagram and Snapchat filters. There’s no right way to take photos of the life you’re living. The best camera for making photos is the one in your hands, the one that’s accessible right there in the moment.
In a world full of perfectionism and pressure, I hope these imperfect photos help you remember that it’s about enjoying this precious life we have. I’m practicing not erasing myself from the experiences I have. I hope you stop erasing yourself from the memories, too. We deserve to have these memories, flaws and all, to pass on to our loved ones for generations to come. Yeah, sure the quality is crap. But the moments are good. And that’s ultimately what matters.
Here’s to more of the imperfect, the messy, low quality photos, high quality memories. Here’s to us.