Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Amy Koller Anderson

The coolest part about doing photoshoots and being a part of the industry is when things like this happen. This is a painting by Amy Kollar Anderson that was inspired by an image I had shot a few years ago with Photographer James Hayden. 

It was amazing to watch the transformation from inspiration to a solid piece of art, and after months and months of waiting, she put out a time lapse lapse video. I can't count how many times I've sat and watched this, each time being more impressed with her skill and imagination. It was an unbelievable honor to be part of her collection!

Now she has limited edition prints and jewelry with my face on them! You can check out her etsy store for those and for dozens of other pieces of exceptional art!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Picking Up Your Feet.

I'd like to apologize for the exceptionally grainy images for this post. I had decided to bring my new camera to the farm to document May and I, and the settings were never adjusted to the arena's light, or to May's movement. I'm working on getting a photographer to come out and take images specifically for the blog, but these will have to work for now. 
Anyway, onto the training session! Mandy was kind enough to pull May from the pasture and place her in a stall until I could get out of work. Once I was there, I guided May around the arena for a few minutes, walking a relaxed path and exercising some basic commands until we came to a complete stop. I was touching her all over, running my hands over her feet and lifting them a little (which I've done every time I'm around her) when she decided to bite the top of my head. Mandy took that as a good indicator that we should start working on getting May comfortable with letting someone lift up her feet.
Now, it is incredibly important that horses learn not only this but to also learn to be comfortable standing on 3 legs at a time. Farriers need to tend to horses hooves, vets need to be able to work on an injury, and an owner needs to be able to pick up the foot of a calm horse to see if there's a need for a vet or farrier in the first place. May hasn't had much success with the farrier in the past, so it was time to finally nip this uneasiness in the bud.
We chose to use a lead rope to pick up her feet so that it was less dangerous to us, and began just by gently rubbing the rope against her legs. Once she was relaxed and accepting of the rope, Mandy then put it around the back of each leg, one at a time, until she was comfortable with that, too. She was less than happy to comply with this, and she paced in circles while we made ourselves pivots and slowed her down with "woah" commands.

It's at this point that I feel like it should be said that I am still terrified of May. My trust in her has grown exponentially, but I still question everything that I do and everything that she could do, and that uneasiness spurs a lot of hiccups in her attitude to happen. Every time I'm with her, I see how much improvement she's made with being handled, and being well mannered, and it makes me feel instantly better. Still, I dwell on previous experiences and I put expectations out there when we're together that something bad is going to happen. Those things make her great improvements seem like tiny little spurts of luck to me, instead of the moved mountains and huge victories that they actually are.

This fear is really prohibiting me from becoming a strong leader and companion to May, and I realize that every time that we're together. Since Mandy and I have talked at length about this (and she knows the signs of me panicking), she will often switch from teaching May something, to teaching me instead.

Now, I have a fear of standing in front of May to get her to stop when she won't stop otherwise. It's not that she's ever hurt me when we've worked together, or that she's temperamental when I'm standing there, but I still get excessively nervous. Often when I throw my hands out and shout a booming 'WOAH', I'm shaking. Being that this is something that I need to work through, Mandy makes it a point to consistently teach me how to confidently stop any horse that might be moving towards me. It always takes a few dozen tries to get over my nerves, but I eventually get there. By mid-session I was throwing my hands out to stop her, and my hands were as still as ever.

The other form of stopping May is using the 'traffic sign'. This makes me equally as nervous, but again, by the time we had reached mid-session I was doing it and May was listening.

Now, I'm going to make another post about this that goes more into detail, but I have learned to back May up with just my finger. Mandy reminded me to use this in addition to the other methods if May is trying to walk into me. Every time she listens to this command and backs up, I nearly fall over in pride and excitement. I cannot believe, even for a second, that we mastered this trick.

Anyway, after about 30 minutes of getting May used to the lead rope on her legs, Mandy and I were finally able to lift up each of her legs, one by one. She fought it a little, as any horse would at first, and then she slowly started to get used to one of her legs being off of the ground. She did so well that we didn't push her to do anything else, and just enjoyed the moment of victory.

After our training session, we walked May into an open stall and Dan and I spent a chunk of time grooming her. I was so grateful to have him at the farm to witness a training session in person, and to allow him some time to get to know May a bit more. He hadn't been to the farm since I first adopted her, and seeing them together made me extremely happy.

Cue awkward half-family photo!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Birthday!

Holy Hannah, have I been a terrible blogger lately! It's been two whole months since my last update, and I feel like such a slacker. So much has happened since September, and it's crazy that I've neglected giving any updates! So first let me say that I'm sorry, and THEN let me say that I already have a ton of updates written to publish over the next week... So you'll be all caught up! More or less.

At any rate, let's start with my birthday! This past Monday I celebrated turning 26, and I had an amazing day. Actually if you want to get technical, we celebrated my birthday the whole week beforehand, too. One night Dan made me a gigantic meal and cleaned the entire apartment (top to bottom!), and the next day he took me to a concert (or two), then the next he had beautiful flowers delivered, and nearly every night we'd go out for fanciful dinners with friends... I was exceptionally spoiled. For the actual night of my birthday we got a group of friends together and went to Level Dining Lounge to eat like kings and party the night away. It was amazing.

Two very sweet friends (Heather and Colleen) handmade my birthday cake, which was this awesome steampunk floral delight that made everyone super excited. It tasted fantastic, and the pictures just really fail to do it any justice. 

I was really touched by everyone's gifts, and kind words during the party. I had honestly felt like everyone's presence was a huge gift to me, because every single person that sat at that table was just as busy as I usually am, and have just as much going on as I do, and they all made the effort. Plus, they are all so freaking talented! I spent about an hour talking about each person's abilities, whether it be with singing, or dancing, or sculpting, or styling, or acting... I mean, it went on, and on, and on. My friends are all incredible, and I'm super lucky to get to spend big moments of my life with them. 

This birthday might have been the best one yet. I was so thankful for not only my party, but to those that wrote huge posts about our friendships, and sent cards, and letters, made videos, and wrote songs, and sent me a bazillion messages online. My phone exploded all day, and I loved it!  

It was so effortless for those around me to stop for a second and celebrate with me, and I think that that was just the coolest thing ever. You know? 

Happy 26th!  

Friday, August 23, 2013

Manitoulin Island

I was able to visit Dan's family cabin on Manitoulin Island in Canada for the summer, and I brought Tuesday along for the ride. The island is located in Lake Huron, and is the largest lake island in the world. It also has the largest lake on an island in a lake, Lake Manitou, which has two islands itself. Therefore, "each is thus an island in a lake on an island in a lake." Anyway, the family cabin was built by Dan's great grandfather, and was just incredible. It sits on a peninsula where one side is home to an unceded indian reserve, and the other has similar cabin properties like this one. Here are some snapshots of our great Canadian adventure.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Summertime Happiness.

I'm having a really hard time adjusting to the fact that summer is almost over. It feels like January was just a few weeks ago, and Christmas seems like it should still be eons away. And no matter how many hot, sweaty days go by where I get sunburned, I just don't feel like I'm ready to say goodbye yet. With that said, we've been spending a lot of time on summer activities as of late, and it has been amazing. 

We've gone on summer vacation (update on that soon), we've gone camping, swimming, we've laid out on beaches, grilled a billion things on the new grill, lounged around pools, ate enough ice cream to fill a whale, and utilized splash pads whenever available. Our dinner parties, and patio dining in the Short North has absolutely spoiled me rotten, and I've eaten better than I ever remember eating before. Miraculously, I haven't gained any weight from all of the food and the cider (and the Wakefruit drinks!). Yet. 

 And I may love the fall, and the spring for that matter, but this summer was special. I fell in love every day, I had a wealth of opportunity find me, and I evolved into someone I'm proud of. Things might not be perfect, and things might fall apart sometimes, but I'm still grateful for the few months that granted me this amount of happiness. I can only hope that the rest of year continues on this merry little path, and we can be ushered into a new year that is better than this one. For now, I'm just going to focus on the remaining days in August, and embrace them as much as I can. Even if it means that I'll be overheating, and forced to wear my hair in a bun for the foreseeable future.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My First Shoot with May.

A few weeks ago I joined forces with the ever talented Staley Cook to capture May and I in the pasture. Staley has a history of making me look better than anyone else can, and so I knew that once May and I were ready to be photographed, she would be the one to do it. All in all it was a blast! 

We spent the first half hour or so just hanging out with the horses, which prompted lots of curious licks and sniffs. At several points we were just calming ourselves down to be as relaxed as possible, and because of that, the overall experience turned into a mini therapy session. I think that because we took the time to really embrace our moment, the horses were easier to work with, and more fun to pose around. We were all (photographer, trainer/manager, and myself) able to morph into a mood and atmosphere that was just beautiful, and the afternoon drifted slowly into an evening that I won't ever forget.

And you know, I was really proud of my girl. She stayed in place longer than I ever thought she could or would. She posed, took treats, and allowed me to be in her personal space despite her being wildly confused by my hair and dress. Seeing how much we've progressed and how comfortable we're becoming around each other fills me with a kind of joy that I really can't explain. These images remind me that while we've come so far, we have so much further to go, and through it all we are going together.

This shoot stands as one of my all time favorites, and every time I look at them I just get overwhelmed with happiness. There's so much evolution that I can see within these images. I can see comfort, and familiarity, trust, and understanding. May behaved herself so well, and never showed any signs of discomfort or anxiety. That was a HUGE deal to me, as I spent weeks worrying over how she would react.

And as I saw myself through Staley's eyes, I became more comfortable with each click of the camera, which further eased everyone involved. My worry shifted into excitement, and I found my confidence once more, which gave May more confidence, too. There's nothing more unnerving than being a beacon in the middle of a field, surrounded by dozens of horses that want to play and investigate and could potentially hurt you. With the amazing help of Mandy (who was once more to the rescue), everything went off without a hitch, and we were able to capture the magic of the moment. These images reflect the relaxed environment perfectly!

My collaborations with others, be it in the modeling industry or in the equine world really mean more to me than I could ever articulate. There's something amazing about the general comfort and understanding that exists between us as we try to reach our goals. At the end of the day, I feel like we all walked out of the farm standing just a little taller, and happier, too. 

And I am incredibly thankful for that.


Friday, July 26, 2013

The Ohio State Fair!

We visited the Ohio State Fair on opening night this year, and we had such a blast. Normally I'm not all about being around so many people, but the weather was just incredible and Dan and I were a little too wrapped up in each other to really notice anyone else (except for the people who naturally walk like zombies whenever they're outside). We were so busy last year that we didn't make it to the fair until the last day that it was open, and we enjoyed the total solitude and emptiness of the fairgrounds. While that was an entirely different experience, I don't think either of us really had a preference between our visits.  

This year the attractions were infinitely better than any other year that I've been, as there were camel rides, and extremely entertaining sea lion shows that left me beaming like an idiot. We got to take our picture with two 8 year old sea lions that plopped their awesome heads and fins on our shoulders to pose, and as soon as they touched me, my face contorted into this weird smile thing that was so impossibly creepy. I kind of look drunk on happy in the image. It's one that is getting buried in my scrapbook, and never shown to another human being ever =D 

At any rate, we both agreed that the sea lions were our favorite part of the fair. There were four total, and their routines were hilarious, sweet, and impressive. I wish we had gotten slightly better seats, but it was still an overall awesome experience. Before the show, I hung out by their swim tank and giggled manically as they bobbed in and out of the water, talking to me. I've never been so close to a sea lion before, and I've never really watched what they can do. It was awesome.

Immediately after we were done having the sea lions win us over, we headed over for a camel ride. I'm a huge, huge, huge animal lover, and I pretty much want to touch every animal on the planet, so the camels were a large pull for me. In fact, I talked about the camels so much during the week leading up to the fair that all of my friends were finally just like, "You got your camel ride! Talk about something else now!" Naturally that just meant that I'd spend every opportunity talking about the sea lions instead ;]

Anyway! I've ridden an elephant before, and that was one of the coolest things I think I've ever done in my entire life. Elephants are my favorite animals, and even though I was a kid when I rode her, I still remember it fondly. Camels are an equine that I've wanted to ride for years, and I just never had the chance to. It was a rather strange experience, as their bodies move in a way that I can't explain and definitely did not anticipate. I managed to make a passable face while I was riding her/him, thankfully, so I have photographic proof of at least one animal adventure.

After dinner, and the animals, and the photobooths (it's a tradition now to use every photobooth that we encounter anywhere), it was time for Dan to ride rides. I've always been a humongous chicken, and I haven't ridden any amusement park rides since I was a kid. I get that no one really understands it, but I have so much fun watching others ride coasters and crazy swing things. The faces people make are priceless, I feel all of the anticipation of the ride, I get to hold on to belongings, and I get to not be scared to death. It's a win, win for everyone! Dan hammed it up on the Pharaoh, and I loved every second of it.

After the rides we visited the petting zoo, where I promptly made a scene with my high pitched squealing and animal baby talk. I petted miniature cows (which might be the cutest thing ever), goats, lambs, oxen, bunnies, and sheep, and fought the urge to pet the animals that I wasn't supposed to pet. It was so excessively hard for me to keep my hands away from cages and enclosures, you have no idea.

Eventually we made our way to the horse competitions, and Dan amazed me by getting into the show. Granted, we were acting like a pair of Mean Girls, but there was a good amount of horse admiration going on. I know that Dan respects the fact that I have May, but he's not really animal crazy. The fact that he sat for an extended period of time and listened to my limited knowledge of horses, and commented on their stature, and training, and anything else horse related really made me happy.

At the end of the show we headed back out to the food lane for dinner, and watched the fireworks above us. It was weirdly romantic. We've spent so much time around fireworks over the last month, and each time has been great, but this time it was just surreal. We were surrounded by carnival lights and music, where we had space away from people, and the fireworks captivated everything. Everyone around us stopped to admire the show, and I think the comparison of that to when they were bustling around like madmen was just beautiful to me.

Anyway, this was the best year at the fair yet. It was so good that we've talked about going back for seconds (if not to get a better, less derp-faced image with the sea lions :). All of our time together, by the way, just keeps getting better and better. I'm always amazed at how everything we do seems to be the greatest thing in existence, even if we've done it a hundred times before. I'm very happy that life led me here, to this place, with these people and these adventures, as I am having the best time of my life.

Happy Summer! 

Thursday, July 25, 2013


May officially turned a year old in June, and since then she's hit a bit of a growth spurt. Actually, every day for her is a day where she seems to have grown bigger, and bigger, and even taller, too. Along with this height has come a very comical adolescent attitude, making our time together both hilarious and incredibly frustrating. While I'm still overcoming my issues in leadership, she's overcoming her kicked in instincts as a mare. Her personality is practically bursting at the seams, and even when I've about had it with her stubbornness, she always manages to crack me up.

Anyway, I'll be writing more about our new dynamic, and all of the victories and challenges it's brought to the table a little later. For now I just thought that I'd share some images that were taken by a friend a few months ago while I was working with May. Amanda managed to capture her goofy spirit and our growing bond, as well as an action shot that left me beaming.

Note: During this particular session, May and I were syncing our foot steps so that we were walking at the same pace, matching our feet to the other. After a few dozen laps, she started to slow when I slowed, speed up whenever I quickened our pace, and she stopped whenever I did. The coolest part of this was when she started to match her breathing to mine, and would sigh when I sighed, yawn when I yawned, and relaxed when I relaxed. That took much longer to get to, but when it finally happened I was ecstatic. Ecstatic and amazed, and bewildered, and humbled, and extremely happy.

And finally, a happy horse after a happy training session. I hope that you enjoyed Amanda's pictures. I'll be writing an actual update about May and I in a few days that sort of goes over all of our progress for the last few weeks. Until then, have a great week!

Friday, July 5, 2013

4th of July.

Happy belated birthday, America! Our celebration of you started out with a deliriously sweet trip to the
Scioto Audubon, where we found a hillside full of flowers, away from people, and set up to watch the downtown fireworks in Columbus. We spent our waiting hours playing charades, making silly accents, making hair bobbles out of grass and flowers, and giggling like mad men.

Just before the sun went down, the sky lit up in pinks and purples, and everything was put under the most beautiful golden light. I'd never in my life seen anything like it. As I went to go take a hundred pictures of the sunset before it was over, I'd realized that my iPhone just didn't do it justice (naturally. I'm not sure I'll ever learn). This image doesn't really capture how brilliant it was, but it gives you some sort of idea. It was so romantic!

Anyway, the following night we headed out to the Clintonville fireworks show at the Park of Roses (an event I haven't missed since moving here), and watched the show with our friends from New York. We ate funnel cake, danced in the rain, talked about American history, and enjoyed each other's company. It was a great end to a two day celebration!

I hope that you all had a wonderful and relaxing Independents Day, and that you got to eat as many deep fried goodies you could get your hands on. 'Merica!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Kelley's Island

I can't believe that it's already July, and that it's been over a month since my last update. In the time between then and now life has gone from bad, to good, to great- and it's just kept going. Every day has felt like a gift, and the people that I've been able to share those days with have made me feel more loved and excited about life than I've ever felt before.

I'll take some time in the next week to recap some of the things that have been going on since I last posted, but for now I wanted to share some of the images from our first camping trip of the year. Initially we were supposed to go during the first week of June, but an unexpected surgery left us pushing the dates to the end of the month instead. What started out as a 12 person expedition shifted to a couple's retreat with two of our very best (and very engaged) friends, who also happen to be my favorite adventure partners on the planet.

We had decided to go out to Kelley's Island and camp for the weekend. We hopped onto a privately owned boat and charted across Lake Eerie at nine in the morning with one too many bags in tow. Once we got there we spent nearly every second exploring, sight-seeing, and going on mini double dates. I'll leave you with my favorite images of the island, all of which seem to scream summer. Enjoy! 

Skipping rocks has become one of Dan and I's favorite things to do together. Being able to skip perfect rocks with our best friends was just the best thing ever.

We had such a blast throughout our entire stay. Between the delicious food, our courteous camp neighbors, the extreme bonding and cathartic company, and the glorious scenery, it definitely made itself into one of my favorite trips ever. I can't wait to go back.