On January 24, I boarded a plane to Mesa, Arizona with four other local photographers. We were on our way to see our friend Samantha Brammer in Tempe, AZ. I met Samantha, along with the other girls, at a retreat last summer that Reagan Allen put together. We all became fast friends and started a group chat after our summer retreat ended. One night, several months later, Samantha messaged the group with the idea of a spontaneous trip to Arizona. She noticed that the flights were cheap, so we all booked our tickets that night. Within moments an idea became a reality.
LOST DUTCHMAN STATE PARK
APACHE JUNCTION, AZ
On our first full day, we grabbed our cameras, put on our hiking boots and headed out to Apache Junction, AZ. Samantha wanted us to see the Superstition Mountains at Lost Dutchman State Park. We hiked to a large rock at the base of the mountains and stopped several times along the trail to take pictures of each other. On our way back down the mountain, I met Connie. Connie was painting the Superstition Mountains, amongst several other artists. I noticed that there were several artists and photographers up and down the trails that day at Dutchman State Park. I couldn’t help but think to myself, I’d love for this to be my life one day. Can you imagine having access to such a beautiful mountain and landscape on a daily basis?
Later that evening, we did a styled couples’ photoshoot at Scorpion Gulch with Ashley & Malori. Ashley and Malori are a same-sex couple living in Phoenix, AZ. Ashley is a music teacher, and Malori is a plus size blogger and bridal stylist. Scorpion Gulch was beautiful. It has mountains, horses and rustic infrastructure, creating lots of variety for photographers. Samantha told us that Scorpion Gulch is a hotspot for local photographers, which proved evident as soon as we arrived. Scorpion Gulch was originally built as a store and home for William Lunsford. It later became a bar and now is a landmark in South Mountain Park in Phoenix, Arizona.
The next day, we hung out around the airbnb for a few hours before our evening shoot. Samantha organized a boho styled elopement shoot with models, Maria and Sergio. The florals were from Desert Poppy and the makeup/hair stylist was Jay-Lee Smith. This was easily one of my favorite locations while on the trip. There were mountains surrounding the huge lake with cacti galore. The sunset hit the mountains just right, giving a perfect glow for our models. We couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather or lighting.
We woke up at 4 am the next day and piled in the car. We then drove two hours to Sedona, AZ. We climbed a mountain in the dark, reaching the very top at sunrise. It was a very humbling and whole feeling, being on top of a mountain looking down at an entire town as the day began. If you’ve never been to Sedona before, I definitely suggest doing it at least once. We stayed at the top of the mountain for what felt like forever, but we didn’t mind the brisk air or the sun in our eyes. It felt like we were all at peace and ready to take on the rest of the day. We snapped a few photos of each other and spent the rest of the day walking through town. This was by far my favorite day of the trip.
The next day, we ventured over to Old Town Scottsdale. We ate lunch at a little diner called “SugarBowl” where everything inside was pink. Then we walked around and in and out of stores. I decided to buy a journal while I was there so that I could start documenting my travels. Later that night, I separated from the group to visit my old friend Gabrielle Gupte. We went to a different part of Scottsdale than I was in during the day. We brought her dogs to a restaurant and ate on the patio. We had salads, bruschetta and sipped wine by the fire. It was so nice to see my friend again.
PAPAGO PARK & DESERT BOTANICAL GARDEN
On our last full day in Arizona, we decided to take a trip to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. The Desert Botanical Garden was such a fun and educational trip. It reminded me of a zoo, but for plants. We saw the skeleton of a cactus and a cactus that had cancer. There were some wildlife, mostly rabbits and birds. Samantha showed us some of her favorite spots throughout the garden. After the garden, we went back to the airbnb to get ready to take sunset pictures of each other. Once we were ready, we went back to Papago Park. We took pictures of each other by the water, trees, cacti, hills, etc. This was the perfect way to end our week together.