A Visit to Roanoke

Last month we traveled with Curio Collection and Global Yodel to the beautiful, historic city of Roanoke, VA. We spent the weekend there hiking the Blue Ridge, taking in the local food scene, and generally just getting in a lot of relaxing. You can read my full Roanoke guide here, but I thought I'd round up a few of my favorite snaps from the trip as well!

Infinity Mirrors at the Hirshorn

On Tuesday evening, the Hirshorn invited me to a preview of the Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors exhibit. I'd been dying to see the Kusama's art since I'd heard about it, couldn't have been happier I got to check it out. Six Infinity Mirror rooms make up the exhibit, and you experience each one on your own (or with a friend) on a timed basis. It was completely immersive, and totally unlike anything I'd seen before. These photos do it absolutely no justice, and I'd urge you to pay a visit if you're in DC. I will certainly be going back (the exhibit runs through May 14)!

"Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos." - Yayoi Kusama


Traveling with Photo Equipment

As most photographers will attest to, traveling with photography equipment is a tricky, and occasionally anxiety inducing thing. I’m always expecting extra security searches or worry about somehow damaging my camera. With a few trips coming up both domestic and international, I thought it would be helpful to put together a post about how I keep all of my work equipment safe while traveling and on a day-to-day basis.

I realize it’s vain, but I really don’t want my equipment to scream “I’m a photographer!” and would prefer for the stuff I carry around to mesh well with my regular, everyday style. With that being said, here are my favorites. 

Away Carry-On

Away recently sent me a piece of luggage to try out, and I was really blown away. Firstly, it’s beautiful. I opted for a dark blue, and the color is so understated but striking in real life. Secondly, as every friend and family member I have will attest to, my phone is about to be dead 90% of the time (including now) so a suitcase that can charge my phone is a real godsend for me. Thirdly, the hardshell makes it perfect for keeping photo equipment safe.

The carry-on I have works for domestic and international planes so I feel totally safe putting cameras and lenses into it without worrying about someone forcing me to check my bag. There’s lots of little compartments, and I genuinely feel like my stuff is super secure. I’ve started using it during local shoots that require lots of props, and it’s made things so much easier and more organized.

Caden Camera Bag Insert

Full disclosure, there’s nothing pretty about this thing but luckily, no one will ever see it. This little guy is one of my favorite things in the world because it has allowed me to turn every bag into a camera bag. I throw my camera in this, toss it in a bag, and go. Most often, I put it in my Everlane backpack (my day-to-day camera bag), and it fits perfectly. While traveling, I’ll put it into some of the leather totes I have and it works wonderfully. And it’s less than $20!

Everlane Snap Backpack

Though there are finally some cute camera bags out there, I’d never found one that was quite right. Thus, I decided to turn my Everlane backpack into a camera bag, and it works really well for me. You can easily fit a body and a couple of lenses in it plus a laptop, and any little accessories you may need, and its $65. I love it, and it gets more compliments than literally anything else I own.

Thomas Paul Case

I’ve bought an actual memory card holder on Amazon in the past, and it was not great. It fell apart almost immediately, and I found myself searching for a replacement soon after. My sister gifted me this cute little pouch for Christmas one year, and I’ve found it to be perfect for storing memory cards. I actually keep spare business cards in it too, and it’s way better than any dedicated memory card organizer I’ve seen. I label my cards so I have an idea of what's what, but your milage may vary if you need to keep your cards separated.

Other photography and non-photography gadgets I love:

Notebooks - I try to always have a notebook on me because no matter how much I utilize notes and to-do apps on my phone, nothing works for me quite as well as a paper to-do list. I’m embarrassingly particular about my notebooks, and have been loyal to Rodia notebooks for a while because they have graph paper. I recently got a notebook from Appointed, a DC-based company (!!!), and I am loving it. It’s also graph paper vs. lined, and the cover is so ridiculously beautiful. They sent me one with my initials embossed in it, and I’ve been carrying it everywhere.

Pilot P-500 pen - This is as ridiculous as being particular about notebooks, but I’m a pen snob too. Seriously, just go buy this pen, and making grocery lists will become 100% better.

Transcend Card Reader - A good card reader really makes a big difference. This one is about a billion times faster than my old one, and it’s under $20 on Amazon. It’s tiny, lightweight, and does the job without issue.

Dulla Phone Bank - As I mentioned, my phone is always dead. I carry this little phone bank with me pretty often, but especially when traveling. A lot of my Instagram photos are just iPhone snaps so I really try to make sure I have this at all times. It holds 4-5 iPhone charges, and it’s pretty cute as far as phone banks go.

That's everything! I'm sure things will change and get updated as time goes on, but hopefully this is somewhat useful if you travel with equipment and want it to look semi-cute!

Disclosure: I was gifted an Away suitcase; however all thoughts and opinions in this post are my own. 

Bindaas for Food & Wine

Happy New Year! I thought I'd kick off my year of more consistent blogging (fingers crossed) with a couple of outtakes from my shoot with Food & Wine featuring DC restaurant, Bindaas. Vikram Sunderam, of Rasika and Bindaas, is one of my favorite chefs in DC so needless to say, I was pretty excited about this one. For this shoot, we focused more on the art and interior of the space but I couldn't help but sneak in a couple of food shots too. Though this outpost of Bindaas is in Cleveland Park, a second downtown location is coming soon.


A Visit to the U.S. Botanic Gardens

Just a short walk from the Capitol Building, the U.S. Botanic Gardens might be one of my new favorite (non-restaurant) spots in DC. Compared to the rest of the buildings and museums on the National Mall, it's certainly not the most popular but for a Floridian missing greenery and palm trees in the wintertime, it's the perfect place. botanicalgardens7

I had a shoot with a friend a few days ago, and I had some extra time to snap a few shots in the gardens beforehand. I grew up gardening with my grandfather so I love plants in general, but The Tropics section of the conservatory was by far my favorite. Beautiful light, lots of amazing palms to take you away from the fact that it's 30 degrees outside, and best of all, it's WARM! Walk up the stairs to the mezzanine level for the best views.







A Day at L'Academie de Cuisine

Earlier this year I spent the day at L'Academie de Cuisine, a professional culinary and pastry arts school just outside of D.C. in Maryland. The school needed new photos for their website, and invited me to spend the day at their campus shooting a few different culinary classes, pastry classes, and a cooking competition (similar to Chopped) that took place among their Phase 2 students. These students are in the advanced kitchen training portion of their education, and it was pretty incredible to watch them work their way around the kitchen. img_4473










More photos are over at the L'Academie website!

Los Angeles Recap

This post is a long time coming. To say I'm a fan of LA is a gross understatement. We loved every minute of our time there, and do really hope to live in California one day in the future. I think the city gets a bad rap sometimes, but we really found everyone to be warm and friendly, and it really is one of the most beautiful cities in the U.S. We stayed in a few different neighborhoods during our trip (Santa Monica, Hollywood and Beverly Hills), and then ventured out to a few other areas during the day. We had some fantastic food in Echo Park and Koreatown, but I have to say, I just love being by the ocean in Santa Monica and Venice so much. On our last day there, we drove out to Malibu which is something I've always wanted to do. The Pacific Coast Highway is every bit as beautiful as I imagined, and we spent the afternoon on the pier having lunch and watching surfers. Perfection!


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EAT: - Night + Market Song - This was my favorite meal in LA, and we stumbled upon it by accident a couple of hours before our flight home. Easily the best Thai food I've had outside of Thailand. - Animal - We went for brunch, and it was just beyond fantastic. Really creative, fresh dishes. We heard reservations can get tough, but we arrived right when they opened, and had no issues. - Ostrich Farm - It's just beautiful and bright in here which I really love. Had a great sparkling rose and shared a snack. I wish we could have gone back for brunch. - Pine & Crane - Inexpensive, and really delicious. We grabbed some dumplings, and chilled out here for a couple of hours.

DRINK:  - The Black Cat - We stopped in here for a happy hour, and they made a really wonderful Aperol spritz (my favorite cocktail) so I was sold! - Cafe Stella - Close to the Black Cat, Cafe Stella churns out some really well-made cocktails. The patio is tiny but really nice if you can snag a spot. - The Frolic Room - This place is a little bizarre, but in the best way. It's a no frills, old Hollywood type place that sells cheap beer, and hasn't really changed in the past few decades. - Good Times at Davey Wayne's - This was such a cool spot with a great 70s vibe. It was such a great mix of people which I really loved.

SEE/DO: - Griffith Observatory - Worth a visit every time. The views are just so perfect, and you can't help but love LA when you're up there. - Malibu - Again, worth it to take the time to drive over, especially if you're into the beach. - The Getty - Admittedly, I didn't get a chance to go this time around but I'm dying to visit next time around, and thought I'd include it. - Venice Fishing Pier - I'm a sucker for all things ocean related, but this pier was my absolute favorite. The view of Venice from the end is to die for.

Final tip? We've always been told what a driving/car-centric city LA is. Save for renting a Zipcar to get to Malibu, we Ubered everywhere, and found it to be way cheaper and easier than renting a car. We talked to a few locals, and found that more and more people are opting for public transit/Uber.

Caribbean Adventures

When booking our trip, we wanted to make sure that we selected an itinerary that included as many ports as possible. We’ve never spent a great deal of time in the Caribbean so why not see as many different islands and ports, right? On our journey on the Carnival Breeze, we had stops in St. Maarten, Antigua, St. John, and the Dominican Republic. In each port, we had a very different experience, but from spotting planes in St. Maarten to kayaking in the Dominican Republic, we had a fantastic time exploring each of our beautiful Caribbean stops.

 It was so incredible to experience all four of these places on one trip. Logistically, I can’t imagine planning a trip to all these separate spots on my own so I was more than thankful we were cruising! It really allowed us to maximize our time enjoying ourselves vs. worrying about transportation, lodging, and how to get to the next location. Easy as can be!


maho1 Today, I’m sharing some of what we did in each port, general tips, and what our favorite spots to explore were on each island.


For our first stop, we dropped anchor in St. Maarten where there are both Dutch and French sides of the island. Full disclosure: this was the stop I was most excited for, and it did not disappoint at all. Just a 15 minute walk away from the port is a great shopping area in downtown Phillipsburg that we enjoyed walking through, but we had our hearts set on traveling to Maho Beach (on a different part of the island) to see the famous plane landings at Princess Juliana International Airport, located just beyond the beach area.



I’ve seen photos of the plane landings online for year, and I’ve always wanted to see them in person so we couldn’t have asked for a better first stop. We took an inexpensive local bus to Maho, and despite our apprehensions about finding the right bus, it could not have been easier. We got to the beach in about 30­-40 minutes, grabbed some snacks and drinks, and found a good patch of sand to settle into.


Planes flew in fairly regularly, and words can’t even describe what an incredible experience it was. There was so much excitement about seeing the planes all across the beach, and just the idea of seeing a plane fly just a few hundred feet overhead is pretty wild. We made some great friends on the beach, and really had to tear ourselves away to make it back to the boat in time.

After our experience in St. Maarten on the first day, we opted for a more quiet time in Antigua at Dickenson Bay. In contrast with our previous day, Antigua was low key with very few people on the beach, and definitely no plane landings. It was a quick ride from the port, and home to the most perfect turquoise waters I’ve ever seen.


On any trip, it’s always good to have a good mix of active days, and more relaxing ones so we tried to make sure we did a good job varying it up. There were a few different local spots along the beach at Dickenson Bay if you’re looking for a bite to eat, and if you’re not one to relax in the sand for more than an hour or two, there’s also the option to take a horse ride right on the shore.

antigua4 From Antigua, we made the short journey to St. John, part of the U.S. Virgin Islands. There are a lot of different beaches in St. John to choose from, and we definitely had a difficult time figuring out which we’d like best. In the end, we settled on Coki Beach which was a quick cab ride away from the ship’s port. We were hoping for a beach that had snorkel rentals, beautiful scenery, and one that didn’t feel too cramped. Though we heard that Coki can get crowded at times, it wasn’t bad at all, and it could not have been easier to rent a chair and get a good spot right by the water. As the day went on, things definitely got a bit more lively so try to get there early if you want to get a good spot.


The same person that helped us with the chair rental handled our snorkel rentals (how easy is that?) so after a traditional island lunch consisting of fresh fish, we set off in the water with our gear. At the end of Coki Beach is the Coki Dive Center so we were excited for the sea life we’d be able to see, and luckily there was quite a bit out there to look at. Snorkeling and scuba enthusiasts will absolutely love this spot.


Though we had explored each of the other three ports on our own, for our final spot in the Dominican Republic we opted for one of the planned excursions to La Casa En La Playa, a beachside getaway complete with kayaks, snorkels, paddle boards, a chef and bartender, and plenty of lounge seats. After planning each of our other island trips (which was a fun but at times overwhelming process), it was so nice to hand the reigns over to someone else.


dr4 The beach is completely secluded, and absolutely beautiful with the most picturesque palm trees lining the water. We fit in some snorkeling, kayaking, reading in hammocks, and walking along the short all in one afternoon which was quite the feat.



All in all, our goal was to really seize the chance to see as much as possible, and we were so glad that every stop felt like a completely new adventure for us.


This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.

Girls Weekend in Norfolk

Earlier this year, Garden and Gun sent my sister and I a few hours south to Norfolk, Virginia to experience some of the food and art that the city is becoming more and more known for. I'd not been to Norfolk, but I jumped on the chance to see the city firsthand. Though the city is relatively small (compared to D.C.!), I was impressed with the food, the sweet locals, and how much there was going on. In talking to those who live in the city, it seems like people are really exciting about the direction Norfolk is taking. There are lots of fun festivals, breweries, restaurants, and shops to be explored making for a fantastic girls weekend.

You can see my full guide on Garden and Gun Field Report, and I've also included a list of my Norfolk favorites are at the end of this post. Enjoy!

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Luna Maya - Owned by two sisters, we loved this place. Amazing Mexican food, good drinks, and it was absolutely packed with Norfolk locals.

Cure Coffeehouse and Brasserie - A great little breakfast spot. In the evenings they serve wine!

Handsome Biscuit - There was quite the line to get into this place, but it was easy to see why. The most delicious, gigantic biscuits out there.

Toast - Another one of my favorites in the city. All toast, all delicious.

Field Guide - We stopped in here for lunch and shared one of their bowls. Easy, inexpensive, and really filling!


Mermaid Winery - This place has a cute little patio where you can sip your rose under the sun. I highly recommend it!

Coelacanth Brewing - Just down the street from Mermaid, this brewery was fantastic. Their flights are pretty big so it's easy to just share one.

Press 626 - This was easily my favorite spot in Norfolk. Located in an old house, we sat on the front porch and watched a storm roll in. The wines were wonderful, and the staff was great about giving us recommendations.


The Chrysler Museum - An unexpectedly large and impressive collection of art and artifacts.

The Botanical Gardens - I'm a sucker for gardens in general, but these were really beautiful and absolutely sprawling. I think we probably saw maybe 1/10th of what was there.

The NEON District - This area is home to Norfolk's emerging art scene. There are galleries, public art, and my personal favorite, Glass Wheel Studio.


- The women at Visit Norfolk told me about F.R.E.D. (Free Ride Every Day), a free transportation service that takes you around the downtown area. Just call the service, and a driver will pick you up. Firstly, I couldn't believe it was free, and secondly, why isn't this everywhere?

- There is a hotel with a rooftop bar opening in downtown Norfolk sometime next year. The renderings looked really beautiful, and I'd love to stay there next time!

4 Caribbean Favorites

This time around, I thought it would be fun to share some of the more unique aspects of our recent trip to the Caribbean with Carnival Cruise Line. On and off the ship, there was so much we encountered that was outside of what I had anticipated (in a good way!). Since it was my first time cruising, I didn’t have much to go from aside from what I’d heard from friends and family so it was fun to experience things for the first time. Here are just a few that topped my list. The Food



Food is a big part of just about every trip I take, and this one was no different. I was so pleasantly surprised with all of the food options we had. On the Carnival Breeze, a big highlight food­-wise was Tandoor, an incredibly flavorful Indian restaurant that we frequented on more than one occasion.


Other favorites were afternoon tea (who knew they did this on cruises?), and tacos from BlueIguana that I am not ashamed to admit I had at least once a day. Who’s really going to say no to unlimited tacos?


The Glimpse Into Local Life


I was a little worried that I wouldn’t get enough time at each port to really experience each locale, but luckily, there was enough time to get a taste of what each island had to offer. From trying a local beer at each port, to getting off the beaten path to see unique parts of the islands, this was one of the best parts of the trip. We got a chance to chat with locals, see some of the watering holes they frequented, and get a sense of the places we’d like to visit again. local local4

By waking up early (you’ll have time to nap on the beach later!), and getting off the ship on port days early, we were really able to maximize our time to explore. As result, we got to see so much.


Sea Day Brunch


On every sea day, a pretty amazing brunch was served up for us. It sounds like something insignificant, but it was such a fun, relaxed part of our trip. Brunch classics like eggs Benedict and pancakes were on the menu alongside some more out­-there options. On most days, we’d ask for a seat by the windows, order a mimosa or two, and tuck in for a long, indulgent brunch. Brunch on land is already great, but brunch at sea is even better.

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Details On Board One of the things I loved the most on the trip was the sheer amount of little details on the ship. From the unique bars to the running track to the spa, there was so many little things that made a huge impact on my trip.

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As someone who tends to make overly detailed plans when organizing trips, I always find that what I love most about my trips are the unexpected details that weren’t planned. In this case, it couldn’t have been more true. From starting mornings running on the track to a lazy brunch, these little details made for the perfect time aboard the ship.

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway

state of mind. Head on over.