The Valley of Fire, Moapa Valley, Nevada

During our stay in Vegas, we rode up north to the valley in a desert with a nickname
that called on my curiosity, intensely. Once the sun came out and hit the
sandstone boulders scattered throughout the Valley of Fire, it was no wonder
where it got its name. Thank you, Nevada, for my first trip out west. And my
first touch to real desert sands. 

52 Weeks Project | Week 26 | The Gamer

The Gamer

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I've been playing video games since I can remember. My first one I can remember is Dark Forces on PC where I played with my dad in '95. Of course I was introduced to Super Mario even earlier than that, Atari games, and then Tomb Raider at the tender age of 6. Lara Croft became my idol for the rest of my youth - and even now! - so video games have had a pretty huge impact on my life. 

My entire family bonded together when Ocarina of Time came out. And that's all we did together one winter.

When PS2 came out, TimeSplitters ignited a love and a huge personal skill with FPS's. 

When Knights of the Old Republic came out, I discovered a love for RPG's.

And I joke all the time to my mom that Burnout taught me how to drive. (She might actually agree with me now)

My friends and I spent our entire Christmas break one year taking 1 hour turns playing Animal Crossing - and watching the others when we weren't playing.

Smash Brothers almost broke friendships. 

Star Wars Galaxies was the first MMO I ever played and it LITERALLY changed my life forever because it was how my husband and I met and "dated". (Ask me about that sometime hah!)

And my favorite job I ever held before doing photography full time was working at Gamestop selling video games and finding "my people" amongst my time there. 

It's no secret that I really am a nerd at heart. And although I don't have as much time to play video games as I used to, it's usually my go to when I get a spare minute to myself these days. 

That being said, this week inbetween the busyness of my husband turning 30, Thanksgiving, and my own birthday coming up on Saturday, I've been taking some time to "defrag" playing lots of Cities: Skylines. I've always loved builder type games or anything I can get creative (Minecraft and Little Big Planet stole my life for a long time).

But I'm hoping this winter I'll be able to dive back into Horizon Zero Dawn, finish that up. And even tackle the Mass Effect series because time got taken away for me to really ever sit down and go through that (do you see a theme to my life here? haha)

Anyway, I'm going to wrap this up so I can get in a little more playtime tonight. 

'Til next time, nerds. 

PS: I thought about cleaning up the whole area around the TV and getting rid of all the toddler toys. But honestly, that wouldn't have been a very authentic picture to my current life situation, haha! Mommying is my favorite :]

52 Weeks Project | Week 25 | The West

The West

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"I always wondered why birds always stayed in the same place
when they could fly anywhere in the world. 

Then I asked myself the same thing."

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This week's particular photo means a lot to me for 3 reasons.

One. I finally made it out west!! Which has been a dream of mine to make it out to for longer than I can even remember. 

Two. When I was a kid, I used to love to draw. And I specifically remember a time where my dad taught me how to draw perspective in pictures by making the foreground objects much bigger than the background. And he drew out a desert mountain scene with a road stretched out in a straight line towards it. And while driving around out west, and in this particular moment photographed for this week, it reminded me of those old drawings. And how I doodled probably 100 desert and mountain scenes practicing myself. It was such a treat to see such real desert scenes up close and in person that we used to draw together. 

Three. When I was in my early 20's, I came across a photo online that struck me. The photo was of a girl walking down a road signifying her walking away from the troubles of her past. Letting go of everything that no longer served her. And since then, I wanted to recreate a photo similar to it but I always envisioned walking down a road in the desert. And well, here I am. I wish I knew who that original photographer was. But you can see [that photo here]. 

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So why was I out west? Well, it wasn't just for this project. 

The reason was actually for a big surprise that I put together for Paul's upcoming birthday with a trip to Vegas for just the two of us because he's turning the big 3-0 next week! We rented a Ford Mustang, went tearing around in the desert, explored the city, and got to be kids for a couple of days. Even though I got sick, it still meant a lot to me to finally give him something so big because usually he is the one giving me the world.

We got to see the Hoover Dam, walked the entire strip of Vegas, zip lined across Fremont Street downtown, and made it out north of the city to the Valley of Fire which was honestly my favorite part of the entire trip. I'll be doing a separate post with all my photos from that little adventure. But for now, here's a couple of extras that were considered as the final image for this week near the rainbow vista in the Valley of Fire.

And by the way, thank you Paul for being my photographer since my suitcase was too little to pack a tripod :) 

 
 

52 Weeks Project | Week 24 | Recess

Recess 

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Do you ever go shopping and you find an outfit that just makes you feel like the bomb diggity? Well, I went to a local boutique this week called Rose and Remington for the first time and omg that whole store is exactly my style! 

*insert hallelujah emojis for days*

And this whole outfit (minus the shoes) are the latest additions to my wardrobe. So I thought it would be a fun thing to dedicate this week to in the middle of a huge hustling, editing grind. 

But also, this is the park that I feel like I owe the start of my photography to. It's where I used to go when I was teaching myself how to use manual mode and I would set up my tripod just like I did here, snap away, and play with all the settings over and over and over again. That was nearly 8 years ago now and it's so hard to believe.

To think I still love doing the same things nearly a decade later is a very nice feeling for me. That so little has changed in the middle of so much life changing makes me feel like I'm doing something right. 

And now, I can just look (feel) a lot cooler doing it all. (Thanks Rose and Remington) :) 

 
 

52 Weeks Project | Week 23 | Hallow's Eve

Hallow's Eve

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN!! 

So, I've been wanting to embrace a little bad assery lately. And things that make me feel strong and powerful. One of the things that has been fueling me this week is the Gladiator soundtrack - which the Hans Zimmer concert reminded me of how powerful that entire soundtrack is (see my 52 weeks post about that week here). During this shoot and editing, that soundtrack was my biggest inspiration. 

Also, when I was browsing Pinterest, as you do, for some photo inspo, I came across Amanda Diaz Photography's work and also fell completely inspired by her. So with that inspiration, I ran with it and made my own version of an evil Queen. 

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And also something that inspired me for this shoot was my sister! 

During the second half of this month, she took it upon herself to do a daily makeup challenge and create different looks with makeup for costumes. And she got SO creative with them! If you want to check her out and her looks she did for Halloween, swing on over to her Instagram @artbyhd

My sister also helped me with my makeup for this week's look :) 

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So, tonight of course will be trick or treating with Leo and his cousins! He's going to be a little Ewok and I'm really excited to take him out trick or treating :) Hopefully I'll be able to score a few photos of him in his costume that I'll be able to share later over on my personal Instagram.

Follow me over there if you want to see more of my personal, everyday life and not just the business side of things <3

@brookentownsend

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Also, here's a few behind the scenes for this shoot. I literally set it up in the garage and used an old sheet wrapped over the garage door rail for the backdrop. A smoke machine for some added atmosphere. And a lightbox for some nicer light. One all-nigher and 2 hours of editing later, here we are!