A Valentine's Day Adventure

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On Saturday, we decided to brave the freezing cold to trek along Montrose Beach and watch the waves crashing into the air. It was a great opportunity to reconnect with my love for photography, which I haven't dedicated too much time to this winter. Despite the cold weather, I was so happy to be out there exploring and marveling at the wild waters, the giant chunks of ice floating in a mesmerizing pattern, and the sunset giving off that beautiful glowing light.

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LaBagh Woods Chicago by Bryna Shields

Whew! September was a crazy month full of projects. Of course I'm thankful for these opportunities, but more than anything, I've been craving some time to explore something new. My friend Aidan suggested we check out LaBagh Woods, which is a forested area in Chicago. I've lived here five years and had no idea this little gem existed! It's refreshing to know that there are still places left to discover if you look hard enough. It was a wonderful weather to get lost in nature, and I'm thankful that summer has stretched its limbs just a little bit further into the end of this month.

LaBagh Woods Chicago by Bryna Shields
LaBagh Woods Chicago by Bryna Shields
LaBagh Woods Chicago by Bryna Shields
LaBagh Woods Chicago by Bryna Shields
LaBagh Woods Chicago by Bryna Shields
LaBagh Woods Chicago by Bryna Shields

Adventures in Portugal and Spain (Part 2)

After marveling at the rolling beauty of Portugal, we hopped on a plane to Barcelona. It was quite a change from the quaint feeling the Portugal streets offered, as Barcelona is a more metropolitan setting, a gridded & orderly set of streets peppered with the energy of moving traffic and pedestrians.

The most striking part of this city for me was the unusual architecture, as well as the variety. We biked through the streets, learned the stories of Gaudi's work, his life and tragic death, we ate delicious tapas and walked through little winding alleys.

Veggie Garden was a delicious vegetarian restaurant we stumbled upon by accident, and I'm sure glad we did. The place is covered wall to wall in colorful paintings and the food was great!

Wandering through the Boqueria in Barcelona was packed and crazy and colorful and lively. Any type of food/spice/meat/seafood you could imagine was there. It was a little overwhelming with all the people crowding the market, but I reveled in the energy beaming around every corner, and the smells of fresh, sweet fruit.

The end of this whirlwind trip was bittersweet, but as always I walked away from my travels with renewed energy, and uncovered some new truths about myself - what I want and where I want to take my life from here. Travel is all at once exhausting and rejuvenating and I cannot wait to plan more adventures around this crazy world.

Adventures in Portugal and Spain (Part 1)

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Travel has always felt somewhat sacred to me: I adore the energy in airports and train stations, the exhilarating unfamiliarity, uncovering beautiful little secrets of a new city, listening to other languages. It even feels liberating to live out of a single suitcase - the liberation from possessions and junk mail and chores around the house. Ever since my first trip out of the country at 18, I knew I wanted to devote a large part of my life to exploring the world. I was extremely lucky to have seen some of the world's most beautiful sights while I was in college, and I vowed that wouldn't change after I graduated. Of course, the realities of adult life delayed those plans a little longer than I'd hoped. But last Fall, I committed to saving up enough to have another adventure, a long overdue one, and in May I made it to Portugal and Spain with some girlfriends from college.

Our first taste of Portuguese life was in Porto - a city split by the Douro River which leads right into the ocean. The first thing to marvel at when you arrive here are the tiled facades and cast iron balconies of nearly all the buildings. It was truly the most magical thing about exploring this city - charming eye candy to greet you at every corner. The people of Porto also made this place feel warm and welcoming. I often found myself looking up at buildings to find people hanging out at their window sills, taking in the fresh sea air and smiling down at the crowd below. And in case you didn't know, Portuguese is an incredibly sexy language. Huge line dances and dance parties in the middle of the street and strolling through the winding hills to get down to the riverside and riding an old trolley out to the ocean made for a perfect introduction to this beautiful country.

After a few days dancing around Porto, we hopped on a train to Lisbon (that's the train station above!). Lisbon had many of the same architectural charms as Porto, but what made this city especially lovely was all the lettering and street art everywhere. They also had incredible pastries here; be sure to pick up a pastel de nata from Pasteis de Belem if you're ever here.

Cruzes Credo Cafe was by far the best food we had on the trip, and it even tops the list of best meals I've had anywhere. If you're in Lisbon, I'd highly recommend this place, and then wander around the streets and find a good Fado bar.

Next week I'll share some adventures from Barcelona!

Life Lately | Holidays

Life Lately January 14 2013 | High Fives for Everyone  

One of the reasons I adore Instagram so much is because - as a photographer - it allows me to see on an overall scale what I'm subconsciously attracted to when I'm not on a specific assignment. Photography has always been a way for me to find the extraordinary in the everyday, in the little details that often go overlooked. That is always the challenge (and the blessing), to find something beautiful and exciting every single day; whether it's the way the light hits a scene, or a beautiful combination of colors or, if you're exceptionally lucky, a moment where everything lines up just how you'd hoped. As I try to reconnect with photography, one of the things I've been focusing on is finding ways to see my surroundings in a new light, rather than waiting for rare extraordinary moments; I can only hope I find more ways to make that happen! There is always something exhilarating about that moment of recognition.

Of course I still find myself obsessed with the sky, especially while flying, but I've also managed to find those happy moments just outside my bedroom window (like in the first photo above).

Looking at these photos, I realize how wonderful the last few weeks have been, celebrating unexpected moments - and golden light, which I can never resist. Cheers to building a new vision!

If you're on Instagram, you can follow me @highfivesforeveryone. What's inspiring you lately?

Recent Work: Brandon and Elisabeth's Wedding

Brandon and Elisabeth Wedding
Brandon and Elisabeth Wedding
Brandon and Elisabeth Wedding
Brandon and Elisabeth Wedding
Brandon and Elisabeth Wedding
Brandon and Elisabeth Wedding
Brandon and Elisabeth Wedding
Brandon and Elisabeth Wedding
Brandon and Elisabeth Wedding
Brandon and Elisabeth Wedding
Brandon and Elisabeth Wedding

These are coming a little late, but here are a few photos from a wedding I had the pleasure of capturing back in September. The bride was gracious and calm, the groom was sweet and funny, and the day moved quite fast. I was second shooter to Giedre of Walking Dot Photography, and so my time was divided between assisting and shooting. I learned so much from her, observing her shooting style and how swiftly she handled the whole day. It's always inspiring and energizing to work with other creatives, and I truly believe only great things are birthed from collaboration.

Beautiful New York City

In July, I spent a week in New York City - mostly I just wandered aimlessly through the heat that was trapped in between skyscrapers. There is such a grittiness to New York that I'm drawn to - I get a rush from all the people and murals and art and stickups everywhere. Something about being here breathes a new creative energy in me that I haven't been able to find anywhere else.

Engagement Session | Scott and Emily

Last week I had the chance to photograph engagement photos for Emily and Scott - who met during a photography class in college. We wandered around Chicago's beautiful Lincoln Park. If you follow me on Instagram, you might remember when I posted about this little oasis, and I instantly knew I wanted to photograph a couple here. So when Emily told me the general area she wanted to take photos, I could hardly wait to take them there. Thank you again for inviting me to document your happy occasion!