Tag Archives: lifestyle photography

Headwaters Content

Kevin Day (Principle/Content Strategist; Headwaters Content) and Hailey Day (President/Digital Artist; HeyDay Creative)

You should never start a blog post with an apology for not posting recently. It’s just bad form, and truthfully, who reads this blog regularly anyway? Even if you did, you’d notice that I haven’t posted anything — anything — since January.

But I feel the long absence is worth noting, if for no other reason than the major personal changes I’ve undergone since my last post.

I’ve started my own company.

Not a hobby company. Not a dabble-in-it-and-see-if-it-fits company.

A livelihood. A bona fide “wow, this is what I ought to be doing in life” company.

My business is called Headwaters Content, and its one of Denver’s first content strategy firms. What brought this about is a long and probably boring story (I think it’s interesting. You probably don’t). But needless to say, maintaining a photo blog has been a free-time activity, and since February, setting Headwaters up has been rather consuming, both from a labor-intensive and mentally fatiguing perspective.

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10 of Kauai’s Best Beaches

Footprints in the sand at Kalihiwai Beach, Kauai(Click on the images for a larger view)

So remember how a few posts ago, I said that I wasn’t much of a beach person?

Well, I’m back from Kauai, and you can consider me converted: I love beaches … if by “beaches” you mean the stunning, drop-yer-jaw, how-could-God-design-such-a-perfect-thing beaches that seem to be nestled into every corner of the Garden Isle. In fact, after visiting Kauai for eight days, it may be safe to say I’m forever spoiled. The bar will be high for any future strips of sand I encounter (sorry, Chatfield Reservoir).

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Graspin’ Aspen 2010 – Steamboat Springs

Since 2007, Hailey and I have made a special long-weekend trip in the fall to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Yep, the same Steamboat Springs that seems to grace every other post on this blog. I know. We go there a lot. However, it just keeps revealing itself to me in new ways, each time.

Each time we go there, whether its in July, the dead of winter, or even mud season at the tail end of April, this wholesome little cow-town with a massive ski resort glued to its hip seems to get more and more nuanced for us. With all due respect, I don’t think many other Colorado towns would stay fresh after so many visits.

This trip, however, had a different complexion to it, and that’s because of three ingredients: 1) our six-month-old daughter Varenna (now eight months old); 2) our good friends Tim, Lexi and their 19-month-old daughter Cora; and 3) our friend Jenny, who is expecting her first in March with her husband Matt, my best friend. This made September’s trip — dare I say it — a “family friendly adventure.” God, what a hideous cliche, but that’s the new reality. We get excited about places where our rambunctious little girl can be her most rambunctious, and playmates are an added bonus.

For the previous two falls, we’ve done this fall color trip with the Jordayzerton crew — the aforementioned folks, plus Stu and Shannon Kilzer. Unfortunately, this year, it didn’t quite work out that we could get everyone to come. Matt had a fencing tournament, and Stu and Shannon had a family emergency. Even the Lambertons had to head back early, but all was not lost. By Saturday afternoon, we did our traditional drive up Buffalo Pass to drink in the endless expanse of golden aspens that drape across the Zirkel Mountains.

We’ve had better years for color, in particular, the 2008 trip when every tree was 100% vibrant yellow, gold and red all at the same time (must have something to do with the dry spell we’ve had since July). But whatever we lacked for in this trip was made up for by our two girls, Varenna and Cora.

Their curiosity and enthusiasm for being outside was infectious. Varenna even figured out what my camera does. At one point while she was in the Baby Bjorn carrier, we ran down a road while I held the camera out and fired shots back at the two of us (third from top). She quickly picked up on how her face appeared on the camera back, which inspired only more giggles. Daddy’s little girl …

Tim and Lexi parted ways with us from Buffalo Pass, with their Saturday night of driving back to Denver in front of them. Through Monday, it was just us and Jenny, hanging out at the condo, going for walks, and letting Varenna explore things like aspen leaves with her fingers … until they ended up in her mouth. Such is travel with an infant, but if this weekend was any indication of the future — of seeking out other kids, other new parents, and laid back activities like going to the bookstore for two hours — that’s fine with me.

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Telluride, Colorado – Part 1

The New Sheridan Hotel in Telluride, Colorado(Click on images for a larger version).

There is something to be said for living in a fantasy world. Check that: there is something to be said for visiting a fantasy world … for a few days.

Telluride defies description — at least one without hyperbole. Such as “the prettiest town in the United States.” (OK, there. I said it.) But for all of its majestic grandeur and quaint homeliness, it is a not a place that one would call “down-to-earth,” “approachable,” or “realistic.” We toured an open house — a 2500-square-foot Victorian two blocks off main — that was going for $3.2 million. I witnessed a morning rush hour on quiet little Lizard Head Pass that consisted of commuters driving in from Rico (28 miles south), and maybe even Dolores (67 miles south) — all flocking to this enchanting little town to work in the wine bars, day spas and five-star hotels. How this community functions is a bit of a mystery, but it does function. It functions magnificently. I want to go back. I’d put it on top of my U.S. destination list all over again.

Hotel room in the New Sheridan Hotel in Telluride, Colorado

And incredibly, in late August, it wasn’t too steep. We stayed at the New Sheridan Hotel on Main Street (that’s Varenna in our room, above) for less than $175. In the middle of winter, that would go for about $335. We ate a superb dinner, one of the best meals of the year, at 221 South Oak Restaurant for the same price as pretty much any nice sit-down restaurant in Denver. Hey: we were on vacation. Why not? And when you consider the crappy room we paid more for in Mesa Verde (not to mention the regrettable $13 “Navajo taco” Aramark doled out there), Telluride seemed like — gasp! — a great value.

Main Street in Telluride, Colorado

Still, this thought about people actually living there would not leave my head. Maybe it was because the night before, while eating dinner in an empty dining room at the Chipeta Sun Lodge, I told Hailey I could retire to Ridgway. It is gorgeous there as well, but it also felt cozy, livable, and … realistic. Telluride? It just didn’t add up how you could get to a point in your life where that was attainable.

Full moon over Telluride, Colorado

But ask me now what the highlight of our late-summer trip was, and I wouldn’t hesitate. It was this place. I’m a sucker for massive mountains, waterfalls spouting off in every direction, lush greenery everywhere you go. I like my scenery without subtly, and if I can have a medium-rare elk chop with asparagus and lingonberries for dinner beneath that landscape? Sold.

Panorama of Telluride, Colorado under a full moon(Hello, I’m a great big panorama … click on me for larger version)

Night one concluded with an amazing scene on Main Street. A full moon rising over the San Juan’s at the end of the valley. It was one of those stirring scenes you can’t turn away from. They happen all the time in Colorado, but this one was especially gripping. I stood out in the middle of the street with my camera on a tripod, firing off exposures trying to get it just right. Trying to put in perspective the magnificent beauty of these mountains … until a drunk stumbled out of the New Sheridan and asked me for a good burger.

Like I said … it’s nice visiting a fantasy world for a few days.

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At Home With Varenna


And so an amazing first two weeks at home with our little girl has come to a close. Back to work tomorrow, but the journey, the adventures, the milestones — they will only keep coming with greater regularity. I feel like I’m meeting a new Varenna everyday. A bigger, smarter, savvier little girl with each sunrise.


Two weeks ago, she was a swollen little newborn who could barely keep her eyes open. She’d claw at her cheeks and eyebrows, the sensory experience of her new life too much to handle. Tonight, while lying on my chest, she wiggled her way from my sternum to burrow her face under my armpit, as though she’d find a food source under there, the whole time making ravenous little grunts. I could hardly contain my laughter it was so cute.


Varenna looks a little like me, and she looks a little like Hailey. And yet at the same time, she looks, and acts, not at all like either of us. It’s so incredible to see the individualism of a newborn. She’s mellow, content, and yet capable of incredible assertiveness. Her eyes are blue one day, blue-gray the next, hazel the next, blue again the next. The fact that I can’t peg her personality, let alone her physical traits, down makes parenthood all the more surreal.


Since we’ve come home, we’ve had several visitors come over. Hailey’s parents have visited, and we’ve Skyped Hailey’s brother and sister-in-law in Virginia and grandmother in St. Louis. My mom and dad came by for dinner, and this Thursday, since we were feeling pretty house-bound, we took Varenna to their house in the foothills southwest of town. Four or five sets of friends have stopped by to meet her, and my brother and his family have come by, with his wife Amy spending last night at our place (what a trooper … she even helped with night duty). I thought that our wedding was the once-in-a-lifetime event where gratitude for these friends and family would be the most intense. To have that experience twice is truly a blessing.


Varenna’s room has turned into a neat little sanctuary, complete with woodsy creatures, stuffed animals and a soundtrack of birdsong that we like to play on a compact sound system. Whether Varenna the Newborn eventually becomes Varenna the Outdoorsy Girl is entirely up to her, but for now, she’s got a lot of cuddly creatures surrounding her.

I’ve set up a blog just for Varenna photos. I did it mainly for family and friends to keep tabs on her (and to keep the Tanager Blog focused on travel, portraiture and other photography). My favorite post so far has to do with the many faces of this girl.


So there you go: our little family. Hope you are all enjoying spring …

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Ecuador Minus the Galapagos

I’m about to implement a serious revamp of www.tanagerphotography.com, which will include my 2010 wedding and portrait packages, as well as an overhaul of the galleries section by splitting weddings from portraits. While I was at it, I decided to take another look at the travel galleries, which got me thinking about whether I should include Ecuador in my portfolio, which got me thinking that Ecuador isn’t anywhere on the blog, which got me thinking how much I want to go somewhere pretty much at any moment now, which made me realize I’m not going anywhere for a while … what with the baby and all.


Just because I’m not traveling doesn’t mean I can’t spice up the blog with photos of faraway places here and there. Ecuador has been on my mind lately because of the birds and monkeys. Impending fatherhood naturally lends itself to daydreams of future adventures with the kid, and tops on that list is looking for animals in a rainforest, be it Costa Rica, Panama, Peru or some Caribbean Island.


We visited this magnificent country in April and May of 2007, visiting the Napo Wildlife Center in the Amazon, the capitol city of Quito, the Otavalo Indian Market, the rainforests of Mindo and the hot springs of Papallacta. Conspicuously absent from that list are the Galapagos Islands. Too much time, too much money, and being the mountain boy that I am, I’m always going to pass over islands to insist we see something like the Andes.


My lasting memory of Ecuador was a place of insane topography. Ravines inside canyons wedged between mountains with volcanoes on top. Quito’s size and scope was unfathomable because of the way the land buckles and swallows the city. It is amazing place to see from a window seat on arrival.


But right now, I’d bypass the Andes, the volcanoes sitting on top of them, and pretty much anything to do with that dusty wrinkled city, for a little hut in the rainforest and the sound of howler monkeys and parrots piercing the air.

NPR’s Morning Edition ran a great story on a Brazilian farm town’s efforts to restore the Amazonian rainforest and balance nature with farming. The soundtrack alone transported me back to Ecuador this morning. Soon enough, we’ll get back out there …

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The Canon 5D Mark II (and Happy Halloween)

2009-10-30-Canon-5D-6859_2(Click on images for a larger view)

Things just got a lot more interesting with Tanager Photography. On Wednesday, our new camera arrived: the Canon 5D Mark II, an upper echelon camera with an incredible 21.1 megapixel full-frame sensor and HD video capabilities. Paired with the Canon 40D we’ve been shooting with, we now have even more expanded coverage for weddings, portraits, events and of course, our travels.

So its been an interesting week beyond just the new camera. What’s Halloween in Colorado without 14 inches of new snow … in the city? We carved a pumpkin last night (OK … Hailey carved a pumpkin last night), and I plopped it on the porch to photograph it (above). I was blown away at how the 5D balanced the inner glow of the pumpkin, the moonlit sky, the street light, and the streaking traffic on Holly St.

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Hailey is knitting a baby blanket for our child, which made for an interesting test subject. Same with lighting a match. On day one of the blizzard, Hailey baked some beer bread, which I promptly photographed fresh from the over. I feel like I’m just scratching the surface on this camera’s capabilities.

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So here’s the big deal with the Canon 5D for me. The camera shoots at high ISO settings with little trouble. ISO basically means how sensitive the sensor is to light. The higher the number, the more sensitive, the better the camera does in lower light (like churches, indoors, dusk, etc.). Many cameras (40D included) do OK through 400 ISO. At 800 ISO, you are pushing it and asking for a bit of post-production work to have less grainy, less noisy images. I pushed the ISO to 3200 on some of these images, and experienced very little grain or noise in the image.

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I’m sure I’ll be posting a lot of new stuff in the coming weeks. Hailey and I might even do a maternity shoot together. We’ll try to avoid cliches, but we certainly have a lack of baby bump images. Stay tuned.

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Adam Huggins + Tess Leppert (August 14, 2009)

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Adam Huggins (below) is one of my best friends. We’ve known each other since our freshman year in college, and we really shouldn’t be friends anymore. Nothing personal. It’s just that freshman year was the only time in our lives that we lived near each other. He transferred to Wake Forest, and has lived in Birmingham, Richmond and now Nashville. Friendships normally don’t survive that, even in the era of Facebook. For God’s sakes: we were 18 the one time we hung out consistently.

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I’m not bragging or trying to suggest that our friendship is made of brawn and steel. It is what it is. But somehow it’s stayed relevant and significant for both of us over the years (of course, a 72-hour trip to Hawaii to see U2 in 2006 — his idea, not mine — helped keep the glory days going).

So Adam is finally getting on with his life: he just finished his nine grueling years of med school and residency and is now a doctor — which means I expect to fly on his private jet to Ketchum, Idaho in the near future — and he met a wonderful girl, Tess, and married her in mid-August. Hailey and I flew up to Boise and drove to Ketchum for a spectacular four-day weekend to be a part of the festivities. Adam asked that I be one of his groomsman.

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So as a wedding gift, we offered to photograph the rehearsal dinner, and these are some of those pictures. Adam was alright with it (he was hoping we’d get him a set of bamboo table runners from Crate + Barrel) as long as we enjoyed the evening at the same time.

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First off, Ketchum is a gorgeous little town. It’s a special place for Tess, having lived there after college, and the way they did this wedding was perfect. They rented a big house for multiple families to stay in for the week, and then the backyard doubled as the ceremony and reception venue.

After we went through our ceremonial paces, everyone piled into a school bus for a one-hour ride north to the Galena Lodge for the rehearsal dinner. In the early evening light we passed through Hemingway’s country in all its glory — braided rivers, dense willows, robust pines and rolling mountains. Classic Idaho.

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The Galena Lodge is a magnificent property. They ran carriage rides to the nearby ghost town on the hour, and the catering was pretty damn good.

Here are some images from the evening.

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Adam’s Dad is also a doctor, and he gave a very moving toast to his son just before dinner. On a personal note, getting to know Adam’s family better was the highlight of the trip for me. Such a warm, kind, compassionate and generous group of people.

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So as us groomsmen were standing around waiting for the ceremony to begin the next day, Adam brings up that he has an extra ticket to the U2 show, opening night, in Chicago, in early September. His friend Neil has to take a rain check and “it’s yours if you want it.”

“Thanks man,” I say. “Let me see what’s going on and crunch some numbers and see if I can make it work.”

This being Adam, yours if you want it quickly morphed into you’re coming, it’s been decided for you.

At the end of the night as we were saying our goodbyes and wishing the newlyweds the best, Adam shook my hand and said “I’ll see you in Chicago.” That’s Adam.

<<More on the Chicago trip in another post, but you can view video I shot of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” on my Flickr page.>>

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Peas and Carrots (OK, Grapes and Carrots)

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Well, I’m back. Been a long while since I’ve blogged, in part because of how busy things have been at work, plus, my Canon 40D needed to go into the shop, so I’ve been on a bit of a shooting haitus. And I’m not talking about a three-day stint at Metro Camera Service in Englewood for a sensor cleaning. I had to ship it to Canon’s Main Service Branch in California to have the shutter mechanism fixed. So, all is better now, as these test shots of cabernet grapes and backyard carrots indicate. However, the situation pushed me off the fence on acquiring a new camera, and so, this Wednesday, according to UPS, I’ll be getting a Canon 5D Mark II as my main ax. The 40D, loyal soldier from trips to Italy and Mexico, will still serve me, but as the backup and as Hailey’s camera, too.

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So, just to update things, I thought I’d get these pics of our bumper crop online. Hailey faithfully tended to a veggie garden this year, and along with cherry tomatoes, rosemary, oregano and jalapenos, we had great success with carrots from seed. On Saturday, we pulled 50 out of the ground, and only stopped because we didn’t want them wilting in our fridge. Best to keep the last 50 or so in the ground and harvest them for Thanksgiving. And yes, we recommend washing them before cooking them. Less gritty that way.

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Jason and Ali (and Some Big News)

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In late August, we hosted Hailey’s brother and sister-in-law, Jason and Ali, for a few nights. They live in Richmond, Virginia, and they visit roughly once a year now that Hailey’s parents live in Boulder. You know me and my pet portrait projects — while they were here, I asked them to pose for some photos in front of the white backdrop. Something playful and childish … like blowing bubbles. Why? Because we’re working on a series of white seamless portraits for the nursery.

That’s right: Hailey and I are having a baby. March 4 is the due date, and we’re determined to have the little one surrounded by our loved ones every night.

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Uncle Jason and Aunt Ali are naturally playful (heck, we even bought the bubbles at the grocery store on the way home from putt-putt golf).

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The bubble gun came with a blue hippopotamus-type creature who exclaims “bubbles make me silly!” when you squeeze its stomach. This provided a good ten minutes worth of laughs from Jason.

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Right now Hailey is beginning to show and the baby is making a few moves of its own. In 10 days, we find out if it is a boy or a girl. It gets more and more real with each passing day. I’ll do my best to make sure this doesn’t become a baby blog, but rest assured, this will be one of the most photographed kids in history.

We’ll be seeing Jason and Ali again for Christmas in Richmond, along with Hailey’s parents, her grandmother and her aunt and family. Should be an extra joyous occasion this year.

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