For some of us, summertime can conjure up images of the outdoors, campfires, and s’mores (of course). As if by fate ModEmployee Rachael recently visited just such a setting. Earlier in the month, she and some pals (including her furry friend, Murphy) escaped the city and went camping in the PA wilderness. Lucky for us, this part-time photographer didn’t mind snapping a few pics so we could feel like we were right by her fireside. Get lost in the woods with Rachael’s Q&A below!
First off, tell us where you went!
My hubby and I packed our car and drove out to Mt. Bethel, PA, where we spent three serene but sweaty days at Driftstone on the Delaware, which is in Eastern PA along the Delaware Water Gap. I was traveling there to photograph an engagement session for some old friends from college, who happen to have a vintage mini camper, and it ended up being one of the prettiest spots I’ve ever had the pleasure of shooting. The campgrounds were peaceful and beautifully isolated. We had a waterfront spot for our campsite where we’d stretch our legs after a day of shooting and hiking, and inevitably flock to the obligatory fire pit where many “Sm’Oreos” were made and consumed. We ventured out of the woods by the second day to the little nearby town of Belvidere for some exploration and mischief! We ended up shooting inside of an abandoned mansion, chasing chickens at a local farm, taking in the vast rolling hills while hanging off of various bridges, and even scaling a deserted railroad car. Not exactly the relaxing vacation I may have been seeking, but the pictures are well worth it!
What about escaping to nature and disconnecting helps you to reconnect with yourself and the things that you value?
I grew up in a heavily wooded area near lots of Western PA farmlands, so I spent a lot of time outside as a kid, running amok in the forest, usually with one of my three sisters. Those woods are where I learned to marinate on my problems and ideas — where I could go to feel small and invisible, but also protected and curious. As an adult, I don’t make a lot of time for quiet contemplation in my day-to-day life, so I have really come to depend on the days where I’m able to get dirty and sweaty with a camera in my hand as a way of hitting the ‘reset’ button. Even though it’s hard work and can be long hours, I feel the most content and the most like myself after I’ve spent a long day out in the elements with Mother Nature.
As a photographer, I’m sure you’re skilled at finding beauty in unexpected places. Did your photographer lens help you to enjoy the landscapes in a unique way?
Photography has changed how I look at everything! I am constantly looking for “the shot”, even when my cameras are at home and I’m just out running errands. Having a trained eye for framing and composition definitely helps you appreciate your surroundings and look at things from a different perspective. For this particular trip, my challenge was to visually represent the grandeur and sweeping beauty of the landscapes, while also give an intimate and unexpected look at the couple and their relationship to the place. Photographing in nature also helps you appreciate the tiny details, unexpected colors, and ever changing moods that are naturally created and vanish as the day goes on and the light changes. You know it will all happen again the next day, but it won’t be exactly the same. I don’t know that any other job would help me appreciate that aspect of nature as fully as photography does.
You’ve lived in quite a few distinct places before deciding on Southwestern PA, which is known to be landlocked, but littered with mountains and lakes…so we have to ask — mountains and lakes or the ocean?
Mountains, hands down! It took a very short time after moving to a coastal city in Southern California to figure out that looking up to the sky and seeing a dense canopy of trees is where my heart feels at home. Not to discredit the insanely cool and creepy deserts nearby, or the postcard ocean sunsets I got to see every day on my commute, but this girl’s soul needs some seasons to feel just right.
+ What’s your vote: mountains and lakes or the ocean? Let us know in the comments!