Lake Como in summer

July 2022 Highlights: The Highs + Lows

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I blinked, and 15 years passed since I started this blog. On Aug. 1, 2007, I was slogging away at my day job at Conde Nast—a job I very much loved, for the record—and started tinkering on a free Blogspot account while I was waiting for pages. A year later, my cousin built my own custom design and I moved to WordPress. This week, I celebrated 15 years of showing up to this space weekly.

Working at Lucky magazine

Fifteen years of maintaining an ad-free website with some semblance of regularity. Other than my 17 years with SVV, this blog is probably the one thing I have been most devoted to in my life! Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading.

Black and white portrait photography in Tennessee

In July, we were away 14 nights; on the flip side, in August, I’ll be in Tennessee all month, which is a rare treat and well-needed as I tackle the 15(!) story assignments I have this month, get caught up on client photo galleries and work on grant applications for our nonprofit.

What running a nonprofit is really like

Here’s how July shook out for us….

The Highs

We took my niece to New York and Europe. This goes down as not just a month highlight or a year highlight, but a life highlight. It was such a complete joy to spend two full weeks with our 18-year-old niece Kiva, and I’ll never get over being grateful enough that we have the flexibility to take trips like this. I’ll be recapping the trip from NYC to Lake Como to Switzerland in great detail, as the three of us took so many photos and just had the best time ever.

Lake Como in summer

I recorded an episode of Amateur Traveler. You know I love the Natchez Trace Parkway, and when Chris told me he’d never covered it on his 17-year-old podcast, obviously we had to change that! For a good hour, we went through every stop along the parkway from the northern terminus in Nashville to the southern terminus in Natchez, Miss.

Driving the entire Natchez Trace Parkway

You can download the episode in your podcast store or listen to it here.

Driving the Natchez Trace Parkway – Amateur TravelerEpisode 810

My cousins McKayla, 14, and Margaret, 12 made their annual pilgrimage to our house for “Camp Jeje”. In addition to Charlotte and Mac and my California nieces and nephews, my cousin Rebecca’s kids have also always had their own spot in my heart as honorary nieces and nephew (by the time they came in July, we’d already seen them five times this year, including a family vacation in Florida and a family reunion in the Smokies!).

Black and white kid portraits in Tennessee
Black and white kid portraits in Tennessee
Black and white kid portraits in Tennessee
Black and white kid portraits in Tennessee
Black and white kid portraits in Tennessee
Black and white kid portraits in Tennessee
Black and white kid portraits in Tennessee

Every summer they come visit for one to two weeks, and this year we had late-night Stranger Things slumber parties, pizza trips, art camps and lake days. It was so much fun!

Tims Ford Lake at summer time

Cousin Camp in Tennessee
Cousin Camp in Tennessee

Megan Lingerfelt mural in Viola, Tennessee

I upgraded to mirrorless! My fellow photographers and gear junkies will appreciate the switch. After years and trying out so many different cameras, my friend Erica persuaded me to give the Canon R5 Mirrorless Camera a go, and I’m obsessed. As someone who takes so many photos, it’s often necessary to change up your routine to re-spark creativity, and this upgrade is exactly what I needed. If you are someone who shoots solely with your phone, though, you might find my recent iPhone photography tips post helpful.

Shooting in Switzerland with a mirrorless R5 camera

There’s a new mural in Tullahoma! This one was a fight to the finish after both Jackson and Manchester canceled their contracts on us, but we wound up finding Huntsville artist Daria’ Hammond a wall in my hometown, Tullahoma, and I absolutely love that I get to see this beauty in our DMA Alley regularly.

Daria Hammond mural in Tullahoma, Tennessee

She also painted this while seven months pregnant, so that in itself is a feat!

Daria Hammond mural in Tullahoma, Tennessee

SVV also painted a mural in the alley. On his birthday, July 4, he said the only thing he wanted to do was paint, so paint we did!

Pixelated Heart by Scott van Velsor

We had so many all-day photo assignments in July. For all those of you who bring us in to photograph your business or do your corporate headshots or your family portraits, know that we appreciate you and LOVE doing this work!

George Dickel staff headshots

The Lows

Other than our Airbnb host canceling our New York stay less than 24 hours before our arrival—which is super stressful if you’ve ever a) tried to find a group lodging option less than a day before arrival and b) traveled to Manhattan at all—I don’t have a lot to complain about for July, though August has already proven to be a doozy, so stay tuned next month for that…

How was July for you? And if you need some late summer travel inspiration, start here:

  • August 22, 2022

    I really enjoy your blog so light of its anniversary, just want to say thanks for taking the time to do this each week! I don’t do social media and miss the days when everyone blogged but appreciate and the enjoy those that still do.

    • August 24, 2022

      You’re the best! Thanks for sticking with me all these years, Tracy 🙂

  • September 13, 2022

    How can I attend Camp JeJe?!

    • September 14, 2022

      Just show up in Tennessee next July! Everyone is invited 😉

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