Category Archives: Animals


I have had a blog post brewing inside for a LONG time…revolving around the idea of how photography has shaped my life in some pretty significant ways.  Instead of waiting until the whole idea is clear, I am going to address it in parts.  And for now, focus on the idea of expectations.

I cannot tell you how often I have walked into an experience with my camera with the hopes of a particular experience or outcome; maybe an inspiration that has developed for me, or an idea I have that I would like to create or find – only to walk away with nothing.  The let down can be tremendous, the wind taken out of my sail.  It is not something I enjoy…so as it goes for me, I have wrestled with this and believe I have come to a peaceful resting spot. It is probably the convergence of several things in my life that have allowed me to do this, the change in my employment two and a half years ago, the energy that has come from the successful birthing and growing of two businesses, the spirit that has been awakened inside of me…and others.

I approach things differently that I once did.  When I walk into an experience, whether it is with my camera or not, on a paid photo shoot or simply shooting for my own personal interest – I have grown to be much more peaceful with what is, rather than look for what I want or expect.  And in so doing, I have been graced with inspiration and reward.

Most recently was a trip to spend time photographing the therapeutic herd at Peace Ranch.  I have been hearing how playful the horses have been in these cold Northern Michigan mornings, so sought the first available morning I had to try and capture some of the fun with my camera.  Since I do not live there, I cannot just go out when the wind is blowing and they are running, so I just hope to capture some of it on my frequent visits.  Well, you can probably guess what happened, there I am with my camera and there was no movement to speak of…I remember thinking to myself as I walked around the snowy pasture, this is still beautiful and I am so thankful for this opportunity. What a terrific way to start the day! I did not give up and go home, I stayed…some of the time in silence, doing nothing more than standing/crouching and breathing.

Lesson for life – be open to the possibilities.  Things do not often play out just as we expect them, but that does not mean there is not beauty in what does…or that growth can happen regardless. Kids do not always perform during family shoots as parents would like…but I challenge you parents to trust that I will capture them regardless.  For when you can go with the flow, meet people and experiences where there are at, there is more comfort, therefore better results. Instead of morning play at the ranch, I captured some beautiful portraits of some of the members of the herd.  And for that I am thankful.

IMG_4539-2 IMG_4522 IMG_4423 IMG_4397 IMG_4346 IMG_4308IMG_4337 IMG_4281Photos available for purchase here.

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Something About Her

I had an early morning photo shoot at Peace Ranch last week.  I got there early, as I typically do for a shoot, to just breathe in the place before my client arrived.  After eyeballing the spots we would go for various shots, I decided to pay Fiona a visit.

Something about her draws me close.  I’ve attempted to photograph her rescue journey, being there the day she arrived, capturing the dance between she and Jackie as she learned to trust again, and now documenting her sudden alteration into complete blindness.

On that morning, I stood on the other side of her fence, near the water.  She came closer…and went purposefully for a drink.  I think that was new for her to be able to do alone, in the last 24 hours.  I was excited for her!  She drank, and drank…and allowed me to scratch her head.  When she was done, her head remained low and I scratched behind her ear, and she leaned into it, seemingly enjoying herself and wanting more.  I smiled aloud at the beauty of the moment, the trust she had in me and the gift of touch and connectionIMG_0210

Here are my thoughts about her that parallel our lives…

  1. She is living with two equine caregivers, with full sight, and is dependent on them to give her comfort, alert her to danger, and show her where the food and water is.  Fiona is like the child, when children’s caregivers are calm, they sense no danger and are therefore calm.  This calmness allows them to be themselves, explore, learn and grow.  When human caregivers are on high alert, it immediately transfers to the children.  Actually, all the moods of human caregivers transfer to children, or are felt by them.  Our kids depend on us to teach them everything about life.  What a tremendous responsibility.
  2. Stressful and life-changing things happen.  We have two choices: we could fight it, hope to make the immovable obstacle go away, or we can learn to live with it and continue to allow our spirit to shine.
  3. When a child suddenly needs more care than the others, or perhaps they were born needing a different kind of care, we need to adapt.  Quite simply, it is the job of the parents to do this.  First there may be some learning involved, talking to other parents in similar situations, or experts in the field.  Then there must be implementation of newly learned strategies.  And there always needs to be support.
  4. Relationships are crucial.  Without them, navigating the curves and bumps in life slowly becomes unbearable and may even be impossible.  IMG_0225

Images available for purchase here.

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Blindness Hits

I’m struggling with how to start, there’s so much to her story.  Maybe you’ve seen glimpses of it on either mine or PEACE Ranch’s Facebook page.  I would like to help tell it, someday.  But not yet.

As I sit here tonight, actually ever since I was in the moment yesterday afternoon, Fiona has been on my mind.  The image of this beautiful animal, broken, afraid, and thirsty…tentatively moving toward the sound of water splashing in a bucket…the simple act of drinking now difficult. She depended on her ears and rested on a trust that was only three months young, as she only recently, and very suddenly lost the sight in her one good eye.  She is now totally and completely blind. As Jackie moved around, she spoke softly to let Fiona know where she was.


In the moment yesterday, I saw true compassion given by Jackie, and a respect for the adjustment to this unexpected obstacle in Fiona’s life. I saw the trepidation in Fiona, uncertainty, and then the satisfaction from a healthy drink of water.  Her equine caregiver moved, she followed. I imagine she seeks to be close to him. He gives her comfort.

Fiona’s rescue story has taken a turn, and it continues.  My heavy heart feels peace knowing she won’t do it alone. And that she was able to successfully nestle into her adoptive home before the full blindness hit.

You can read more of Fiona’s rescue story on the PEACE Ranch blog.

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Power of a Photograph

I just sold a print of this image to someone who, upon seeing it said “Anna, I LOVE the sound of the horses running while I’m in the pasture…and this photo makes me makes me hear and feel it!”  THAT, is the power of a photograph, the power that I seek to capture, the power I feel when I look at something and visualize what the photograph would look like.  A photograph should stir something up for you when you look at it.  If it doesn’t, well, then…it’s just a snapshot.  When going through my images from a photo shoot, pictures are deleted that don’t elicit an instant whirl of emotion in me.  And it’s evident immediately.  Thank you Terri for your support!  And your words that hit the nail on the head!IMG_3312

Photo available for purchase here.

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Telling the Story

A friend of mine emailed me a few weeks ago, asking if I’d be open to photographing a fundraiser for a local youth battling brain cancer.  The fundraiser would take place at Blue Oxer Farm in Cedar, MI.  Of course, I said!  It is my opinion that it is crucial for us to be connected to our larger community and also for us to give back – in whatever shape that take for each individual person.  When I say “crucial,” I mean for our own happiness and ability to live life to the fullest.  For I think that is quite simply how we are wired.  We are wired to be connected, to be community.  So even though I do not know this young gal or her family, I have a camera, I know how to use it, and I love to tell the story!  I gave a gift to this family, but throughout it all, I also received a gift – the gift of giving.

Upon arriving, I met Abby Gross and her parents, and then began my exploration shooting. In my mind, my focus was on “the story…on telling the story.”  So I looked for the experiences, watched the people, captured expressions and caught the moments.  Here are some favorites from the afternoon…IMG_8080IMG_8085 IMG_8190 IMG_8216 IMG_8295 IMG_8317 IMG_8324 IMG_8348 IMG_8350 IMG_8503 IMG_8576 IMG_8605 IMG_8619 IMG_8623 IMG_8625 IMG_8670 IMG_8737 IMG_8754 IMG_8780 IMG_8827

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A Visit to PEACE Ranch

I had the joy and honor of working with the first and fourth graders of Eastern Elementary last week, as they came to visit PEACE Ranch for their culminating experience as part of the Heroes in the Community program.  I had visited each class prior to this experience, and shared a bit about photography.  I talked about some general hints on how to take a good picture, but really emphasized the importance of shooting from your heart and looking all around your environment.  I’m a self-taught photographer, and place a great deal of value on being present in the moment, and finding beauty wherever you are.  Put a camera in the hands of someone with that mentality, and I believe the results will shine.

So once the kids had their cameras (huge thank you to The Camera Shop in Traverse City for letting us borrow 10 amazing little cameras!!), I walked around the ranch with them, sometimes giving pointers, answering questions and giving a lot of praise when I saw them changing their perspective, finding something unusual, or framing their shot in a unique way.  My spirit was on fire, and I had a ball!  Throughout the experience, I also shot with my own camera.  I can’t share them all here because I didn’t get permission from all the parents.  However, you can view them all on PEACE Ranch’s facebook page.  The fourth graders are here.  And the first graders here.

Here are a few of mine that came from those two days…   IMG_5516

IMG_5721IMG_5743IMG_5506 IMG_5594IMG_5618 IMG_5619 IMG_5622 IMG_5629 IMG_5631IMG_5668IMG_5694 IMG_5696-2 IMG_5697 IMG_5699 IMG_5763 IMG_5764IMG_5805 IMG_5809 IMG_5810 IMG_5821IMG_6115 IMG_5872 IMG_6002 IMG_6020 IMG_6079

Thanks for visiting!

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Photography Adventure Along M22

During the slower times of the year, one of my favorite things to do is to go on a photography adventure.  I pack up my camera, and just drive.  Usually alone, the radio off, soaking in the scenery, stopping when something catches my eye.  Just the other day, I stopped en route to Suttons Bay for a group I was leading, drawn to this beautiful old tractor.IMG_5196

Just before getting to Immanuel Lutheran Church, where my group is held, I noticed the ice skating rink in town.  It’s looking like the end of the season!IMG_5199

Once my group was finished, the real photography adventure began! I traveled north to Omena, and then over to Leeland on M22.  Stopping for construction, barns, old vehicles and wild turkeys.



IMG_5272Omena, MI

IMG_5325IMG_5341IMG_5349IMG_5393IMG_5396-2IMG_5424IMG_5441-2Fishtown – Leeland, MI

Prints available for purchase here.

I completed the journey refreshed, invigorated and ready for the rest of the week.  Thank you Northern Michigan for all your incredible beauty!


The Release

After three weeks of rehabilitation at Wings of Wonder (WOW), this beautiful three-year-old Cooper’s Hawk was ready to go home.  IMG_4087-3

On March 9th, my kids and I responded to a plea from Rebecca Lessard, the Executive Director at WOW – someone had found an injured Coopers Hawk in Traverse City, and he desperately needed a ride out to the raptor sanctuary in Empire.  I thought to myself, what a fantastic opportunity to help for my kids!!  And that it was, I’m sure it will be one of those things they remember forever.  You can read about the rescue experience here.  But on this day, this beautiful creature had come full circle – he was rescued, rehabilitated, and now finally healed enough to return home.

So behind Oryana, a small crowd gathered to witness this amazing experience. As always, Rebecca compassionately and generously told the story – she educated, and she shared the experience.








IMG_4087Someone asked, “are you sure he’s ready to go?”  Rebecca chuckled aloud, “Oooooh, yes!”  She said he’s been in a bit larger flight pen lately, and he’s just been flapping around, eating heartily, looking alert, etc.  And at this point – this happened…


He flapped his wings and tried to fly away!

IMG_4090It was almost as if he heard that question, and yelled out “I’m READY!  Thank you very much for the care, but send me off!” So a little bit more education, as long as she had him held like so…


IMG_4113And then came time for the release…IMG_4117



IMG_4120-2And just like that, he was gone.  If you had sneezed at the release, you would have missed it.  No hesitation.  Off he went…

I like to imagine the story this hawk will carry with him, a story of hurt, pain, and being rescued by compassion. How easy it would have been for an animal to find him first, or some less compassionate soul.  But rather it was someone who knew exactly what to do.  I imagine him being thankful for the time he spent at WOW.  For the care he received.  The healing that was allowed to happen.  I don’t think he’ll forget it.

What an honor to be there from start to finish.  To see the amazement in my kids’ eyes.  To watch the moving in their spirit.  To hear the stories they tell.  Thank you Rebecca for the work you do.

If you come upon an injured raptor, and you’re in the Greater Grand Traverse Area – call Wings of Wonder 231-326-4663.  She’ll guide you on how to safely respond. If you’re not in this area, read this post for some helpful information and what to do.

Thank you for reading this story.




At Peace

I spent a few hours at PEACE Ranch this afternoon.  I always love having my work meetings there, because afterward I head out to the pasture with my camera in hand.  So after we wrapped up, that is exactly where I went.  Upon scanning the scene, I silently wished I owned a pair of rubber boots…for the boots I brought with were nowhere near appropriate for the sloppy mess that comes with spring…and a horse paddock.  I scanned for a place to crawl through the fence, but still – to get close enough to the herd would require trekking across some pretty dangerous terrain.  So I stayed by the fence, and the horses stayed by their hay.  And for a moment I thought about leaving.  Without a single shot.  Disappointing.  Horses energize me, I wanted to touch them, smell them closer…

I thought about the rest of the tasks I wanted to complete before the days end, and was momentarily tempted to just walk away.  Instead, I pushed myself to just be.  To just be when it appeared there was nothing going on.  To just be when the path did not look like I wanted it to look.  To be present when I was not getting my way.  And to just breathe.

I was blessed to be greeted by a few horses, who chose to leave their afternoon snack and move closer to my position at the fence.  I was honored to watch them interact with each other, observe their personalities, the positions they hold in the herd.  And I was blessed to breathe in the beautiful fresh air, under the brilliant blue sky, with them.  It did not matter that we were separated by a fence, I was near…and that was okay.  And I felt at peace.

I will remember this the next time I want to move more quickly through life, when it appears “nothing is happening.”  To pause in conversation a bit longer when I think that everything has been said.  And to relish the moment I have, not the moment I wish I was in.


This image is available for purchase here.

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A Hawk Rescue!

My kids and I had a crazy, awesome experience this past weekend.  I answered a plea for help – someone in Traverse City had an injured hawk in a box in her house.  She found it on her morning walk, and it needed to get to Wings of Wonder (WOW), 20 miles away in Empire.  I was the first of many volunteers to respond.  So with a boxed up injured hawk in the back of my Sante Fe, my two kids and I made the trip to WOW.  Upon getting there, we were able to watch firsthand what happens when an injured bird arrives at this blessed sanctuary.  Rebecca gently scooped him up, graciously allowed my kids a closer look (and a few pictures), and then we followed her down to the “hospital.” The hawk appears to be a male Coopers Hawk.


IMG_3020In the hospital, Rebecca performed an examination in an effort to determine the extent of the injuries.  It looked as if the hawk had possibly flown into a window, as one wing looked a bit different, and his right eye wasn’t fully open.  The poor guy just looked like he felt lousy…he probably had one massive headache! It was amazing watching him peacefully allow the exam, almost as if he trusted the hands he was in, sensed the love and care.  And THEN, she allowed my kids to explore the wing, as she gently guided their hands, explaining to them what they were feeling.  AMAZING.




IMG_3043He then found solace in a large cage while we watched Rebecca cut up some quail for a snack.  As I have in past experiences with Rebecca Lessard, the Founder and Director of WOW, I am in awe of the deep respect she holds for raptors and all living things.  I respect the passion she exudes for the work she does – it is clearly evident as she talks about the mission and vision of WOW.  And I respected greatly the grace she showed my children as they eagerly snapped pictures of the entire experiences.  She educated them about what they were seeing, and was patient with and respectful of their curiosity.  If you ever have a chance to visit WOW or hear Rebecca speak in the surrounding area, I highly suggest checking it out!

And as long as we were out there, we got a tour of the place.  Here are a few of the residents…



IMG_3077Last I heard, the Coopers Hawk is doing much better.  He’s been eating well, and will hopefully return home soon!  Thank you to the kind soul who noticed and rescued him in Traverse City, and to WOW for giving this young fellow a second chance.

Read about the release of this hawk here.