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Exploring Northern California

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Exploring Northern California

Every Summer my partner Ian and I take a trip together. He is a full time high school science teacher, so summers are our adventure refuge. We spend pretty much every day either outside enjoying the woods around Asheville, N.C. or exploring somewhere new. This past summer we decided to head all the way across the country and explore Northern California.
One of the main reasons we booked a trip to California was to visit Yosemite National Park, but unfortunately our campsite reservations (that were very difficult to get) were cancelled at the beginning of our trip due to the wildfires that shut down the entire park this past summer. Therefore, we didn’t get to Yosemite at all, but we made the best of it and explored even more of the coast.
Here’s a little look at our journey:

First Stop: Fly into San Francisco & explore a bit of city life

San Francisco
San Francisco
We had fun, used CityPASS (which I highly suggest), but aren’t city people at heart. So, we were excited to get on the road and head out into nature!

We had fun, used CityPASS (which I highly suggest), but aren’t city people at heart. So, we were excited to get on the road and head out into nature!

Headed North on Highway 1 to Mendocino

(don’t drive this if you get carsick ya’ll - I’m grateful that we don’t but it was a beautiful doozy even for a mountain girl)

(don’t drive this if you get carsick ya’ll - I’m grateful that we don’t but it was a beautiful doozy even for a mountain girl)

Muir Beach

Muir Beach

Muir Beach
lots of picnics

lots of picnics

a very rare for us luxury camping experience

a very rare for us luxury camping experience

I traded a few nights stay for a video with Mendocino Grove, and I’m so glad we did! It was such a cute little spot with all the right amenities to make a super comfy camping experience. We knew we had to enjoy this as much as possible before we slept on the ground for the next week.

one of my favorite photos of us!

one of my favorite photos of us!

Glass Beach

Glass Beach

Glass Beach is made up mainly of seaglass pebbles

Glass Beach is made up mainly of seaglass pebbles

searching for the rare blue ones!

searching for the rare blue ones!

weather on the coast varies so much! One day it’s freezing and the next it’s warm enough to be in a bathing suit.

weather on the coast varies so much! One day it’s freezing and the next it’s warm enough to be in a bathing suit.

The Redwoods

On a short walk from our Campground

On a short walk from our Campground

forever looking up in this place

forever looking up in this place

Camping at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (loved this campground so much! This little tent was home for most of the trip.

Camping at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (loved this campground so much! This little tent was home for most of the trip.

Redwoods_EvergreenEraFilms
Fern canyon is insane! One of my favorite places to have visited. We hiked 16 miles roundtrip to get to this spot even though you can drive there. I wanted to earn the beauty!

Fern canyon is insane! One of my favorite places to have visited. We hiked 16 miles roundtrip to get to this spot even though you can drive there. I wanted to earn the beauty!

Downieville

Downieville is a tiny little historical town, but it is known for it’s mountain biking trail - and that’s why we went!

Downieville is a tiny little historical town, but it is known for it’s mountain biking trail - and that’s why we went!

16 miles of very technical downhill terrain. I was exhausted but so glad I attempted it and made it down unscathed.

16 miles of very technical downhill terrain. I was exhausted but so glad I attempted it and made it down unscathed.

spent the evening at the clearest river I’ve ever seen!

spent the evening at the clearest river I’ve ever seen!

Downieville003_EvergreenEraFilms

Truckee + Lake Tahoe

Scored ourselves a private dock around the lake near Truckee - we really loved this spot.

Scored ourselves a private dock around the lake near Truckee - we really loved this spot.

Camping at a campground around Lake Tahoe’s perimeter.

Camping at a campground around Lake Tahoe’s perimeter.

All the trails and beaches in Tahoe are busy in the summer, but I’m glad we did at least one hike - these are from Cascade Falls Trail

All the trails and beaches in Tahoe are busy in the summer, but I’m glad we did at least one hike - these are from Cascade Falls Trail

CascadeFallsTrail_EvergreenEraFilms
VERY HOT! Therefore always dunking our heads in water to cool off.

VERY HOT! Therefore always dunking our heads in water to cool off.

Carmel & Big Sur

Because we couldn’t go to Yosemite, we headed to Carmel and Big Sur instead and enjoyed some luxury

Because we couldn’t go to Yosemite, we headed to Carmel and Big Sur instead and enjoyed some luxury

kicked Ian’s booty at a new game

kicked Ian’s booty at a new game

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saw the most colorful landscape I’ve ever seen.

saw the most colorful landscape I’ve ever seen.

PortraitatBigSur_EvergreenEraFilms
BigSur_EvergreenEraFilms

We learned a lot, had a good few frustrating moments, but also had many beautiful, and incredibly redeeming moments.

Later this year I will be visiting the Redwoods further up north to film an Intimate Wedding, and I can’t wait to go back to those ancient trees.

If you have any questions about our trip - leave them in the comments!

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Why Wedding Vendors Should Stop Commenting on the Looks of their couples

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Why Wedding Vendors Should Stop Commenting on the Looks of their couples

This is going to be tough for a lot of people to hear...
But it's time for me to share an observation that I think needs to change.

Statements like "Aren't they beautiful?",  "Look how gorgeous", "These two are babes", "They are the freaking cutest", are overwhelmingly common these days in relation to wedding or elopement photos. You know you've seen it, you might have even done it yourself. But here's why I think you should think twice before you combine statements like that - especially with the photos of white, hetero, thin couples.

First things first: I'm a firm believer in the power of language. The words we use and don't use form our cultures and alter our perceptions. I don't believe "free speech" is at stake due to the compassion it requires to use inclusive and connective language rather than destructive and divisive words. The fact that we have politically correct terminology is proof that we are moving forward as a culture to recognize the variance in the human experience and are purposefully sensitive to the weight of that change. Free speech to me does not mean you can say whatever the heck you want and that political correctness is holding us back from saying the "honest" things. That is hate speech.

So now that that's clear - let's talk about beauty.

The media is a mix of visual imagery and words, and therefore could have an even more powerful effect on culture than just words. This is what we are a part of every day as wedding vendors on social media now - we are creating the culture around weddings with our images and our words.

So when we post pictures of white, hetero, thin couples and mainly focus on their looks, all we are doing is perpetuating the long-held and incorrect belief that people who look like that are the most beautiful.

If that's what your clients mainly look like, do you really believe that to be the truth? I doubt you do, and I hope you don't. If you do, I don't know how to reach you quite yet... So mainly, I'm sure it's really nothing you've ever thought of before because that's all you've ever been taught and shown in media. Plus it's easy to just talk about surface level looks when we want to post a picture of something we just created, right? We want to share it with the world and we think it's beautiful, what does it hurt? But I'm asking you to think a bit harder about what your putting out there and it's effect on people.  At this point I'm practically begging it, because the fact that there is only one magazine I know of that makes it a priority to talk about all aspects of the wedding day other than looks AND includes couples of all colors, shapes, sizes, and looks is proof that we are still in a standstill on beauty expectation in the wedding industry.
Shouldn't weddings, a celebration centered around love and connection be inclusive to all people?
(Shoutout to Catalyst Wedding Co. - I'm so thankful for you!)

So, what can you do?
For a start, instead of talking about the visual aspect of a couples wedding, talk about what they said, how they acted, moments that connected with you - literally anything else. I honestly think it would be better to just say nothing at all rather than comment on their looks.
If you want to go further, make diversity in your portfolio a priority.

Our words and our images are powerful - why don't we try and use them as a force for good instead of perpetuating the same self-deprecating and unrealistic standards our consumeristic culture has been pushing for so long now.

Inclusivity, self-love, and connection are well worth it, I promise you.
 

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The Simple Guide for a Healthy Relationship with Social Media

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Oh social media....It's a love/hate relationship right?
There's even science to back up why we are so addicted - we literally get a dopamine release when we check our phones. It's wild...

Ian and I talk about the woes of the young adults growing up in this age frequently.
He, as a teacher, experiences it first hand every day with his students... 

I didn't get a smart phone until the end of college and now children have them by middle school at least...
So instead of fighting something that we feel we can't really fight, how do we use it to our advantage?
How can social media be a good thing?


I think that if we choose our interactions properly and with purpose, social media can be a tool for growth, connection, and education. We just have to make the conscious effort to make it that way. 



1. Take notice - start recognizing how you feel after social media scrolls or even after certain pictures pop up. Do the images make you compare yourself to others? Do you feel like you have wasted all that time? Do you just feel like shit a little bit deep down? Empty and bleh? This is how you know it is time for a change.

My experience: I was constantly comparing myself to other peoples work on social media for a long time. I especially envied those who looked like their life was just a breeze, traveling all the time and doing all these fun things. Isn't that annoying when thats how people represent themselves but don't talk about their background? Like WHAT THE HECK DO YOU DO TO MAKE MONEY PEOPLE?!?! It was infuriating to me. Once I started to notice all these feelings I knew it was time to make a change.

 

2. Find purpose - Start recognizing those posts that uplift you and make you feel better about your life. Start READING CAPTIONS! I know, I said it, crazy right? But that's where all the good stuff lives in Instagram if people are putting effort into it. If the post doesn't serve a purpose to you, why waste your time? 

My experience: Honestly, I'm sick of half-assed captions. And I'm really sick of following wedding industry vendors who only talk about how beautiful everyone and everything is when all the people look the same -white, thin, & "attractive" - (There will be a blog post on this topic soon...). Diversity is important to me, it is a priority.
My friend Tyler McCall taught me that I need to inspire, educate, or entertain people with my posts so this is what I look for in other peoples posts. Could you imagine if everyone was this intentional? Some people just want to look at pretty pictures, but I want some depth ya'll. 

 

3. Weed it out - start unfollowing. You don't have to do a big sweep all at once but as you spend time on social media, start unfollowing as you notice things that aren't serving you. 

My experience: Just let it go - I know it's hard when you are running a business specifically and you feel like you need to be connected to certain people in the industry, but this is where you decide what is more important. For me, my own sanity and healthy relationship with something so common now is way more important to me than just following people "I should follow". Sometimes I will go and like a few things on peoples pages I don't follow for business, but then I let it go if I don't see any more purpose in their message.

 

4. Rebuild - Think about what you want to be learning, what messages you want to be seeing, & how you want social media to positively re-wire your brain. Then start building that sort of feed for you to experience when you pop online.

My experience: For me this has mainly been making sure I see different types of people - different ethnicities, larger bodies, different sexual orientations. The more I see these things, and read posts by these people, the more I fight against societal norms of beauty and normality.
I also make sure to follow people who bring peace to my day and ground me with their words. People who educate me with their experiences and women who are inspiring me to be stronger and not making me feel less than.

 

 

 

Make your interactions purposeful.

Make your time worthy.

Give yourself some grace and some love instead of forcing constant comparison into your mind.

 

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My top 5 Storytelling Podcasts

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My top 5 Storytelling Podcasts

NPR Storycorps

Listen to this if you want to cry... but usually in an uplifting way!
Storycorps is the largest audio compilation in the Library of Congress, recording stories from people all over the United States.

What I love most about it: How incredible the act of interviewing someone can be for a relationship.
 

Ivisibilia

Invisibilia is co-hosted by 3 women who interview and explore ideas and concepts that we can't see. Things that are intangible.
 
What I love most about it: They explore things from many different angles AND they are topics I haven't fully heard about before.
 

TED Radiohour

Most of you have probably heard of TED talks. This podcast is a compilation of different speakers presentations blended with further interview conversations on their topic. They usually interview 3 different people who are all relating to a central topic.

What I love most about it: The fact that they dig deeper into the topics that are spoken on the TED stage to give you more background and information than just watching the video.
 

Radiolab

This podcast is one of my absolute favorites. Even though they don't focus on any topic in particular, they explore interesting ideas with open minds and a sense of true discovery.

What I love most about it: The sound effects they use throughout the podcast are like any other - they make it an experience and immerse you into the story in a beautiful and intriguing way!
 

Modern Love

Another NPR Podcast, Modern Love is a beautiful mix of storytelling, theatre, and writing. Actors present essays written about love that were submitted to the NY Times, representing real people who live among us.

What I love most about it: It provides a larger perspective of what love is like - what it can do, what it  means, and what it looks like.

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A Wedding Without Rings

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A Wedding Without Rings

Evergreen Era Films Wedding Videography

Most of you out there might think I'm crazy, but it's true. I hate wedding rings.
But the reality is I don't just hate wedding rings. I hate all metal jewelry. I always have. It's some weird quirk that I've never fully understood. Just the thought of metal jewelry touching my skin makes me squirm. I can't stand it.

Thankfully that weird quirk has saved me a lot of money over the years (as well as previous boyfriends) and gives me lots of extra time in the morning to get ready. 

But whenever I tell anyone this about me, they always ask - "What will you do when you get engaged or married?!"
I've come up with some funny answers over the years, like asking for a puppy instead of an engagement ring. I still like this idea a lot by the way... =)
I have also thought about the idea of spending the money on tickets for a trip, a down payment on a tiny home, or new adventure equipment instead.
Who knows! The sky is the limit to what could be done! I have always thought that something different and personal, unique to our relationship would be even more special.

Side note: Ian and I have zero plans on getting married in the near future, if ever really.
We live life very untraditionally and purposefully, taking the waves of life as they come and doing what feels right to who we are.
We have learned to love life this way for the time being - hearts and minds open to our experiences and loving each other as deeply and best we can along the way.


Now, I know that the exchanging of rings in marriage is a deep rooted tradition.
I know that they traditionally represent eternity and they are worn on the 4th finger of the left hand because it was believed the vein in that finger lead directly to the heart.
They are glamorous, and shiny, and expensive and something you only get once in your lifetime.
I get it. Tradition is hard to break.

But I want to take a moment here and question this tradition, like I typically like to do.

Disclaimer: This is not to make anyone feel bad about having a wedding ring or wanting a wedding ring. It is simply to share my personal thoughts and experiences in order to provide encouragement to do something differently for those who might benefit from it. 

My dislike for jewelry in general has forced me to think about the exchanging of rings in a new way. It has forced me to look inside myself and imagine what my heart would want, apart from preconceived traditions or social norms, on my wedding day.

So, maybe this will encourage you to do this same. If you were able to free yourself of all the expectations and listen to your heart, what would mean the most to you personally, intimately, uniquely?

Traditions aren't rules. It's okay to break them!

 

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How I Became a Filmmaker

Photo by Rachel McIntosh Photography - My partner Ian and I before a wedding

Photo by Rachel McIntosh Photography - My partner Ian and I before a wedding

I started my career as a photographer.

If I'm totally honest with myself, I think my interest in photography occurred because I always wanted to be an artist but never thought I had enough skill and vision to physically create something brand new with my hands. I'm not a terrible painter or a horrible drawer, I'm decent, but I am also very impatient. I never wanted to work on something for more than a few hours in order to see the final product. This lead me to find ways where I could experiment with light, color, composition, and balance and receive more immediate gratification. (Funny thought, now that I create videos and the final product takes days, weeks, or months to complete.)

Photography wasn't as popular of a career when I was growing up, as it is now. Therefore when I went to college I didn't really think I could focus on it as my major. I fought my heart and followed my mind for a while. I dappled in Graphic Design, and then Psychology. I even went so far as to try and do a double major in Psychology and Photography because I still didn't know if I could make a living through photography. Eventually I realized that I was being silly, I couldn't take over 20 hours of classes a semester and still enjoy life, so in a roundabout way I declared myself as a Technical Photography major at Appalachian State University.

After graduation I moved back in with my parents. Thankfully my parents are some of my best friends and moving back home was easy and comfortable. It wasn't the most fulfilling experience, feeling as if I was taking steps backwards instead of forwards, but I continued to remind myself of the gift it was. I was able to live cheaper, travel with a friend in Europe for a while, and explore what my next step in life would be without the stresses of life weighing down on me. And I lived in a beautiful place while being surrounded by people who love and support me.

Eventually, my career as an entrepreneur began under the simple name of Kathryn Ray Photography. I wasn't quite sure what I felt passionate about the most yet, but I knew I just had to start somewhere. I explored all different types of photography options, some enjoyable and some not so much: senior portraits, real estate, weddings, editorial, and families. In the meantime I started to indulge my interest in video. I had never gotten the chance to take any classes in our degree program but I still wanted to learn, so I decided to teach myself. I started creating little mini films of nature and people in my life. I would stay up for hours late at night, sitting in bed with my laptop atop the comforter, editing and exploring in my personal video projects.

I loved it. I got to choose the music that set the mood. I was able to capture movement and tell more of a story. I was able to add sound effects and choose where each clip belonged and match scene changes with beats in the song. I was my own movie team and it felt exciting. I knew I had found something I was not only capable of doing, but wanted to do for people.

Thankfully a friend allowed me to film her wedding very last minute and even paid me enough to cover my expenses plus some. I am forever grateful. Her kindness and belief in me in that one moment has brought me to this point in my life doing a job that I love and serving lovely people.

As time went by and I began to do more films under Kathryn Ray Photography as well as photography, I knew it just didn't make sense. I wanted to do mainly wedding films, but my name didn't reflect that. I also was working at an Elementary School at the time in order to pay the bills while my business grew, but I found that I was drained and exhausted every day after work. My introverted, highly-sensitive nature didn't have what it took to work 2 full time jobs. Especially not one interacting with hundreds of children. I had to make a big and scary decision.

At the end of that school year, I decided I wasn't going to return. I chose against a steady income with benefits and a retirement account to instead have an unsure inconsistent future doing something I enjoyed, and I'm so glad I did. I spent that summer planning, rebranding, and not long after Evergreen Era Films was created!

It hasn't been easy. Starting a business is confusing and it takes a lot of work to figure out what steps to take. You have to be very proactive and do a lot of research. There are also many days of doubt and insecurity as a creative and a slowly growing business owner. There have been many days I just flat out ask myself "Am I going to make this work?", but I just continue to do whatever I can to learn and grow and serve people the best that I can.

Then there are those days that feel great and encouraging and exciting. Days when I've sent off a film for a couple and receive back a kind and warm message about how much they love it. Days where my creative friends tell me how much they admire what I have done and see the beauty in what I do. Days when I realized I set my own schedule and can work hard as well as give myself grace and rest when I need it. These are the days I work for.

I believe that my background in photography plays a big role in the work I create now. I came in with a trained eye for balance, frame, composition, and color. I didn't come in to this industry knowing just the technical details. I didn't come in to this with tons of fancy gear and a focus on what kinds of "perfect" shots I can get.  I came in to this by choice because of how much I love the stories that can be told through video and how interactive it can be. I came in to this knowing that I want to tell peoples stories in the most honest way possible and it's not about the gear that I use but the feel and the moments I capture.

How thankful I am that I allowed myself the time and the honesty and the trust to follow what what I wanted for myself. How thankful I am for all the people who have believed in me and supported me, whether it is by kind words, monetary compensation (I'm talking to you wonderful parents), assisting me and encouraging my dreams (yes you, Ian Selig), or hiring me as your videographer. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

You have changed my world.

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