Arizona & New Mexico Photo Diary: An Odyssey Out West

Somewhere between blasting Kacey Musgraves on the open highway and jumping off of a hill made of white sand, I fell in love with the west in a whole new way. My partner and I have traveled to Colorado twice, so I figured Arizona would probably give me a similar feeling. But once again, this state gave me a whole new perspective of what’s out there; how different the world looks when you go somewhere completely different from where you’re used to.

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I’m realizing that my favorite types of trips/vacations are the ones that are two fold: First, a trip that allows me to shut down my mind, relax, engage in a new space and let my worries melt away. But secondly, a trip where I’m doing something; usually something creatively stimulating so it can be a better experience to take home. This is probably part do my need/love to be busy, but I really do take more out of a vacation when I somehow interact with the environment around me; whether it’s creating art or writing a blog post such as this. I think this comes a lot form how my dad taught me to view traveling; he always told me that to take in a trip the best way, is to really get to know the surroundings by being productive in some way (while still enjoying yourself and getting a chance to relax).

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For our Arizona group it was quite clear what our number one priority there was; to create some amazing photography in some of the most beautiful spots in places some of us have never been to. So that took over the majority of our trip, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. There’s something truly special about being able to play around with fashion and photography in different parts of the world.

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A couple weeks before we left, we all went to a couple of thrift stores to find some outfits and pieces that we thought would work perfectly with the places we went to. Photography and modeling, although its just a hobby, is a form of storytelling I’ve grown to love more and more over the years. There’s something very creative and theatric about it — with the mix of fashion and posing. We also were lucky enough to get to model some beautiful jewelry from a couple of brands, including a local shop called Odyssey and Oddities, which you may notice make an appearance in all the images below because the necklaces fit so well with the shoots we were going for.

And there was no shortage of inspiration at the places we visited — and we really went all over: Phoenix, Jerome, Page, New Mexico and more. I was so struck by some of the amazing shots we got and how fun it was to style each look based on the different types of environments we visited.

Whether you want to just visit these states or have some shoot plans of your own, here are some highlights from the trip! As well as a quick synopsis of some of the ideas behind each outfit.

 



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This Town Ain’t Big Enough

Necklace by Odyssey & Odditties  Photo by Shelly Duncan

Necklace by Odyssey & Odditties

Photo by Shelly Duncan

Photo by Shelly Duncan

Photo by Shelly Duncan

When I found this authentic vintage 90’s two-piece set, I couldn’t say no to it. It appeared to me, much like a desert mirage, in vintage clothes store (more like warehouse, really) in Cleveland. And although it was a bit of a splurge, the uniqueness of it struck me. Obviously, the western style of it would be perfect for the trip, but each piece serves as a interesting statement piece that I can match with more quieter or basic pieces. The perfect spot for the outfit was definitely Jerome Ghost town, which was our first stop of the trip.

 
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You Are Now Entering The Energy Vortex

Although we didn’t get a chance to look at an actual energy vortex in Sedona, you could still feel a whole different sensation while walking through the miles of rocky terrain, sprinkled with bundles of different shrubbery and cacti plants. For this location, I had to go with this flowey, prairie dress that basically matched the sand we were walking on. When I originally bought it I right away saw the multiple ways I could style the dress both for shoots and for walking around; my go to was either my black bike shorts or my straight leg cowgirl pants.

Self-portrait

Self-portrait

Self-portrait

Self-portrait

 
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Seeing Red

Page, Arizona

Photographer: Shelly Duncan

Necklace by: Odyssey and Oddities

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As we drove towards Page the next day, the scenery seemed to get redder and redder. There was no shortage of inspiration here, because each outfit seemed to pop in a certain way against the warm toned terrain. I’d say this was the most “Arizona” looking area we went to. I feel like when you think of the states like Arizona or the surrounding ones, you think of a firey color scheme of reds. My friend Shelly thrifted this two piece business-like suit that paired perfectly with a grey necklace from Odyssey and Oddities.

 
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An Endless Beach

In New Mexico we only visited one single spot, but it was absolutely worth it. The White Sands National Park looked like something out of a movie, or maybe a dream. It seemed to stretch forever, literally like an endless beach. It was the one spot I think I felt completely calm and remote, because it was so warm and open and well, pristine, that it was impossible for any kind of stress or sensory overload to go through my head. We spent pretty much the whole day there and it was nothing short of monumental.

It was also a particularly good time for me to be behind the camera because it was such a wide open space so basically every shot looked amazing from every angle, especially as the sun started to go down. Shelly thrifted this amazing two piece suit and we paired it with a white jumpsuit of mine, and it created a very cool look that looked both out of place and perfectly in place all at the same time. This location was extra special because we got a chance to meet up with some other photographers/models in the area, Cat and Tristan.

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Photo by me  Model:  Shelly Duncan   Necklace:  Odyssey and oditties

Photo by me

Model: Shelly Duncan

Necklace: Odyssey and oditties

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A Planet Called Earth

The last couple days of our trip literally felt like I was visiting earth like an alien. Not just because a lot of time times we were wearing a variety of different outfits that were an ode to Barbarella, but also because the nature around us was so spectacular and almost, otherworldly. I say this a lot when I go out west, but it always shocks me how different it looks here, how you see so many aspects of nature that have existed forever, but look so foreign when you see them for the first time.

Obviously, I got I felt this when we visited Saguaro National Park on our second to last day, which is a winding park covered — and I cannot stress this enough, covered — in cacti throughout. This made for some really interesting shots because, well, what photo doesn’t look cool with a cactus as a prop?

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