Occasionally you come across an opportunity that was made for you and that's what happened to me early this summer. I was talking with a friend and learned she is an Ambassador for Great Divide Brewing. After chatting about it for a while I knew it was something I wanted to do. Why? It incorporated three things that I love... adventure, photography, and great beer!
It's goes without saying that I'm passionate about photography. I love creating images that are unique and memorable for my clients and I get so much satisfaction knowing their photos are hanging in their home where they can enjoy them everyday. I avidly take photos of my own daughter and I love capturing landscape and nature photos, some of which are featured in galleries. But this new venture allowed me the opportunity to do some creative and fun work on my own time.
Those who know me know that I am frequently off on an adventure, whether it's exploring a new location or taking part in some adrenaline filled experience... I rock climb, hike, camp and have been know to fish (although I don't catch too much). I like getting off the beaten path and I drive a modified Jeep that allows me to travel to locations most can't... where I find old mines, beautiful lakes and pristine waterfalls. I like watersports... tubing, white water rafting, and waterskiing. And I'm a bit of an adrenaline junkie who has been skydiving, bungee jumping, spelunking, and rappeling.
As for beer I'll admit that before I moved to Colorado I was more of a wine fan. We lived in Virginia's Loudoun County wine country where our home was within 5 miles of 5 wineries. But after moving to the land of amazing craft beer, things can change quickly. I started dabbling in wheat beers, found I love porters, and even like a nice low key sour or a citrus-y IPA.
Now Great Divide Ambassadors have a very simple task... take great photos of their beer incorporated with journeys and adventures. So obviously this is is a perfect fit for me. Below are some of the images I captured for Great Divide on my summer adventures (June, July, and August). Stay tuned to see what photo opportunities the colder months afford.
When I heard Medano Creek at Great Sand Dunes National Monument was running at epic levels I had to take my husband and our daughter down for some beach time, Colorado style. We took a picnic and some beach chairs, a tube for her to cruise down the river, and of course my camera. What's more refreshing than some snow melt and a couple cold brews on a hot day?
The view of the Collegiate Peaks from Buena Vista is stunning and the perfect spot to relax with a brew... and take a photo of course.
While many times I have a vision for the images I'm planning on taking, occasionally an opportunity just presents itself. While vacationing in Buena Vista I spotted these tractors and knew I had to photograph Great Divide's Colette (a saison that pays homage to Belgian farm workers) with it's depiction of a female farmhand holding a pitchfork on the can. And while grabbing some pizza with family at High Mountain Pies in Leadville, I noticed Colette was on the menu, so I grabbed one for this shot with their signature pizza... the Crocodile.
Beer and camping go hand in hand and, so....
I've been know to get my Jeep up on three wheels more frequently than I would like... which is why I named it "Tipsy". Of course now the name can definitely hold a double meaning, although never while driving... I enjoyed this beer when we got home from our Jeep outing.
I had an the idea for this shot from the very beginning and just had to create the opportunity to get up on three wheels while I had the time for a photograph. Normally when I'm on three wheels it's WAY more precarious and I want to remedy the situation as quickly as possible. LOL.
And can I just say how much I love the can on the Heyday... a girl in a Jeep with her hair blowing in the wind. Thank you Great Divide! I feel like it was made for me... although it should have been a four door ;)
Great Divide's Lager came out just before the 4th of July and this can was perfect for some shots with red, white, and blue!
While rafting the Arkansas this year the water was at epic levels. Unfortunately this made it difficult to beach at our take-out, despite our guide's best efforts. It was a valiant try that led to her swimming before we could land at a take-out a bit further down river. As some of you may know when a guide swims they buy the beer for all the other guides that night, so I thought it was only fitting to help her out with the beer supply.
It takes a strong beer to hold up a falling mine so I think Great Divide's 25th Anniversary Big Yeti was the perfect beer for this shot at 13.5% ABV. Actually the Allie Belle Mine has been falling for many years and every year I'm shocked to see that it is still standing. If you are ever near St Elmo, Colorado you can drive right past this mine on the way to the old Hancock town site. This shot was more difficult than I imagined... getting the angle right was tough and I ended up laying in a big puddle of mud to do it... not the first time I've ever done that for a photo though.
If you live in Colorado you may have heard of Rails and Ales... many of the scenic railways have an annual journey that couples gorgeous views with great local beers.
This growler of Great Divide's Maple Pecan Yeti was perfect for an afternoon by the Arkansas River. This is probably one of my favorite beers to date... unfortunately it was brewed in limited distribution for Great Divide's 25th Anniversary Party. Please bring this one back soon!!!
Speaking of the 25th anniversary party, I had the pleasure of helping out at this event and had such a great time! Checking guests in and patrolling for empty beer cans and cups might not sound exciting, but I loved making the rounds and chatting with all the guests. And of course, I got to drink some great beer while doing so!
Apparently even chipmunks love a cold Colette! LOL
Actually this is another concept shot I had in mind from the beginning. Every year while Jeeping out in the Collegiate Peaks area we stop at the chipmunk pile in the "ghost" town of St Elmo. Here you can buy a bag of sunflower seeds from the general store and feed these cute little critters. My daughter loves it and it has become an annual tradition. So this year I took a can of Colette and enticed a few to pose. I mean, who doesn't love a Chuggin' Chipmunk?
The Yeti hunting shot was another concept I had and I just needed to find the right location, while the shot on the left was spur of the moment while on a hiking trail near Steamboat Springs, Co.
Sometimes something as simple as can color inspires me. As much as I'm out on hiking trails, it was difficult not to photograph the Titan more... I just love how it looks with lots of greenery around it. And Great Divide's Lager was a perfect match for this yummy treat...
One of these things is not like the others... While hiking with friends who are expert mushroom hunters (don't eat wild mushrooms unless you know exactly what you are doing!) I got this idea. We brought the mushrooms back to camp and before cooking them up for dinner, I set them up in a line with a Big Yeti and took this shot.
Sometimes when I know a hike is going to be difficult or I just want to pack light, I only take one beer to photograph. And because I really love photographing a beer that "fits" in the surroundings I'm sometimes kicking my self when an opportunity for a photograph happens and I feel a different beer would have been a better choice. Not with this photo! While hiking in Aspen we discovered some Ice Caves we didn't know would be in our travels. So photographing the Hazy with "Fresh, COLD, Friends" was perfect sandwiched between two pieces of ice that were still melting in this cave in mid-August! You have to love the diversity of Colorado's nature!
While on a trip to Glenwood Springs, my friend John took us out fly fishing. I didn't know if we would catch anything but I had a back-up plan with a net and some empty cans I had been saving. John actually caught one while I got one on the line but lost it before bringing it to shore. Despite that, it was an awesome afternoon on the river!
I took a photo of Lizard Lake years ago to add to my landscape photography collection and on a trip back to the location, just outside Marble, I decided to add beer. See the beerless image, entitled "Lazy Lizard" on my landscape photography page (image 18)!
It's not always possible to photograph beer with people, but when I'm traveling with friends I always take advantage of it. It's easy when I bribe them with free beer :)
Of course sometimes I ask random strangers to be beer models. You can't be shy about it and luckily I've never been turned down!
Waterfalls are definitely plentiful here in Colorado and make it into my images frequently. The image on the left is Adrenaline Falls just outside of Durango and the image on the right is Devils Punchbowl located just outside Aspen.
While not exactly an adventure, I couldn't leave out images from our daughter's end of summer birthday bash. We had a variety of Great Divide beer for adults at the party and had fun creating these shots.
(Photo credit - Kelly Vann Calaway Photography).
So after all the adventures and all the beer this summer, what was my favorite?
I'd have to say the Roadie, Grapefruit Radler... an easy drinking summer beer with a little tartness and the Maple Pecan Yeti, an imperial stout which was available in limited quantities for Great Divide's 25th Anniversary party.
Definitely the trip to Great Sand Dunes with our daughter. It was such a unique and amazing experience to be there with Medano Creek was running at full flow. It's an amazing ecosystem that is absolutely one of a kind and should be experienced at least once. And it was so fun to watch our daughter have such a blast tubing in the creek! When it comes down to it, that's the ultimate adventure!
Thanks for stopping by the blog. May your beer be cold and your adventures be epic! And don't forget to revisit the blog to see my my fall beer adventures later this year!
Special thanks to all my beer holders... Ainslee, Jen, Jenny, John, Julia, Kayla, Kim, Laurel, Mark, Tera, Tiffany, and of course all the Great Divide 25th Anniversary Party guests!
And of course, thank you Great Divide for this fun opportunity and lots of great beer!