When Katie said she wanted a family portrait session at Garden of the Gods (even though it was a two hour drive from her house), I jumped out of my seat I had just fell in love with this hike two weeks earlier. Garden of the Gods is a smaller park in Colorado Springs, but you can certainly get lost in the red rocks, which remind me of the formations you might see Utah (but with a lot more vegetation). I recently learned that the Garden of the Gods was private land before it donated to the city of Colorado Springs with the understanding that it would remain free to the public. This place is spectacular. I couldn’t believe my luck, especially since I had just shot a beautiful family session in Vail, Colorado.
So I met Katie, Olive, and their beautiful dog Elliot, who is a half poodle, half golden retriever mix with lots of energy. By the way, dogs are welcome at any of my sessions and I was very thankful that they are permitted at Garden of the Gods. I seriously wanted to take Elliot home, but then again he would probably feel a little cramped in my 60 square foot camper.
We started out at a field just outside the park in an effort to miss the afternoon rush. Katie and Olive wore beautiful dresses. Katie wore a lacey white dress and Olive chose a black one, but the two went together really nicely. The three explored, spun, and ran around basking in the sun. I love it when I can just sit back and capture natural moments. That’s exactly how I felt with Katie and Olive. Their love just shines through and all I had to do was sit back and capture it. Actually, I was running around like a maniac (per usual) while also wrangling Elliot, who is a lot stronger than he looks. But I did this all with a smile on my face. It’s been a while since I’ve photographed family sessions and I have to say they are my favorite.
Pretty soon Olive was begging us to climb a mountain. “When are we going to climb a mountain?” “Just a few more photos.” “Are we going to climb a mountain now?” “Yes, in a sec. But I just love this lighting right now.” And after just a couple hundred more pictures, I didn’t want to miss the light, so we hopped in our cars and drove up to climb a mountain. Garden of the Gods.
Wow, this has got to be one of my favorite hikes near Denver. And I’m so glad we waited because it was a lot less busy than when I had done yoga up there earlier. Also, the lighting was just perfect. We hiked up the sidewalk, but when this wasn’t adventurous enough for Olive, we found some cool rocks to climb. She was pretty intent on climbing straight up a wall actually. Next time we’ll bring harnesses. I think Olive will make a great rock climber one day. I’m a sucker for red rocks, so these are definitely some of my favorite photos of the day. Olive, Katie, and Elliot explored the peak together as the sun came down. And I got to capture it.
Thank you Katie, Olive, and Elliot for an awesome adventure. :)
Josh Hartman - Permanent Nomad and Traveling Family Photographer
When I first shared my desire to sell my 800 square foot condo and live on the road in a camper, people thought I was crazy. “Wait, you want to get rid of all your stuff and move into a space the size of my bathroom!?” But now that I’ve lived small for two years, I discovered that my 60 square foot camper is just perfect for me. Really, the most challenging part was getting rid of all my stuff. Even after moving into the camper, I continued to sell more stuff. I sold my kayak, my bicycle, and donated the clothes in the back of my closet that I never wore. For me, this stuff wasn’t worth the cost, space, and burden of ownership. And when I freed myself from it, I not only had fewer distractions, but I also began to appreciate the few things I did own. What’s more, I was spending less time fixing things, paying bills, and acquiring new things since I just don’t have the space for them. I also found more time for traveling, hanging out with friends, and going on adventures. And that’s the good stuff that life’s all about, isn’t it? :)
Josh Hartman, Travel Photographer
I love visiting friends in new places! And so I was ecstatic when Seth and Michelle invited me to Vail, Colorado to photograph their family. Talk about a dream session. I first met Seth and Michelle and their two beautiful daughters Ziva and Maya down in Florida. They actually camped right next to my Casita in their beautiful retro Jeep camper. Last week, we met up again and camped right in downtown Vail. This was my first time visiting Vail and I got the full tour including a gondola ride up a mountain. I woke up to a babbling creek and a delicious breakfast downtown. Then photographed Michelle at the Nefesh Mountain Bluegrass Shabbat on top of a mountain in downtown Vail, Colorado. Check out this blog post to see photos of this amazing mountaintop celebration. Then I felt really spoiled because I got to photograph Seth and Michelle’s gorgeous family in the mountains of Vail. These four were an energetic bunch and I had lots of fun chasing them around. Zika and Maya were especially cute (and so well behaved all cuddled in their blanket) when mom and dad decided to go off for a few photos on their own.
Thanks Seth and Michelle for showing me around Vail! I look forward to seeing you all again soon.
Josh Hartman - Family Photographer - Vail, CO
Last weekend I documented a mountaintop celebration like no other. Nefesh Mountain, an old-timey Jewish bluegrass band, illuminated the mountains with their soulful music. They begged the audience to sing along as sounds of guitar, cello, and fiddle rang out. The seats were packed. And the people sang loud and even danced. It was amazing!
When my friends Seth and Michelle Levy asked me to photograph the Nefesh Mountain Bluegrass Shabbat on top of a mountain in Vail of course I said YES!!! And my friend Audrey was happy to join in on this road trip. Thank you Audrey for your enthusiasm and sense of adventure. I loved sharing this experience with you. We drove from Denver and met Seth and Michelle and their two beautiful girls at the B’nai Vail Congregation. The B’nai Vail Congregation put on a delicious breakfast in the quaint town of Vail, exactly like how you’d picture the setting in Scrooge (minus the snow). It was so great meeting the members of the congregation.
Then it was time to go up the mountain. This was a really fun experience. I captured the band members of Nefesh Mountain, husband and wife team Eric Lindberg and Doni Zasloff, string players Alan Grubner and Tim Kiah, along with Rabbi Joel D. Newman and Cantor Michelle Cohn Levy as they ascended in the Eagle Bahn gondola. Looking below, you could see mountain bikers racing down the slopes. I’ll have to come back in the winter. I can’t imagine how beautiful these hills are covered in snow.
The Shabbat service took place on the Vail wedding deck. And not only was the scenery breathtaking, but the weather was gorgeous. I am so grateful to be able to capture this magical day. The energy from the band was amazing to experience up close. Nefesh Mountain’s performance actually gave me chills and I seriously couldn’t stop smiling the rest of the day. Thank you to Nefesh Mountain and the members of the B’nai Vail Congregation for making this spectacular celebration possible.
Josh Hartman, Wedding and Family Photographer - Denver, Colorado
I love North Carolina. Last time I passed through Durham, I camped up near Jordan Lake, one of my favorite camping and paddle spots. It was the middle of the summer, and met up with my friend Kate, Zhuo, and their two adorable twins Liam and Lucas. For her family session, we photographed the kids at the Eno River. We hiked down the rugged trail and stopped at one my favorite play areas to throw stones. Liam and Lucas were full of energy and they definitely enjoyed getting their feet wet. I loved chasing these two down the trail, across the swinging bridge, and into the water. I can’t wait to come back to North Carolina and catch up with friends. I hope you enjoy these photos.
Josh Hartman - Family Photographer
Thank you Rachel, Kari, Andrew and Ryan for a wonderful adventure!!! I'm so grateful for this time in nature with amazing people, away from Wifi and buzzing phones. This trip couldn't have come at a better time and I'm so thankful my friend Ryan invited me on last minute. When he said I might need an ice axe, I knew it was going to tough. This hike seriously makes Zion's Angel's Landing look like sunset stroll in the park.
The team hiked from Whitney Portal, 13 miles (21 km) west of the town of Lone Pine, California. The hike was about 22 miles round trip although I managed to add on 5 extra miles by getting lost. Can you believe the total elevation gain of over 6,100 feet? That's higher than any mountain on the east coast.
Well, I'll let the pictures do the talking. I'm on my way to Colorado. Happy Trails!
Josh Hartman - Travel Photographer
This last trip across the US was one of my all-time faves. My friend Katrina invited me to come along in her ginormous RV from Gainesville, Florida to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Katrina drove this tank the entire 30 hours while my friend Lauren and I watched her two adorable kids Gracie and Indie in the back. And we did it in less than 3 days!! We had fun along the way juggling children, making smoothies, and getting kicked out of gas stations. And after this grand adventure was over, we mustered up all of our energy for a last minute costume party at Felicia’s place in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
I have to give a shoutout to all my friends here. First off, thank you for inviting me on this awesome adventure Katrina. Your kids are amazing and they were so fun to hang out with. Chad, thanks for letting me stay at the Cook Ranch. You’re a genuinely generous gentlemen. I thought you’d appreciate that lyrical line since you do shit like that all the time. ;) I’d like to give a special thanks to my friend Lauren, a hooping world traveler and talented massage therapist who inspires me so much with her bountiful optimism. She also has some of the most badass tattoos. And I definitely need to give a shout out to my new friends in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Thank you Brittany for sharing some giggles with me and sharing your little boy with me. Give Israel a big kiss for me. And last but not least, I’m so happy to have met Felicia. She’s the costume designer, makeup artist, and super funky visionary behind the scenes. She’s the chick with the red hair. Follow her at instagram.com/lucky9one/
It's hard to describe how much I love photographing weddings. There really is no better job in the world. Wedding photography keeps me on my toes, I get to hang out with cool people all day, and I am front and center to the bride and groom’s most intimate and exciting moments. I’m approaching 4 years of being a full-time wedding photographer. Wow, I can hardly believe it. Four years ago I left my teaching job to travel the world and photograph weddings. And I’ve been lucky enough to photograph over a hundred weddings in that time, and travel to some pretty epic places too. People always ask me to pick a favorite wedding and it’s really hard to choose. This winter I photographed a snowy ceremony on a frozen lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, a beautiful elopement on a cliffside overlooking the ocean in Vik, Iceland, and a big wedding on a mountaintop lodge near Cascade National Park. And this year I’m starting a new photography brand and taking my little camper out west to photograph couples. I couldn’t be more excited. In celebration of four years full-time, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite wedding and landscape shots. Enjoy! Here’s to another awesome wedding season.
Josh Hartman, Travel Wedding Photographer & Rangefinder 30 Rising Star 2016 - Available Worldwide for your Epic Wedding Day Adventure!
These past few months, I’ve really been taking some time to rediscover who I am, where I want to go, and what I want to achieve. The summer solstice was my 6 year anniversary and also the day my divorce was official. And I’ve had a lot of feelings. When you’re splitting a life, a home, and a business, it’s emotional to say the least. And let me just say that I am so grateful for the friends and family that have supported me during this time. Thank you!
I have a very special thanks to my sister Jessica. I have four siblings, but my sister Jessica is my only blood sibling. We’re also closest in age. And maybe it’s the international flights starting when I was 4 and she was 5 that bonded us. Well not initially. From teenagers to early adults, we wanted to rip each other’s heads off. I still have nightmares over those days, but I think we were at each other’s throats so much because we were so similar. For the past ten years, we’ve gotten along great. But in the last 3 years we’ve grown much closer.
[ I should note that Jessica is quite a bit different than me. If you’re curious, we recently completed the 16 personalities test. Jessica: intelligent introvert who marches by the beat of her own drum and logician who thrives in the moment (INTP). Josh: extrovert to the maximum who will risk looking like an idiot for the thrill of feeling alive (ENFP). ]
Now that we’ve both mellowed out in our adulthood, we find ourselves in very similar situations, starting life on the road, building a photography business, and doing whatever the fuck we want. And recently she’s helped me through some very difficult hurdles in my life (and for that I am so grateful). And I’ve been coaching Jessica as well, helping her grow her photography brand Lost Hartman and also teaching her a thing or two about camper life. Actually, that’s not really true. Jessica is sort of in a different class of badassery. She lives in a Honda Element. (It’s like #vanlife, but even cooler.)
Okay, I promise I’m getting to the reason for this blog post, which is named “Independence Day” and has lots of pretty firework pictures I know. But let me first talk about Jessica’s photography. She’s a fly-on-the-wall shooter to the point where she’s invisible, which is a great ninja skill for any candid photographer. She’s also super short, which I know helps too. Anyway, she has this ability to capture raw emotion like nobody’s business. Ooh, she also uses natural light like a champ, has the patience of a saint when photographing kids, and I love how her landscapes emphasizing unique and interesting features that I would totally miss. I should also mention that I recently convinced her to switch from Canon to Fuji, which brings me to those pretty photos in this blog post (shot on Jessica’s Fuji Xt2 and 23mm lens).
This 4th of July was extra special. It marks the last day in our hometown before going off to start our life out west. This has been our goal for quite a few months, but circumstances and a couple family emergencies have prevented us from doing so. But now that the dust has settled and we’ve got all my ducks in a row, we’re finally ready to make the transition. We’re both starting our photography businesses from scratch, although I’m venturing into the world of performance art (with a little photography to pay the bills) and Jessica's Lost Hartman is going from zero to hero fast!
And what a great 4th of July it was! We spent time with our family, I successfully annoyed my niece Kayla and my nephew David, we all ate until our bellies were full, and Jessica and I diaboloed/photographed the night away. If you don’t already know, the diabolo is an incredibly fast moving artform and really difficult to photograph at night. So even though she’s still working on actually catching a diabolo (she’ll get it soon), Jessica certainly captured the diabolo beautifully. In fact, her photos are the first diabolo photos I’ve published and I’ve been doing it for 7 years. Thank you so much for the beautiful photos Jessica.
So enough said. Photos by the very talented Jessica Hartman. On Instagram @losthartman or Facebook.com/losthartman. I also included a few pictures of Jessica on her trusty rusty (colored) Element with her schnauzer sidekick Molly and a TMNT blankie.
Let the adventure begin! See you on the west coast Jessica.
Josh Hartman, Mountain Unicyclist and Diaboloist
I'm still trying to wrap my head around it, but I will say my Electric Forest experience was incredible. Really, that doesn't even sum it up. Electric Forest was a mind boggling, exhausting, visual explosion that will forever be with me. This was my first music festival by the way. I was invited by my newly engaged friends Nikki and Morgan. Congratulations guys! I really wanted to make this festival (the second biggest light show in the nation or something like that) happen because it landed on my 6 year anniversary, also the summer solstice and the day my divorce was official. I've recently found a new independence and what better way to celebrate it? I don't think I slept for more than 5 hours a night diaboloing for 12 hours a day in mud pits next to center stage, dancing my mud caked and cut feet off until 5 in the morning, getting kicked out and escorted off the property for riding a unicycle. (Well, that escalated quickly. Really, it's a unicycle folks). I'm still gathering my thoughts on this festival, but I will tell you that this experience will definitely stick with me. I only took my camera out a little bit (mostly I was focused on experiencing the festival for myself). Here's what I got. :)
Josh Hartman, Travel Photographer
Follow my adventures at instagram.com/halfabike/
For me, humor is a prerequisite to any great relationship. If I couldn't laugh, I think I'd go insane. These two definitely made me crack up a few times with their playful antics. I can tell they really love each other. And I am so grateful I was able to capture them in this beautiful abandoned home in Gainesville, FL. I almost fell through the ceiling doing so, but that's besides the point.
Josh Hartman, Travel Photographer
On Valentines Day of this year, my ex-wife and I climbed up Zabriskie Point for a sunrise stroll. We took some of the most beautiful photos I've ever taken. And it truly was a beautiful experience.
That night we had our brakes go out while going down a long and steep grade in Death Valley, in the middle of the night, with no cell phone reception. Yeah, it was scary. And this was something that would have normally caused us great anxiety (before moving into the camper). But after living on the road for a year and driving over 60,000 miles, we were seasoned pros and we handled it like champs. First we switched drivers and rolled down the windows to check for smoke. "OMG, it's smoking! Pull over!" We then got out of the truck, I have a mini panic attack and exclaim, "I'm in panic mode. I'm in panic mode!" I say weird things when my adrenaline hits me. Then I grab the fire extinguisher and expel our now burning tire. We decide to camp there for the night. The next morning we go for a little sunrise hike and we're off to the races again.
People are often surprised about the matter of fact way I talk about Shelley. But I'm at a point right now when I don't feel like I need to be regretful over my past experiences. I honestly wouldn't change anything about my past because in that moment, it was right. And all those experiences have brought me to where I am now. And right now I am content. I am strong. And I am happy.
Lately, I try not to give advice. I believe in learning on your own the hard way. But if I were to offer the world just one piece of advice, it would be don't sweat the small stuff (and it's all small stuff). And get rid of all the distractions so that you can focus on the beauty right in front of you.
Josh Hartman - Mountain Unicyclist and Photographer
A big reason why I decided to move into a camper was to travel the country. This is one my favorite things about tiny living. Being able to wake up and move my house anywhere.
But I also went small for another reason, to move away from the expenses that traditional living brings. I was working hard in a business and yet I saw my modest income being spent on taxes, mortgage, and bills. None of these things were bringing me happiness (especially taxes😳).
That has gradually changed since moving into our camper. I pay for campgrounds unless I stay with family and friends. I am also finding other ways to be thrifty. Solar panels for one save us $30 a night. (It also means more flexibility in where I can park my camper.) When moving into the camper, I also decided to become my own own marketer. Now, I no longer pay to advertise. Not one cent. And I'm proud to say that I am debt free this year. Three years ago I cut up my credit cards and I’ve never looked back.
I know this post is a lot about money. But the truth is that money buys choices. And even with a modest income like mine, anyone can decide to live for yourself and pursue your dreams. Go for it!
-Josh Hartman, Mountain Unicyclist & Travel Photographer
Mother's Day is about gratitude. It's saying thanks and spending time with the person who gave you the greatest gift of life. Let's all find a little quality time with our moms today, whether it's an hour phone call, going out to dinner, or a little walk.
I hope you enjoy these intimate portraits of moms and their little ones. I captured them at the last naked bash and they are some of my all time favorites.
Have a great day and happy mother's day!
Josh Hartman - Mountain Unicyclist and Travel Photographer
“It is a delicate ballet that is like skating and flying and you are always on the edge of failure as you ride the line of success.” -Unknown
Before my career as a photographer, I taught second grade. (Yes, believe it or not, I was in charge of a classroom of eight year olds.) Teachers know that failure is just part of the learning process. In my classroom, I invited my students to take risks and to fail everyday in my classroom. And I’d demonstrate to my students that even grownups fail. I rode my unicycle to school everyday. I told my students that every time I got on I knew I was coming off one of two ways, walking or falling. More often than not it was the latter and they got to see that firsthand when I performed in class. Students even had the chance to fall for themselves.
I just ended a 15 year relationship. I will tell you that most of my ideas are pretty out there. Three of the business ventures I started were a complete flop. 90% of the photos I take as a photographer are not deliverable to my clients. And nearly every time I get on my unicycle I fall off. I fail. All the time. Everybody fails. All we can do is learn from our mistakes and fail better.
Josh Hartman – Mountain Unicyclist and Photographer
Follow my adventures @halfabike on instagram
When is the last time you took a yoga class? Went out with your friends? Or took pictures by yourself outside? We are taught to feel guilty about spending time on ourselves. So many family obligations. So many errands to run. And life gets away from you.
But what if you treated yourself to a moment. A commitment of 20 minutes. A time when you don't have to worry about a thing. Wouldn't it be great to take a stroll with a friend, not run to your car because you're late? Wouldn't it be awesome to ditch a commitment so that you can make time to revisit that hobby you love? Call me crazy, but what if you walked away from everything negative in your life and pursued that crazy dream?
I've been very very lucky. I've had a surplus of time for a while now. My photography business and self-sufficient home have gifted me with that. And driving over 50,000 miles in 18 months has given me lots of time to reflect. But right now I am going through some challenges. I chose to end a 15 year relationship. I am no longer a part of a business that I helped grow. I'm without a portfolio. I don't have a single booking on the calendar. And I'm starting to reach my burnout point with moving around so much on the road.
That said, hitting the reset button on my life was the best decision I've ever made. My life has never been more open-ended.
Tonight I'm packing my bags and leaving the Casita in Vegas. Tomorrow morning I'm not driving, but flying, to my family in Chicago. I plan to spend so much time with my family that I get sick of them and also unicycle every square inch of the city. From there, I'm flying to Florida, going to my first music festival since I was a kid and partying naked with friends. Then it's off to sunny San Diego and lots more unicycling. And after that I plan to come back to Vegas and rechristen my camper before spending the summer exploring out west. By the way, I'm going to do this all on a shoestring budget while building up the most kickass photography brand known to man. Thank you so much for following my adventures. They are definitely not over yet. -Josh
“Many Americans that get caught up in the lie called the American Dream do exactly this: they work to buy then die. This is also known as the deferred life plan; where you attend school and work for the first 40 years of your adult life so you can live when you retire at age 60 or later. Many that follow this plan end up with broken marriages, alienated children, crushed dreams, boredom, obesity, poor health, and a house to sleep away the pain in and further propagate the nightmare. Why does this happen? Because we are taught that we cannot live unless we have a house to do it in. Nonsense! Not everyone needs a house. Even those who want a house now, will at many times in their life wish they did not have it, and could instead do something else with their life.”
― Jason Odom, Vanabode
Never, ever underestimate the importance of having fun. -Josh Hartman, Travel Photographer
Okay, I love old photos. And this first one's a couple years old, but it means a lot to me.
I was unicycling the muddy streets of Viscri, Romania. This is a place where Prince Charles owns property, but you wouldn't know it by looking at it. Modest homes, no running water, and families of 10 living together in a very small house.
And this boy was trying his best to keep up, mostly pushing his bike through the muddy streets. His family's one bike had two flat tires, a rusty chain, and a broken seat. I traded my unicycle for his bike and I literally could not pedal it. But despite his rusty old bike, this kid was just happy to be out "riding" with me.
My yoga journey started in January 2016. I began practicing each morning and I was amazed how a little yoga workout could have such a positive impact on my day. I saw tremendous improvements in my mobility and strength. And to my surprise, I actually became a calmer after just a couple months.
I continued practicing through March, but then things got a little busy with traveling and photography. So I took a day off yoga...then another...and eventually I fell off the wagon completely.
But this summer I found myself in less than peak condition. (I blame the beer.) And so I started doing 60-90 minutes of yoga each morning. I committed to doing yoga everyday for a week. Again, I began to feel healthier and happier in a very short period. After a couple weeks, my practice was getting stronger and I wanted to keep the momentum going. What would happen if I did yoga for a month straight?
Well, today marks 100 days of yoga. And all this yoga really has me convinced that it is the best workout. Period. I've never felt better in my life. I found an interesting quote that I think sums up my experience.
"Usually there's about a three-month love affair with yoga. 'I feel so good.' After about two months of practice, people think they are practically enlightened. Then usually around the third month, something happens and the yoga actually starts to work. And the first thing the ego structure does is to look for an escape route. People start heading for the door just at the moment when they should stay." ~ Richard Freeman
Thanks for reading.
Josh Hartman, Mountain Unicyclist & Travel Photographer