Open Roads

Natalie Allen - Travel Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen - Travel + Lifestyle Photographer
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Natalie Allen - Travel Photographer + Writer
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The Unlikely in the Desert

I’ll be a desert rat until my last breath; we ripped through Joshua Tree’s open road for hours against burnt skies, shared beers at a local saloon, and told stories of childhood in the unlikely corners of our home states. It was perfect.

Caleb, Niles, Taylor, and myself did a kickass video / photo shoot for Moment’s latest Tele 58mm campaign, you should check it out. No offense or anything, but I’ve got the best job in the world.

Verde Hot Springs

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Trippy & Hippy

I’ve been wanting to visit Arizona’s infamous hippy, trippy Verde Hot Springs for forever. Reyce has visited only once before (and still tells the story of how he had the worst “high” in his entire life on the banks of the Verde River), but carved some time to take me earlier this month.

I mean… look at this place. It’s grungy and a bit dirty, but worth every naked fleeting moment. The walls are covered in unique hand-painted drawings that range from wierd to weirder. Near our campsite, we fleshed conversations with older folks living out the #vanlife with their trusty steeds (dogs).

Snapped little snippets of our time on 120 film… medium format is gorgeous, isn’t it? I don’t even bother with my digital anymore.

Soaring the Caribbean

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Natalie Allen - Travel Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen - Travel Photographer and Writer
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Natalie Allen - Travel Photographer + Writer
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Turks & Caicos, The Bahamas, and The Dominican Republic

“Cruises are for total normies”, I’d whisper to my red-headed firecracker gal pal, KJ, as we boarded the Carnival Breeze in Orlando’s stuffy Port Carneval. The carpeted staircase leading to Deck 8 towards our stateroom number smelled of fresh Lemon Pinal with a running line of children anxious to hit the lido deck. We meandered through the crowded halls, bumping shoulders with passengers in search for the nearest cocktail on board.

A nice, strong Moscow mule with speckled fresh lime tipped the perfect treat after our red-eye flight. My mouth felt in need of something cold and wet and riveting; especially since I misplaced my favorite Yeti water bottle on the flight from Phoenix to Miami (can’t think too much about that one, otherwise I’ll grow emotional). We sat atop Deck 10 under the warm Floridian sunshine that later imprinted an infinite number of suns spots across our pasty skin. We talked about life and love and loss till our tongues grew numb and our drinks shined empty. The Atlantic’s oceanic sway moved our bodies in a sweet, gentle manner. 

We didn’t have a care in the world. It was absolutely perfect.

Daytime meant timeless soaks in the Caribbean gold, while nighttime meant bottles of Malbec, fancy oysters, and hours upon hours of careless dancing under bright purple nightclub lights. We’d laugh until our bellies hurt and flirted with 80 year old men at dinner because it’s a cruise, so why the hell not? I’d write for an hour, without hesitation, in my leather bound journal on my stateroom’s balcony staring into the open abyss. Kj and I would joke about pirates invading the ship, talking in our best Johnny Depp impersonation voice.

There’s a sort of inexplicable happiness I feel when sousing open waters under bright, blue skies. It reminds me of the Lake Powell days back in ‘04 when my cousins and I would fight over who got the open-bow seat as our uncles ripped through the lake’s tide. We crash and bump against the waters with force, love, and vigilance. We’d hit the water so damn hard my spine would nearly break in half.

Words cannot express the amount of gratitude for this trip. I loved every minute.

"A Place To Rest My Head"

Photographer + Writer || Natalie Allen
Photographer + Writer || Natalie Allen
Photographer + Writer || Natalie Allen
Photographer + Writer || Natalie Allen
Photographer + Writer || Natalie Allen
Photographer + Writer || Natalie Allen
Photographer + Writer || Natalie Allen
Photographer + Writer || Natalie Allen

"A Place To Rest My Head"

A new ongoing photo project hi-lighting the intimate appreciation of interpersonal relationships. The raw, unpoised, and deeply soulful moments between two people. Whoever, wherever. Captured on 35mm or 120 film.

CASTING CALL: Real-life partners (however you two want to define that) who aren't afraid of the camera. Must be 18+. All genders, sexual orientations, races, ages, ableism's, and personal identities are encouraged.

Email me at info@natalieallen.co if you want to get creative with me on this project. 

Film Series: Vol. 8

Lifestyle + Travel Photographer - Natalie Allen
Lifestyle + Travel Photographer - Natalie Allen
Lifestyle + Travel Photographer - Natalie Allen
Lifestyle + Travel Photographer - Natalie Allen
Lifestyle + Travel Photographer - Natalie Allen
Lifestyle + Travel Photographer - Natalie Allen
Lifestyle + Travel Photographer - Natalie Allen
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Lifestyle + Travel Photographer - Natalie Allen
Lifestyle + Travel Photographer - Natalie Allen
Lifestyle + Travel Photographer - Natalie Allen
Lifestyle + Travel Photographer - Natalie Allen
Lifestyle + Travel Photographer - Natalie Allen

Catch Me If You Can

Kodak Porta continuously slays, does it not? Love how these cute little snippets came out from my time on the coast,  a music festival, and the trek that I went on a couple of weeks ago with friends. I take so much pride in being a memory hoarder.

Let's Talk: Why I Ditched Digital To Embrace Film Photography

Lifestyle + Travel Photographer - Natalie Allen
Lifestyle + Travel Photographer - Natalie Allen
Lifestyle + Travel Photographer - Natalie Allen

"Gear Is An Excuse"

The human brain's "wants" and "desires" are transient by nature. Our love for tangible commodities are short-lived, often being replaced by the warped necessity to upgrade. During the early ages of my business, when I photographed friends for a quick $20 in high school, I longed for the biggest and baddest Canon camera on the market. Once I saved enough money from my serving gigs to upgrade from a cropped sensor to a full-frame (substantial difference in overall quality) my work only improved by small technical specs—the same Natalie Allen was still shooting the same over-exposed, slighting off composed photographs. It wasn't until years of practice and substantial experience in the industry that I finally started to build a personality in this craft.

Then there came an exciting turning point in my career last year. As I strutted around beautiful landscapes with thousands of dollars strapped around my neck, I felt strangely uneasy. I would often look inside the dusty scopes of vintage National Geographic magazines and couldn't help but want my work to echo the same nostalgic, homey feeling. Iconic photography from the 70's is, obviously, all shot by either 35mm or 120mm film. I then noticed a pattern with all of my favorite photographers—Ansel Adams, Kevin Russ, Sally Mann, Molly Steele, Magdalena Wosinska—they all emulated analog documentation. I used to craft mood boards with magazine tear outs and Mod Podge glue in my journals of random film photographs also found on Tumblr or Pinterest, thirsty to replicate this undoubted inspiration.

Check out the full original article published on The Field Mag.

I've Got Some Exciting News...

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Kick Your Ass & Good Things Will Follow

Well, I have some exciting news.

You're looking at Moment's all-new mother freaking Writer.

Additionally, I'll be helping lead not one... not two... but THREE travel photography workshops across the gorgeous sprawling vistas of Havasupai Falls, the Grand Canyon, and Antelope Canyon. Read more information on how to sign up and enter a giveaway HERE: https://www.shopmoment.com/travel

Pouring my energy into something this big and exciting feels so right. I'll finally be able only work on photography projects that perfectly align with my passionate pursuits and make all dreams become a reality. I"m so ready.

This is going to be good. I'm stoked. 

Highway Wildflowers

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Like A Little Bud

Reyce and I rummaged through bright yellow wildflowers off of some random highway back to Phoenix from New Mexico. This as the only cluster out of this year's entire season, musta been a hell of a dry one. Captured on 35mm film, as always.

 

White Sands

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I've Got a Crush On You

New Mexico, I like you. A lot.

Reyce, River, and myself packed our bags and hit the road heading East. We wanted a little time away from our life in PHX, so we did it in style. We're grateful to have been comissioned to shoot a few polished selects from United By Blue and Keep It Wild (the coolest outdoor brands ever!). Thankful for this intimate time with my boys and the ability to shoot what I love with as much creative freedom as possible. 

See y'a next time!

Let's Talk: Yoga

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Why Becoming a Yoga Teacher Was the Best Thing I Have Ever Done for Myself

And Other Tales of Vulnerability

Through my years of desperate despair, I found the comfort in yoga. It was what truly gave me a sense of belonging in the ever confusing world of pressured young-adulthood. Gah, being in your late teens and early 20’s kind of sucks, right? I mean, they’re simultaneously a wonderful cap for adolescence as they are gross coercion.

It was the end of 2014. It was beginning of 2015.

There was a rough 6-month patch of heartbreaking blues that rung over me like a grim reaper from a horror flick. It was a sickening rock-hard feeling that would first foster in the pit of my stomach and creep up to the back of my throat. I would choke the sounds of my tears in the bathroom by turning the sink faucet on to its fullest capacity in hopes of drowning out any unwarranted sounds; I lived with my father at the time and didn’t want him to notice. My eyes looked bloodshot every morning after an attempted 5-hour sleep. Swollen lymph nodes, cracked cuticles, and a complete lack of motivation to get anything done.

What felt particularly awful about this entire situation was that I never could quite pinpoint the exact cause of such depression. A melting pot of broken relationships, career existentialism, college blues, and mental exhaustion might have triggered certain emotions I’m sure. A maze with no escape. A circle of insanity. This only perturbed my frustration and left me feeling helpless and confused. I believe my self-deprecating loneliness seemed only to encourage my blindness…

I did stupid things, said awful things, and overall… felt down about myself and the way I handled my emotions. Many of these “things” aren’t worth repeating; such memories should remain in the past. Chronic anxiety and anger management issues don’t mix well together, let’s just say.

And I was, at that time, conspicuously vulnerable to ambush.

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One afternoon in 2014, while perusing my computer with the windows covered by a dusty curtain, my lungs jumped out of my chest. I just so happened to push an annoying ad the size of a fist on my internet’s sidebar. But — with slight reluctance — I began reading the words: “Yoga Teacher Training Certification”.

My eyes glazed at the sight of fruition. I began reminiscing about all of those silly afternoons spent in middle school on the yoga mat at lunch. I went to a private school from kindergarten to the 8th grade and my teacher(s) felt it was necessary to incorporate zen philosophies into everyday teachings. My principal would guide us little youngins through a Vinyasa flow and calm our hearts in svasana nearly every week. My mother first bought me a mat in the 7th grade, and I’ve kept it ever since… my sweet little purple best friend.

Feeling utterly defeated by all of life’s faults and mishaps, I envisioned myself teaching yoga in some remote tropical paradise sipping on salt-rimmed margaritas and laughing up a storm with local strangers. These simple, yet overly pretentious and highly jaded dream-like thoughts warmed my heart nonetheless. I felt like maybe, just maybe, I could revive my at-the-time broken soul by doing something for me.

And only for me.

Yoga, personally, has always been about self-love. A warming sense of peace washes over me each time I set out my mat. It’s like I was made to be there at that exact moment of time and nowhere else. Self-love is so fucking important, you guys. I encourage all of my brothers and sisters to be selfish once in a while and focus on nourishing your heart, body, and mind. I’m not talking in poetic prose in fake profound Rupi Kaur vignettes (oops, I went there), this is me begging my readers to allow openness in your hearts and find that one thing that is for you — something that no one else could take away.

For me, that one thing was yoga. No one was able to yell at me for not getting my life together, no one denied me touching my toes, and not a single soul bashed me for my anger management issues as I laid there on the mat in the complete silence of mediation. I allowed myself to only be the best version of who I already was, the version I so desperately longed to meet again.

The day grew a little a brighter that afternoon. I shut my computer, rolled out the mat I so rudely stashed in the back of my closet, and boldly stretched my tight-as-hell hamstrings. I felt… effortless. My body sang and sunk in stillness as I nourished each muscle with a little bit of love with each push and pull I took. God, I love being on my mat. And it was in this exact moment — this beautiful, heart-wrenching moment — I knew I needed to get that certification.

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The next morning over scones and coffee with my father at one of my favorite restaurants in the PHX valley, Liberty Market, I discussed options with him.

“I’m not feeling very well mentally, and I need to change,” I embarrassingly muffled under my breath.

“I know,” he said as if he were trying to tell me this for the past year.

Feeling slightly reluctant to tell my father that I wanted to do the yoga teacher training, for fear that he might think I was acting being dumb or naive, he reacted with the exact opposite notion. His arms opened wide as we embraced a tight hug.

“That’s cool as hell. Let’s make it happen”.

I don’t think I could ever adequately thank my dad for the lifetime amount of love he’s given me. I am very, very lucky to hold such a widely inspirational man as my father figure. For those who have yet to read a more in-depth personal essay on our relationship, go read it here. He’s a fantastic human being, and I love him more than words can amount.

It wasn’t more than a week until I signed up for the teacher training. It was a 9-month course for 6 hours every single week; 6pm-9pm every Tuesday and Thursday. I knew how much of a commitment this would ask for, especially as a full-time college student, but I didn’t care in the slightest. I knew that this was what needed to happen. I put down every single broke ass penny I had in my savings at the time to pay for the training in full.

Showtime!

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To say the next nine months of my life were life-chasing would be a total understatement. Not only did the love I had for yoga grow exponentially, but I finally stopped hating myself and fully embraced every single part of who I was (and am). The individuals who were apart of the same training group I was couldn’t have been a more perfectly imperfect group of loving people — the people, I think, is what made the experience so worthwhile. I still can feel the warm embrace of my fellow yogis who were also going through their trials. Good god, it feels so good to talk to someone who listens. They all heard. And without even the slightest utterance of words, they all understood.

While I now feel like an expert in the mechanical art of downward dog… the teacher training was never really about the yoga. Those short, yet highly significant six hours every week became therapy. A safe, communal space of love and support from people of all different genders, sexuality, race, ethnicity, socio-political background, etc. It wasn’t about how well you could touch your toes or how flexible your low back became — not at all. Everyone’s emotional health felt stable in the presence of one another. I couldn’t have been more grateful for such a supportive experience. And to those in the program that are reading this — y’all fucking rock! I love you.

I began to treasure the simplest of pleasures again. Most afternoons were spent outside under the sun with a side of tart grapefruit topped with brown sugar. I’d make myself a glass of hot tea with fresh lemon every night and found company in the characters of the books I loved. My heart grew tender to films again and the mornings of swollen eyes became few and far between. I felt like myself still, like a little 6-year old riding their bike for the first time.

If you’ve ever been to a yoga class you might have heard your teacher quote from Pantajali’s Yoga Sutra; a guidebook of classical, or raja (royal), yoga. Written at least 1,700 years ago, it’s made up of 195 aphorisms of wisdom. It is — in its very essence — the end-all authoritative text on yoga. Us little yogis throughout training read this book as if our life depended on it, so desperately breathing in each word for revitalization and hope. While diligently taking notes as I sifted through each page, I then fully understood the notion of yoga being more than just a physical exercise.

Yoga is a philosophy. A lifestyle. A path to growth and love and acceptance.

This fruitful practice helped me because loneliness and unintentional anger were just a manifestation of my desire for happiness and, as I became more happy and contented, I realized that I didn’t need to wreck my emotional health with these emotions anymore.

I no longer felt the need to force happiness — I merely already was.

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It takes time to work on not being alone. You have to call a friend. You have to take a shower and eat breakfast with your mom. You have to put in the effort to feel loved and be loved by the people around you. Passiveness leads to loneliness. Be active and spread your sadness to the people you trust your feelings with. Be understood. And be okay.
— Juansen Dizon, It Takes Time

Film Series: Vol. 6

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Good Livin'

Yet another film series to gander. I'm still so impressed by my dinky 35mm's capabilities to capture such bright, sharp images. I love opening my packets of scans, little pockets off infinite small memories to share. 

Above are snippets of Joshua Tree National Park, portrait series with Kayla, Monument Valley, and various desert scenery. Can't wait to share more.

Kivoya

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The Coziest Place in Puerto Peñasco

Reyce and I just returned from one of the most exquisite, intimate experiences in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. During our stay, we held the gracious privilege of working in collaboration with Kivoya, a full-service rental, and property management company. Our mini vacation was everything we could have wanted and more -- the people at Kivoya has perfected the ideal paradise. I'm already planning another trip here during the summer with family.


Kivoya is especially dedicated to quality. And to make your vacation entirely even more stress-free (bless!), they offer excellent concierge service, meticulous attention to detail, and on-site staff to assist you. I want to personally give all of my love to Alfredo for being so accommodating while Reyce and myself were present. He gave us everything to ensure we had the best stay possible, for which I am infinitely grateful. Excellent service is something seriously, so it was a real treat to feel the love! <3

Words cannot express how beautiful this property is; "beautiful" doesn't even come close to describing the magic. We Phoenicians have the option of traveling to either San Deigo, Los Angelos, or Rocky Point, Mexico to enjoy the luxury of the ocean during our vacations. I, without a doubt, will choose the Sea of Cortez over anything California has to offer. I mean -- look at the crystal clear water?! The clouds danced along the bright blue horizon so effortlessly and carelessly. My eyes stung like jellyfish at the sight of infinite seashells washed up on shore. Mornings were spent with coffee on the balcony overlooking the many miles of condos lined parallel to the sea.

We took it upon ourselves to take the kayak out for the first time on the ocean! Well, Reyce did. The sun dipped behind the horizon faster than I realized, so I didn't make it out. But boy oh boy it was extraordinary to be out by the water during sunset. I'm convinced desert landscapes offer the best evenings in the world, Arizona included. I've spent the better half of my life around the world and still can't find anything as comparable as the dusks in the Sonora.
Kivoya -- I love you. Every time I make this trip down South, I'll remind myself of the gracious memories you have given to my man and me. The sparkling wine, a whole wall-length line of windows facing the ocean, the local art, and the hospitality of a lifetime will never be forgotten. Folks, if you're traveling to Puerto Penasco from the valley with no idea on where to say, look no further.

Until next time! We'll be back!

BOOK WITH KIVOYA HERE!

Source: kivoya

Gunslinger, Gunslinger

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NEW Journal Entry

Rosalyn’s soft voice sung like a song in the walls of the dwelling. She spoke of her husband’s father as the medicine man and told stories of her youngest daughter as a blessing after her father’s rigid death. Her graceful presence and feminine nature felt safe, like home. Your can see the memories etched in her emerald eyes. You can feel the love for her people and the fear of what a future might look like if the true Navajo identity is lost. 

Sipping black tea by the stove, we sat through loads of albums. We come across one particular image that immediately struck us. 

“Is that John Wayne?”,  we ask.

“Yes, and that’s little-o-me!”, Rosalyn says under muffled laughter.

The picture is of John Wayne in his usual cowboy hat holding a baby before the three major rock formations of Monument Valley, the baby was Rosalyn just shy of three years old. All scratched up with grain and light leaks from the film camera...

NEW story on my website. This above is an excerpt from one of the journal entries, link here to read the whole story: 

http://www.natalieallen.co/journal#/gunslinger/ 

Andaz Scottsdale

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Days at the Andaz Scottsdale

Andaz is a Hindi word meaning “personal style.” Tattooed and uniquely formed. Every Andaz resort is special and personalized to the neighborhood in which it resides. 

The very moment I arrived at Andaz's property, I was especially impressed by the local art and architecture of the bungalows. My boyfriend, Reyce, and I were immediately greeted upon arrival with the warmest of welcomes. Donald, our receptionist that so boldly took care of us, checked us in and gave us a tour of the surrounding area. He gave us free wine, cookies, and told us about the nearby artist residency "Cattle Track Arts Compound" that often collaborate with Andaz Scottsdale.

The night grew dusty, forming clouds of orange sand against the vibrant swaying palm trees. The air smelled of musty mesquite and creosote. My entire body felt as relaxed as can be after my 60-minute full body massage by one of Arizona's most renowned massage therapist. Truth be told, Reyce and I felt like kings and queens. We didn't wanted to leave!

My mouth is still watering from our dinner. I enjoyed a glass of diamondback fizz sweetened with agave nectar and chowed down on a juicy red river trout. I couldn't leave without snapping pictures of the House chef up front -- too good. Our waiters kept bringing forth mini tapas before our main meal; brussel sprouts, watermelon, and local Medjool dates topped with fresh cream and pistachio crumbs. Like, are you kidding?! What a dream.

Did I mention that 30% of the (ANDAZ)RED Cabana rental fee goes directly towards (RED) for HIV/AIDS research?  Andaz allows their guests to not just experience the world from a new perspective, but also make a difference for those in need. (ANDAZ)RED Cabanas are the newest experiences offered as part of Hyatt’s World of Hyatt platform, which is built on the idea that a little understanding goes a long way. The Andaz brand’s collaboration with (RED) creates a unique opportunity for guests to have inspiring experiences at new (ANDAZ)RED Cabanas – while helping to save lives with every reservation.

So beyond grateful to have been a small part of this growing community in the desert. Andaz provides a truly special experiences for those looking to escape in the wild West. Thankful for everything, you guys!

In Collaboration with Andaz Scottsdale #ad

Joshua Tree Acres

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(^What the video above!)

A Place Beyond the Highway

This past Wednesday and Thursday turned out to be a wild night under the stars with some super beautiful people. The pictures truly speak for themselves in this set, I'm incredibly proud of these images. I've been to Joshua Tree three times during THIS YEAR ALONE and they its keeps getting better and better. What an inspiraional place.

I mean, look at that freaking coyote. And the air-streams. Oh my lanta.

Film Series: Vol. 5

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Sha La La La, Man

Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Canada, Washington, Oregon. 

 I've been traveling so much this summer and my heart couldn't be any more full. From Iceland, to Africa, to my giant road trip through the USA and Canada, to photographing a wedding in Washington, to Portland, to Texas, and Tennessee... 

I think I'd shoot film full-time if it weren't so damn expensive. I'll be traveling through Europe for a couple of weeks next month with my best travel gal, Eunice, and I think I'll be shooting primarily film while I'm there -- with an exception of video, of course. I'm really getting the hang of it, my latest roll proves just how gorgeous the colors of the Kodak Porta can be.

Come to think of it -- most of my favorite photographers primarily shoot film. I hold a weird desire to constantly fuel my chronic nostalgia -- film does the trick. The natural grain, contrasted shadows, and an organic preset that begs an image to rest in its authenticity.

It's interesting. After years of gawking at my favorite photographs and studying the work of my favorite photographers -- it's all film. I find the deepest of inspiration and feeling from such analog creations. I want to start transitioning my personal work to film full-time. Clients; if you're interested in have some film work done... let me know.  I want a change.

Here is a list of some of my favorite film photographers:

-Nuria Val

-Alec McKeand

-Kristen Blanton x Matt Jozwiak

-Molly Steele

-Joe Greer

-Kevin Russ

-Emily Knecht