Finding Solace in Colorado's Wilderness

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

I Left My Heart in The Colorado Wilderness

I know I’m not the first person to say or believe it, but Colorado serves an immeasurable magnetism. It’s been years of my constant visitation every summer, soaking up the wild, lush mountains and evergreen landscapes. I have good fortune with my family being born and raised in Grand Junction, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, and Denver, so my time is often spent with excellent company. Each time I am invited, I make it a goal to explore one spot I haven't yet seen, to ride the wave of spontaneity and learn yet another fact about our nation's most exquisite state. If you ever find yourself en route to Colorado, there is only one thing I can tell you from the heart: search with an open mind and if you cannot do so… this place will do it for you.

My most recent visitation stemmed from my friend’s invitation to our first ever Red Rocks concert. We drool over local cider and excellent live music from our favorite bands, so I couldn't pass up that opportunity. We drove nearly 14 hours straight from Phoenix, Arizona to Denver and crashed at our other friend’s quaint apartment in Capitol Hill. Our days were numbered by the hikes we took outside the city’s corridors and soaked every last minute of our time in the fresh, summer air. And sure... we snuck inside a bar or movie theatre every now and then — you have to do “all the things”, so they say.

One of the reasons why I keep going back is that I’ll never know what I’ll find (nor will I ever be able to predict weather conditions, which is half the fun!). From day trips to the northern mountainscapes to stellar backpacking locations across the state line, there’s room for all levels of leisure. Some days I felt weak, so we’d hop around the hot springs in Glenwood, and other days we’d feel up to roaming the entirety of a 10-mile hiking trail. Never rush the process, though. You can always return, always come back and seek the path less traveled. It’s best to wholly enjoy one thing than to run around in circles aiming to experience everything.

I Want Her Back.

I long for her young heart again.

That sweet, cured sensitivity to the battered bruises of my mother’s needs.

The want to save the soul of my dead guinea pig that lay on its back or my father’s lingering Modelo breath that was earlier spat on the concrete floor. I laid on my bed in that blue-flowered blanket hoping for buttered toast and not those dry, severely under-seasoned pork chops. But mom would seldom prevail. 

I still yearn for those summer afternoons drenched in iced lemonade as I watch the dryer tumble my underwear, white-knuckling the tip of the white ceramic as I stretch my legs. I’d rot in curiosity while sifting through dead Canna-Lilly beds in the backyard. I’d come back inside with fly and ticks and mom would rail something mad.

There’s a pain in dreaming of who I used to be.

Who I’ve met.

Where I’ve gone.

What I have left to do.

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.

Resistance: Phoenix Protest, 2017

_C2A5179.jpg
_C2A5181.jpg
_C2A5206.jpg
_C2A5234.jpg
_C2A5245.jpg
_C2A5184.jpg
_C2A5241.jpg
_C2A5223.jpg
_C2A5174.jpg
_C2A5171.jpg

One Voice. 10,000 People.

Less than a week after the terror at Charlottesville, Trump made plans to come to Phoenix where it was rumored he will pardon former Sheriff Joe Arpaio for years of unlawful conduct. Arizonians, such as myself, understand just how devastating and treacherous this is.

Thousands of bodies were peacefully protesting outside the hot streets of Downtown Phoenix. Everyday people -- like you and I -- of all age, race, sexual orientation, religion, and class. Many volunteers were graciously giving out free water bottles and snacks, while others roamed the dirty roads picking up each other's trash. It was a community. We had each other's backs.

After I had been separated from my boyfriend trying to find a few girlfriends of mine, tear gas stream lined across my face as hundreds of people were pushing and shoving to evacuate. My eyes were involuntary shutting and my stomach began to churn. I grew shaky and weary of my surroundings. Antifa groups then began to unnecessarily  throw water bottles and tear gas canisters back at the police (to those who are skeptical of these claims, yes. It happened. I was there and saw it. Dumb move.) causing the officers to then deploy air soft bullets, fire crackers, and alarmingly loud grenades that scared the masses of people. Many protesters were hit, including my boyfriend.

I grew frightened. I ran inside the air conditioning of a nearby AMC waiting for a familiar face to pass by. I luckily found my friend, Will, who drove with me and we walked towards the ASU shuttle bus to wait for Reyce to come back from filming / recording the event. 

We went to a friend's house to debrief over Jimmy John's and a card game later that night. No major incidents or casualties, thank goodness. But nonetheless frightening and chaotic at an inessential level.

Please be safe. Please raise your voice. Continue to fight. 

Let's Talk: GET TO KNOW ME!

25 Things:

1.) List 5 abnormal facts about yourself:

-I use to be a drummer in the 8th grade

-If I had to choose between movies or music, I’d choose movies.

-I failed my driver’s test twice.

-By the end of 2017,  I would have been to 15 different countries and 22 U.S states. 

-Leonardo DiCaprio is my long-time favorite actor. I have seen every single movie of his AND read every single book that his movies were adapted from. The Revenant being my favorite, I think.

2.) Biggest pet peeve?

Pretentious assholes or people who take themselves WAY too seriously. Like, lighten up and shut up.

3.) If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

A wolf. By far my favorite animal. She’s an independently, irrevocably strong, uniquely beautiful, and wild being. Everything I aim to be. If you have the opportunity, I suggest you read “Women Running With The Wolves” by Dr. Pinkola Estes; a tribute of it is in my Instagram bio for god’s sake. 

4.) Favorite Book?

Glass Castle or Wild. Both almost hit too close to home.

5.) Skincare Routine?

Hot water (or steam!) with epson salt, Glossier Galaxy Face Mask, Burt’s Bee’s Face Moisturizer, a spritz of rose water, and sunscreen. ALWAYS PUT SUNSCREEN ON YOUR FACE!

6.) Your strengths:

Organized as hell, clean, would take a bullet for my friends, and ambitious. I’ve also got a madly strong gut which makes traveling to different countries a breeze!

6.) Your weakness:

I’m your typical textbook Cancer — overly emotional and sensitive to anything and everything.

7.) What is your love language?

Early mornings blessed with coffee and buttery waffles.

8.) Dream Job?

Full-time photographer or photo journalist. Part-time homesteader with goats and chickens and horses. Part-time yoga teacher. Maybe become a professor? And although I’m virtually doing two out of these four goals, I’m never going to stop learning. I must always be pushing forward and find new ways to stay adaptive.

9.) Best Meal You’ve Ever Had?

After finishing our 5 mile trek through the misty Indian Himalayas to reach our first campsite, we plopped down under the tarp for lunch. Our personal chefs on the trip (yeah, amazing) were Nepali sherpas who graciously cooked ever single on of our meals. That afternoon, however, blessed us hikers with a plate full of spicy vegetable balls and chow mien. Handmade!!! My mouth is savoring just thinking about it and my heart is hurting at the thought of never having a meal as delicious as that one again.

10.) Last Thing You Googled?

My Goodreads account to update my current reading list. Lol.

11.) What would be your Element: Water, Fire, Earth, or Air?

For the longest time, I had always thought I was Water. But after taking a few online quizzes and truly studying my nature — I’m definitely Fire. I value the passionate, the exciting, and the intense.  I love the juice of life—the experience of it—more than you value accomplishments or possessions. Plus, I’ve got a mean temper and live in the desert… so, it’s fitting.

12.) Favorite Ice-Cream?

Dark Chocolate Hazelnut as a general taste. But, the Talenti gelato containers have the most delicious dark chocolate raspberry flavor…

13.) What am I Most Grateful For Right Now?

All of the relationships I have with my family, friends, and boyfriend. I’m thoroughly convinced that I have the best people in my life. It’s a bit overwhelming actually.

14.) What am I afraid of?

Not reaching my goals… and infertility.

15.) Favorite Movie?

Amelie, Wild, A Clockwork Orange, Donnie Darko, Call me By Your Name, and Moonrise Kingdom.

16.) Favorite Season?

Spring or Autumn. I love pumpkins and red leaves just as much as fresh lavender and chicken eggs, man.

17.) Wine or Beer?

Wine everyday, all day. 

18.) Favorite Clothing Brand?

Christy Dawn and Outdoor Voices.

19.) Favorite Color?

Copper.

20.) Last Thing I Ate?:

Coffee and peach oatmeal. A morning favorite!

21.) Best Friend?

Maggie Bertrandt and Valerie Foien. Say their names. They are my #1’s forever and always. If you’re reading this, girls —  LOVE YOU!

22.) Dogs or cats?

Dogs. Dogs. DOGS!

23.) Favorite Song?

Baba O’Riley by The Who, Get Together by the Youngbloods, or El Condor Pasa by Simon and Garfunkel

24.) What am I most ashamed of?

My internalized hot temper.

25.) Given the choice of anyone in the world, who would you invite to dinner?

Leonardo DiCaprio.