Kaylinn Gilstrap Photography

Kylie & Casondra

Kylie & Casondra

These two followed the path of many couples before them.  They met in high school, dated for four years, got married and lived happily ever after.  The end......  We love a happy ending don’t we?  However, without the complexities and twists of life, we also lack intrigue and adventure.  I believe Kylie and Casondra are well on their way to a happily ever after, but their story started out as Kyle and Casondra.

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Wilderness Elk Hunt

  It's that time of year when we all remind ourselves what we're thankful for.  I've gotten in the habit of picking and focusing on just one thing.  This year experience popped into my head.  There are three definitions in the dictionary and I'm talking about the last two.  1) The knowledge that you get from life and from being in a lot of different situations.  2) Something that happens to you, or a situation that you are involved in.

  This year I chose to showcase one of my favorite experiences from the year, the elk hunt.

So begins the photos from my week covering an elk hunting trip near Trappers Lake in Colorado. The horse in front of me is carrying my bags. This later became my favorite horse. He was getting on in years, had no back teeth and was incredibly slow. The boys called him The Palimino until I named him Peanut.    #kaylinngilstrapphoto   #thewest  #intothewild   #wildernesscamping  #packingitin   #gettingaround   #peanut

So begins the photos from my week covering an elk hunting trip near Trappers Lake in Colorado. The horse in front of me is carrying my bags. This later became my favorite horse. He was getting on in years, had no back teeth and was incredibly slow. The boys called him The Palimino until I named him Peanut.  #kaylinngilstrapphoto #thewest#intothewild #wildernesscamping#packingitin #gettingaround #peanut

I originally thought I would show the images that 5280 magazine didn't use but they published all my favorites!  So instead I'm showing my favorite instagram photos from the trip and one story I heard while I was out there.

This was the view from our campsite looking up valley. It was about a two hour horseback ride from the trucks. This was the point where I realized why I'm uncomfortable camping how most people do it. In Colorado it's relatively easy to find a spot where you are completely alone. I saw two other hunters in a week and that's when we were headed out of camp back to the trucks. This is what I'm used to. Not seeing anyone for as long as you desire.    #kaylinngilstrapphoto   #thewest  #intothewild   #wildernesscamping  #elkhunting

This was the view from our campsite looking up valley. It was about a two hour horseback ride from the trucks. This was the point where I realized why I'm uncomfortable camping how most people do it. In Colorado it's relatively easy to find a spot where you are completely alone. I saw two other hunters in a week and that's when we were headed out of camp back to the trucks. This is what I'm used to. Not seeing anyone for as long as you desire.  #kaylinngilstrapphoto #thewest#intothewild #wildernesscamping#elkhunting

One night as we all relaxed in the tent, warming our hands and feet over the stove, Uncle Hal told me the story of the Golden Bull.  Over fifteen years ago my grandfather came on this trip, while he was in his seventies.  While up on the flat top, near a knob, he saw a flash of golden color and as his eyes came into focus, he saw a bull with golden fur and a red mane.  He didn't get that bull that day.  In fact, the hunters on this trip tracked him for years, only catching glimpses of him through the trees and adding story after story of the Golden Bull evading them.  

My hands after assisting putting quarters in game bags, then carrying them to a tree and hanging them for air circulation. I've gotten my hands dirty before but this is the first time I've had blood on them from a photo shoot. There is a moment of reckoning where the animal becomes meat. In that moment there is sorrow but it is quickly replaced with respect for the sacrifice that will feed five families this winter.     #thewest   #elkhunting  #getyourhandsdirty   #wildernesscamping  #kaylinngilstrapphoto

My hands after assisting putting quarters in game bags, then carrying them to a tree and hanging them for air circulation. I've gotten my hands dirty before but this is the first time I've had blood on them from a photo shoot. There is a moment of reckoning where the animal becomes meat. In that moment there is sorrow but it is quickly replaced with respect for the sacrifice that will feed five families this winter.   #thewest #elkhunting#getyourhandsdirty #wildernesscamping#kaylinngilstrapphoto

Six years passed before Hal got a clean shot. At that point, he was a six point bull and had no teeth left. They estimated he was about 12 years old and wouldn't have survived another winter. Hal spoke about the bull like a worthy adversary and did say he was a little sad when they finally got him. The hunt for the Golden Bull was over.

This is Woody. He is a very tall horse that required me finding a stump, rock, helping hand, whatever I could to crawl on his back. He was my mode of transportation for 3 of the 7 days hunting and camping. He delivered me across many miles and crazy switchbacks I just pretended didn't exist. I requested a Shetland pony for next year.     #woody  #wildernesscamping   #elkhunting  #kaylinngilstrapphoto   #thewest   #horse

This is Woody. He is a very tall horse that required me finding a stump, rock, helping hand, whatever I could to crawl on his back. He was my mode of transportation for 3 of the 7 days hunting and camping. He delivered me across many miles and crazy switchbacks I just pretended didn't exist. I requested a Shetland pony for next year.   #woody#wildernesscamping #elkhunting#kaylinngilstrapphoto #thewest #horse

Now the story within the story is that knob where my Granddad Jack first saw the Golden Bull was renamed, Jack's Knob.  Here I was, two years after my grandfather passed, riding by that hill nearly everyday.  I never knew it was named after him and I never knew or paid attention to him attending this trip.  A lump formed in my throat and tears welled up.  The rest of the trip I kept looking around thinking that I was laying eyes on the same scenes my Granddad had, all those years ago.  Even though death separates us, up in the Flat Tops I felt a new connection to him.  I wouldn't give up that experience for anything.

This is the last photo I snapped before getting to my car and heat and indoor plumbing and a shower after a week. This is the only man made structure I saw besides our tent in the area.    #elkhunting   #wildernesscamping  #thewest   #kaylinngilstrapphoto

This is the last photo I snapped before getting to my car and heat and indoor plumbing and a shower after a week. This is the only man made structure I saw besides our tent in the area.  #elkhunting #wildernesscamping#thewest #kaylinngilstrapphoto

If you're in Colorado, do yourself a favor and pick of the November issue of 5280 magazine.  That story really is something to see in print!  Thank you so much to the team there for doing such a fantastic job with it.

You can also follow me on Instagram as KaylinnG.

Goodbye

When it's over, goodbye is weighted with finality.  I think there has always been love and so therefore I think there has always been it's contrast, heartbreak.  So it would make sense that artists have found inspiration in both.  Today I share my own creative therapy coupled with some of my favorite lost love songs.  I've even made a Playlist for those of you with spotify.  It's a collaborative playlist for those that want to add your favorite break up songs.

In my adulthood I have become enthralled by the late 1950s, early 1960s.  I love the fashion, furniture and architecture of that period.  It's all very visually appealing, beautiful in fact.  To me it's a pretty picture to cover up a time of great political and social turmoil.   Creatively I like that idea. A bright, colorful image with a heavy idea behind it.  Something you can look over and find hidden meaning.

Mad Men was definitely an inspiration visually and the novel, The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe, helped build the storyline.  In the novel, women were entering the workforce and moving away from the expectation that a woman's place was at home caring for her family.  In each image I strived to have the couple moving in opposite directions.  Two people being pulled down different paths.

I took the majority of these images in a friend's home that was frozen in time.  I was very lucky he gave me and a crew a couple of days in his home to stage these images (Thank you Barry!  Thank you!).  I did not bring in any furniture, only props to help build the scene. Do not delay when you have a perfect location!  This home has been sold and modernized.  I'm sure it's gorgeous but when you walked through these doors before the sale it was a time machine and having access to something so authentic was priceless.

Now if some of you expect me to go into personal details I'm sorry to disappoint.  There is a lot of personal experiences in these but they are not literal interpretations of my relationship.  That's one of the beautiful things about art.  You can draw inspiration from numerous relationships, experiences and ideas to create and release some of your demons.  

Later on I created a second part to this series using the playfulness of Dick and Jane books.  You can see those images in my 1960s section.

Thank you to all the talented creative minds that helped make this one happen!

Icarus

Icarus Bike Build

On the second day of October in 2013, Kevin had a car cut him off while riding his bicycle to work. (Video below. If you're in a hurry start at 2:10.)  

Surprisingly there were no broken bones but it did take a month of rehab to get Kevin back to walking without crutches or a cane.  He marked his progress by how close he was to getting back in the saddle (seat).  The bike Kevin was riding that October morning would never recover from the incident so he began the 5 month process of acquiring his dream bike.  It never occurred to him to give up cycling.  It simply wasn't an option. 

Kevin contracted Icarus to build a custom frame, ordered 80th Anniversary Campagnolo carbon components and ENVE carbon wheels, stem, fork and handlebars and lined up a beautiful paint job.  All to be put together by one of Atlanta's finest bike shops, Loose Nuts Cycles.  Lucky for me, Kevin wanted someone to document the buildout of the bike and final beauty shots of his new baby.  It wasn't something I was going to miss.

Kevin was so excited about all the passion and hard work that went into his Icarus that he wanted to showcase it.  He'd have the bike forever but he wanted to remember the people and the process and he also wanted final pieces that these talented craftsmen could show off.  So I spent the day at Loose Nuts snapping photos of Chris, head mechanic and owner, putting together Kevin's bike.  While I was doing that, two sometimes three other cameras were taking photos for the timelapse (below).  Then a few days later, when the sky stopped pouring out rain, we did beauty shots.

It's always a pleasure working with people that are driven by passion.  With this job everyone involved loved what they were doing and why they were there.  Chris built the bike on his day off and Kevin took off a day to be there.  This story started with an awful event that anyone would gladly skip but I'm glad to have witnessed it's silver lining.  

A hearty thank you to Kevin Dawson, Chris at Loose Nuts Cycles and Ian at Icarus Frames.  Hell of a job gentlemen!

Sidenote:  I have met very few cyclists that don't share the same passion as these fellas.  They're not trying to hold you up on your way home or to work, they've just chosen a different method.  So give a wave next time you pass a cyclist, it could be Kevin on his Icarus or me on my Salsa.  We're more than happy to share the road.

Tax Day

We love what we do.

Ricky Bobby

Ricky Bobby

A few years back I was making a lot of trips home to Colorado to work on a very emotional and important project on the Piñon Canyon Expansion Opposition.  I would work from dawn til dark photographing landowners all across southeastern Colorado and hearing their stories.   It was a wonderful experience and it is a project I was and still am very proud to be a part of but I put everything into it and was exhausted.    I decided when I returned, I needed a break.

Desert Rose

Desert Rose

So I started thinking of what I should do for this break...  When I was in my youngest years of childhood, my siblings and I used to run around the ranch building forts, making mudpies and playing with Hot Wheels and Tonka trucks.  We would find a good patch of dirt and make roads for the cars and trucks to speed around, even driveways to pull up and park.  We lost ourselves in hours of play.

Old Blue

Old Blue

Now years after my last mudpie, I decided I needed to do a bit of playing.  After a short hunt I found some old toy trucks that I thought would be just the right combination of fun and "work".  I cruised the seventeen miles of gravel roads between town and the ranch to shoot some fun, no pressure photos.

One day my cousin, a cowboy a few years older than myself, came across me laying down in the dirt moving a semi truck back and forth trying to find the perfect place for it.  He yelled from his pickup asking what in the world was I doing and I responded with a jovial "I'm working!".  He chuckled and shook his head but turned his pickup off and strode over.  He didn't stay long (ranch work allows for less playing) but he did look over the trucks and even move a couple around, I'm sure remembering his own childhood days in the sun and dirt.  

Rusty Nail

Rusty Nail

Today can be one of those days we need reminding why we choose the careers we do.  Somedays these creative endeavors actually do feel like work but most days all we're doing is playing or listening to stories or creating an image that has been floating in our heads.  I can't imagine trading it in even if it would make April 15th easier to take.  I still have some more trucks for the days I need reminding.  

Lazy T

Lazy T

Southern Comfort

Southern Comfort Moments

9:27 PM     Mr. Tommy  Mr Tommy's vision had been going for quite some time but he still comes to Southern Comfort to hear the band play.  He's not suppose to drink for health reasons, so whenever he orders a Bud Light the servers don't say a word, they just remove the label from an O'douls and hand it over.

9:27 PM     Mr. Tommy

Mr Tommy's vision had been going for quite some time but he still comes to Southern Comfort to hear the band play.  He's not suppose to drink for health reasons, so whenever he orders a Bud Light the servers don't say a word, they just remove the label from an O'douls and hand it over.

The first time I walked into Southern Comfort was also the first time I saw an exotic dancer perform.  I also vaguely remember a birthday where I received a bottle of beer capped with a candle while standing on a table and having the bar sing to me...  You never know what's going to happen there and that's one of the reasons I decided to do a photo project on the restaurant and lounge.  The place and people were just too good to pass up.  

9:22 PM     Angel  Angel's brother died in an altercation over a pool game in the back room of Southern Comfort.  Most people would never return but here she sits on a Saturday night.  She considers a lot of the patrons and staff of Southern Comfort  family.  "Darren loved this bar and I feel safe here."

9:22 PM     Angel

Angel's brother died in an altercation over a pool game in the back room of Southern Comfort.  Most people would never return but here she sits on a Saturday night.  She considers a lot of the patrons and staff of Southern Comfort  family.  "Darren loved this bar and I feel safe here."

Recently the project was featured on Slate's Behold blog and then Dailymail which was very flattering and it seemed to get a lot of attention. Some of the comments were, mildly put, unkind to the subjects and I'd like to address snap judgements here.  These are three portraits of people that made me change a preconceived notion I had on them or the bar.

How the staff cares for Mr Tommy is the best example of family I've seen in awhile.  The bottle exchange allows him to feel normal and hang out like he always has while the staff protectively watch over him.  When you see Angel she exudes a toughness and I will openly admit I was intimidated by her.  After sitting down with her for half an hour my mouth was agape and my eyes rimmed with tears.  Angel has seen more death in her life than her heavenly namesakes.  She has acquired a tough shell from these life events but her eyes remain soft and kind.   Daryl showed me his injury unsolicited.  He laughed as I cringed at the lack of protection his chest now provides his heart.  I feel like this is Daryl's party trick and it works!  I was drawn in like a moth to the flame.

I can't give you the full experience of being there with these folks but look these images over and make your mind up about them, THEN read the caption.  

10:42 PM     Daryl  Daryl's ribcage sustained such massive injury from boxing and kickboxing that doctors wanted to put in plastic ribs.  Daryl refused.  If you place your hand where those ribs should be you can feel his heart leaping under the skin.  Daryl just shrugs and says "I'm still living.".

10:42 PM     Daryl

Daryl's ribcage sustained such massive injury from boxing and kickboxing that doctors wanted to put in plastic ribs.  Daryl refused.  If you place your hand where those ribs should be you can feel his heart leaping under the skin.  Daryl just shrugs and says "I'm still living.".

The other reason I did this project was because I wanted to know more about who these people are.  Isn't that what we are all after?  Someone to be interested in us?

A big thank you to Behold, David Rosenberg and the DailyMail for being interested.

Kaylinn Gilstrap © 2013

10:23 PM     The Dance Floor

10:23 PM     The Dance Floor