one year.

Several nights ago I was laying in bed as my mind raced about everything you could possibly think of. I had just gotten home from another exhausting night of waiting tables. The last thing I needed was to be wide awake thinking of how I was going to prevent my 2nd basil plant from dying, marketing ideas for my photography, my upcoming visit from my mom, whether I should wear shorts to work the next night, and how I really needed to buy new shoes.

It's called "monkey mind" and I wouldn't doubt that I have some kind of severe condition of it. It feels like my mind is a jungle and my thoughts are chattering monkeys jumping from tree to tree. Somehow, in all the chaos of random thoughts my mind landed on Missoula, Montana...and it was like someone slammed on the breaks as my mind came to a screeching stop. A deep ache began in my chest and found it's way into my throat. I remembered what it felt like to be in Missoula. The way the light hit the rolling hills at sunset and the way the river smelled. I could taste an ice cream cone from the Big Dipper- coconut, tangerine sorbet, yellow cake, mexican chocolate, and cold smoke. My senses became alert as if I were in school again eager to soak in anything I could from the amazing classes. I thought about what it felt like to literally use my camera every single day. It was an extension of myself, like an arm, or a third eye. I think about Missoula all the time, but that night was the first time I could close my eyes and feel like I was really there.
Exactly ONE YEAR ago today marks the anniversary of the beginning of my 6 month journey into photography at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography. When I think back on how much my life has changed in result of that town and that school I'm literally taken aback. Of all the things I've done in my life, that's the one that makes me the most proud. That's the thing that has had the most impact on me and my dreams. And I miss it deeply. And I miss my friends.
I can talk all day about this, but it wouldn't really do any justice for the way I feel. So, in tribute, I decided to post a group of random moments from my time in Missoula. It was nearly impossible to pick from nearly 12,000 images. Some of them are repeats for the blog, but just like any good meal, any good moment deserves to be repeated. enjoy!

photo of me by Chad Neufeld. :)

happy anniversary.


  1. What a great collection of images! I too had a realization that today was the first day of SI one year ago. I was driving down the road and out of nowhere I found myself back in the technology building surrounded by strangers and completely excited to begin the adventure. Looking back on last summer my only wish is that it did not have to end.

  2. same here Jimmy. Same here. Miss you SO much!

  3. Thanks for the memories, Hailey. Keep listening to your inner voice.

    Last summer seems like a dream to me now. The intensity of the experience and then the ending - it's like looking into a bright light and then turning away. You keep seeing that spot of brilliance until it gradually fades away.

    Another group of people are sitting in our seats now, wondering what they've signed up for and what they will learn. If it were you again, sitting there anxious and excited, what would you tell that one-year younger you right now, knowing what you know?

  4. Your images are incredible. I always enjoy seeing how you view the world through your camera. It seems so strange this summer not being in Missoula. I would love to be back there this summer doing it all again.

  5. That's a great story! Well told

  6. Hailey we miss you and all your fellow students of 2009! Neil, Forest and I send good wishes and lots of love to you.
    Jeanne Chaput

  7. Thank you for this post. My family and I have made the decision for me to attend in 2012, it can only be SI, but I get goosebumps every time I think of it.

    It is nice to read such positive and meaningful posts from people who have been there.

  8. Hailey, reading this brought tears to my eyes. It's been 11 years since my SI adventure and it's great to hear RMSP is still making students feel the way we did back then. You describe the experience beautifully... it takes me right back. I can almost hear Rattlesnake Creek rushing outside my apartment window. Love love love your images too!