Photography by Brenda Colwell - Happy Places

Hello, and welcome to my blog. As aPhotographer, Airstream Enthusiast, Equestrian & Budding Blogger I have a world of vivid color at which to point my camera.  My life's pursuits, satisfy exactly me, and then I realized there are others who are joyfully following my journey, and I am thrilled.  Each adventure, each experience has opened up a new awareness of my world and I can't get enough.  I want to share what I learn through my blog.  Thanks for joining me here, let's go find some Happy Places.

If you feel inspired, act on It

May 16, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

This quote,   "If you feel inspired, act on it"  I ran across stuck with me for several weeks. In those weeks, and even now, I ponder that directive. Where does inspiration come from? And more importantly, how do I get more of it? I know I want create beautiful photographs that are worthy of framing and display, but sometimes (well often) I get stuck and uninspired for long stretches.  And sometimes a magical inspiration comes over me and I do create something that I find amazing.  But this message "to act" is just so obvious and simple: "If you feel inspired, act on it". It doesn't even have to be artistic, you can be inspired to organize your bathroom drawer or make cookies, but I think in that fleeting moment of inspiration, our minds open and we become willing, and we should all make a habit of acting. I am certain I have forgotten some brilliant ideas, because I didn't act. Maybe it seemed ludicrous or silly or wasteful, or maybe I could not find an immediate use for it, perhaps I was just in a hurry that day. But, now when I feel inspired, I am going to act on it or least scribble out my ideas in my notebook, and keep coming back to it until it grows into something I love. It does feel really good to create something beautiful.

Flower from the Little BookcliffsYellowClick on the Image to see the full gallery of my current favorites.

Creativity in Action

For me, to foster an idea, I must move out of the orbit of my closest influencers and allow time to explore my creativity, to let an idea bloom, blossom, grow wild, like a vine that simply flourishes, without expectations or an adherence to a specific design. In my space, in my time, I simply allow my thoughts to be mine, forming ideas, wandering around the concept to examine its shape and flow. There are no confines, no expectations, no directions from others to incorporate, consider or wrestle. This place is where I am free to create and its truly wonderful. It may be beautiful in its meandering form or it may be hideously malformed and out of balance, but without the influence of other humans in my life (even the most highly regarded) and their ideas, preconceived notions and pressure to influence, the vines of ideas and creativity and growth most simply. are. All growth is my belongs to me which means I can maneuver to create something of my own without bumping into someone else. After my brilliant idea and I have meandered, grown and taken shape, I am free to trim, revise, adapt, and mold the growth into something tangible, artful or useful, while remaining independent.

And then, when ready, but not final, I float the project out there and allow the creation to be seen, to be judged and experienced by others, and this is the time that I am able to allow the idea to be malleable to be influenced and to let others in. The viewpoint of practically anyone brings perspective, and I can use that to improve or maybe even flat reject other ideas. I find this part of the "act on it" to be crucial, since I don't know everything (despite what I may imply) and the input of those with specific experience truly do contribute to my own growth. For the vine growing wild, maybe it is fertilizer, rain, bugs or sunshine that impacts the final flowering, and for a creative project it is experience, knowledge and perspective that can be gathered to transform inspiration into something beautiful.


High Altitude Tips | Photography by Brenda Colwell

November 23, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

2004 071408 Aldasoro Views (4)2004 071408 Aldasoro Views (4)  

The Impact of High Altitude  - Presented by Photography by Brenda Colwell

The lowest point in Telluride is 8,750 feet.  Altitude sickness symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness and shortness of breath.  While it does not happen to everyone, it can happen to anyone and especially if you are visiting from a lower altitude.  To reduce the chances drink plenty of water in the weeks before you arrive, limit your alcohol intake especially the night before, and if you have any health concerns, consult your doctor.

Altitude Sickness or  Colorado Altitude sickness (Acute Mountain Sickness) is a common health concern for those on a Colorado ski vacation, particularly those who usually reside at sea level. This is not surprising considering that Colorado has the highest average elevation of any of the states. Colorado also has over 50 fourteeners (mountains with peaks higher than 14,000 feet), and the majority have an elevation of greater than 8,000 feet.

Symptoms of Acute mountain sickness (AMS) can occur above 2,400 meters or 8,000 feet. Although in some people it can also present at lower elevations. Altitude sickness affects about 40% of people to some degree at a moderate altitude (about 8,000 feet). Symptoms may become evident about 6 hours after ascent, but sometimes as quickly as one hour. Headache is the most common altitude sickness symptom, which will occur in the presence of other symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, increased heart rate, and insomnia. Exertion such as hiking, skiing or snowboarding aggravates the symptoms.

The onset and severity of altitude sickness symptoms are dependent on factors such as the altitude, the rate of ascent, physical activity, dehydration, alcohol consumed, and individual propensity to altitude sickness. Recent acclimatization at lower elevations is also a major factor with Acute Mountain Sickness, in other words, coming up to altitude slowly helps.

Prevention is the best cure. Ascend slowly if you can and acclimatize at a moderate elevation before proceeding to a higher altitude. Take it relatively easy for the first couple of days, increase non-alcoholic fluids (drink lots of water), minimize or eliminate alcohol intake, and avoid moderate and high dose sleeping tablets.

Acetazolamide (Diamox) is a prescription medicine that can be taken a day or two prior to ascent to speed up the process of acclimating. The little blue pill Viagra is also effective in preventing altitude sickness, so long as you can cope with the interesting side-effects! Aspirin can also assist with prevention of mild AMS.

Treatment for mild altitude sickness includes rest and fluids, with symptoms likely to resolve within one to two days. Descent is a very effective treatment, and for moderate or severe illness, medical treatment should be sought. This may include oxygen intake (you can find that at some local spas, rental companies and The Medical Center.

High altitude also increases the predisposition to sun burn as well as snow blindness (sunburnt eyes), and the risk increases substantially due to the reflection of the sun off the snow. You may need to wear really high SPF sunscreen, polarized sunglasses and a cap (when you don’t have your helmet on!).

Nose bleeds are another potential problem related to the altitude. The use of a vaporizer may assist, and these are available at some of the top hotels.

Logo on WhiteLogo on White

Brenda Colwell is local Telluride Photographer and a travel photographer/  


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"Don't Photoshop Me" | Photography by Brenda Colwell

May 16, 2016  •  Leave a Comment



"Don't Photoshop Me"

While meeting with a client recently I was bragging about my skills in Photoshop, explaining that I have invested thousands of hours learning how to use this wonderful editing software over the past 9 years. If you have ever used any other photo editing software, you know that the training is endless.

I went on to tell her that when I retouch an image it looks very natural, not overdone and it is important to me that I don't change the basic look of my subject. (Okay, maybe a little softening of crow's feet, slightly whiter teeth, little fix of an eyelash that is too short, maybe just a removal of a teeny tiny imperfection on the skin). In general I remain true to the subject, on their best day, with their best make up and a slight tan, and no dry spots, and no zits. "Oh yes", I say and as I continue to brag about how skilled I am and how my clients just love my work. Then she says something to me that causes me to choke on my very words, "Don't Photoshop Me".

"What?", I ask incredulous, stunned, and actually humbled. And she says "I don't know, I just don't want you to change the way I look." And I reluctantly honor her request. But I am thinking about it a lot over the next few days, I ponder this strange woman alien trying to see it from her side. Why would she want to give up the skills of a professional retouch artist and photographer? Maybe she is so confident that she sees her own beauty. Well, she is pretty, I will give her that. Now that's quite an uplifting thought, because most women I know criticize their every flaw. Or maybe, she is supremely honest and only wants to represent herself as who she truly is in photos. Oh my, the feelings of humbleness bubble up. What a woman! Oh, I admire her... self confident, beautiful and honest!? Or maybe, oh no, another thought enters my mind, she's actually just quite clever. What if she realizes that if I edit her portrait and someone sees it before they see her they may think, "Wow, she has gotten older since I last saw her!". Oh, that's a terrifying thought, she could be right. Oh, I have to ponder these things some more, so I did.

And well, with all due respect to my new idol, who is honest, smart, and beautiful too, I have landed on my own personal decision. Photoshop me Please!


Brenda K Colwell

Portrait Photographer


Photography by Brenda K Colwell

"Life Through the Lens"

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Brenda Colwell is a Family Portrait Photographer creating memories and treasured heirlooms for your family and something beautiful for your home.    Book your own unique experience.  


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Explorage: Last Dollar Road | Photography by Brenda Colwell

July 27, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Just around the corner and down a dusty road there is a place, no, place isn't the word, there is an "experience".  I escape to this experience often.   It is one of my favorite things to do, by myself, almost any time.   While it is mostly inaccessible during the winter, it is most beautiful in the summer, when the creatures show themselves.    Last Dollar Road is an unpaved stretch of bumpiness that can take you from Telluride all the way to Ridgway with a good four wheel drive vehicle.  In the past it was a mining road and today it is still the only way to get to the famous Aldasoro Family's remaining private ranch.     For me, it is my backyard, just about a 3 minute drive from my house, and while I don't usually go all the to Ridgway, I love to drive all the way to a 270 degree overlook where I can see Mt. Wilson and beyond.   Want to join me for a drive?   Check it out.... 



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Brenda Colwell


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Weimaraner Love | Photography by Brenda Colwell

December 02, 2013  •  Leave a Comment



Jules the PrincessJules the Princess


While visiting my injured friend Laurie recently we sat and chatted over hot tea curled up on a nice comfy couch in her incredibly welcoming home. I listened to the story of her accident and she listened to me ramble on. I actually thought I would never leave the comfort of her nest and warm presence. All the while, we were in the company of her friend Jules the Weimaraner, a beautiful dog with a gray/brown shiny coat, a muscular body, and intelligent eyes. I was quite taken with her. What a wonderful companion for our little snuggly tea party, she was as well mannered as any high tea guest. If she could talk, I imagined a conversation with her on the state of the economy, the proper way to cut roses from your garden or perhaps a pithy tale about her latest visit to Buckingham Palace. Now, please don't misunderstand, my dear friend Laurie had all my attention and well, honestly, I don't think she minds how I was taken with her friend Jules, considering her affection for all animals.

At the end of our visit I begged for an opportunity to photograph this lovely creature, and Laurie, bless her heart, made her way (on crutches no less) to my studio helping me pose and dress Jewel with dozens of my studio props. Now, while I am no William Wegman (yet), I can certainly see why he loves to photograph theses dogs. They have almost human expressions, their eyes grow bigger when they look at you, and they sit nearly perfectly still while studying you.  Jewel was particularly cooperative, well behaved and highly photogenic. I love all faces, and I love furry faces and I pay a big thank you to Jules for allowing me to photograph her, as it was quite satisfying. And thanks to my wonderful friend, Laurie for coming along.

This story would not be complete without mentioning Erlend Greulich, Jules' owner, who took a rowdy Jules at six months and taught her all she knows becoming the fine dog friend she is today. Thank you Erlend for sharing Jules with us.

Her photo will be on display at the Wine and Whisker's Fund Raiser for the Second Chance Shelter in Ridgway on March 10th where I have donated a studio photo shoot to raise money for their programs.


For more information about the Fundraiser, go to



Jules the AfghanJules the Afghan


Brenda Colwell is a Family Portrait Photographer creating memories and treasured heirlooms for your family and something beautiful for your home.    Book your own unique experience.  


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Home Grown Fire Chief | Photography by Brenda Colwell

June 23, 2013  •  Leave a Comment



Another great thing about living in a small town is having friends in high places. I could be talking about altitude, because our houses sit at 8700' feet and higher in Telluride, Colorado, but what I am really referring to are my friends who run the town, or in this case the Fire District. John Bennett is our newly appointed Fire District Director, responsible for fire prevention in the 250,000 acres of stunningly beautiful landscape we call home (no pressure John).

Johnny has been with the Fire Department his entire life with his Dad and his brothers, even his Great Grand Dad served on the Fire Department. So it just made sense that a boy who's family has been living in and protecting Telluride from fire for five generations be appointed to the position of Fire Chief. And he is highly qualified with 20 years of service and extensive training under his fire hat.

It's likely you already know John, and you might call him JB, Johnny B, John or just sir. He is easily the most well liked person in town, always greeting friends with a smile, a hug or a squeeze, and a little heartfelt laughter. I can't help but feel happy every time I see him. And while he is an easy going guy, he lives and breathes safety and takes his job very seriously. Locally famous and highly popular, of course a photo shoot was in order! 

Johnny Lean logoJohnny Lean logo



Johnny Step UpJohnny Step Up

Schedule your Photo Shoot: Photography by Brenda Colwell
Telluride Fire District: Telluride Fire District

Photography and Article protected under copyright 2011


Brenda Colwell is a Family Portrait Photographer creating memories and treasured heirlooms for your family and something beautiful for your home.    Book your own unique experience.  


[email protected]






Stop & Smell the Horses | Photography by Brenda Colwell

June 18, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Pasture Sky

In the Mountains of Colorado, the end of June can be a set of mixed feelings when you run a ranch.  The shortage of rain fall brings low water pond levels and concerns over stocking up winter hay, pasture growth and the challenges of water shares and water calls.  But yet, that same shortage of rain means nice warm weather and that brings long leisurely rides on dry ground, stalls are easy to clean, chores are easier because you can wear shorts!  But, not for me, because I have never come anywhere close to running a ranch.  But, today, I am thinking this would be one of the better days to do it.

And, if you are me, a photographer and horse lover (not a rancher), you can take advantage of the great weather and hike all the way out into the back pasture and lay down on dry ground, which is exactly what I did on a particularly warm and beautiful Monday evening at Many Ponies Ranch in Norwood, CO owned by Paul Finley & Lisa Foxwell.   Just me, my camera, the horses and the amazing beauty around us.  Perfectly silent with the exception of horses munching grasses and lazily stepping forward brushing hooves over the grasses one at a time carefully selecting only the best blades of delicious grass.  At that moment, being a horse seemed like a pretty good deal.   So, I decided to hang out with them for the final light of the day laying on my belly, my side, crawling through the grass photographing these peaceful creatures of the pasture.   I don't care who you are, there is nothing better than being out on "the range" alone surrounded by 20 horses calmly grazing in a wide open sky in a high mountain pasture.  And, oh yes, enjoying the smell of them!  I think everyone should stop and smell the roses, but its so much more satisfying to stop and smell the horses.   



Profile Sky



Brenda Colwell is a Family Portrait Photographer creating memories and treasured heirlooms for your family and something beautiful for your home.    Book your own unique experience.  


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Telluride's Balloon Glow | Photography by Brenda Colwell

June 03, 2013  •  Leave a Comment



Balloon Glow 2013

Main Street - Telluride, CO


Could it get any better living in Telluride?  Imagine walking down Main Street with 8 larger than life hot air balloons lining the center of the street?  The flames pumping noisily to get the balloons full, and just as the sun goes down the entire street is lit up. 

Now, it gets better.  Everyone you know is out on the street taking photos, laughing, hugging and enjoying the night.


 I love my small town!




Brenda Colwell is a Family Portrait Photographer creating memories and treasured heirlooms for your family and something beautiful for your home.    Book your own unique experience.  


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Explorage Blog: North Scottsdale | Photography by Brenda Colwell

May 05, 2013  •  Leave a Comment


"Explorage"   - Is it a noun or a verb?  It is kind of like storage or verbiage or maybe linkage.   I think of it as the stuff I collect on my forays to those little places I never stop to really look at unless I am alone.   Recording memories, views, places and the things in them that attract my eye and ultimately my camera.   My study of color, shapes, things that go together, things that don't, things that inspire me to aim my camera.   For me, EXPLORAGE  is a constant collection of images and good feelings.  Whether it is the action of collecting or the images themselves I have not decided.   Heck, I don't even know if it is a real word, and I am afraid to look it up, because I might be let down if it is or if it isn't.  I want my own definition.  So, until it is challenged by a higher grammatical power (like my mother) I am going to use it to define the experience of gathering the images that leave a trail behind me.    So here we go, my first documented  "EXPLORAGE" with my constant companion, my friend, my camera. 

Explorage 1:




Old Car




Uncle sam


Old house


Brenda Colwell is a Family Portrait Photographer creating memories and treasured heirlooms for your family and something beautiful for your home.    Book your own unique experience.  


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A Backyard Adventure | Photography by Brenda Colwell

April 21, 2013  •  1 Comment



This morning while I sit outside and drink my coffee, my eyes follow my little cat around the yard as she investigates this new desert territory .  It's Spring and we decided to head down to the desert to escape the still falling snow in Telluride.  I have to admit that I am as interested in what's going on at ground level as my cat is, the ground is still frozen at home, and neither of us have seen any scampering little creatures in a while.   And, well, I love that sort of thing as much as the next cat. 

Watching our little Birdie cat, while sipping my warmth in the warmth, I am amused how she hunts everything.  Really, everything.  She creeps quietly to sneak up on her prey, she crouches,  she swishes her tail very slowly back and forth, she flattens her ears to avoid being injured in battle, and then she barely wiggles her entire body, warming up her launch muscles.  And then pounce-a-roo!  She leaps forward with the speed and agility of well, a house cat, trapping her wild prey just under my chair while I quickly yank up my legs with a little pump of adrenaline and an expletive escaping.  Is it a mouse or a lizard (which happens to be my worst fear)?  I slowly bend sideways, my feet still up, to get a look and it is far more dangerous than I imagined!  It is a bottle cap my son dropped 10 minutes ago.  I chuckle with relief, but I am actually a bit let down.  After all that, I was hoping to be rewarded with a bizarre desert creature, but happy nonetheless that there is not one under my feet.  So, I decide to follow her to witness a true huntress in action.   Maybe I will see something spectacular, right here in my own backyard.  Heck, I might be able to photograph it!   I have to be honest, after a bit of time together, the prey was never more exciting than a stick, a leaf, or a passing shadow.  Maybe my presence interferes with the real hunting, or maybe I overestimate her skill set.  Or maybe the real hunting starts after sunset.   Despite coming home empty pawed, I did enjoy the quality time with her, watching her explore and thanked her for allowing me to experience a backyard cat adventure with a little scratch around her ears.  I guess I can relax knowing that she is doing her job to keep the worst invaders away.  Still... I do have a lingering fear that she will come back inside with one of those terrifying lizards in her mouth.   

Birdie 4



Brenda Colwell is a Family Portrait Photographer creating memories and treasured heirlooms for your family and something beautiful for your home.    Book your own unique experience.  


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Our State Flower - The Columbine | Photography by Brenda Colwell

August 05, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Quick Blog: Random Photos
The Columbine

The Colorado State Flower

To Order Prints of This Image: [email protected]



Brenda Colwell is a Portrait Photographer creating memories and treasured heirlooms for your family and something beautiful for your home.    Book your own unique experience.  


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Mom's New Friend | Photography by Brenda Colwell

October 09, 2011  •  Leave a Comment

3 some3 some

Doesn't it feel good to do something good? Something good for someone else that just happens to be good for you too?

My mother recently added a little friend to her life "Sara" that she found at the local poodle rescue center.

After a little urging from her grandaughter, suddenly she has a little six pound best friend who follows her all around the house and cries when she leaves the room. I should be stunned at how quickly they connected and are attached to each other. But, my mother does have some magical ability with all animals, so I am not surprised, but pleased.

Now one less animal is homeless and my mother is enjoying her little friend every day.

So, naturally, we had to do a little photo shoot of Princess Sara


Puppy FacePuppy Face




Brenda Colwell is a Family Portrait Photographer creating memories and treasured heirlooms for your family and something beautiful for your home.    Book your own unique experience.  


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....and they call the thing rodeo | Photography by Brenda Colwell

September 11, 2011  •  Leave a Comment

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Well it's bulls and blood...
It's dust and mud
It's spurs and latigo
It's the ropes and the reins
And the joy and the pain
And they call the thing rodeo

Garth Brooks sings about it and I sing along with him in the privacy of my car where nobody can hear me, but that's not the point. The point is: The rodeo is fun! I love it, I love it, I love it.

You can find me hanging on the fence like a wide eyed groupie watching the "real" cowboys and cowgirls handle their horses. I mean, handle their horses in ways that make me clench my teeth, suck in air and look away. Then, in the very next second when the crowd roars, I don't dare take my eyes off the show as the horses speed the arena at full out run, carrying a rider with flailing legs and boots, chaps fluttering, hats flying through the air, and creating a hoof-stomping dust cloud. These riders and their horse partners, run, skid, slide, crash, flip over and fall down while the crowd gasps and cheers. Then they just get back up, dust off the dirt, get on their horse and ride out like nothing happened. And yes, my heart is still pounding.

Ouray (pronounced Your-Ray) County's Rodeo in Ouray Colorado always draws a big crowd for the Labor Day Rodeo and, as always, I am there crouching between fence rails, hiding in cranny or down on my belly in the dirt in search of an angle, but just out of range of a hoof or a rope.
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Brenda Colwell is a Family Portrait Photographer creating memories and treasured heirlooms for your family and something beautiful for your home.    Book your own unique experience.  


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I Met A Wolf! | Photography by Brenda Colwell

June 12, 2011  •  Leave a Comment


Tongue BannerTongue Banner

I Met A Wolf! A real pure bred, graceful, beautifully long legged, wary wolf. She liked cheese and she liked my camera bag, attempting to steal it when I was not looking. A domesticated local friend.

I live in the Wilderness of Colorado, in the highest parts of the San Juan mountains where there is still a wild component in our civilization in the cozy little ski town of Telluride, Colorado.

If you want to call us civilized, I leave that to you. It is truly wild. Not just the locals who live here, but the critters that walk past my bedroom windows at night, the bears that rip apart my bird feeders and raid trash cans, the mountain lions that appear and disappear so quickly that your eyes hardly have time to focus, and the endless squirrels, rodents, mice, marmots and birds that sit on fence posts and rocky outcroppings like protective sentries. And the wolves!

Denali is a sort of pet. She is protected in 2 acres by a 10 foot high, electrically charged fence to keep predators away from her. Human Predators. She has a half-wolf friend who lives with her in her wolf fortress, and she has free run of a 5,000 square foot luxury mountain home with "a wolf door". Her slightly introverted, yet affable, protector granted me two visits with her, under the agreement that I never disclose her location or his name. An unforgettable, yet civilized, portrait session ensued as I lay flat on my belly in the grass and snow photographing her. I went home with a camera full of treasures, and she was gifted a giant bone and some cheese.

Square Denali logoSquare Denali logo


Summer WolfSummer Wolf

Denali in WinterDenali in Winter
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Brenda Colwell is a Family Portrait Photographer creating memories and treasured heirlooms for your family and something beautiful for your home.    Book your own unique experience.  


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One of My Favorite Projects | Photography by Brenda Colwell

May 15, 2011  •  Leave a Comment

Grace 100 2px2Grace 100 2px2
Owned by Mary Rubadeau, Telluride, CO


My second favorite sound is the thunder of hooves striking the ground as my recently freed horse disappears into the pasture at full speed. My favorite sound is that of those same hooves thundering back to me followed by a gentle blow into my hand, my horse telling me we are friends. Such tremendous power and grace, accompanied by such gentle kindness.

I had the privilege of photographing the horses of the
Lone Cone Dressage Club . The Club is based in Norwood, Colorado and is made up of horse lovers in San Miguel County, CO; from Ridgway to Paradox Valley and from Norwood to Telluride including all the horse ranches in between. Don't let the name fool you, the club is open to any kind of riding and any kind of member. You don't even have to own a horse, in fact, you don't even have to ride, the only requirement is that you enjoy horses.

I photographed the horses owned by club members and created a calendar to serve as a fund raiser for the junior division. I met with horse owners at their barn and after their beloved horses received nice bath and a thorough grooming, we headed to the pasture or arena to liberate the horse in order to capture the photograph.
Special thanks to Laurie Belka who groomed and handled 5 horses for the project.

Owned by Laurie Belka, Norwood, CO


Owned by Teya Kvasnicka, Norwood, CO

Owner: Mary Sundquist, Norwood, CO

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Owner: Amy Cannon, Telluride

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Owned by Carol Ann Boyer, Norwood, CO

Molly is the treasured mare in the 4H program. For over 15 years, she has been a lesson horse and first riding horse to many of the 4H girls in Norwood. It is possible that you have ridden Molly.

Molly Dee LuxMolly Dee Lux

Owned by Michelle and Olivia Swanson, Placerville, CO

Owned by Chandra Belka, Norwood, CO

Owned by Dee and Jessica Closson, Norwood, CO
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Owned by Lisa Foxwell of
Many Ponies , Norwood, CO
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Brenda Colwell is a Family Portrait Photographer creating memories and treasured heirlooms for your family and something beautiful for your home.    Book your own unique experience.  


[email protected]