hannah_hardaway_wedding_photographer

I don't limit myself by what seems possible.
I go to yoga classes in the middle of the day.
I believe how we interact in the world is more important than what we have accomplished.
I still send handwritten notes and craft gifts by hand.
I love finding happy homes for things I no longer need.
I believe in getting outside as much as possible.
I avoid foods with ingredients that I can't pronounce.
I don't feel guilty screening my phone calls if I am busy living life in the moment.
I believe travel and sleep are two of the best investments.
I buy way too many books.
I can trick myself into dreaming big.

 

Some Highlights along my Journey

My early days at gymnastics.

My early days at gymnastics.

I consider my childhood to have been pretty idyllic. We lived in a small chalet on a dead end in a rural town on Lake Winnipesaukee, and my brother and I spent much of our early years exploring and wandering the woods, building treehouses, making mudpies and riding bikes. As we got older, that shifted into lots of organized sports—for me, gymnastics, volleyball, basketball, softball and skiing. It was on the court, field, and slopes that I learned to challenge and push myself, to try new things, to work hard towards my goals and see them come to fruition, and also where I found my close knit community of friends to be silly and playful with.

 

Playing in the ocean at the Jersey shore with my cousin Kellie.

Playing in the ocean at the Jersey shore with my cousin Kellie.

My parents got rid of our television when I was young to ensure they wouldn't be distracted and would be available to be hands-on with us, whether that meant playing ball in the yard after school, wrestling in the living room after dinner, playing endless board games and cards, and helping with whatever my latest crafting passion was. Family trips to visit my grandparents are some of my fondest memories, especially in the summer when we would all pack up and head to the Jersey shore for seemingly endless days of swimming in the ocean, building sandcastles, and family meals enjoyed with soggy, sandy hands.

 

 

My father, brother, and me skiing.

My father, brother, and me skiing.

When I was eleven my brother wanted to join the Killington Freestyle Mogul Team. I wanted to be like my brother, so my father signed us both up. Every weekend, the three of us (my mom didn’t like the cold and my sister was already out of the house) would travel 2 ½ hours each way to Vermont to ski with a small team of people who, to this day, are some of the funniest and most fun-loving people I have even known. Local competitions led to regional competitions, and by the time I was 13, I won my first of five Junior Nationals. At 14, I qualified for my first Nationals, and at 16, I won Junior World Championships and went on to secure a spot on the U.S. Ski Team.  

Skiing broadened my worldview and opened the door to incredible opportunities for this little girl from New Hampshire with limited financial means. It gave me opportunities to travel and compete all over the world and connected me into an international community of people who were passionate about living life boldly. This playful and eclectic gypsy band of traveling athletes became an extended family and inspired me to work hard and play harder, to make the most of each and every day, and to never to take myself too seriously. While I’m proud of the medals and titles I earned during my 9 years on the U.S. Ski Team, for me, these are secondary to the incredible experiences I got to share with this extraordinary tribe.

Getting some quick champagne-cork-popping instructions after winning my first career World Cup at Deer Valley Mountain Resort. This was an especially sweet personal victory as I had missed the previous two ski seasons rehabbing from back-to-back knee surgeries (while simultaneously completing most of my business degree from Cornell University.)

Getting some quick champagne-cork-popping instructions after winning my first career World Cup at Deer Valley Mountain Resort. This was an especially sweet personal victory as I had missed the previous two ski seasons rehabbing from back-to-back knee surgeries (while simultaneously completing most of my business degree from Cornell University.)

Exactly one year later, walking into the opening ceremonies at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games was one of the most emotional moments of my life. It is hard to describe the intensity of the energy, the hopes, the dreams, and the potentiality that is contained in that stadium when all the athletes and coaches from around the world file in to the thundering applause of the fans. I took one step into Rice-Eccles stadium and burst into tears. For that one night of the Olympics, there are no winners or losers, no contracts or prize money, no MVPs or media favorites. Instead, it is as if the whole of humanity has somehow collectively won, and I can not think of a more beautiful feeling.

Exactly one year later, walking into the opening ceremonies at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games was one of the most emotional moments of my life. It is hard to describe the intensity of the energy, the hopes, the dreams, and the potentiality that is contained in that stadium when all the athletes and coaches from around the world file in to the thundering applause of the fans. I took one step into Rice-Eccles stadium and burst into tears. For that one night of the Olympics, there are no winners or losers, no contracts or prize money, no MVPs or media favorites. Instead, it is as if the whole of humanity has somehow collectively won, and I can not think of a more beautiful feeling.

Skiing exposed me to a life filled with travel, and I am forever grateful. I thrive on discovering new things to see, do, taste, and experience and always end up having unexpected and magical adventures and meeting the most remarkable people along the way. When I am not so caught up in my busy, scheduled life, and all the things I think I need to be doing, events transpire in serendipitous ways. Traveling reminds me that, oftentimes, letting life just unfold can be far more perfect than anything I could have planned or laid out on my calendar. The list of places I want to explore just keeps getting longer.

On a month long self-supported bike tour with friends on the North Island of New Zealand. 

On a month long self-supported bike tour with friends on the North Island of New Zealand. 

Traveling with my husband Jeff, everywhere from Moab to British Columbia to Burning Man and beyond, in our "Spaceship."

Traveling with my husband Jeff, everywhere from Moab to British Columbia to Burning Man and beyond, in our "Spaceship."

Skiing also exposed me to the world of photography. During the 5 years after retiring from the U.S. Ski Team, I continued traveling the world, filming and being in photo shoots for my sponsors and various media outlets. It was on these trips that my interest in photography grew. I came to know many professional photographers and cameramen whom I could ask endless questions of. It was invaluable to be at remote huts in Alaska or on multi-week photo trips in Bulgaria, Japan, Chile, or Azerbaijan with a crew of talented artists that I could be learning from. In my mid-20s, I decided to switch gears and dive in to learn everything I possibly could about photography. Making this jump and going back to school at The Rocky Mountain School of Photography was one of the best and most rewarding decisions I have ever made.

What I love most about photography is being able to capture and relive the experiences of a fleeting moment or period in time. Here are a few of my most memorable travel moments and trips thus far :

I love getting to experience first-hand places that I grew up learning about only in my school textbooks or through stories and pictures. Being in the presence of great historical wonders makes me stop and think about all the people and cultures that came before us and ponder the smallness of my existence. I love the incredible way it has of putting all my cares and worries into perspective seemingly in a single instant, and how my photographs can tap me right back into those feelings. When I look at the photo of the sun rising behind Ankgor Wat, I am transported back to that slightly cool, moist early morning and the feeling of peace I felt watching the sun dramatically color the sky as it greeted another day. I can almost hear the monks off in the distance chanting as they file into the complex for their morning prayers. Witnessing the first rays of sunshine hit Machu Picchu I remember a similar feeling of awe and reverence as I reflected about how the Incas managed to build their stone city on top of this remote mountain 9,000 feet above sea level over 500 years ago, and how many mornings someone just like myself probably watched the same early morning sun illuminate the city from the very spot I was sitting.

I love getting to experience first-hand places that I grew up learning about only in my school textbooks or through stories and pictures. Being in the presence of great historical wonders makes me stop and think about all the people and cultures that came before us and ponder the smallness of my existence. I love the incredible way it has of putting all my cares and worries into perspective seemingly in a single instant, and how my photographs can tap me right back into those feelings. When I look at the photo of the sun rising behind Ankgor Wat, I am transported back to that slightly cool, moist early morning and the feeling of peace I felt watching the sun dramatically color the sky as it greeted another day. I can almost hear the monks off in the distance chanting as they file into the complex for their morning prayers. Witnessing the first rays of sunshine hit Machu Picchu I remember a similar feeling of awe and reverence as I reflected about how the Incas managed to build their stone city on top of this remote mountain 9,000 feet above sea level over 500 years ago, and how many mornings someone just like myself probably watched the same early morning sun illuminate the city from the very spot I was sitting.

001_Former US Ski Team member and Olympian Hannah Hardaway is now a professional photographer based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming-9.jpg
While rowing through the floating slums of Belen, deep in the Peruvian Amazon, the local children came running out of their homes to see us. This particular boy gave us quite a show, dramatically diving into the water and swimming right up next to our boat to give us a closer look. I don't think many "tourists" opted to visit the slums, at least at that time. It was a highlight of my 6 weeks touring through South America.

While rowing through the floating slums of Belen, deep in the Peruvian Amazon, the local children came running out of their homes to see us. This particular boy gave us quite a show, dramatically diving into the water and swimming right up next to our boat to give us a closer look. I don't think many "tourists" opted to visit the slums, at least at that time. It was a highlight of my 6 weeks touring through South America.

These are two of my favorite photos, both taken on our "Engagemoon" in Sri Lanka. An hour before scurrying along this path to this little boy’s village, I was perched on the back of a motorcycle speeding past endless fields of rice paddies, coconut trees, and water buffaloes. On a whim, Jeff and I detoured from the main road to check out one of the island’s iconic lighthouses. From the galleries at the top, many hundreds of stairs above the ground, we could see a small cove off in the distance with a bunch of energetic children splashing about in the water. It looked like a perfect respite from the mid-afternoon heat and sun so we scrambled down the lighthouse steps. A handful of minutes and a few dead-end streets later, we pulled our bike up onto the beach and slipped into the cool, crystal clear water. These adorable children were happily playing with old pieces of styrofoam and trying to stand on them as if they were surfboards. It wasn’t long before we became the main entertainment of the afternoon for the extended family gathered there. The kids excitedly circled us, practicing their classroom English phrases and intermittently giggling and hiding behind one another. And then before we knew it, we were being ushered up this narrow path to one of their homes, for hot cups of sweet milky tea. These are the types of unexpected magical encounters i love so very much about traveling!!!

These are two of my favorite photos, both taken on our "Engagemoon" in Sri Lanka. An hour before scurrying along this path to this little boy’s village, I was perched on the back of a motorcycle speeding past endless fields of rice paddies, coconut trees, and water buffaloes. On a whim, Jeff and I detoured from the main road to check out one of the island’s iconic lighthouses. From the galleries at the top, many hundreds of stairs above the ground, we could see a small cove off in the distance with a bunch of energetic children splashing about in the water. It looked like a perfect respite from the mid-afternoon heat and sun so we scrambled down the lighthouse steps. A handful of minutes and a few dead-end streets later, we pulled our bike up onto the beach and slipped into the cool, crystal clear water. These adorable children were happily playing with old pieces of styrofoam and trying to stand on them as if they were surfboards. It wasn’t long before we became the main entertainment of the afternoon for the extended family gathered there. The kids excitedly circled us, practicing their classroom English phrases and intermittently giggling and hiding behind one another. And then before we knew it, we were being ushered up this narrow path to one of their homes, for hot cups of sweet milky tea. These are the types of unexpected magical encounters i love so very much about traveling!!!

One of my all-time most memorable and delicious meals was warm goat cheese drizzled with homemade honey. It was made by the cutest little family of artisan cheese makers. High up in the Corsican mountains, far from cilvilization, they lived in this small stone cabin and tended to their herd of goats. Jeff and I sought out this place while camper-vaning around Corsica on our Honeymoon. As we slowly spooned miniature bites of the creamy cheese, we snuggled up, sipping hot cocoa and coffee, and looking out at a waterfall cascading down from the surrounding jagged Granite peaks... and watched the goats wandering around too, of course.

One of my all-time most memorable and delicious meals was warm goat cheese drizzled with homemade honey. It was made by the cutest little family of artisan cheese makers. High up in the Corsican mountains, far from cilvilization, they lived in this small stone cabin and tended to their herd of goats. Jeff and I sought out this place while camper-vaning around Corsica on our Honeymoon. As we slowly spooned miniature bites of the creamy cheese, we snuggled up, sipping hot cocoa and coffee, and looking out at a waterfall cascading down from the surrounding jagged Granite peaks... and watched the goats wandering around too, of course.

The Zen proverb “How you do anything is how you do everything” is a philosophy that resonates deeply for me. As well as, “How you live your life is your greatest work of art.” I think that is one of the reasons I was drawn to photographing weddings. Your wedding is an incredible opportunity to share and incorporate your values and create an event that is centered around everything you hold most dear. For my husband Jeff and I, that was a multi-day outdoor camping celebration on the land we own in Wilson, where we gathered our closest friends and family to support and honor our love, celebrate art and music, eat delicious and nourishing food, and enjoy the beautiful valley that we are so lucky to call home. It truly was the best day of our lives.

The ceremony was by far our favorite part of the day. I was adamant about having an unplugged ceremony and it is hard to express how powerful it was to have (almost) all of our favorite people surrounding us and giving us their full love and attention. It still takes my breath away thinking about it. Our first dance was another highlight and was incredibly romantic as Jeff twirled me around the dance floor in the dimly lit tent to "At Last" by Etta James. (Photos from our wedding by my talented friend Heather Nan.)

The ceremony was by far our favorite part of the day. I was adamant about having an unplugged ceremony and it is hard to express how powerful it was to have (almost) all of our favorite people surrounding us and giving us their full love and attention. It still takes my breath away thinking about it. Our first dance was another highlight and was incredibly romantic as Jeff twirled me around the dance floor in the dimly lit tent to "At Last" by Etta James.

(Photos from our wedding by my talented friend Heather Nan.)


In the end, our community, relationships and experiences are what will keep our hearts full. And that is exactly what you have the opportunity to celebrate at your wedding. I would love to help you create a wedding day experience that you, too, will treasure as the best day of your lives.

 

Follow along on Instagram @hannahhardaway and @hannahhardawayphoto