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 really young to ensure they wouldn't be distracted and would be available to be really 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 I skiing.

My father, brother, and I 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 up both of us. 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 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 on the Olympic course one year before the Olympics after having missed back-to-back ski seasons rehabbing from multiple knee surgeries and having had to earn back my World Cup Starts.

Getting some quick champagne cork popping instructions after winning my first career World Cup at Deer Valley Mountain Resort on the Olympic course one year before the Olympics after having missed back-to-back ski seasons rehabbing from multiple knee surgeries and having had to earn back my World Cup Starts.

Walking into the opening ceremonies at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City was one of the most amazing moments of my life. There are no other experiences that I can even compare it to… No other pinnacle of sport for me so far, that has been so emotional–no state championship, no world cup victory, no team or personal best, no obstacle overcome. 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. To me, the opening ceremonies is truly what the Olympics has long been honored to be–the world coming together in sport. And for that one night, 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 had somehow collectively won, and I can not think of a more beautiful feeling.

Walking into the opening ceremonies at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City was one of the most amazing moments of my life. There are no other experiences that I can even compare it to… No other pinnacle of sport for me so far, that has been so emotional–no state championship, no world cup victory, no team or personal best, no obstacle overcome. 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.

To me, the opening ceremonies is truly what the Olympics has long been honored to be–the world coming together in sport. And for that one night, 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 had 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. The list of places I want to explore just keeps getting longer. I find that I feel most alive when I am traveling. I thrive on discovering new things to see, do, taste, and experience around every corner… and I always end up having the most unexpected and magical adventures and meeting the most remarkable people along the way. I believe that much of the reason we seem to have so many unexpected and magical adventures when we are traveling, is that we are available and open to them happening. I find that 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 amazing, 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. I find myself continually working on having a lot less “being busy” in my life and trying to have a lot more “going with the flow.”

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. 

Touring around and camping in our "Spaceship" wall tent with my husband Jeff everywhere from Moab to British Columbia to Burning Man and beyond.

Touring around and camping in our "Spaceship" wall tent with my husband Jeff everywhere from Moab to British Columbia to Burning Man and beyond.

Ironically, skiing also exposed me to the world of photography as I had the opportunity to interface and came to know many, many professional photographers and cameramen during my time as a competitive mogul skier, and even more so, during the 5+ years after retiring from the U.S. Ski Team when I continued traveling the world filming and being in photo shoots for my sponsors and various media outlets. 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 ask endless questions of and constantly be absorbing information and learning from. I always knew that I didn’t want to just be an athlete and in my mid-20s I decided to switch gears and focus more on my artistic passions. Making the jump and going back to school (my first degree was in Business from Cornell University) at The Rocky Mountain School of Photography was one of the best and most rewarding decisions I have ever made.

Some of my favorite trips and travel moments thus far :

Watching the sun rise behind Ankor Wat in Cambodia, the largest religious monument in the world.

Watching the sun rise behind Ankor Wat in Cambodia, the largest religious monument in the world.

Exploring Rapa Nui (more commonly known as Easter Island which is located in the middle of the Pacific ocean half way between Chile and Tahiti) and getting to see the enormous ancient Moai statues with my own eyes. There are even half carved statues still lying unfinished in the side of the mountain that you can walk right up to. Hiking and riding around the largely undeveloped island on a motorbike and getting to see wild horses running free was another highlight.

Exploring Rapa Nui (more commonly known as Easter Island which is located in the middle of the Pacific ocean half way between Chile and Tahiti) and getting to see the enormous ancient Moai statues with my own eyes. There are even half carved statues still lying unfinished in the side of the mountain that you can walk right up to. Hiking and riding around the largely undeveloped island on a motorbike and getting to see wild horses running free was another highlight.

001_Former US Ski Team member and Olympian Hannah Hardaway is now a professional photographer based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming-9.jpg
Rowing through the floating slums of Belen deep in the Peruvian Amazon and having the local children come running out of their modest 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 around South America.

Rowing through the floating slums of Belen deep in the Peruvian Amazon and having the local children come running out of their modest 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 around South America.

These are two of my favorite photos I have even taken, both were from on our "Engagemoon" in Sri Lanka. (I'm pretty sure that's not a real word/concept, but we definitely think it should be!) An hour before I was scurrying along this path winding 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 of the lighthouse (however 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 back down the lighthouse steps and just 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 gathered extended family, with the kids excitedly circling 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 so that they could prepare us hot cups of sweet milky tea (I know it sounds totally counter intuitive on a hot day, but drinking hot liquids really is cooling when you are in hot climates!) These are the types of unexpected magical encounters that i love so very much about traveling!!!

These are two of my favorite photos I have even taken, both were from on our "Engagemoon" in Sri Lanka. (I'm pretty sure that's not a real word/concept, but we definitely think it should be!) An hour before I was scurrying along this path winding 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 of the lighthouse (however 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 back down the lighthouse steps and just 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 gathered extended family, with the kids excitedly circling 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 so that they could prepare us hot cups of sweet milky tea (I know it sounds totally counter intuitive on a hot day, but drinking hot liquids really is cooling when you are in hot climates!) These are the types of unexpected magical encounters that i love so very much about traveling!!!

One of my all-time most memorable and delicious meals--warm goat cheese drizzled with homemade honey made by the cutest little family of artisan cheese makers who lived in this small stone cabin far from civilization high up in the Corsican mountains tending to their herb 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 while snuggled up, sipping hot cocoa and coffee, we got to look out at a waterfall cascading down from the surrounding jagged Granite peaks. Oh and watch the goats wandering around too of course!

One of my all-time most memorable and delicious meals--warm goat cheese drizzled with homemade honey made by the cutest little family of artisan cheese makers who lived in this small stone cabin far from civilization high up in the Corsican mountains tending to their herb 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 while snuggled up, sipping hot cocoa and coffee, we got to look out at a waterfall cascading down from the surrounding jagged Granite peaks. Oh and watch 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 that 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 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.

Some of my favorite photos from our wedding by my talented friend Heather Nan.

Some of my favorite 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