Into the Wasteland

Walden, Colorado



Photography | Photography by Jewels | @photosbyjewels

Location | North Sand Hills Recreation Area

Design and Decor | Wallflower Rentals | @wallflower_rentals_decor

Floral Designer | Compass Rose Floral | @compassrosefloral

Gown Designer | “McKenna” by Leanne Marshall @lovelybride

Gown Salon | Emma & Grace Bridal Salon | @emmaandgracebridal

Invitation Designer | The Print Cafe @theprintcafefoco

Fire | Alyssa Fish

Props | 30 Black

Model | Caitlin Bond

Model | Nate Mollner

Car | Kevin Webber

My photographic style is dramatic and cinematic – I’m inspired by movies and find inspiration in beautiful films. Whether its composition in a shot or the lighting, this is where I pull some of my best and most favorite concepts.


This shoot is one of those! From the first scene of Mad Max: Fury Road, I was hooked. I looked at my boyfriend with wide eyes thinking, “Oh this is going to be good”. I loved it. The cinematography, the concept, the makeup, the costumes and styling, the stunts and special effects, everything. I totally nerd-ed out. Then of course I couldn’t help but think that it would make a super cool and unique concept for a wedding shoot! This lived and marinated in my brain for at least 2 years! I finally made it happen this past fall, but not without some challenges. It seemed as though it wasn’t meant to happen.


Nothing says “Mad Max” to me more than a hot rod and motorcycles. These HAD to be a part of the shoot. The other element I really wanted was fire – real fire (not photoshopped in later). This posed a challenge since the only location that made sense to me was the Great Sand Dunes National Park, about 3 hours away. This was not an option since they don’t allow vehicles of any type or (and especially) fire… Then we found out about the North Sand Hills Recreation Area. Next came the car… I wanted to get as close as I could to something you’d see in Mad Max, and I knew my “car guy” Kevin would know someone… Indeed he did! His friend said we could borrow it, and then it came down to logistics. NSHRA is about three hours away, so we had to find a trailer that could haul this vehicle. Kevin was able to get one thankfully, and it was only a day or two before the shoot when it came together. It is a 1935 International and a beast!


The models I wanted to work with had the perfect look, so I scheduled the shoot around them! Nate & Caitlin are a real couple and absolutely perfect! I wanted someone who could pull off Max, and a complimentary Bride as one of the wives from the movie…

Getting the Dress


It was the first one she tried on. I wanted “blushy-flowy-simple” and found it at Emma & Grace. They almost pulled out of the shoot since they had seen a motorcycle and smoke bombs on my Pinterest board – I had to promise “no motorcycles – no smoke bombs” haha! Max’s wardrobe is mostly his own with a few elements from my personal collection. Props were borrowed from 30 Black, LLC. (aka my boyfriend Keith). He had some sweet replica guns, an old steering wheel, and a couple of skulls, among other things.


The tablescape décor came from Wallflower Décor & Rentals, and Jenni nailed it. Lots of black, metal, leather, and it looked amazing against the sand! I knew it was a long shot, but I got my friend Alyssa (and former client) to come along for the ride and spin some fire. She is part of a professional fire performing troupe and I’m so thankful she was down to help!


The Day of the Shoot


We got a much later start than I had anticipated and this is because the hot rod had a really hard time to start! She hadn’t been started in a while and she was old and cold. Thankfully Kevin was there to get it going and on to the trailer – there’s no way I would have been able to do that myself! The drive was 3 hours plus some traffic – we drove up into Wyoming, across the plains, and back down into Colorado. We discovered a massive forest fire, just on the next ridge over from the Sand Hills area as we arrived. This was a blessing in disguise as it softened and warmed the light, making it a PERFECT setting for this shoot! To say I was disappointed driving into the recreation area would be an understatement. We kept looking and looking for the “dunes” and they were nowhere to be found. I was convinced that Google images was a liar. We dropped the trailer and tried taking my Chevy Tahoe up one of the trails to see if we could find a good spot to do the shoot. After almost getting stuck and sliding in the sand, we made it back down the hill (barely). There was no way we could have carried everything we needed to anything even remotely possible. I just kept thinking, “All this work – all the time driving – the logistics…”


The models arrived and they couldn’t find us! I couldn’t understand where they were – it sounded like they were in the right spot? Finally, they came driving up the road to where we were and they had found “the dune” – turns out there was another road we missed turning off of upon arrival. I was so happy! This had much more terrain that I had in mind. Was it the epic scenery of the Great Sand Dunes National Park? No, but it was what I had and we make it work!


Nate and Caitlin rocked it! They looked perfect in the sand and were game for posing with all my silly props. We shot the tablescape, some of their portraits, but we still had to do the ceremony set up, shoot with the car, and somehow make the fire shot happen. The sun started making it’s way towards the horizon and I guessed we had only about an hour or so of light left. It was all hands on deck and the whole team worked so well with me to make it happen! Alyssa was throwing the dress – Kevin got the car in position, and the models helped get the ceremony set up!


I was especially worried about the fire shot… because of the forest fire just across the valley, all the other people there enjoying the area, and god forbid a Ranger come strolling through at that exact moment (you don’t have to print that part – ha!). Meanwhile, there were dune buggies and dirt bikes riding through our set up most of the time. We got the settings dialed in, got the models set up and posed, and got Alyssa ready to rock. It all happened in the last 5 minutes of light, just before the sun dipped behind the horizon. No Rangers, no dirt bikes. BOOM. Fury Road is finally out of my head and into the camera. What’s next!?