Our latest FP Me muse, Monica, shares her love for photography and her home state of Utah.
Allow me to introduce you to Indie Sunshine. Or, Monica, if you may. This FP Me gal has consistently been on our radar, which is really no surprise because her photos are absolutely stunning. She always seems to be situated in the prettiest of places; fields in full bloom, lands full of canyons… makes sense that her home turf is Utah. I got lost scrolling through her instagram feed the other day. Not only is Monica a beauty in front of the camera, but her eye behind it creates the same sort of magic, and then some. Her mountaintop photos helped her win a spot on the FP Sur La Sol trip to Nicaragua, so we wanted to feature Indie Sunshine upon her return and find out a little bit more about her experience.
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Where are you from? How has this shaped the person that you are today?
I was born and raised in the great state of Utah! Utah has such a variety of places to go, whether it be a field of lavender or bright red rocks just a few hours south. There are so many different kinds of places in Utah but also, Utah is surrounded by incredible places. As a kid, my family took a few road trips a year either to California, Idaho, Oregon, or Washington. Having access to jaw-dropping locations has made me explore everywhere I can. Photography has definitely pushed me to appreciate this beauty as well.
Where do you currently live? What are your favorite places to explore?
I am currently living in Salt Lake City, Utah. Oh, goodness, hard question! I love to explore everywhere! Utah is spectacular year round because of the change of seasons. I live for the mountains and I could explore them for weeks on end. I’ve recently gotten into rock climbing but I mostly hike or ski everywhere. Salt Lake has some amazing places to eat and I just found a vegan restaurant called Frisch. I give them full permission to pump my veins with their quinoa salad.
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You recently were just a part of the FP Me Sur La Sol retreat. Can you tell us a little bit about your experience?
Just thinking about the retreat makes me giddy! It was such a magical experience because I met such exquisitely inspiring human beings. Everyone there brought a beautiful energy full of love and exuberance. The days were filled with adventures ranging from a raw food workshop to surf lessons to catamaran tours of a secret beach. It was truly a dream and I am SO thankful for the Free People team for making it all happen and letting me be a part of it.
What was your biggest learning? Any special highlights of the trip?
I learned a lot about my body. Prior to the trip, I was a beginner at yoga. The amazing yogi, Koya Webb, really pushed us to listen and communicate with our bodies to build strength and confidence on and off the mat.
The first morning, after we completed yoga, we wrote our intentions for the trip on a small rock. I kinda cheated and wrote two intentions: create lasting friendships and increase my passion for day-to-day life. I feel like fulfilling my intentions was such a highlight because I met people that I will stay friends with forever and I left with a renewed passion.
One of the days, a few of us had heard from the locals that there was a public infinity pool just up the road from where we were staying. We immediately grabbed our swimsuits and went looking for it. We found it and it was so unbelievable. The pool was on a hillside overlooking both the jungle of trees and the ocean. We were the only ones there and we talked and drank from coconuts for the rest of the afternoon.
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You are quite the talent, both in front of and behind the camera. When did you first start getting into photography?
Thank you so much! I have been taking photos since third grade… of my dogs, wherever I go, and my family. It wasn’t until high school that I purchased a DSLR but since then I’ve been shooting every day.
In terms of your work, what inspires you the most?
Location, location, location! I will go scouting for locations before I even have an idea for a photo I want to create. Because Utah is filled with such diverse landscape, there are so many inspiring spots just ten minutes from home that I can go to sit and think about what I want to create and capture through a lens.
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What items are essential to have in your camera bag?
My Canon 6D body (which is my baby) with a 50mm f/1.4 lens are always strapped around my neck. My mom said the other day, “You hardly go to the gas station without that thing” and she is so right! Also, my Canon AE-1 and GoPro.
Do you have any exciting trips planned this summer?
I’m planning a road trip with some friends to drive from Salt Lake to Los Angeles then up the coast to San Francisco and I couldn’t be more excited about it! Also, planning on flying out to NYC to visit some friends and paint the town. Let’s not forget the few roadies to Bryce or the Grand Canyon for a long weekend or two.
How do you plan to spend the 4th of July?
I usually go to a local park that has a massive fireworks display but this year, I will be heading up to the Cub River in Idaho to go camping with my family, roast some s’mores, and go on a few hikes.
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What does being ‘free’ mean to you??
I interpret freedom as letting go of whatever is holding you back. It is finding and feeling confidence in yourself and pursuing your passion. It is comfort in the moment and trusting that everything will come together in due time. It is love for others, for yourself, and love for the world.
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