Northwest Arkansas Wedding and Portrait Photographer
Wes Ryan, Storyfisher & Taleteller
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Northwest Arkansas Wedding and Portrait Blog

Wes Ryan is a Northwest Arkansas based portrait and wedding photographer specializing in professionals, families, children and pets! Wes Ryan serves as a photographer in Fayetteville, Rogers and surrounding areas in Arkansas. Check out my photography blog, where I talk a little more in depth about my clients, the photography work I love, and an occasional portrait photography adventure.

Road Trip Panoramas: Garden of the Gods

You may or may not have noticed that my blog posts are not always purely professional. I try to include my actual life in them. The following is basically 100% actual life, and really has nothing to do with my professional photography business in Denver, where I provide wedding, portrait and product photography to a variety of clients. This is a personal story from my past, accompanied by images I took at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, CO very recently. Proceed with caution.

Eons ago, when I was a freshman in college at the University of Arkansas, I took a trip to see my friend in Colorado Springs over Thanksgiving Break. This was before I became a professional photographer, even before I started working as a photojournalist. I was a freshman, and not having the most reliable transportation, I took a bus from Fayetteville to Colorado College. In high school friend, Stacey, played softball and cajoled her friends into letting me hang out with them. For reasons I can't remember, she wasn't visiting home for the holidays, so I decided to come to her. The bus ticket was $84 and I think I had about $150 in my bank account. I left on Wednesday.

One of the youth pastors from church loaned me his cell phone to use for emergencies. It was a slate gray flip job with a rubber dial pad and a green liquid crystal screen. It was a 12-hour ride, and less than 50 miles down the road, I met a girl that lived back home. She was older than me, but thought I was cute because, duh. I am. 12 hours is a long time to get to know someone. Before we came to her stop, somewhere between Lawrence and Pueblo, she gave me her phone number, which I tucked safely inside my diary, er... journal.

When I saw Stacey, we went to the store, I think, to get turkey and bread and other stuff to have a thanksgiving feast. My cousin Mike lived there and let me sleep on his couch. I remember walking in and seeing a disassembled assault rifle on the coffee table. Mike lives in Africa now. 

Stacey and I made plans the next day to ride bikes to downtown Colorado Springs. Somehow, only 15 years ago, it was a much smaller town. I don't remember there being a Best Buy or a Furniture Row. Of course, it's possible that my memories are romanticized, after all, I was a 19 year old virgin and Facebook didn't even exist. I think we all used livejournal back then. Oh god. Excuse me. I have to go find my old blog now. Check out these photos and I'll meet you at the bottom.

Okay, so I found it, and there's no way in hell I'm sharing it because holy crap I was a giant ball of emotional tension. But I will share what I wrote the week before I left for Colorado Springs.

something happened tonight.

something that changed the course of my life.

it’s like I went back in time and did the very thing that I wanted to do, but wasn’t allowed. Tonight, I was allowed and now I feel spectacular.

Thank you, person. You tasted like Juicy Fruit and Cigarettes.

Wow... go me. Crushin' it, young Wes. 

Anyway, so back to the bike ride. Cousin Mike had a friend with a bike shop and let me borrow this really nice ten-speed. We set off for the park with Stacey leading the way and I would estimate that we traveled approximately six blocks before the rear tire went completely flat. I failed to negotiate a curb and pfft. Flat. Yea. Embarrassing. I had to return the bike to my cousin, who returned it to his friend, and the Great Bike Rally of 2002 was cancelled. 

I returned to Fayetteville the next day. The trip was fun, and I had $-58 in my checking account, but I didn't see Stacey again for years, and I didn't take any more bus trips. The ride back wasn't nearly as interesting. College life consumed me, then post-college life consumed me, and now regular life consumes me. I romanticize those years a lot, but only by omitting the worst. And not because the girl on the bus wouldn't return my calls, but I like to think I don't think I do that anymore.