The Outtakes

Many moons ago {two years, but who is counting?} I wrote a post about a collegiate who—to the surprise of everyone–committed suicide. All of her friends and family who viewed her seemingly-perfect life through the lens of her social media feed were honestly shocked; how could someone with such a perfect life want to end it?

It’s an age-old question that continues today. Do we as consumers want to see the reality behind social media or do we merely prefer the curated snaps that present a picture-perfect pretense of utopia?

I continue to ponder this question. I receive countless of emails from readers who ask for advice on my “perfect lifestyle” and while I’m insanely flattered, it always makes me wonder if I’m fanning the flames of a dishonest fire. But that’s the tricky part; in the grand scheme of things, I realize how fortunate I am. I love my life; I’ve been afforded insane opportunities; I just accomplished one of my life’s dreams in writing a book; I have the world’s best husband, family and friends. What do I have to complain about?

In reality, not much. But, just like many of us, I deal with banal issues on a daily basis. Student loans. Relationship squabbles. Questions on my future. A dog with a torn ACL. Until last year, I was paying off a chunk of medical bills that I’d previously racked up thanks to a pre-existing condition that led to an uncovered surgical procedure. Oy.

So when I try to talk about the important of showing reality online, it comes across as contrived, even to myself. That’s why the original idea of showcasing bad photos first popped into my head. Of course, unflattering images are minor in comparison to what many are hiding on a daily basis. But, as someone who puts a lot of stuff out onto the internet, I figure they’re a start. Baby steps and all that.

Here they are: the outtakes. You guys see a lot of my outdoor life through the lens of Will’s camera, but that comes along with a talented eye and a Lightroom subscription. What you don’t see are the ones with the cellulite and adult acne and downright bizarre faces!

I’ll admit that I couldn’t find some of the good ones this go ’round but there are still a few in the bunch that me cringe. Turns out, I really do look like that sometimes.

Jackson, Wyoming


Remember this photo? I used it awhile back from our trip to Jackson with Snow King Resort. It was never my favorite photo but I used it on social media because it encapsulated our day pretty well {hello, frozen eyelashes!} and my general mood. Wasn’t too terrible.

But this is what it actually looked like:

OuttakesPurple skin, smudged mascara, and facial scars everywhere. I was not having a good day!

Big Horn CrossFit


This photo by itself is whatever….not good, not bad, just meh. It was one of the head shots Will took for my upcoming coach’s profile {assuming I pass my cert in a few weeks!} But it makes me laugh every time I look at it! Does anyone else see how my gigantic head is floating on my skinny neck?!

Barre Forte

OuttakesI’ve seen photos of women who look beautiful and strong in a barre class. Long lean muscles, knowing smiles, and a slight glow of perspiration as they power through the toughest movements.

That was not me. That shit hurt and my face showed it!

Trail Running


Gear Reviews

OuttakesIf you’ve read my site for awhile, you may remember seeing this image floating around. The jacket is by Icebreaker and it’s an awesome piece; in fact, I wear the corresponding vest pretty regularly. By the looks of this photo, you’d think I was having the BEST TIME EVER! Gear reviews are fun! Post-sunset at the lake in December is fun! My stomach isn’t growling at all!

But actually, I think I maybe cried that night. I was so damn tired and frustrated with so many things!

OuttakesAnd no, we didn’t edit this photo which is why it is so dark. Why bother wasting valuable time and energy on a photo of me crying?!

Fat Biking

OuttakesSo often, you guys read my recaps of trips involving activities I love: skiing and hiking and trail running and the like. But I really suck at a lot of things, and fat biking was one of them. Pretty sure I pushed my bike more than I actually rode it.

The Camino


You’ve likely seen this photo around my social media world. In fact, it became my profile picture for quite awhile. Will snapped it while we were hiking the Camino de Santiago with my parents last September. It was after our first day of hiking, and I’m pretty sure I was in the bathroom. I leaned out the window to see what Will was doing outside and accidentally stumbled into a photo session.

I like that photo, but this is what the majority of them looked like. ‘Nuff said.


Longs Peak


Remember last summer when I finally summited Longs Peak, a 14er that had been taunting me since the early 2000s?! It was a beautiful if ass-kicking hike and the photos I used on social media were pretty awesome {if I do say so myself, which I can because I brag about my husband’s skills!}

But there were definitely parts of that hike where I felt like death. Or just really confused.


Head Shot

OuttakesThis quickly became my new head shot after a session in the park. I knew I needed some new photos before my book came out, so Will and I headed to Cheesman Park after we snapped an engagement session. I was a bit tired since we’d been shooting the beautiful couple all day, but I managed to pull it together for a couple decent shots. This was a favorite and has been used in various places.

I like to call this one, “Ol’ Dead Eyes.” Or “Forehead Wrinkles.” You decide.


Kebler Pass

And finally, this one just makes me laugh. What in the hell am I looking at? My hand? My rings? Do I even know where I am?!



  • Reply Amanda at

    I love this idea! This is such a refreshing post compared to the near cliche “social media does not accurately represent real life” think pieces–the silly pictures show me that the authentic life isn’t necessarily terrible or worse, just slightly less photogenic. I also have a lot of terrible photos of myself in the wilderness, including shots where I was positive I looked like a badass mountain warrior only to find a ridiculous facial expression. I love celebrating those shots as well!

    • Reply Heather at

      Some of the photos where I’m POSITIVE I look pretty awesome are usually the worst. Apparently my “smizing” actually looks like I poked my eyeball 😉

  • Reply Val Weston at

    This is fantastic! Trying to get folks who romaticize your life to understand it isn’t all puppies and rainbows is a tall order. And it’s tough to get real and not be a total downer, especially when the reality is that things aren’t going well at all. Delicate dance to be sure but showing all sides of it it what makes you authentic. Happy adventuring!

  • Reply Amelia Furman at

    Thanks for being so honest! We all need this from time to time to remember that online life is often posed and not a cameo. I just finished hiking my second 14er (Quandary) and I was looking back at the pictures. It looked like all fun and no hardship! Next time I’m going to take more photos that express the utter terror I feel as I get closer to the summit. I kind of have a problem with heights. Outtakes give the full picture! Nice job:)

    • Reply Heather at

      Congrats on Quandary; it’s a good one!

  • Reply Suzanne at

    Funny coincidence, I had in mind to do an outtakes photo post in the next week or two as well. 🙂 It’s also interesting to see what you consider “outtakes”, since most of them look like perfectly fine pics to me! What seems obviously horrible in our own eyes often doesn’t seem that way at all to others.

    To your opening point, as a content creator I too often question how much people REALLY want to see “real life”. On the one hand, I do find that curating a certain “image” is actually positive for me. It can help solidify those memories as positive and create a sort of sacred space/shrine of sorts to the things that make me happy when life maybe isn’t going so well. This whole concept also ties in with the conflict of being positive vs being real in writing as well. So often social media/content creation is like “hey look at my expensive new bag and also I have a perfect husband and also I went hiking in my beautiful town this weekend wee!” when in reality, the week was fraught with feelings of deep-seated inadequacy and rejection, boring days at work, uncomfortable emails with sponsors, and lengthy to-do lists. But no one wants to follow someone who posts ugly pics and complains all the time. So…it’s a delicate balance for sure.

  • Reply Rochelle at

    Heather, This is a great post. I think we all do a damn good job of hiding behind our social media and could all do better at admitting we are real people. The beautiful tool that used to be for connecting and meeting people has become blended with our abilities to market something, whatever that is. It’s hard to balance the line between sharing the real and marketing because so often our marketing is tied to our livelihoods.

  • Reply Jason Cleghorn at

    FWIW, I like the outtake photos more. I am kind of embarrassed to say this, but people laugh at my selfies I take sometimes. But, I don’t care because I look tired. I’m breathing hard, or hell, maybe I have a Clif bar crumb on my shirt. Or I wear a cheap $2.00 tank top from Old Navy OVER a Reebok baselayer. Because that stuff is WHO I AM. I’m not Conrad Anker, or Andrew Skurka, etc. I am a middle age guy adventuring in his own terms.

    I urge everyone to BE themselves in the wild. It’s a ton more fun when you can just BE whoever you are.

    • Reply Heather at

      Meh. If you don’t have anyone to take a photo, selfies it is! Those people are likely just envious that you’re out there doing something!

  • Reply Rachel @ Better LIVIN at

    I LOVE posting the outtakes on social media, I call is #notamodel. Typically though, social media is an escape for me. When I have a rare moment to sit down and actually scroll through I want to see happy and pretty pics. I think as long as people remember it’s only a highlight reel and not real life they won’t fall into the comparison trap.

    • Reply Heather at

      Totally. And truthfully, I’d rather see the curated, beautiful images that blurry snaps of somebody’s breakfast. But, like you said, it’s important to remember that is merely 1% of that person’s real life, not the entire story.

  • Reply Anne at

    I’m cracking up, lol. Your commentary is hilarious. I really like the last one, with Tally looking away. I can imagine her thinking “daaaaad, mom’s being weird again. I want to go run!”

    • Reply Heather at

      I feel like that’s the story of her life. “Mom, STOP EMBARRASSING ME!”

  • Reply Lynn @ The Not Dead Yet Blog at

    I love the outtakes! And, just to say, no matter how tired or frozen you look, your eyelashes are always on fleek. (Am I using that phrase right, or is it reserved for eyebrows? I’m never sure. Help.)

    • Reply Heather at

      I have no idea how to use that expression but I appreciate the compliment!

  • Reply RobbingColorado at

    Hah, my friends and family always think I am doing amazing things because of my Facebook/instagram posts. Most of the time I am sucking for O2 or feeling my legs are going to buckle. My dog always looks good though. 😂

    Everyone should do a post like this once in a while to keep it all real. Glad you did it first though, I hate posting less than awesome photos lol.

    • Reply Heather at

      Hahah yeah, Tals always manages to look adorable! 😉

  • Reply Art at

    That story about the collegian was a very moving, and I’m really happy that you were willing to use your platform to speak on that issue (as you are willing to speak on many issues, I should note). I think that it is really difficult to put yourself out there on social media. There is certainly a lot of pressure, even if you don’t have a blog or an instagram following. The thought that people do actually interpret someone’s life as perfect, even though they are only human, is quite an intractable problem. I have a great friend with whom I will occasionally have text message relays about how bad we are GIGing at the moment (Grass-is-greener-ing). It does remind me of this issue a bit. For, even when we note the beautiful vistas on an instagram post, we must also note the burning thighs which accompanied the hike to said vista, or the frugality and planning inherent in living a travel lifestyle, or the fact that that someone with a great body also never misses a workout and works very hard to plan their meals. On top of this, we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg (self-doubt and regrets are allowed, we are only human). “Your life is your life, don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission,” said Bukowski. (why must I always go there, lol)

  • Reply Andrew DePalma at

    Wow! I loved this post for so many reasons! I started reading this because I have been thinking about starting my own Blog for a long time and honestly I was just procrastinating 🙂 Sometimes feel like I have something to say, think about writing, overthink everything and then stop before I start. Just seeing you put your “normal” images up was encouraging for me to just be myself and see what happens. Thank you so much for putting this out on the interwebs!

  • Reply Julie G Aubrey at

    Not sure how I stumbled on this blog, but glad I did.

    • Reply Heather at

      Awesome. Great to have you here, Julie!

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