with repeated visits to REI and other stores a group of old and new friends set off to our biggest journey yet. i landed in LAX after almost missing my connecting flight. after hearing a last warning to board i found myself running with a kid in a cool hat that simply asked me "going to LA too, huh?" all i could muster was "let's do this!" and we barely made it. i've only started hiking a few months ago in the smallest capacity with only day hikes. i never in my life camped before and waking up to a bristling cold morning 6000ft feet above ground in the vast little yosemite valley was truly eye opening. i woke up to a dead cellphone, rain drops lightly falling upon my tent, and my friends rustling about. i seemed to have forgotten the grueling hike up to get to my destination and the access to the outside world that i utilized so often. i was disconnected yet connected all in the same. i was suddenly sitting in a hammock joking around with whoever wasn't by the camp fire. i slowly rocked back and forth continuously staring at the mountains in the foreground. we were very happy to finally wear our day packs versus wearing our 30lb+ packs as we started on another 4 mile hike up to cloud's rest. as the air grew thinner so did my energy but the beauty i found with hiking was the view at the end was the biggest treasure. sure, it was hard but to see the world in a newer vantage point was the best part. from one amazing view suddenly changed into the crystal blue and icy surrounding mountains of lake tahoe. this was one of the highlights to my trip. climbing over each rock to get closer was all i wanted to do. i found myself with my friends just staring out and realizing what we were actually looking at. we each had our own ideas of what we were glaring at but i'm sure we all were completely blown away. we checked out of a hotel for two that could probably only fit one but somehow fit five people and continued onto las vegas as our last destination before flying back home in LA. las vegas was where we completely decompressed from being people of the wild for so many days. we indulged in drinks and laughter amongst the night's lights. it was honestly amazing to me to find myself amongst people with so much love in them and caring for each other each step of the way. when i rushed to board my flight all i could think about was how lucky i was to see this part of the world with tiffany, david, kenny, kaydee, reathany, & amanda. thank you so much. wow.
this was definitely one of those journeys where i felt invincible. it gave me a sneak peek of my dream of being a traveling photographer. the idea of hopping unto an early flight and landing somewhere i've never been to, meeting up with my good friend, jamaal then heading straight to a photo shoot. that. that makes me so happy. walking into a beautiful loft with wardrobe ready and a make up artist perfecting our model for the day. i feel like my dreams are starting to become more attainable each and every time i venture off. jamaal and his wife brittany welcomed me into their place with a welcome note to me pinned next to the door. we barely spent time in their home unless i was editing after a long but great day of exploring. i did 3 shoots while i was there. one with elyse, a couples shoot with maal, britt and their puppy bolo, and ariana. the deep talks with jamaal on our metro rides was definitely the highlight. being able to talk about creative struggles and our newest ideas was so refreshing. he's the type of person who carries a glow about them who will eventually form into a huge light beam. there were nuggets of knowledge that i'll always hold onto. this is only the beginning.
as soon as i landed i felt a sudden rush of adrenaline because i had absolutely no idea what i had in store for me. no real plans other than attending WPPI and helping out the good people at the SNAPSHOTS app and listening in to seminars hosted by great photographers who draped their earned knowledge on us. i roamed las vegas more than i sat down. walking 10 miles every single day but i loved it even though my legs didn't. i jumped on a ride to the beautiful vast state of utah and nearly had a heart attack at every turn on the winding roads. the views of massive rock formations lined the path like jewelry and was just as gorgeous to gaze at. as the car climbed higher it became colder. we entered a portion of kolob canyon and my eyes grew bigger. this is the second time i've ever seen a mountain up close. i never really know what to do with myself when i'm in these situations. i get so excited and overwhelmed that i always have to take a moment to recollect. we waited until nightfall to take our photos back in nevada at the valley of fire. i ended up taking my first long exposure photo ever. it was so dark outside and the stars peeked through perfectly. before the flight days later i decided to join some of my friends at snapshots and journey with them to red rock mountain. as my third ever mountain experience i knew it had to be different and it definitely was. rock climbing quickly went from risky to adventurous for me. squeezing and scaling through to see a bigger picture was breathtaking. i returned to the airport literally hours later in a sweaty flannel and bruised hiking boots to fly back home. (for now)
coming from a very flat state, all i've ever seen was beaches and cityscapes so seeing mountains for the first time was definitely an eye opener to me. i've always seen photos of people hiking and i would always cry inside because i wanted to photograph something like that. i was very fortunate to have friends who made that dream of mine come true for me. driving three hours outside of charlotte, nc with hnin, hboan, chris, & danielle to the outskirts of brevard county touching tennessee. snow was still left over the ground as we began hiking. as i followed my bestfriend, hnin i dug my boot into the snow. i haven't seen snow since 2001 in london as a child and boy, did i miss looking at how majestic it looked and felt. we reach the top on max patch mountain and i was deeply overwhelmed by how blue the mountains were in the distance. what was just a dream to photograph the scenery turned into something deeper. i forgot about all of my worries i had coming into the new year. instead, i realized how small my problems were and how big and beautiful the world is. i needed this more than i thought and i'm so grateful. i hope to see more of the world this year and onwards.
i've always either went to miami for work or with family. i've always wanted to explore it a little but also partake in the idea of miami. i had a chance to travel with a group of good friends to see the weeknd perform but what happened after the show was so fun. from confusing uber trips to getting drunk to edm music in outdoor clubs. btw edm sounds better when you're under the influence. i've never been the type to dance at these types of things if not ever. i think this was the first time signal of me finally opening up more and enjoying myself like i never have before. the next morning tiffany and i explored the area and also saw wynwood walls again with everyone. this time we had all of the time in the world i actually got to enjoy it more than the last couple of times i visited. every stroke of paint that resided on each wall filled me with more inspiration. we found ourselves back on the road towards home. i finally used the feature on my camera that allowed me to edit photos on my phone so everything you see here was brought to you by the future! (i tried to sound cool and ended of more dorky than usual)
i recently had the chance to venture out into new york with my friend, jamaal (dweeb lifestyle) and his wife, britt. they were great hosts and showed me around nyc like i have never seen before. a lot of my family reside there but i never got to actually explore especially as a photographer. jamaal and britt made sure my experience felt as local as possible skipping most of the main attractions (except the dumbo) eating local food (my favorite part) and really seeing it how they saw it on a daily basis. we booked models together and they helped me greatly with maneuvering around so i could try my hand in street photography. many thanks to jamaal and britt and i hope to see you soon for another journey in a new location! here's a stroll through memory lane: