On my own path.

The one thing that I've really learned about myself while living in Los Angeles for the past few years is that I have not only accepted, but respect that we all have our own path. This has to do entirely with the experience of living in LA and this coming of age realization that I didn't even know I had to realize. I would not have grown this much had I stayed in the Midwest. I came to Los Angeles in pursuit of trying to emulate the success of photographers I yearned to be like. I fully admit, I wanted to be just like them. I wanted to have their talent, their relationships, their personality, similar clients, their lifestyle. Something has fundamentally shifted in my outlook and attitude about my life. Over these few years, I've paid less and less attention to those people. There were a handful of photographers who I once adored from afar. Not only am I unphased by their work and their life, I want nothing to do with their career or lifestyle. I don't want to have their relationships, I don't want to be around the people they hang around, I don't desire to dress like them or think like them. I think this all has to do with finally respecting that I have my own place in the universe, and that path is very different that those whom I've admired, and those who I will admire in the future. I know these feelings are true because I no longer have that feeling of jealousy. I'm happy for them. The opposite of love isn't hate; it's apathy. I feel apathy toward them -- in a good way. I have my own ideas, and eventually my own style. I have my own dynamic in relationships. I think I'm finally figuring out what it means to be me. And now that I've lost interest in my "role models," it's a lot easier to do. I can freely think for myself and execute my own ideas without comparison or self judgement. 

Entering Latsch Island into these festivals was an important step for me. These "festivals," were basically just screenings..and they were small. It wasn't a big deal. It was more about creating something that I felt close to, and a step in the direction of exploring my own ideas and being more grounded. I submitted the film to a few festivals for the hell of it just to see what would happen. It got accepted to a couple and that was a great experience. It was just enough encouragement to keep making more things that matter to me, explore humanity, and search for truth in my own path.

I'm finally thankful for where I grew up. I'm from the north. A small, working class town on the mississippi. I have my own perspective. As a child, I wished I lived in southern California..but my path was not to grow up in the valley, or orange county or san diego, or any of those incredibly vapid suburban places (the beach is still awesome though). And I am finally thankful for that. Because of where I grew up, I have the ability to relate to people on Latsch, and those around the country like them. I'm excited to make more films like this one. 





Wailea Shops in Maui

These jobs in Hawaii are always a blast. I've been nothing short of honored to be chosen over and over again to be a part of 7 shoots over the last few years. Out of all the fashion photographers out there, they choose me, and I don't even consider myself a fashion photographer. However, I think my lifestyle and documentary style work well for the tourism and lifestyle vibe that this client is after. I'm doing a fair amount of video and editing work these days, and along with the stills, I took a little bit of video footage. I edited the footage together with beauty/b-roll footage to create a feeling of selling the dream of Hawaii. It's not really about the swimsuit, it's about being there in the swim suit. I'm really excited to go back at the end of May for the next issue and produce both stills and social media videos! 


I loved Japan! This country is definitely one I will be returning to. The moment I stepped off the airport bus to the streets of Tokyo, I was mesmerized. Words that come to mind when I think of Japan: instant gratification, anime, cartoon toys, kawaii, hard-working culture, video games, claw machines, vending machines, slot machines, prostitutes, shopping, eating, drinking, hedonistic, cleanliness, perfectionism, face masks, black clothes, pops of color, organized, well mannered, soft spoken, people, and more people. 


When visiting Japan, I highly recommend the J-rail pass! For a couple hundred dollars, you can take the bullet train for 7 days. During my week, I went from Tokyo to Nagano to Kyoto. It was efficient and FAST! The train stations were a little confusing in Tokyo, but other than that, it was a breeze to get around. While in Tokyo, we made our rounds to all the quirky cafes: Robot Cafe, Kawaii Monster Cafe, Hello Kitty Cafe, and the Owl Cafe. We stayed in Shibuya in the middle of everything and air bnb'ed our accommodations.   


Japan has a magic and romance to it. Even in the crowded urban areas, the air feels dreamy. We spent all day walking around the Fushimi Inari Torii gates. These red shrines are a network of 10,000 red arches that extend through the forrest behind the main buildings. Although fairly touristy, the higher you go, the less crowded it is. We then explored Higashiyama District, which is a really well preserved historic part of the city. There are tons of small shops, cafes and restaurants. We spent the evening  meandering through the quaint little alleyways and stopping for Hello Kitty pancakes ^__^


No trip to Japan is complete without going north to the snow monkey park! I spent all day there and then at night, stayed in historic Shibu Onsen. I dressed up in the complimentary kimono at the ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel) and made my rounds to the 9 onsens (bath houses) along the main road. The onsesn are nude and separated by men's and women's. If you are going there for a romantic get away, it's best to book a hotel with your own private onsen as opposed to the public ones that I did. The hotel included a traditional Japanese breakfast and dinner. You can't go wrong with this experience. I got a lot of my information from this site when deciding where to book: http://www.yudanaka-shibuonsen.com/