photography

3 Days Home, 27 Away and What I Learned

April was a whirlwind of a month! I was anywhere but home, but if you were to ask me if I would live it again, I would say yes in a heartbeat!

Waukegan:
It all started in a town North of Chicago. My last trip for work before I was to take my week long vacation to Japan and Coachella. I was burnt out tired and ready for a break but had my last bit of business to handle before getting my break. The night I arrived I handled some work and then stepped out into a small bar I thought looked good for dinner.

At the table there was a group of people all clowning around with each other. There was a joke about the “typical male response” and I took this opportunity to join in agreeing with the males at the table. I did not know then but that was my in with them. We ended up joking there for about an hour or so then I got invited by the group to hangout at one of their places with the group. At that point I decided why not! I have nothing to lose.

I went and had a blast. It reminded me of hanging out with my fraternity brothers way back in college. We played spades and sat around making jokes. We laughed and I got to know the group better. They had a dynamic that made me fit right in. It was exactly the refresher I needed before my break. I ended up making new friends that I wouldn’t of made otherwise.

Lesson: Whenever you have a chance to meet new people take it! It opens your life up to amazing opportunities!

Japan:
After a day at home to pack, I quickly went to Japan. My first overseas trip ever! When I landed I was amazed by how beautiful everything looked. It was a sky clearer than I had seen before. Everyone did not look like me and that was a sudo-first. Basically I stood out like a sore thumb and not just because my ethnicity but the way I dressed.

The second day I was there, as I walked the street in my ripped jeans and t-shirt. A flood of black and blue suits filled the streets. It was fascinating, I saw few people with differences. I was shocked to see everyone in almost unison. If I wasn’t sure I was in another country I was now. I explored the culture that day searching for cherry blossoms. I was able to find a beautiful grove where everyone stopped to take photos. I took one too of course!

That evening I experienced their nightlife and it did not disappoint. I ended up at a place called Harlem. There I got introduced to one group with listening to house and rock music. Later in the night I went down to the bottom floor and was surrounded by those listening to hip hop. That was a complete culture blend. There were people from Canada, Switzerland, Japan (of course) and me from the US. We all just enjoyed the same music, meaning music is universal!

Lesson: Explore other cultures you’d be surprised at what you will see as similarities and difference.

Coachella:
My first Coachella…even though I went to UCR. Anyway I got to catch up with my high school friends and listen to some amazing artist. It was a plethora of chill people. I met some people from London, photographers, and a variety of cool people. On top of that I got to see great performers. Ladies don’t hate me for this but I hate Beyonce…blame single ladies and a high school ex. But I will admit she put on a extremely good performance! Probably one of my favorites but seeing The Weekend, Miguel, and even Chance grace the stage took the cake for me. I felt like my best self out there. It was amazing to be around so many just living and enjoying life!

Lesson: Your never to old to try something new! Life is for living and only by trying new things can you truly know what you like!

Sacramento and San Ramon:
My hometown! After rushing to the airport to make that flight. I got there and I ended up seeing all of the changes they made. It was like a different downtown from when I grew up. It was so artsy now…but unfortunately I forgot my camera. I did snap a cool pic on my phone though. It was good to be home and to walk about like the teen I used to be. Plus I got to get in a few workouts. There’s no where like home.

That Friday night I drove out to San Ramon to help with NSBE. When I got there I was quickly invited to an event in Oakland. I headed out there and got to hear a phenomenal list of guest speakers… I’ve got about 30 minutes on my phone. They all looked like me. Quote of the night, “We (black culture) spend so much on Henny! Why isn’t there a Henny University!” Basically why do we spend so much on going out when we can invest in ourselves and our community!

Lesson: When you open your ears you hear opportunities! I got a chance to hangout with the even planner who if he’s not a millionaire he’s at least an thousandaire. He was a normal guy just with a hard work ethic. He just listened to the world, wrote about it, and made things to improve it.

Houston:
Every time I come to Texas, I am reminded how much I love the state. If you guys fixed your weather, I would probably stay here. Definitely kidding. It was my first 2 week trip for work and I had the opportunity to meet a lot of cool people. I learned Houston is one of the most diverse cities. Heard it twice so I’m counting that as validated. I love towns that I could sit down and just have a conversation with random people. It’s not like that everywhere but Houston you guys got it!

I also caught up with an old friend. That taught me a lot, while I did enjoy myself and felt great meeting with them over the weekend, I realized how much I’ve grown. I picked up on habits I dislike. It reminded me in the last 4 months I have grown and I know what things I like versus dislike in the people around me.

The thing that made my trip is in the airport I came across an old friend from high school! We caught up and she’s a recruiter for exactly what I do! It’s funny how the universe has a way of connecting people. It was great just catching up and learning about her line of work. As I write this boarding my flight, I can only be grateful for my time away. I am looking forward to my bed though.

Lesson: While you can take longer trips by yourself. The reason why is it forces you to learn what you like and enjoy. It reminded me going forward that life is a learning process, sometimes you’ll fail to learn.

Photos from my travels!

photography

Life & Death

This post will be completely different than any of my last post.  This one is based on an experience that happened to me in Austin, TX.

I was on the hunt for new photos and decided to try to take pictures down by the river.  The first two ways to get to it did not work so finally as the day starts to wind down, I find Turkey Creek Trail.

Quickly glancing at the map, I find that I can reach the river if I just follow the trail.  I quickly rush off down the path.  My first photo is a shot of the creek, shot with my newest lens.

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I continue up my way quickly trying to reach the river, as today the clouds are perfect the sun is high and the weather is perfect for a hike.  Quickly an hour passes and I have not yet reached the river.  I get to a point that looks like I will have to stop as the trail seems to go down hill.  I test it and I know that it would not be wise to go that way.  As I am turning around I look up and see the trail.  I find myself in a beautiful valley to take a few photos.

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I keep trekking because I finally have the height to see the clouds over the trees.  I look down at my phone and see I have no signal, but my photo opportunities keep getting better.  I finally reach a point to where I realize that I will not be able reach the creek.  As I reach my final stopping point, about 20 feet ahead of me, I see an animal run through the bushes.  It is large enough to do damage if it charges at me, but it runs quickly across the path.  Now fear builds because it is on the side of the path I am on.  I decided to take a photo of the clouds anyway, but still listening for any potential harm.

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That was my warning…stop going forward head back before you cannot see your route back to your car.

As I am heading back, I find I can take a better picture at one of the valleys that I stopped at.  I stop to take a better photo.

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Stopping for perfection, I lose more of my lighting for the trail back.

As I head back down the trail, I turn at what I believe I think is the path back down.  I realize quickly it is not but try to make my way to the trail from that path.  I am utterly wrong, and if not by shear will of God, I look down and see if I completed my next step I would step on a sleeping rattle snake.  I skid to a halt, seeing my life flash before my eyes and run up the hill.  I imagine my death, caused by the rattle snake biting me and being off the trail to where no one would find me.  No phone signal at all to call anyone to assist me.  It is at this point, in my mind I would of died.

I immediately start freaking out, I start half running down the hill and start being less cautious about my steps.  At the peak of my fear, I see something flash by my eye.  I stop thinking that I am in some immediate danger.

As I stop to look, I realize that it is a firefly.  My mind slows and I have peace.  My heart stops racing and I realize the beauty in their flashes.  I stop to take photos on Instagram and Snapchat.  I am no longer fearful but excited as this is my first time seeing fireflies.

I see them as my guide back to my car.  I feel blessed as they show me that I am safe.  I follow them back to my car.  As I arrive I realize that I was shown the mortality of my life, death, and I was shown the beauty of my life as well in the same trip.

I did not fear death prior to this moment, because I knew I had taken the actions to save my soul.  What I realized is that I found out is the reason why I was fearful this time is that, I found something that I still want to build.  My photography.  I had so much to learn and grow.  I was afraid my photos would stop here.  This moment showed me what truly was important to me.  I may not be the best photographer, but this matters.  Now matters.  My life matters.

 

Other photos:

photography

Me Vs Him Series

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always had this internal battle with myself.  This feeling of wanting to do something or feeling like I deserve something and in the back of my mind feeling like I can’t.  It’s that feeling of battling against myself.  Basically like there is Me…and then there is Him.

He’s always been there trying to tell me “no that’s not possible”, “why would you want to do that”, “that’s not something that you can do”.  I’ve always had to fight against that feeling I would not be able to do it.  He’s in my subconscious, he is my doubts, he is there trying to prevent my constant striving for greatness.  He’s like a shadow trying to loom over me.

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Several times, I had this conversation: “I want to go out tonight, I know I will have a good time.”  In the back of my mind he’s there saying, “Well what if you don’t.”

Overall, I have started winning my battles against him, but I have to remember that he is a part of who I am.  So the battle may not be Me Vs Him, but it a battle to remain positive and continue to grow.  When He gets in the way of my growth we will be in conflict, but I will never let him decide if I am good enough.

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I am Him and I must be at peace with that.