I'm pretty certain this is the only portrait I've ever shared. And amongst the first I've ever taken, to be honest. And I want to prepare you for more in the future, as it's something I fell in love with in Bali. Now, during the workshop, even though we were blessed with mostly incredible weather for landscape photography, when conditions weren't ideal we would wander around the villages and local markets looking for something, or someone, interesting to photograph. We were taught how to say "may I take your photo?" in Indonesian, and the vast majority of people asked were delighted to participate. I found that most people act quite different when they know they are being photographed, and I learned that the best photos were typically taken once the subject became accustomed to my presence, possibly even bored by it, and started acting like their natural selves again. For this reason I would often pretend I was done photographing them, thank them, drift away a bit before taking more photos from a distance. One of my favorite parts was to show them the photo afterwards and see their eyes and smile light up with admiration of their own image.
"The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do."
the rice farmer
On the first day of the photography workshop, after shooting with our drones for a while, we grabbed our cameras and headed into the rice terraces hoping to catch some of the misty morning light. And even though we were very content taking purely landscape photos of the sun blasting through the trees, one of the rice farmers emerged and was kind enough to let us photograph him in the middle of his rice terraces, which added a fun new dynamic to the morning. You will absolutely be seeing more of this man in future photos, but for now I'll keep things mysterious and leave you with his shadowy profile.
"It’s not the photographer who makes the picture, but the person being photographed."
rice terraces from above
Indonesia has been incredible. I started off in Ubub, Bali for a few days by myself before my photography workshop began, and then for nine days I was together with a small and mighty crew of fellow photography lovers, exploring this beautiful area with the extremely talented Jord Hammond leading the excursion. The workshop has officially ended, even though a few of us have still been exploring other areas together. I plan on sharing various different scenes from the different days of the workshop with you, so I figured I'd start with a scene from day 1. The first morning we woke up early to fly our drones over the rice terraces as the sun was coming up. We honestly had amazing conditions for photography almost the entire trip and this was the perfect start to an incredible workshop. So glad I went.
"One advantage of photography is that it's visual and can transcend language."
first morning in bali
This is one of my first photos taken in Bali. I went to bed early the night before, woke up feeling surprisingly refreshed and decided to go for a walk to explore the neighborhood. I ended up next to this little rice field with the clouds from the recent storm that passed still looming in the background. While I have definitely taken more stunning photos since, I love the calm simplicity of this one. It represented my first morning in Bali very well and I look forward to sharing a whole lot more of my trip with you over the coming weeks, and possibly months. Lots in store!
"We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us."
Once again, not my normal style but it's been fun exploring more abstract photography. In other news, depending on when you're reading this, I'll be leaving for Bali later tonight! One of my favorite photographers is hosting a photography workshop there and I decided to sign myself up! I'm not exactly sure what to expect, as I've never done a photography workshop before, but I'm really looking forward to exploring a new place and hopefully taking my photography to the next level.
"The key to pursuing excellence is to embrace an organic, long-term learning process, and not to live in a shell of static, safe mediocrity. Usually, growth comes at the expense of previous comfort or safety."
the night train
We ended up visiting Hanoi twice on our trip to Vietnam. Once when we landed, and once again before catching our flight back to Bangkok. On our first visit, my sister-in-law was sick, and couldn't join my brother and I at Train Street. So we made sure to stop by again when we were back in town so that she could see it for herself. And although we had a much longer wait for a train to roll in, it was really neat to see it at night. I will admit that it definitely made the photography more tricky, as snapping photos of moving objects in low light has its downside, but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out in the end. Yet another great memory made while traveling.
"At the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy and your eyes sparkling."
Even though it's not my usual preference, I actually love taking abstract photographs, especially when I travel. Reflecting back, I think a big reason why I gravitate mostly towards wildlife and nature photography is because the shots tend to be more difficult to replicate. A wild animal, for example, will almost certainly never be in that same spot, doing that same thing, with that same lighting, etc. And landscape photography, to a lesser degree, is difficult to replicate mostly because of the conditions of the sky and clouds that are always changing and never the same. And that's really exciting for me when I capture an amazing moment. Although I find abstract a bit more easy to duplicate, I do recognize that the real skill is in spotting the details in the first place. Which I'm learning to do more and more. Most people walk right past without even noticing the details that an excellent photographer can't possibly walk past without stopping for a photo. It's as if they are living in two different realities. And I think that makes it even more fun to experience.
"Often you will end up loving the new things you try and even if you don’t love it, you’ve given yourself a new experience."
hanoi at night
Next time I'm back in Hanoi I'm going to force myself to stay up super late and explore the city in the dead of night. The city was overwhelming for me during the day, with all the noise and traffic, but it definitely calmed down at night and created some really beautiful scenes. I admit that I did not stay up very late, nor explore much at night, but when I was out, the city lights and the natural darkness created some stunning contrasts. I'm certain if I had a few more nights to walk around I'd come home with some pretty incredible images!
"Night is purer than day; it is better for thinking, loving, and dreaming. At night everything is more intense, more true. The echo of words that have been spoken during the day takes on a new and deeper meaning."
the hanoi hustle
Hanoi, Vietnam was the busiest city I've ever experienced. At first it was completely overwhelming, with cars, moto's, and their loud horns consuming any sense of peace I had. But honestly, over time, I got a little more accustomed to it, and that's when I started enjoying the city more. I'd still prefer small towns, to be honest, but Hanoi was definitely an adventure. And I feel like if I had even more time there, I could learn to love it someday. From a photography standpoint, the biggest struggle was managing to take photos without any cars or moto's in the way. It was nearly impossible (at least during the day when traffic is busiest), but instead of fighting the tide, I decided to embrace it, as you can see. And I think it actually turned out pretty cool!
"Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain."
train street in action
You may remember that a while back I shared a photo from Train Street in Hanoi, Vietnam. It was honestly such a fun experience! The entire place was really photogenic, but the icing on the cake was when the actual train rolled through. My brother and I were fortunate enough to (inadvertently) stumble upon this spot about 30 minutes before the train came through. We had already settled in with a cold beer at a little bar beside the tracks, and before we knew it, the train rolled in. As you can see, I had enough time to position myself for a pretty cool photo of the action. A memory I will likely remember for the rest of my life.
"A moment lasts for seconds but the memories last forever."