Connecting with People

One of the things I love to do when I travel is connect with people. I think it comes more natural to me than it used to; in the past I was afraid to approach strangers, but I've grown in that area (although sometimes I still get scared). The fear that I feel though is generally washed away once I begin talking with people--I genuinely love meeting new people and hearing about their lives.  Like for example, this family I met in Thailand when I was there last year.

2017.11.24 - Connecting with People - blog 01.jpg

These two women are sisters, and their family has been running this small restaurant on the side of the road for a very long time. The sisters make the delicious food and take care of all the customers and their parents as well who live with them in their home that is attached to this restaurant. 

Going to the back of their restaurant was pleasurable--we chatted while they cooked and I took a few pictures. Unfortunately their English was limited and I have no Thai language abilities, but we were able to small talk some and it was an enjoyable experience for us both.

People are willing to connect with you if you just try to understand them; try to relate with them on some level about what they do, their lives, where they come from, what they believe in, etc. I know for me, when others ask me about my life and experiences I feel honored and loved--I hope these women did as well. If I ever get back to where they are it would be fun to visit them again!


Meet Amanda! | Portrait Project

Before we left the State's, I had taken a couple of portraits that I wanted to share on my blog. So without further adieu, meet my sister, Amanda!

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/2.2, 1/400 sec, ISO-500

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/2.2, 1/400 sec, ISO-500

"The best experience I have ever had was having kids. They are so entertaining and fun to be around." Amanda told me, as I asked her about the best experience in her life. 

My nieces and I being silly. |  Nexus 5X

My nieces and I being silly. | Nexus 5X

Amanda has two daughters, Haelee and Savannah, which are the cutest, most hilarious, and loving kids ever (yes, they are my nieces, but I most genuinely say this :). They're a joy to be around and add so much life to the room when they're present.

"Haelee says some hilarious stuff and Vannah does too. I love being a mom--it's such an honor to be the mom of these two girls." Amanda is really good with her kids, too--when you see them together, you clearly see the adoration of her two girls towards their mom.

I know my sister well, but I asked anyway about what some of her passions are and it's fun that photography runs in my family so much! She told me: "I love is photography. There is so much you can do with it. It's awesome to start off with a picture and create something beautiful out of it." 

Amanda has been photographing weddings and portraits for some time now and loves it. Our love for photography began about the same time and although we're passionate about different topics in this field, we still love to take photo walks together with our mom when I'm in town. This picture of her, actually, is from the last photo walk we took together before I left.

Thanks Amanda for letting me share your photo and parts of your life! 

If you'd like your picture taken and your story told, let me know and we can arrange that!

Thanks for stopping by!


What's Your Drive?

Are you utilizing your skills for your own benefit? Are you in your field for your gain? Are you sharing your story or focusing on others? 

These are some questions I've been pondering over the last couple of days due to a podcast I recently listened to. The podcast is called "Depth of Field" and is hosted by Matt Brandon, a travel and documentary photographer. The goal of the podcast is to interview other photographers for the benefit of other working photographers (or those who aspire to be a working photographer). The person being interviewed was Esther Havens, a humanitarian photographer, who has traveled the world working for NGOs, non-profits, and other organizations, to share their stories and the impact they're having on the world. She's a passionate person, who does amazing photographic work and someone who genuinely cares about the organizations she works for.

It was a challenging podcast, as it made me truly evaluate what I am doing as a photographer. Am I in this for myself? For my gain? Or am I trying to lift others up and share their stories? 

I don't know if I have a complete answer for myself--but I do know that there have been moments when I shot a picture and thought, "Oh! What a great shot to put in my portfolio!" This goes for taking pictures of people and even inanimate objects or scenery.

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/2.8, 1/800 sec, ISO-400

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/2.8, 1/800 sec, ISO-400

Like this picture of the splash of ocean water--if I thought immediately how great it would be to post this on my website, I'm not praising God for His creation, but thinking about myself. How short-sighted this is!

I feel slightly ashamed realizing that (and admitting it to you!), but in the creative field, it's a hard reality to fight against. The reality that everyone is trying to be better than others in their field and will do crazy things to stand out and receive a following. I don't think I've done anything crazy, but my heart and mind have sometimes wandered to myself rather than the person I was photographing. This is something I truly want to change in myself and my work.

I think that whatever field you're in, these are good questions to ask. It's good to have a "heart check" and ask yourself if you're trying to gain praise or if you're actually making a difference in the lives you're working with. I want the latter. I want to make a difference in the people I'm photographing and the stories I'm sharing.

So, what's you're drive? What's compelling you to do what you're doing? Is it for yourself or for others? Go think about it and let me know your thoughts!

If you want to listen to the interview, click here.


Differences in Worship

Growing up, I really thought worship was defined as singing or playing an instrument. Little did I know that my upbringing in the West fashioned my mind to think this way. I'm not saying it's wrong at all, in fact, I love playing my guitar and singing! For me, it's something very important that I like to do often. Going to other cultures though and seeing the differences in worship, I can't help but ponder more about what worship is exactly. 

5D Mark II; 85mm f/1.8  |  f/2.2, 1/100 sec, ISO-1600

5D Mark II; 85mm f/1.8  |  f/2.2, 1/100 sec, ISO-1600

The definition of "Worship" from Google is this: to show reverence and adoration for (a deity); honor with religious rites. 

The worshipers at the Golden Temple (pictured above) decided to show reverence by bowing and touching their head on the platform. Some places people will throw flowers, give money, bow down prostrate or even do hand motions.

As a bystander in most of these situations, I find it fascinating to see what people do. I think it widens our perspectives to watch the practices of other cultures. It might not be what we think is true, but it gives us insight into humanity and how we were created. 

 How do people worship in your culture? Leave a comment in the comment section below.


A Broken World

In the wake of what's happened in Florida, my heart is very heavy. This world is so broken and unfortunately, I don't think it's on the upswing. I'm not trying to be a pessimist, but we're all broken people--this is a reality. We've all been hurt, come from broken homes, have dysfunctional families, have broken friendships, and the list goes on. There is no perfect person in this world. 

Just look at TV. I know this isn't the only problem and certainly isn't the only reason for violence today, but I think it has something to do with it. Some shows are fine, but some images, messages, and world-views have become so mainstream that we are desensitized as a culture. Everything is becoming permissible to watch.

The other day while working at home, I glanced at the TV and watched in horror as a woman with a large butcher's knife killed two people. They didn't leave anything to imagination. I was sick. Why do we want to watch these things?! How is this enjoyable? What good does it do for us? Why put these things into our minds?

Our minds can create enough horror on their own without the help of others. Just FYI, this show was on normal, cable television. We weren't watching a slasher film. 

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/5, 1/2000 sec, ISO-500  |  Seattle, WA, USA

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/5, 1/2000 sec, ISO-500  |  Seattle, WA, USA

I think what Paul says in Philippians 4:8 is relevant: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (ESV) 

This is a high standard, but what a wonderful thing to work towards! Obviously, this doesn't bring the healing we need as a world. Only God can do that! But if we can stop putting evil things in, then what a change I believe would happen.

The world is broken, but God really likes to redeem people and activities. Why don't you be the start of that?


Ice Cream Anyone?

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/2.8, 1/800 sec, ISO-320

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/2.8, 1/800 sec, ISO-320

One thing that is true from culture to culture, is ice cream. :) We're all pretty smart! We know how wonderful it is to eat a yummy, cold, and sweet treat during the summer (or winter!). Even though it's a small/silly thing, it's another thing that is all similar among humanity. God created us to enjoy cold treats in the summer. I didn't try these above, but they looked pretty delicious! 

Hope that wherever you're at you can enjoy some sweet treats! :)


Beauty in Diversity

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/5, 1/1000 sec, ISO-800  |  Texas, USA

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/5, 1/1000 sec, ISO-800  |  Texas, USA

In the last few months we've traveled and met all kinds of people in different life situations. A few of those places have had wood blocks, like above, where they chop their own wood. This is a new thing for me. I know it is silly, but growing up in the city, we just went down to the store and bought wood. I know someone somewhere chopped it, but I never had to do that chore....or even think about doing that chore! It does make for a good picture, though! :)

On another note, I am thankful to know people who have such different lives than me. It brings things into perspective and shows me the beauty of diversity in our world. Not all of us have the same chores, but we definitely all have work that we have to do.

I believe that God has all given us different tasks to do in our lives--we all have a purpose and can live in that purpose. I believe part of my purpose is to take photos. When I take photos, I feel like I glorify God. I get to take pictures of His creation to show off how good of a Creator He is! That's a fun job! :)

What's your job? your purpose? your calling? It's good--I promise! If you don't exactly know, why don't you ask Him? If you know what that is, tell me about it in the comment section below. I'd love to hear about it.


Getting Over Fears

Canon 5D Mark II, 50mm f/1.4  |  f/2.5, 1/800 sec, ISO-400  |  Istanbul, Turkey

Canon 5D Mark II, 50mm f/1.4  |  f/2.5, 1/800 sec, ISO-400  |  Istanbul, Turkey

Street photography can be a lot of fun...and intimidating! Taking pictures of strangers is one thing that I'm still working through when I walk around different cities. I'm not perfect at it and I often miss opportunities because I'm afraid to ask or pull out my big camera! So in all honesty, I have a lot of growth in this area, but I keep trying it out with varying success.

Most people I've found, don't mind having their picture taken. Sometimes I ask, sometimes I don't--it just depends on the situation. If it's in a multicultural situation, hand gesturing works wonders! I point at my camera and then at them and generally with a head nod from them, I'm cued to take picture! 

How do you get over the fear of engaging others, especially if you're more timid? Well, this is me completely and my best answer is pretty simple. Just do it. Don't wait until the perfect moment (because it will pass you by). Just get over your fears and ask! They worse they could say is what danger is that? 

If you go for it, let me know! I'd love to hear how it went!