My name is Jonathan. I am a traveling photographer and videographer with a passion for wilderness, community development, and sustainable food and urban systems. In the past several years my work and interests have given me opportunities to many places around the globe for learning, serving, and sharing in all forms. My most recent collaboration is with Conscious Impact, a grassroots organization dedicated to rebuilding community in a rural village in Nepal following the devastating 2015 earthquakes.
I started taking photographs as a young teenager. I often credit my mom's point and shoot 35mm film camera and one of those Sony Mavica floppy disk cameras in the late 90's that captures a whooping 0.3 megapixels(!). I am self-taught, and proudly so. I started shooting with a DSLR in 2005, and had my first paid gig a year or two later. After more than a decade, it's still a happy long-term relationship.
I grew up in Hong Kong and Los Angeles, though don't particular feel at ease or comfortable in urban centers anymore. In the last few years I have lived mostly in Seattle and rural Nepal. Since graduating in 2010 from University of California, San Diego and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography with a degree in Earth Sciences and Environmental Systems, I have worked in the realms of community development and environmental education locally and globally while doing photography on the side. Whilst in Seattle I volunteered at the Beacon Food Forest, a community-driven, open-for-all, food-producing garden and forest in the city. I love that place. I had the opportunity to serve on its Site Development and Steering Committee for a year, and together with my neighbors we did some radical things to bring folks of all backgrounds and social-economic levels closer in a safe space that (re)connects people to one another, to food, and to nature.
In response to the devastating earthquakes of April and May 2015, I have spent much time in the village of Takure in the Sindhupalchok district of Nepal with the organization Conscious Impact, where I live and rebuild alongside locals and international volunteers while documenting the collaborative work. Together with the Conscious Impact team, we have leveraged social media to spread the word, tell stories, and continue the funding for the rebuilding project. Besides the food forest, I haven't found a better, more meaningful way to use photography and social media for social and environmental good alongside selfless individuals with the common goal to help and serve others.
Later in 2017, I will travel to Christchurch in New Zealand to work with the Otakaro Orchard to help promote New Zealand's first urban food hub. It will be a place that locals and visitors alike can gain knowledge and inspiration about sustainable food systems in practice. Otakaro broke ground in early August 2017 and has taken inspirations from the Beacon Food Forest.
I love bicycles, bicycle touring, backpacking, wilderness, and am fascinated by big mountains, as well as the wisdom, culture, and way of life of indigenous peoples all around the world. Traveling has added tremendous global perspectives and knowledge I wouldn't have gained from formal education. I have worked and/or spent time with the indigenous Emberá, Guna, and Ngäbe-Buglé peoples in Panama, Ahka people in northern Thailand, and Ladakhi, Spitian, and Sherpa peoples of the Himalayas, and hopefully soon will learn about Māori people and their history & culture.
Sometimes I like to geek out on gear. Especially lenses. Over the years I have slowly learned that it's still first and foremost the photographer, the time and place, the lens, then lastly the camera. The camera helps create the image no doubt, but just as you wouldn't complement a chef for his/her *amazing* frying pan/iron skillet/knife, a photographer's tool is simply that - a tool. A quality camera only takes quality images if you bring it with you and gets utilized. The best camera is the one in your hand.
Note that this site is brand new as of August 2017, and may not yet have the latest works, past and present. Social media would more likely showcase the newest captures.
Please get in touch for commissioned work, printing, licensing, and collaborations to discuss your needs.
-THIS IS ME-
Photo credit: friends and strangers from all walks of life. Notable mention: Graham Wynne top row left (both).