Bonnie & Dennis & Family Photoshoot

A gorgeous day out at the beach in southern California! I had the chance to meet Bonnie, Dennis, and their family in Los Angeles over the weekend, and we went to Seal Beach for a family photoshoot. Light breeze, perfect temperatures, and not too many people even though it was a Saturday. We had discussed about the photoshoot for a few days and actually changed locations last minute due to the infamous Los Angeles traffic. Well our "Plan B" location turned out pretty sublime afterall. Though my camera nearly drowned in seawater(!), I had a lot of fun and we captured some great pixels together. I love my 2-lens/2-camera combo (Sigma 35mm f/1.4 ART + Canon 100mm f/2) that I've been using for the wedding last weekend and several portrait photoshoots in the past couple months. Here's a small collection of favorites showing the place and energy of the afternoon. Thanks, Bonnie & Dennis!

The new subtledream.

One of the profound self-realizations in the past year and a half traveling, serving, and learning around the world is that I am meant to be a photographer and storyteller, for life. 

I have said that "I am a (professional) photographer," for a number of years now, however I haven't yet fully embody that statement to the extend of my abilities, potential, and passion - until these past two years. Over half of the 14+ months aboard was spent living and working with the Conscious Impact team in Nepal. There, I documented everything from animal sacrifices, weddings, rebuilding sites, baby trees, smiles, to snow-capped Himalayan peaks through the seasons, at the mercy of the elements + gatekeepers of electricity (available 0-16 hours a day), while essentially being outside 24/7. I lived in a tent like every other short and long-term volunteer. My work table was created out of fallen roofing stones and bricks we made which didn't pass the strength test. It was on this make-shift desk (with an awesome view) where I created/processed nearly all of the media content that folks have been seeing on Conscious Impact's website and social media accounts. It was in that village and surrounding communities where I captured and edited tens to hundreds of stills each day, storyboarded and rendered a slew of videos for project updates and fundraisers, co-managed our social media outlets, worked with each team - agriculture, education, rebuilding - to ensure proper representation of peoples and happenings. There was never a moment of dullness, and I absolutely loved it. 

I wore a lot of hats - and so did nearly everyone involved with the rebuilding project that sprouted in response to the devastating April and May 2015 earthquakes. I wore these hats happily a large majority of the time, and couldn't imagine myself being anywhere else doing anything else. That sense of deeper satisfaction that comes from doing something GOOD - something not only you are good at, good for yourself, but even more importantly for others you love and care about - was rewarding beyond the compensation of a paycheck. Day after day this happened, and through this came the realization that I truly could do this work everyday, go to bed exhausted, but with a smile on my face. As "season 2" (Year 2) of Conscious Impact came to a close, I am deeply joyed and proud of our achievements. The numbers: over 350 volunteers from over 27 countries have contributed time, energy, and financial support to (re)build a school, an orphanage, a community center, an office building for the local women's microfinance cooperative, and 3 family homes. We've also expanded the knowledge of local farmers on organic agriculture, specifically in the growing of coffee trees. As of this very week, over 8,200 coffee saplings have already been planted, and there is so, SO much more than just these numbers. 

One of my greatest goals and intentions in returning to the states this summer is to redo my entire portfolio. subtledream.com would finally take on a form that more fully represents who I am as a photographer, a videographer, a story-teller, and simply another human being. I wish for this online presence to show the world what I am capable of, and more importantly, how my skills and desire to immortalize happenings and preserve memories are able to inspire, add value, joy, and serve the greater good of humanity as well as Pachamama. I no longer want to say that "I am a photographer" and not fully OWN it. I found my passion years ago, but fear held me back from my potential. I have been afraid of not being able to "make it" in day to day life and making ends meet. I have been learning to overcome this fear. 

And so today, I present you the all-new subtledream - a completely fresh, mobile-friendly site with hugely expanded galleries, new content, a blog (which I'll actually update), and SOON -- the ability to order prints and digital downloads directly from the site through a secure checkout system. I've been dreaming, scheming of this for years, and it's finally coming to fruition. I've got to work out a number of kinks and continue to refresh and add content still, but I also feel that in putting this out there earlier for you all and the world to see, it'll really push and motivate me to keep making it better and better. 

My ask for you, my friends, family, supporters, near and far, are as follows: 

  1. Check out the new site! You may be on there. And even if not, you're in for a treat.  
  2. Give feedback via social media or direct message.
  3. Share with me your favorite photo(s)/memories that I've captured by sharing & tagging me and/or my social media accounts (I love it when people do that) - what's YOUR favorite #subtledream ?
  4. Download wallpapers! This is the most affordable way (just $2!) to digitally collect my photos to beautify the background of your desktop/laptop/tablet/mobile/etc. I plan to upload a new "photo of the week" on the site each week - all of which comes with a little story or context. For any particular photo you've seen or like, just contact me and we can arrange direct file transfer. 
  5. Order prints! This is one of the best ways to support me AND to bring tangible beauty right into your living spaces. I've created a special gallery of 200+ photographs which are ready to be printed and delivered to you! Most of these are also in various galleries on the site. We can bring them to life with different photo papers finishes (lustre, glossy, matte, metallic) and also canvas prints with the option of wrapping it around a frame. They would make - if I may say so myself - EXCELLENT gifts. In the future this process should be streamlined through the site, but in the meantime, talk directly with me! 
  6. Refer friends, family, and anyone else to my photo and videographic prints & services. 2018 is wide open for me, folks. Book me! You know I would travel domestically and globally for a good wedding/event/project/cause. Get in touch directly: contact@subtledream.com
  7. If you have been on the receiving end of my services, free or paid, I'd love to hear about your experience with a review on the subtledream Facebook page. A 10% off coupon will be gifted for a future order. Yes! subtledream coupon! 

    I am experimenting with the idea of an online "tip jar." Over the years I have taken thousands upon thousands of photographs and videos, and spent perhaps even higher magnitude of time organizing, archiving, flagging, editing, processing, uploading for friends and strangers alike -- for free. I believe it's a gift of what I am able to observe and capture in the world - a snippet of beauty in time, if you will. In the end, isn't that all we can take with us? Inspired by the donation-based model of business(exchange) within my communities and travels aboard, I have offered my services and advice in recent years in a variety of circumstances, always being adaptive to the needs and context that are presented. I believe it has opened up opportunities that wouldn't have otherwise been possible if I was rigid on a fixed rate per hour or per gig, and I have learned an immense amount personally and professionally. If my photographs, videos, advice, words, etc. have brought you joy, inspiration, and/or a preservation of memories through the years, consider dropping a little something into my "tip jar." I am very grateful!

    In 2013, I embarked on a 3000+ mile bicycle and farm journey from coastal British Columbia to the US/Mexico border with the question, "Can travel, work, service, art, adventure, and environmental stewardship have an ideal overlap?" Many of you supported me on that journey, and upon looking through the list of supporters earlier today as well as that from the fundraiser for my first trip to Nepal in 2015, I cannot help but smile and feel deep gratitude for everyone who has uplifted me to get to this point. Is this what true community-supported-grassroots-no-middleman-global-collaboration could look like? Certainly something to ponder, and something we've discussed within Conscious Impact at great lengths... 

    I remember coming out the 2013 bike journey with noticably thicker legs (haha!) AND deeply inspired by the hard work of small-scale organic farmers and food growers, inspired by the raw natural beauty of the North American west coast, appreciated clean water and food in all forms, yet disillusioned by the injustice and corrupted industrial food system that exist in the United States as well as around the world. I wanted to continue expanding my horizons and improve my craft as a photographer to make better, more ethical decisions in day to day life and serve the greater good of humanity and the earth. 

    Still sounds familiar doesn't it? 

    Now, 4 years later, I feel that I have not only discovered that path but have walked down the right one. I thank you - each and every one of you - to have added a little to a whole lot of support, knowledge, value, and guidance to my life. Onwards! 

    With tremendous love and gratitude from Seattle,
    Jonathan

    PS: Later in September, I will travel to Christchurch in New Zealand to collaborate 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 Orchard broke ground in early August 2017 and has taken inspirations from the Beacon Food Forest. 

    Last week in Seattle

    As I once again wrap up my time in Seattle, I am reminded how grateful I am to also be able to call this place, this region, home. The Beacon Food Forest and the community of humans it attracts is a tremendous part of this good feeling. The previous work party last weekend will be my last for now. This is one of my favorite captures from it. It encapsulates the joy in the ability to reconnect with nature, one another, in a space that provides nourishment and knowledge for all, no matter your background, religion, color of your skin, and personal motivations.
    I'm really joyed to once again have been able to spend time exploring the Cascade mountains, to eat berries right off bush along along the trail, enjoy the summer harvest abundance everyday, dive into lakes and rivers, meet new friends, rekindle old connections, and very importantly work on my all-new, beautiful website. Look out for it real soon.

    BFF_WorkParty_Aug2017-19.jpg

    Yoga for Nepal - Conscious Impact

    Did you know that Conscious Impact is about to run our third annual yoga retreat at the village where we've worked and live? November 6-15 -- and trust me, that's a beautiful time to be amongst the Himalayas.

    Learn more and sign up via: https://www.consciousimpact.org/yoga

    Special thanks to Sebastian Buffa of Redefined Films for filming and recording Dharma Shakti working her magic physically, verbally, and energetically with the land and people. Putting this video together was a breeze because of you guys' sublime work! 

    Beacon Food Forest featured in MOHAI, Seattle

    Several days ago, I visited MOHAI (Museum of History & Industry) in Seattle, where they have been showcasing an exhibition called "Edible City" since November last year. The Beacon Food Forest is amongst many featured in the beautiful exhibition telling stories of restaurants, chefs, farmers, and edible gardens in and around the region since the city was just a small port. The project has a special place in my heart (as mentioned in the previous post, too!) and I am very happy to have a couple of my photographs taken during my involvement with the purely community-driven, permaculture-inspired project. I can definitely recommend a visit if you live or are visiting Seattle in the near future. The "Edible City" is just one of several exhibitions at MOHAI, and it'll be on display until September 10 this year. Check out MOHAI at their site @ www.mohai.org

    Published in "Forest Gardening In Practice"!

    Between late 2014 and early 2016, I was actively involved with the Beacon Food Forest, an open-to-all food forest just miles from downtown Seattle. The concept behind the food forest is simple - to cultivate and maintain a food-producing urban oasis that provides nutrients for both humans and wildlife while at the same time rejuvenates local ecology and sense of community and connection to the land. After years of conception, planning, collecting public input and support, dealing with city officials to secure the available land and permits, and then of course, the conversion of grass lawn into the thriving garden of eden that it has been since 2012. Dozens upon dozens (and often 100+) of volunteers come through the Beacon Food Forest every month to help weed, trim, chop, compost, move, roll, drop, plant, and harvest and keep the abundance rolling in for anyone and everyone. Native species such as black currants are complemented by a diversity of other medicinal and sustanance-creating annual and perennial plants and trees. The food forest is currently in the process of expanding its current size (approximatley 2 acres) to double that. "Phase 2" will be the result from the input from hundreds of dedicated volunteers and invested neighborhoods over the past 2 years. Thanks in part to a grant by The Bullitt Foundation in Seattle, Phase 2 will not only have tremendous public support but financial backing as well (for the time being).

    The Beacon Food Forest is arguably my favorite place in the city of Seattle (Golden Gardens and Discovery Park are runners-up). The profound benefits of a public, open-for-all-at-anytime gathering place where folks of all ages are free to come as they are and learn about plants, food, nutrient cycles, meet neighbors, and exchange knowledge are deep and enriching, to say the least. I was fortunate to have been introduced by this incredible project by a good friend and mentor from British Columbia, and captured many magical moments in this special space with many friends and neighbors. 

    I started working with the author, Tomas Remiarz, on the publication of the chapter on the Beacon Food Forest about 2 years ago, and received a copy of the final product just a few months back. I am proud and joyed to have my work featured in such a beautiful book showcasing a number of amazing examples of what folks from around the globe are doing to revitalize urban and rural places to make healthier communities for all living beings. Grateful especially for friends and connections established through the food forest and now our roots are amazingly intertwined forever.

    Learn more about the Beacon Food Forest through their website, www.beaconfoodforest.org and connect with their social media networks on Facebook (www.facebook.com/beaconfoodforest) and Instagram (@BeaconFoodForest or hashtag #BeaconFoodForest).

    Check out the Tomas' book and read what others are saying about it:

    Welcome to the new subtledream.com

    Welcome! This new subtledream.com is currently on ongoing effort to redo my website and portfolio to truly showcase the photographic and videographic work that I have been doing on my own as well as with other talents and organizations I've been supporting

    A project that has happily occupied most of my time in the past 2 years is Conscious Impact (www.consciousimpact.org), a non-profit dedicated to working alongside local community members to rebuild their village in the Sindhupalchok district of Nepal. Check out the good work that has been done since August 2015 through their website and social media outlets - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and support us via consciousimpact.org/donate

    Hilariously and ironically, Conscious Impact's website may very well be a better showcase of my work then my own website. But soon...! Keep posted, friends. Meanwhile, connect with me and see my recent work via my social media outlets - links on the bottom right.

    -Jonathan

    Conscious Impact's main page - background photo features the rebuilt Siddhartha Primary School

    Conscious Impact's main page - background photo features the rebuilt Siddhartha Primary School

    Photoshoot with Emerson

    I had wanted to meet Emerson well before he was even named. Mike and Caroline are close friends from Seattle and I missed them both dearly after departing from the Pacific Northwest. Emerson came into their lives late last year and I have had such a lovely time with the whole family since returning a couple weeks back. Here are several captures from our time at the park recently while testing out the (new to me) Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lens. What a gem! Perfect for close to semi-close portraits. I am a huge fan of prime lenses and have been using them primarily for photoshoots and special events for several years. This Sigma has already landed in the "top shelf" in my book. Behind-the-scene shots by Caroline. ;)

    Everest Basecamp & 3 Passes Trek

    Everest Basecamp + 3 Passes Trek in the Khumbu region of eastern Nepal

    Dates: 21 March - 16 April 2017 (27 days total)
    Start: Shivalaya, ~1,800 m
    End: Phaplu/Salleri, ~2,300 m
    Lowest elevation: ~1,500 m, at Dhudu Kosi River crossing near Nuthala
    Highest elevation: 5,643 m (18,514 ft), at Kala Patthar
    Transport: Bus + legs only! :)

    Everest basecamp (yellow/orange tents), Khumbu Glacier (behind basecamp), and Khumbu Icefall (above glacier). Nuptse in the background 7,861 m (25,791 ft) in the center-right. Everest slightly hidden behind the clouds in the middle-back.

    Everest basecamp (yellow/orange tents), Khumbu Glacier (behind basecamp), and Khumbu Icefall (above glacier). Nuptse in the background 7,861 m (25,791 ft) in the center-right. Everest slightly hidden behind the clouds in the middle-back.

    Trekking Map (incomplete)

    Gear

    A snap of nearly everything minus the snacks before departure.

    A snap of nearly everything minus the snacks before departure.

    • 50L backpack
    • 2L water bladder
    • 1L water bottle
    • 0.5L thermest - amazing for hot drinks
    • water purifier (Steripen Ultra)
    • water filter/pouch (Sawyer mini water filter)
    • sunglasses - so very crucial
    • regional trekking map - also rec'd: offline maps
    • Kindle (Paperwhite)
    • Down sleeping bag rated for -7C/19F (REI Igneo)
    • mini first-aid, sunblock, moisturizer, mini towel

    Clothing & Footwear

    Clothing/gear note: The retail $ damage on these things would be nuts, and the only reason I was able to afford them is because I had worked in the outdoor industry and got everything heavily discounted while under their payroll (and the occasional thrift store gems!). There are many low-priced outdoor gear shops in Kathmandu, Pokhara, and other trekking towns that carry replicas of North Face/Marmot/Mountain Hardwear/etc. base layers, jackets, pants, and accessories for just 10-40% the branded retail cost, and many (though certainly not all) of these products function very well, or even just as well as the real thing. That said, I've seen porters/guides/other trekkers hit the trail with simple shirts, jeans, flip flops, and everything in between. I don't believe there is a "correct way," but I'm fortunate to have solid gear and, much more importantly, that has kept me safe, warm, dry, and will last a long time. A water filter/purifer is highly recommended to minimize the chance of catching water-borne illnesses and eliminate the need for single-use plastic water bottles. 

    The trail-runners were great and I wore them for most of the trek. Even with temperatures dipping below freezing at high altitude and/or early mornings, with medium-weight wool socks and as long as I kept moving my feet stayed happy. The mid-top boots were welcomed at higher altitudes (4000+ meters), stream crossings, and trekking over ice/snow, and for some additional lateral support, but I am blessed with strong ankles and therefore didn't absolutely need them for this reason. Another benefit with wearing ventilated shoes - MUCH less stink. ;) It's more weight to carry 2 pairs but I felt prepared for the hugely varied and at times unpredictable conditions from 1500 - 5500+ meters.

    I think gaiters and microspikes are optional depending on the time of the year and snowfall from previous season. My friends and I started in late March, which is considered early in the trekking season. Folks do trek all year in the Khumbu region, though with the winter cold between Dec-Mar, much fewer people, including lodge/guesthouse owners, are at higher altitudes. We luckily had friends who had just returned from the region and told us that traction device and gaiters would be useful as they had gotten snowed-in at Gokyo (a seasonal town at 4790 m) for 2-3 days in the 2nd/3rd week of March. I would imagine later in April and May these 2 pieces of gear can be omitted to save space and weight. There's always Namche Bazaar - the hub of the Everest/Khumbu region - to get the latest word on trail conditions and weather and to pick up supplies.

    Camera Equipment

    Additional notes: The focal length range was tremendous and made for nearly every type of shot possible. The quality from those zooms with the full-frame sensor is impressive, however the weight was undoubtedly on the heavier end. I would certainly consider a lighter setup (ie: 20 or 24mm prime + 70-200 or 70-300mm zoom) or a mirrorless/micro 4/3rd's camera with an all-in-one lens. The GoPro was great fun to have, and the tripod was essential for me to do night and long exposures as well as time-lapses.

    Looks like a tiny bag, but the weight was quite killer (especially with all the snacks) while ascending and at high elevation.

    Looks like a tiny bag, but the weight was quite killer (especially with all the snacks) while ascending and at high elevation.

    Thriving in the broken landscape, living in SOILdarity [TEDx talk]

    Several weeks back when I was in Barcelona and feeling the weight of the issues of our world crush down on my mind, I wrote a post with some of those thoughts. A number of you read it and responded, and I was thrilled to have received a number of heartfelt replies and words of encouragement. When I was in Los Angeles briefly in June I visited a good friend Ryan Serrano and caught up with life. One of the many things mentioned was keeping up the good work admist seemingly a sea of apathy and massive consumerism. 
    Ryan calls it "well-informed futility syndrome, a condition of anxiety that comes from knowing about the world's problems and wanting to fix them but feeling helpless and overwhelmed against the cultural and economic patterns that create them in the first place."
    I am blessed to have walked this journey in the past several years with countless individuals who continue to lift their heads and carry the light with them as they show others the light and the joy that we all have within. 
    This TEDx talk is one of the brightest beacons of light I have come across in recent times. Take the time to re-energize yourself with my brother Ryan's words and perspective. 
    PLUG: if you are in southern California and in search of ecological landscaping advice, give Ryan a holla through his business via Earth Steward Ecology.

     

    What do healthy societies and healthy ecosystems have in common? In his inspired TEDx Talk, Ryan Serrano shares the importance of grassroots movements in an age of globalization and the power of rooting sustainability within our cultures. Ryan Serrano is a student and practitioner of regenerative design.