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:
- Check out the new site! You may be on there. And even if not, you're in for a treat.
- Give feedback via social media or direct message.
- 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 ?
- 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.
- 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!
- 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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,
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.