Behind the Scenes: Try as He Might


Be Patient, Stop Doubting

As hard as you might try and as dedicated you are to something or someone, sometimes things don't always work in your favor or don't turn out as you expected them to be. This is how the world works, unfortunately; we aren't all granted a fairytale story or ending. Maybe it doesn't make sense now, maybe it never will, but it's important to adapt to your surroundings the whole way through, though.

From time to time, I remind myself about this thought, because I have goals, dreams, and my own expectations on what I want out of life and where in life I want to go. Yes, honestly, I do get frustrated at moments (especially recently), knowing how much farther down the road it's going to be until I've achieved what I want. It could very well be from wanting to be a perfectionist in my career or from seeing artists I look up to elevating themselves, getting to places in life where I'd like to be as well. It's all about fabricating that into some tangible reality now. Figuring out the steps I need to take to get myself on the right track to grow.

Sure, it's easy to get caught up in that train of thought with those comparisons frequently right in front of you, but is it really that unrealistic to think other people I know don't have these same feelings? I keep telling myself, "be patient, stop doubting." I know thinking everything will figure itself out tomorrow morning is a silly thought, and I don't expect things to magically be accomplished overnight, but I keep trying. There's a steep road to venture still. I'm well aware the progression I'm after isn't going to be the quickest. I'll do my best to take in the views of the world while everything starts shaping out and taking hold. I can only hope to do my personal best because you have to put into the world what you want out of it.

I've been told the first step in almost anything in life is going to be the hardest, because most people usually have the tendency to have, at least to some level, a fear of the unknown. Fear can easily be a dangerous thing. I've seen what it can do once its tight grips have anchored you down to stop trying, ending any possible way or reaching new achievements. It's sad to see that happen to people. Everyone's situation is going to be different and there isn't going an instruction manual guiding you in the absolute way of how and what should happen now and next. That's why it's so absolutely important to have passion in the things you're determined to do and accomplish.

Behind the Scenes: The Prayer of Peace


Rebeca looking naturally beautiful in an outtake from the shoot. 

I really wanted to show how diverse and abstract this landscape was. When you place a group of creative photographers in a setting like this, it's amazing the diversity seen in the final images shot at the same time in the same location between these amazing folk. I mean, just look below and see for yourself. 

Eye for an Eye

  Peace for Paris   Jean Jullien

Peace for Paris Jean Jullien

It seems again, humanitarian issues are coming to light as the current hot-topic of debate across the nation and around the world. I see that more people are comparing WWII more to the steaming bigger issues that are on the rise today. The media (focusing on minuscule current affairs, gossip, and stories deemed more interesting to the public) is either feeding this information to the masses for better ratings or is having trouble clearly communicating factual information to its followers on the severity or the actual point they should be making on the content they are broadcasting out into the world.

Shootings across America, terrorist attacks across Europe, and bombings in Africa; don't get me started on the Middle-East. It's slowly getting out of hand. Something is unraveling and there doesn't seem to be a clear and right one-way solution that is justified unitedly in the eyes of the populations directly and indirectly involved with such horrible travesties that have been acted out. The uneducated always have all the easy answers. People in power, the well-informed, they don't speak for themselves anymore. They're mere puppets voicing the opinions of the people who sign their pay checks. Whatever system we're using, isn't doing well and it is at risk of falling apart, failing what it was put in place to prevent. I don't have any answers to give or solutions to offer, but that doesn't make any of my opinions on the matter completely meaningless. 

That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

I was sitting at home when news broke out about the Paris attacks. I was heartbroken as I was glued to my screen, reading the latest updates on the story as it unfolded. I was drafting my short story to go along with this photograph that night and I wanted to dedicate this image to the victims and survivors of those terrible acts of violence. This photograph was already conceived as a message of hope, but I feel that now, more than ever, that this image can help send a message to the world; if not as a wake up call to the politically blind, than as an offering of peace and condolences to victims and survivors of terrorism - not just Paris per se, but universally.  

In the following days after the attacks, I noticed people and websites complaining about other severe attacks that had occurred within the same time frame as the ones in Paris. I saw that they complained it was unfair that other countries were not gaining as much attention in the media as France was. Personally, what struck a cord with me on the matter was how relatable the Paris attacks were to my personal life. I live in a first-world country like France, and in a city like Paris. I've dinned out at outdoor restaurants and have gone to many events and shows in the city. I couldn't imagine my world crumbling in a state of utter chaos like that. Not an accident, but as pure terrorism. It wasn't that I cared any less about the other tragedies, it's that I could associate myself with those directly affected with the randomness of the attacks that had occurred in Paris. 

Eldhraun Lava Fields

This must have been one of the longest days for us on the trip and it was our last full day of the Icelandic adventure all together as a group. We woke up early in the morning after having a midnight shoot amongst icebergs at Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon. We traveled to our first camp site and hiked up the mountains to the basalt waterfalls. After hiking, shooting, resting, and more travel, we stopped on the side of the road to do a little more shooting. We were driving to our last campsite to have our last dinner with each other, when we stopped on the side of the road just one more time, for one very beautiful and other-worldy reason. 

We were driving through the Eldhraun Lava Fields for miles and I kept on thinking to myself, we should really be stopping to shoot every 100 feet we drove. We stumbled across a secluded road and found the perfect place to park and run out into the field to bounce on the thick moss that had overtaken the entire landscape in the most amazing colors. The clouds were evenly overcast across the whole sky and the is location was begging us to use it to shoot something special and unique. 

After shooting a self portrait and modeling for a few of the others eagerly creating in the field, I walked bare-foot across the moss, scouting for a spot to possibly squeeze in another shoot with our time there. I asked Rebeca if she would model for an idea I had been wanting to shoot. She happily agreed and went in her RV to change. I had borrowed a few smoke bombs that Brooke had brought along with her for the trip. Months prior to the trip, I came across this antique censer. I knew it would be great to use in an image someday, so I brought it along with me on the trip, in one of the suitcases I brought that was solely dedicated to photo props and wardrobe. 

The idea I had in mind was to light a smoke bomb inside the censor and shoot while smoke billowed into the air. This didn't work out as planned. As I tried capturing images of the smoke floating away, some of my panning shots turned out slightly blurry, which wouldn't work for stitching the image together later on. Luckily, I had also shot extra images of Rebeca without the smoke bombs, along with extras of the background too, which really saved this shoot from the trash bin in my opinion. It's always better to shoot more then less, especially now in the digital age.

This was my last photograph shot on the Icelandic excursion with my lovely friends. At the end of this day I had shot 5 completely different concepts. I was overjoyed and inspired by the people around me and the beautiful country that I was in. It's a bittersweet feeling knowing now all I've shot has been worked on and completed, but I'm so proud that all my concepts shot on this trip came to life in more ways than I have ever expected them too.

Behind the Scenes: The Mask is the Lie


Finding Transparency 

A year ago I was facing a lot of anxiety. It was a time in my life where a lot of things were up in the air and I wasn't feeling stable or grounded. I had reached a breaking point; knowing if I were to continue on the same path I've been facing, it would not only be self-destructive, but unfair to a lot of very important people in my life. I wrote this passage to myself to express my feelings during this time. A metaphorical description to where I was mentally. It felt like I'd hit a wall, so I made a promise to myself to take control of the situation the way I wanted to and stop feeling so captured with the mainstream views on society and on the outlooks of what others viewed as "generally accepted." or "okay."

We're always learning. Each day brings something new to us and little by little, we are shaped by each of these facts and experiences. So, what happens when you learn or feel something new or different about yourself? Well, first your heart races. You're flushed and your stomach flips. You ask yourself, "Is this way I feel okay?" So, we adapt how we face these feelings internally before shining a light on the topic to the world. To gain our perspective first and not base the opinion of others on how you should feel about yourself. 

Years ago I looked at myself in the mirror after wiping the steam off of the glass, and for the first time I said to myself, "I'm gay." I felt so uncomfortable uttering those words and it made me feel like I was less of a person. I felt degraded because I cared too much about the opinions of others. I based my feelings greatly on the negatives I've seen out in the world about people who are different or coming-out horror stories. I didn't feel like I should feel like a victim of anything because I didn't do anything wrong, but here I was, feeling like I did. I felt like I couldn't be myself around others, so I was frequently overthinking a lot of my actions on a daily basis. Excluding myself from situations and anything leading to clues based on how I identified myself because of my own fears and insecurities. 

This went on for years. I told myself I was fine with hiding that part of myself from myself and the rest of the world, but it just became more difficult over time. For me, there was never a pivotal moment where I knew 100% how to identify myself as gay or not. Some part of me just thought I was curious or if it was just a phase, but my irrational fears took the better hold of me, so I stuffed myself internally on all of these heavy weighing thoughts. I think some part of me has always known. I just cared far too much what people would think. 

The mask is the lie and I've worn it for years. I am a lot more open now with myself about my feelings. It's not something that happened overnight, but I'm so much happier now being honest with the world and more importantly, myself. I'm not a different person because of this, I'm the same personal as I always was. Now people just know one more thing about me. I'm more comfortable with myself and I don't have to live everyday second guessing my actions or care of what others think. At the end of the day I can tell myself I'm proud of who I am and no one can twist that in a negative way for me anymore. 

When taking the step to come out to someone close to you in your life, you at first hesitate because what comes to mind is a worst-case scenario situation. You'd rather hold it all in than risk the relationship you cherish with the person you're confiding in. It's that fear that held me and pushed me down for years.

In hindsight, I'd wish I had done something about it sooner because I hated the way I felt about myself for so long and I'm never going to put myself through anything like that again. You're never going to make everyone you ever meet happy, and you have zero obligation to. You have to put yourself first before caring about the opposing views that are flowing out their in the world based on who considers what to be right or wrong with who someone falls in love with. Love is love. Love yourself. You can't love another without first loving yourself for who you are.