The Migration - My Twisted Journey To The Pacific Northwest

I know I've been mostly absent for a while and for that I apologize, but it's been a bit of a crazy few months. To make a super long story short, as of April 20, I have migrated north to the grand Pacific Northwest. The lush greenery and outdoor lifestyle-driven populations have been seducing me for close to a decade, and I finally decided to take the leap.

Not only have I lived in Southern California all of my life and have been curious about a change for just about as long, but perhaps the biggest driver was to be better positioned to explore the wondrous nature the region has to offer and the people, companies, and organizations that make Mother Earth such a concentrated focus of this region.

So I now proudly call Portland, Oregon my home.

Wasim Muklashy Photography_Los Angeles to Portland_42.jpg

If you're at all familiar with my journey over the past half decade, you'll probably see it as a natural progression, and it certainly feels that way. While I spent most of my adult life and career working in Los Angeles in various aspects of the entertainment and publishing industries - from record labels to broadcast news production companies, to the publishing business (including starting and running my own newsstand magazine) to music videos and films to branding and advertising content name it - I can't say that much of quite ever

That all began to change about 8 years ago, when a series of events led me to move out of the reactive 'madness' of the city and up into Topanga Canyon, a magical enclave that sits in the Santa Monica Mountains just above Santa Monica, between Los Angeles and Malibu. It was close enough to work in the city, but far enough to not be consumed by it. And residing in the midst of one of the largest urban parks in the country led me to embrace nature in ways that have only before seemed like unfathomable dreams (I wrote a very personal piece addressing that in the past).

I spent most of my time in the mountains, exploring the canyons and hills that surrounded me, which led me to exploring the State Parks, and then the National Parks and, well, the rest is history.

The more time I spent outdoors and in nature, the more I realized that, well...this was me.

Every aspect of it felt right, not a single aspect of it felt wrong. There was no resistance, it all just felt!

This, thankfully, eventually led me to return to my first creative love, which I had abandoned close to a decade prior - photography. Soon thereafter, thanks to the recommendation and introdcution by good friend Zach Rosenberg of 8BitDad, Samsung picked me up as a camera sponsor, which only helped fuel and reinforce my newfound embrace for my passion of the visual medium.

What began as an escape from a very difficult period in my life, morphed into new reason, new energy and new purpose, and in the years since, my cameras have taken me through landscapes and cultures and experiences that I wouldn't trade for the world.

It was around then that I made a conscious decision to reframe the focus of my life by translating the skills I had accumulated from a working world and environment I did not care for, and employing them in environments that I did.

The more I started volunteering at local parks, photographing my outdoor hikes, adventures, and travels, the less it became a part of my life and the more it became my entire life. Eventually, through a Nature Conservancy photo contest entry, the Portland based World Forestry Center found me, and over the past several years, I have found myself doing more work for them, which had me networking in the Pacific Northwest, and the pull just got stronger and stronger.

Now looking back, it is increasingly clear that a major unanticipated X-factor from 2 years ago at DPReview's PIX Conference in Seattle has proven to be a major element in where I find myself now. It was there that Samsung introduced me to a prototype VR camera rig. Three months later I found myself playing with this rig in Tahiti with my friend and travel blogger Joan Jetsetter. This launched a whole new obsession with a new visual medium that has yet to subside (and it doesn't seem like it's going to anytime soon). I started superswell VR, a VR video production company with Joan Jetsetter, and since then we've done all sorts of exciting projects that have taken us from festival and spa hopping in Denmark to diving in Catalina to crapping our pants in drift cars, and has opened doors that I once only dreamt about (there will be a post about that soon).

Anyhow, two things happened in the past 6 months that led to the decision to finally make the move, the first being the 2016 U.S. election - it was clear that science and nature were going to be taking a backseat in the new administration, at a time when they needed to be in the driver's seat, and this broke my heart, for it was those very things that led me to a renewed sense of life, hope and purpose. My drive to introduce younger generations to nature and its benefits and why it's essential immediately caught fire. There was going to be a gap to fill, and I had to be part of that, and seeing as how the Pacific Northwest is to the nature and conservation industries what Los Angeles is to the entertainment industry, it only made sense.

The second impetus for the move happened about 2 months ago, and it was a series of events that took place within the course of about a week:

-I found out we had mold in the home I was renting in, so all of the tenants, one by one, ended up moving out.
-The World Forestry Center expressed their interest in consulting with me about creating a VR display in their Portland museum.
-A (for now shall remain un-named, but very exciting) Portland-based outdoor organization that I had met with a year prior expressed interest in exploring VR.
-My friends in Portland had a new unit they were building out for Airbnb that wasn't quite yet ready and offered it to me as a 'halfway' house of sorts.

I couldn't think of a bigger kick in the gotcha if I tried...

So that was it.

I sold some stuff, gave away some stuff, tossed some stuff, and filled up whatever stuff I can in my trusty Nissan Altima Hybrid, and began my drive up the coast.

There are many exciting things a'brewin' and I cannot wait to share those with you, but in the meantime, I cannot overstate enough how important it has been for me to begin to pay attention to my feelings...and toss logic out the window. So far everything that has happened since I've begun to be truer to myself seems to be happening with much more ease and intention than I've ever experienced before, and let me tell's quite refreshing. I don't know where to begin in encouraging anyone reading this that feels stuck, to try to do the same. 

It's a process, no doubt, but it's one you won't regret.

In any case, until the proper time comes to share some of those ventures and projects, here are some images from my migration up the coast from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon. (Don't skip the 360˚ photo treats amongst the tallest trees in the world at the bottom!)

The adventure continues...

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