This was a trip that has been in the works for a year.
Ever since we won a raffle prize for 72 hours with a Tesla, we’ve been giddy about getting the thing scheduled. Time gave out on us during the Summer of 2017, and winter in the Pacific Northwest is…well…winter in the Pacific Northwest, so we held out and waited until just before the one-year expiration date on the prize - Spring of 2018, which seemed totally worth it - I mean look at those Falcon doors:
And if you were living with the trauma of being been bit by numerous dogs as a child, you’d hate dogs too.
So when a friend’s friend asked if I wanted to dog and house-sit for her, my immediate internal reaction was ‘NO chance!’
Then she threw a curveball – a Google Images link for ‘Guanajuato.’ This triggered my self-diagnosed compulsive wanderlust disorder (and unreasonable addiction to tacos) and my fingers found themselves frantically replying "YES ME!"
I walked into a 3rd grade classroom to hear them asking their teachers if they had to worry about being shot by guns. An hour later, I found myself joining the school in a walkout to protest gun violence.
The next class I walked into had a list on their TV of steps to take to identify 'fake news.'
While I haven't been in a third grade classroom in decades, I was pretty sure this was certainly not the 3rd grade I knew...
I was here to shoot photos for Ecology in Classrooms and Outdoors (ecologyoutdoors.org), a non-profit I've recently joing the board of that's dedicated to connecting children to nature, especially minorities and those in undeserved areas.
Back in September, I was EXTREMELY lucky to have the opportunity to spend a week at Hotel El Ganzo in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. It sits on the other, quieter, more civilized side of the Baja peninsula from Cabo San Lucas and it's no ordinary place. Not only have artists like Thievery Corporation and Telefunkt recorded in their underground recording studio, but they have an artist-in-residence program in which they invite artists of different disciplines to stay in the rooms and decorate them however they please.
Needless to say, we ran into some pretty unique stuffs!!
As you are all aware, a big part of the mission of my life, especially in the current climate in the United States, is to help bring science and nature to the up-and-coming generations. I'm attempting to do this by using emerging imaging technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality to introduce them and help stoke their curiosity in our natural world. This is a generation coming up that will never know a world in which these technologies do not exist, and I am determined to take full advantage of that.
So it is with great pleasure that I have accepted a role as
If you've been following along, you know how integral our natural world has been over the past near-decade to my development and evolution as a human being, both personally and professionally. You may also be aware that I migrated up to the Pacific Northwest after a lifetime in Los Angeles to work on photography and virtual reality video projects to help connect people, and especially the younger generations, to science and our natural world. Well, with that move has come no only a drop in blood pressure, a rise in energy, and a higher genuinely-nice-to-acting-genuinely-nice-to-get-something-out-of-you strangers ratio, but, well, my first experience experiencing the seasons.
The world hath DEFINITELY gone done lost its marbles!! When somehow, someway, I find my photos on a wall in an exhibition alongside images by Ansel Adams and Art Wolfe, among a slew of additional top-notch talent, it is irrefutable proof that insanity has infiltrated the collective human mind. But hot damn, I will do all I can to take advantage of that and roll with it...
So it was early August and the posts and information for Scott Kelby's WorldWide Photowalk began to trickle through my streams. I've attended a few as a walker in the past, and was excited to participate again, this time in a new city, but when I logged on to register, there wasn't a Portland chapter or event scheduled. Seeing as how this was the 10-year anniversary of this annual event, I wasn't having any of that!! So I applied to lead a walk in Portland, and hot darnit, they agreed to let me do the thing.
This was one of the main reasons I moved up to the Pacific Northwest...the great outdoors are not just a thing to do, they're the thing to do. Life, for the most part, revolves around Mother Nature and the wondrous gifts she bestows upon us, both physically and mentally, and one of the best ways to experience this is by disconnecting from anything and everything that dings, rings, or pings, and giving yourself completely up to her.
In this case, it was some good ol' backcountry backpacking.
As I explained in a previous post, I've recently made the migration to the Pacific Northwest and now proudly call Portland, Oregon home. In this post, I figured I'd let the pictures do the talking, for they will do a far better job of explaining why than any combination of words I can aloofly type here. So here are a few images of my first few months as a resident of this insanely gorgeous region. Hope you enjoy...
A few months back, I had the pleasure of joining "the one and only" OutdoorProject on a hike through the Oregon Wilderness and we shot it all in 360 virtual reality video. We did this in conjunction with Superswell VR, the virtual reality production company I co-founded, and it was a blast!
So I figured during my final weeks living in the Santa Monica Mountains, I’d take along a 360˚ VR video camera on the remainder of my hikes and excursions and cut together my gift back to the mountains…
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.
If you're not familiar, at 140 years old, American Forests is the nation's oldest conservation organization, so needless to say, I am completely humbled and flattered to have received an Honorable Mention by American Forests in their 2016 Forests in Focus photography contest. Click here to check out all the beautiful winning images.
I have not felt joy like this in a long time. I’m not sure why this hit me so hard, but hearing the whooping and celebrating at Oceti Sakowin literally brought tears to my eyes. This is a HUGE victory for Native American rights, the rights of indigenous people everywhere, the environment, the fight against corporate interests over human life, Mother Earth, and most importantly…humanity!
So it started to get real once I was waiting for my connecting flight in Denver, Colorado to Bismarck, North Dakota and I flicked through my Feedly stream. "War Crimes On The Northern Plains" "More than 140 NoDAPL Water Protectors Arrested Overnight" "Police Brutality at Standing Rock Soars With Use of Out of State Law Enforcement" "Brutalized by Police and Jailed in Dog Kennels."
Here's one way to start the summer off with a bang: Head to Denmark to shoot virtual reality at northern Europe's largest music and arts gathering, the famous Roskilde Festival, which, this year, included Neil Young, At The Drive In, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Action Bronson, Wiz Khalifa and an all-star cast of over 100,000 professional vomitors and shameless public urinators.
Our National Parks and outdoors spaces have done more for me than I can ever possibly express. I have learned more about myself, more about all of us, and more about what and why matters and drives me and all of humanity in those parks than anywhere and anytime else in my adult life. I cannot think of anything that has helped to heal my psyche over the past decade more than our natural world and outdoors spaces, and while it's absolutely impossible to express all of those sentiments in a blog post, the most appropriate attempt would be to simply rehash some of my favorite scenes and stories that I have been blessed to see with my own eyes and experience with my own being over the years. So below is a gallery of 100 images from within some of our national parks and some links to some of the stories behind those images. Hope You Enjoy.
A couple of months ago, I found myself in the fortunate situation of shooting virtual reality footage with a prototype VR camera...in Tahiti. Needless to say, that was an insaneexperience that I will never ever forget. If you want to read about that experience, check out this post, but here, I'm going to lay out a few things Skye Mayring, my partner in Superswell VR, and I, learned about shooting virtual reality, because, let me tell you, it's nothing like shooting regular video.
Citizine gone done published a couple of more of the editorial shoots I did for them, so I wanted to share these ones with you. This time around, I got a chance to hang out for a day with Los Angeles area filmmaker and brand influencer Chris Laughter, where we sampled tacos, candies, libations, dumplings, classic architecture and a whole lotta street shooting through Downtown Los Angeles, and then I was incredibly super fortunate to spend a full day with the insanely WAYYY too much fun travel vlogger Alana Fickes, aka Alana Chan Warrior Princess, where we got crazy at the carnival!
So this is a project I've had to keep under wraps for almost a half year now, and it's been hot darn damn difficult! I recently found myself shooting virtual reality (VR) footage for a week in March with a prototype high end VR camera system. The idea was to gather footage to demonstrate the system's capabilities at the Samsung Developer Conference (SDC) in San Francisco at the end of last month, as well as Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Conference (SVVR) in Palo Alto that same week.
So this was a super exciting thing for me and something I'm extremely proud of...a project I've been quietly working on with Earthtones for several years now has come to fruition. It's called WhyMusic In Schools and it's based around a curriculum of using technology and music as social emotional learning tools (SEL) for children at a critical age in their development. In this case it was 6th graders, and after years of putting the thing together, we just got a chance to test it in the Los Angeles Unified School District Incubator School for the first time over the past two weeks. The results? Spectacular!
So I was insanely fortunate to get the opportunity to spend a week shooting virtual reality footage for the Tahiti Tourism board in French Polynesia on the islands of Tahiti with the infamously fantabulous travelista Joan Jetsetter and uber-mad-scientist pioneering virtual reality engineer Sergi Perdices. While I'll be preparing a couple of thorough posts about that ridiculous experience in the next couple of weeks, I couldn't wait to share a few images with you that I felt might make some solid backgrounds for your phones. A few screenshots samples are above, and if you click through, you can simply right-click and download the high resolution versions to use on your own devices if you so choose.
Note: So this could quite possibly be the most personal thing I've ever publicly posted. It took me months to draft it and I originally published it on my Ello page a few months back, but figured it was time to post it here, on my own webpage, as well.
Over the past several months, I've been blessed to be able to work with some organizations and causes that lie very close to my psyche. As most of you already know, our natural world and the protection of our open spaces is a huge thing for me, and plays a major role in my life. When I was approached by the 50 year old World Forestry Center in Portland, Oregon to help usher them into a new era, defined by reversing the trends of irresponsible mass deforestation and forest exploitation by protecting the health of forests and sustainable community-managed forestry, how could I say no?
Over the course of a recent 4 weeks, I found myself hanging out in the Funny or Die offices with the company's co-founder Mike Farah, sipping cappuccinos and visiting Sunset Boulevard art galleries with fashionista Marta Pozzan, inhaling tacos and mescal with globetrottin' foodie Krista Simmons, and joyriding up Pacific Coast Highway with the gorgeous DJ Duo POSSO.
Several years back, when I first began my immersion into digital photography world, I found myself religiously listening to every photography related podcast I could find. As the years went on and podcasts became more and more popular, more and more of them began to find their way onto my playlist. As time went on, however, I've been able to narrow it down to the handful that truly resonated with me, and there was always one that stood high on that list...