This old snapshot of my brother and I recently surfaced around the house. As if to tell me something at a challenging and transitional point in my life, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
It was a warm, summer night in July. We had our grandma who watched over us during the day while our parents went to work. Summer break while we were in elementary school were some of the best times ever. We would watch TV all day, play video games, watch “The Price is Right”, and eat tons of chicken nuggets (the frozen kind that you had to thaw and defrost via microwave). My parents usually came home around 6 or 7pm everyday and this day was no different. I remember my parents bringing home the cake and the stack of paper bowls, setting it on the table and telling me to go next to my brother to take a photo. I remember being slightly bummed out that we weren’t celebrating in a bigger way for my brother’s birthday. Usually we would go out to the Glendale Galleria or the Eagle Rock mall to hang out or as my parents always said “pasyal” (to go for a short trip or walk). This time however, we had to celebrate at home because our parents had work the very next morning. We sang “Happy Birthday”, told Ervin to cut his cake and we all had a slice. The funny thing I didn’t notice about this photo (until now) was Ervin’s concentrated expression as he’s holding the plastic cake cutting knife with his right hand and his left finger guiding the knife handle down as he cut the cake. It’s as if he wanted to take his time cutting his cake because at this moment, it’s all we had. That first slice had to be perfect. HAHA.
Growing up, we didn’t usually have big birthday celebrations with tons of friends and family. We usually couldn’t get the latest video games or the newest bike until after everyone else got theirs. Birthdays were small and usually just between our family. From a very, very young age, we learned to value the small and meaningful moments like this one. We learned what it means to be grateful and to be happy with whatever we had at the present moment. Even if it was just one single birthday cake, the fact that we were able to all take a few moments to celebrate a birthday meant the world to us.
As 2017 winds down and the holiday season is upon us, I want to bring you into my world and show you the moments I’ll be living out via 35mm film.
Finally back to blogging on my website, it’s been WAY too long. Let me preface this by saying that this past year in 2016, has been an exceptionally challenging one. Lots of GREAT times, but definitely more lows than any other year thus far. Both in my personal life and with work. If you work a regular day job, it’s easier to switch your mind off one thing and concentrate on the other. You clock in, do your work, clock out and go home. Things are a little different when you’re a working creative professional however. There is no “clock in, clock out”. LIFE and WORK just sort of mix and blend together in a beautiful, but sometimes chaotic mess. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up losing steam and burning out. And I’ll be the first to admit here, I burned out, creatively. And it sucked… You know that feeling when you work REALLY hard at something, and it just seems like you’re spinning your wheels in mud and not really making any progress? Yeah. That feeling. I needed to stop feeling comfortable and complacent. I needed something else. Something new. Something fresh. I needed to get out into the unknown. Literally.
This past week, I got to fulfill one of my lifelong dreams. To finally visit Japan, otherwise known as the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’. I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to just get out of the normal day-to-day routine here in Southern California and immerse myself in another country completely different from mine. To reset my mind and not worry about anything back home. To shoot and capture moments with my friends, of my friends, and of the country itself without worrying about if it’s a ‘perfect shot’ or not. Part vacation, part work trip. I packed everything I needed for 7 days into just two backpacks and left for LAX. No big ass telephoto lenses, no tripods, no flash units, nothing EXTRA. Just my 5D Mark III and my trusty 35mm 1.4L.
Japan, or specifically Tokyo, was definitely a shock to the system when we first landed at around 11:30pm in Haneda International Airport. None of us knew how to read, write, or speak Japanese and we had to catch the last 12:30am train into Tokyo or else we’d have to pay for a taxi to take us into the city (which are SUPER expensive in Japan). With the help of our friends who had international data plans and Google Maps, we eventually all made it to our AirBnB apartments in Toshima, Tokyo, Japan. Luckily for us, our home station, Otsuka Station, was only a 5 minute walk from our apartment and it would serve as our gateway to explore the rest of the city.
This is exactly what I needed to clear my head and reset my mind. Life in Southern California is as good as it gets, don’t get me wrong. There’s so much diversity here and EVERYONE from around the world wants to visit us. It’s really easy to get caught up in this bubble of ours and not venture out and experience new cultures, new food, a new language etc. Traveling does so much good for your soul, in ways you couldn’t even imagine. It really puts it into perspective, just how BIG the rest of the world is and how we aren’t the center of the world.
7 days was definitely not enough time to explore everything I wanted… Just means I’ll have to come back…solo trip maybe? ;)
Where to next?