Prior to going on a small getaway with my wife to Cozumel, Mexico in November, I had the opportunity to meet up with Roxie in a part of New York I use to frequent incessantly back in the old Instagram meetup days. It was also my go-to neighborhood to practice street photography because you were never on a shortage of interesting characters to shoot within that gritty backdrop that's always characterized New York neighborhoods.
As I write this, I'm confident Roxie and I will team up again to shoot but without question she had been the one person I had been wanting to work with because not only is she epic in at what she does in her profession but equally her advise, her perspective and her overall willingness to put out positive vibes within her Instagram has me always coming back to actively listen to everything she has to say.
Head over to the gallery to view the rest of the photos from our shoot. As a quick side note, the bike you see in the photographs is my Super73 bike which I rode from Williamsburg, Brooklyn into the city for our shoot.
I've always been a very active person. I enjoy putting my body through physical exertion and up until now, I have a set routine 4-days a week in which I religiously wake up at 5am to then be at the gym at 6am, out by 7am and to work at 8am. I don't have to think about my regimen. It's so ingrain in me to a point where I don't feel like myself when I divert from it. I dislike when people ask me how I manage to do this because regardless of what I may say, in the end it's going to come down to you whether you care enough or not.
I love the way Brad Stulberg eloquently puts it because it's equally a beautiful life-advice metaphor for life in general:
In the weight room...it’s just you and the bar. You either make the lift or you don’t. If you make it, great. If not, you train more, and try again. Some days it goes well, other days it doesn’t. But over time, it becomes clear that what you get out of yourself is proportionate to the effort you put in. It’s as simple and as hard as that.
My wife Vanessa and I just returned from a 5-days escape I planned for us for her birthday to Cozumel, Mexico.
Last year we had such a relaxing and explorative experience in Tulum. We trekked ruins, dived in refreshing cold waters of Cenotes and ate delicious local food that Anthony Bourdain would have unquestionably approved of. Our curiosity to explore served as an impetus for us to cycle from one place to another via $7 a day bike rentals.
Overall, I foresee these micro-escapes necessary and ideal for us to spend more time together as couple because it’s easy to allow the “couple” title to take a backseat to parental responsibilities and work related routines that permeate the majority of our thoughts.
Prior to heading out to Cozumel this year, I had plans about what to do on specific days considering the amount of Trip Advisor research I had done prior. Ultimately we had to improvise upon arrival because for 3 days out of the 5 the weather was against anyone who had fantasized about working up a tan at the beach.
Of course I was bummed about having to experience a typical rainy season in Mexico but I quickly remind myself that while we may have lost sunny days of frolicking in the sun, I should not lose the purpose of the escape to begin with. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in situations where you may not be doing anything exciting worth Instagramming but who you’re spending that time with holds more value. My memories of this escape lives more in my head than they do in my camera.
We actually slept in longer while having conversation with each other afterwards minus the interruption from the kids bursting into our bedroom and forgetting afterwards what we were talking about. We walked aimlessly in Cozumel not compromising our curiosity to explore since we didn’t have to worry whether the kids were bored. We ate delicious charred grilled octopus and lobsters dinners without worrying that they might potentially be nothing that the kids would like from the menu. Everything was solely about Vanessa and I as a couple and while that may come across selfish, I’ve learned that it’s ok sometimes.
Philip Edsel is a photographer who's working I've been admiring for some time and if you follow him on Instagram you'll notice that every morning he publishes what he refers to as morning thoughts. On this particular day the quote below resonated with my tremendously because it's something I took it upon myself to do to cut down the digital noise that easily becomes overwhelming because we often fail to create boundaries around what we really care to pay attention to:
...just because I follow someone for their work, doesn't mean I need to follow their day-to-day experience. Meaning, I waste so much watching Stories I have zero affiliation with...because of that, I went through and muted a lot of Instagram Stories.
Regardless of how much time may elapse in between, Iman and I always managed to reconvene again at some point and play around a bit in the studio with some beautiful shadows and light.
Shawn Blanc on a reflection he recently had during a moment in which he got annoyed at his "boys for leaving their toys out and forgetting to clean up before bed" -
"One day, my boys will be grown and they will move out to live on their own...we will miss the days, like this one, when toys were left on our steps and our boys were at home in the evenings to play and to laugh and fight about whose turn it is to brush their teeth first...I try to remind myself in those moments of annoyance that the things which frustrate me now will one day be the things I will miss terribly and wish for again."
As a father of a 8 and 5 year old, I can't tell you how often I constantly remind myself of this reality because any parent will tell you that those years go by much faster than you can ever expect unless you take the time to reflect.
No matter what you sell, you must be confident the price you charge for it accurately reflects the value, utility, and benefits provided to your customers.
Linda Lopeke breaks down the 15 factors to consider when you set a price for your work.
Almost every freelancer at one point in their early career has simply winged it when being caught off guard by a potential client by the dreaded question of "how much would you charge for...?" It's paralyzed me in numerous occasions because there's rarely a straightforward answer without first considering a few variables. Rates and fees are not something that should be wung because as Linda states, "pricing is ultimately a mathematical exercise and your testing should ultimately tell you what price is ultimately right."
David duChemin’s plea with regard to your photography: “if you’re going to spend your money, spend it where it really matters.”
Yes to all of the above! With regard to the traveling suggestion, last week I purchased a one week ticket for January 2020 to El Salvador which is my parent’s native country. I lived there for 5 years between the ages of 12-17 and since them I’ve visited numerous times with family but this time it entails just myself traveling because the primary purpose is to work on a photo project that’s been gnawing at me for the longest.
Total cost of the ticket was $305, the lodging will be at a surf hotel for $85 and overall if I can walk away from everything having spent around $750 on a personal project, I would say that’s still less of what I could have potentially spent on the rest of David’s suggestions.
When you live in artful life, you zig and zag. You take the scenic route. The places you go become the backdrop of your story. The experiences you have become the colors you paint with and the people you meet are the thread that weaves them all together.
I love Srinivas Rao's description of what it means to live a creative life because it undoubtedly describes my frame of thought on how one's journey from point A to point B is never just movement through space. It's the reason why I don't mind taking the longer or the most populate streets to get anywhere because those are the opportunities where you're likely to find gems that will further your craft and approach to it.
When you become a parent, juggling your career and your responsibilities at home can become difficult but I also believe that finding the balance between both is a matter of perspective.
I’ll include myself in the list of parents who feel their kids has allowed them to become more productive at work because you become incentivized to get more done so that you can head home to attend to your personal life.
On top of that, if you have a passion or dream for something outside of your day job the way photography has been for me then having kids will quickly set your straight the way Michael Thompson describes in how we need to stop thinking having kids will kill your dreams.
He says -
"my kids forced me to ask myself what I really wanted. They helped me to buckle down on my dreams, and slowly, day after day, I started to chip away at them. The compounding affect of doing something daily, if even for a short amount of time, has single-handedly put me in a position where every day I get to do what I want, where I want, with the people I want."
I don't think you have to have kids to reconfigure elements of our life into perspective but the fact that I don't recall much of what I did with my time prior to them says a lot to how my priorities weren't always straight to begin with.