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...itâs just you and the bar. You either make the lift or you donât. If you make it, great. If not, you train more, and try again. Some days it goes well, other days it doesnât. But over time, it becomes clear that what you get out of yourself is proportionate to the effort you put in. Itâs 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 itâs easy to allow the âcoupleâ 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 youâll find yourself in situations where you may not be doing anything exciting worth Instagramming but who youâre 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 didnât 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, Iâve learned that itâs 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.
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.
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."
Spend it on opportunities to learn, to shoot more, and to travel (if thatâs your thing)
Take a workshop or rent a studio for a week and work on your project
Spend it on a printer or on getting prints made so you can finally hold your work in your hands
Spend it on books of great photographs and study them
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 parentâs native country. I lived there for 5 years between the ages of 12-17 and since them Iâve visited numerous times with family but this time it entails just myself traveling because the primary purpose is to work on a photo project thatâs 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 thatâs still less of what I could have potentially spent on the rest of Davidâs 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.
Iâll 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.
"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.
Over the Summer, in anticipation for an upcoming family vacation to Cartagena, Colombia, even prior to arrival, I immediately knew I would be mesmerized by the vibrant colors of the Spanish colonial architecture, the crystal clear waters, the sounds, the food and the people of a city Iâve long admired from afar. Deciding what places to ultimately visit was never an issue because we had everything pre-planned.
My silliest concerned believe it or not revolved on how I can seamlessly managed to photograph anything without dealing with the customary fact that when you travel thereâs always a camera backpack of some sort right there with you.
Hereâs the thingâ¦I didnât want to carry my backpack with me. All I wanted was a multipurpose shoulder-strap bag of some sort that allowed me to safely carry my Sony A7RIII and the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 attached regardless of what setting we were likely to be in such as long days walking in the old city or taking a 1hr 1/2 water-splashing boat ride to Isla Baru.
After some research, I purchased the Overboard Waterproof Pro Sport bag made out of tough PVC tarpaulin with fully welded seams which worked out amazing because it offered complete protection from water, sand, dust and dirt all the elements I encountered during our trip.
The one drawback I found about the camera bag was that unfortunately thereâs no padding in the interior of the bag to guard against any potential bumping or drop. To compensate for that I purchased a foldable padding which I tucked into the bag as a base and then place my camera within it.
In a couple days my wife and I will be heading to Cozumel, Mexico and you can rest assured that the Overboard Waterproof Pro Sport will be coming along. Youâre limited with what you can carry inside because itâs narrow but that just makes you think twice about whatâs truly necessary on these adventures. Inside the bag I kept my camera with lens attached, 6 batteries, a cleaning cloth, and my Pelican case which stored my 6 SD cards. Thatâs it!
Itâs possible that you no longer need to get better at your craft. That your craft is just fine. Itâs possible that you need to be braver instead.
Thereâs a certain level of complacency that comes with doing what youâre known and recognized for. Itâs safe to the degree that if asked to perform, youâre already acclimated with how you would approach an assignment, what tools you would use and what the end result would potentially look like.
The real question comes on how long weâre willing to either stay on that same lane or if weâre willing to deviate a bit to challenge ourselves creatively and avoid being too predictable.
I personally love discovering creatives who have mastered the art of consistently keep me and their entire audience guessing what else theyâre going to come up. Thereâs always a slight enhancement on every new piece of work they put out. Iâm personally comfortable with a particular style of photography but I wonât know anything else unless Iâm willing to be braver as Seth Godin says and act more on my ideas as oppose to sitting on them.
I constantly go through moments where I dislike everything Iâve shot. Iâm really hard on myself and perhaps I should see it as an opportunity to take more risk.
It's been an absolutely pleasure working along side the amazing team of trainers and founder of GRIT BXNG this year in creating promotional material which showcases their badass trainers, gym and what they signify. View the rest of the gallery.