Double Exposure Surreal Self Portrait Photography

Surreal Self Portrait Photography Ideas

Surreal Self Portrait Photography Ideas

Surreal self portrait photography is a great way to explore your photo skills. I personally have learned so much from over the past years from lighting to staging to editing and posing, which I use in all aspects in photography. Taking self portraits and compositing those into different scenarios gives you so much freedom when it comes to expressing yourself and your ideas. Here are some of my tips I’ve found super useful with my own work, but first let’s get a little background in this type of photography.

Surreal self portrait photography of book and book pages creative photo ideas

What is Surreal Self Portrait Photography?

This is a type of self portrait photography with a mix of surrealism, which can be added through photo editing or creatively done in your shot. One of my favorite surreal portraits is of Salvidor Dali by Phillip Halsman. The beauty in this picture is that everything is done in camera, meaning that there was no post production in order to manipulate the final image. This just shows that creativity is more important than software no how (although both is quite a weapon).

surreal self portrait photography idea of being trapped in the woods

Seeing Double

Who does not want to see two, three, 10, 100 of you and your pretty self? Adding multiple ‘yous’ in a scene is one of the first surreal self portraits I did. This is a fun project. For this pretty much all you need is a camera, a tripod, a space and well you! A simple idea to get you started with is to just start to mess around with different poses. Set up your tripod and begin to take pictures of you in different poses. Once you have a few that you like, stack them into your photo editing software and cut your self out of each image. The final image will give you a surreal self portrait.

For this image I walked into my woods and took two photos, one where I was hugging a tree and one where I felt like I was being squeezed. I used the above technique of cutting myself out and overlapped them into one final image.

Surreal Music Self Portrait Ideas for Beginner Photographers

Explore Your Interests

When in doubt explore themes that you already love. I have always had a passion for music (listening and playing) and when brainstorming possible photography ideas, I decided to mess around with pieces in my room that I already had. This may be one of the easiest and satisfying ways to explore surreal self portrait photography. Take a second and look around your room, house, your garage, and find a few pieces that mean something to you. Now think about how they make you feel, how one may use it, or how one should not use it. Above is an example of a surreal music photography photo that I took with objects in my room.

Double Exposure Self Portraits

Double exposure self portraits is one of my favorite types of portrait photography. It is probably the easiest of them all as well. The double exposure or multiple exposure technique is one of the oldest effect that was used in photography. Basically it is exactly what it sounds like. A double exposure is combining two images (exposures) on a single image. In film cameras, one would take a photograph, in most cases a portrait. Then you would rewind the film and take another image, of a landscape, nature or cityscape which would be taken on top of the original image.

For digital images like the piece below, I overlaid a self portrait and a landscape photo I took in photoshop. I then played with the opacity & blend mode in order to obtain a final image I love.

Useful Tips

  • Sketch out some ideas first. Brainstorming is an extremely helpful way to think outside of the box.
  • Tripods are extremely helpful with creating a photo stack along with a remote timer. (You can also use the 10 second shutter that is already on your camera as well)
  • Try different poses, different objects, and different backdrops. (I often find that the idea I first imagined in my head is now how the final image ended up)
  • There is no right or wrong way. Have fun and keep pushing yourself to new ways of thinking and expressing yourself.

I would love to see some of your favorite creative self portraits! Post them with a link below!

millennium park Bean chicago engagement photography location in winter photoshoot ideas

10 Best Places for Engagement Photos in Chicago

millennium park Bean chicago engagement photography location in winter photoshoot ideas

10 Best Places for Engagement Photos in Chicago

It has finally happened, you are choosing engagement photo locations in Chicago. You and your fiancé are engaged and it is time to commemorate this memorable occasion with romantic engagement photos. The question is, where fo you begin? While scouring the internet for Chicago engagement photos, I am sure that you have come across some amazing photo locations. You have found countless couple poses and maybe a few cheesy photoshoots along the way. This can easily come as a challenge especially when you are searching for engagement photos that are truly yours. Thankfully, I compiled a list of the best places for engagement photos in Chicago.

Amy and Kyle Couple Engagement Photography Session at the BP Bridge in Millennium Park

Where to take Engagement Photos in Chicago?

Location. Location. Location. Whether you and your significant other are avid Chicago explorers, or enjoy a night of Netflix and chill, Chicago has everything you need for making your engagement photos unique. Here are some things you should take into consideration when choosing your photoshoot location.

Chicago Engagement Photography Locations Uptown Theatre Neighborhood

Your Favorite Chicago Spot

Do you have a favorite brewery where you meet for trivia night, a go-to-coffee shop that you visit so often, you should probably just work there, or your must have Chicago pizza parlor which you will argue as being the best place in the city for a slice of za? Personal spots like these are my favorite places to draw inspiration at. These are not only intimate places for a beautiful photoshoot but they are a unique locations that have a special place in your heart.

Where was Your First Date?

Relive the magic that first brought you two together. This location can be an amazing place to start. Whether it is just for a few photos for yourself, you can’t help but to feel all of the feels here.

BP Bridge millennium park chicago engagement photography

What is Your Lifestyle

Lifestyle photography is just how it sounds. What makes it so beautiful is that it is your life. My favorite engagement photo locations in Chicago are those that reflect you and your partner’s personal life. Whether you two love to sit and listen to music, dance the night away, go hiking in the woods, or enjoy taking in the city views as you walk your puppy throughout Chicago, lifestyle photos are the best ways to make your engagement pictures truly yours.

Best Chicago Locations

Now that you have an idea of what you are looking for I created a list of the top 10 Best free places to take engagement photos in Chicago. Drum roll please…

millennium park Jay Pritzker Music Pavilionchicago engagement photography

Millennium Park

201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60602 Designed by Frank Gehry
If you are familiar with downtown Chicago, then you know what an beautiful place Millennium Park is for engagement pictures.  Everywhere you look there is an amazing photo opportunity. With the gorgeous Lurie Gardens, unique Crown Fountain, the iconic Chicago Bean reflecting the city skyline and lovely Jay Pritzker Music Pavilion, Millennium Park will offer an unforgettable engagement photoshoot experience. Just incase you wanted a little bit more, take a stroll across the BP Pedestrian Bridge and make your way over to Maggie Daley Park. This location has it all.

Chicago CTA Couple Engagement Photography

CTA Station

The Chicago CTA is a staple in this city. It is a part of everyone’s life and is the glue that connects the plethora of neighborhoods together. This may not be on every couple’s engagement location list but it offers a wonderful chance for those personal, everyday photos. From waiting for a train with your partner or snuggling up with each other inside of the train, the CTA is a perfect place to capture those small moments together.

Chicago Theatre Sign Engagement Photography

Chicago Theatre Sign

175 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601
Designed in 1921 on the historic State Street, the Chicago Theatre sign is one of the only locations in the city that can be said to truly define Chicago. If you are taking engagement pictures at the Riverwalk, Millennium Park or any where in the city Loop, this photo spot is a must do destination for your photoshoot. 

Beautiful Couple Starting to Kiss Romantic The Art Institute of Chicago South Garden Engagement Picture Locations and White Clothing

Art Institute South Gardens

111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603
Just a block away from Millennium park sits the renowned Art Institute of Chicago. It is a beautiful classical Beaux-Arts building which is guarded by 2 large green lions, and carries the fond memory of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. But what makes the Art Institute of Chicago such a great engagement location is the south garden designed by Dan Kiley. This hidden oasis, which key features include rows of trees, ivy grown walls and a large fountain makes this location a beautifully intimate spot for your engagement photos.

Chicago Skyline Backdrop at Fullerton Beach Engagement Pictures Best Locations for Your Photography Photoshoot

Fullerton Beach

With over 18 miles of Lakefront, there’s no wonder why Chicago has some of the best beaches in the country. Fullerton Beach has always had a special place in my heart as it is the location that I saw my first sunrise in Chicago. Located just east of Lincoln Park Zoo, it has a beautiful stretch of beach front for your photos as well as an amazing view of the skyline making this a must do location for your engagement photos.

Chicago Street Murals Engagement Photography

Chicago Street Murals

Chicago is not only an architecture mecca, it is the home of some of the best mural and street artists in the world. From Eduardo Kobra to Sentrock to JC Rivera to Hebru Brantley, the streets of Chicago has some of the most inspiring and jaw dropping pieces of art on it’s walls. No matter what neighborhood you find yourself taking your engagement photos in, there will be a unique and colorful backdrop that will make your pictures truly stand out.

Best Chicago Engagement Photo Locations Lincoln Park Pavilion by Studio Gang Architects Beautiful City Skyline for your Couple Photoshoot Photography

Lincoln Park Zoo Pavilion

2121 N Stockton Dr, Chicago, IL 60614
The Lincoln Park Pavilion is one of my favorite photo locations in Chicago. I might be biased since I am an architecture buff, but this intricate wooden pavilion located just south of Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo offers a perfect frame of the city’s skyline. Designed by Studio Gang architects, you have countless opportunities to capture some fantastic engagement photos here.

Engagement Places for your Photoshoot Chicago Skyline at Sunset Couple Photography at the Lakefront of the Alder Planetarium photoshoot

The Alder Planetarium

1300 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605
If you are taking engagement pictures in Chicago, then a skyline shot is a must. There is place better than the lakefront outside of the Alder Planetarium to capture the whole Chicago skyline. My favorite time to capture these shots would be an hour or so before the sunset which will give you some of the most magical shots of the city.

Chicago Engagement Photography

Chicago Riverwalk

If you live in Chicago or even just visited there’s a high chance that you have walked along the river on the Chicago Riverwalk. Over the years it has been transformed and renovated, making it a beautiful location for not only your engagement photos but to relax and enjoy a drink with your significant other. There are a lot of unique photo spots along the riverwalk, so I would just have fun and enjoy the views. 

Engagement Spots for your Pictures Chicago North Coast Skyline Couple Photography at the Lakefront of the Milton Lee Olive Park Overlook photoshoot

Milton Lee Olive Park Waterfront

E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611
This is one of my favorite hidden gems in Chicago. Just north of Navy Pier and East of Ohio Street Beach sits a little strip of land that offers some of the best views of the Chicago’s North coast skyline. There is a lot of opportunity here, from capturing lifestyle walking photos to getting beautiful couple photographs at the overlook, Milton Lee Olive Park is a perfect place for your engagement photos.

Amy and Kyle Couple Engagement Photography Session at a Chicago Pizza Parlor Location

Just Be Yourself

Chicago is a photographer’s playground. No matter where you choose for your engagement pictures, you can not go wrong with any place on this list. My advice is to not overthink it. Find a location that means something to the both of you. The key to great engagement photography is for the couple to feel comfortable in being themselves. This is a magical point of time in both of your lives and you have to enjoy it. 

Looking for a Chicago engagement photographer? Let’s work together!  Contact me here

Surviving Social Distancing During Covid 19 coronavirus pandemic in the united states a black and white silhouette of a man and his shadow on his phone

Social Distancing

Social Distancing

With everything that is currently occurring with the health pandemic and social distancing, the world is looking quite different.

Personally it was a situation that seemed very much distant while ever so quickly becoming a stark reality. A month or so ago I recalled hearing through passing about a virus called COVID-19 aka the coronavirus sweeping through Wuhan, China. I would see snippets of how the city was being barricaded, I would see images of doctors working nonstop in hazmat suits, I would read number of how many people were being effected and just how quickly it was able to spread and still it did not hit home.

I am the first to shamefully admit that I live in my own little bubble sort of naturally social distancing from the world to an extent. I confine myself to what I know, learn and see but am always eager to escape that safekeeping.

That was one of the underlying reasons that Ive always wanted to travel. Mostly I did not believe that these far away places truly existed and knew the only way to believe in the beauty of this world was to experience it first hand. And like those travel adventures, this is how many saw the coronavirus. It quickly spread from China in December of 2019 to more than 145 countries as I’m writing this on March 18th 2020. This still unimaginable reality instantaneously struck like a bat out of hell.

Dramatic visual changes are happening in communities, lockdown in cities, in social appearances or lack thereof, and in thought. I see reactions ranging from the still nonchalant, unconcerned to distress slowly unraveling people’s once tough as nails mindsets.

Personally, my grandfather passed away earlier this week (not due to coronavirus) but as a result my family had to make the painful decision to adhere to the CDC and social distancing and restrict the services to my father and his siblings. I truly believe that it was the right decision but it’s still hard to accept that being physically there for someone when they genuinely need it is almost beyond the bounds of possibilities right now.

I remember reading something like “In the end, it will be impossible to know if we overreacted or did too much, but it will be QUITE apparent if we under reacted or did too little.” COVID-19 affected every aspect of most if not all of everyone’s life.

Surviving Social Distancing During Covid 19 coronavirus pandemic in the united states a black and white silhouette of a man and his shadow on his phone

Take a Deep Breathe

For me, the daunting realness of these past few days and weeks is not the pandemic in itself but the uncertainty it carries. This sort of vulnerability makes us feel powerless. We do not know what the future will look like let alone what tomorrow will bring.

And it’s scary.

But amidst this rough patch, I think we are all just striving for the best for each other. I see how powerful we are as not just people but as humans. It’s not just a town, a city, or a state but in countries and most importantly the world. People all around the globe joined together to put a pause on their life no matter how much it’s personally and financially is going to effect them, in order to reduce the rick of harming others.

I am optimistic.

The small to large changes in our lifestyle are all in trying to keep each other and ourselves safe and healthy. It’s comforting to know that we have each other’s backs. It’s encouraging to know that we are here for each other, especially as we desperately search for a little certainty in life.

I am hopeful.

Take some time away from the news, listen to some music, read a book, text a friend and take a deep breath.

Be well. Stay safe. You are not alone in this. We are in this together.

Food for Thought

Below is a piece of writing from Laura Kelly Fanucci that is so humbly, beautiful I just had to share and type the words down myself to feel the realness in them.

When this is over,

may we never again

take for granted

A handshake with a stranger

Full shelves at the store

Conversations with neighbors

A crowded theatre

Friday night out

The tased of communion

A routine checkup

The school rush each morning

Coffee with a friend

The stadium roaring

Each deep breath

A boring Tuesday

Life itself.

When this ends,

may we find

that we have become

more like the people

we wanted to be

we were called to be

we hoped to be

and may we stay

that way—better

for each other

because of the worst.

– Laura Kelly Fannucci

For more information and up to date  news about Covid-19/ Coronavirus pandemic please follow the CDC and WHO

And so the adventure begins surreal fine art concept photography with an old type writer on a rustic table setting with a globe, travel passport, vintage camera and a morning coffee

Escaping Your Comfort Zone

Escaping Your Comfort Zone


This artwork was a concept piece I worked on about escaping your comfort zone.

I was in a rut. Days ran into days which felt like an endless stream and it felt easier to let the current carry me away rather than to fight against it. This is a comforting feeling, you feel safe. While at the same time, it’s easy to lose track of time and stray far away from where you once intended to be.

We all have been in a place in which comfortability has played a circumscribing factor in our life. We think of all the things we want to do, envision a future self we want to be and imagine a place where we want to wake up in but we quickly push it aside in the someday endeavor category in our head. There it sits, boxed up in our attic saved for later. We continue with our life waking up, going through the motion, hurry back home, rinse, sleep and repeat.

Those future endeavors, those dreams and ideas we once painted for ourselves remain a faint outline. They become ever more hazy, slowly feeling less attainable as time passes by. It seems like we fell asleep on the river of life and have drifted too far away to know the way back.

How do you fight against the current? What is the life preserver you strive for to get you back on your feet? I’ve always thought the answer to this was happiness. And it’s true in a way but something I read that stuck with me is that ‘Happiness can be bought with a bottle of wine and has become ambiguous through overuse’. So what is objective then? What’s the goal?

And so the adventure begins surreal fine art concept photography with an old type writer on a rustic table setting with a globe, travel passport, vintage camera and a morning coffee

Finding Excitement.

Finding excitement in life is the driving factor in motivation. It’s the very aspect that pushes you to learn, to act. It incites passion and is the spark to igniting your mental bliss. I started to write ‘don’t be afraid to try something new’ but that’s honestly not honest. It’s a terrifying feeling. Exiting the familiarity of life is scary as hell but that’s also what makes it so, so exciting. 

Tim Ferris wrote in his book The 4-Hour Workweek “‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually,’ just do it and correct along the way.”

I feel fear is the biggest denominator in whether you act on something that you truly want to do. Comfortability is so attractive due to its certainty while excitement has become a sort of ‘risk’. It’s uncertain and not a lot of people feel comfortable with not knowing what’s next. But it’s the very reason why we watch tv shows & movies, why we read books or watch sporting events. Not knowing is a little exciting. No it’s down right exhilarating.

Whether it’s in your job, your relationships or your personal life, find something that constantly forces you to step away from your comfort zone. Find something that forces you to see the world in a different way. Find something that makes you ask questions. Find something that makes you smile with anticipation. Even if it’s small, find something that excites you.

And so the adventure begins…

If you like this, click to see more from my surreal photography gallery

Traveling to Kelingking Beach Nusa Penida

Traveling in Indonesia for 2 Weeks

Traveling in Indonesia for 2 Weeks

And just like that, with one click of the mouse, I’m traveling to Indonesia for 2 weeks. The first question is most likely, why Indonesia? Honestly, there was not one thing that I could say that would truthfully answer that question. Of course Bali, with it’s endless beaches and countless waterfalls could be a suitable reason. Or Nusa Penida with it’s turquoise water and rugged landscape could be another. And I mean who would not want to visit Komodo Island and look into the eyes of the largest lizards in the world, the Komodo dragons. All viable explanations of why Indonesia. But I would be lying to say that these were the reasons I clicked ‘book it’.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you a little bit about my experience traveling to the world’s largest island country that is Indonesia.

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Yogyakarta the Soul of Java

Our journey started Yogyakarta. A traditional city located on the Indonesian island of Java. It was the first day and that was all it took for me to realize that I will not dare to try and drive here. It was hypnotizing seeing scooters dodge and weave their way through traffic like they were swimming through the sea. We were dropped off at our airbnb, which was a beautiful guest house that was hidden in an oasis of trees and water. Our time was limited but our priorities were straight. First indulge in street food, second explore the soul of Yogyakarta.


Prambanan Temple at Sunset Indonesia Travel

Sunset at Prambanan Temple

We only had one day in Yogyakarta and we were eager to make the best of it. Our first evening of soul searching was spent watching the sunset at Prambanan Temple. It was a immense field of ancient ruins. Watching each step, I carefully made my way through the stone remains. I tried to imagine what it would have been like in the 9th century. Walking up the steps, and overlooking the 244 Hindu temples scattered throughout the landscape as the day slowly fades away. I snapped back to reality as child screamed with laughter, running through the most beautiful architectural grave site I’ve stepped foot in.


Borobudur Temple Sunrise Photography

Sunrise at Borobudur Temple

It was 4:30 am and I was rubbing the last bit of yesterday from my eyes. I gathered my things, opened the bedroom door and walked into the darkness of the morning to meet our Grab driver. He drove us through winding roads showing us the plethora of markets that were already full of life. The car started to slow and we came to a stop at Manohara hotel. This is the only ‘official’ way to enter the world’s largest Buddhist temple Borobudur and since I did not feel like getting arrested this trip, I thought this would be our safest bet.

We walked through the entrance, paid our fee and they handed us our flashlights. We turned them on and started walking towards the soft chatters of our fellow sunrise chasers. We found the stairs and started the trek up. It was still picth black but with the faint light of the flashlights I quickly felt the immensity of this sacred site.

I waited patiently, feeling like the lights just dimmed in the theatre and you knew instantly that the show was about to begin. The rays of light broke through the horizon first as the sun quickly followed. The scene turned from pitch black to the warm colors of the morning, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I really wish that my photography did justice to this wonder of the world that is Bororbudur Temple but below is my attempt.


Bali Sunrise Indonesia Travel Photography

Bali

Bali seems to be forefront when speaking about Indonesia. It has become a consistent tourist destination for good reason. It honestly has everything for everyone. From walking along white sand beaches to swinging over a stretch of rice fields to drinking a cup of koi luwak coffee in the middle of a forest after hiking to a waterfall, it was more of a playground for me. 

Truth to be told, I could have spent a month here and still have much more to explore. With 99% less than a month in our schedule, we booked an Airbnb Tour to see as much as we could. It was worth it. Walking up to the Gate of Heaven in person, overlooking Agung, the biggest volcano in Bali, was an image I’ve seen all over instagram and blogs and now I know why. Experience. The air you soak up at Tegalalang terrace, feeling the water hitting against your face under the Tukad Cepung waterfall, or smelling the mixture of scents filling the air at a coffee plantation, makes these places you see behind a screen real. Visit Bali just once and you’ll understand this.


Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud

The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary

I woke up to unfamiliar sounds on my balcony. I rolled over to see the source and to my surprise, a monkey was making itself comfortable. Then another and another joined and the next thing I knew, my friends shoe was over the edge. This was going to be a good day.

The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, also known as the Ubud Monkey Forest, is home to over 600 Balinese long-tailed monkeys. You are the visitor as you walk through this forest sanctuary that is their home. From a mother feeding their child to a group sitting watching as children performed a balinese dance, there was a humanist quality to them. It was quite captivating in a mysterious way. Although one of the warnings were not to look at them in their eye, I caught a few glances. Here are a few photographs from a stroll in their habitat.


Traveling to Kelingking Beach Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida is the largest of the Nusa Islands sitting just south east of Bali. If there was an image that influenced my choice to going to Indonesia it was this island. Kelingking, also known as the t-rex arm, fittingly appeared like it was preserved from the Cretaceous Period. It was lush, rugged and like a scene from a movie, enclosed a beautiful secluded beach. The hike down was somewhat challenging and some places a little sketchy, but once your feet hits the sand, surrounded by cliffs, and seeing the crystal blue water, those thoughts are quickly washed away. 

Wild and free. This was how the whole island felt. Exploring through rough terrain, sitting along endless cliffs and unwinding in the warm tropical water, all to fall asleep under a blanket of stars, that is what Nusa Penida was for me. Diamonds scattered throughout this pebble in the world, just waiting to be found.


Padar Island Flores Indonesia Travel Photography

Traveling to Komodo

Komodo Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and part of the Lesser Sunda chain of Islands in East Nusa Tenggara. It’s also known for, drumroll please, Komodo Dragons. Yes I know shocker! But these islands are the only place in the world to see them so as they say, when in Indonesia! So we hopped on a plane from Bali and headed straight to the closest town which is Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores.

Like Bali, we were extremely limited on time and so we booked an all day excursion with Bintang Komodo Tours to experience as much as we could. It did not disappoint. Starting in the early morning, a few of us set sail as the sun began to rise and arrived at the first stop which was Padar Island. The view from the top of this hike was worth everything and more. A panorama view of the landscape that looked like it was crawling out to sea. We then stopped by the famous pink sand beach (pink due to it’s Corals) and an small banana shaped island/ sand bar to snorkel and finally made our way to see the legendary lizards.


Komodo Dragons Indonesia Travel Photography

Komodo National Park

There has been a lot of talk about Komodo National Park. Mainly about tourism. It was said that they would close off the park to tourist in 2020 and just recently rumored that it will be open but at a premium cost of $1000. We were fortunate enough to make it before any drastic changes were made. Upon arriving, we were given a tour guide, explained to us the risks, and ended on a somber note of the good possibility of not seeing any dragons at all. Optimistic though, we set out and within 5 minutes, stumbled upon 6 Dragons, 3 adults and 3 babies, all in one communal area! It was a surreal moment for sure, that I will not take with a grain of salt. Encountering the worlds largest and quite deadly lizards, with saliva and remnants of blood on their face is a memory  I will hold onto.

Komodo Dragons Indonesia Travel Photography


Snorkeling with Manta Rays in Indonesia

Snorkeling in Indonesia

With over 17,000 islands comprising of Indonesia, snorkeling is a rights of passage when visiting. I have never snorkeled in my life, like really snorkeled. There may have been a few incidents when I’ve placed a snorkel mask on my face and swam around the pool looking for pennies at the bottom. But trust me nothing like this.

I still can’t quite comprehend what I saw. One day we hopped on a boat in Gilli Island and the next I was circling around an underwater sculpture, watching the array of tropical fish swimming along not taking notice or more not caring that a stranger was hovering around their neighborhood. The next time we jumped on a boat in Nusa Penida, I did the Shaka shake for my GoPro as I spilled over the side of the boat and all of a sudden an 11 ft Manta Ray came gliding above me. Lastly, on our excursion in and around Komodo Island, felt more like a grand finale. From beautiful coral, to nibbling tropical fish to sea turtles and chasing down a giant manta ray, it was quite the underwater adventure. I think I did good for my first time, if I say so myself. 


Tegalalang Rice Portrait Terrace Indonesia Travel Photography

Faces from Indonesia

You meet a lot of interesting people when you travel. From literally all ends of the world. Some faces you see for a moment and they pass, others stay with you. This trip was this trip because of people. From my friend Tyler who stuck out every second of this hectic ride, to all of the drivers, tour guides and hosts that did everything they could to make our trip the best it could be to the little girl who tried her best to teach me a little bit of the Indonesian language and laughed at my American pronunciation. this is what traveling is. This is why I love it. These are some of the faces from Indonesia.


Reflection

The main reason, the true reason that I started traveling was to wander away from my comfort zone. The first time I ventured from North America was to Iceland. That trip opened up my eyes to the beautiful possibilities the world has in stored. I was curious about the unknown but frankly I yearned to know what was beyond that hill, those houses or across that ocean. So I went. Just me. I look at myself a little bit differently after traveling solo to Scotland. You learn quite a lot about yourself when you’re alone.

But being a travel photographer persuaded many of these adventures. I chose places in which the landscapes pulled me in. I already had glimpses of myself stepping at the edge of Trolltunga in Norway or walking up the Seceda Ridge in the Dolomites of Northern Italy. I found myself in an uncharacteristic comfort zone. I got caught up with these photographic pilgrimages and I wanted to step away for one. 

I went to Indonesia to see more with my eyes and less from behind the camera. 11 flights, 10 islands and 7 boat rides later. I choose right.

Bouldering Photography at Devils Lake State Park

Bouldering Photography at Devil’s Lake State Park

Bouldering Photography at Devils Lake State Park

Bouldering Photography at Devil’s Lake State Park

If you mentioned rock climbing at Devil’s Lake State Park a year ago, I would look at you with a blank stare. I have previously ventured up to Wisconsin to photograph this picturesque state park but it was not until about 8 months ago that I would have known the hidden gems embedded in the nature of this park. In early of September of 2018 I got introduced to the world of rock climbing. I’ve always been intrigued in the simplicity of climbing. Watching professional climbers such as Adam Ondra or Sasha DiGiulian naturally scale up the face of a mountain is poetry in motion. Needless to say, I was quickly hooked.

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The midwest is not widely known for a mecca of outdoor climbing. In fact, if you are from Chicago and want to climb outdoors, you will most likely find yourself 3 hours away at Devils Lake State Park which is not only the largest state park in Wisconsin but also offers some of the best bouldering and climbing in the midwest. With over 1600 routes, beautiful hiking trails and quartzite rock cliffs overlooking the lake, it only seems natural that I start my exploration of rock climbing and photography here.

Camping at Mirror Lake State Park

The best part of bouldering at Devils Lake, is camping under the stars at Mirror Lake State Park and of course ordering Pizza Pub. We actually found this campsite by mere coincidence. On the first trip to climb, the Devils Lake Camp grounds were completely booked and this was recommended by park ranger. The moment we set up camp, I already knew that this is where I will be falling asleep whenever I come back up here. On a clear night, the stars light up the sky over the lake and at that moment the name Mirror Lake becomes clear. This is the perfect remedy after a hard day of climbing.

A Passion Found in Rock Climbing

Rock climbing is something else. I fell into this world unknowingly. I didn’t ask to be here but here I am and I absolutely love it. I went from not knowing what a rock climbing gym was to joining one and climbing in it 5 times a week. I remember only being able to climb for 30 minutes because the skin on my fingers were shredded to being able to climb for hours with ease. It’s therapeutic in that way. My mind shuts down all of those lingering thoughts in the back of my head and I become fully present. Climbing has shown me that growth only exists when you push yourself out of your comfort zone and welcome the unknown.

It’s a beautiful thing.

Double Exposure Surreal Self Portrait Photography

Surreal

Surreal

This past year has surely been a wild one and personally it has been the most that I have grown. I’ve met some beautiful people that I never thought I’d meet and let go of some that I will never forget. I’ve been to places that I never believed existed while enjoyed familiar sites like they were the first time. I’ve stepped back, reset, slowed down, learned, laughed, opened up, let go, embraced and experienced a multitude of well everything. It’s a crazy beautiful world we live in. Thank you for every visit, comment, and message you and anyone has ever given me. It truly means a lot. Stay curious, be creative and most importantly, just be happy. Here’s to a brand new year. Sincerely the thoughts inside my head.

Double Exposure Surreal Photography

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