The idea, from the start, was to share with my kids the great American road trip. As U.S. citizens growing up in Hong Kong - Kaya, Jacinda, and Huck had never seen the West Coast or much of the East Coast and very little in between. I met the kids in Los Angeles. We rented a red, white, and blue-colored camper van, and spent the next 29 days on the road. In all, we traversed 19 states and 4 national parks. We camped on a beach, swam in a lake, and sang songs and lit fireworks in backyards across the country. We witnessed elephant seals and bison and elk in their natural habitats. Perhaps most importantly, my kids got to know me better, and see what I do for a living. They met a dozen or so of my closest friends along the way. It was everything I hoped it to be, and for them, hopefully, a summer filed with memories and laughter.
I just returned from an incredible project in Tahiti with Tiny Atlas Quarterly and Adobe Stock. In addition to working with some incredibly creative humans - I was challenged in exiting new ways: drone photography, underwater photography, and a chance to photograph some of the best surfers on the planet at infamous Teahupo'o. I brought all my favorite gear - the Canon 5Dsr, Leica Q, DJI Phantom 3 Pro, and iPhone7+. But surprisingly, the MOST fun I had during the trip was shooting on the Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic. There's something about the tangible - the analog - that made me feel like kid - and I rediscovered my love for instant film all over again. Here are some of my favorites from the trip. If you click on 'em they get bigger.
In the spring of 2016 I travelled to North Korea with nine other Americans. Getting there isn't as hard as it might seem. Various tour companies based out of Beijing, China, offer foreigners a very controlled, often staged, glimpse inside the mysterious hermit kingdom.
A lot's been written about travel to DPRK lately - spurred by the tragic news of Otto Warmbier. - and lawmakers calling for a travel ban for U.S. citizens. Otto's detainment happened just a few weeks before our arrival, and it's fair to say the news put us all on edge. I wouldn't recommend visiting DPRK to everyone, I can only speak to the reasons why I wanted to.
As a photographer and storyteller, the opportunity to experience and document the DPRK was too good to pass up. We knew going in that our entire trip would be tightly controlled, that our tour was designed to show us a propagandized version of North Korea, and that we would be accompanied at all times by DPRK minders. It was assumed that we would also be closely watched by party officials. We were briefed beforehand on what to expect and what not to do. Some of those instructions were obvious, while others not. For example, we were told never to fold or sit on a newspaper with Kim Jun Un's photo on the cover. And we were told to avoid taking photos of certain things - construction, military, sacred monuments. Our hotel sat on an island in the middle of Pyongyang river. We were not permitted to leave without our escorts.
Despite the restrictions, the tour itself was fascinating. Entertaining at times, boring at times, and often very weird - but overwhelmingly positive. While much of the tour was controlled, there were many times when we able to observe and sometimes interact with the people of North Korea. Those moments are the ones I'll cherish most. The people we met were friendly and courteous and genuinely curious about us. And our time inside gave us insight into how the DPRK operates. The people of North Korea are taught from an early age that Americans are their enemy. They believe the Korean War is still very much alive. They believe the U.S. has occupied South Korea and wants very much to wrestle control of the North.
I don't support the brutal regime of DPRK. I don't agree with their politics and I wish the citizens of North Korea could experience the same freedoms much of the rest of the world does. It's those feelings that present any traveller to North Korea a conflict. Several of my companions have written about these same challenges eloquently. Personally, I don't support a travel ban. I believe the human connections made through travel can only make a positive difference - and that travel makes the world a smaller place. Below are some of the photos I took during my 7 days in North Korea.