I am excited to share that I just touched down here in Seattle! Absolutely beautiful weather (all of the other times I’ve visited were in January), and have already had some amazing espresso— and feeling pretty pumped up (the coffee here is seriously the best in the world).
New free e-book: “The Street Portrait Manual”
First of all, I am proud to share a new free e-book I published titled: “The Street Portrait Manual.” I realized that all of my other free e-books were only text, and because we’re photographers, it makes sense for me to add images.
I honestly have no design experience, but realized that Apple’s “Pages” app does a pretty good job with layouts. I know it looks pretty amateur, but I am still learning and I had a ton of fun putting it together. Moving forward, I hope to make more of these “picture e-books” — and always, keeping it “open source” and free to download, share, remix, translate— whatever. I always remind myself that the purpose of my life is to help others, and use the best of my abilities to share the information that I have learned along the way.
What I’m packing for my trip
I am also excited for my upcoming travels. Some of the places I’m going to for around 3 months: Seattle, Vancouver, Paris, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Prague, Vienna, Marseille, Berlin, London, and Stockholm.
Also got my shooting setup for the trip: 75 rolls of Kodak Tri-X (not sure if I’m going to shoot it at 400 or push it all to 1600), and 20 rolls of Portra 400 (to continue my “Suits” project). The only camera I’m bringing for my trip is my Leica MP and 35mm lens.
The thing I have learned most about photography, travel, and life is that fewer options gives me more freedom, more happiness, and less stress. The last big trip I pared down to my Leica MP and Ricoh GR, but I actually left the Ricoh GR back with Cindy for her to play around with. So now, I truly am down to “1 camera, 1 lens” (besides my smartphone, which has also been fun to shoot on).
Some people also ask me: why travel with all that film, isn’t it just more convenient to travel with a digital camera?
While it is true that it lighter to travel with digital cameras, I found that traveling with film is more of a joy (and less hassle). I don’t have to charge my camera everynight (the Leica MP is purely mechanical, and can operate without a battery, the only battery it uses is for a meter), and because I can’t download my photos immediately into Lightroom, I sleep another 2 extra hours a night (when I’m post-processing and editing while I travel, I usually stay up until 2am).
Furthermore, I found that I don’t have to worry about backing up photos to hard drives, and worrying about them crashing. Sure, I have to worry about running out of film, but I think 100 rolls (combined) should be enough for this trip. I generally shoot on average a roll of film a day, so I should be okay. Worst case scenario: I can always buy cheap film in some local drugstore.
The joy of spending time with family
I just spent the last week and a half with Cindy’s family, and I was truly blessed to spend time with them. Ironically enough even though I do travel for a living and go to all of these exotic places, my favorite times have been in the boring suburbs (Garden Grove in Orange County, LA) but with the people I love the most. Small joys like playing board games with the family (Monopoly “Deal” and Starcraft Risk), enjoying a nice coffee and breakfast with the family (Vietnamese iced coffee and avocados), doing Yoga with Cindy (Corepower has a free 2-week pass somewhere online), and having barbeques in the backyard (Vietnamese BBQ is phenomenal).
Books I’ve been reading
I have also been re-reading a lot of books on Taoism, the translations of the “Tao Te Ching” by Stephen Mitchell is excellent, as well as his other book: “The Second Book of the Tao.” It has helped me realized to live fully in every moment, cherish my relationships, and not to strive or desire for external things (all happiness exists in the present moment).
Funny enough, I have also been reading some new business books recommended by Tim Ferriss (the author of the “4-hour workweek”) on his excellent podcast, “The Tim Ferriss Show.” The first book is: “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing” which is a pretty sleazy-looking title, but actually great reading. It taught me to focus on my passion (street photography) and not to get distracted by anything else. Another book I just started is “Million Dollar Consulting” which has taught me the importance of adding value through my workshops, and learning how to earn a living (without traveling more than necessary).
For a more affordable and available book, I recommend “Magnum, Magnum” (only $25) which features hundreds of the best Magnum photographs.
New street photography workshops
I also just added a new workshop to my travel schedule: an Intermediate/Advanced project-based street photography workshop in London August 21–23rd. What is the difference between this and the “Introductory” workshop? The Introductory workshop is focused on conquering your fear in street photography and building your confidence. The Intermediate/Advanced workshop is focused on finding your own voice, your own style, and how to work on a street photography project.
I also have some new workshops planned for San Francisco, Austin, and Downtown LA later this year. My full workshops schedule is below:
Seattle – Introduction to Street Photography Workshop – SOLD OUT (contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the waiting list)!
Paris – Week-Long Intensive Travel Street Photography Workshop – OPEN! (Early-Bird Deadline: May 24th)
Amsterdam – Intermediate/Advanced Street Photography Workshop – SOLD OUT (contact email@example.com for the waiting list)!
Prague – Week-Long Intensive Travel Street Photography Workshop – OPEN! (Early-Bird Deadline: June 15th)
July 31st-August 2nd
Vienna – Introduction to Street Photography Workshop – OPEN! (Early-Bird Deadline: June 30th)
Berlin –Introduction to Street Photography Workshop – OPEN! (Early-Bird Deadline: July 7th)
London – Introduction to Street Photography Workshop – SOLD OUT (contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the waiting list)!
London – Intermediate/Advanced Street Photography Workshop – OPEN! (NEW!)
Stockholm – Introduction to Street Photography Workshop – OPEN!
SF – Conquer Your Fears of Shooting Street Photography – Register Intent – NEW!
SF – Discover Your Unique Voice in Street Photography – Register Intent – NEW!
New Orleans – Week-Long Travel Street Photography Workshop – OPEN!
Austin – Conquer Your Fears of Shooting Street Photography – Register Intent – NEW!
Los Angeles – Conquer Your Fears of Shooting Street Photography – Register Intent – NEW!
Los Angeles -Discover Your Unique Voice in Street Photography – Register Intent – NEW!
You can also learn more about my street photography workshops here.
I have tried to focus in life to worry less about “efficiency” and “optimization.” I don’t think anyone lies on his/her deathbed wishing that they were more “efficient” with their lives.
So I am trying to follow the advice of Nassim Taleb from his amazing book: “Antifragile” in the sense of taking things as they come, not to force anything (the concept of “wu-wei” from the book “Tao Te Ching”). The idea is that I only write or work when I feel like it, and try not to start any days with having a pre-schedule.
But how does one be “productive” without forcing oneself to work all the time? Ironically not forcing myself to work all the time helps me recharge my creative juices, and really plow myself into producing a lot when I am in the mood. After all, when you force yourself to do work you don’t want to do, it shows. You can’t fake passion and enthusiasm.
I hope to also focus on writing fewer articles, and writing more books. I love blogs, but the problem is that articles are so perishable. Books last. I hope to also publish and print some more books in the future, and collaborate.
As always, thanks so much for the love, support, and always helping me along in my personal journey. Keep rocking the streets, until next time!
6/5/2015 @ WeWork in Seattle