Travel · Yosemite National Park · February 2017

Before I begin this blog post, I just wanted to take the time to wish everyone a Happy New Year! If you follow me on Instagram and happened to stumble upon this post from early January, you would know that I recently started a full-time job in a clinical lab. Things on my end have been great. Yes, I've been finding myself quite exhausted at times, but I'm truly grateful to have this opportunity and have already learned so much. Going into this job, I knew that my longer-term travels would have to go on pause for the time being, but it was a necessary move to make in further finding myself and taking that initial step in my professional career. Photography will always be there for me, and that's what's so great about it -- it's not going anywhere away from me. That said, after a good month and a half, it definitely felt good to pick up my camera again.

In the midst a busy, fast-paced lifestyle that the San Francisco Bay Area brings, it's always necessary to unwind and kick back, often times somewhere away from the bay. This brings me to my first mini-trip of 2017, in none-other than Yosemite National Park. With my new job taking up a good chunk of the first one-and-a-half months of 2017, it was only fitting.

As just mentioned, this was my first mini-trip of 2017. While that could also be said for the group I was with, it was also a trip of many other firsts. I went with two good friends, Kat and Lih, both whom had never been to Yosemite National Park before. On top of that, it had been years that Kat had seen fresh snow. I knew that they had seen my hundreds of photos posted to social media, but prior to entering the park, I told them that the awe and wonder of this place couldn't ever be summed up in the form of a still image or video -- there was a reason as to why people keep coming back over and over. 

Whenever in Yosemite, I can't help but believe that at least one prevailing idea comes to the minds to all who visit - the idea that we are small. In our normal, everyday lives, everything seems to revolve around us: where we are going for the day, what we are doing, what we will eat, who or what we will interact with. Coming to Yosemite brings me back home, in a sense where I am able to remember that there are much greater things out there that need to be cared for, and that these things are much bigger than any of us - poverty, starvation, racism, sexism, global warming, anything. It gives me the proper grounds to take in a breath of fresh air and simply reflect. 

One of my initial hopes during this Yosemite trip, for this time of the year, was to see the fabled "fire falls" in all of their glory. Unfortunately, due to weather conditions, the intermittent clouds ended up being way too thick for the sun's light to hit horsetail falls as it was setting. A bit of a bummer, given that there was nothing but sunny skies during the week (when we were all working), but there's always next time. All in all, despite us being there only for the weekend, I know that the memories made and conversations had were definitely some things I will hold with me for quite some time.

Personal · Last Days of 2016, Last Trip of 2016

Just two days after Christmas (and, not to mention, 3 days after getting back from my Portland trip), I soon found myself back on an airplane - this time with my good friends Xavier, Jon, and Steph - headed to Las Vegas, NV. This wasn't any "regular" trip to Vegas, however. Rather, we merely used Vegas as our landing (and car rental) point before taking off for Utah. The point of interest this time around was none other than Zion National Park, and thinking about it now, I'm very grateful to have been able to visit this beautiful place two separate times this past year. Before going to Zion, we took the long way to drive through the Valley of Fire, which definitely did not disappoint. I can't wait for the next time I'll have the chance to visit that awesome state park, hopefully for more than just a couple of hours! On top of spending most of our time in the Springdale area, we also took one sunset out of our trip to make the drive out to Bryce Canyon National Park, which was also quite an experience - and I'm not necessarily talking about the 32 degrees Fahrenheit temperature. The hoodoos there were definitely unlike any I've ever seen (even after driving through a good chunk of Utah back in April), and it was totally worth the four hour round trip drive from Zion to watch the sun go down over Bryce. Seeing all of these beautiful places covered in snow was simply the icing on the cake, not to mention all of the laughs and good vibes that radiated throughout the entirety of this trip. With this, I bid farewell to 2016, and welcome 2017 with open arms. 

Personal · Pre-Christmas in Portland

Made a quick trip out to Portland for a few days (with Angelica, Donmiguel, and Trixie) for a fun, little Bay Area getaway before Christmas. While we weren't able to venture out too far from Portland, we still made it a priority to at least stop by some key spots along Colombia River Gorge (Rowena Crest, Latourell, Multnomah, etc.) and Jonsrud Viewpoint. Both Donmiguel & Trixie had never been to Portland before, so my sister & I took them around to see the usual, touristy things that Portland is known for, as well as stop by our favorite restaurants. Portland also came in quite clutch for our last-minute Christmas shopping -- as Californians, we definitely took advantage of the no sales tax that Oregon boasts. All in all, this was a much-needed retreat from the Bay Area, and I'm glad to have had the opportunity to have a "cousins trip" with some of my absolute favorite people. This was our first, but definitely not our last!

Seniors · Melanie + Michelle

Met up with Melanie and Michelle on an overcast Sunday afternoon, only to have the skies part right as our senior portrait photoshoot had commenced -- how fortunate we were! Because most students typically choose to have their graduation photos taken at either their respective school campus or the Golden Gate Bridge, Melanie and Michelle decided to go for the Embarcadero this time around. While the Embarcadero is still a very touristy and sought-after location, it's surely a lot more low-key than the Golden Gate Bridge (or even the Bay Bridge, at that) for photos, and definitely allowed their photos to stand out from what people are typically used to seeing. One thing I truly enjoy about portraiture is the fact that an otherwise "common" or "cliche" photo location can instantly become that much more interesting whenever it's not intended as the main focal point in an image. Melanie and Michelle definitely have bright futures ahead of them, and I wish them both an early congratulations for graduating from the University of San Francisco with their Bachelor's degrees one semester early!