Personal · Nature: Cheaper Than Therapy

Just a couple of hours after photographing Chasi & Bernardo's wedding, I found myself on the road with some of the best people I know - heading over to none-other than Yosemite National Park to catch the sunrise. 

Despite having been to Yosemite numerous times (especially in recent years), there's just something so magical about this place that simply cannot be put into words. Every visit grants me with newfound inspiration, and this one was no different. One of our highlights from this unique trip was meeting this kind, elderly lady atop Glacier Point, on the final sunrise of our short, two-day trip. She had just finished climbing Half Dome the day before, and had plans to climb the other behemoths of Yosemite Valley - alongside her cute, little teddy-bear family. Hearing her stories of venturing throughout not only California, but also the other parts of the United States, to take in all of the beautiful views, conquer the craziest hikes, and snap photos of her teddy bears was an absolute treat - most definitely a wonderful ending to our escape from the hustle and bustle of city life! 

Personal · Sunrise Over Spencer

Christina was in town visiting and Xavier hadn't picked up his camera in weeks, so the only logical thing to do was to catch the sunrise over the bay. While our busy schedules don’t allow us to get out, see each other, and/or take pictures all too often, those reasons alone are truly what make moments like this one that much more special — couldn’t think of a better way to start the day off than with a breathtaking view at none other than Battery Spencer, alongside great company.

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.