Why You Need "White Space"

I’m always curious to know what anyone’s typical day looks likes because if it’s anything like most people, I would say often times we feel overbooked, overwhelmed, feeling like we’re going through life’s movements without necessarily nurturing our own.

All of this “life stuff” has had me thinking about Jocelyn’s advocacy in ensuring we’re creating the necessary “white space” in our daily routine as a way for us to “focus properly on anything”-

As a parent of 2 kids (6 & 4 year old), I’ve come to accept that parental guilt is something every parent experiences and it will continue to linger until a certain age so it's best to be at peace with its existence.

I obviously love spending time with my kids but during the moments when I may have a photo gig booked, those are the instances I equally cherished not just because of the monetary aspect but because it provides me the breather I need and that every parent shouldn’t feel guilty in taking to pursue something they love. Photography for me is the “white space” I seek because it takes me away from just being a father, a husband and fuels me to continue appreciating what I have.

Adjust As Needed

You become what you do. If you want to become a certain kind of person, outline the actions that kind of person does, and then do them with unwavering consistency. Evaluate your progress every month. Adjust as needed.

Isn't that a FACT!

I think 2017 was a time for me to experiment a lot with my photography, specifically with the intention to focus and discover what type of work excited me the most to shoot. If it wasn't a "hell yeah" then more than likely it wasn't worth my time shooting, editing and ultimately never having the enthusiasm to share the photos right away. With that came strategically observing photographers who I deeply admire and seeing how consistent they are in saying "yes" only to projects that will enhance their existing body of work and challenging them in areas that are worth putting yourself in uncomfortable situations for.

In addition to always putting out banging Tweets, Brad Stulberg also writes about health and the science of human performance for Outside Magazine. He's also a co-author of Peak Performance, a book which I highly recommend that combines inspiring stories of top performers across a range of capabilities and teaches "people to discover how they can get the most out of themselves in a healthy and sustainable way."

Grateful: A Gratitude Journal

Very often it becomes a challenge in keeping a positive outlook in life, especially when it seems like the most unexpected things tend to transpire at the most unfortunate time but I'm pretty sure that the end of the day, regardless of how we may end of feeling, we all end our day with at least few things we're grateful for.

Like anyone else, I was the type that made mental notes of things here and there which played a significance role in my life in any given day but that's pretty much where the acknowledgement ended. I didn't necessarily have any regular gratitude practices. In fact, I wasn't even aware it was a thing until it surely became a recurrent thread in people who's books, blogs or podcast I religiously follow.

Simply journaling 10 minutes a day in a physical leather-bound notebook is something I already do in addition to sporadically publishing here on the site as well as maintaining a family journal in Day One. All this to say that the last thing I had in mind was to incorporate yet another app or notebook that required me to write when I already felt spread thin. But as it turns out, "those who pay attention to what is good in their life instead of what is bad are more likely to feel positively about their life."

There's so many scientifically proven benefits in keeping a gratitude journal that I was sold on the concept and the only way I would consider digging deeper into it was if I found a fun app that kept me motivated to use it every day. In comes Grateful.

Granted I've only been utilizing the app for 3 days but so far it's keep me interested and enthusiastic in documenting the things in life that I'm thankful for but rarely ever take the type to express gratitude towards. My favorite part of the it are the gratitude prompts because there's nothing more intimidating that a blank screen attempting to be vulnerable to yourself.

Shoot like a Pro?

If 100% of your income is not coming from your photography and you're more like me, where I'm functioning on the sidelines while maintaining full time employment with a company, it's natural for us to ponder what it's like pursuing photography professionally. I know I have and luckily, I have colleagues in the industry who are very candid in sharing their ups and downs in spite of how magical and unworried the professional may seem from a bird's-eye view.

It's hard shit and if there's anyone who's a true wordsmith in dishing out the type of information you're not willing to hear because we're too enamored with the idea of being a full-time photographer it's David duChemin. As a side note, I own several of his books, which I've refused to buy digital versions in spite of being a true Kindle fanatic simply because I love the feel of the hardcopy as well as referencing back to the endless notations made on it throughout the years.

David recently talked about what it's like being a pro photographer and while I encourage you to read the entire article, I couldn't help squeeze out the real eye-opening points made if by any chance we've failed to consider that being a professional photographer is not so much about shooting all the time but about everything surrouding it:

Yo Akalu + Brooklyn

I really want to begin establishing this habit of not just publishing photos I take but also to speak more on the topic of how I carried out any particular session because it allows me to reflect back on what worked and what areas of opportunities were left behind.

A year ago, the very idea of even utilizing an off-camera flash was so foreign and intimidating that at one point I internally considered myself just a natural light photographer. In fact, I've seen that very description in people's bio before. Eventually I came around and realized I was just looking for excuses not to fail in something I knew would be difficult to comprehend. Fast-forward to now and I currently own more light modifier that I ever thought I would ever use.

I've always been very intrigued by the use of gels but before I can actually commit to renting out a studio, which cost money, a good friend of mine Yo Akalu (shoot 1 & shoot 2) was kind enough to have me over at her place to do some test shoots. I was very please with how the portraits turned out considering it was my first time.

Gear Used:

BTS setup: Photek HSD-60 umbrella & a Godox 80x80cm softbox with gels.

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Towards the end of our indoor experimentation, we had a little bit of time left, so we took advantage of some lingering sunlight and took some shots on her epic Brooklyn rooftop in which case I still utilized the Godox 80x80cm softbox.

Planning and Shooting a Portrait Project

Sean Tucker, on a recent trip to South Africa set out to capture portraits of 3 men who have played a pivotal mentor role in his life. I'm a sucker for some well capture portraits and even more so when they're accompanied by a compelling backstory that validates their purpose. In the video, Sean equally goes into detail on his technique for lighting as well as the planing stages leading up to the shoot.

His lighting was simple, as it tends to be for a lot of the portrait photographers I admire such as Joey L. Sean used a Godox AD200 to light the portraits which coincidentally happens to be the light I'm very close to pulling the trigger on in combination with the Flashpoint Xplor 600.

At the moment I'm currently using a Canon 430EX and a Yongnuo YN560 IV speed-light which have served me great thus far but the more I've delve deeper into the fitness space the less these two units have been able to keep up with photographing moving subjects.

As for personal projects...I'm really excited about a portrait series I've marinated on too long already and that I'll execute for the New Year. What other inspiration other than Sean's video do I need? I say none!

My Most Important Daily Writing Assignment

During the week the alarm on my AppleWatch is set to 5am. Within that time, I get my stuff together and the kid's, so I can then make it out of the house by 5:30am and arrive at the gym by 6am. It's a routine I hardly every think about because I've done it more than 66 times and yet, I'm all about tweaking and incorporating little fun things into my pattern that may bring a smile to someone in the family.

A while back, CJ Chilvers wrote about a little morning routine he has which I recently embraced myself:

My son is 6 and I love seeing how excited he gets with telling us everyday that he discovered our note and knowing that the love and encouragement we write on that piece of paper is different everyday. "I wonder what it's going to be tomorrow" he says.

As a side note, these 7 Things Every Kid Needs to Hear has been making its round online which I think is very important for every parent to embrace and put into practice.

Solace: Strong New York

My basic understanding of CrossFit came through the much talked about documentary Fittest on Earth, which I watched on Netflix. The film ushers us into this behind-the-scenes look at the pre-game training and absolute torture the competitors endure for three hot days at the 2016 Reebok CrossFit Games. Essentially a grueling battle to determine the fittest man and woman alive.

To the competitors and us the viewers, it’s obvious that CrossFit isn’t just a regimen so much as it is an all-encompassing lifestyle. A lifestyle that I knew nothing about but selfishly became interested to observe up close. Like anything in life, there’s a tendency for us to judge want we fail to understand unless we’re willing to be curious enough to ask questions and respect what others hold high value to.

In comes Solace New York, a gym that’s become a nationwide sensation and where Alex Silver-Fagan happens to be a trainer which is how I became aware of it.

In partnership with Reebok, Solace held their Strong New York series which I had the pleasure to document. Strong New York is their way of building, developing and promoting strength in all of us. It was hosted by the incredible Jen Widerstrom, and they had bada$$ panel of trainers ready to lead attendants in a full day of workouts and seminars celebrating strength, mental toughness, body positivity, self-love and how to cultivate these beliefs.

CrossFit workouts vary on a day-to-day basis which is exactly what keeps it exciting. It’s always good to try new things. It’s fun! It’s good to change things up or else you’ll get bored out of your mind and the fact that you’ll always be surround with people cheering you on is just as rewarding.

I'm an avid gym going. I train 4 times a week a 6am in the morning. At this point I would say I more than definitely have a well established routine in place as far as consistency in going but I'm looking to change things up. For the New Year, I'll be giving CrossFit a spin for a month and document changes to my body along the way. What I've come to appreciate the most in CrossFit is that the aesthetic changes is more of a byproduct and the cornerstone is in the relationships you build.