Anna Bouma

Literally the day before heading out on vacation with the family, I met up with Anna at a yet another newly discovered coffee shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn called Butler Bakeshop. The space is absolutely stunning and to me, it fulfills every attribute you can possibly think of that would make a coffee shop a success regardless of how saturated you may think a neighborhood may be with them. This impromptu outing also gave me the opportunity to test out the newly purchase Instax Mini 90 I snagged to take with me on vacation which practically ended up being free after having amassed a good amount of Amazon giftcards.

BTS of Bon Appetit's May 17' Cover Shoot

The creative director for Bon Appetit, Alex Grossman, describing the use of an iPhone 7+ to photograph the cover and feature story for the magazine as they explored Oaxaca, Mexico.

While there’s value in the ability to shoot with a higher end camera, there’s certainly something liberating about just photographing with your phone. I do it all the time, it's something I had the pleasure of doing when I visited Cuba last year, and while it's becoming more common for publications to take on this approach, this has probably been the first time I've seen a magazine release a video which documents the process. As photographers, we typically have this innate curiosity to get a brief look into the process of other creatives and this examination is no different.

8hrs in Labadee, Haiti

Our first port of call onboard Royal Caribbean Navigator of The Seas: Labadee, Haiti

I had stopped worrying about the length of time we’d been given on this beautiful island, nestled on the northern coast of Haiti. Eight hours may sound suffice but when you combined the impatience of your 5 and 3 year old kids, the 24/7 summery weather and the gorgeous pristine waters where you can practically admire your toes all the way through regardless of how deep you’ve gone in, you have to assume that anything less than a day will instantly feel like too little time. In any case, as it’s customary with cruise ship, you’re always allotted a certain amount of time at each port of call and I felt we made the most of our time to the point of exhaustion.

Watching from top deck as people began off-boarding to the island.

On every single island, we always made sure we got off as soon as possible.

"Adventure, exploration and relaxation is only the start of what this ultimate private destination has to offer" and the craziest part of it all is that unless you’re a vacationer onboard Royal Caribbean, it’s unlikely you’ll step foot on the island because it’s the cruiseline’s 260-acre private beach resort which apparently they’ve continued to lease from the Haitian government since 1986.

Overly priced beach cabanas near the end of Barefoot Beach

It’s very difficult to critize anything from Labadee because everyone was truly friendly as far as the staff but once we got to the Artisan Market situated, it became incredibly overwhelming to demonstrate an iota of interest in any of the beautiful handmade souvenirs for sale. It was nearly impossible to set your eyes on anything without having the sellers harassing and eager for your business. I personally cannot shop like that but was able to purchase a few knick-knacks from Yolanda who right off the bat told me, “I’m not going to sell you anything…you come to me when you’re ready."

Barefoot Beach is where we opted to stay at for the the day

Preparing for our snorkeling excursion with my 5-year old son Evan.

Preparing for our snorkeling excursion with my 5-year old son Evan.

When it comes to excursions, we typically tend to book them on our own on whichever island we dock, as oppose to acquiring a tour via the cruiseline themselves, simply because they’re often double the cost. In this case, because it’s a private island, we didn’t have an option so I booked a 2hr Safari Snorkeling excursion for Evan and myself for a whopping $100. The wallet hurt but the experience at the end was well worth it with my son.

The boat road to our snorkeling destination was 10-minutes away from the actual island

Evan was the youngest in the snorkeling group.

Evan hopped on to the kayak after he got exhausted from snorkeling

Evan hopped on to the kayak after he got exhausted from snorkeling

Our snorkel tour guide enthusiastically showing us a crab he captured with his bare hands

We were treated to some rum punch after snorkeling

Dragon’s Breath Flight Line: Swoop down along the longest zip line in the world over water.

How to Shoot like Annie Leibovitz

Very interesting 3 part exposé that “scratches the surface of Annie’s work, the craft behind her photographs and how to shoot models in her style.”

It’s true what they say: “The best way to learn from a pro is to apprentice for them. And if we can’t do that, the next best thing is to look at the behind the scenes videos.” As a huge admirer of Annie’s work, I can’t tell how enticing it was to read all these intricacies, extract from them and keep as reference in my head. As an adjunct to these articles, I equally recommend watching this video of Annie at work as she shoots a campaign.

That's All That Matters

Your work doesn’t need to be perfect or loved to mean something. You made it. That’s all that matters.

It's not very often I'll quote a tweet but Christian Gideon always has me tapping on that heart with a lot of the inspirational thoughts he puts out into the world, especially this one at a point where I've lately have had self-doubt about my photography work. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that you geninuinely do things for yourself and if other people happen to gravitate towards it then consider that a bonus.

The Noguchi Museum

It’s been a while since I’ve visited this lovely tranquil oasis of a museum in Long Island City. It’s only a 25min a drive away from home so getting there is never a problem but it become more about taking time of yourself to enjoy your time in this Zen urban industrial space. You kinda wish art spaces would be like The Noguchi Museum - big, beautiful and no crowd. I only had the opportunity to be there for about 45mins but it was enough to feel as if I’ve cleared my mind as I walked around observing the rock sculptures to help relieve ones tension.

Doing That Thing On Your Own

You’ll become known for doing what you do. It’s a simple saying, but it’s true…The only way to start being asked to do something you want to do is to start doing that thing on your own.

Jonathan Harris on The Great Discontent. To that I would add..."don't be the type that's driven to do anything only when you're compensated for it. Do it because you love it and getting paid for it is a bonus and privilege."

Emma

I may not seem like it in the photos but you’ll have to take word when I say that Andrew Kung has epic apartment with a breathtaking view that overlooks downtown Brooklyn. Do you know what’s equally admirable? The fact that he manages with a little bit of effort to convert his living room space into this mini photo studio which he’s bragged about on multiple occasions, so when he extended the invitation to test it out, of course I couldn’t decline.

I was also fortunate enough to catch up and test shoot with Emma who like most people nowadays, I met through Instagram the year prior. Andrew was the person who by the way had suggested I invest on the infamous modifier Annie Leibovitz (Photek HSD-60 Umbrella Diffuser) uses which I did, so I brought it over to his apartment and between his and mine, we experimented with various forms of lighting and what you see is the result of a lot of tinkering with light.

My biggest takeaway from this impromptu test shoot is that regardless of epic you’re envisioning a shoot to be, especially with lights, make you’re you’re giving yourself ample time to get down the lighting to how you wanted before the model arrives because there’s nothing worst than wasting their time and yours. Normally I like to arrive an 1hr before but I ended up cutting it too close this time around.